Who is actually standing? The declaration:אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני אלקיכם ראשיכם שבטיכם is usually translated as: "You are all standing today before Hashem: the heads of your tribes…" However, the literal translation of the words ראשיכם שבטיכם is: “your heads, your tribes,” and Rashi is the one who teaches that it should be read as “the heads of your tribes.” Rav Moshe Feinstein,זצ“ל , explains that the Torah purposely writes “your heads, your tribes” instead of the common “heads of your tribes” to teach us that everyone must consider himself capable of leadership.
Rav Moshe stresses that it is אסור for a person to put himself down by saying that because his talents are so minimal he cannot be a great person or a leader. Rav Moshe says that this misplaced humility is really the yetzer hora speaking. Every person must develop the self-esteem to realize that he, too, can be a leader and must learn the Torah in depth with all his ability. If he does so, then Hashem will help him to reach greatness in Torah. But, if he says that he will never reach greatness in Torah or maasim tovim, he will never learn and nothing that he does will ever be suitable. With the proper outlook and with healthy self-esteem, each person will learn a great deal and accomplish much.
As we start the new school year, this is a valuable lesson that we must impart to our children. Indeed, it is a message we should be conveying every single day of the year. Our children must know that we believe in them and believe they can reach the highest heights and fulfill their dreams. This is our approach at PHDS/NEAT. As you heard at last week’s Open School Night, we look forward to partnering with you in building your child’s self-esteem and helping them to reach their unique potential.
We are looking forward to a great year and, on behalf of the entire faculty and administration, we wish you a כתיבה וחתימה טובה.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School