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Posted By The Stash
This week Rabbi Sacks turns his attention to a facet of leadership: minimizing strife. He notes that when the Israelites were preoccupied with building the Tabernacle, they seemed “too busy” to complain about their lives. What does this have to do with leadership? You will see…

The Home We Build Together

 
Posted By The Stash
I thought this parasha would present Rabbi Sack’s view that the Torah is a discussion of leadership with a challenge. I think he finds a very credible approach to sustain his thesis despite the vast narrative shift. Read below and think about it…is his explanation forced or successful? In either case, he deals with a very important issue of textual transition and analysis.

Vision and Details

 
Posted By The Stash
Rabbi Sacks continues his series on leadership; today’s parasha is all about that theme, but what he writes is nonetheless interesting and insightful…..

From Rabbi Sacks: A Nation of Leaders

 
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Rabbi Sacks continues his series on leadership: Looking Up
 
Posted By The Stash
Rabbi Sacks began his comments on the Book of Shmot by noting how the text clearly delineates the crucial role women played in the Jewish people surviving Egyptian enslavement and, even more important, in the liberation from bondage. This week’s parasha continues that theme on a more subtle level.

In last week’s parasha, Moses followed the instructions he had received at the Burning Bush and assembled the Elders of Israel to accompany him to Pharoah. But the next verses indicate that only Moses and Aaron actually reached the palace. Rashi famously explains the Elder’s unexplained disappearance from the text by arguing that “the closer Moses and Aaron came to the palace, the fewer elders remained with them. At every corner, some turned away and disappeared until, when they finally reached the palace, Moses and Aaron discovered they were alone.”

This pattern remains the norm throughout the rest of the plagues, which form the narrative we read this week. The Elders are nowhere to be found; the narrative places Moses and Aaron front and centre in the direct “line of fire” of an increasingly angry, distraught, and still very powerful and dangerous Pharaoh. Certainly it is they, not the Elders, who earn their spurs of leadership in these confrontations.

The Torah continues discussing their role in this chapter, but in a manner best revealed through careful reading. Towards the end of our parasha, just before the tenth plague strikes, G-d predicted, “Tell the people that each man shall borrow from his neighbor Stashover-Slipia Congregation 11 Sultana Avenue Toronto Ontario M6A 1S9 and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold.” (11:2). The language is very unusual; once the “people” have been mentioned, the Torah has no need to delineate further. It could have simply written: “Tell the people to borrow from their neighbours…” Why the apparently unnecessary elaboration? The Da’at Mikra explains that in this society men dealt with men and women with women. This emphasizes the careful modesty of the Israelite women. Given the track record of the male Elders in assisting Moses, it is far more believable to see this verse as setting up a parallel challenge to contrast the women favorably with the men of Israel. The women, after all, were in the greatest position of risk, yet they were to go to their Egyptian female neighbours and ask for items of gold and silver just as the men were to do. Given the fear of the Elders, it is likely that the men who were more afraid of the Egyptians than the women—might be reluctant to approach their Egyptian neighbours. Seeing their womenfolk do just this might well have been a goad for the men to at least show courage. This may well be a parallel to later in the story, after the Egyptians have drowned, when we read that “The Children of Israel sang a song unto the L-rd…” but later we are told that “And Miriam the Prophetess took the drum in her hand and all the women followed her….” singing the same words. Here again, the women are presented separately doing a parallel activity, implying their equality to the men on the basis of their bravery and contribution to the survival of the Jewish people.

And this is a paradigm for the relationships of husbands and wives. Each party sometimes has to be an exemplar for the other if both are to grow in their relationship. In Egypt, it was the women who had more faith than the men during the worst part of Egyptian bondage, it was the women who maintained the heritage of the Foremothers and Forefathers while the men often succumbed to terror, frustration, anguish and fear. There have been times in our history when the opposite is true, and many more when the decision was the joint product of both husband and wife. Let us hope that the bonds that kept the Israelites cognizant of their heritage will serve us well today.

 


 
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