Leaders need to develop this dual capability to lead their organizations effectively in the present and prepare them for the future. While reading speeches and studying history is an important and helpful way to develop this art, the best way is to learn from those who are experts in this art and have succeeded leading with this dual vision. I have personally been privileged to meet and learn from several such people. But I would like to conclude my article today with a tribute and personal thank you to a person who has taught me and thousands of others so much in this regard, Rabbi Dr. David Eliach, the principal emeritus of the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Rabbi Eliach still comes to the Yeshivah of Flatbush several times a week to work with teachers and administrators, helping us to prepare our lessons, tweak our curriculum, and maintain our focus on the proper educational goals. With his roots firmly planted in the past—a past inspired by Torah greats such as the Chazon Ish, Rav Kook, Rav Isser Zalman Melzer, Rav Herzog and Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank—Rabbi Eliach has one eye firmly focused on the present and the other eye looking toward the future. It is this sophisticated vision that enables him to teach one and all universal educational and spiritual messages and how to teach them to our students. Rabbi Eliach graciously gives of his time to learn with me every Monday. These sessions are the highlight of my week. Through the texts that we learn, he helps me look into the future to become a better teacher, principal and person.
Even a five-minute schmooze with Rabbi Eliach often enlightens a person on a topic or issue far more than hours of research and meetings. The words that Edward Everett said to Abraham Lincoln after the President finished his “few appropriate words” describe these little talks with Rabbi Eliach as well. “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Comments can be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.