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Vision and Leadership

Vision and Leadership

Reflections on Joseph and Moses

By Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Edited by David Shatz, Joel B. Wolowelsky, and Reuven Ziegler

Vision and Leadership, the eleventh in the series MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, presents Rabbi Soloveitchik's reflections on Biblical narratives and characters, beginning with the Joseph stories and the Jewish people's sojourn in Egypt and ending with the story of Moses' death on the brink of return to the Promised Land. Through careful exegesis of the verses, illuminating analyses of character, and insightful readings of midrashim and classic medieval commentators, the reflections in this book seek the underlying messages of biblical stories and an understanding of what they teach us about past and present events in the life of the Jewish people. They also shed light on broader concepts, such as the nature of justice, idolatry, spiritual authority, and Halakhic thought. 


Soon after the revelation at Sinai, the Jews committed the sin of the Golden Calf. We should note that prima facie this sin was more abominable, more horrible, than the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. If we translate it into Halakhic terms, the sin of the Tree of Knowledge consisted in eating forbidden foods, while the sin of the Golden Calf touched the very essence of Judaism, namely, the prohibition against idolatry. Yet, when Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, all future generations were struck by disaster. Adam alienated himself from his Creator and was driven out of Paradise. According to Hazal, God had intended for man to live forever, but the original sin brought about death and man became mortal. When the community alienated itself from the Creator by worshipping the Golden Calf, the consequences of the sin were not as tragic.

~ excerpted from Vision and Leadership

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The 11th installment!Review by Publishers Weekly
With this 11th installment in the series, Soloveitchik's previously unpublished material on Biblical luminaries Joseph and Moses comes to light. Shatz, Wolowelsky, and Ziegler combed through the treasure trove of manuscripts, tapes, and lectures left by the Rav, as Soloveitchik was affectionately called by his students, to arrange this meticulous collection of thoughts and insights. In it, Soloveitchik shares his analyses of Joseph as dreamer and ruler; his assessment of Joseph's father Jacob/Israel as both subservient and powerful; and the roles Moses played as judge and king, among other topics. As with his other works, the Rav's erudition is evident, and the personal stories that are woven into his biblical exegesis reinforce his assertion that the Bible's stories and its layers of interpretation have informed the psyche of the Jewish nation throughout history and still resonate today. Bible scholars and followers of the Rav will certainly appreciate this important volume. (Posted on 11/4/2014)
PraiseworthyReview by Jewish Book Council
Rav Soloveitchik's incredibly creative and insightful portrayals of Biblical personalities, the events of their lives, and the applicability of these ideas to the contemporary reader, provides a great deal of fresh and profound food for thought even for those who view themselves as deeply familiar with Joseph and Moses. A leitmotiffor which the Rav is well-known is the exploration and application of the concept of Hegel's conception of the "dialietic," i.e., the intersection of a thesis with an antithesis to produce a synthesis, and Vision and Leadership offers numerous examples of how this idea lies at the heart of Biblical situations and Jewish approaches to life.

Examples of dialectical discussion in the book include: a) confronting evil in order to appreciate the good; b) dreaming vs. practical application; c) dignity of man vs. the need for sacrificial action; d) clear understanding vs. confusion and mystery; and e) holiness deriving from the chosen community vs. the uniqueness of every individual.

In order to illustrate many of his points, R. Soloveitchik draws from personal experience, recalling the lesson of an impactful teacher, his grandfather R. Chaim's way of dealing with people, and aspects of his own personality which he struggled to overcome.

Finally, the Rav pithily formulates his approach regarding how even the most traditional Jew must engage with the greater world: "We demand of man complete involvement in all worldly affairs. We equate withdrawal from the world and society with cowardice and warn against it. Our philosophy preaches activism, aggressiveness, and articulateness." (Posted on 11/4/2014)

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Additional Info

Additional Info

ISBN 160280219X
Pages 240
Format Hardcover
SKU ktav2447
Series Number 11
Publisher Ktav Publishing House