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What can Christianity and Judaism educate us about good management?


(Photo: Getty/iStock)

In this newest installment of their Jewish-Christian dialogue, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Hebrew scholar Dr Irene Lancaster discover what the 2 faiths should say about good management.

Rowan: We learn so much for the time being concerning the disaster of management that afflicts our society, not solely within the UK however worldwide. Locally we’ve nationwide leaders who appear to set little retailer by consistency and truthfulness, and a method of presidency that appears careless, reactive and short-term, courting simple recognition and ignoring the necessity for long-term strategic knowledge.

Internationally, we see many populist demagogues whose type is near fascism – authoritarian nationalists, who’ve few scruples about violence and intimidation (whether or not in Eastern Europe, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India or Brazil).

At the identical time, we’ve had loads of dialogue concerning the instance set by Queen Elizabeth II as providing, throughout her 70-year reign, a really totally different form of management – selfless, prayerful and constant. It’s absolutely a time for rediscovering what public management may imply within the mild of religion – what public management seems to be like when it’s accountable to God.

I do not know the way that is for Jews, however for a lot of Christians, the descriptions in Hebrew Scripture of the monarchy of David and Solomon are the place many would begin in occupied with this. Two issues come to thoughts right here. David isn’t any saint, however he’s keen to be challenged by the prophet Nathan when he has carried out an act of gross injustice and deception (the seduction of Bathsheba and the homicide of Uriah).

Also, when he has organised the census of Israel and Judah in a method that offends God and is punished by a pestilence (II Samuel 24), he says to God that he alone is accountable and the folks as an entire mustn’t endure due to his sins ( II Samuel 24.17).

And then when Solomon has his encounter with God at Gibeon (I Kings 3) and is requested what items he would need from God, his reply is that he needs knowledge or discernment relatively than simply prosperity or victory.

We have already heard (I Samuel 8 and 12) the warnings God offers his folks concerning the risks of monarchy. A king could also be exploitative and grasping, could govern tyrannically or unjustly, could lead his folks into idolatry. The spectacular failings of King Solomon appear to solid their shadow earlier than them right here. It just isn’t that Scripture thinks monarchy is essentially factor. But when there’s a clear particular person focus for political energy, there are clear tips in these tales of David and Solomon about how that energy is exercised.

Wealth and victory are hole if they aren’t primarily based on discernment and justice; rulers ought to take full duty for his or her choices and contemplate their impact on those that are weaker and extra weak; rulers needs to be keen to simply accept the problem of these God raises as much as confront their failings.

Christians started within the fourth century to set out steering for rulers, when the Roman Empire turned Christian. It’s fascinating that, whereas some went together with very absolutist concepts about kingship and advisable what seems like a really passive perspective on the a part of believers, St Augustine took a special line and mentioned in his City of God that the perfect rulers have been those that shared their energy with others and have been keen to be challenged within the title of God.

Later on, Thomas Aquinas additionally believed that the ruler’s energy shouldn’t be absolute and that unjust rulers needs to be eliminated if they might not reform. It’s an ongoing pressure inside Christianity – when and the way ought to energy be resisted?

I ponder whether there are any comparable tensions inside Jewish occupied with all this, together with what kind of resistance to authorities is official? But additionally what have Jewish thinkers needed to say concerning the character we search for in management?

Irene: As you say, Rowan, Hebrew Scripture is an effective place to begin, fairly often with the particular person of Moses. Before Moses was given the mission by G-d within the Burning Bush to guide the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land, he’s described as tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro (Exodus 3:1).

This is a check. If an individual is able to taking care of probably the most recalcitrant little lamb, he could be the proper form of particular person to trigger a political and spiritual revolution of the type described in a lot of the Book of Exodus, in addition to the next three Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, all of that are to do with phrases matching actions, because the Hebrew names of those Books suggest.

After encountering G-d within the Burning Bush, what does Moses do? Does he rush to guide the Children of Israel out of Egypt throughout the Reed Sea? No, he doesn’t. He returns to his father-in-law, Jethro (Exodus 4:18) to ask his permission to depart their lifestyle for one thing ostensibly fully totally different. And Jethro, his non-Jewish father-in-law, says ‘Go in peace.’ Quite extraordinary for an historic instructing about Judaism.

