Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Choose Your Battles Wisely

I sometimes think that communities and organizations could benefit from the same principles that individuals use in their lives.

Dr. Richard Carlson, in Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and It's All Small Stuff and others mention the strategy of picking one's battles as a better way of living. Carlson writes on page 77, " If you choose your battles wisely, you’ll be far more effective in winning those battles that are truly important ". This in turn, is based on assigning a relative level of importance to various issues.

In a recent article, Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz mentions this point as a political strategy for the Israeli Frum community(I remember a similar point mentioned in the Jewish Observer following Tommy Lapid's victory), and he also notes the similarity between a community and an individual's prioritizing. I think that this is a cruical point to be considered in order to realize haramas keren HaTorah.

What concerns me most is that this particular issue of the clock change is indicative of the ‘everything-is-a-10 mindset’ that some or many in our community maintain. Certain issues are indeed a 10; and we rely on the daas Torah of our gedolim to guide us as to which they are. But in all other non-essential matters, we should practice the concept of darchei noam, ‘paths of pleasantness,’ and be sensitive to the wants and needs of others outside our community. Keep in mind that no one was ever brought closer to Hashem by force. And even if we don’t practice tolerance for its own sake, we ought to do so strictly for pragmatic reasons. There is no doubt in my mind that sooner or later (probably sooner) there will be a colossal push-back from secular Israelis who are resentful at their growing perception that observant Jews are not only appropriately lobbying for the right to practice religion as they wish to, but are imposing their will on the broader community.

Communities can indeed learn from individual's strategies.

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