Shavuos 2022 Recap, Parachute Debate Talks and Thank Yous

Shavuos Parachute Debate 2022


On the 2nd Day Shavous over Kiddush - Monday, June 6, 2022, everyone enjoyed the Great Parachute Debate which provided and entertaining and educational presentations by a group of community members.

Each talk was truly inspiring! Further in this blog are posts from each of the presenters with their talks. Some of the blog posts are the full speech and some are just a paragraph or two reflecting on the general idea of the talk.

Below is the explanation of how it worked with guidelines for the presenters.

The “Parachute Debate takes place when you find yourself on a doomed airplane with a number of other people, and there is only one parachute. Each person gets the opportunity to explain in 4 minutes why they deserve the parachute more than anyone else!

The Challenge:  "A group of 100 promising Jewish students have taken a Jewish Leadership Course based on Jewish History and Kabbalah. They are intrigued that Kabbalah describes the seven character traits mentioned in the Siddur in the seven weeks leading up to Shavous. Jewish leaders throughout history, our Patriarchs, Matriarchs, leaders throughout the era of the Prophets, even Talmudic sages  have often been associated with a particular dominant character relating to their soul. The students in this course  are thirsty for direction and guidance that can impact the future of the Jewish world and their own personal lives. They have decided to invest their time in listening to YOU share YOUR thoughts on just ONE special character trait often associated  with the lives of biblical figures  listed below.  YOUR presentation can make a huge difference, BUT, you only have  FOUR minutes to present! YOU wish to impress upon them the most important  Kabbalistic specific character trait they heard about.

They know that as they grow to become future Jewish Leaders they too will need to inspire others and have a positive emerge with something unique. 

If you wish to accept this task to positively influence the world around you - Please choose  the most important Character trait you feel a Jewish Leader must have . You have only 4 minutes to present your case . Here is the context of what you should imagine when preparing your talk... If you wish, you may include a biblical personality associated with this trait.

Here is a brief description of the seven types of Jewish souls corresponding to Jewish Biblical Leaders:   


Chochma Michael Milman Initial spark of wisdom – Creative insight
Bina Ariel Tarasula Understanding – Development and articulation of an idea
Daat Sharon Burtman Application of knowledge - also the bridge between intellect and emotion, where the idea goes from an abstract thought towards an emotional feeling
Chesed Shmuel Bollen “Benevolence” or “Love” - A soul whose service of G‑d is characterized by a calm and flowing love. This soul is also overflowing with love for his fellows.  Often exemplified in teachings as related to our forefather Abraham
Gevurah   “Severity" "Restraint” and “Discipline” - often noted in association with Isaac – A soul who serves G‑d with awe and a flaming passion. This soul is also highly disciplined, with high expectations of himself and others.  
Tiferet Gavi Waleik "Beauty" "Harmony" and “Truth” –  as represented by Jacob -The soul who has achieved a perfect synthesis of Kindness and Severity. This is accomplished through the study of Torah. Tiferet is also the source of the soul's capacity for compassion.
Netzach Yitzchok Cohen “Perseverance" "Victory” and “Endurance”–  as represented by Moses - A soul who is constantly battling and struggling, but is ultimately triumphant. 
Hod  Devora Fogelman ”Splendor” and “Humility” –  as represented by Aaron - The soul who exemplifies self-abnegation in favor of allowing itself to be overwhelmed by G‑d's goodness. 
Yesod   “Foundation” and “Connection” –  as represented by Joseph - The soul whose unique talent is establishing giving relationships, intellectually or otherwise. 
Malchut Hadassah Milman  “Sovereignty,” “Receptiveness” "Royalty" and “Leadership” often exemplified by our Matriarchs Sarah or  Rachel, King David or Queen Esther- The soul who serves its Creator in a majestic manner. 

Tiferes - Beauty and Harmony - a Perfect Synthesis of Kindness and Severity

 Presenter: Gavi Waleik

Why is "Tiferes" the most important character trait in Jewish leadership? 

Tiferes can be translated in a few different ways. But we’ll start with the most common definition, which is “Harmony.”

We see this Harmony perhaps most famously in the example of Yaakov Avinu, whose Tiferes harmonized the Chesed - or “Lovingkindness” - of his grandfather Avraham with the Gevura - or “strictness” of his father Yitzchak.

