What is Jewish Leadership?

Friday, 1 July, 2022 - 2:11 pm

This Shabbat we mark 28 years since the Rebbe’s physical presence was taken from us on the 3rd of Tammuz. There are several Hebrew terms that are used to depict a Jewish spiritual leader. One of them is Nassi. That same term is used in modern Hebrew for president. It was also used to describe the tribal leaders during biblical times. However, the most prominent application of the term was when it was used to describe the chief of the Sanhedrin and final arbiter of Jewish law. Of the more famous examples of this is Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the redactor of the Mishna.

The etymological root of the term Nassi, is related to the Hebrew word for elevate or uplift (nasso). In that sense, the role of the Nassi is to elevate and uplift each and every member of his people. One of the mystics points out, that the letters of the words Nassi are an acronym for the phrase, “Nitzotzo Shel Yaakov Avinu” – a spark of (the soul of) our forefather Jacob. It this context, the Nassi is the successor to Yaakov as the leader of the Jewish people. Why Jacob and not Isaac or Abraham? The Rebbe explains, that both Isaac and Abraham had sons that did not end up following their example. Jacob, on the other hand, had a full compliment of children that followed his path in life. This, the Rebbe points out, is the mark of a true Nassi. One whose influence elevates and uplifts Jews from across the entire spectrum of our people.

The Rebbe embodied this throughout his decades of leadership. The last 28 years have demonstrated that the Rebbe’s influence on the Jewish people and humanity as a whole, continues to increase in strength and in scope.

May we soon merit the realization of the Rebbe’s vision for the time of goodness and G-dliness for all people in the Era of Redemption through the coming of Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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