A Physical Box
An annual cycle of creating, using and opening a physical box -- for individuals, families, groups, schools and synagogues
Build A Box
Before you can use a Tzedek Box, you need to make your own.
Find a box. You can use a shoe box, a mason jar, an old cigar case, or any other container that will fit your slips of paper.
Decorate it. You can paint, draw or color on your box, put on stickers or attach pictures, add the names of heroes and heroines from ancient and modern history or your family. You might also include quotes that inspire you, such as:
"Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof -- Justice, justice, you shall pursue" -- Deuteronomy 16:20
“You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” - Deuteronomy 10:19
“Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow.” - Isaiah 1:17
“Do justice, love goodness, and walk modestly with your God.” - Micah 6:8
“Who knows, perhaps it was for a time such as this that you reached your position of privilege?” - Esther 4:14
“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirke Avot 2:21)
“Anyone who is able to protest against the transgressions of the entire world and does not is punished for the transgressions of the entire world.” - Shabbat 54a
“In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty but all are responsible.” -- R’ Heschel
Think literally outside the box!
After you've created your box, say a blessing. You've created something original. Consider saying a shecheheyanu blessing to celebrate this new, unique and important tool in your life.
Baruch atah hashem eloheinu melech ha-olam she-hecheyanu ve-kiyimanu ve-higianu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Eternal One, Sovereign of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.
Using Your Box
Every time you act in the name of justice, take a moment to write what you did on a slip of paper. Share how you felt, what you might have learned or realized, or anything else you'd like to record. Then, if you would like, say this blessing, invoking G-d's partnership in the work of justice:
Baruch atah Hashem, Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu lirdof tzedek.
We praise You, Eternal One, Sovereign of the universe, who calls us to holiness through mitzvot, commanding us to pursue tzedek/justice.
While some groups are engaged in sophisticated and sustained community-based organizing efforts, some schools or synagogues may be looking for a calendar of issues to "spotlight" through speaker series, book/film clubs, and action opportunties. Here are just a sampling of suggestions for the school year:
Women's Rights (Purim)
Workers' Rights (Passover)
Opening Your Boxes:
We invite you to join us in opening your box on Pesach Sheni, a month after Passover. Why?
Pesach Sheni or “Second Passover” is a Biblical holiday. Some Israelites were unable to perform the Passover pilgrimage due to being in an impure state, often understood to mean they were handling corpses. These members of society successfully lobbied Moses to institute a second chance to make their pilgrimage one month later (14 Iyyar). Most commonly observed today in Chasidic communities, Pesach Sheni is now seen as a day for everyone to come together for a celebration of second chances. Indeed, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, taught that the true significance of the holiday is to teach us that it is never too late to rectify a past failing.
This is why we have embraced Pesach Sheni for Yom HaTzedek -- because: (1) we see such beautiful symmetry between this Biblical occasion to ensure everyone could sacrifice for the Eternal, and Yom HaTzedek is an opportunity for Jews all around the world to give of themselves for the Greater Good, (2) we see the holiday as enabling us to build from the redemptive message of Passover and serve as a “second chance” moment to affirm that the Exodus is not over until all of us are free (note that no other festival holiday has a “second chance,” emphasizing the special role that Passover and our liberation story plays in our history), (3) we appreciate that the holiday reminds us to think about those who have been left out and who deserve a seat at the table, which tzedek work seeks to rectify, (4) we love that Pesach Sheni was also a holiday that “bubbled up” through popular demand -- and could use a modern renaissance that we can all help spark.
One additional fun fact: tradition teaches us that Iyar 14 is when the matzah carried by the Israelites in the desert ran out, and manna began to fall from the sky, which is both why matzah is often eaten on Pesach Sheni and why we can now reflect on the post-matzah world in which we want to live. For more information on Pesach Sheni as it has been observed traditionally, see here.
As Pesach Sheni approaches, we will share tips on a meaningful ritual related to opening your boxes.