This week we witnessed a historic event as Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, made his first visit to Israel and the Middle East. Many of us, including our Akiva students, watched his address to the Knesset, in which Mr. Harper offered Canada’s full support and admiration for the State of Israel. He passionately stressed the importance of Israel’s place in our world, our partnership and the pivotal role Jews have played in the building of our own Canadian history. As Canadians, we felt proud to be part of a country that shared this message. As Jews, we felt elated to hear the words that needed to be voiced to the world for such a very long time by one of our leaders.
Most fittingly, the messages of this week’s Parsha, Parshat Mishpatim, mesh so beautifully with the week’s events and make their meaning all the more poignant. Last week, we learned about the rules between G-d and man, while this week, we focus on the rules pertaining to social responsibility or how we treat others. In Parshat Mishpatim, we learn about our responsibilities to look beyond our own needs, to reach out and be mindful of those around us. If we don’t care for the welfare of others in the world, if we fail to support our fellow Jews in Israel, then we have in fact failed ourselves and our own code of social justice as outlined in the Torah.
The words of Mr. Harper and the lessons of Parshat Mishpatim resound deeply here at Akiva, where we share a commitment to Judaism, a love for the State of Israel and a responsibility to our community. We always teach our students that each and every one of them has the power to change the world through their actions and an obligation to step up to help others when needed. This week, we were all part of a greater national vision that mirrored our values and that will hopefully help propel us all towards a future of peace and unity.