THE HAFTARAH FOR SIMCHAT TORAH THROUGH THE EYES OF THE TNUA

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

By: Gabriel Shnaider, Rosh Chinuch, Hanoar Hatzioni B´Perú

Every year, on the twenty-second of Tishrei, the Jewish people celebrate Simchat Torah.
This chag begins automatically after Sukkot, concludes the reading of the Torah and
marks the beginning of a new reading cycle. This chag is characterized by the great joy it
evokes, where both adults and children dance adend rejoice along with the Sifrei Torah.
On many occasions, the reading of the Torah on Shabatot and chagim is accompanied by
the reading of a biblical selection from the book of Nevi’im (Prophets) called Haftarah.
The Haftarah is usually related to the main topics addressed in the parashah, or to the
dates on which it is read. In Simchat Torah, just as the reading of the Torah begins with
Parashat Bereshit, the Haftarah includes the first psukim from the Book of Yehoshua, the
first prophet.

This article offers an analysis and interpretation of the Haftarah in light of the values,
concepts and practices present in the Tnua. I would like to put particular emphasis on the
resource that is being used, the Tanach, since the ancient Jewish sources are often
perceived as obsolete or as ones which offer solely religious content. However, it is
essential to acknowledge the values of the Tanach as educational material, even within
the framework of the Tnua.

“Moshe my servant, is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the
Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them — to the Israelites.”

Continuity

The book of Yehoshua is the first to be read after concluding the reading of the Torah.
The book’s main character is Moshe Rabenu, leader of the Jewish people who led us
through the departure from Egypt to Har Sinai and during the forty-year journey in the
desert. This text begins by announcing his death, followed by the immediate appointing of
his successor, Yehoshua, who had to continue the work of leading the people in a new
phase: entering Eretz Israel.

The value of continuity is also intertwined as a key concept in almost every aspect of the
Tnua. This is what allows the Tnua to continue advancing and developing
uninterruptedly. Every year, a new kvutza enters the ken, while other bogrim cease their
activities, thus enabling both of the groups to grow and become a part of the cycle. A
concept which I believe is utterly valuable is the continuity of ideas. Although this
process around which the Tnua revolves will eventually result in our departure, the
lasting aspects that will grant our legacy’s continuity are our ideas, our learnings and the
impact that we leave.

I remember an anecdote when I was about to finish the course of Madrichim. A madrich
asked me what I would want to do when I became a madrich. I replied that I would like
to return to Hanoar Hatzioni everything that it has given me.

He told me, nostalgically, that when he was my age, he had a similar answer to mine and
that he was a few months away from leaving the Tnua and felt that he had not been able
to fulfill his goal.

I told him that although he had not yet fulfilled his goal, the mark he left with us and the
education he provided are a part of who we are. Therefore, when we conduct peulot, have
chanichim, elaborate and develop projects and make the Tnua grow, it will be partly
thanks to what he did, and so he will never stop contributing to the Tnua because his
teachings will have continuity through those who received it.

For me, this is the most valuable aspect of continuity in the Tnua—the fact that one can
continue to contribute indirectly. As educators, we intervene in the educational process of
our chanichim who learn from us, from the example we set, from our peulot, from our
behaviors and from everything that we do; thus, they give continuity to our essence.

Activism

This verse conveys the explicit instruction that Yehoshua receives to take action and
perform his duty. Such duty requires his activism, will and commitment to be achieved.
The Israelites had already wandered in the desert for forty years and were ordered to cross
the Jordan River to enter the Land of Israel.

There are many discussions in the Tnua regarding activism, about taking action and
carrying out initiatives. This process, which is not easy, requires commitment:
commitment to the cause for which we work, commitment to our work teams,
commitment to those who will receive the impact of our actions, commitment to
ourselves and the willpower to perform our work the best way possible. This commitment
must be accompanied by a strong motivation to achieve the cause for which we work.

In addition, when talking about activism, even within the Tnua, we tend to relate it to
Tikun Olam projects or to the elaboration of a major project that will lead to a significant
change; in both cases, the action performed is tangible and evident. Therefore, I would
like to reflect on other ways of being an activist in the Tnua, which may be less valued
but, in my opinion, are equally and even more important. The role of a madrich in the
Tnua is an example of tremendous activism. The madrich commits to a cause: education.
This cause requires the madrich to meet several responsibilities, and he/she does so
voluntarily and without remuneration because he/she believes in the work of an educator
and in the great change activism can generate. The shaping of children and adolescents is
undoubtedly a task of enormous responsibility and remarkable impact and influence and
is therefore worthy of being acknowledged and valued.

