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Leadership that inspires faith

Friday, 7 June, 2013 - 12:22 pm

In this week’s Torah portion, after the Korach rebellion was put down, a plague broke out killing thousands of Jews who complained about the way the rebellion was handled. Moses instructed his brother Aaron to take a pan of incense and stand between the dead and the living in order to stop the plague. When Aaron arrives he encounters the Angel of Death, who challenges Aaron’s right to stop him from carrying out his mission of death. Rashi records their dialogue. Aaron replied, “Moses commanded me to prevent you.” The angel challenged, “I am the agent of G-d whereas you are the agent of Moses.” Aaron replied, “Moses says nothing of his own accord, only at the command of the Almighty. If you don’t believe me, behold G-d and Moses are at the door of the Tabernacle, come with me to inquire.”

Every year when we read this section of the Torah my inspiration from this story is rekindled. Two elements of the passage touch me very deeply. The first is the leadership of Moses that inspires such deep faith in his followers to the extent that they recognize that “Moses only speaks at the command of the Almighty.” The second is the degree of Aaron’s commitment to Moses and his willingness to challenge an Angel of G-d knowing that Moses “has his back” and that being the agent of Moses is being the agent of G-d.

The Zohar teaches that there is a “Moses” in each generation. I have been privileged to be inspired by such a Moses – a leader who inspires a faith in his followers similar to one described by Rashi in the story. Thousands of people are motivated by the Rebbe’s teachings and example, which have instilled within them a fiery dedication to the cause of Torah and Mitzvot, and the call to transform the world into a G-dly place despite many challenges and obstacles. While aspiring to reach the level of Aaron’s commitment is a lofty goal, it places one on the path of striving to achieve and investing the effort needed to climb higher and higher.

By Divine Providence, the Torah potion is read each year around the 3rd of Tammuz, the day that Rebbe’s physical presence was taken from us in 1994. It is a day that we strengthen our dedication to the Rebbe’s call and reflect on the Rebbe’s continued powerful influence on so many until this day. Reading Rashi’s description of Aaron’s reply to the angel helps us stay focused on the merit we have to be around and a part of such greatness.      

To mark the 3rd of Tammuz we will be having two events on Tuesday, June 11. A Lunch N Learn Downtown NOLA at 12 PM and a Farbrengen – Evening of Inspiration at 7:30 at Chabad of Metairie (see below for more details).

G-d willing very soon we will see the greatest challenge to all that is holy – the golus (exile) – melt away in the face of our cumulative efforts and dedication to the cause of Redemption through the coming of Moshiach.

Mazel Tov to Dr. David and Nechama Kaufmann upon the engagement of their daughter Chaya to Berry Silver. May our community continue to share only Simchas and good occasions.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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