Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
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About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Lord Rabbi Sacks is the emeritus chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth. He currently teaches at New York University, Yeshiva University and King’s College London.

How Perfect Were the Patriarchs and Matriarchs?

How Perfect Were the Patriarchs and Matriarchs?

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In an extraordinary series of observations on this week's parsha, Nahmanides (Ramban, Rabbi Moses ben Nahman Girondi, 1194 - 1270), delivers harsh ...


Beyond Nature

Beyond Nature

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Are we naturally good or naturally bad? On this great minds have argued for centuries. Hobbes believed that we have naturally “a perpetual and ...


Europe’s Alarming New Anti-Semitism

Europe’s Alarming New Anti-Semitism

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Attacks and hateful rhetoric against Jews are on the rise – and it’s not just Jews who should worry.


On Leadership: Staying Young

On Leadership: Staying Young

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Moses did not fade. That is the accolade the Torah gives him at the end of his long and eventful life: Moses was a hundred and twenty years old ...


On Leadership: Consensus or Command?

On Leadership: Consensus or Command?

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What do you say to your successor? What advice do you give him or her? Vayelech is the place to look for the answer, because it is here that Moses ...


A Leader’s Call to Responsibility

A Leader’s Call to Responsibility

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The story of humanity has been for the most part a flight from responsibility.


Defeating Death

Defeating Death

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Only now, reaching Nitzavim-Vayelech, can we begin to get a sense of the vast, world- changing project at the heart of the Divine-human encounter ...


On Leadership: A Nation of Storytellers

On Leadership: A Nation of Storytellers

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Howard Gardner, professor of education and psychology at Harvard University, is one of the great minds of our time. He is best known for his theory ...


On Leadership: Against Hate

On Leadership: Against Hate

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Do not forget the past but do not be held captive by it.


Learning and Leadership

Learning and Leadership

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The parsha of Shoftim is the classic source of the three types of leadership in Judaism, called by the sages the "three crowns": of ...


On Leadership: Defining Reality

On Leadership: Defining Reality

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One of the gifts of great leaders, and one from which each of us can learn, is that they frame reality for the group. They define its situation. ...


On Leadership:  To Lead Is To Listen

On Leadership: To Lead Is To Listen

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Understanding the depth of listening.


On Leadership:  The Fewest of All Peoples

On Leadership: The Fewest of All Peoples

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Israel would be the smallest of the nations for a reason that goes to the very heart of its existence as a nation.


Why So Much Suffering?

Why So Much Suffering?

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Creating freedom without anarchy, order without tyranny.


The Leader as Teacher

The Leader as Teacher

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It was one of the great moments of personal transformation, and it changed not only Moses but our very conception of leadership itself. By the end ...


Leadership at Times of Crisis

Leadership at Times of Crisis

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Hope, love and the power of humanity.


On Leadership: Conflict Resolution

On Leadership: Conflict Resolution

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Moses as a guide to negotiation and conflict resolution.


Lessons of a Leader

Lessons of a Leader

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Sometimes a leader can go too fast.


Sanctifying Life

Sanctifying Life

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In memoriam Eyal, Gilad and Naftali.


Leadership and Loyalty

Leadership and Loyalty

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Is leadership a set of skills, the ability to summon and command power? Or does it have an essentially moral dimension also? Can a bad man be a good ...


On Leadership: Miriam, Moses' Friend

On Leadership: Miriam, Moses' Friend

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It is one of the great mysteries of the Torah. Arriving at Kadesh the people find themselves without water. They complain to Moses and Aaron. The ...


On Leadership: Servant Leadership

On Leadership: Servant Leadership

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In Judaism to lead is to serve.


On Leadership: Confidence

On Leadership: Confidence

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It was perhaps the single greatest collective failure of leadership in the Torah. Ten of the spies whom Moses had sent to spy out the land came back ...


On Leadership: Power or Influence?

On Leadership: Power or Influence?

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The essence of Jewish leadership.


On Leadership: The Politics of Envy

On Leadership: The Politics of Envy

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Few things in the Torah are more revolutionary than its conception of leadership. Ancient societies were hierarchical. The masses were poor and ...


On Leadership: Leading a Nation of Individuals

On Leadership: Leading a Nation of Individuals

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Judaism’s remarkable insistence – like no other civilization before – on the dignity and integrity of the individual.


On Leadership:

On Leadership: "We the People"

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In Bechukotai, in the midst of one of the most searing curses ever to have been uttered to a nation by way of warning, the sages found a fleck of ...


