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    There alone – Acharei Mot

    We believe in community.

    We do not greatly value hermit-like seclusion from the world or from other people.

    Yet there are times nonetheless when you need to be away from the madding crowd and to commune with your own soul in the presence of God.

    The high priest, for instance, had to do so on Yom Kippur ln the Holy of Holies.

    The Torah says, “And no man shall be in the tent of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, for his household and for all the assembly of Israel” (Lev. 16:17).

    What an awesome moment it was when the one man on whom rested the whole fate and future of the people of Israel confronted the eyes of God.

    Others could accompany him through many or most of the duties of office, but not at this ultimate moment. Then, as always, leadership was lonely.

    Minders, advisers, support staff – all have their important role to play. The high priest too had a team to work with him and back him up.

    But if you are really going to be a leader, there will come, perhaps quite frequently, the moment when the buck stops with you, when the final word is yours, when you are and have to be on your own.

    Sometimes an educated instinct will ensure that you make the right decision; presumably your whole career has been a preparation for this moment. But as far as Judaism is concerned that is not enough.

    At the moment of loneliness that is when you need the Almighty; that is when you should look on high and see God pointing the way.

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