web analytics
July 12, 2014 / 14 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim's Restaurant in Tiberias Restaurant in Tiberias Enriches Holocaust Survivors’ Wellbeing

The generosity of Mrs. Lee Steinberg of New York helped establish the Meir Panim Free Restaurant in Tiberias.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Parshat Vayechi


Hertzberg-Rabbi-David

December 1862 was a terrible month for Abraham Lincoln. General Robert E. Lee at Fredericksburg had just defeated his principal army, the Army of the Potomac. As a result, the Radical Republican senators felt that now was the time to force Lincoln to push the war more vigorously. More importantly, they wanted to replace Secretary of State Seward who was viewed as the power behind Lincoln.

Based on information, sent to them by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon B. Chase, they felt that Seward controlled the President, prevented the cabinet from helping the President and, “hindered Lincoln’s intention to make the war a crusade for emancipation” (Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon and Schuster New York, 2005, p.486).

In letters to the senators, Chase implied, among other things, that had the members of the cabinet, especially himself, been consulted by Lincoln the country would not be in the bad situation it currently found itself in. Based on Chase’s information the senators felt Seward had to be replaced in order for the Union to win the war. To press the issue, the senators selected a Committee of Nine to visit Lincoln and demand Seward’s dismissal. The Committee arrived on December 18.

While Lincoln dreaded the meeting, he heard them out. At the meeting’s conclusion, despite being depressed, Lincoln realized he had to work this problem out himself and do it in a creative, non-confrontational manner. He had to demonstrate that his cabinet was both consulted and united. Additionally, he had to expose Chase’s duplicity and prove Seward’s indispensability. Not one to feel sorry for himself, Lincoln got to work.

Lincoln invited all the members of the cabinet other than Seward to a meeting at the White House on December 19. Unbeknownst to them he also invited the Committee of Nine. Among the cabinet members present was Salmon Chase. When Chase saw the joint session he panicked, “since tales of the malfunctioning cabinet had originated largely with his own statements to the senators” (p.491). In front of the senators, Lincoln asked his cabinet members whether major issues had been discussed with them. All of them concurred – even Chase.

Additionally, Chase was forced to publicly concede, that Seward did not object to the Emancipation Proclamation and was not soft on slavery. Rather, in actuality, “Seward had suggested amendments that substantially strengthened it” (p.492). Forced to admit, in front of the senators that he had been disingenuous, Chase felt compelled to resign. Lincoln accepted his resignation and placed it in a drawer. Lincoln let Chase know that for now his job was safe, but if he ever showed disloyalty again (which he eventually did) he would be dismissed from office.

Lincoln, by rebounding from his depression and creatively tackling the crisis he faced, achieved firm control of his cabinet and silenced the attacks by the Radical Republicans. “For Lincoln, the most serious governmental crisis of his presidency had ended in victory. He had treated the senators with dignity and respect and, in the process, had protected the integrity and autonomy of his cabinet” (p.494).

In this week’s parshah Yaakov blessed Yehudah and assigned him the leadership of Bnei Yisrael. As part of the blessing the Torah states (49:9): “Judah is a lion cubhe crouches and lies down like a lion” Many works quote a beautiful insight in the name of the first Rebbe of Ger, the Chiddushei HaRim. The Torah’s choice of words captures the essence of Yehudah’s character. Although at times he is forced to crouch down and deal with setbacks, he ultimately responds like a lion and gets back up with renewed vigor and strength. As leaders, Yehudah and his descendants had to deal with local failures and disappointments. However, as leaders they also knew that they had to move on and exploit the opportunities such setbacks presented. People of lesser character would have surrendered to circumstance.

We can discern a second leadership character trait of Yehudah when we contrast him with Reuven. When Yaakov blessed Reuven, the Torah described (49:4) Reuven as being “hasty like water.” In other words, Reuven often acted impulsively. While impulsivity is called for at times (e.g. jumping into save a life) it is a bad character trait for a leader who must think things through. Yehudah, although capable of acting when necessary, always acted deliberately and after careful evaluation. Whether it was by patiently judging Tamar, waiting out Yaakov during the famine, or approaching Yosef, Yehudah always had a plan.

