Sunday, September 3, 2017

Is obedience a bribe or payment to God?

August 5, 2017 
This week’s parasha, Va-ethanan, is Moshe’s discourse to the people of Israel.  He reviews some of the events of the years since they left Egypt such as events of Baal-Peor and giving by God of the laws and ordinances.  In the fourth Aliyah, the ten commandments are repeated.

There are whole books written on the ten commandments. The giving of the tablets with these commandments is the moment of revelation of God to His people.  Moshe wants us to remember both the content and the drama of the event. In some ways, they are the basis of many of our Jewish laws and of the Judaeo-Christian ethics.  The management lessons are many, but I just want to mention one stream.  Moshe is reminding us that we have a history.  If we as a people or as individuals do not conform to the expected norms, we will be punished.  The extreme punishment of death is consequence of ignoring God and worshiping idols.  In the organization members, should be aware of the rules.  Failure to follow the most important ethics and rules can result in termination.

This week parasha Ekev. opens with a blessing that will come with obedience.  While do not understand this as a promise or covenant, the message is clear.  If the people keep the laws, God will love us, bless us, and cause the nation to multiply. This message is repeated in several ways in the parasha.  Is obedience a bribe or payment to God?  Can God be bribed?

If we want to bribe a person we offer something they desire such as fame, honor, or fortune.  Can doing the right thing for the good of oneself or community ever be a “bribe?”  Can one do good in one area as a compensation for a lack in another?  Such as does an act of tzedakah compensate for treating someone disrespectfully?  May one violate Shabbat for a “worthy” cause?

The management lesson for this week is in 8:3 –

כי לא על הלחם לבדו יחיה האדם כי
 על כל מוצא פי ה" יחיה האדם 

For man (people) do no live by bread alone, but everything that comes from the mouth of God sustains the people.

Part of this sentence is often quoted to mean that food is not the only thing that people require.  For the   Everything word that comes out of the “organizational mouth” should work toward making the organization a better place.  We have to give the employees respect, honor, and justice not as a bribe, but as the way to make the organization a better place to work and a better way to help the customers and clients. The spiritual well-being of the organization is as important as the financial well-being.  In the well-run organization one leads by setting a good example, having reasonable expectations, and respect for the needs of the individual.
organization food (read monetary compensation) is not enough.

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