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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Parshat Toldot

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From Yaakov’s perspective, when that day dawned he had no reason to believe that anything monumental would occur. But things suddenly changed. Esav returned home and Yaakov, reading his mood, identified the opportunity and reached for his goal. What Yaakov didn’t do was dismiss the moment, because, after all, what could be accomplished over a pot of stew. Yaakov’s faith in G-d and his deep understanding of human nature joined forces with his eye for opportunity and changed the course of history. Yaakov taught us that life is not guided by long episodes – rather it is guided by significant ones.

Leaders must heed this lesson. They must always be on the lookout for opportunities regardless of how they come packaged. Lincoln changed the nature of the Civil War with a “few appropriate remarks.” Imagine how different America would be had Lincoln let his ego get in the way or had questioned what could be accomplished with a small speech. “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” tragically might have perished from the earth.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division and is an adjunct assistant professor of History at Touro College.


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