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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Follow the Leader: The Legacy of Nachshon ben-Aminadav

By Rabbi Francis Nataf




Barely a footnote in the Bible, his single action helped alter the course of history


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There are two ways to lead: by instruction and by example. Much energy is devoted to the former, while people rarely truly concentrate on the latter in a meaningful way — even though there is more than a little truth to the adage that actions speak louder than words.

Some might ask why leading by example requires our attention altogether. Yet we know from experience that, even when it comes to trivial matters, people seem to have a natural inclination to follow rather than to lead. To take an example as mundane as it is common — why is it that so many party buffets remain untouched because no one wants to be the first to serve themselves.

Exactly what happened when the Jews left Egypt and crossed the Reed Sea (Yam Suf) is not clear: The Talmud (Sota 37a) presents a disagreement between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehudah. Rabbi Meir believes that each tribe wanted to be the first to jump in, whereas Rabbi Yehudah is of the opinion that none of the tribes wanted to be first. According to the latter opinion, it was Nachshon ben-Aminadav, the leader of Yehudah, who was the first to go in and show the rest of the Jewish people what needed to be done.

If we read Rabbi Yehudah's opinion carefully, we see that it was not that the Jews did not want to go into the water and risk getting drowned, but rather that they did not want to be the first to do so. It is an interesting facet of human nature that creates a fear of being the first to do something, because we take a certain chance of being the only one as well, even if everyone else knows that we are doing the right thing. We risk being the butt of ridicule, and even scorn, if our example is not accepted. As a result, there are many things that everyone knows to be right that simply do not get done.

Of course, if we want to lead by example, and not simply engage in unusual behavior, we need to look more carefully at Nachshon's leadership. What is most significant about Nachshon is his willingness to be the only one, out of hundreds of thousands of people all standing at the same location and in the same situation, to pursue his course of action. The social pressure against doing his act must have been tremendous. While it may have been logistically impossible to find a secluded spot to try out his adventure, it would certainly have made it a great deal easier. Had he failed in seclusion, no one else would have been the wiser. It is the very public nature of his act, however, that made it so courageous — and, even more important, so effective.

Thus, leading by example must be calculatedly visible, not only regarding where it is done, but, even more important, when and how. Doing something privately is not an act of leadership; since it is not known, it cannot be repeated by others.

The Torah tells us little about Nachshon. However, it does inform us that he was the leader of his tribe and the brother-in-law of Aaron, which gives us more than enough grounds to assume that he was someone of outstanding moral character. A second critical component of leading by example is cultivating a character that will inspire imitation. If we wear a clown's suit, no matter how impressive a feat we perform, our appearance will have undermined the example that we are trying to set.

If we are trying to accomplish change, it must be done by putting ourselves on the line by attaching our good reputation — which we have worked so hard to develop — to the change that we are trying to promote. Of what purpose is a good reputation if it is not used for the general good? Likewise, if we write a letter or article meant to change the status quo, we completely undermine our own efforts by signing it "Anonymous." A person's example will only be followed if it can be stated that "If so-and-so is doing it, it may be worth emulating."

As Nachshon led the way through the Reed Sea, he can also lead us in our efforts to provide leadership. Those who really want to lead need to accept a difficult road — one that calls for publicly doing what is right precisely when no one else is doing it. At the same time, such courage will be pitifully wasted if these future leaders do not spend the needed time and energy to refine themselves into the impeccable men and women that will inspire imitation.

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Rabbi Francis Nataf is the former Educational Director of the David Cardozo Academy and the author of Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Genesis (Urim: 2006) and Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Exodus (Urim: 2009). He is a well-respected educator who has held many senior educational positions in Israel and the United States at such prestigious institutions as Yeshiva University, the Shehebar Sephardic Study Center and the David Shapell College of Jewish Studies.

© 2010, Rabbi Francis Nataf