Friday, July 29, 2022

Dvar Torah - A Rerun

I am on vacation - so there is no new dvar Torah this week. 

Last year's can be found in the Jewish Journal at this link.

Friday, July 15, 2022

The Ultimate Question of Jewish History

It is a verse that directly challenges the contemporary Jew. At the outset of Bilaam's prophecy, he declares: "Behold, a people that dwells alone, and is not counted among the nations." To medieval commentaries, the verse was a roadmap; the Jews are meant to live separate lives, and because of this they will not assimilate. Even in the modern era, many turned to this verse for inspiration. In his commentary to the Torah, Rabbi Naftali Tzi Berlin, the Netziv, argues for the importance of Jews remaining apart from non-Jewish society, because separation diminishes anti-Semitism. He writes that: “It is a people that dwells alone; not like all other nations and cultures, that when they go into exile and mingle within their new countries, they win even more love and respect, because they are no longer separated (by national distinctions)… Israel is not like that; when they are alone and don't assimilate, they can dwell in tranquility and honor … but when they try to mix, they are not reckoned among the nations and are not even considered to be humans." In middle of the 19th century, the Netziv makes the assertion that assimilation provokes antisemitism; and this describes a developing trend in his own time, of ugly, antisemitic reactions to assimilated Jews entering the mainstream of society. 

Once the ghetto walls came down, Jewish separation became a matter of choice. The question arose whether Jews should still follow the directive to “not be counted among the nations”. Many felt continued separation would be a mistake, and instead embraced emancipation as an opportunity to transform the Jewish community. Dwelling alone was not meant to be the eternal reality of the Jewish people, and now Jews had an opportunity to pursue normalcy. They desired to be a people and a nation like any other and fit in everywhere. They would dress like everyone else, pray in the same language as everyone else, and go to school with everyone else; they would be a Jew at home, and a citizen in the street. The hope was that this verse would disappear, a relic of a past era of exclusion and discrimination.

Within the Orthodox community, many saw abandoning the mindset of “a people that dwells alone” as a mistake, and a roadmap for assimilation. One of the most prominent exponents of this view was Yaakov Herzog. The son of the second chief Rabbi of Israel, Yaakov Herzog was brilliant and eloquent, an accomplished rabbinic scholar as well as a distinguished intellectual and diplomat; among other accomplishments, he initiated Israel’s dialogue with Jordan’s King Hussein. In 1965, Herzog was offered the posts of Chief Rabbi of England and the director of the Prime Minister's office at around the same time. After he tragically passed away at age 50, a collection of his speeches was published under the title of "A People that Dwells Alone"; and it was this verse that Herzog returned to repeatedly, which he saw as central to understanding Jewish identity. In one speech from 1967, Herzog relates how he hosted in Israel 15 heads of theological graduate schools from the United States. He asked them to respond to this verse: “has this prophecy remained true to the present day? Has it been fulfilled in the realities of our history?" He explains that even these Christian clergymen admitted that “a people that dwells alone” was an eternal reality. In multiple lectures Herzog argued that Jews will never be able to fully integrate into the diaspora; and more importantly, Jews must follow their unique destiny, one which sets them apart from the rest of the world.

A very different response to this question was offered by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. He tells of a Shavuot lunch in 2001 that he shared with Irwin Cotler, a member of the Canadian Parliament and a professor of international law at McGill University, along with a senior Israeli diplomat. Cotler with sounding the alarm on the upcoming United Nations conference in Durban, which he was concerned would become a platform for anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda. (Unfortunately, Cotler's worst nightmares came true.) As the discussion was proceeding, the Israeli diplomat interrupted to explain that one shouldn’t be too shocked about antisemitism, because "It was ever thus", for the Torah says the Jews are a people that dwells alone. Rabbi Sacks responded sharply to the diplomat’s suggestion: "What makes you so sure that Baalam meant those words as a blessing? Might it have not been that he intended them as a curse?" Sacks explains that the Hebrew word used for alone, “baddad”, is often used to portray unhappy loneliness. He argues that the Jewish self-image of standing alone is actually what causes our alienation from others. Sacks concludes by saying "Jews have enemies… But we also have friends. And if we worked harder at it, we would have more."

