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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

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You Are Joseph

Shalom, Hi There
Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Moscow, Russia
Friday, December 18th
Light Candles at 15:38
Shabbat, December 19th,
Shabbat Ends 17:05
Torah Portion: Vayigash

 

One can only imagine how he felt.

Teenaged Joseph (of Bibilcal fame) had been abducted by his jealous brothers and sold into slavery. Persevering through a painful trail of difficulties, Joseph had managed to achieve huge success. This former slave had saved the Egyptian empire from economic catastrophe, ultiamtely catapulting to a position second to only Pharaoh himself.

Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. They didn’t recognize him, since he had grown a beard and physically matured. He, on the other hand, knew their identities; but he still wanted to explore their humanity. He wanted to forgive, but he needed to know where they stood. Years ago, the brothers had had shown ugliness. But were those jealous brothers of yesteryear the same people now standing before him? Had they grown?

Joseph needed to know. He needed to know if they regretted what they’d done to him. He needed to know if they’d evolved and learned the lessons of their harmful behavior.

So he tested them. He maneuvered events so that he could probe their sense of regret for what had occurred, and their present sense of loyalty to the clan’s youngest son, their half-brother.

Once he saw that his brothers indeed regretted their past actions, and had indeed refined their behavior, he revealed his identity to them: “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.”

His next words are the part of this captivating narrative that always grabs me the most: “G-d has sent me here to be a provider for you and to insure your survival.”

Joseph first points out the obvious truth that they had consciously made the horrifying decision to sell him into slavery in Egypt; then he proceeds to call it G-d’s will.

Why the switch?

Once Joseph had achieved the closure that came with his victimizer’s contrition, after he saw how they were emotionally tortured by the pain they had caused him, he was able to unshackle himself of their deeds and move on with his life’s work.

Stepping forward into the next chapter of his life, Joseph’s pressing focus wasn’t on his past victimhood, it was on the question: How does G-d want me to use my present situation to better the world?

When the moment was right, Joseph turned himself from a victim into a victor.

There’s surviving. Then there’s thriving.

Joseph thrived, and we are Joseph.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yanky Klein

 

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