Always seek the advice of, with anybody, no matter their background, so long as they know their stuff. And Jethro, the priest of Midian, actually does. Wasn’t he, in any case, the one who would later inform Moses that except he realized tips on how to delegate he would burn himself out (Exodus 18: 13 ff). And Moses is happy to hearken to Jethro’s phrases of recommendation and heeds them nicely.

This trait of delegating to others is sustained in Moses’ successor. Unlike in our monarchies, more often than not, Moses’ successor just isn’t one in every of his personal sons, however Joshua, son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim (talked about in Numbers 13:8 as being one of many authentic spies who was despatched to discover the ‘Land’). Immediately after Moses’ dying, as described on the finish of the Book of Deuteronomy, Joshua assumes Moses’ mantle, however with some necessary adjustments (Joshua 1:10 ff).

One of probably the most important variations between the position of Moses as chief and the position of Joshua as chief is that from the outset Joshua incorporates delegation as a key instrument of efficient management. Instead of doing the whole lot himself, he ‘commanded the officers of the folks‘ and tells them what they need to ‘command´ the Children of Israel to do previous to entry into the Promised Land.

So Joshua personifies the significance of delegation and involving others in case you are to be an ongoing chief after the dying of Judaism’s main prophet, Moses Rabbenu. In the Book of Exodus, Moses was the only real particular person to advise the enslaved folks on their exit from Egypt. Leaving a spot of servitude could also be one factor, however entry into the Promised Land is sort of one other matter, and for this to occur, everybody must really feel that they’ve a correct stake sooner or later.

And this truth of Jewish life must be borne in thoughts if we’re to think about the final 2,000 years or so of Jewish existence. These two millennia have after all coincided with the rise of Christianity, and underneath regimes even solely nominally Christian, Jews have been ready of what we are able to name ‘relative slavery’ in diaspora. Other folks name this ‘voluntary self-censorship’. Therefore, due to Christian persecution and worse, the fingers of the Jewish communities worldwide have been tied as to what to advocate about management, whether or not spiritual or political.

We could not assume that our current society on this nation is especially Christian, however its hinterland actually is. For a Jewish particular person dwelling right here, that’s apparent. So, concern is the norm and so-called Jewish leaders (largely self-appointed) take the road of least resistance, at all times supporting the established order. Others, who’re braver, and really do have management qualities, generally communicate out, however threat a backlash from a Jewish management which isn’t match for goal.

The final resort, which is going on more and more, is emigration to Israel, a spot the place at the least disillusioned diaspora Jews know they are going to be ‘dwelling’, warts and all, and might participate as equals within the dialog, with out having to consistently watch their backs.

So, as Jews dwelling in diaspora have needed to watch their phrases, they’ve due to this fact usually ended up, and fairly understandably, supporting the established order, be it in Protestant Holland, Anglican England, or in Orthodox Russia underneath the Tsars. The later Communist regimes have been merely Tsarist Empires underneath one other title.

That is why successive leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have been so usually uncritically supportive of Soviet management – a convention continued by the current Patriarch of Moscow, as we see in Ukraine for the time being. This can be why spiritual leaders, together with the current Pope in his feedback on the battle in Ukraine, nonetheless are inclined to lean in the direction of the pursuits of the extra highly effective.

But in case you are to be a real chief, merely preserving the outdated methods and endorsing the highly effective is not sufficient and might find yourself being self-defeating, particularly in a faith like Christianity, which advocates (like Judaism after all) the very reverse of this, i.e. taking care of the weak and powerless.

The solely exception to the rule that Jews in diaspora have tended to stay silent on issues of management and political route could have been the American Jews. Certainly the Jews of the USA have at all times felt that, as 100% equal residents (by no means topics), they’ve contributed far above their numbers to the up-building of the USA from the time of the Pilgrim Fathers onwards (though really arriving from Recife, Brazil, just a few years later, in 1655).

And the Jews of America have additionally felt that, having reached a rustic free from the negativity of monarchs and royalty, which that they had usually skilled first-hand in Europe, they now had a sacred mission and an obligation to be the primary to assist the poor, the stranger, the ‘huddled lots craving to breathe free‘, as Sephardi Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) put it in her personal poem The New Collosus (1883), engraved on the Statue of Liberty, which continues to welcome newcomers to its shores.

