The Torah instructs us that should a person find a carcass of an animal in the field, which was not slaughtered properly, it must be thrown to the dogs. Jews are not permitted to eat the meat of a kosher animal unless it has been slaughtered properly. If slaughtered improperly, it must be given to the dogs for consumption.
Our Sages comment on the strange language of feeding it to the dogs and expound that these are the same dogs that were trained to protect this animal, and as a gift for their hard work and vigilance they were given this carcass as a reward for their acts of protection.
The obvious question: Why should we repay this dog for a job that was not done well? After all the dog failed this time and quite the contrary did not protect this poor animal! Do we reward for failure?
To this our Rabbis comment that though this time the dog failed, he was successful in previous times. In recognition of the good that was performed in the past we reward this dog with the meat of the animal that he did not protect.
How much more so when dealing with people? When one looks at the accomplishments of an individual we are required to look at the entire picture not just one incident, and give credit where credit is due.
In many parts of the world today, the culture is a “throw away” society. We buy paper or plastic products and when we are done using them one time we easily dispose of them. Factories are constantly looking for ways to make life easier and find easily disposable items to insure our comfort. In many cases, this “disposable doctrine” has entered the entire psyche of the public as well and we find that this is the attitude people adopt when recognizing the good or past history of a person.
I knew such a person. His name was Morris Batzer. I had just arrived onto the Atlantic City scene and I met this remarkable person. He was a person with unbounded loyalty to the Jewish Community. He served on all the Boards of the community; his synagogue, the local Federation and he gave tzedakah beyond his means. He tried to be the example by action to the Jewish community and in his active years of involvement he was sought after for his leadership qualities.
But as everything goes in life he became older and his involvement waned. When he died, however, there was barely a minyan at his grave. Most of the community did not care. Most of the communities were only interested in “What have you done for me lately?” and not the larger picture of what this man gave to the Jewish community.
In Israel today there is a widespread age bias. People with experience, who have made in some cases a profound effect upon the community, whether in education, science, medical or even the Rabbinic fields, are told that when they reach a certain age, they are no longer useful and must retire to give room for the younger generation. A person, whose experience and accomplishments are known and valued, is laid out to pasture without respect for what he/she has accomplished or what invaluable aid he/she can offer.
This ability to value and show respect for the entire life and accomplishments of an individual are essential if we want our children to have respect for our history and our past leaders.
But this quality is sorely lacking in the leadership of many Jewish communities. There you see the prevalence of our disposable society in which we treat people as disposable products without concern or respect to what the person has accomplished for the organization, the community or the school that he/she had worked for.
It is a sad commentary as to the levels of our priorities and it begs our attention and efforts to correct.