Saturday, 11 February 2012

Jethro Rant

This rant is inspired by some advice I heard today. If you are already active in helping people in your community on a regular basis then please feel free to skip this post.

Jethro – A Man for the People
Today my local Rabbi spoke about the Torah portion that we read titled “Yitro / Jethro”. The text describes the receiving of the 10 commandments but before that talks about Moses welcoming his father-in-law Jethro. After Moses describes all the miracles that God has done during the plagues in Egypt and the splitting of the Sea of Reed, Jethro responds with:
“Jethro rejoiced over all the good that God had done for Israel, that He had rescued it from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 18:9) 
Note that Jethro make his praise linked to the people rather than just focused on God. At the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the heavens also parted and the Midrash states that a lowly maidservant had a greater vision of the heavenly realms – angels and all - than the prophet Ezekiel. The Israelites sang praises to God as they were all about the relationship that they had between man and God.

Jethro on the other hand was much more concerned about the relationship between man and man. Jethro criticized Moses for the way that he interacts with the people, arguing that he should set-up a system of judges and adjudicators for the people rather than trying to solve all their problems and disputes himself. This is what Moses did and the people were a lot happier.

Forget Social Justice, Just for a Short While
So what does this incident teach us? Whilst it is cause for celebration that so many people are involved in fights for social justice and help promote human rights around the world – it's easy to forget the small picture when being bombarded by news, social media and other sources of the big picture all the time.

It kind of reminds me of an article in the newspapers after the hysteria around Princess Diana's death had died down of a girl who lost her mother in a car accident around the same time. All her friends went to London to lay flowers and wept openly at the loss of a woman they had never met before but who had touched their lives. However, none of them thought to bring flowers or visit their grieving friend whose mother had fed them, hugged them, been there fore them and had an immediate impact on their lives.

Practice Small Acts of Kindness Before Trying to Fix Society
How many witches, wizards and other practitioners die alone and forgotten because no one offers to be there for them? Don't wait for someone to be asked for help, offer it now. All the “likes” and postings on Facebook in the world don't add up to a single smile of the person who is brought soup when they are too ill to cook. Or the mother who has just given birth and is given meals every day for 2 weeks. Just being in regular contact is enough to lift someone else's spirits when they're feeling low, have SAD, or just having a bad day.

Stop and look at the small picture, the here and now of the people you care about and in your local environs. Help save each other and we have a chance of a better future. Here endeth my rant.