Israel Forever

For the week ending 2 August 2003 / 4 Av 5763

What is Leadership?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

When was the last time you heard the head of a nation lecturing its citizens in regard to their behavior?

In an age when prime ministers are under suspicion of questionable financial dealings and presidents are accused of lying to the public it is difficult to imagine such politicians getting up the nerve to tell ordinary citizens how to behave.

This is what is so remarkable about the Torah chapter we read this week in our synagogues as the beginning of the fifth and final chumash of the Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu, who has led his people for forty years and will be taking leave of them in another month, delivers a long lecture to them in which he reproves them for all the mistakes they made.

Moshe was able to do so for two reasons which do not apply to todays leaders. His personal conduct was beyond reproof and no one could say to him what the Talmud says is the usual response of one who is being called to account: "Before you tell me to remove the sliver between my eyes, first remove the log between your own." Secondly, Moshe was a divinely appointed leader who did not have to be concerned about popularity and politics. His integrity, however, gained for him that affection of the people expressed in an entire nation mourning his death for thirty days.

There are many aspects of social life in Israel which need correcting and we look forward to leadership which will seek not only security and economic prosperity but can guide the moral behavior of Israel forever.

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