At first glance, Herzog and Sacks have dramatically different viewpoints. But both recognize that the alternative to being a people that dwells alone is not unqualified universalism. Sacks lists several ways in which the dream of universalism failed the Jews. He writes that in the 19th century, after Jewish emancipation, too many assumed that the new political age represented the fulfillment of the Messianic redemption. He quotes a German newspaper, which in 1843 reported that the local Reform Jews believed “that the Messiah had come in the form of the German fatherland”. Similarly, the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform of American Reform Movement declared that the modern era represented "The approaching of the realization of Israel's great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, Justice, and peace among all men. We consider ourselves no longer a nation but a religious community..." Then came the 20th century, and these dreams proved to be a mirage. Jews who were intoxicated with the delusions of universalism were unprepared for the disaster that would ensue.

Herzog quotes a similar story about Leon Trotsky. In 1917, after he was named the Bolshevik Minister of Defense, an old rabbi came to see Trotsky. He had once taught a young boy named Leibele Bronstein, and heard that now Leibele was a leader of the Communist movement, which was shuttering Jewish schools and synagogues. The Rabbi approached his former pupil, wondering how it was possible that his beloved Leibele was the one leading the charge to destroy Judaism. Trosky explained to his Rabbi that actually he was attempting to bring about the realization of the greatest hopes of the Jews: the coming of the Messiah. But instead of the Messiah only helping the Jews, through Communism one could support "a universal development that would flood the entire world… The time had come for Judaism to merge into this universal movement for the redemption of humanity." Ultimately, Trotsky's dream was a catastrophic failure, both for the Soviet Union and himself. Both Sacks and Herzog point out how universalism has failed the Jews in the past, and even Sacks agrees they cannot just be another nation among the nations.
It is often universalism that presents the greatest challenge to Jewish identity, especially on college campuses. In a speech from 1970, Herzog refers to young Jewish intellectuals on campuses who repudiate any idea such as ‘a people that dwells alone’ as being egocentric, a rejection of progress, an abnormality, a self-imposed ghetto; in short, something that 20th century civilization cannot tolerate. This hostility is even more present today. Instead of Israel being the 3,300 year old homeland of the Jews, it is viewed as colonialism's original sin, one that intersects every form of racism and chauvinism. Anti-Semitism, the world's oldest hatred, is belittled as an "eternal victim narrative", just another piece of Zionist propaganda. And the Holocaust? It is seen as ancient history, which primarily contributes to Jewish paranoia. The only way for a young Jew to redeem themselves from the curse of Judaism is to renounce the Zionist heresy, the ultimate crime against universalism. Yes, these critics do allow that a Jew should be proud of their Jewishness, provided that it is innocuous. It is permissible to enjoy Yiddish culture and the good bagel, provided a Jew is first and foremost a citizen of the world, an activist interested in every cause except their own. Ironically, the intense insistence on the importance of universalism actually distinguishes these Jews. As Cynthia Ozick put it in an oft quoted essay from 1974, "Only Jews carry on this way. Universalism is the ultimate Jewish parochialism." Perhaps being a people that dwells alone is a curse; but universalism has become a serious threat to Jewish identity.
On the other hand, it is important to recognize that universalism has been very much a part of Judaism from the very beginning. Abraham was told that his mission is to be a blessing for all the nations of the earth; and Isaiah calls the Jews a light unto the nations, meant to bring goodness to the entire world. But it is here that the struggle begins; how can a people that dwells alone also be a light unto the nations? In isolation there is no influence.
The outline of a resolution can be found in fascinating Jewish law. The very same mitzvah that emphasizes how Jews must dwell alone is also the foundation of Jewish universalism. The commandment of Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God's name, carries two very different obligations. The first is yehareg v'al yaavor, to give up one's life rather than violate the sin of idolatry. Jews through the ages accepted martyrdom rather than betray their religious beliefs; and in medieval Europe, Jews refused to become Christians, even when a sword was held to their neck. This aspect of Kiddush Hashem is the ultimate expression of a people that dwells alone; Jews would rather give up their lives than accept the religion of their neighbors.

