web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Parshat Lech Lecha

       “You’re going to give four years of your life to the country and this job. When you leave, what do you want them to say about your time here?” This was the question outgoing Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark asked his colleague, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, in 2005. (State of Denial, by Bob Woodward; Simon and Schuster, New York, 2006; p.404.)
 
         In essence, Clark was telling Pace to set for himself a goal. As Pace recalled in an interview, the question was: “When you leave, what do you want them to say about your time here” (p.405). Although a major part of being the senior military officer in the country is managing the day-to-day business of the armed services, every chairman wants to leave his mark on the position.
 
         Together, Clark and Pace reviewed the tenures of several chairmen and were hard pressed to come up with long-lasting accomplishments. Even successful chairmen such as Colin Powell and Hugh Shelton left limited legacies. Some left nothing. Taking over in the middle of the Iraq occupation in a subordinate capacity to a controversial secretary of defense was no easy task. Clark was cautioning his friend to be careful. His suggestion to Pace was to focus on reasserting the authority of the position, which Rumsfeld had undermined over the past five years.
 
         Every person who assumes a leadership position wants to make a difference. While a good part of the position is taken up with day-to-day management and urgent issues, every leader must have a vision for his organization to strive for under his guiding hand. As we see from the above discussion between two people at the top of their respective pyramids, it’s not so easy. While many leaders enter office with a long list of goals that, if implemented, will leave a permanent mark on the organization, most people are lucky if they successfully accomplish even a single, long-term goal.
 
         This reality helps us understand what an amazing leader Avraham was. When we meet Avraham at the beginning of this week’s parsha he is first starting out on the world stage. And yet, according to our tradition, he had already accomplished two things that would change the world.
 
         The Torah states (Bereishit 12:5): “And Avram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew and all their wealth that they acquired and the souls they made in Charan and they left and went to the land Canaan and they arrived to the land of Canaan.” Commenting on the words, “and the souls they made in Charan,” Rashi explains that these souls were the people that Avram and Sarai converted to monotheism.
 
         The Rambam in Hilchot Avodat Kochavim (1:3) describes how Avraham argued with his neighbors and ultimately convinced them of the futility of worshiping idols and the importance of worshiping G-d. All along his journey to Canaan he taught this message and accepted thousands of people into his camp. Although it would be many years until monotheism became firmly established in the world, Avraham is credited with introducing the concept and paving the way for its ultimate dominance.
 
         A second part of Avraham’s legacy was total commitment to the land of Israel. Rav Chaim Volozhiner in his commentary to Pirkei Avot, Ruach HaChaim (5:3) posits that Avraham bequeathed to Jews of all time the ability to be moser nefesh, (self-sacrifice) for the land of Israel.
 
         As the Torah continues to relate Avraham’s travails and accomplishments, we see further examples of his lasting legacy. But suffice it to say that Avraham, by maintaining a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish, achieved spectacular results despite the many obstacles he had to overcome. All leaders should follow his example and pursue a vision that when implemented, will make a difference and make one’s organization better as a result. It need not be earth shattering. The key is that it must be long-term and productive.
 
         Recently I asked a former student who served as editor of his yearbook if he felt that he and his fellow editors had done anything that would leave a lasting impact for future editors. After thinking for a few minutes he told me that they made a major effort to get in all the ad money as close to the deadline as possible. By involving a broad range of student representatives they succeeded. The standard had been set for all future yearbook staffs. His group had shown that it can be done and that there are obvious advantages to doing so.
 
         None of us will ever face the challenges of Avraham, and most of us will never face the crises of commanding generals, but all of us, at one time or another, will be in a position to leave our mark. The question we have to answer is will we rise to the occasion or will we ignore our destiny and allow our legacies to become another one of the many “what ifs” of history.
 

         Rabbi David Hertzberg is the Principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Questions and 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.


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 Lech Lecha”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Border Police keep an eye out for Palestinian Authority terrorists.
IDF on Manhunt for Arab Terrorists Trying to Gun Down Jewish Drivers
Latest Sections Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Schonfeld-logo1

This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.

Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.

The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Hertzberg-112114-Timing

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

Hertzberg-101014-Oval-Office

Realizing that his death was immanent and he had only a few more moments, Moshe focuses on doing the most important thing: he runs to Bnei Yisrael and blesses them.

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

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

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/parshat-lech-lecha/2006/11/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: