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Seas Can Split

Shalom, Hi There
Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Moscow, Russia
Friday, January 22nd
Light Candles at 16:23
Shabbat, January 23rd,
Shabbat Ends 17:45
Torah Portion: Beshalach

 

 

Ever feel like there’s nowhere to turn? Like you’re boxed in, with no way out?

Imagine how the Jews felt as they came upon the impassable Sea of Reeds, while the murderous Egyptians closed in on them from the rear.

This week’s Torah reading describes the Jews’ liberation from cruel Egyptian slavery, and how their former captors then set after them in hot pursuit.
When the Jews came to the sea they were trapped.

Some Jews advocated surrender, some resistance, some felt they should cast themselves into the sea rather than return to their cruel slave-masters. Some Jews just began to pray.

G-d’s directive was to do none of the above. The instruction was “Keep moving!”

The Jews were heading toward Mount Sinai, a very worthwhile destination. If they believed in their goal, and trusted in G-d, there was no need for other strategies; it wasn’t even a time for prayer. They needed to forge ahead.

True, the obstacles seemed insurmountable. They had reason for despair.

So G-d taught them a critical lesson: When they put their heads down and soldiered on, armed with trust in G-d, a miracle happened.

The sea split.

And they were now finally, truly, free of the Egyptians. Leaving Egypt’s geographical boundaries had been only the beginning of their liberation. Crossing the sea meant finally escaping their captors for good.

The Torah’s narratives are more than historical accounts; they are also our personal story. You and I need to read the Torah in our individual keys, and find direction for our respective, contemporary lives.

The Exodus is our story.

And here”s how: The Hebrew word for Egypt (mitzrayim) can also mean limitations and strictures (meitzarim in Hebrew). So, aside from its profound historical significance, the Exodus is a model for our own extrication from the mindsets, fears and attitudes that keep us trapped.

You and I need to leave ‘Egypt’, i.e. transcend our personal hurdles, every day.

But the narrative teaches that even leaving Egypt isn’t necessarily the ultimate freedom; Egypt can chase us. Even when we think we’ve gotten past a specific personal challenge, it may catch up with us again. We may feel trapped, and begin to accept that there really is no escaping this personal hang-up.

So G-d tells us “keep moving” toward you Mount Sinai. Keep your eye on the prize and have faith in your loving G-d.

Seas can split.
Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yanky Klein

This post is In Loving memory of my dear father
R’ Yerachmiel Binyamin Halevi ben R, Menachem Klein OBM

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Donald, Hillary, You & Me…

Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Moscow, Russia
Friday, January 15th
Light Candles at 16:09
Shabbat, January 16th,
Shabbat Ends 17:33
Torah Portion: Bo

 

Donald, Hillary, You & Me…

Maybe it’s our modern surround-sound news cycle. Maybe I’m just getting older. For whatever reason, the election season is ringing hollow. Many people seem to be craving an ‘outsider’; I think it’s because we’re looking for genuine leadership, not just for people who aspire to the leadership mantle.
Whether it’s difficult-to-trust bureaucrats, or power-hungry opportunists, something about our leadership culture isn’t floating our boats.

So let’s take a Kabbalistic look at leadership. Exploring the world at its spiritual core, Jewish spirituality shines light on the energy of authority and command – ‘Royalty’ in Kabbalistic language – as experienced within each of us, within society and within the Divine. The skill of leadership, we’re told, “has nothing of her own”. Leadership is likened to the moon, which only reflects the rays it receives from the sun. It has “nothing of her own” light.

At first blush, the runs counter to our thought of leadership. Leaders are the sun. They take up a lot of space. We, the people, would seem to be the moon.

In fact, leadership means making real space for others’ feelings and opinions. It means giving authentic, whole-hearted attention to people’s capabilities, needs and feedback. We’re told that “there is no King without a nation”. The leader ascends in response to people’s needs, not in search on people to lead.

While a leader doesn’t follow the crowd, leadership means genuinely hearing the people. And if the leader sees the need to take an alternate path, the leader speaks their language to explain the decision. We can call this the ‘outside-in’ dimension to leadership, where the leadership is in response to external stimuli.

The same dynamic applies within the leader’s psyche. Called to lead, the genuine leader searches inside to find the tools to help people, or a situation. One’s leadership muscle isn’t about holding a position of authority, or having license to direct others. Leadership is a skill that allows the leader to funnel internal talents to help others.

The true leader understands that G-d gives us talents and strengths for a purpose. We’re born to make the world a better place, to help others. It’s about empathy, not ego. The authentic leader has “nothing of her own.”

Whether we’re influencing our family, friends or the body politic, we’re all born to be leaders.

It’s a humbling responsibility. But it’s the way to lead a purposeful life.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yanky Klein

 

This email is In Loving memory of my dear father
R’ Yerachmiel Binyamin Halevi ben R, Menachem  Klein OBM