Even very great leaders have had downfalls because they were not conscious of their own blind spots. But only very occasionally is a leader's blind spot the result of his spiritual purity rather than his frailty. Impaired vision How is it possible that a giant of Yitzchak's stature with all his wisdom, ruach hakodesh and insight, was hoodwinked by his son Eisav and daughter-in-law, Yehudis? And if he was not hoodwinked by their idol worshipping (Rashi 26:35 and Midrash Rabba 65:4), why did he not intervene to stop it? The Torah's suggested answer (27:1) ..
Brit and Shabbat Why, asks the Midrash (D.R. 6:1), doesBrit Milah (The covenant of circumcision) take place specifically on the child’s eighth day? The reason given by the Midrash is that Hashem applied mercy to him (the infant), to wait for his Brit Milah "ad sheyehei bo kocho" – simply translated: until he has his strength. We will revisit this translation a little later. What strength does an infant gain at eight days? The Zohar (3:91) explains that the reason for the eighth day timing of a Brit is to ensure..
Avraham, the master innovator, shows us how to inspire people to change, and how to use business as a vehicle for this inspiration. Inspire Change Only if you truly inspire others (your children, employees, students or strangers) might you genuinely change their behaviors, attitudes or assumptions. Merely challenging them to change or even incentivizing them to change just intimidates them and doesn't cut it, nor does appeasing them with love and connection. In the work environment 84% of employees (globally) feel coerced because they are managed with the fear of conseque..
Goodness and Straightness Goodness and straightness are two different ethical ideas. Being good, is doing something on a microcosmic level, something that may be small and very local, yet it has universal, macrocosmic benefit. Beingstraight is different. Both in our Parsha (12:28) and in Va’etchannan (6:18) the wordsYashar (straight) and Tov (good) are phrased together. In ourParsha, after warning us about the severity of eating blood, even the droplets of blood contained in meat that has not been properly slaughtered and prep..
The natural and the supernatural The idea of miracle covers a spectrum of event-types. On the one end of the spectrum some miraculous events seem to be quite natural and on the other end we call supernatural events miracles. I just had the thrilling privilege of being the Sundek at my grandson's bris in Israel. The birth of a perfect little child is always a miracle, but it is natural. What happened with the oil that burnt in the Beis Hamikdash eight times longer than it should naturally have burned was a supernatural miracle. On that first Chanukah in the time of the Maccabees ..
Three times a day we glibly say the first verse of the Shema, articulating the belief that most defines our Jewishness. But what is its origin, what does it really mean and why is it so central to our prayers? A Single Almighty Force The preeminent phrase in all of Jewish liturgy, Shema Yisrael: Hear Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One, was composed inParshas Vayechi by the sons of Ya'acov. It is the key to awareness of Divine intent in everything we experience. Traditionally we assume that in the Shema we address our nation, Israel. Each of us directs the community o..
Both Avraham and Noach were pious giants. Both were monotheistic prophets who communicated directly with God. Why is Avraham considered the first Jew, and Noach a gentile? One early winter's evening in 1968 at a Yeshiva on a settlement in rural Israel, I participated as a guest in a shiur that set the wheels of my mind working at a speed and direction that hasn't slowed or changed since then. I recall the Rav who was teaching - someone who generally encouraged his students to expand their general knowledge - warning them never to read the works of Ayn Rand, which he said were destructive ..
The term New Year is a misnomer. Years are not renewed; they are repeated. Only months are renewed. The Hebrew word for year, shanah, means "repeated". The word for month, chodesh, means "new." Every month has different holidays, they occur in different seasons. The feel and look of each month is different from the others and Rosh Chodesh is symbolized by the reappearance of a "new" moon that was not visible the day before. Each year on the other hand, resembles the ones before it. Every year contains the same holidays and includes the same seasons. There is nothi..