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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘David Hertzberg’

Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Each year, amid the ebullient joy manifest during the holiday of Sukkot, we read the megillah of Kohelet. With its realistic perspective on the world, Kohelet provides us with the means to not only properly calibrate our joy, but to accurately understand the role of joy and happiness in the world.

The Gemara in Mesechet Shabbat (30b) relates that the rabbis feared people would misunderstand the true message of Kohelet due to its seemingly contradictory aphorisms. To prevent the dangers inherent in such misunderstandings, Chazal considered removing the megillah from circulation. Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook explains that it wasn’t that Chazal doubted the holiness and importance of Kohelet. Rather, they were concerned that, due to its complex nature, people would fail to understand its true message and be misled by their own misunderstanding.

The Gemara describes how Chazal ultimately kept Kohelet in circulation because it both begins and concludes with the ideas of the centrality of Torah and Yirat Shamayim. People would question any interpretation that undermined these ideas. Armed with this reality, the Gemara quotes several examples from rabbanim who resolved some of the apparent contradictions, thus demonstrating that with study all of the contradictions could be resolved.

Thousands of years after Shlomo HaMelech wrote Kohelet its message still resonates with us. Like all sifrei Tanach, Kohelet not only spoke to the generation of its writing, but continues to speak its universal message to all generations.

In history, the truly great works and speeches are those that proved not only relevant to their contemporary audiences but have continued to inspire future generations as well. A classic example of such a speech is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address delivered on November 19, 1863. Among the most interesting factoids regarding this speech is that it was not the main speech. The official oration was delivered by the nation’s leading orator of the day, Edward Everett. Lincoln, as President of the United States, was invited almost as an afterthought to what was perceived as a state, not federal, affair.

Everett prepared extensively for his speech. In fact, the dedication of the cemetery was delayed nearly a month because Everett needed more time for his preparation. On the day of the dedication Everett spoke before Lincoln. And speak he did—his speech lasted for two hours, which was the norm for public orations at the time. Everett’s job was to explain what happened during the battle. He explained the significance of the battle in the context of the broader campaign and overall war. His oration “Was like a modern docudrama on television, telling the story of recent events on the basis of investigative reporting” (The Smithsonian Collection Edition: The Ultimate Guide to the Civil War, “From These Honored Dead” by Garry Wills, p. 84). By all accounts Everett did an outstanding job. His oration was well-received and had accomplished its set goals.

Following Everett, Lincoln stood up with his sheet or two of paper. Lincoln understood the moment as well. He had been looking for an occasion to lay out his war aims and give meaning to the war. The fact that so many state governors and other notables would be at Gettysburg that day convinced Lincoln of the importance of the opportunity. With a mere 270 words Lincoln proceeded to ensoul the war through the departed souls of the soldiers. Lincoln also set out to change how people viewed the Constitution and the purpose of the country. “Everett succeeded with his audience by being thoroughly immersed in the detail of the event he was celebrating. Lincoln eschewed all local emphasis. His speech hovered far above the carnage…Lincoln was after an even larger game—he meant to ‘win’ the whole Civil War in ideological terms as well as military ones. And he succeeded: The Civil War is, to most Americans, what Lincoln wanted it to mean” (p.85).

After the Gettysburg Address the Civil War was no longer a war about slavery or states’ rights. It became, as Lincoln framed it, a far loftier war, imbued with universal and perennial significance as to whether: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

To write and deliver a speech that transcends its local time and place requires a leader who not only understands what his immediate constituents need, but one who has universal and long-term goals. Without local vision the leader’s speech and comments will seem meaningless to the immediate audience. Without the vision to see the universal in the local and the future in the immediate, the speech, no matter how important to the local audience, will remain a citizen of its original time and place.

Parshat Nitzavim

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Colin Powell, despite reaching the pinnacle of power, has never forgotten his simple roots in the Bronx. This proud connection to his past manifests itself in many ways, ranging from his work ethic to his love of hotdogs. It also manifests itself in his appreciation of what the “regular guy” brings to the table in every organization. All too often people focus on the leaders and big players who are on everybody’s radar. But in a certain sense, it is the people in the trenches—the ones nobody knows—who are the real heroes; the people who really drive society forward.

