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Lesson 4: Re’eh: “Rejoice [together] in all your endeavors”––Collective joy at work
“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.” – Sheryl Sandberg
“Together with your households, you shall feast there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all your endeavors in which the Lord your God has blessed you.
Do not behave as we have been behaving here, now, everyone doing what is right in his own eyes.” Deuteronomy 12:7–8.
In his discourse, Moses describes how, in the Promised Land, the Israelites are to distance themselves from any trace of the local idol worship customs and, instead, come to the Holy Temple at the allotted times for their festivals. These festivals will provide the opportunity for the individual and their family to be joyous and grateful, emphasizing their success in all their undertakings, which have come to them by God’s providence.
Moses has been tracing the Israelites’ career as a nation through three key stages: slavery in Egypt (suffering and distress), survival and protection in the desert (maintenance), and anticipated bliss (joy and happiness) in the Promised Land and not just in the Holy Temple.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out that the relevant Hebrew word in the quoted verse—’simcha‘ (ve’samachtem-here: “and you shall rejoice”) ––is usually translated as “joy” or “rejoice.” However, the various mentions of simcha, especially in the Book of Deuteronomy, allude to a particular kind of joy: communal rather than personal joy. The Israelites are to enjoy their festivals and accompanying feasts with family and others, especially society’s weaker members.
Thus, joy becomes a relational emotion to be shared, positively infusing others and other aspects of life with happiness. The Temple may provide the sanctioned time and place for expressing joy, and being with others augments the joy engendered at the event. However, this joy will carry on back home when the individual renews their sense of gratitude for what has been accomplished in what they have undertaken in their lives.
Much of what we appreciate and enjoy in the workplace is the camaraderie with our colleagues. The classic Gallup Q12 Engagement Questionnaire has consistently demonstrated that high worker engagement yields desirable organizational outcomes, such as enhanced employee well-being, productivity, profitability, and lower absenteeism. A highlighted theme of the work engagement items is connecting with colleagues and supervisors. These include: “My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person”; “There is someone at work who encourages my development”; “I have a best friend at work”‘; “My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work”; In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.”
Camaraderie at work has many benefits, such as a built-in source of support during difficult times at work or home, as well as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB; the inclination to go the extra mile for co-workers and the company). Every effort should be made to maximize joint events at regular intervals without having to count on a birthday date on the calendar. A communications team manager at SEFE Marketing & Trading-France recognizes the importance of planned team events:
We always try to surprise our employees, to find something special and useful for them to enjoy…Well-prepared team-building helps people spend quality time with their colleagues outside of work. As a result, many of our employees have been able to learn something new, create stronger relations and become more engaged.
- As noted, camaraderie at work doesn’t happen by itself. It requires investment by all, not just by a team leader. To reap the benefits of positive relationships, during routine workdays, you may need to engage in some small talk, comment on a colleague’s family photos, and discuss macroeconomics, even when you’re a bit pressured. You may see this investment as an “inefficient” use of time in the short run, but it will pay off big-time in the long term.
- Spontaneous social interaction is impaired as more working hours move to the home setting. Many miss just walking over to a colleague and sharing some ideas. The emerging hybrid framework––the new normal, when work time is split between the home and the traditional workplace––may require having to schedule collaborative meetings.
- Try this: Teambuilding event planners can turn to a plethora of online resources. Consulting with friends and colleagues in other organizations can help generate a list of options for the year. For instance, teambuilding.com recommends an activity that has won accolades in their experience––The Great Guac Off™️ ––their clients’ top choice. This is a fun celebration with an avocado theme where coworkers compete against one another. Team members usually enjoy showing off their guacamole-making prowess.
 Sacks, J. (2019). Covenant & conversation: a weekly reading of the Jewish Bible-Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai covenant (pp. 125–129). OU Press and Maggid.
 Camaraderie: “A feeling of friendship that a group of people have, especially when they work together.” Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/camaraderie
 SEFE (n.d.). How to organise successful team-building events everyone will enjoy. https://www.sefe-mt.com/careers/blog/how-to-organise-successful-team-building-events  Teambuilding.com. (n.d.) 32 best team building events & activities for work.
 Teambuilding.com. (n.d.) 32 best team building events & activities for work.