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Shavuot

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Our visit to the Naval Academy helped me appreciate another leadership quality of Rut. One of the most amazing things about the midshipmen at the academy is that they don’t waste any time. Every part of their day is structured and purposeful. Even their downtime and athletic competitions are orchestrated to teach teamwork, resiliency and leadership. There’s no such thing as bitul zman—wasting time. Among other things this teaches the midshipmen to always be on the lookout for opportunities—especially when they are least expected. Rut had this ability as well. On her very first day in Israel Rut went searching for food for her and Naomi. Chazal delineate for us in various places the many miracles Hashem performed that day to bring Rut and Boaz together. But these miracles would have remained unused had she not had the confidence and courage to take advantage of them. She saw opportunities and possibilities and refused to waste a second. For Rut, time was too precious to squander.

Most importantly, Rut had the wherewithal to keep trying, no-matter-what. While she could not be sure she would succeed, and had no idea she was going to play a part in the establishment of Israel’s monarchy, she refused to sit idly by and be a spectator to history as it transpired around her. She sensed the hand of G-d and decided to be a player. In this sense she may have been part of President Teddy Roosevelt’s inspiration when he delivered what is perhaps his most famous speech entitled: “Man in the Arena.”

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither knew victory nor defeat.

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

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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