The Bible Says What? The Torah contains a guide to building the perfect community
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The Bible Says What? The Torah contains a guide to building the perfect community

Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel takes a contentious passage from Jewish texts and looks at a Liberal response

Jethro responded to Moses: “It is not a good thing you are doing. You will wither away, both you and the people, as the matter is too arduous for you alone.” (Exodus 18)

All too often, we feel overwhelmed by the tasks of the community. But the Torah – in Jethro’s advice to his son-in-law Moses – contains a very simple but effective rule for us to follow… share!

The story of their conversation makes us examine what makes a community successful. First, there are the people. A community is a group of people who come together for a purpose, who agree to interweave parts of their lives for something larger than their individuality.

Second comes the leadership. Moses’ first model of controlling everything led to his burnout. One person cannot hold everything, and the lesson taught by Jethro is collaboration.

Hierarchical institutions function as long as their leader is strong. Once the leader fades away, the whole system collapses. More and more institutions, businesses and communities are adopting a collaborative model, whereby people bring their skills and make them available to all.

Finally, the message, or the core values of a community. It is not enough to be together, to enjoy our own company, if there is no underlying goal. A group of people without a purpose will eventually wither. We are part of a larger family that doesn’t shy away from questioning our tradition. In essence, Judaism is progressive and evolutive.

Liberal Jews are explorers. We tend to push the boundaries, to reflect on the changes in the society and to adapt. We welcome anyone with good intent who wants to join us. We work together to create a meaningful Jewish life.

  •   Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel serves Kingston Liberal Synagogue

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