Posts Tagged 'Abundance'

Which Story to Tell? : Yitro’s Help

As the line goes, ” It is not that I think the glass is half-empty, I see the glass half full, but of poison.” Often how we frame the situation actually becomes the situation. I was thinking about that again when looking at Yitro, this week’s Torah portion.

When Yitro shows up to reconnect with Moshe after the heroic exodus from Egypt he brings his wife and two sons. There we read:

Now Yitro, the priest of Midian, Moshe’s father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moshe, and for Israel God’s people, how that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. And Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moshe’s wife, after he had sent her away, and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said: ‘I have been a stranger in a strange land’; and the name of the other was Eliezer: ‘for the God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.’ And Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moshe to the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God. (Exodus 18:1- 5 )

Why does the Torah take this moment to share with us the details of the meaning of the names of his two sons? As I have discussed in the past, Yitro is the consummate consultant. It is clear to me that Yitro did not just bring his family, but he put before Moshe a choice. Did Moshe want to tell the Gershom story or the Eliezer story? Gershom is a story of  being alienated, victimized, and marginalized. This is juxtaposed telling the story of Eliezer which is the story of being relationship with a God that helped them. While the Gershom story is one of scarcity the Eliezer story is one of abundance. Does this new nation want to live in fear or rejoice in the splendor of a special relationship with God? You might think that would make the choice easy to make, but it is not. The Eliezer story depends on a belief in things that cannot be seen and often feels out of reach. This is compared to the Gershom story which is sadly easy to access. Which story did Moshe want to tell?

Image result for fork in the road

More than ever we need to revisit Yitro’s guidance and advice. What story do we want to tell? Is being Jewish an articulation of being an “Anti- Anti-Antisemite” are or are we on a divine mission to help the world? Has any things changed after the shooting at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh? Has everything changed? Are we Gershom Jews or Eliezer Jews? Or do we need to make a new name for ourselves? All I know is that a good consultant would help us reflect on the fact that if we want this nation to move from surviving to thriving we need to decide which story we want to tell.

– Also see Consummate Consultant : The Essence of Exodus and Being a Good Consultant , On Organizational Coaching: Yitro Helps Us Start with Why. and  Work Life Balance: Lessons from Yitro

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The Beginning and End of War: A Thought on Lech Lecha

My Opa always used to say, ” Never start a fight, but always end it.” We are not a nation of warriors, but we should never shirk our responsibility to stand for justice. There is no doubt that was the life of Alfred Katz z”l. We see a similar lesson from Avram in Lech Lecha, this week’s Torah portion.There we see a coalition of kings joined together to fight another group of kings.  There we read:

Now, when King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim made war on King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the Dead Sea. ( Genesis 14:1-3)

A fugitive brought the news to Avram, who mustered 318 supporters, and pursued the invaders north. Avram and his servants defeated them at night, chased them north of Damascus, and brought back all the people and possessions, including Lot and his possessions. When Avram returned, the king of Sodom came out to meet him and offered him all of the booty. Avram replied:

“I swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth: I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Avram rich.’ (Genesis 14: 22-23)

While Avram did not start the first war, he did end it.

It is reported in the name of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that the first use of a word in the Torah holds it essential meaning. With the war between the kings we have the first use of the word milchamah and the invention of war. From its inception the problem of war is the desire and restitution of property. War is born our of the realities and the perceptions of scarcity.

If this is the start of war, where does it end? How might we live out the prophecy of Isaiah? There are instructed:

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruninghooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)

Like Avram and Alfred we need to “Never start a fight, but always end it .” To do this we need to ensure that everyone has what they need to survive. We also need to ensure that we fight the culture of scarcity. To truly end war we need to cultivate a culture of abundance. When we do that we will shift from just surviving to truly thriving.

Another blog on this lesson from my Opa


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