Leadership

We can see in the text that Yehoshua’s taking action and crossing the Jordan River is not
something that affects only him; he must do so along with an entire people. As a leader,
he must guide the rest of the people toward his goal: entering Eretz Israel.
A leader must have certain characteristics to be able to exercise his leadership effectively.

The first characteristic, based on the definition of leadership, is having a group which one
can influence. The leader’s influence is paramount to his performance; nevertheless, it
does not appear from nowhere. One must earn the public’s trust in order to be followed.
In my opinion, trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, of every framework
and of any kind. In the Tnua, it is essential that the tzevet trust the hanhaga and their
judgment, intentions, decisions and way of operating. Otherwise, teamwork would be
chaotic.

It seems relevant to note a clear difference: A leader manages to make changes and
mobilize his/her people because they trust him/her and are influenced by his/her
decisions. This must not be achieved due to the exercise of power and authoritarianism,
which generates discomfort and fear in the “followers”. While a leader must impose
his/her authority in some instances, it must not be confused with abuse of power or
supremacy. It follows that a leader must maintain ethical behavior based on moral values;
a leader must be empathetic, understanding, tolerant, open to criticism and humble.
It is often difficult to put yourself in another person’s shoes and feel what this person is
going through, yet achieving it (or at least trying), leads to a much more efficient
approach toward our followers, allowing for more accurate decision making. Similarly, it
is difficult to recognize someone’s mistakes, especially if that someone is in a leadership
position. Yet, achieving it, knowing how to use mistakes to improve, asking for help if
necessary and accepting it leads to improved leadership abilities and assertiveness.

Dugma Ishit

A very important part in the leadership and activism that we analyze in Yehoshua is the
fact that he encourages the people to follow him by example. He is an active participant
along with the rest of the people, in the path he aspires to reach.

We tend to frequently hear the concept of “Dugma Ishit” in the Tnua, and unfortunately,
it is often trivialized or misinterpreted. Dugma Ishit is the foundation on which the
education that we provide in the Tnua is based. As said in the Darkenu: “The madrich is
the pillar that holds our educational structure. The personal example of our madrichim
and bogrim is what grants our task as educators its ethical foundations. It follows that
every active chaver in the Tnua must be consistent and coherent with his ideological and
educational message.”

Personally, I see in the Dugma Ishit the most direct and effective way to achieve the
objectives we set as educators. What better way to teach than by example, by making our
chanichim see how we act? Knowing that the madrich-chanich relationship has an
effective base, the image that the madrich acquires is the best way to reach a greater
impact and influence. Therefore, I urge you not to automatically associate Dugma Ishit
with issues of bad habits and social behavior, but rather to one of the most valuable
educational tools we have. Being a madrich is also a form of leadership. The madrich has a
group of children who trust, follow and are influenced by him/her.

This leadership of the madrich is immersed within what his personal example implies
because his chanichim will follow him/her through the observational learning processes.

“I will give you every place where you set your foot…”

Leaving a Mark

In the text, God tells Yehoshua that every place where he set his foot will be his; thus, he
will leave his mark and God will know he was there. We all have experienced the
sensation of walking on the sand and seeing the silhouette of our foot sinking into it and
leaving a mark indicating that we have been there.

I believe that this is the most difficult task that every educator should seek: that every
time we get the opportunity to do so, we will leave a mark on someone, make others learn
from our teachings, maintain our essences and remember the beautiful moments we have
spent together. Without a doubt, leaving a significant mark is not easy; it requires a lot of
enthusiasm, dedication, devotion, perseverance and love for everything we have to do.
The act of leaving a mark is deeply related to what I had previously mentioned regarding
continuity. In addition, I believe that being forgotten by his/her students is every
educator’s worst nightmare. Therefore, we must work relentlessly to transmit to our
chanichim a meaningful message that they will remember and apply in an advantageous
way, which will benefit them and their environment alike. Our educational work will
allow us to rest assured knowing that we have managed to leave our mark.

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.”

Perseverance

So far we have discussed many important aspects for every educator and various
fundamental concepts within the Tnua, which give us challenges that are not easily
overcome. This illustrates the important role of perseverance within the Tnua. God is not
telling Yehoshua that the conquest of the land will be peaceful and without problems, as
we know that multiple wars and confrontations accompanied the entrance of Bnei Israel
to Canaan. Instead, the message transmitted is to prevail and move forward, seek
solutions, overcome obstacles and have courage and bravery in all that we do.

