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Britain's Former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Britain's Former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher, the author of more than 25 books, and moral voice for our time. Until 1st September 2013 he served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, having held the position for 22 years. To read more from Rabbi Sacks or to subscribe to his mailing list, please visit www.rabbisacks.org.

A Nation of Leaders

This week’s parsha consists of two episodes that seem to be a study in contrasts. In the first, in chapter 18, Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law, a Midianite priest, gives Moses his first lesson in leadership. In the second, the prime mover is God himself who, at Mount Sinai, makes a covenant with the Israelites in an […]

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Looking Up

The Israelites had crossed the Red Sea. The impossible had happened. The mightiest army in the ancient world – the Egyptians with their horse-drawn chariots – had been defeated and drowned. The people were now free. But the relief proved short-lived. Almost immediately they faced attack by the Amalekites, and they had to fight a […]

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The Far Horizon

To gain insight into the unique leadership lesson of this week’s parsha, I often ask an audience to perform a thought-experiment. Imagine you are the leader of a people that has suffered exile for more than two centuries, and has been enslaved and oppressed. Now, after a series of miracles, it is about to go […]

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Overcoming Setbacks

At first, Moses’ mission seemed to be successful. He had feared that the people would not believe in him, but God had given him signs to perform, and his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. Moses “performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned […]

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Women as Leaders

This week’s parsha could be entitled “The birth of a leader.” We see Moses, adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, growing up as a prince of Egypt. We see him as a young man, for the first time realising the implications of his true identity. He is, and knows he is, a member of an enslaved and […]

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Surviving Failure

Bereishit ends on a sublime note of reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers. His brothers were afraid that he had not really forgiven them for selling him into slavery. They suspected that he was merely delaying his revenge until their father died. So after Jacob’s death they express their fear. Joseph however insisted: “Don’t be […]

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The Unexpected Leader

I was once present when the great historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis, was asked to predict the course of events in the Middle East. He replied, “I’m a historian, so I only make predictions about the past. What is more, I am a retired historian, so even my past is passé.” Predictions are impossible in […]

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The Power of Dreams

In one of the greatest transformations in all literature, Joseph moves in one bound from prisoner to prime minister. What was it about Joseph – a complete outsider to Egyptian culture, a “Hebrew,” a man who had for years been languishing in jail on a false charge of attempted rape – that marked him out […]

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The Power of Praise

Reuben is the leader who might have been but never was. He was Jacob’s firstborn. Jacob says of him on his deathbed, “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power” (Gen. 49: 3). This is an impressive tribute, suggesting physical presence and commanding demeanour. […]

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