Yet there is a second aspect to Kiddush Hashem: acting in a manner that brings honor to God and the Torah. The classic example of this is a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi, which tells the story of Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach, who had bought a donkey from a non-Jew. Upon examination, he found a diamond attached to its saddle that its owner had forgotten and abandoned. Shimon Ben Shetach insisted on returning the diamond. When his students asked him why he was returning a valuable, abandoned object, he replied: "What do you think, that Shimon ben Shetach is a barbarian? Shimon ben Shetach would rather hear (the owner exclaim) 'blessed is the God of the Jews' than receive all of the rewards possible in this world." Maimonides sees this story as an example of true Kiddush Hashem; and one sanctifies God's name by acting according to the highest ethical standards and spreading the light of the Torah through the world.

These two definitions of Kiddush Hashem sit side by side with each other. Both fierce loyalty to Judaism and authentic devotion to all of humanity are demanded of every Jew. But this confrontation with competing obligations has proved difficult in practice. Some take comfort by retreating into a ghetto, forgetting 99.8% of humanity; and all too often, the response is to go in the other direction, transforming universalism into the only meaningful mitzvah of Judaism.

Neither alternative is acceptable. And this is the ultimate challenge for 21st century Jews: can we faithfully embrace Judaism and love humanity at the very same time? Yaakov Herzog put it this way: "three thousand years ago, Balaam the prophet described the children of Israel as a people that dwells alone… The problem is whether this concept denotes a privilege, (not an escape from society, but a unique role within it), or whether it is an anomaly which must be denied and discarded. This is the question of Jewish history."

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Politics and the Parah Adumah


