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A Nation of Storytellers
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Howard Gardner, professor of education and psychology at Harvard University, is one of the great minds of our time. He is best known for his theory of “multiple intelligences,” the idea that there is not one thing that can be measured and defined as intelligence but many different things – one dimension of the dignity […]
Against Hate
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Ki Tetzei contains more laws than any other parsha in the Torah, and it is possible to be overwhelmed by this embarrass de richesse of detail. One verse, however, stands out by its sheer counter-intuitiveness: Do not despise an Edomite, because he is your brother. Do not despise the Egyptian, because you were a stranger […]
Learning and Leadership
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The parsha of Shoftim is the classic source of the three types of leadership in Judaism, called by the sages the “three crowns”: of priesthood, kingship and Torah.[1] This is the first statement in history of the principle, set out in the eighteenth century by Montesquieu in L’Esprit des Lois, and later made fundamental to […]
Defining Reality
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One of the gifts of great leaders, and one from which each of us can learn, is that they frame reality for the group. They define its situation. They specify its aims. They articulate its choices. They tell us where we are and where we are going in a way no satellite navigation system could. […]
To Lead is to Listen
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“If only you would listen to these laws …” (Deut. 7: 12). These words with which our parsha begins contain a verb that is a fundamental motif of the book of Devarim. The verb is sh-m-a. It occurred in last week’s parsha in the most famous line of the whole of Judaism, Shema Yisrael. It […]
The Fewest of all Peoples
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Buried inconspicuously in this week’s parsha is a short sentence with explosive potential, causing us to think again about the nature of Jewish history and the Jewish task in the present. Moses had been reminding the new generation, the children of those who left Egypt, of the extraordinary story of which they are the heirs: […]
The Leader as Teacher
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It was one of the great moments of personal transformation, and it changed not only Moses but our very conception of leadership itself. By the end of the book of Bamidbar, Moses career as a leader seemed to have come to its end. He had appointed his successor, Joshua, and it would be he, not […]
Leadership at Time of Crisis
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The parsha of Masei always occurs at the heart of the Three Weeks. This is the time when we engage in an act of collective recall of our two greatest defeats as a nation. The symbol of the nation was the Temple in Jerusalem. So the symbol of the nation’s defeat was the destruction of […]
Conflict Resolution
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One of the hardest tasks of a leader – from prime ministers to parents – is conflict resolution. Yet it is also the most vital. Where there is leadership, there is long-term cohesiveness within the group, whatever the short-term problems. Where there is a lack of leadership – where leaders lack authority, grace, generosity of […]
Lessons of a Leader
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Pinchas contains a mini-essay on leadership, as Moses confronts his own mortality and asks God to appoint a successor. The great leaders care about succession. In Chayei Sarah we see Abraham instruct his servant to find a wife for Isaac so that the family of the covenant will continue. David chooses Solomon. Elijah, at God’s […]