Between Us: Let’s talk about the last word

Between Us

This week’s parsha is one of the most perplexing in the Torah. In Chukat, God forbids Moses and Aaron from entering the Promised Land. The reason, we are told, is that instead of instructing a rock to yield water with a rod as God had commanded, Moses struck the rock—twice—and did it himself rather than working with Aaron as mandated by God.

The punishment seems harsh. After all that Moses did for the people of Israel over the course of 40 years, he surely deserved to join them as they crossed into Canaan. While most would see such a rebuke as failure, Moses’ life teaches us that while he did not personally accomplish the goal of reaching the Promised Land, he certainly had an enormous impact as a leader. None of us measures up Moses’ leadership, but we can certainly learn from him. Attaining goals are important, but measurement of success is more than reaching any one specific goal, especially when it comes to judging our lives. The impact we have on our families, friends, associates and our community are all critical measures of success. Perhaps the lesson from this week’s reading is just that: specific destinations in life are important, but so are the roads—and actions—we take getting there.

Over the past 17 years, I have written and shared more than 850 d’vrei torah. Each week, I have sought to learn from ancient texts and relate it to my life and the community. Today is no exception.

This is my last d’var torah as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and this particular parsha is both meaningful and poignant. After 40 years as a Federation professional, I will be stepping aside today as your CEO and this wonderful community will continue on its journey to the Promised Land. It has been a privilege to serve this community and this Federation, a genuine pleasure to have worked alongside an extraordinary team of Federation professionals, agency colleagues, rabbis, cantors and educators, and an honor to work in partnership with volunteers who care deeply about our community—its history, its present and most all, its future.

On August 1st, I will begin a new chapter as President of The Genesis Prize Foundation in New York City. Please stay in touch at [email protected]

Shabbat Shalom. May you go from strength to strength.