On Leadership: Think Long

On Leadership: Think Long

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In last week's parsha and this there are two quite similar commands, both of which have to do with counting time. Last week we read about the ...


On Leadership:  Not Being Afraid of Greatness

On Leadership: Not Being Afraid of Greatness

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Embedded in this week's parsha are two of the most fundamental commands of Judaism - commands that touch on the very nature of Jewish identity. Do ...


On Leadership: Followership

On Leadership: Followership

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There is a fascinating sequence of commands in the great "holiness code" with which our parsha begins, that sheds light on the nature not ...


On Leadership: Sprints and Marathons

On Leadership: Sprints and Marathons

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It was a unique, unrepeatable moment of leadership at its highest height. For forty days Moses had been communing with God, receiving from him the ...


On Leadership: How to Praise

On Leadership: How to Praise

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The sages were eloquent on the subject of lashon hara, evil speech, the sin they took to be the cause of tsara'at, the subject of this week's ...


On Leadership: The Price of Free Speech

On Leadership: The Price of Free Speech

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The dangers of gossip, especially in the age of the Internet.


On Leadership: Reticence vs. Impetuosity

On Leadership: Reticence vs. Impetuosity

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It should have been a day of joy. The Israelites had completed the mishkan, the sanctuary. For seven days Moses had made preparations for its ...


On Not Trying to Be What You Are Not

On Not Trying to Be What You Are Not

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The great leaders know their own limits. They do not try to do it all themselves. They build teams. They create space for people who are strong ...


On Leadership: The Sins of a Leader

On Leadership: The Sins of a Leader

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Leaders make mistakes. That is inevitable. So, strikingly, our parsha implies. The real issue is how he or she responds to those mistakes. The ...


On Leadership: Celebrate

On Leadership: Celebrate

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If leaders are to bring out the best in those they lead, they must give them the chance to show they are capable of great things, and then they must ...


On Leadership: Team-Building

On Leadership: Team-Building

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How do you re-motivate a demoralized people? How do you put the pieces of a broken nation back together again? That was the challenge faced by Moses ...


On Leadership:  How Leaders Fail

On Leadership: How Leaders Fail

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Leaders can fail for two kinds of reason. The first is external. The time may not be right. The conditions may be unfavourable. There may be no one ...


On Leadership:  The Counterpoint of Leadership

On Leadership: The Counterpoint of Leadership

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One of the most important Jewish contributions to our understanding of leadership is its early insistence of what, in the eighteenth century, ...


On Leadership:  The Home We Build Together

On Leadership: The Home We Build Together

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The sequence of parshiyot, Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tissa, Vayakhel and Pekudei, is puzzling in many ways. First, it outlines the construction of the ...


Vision and Detail

Vision and Detail

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Our parsha takes us through a bewildering transition. Until now in Shemot we have been carried along by the sweep and drama of the narrative: the ...


On Leadership:  A Nation of Leaders

On Leadership: A Nation of Leaders

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This week's parsha consists of two episodes that seem to be a study in contrasts. In the first, in chapter 18, Yitro, Moses' father-in-law, a ...


On Leadership: Looking Up

On Leadership: Looking Up

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The Israelites had crossed the Red Sea. The impossible had happened. The mightiest army in the ancient world - the Egyptians with their horse-drawn ...


On Leadership: The Far Horizon

On Leadership: The Far Horizon

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To gain insight into the unique leadership lesson of this week's parsha, I often ask an audience to perform a thought-experiment. Imagine you are ...


On Leadership: Overcoming Setbacks

On Leadership: Overcoming Setbacks

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At first, Moses' mission seemed to be successful. He had feared that the people would not believe in him, but God had given him signs to perform, ...


On Leadership:  Surviving Failure

On Leadership: Surviving Failure

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Bereishit ends on a sublime note of reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers. His brothers were afraid that he had not really forgiven them ...


On Leadership: The Unexpected Leader

On Leadership: The Unexpected Leader

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I was once present when the great historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis, was asked to predict the course of events in the Middle East. He replied, ...


On Leadership: The Power of Dreams

On Leadership: The Power of Dreams

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In one of the greatest transformations in all literature, Joseph moves in one bound from prisoner to prime minister. What was it about Joseph - a ...


On Leadership: Be Thyself

On Leadership: Be Thyself

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I have argued in previous years of Covenant and Conversation that the episode in which the Jewish people acquired its name - when Jacob wrestled ...


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