Office of the Chief Rabbi

Thought for the Day: Purpose is a dream with a deadline

On the eve of the Festival of Shavuot and in the run up to the General Election, the Chief Rabbi points out that ‘for those seeking our votes, there is something profound to be learned from the Jewish festival of Shavuot’.

Listen to the Audio and read the full transcript below.

TRANSCRIPT:

Every year, the research company IPSOS MORI produces a ‘Veracity Index’ – a list of professions rated in order of the trust the public places in them. And every year, while doctors, teachers and judges come in the top three, politicians always come last. With nine days left till we go to the polls, this certainly merits further reflection.

For those seeking our votes, there is something profound to be learned from the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which commences this evening, marking the anniversary of the day on which the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai.

‘For those seeking our votes, there is something profound to be learned from the Jewish festival of Shavuot’

The two most significant locations mentioned in the Bible are surely Mount Sinai and Mount Moriah. Also known as the Temple Mount, Mount Moriah is the heart of the city of Jerusalem. Visited by three and a half million people every year, it holds great significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

But what about Mount Sinai? Remarkably, it is ignored. So much so, that today we actually cannot say for sure where it is.

How can it be that, whereas Temples and monuments were built to honour Mount Moriah, Mount Sinai was forgotten?

The Bible tells us that Sinai was a place of intention. When the Ten Commandments were given over 3,000 years ago, the Israelites unanimously and enthusiastically declared, “All that the Lord has said we will do.” Mount Moriah, however, has always been a place of action. At Sinai we made a commitment, but at Moriah we acted upon it, from which we learn to measure ourselves not by the intensity of our thoughts or resolutions, but according to the quality of our deeds.

Before an election, politicians ask us to judge them according to their intentions. And while good intentions are commendable, they alone cannot transform our lives. For every promise that is made without being subsequently acted upon, trust is eroded.

‘A dream is just a dream, but purpose is a dream with a deadline’

But let’s not be too harsh on politicians. Isn’t this something that most of us do, being guilty of procrastinating, of overpromising and under-delivering, because we most often judge ourselves by our intentions and other people by their actions.

In this context, a week on from the horrific terror attack, the famed ‘spirit of Manchester’ cannot triumph if our sorrow and words of condolence are not accompanied by tangible acts of real cooperation and support for one another – the likes of which we are already seeing in abundance.

A dream is just a dream, but purpose is a dream with a deadline. And the time to make good on our dreams, is right now.