D’var Torah Shabbat 20 December – Leaders: Visions and Purpose by Mike Mendoza

Written by Writings & Sermons by others — 30 December 2019

This week’s Torah portion seems to hold a playful place in the hearts of many Jews all across the world. Although, this may be down to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s in-depth knowledge of the Dulux paint catalogue. Nevertheless, the trials and tribulations of Joseph (and his father Jacob) reveal some of the greatest themes for our everyday lives.

  • Parent & Child dynamics
  • Sibling joy and rivalries
  • The giving of gifts
  • Setting life goals and how we see them through

According to Torah, Joseph was 17yrs old when the story unfolds. A dreamer. Destined to do great things. We’re looking at a time when people had little understanding of where dreams come from and the truth is, we still don’t really know.

He believes that he is destined to rule over his own family…

What does one do with this vision? Let me come back to that.

Last weekend the youth and education hub enjoyed its annual leadership weekend away.

Our 17yr olds are invited to join the tzevet, the delivery team, to learn beside us and experience the “behind the curtain” production of Jewish youth events. Being the visionaries that our young people are, each of them is already looking ahead to the leadership opportunities opening up to them as they reach their final year of our Hadracha journey.

They will have to lead those other madrichim who so far they have been equal in responsibility to. Like Joseph, they will have to take the reigns for their brothers and sisters and guide them.

Before the great reveal, Joseph demonstrates a terrible case of Lashon Hara, evil tongue, and incites fear inside his brothers. If our role as madrichim is to nurture & protect our young people, we must consider our positions and how we use it.

We give out roles and positional power is a reality; however, relational power is far far greater and meaningful. How we choose to use our words and express our roles will define how others respond to us.

Joseph’s journey comes full circle. The dust settles and both he and his brothers embrace family once again. It seems only appropriate that this Year 13 were the first group that I have shared a full Alyth Hadracha journey with, from mentoring in Yr8 to graduating Hadracha in Yr10. To becoming paid staff in Yr11 and Jewish educators in Yr13.

If Joseph’s legacy was stockpiling enough grain to survive the winter, my legacy is these inspiring young members who will support Alyth to not only survive but thrive.

It may be news to you that, after tonight, I am going on a 5 month break to Israel. Alyth has fostered by growth and allowed me to dream big like Joseph for the past 5 and a half years. Together we have been given the space to reimagine our youth and education hub and hopefully enrich the lives of all the young people who come through these doors.

It is a wonderful coincidence, if you don’t believe in fate or visions, that Dina’s Bat Mitzvah is tomorrow morning, as her big sister Evie, who is one of these Yr13’s I have worked closely with, was the very first Bat Mitzvah I encountered at Alyth as a full-time staff member.

I may be going off for a few months but as both Joseph and his father Jacob reveal to us, the real challenge is how you return.

Alyth is a 2nd home to me and I hope that after I walk in the steps of the ancestors and make the metaphorical journey to Eretz Yisrael, I can return refreshed and revitalised in a way that can make you proud to welcome me home.

Shabbat Shalom.