This principle undoubtedly applies to the Tnua. We are aware of the challenges that the
Tnua sets for us, of the constant obstacles and the barriers that cause us to believe that we
are far from reaching our objectives. This is when we must persevere, be aware of the
importance of our actions and the work of a boger and motivate ourselves to move
forward without stopping. It is not easy; this must be one of the most difficult and
complicated demands from a chaver, yet it is the foundation for all that is to be
accomplished in the future.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore
to their ancestors to give them.”

Chazak Ve’ematz

Our famous greeting stems from the message of Moshe to Yehoshua when Moshe named
Yehoshua as his successor, and in this verse God reaffirms it. I do not want to delve much
into the meaning of being strong and courageous because it is related to other concepts we
have previously discussed; I would like to focus on this phrase as a greeting and a form of
communication with the Tnua. Having a greeting involves recognition and identification,
in this case, with the Tnua. Both the greeting and the semel of Chazak Ve’ematz form a
part of the Tnua’s set of symbols, which serve as an educational method to strengthen the
chaverim’s identity. A strong and intense sense of belonging is a good predictor of the
chaver’s aptitude for internal motivation to operate in the Tnua, to feel committed to its
ideals and persevere in order to achieve his/her objectives and feel comfortable and happy
as a chaver Tnua.

Achieving this sense of identification with the Tnua is another of the great challenges we
have. First, we have to identify within ourselves, ask ourselves, “Why am I a part of the
Tnua? Why do I operate in the Tnua? What is the impact that being in the Tnua has on
me? What is my contribution to the Tnua?” These questions require an answer that will
leave us satisfied and happy in order to understand our sacrifice.
Answering these questions will allow us to perform our work with pleasure and goodwill,
and then, although each one of us has to find his/her place within the Tnua, we can share
our answers to spread this sense of belonging. Moreover, this will enable us to relate
further to the aspects of Dugma Ishit and leadership we discussed previously and to how
we can influence others and serve as an example of this internal motivation and
identification with the Tnua.

Historical, Cultural and Sentimental Connection to Eretz Israel / Hagshama Atzmit

As a Tnua, we educate to Israelocentrism. We see in Eretz Israel the center of every
Jewish experience, the best guarantee to our continuity as a people and a place where a
Jewish life can be lived as a norm, allowing for the self-realization of the chaverim by
crystallizing all of the ideals of the Tnua. However, when it comes to Hagshama Atzmit, I
do not like to focus solely on the practical act of making Aliyah and living a full Jewish
life but rather on the emotional part that this concept entails. I see the process of the
Hagshama Atzmit as the fulfillment of a dream, something that we long for and could
manage to realize. This is similar to what happened to the Israelites, who longed for forty
years while wandering in the desert and finally reached the moment of self-realization by
entering the Promised Land.

The process of accomplishing a goal that we have longed for and genuinely wish to obtain
is long and requires a lot of effort and sacrifice. But the more arduous the path, the greater
are the satisfaction and pride when we reach our objective and look back. This feeling and
the emotions it evokes are extremely valuable and motivate us to continue promoting
more ambitious objectives.

These objectives may vary from a madrich who intends to have the best year possible,
make his/her kvutza grow, plan the best peulot, empower his/her chanichim and establish
a beautiful connection with them, to the implementation of a new tochnit that provokes
an immense change in the ken, or even in the Tnua globally. The important aspect lies in
the conviction to achieve the objective and never stop until it is accomplished.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day
and night.”

Consistency: Madrich 24/7

The madrich’s coherence refers to the integrity he must possess as a person who has the
same behaviors all the time. This is highly related to his Dugma Ishit, thus what the
madrich teaches and portrays within the framework of the peula must be consistent with
the rest of the aspects of his/her life outside this framework. On the other hand, the job of
a madrich never ends. He/she must be attentive toward his/her chanichim throughout the
whole of the week and in every aspect. Undeniably, the center of attention and
responsibility is not the madrich, but the concern and interest in his/her well-being must
be constant. In my opinion, one does not stop being a madrich until his/her chanichim die
(may they live healthy and happy until they turn one hundred twenty years old), because
if we effectively comply with the principle of leaving a mark on them, and we manage to
guide them by serving as an example and by functioning as leaders who can influence
them and gain their trust, it is impossible to disassociate ourselves from them.
Therefore, when assuming the responsibilities of an educator, we must be aware that said
responsibilities will always be present. In my opinion, this is a great privilege that we
must maximize and take advantage of.

