On Judges, Kings, Priests and Prophets: Is the Jewish-Leadership Status Quo Sufficient?
Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi (WGF Class 3)
Originally posted at ReformJudaism.org
Parashat Shof’tim not only presents many different leadership dilemmas, but also succinctly offers multiple forms of leadership. The message is clear: No one single type of leader is sufficient. Each of these different forms and philosophies of leadership is both necessary and liable to fail. By himself, Moses dramatically failed God and the Israelites on many occasions. And Joshua, while a worthy warrior, by himself could not transform a nomadic rebellious tribe into a strong and just society. Not only were—and are—different leaders needed for different historical contexts, but also different strengths are needed—different skill sets, and different ethical sensibilities and sensitivities. Each kind of leader, however, is rooted ultimately in the same foundational Torah ideals of religious freedom, justice and peace. Questions emerge for each of the kings, judges, priests and prophets around how best to fulfill those ideals: Who will make the decisions and how will they be made? Which risks should be taken and what prices should be paid in order to achieve a goal?
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Get To Know The Author
Wexner Graduate Fellowship Alum Rabbi Sabath (Class 3) serves the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as the National Director of Recruitment and Admissions, President’s Scholar and Director of the Office of Community Engagement. Ordained at HUC-JIR in New York, Rabbi Sabath earned a PhD in Jewish philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to this appointment in 2013 Rabbi Sabath served as Vice President of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and for 12 years as a member of the Institute’s faculty, while directing the Hartman Lay leadership, Rabbinic leadership and Christian leadership programs. Concurrently, she also taught liturgy and theology at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem for 10 years. Rabbi Sabath has written for the Jerusalem Post, The Huffington Post, The Times of Israel, Sh’ma and other publications. Rabbi Sabath also speaks and engages Jewish leadership throughout North America teaching on topics such as leadership, Jewish thought, Israel, liturgy, and gender. Raised in Minneapolis, Rabbi Sabath lived in Israel for nearly 15 years and currently lives in Cincinnati with her husband and their three children.