Torah For Today: Equal pay at Wimbledon

Torah For Today: Equal pay at Wimbledon

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks at a topical issue and delves into the Torah for an Orthodox Jewish response

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

At Wimbledon, Simone Halep (pictured left) took just 58 minutes to crush Serena Williams in the ladies final. Novak Djokovic needed almost five hours to see off Roger Federer. So, what does the Torah say about inequality of effort set against the same pay?

When the Biblical warrior Ahimaatz, son of Zadok the Priest, ran a marathon from the battlefield to tell David that his son was dead, he beat another runner, a Nubian who reached with the same message, some ten minutes later.

Both did their duty, but there was only one winner who stretched himself much more than his opponent.

Two millennia ago, scores of potential calendric witnesses before the Sanhedrin made the lengthy and arduous cross country trek on horseback to report the sighting of the new moon in Jerusalem.

All were received the same way and rewarded with great hospitality in Jerusalem. The merit of each effort was recognised, whether they came in sooner or later, even many hours late, but on an equal basis. The reason for this was one of policy – to encourage others in the future to make the same efforts.

Our sages state in Ethics of the Fathers: “Yaga’ta umatzata, ta’amen” – if you (say that) you have toiled and gained, you are believed.

Success or attainment is not measured by how long something takes, but by the effort necessary to put in.

Halep played aggressively and quickly. Djokovic took the slow road, calculatedly beating Federer on points.

According to the ethics of the Psalmist, “the toil of the palms of our hands we eat, for this we are praised and it is good…”

It is the result of effort taken, and not its extent, which produces the legitimate result from which one can receive payment.

Rabbi Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to HM Armed Forces

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