Chicago Mitzvah Campaign
Help & support to members of the entire Chicago Jewish community
The Chicago Mitzvah Campaign was developed to provide help and support to members of the entire Chicago Jewish community. We offer our services when people need them most, at times of frailty, illness, infirmity and loss. Our programs assist individuals with information, social support and material aid, and avail them of spiritual counsel, Jewish traditions and observances.
The Hebrew word “mitzvah” means “commandment”. The Torah contains 613 mitzvahs, which are the commandments that G-d instructs us, the Jewish people. The word “mitzvah” is also related to the word that means “connection”. This is because G-d’s commandments connect us to Him.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the idea of reaching out with “mitzvah campaigns” to every Jew around the world. Regardless of a Jewish individual’s personal level of Jewish observance, the aim of the mitzvah campaigns was to encourage the performance of even just one additional mitzvah.
The mitzvah campaign’s concept revolutionized Jewish thinking. Previously, the prevailing attitude was that a mitzvah had real significance only in the context of a committed lifestyle of Jewish observance. This point of view said that there was nothing achieved by having someone put on tefillin, eat kosher, learn a Torah thought or give charity if these fine activities were going to be inconsistent with the person’s regular daily conduct.
But the Rebbe saw things differently. As a connection between man and G-d, as a bridge between Creator and creation, a mitzvah is a deed of cosmic significance that has infinite value unto itself. Citing Maimonides, the Rebbe repeated time and again the idea that any one single person performing a single mitzvah can be the catalyst that tips the scales and brings redemption to mankind and the entire creation.
So the Rebbe issued a call to every Jew: Even if you are not fully committed to a Torah life, do something. Begin with a mitzvah, any mitzvah; its value will not be diminished by the existence of others that you are not yet prepared to do.
The Rebbe gave his blessings and encouragement to run the “mitzvah campaigns” in Chicago. Taking up this challenge, the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign has built its activities on the platform of the Rebbe’s initiatives. The Rebbe also suggested ten possible "beginner's mitzvahs". These are precepts that, because of their centrality to the Torah's guide to life, are ideally suited for a first experience of the mitzvah connection.
Love Your Fellow
"Love your fellow as yourself," said the great Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva, is a most basic principle in the Torah. Reaching out to your fellow Jew with patience, love, concern and unity is among the greatest mitzvahs that a Jew can do.
Give charity daily. When you give to the needy, you are serving as G-d's emissary to provide for His creatures. The home is a classroom, and keeping a "pushkah" (charity box) in your home -- and contributing a coin to it every day -- will teach you and your children the noble value of regular giving.
Torah Study a portion of Torah daily. Even a few lines contain the infinite wisdom and will of G-d.
Mezuzah Every Jewish home should have a mezuzah on its doorposts. The mezuzah contains the Shema and is a sign that the home is sanctified for G-d and enjoys His protection.
Tefillin Men (age 13 and up) are encouraged to wear the Tefillin every morning except for Shabbat and Festivals. Tefillin are black leather boxes containing small parchment scrolls of selected portions from the Torah, in which the fundamentals of the Jewish faith are inscribed.
Kashrut Eating is one of the basics of life. Shouldn't it be done with purposefulness? For a healthy and sound soul, eat only kosher foods. When you eat Jewishly then your Judaism is not just spiritual, but part and parcel of your very physical being.