One of the responsibilities of a leader is to articulate a vision and sense of purpose for the organization. This includes ensuring that every member of the organization understands the vision, buys into the vision, and appreciates his personal role in actualizing the vision. To illustrate this point Powell relates an interesting anecdote in his new book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership (2012). He was once watching a documentary about the Empire State Building. Most of the documentary focused on the building’s history, architecture and construction. But towards the end the camera showed a large room filled with hundreds of filled and tied black garbage bags. Deep beneath the powerful offices, majestic lobbies and observation deck was the trash room. Although it was obvious what the room’s function was and what the jobs of the men working there were the narrator nonetheless asked one of the workers, “What’s your job?” The man looked back, smiled and said, “Our job is to make sure that tomorrow morning when people from all over the world come to this wonderful building, it shines, it is clean, and it looks great” (p.24). Powell explains that this man got it. He was not merely a custodian. He was a key cast member of the Empire State Building.

I always wonder when I read stories like this if the writer truly believes what he’s writing or is just writing what he thinks sounds good. However, in this particular case Divine providence provided me an answer. The week before I read this book I had visited a private school in Manhattan to discuss curriculum issues. Amid our discussion the headmaster related that his daughter worked for the State Department; she had been initially hired by Colin Powell who was then secretary of state. Though she was a Democrat and Powell a republican there were a number of things that convinced her to take the job; what clinched it however, was this: at the conclusion of the interview, Powell showed her around the Department of State. Entering a hallway, they encountered one of the custodians cleaning the floor. Powell stopped, and addressing him by name asked how he was doing and how his wife’s doctor’s visit had gone. The man responded in kind. She saw how Powell genuinely cared about this person and viewed him as a valued player in the State Department. The headmaster told me that his daughter decided right there that Powell was the kind of person she wanted to work with.

The necessity for leaders to articulate a clear vision, explain it to the masses and inspire them to believe that they all have a role in its realization is underscored by the Torah at the beginning of this week’s Parsha. The Torah describes (29:9-11) how all of Bnei Yisrael were assembled in front of G-d to make a covenant with Him. The assemblage included the chieftains, constables, children, women, and converts – the full strata of Israelite society, from its leadership to its physical laborers. Nobody was excluded. The commentators discuss the Torah’s careful delineation of all the different categories of people present that day.

The Alshich comments that the Torah wanted to emphasize that in truth it is impossible to determine who is more important than whom. While it may seem evident to our earthly senses that person A is more distinguished and honorable than person B, the Heavenly perspective might be very different. The person who seems honorable to us might in fact have played a less significant role in the progress of history than the person who seems simpler. When Moshe assembled all of Bnei Yisrael that day as one group, people realized that they would each be accorded equal respect and attention.

Parshat Pinchas

Friday, July 13th, 2012

When national tragedy struck on November 22, 1963 Vice President Lyndon Johnson was inadequately prepared to assume the presidency. The Kennedy people had done their best to sideline him throughout the first three years of JFK’s term. Thus, he was not in the know in regards to many of the important initiatives Kennedy had proposed, but that would now become his responsibility. Additionally, there was substantial personal ill will between LBJ and Kennedy’s people – especially JFK’s younger brother Bobby, the attorney general.

Despite this handicap, LBJ managed his transition to power in the most professional way possible. According to Johnson biographer Robert Caro, the six weeks following Kennedy’s assassination represented LBJ’s finest time as president (The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power, 2012). He used all the different types of power at his disposal to assume the presidency, stabilize the nation’s nerves and pass some of the last century’s most controversial and important legislation.

There are many lessons we can learn from this episode about ensuring a proper transition of power—even if the need arises suddenly. First, whatever the personal and political issues involved in a relationship, the person selected to replace the leader must be informed of all major issues. That LBJ succeeded so well in this area, is a testament to his abilities.

A second lesson involves LBJ’s successful effort to encourage a good number of JFK’s people to remain in his administration. This not only enabled a continuity of government but allowed LBJ to tap into their talents and intelligence. Following his return to Washington D.C. from Dallas and his televised remarks to the nation, LBJ flew with National Security Advisor Bundy, Secretary of Defense McNamara and Deputy Secretary of State George Ball, back to the White House.