But there are other examples of Tiferes in Jewish leaders. Shlomo haMelech, when approached by two women who both claim that they are the mother of a baby, devises a creative solution that, on the face of it, appears to be very severe, very gevuradikke. He says, “Bring me a sword,” and a sword was brought. He said: “Divide the live boy in two; give one half to one and the other half to the other.” - Melachim 1, 3:24

We all know what happens; the real mother of the child can’t stand the idea of her child being put to death, so she requests the baby be given to the other woman. But it’s returned to her. Interestingly, at the very end of the story, Hashem declares from Heaven, “She is the mother.” - Melachim 1, 3:27

And this is another quality of Tiferes, and one of its alternate definitions; Truth. Rabbi Chayim Vital writes in Chapter 17 of Sha'ar HaGilgulim that, since the Torah is the book of truth, it naturally emanates from the Sefirah of Tiferes. And also that every Jewish soul is rooted in Tiferes, which is why Jews are naturally truth-seekers and, therefore, Torah studiers. 

One of my favorite examples of Toferes as expressed through a Jewish leader is the follwoing: In 1986, Chabad won a ruling in civil court that over 500 priceless books and manuscripts illegally taken from the library of the Previous Rebbe be returned.

Now, most of you know that I produced a radio show for NPR for 27 years - and I’m still very grateful that you don’t hold that against me. Anyway, one of our best and most frequent contributors was Jon Kalish, who also served as NPR’s “Chassidic Beat” reporter. He was at 770 in 1987 when the books were returned. He recorded the sounds as hundreds of bocherim came out of 770 to greet them. He sent me the audio file a few years ago, and it’s amazing. What you first hear are hundreds of people singing and dancing in joy as the books are taken out of vans. After a short while, there’s a faint but passionate voice in the background, yelling in Yiddish. In no time flat, the singing stops, and you can hear the Rebbe getting louder and louder, demanding at the top of his lungs that the bocherim go back inside and study Torah.

It’s a little frightening, actually. After all, this is our Rebbe, whose acts of Chesed are almost uncountable. But hearing the Rebbe in full Gevura Mode was a little overwhelming. When I heard this, it made me want to run somewhere and study something. But there it was; The love the bocherim had for the books - and the love the Rebbe had for the bocherim and for the books - needed to be balanced with the strictness and discipline of regular Torah study. The Rebbe was simply reminding them - and us - that this indeed was the very purpose of the books. That’s Tiferes. That’s harmony, beauty and truth rolled into one. That’s the quality of a true Jewish leader, and that’s the quality of leadership the Rebbe still exudes. 

Malchut - “Sovereignty,” “Receptiveness” "Royalty" and “Leadership” - The soul who serves its Creator in a majestic manner

Presenter:  Hadassah Milman

Why is Malchus the most important trait in Jewish leadership?

When Hashem spoke to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai he told Moshe to tell them: “You shall be to me a kingdom of kohanim, a holy nation.”*1  What does it mean, a kingdom of kohanim, and a holy nation?  How can this world become a kingdom in which G-d can feel at home? And how can we help?

It has again been a long journey from leaving Egypt to Mount Sinai preparing ourselves to receive the Torah.  After working on our emotional attributes from Chesed to Malchus in all possible combinations and the way we act in the world the last Sefirah we counted was Malchus, often translated as Kingship, Nobility, Sovereignty.

Malchus is unique among the Sefiros in that it is a state of being rather than another activity. It is Being, and at the same time it is Change. Being in the constant presence of G-d is not a static thing, it is ever changing and moving.

That is why when we connect to G-d through speech and prayer, as well as our very presence and being in this world, we have to be receptive to Change. A constant letting go and process of purification.

That is why Malchus is also associated with the feminine and the moon. Like the cycles of the moon, and often in synch with it, it is the nature of a woman’s cycle of ebb and flow, of constantly going through the process of shedding the old to make room for the new, of being nidah - of feeling, G-d forbid, sometimes a bit removed from holiness in our daily lives, to being tahor, pure, which is also associated with clarity, aliveness, change and flow.

When we go through a process of spiritual purification, when we have worked on ourselves and gone through the painful labor of birthing a new ‘us’, becoming a bit wiser and purer, maybe a bit more honest, a bit more humble than before the challenge, when we have cried out to G-d to help us return to our true selves, to become a higher version of ourselves, we are transforming this place into the kingship of heaven.

Only through Malchus we can receive and reveal the highest light in the darkest of places.

A great example of Jewish leadership is the first woman prophet and mother of all Jewish people. Sarah Imenu is deeply connected to the attribute of Malchus, her name even meaning Princess/ruler.

When she was young Sarah was called Yiscah, which means ‘to see’, and it reflected her ability to be able to actually see G-dliness and the Divine within Creation from a very early age, before she married Abraham and before they went on the long journey of telling the world about it.

Her name changing a few times during her lifetime also reflects how connected she was to Change in general, having the courage to follow her own inner guidance and leading her life with a clear vision, purpose and always looking for a higher truth.

This is one of the many things we can learn from her when it comes to the Leadership quality of Malchus, to look beyond the physical world and see the Divine guidance in all areas of Creation as well as in our unique Divine souls.

