The Power Of Listening

The tension between the counselors and the rabbis grew almost to the point of crisis, so much so that we had to stop the course for an hour while we sought some way of reconciling what the counselors were doing with Torah.

The Fewest of All Peoples

What happened to all the promises of Bereishit, that Abraham’s children would be numerous, uncountable, as many as the stars of the sky, the dust of the earth, and the grains of sand on a seashore?

The Leader As Teacher

Other nations, says Moses, will recognize the miraculous nature of the Jewish story.

Moses, Reuben and Gad: A Masterclass In Negotiation

Moses succeeds not because he is weak, not because he is willing to compromise on the integrity of the nation as a whole, not because he uses honeyed words and diplomatic evasions, but because he is honest, principled, and focused on the common good.

Lessons Of A Leader

This means: a leader must lead from the front, but he or she must not be so far out in front that when they turn around, they find that no one is following.

Leadership And Loyalty

Bilaam was a man with great gifts, a genuine prophet, compared by the Sages to Moses himself, yet an evil-doer mentioned in the Mishnah as one denied a share in the world to come.

A Leader Needs A Friend

Moses intervenes on Miriam’s behalf with simple eloquence in the shortest prayer on record with five words: ‘Please, G-d, heal her now.’

Servant Leadership

Moses represents the birth of a new kind of leadership. That is what Korach and his followers did not understand. Many of us do not understand it still.

Building Confidence

The antidote to fear, both of failure and success, lies in the passage with which the parsha ends: the command of tzitzit

Power Or Influence

Power works by division, influence by multiplication. Power, in other words, is a zero-sum game: the more you share, the less you have.

The Politics of Envy (Naso 5781)

In the Torah, God summons His special people, Israel, to take the first steps towards what might eventually become a truly egalitarian society – or to put it more precisely, a society in which dignity, kavod, does not depend on power or wealth or an accident of birth.

Leading A Nation Of Individuals

Is counting the people an expression of love or does it arouse Hashem’s anger?

We The People

In what sense were the Jews in France and the Jews in Spain responsible for one another? What constituted them as a single nation?

The Jews’ Fate – And G-d

When Jews are defeated and sent into exile, it is not only a tragedy for them. It is a tragedy for G-d.

Sprints And Marathons

All the high ideals in the world count for little until they are turned into habits of action that become habits of the heart.

How To Praise

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai was a great teacher because five of his students became giants in their own right. The mishnah is telling us how he did it: with focused praise.

Reticence vs. Impetuosity

The real contrast here, though, is the difference between Aaron and his two sons. They were, it seems, opposites. Aaron was over-cautious and had to be persuaded by Moses even to begin. Nadav and Avihu were not cautious enough. So keen were they to put their own stamp on the role of priesthood that their impetuosity was their downfall.

A Moment Of Hesitation

There are times when each of us has to decide, not just “What shall I do?” but “What kind of person shall I be?”

Leadership In Judaism

Politics involves difficult judgments. A leader must balance competing claims and will sometimes get it wrong.

Vision and Details: Parshat Mishpatim

So the Torah is a unique combination of nomos and narrative, history and law, the formative experiences of a nation and the way that nation sought to live its collective life so as never to forget the lessons it learned along the way. It brings together vision and detail in a way that has never been surpassed.

How Leaders Fail

There are times when you need someone with the courage to stand against the crowd, others when you need a peacemaker.

Of Priests And Prophets

The Priest was “holy” and therefore set apart from the people. He had to eat his food in a state of purity, and had to avoid contact with the dead.

The Home We Build Together

That, I believe, is what the Sages meant when they said, “Call them not ‘your children’ but ‘your builders’” (Brachot 64a). People have to become builders if they are to grow from childhood to adulthood.

The Narrative Behind The Laws

Torah means “law.” But it also means “teaching, instruction, guidance,” or more generally, “direction.”

A Nation Of Leaders

Israel can learn practical politics from a Midianite but it must learn the limits of politics from G-d Himself.

Looking Up

Look down at the difficulties and you can give way to despair. The only way to sustain energy, individual or collective, is to turn our gaze up toward the far horizon of hope.

The Far Horizon

Moses’ insight was profound. He knew that you cannot change the world by externalities alone, by monumental architecture, or armies and empires, or the use of force and power.

Overcoming Setbacks

Leadership, even of the very highest order, is often marked by failure.

Women As Leaders

Wherever leadership depends on personal qualities and not on office or title, there is no distinction between women and men.

Moving Forward

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.


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