The pasuk in Parshas shoftim states: “Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue so that you will live and take possession of the land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you.” Why does it need to say righteousness twice?? We see often in the torah that words are used to emphasise a point G-d is trying to get across!! Being Righteous isn’t enough in Hashem’s eyes!!! one must be righteous and pursue righteousness!!! The following story might help, a man has a favourite tv program, he prepares to sit down and watch this more than he prepares for his date!! He prepares the perfect cup of tea/ or cold beer, he gets the tv to the perfect volume, he adjusts his chair to the perfect reclining position and hes ready to watch… coronation street!!! Anyway two minutes into the episode of corra the program is interrupted with an infomercial showing a thin black child in africa, “This child like many others is strving day in day out and needs your help” reads the caption. “£2 per month is all we need!!”
The man feels sick with guilt but decides to do nothingabout it.
Day after day he gets the same guilt feeling when he sees the adverts and posters so decides to so something about it and gives the £2 per month!! this is being righteous, he is fulfilling a mitzvah of giving charity after all. however another story may help you understand the difference i am trying to make between being righteousness and pursuing righteousness!!
A very wealthy man decides one day that he is bored of making his millions he wants to really change the world, he decides to take a year out to the african desert to help feed and educate hundreds of kids in a tiny village in ethiopia, he invests hundreds and thousands of pounds to build schools and teach kids and to buy irrigation systems that will help grow crops that will feed the families iun the village for years to come!! But no only did he investthe money, he personally went there and invested time and effort to helping the cause of others!! This is the difference between being righteous – i.e doing the right thing – and pursuing righteousness!!
To be sensitive to others needs rather than just giving them a few quid!! another short parable will maybe help you see this idea! A cold winters day a poor man is collecting. He comes to the first house knosck on the door and gives his spiel about who he is and why hes collecting, before he could finish the man gives him a few loose pennies and sends him on his way… a little further down the road the poor man comes to a house and knocks on the door, the man opens the door and invites the poor man into his house and offers him a hot drink to warm up in front of the fire and even a bed to sleep in for the night!! The second man didnt have to be so kind he could have given the tzedakah and been righteous but that wasnt enough, he was pursuing righteousness!!