Alas, in recent times, to the outsider at the least, it appears very a lot as if the USA goes the way in which of all flesh and that the Jews of that nation are discovering it very uncomfortable, to say the least, as residents within the ‘land of the free’ to which they’ve achieved a lot to contribute in each method doable.

Rowan: In a wierd method, Christian Scripture in itself does not provide very a lot about political management as such – I suppose as a result of it is written by a minority group who haven’t any political energy at this level. There are basic issues about dwelling nicely; there are ideas about how and the way to not train energy over others (when St Paul writes about how slave-owners ought to deal with slaves, passages that grate on the trendy ear fairly unpleasantly); and there are numerous bits of recommendation for *spiritual* leaders about not bullying or exploiting others, not scary quarrels or pursuing vendettas, and at all times remembering that you can be held accountable earlier than God for the non secular well-being of these you’re anticipated to take care of.

You can to some extent draw out some concepts about political management from this, maybe. But it could be a threat to place them too carefully collectively. It’s absolutely true that spiritual leaders or folks with spiritual affect and authority should be challenged about how they train it – if this does not occur, that is once you get all of the totally different sorts of abuse with which we’re so painfully acquainted.

Do you assume Jewish sources, historic and trendy, make connections between how the authority of a spiritual trainer must work and the authority and credibility of a political ruler?

Irene: Yes, there are numerous makes an attempt, together with the 12th century ‘Law of Kings and their Wars‘, by Moses Maimonides (the Rambam: 1135-1204). However, very many different nice Jewish thinkers have been in opposition to the concept of monarchy as such, and the biggest group of diaspora Jews, these dwelling within the USA, are significantly averse to this concept. They help the concept of republicanism 100%, in line, little doubt, with the overwhelming majority of fellow Americans, for whom eliminating Hanoverian King George III is one in every of their seminal collective factors of reminiscence.

Jews in diaspora are inclined to assume inside the framework of the political/spiritual system wherein they reside. Therefore, a really trendy tackle management could solely be doable for Jews in their very own land, the State of Israel, which is about to have its fifth election in 3 years! Nevertheless, regardless of the shortage of stability on the coronary heart of presidency, Israel is the one place the place Jews are the bulk, totally accountable for their very own current and future.

Moreover, within the wake of the Shoah, throughout which the world both colluded or turned its again in time of best want, Israelis now endeavour to turn into as self-reliant as doable. It is due to this fact probably not shocking that in recent times solely Israel has been able to offering a variety of cogent Jewish thinkers on these questions, whether or not rabbis or in any other case (by the way, there are such a lot of rabbis now, that, frankly, a bit just like the variety of college graduates on this nation, the time period ‘rabbi’ is at risk of changing into devalued), who’re critically intent on redefining management for the 21st century.

For occasion, the previous Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Shear Yashuv Cohen (1927-2016), talking of his early teenage years, mentions that when he studied on the Yeshiva (spiritual seminary) of Merkaz Ha-Rav, based by the good Rav Kook (1865-1935), first Chief Rabbi of the Land throughout the British Mandate interval, his trainer Rav Moshe Charlap (1882-1951), who was born in Jerusalem, used to show in Yiddish.

However, Shear Yashuv had (most unusually for the son of a member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood) been introduced up in Hebrew, the comparatively new language of the nation, and never Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazi diasporic spiritual communities. In Rabbi Cohen’s personal phrases:

This meant that at the beginning I wasn’t capable of perceive Rabbi Charlap’s courses. But he felt actually accountable for his flock, and the little lamb mattered as a lot because the totally grown sheep, and so Rabbi Charlap would invite a bunch of us into his room to listen to the lesson once more, this time in Hebrew. So we frequently ended up in his presence on a Friday morning, when he would go over the identical lesson once more in Hebrew only for us.’

And I wager that Rabbi Charlap, one of many actually nice minds of that period, did not ask for time beyond regulation, both!!

Rabbi Charlap is a main exemplar of management from whom we are able to study at this time. And he is just one of many who helped to construct up the State of Israel, at all times instructing by instance.

