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Redefining Progress


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More disturbing yet were Netanyahu’s generally secular views about life and human history.

Perhaps by using secular barometers to measure how we value and enhance life, Netanyahu was simply trying to establish a common ground with the other delegates, to impress them with Israeli accomplishments they could perceive and appreciate. Certainly, the long list of Israel’s achievements in the scientific and technological domains (“leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment”) is quite impressive.

But one might hope that as the leader of the Jewish state, Netanyahu would embrace a truer and more complete understanding of how we perceive the world and our significant, divinely mandated role within it.

Maybe it is asking too much from an irreligious head of state to expect him to acknowledge there is more to life than the humanistic aspirations he expressed. Perhaps he really does believe the Jews are just another nation, willing and able to make their fair contribution to the inexorable march of history. We, however, certainly cannot support that component of his address.

Rashi’s first commentary on the Torah (Bereishis 1:1) focuses on this very point. He states that the Torah began with the account of creation for one simple reason: “So that if the nations of the world were to say to Israel, ‘you are thieves, for you conquered the lands of the seven nations,’ [Israel) will say to them, ‘The whole earth belongs to God. He created it, and He gave it to the one that he found to be proper in His eyes.’ ”

We understand that we were given our precious land for a purpose. It is not simply to serve as a place of refuge for Jews fleeing persecution or even a homeland like all others. If that were the case, there would have been no need for us to conquer a land that was already occupied by other nations.

Instead, we were given the land of Israel because God intended for us to do something special with it, to develop it into a spiritual center from which to elevate all of humanity.

Hopefully, this more elevated view will soon be shared by all Israel, from the political leadership down, so that we can proudly and collectively embark on our true mission: to bring about the final redemption and with it the long-awaited fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision of a time when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.”

And with that, we will finally be able to put the political farce that is the United Nations, as well as Ahmadinejad and his odious ilk, out of their collective misery.

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About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at info@impactfulcoaching.com.


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I can testify from experience, however, that despite such experience and/or training, top-tier leaders often begin their tasks unprepared for the rigors of their new position, particularly when the experience and training focused on instructional leadership (such as classroom observation and curriculum) rather than organizational stewardship and management.

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Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.

Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.

The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications.

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Asara B’Teves, the 10th of Teves, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately culminated with the First Temple’s destruction on the 9th of Av the following year.

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