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Posts Tagged ‘Parshat Lech Lecha’

Title: Chassidic Pearls

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Title: Chassidic Pearls


Author: Rabbi Lazer Brody


Publisher: Kalcom Publications


 


 


         A 241-page soft cover volume culled from lessons that Rabbi Lazer Brody presents at the Breslov English-language Internet site www.breslovworld.comChassidic Pearls is a soothing read.

 

         Heartrending issues and lighter sides of life become easy to understand, once Rabbi Brody explains them in his true-to-life style. The compassionate Breslov angle is always present in the readings and usually presented in a tailor-made fable format.

 

         Parshat Lech Lecha is an interesting setting for exploring important concepts about life, legality, suffering and our relationship to Hashem. Rabbi Brody makes a case for relishing every drop of sweat involved in his presentation about this Torah portion. He even makes readers think about the struggle to hold onto a Jewish Israel. Here’s one such excerpt, regarding our forefather Avraham’s saga with never-ending tests of faith.

 

         “Why must Hashem test Avraham’s faith 10 times? Why are the tests so difficult, from persecution and skirting with death in a fiery furnace to the akeidah, when he was asked to ritually sacrifice his only son? Doesn’t Hashem know that Avraham’s faith is steadfast? Hashem knows exactly how Avraham will react – with perfect, simple, innocent and unblemished faith. The tests are not for Hashem’s benefit, but for Avraham’s benefit.

 

         “Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains (Likutei Moharan I:66.4) that the obstacles that a person encounters in life are designed to enhance that person’s desire. For that reason, before a person makes a significant accomplishment in the service of Hashem – especially in the acquisition of something that is vital to his or her Judaism . . . the person is tested with a series of obstacles. He or she must overcome these obstacles to attain their goal. Nevertheless, the obstacles fuel the desire to reach the goal. Consequently, the obstacles are the agents that extract a person’s very best efforts in making spiritual gain, since the obstacles fuel the desire.”

 

         Using the situation of a fictitious shidduch, Rabbi Brody tells the sly tale of a matchmaker using a playing-hard-to-get ploy on all parties concerned. The author helps his readers to see through the eyes of a social-climbing banker and his potential in-laws to envision the benefits of and beautiful future for the pious son of a poor tradesman and the banker’s suitable daughter.

 

         Rabbi Brody concludes the tale with the words that the shadchan’s “. . . ploy worked perfectly. The more obstacles he put in the banker’s way, the more the latter desired the match . . . Later, in the rebbe‘schamber, the banker literally begged [for] a blessing to the match between his daughter and the baker’s son.”

 

         Learn to look at life with an upbeat focus. Read Chassidic Pearls. 

Parshat Lech Lecha

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

       “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.

Parshat Lech Lecha

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

       “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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-lech-lecha-2/2006/11/01/

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