Pesach D’var Torah with Rosh Gesher, Vanessa Better!

Vanessa Better  |   4 Apr 2018

Leading up to Kayitz 2018, each week we will have a D’var Torah from a different Rosh Edah. This week, we have the wisdom of Vanessa “Fred” Better!


And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to cause it to lead them on the way and at night in a pillar of fire to give them light, [they thus could] travel day and night.

כאוַֽיהֹוָ֡ה הֹלֵךְ֩ לִפְנֵיהֶ֨ם יוֹמָ֜ם בְּעַמּ֤וּד עָנָן֙ לַנְחֹתָ֣ם הַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וְלַ֛יְלָה בְּעַמּ֥וּד אֵ֖שׁ לְהָאִ֣יר לָהֶ֑ם לָלֶ֖כֶת יוֹמָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה:

He did not move away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire at night [from] before the people.

לֹֽא־יָמִ֞ישׁ עַמּ֤וּד הֶֽעָנָן֙ יוֹמָ֔ם וְעַמּ֥וּד הָאֵ֖שׁ לָ֑יְלָה לִפְנֵ֖י הָעָֽם:

In this week’s parsha, the Israelites are in dire need of God’s leadership. They were just freed by Pharaoh and are now fleeing Egypt into an unknown land. God then puts down pillars of cloud by day and fire by night to lead the Jewish people to the promised land. In this moment, we are given an example of what is means to be a “constant leader”. Constant leadership is not about being one thing all the time, it is about creating the kind of leadership that fits the setting and the needs of the people being led. Being a leader is not defined by only standing in the front of the room or by watching silently from the back, it’s about creating a support system for those who are in need of one. When the Israelites needed to be led out of Egypt, God sent Moses to show the way, when the Israelites needed direction in the desert, God put down pillars of cloud and fire. This concept of being a “constant leader” can seem very daunting, however it is not meant to deter or intimidate, it is something to be inspired and driven by. Encouraging a friend going through a difficult time, that is a form of constant leadership. Volunteering to work at an organization that you are passionate about instead of spending the day at home, that is a form of constant leadership. In 2018, it can feel that unless you are creating a social movement that garners hundreds of thousands of followers or create a trending hashtag, your leadership does not matter or make a difference. However, this week’s parsha shows us that leadership can and should be displayed in different forms. I have witnessed these acts of constant leadership throughout my kayitzim at Ramah whether it be a Gesher chanich teaching their friend the art of “stacking and passing” at a meal, an Amitzim chanicha picking up trash on the givah on her way to kabbalat shabbat, or a Rosh Edah comforting a homesick chanich late at night; all different in action but the same in concept. We are all capable of being constant leaders, even if there is no one around to notice. I challenge all of us to live this way, by small acts day to day or large acts when the time is right, be the constant leader for whoever needs it, in whatever form it needs to be in. Shabbat Shalom!



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