shofar

“Parsha and Purpose” – Vayelech 5783 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

 “Joshua and the Power of Collaborative Leadership

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 Parshat Vayelech

“Joshua and the Power of Collaborative Leadership”

Parshat Vayelech marks the transition from Moshe to his prize student, Yehoshua. They are such different leaders, even though they have similar experiences.

For example, when Moshe has to cross the Yam Suf with the Jewish People, he does it by his mighty staff. (Exodus 13:17 – 15:21)

In contrast, Yehoshua has to cross the Jordan with the Jewish People. He tells the Jewish People, we can cross the Jordan only when there is a representative of every tribe. That begins the process with the Aron Brit HaShem, with the Ark of the Covenant. (Joshua 3:11-13)

Moshe formalizes a relationship between God and the Jewish People on Mount Sinai; Moshe is alone. (Exodus, Chapters 19-20)

When Yehoshua formalizes a relationship between God and the Jewish People, he tells the Jewish People that they must part of that covenant. They will have to agree to certain norms and mores, and as part of this covenant, they will have to state that they are committed to it. (Joshua, Chapter 24)

When Moshe becomes the leader, God tells him, “Shal na’alecha me’al raglecha”. Take off your shoes. (Exodus 3:5)

Shoes represent someone who treads in the everyday. God is making clear to Moshe, ‘You are going to be the leader of the Jewish People. You are not going to tread in the everyday.’

When Yehoshua becomes the leader, God tells him, “Shal na’alcha”, take off one shoe. (Joshua 5:15)

As the second leader of the Jewish People, you will be part of the everyday. But you will also be a spiritual oasis; you won’t be part of the everyday. You will have to tread between two paradigms at the same time.

Moshe has a prayer, “Az Yashir Moshe”, that he leads, and then the Jewish People follow. (Exodus 15:1-19)

Yehoshua’s prayer is “Aleinu Le’shabe’ach”, ‘we will pray together’. (Teshuvot HaGe’onim, Sha’arei Teshuva, Chapter 43)

They are different paradigms of leadership.

The paradigm of Moshe’s leadership is necessary to move the Jewish People from a slave mentality to a nation of destiny. Yehoshua’s leadership is necessary to move the Jewish People to a paradigm in which they enter the land and they will be able to engage in partnership and collaboration.

We live in a world of “Yehoshua”, where we are all leaders in our own lives and in the lives of our families and our communities. It is not about one person, but about the capacity to work together, to engage – like Yehoshua – in a partnership: to cross the body of water together, to tread by wearing one shoe on and one shoe off, to say a prayer such as “Aleinu Le’shabe’ach”, which emphasizes the need for all of us to collaborate.

We’re told in the Gemara:

פני משה כפני חמה; פני יהושע כפני לבנה

Moshe’s face radiates like the sun; Yehoshua’s face radiates like the moon.
(Bava Batra 75a)

At first glance, it seems like Moshe is the most powerful leader, while Yehoshua is a minor leader. But there is a different, deeper message here.

When you go out in the sun, all you see is the sun. That was Moshe. All you saw when Moshe led was the fact that he needed to do everything.

But when you go outside at night and you see the moon, you also see all the stars around the moon. Yehoshua’s paradigm of leadership was one in which he collaborated with others to move ideas forward.

As we are in the middle of the high holiday season and we refocus on our lives and what we want to accomplish, let us remember it is the Yehoshua paradigm of leadership that ultimately succeeds in bringing the Jewish People into the Land of Israel.

It is a paradigm of partnership and engagement, a paradigm of leadership that the Jewish People did not rebel against even once. It is the Yehoshua paradigm of leadership that we need to implement in our lives, in the lives of our children and family, and in our communities.

Shabbat Shalom and G’mar Chatima Tova.

‘Shofar in The Park’ program returns for Rosh Hashanah Ohr Torah Stone’s Yachad Program and Tzohar Rabbinical Organization plan hundreds of outdoor events for the High Holidays Israel National News | September 21, 2022 Marking Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) on September 26 and 27, the eighth annual Shofar in the Park program will …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Nitzavim 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

 “When the King is in the Field

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 Parshat Nitzavim / Elul

When the King is in the Field

“HaMelech ba’sadeh” – The King is in the field. 

This is the way the Ba’al haTanya describes the essence of the month of Elul. (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe; Likkutei Torah, Parshat Re’eh, 32b)

This is a tremendous difference from the way the Kabbalists discussed this month, which is that Elul is a time of fear.

“Tiku ba’chodesh shofar” – this is a month in which we blow the shofar – “bakeseh l’yom chageinu”. (Psalms 81:4)

We should be “kisuiy”: covered, intimidated and concerned.

But the Ba’al haTanya looks at it differently: “HaMelech ba’sadeh”, the King is in the field. To visit a king or a queen – as we’re learning about with Queen Elizabeth in her palace – that’s almost impossible. And when it happens, it’s very formal.

But when the king or the queen is in the “sadeh” – in the field – the informality allows for conversations with the common folk in a totally different way.

Asks the Ba’al haTanya: Do you know what the month of Elul is about? It’s not a month of trepidation or intimidation. It’s a month in which we have the opportunity to focus because God is walking in the fields. God, the King, is walking in the streets. 

He wants to say hello to us in the most informal fashion. He wants to have a relationship with us. And you know what happens when we can have an informal relationship with God?

When we can meet him in the highways and byways of life, we can meet Him on the street, then when we enter His palace during the holidays of Rosh HaShana (when we coronate Him as our King) and Yom HaKippurim, then the relationship is totally different, because the relationship started in a more informal, experiential manner.

May we truly understand this message of the Ba’al haTanya: “HaMelech ba’sadeh”, The King is in the field. He’s looking for us. He wants to engage us.

Let us find the moments to create an informal relationship with God. It will help us on the High Holidays and it will help us for the rest of our life.

Shabbat Shalom and Ketiva v’Chatima Tova.

“Parsha and Purpose” – Ki Tavo 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

 “Inspiration, Empowerment and a Stolen Shofar

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 Parshat Ki Tavo / Elul

“Inspiration, Empowerment and a Stolen Shofar”

We find ourselves right before Rosh Hashana, and there is a very interesting halakha regarding the shofar:

הגוזל שופר ותקע בו יצא…

Normally, we do not allow the use of a stolen object to fulfill a mitzvah. Nevertheless, if you steal a shofar and you hear that sound, it’s obviously not the best sound that you can hear on Rosh Hashana – no one wants to hear a sound on Rosh Hashana from a stolen shofar – but if that’s the sound that I hear, I still fulfill my obligation. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 586:2)

Why is this? Because of the halakhic principle of

אין בקול דין גזל

There is no such thing as stealing a sound. (Maimonides, Laws of Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav 1:3)

Yet there is another interesting halakha that states:

המתעסק בתקיעת שופר להתלמד לא יצא ידי חובתו וכן השומע מן המתעסק לא יצא

If I’m walking by a person’s yard or a person’s home, and a person is practicing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, and I hear 100 blasts from his practicing, I do not fulfill my obligation. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 589:8)

Why is it that I can fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the sound of the shofar blasts via a stolen shofar, but not if I hear a person practicing with a pristine shofar on Rosh Hashana?

I believe that the underlying message is that Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the process of re-engaging with God.

We are trying to find our own sound, and there will always be something that is not perfect about our sound when we begin to create a relationship with God.

It will never be fully authentic.

Every one of us on Rosh Hashana is not fully engaged yet – it’s the beginning of the process.

As much as we try, and as hard as we work beforehand, a stolen sound still works, because all of us – even with the most pristine shofar – have a little bit of a stolen sound in our psyche, in our essence, we’re just not there yet.

But we have to try. We have to work hard. Therefore, we cannot fulfill the mitzvah via a shofar sounded not in order to inspire and empower us, but rather sounded for practice, because it must be a shofar sound intended to inspire the people around him.

It must be a shofar sound committed to trying to make a difference.

As we begin the process of Rosh Hashana, let us work to realize that it is okay if our spiritual sound is not completely authentic.

At the same time, it cannot be that we are in a state of “מתעסק” / practicing; that we are just in a state of a robotic routine.

Instead, we have to work hard to find a new energy, a new music in our relationship to God, in our relationship to our families, and really in our relationship to ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom and Ketiva v’Chatima Tova.

 

shofar bapark Tel Aviv

Bringing the Holidays to the People From Rosh Hashana through Sukkot, as Jews of all backgrounds seek meaning and opportunities to connect, the Jewish cultural coordinators of OTS’s Yachad Program for Jewish Identity run a range of inviting events which attract tens of thousands of people of all ages. “A secular couple came to hear …

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Andi and Rabbi Nir Koren

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Israelis Prepare to Celebrate the Year’s Holiest Days Under Lockdown As the pandemic in the country worsens, officials warn that new restrictions might not be enough to cut infection rates significantly. Many people question the logic and motives behind the rules. By Isabel Kershner | Sept. 18, 2020 JERUSALEM — As Israelis prepare to celebrate …

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Jewish organization prepares for High Holy Days amid coronavirus pandemic In Israel, where coronavirus infections has spiked as of late, organizations are moving towards prayer services that will be limited in size as well as scope in order to stymie the infection rate. By Jerusalem Post Staff | September 9, 2020  Jewish organizations around the …

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Family at Sukkot workshop

145,000 Israelis Embrace New Year with Joy, Meaning and Unity OTS’s Yachad Program for Jewish Identity brought the beauty of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah to more than 145,000 Israelis this year through their annual “Holidays are for Everyone” initiative, designed to ensure that Jewish traditions are accessible and meaningful for all …

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