During the ride LBJ discussed with them the impact of the assassination on the country’s national security. Realizing that he could not afford to lose them, Caro describes how, “leaning toward the three Kennedy men, hunched forward in his intensity, he said, ‘President Kennedy did something I could never have done. He gathered around him the ablest people I’ve ever seen—not his friends, not even the best in public service but the best anywhere. I want you to stay. I need you. I want you to stand with me.’ The job had been done” (p.365). LBJ had found the words to appeal to these men’s sense of patriotism and ego. In the eleven-minute helicopter ride he succeeded in enlisting these three able people to remain in his administration and stay the course.

A third lesson on power succession can be learned from LBJ’s young military aide Lt. Richard Nelson. He realized the difficult situation the new President was in. He was now the president and needed to perceive himself and be perceived as such by others as quickly as possible. To this end he removed the seal of the vice president from LBJ’s office door in the Old Executive Office building. “Dragooning a White House guard to help, Nelson ran down to the basement, found an old presidential flag and some seals, and installed them in 274 (Johnson’s office)—‘just the symbols, that when he walked into the Executive Office Building office he was walking into the office of the President, not the Vice President’” (p.367).

These important aspects of leadership transition are highlighted in this week’s parsha. Following the events surrounding the daughters of Tzlafchad’s request for a land grant in Eretz Yisrael, Moshe turns to Hashem to appoint a new leader. Realizing that a new era was approaching rapidly Moshe wanted the new leader appointed while he still had the opportunity to train him, inspire him and inform him of all the national and religious issues he would soon be responsible for. Moshe understood that for the best transition possible, nothing could be left to chance. The new leader had to be brought up to speed. Proof of this is seen in the beginning of Sefer Yehoshua when Yehoshua reminds the leaders of Reuven and Gad about their obligation to serve as the lead troops in the conquest of Israel. Yehoshua’s command of all the details of this arrangement, demonstrate how Moshe kept him in the leadership loop.

Parshat Shelach

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Captain Chesley Sullenberger, of “miracle on the Hudson” fame, recently wrote a book on leadership entitled, Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage From America’s Leaders. Instead of focusing on his own heroic performance, landing Flight 1549, he decided to focus on a number of contemporary leaders who have influenced events in some way. The first person he wrote about is Admiral Thad Allen, former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Allen is best known for assuming command of the government’s rescue and relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

What fascinated me about Admiral Allen was his description of an advantage the Coast Guard has over other organizations when it comes to leading inter-agency operations. “One of the things we are really good at—and this is an ‘Allenism’—is being bureaucratically multilingual…. We can talk military to military, we can talk incident command system to local fire chief, we partner across the federal agencies, we can work with state and local governments. We are really good at partnering and collaboration” (p.15).

Every organization has its own priorities, ways of doing things and professional jargon. Fire Departments think in terms of fire houses and ladder and engine companies. Military organizations think in terms of Forward Operating Bases and armored personnel carriers. Fire departments worry about the number of alarms, incident safety and back burning. Military organizations worry about infiltration, reconnaissance and encirclement. It is therefore little wonder that when these disparate groups find it necessary to work in a joint effort, their differences can impede progress. The Coast Guard, by virtue of its versatility and broad mission portfolio, is able to effectively communicate with their partners allowing for greater and more efficient integration.

Sullenberger explained that Admiral Allen is a firm believer in such integration. “When individuals, departments, or organizations act in isolation without regard to their impact on others, it is known as a silo mentality. I noted that Allen seemed to be a leader who specialized in breaking down silos and organizing a united front when faced with chaos” (p.15).

A leader must not only know how to communicate, but he must know how to do so with different groups of people in ways that are appropriate and effective for them. When it comes to leadership communication—one size does not fit all. Yehoshua, who together with Calev were the only spies to remain loyal to G-d and report the truth about the land of Israel, ultimately became the communicator par excellence. In fact, in Parshat Pinchas, when Hashem instructs Moshe to appoint him as his successor, Yehoshua’s primary qualification for the job is his ability to deal with people on their own level and in accordance with their unique personalities. Throughout his career, Yehoshua always seemed to know exactly what to say and how to say it.