Purification by the Red Heifer, A print from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations in the possession of Revd. Philip De Vere at St. George’s Court, Kidderminster, England, January 1, 1970.
The Midrash states that the commandment of Parah Adumah is the ultimate religious mystery, and its reasons are unknowable. The commandment outlines a purification ritual for those who came in contact with a dead body. A red heifer, or Parah Adumah, is sacrificed on the Mount of Olives, and then burnt on a pyre. The ashes are mixed with water and sprinkled on those who were impure.
The Parah Adumah ritual is confusing for several reasons. It is a sacrifice that is performed outside of the Temple, something which elsewhere the Torah explicitly forbids. And while the ashes of the Parah Adumah purify those who were impure, paradoxically, those who handle the ashes are themselves rendered impure. The Midrash says that even the wisest of all men, King Solomon, said about this commandment, “I thought I was wise enough, yet it was distant from my understanding.” Even Solomon couldn’t comprehend the purpose of the Parah Adumah. The term used by the Talmud for commandments without any reasons, a chok, is taken directly from our Torah reading.
Whether or not the commandments have reasons has been debated by Jewish thinkers for over 2,000 years. Christine Hayes, in her book What's Divine About Divine Law, explains that these debates arose when Jews first confronted Hellenistic culture. In the Greek world, the idea of natural law, a universal, rational understanding of what is right and what is wrong, was accepted; what would be considered divine morality could be understood by one’s intellect. This perspective challenged Jews to think about how to understand the Torah, most of whose commandments were offered as divine fiats without any stated reasons. Some, like Philo, sought to integrate the Greek understanding of divine law into the Torah, and find logical reasons for all the commandments; this project of searching for taamei hamitzvot, the reasons for the commandments, has continued to this day. The rabbis of the Talmud and Midrash held multiple points of view on this question. Some rabbis take the same approach as Philo; but many passages in Talmud and Midrash reject the idea that commandments have reasons. Even ostensibly ethical commandments are seen as purely a reflection of God’s will; one passage in the Talmud says it is improper to consider the commandment to send the mother bird away before taking her eggs, as a reflection of divine mercy, because all of God’s commandments are exclusively divine decrees. Another passage in the Talmud, which was particularly influential in medieval philosophy, creates a division between two types of commandments: there are mishpatim, ethical laws that one would arrive at rationally on one’s own, much like natural law. And there are chukim, divine decrees without any explanation; the Talmud says that regarding chukim, God declares, "I decreed these statutes, and you have no right to question them."
In medieval philosophy, Saadia Gaon accepts this distinction between chukim and mishpatim, which he calls “revealed” and “rational” laws. The Rambam strongly disagrees and insists that every commandment is rational. God would only act in accordance with wisdom; he explains that our Sages generally do not think that such precepts have no cause whatever and serve no purpose, for this would lead us to assume that God's actions are purposeless. The Rambam devotes nearly a quarter of his Guide for the Perplexed to taamei hamitzvot, and he enumerates reasons for every commandment, even ones that seem strange and obscure.
But in the modern era, the Rambam's understanding of taamei hamitzvot was rejected by many Jewish thinkers. By offering philosophical, historical, and even medical reasons for the commandments, the Rambam opened a religious Pandora's box; if the reason was no longer relevant, perhaps the commandment could be ignored? For this reason, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch harshly criticizes the Rambam’s taamei hamitzvot, because they paved the way for the Reform movement. He writes: If, for instance, the sole purpose of the prohibition of labor on the Sabbath was to enable men to rest and recover from the toils of the week, if the Sabbath means only the cessation of corporeal activity in order that the mind may be active; and who could doubt it, since both Moses (i.e, Moses Maimonides and Moses Mendelssohn) interpret it thus, and the Christian Sunday agrees with their conception, who must not consider it mere pettiness and pedantic absurdity to fill an entire folio with the investigation of the question, what particular actions are forbidden, and what permitted on the Sabbath day? How singular, to declare the writing of two letters, perhaps an intellectual occupation, a deadly sin, while judging leniently many acts involving great physical exertion, and freeing from penalty all purposeless destruction! Hirsch bemoans the fact that the Rambam’s philosophical interpretations of the mitzvot undermine the practice of halakhah; in actuality, the Shabbat is much more than a mere day of rest. By explaining the commandments, the Rambam ended up undermining them.
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik takes this critique a step further. He too uses the Rambam’s reason for Shabbat as an example. He writes that if the purpose of Shabbat is merely “hedonic,” to rest, then the Sabbath idea is dispossessed of its breadth and warmth. And if the Sabbath is to be seen only against the background of mundane social justice and similar ideals, the intrinsic quality of the Sabbath is transformed into something alien. It serves merely as a means to the realization of a "higher" end. Soloveitchik explains that reasons for the commandments offered by the Rambam often explain a religious norm by an ethical precept, turning religion into the maidservant of ethics. Rabbi Soloveitchik's fundamental criticism is that the Rambam's taamei hamitzvot subordinate the Torah to other disciplines, putting Torah second.
Both Rabbis Hirsch and Soloveitchik emphasize the need for the Torah to be treated as an independent, transcendent discipline. This call is particularly significant, considering that it comes from two thinkers who were associated with movements of Torah Umadda and Torah im Derech Eretz, who saw engagement with general knowledge as a religious obligation; yet they remain steadfast in refusing to reduce Torah to a vehicle for external disciplines. 
And this is precisely the importance of chok: to remind us not to use divine revelation in the service of other ends. We must approach the commandments with humility, and not assume they are there to serve our own personal needs.
Sadly, in contemporary times, many treat the Torah as a textbook of non-Torah subjects; readers scour religious texts to find lessons of psychology, leadership, finance, and even medicine. My objection is not to specific insights. For example, one must consider the psychological aspects within the narratives of Bereishit; not to do so would overlook important insights. But when the psychological perspective becomes the primary mode of engaging a text, the spiritual power of the Torah is lost. A grand gesture of faith can be reduced to an unusual father-son dynamic, and the Torah then becomes a collection of interesting case studies. The Torah should not become "a spade with which to dig,” a way to obtain useful information that the reader finds gratifying.
The Torah is most often conscripted in the service of politics. Every hot button issue inspires articles about how the Torah supports one viewpoint or another. Written in the style of a lawyer's brief, these articles of political-Torah lack nuance and scholarly insight. Undoubtedly, the advocates of politicizing Torah have laudable goals: they want to ensure that the Torah is “relevant,” and that we “bring Torah values into the public square.” But in reality, the opposite occurs; the Torah ends up being the footnote to political passions, and all that matters is whether the Torah supports one’s favorite causes.
Bringing religion into politics will ultimately diminish faith. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln said it best. When told by an aide that “God was on the side of the Union,” Lincoln supposedly responded: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side.” One must never confuse subjective interests with divine imperatives; but this inversion of values is what happens when religion becomes subordinate to politics. The lesson of the chukim is to avoid pulling God over to our side, and instead approach the Torah with humility and openness.

