Neighbourhood Watch

My Project 1 24

How did you choose your home? Was it the price? Was it the large yard? Was it the view?  In the ‘old country’ we chose our home based on who our neighbour would be.  We knew that they would forever influence our lives and the lives of our children. So, we chose very carefully where to live. We knew the effects of propinquity.

The tribe of Reuven happened to be neighbours to the Levite family that spawned the rebel, Korach.  Suave and sophisticated, wealthy with a high IQ, royally pedigreed, the powerful Korach cut a striking charismatic figure. But were you to look more closely, you would detect the mean and menacing look of envy and jealousy of his cousin Moses.  

Propinquity – nearness of place and time. The tribe of Reuven was located in the south sector of the Jewish people’s travel formation in the desert – right next to where Korach had his own home and stronghold. They were neighbours. Propinquity worked its spell and the tribe of Reuven joined Korach’s rebellion – and lost badly and even disappeared in a giant sink-hole. In Yiddish one would invoke the Yiddish exclamation ‘oy vey!’ The commentator Rashi quotes the Talmudic equivalent: “Woe to the person and woe to his neighbour.” 

A bad neighbour can corrupt: “I have a really great collection of ‘She’ magazines.”  Or a bad neighbour can activate latent negative genetic tendencies: “Hey, I have a fail-safe get-rich plan.” Or a bad neighbour can arouse unhealthy curiosity and temptation: “Come, smoke a joint with me.”  The Jewish commentaries offer all three instances of ‘the bad neighbour syndrome’.

So, when looking where to settle yourself and your family, forget the post code, forget the price, and forget the views. Go for a good neighbour.  Surround yourself with positivity. The returns on that investment last generations.