After the spies delivered their terrible report about the land of Israel, Bnei Yisrael panicked. Despite Calev’s attempt to thwart the rebellion, they continued to cry and demand a return to Egypt. At this point the Torah relates (14:6) that Yehoshua and Calev made one last try to limit the damage caused by their co-spies. Since the Torah mentions Yehoshua first, we can safely assume that he was the initiator of this last effort. Before they spoke, Yehoshua and Calev tore their clothes as a sign of mourning. The Or Hachaim Hakadosh explains that this was a tactically significant move. Had Yeshoshu and Calev not been part of the mission, tearing their clothes would not have meant that much. But since they themselves had seen the land of Israel and then tore their clothes as a sign of mourning, it impacted Bnei Yisrael in some small way – it made them stop and consider the significance of their actions. If two of the spies disagreed so vehemently with the others, maybe the other spies’ report should be reevaluated.

After they got Bnei Yisrael’s attention, Yehoshua and Calev proceeded with their argument. “If Hashem wants us, then He will bring us into this land and give us this land that is flowing with milk and honey” (14:8). The Or Hachaim Hakadosh explains that Yehoshua and Calev carefully worded their argument. They did not begin their argument with a definitive statement. Bnei Yisrael would never have let them continue. By beginning with the word “if,” they caught Bnei Yisrael’s attention and made them curious as to where they were going. That is why they were able to continue talking to them.

Shavuot

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Although Megilat Rut is one of the most beautiful stories regarding unadulterated chesed, it also serves as a primer on leadership. After all, its primary purpose is to establish the lineage of King David’s dynasty. Therefore we should expect to glean from it some important leadership lessons. Yet at first blush it would appear more apt to describe it as a book about followership. Rut’s noble commitment to join the Jewish people, despite all the hardships this entailed, is captured in her stirring words (1:16): “To where you will go I will go, where you will sleep I will sleep, your nation is my nation…” These words seem to constitute a declaration of what is termed “followership” more than leadership. However, a recent class trip, with my Yeshivah’s 8th grade, to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis helped clarify matters.

In the gift shop I saw a little book entitled Reef Points. The cashier explained to me that this book is the key book all midshipmen (at the naval academy students are called midshipmen, not cadets) are given upon entering the academy. It includes the principles, procedures and protocols that midshipmen must live by at all times. They literally have to memorize the book. While skimming through the book on the bus I came across the section on principles. One of the principles is “followership.” Strikingly, in a counter-intuitive way, the Navy feels it necessary to instruct its future leaders on the importance of being good followers. In the explanation to followership the book states: “There are several advantages to being a good follower even when you have been made a leader. First, you will never become a leader if you have not been a good follower. No one is going to recommend you for a leadership position if you have been poor at responding to the leadership of others. The most important reason goes back to the second principle. As a leader, you must always set the example” (p.39).

A deeper reason for the necessity of leaders to be good followers is that every leader is part of a greater whole. To be a trustworthy and credible leader one must demonstrate that he can subordinate himself to a greater good and be able to follow orders, instructions and directives. Even leaders at the top of the pyramid must be able to subordinate themselves to the greater goals of the people. Certainly, leaders in a Torah-based society must subordinate themselves to the Torah. Much of the chapter in the Torah describing the appointment of a king focuses on his adherence to the mitzvot. Rut, by exemplifying followership, taught her descendants this very important lesson.

Another attribute of leadership highlighted in both a positive and negative way in the megillah is optimism. A leader must believe that change and success are possible. This does not mean that a leader should be unrealistic and naively imagine the sun is shining on a cloudy day. Rather, a leader must see opportunities in setbacks and encourage his followers to move forward. Regrettably, the midrash describes (Rut Rabbah 1:4) how Elimelech had the means to support many people during the famine, but chose to abandon his leadership position for the plains of Moav, despite the damage this would cause to Bnei Yisrael’s economy and morale. In fact, the Gemara (Bava Batra 91b) points out that another name for Elimelech’s son Machlon was Yoash, which is related to the word despair. Elimelech’s son had to carry an ignominious name that highlighted for everyone the despair his family caused to the nation.

Contrast this behavior with Rut’s. Rut, who Chazal explain was from royal lineage, chose to abandon her comfortable lifestyle to begin anew as a pauper in a strange land. We can only imagine the boost to morale her accompanying Naomi and subsequent joining Bnei Yisrael precipitated. In addition to all her other attributes, Rut became the harbinger of hope and an exemplar of optimistic leadership at its best.

