Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The Greatest Failure of Leadership

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So perhaps the most damaging trait of failed leadership is hubris.

When a leaders exhibits arrogance–bullies and degrades others, especially underlings–then that absolutely destroys the moral fiber of and the employee engagement in the organization.

No, it’s not the salary and benefits, or recognition, or position title, or even the grandness of the mission of the organization itself–although they are all important–but rather, the key ingredient to employee satisfaction is the common sense fundamental of how we treat our people.

People rising or elevated in the organization frequently forget the humble beginnings from whence they and their families likely began.

They see their honor and fat pay check and power–and they start to perhaps think of themselves as (close to) G-d Almighty, Him/Herself.

But it is not their position that makes them in the image of G-d, but how they care for and treat others.

If they shepherd their flocks meekly and with empathy and kindness to all then they emulate G-d, the creator and sustainer.

But when it goes to their heads and they become fat and haughty with themselves and are above everyone and care not for the basic dignity and respect of each individual in their steward then G-d sees and G-d hears the cry of the oppressed, and the mighty will surely fall and hard.

As it says in Isaiah 13:11:

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

Those who are blessed by G-d with position, money, and power–their challenge is to be gracious and giving with it. 

When they “laud it” over others and when they think that they are truly “all that”–rest assured that G-d does not let any tree grow or tower (of Babel) build into the Heavens themselves. 


Empathy, kindness, graciousness, and generosity–that is true leadership–and that is when employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity will bear the mark of the meek and the truly great person and leader. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)