Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Parshas Ki Sisa 5775, March 2015, Leadership

Moshe was told by G-d that Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur was to be the builder of the Mishkan, with Ahaliav of the tribe of Dan as his assistant. As Betzalel was only a youth who had just reached the age of bar mitzvah Moshe felt unsure that he could possibly take on a task of such import and detail. Hash-m corrected Moshe, though that not only was Betzalel fit for the job, it had been his responsibility designated at the creation of the physical world. Midrash Lekat Tov says in fact that "No leader is ever given charge of a community unless he was previously designated by Hash-m."
Megillas Esther read at Purim this week. Esther had leadership thrust upon her to her own surprise!

Yet still we are human and being given the task of leadership does not by any means guarantee that an individual will fulfill his task faithfully or even that he will show any competency at it. We know from the time that G-d designated Moshe as the leader of the Jewish people, he pleaded to be allowed to have his older brother Aharon take on that role rather than himself. Now we see Moshe ascend to Shamayim to receive teachings from G-d and to return with the luchos and Aharon is given the task of leading the Jewish people; and while he is an incredible tzaddik in his own way, he still is not up to the task of preventing the creation and worshipping of the golden calf.  At the same time in this week's parsha we are told that Yehoshua ben Nun, Moshe's own designated successor, "would not depart from the tent [of learning]." Yehoshua had indeed been chosen by G-d to lead the Jews both as a general and as a teacher, and he would prove to have nothing but success in those roles. Was Yehoshua a greater tzaddik than Aharon, was he somehow more close to G-d? Certainly not. But we see that there is nothing we can fully understand of G-d's ways, and that our task is simply to do our own personal best to fulfill the roles thrust upon us or presenting themselves to us.
We do our personal best in the roles G-d grants us within the community.
To prove the point we can look at this week's haftarah. The rasha King Achav confronts the prophet Eliyahu. Unquestionably, Achav is king and Eliyahu is navi. Yet Eliyahu strives with all his being to serve Hash-m at all times and to lead the Jews towards G-d and Torah. Achav has been given the kingship yet turns entirely from G-d. It is his own choice and his own doing, and of course eventually it proves his own undoing. He could have accomplished many great works had he been a true king with fear of Heaven, but his yetzer hara had far more strength than he did, and he is remembered only for his evil deeds and decrees.

Being granted a position of leadership at any level within the Jewish community is both an honor and a responsibility. The honor comes directly from G-d. The only one who can decide what one's legacy as a leader will be though is the individual him or herself. The blueprint, as clear as that shown to Betzalel, is the Torah.

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