The purpose of the Sefiros is to conceal G-d’s light enough so that it can benefit those who can receive it, and ‘He has also established the world firmly that it shall not falter’ . *2

In Malchus, although the light is the most concealed, it is at the same time perfect and available to us in the best possible manner. Malchus is G-d telling us: “I created the world in such a way that it is all up to you now. I am giving you the keys” . *3

Sarah and Abraham build a tent with four opening so that all could come and enjoy the light emanating from within. Through receiving in an open way we will be able to give even more. When we receive G-d’s countenance shining on us, forever and at every moment, then we are able to transmit and reflect His infinite love, kindness and light into the world around us. The more we connect and identify ourselves with the Divine within ourselves, the more we connect our will to G-d’s will, the greater our potential and help from above for transforming this world into a heavenly Kingdom, in an unlimited and ever changing way.

Every one of you has been given the keys. Go ahead and use them well. 


1 Exodus 19:06
2 Tehillim Chapter 93
3 Inner Space, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, page 50

Hod - "Splendor” and “Humility”

Presenter: Devora Fogelman

Every person has a gift that they want to give to the world. Their reason for existence. But you can't give something if there is no one to receive it.

That is what Hod is. It's receiving, opening yourself up, being vulnerable. That is humility.

Humility is what every positive character trait comes from, and the lack of it is what every negative character trait comes from. Hod is the humility of recognizing that you don't always have to give, you can give someone the gift of actively receiving whatever they have to give you.

Hod is meeting someone on their level, stepping back and recognizing that everything has it's own role.

This was exemplified by Aharon, who related to every single person in their own way. He made peace among the Jewish people, and that is why all of the Jews mourned his passing, greater so than with Moshe.

Netzach - “Perseverance" "Victory” and “Endurance”

Presenter: Yitzchok Cohen

Why is Netzach the most important character trait for Jewish leadership?

As we stand, having “graduated from Omer 5782”, we are struck with the same question as always---what’s next? It is easy to want to look back and see what went well, what needs improvement. This is not the time!

We are given a mission, we cannot quit, we may not finish but….

To reach our goals we are given the privilege of going forward. To do so, we access the Midos of Netzach---- endurance, perseverance. Each night, we can look at our progress each….what did I do okay, what needs improvement? Then send it all to Hashem and enjoy the rest. Morning comes and we can jump out of bed with attitude --- “Thank G-d another day, another chance to do Your will”

We are blessed with the opportunity to go forward, to meet the challenges each day knowing we have all we need to push forward with Joy. We can greet each challenge as a chance to be stronger ad closer to our goals.

Keep in mind these two ideas:

1. Our immediate goal is to unite with Hashem completely and at all times. Netzach gives us the chance to persevere;

2. One day (hopefully soon but never soon enough) we will wake to the revelation of Moshiach being revealed. May we merit hearing a voice from Heaven saying “Thank you for being my partner in bringing Peace, World Health, the end of worries ad the elimination of all evil."

Bina - Understanding – Development and Articulation of an Idea

Presenter: Ariel Tarasula

Being able to do something with ideas is truly an essential quality. Bina is from the word Livnot to build. To back up the case for this essential quality, you can look in the world of innovation in business and you can see that founders of original ideas unfortunately rarely succeed.

Bina is related to feminine aspect of nurture which is so essential. If "chochma" is a key, "bina" is a lock. If you have a key, it may take forever finding the lock for it, but if you have a lock, you can find a key for it. 

Chochma - Initial Spark of Wisdom – Creative Insight

 Presenter: Michael Milman

Why is "Chochma" the most important trait for Jewish leadership?

A shomer Shabbos psychotherapist, Yishai Shalif, said the following of his work: "There is, I believe, a kind of listening within which people's stories acquire a sacredness."

In my work as a chaplain, I have found that this listening requires a strong presence, and yet, at the same time, a purposeful absence, a silence. For the listener, it is a space were imagination, curiosity, and intuition reign supreme. For the speaker it is a safe place where his/her "small voice" can be heard. This little voice comes out of its exile. It acquires sacredness. Chochma embodies these 2 apparently contradictory aspects: Chochma can be read as Choach (strength,) and Mah (what, curiosity.)

The founder of the Chassidic movement, the BST, embodied Chochma. In one of his spiritual journeys, he encountered Messiah and asked him: "when will you come?" Messiah answered: "When your wellsprings will spread out far." He did not say until your "water" will spread out far but rather when your "wellsprings" will spread out far. Thus, the mission of the BST was not to lecture about the teachings of Hashem, but rather to ignite people's Chochmah, to allow them to make these teachings their own. Then, the Jewish people will be able to hear Hashem's small voice, and, so to speak, to take it out of its exile. This was the Baal Shem Tov's mission, the purpose for the foundation of the Chassidic movement. May this mission be fulfilled speedily in our days with the coming of the Messiah.

Michael Milman

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