Friday, July 01, 2022

The Leadership Legacy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe


What was Moshe’s leadership philosophy? He responds in very different ways to two critical episodes in the middle of Sefer Bamidbar. When Korach and his supporters rebel against Moshe’s leadership, Moshe responds with fury; he maneuvers Korach’s camp into accepting a challenge that will ultimately cost them their lives. Moshe stands out as a strong minded leader who deftly eliminates the opposition.
Yet during the incident of Eldad and Medad, Moshe reacts very differently. At God’s command, Moshe had gathered a group of 70 to receive prophecy and assist him. Two men who were not invited to join the group of 70, Eldad and Medad, begin to prophesize, even though they had not been included among the 70 appointed assistants. Eldad and Medad’s actions are perceived as an act of rebellion; Moshe's disciple Yehoshua wants to imprison them. Rashi highlights their defiance by quoting a Midrash which says that Eldad and Medad had prophesied “Moshe will die and Yehoshua will bring Israel into the Land.” Like Korach, Eldad and Medad are challenging Moshe’s leadership.
Yet what is Moshe's response to Eldad and Medad? He says: “May it be that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD put His spirit upon them!”
It is apparent that the Torah intends us to read these two accounts side by side; their narratives and language mirror each other. In both, there is a gathering of elders. In both, there are calls for Moshe’s resignation; in the first instance, Moshe offers his resignation, in the Korach narrative, Korach calls on Moshe to resign. In both, there are declarations about the elevated status of the nation. Moshe exclaims that he wishes that the entire nation could be prophets; Korach declares that the entire nation is holy.

