May 27, 2024
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Politics & Parsha: Matos-Masei 5775: An Incomplete Start

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”—Dwight Eisenhower

Moses is given the command to create six cities of refuge, arei miklat. Three are to be on one side of the Jordan, and three on the opposite bank.

The system of arei miklat is all or nothing. No one city can function unless all six are operational. Yet Moses designates the first three, despite being unable, until Joshua’s conquest, to set up the remaining three and have the system go live.

There are several lessons here, but one most applicable to politics and government is the pilot project. Spending millions of dollars, and thousands of man hours to plan and create something that then can’t be executed as planned is both worthless and demoralizing.

A trial run on a smaller scale that works out unforeseen obstacles can be a better way. After all, setting up a city of refuge requires roads, lighting, signage, not to mention housing and supplies. Security patrols had to be set and a crisis reaction plan needed to be in place.

Getting the first three up could help in launching the full set of six at a later date, and make them fully operational quicker.

It’s worth keeping that in mind in government and advocacy. Sometimes something must be changed completely or launched immediately. But at times, the smaller project that demonstrates success is better than wholesale reform.

Words to consider. Ideas to ponder. Politics and the parsha.

Howie Beigelman, formerly of Springfield, NJ, is Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities. He works at the intersection of Jewish communal service and nonprofit advocacy. Follow him on Twitter @howielb

By Howie Beigelman

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