Rowan: Ultimately Jews and Christians alike have a perception that ‘the LORD is King’, within the phrases of the Psalms. This is clearly a press release concerning the full authority of God in and over the universe he has made. But it is usually absolutely a reminder that kingship must be outlined within the mild of what it means to say that God is ‘King’.

Political energy should replicate some elements of God’s method of exercising energy if it isn’t to be harmful. So if God’s energy is rarely acquisitive (as a result of God has no want of something), by no means aggressive or directed at humiliation (as a result of God is rarely threatened in his majesty and by no means envious or fearful), at all times constant (as a result of God can by no means betray himself or return on a promise), and at all times inventive of latest prospects (as a result of God by no means ceases to be the creator who sustains the lifetime of all, and desires the well-being of all), which may be a foundation for some sort of ethic for these in management.

I believe that approaching it in that method would take us straight again to these texts in Samuel and Kings – each the warnings about how monarchical energy, hierarchy, supreme management, can go mistaken, and the tales about David and Solomon – what went proper and what went mistaken for them.

Irene: Yes, however we mustn’t overlook that G-d is past any of us. Religious leaders might want us to emulate their picture of G-d. But usually, spiritual leaders are nicely shielded from actual dialogue or debate. In addition, spiritual leaders are inclined to have all their materials wants catered for by others, which leaves them free to anticipate others to comply with their very own very excessive requirements.

In truth although, incomes sufficient to place bread on the desk is an actual and current drawback for therefore many individuals. It could be very laborious to be magnanimous in case you are shivering from chilly in an unheated dwelling, as many are at the moment experiencing, on this nation, for example.

At these occasions, it actually does want management of an distinctive high quality to drag us by means of. Winston Churchill was one such particular person, suited to a battle scenario. However, Churchill was not thought to be being caring sufficient to guide the following peace. But at this nation’s worst hour, he stepped as much as the plate. There do not seem like many Churchills round at current, nor Rav Kooks for that matter.

Rowan: I agree fully that the one factor we must always by no means do is in some way establish earthly authority with God. The perception from each Jewish and Christian sources appears to be that one of the crucial necessary methods a pacesetter can present their integrity is recognising that they’re by no means past problem and at all times in want of different voices and different expertise (as within the tales you cite about Moses).

There’s an entire difficult set of points round what requirements we anticipate of leaders. I do not assume we are able to anticipate them to be saints, any greater than King David was, however we are able to anticipate them to recognise that after they make expensive and laborious choices they do not fake that there aren’t any issues with the result. Sometimes a pacesetter could should resolve on a plan of action that’s removed from ultimate in absolute phrases – whether or not it should battle or elevating taxes or imposing lockdowns or no matter.

They will not be universally fashionable and so they should have the power of character to reside with that. But they need to additionally ship the message that they perceive the worth that should be paid and so they do not make mild of it. When an earlier authorities mentioned that ‘we’re all on this collectively’ after the monetary disaster, their actions and existence did not precisely suggest that they believed this! And you are proper that spiritual leaders needs to be cautious of blithely imposing inconceivable requirements on different individuals who could not have the sources to manage.

It’s why, after all, there’s a distinction between the management of somebody just like the Queen – who does not should take powerful and presumably unpopular choices – and that of a Prime Minister – who does. In a method, it might sound simpler for the Queen to exemplify values and virtues: she has a symbolic not an govt position, and that is necessary sufficient however not the identical factor.

And after all, the Queen’s place remains to be fraught with value and problem – as a result of dwelling as a ‘image’ just isn’t precisely simple, when you’ve daily to put aside your personal private ideas and preferences and attempt to go on being a ‘nonetheless level’ the place others can discover frequent allegiance.

For spiritual leaders, the problem is usually that they’ve each symbolic and govt positions. As our society adjustments, the significance of symbolic figures declines and other people perceive much less and fewer how symbolism works – however that is one other story.

I used to assume, after I was Archbishop of Canterbury, that I used to be representing not simply the Church of England however an entire set of traditions that have been more and more unusual to the nation I lived in. But after all there have been choices to be made as Archbishop; and really, only a few of them have been plain issues of proper and mistaken. You at all times needed to face the chance not solely of being mistaken in an summary method, however of being mistaken in ways in which would actively harm folks.

