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The No Child Left Behind Act of 2448

Friday, 10 December, 2021 - 2:27 pm

Jacob had twelve sons. Each of them was a spiritual powerhouse. Some displayed extraordinary greatness. Many of them demonstrated leadership qualities on various occasions. When the dust settled and the story of the people of Israel developed, one tribe emerged as the ultimate paragon of leadership. That is the tribe of Judah, the forerunner of the dynasty of King David. Judah’s leadership is already exhibited in the narrative of this week’s Parsha. When the Viceroy of Egypt (Joseph) falsely accuses Benjamin of pilfering his silver goblet, it is Judah who steps up and fights for his younger brother’s life. He explains his sense of urgency with the following declaration, “For your servant assumed responsibility for the boy from my father.” Indeed, earlier in the narrative, Judah proclaims to his father Jacob, “I will guarantee him; from my hand you can demand him.” This convinced Jacob to allow Benjamin to go with them to Egypt.

The Hebrew word that is used for guarantee or responsible is “areivut.” At Mt. Sinai, we all made a similar commitment of being in a state of “areivut” towards one another. As our sages declare, “Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh – All of Israel are responsible for one another.”

What this means is that we each need to speak in the voice of Judah and declare “For your servant assumed responsibility for the boy.” We are responsible to ensure that each Jewish child, literal or figurative, is cared for. We must see to it that no Jew falls through the cracks and is alienated from his or her heritage, because nobody cared enough to stretch forth a welcoming hand. “Areivut” needs to be the driving force behind our personal and communal decision-making process.

 We all share a Father, who waits with eager anticipation for each of His children to come home safely. At Sinai we promised, “I will guarantee him; from my hand you can demand him.”  We are therefore motivated by the notion that “For your servant assumed responsibility for the boy from my Father.” We know that Hashem expects and empowers us to make sure that every Jewish child comes home.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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