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133http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2013/02/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---02_08_2013
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 02_08_2013
02/07/2013 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
February 8, 2013

 

At last week’s Torah study (every Saturday, 9:45-10:45am in the Board Room), we read in Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18), about Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who instructed Moses how to organize his time and services. At first, Moses addressed every major and every minor concern that his community brought to him. Community members waited in line to reach the proverbial “customer service counter”. No one was satisfied, not even Moses. Finally, Jethro taught Moses to appoint leaders from among the community to handle the issues that Moses did not need to address. The result was that everybody, including Moses, was able to return to their respective homes in peace, having had their issues resolved.

                It’s easy to say that the Jewish community has been operating this way since the days of Moses. And, it works. The committee structure observed in synagogues and every major organization must have leaders of every sort with various levels of authority and responsibility. If it’s working as it should be, healthy politics and good models of organizational behavior facilitate the organization’s mission. The measure of an organization’s success is found in what Moses enjoyed, too. In Exodus 18:23, we learn, “If you do this (everything Jethro instructed Moses) --- and God so commands you --- you will be able to bear up (lit. stand up); and all these people, too, will go home unwearied.” Let’s examine what it means “to go home unwearied”.

                First, if Moses trusts God’s command and follows Jethro’s instruction, he will be able to stand up; that is, conclude his work each day, get up, and go home. The people who came to stand before him will, likewise, be able to go home. An important ethical point is that Moses should not be seated while others stand around him without being served. It’s unseemly to place himself (and his disorderliness) above others’ needs. The health and welfare of the community depends on a system that facilitates resolutions and creates satisfied and happy citizens.

                Second, “will go home unwearied” is written in Hebrew, “al m’komo yavo b’shalom” everyone will return to his place in peace. The English sounds more poetic, but the word “shalom” which appears in Torah, is important. Shalom means peace, but it also means completeness. The goal is to go home unwearied from standing in line (imagine the DMV), but it’s also to feel satisfied and complete. If our organizations are operating well and our community is serving its citizens, then all should have a good night’s rest as they put their head on the pillow, unconcerned.

                Ultimate peace is gained at the end of one’s days. Death is the end of life, but, at best, it’s also the complete resolution of our days’ issues, concerns and liabilities. No life is perfect and no life is without opportunities to fulfill its purpose to the extent that one can; but, upon death no more can be done and so we agree that that life is complete and at peace. That is why this part of the Torah lesson about the community returning home in peace is lifted from here and used at a funeral service. As the body is lowered into the ground we recite the Hebrew words, “Al m’komo yavo b’shalom”, May our beloved come to his/her [final resting] place in peace.

                It’s also the reason why we sign letters with a wish for peace, “L’Shalom” for the sake of or towards peace, and not “B’Shalom” which we know now is a reference to ultimate peace found in death. As Shabbat begins, measure your own organization at work and at home. Are you able to resolve issues in a manner that permits your customers, clients, personnel and family to return to their homes and put their heads on their pillows with closure and peace? Or, is there more to do to accommodate them and you?

                From my family to yours, on this Shabbat, L’Shalom.

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