Leadership, even of the very highest order, is often marked by failure.
Wherever leadership depends on personal qualities and not on office or title, there is no distinction between women and men.
Joseph had, in double measure, one of the necessary gifts of a leader: the ability to keep going despite opposition, envy, false accusation and repeated setbacks.
Both said chattati, “I have sinned.” But their fates were radically different.
He did so for the butler and baker in prison and, in this week’s parsha, for Pharaoh. His interpretations were neither magical nor miraculous.
No one has all the strengths. Sufficient if we have one. But we must also know what we lack.
It is as if the Torah were telling us that so long as there is a conflict within us, there will be a conflict around us.
It is at these points of maximal vulnerability that he encounters G-d and finds the courage to continue despite all the hazards of the journey.
Isaac never intended to give the blessing of the covenant to Esau. He intended to give each child the blessing that suited them.
Noah fails the test of collective responsibility. He is a man of virtue in an age of vice, but he makes no impact on his contemporaries.
Abraham is the supreme example in all of history of influence without power.
This is a tale of decline. Why?
Kayin does not deny personal responsibility. He does not say, “It was not me,” or “It was not my fault.” He denies moral responsibility.
Sukkot celebrates the dual nature of Jewish faith: the universality of G-d and the particularity of Jewish existence.
This is a doctrine fundamental to Judaism and its understanding of evil and suffering in the world: G-d is just.
It follows therefore that if vengeance is wrong, it could not have been commanded by G-d – not to Christians, and not to Jews. If it was commanded, we must be able to make some moral sense of it, whether we are Jews or Christians.
Note the inclusivity of the event. It would be anachronistic to say that the Torah was egalitarian in the contemporary sense.
For me, one of the gifts of this strange, difficult time has been the ability to slow down the prayers so that I am able to listen to them speaking to me. Praying is as much about listening as speaking. And faith itself is the ability to hear the music beneath the noise.
Says the Torah: When love is likely to be the cause of conflict, it must take second place to justice.
What for the prophets was a dazzling vision of a distant future of peace was, for the Sages, a practical program of good community relations.
The test of a society is not military, political, economic or demographic. It is moral and spiritual.
Chessed has no if-then quality. It is given out of the goodness of the giver, regardless of the worth of the recipient.
Finite games are played to win. Infinite games are played for their own sake. Finite games are usually performed in front of an audience of some kind. Infinite games are participative.
Here is a short message as we head towards Tisha B'Av and will be marked in strange and difficult circumstances because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
When ten of the men came back with a demoralizing report and the people panicked, at least part of the blame lay with Moshe.
Only in Israel can the Jewish people construct a political system, an economy, and an environment on the template of Jewish values.
We have moral duties as individuals, and we make political decisions as nations. The two are different.
Science deals in causes and effects, not purpose and meaning. In the end, he concluded that only religious faith rescues life from meaninglessness.
Their aim was to discredit Moshe, damage his credibility, raise doubts among the people as to whether he really was receiving his instructions from G-d.
They were about to enter a land they had not seen. They had no idea what they were fighting for.