“After the death of Moshe, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Yehoshua son of Nun,
Moshe’s aide, saying…”

Educational Process

Although this concept is extracted from the first passuk, I kept it for the end as it is the
crystallization of all the concepts we have previously seen. It is interesting seeing how
Yehoshua is presented, not as a new leader or a successor but rather as Moshe’s
apprentice. This is the importance and transcendence of educators: the possibility of being
able to define our students. Everything in the Tnua is part of a great educational process1
in which we are immersed. It starts with the youngest chanichim who are yet to
understand how the Tnua works.

Then, step by step, they grasp and discover the educational aspect of the Tnua and become
interested in it, start their training as madrichim, participate in machonim, form a part of
the tzevet, experience the hadracha and the Shnat Hachshara, become a part of the
hanhagot and the hanhalot both on local and continental levels, and so on.

In some cases, some of these young chanichim become magshimim. This process shapes
the chaver. The recognition and appreciation of the magnitude of this process makes the
chaver fall in love with it and feel honored to have had such a great and influential
opportunity in his/her life and to make the most of it.

Although our educational conception aspires for the chaver to be the protagonist of
his/her education by having significant experiences that lead to valuable learning, the role
of the madrich is essential. In this process, the educator is the one who plans the
experiences and is the one responsible for them to be carried out properly. This is the
great power that the madrichim have: the power of getting their chanichim out of their
bubble and leading them to independently realize what there is outside of it. A famous
and well-known phrase from Spider-Man, that I believe expresses this idea, says: “With
great power comes great responsibility” (Stan Lee, 1962).

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be
discouraged, for the LORD, your God, will be with you wherever you go.”

Hanoar Hatzioni, School for Life

The Haftarah ends with a very interesting message. We have extracted from the text
many concepts and practices that are present in the Tnua, and in the end we see the
phrase: “will be with you wherever you go”. This is the Tnua’s greatest treasure:
everything that we learn and the skills that we develop will accompany us for the rest of
our lives. And if the Tnua managed to fulfill its objectives in us, 2 rest assured that those results will be a mark that will remain with us forever.


I would like to pause for a moment and think of how grateful any chaver Tnua, including
me, must be for having the opportunity to form a part of this movement, to grow with its
educational process and acquire tools, leanings, memories, friendships, knowledge and
many other things for his/her entire life. And when this thought crosses my mind, I feel
the need to present this opportunity to as many chaverim as possible. This is what
motivates me to continue working in favor of the Tnua and to make my best effort in
every peula and project, to try and make every chaver of the Tnua smile and be proud and
thankful to be a part of Hanoar Hatzioni.

In this article, I have tried to relate a Jewish source to the Tnua, to reflect and share my
opinion regarding the two. I hope you have found this interesting and useful. Chag
Sameach, everyone. May this new year that has just begun bring joy, success and blessings
for all of us and our tnuot.
Chazak Ve’ematz!!!


“Our education is based on processes that encourage action, experience and moratorium (school for life), learning, 1
intellectual curiosity, the right to doubt, responsibility, perseverance, in-depth criticism and collaborative thinking. We
aspire to provide our chaverim with formative education—emphasizing human dignity, freedom of choice, pluralist legacy,
teamwork and a dialogue between the educator and his student—as an essential and fundamental methodology—tools that will allow him to analyze, complexly and seriously, the reality in which he lives” (Darkenu).

Through educational processes based on ideological postulates that rely on the values of the Tnua, Hanoar Hatzioni aspires
to achieve:
• The shaping of a Jewish chaver, who identifies with his people, history, culture and the state of Israel.
• The shaping of a chaver proud of his Jewish identity, who internalizes the Zionist ideal and chooses to reach his
fulfillment within the framework of the state of Israel.
• The shaping of a chaver who believes in the values and the humanist, liberal and social attitudes that are expressed by
pluralist, tolerant and democratic actions, where the personal example is the embodiment of the concept “chalutz”
(pioneer). Therefore, we foster the chanich’s creativity and skills, his ability to develop personal judgment and
criticism, independent thinking and the constant strive for renewal in light of the challenges that arise in the present
and those that may emerge in the future (Darkenu)

Appendix

.Attached is the full text of the Haftarah in Hebrew and in English

Leave a Replay

Sign up for our Newsletter

Skip to content
%d bloggers like this: