A thought on volunteering

Written by Rabbi Josh Levy — 5 June 2020

Tomorrow morning’s Torah portion is one of those familiar narratives in which the Israelites in the wilderness complain.

Our Bar Mitzvah tomorrow will speak about the nature of their complaints, but as important is the impact on Moses, who has a crisis of leadership.  “How can I do this on my own?” he asks.
It is a crisis to which God replies, “Who says you are on your own?”

God gives an instruction to share the burden.

It is a profound insight into the challenge, and ideal of community – that we can flourish only if we share the burdens and also, of course, if we can share the joys – if we share communal leadership, share caring for one another, share reaching out beyond our own walls…

That sharing of responsibility is one of the things that is so special about Jewish communal life – a deep, millennia-old culture of contribution.  Nowadays we call it volunteering.  It remains a fundamental part of our Jewish and communal lives, and one for which we are profoundly grateful.

In this Volunteers week, we want to once again thank all those who give their time and effort to the life of this community and beyond.  In our context – we recognise it as a sacred act.

In our portion, the spirit of God fills all those who share the responsibility of community with Moses.  Midrash compares them to the lights on a menorah – each providing light without diminishing from each other.  Together, may we continue to bring light through our acts of communal contribution.