Mikeitz: Royal Politics

Yosef was a most charismatic person. He was young, attractive and as the Torah tells us on three occasions, he was an ish mazleach, a successful man. His rise to power, both in the house of Potiphar and in Pharaoh’s court, was meteoric. Even in jail, the wardens quickly appointed him to a position of authority. Yet charisma can go only so far – especially in a highly controlled political system. It is hard to fathom how Pharaoh, seemingly on a whim, appointed him Viceroy of Egypt and only “[my] chair will be above you” (41:40).

Shelach Lecha: Making Mistakes

Who should get the blame for the meraglim fiasco? Was it the report of the spies, or the lack of faith of the people that did us in? Might it be possible to question Moshe’s judgment in sending spies in the first place? And might we even question G-d who, knowing the fickle nature of His people, allowed them to fail? When leaving Egypt, G-d “did not lead us the way of the Philistines, although it was the shortest route, because G-d said perhaps the people will lose heart when they see war and will return to Egypt” (Shemot 13:17).

Shelach Lecha: You Can Quote Me

Great people are not afraid to put their name behind their convictions. “And Calev quieted the people for Moshe and said, ‘We will rise and rise and inherit the land, as we can surely do it’” (13:30). Those of lesser quality prefer to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. “And the people who were with him said, ‘We will not be able to go up’”. It is easy to criticize, complain and condemn; as long as one can hide behind others, it is not “me” but rather “they” who will be blamed should things go wrong. It takes courage to stand up and do the same thing publicly.
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