If I realized something about management in that context, it was most likely (i) that there have been no (or hardly any) choices of any significance that did not threat hurting somebody, (ii) that you just needed to get used to this and never attempt to protect some ultimate innocence on the expense of constructing selections that needed to be made, (iii) that you just needed to go on listening to the folks you had harm as soon as the choice had been made, and never simply ignore the price to them, and (iv) that you just needed to be cautious of the temptation to make choices too rapidly, as a result of what mattered was whether or not a choice would really stick as soon as it had been made.

This wanted loads of listening and consulting earlier than and after any important alternative. And it meant by no means assuming you had obtained it proper (which may make you a bully and a liar) however at all times assuming that God may make one thing of what you had achieved, in order that your failure or error wasn’t the tip of the world – which meant that you can admit failure, and never fake.

I’m not saying that I managed to do all that; removed from it (I used to be by no means excellent at session, and at all times tempted by my very own longing to be favored). But at the least I may see a little bit of what chief may appear to be even when I could not fairly make it to that degree!

Irene: I believe it’s admirable that you’ve given your personal private view of management and painted an image for us of your time as Archbishop of Canterbury, the chief of round 80 million adherents worldwide, with a far larger outreach than even these large figures would counsel, within the realms of artwork, politics, music, literature and mores. I’m positive readers all around the world will recognize your honesty concerning the large difficulties of management in a task the place the traditional management qualities so admired by the world are sometimes at odds with what true management might be actually about. This cannot be simple to do, so mazal tov for attempting at the least.

But simply consider all of the folks in whose footsteps you adopted once you took up the problem, most likely like lots of these actually nice biblical characters, resembling Moses and David, in opposition to your will. When we consider King David, along with Moses, probably the most well-known character in Hebrew Scriptures, we mustn’t overlook that he was the youngest of seven, disowned by his brothers due to his mom, who is not even named, and inured to life as a shepherd from which he was so abruptly and rudely extricated.

However, it’s David who’s the unlikely particular person to be referred to as by G-d to greatness. And what did David expertise as King? Every day of his life he suffered the agony of some sorrow or different, together with numerous enemies and individuals who needed to see him lifeless. And how did David reply? He tried his finest by writing his Psalms (most likely the best-loved Book of the Hebrew Bible) and, as you level out, heeded the phrases of Natan the prophet concerning the sins that he had dedicated. Yes, management and nice poetry can go collectively, as I’m positive you’re conscious. But in the long run, simply as Moses just isn’t permitted to enter the Promised Land, neither is David awarded the good honour of constructing the Temple.

So leaders can solely attempt their finest, and generally ‘the best-laid schemes of mice and males ….’

Taking the biblical characters of Moses and David as position fashions, I due to this fact assume that the answer for our up to date management is likely to be entry to a mentor, somebody they will speak to, because the examples of Jethro and Natan present to Moses and David respectively.

In our personal age, it was spectacular to watch at first hand the way in which wherein such a clever and fashionable Jewish chief as Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen at all times consulted folks he thought to be educated on each conceivable matter underneath the solar. No topic was too insignificant to debate with individuals who may have the ability to shed further mild on a problem. And this was merely an extension of what he and different Jewish individuals who undergo a yeshiva or seminary training perceive: ‘Two minds are higher than one‘, at all times, as Solomon is reputed to have said (Ecclesiastes 4:9 ff).

I’ve loved occupied with this very tough query with you Rowan, and am changing into more and more conscious of how a lot Jewish thought has been colored by Jewish expertise as a tiny, oppressed minority in diaspora. No extra, thank goodness, and that’s the reason the Jewish folks can discover such inspiring management within the State of Israel – be it in integration of minority teams, drugs, transport, water desalination, and possibly best of all, the actual risk of placing into apply the legal guidelines of Shemitta and Jubilee, the legal guidelines of take care of the land, remission of money owed, and the whole abolition of slavery (whether or not bodily, psychological or non secular), so important to the sustenance and continued survival of our one world.

I want to finish with my favorite sayings of Rabbi Tarfon from one in every of my favorite books of the Mishnah, Pirke Avot: ‘it is lower than us to complete the job, however we mustn’t quit and at the least attempt our greatest.’



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