Text with Texture: Generosity with Power

Text with Texture is a weekly blog series (featured on Tuesdays) that explores the rich and textured material found in On1Foot in connection with what’s happening in our world today.

Working at a non-profit, I think a lot about generosity—with money and with time. Here at AJWS, we depend on our supporters to give us some of their hard earned income so that we can use it to support human rights activists in the developing world. We also depend on staff and volunteers for their time. But I recently came across a medieval text that challenges the notion that money and time are the defining structures through which generosity is expressed.

Rav Avraham tells us that it’s not enough to be generous with our money. We must also be generous with our power. We must use our influence; call in our favors for the weak and the needy. We must throw our social weight on the side of the downtrodden.

I wonder: What would it look like to truly stare down the amount of power that I have as an American, a voter, a Jew, a teacher, and commit to being generous with that agency? How could I throw that power into advocacy work or community organizing to help those in need? And what would the world look like if we all began to think of our power as something we were obligated to give of generously?