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March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
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Parshat Vayeishev

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It seems likely that Yosef also took it upon himself to serve as the moral support for all the inmates. The grace G-d gave him was contagious (See Or Chaim 39:21). With this divine glow, Yosef was able to encourage the prisoners and keep them calm and orderly. No wonder the prison warden appointed him to be in charge of the prisoners.

Arguably, these three instances of adaptability prepared Yosef to adapt when he was appointed viceroy. In this position, Yosef needed to be able to defer to Pharaoh and subdue his personal charisma when necessary, so as not to threaten and challenge Pharaoh’s standing and honor. As manager of the food storage bureaucracy Yosef would need to avail himself of all his managerial skills. At the same time, without the ability to inspire hope in the nation and maintain the morale, Yosef’s food storage and distribution plan would fail before it had a chance to succeed.

Leaders who fail to adapt will become adept at failure. There is no other way. Admiral McRaven was justified tin choosing the SEALs for the Bin Laden mission, if for no other reason then their ability to adapt. As the situation played out, the mission was nearly derailed before it began when one of the Blackhawk helicopters crashed. Government officials watching the mission feeds in Washington, saw visions of the failed Iranian rescue mission in 1980 and Mogadishu in 1993. However, Admiral McRaven, who was supervising the mission from his headquarters in Afghanistan, calmly informed his superiors in Washington: “As you can see, we have a helicopter down in the courtyard. My men are prepared for this contingency and will deal with it” (Ibid, p.226). And deal with it they did. The pilot safely landed the helicopter at an angle, against the wall, the SEALs jumped out, adapted their plan and the rest is history…

[1] It is interesting to note that for legal purposes the SEALs were actually seconded to the CIA for the duration of the mission. So technically speaking the mission was carried out by the CIA, not the U.S. military.

[2] The official name of SEAL Team Six is The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).

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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