Tidbits of Torah


 Parashat Vaera

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh 

A True Test of Leadership 

January 5, 2019 – 28 Tevet 5779  

Dear Friends,


Whether we believe in miracles or not, and no matter how we define miracles, we are all aware that, for the most part, nature follows its “natural” course.  And, as part of our appreciation of “nature”, our lunar calendar and our solar calendars both inform our Jewish lives.  Major Jewish holidays coincide with the changing seasons of the year.  Jewish months coincide with the lunar cycles of the moon.


And so, this Shabbat, we will be reciting the blessing for the upcoming new Jewish month of Shevat.  Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on Sunday night and on Monday of this coming week!  And, two weeks later, on the 15th of Shevat, we will celebrate Tu B’Shevat – the New Year of the Trees!  May Shevat be a month of new beginnings – a month in which new ideas blossom – even as our trees drink in the depth of winter, naturally preparing themselves for the blossoms of the coming spring!


Although nature follows its “natural” course and human beings are a “natural” part of God’s creation, human beings can also rise above and beyond the regular cycles of nature.  Human beings have free will.  And, as such, human beings can rise to surprising heights and exhibit true and positive leadership traits.


In this week’s Torah portion, we read of the leadership of our people and of the leadership of the Egyptian people.  We read of Moses and of Aaron, and we read of Pharaoh.  What is most interesting is that when Pharaoh begs Moses to dispel the plague of frogs, Moses agrees, saying to Pharaoh: I agree to dispel the plague “as per your request.”  The Torah tells us that Moses specifically asks Pharaoh:  l’matai [When] shall I fulfill your request to reign in the frogs?  And, the Torah relates to us Pharaoh’s most surprising response:“l’machar” [tomorrow]  (Exodus 8:5-6)!


Why didn’t Pharaoh ask for the immediate rescinding of the plague of frogs????  Why “tomorrow”?


One can only surmise that Pharaoh didn’t identify with the suffering of his own people any more than he identified with the suffering of the Israelites!


The Torah’s message is that true leadership is leadership that understands the importance of removing plagues that affect people, as soon as possible!


True leadership is a human choice that spurs us to rise up above the regular cycles of nature, to stand up for what is right, and thereby to bring more blessing into people’s lives.


May we see our potential for heightening the sense of shared blessing this Shabbat, this coming week and throughout the upcoming Jewish month of Shevat!


Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Gilah Dror