So, what accounts for why Moshe reacts so differently in the two narratives? Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues that there are two aspects of Moshe's role. He writes that: “There are two forms or dimensions of leadership. One is power, the other, influence. Often, we confuse the two…. In fact, however, the two are quite different, even opposites…. So deep is the difference that the Torah allocates them to two distinct leadership roles: king and prophet. Kings had power. They could levy taxes, conscript people to serve in the army, and decide when and against whom to wage war. Prophets, by contrast, had no power at all. They commanded no armies. They levied no taxes. They spoke God’s word but had no means of enforcing it. All they had was influence – but what influence!”
Sacks explains that in the story of Eldad and Medad, we are discussing prophetic inspiration, a form of non-coercive influence. Inspiration should be shared widely; therefore, Moshe embraces Eldad and Medad. On the other hand, Korach wants power, and wants to replace Moshe. That Moshe cannot accede to, because it is impossible for two kings to wear the same crown.
(The difficulty with Rabbi Sacks’ position is that the story of Eldad and Medad and the 70 elders takes place during a political crisis. The 70 elders he appoints are meant to be both political leaders and prophets; and the clear demarcation between political and prophetic leadership doesn’t begin until the time of King David.)
I would suggest a slightly different approach. Moshe is a transformative leader who sees the goal of leadership as serving others. This idea is reflected in a verb that is shared in both narratives, sa, or to “lift up.” However, it is used very differently, in its active and passive forms. In the narrative of Eldad and Medad, the verb sa is used to connote that leading the people is a burden. The analogy Moshe uses is that leadership is like carrying a child on your lap; and this burden is difficult to carry. Moshe remarks, “I cannot carry all this people by myself, for it is too much for me.” In the narrative of Korach, this verb is used by Korach in a very different way. He complains against Moshe saying, “Why then do you raise yourselves above God’s congregation?” Korach sees the leader as being lifted by his followers; it is the leader who benefits most from the relationship of leadership.
I believe this is the key to Moshe's contrasting reactions. Eldad and Medad may be challenging Moshe, but they are not searching for personal glory; they simply want to help spread the word of God. This type of transformative leadership is welcomed even when there are other leaders around; uninterested in power for its own sake, Eldad and Medad pose no threat to Moshe. Korach, however, wants to be raised up by others. His thirst for leadership is egocentric. Leaders like Korach who are focused on their own glory can be very destructive, because for them political power is a zero-sum game. And for that reason, Moshe responds harshly to Korach, whose true goal is creating an autocracy of one.
Transformative leaders represent a very different vision of leadership. They not only come to serve the community, but they also recognize that the greatest service one can offer is to help create other transformative leaders. They use their influence to help others become the best version of themselves.
This week marks the 28th yartzeit, anniversary of the death, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of blessed memory. Perhaps the most exceptional aspect of the Rebbe’s leadership is precisely this: he was determined to turn others into leaders.
Today, there are thousands of Chabad shluchim in every corner of the globe; they each lead synagogues, schools, communities, and organizations. The Rebbe has inspired many leaders within Lubavitch; but his influence goes well beyond Chabad. 
Joseph Telushkin, in his book Rebbe relates two examples of the impact the Rebbe’s transformative leadership had on rabbis outside of the Lubavitch community.
One anecdote he relates is about Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, who later would become the executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union. At the time, Weinreb was 30, and working in Baltimore as a clinical psychologist and educator. He was at a crossroads in his life, unsure of which career path to take, and plagued with religious challenges. So Weinreb decided to call the Rebbe, whose farbrengens he had attended when he lived in Crown Heights. Telushkin relates that:
In February 1971, Weinreb called the Rebbe’s office to see if he could arrange an appointment. The call was answered by a secretary, whom Weinreb later deduced was Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Hodakov. Hodakov started asking him questions to ascertain the purpose of the call, when Weinreb heard a voice in the background – which he recognized from those earlier farbrengens – asking in Yiddish, “Who’s calling?”
At that point, Weinreb was anxious to maintain his anonymity – particularly if he did not end up meeting with the Rebbe. He replied,” A Jew from Maryland.” …..
But then, even before Weinreb could pin down a date for a meeting, he heard the Rebbe call out in the background, “Tell him that there is a Jew who lives in Maryland that he can speak to, Der Yid hayst Weinreb (His name is Weinreb).”
Hodakov said to him, “Did you hear what the Rebbe said?”
Weinreb had heard and was in shock.… he assumed that he had probably misheard the Rebbe. So, he told Hodakov no, he had not heard what the Rebbe said.
Rabbi Hodakov repeated the Rebbe’s words: “Tell him that there is a Jew who lives in Maryland that he can speak to. His name is Weinreb.”
Weinreb said, “But my name is Weinreb.”
Now it was Rabbi Hodakov’s turn to be shocked. But not the Rebbe. When Hodakov repeated aloud what Weinreb had said, the Rebbe simply responded, “Oih azoi. If that is the case, then he should know that sometimes a person needs to speak to himself.”
This advice seems to be the opposite of what a rebbe should offer. After all, the follower is coming to him, the leader for support. But that’s precisely the point. The Rebbe’s goal was to create leaders, not followers. And he was challenging Rabbi Weinreb, who was already an accomplished rabbi and psychologist, to recognize his own abilities and trust his own instincts and insights.
The Rebbe also challenged people to take responsibility for the situation around them; to stop looking inward, and instead recognize that the potential for change was in their hands.
The book has a second anecdote regarding a second-year student at Cambridge, Jonathan Sacks, who came to visit the Rebbe. This meeting would change Sacks’ life trajectory and start him on his career as a rabbi and Jewish leader. Telushkin writes:
At the meeting, what first struck Sacks was the Rebbe’s understated, nonaggressive manner. For a good while, the Rebbe listened and responded patiently to Sack’s philosophical queries and concerns, always acting “as if the most important person in the room was me.” But then, having taken his measure of the young man, the Rebbe suddenly turned the conversation around. The interviewee became the interviewer. “Things are going wrong,” the Rebbe had said to him. “Are you willing to be one of those who helps to put them right?”
The young man was taken aback. He had gone into the meeting to ask questions, not answer them. Furthermore, at that early, somewhat uncertain stage of his life, his intention was to become an economist, a lawyer, or an academic. He certainly did not see himself as a leader, though that was the role the Rebbe was now telling him to assume; at one point, the Rebbe even challenged him as to what he was doing to strengthen Jewish life at Cambridge.
The Rebbe’s insistent manner made a profound impact on Sacks: “I had been told that the Rebbe was a man with thousands of followers. After I met him, I understood that the opposite was the case. A good leader creates followers. A great leader creates leaders. More than the Rebbe was a leader, he created leadership in others.”
This is the very foundation of transformative leadership: true leaders teach others how to be leaders. And the Rebbe did that, thousands of times over. May his memory continue to inspire us to be those people that when things are going wrong, helps to put them right.