web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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
Rafael's Spike anti-tank missile launcher.
India to buy $525 Million in Israeli Anti-Tank Missiles
Latest Sections Stories
Nimchinsky-102414-Flag

This past summer was a powerful one for the Jewish people. I will always remember where I was on June 12th when I found out that Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped. I will always remember the look on my sister’s face on June 30th when she told me that they were found. I will […]

Schonfeld-logo1

Avromi often put other people’s interests before his own: he would not defend people whom he believed were guilty (even if they were willing to pay him a lot of money).

Kupfer-102414

The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

My eyes skimmed an article on page 1A. I was flabbergasted. I read the title again. Could it be? It had good news for the Miami Jewish community.

Students in early childhood, elementary, and middle school were treated to an array of hands-on projects to create sukkah decorations such as wind chimes, velvet posters, sand art, paper chains, and more.

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
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.

Hertzberg-092614

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.

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

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: