Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
This week Moses ascends onto the world stage. Exactly when the party lists for the next election to the Knesset are closing, we are given a leadership workshop courtesy of the weekly Torah portin:
- A leader can grow up in the house of Pharaoh as “the prince of Egypt” but still not forget his identity and his nation. Such a leader can even have the courage to stand up to Pharaoh, ruler of the world’s greatest empire, and tell him the truth to his face.
- A leader not necessarily charismatic. He can be a stutterer with a speech impediment and not a silver-tongued orator. Moses himself does not claim to be perfect, but admits to his deficiencies without embarrassment: “I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue,” he says.
- A leader embraces cooperation with others, with minimal stepping on other people’s toes, without envy, without competing with anyone. He goes into the desert with Aharon his brother and Miriam his sister by his side, and each draws upon his or her unique talents during their long journey.
- A leader does not proclaim a need “to change the people” or “to change the Torah” or “to change their destination.” He remains faithful and devoted to the people even after he goes astray and sins. He does not despair despite the difficulty of persuading the people to follow and keep the Torah, and he continues to pull the people along the road to Eretz Yisrael even when they want to go back to Egypt.
- A leader does not attribute success to himself. He is a man of faith and knows that he is only an emissary. The most important person in the Exodus story is also the most humble.
There are no political lessons to be taken from this example of leadership and we do not expect those elected to be Moshe Rabbeinu. Still, the Torah portions that will accompany the unfolding election campaigns in the weeks ahead should remind us of how, ideally, those in leadership roles should conduct themselves.