If there is one voice that the biblical prophet Isaiah has no patience for, if there is one voice that the rabbis who made Isaiah the Haftarah on Yom Kippur have no patience for, it is the voice of one who says: What can I do? I am only one person. I am not an elected leader. I am not in law enforcement. I am not a business titan or a philanthropist. What can I, as one person, possibly do? The answer of Isaiah is: you can, and therefore you must, make a difference. To somebody else. Speaking for God, Isaiah says:
This is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, And untie the cords of the yoke To let the oppressed go free; To break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with the hungry And to take the wretched poor into your home; When you see the naked, to clothe him, And not to ignore your own kin. (58:6-7)
There is brokenness in the world, privation, poverty, suffering, people unseen, people on the margins. We can, and our religious tradition teaches us that we must, step up. We must add to the quantum of kindness, compassion and love in the world. That is at the heart of what it means to be a Jew.