Rabbi Sherman's Weekly Torah Commentary
January 24 & 25, 2020 Parashat Va'era
28 Tevet 5780 Shabbat Mevarkhim Hahodesh
Who was the more effective leader: Moses or Pharaoh?
As our Torah portion begins, the Hebrews are slaves in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh. Moses, born a Hebrew but raised as an Egyptian, discovers his heritage. Through a burning bush, Moses hears God instructing him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the people go. Moses doubts whether he is the right one for this task, but God insists. When Moses goes to Pharaoh, saying “Let my people go,” Pharaoh says, “No.” Ten plagues later, Pharaoh finally relents. Moses leads his people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.
Moses and Pharaoh each have a different style. Pharaoh is confident, authoritative, and focused. He commands attention. He ignores the suffering of his own people, and little setbacks like nasty plagues don’t distract him. In contrast, Moses has a speech impediment, is afraid of public speaking, and doesn’t feel up to the task. He is humble and self-deprecating.
Pharaoh is tough and powerful; he speaks with great authority. But Rabbi Lucy Dinner from North Carolina suggests that because Moses couldn’t speak well, he was forced to do something even more important: he was forced to listen. Maybe this is what makes his leadership not only compassionate but effective.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Is leadership more about talking or listening? What should be the balance?
2. What qualities should a good leader demonstrate?
This Shabbat we’ll bless the new month of Shevat which begins Sunday night.
Tu B’Shevat (the birthday for the trees) is coming soon – February 10.
Watch for more information about our Tu B’Shevat seder and tree planting ceremony!
Please join our Shabbat celebration. If you are unable to join us in the synagogue, please join us on Channel 1960 on your television set.
We will welcome Shabbat with the lighting of Shabbat lights at 4:35 PM in the synagogue and at 4:45 PM in the dining room, followed by kiddush and motzi at 5:00 PM. Our Shabbat evening service will begin in the synagogue at 6:30 PM. Please join for Oneg Shabbat in the Pavilion following the service. Our Shabbat morning service will begin at 9:30 AM in the synagogue, followed by kiddush and motzi in the dining room.
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Sherman