Jan. 15, 2021

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on Exodus 32– “A Story About the Failure of Adaptive Leadership”

Mark’s guest this week is the award-winning author and writer, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. Danya is the author of numerous books, including Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion, and has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Time, and Newsweek, among many other publications. She currently serves as Scholar in Residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, and the passage she has chosen to discuss today is Exodus 32, the story of the golden calf. Danya begins by offering a very animated summary of the passage, its context, and its significance for her, which leads to a look at the different interpretations of Aaron’s actions within the passage. She and Mark then delve into the details of Moses’ involvement, the character of God in the Torah, and Danya’s perspective on the failure of adaptive leadership demonstrated in this text. They also examine the potential reasons for Aaron’s inability to ‘meet the moment’, the difference between leaders who give people what they want as opposed to what they need, and Danya concludes by sharing the lessons she has learned about humankind which relate directly back to the chosen passage. Episode Highlights:  · Danya’s summary of the passage, its context, and its significance for her · Interpretations of Aaron’s actions within the passage · One of Moses’ greatest moments · The character of God in Torah · The failure of adaptive leadership in both this passage and today’s world · Why Aaron didn’t ‘meet the moment’ · Leaders who give people what they want vs. what they need · The lessons about humankind that Danya has learned Quotes: “This is one of these great moments that gets cited as to how we understand what a prophet is.” “If You do that, blot me out of Your Torah.” “This is a picture of God that is constantly learning and growing and changing.” “I believe the pronoun for God is God, because God is not a ‘dude’.” “I think the golden calf story is a story about the failure of adaptive leadership.” “Major change always involves loss, and adaptive leadership is about helping people to bridge that gap.” “The substitute teacher got kids who had way bigger needs than he expected and he didn’t meet the moment.” “Your need is legitimate and let’s find a healthy way to help you express it.” “We need to find a new way of coping to meet this moment.” “It’s…potentially, you know, an adaptive leadership moment.” “People need to hear, ‘You’re not bad’.” “Clean up your mess!” “Doing the hard work then makes you free.” “I don’t think you can read ‘The Golden Calf’ without talking about trauma.” “It’s not somebody’s fault if they don’t have tools.”  ]

Exodus 32 - https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.32.1-35?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en  Links: The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: The Rabbi's Husband Mark’s Twitter: Mark Gerson - The Rabbi's Husband (@markgerson) The Rabbi’s Husband Newsletter contact: daniel@therabbishusband.com

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