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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Build it and they will come!

Yoma 70

Am I a giver or a taker?

The Kohen Gadol would read the various sections of the Torah dealing with Yom Kippur, which we similarly read in shul annually.  But while we take out two Torah scrolls to read the different sections, in the Temple, they only used one.  The difference is that we can call up a couple of different people for the separate readings.  The Kohen Gadol, on the other hand, was the only reader, and so if they were to switch Torah scrolls, it might appear that they had found a mistake in the first scroll and invalidated it.  The resolution was that the Kohen Gadol would chant the additional reading from the Book of Bamidbar (Numbers) by heart.  Now, while we normally refrain from reciting the Written Torah not from the text, an exception was made in this case, so as not to inconvenience the community who would have to stand there waiting, if the Kohen Gadol were to roll the Torah scroll to the second reading.

Look at what lengths the Kohen Gadol went to in order to avoid burdening the community!  It would have been a matter of mere minutes at most, and after all, it was Yom Kippur, nobody was running off to other engagements.  Surely, everyone would have been fine waiting for the scroll to be rolled!  And yet, the Kohen Gadol would not burden the community even for a moment.

Today, ask yourself, are you a community builder or a burden on the community?  There are certainly times in all of our lives that we are dependent on the community’s resources, and that’s what the community is there for.  But our ultimate goal should be to help build strong, healthy communities and provide for those others who need to rely on our services and resources.

In any congregation or community, there are inevitably a handful of people who toil night and day, volunteering time and money to make the community successful.  Most people are happy to show up and use the resources provided without much thought as to all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to build and invest in those resources.  


In life, in communities, there are givers and takers.  My goal must be to be a giver, not a taker. The more givers we have, that is, the more people who have the sensitivity of the Kohen Gadol not to be a burden on the community for even a moment, the more successful our communities will ultimately be.