Thursday, December 23, 2010

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Leadership 101

leadershipDvar Torah by Reb Ari Waldman @ Mystical Paths

In Parshas Shemos we are introduced to the Torah's most central person; Moshe Rabbeinu. He was the fearless leader that Hashem chose to take us out of Mitzrayim, and eventually bring us the Torah from Hashem! Did you ever wonder what made Moshe Rabbeinu, Moshe Rabbeinu? Of course he had a holy neshama! Even at birth that was apparent when the room filled with light! (Shemos 2, 2 in Rashi) But what made Moshe Rabbeinu stand out even amongst the holy that made him our leader?

Let's start with Moshe Rabbeinu's parents. When Pharaoh decreed that every male newborn be thrown to the Nile, Amram left his wife Yocheved thinking "why should I have a child that will be taken to be drowned?" Seeing this many other men followed suit and divorced their wives. His daughter Miriam said to him "your decree is worse than Pharaoh's for he decreed only on males and your abstinence will also prevent the birth of daughters!" So Amram remarried his wife and all the other men also followed suit and Moshe Rabbeinu was born. It comes out that Moshe Rabbeinu's birth came out of Amram's sense of responsibility to Clal Yisrael to do the right thing and have faith that Hashem will make it all come out for the best! Everyone else saw that faith and got remarried and courageously had more children!

As a young man, the pasuk tells us "And Moshe grew and he went out to his brothers and saw their suffering". (Shemos 2, 11) Rashi says "He gave his eyes and heart to feel their pain". The Midrash says "he would cry saying "I wish I could die for you!" For there is no harder work than making mortar and he would put his shoulders (under the burden) to help every single worker!" Young Moshe was not egocentric, seeking the pleasures of Pharaoh's palace! Nor did he conveniently choose to ignore his brothers out there who were suffering. It would have been easy to ignore them as most people of royalty hardly ever go out to the masses to help. Moshe's incentive to ignore his brothers was even greater because they were being persecuted and why should he identify with their suffering and put himself in danger? But Moshe Rabbeinu ignored these rationalities instead and went out to help his brothers.

Right away he risks his life, killing the Mitzri that was mercilessly beating a fellow Jew. (Shemos 2, 12) Moshe the next day reprimands Datan and Aviram for hitting each other and they go straight to Pharaoh informing him of Moshe's killing the Mitzri. Moshe is sentenced to death and miraculously escapes to Midian. He went from royalty to being a fugitive in a very short time! Obviously, Moshe's decisions and actions were politically incorrect! But that doesn't stop him. The Midrash says that as soon as he gets to Midian he saves some unpopular shepherd girls from their tormenters. Why were they unpopular? Because they were the daughters of Yisro, who after investigating all idolatry, recently renounced all idol worship and would serve only Hashem!! Helping anyone in need regardless of the consequences was Moshe's way of life! On this deed Hashem said "Since Moshe had compassion on (unpopular) girls he didn't even know he'll be called a Servant of Hashem so all shall know that Hashem's servants are compassionate and do kindness to all of creation!"

Moshe marries Tzipporah, Yisro's daughter and becomes a shepherd. He was meticulous that the sheep wouldn't graze on other people's land so he took them to the desert, land which belonged to no one. The Midrash (Shmos Rabbah 2, 2) says that one day a goat ran away from the flock to drink from a spring. Moshe then mercifully carried the goat on his shoulders back to the flock. Hashem said on this, "you were compassionate with this goat and other sheep; I know you'll be a great shepherd and leader for My nation, Israel!"

The Midrash continues that Moshe didn't say "out of sight, out of mind!" He prayed to Hashem for our survival at every opportunity. Moshe would pray; "Master of the world! If You don't save your nation now there will be no one left! Daily many people are dying from their hard labor! I understand why the generation of the flood got punished and why the generation of the Haflaga (the great dispersal) and Sodom got punished! But I don't understand what sin Israel did to be so harshly punished! Hashem have mercy on them redeem them and take revenge from their enemies!"

In case you were wondering what made Moshe Rabbeinu our great leader you now have your answer. All he thought about was us!! If our (secular) leaders would have one hundredth of his mesiras nefesh, they would be more worthy public servants and perhaps many people would suffer less and feel more secure in this holy land!!

We can learn from Moshe Rabbeinu that leadership = mesiras nefesh to help our fellow Jew!! "Politically correct" wasn't in his dictionary nor should it be in ours! Our desire to help Clal Yisrael should make those words petty in our eyes. My fellow Jew is all that matters!!

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