It Is Not Your Duty To Complete The Work: Mishna Avot 2.16


It is not your duty to complete the work;      neither are you free to desist from it.

Mishna Avot 2.16

This is the strapline of the website of the current Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. Although I am not Jewish, I think he would not mind my saying I derive a great deal of strength from the two halves of that sentence. To paraphrase: whatever your goal is, do not be discouraged if you think it unlikely to be achieved in your lifetime; irrespective of that, you must continue to struggle to the best of your ability to achieve it.



About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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One Response to It Is Not Your Duty To Complete The Work: Mishna Avot 2.16

  1. Dr Richard Turner says:

    I like your paraphrasing of the statement much better than the original.
    So many leaders start impossible projects – using all their persuasive abilities to take the people along with them – and then abandon them when they see how difficult the task is. My grandfather’s motto was “Consider the Postage Stamp my son – its virtue consists of sticking to one thing until it gets there”. Those starting great projects should have a duty to be honest how much work will be required to finish them and take some of the consequences personally if they are wrong – particularly if they use their power to over-rule doubters and force the development through despite widespread and wise opposition.

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