Shabbat Shalom ~ Yitro

Dear WJC Family,

This week’s parsha, Yitro, begins with Moshe sitting outside his tent and attempting to resolve the disputes between people. The line is around the proverbial block! His father-in-law Yitro sees this and chastises Moshe, “The thing you are doing is not right. You will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you. You cannot do it alone.” He explains the idea of a court system, which Moses immediately adopts.

Moshe is the greatest leader in the history of the Jewish people and here he is taking advice from a Midianite priest? It seems strange – that is until we think about the influences on Moshe’s leadership. Moshe has two father figures. The first is Pharaoh who he seems to be emulating at the beginning of this story. The second is Yitro, whose household he lived in after killing the Egyptian taskmaster and fleeing Egypt. Obviously Yitro’s leadership is of a different style. The Pharaoh is involved in every decision and rules by fiat – a model of strength and protection for his people; Yitro appreciates that there are otherwise and capable people, and by utilizing everyone’s talents more can be accomplished for all. Perhaps what makes Moshe so successful as a leader is his ability to balance these two leadership styles, and knowing when to utilize each.

I was thinking about rabbinic leadership a lot from Sunday evening to Tuesday afternoon as I sat with members of our Third Clergy search committee to interview 13 different candidates! It was overwhelming, but also incredibly encouraging. Not only was I pleased to see how many colleagues are interested in our position, but also by how intelligent, spiritual and gifted so many of the candidates are. Within the next week or so we will have a line-up of visiting candidates, so please mark your calendars and plan to join us for one or more events on the weekends of 2/28-3/1, 3/6-3/8, 3/13-3/15, and 3/20-3/22. Also, as we evaluate the candidates, please keep in mind that this is a new model for an assistant rabbi, focusing on contemporary spirituality and engagement/outreach in addition to normal rabbinic duties. For more information on that please see the article in the February Review or my previous emails.

Next week I will be davening with Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter along with my immediate family in Florida, so there will not be a personal message with the Shabbat email or a video. This week, however, we’ll be here and I will be teaching on Saturday morning. My remarks will be based on an amazing shiur I attended on Thursday at the Leffell Middle School Hagigat Matan Torah taught by Judaics teacher Matan Glazer and music teacher Josh Ehrlich. I am calling it, “The Sounds of Sinai,” and it will address how to know what to listen to in a world full of noise. I loved it and I hope you will too. Rabbi Segelman will be teaching on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. You can also click on the video link below for a completely different Dvar Torah to get us ready for Shabbat.

See you in shul,




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