Rabbeinu Bachaya learns an additional important leadership lesson from the letters of the blessing. Within the text of Yehudah’s blessing every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is used except the letter zayin. When viewed as a word zayin means weapons. In light of this, Rabbeinu Bachaya explains that the Torah is teaching us a critical lesson. Yehudah’s leadership will ultimately succeed due to G-d’s providence and not because of Yehudah’s military prowess. Although as leaders, the children of Yehudah will at times need to resort to military force, the absence of the letter zayin is a permanent reminder that G-d is the source of all successes and failures.

Based upon Rabbeinu Bachaya’s explanation, Rav Avraham Korman in his work HaParsha L’doroteha offers an interesting addendum. Although, leaders must be prepared to use force, the Torah, by avoiding using the letter zayin, is instructing leaders that if they want their leadership to be truly effective, they should rely on approaches based on persuasion and inspiration. Force should only be used as a last resort.

Abraham Lincoln intuitively understood these important leadership lessons. All leaders should heed them as well. Leaders must learn to bounce back, plan perfectly and influence ingeniously.

Rabbi David Hertzberg is the Principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Questions and comments can be e-mailed to him at Mdrabbi@aol.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Comments can be emailed to him at mdrabbi@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Parshat Vayechi”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
An Islamic Jihadist in Gaza, eliminated by a rocket from an Israeli aircraft.
Hamas’ ‘Operation Death Wish’ vs. Israel’s Protective Edge
Latest Judaism Stories
Leff-071114

Sometimes when Chazal say that two different people are really one, they do not mean it literally, but rather figuratively.

Pinchas 10 Minute Parsha

The midrash says that Pinchas, (this parsha), and Eliyahu, prophet of Kings, are one and the same.

Lessons-Emunah-logo

The simple act of kindness should be the reward itself. Anything more in the form of a reward is gravy.

Business-Halacha-logo

“It is sometimes possible through hataras nedarim, nullification of vows,” replied Rabbi Dayan, “but it’s not simple for charity pledges.

The kohen gadol may not enter the Temple unless his hair is cut every seven days.

We need to understand why Moshe Rabbeinu decided to ask that his sons inherit his position after this new halacha was introduced.

Ancient Cities, Ancient Walls
(Megillah 3b-4a)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Moshe served dual major roles for bnei Yisrael. He was their teacher and their leader.

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text. […]

Is the fact that we can spend time with our families just a fringe benefit of Shabbos or an integral aspect?

Respect for basic human dignity is such a powerful concept that it overwhelms some areas of Jewish law.

If it is not prohibited when there is a purpose for inflicting the tza’ar, why was Bilam chastised for tza’ar ba’alei chaim?

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Hertzberg-062014

Although famous for his smile, Ike Eisenhower actually harbored a volcanic temper that he worked arduously to control.

Hertzberg-052314

Why did we merit exiting the gas chamber alive when so many others did not?

Without a plan of action, a leader will never be able to lead his followers anywhere, no matter how important the destination or lofty the goal.

Like Dempsey and Gates, leaders must always be cognizant of the costs involved in their decisions – even when the costs are less than human life

G-d, accordingly, is encouraging Moshe to not just focus on reaching the top of the spiritual mountain but remaining there as well, thus fully capitalizing on his gains.

Moshe’s name would forever remind him of the kindness that Pharaoh’s daughter did for him by taking him out of the Nile, and serve as a lodestar to him as he interacts with his people.

Having come to the conclusion that nobody was more qualified than Yosef to lead Egypt in anticipation of and during the approaching famine, Pharaoh appointed him prime minister. This appointment made Yosef the second most powerful man in Egypt.

Esav truly thought he was getting the better part of the deal. He considered that as a hunter, whose life is constantly at risk, it was likely he would die before his father anyway. Therefore, when an opportunity to sell the birthright presented itself he jumped at it and immediately profited from the sale.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-vayechi/2007/01/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: