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Message from the Director

Rabbi Efune's weekly reflections


I’m nervous, but I really shouldn’t be, because I know that Brighton will win and that soon we’ll be in the Premier league.


For those readers out there who don’t quite know what I am referring to allow me to explain.


Although I have lived in Brighton for over twenty five years, it’s only in the last five years or so that I’ve begun to take an interest in the fortunes of our local football team, Brighton and Hove Albion. I wouldn’t say that I am a fanatical supporter, but I do find myself feeling happy when the team wins a game and a little sad when they lose. So I suppose you could call me a supporter.


This season the team has played exceptionally well, and is only three games away from being promoted into the real big time Premier league. This would be amazing, not only for the team but would give a very real psychological boost to the whole city. The stakes are high and so we (notice the ‘we’ another sign that I am a supporter) have no option other than to win. The old adage that ‘it’s not winning that is important but rather it’s participating that counts’ doesn’t apply. Losing any of these three games is just not an option.


But not everyone in life can be a winner and so what do we do about these losers?


In this week’s Torah portion Behar, we are told how best to deal with the following situation:


A person who, due to his own fault, caused himself to become destitute and having no other choice of survival and in order to pay off the debt sells himself as a slave to a non-Jewish resident of Israel. Things couldn’t get worse than that. This guy is a real loser.


Torah demands that family, friends or others in the wider community, can’t allow this individual to remain in slavery for any length of time and so somebody must step forward as soon as possible, negotiate a fair price with the new slave owner, and redeem him from a life of servitude.


This tragic, yet most probably rare scenario, and the instruction on how best to deal with it, is in reality the positive fulfilment in practical terms of the Torah injunction to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. The destitute person described is referred to as ‘your brother’ and who, after all would not wish to redeem their own brother from a life of bondage, no matter how much they thought that he brought it all upon himself and is a total idiot?


A just and caring society is collectively tarnished by the existence of losers because it demonstrates that that particular community just doesn’t care enough about its citizens. What more able and accomplished members of the public should be doing when they see a person heading in the wrong direction is to throw him a lifeline that will save him from the brink. A loser in our midst makes us all losers.


Helping a loser makes us all winners!


Wishing you all a very happy and inspirational shabbat


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