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26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100                                                              Shabbat Announcements Terumah 5782
         due to our own efforts, but equally and essentially the   precedent in the past. It will happen, he says, when people
         result of God’s blessing.                            exist solely in and for themselves, leaving the pursuit of
                                                              the common good to the government. This would then be
         The building of the Tabernacle was the first great project   what life would be like: Above this race of men stands an
         the Israelites undertook together. It involved their   immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone
         generosity and skill. It gave them the chance to give back   to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate.
         to God a little of what He had given them. It conferred on   That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and
         them the dignity of labor and creative endeavor. It brought   mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that
         to closure their birth as a nation, and it symbolized the   authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but
         challenge of the future. The society they were summoned to   it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual
         create in the land of Israel would be one in which everyone   childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice,
         would play their part. It was to become – in the phrase I   provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their
         have used as the title of one of my books – “the home we   happiness such a government willingly labors, but it
         build together.”
                                                              chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that
         From this we see that one of the greatest challenges of   happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and
         leadership is to give people the chance to give, to   supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures,
         contribute, to participate. That requires self-restraint,   manages their principal concerns, directs their industry,
         tzimtzum, on the part of the leader, creating the space for   regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their
         others to lead. As the saying goes: A leader is best when   inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care
         people barely need to acknowledge him. When his work is   of thinking and all the trouble of living?
         done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: ‘we did it ourselves.’
                                                              Tocqueville wrote these words almost 200 years ago, and
         This brings us to the fundamental distinction in politics   there is a risk that this is happening to some European
         between State and Society. The state represents what is   societies today: all state, no society; all government, little
         done for us by the machinery of government, through the   or no community. Tocqueville was not a religious writer. He
         instrumentality of laws, courts, taxation and public   makes no reference to the Hebrew Bible. But the fear he
         spending. Society is what we do for one another through   has is precisely what the book of Exodus documents. When
         communities, voluntary associations, charities and welfare   a central power – even when this is God Himself – does
         organizations. Judaism, I believe, has a marked preference   everything on behalf of the people, they remain in a state
         for society rather than state, precisely because it recognizes  of arrested development. They complain instead of acting.
         – and this is the central theme of the book of Exodus – that  They give way easily to despair. When the leader, in this
         it is what we do for others, not what others or God does for  case Moses, is missing, they do foolish things, none more
         us, that transforms us. The Jewish formula, I believe, is:   so than making a Golden Calf.
         small state, big society.
                                                              There is only one solution: to make the people
         The person who had the deepest insight into the nature of   co-architects of their own destiny, to get them to build
         democratic society was Alexis de Tocqueville. Visiting   something together, to shape them into a team and show
         America in the 1830s, he saw that its strength lay in what   them that they are not helpless, that they are responsible
         he called the “art of association”, the tendency of   and capable of collaborative action. Genesis begins with
         Americans to come together in communities and voluntary   God creating the universe as a home for human beings.
         groups to help one another, rather than leaving the task to   Exodus ends with human beings creating the Mishkan, as a
         a centralized government. Were it ever to be otherwise,   ‘home’ for God. Hence the basic principle of Judaism, that
         were individuals to depend wholly on the state, then   we are called on to become co-creators with God. And
         democratic freedom would be at risk. In one of the most   hence, too, the corollary: that leaders do not do the work
         haunting passages of his masterwork, Democracy in    on behalf of the people. They teach people how to do the
         America, he says that democracies are at risk of a   work themselves. It is not what God does for us but what
         completely new form of oppression for which there is no    we do for God that allows us to reach dignity and
                              Great Neck Synagogue
                     26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck , NY 11023

                         Rabbi Dale Polakoff, Rabbi
                      Rabbi Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi
                   Rabbi Yehoshua Lefkowitz, Intern Rabbi
                    Dr. Ephraim Wolf, z”l, Rabbi Emeritus
                           Yitzy Spinner, Cantor
                    Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus
          Rabbi Dr. Michael & Zehava Atlas, Youth Rabbi & Youth Director
                      Mark Twersky, Executive Director
                     Dr. James Frisch, Assistant Director
                          Jordan Wolf, President
                     Dov Sassoon, Chairman of the Board
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