Leaders must also know how to exploit moments of inspiration and convert them into action plans. In his commentary on Megilat Rut, Rav Avigdor Nebenzal underscores the tragedy of Rut’s sister-in-law Orpah, who also had a very real inspirational moment. She too sincerely wanted to accompany Naomi. But unfortunately for Orpah this inspiration lasted for only a mere moment. Rut on the other hand was able to sustain her inspiration and turn it into a life-guiding vision. Rut, it turns out, was not only endowed with the ability of “followership” but with the ability of “follow-upship” as well.

Parshat Behar-Bechukotai

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

In a famous photo, President John F. Kennedy is seen facing the windows of the Oval Office with his back to the camera. Slightly bent over, with his hands spread out on a credenza, he appears in deep and painful thought. The caption of the picture says it all: “The Loneliest Job.” Only the relatively few people who have been President of the United States truly understand the enormity of the job’s burden. It is for this reason presidents, despite their party affiliation, and often after leaving office, develop close bonds with one another, give the current office holder the benefit of the doubt and make themselves available to whoever may be president at the moment to help and advise.

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, in their fascinating new book, The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity (2012), describe this phenomenon. Perhaps the most poignant example of such relationships is the very warm friendship that exists between former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. In recognition of this, the younger Bush, when president, once joked that “when Clinton woke up from surgery he was surrounded by members of his family—Hillary, Chelsea and ‘my father.’”

Candidates running for office may be somewhat clueless as to what the real pressures of the job are. Eisenhower, who knew his fair share of pressure while serving as commander of Allied forces in Europe during World War II explained: “The problems a president faces are soul-racking…. The nakedness of the battlefield, when the soldier is all alone in the smoke and the clamor and the terror of war, is comparable to the loneliness—at times—of the presidency, when one man must conscientiously, deliberately, prayerfully scrutinize every argument, every proposal, every prediction, every alternative, every probable outcome of his action, and then—all alone—make his decision” (p.8). Kennedy, who more than thought himself ready for the job during his campaign and post-election preparations stated a mere ten days into his tenure, during his first State of the Union address: “No man entering upon this office could fail to be staggered upon learning—even in this brief 10 day period—the harsh enormity of the trials through which we must pass in the next four years. Each day the crises multiply. Each day their solutions grow more difficult” (p.128).

The book is full of examples of presidents turning to their predecessors for advice, guidance and support. After the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy invited Eisenhower to Camp David to advise him in dealing with the military and to garner his support to forestall a national crisis. LBJ called upon Truman and Eisenhower in the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination for support and often called on Eisenhower for guidance during the Vietnam War, their different party affiliations notwithstanding. In an almost bizarre interaction, Clinton often discussed foreign policy with Nixon and mourned the loss of his advice upon his death.

Current presidents come to realize that they cannot do it alone. While they have staff who are more than willing to offer advice, they find the need to talk with people who understand them and can guide them from a common vantage point. As their terms progress, presidents begin to view their predecessors as necessary friends instead of political opponents.

All leaders will benefit by engaging colleagues who share their challenges. We see the importance of this idea from an elaboration on a comment by Chazal, quoted by Rashi, at the beginning of this week’s parsha. The Torah states (26:3): “If you walk in [the path] of My statutes and you observe My commandments and perform them,” then you will be the recipients of wonderful blessings. Rashi explains that this verse exhorts us to immerse and exert ourselves in the study of Torah. Torah does not come easily. Mastering Torah requires intense and sustained effort. In fact, Pirkei Avot (chapter 6) describes the set of 48 strategies it is necessary to employ in order to successfully acquire it.

The tenth strategy instructs us to learn from and be apprenticed to rabbis. This requirement is self-evident. The twelfth strategy instructs us to teach students Torah and get involved with the passionate give and take that characterizes such endeavors. As any person who has taught a class is aware, the level of learning and preparation needed to teach without a doubt sharpens one’s skills. However, the eleventh strategy that underscores the importance of learning Torah with peers seems at first blush somewhat puzzling. While certainly a nice idea—why should learning with peers be so necessary as to be counted among the 48 strategies?

