Chapter 8: Build Your Community Part 1
One morning at my first job, I had a terrible moment of panic as I scanned my identity card to enter the building. ‘What if I lost my job? I would not be allowed to enter this building. “I couldn’t talk to all of these interesting people, and I couldn’t work on all this great stuff.” Aside from my wife, I couldn’t think of anyone in my life that wasn’t at the company. Where would I go? What would I do?
Fear of isolation is normal. A friend of mine told me that being unemployed was like prison, because there was nothing to do all day. And taking pride in your work is normal and healthy. In fact, Judaism teaches that work is sacred. As Rabbi Janet Marder preached on Rosh Hashanah
“In the Jewish worldview, work is sacred – it is building and creating a partnership with God in the work of creation.”[i] Rabbi Marder explained that two famous scholars in the second century “would purposely carry burdens on their shoulders into the Study House because they wanted to show their students that manual labor should be respected. This view of work set Judaism apart from other [idol-worshipping] philosophies prevalent in the ancient world. The Greeks and Romans looked down on work; freedom from work was a mark of status and privilege. “Labor stupefies both body and mind and deprives man of his natural dignity,” said Aristotle. “…The title of citizen belongs only to those who need not work to live” [Politics, parts 6,8,10,11].”[ii]
So it was not my passion for the job per say that was the problem. The issue was the absence of other things in my life. Over the years, as my community got stronger, that fear subsided into the background.
[i] Rabbi Marder was quoting “Chaim David HaLevy, former Sephardic Chief rabbi of Israel from [Aseh L’cha Rav, 2:64; quoted in Work, Workers and the Jewish Owner].