Tomorrow we begin the Jewish month of Nissan, known for being the month of Passover. The central figure of the Passover story is, of course, Moses.

Moses was born in Egypt, was raised by Pharaoh's daughter Batya, and moved to Midyan (present day Jordan) where he married and raised a family. Decades later, at age eighty, he was appointed by God to free the Jews from eighty years of cruel, bitter slavery under the Pharaohs.

What triggered Moses' appointment after all those years? What did he do to suddenly be given such an awesome task?

Moses worked for his father in law, Jethro, as as a shepherd. One day, a baby lamb escaped from the flock and ran up a rocky mountain. Livestock was a mainstay of economic activity in those days, and a baby lamb would not have been worth much dollar wise - certainly not worth leaving hundreds of sheep unattended in order to bring back.

But Moses, at age eighty, hiked up the rocky slope in pursuit of that baby sheep. He only caught up with it at the peak of the small mountain. It was at this point, right there atop the mountain, where God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, and the rest is history.

This story, told by the Talmud, is very enlightening. For it gives us a litmus test for what is justice, and what is not.

Justice is at the very core of Judaism. It serves as a Mitzvah not only for Jews, but as one of the seven Noahide laws that the Torah gave for all mankind. 

But what is justice? What is the litmus test for it? How do we differentiate between the just and the unjust?

This we can learn from Moses and the lamb. Moses, as we see later on in the story of the Exodus, was exemplary at leading the masses. But this was already known, before he chased the lamb up the mountain. It was only when Moses rescued that one individual lamb that God decided that this was his man. 

Caring for the masses, leading millions, exerting vast influence? Those are important, of course.  But justice does not lie with the masses, nor does it lie in vast influence. It lies with the individual 

This is the great litmus test, one proven true time and time again throughout history. Many have claimed to bring justice to the world. Some truly have, while others have used that claim as a pretext for oppression. The difference between them has always been in how they treat each and every individual - not as a member of the masses, but on their own, as an independent identity. We can discern if a movement, an action, a philosophy or society is just from how it treats the individual, and the rights, respect and dignity it grants him or her as such.

When we teach our children, and ourselves, about kindness, justice and making our world a better place, this is a powerful lesson to remember. It's not (only) about the great movements and the large organizations. It's about the neighbor, mailman, and grocer. If we're kind to them, we're sure to be on a good, and just, path.

Rabbi Avrohom