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A Lesson in True Jewish Leadership

  • Dedication: Refuah Sheleima for Shlomo Yisroel Ben Sarah

    A Jewish leader must be able to ‘lower himself’ and relate to his followers through their perspective. Without this very important ingredient, a leader will not be able to help his followers in the best way.
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    Right before the giving of the Torah, we read about an interesting conversation between Hashem and Moshe Rabbeinu. Hashem tells Moshe that he should remind the Jewish people again and warn them not to touch the mountain. Moshe responds “but you already warned them.” Hashem insists that Moshe go and warn them again. What is the meaning of this interesting conversation?

    The Kedushas Levi explains that sometimes, a person is in a very positive place religiously. He feels enthusiastic about his Yiddishkeit. He tends to look at others and may assume that they too, are in that same place. He may even come to judge others based on that assumption. The Kedushas Levi says that in this scenario, Moshe was so spiritually connected, that he could not fathom that the Jewish people would not heed to Hashem’s first warning; he literally could not imagine why they would need a second warning. And Hashem is teaching all leaders a very important lesson by telling Moshe to go warn the nation again. Hashem is reminding Jewish leaders that just because they may be holding in a certain place spiritually, they should not assume that each of their followers are holding in that same place. And if you really want to help people, you need to be able to relate to where they are.

    There’s a famous story of the Baal HaTanya. A chossid noticed that the Rebbe was sweating very hard on a day that was not particularly warm out. The chossid asked the Rebbe why he was sweating so profusely. The Rebbe answered that he is constantly ‘changing clothes’ energetically between being who he is, the Rebbe, and being who each person who comes to speak to him is, in order to better help them. This constant flow of changing energies actually caused him to sweat profusely. This is an example of true Jewish leadership; the ability to see other people through their own perspectives and levels, versus just the one you are situated at yourself.

    Hashem should help us have the ability to see life through other people’s perspectives so that we can better help them. May we merit the coming of the Moshiach speedily in our days, Amen.