Parshat Shemini

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

More than 1500 people died on the Titanic. As a result of the tragedy, out of date conventions and procedures were changed, navigational mistakes were identified and corrected, and the threat of ice was taken seriously—even in the era of modern ships. Walter Lord, in his seminal book on the disaster, A Night to Remember (1955), wrote: “Never again would men fling a ship into an ice field, heedless of warnings, putting their whole trust in a few thousand tons of steel and rivets. From then on Atlantic liners took ice messages seriously, steered clear, or slowed down. Nobody believed in the ‘unsinkable ship.’ Nor would icebergs any longer prowl the seas unintended. After the Titanic sank, the American and British governments established the International Ice Patrol, and today Coast Guard cutters shepherd errant icebergs that drift toward the steamer lanes. The winter lane itself was shifted further south, as an extra precaution” (p.87).

One of the great tragedies of the disaster is that so many little things went wrong and conspired against the great ship. Had any of these things not happened the voyage might have turned out differently. Lord captures this sentiment with the following prose that seems almost poetic in nature. “What troubled people especially was not just the tragedy—or even its needlessness—but the element of fate in it all. If the Titanic had heeded any of the ice messages on Sunday…if ice conditions had been normal…if the night had been rough or moonlit…if she had seen the berg 15 seconds sooner—or 15 seconds later…if she had hit the ice any other way…if her watertight bulkheads had been one deck higher…if the Californian had only come. Had any one of the ‘ifs’ turned out right, every life might have been saved. But they all went against her—a classic Greek tragedy” (p.145).

One of the most striking examples of a small thing that might have changed history is the case of the lookouts’ missing binoculars. To help navigate the Titanic through dangerous waters two lookouts were stationed high up in the crow’s nest toward the front of the ship. In the days prior to radar, the lookouts’ job was to scan the ocean, identify any dangerous objects and alert the bridge to avoid them. To help the lookouts execute their duty, binoculars were procured for their use. However, the Titanic’s lookouts had no binoculars. They were locked up and nobody could find the key.

Due to a personnel change shortly before she sailed, David Blaire, who was the Titanic’s original second officer, was transferred off the ship. Among Blaire’s responsibilities was the safeguarding of the binoculars for the crow’s nest. In his hurry to leave the ship he apparently locked them up without telling anybody where they were, and left the ship with the key to the locker. As a result the lookouts scanned the dark ocean on the night of April 14 without the benefit of binoculars. The surviving lookout, Frederick Fleet, testified in the U.S. inquiry that he believed had he been using binoculars he would have spotted the iceberg somewhat earlier, leaving enough time for the Titanic to have evaded the iceberg. Alas, another small detail that might have given the Titanic the few more seconds it so desperately needed to escape its doom.

Although leaders must think about the big picture, they ignore details at their own peril. The Torah at the end of this week’s parsha makes this point abundantly clear. Regarding the laws regulating the criteria of kosher animals, the Torah states (11:47): “That it must be distinguished between the pure and impure and between the animals that can be eaten and those that cannot be eaten.” Rashi explains, based on Midrash Halacha, that the Torah in this pasuk does not come to exhort us to differentiate between kosher and non-kosher animals. That requirement had already been made abundantly clear. Rather, the Torah is underscoring the importance of differentiating between an animal that has been slaughtered properly and one that has not been slaughtered properly. The difference between them is negligible. If even slightly more than half of the animal’s parts which require cutting have been cut, then the animal becomes edible. If, however, only half (or less) has been cut, then the animal remains forever assur to eat. This sespite the fact that the difference between these two cases is barely noticeable.

The great Chassidic master Reb Bunum of Peshischa teaches that this pasuk warns humankind that the difference between good and evil, holy and profane, and purity and impurity is often the smallest amount. A person must bear this message in mind at all times. A story is told in the name of various great rabbis, of the student who was offered the opportunity to become a shochet. Upon receiving the invitation the student turned to his rabbi and related to him that he is afraid to accept such an awesome responsibility. After all, many people will rely on his actions and the slightest error on his part might cause them all to eat non-kosher food. The rabbi responded by asking his student rhetorically—“Who should I recommend for the position, someone who is not afraid? Someone who thinks he is ready for the job?”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-shemini/2012/04/19/

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