web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Unity Within Comm-Unity


Winds of uncertainty are blowing across the globe. The future remains unsure. Will the sun shine again? Will stability reemerge after the storm dies down?

Jewish communities worldwide are also suffering their own turbulent storms. Institutions are closing, organizations are shrinking, and associations are cutting back. And as some grapple to find answers to the many unanswered questions, the curse of division hovers. To paraphrase Jonathan Swift, the 18th century Anglo-Irish satirist, “We have just enough religion to make us hate one another, but not enough to make us love one another.”

So how should we proceed? What can we do, individually and communally? How can we fruitfully direct our efforts and direct our community down paths toward a better, stronger and healthier future?

A decade ago, researchers in this country asked a large group of people whom they would turn to if they needed help. The results were astounding: while a small percentage said they would turn to a government agency, 86 percent said they would seek out a member of their religious congregation. Perhaps this is but an expression of our intrinsic interdependence. Human beings yearn for one another; – we need each other. It is no coincidence that in the entire book of Genesis only one thing is called “lo tov” – not good: “It is not good for man to be alone.”

As a rabbi, one of my deepest pleasures stem from a silent observation I enjoy making every week. As in many communities, our congregation, Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, Arizona, is abuzz with activity on the holy day of Shabbat. Chants of mazal tov are sung for babies recently born and couples just married. Warm wishes are offered to our fellow congregants in need of healing, and words of comfort are bestowed upon the mourners. It is particularly these moments of life and love that fill me with true nachat and satisfaction. For they stand as a reminder that, ultimately, it is this unbreakable sense of community that empowers and uplifts us to a place where no challenge is too big, no obstacle too tall.

Hence, our first step toward a better future must be a collective rededication to one another. Lend an attentive ear, extend a helping hand, reach out with a genuine smile. We must be there for each other. Not because of a relationship of power or honor. Not for self-serving reasons or purposes. But simply because it is indeed “not good for man to be alone.”

My dear mentor, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, once shared with me that the difference between a wise man and a fool is that a wise man “makes the important issues of life important and the trivial issues trivial.” Conversely, a fool “makes the important issues trivial, and the trivial issues important.” This summarizes best the vital approach we must undertake. True, we differ in many ways, and our perspectives are at times sharply different. But in the end, we must make our common “important issues” important, and let the trivial ones find their proper place.

After all, what unites us, along with the vast majority of Jews, is so much greater than what divides us. We all desire to make the world a better place. We all strive to become true lights onto the nations. We all endeavor to nurture our children and surroundings with the teachings of our Torah. We all care deeply about our communities, and we all wish to actualize their endless potential and harness their dynamic force.

But we can only do so if we learn to maintain a sense of proportion between the important issues and the trivial ones and direct our focus on the former only. And if we have visions and plans of action for the benefit of our communities, we must work together to make them important and worthy of attention. This will build bridges, not walls; love, not apathy; harmony, not dissonance.

Finally, we must remember that Judaism has forever taught that we are what we do. The more we engage in actions of goodness and kindness, the more we become good and kind. It is no secret that so much more can be accomplished with silent actions, small or big, than with loud words. If we each take upon ourselves to act more and say less, one mitzvah at a time, one good deed at a time, one soul at a time, our community will undoubtedly become the model of goodness it so strives to be.

About the Author: Rabbi Pinchas Allouche is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, AZ. He is a popular educator, lecturer and author of many essays and writings on the Judaism and social analysis.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Unity Within Comm-Unity”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
B'Tselem ran a campaign this summer attacking Israel for its actions when searching for the missing Israeli teenagers. They called the campaign, "Hitching a Ride."
Israeli AG: Anti-Israel NGO Can Utilize National Service Volunteers
Latest Indepth Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

obama

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

More Articles from Rabbi Pinchas Allouche
twitter faceless

On Facebook, young and old alike fool themselves into believing they are better than the person they see in the mirror.

F100804AS08

Why would our tradition fill our fun-filled summers with such restricting limitations?

As the dust settles and the fog lifts from this tumultuous year of political campaigning, we are left to wonder how our country will evolve. Will the economy bounce back? Will our schools make progress? And how about U.S. relations with Israel? Will they grow weaker or stronger? Will the administration support an Israeli strike on Iran?

It was not a necessary part of our busy itinerary. It was not even a noble errand. But the craving for a tasty lunch led our group to experience a moment never to be forgotten.

Our blinding attraction to drama has captivated so many of us. We love to live it, watch it, or even worse, create it.

“It’s not easy being labeled religious these days,” a friend confessed to me a few weeks ago.

My friend may be right – so-called religious people have committed some of humanity’s most horrific crimes, casting a dark shadow on religion – but what is religion? What is the definition of a “religious person”? What was he referring to? Can religion and evil really co-exist?

Winds of uncertainty are blowing across the globe. The future remains unsure. Will the sun shine again? Will stability reemerge after the storm dies down?

Let’s face it: it’s unusual and even somewhat bizarre nowadays to encounter a family with more than two children. It is almost as if a war is launched against the unborn after a “red line” of two or three children has been reached.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/unity-within-comm-unity/2011/04/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: