JUDAH & JUDAISM
Rabbi David Walk
The Sages designed the framework of our weekly torah readings very carefully. They mated material to teach us ideas about the relationship of those pieces. However, perhaps, the most important and dramatic aspect of this editing job is the choice of what verse with which to begin each parsha. Just like a leadoff man sets the tone for a baseball lineup, so, too, the first verse or two of a Torah reading powerfully highlights a rabbinic point of emphasis. This week is amongst the clearest of these message-bearing opening statements. When our scene opens in this way: Then Judah confronted Yosef (Genesis 44:18), we are introduced to the new order of the world. This dramatic opening to the reading reports on the emergence of
Although, I believe that there are many factors in this complex ascendance of
It is this act of contrition which begins the reconciliation of this sprawling family. When Yosef hears this genuine concern for their father, he is unable to continue the charade. The Torah testifies: Now Joseph could not bear all those standing beside him, and he called out, "Take everyone away from me!" So no one stood with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept out loud… And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" (45:1-3). Yehuda twenty years earlier wasn't concerned for their father's feelings when he participated in the abduction of Yosef and the succeeding cover up. Now, however, he's willing to sacrifice all to make sure Binyamin returns safely to his father. This brings me to the other character trait which thrusts
Therefore, I believe, that we can state categorically that the two fundamental characteristics of a great leader are: the ability to admit mistakes and the courage to accept total responsibility for whatever happens on his watch.
So, what are the ramifications of
We expect every member of our nation to aspire to the high ethics demanded of those in charge. Everyone must admit wrongdoing and take responsibility for others. Only then can we make our nation great, and only then can we assume the leadership role within all of humankind predicted at Mount Sinai, and you will be holy nation and kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). So, whenever we proudly proclaim that we are Jews, remember that we are declaring our commitment to responsibility and accountability for all our actions.
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