Progressively Speaking: Pray with your feet for Jewish Swab Week

Progressively Speaking: Pray with your feet for Jewish Swab Week

Rabbi Charley Baginsky takes a topical issue and applies a Liberal Jewish response

 As a communal rabbi, I find it is a privilege of the job to often be there at moments of people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable and in most pain.

We comfort, as best we can, listen and where appropriate advise. When loved ones die at a ripe old age, the pain is real and the loss substantial. But there can be much comfort in knowing they have lived a full life.

We can recite the prayers and feel some comfort in the words: “God has given and God has taken away, may God’s name be praised.”

But when a loved one is ripped from our lives after what seems too short a time, prayers can stick in our throats and be hard to utter.

It is common to think what could we have done and ultimately there will have been very little.

Sometimes we get the chance to help this pain happening to another family.

It is perhaps what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would call “praying with our feet”.

Now is one such opportunity during Jewish Swab Week.

It is a chance to see if you could be a match for someone with blood cancer, where the only chance of saving their life could be a stem cell transplant from someone who is a matching tissue type.

The last line on the website of the Sue Harris Trust, which is behind this initiative, reads: “It takes literally a few minutes to be swabbed, and if you are a match, you would be giving someone potentially decades of life. How many chances do you get to do that?”

It is a really powerful message that speaks to the heart of the Jewish value of pikkur nefesh, the command to prioritise life over everything else.

The Torah repeatedly reminds us that human life is precious and a gift from God. Over the Chaggim we stand together and are reminded to choose life.

In the Mishnah, the Rabbis tell us that anyone who saves one life, it is as though that person saves the whole world.

We all know how one person can be another’s whole world.

So this week, if you possibly can, go pray with your feet and offer the potential of life.

  •   Rabbi Charley Baginsky is Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and communications
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