Select your language

לימוד תורה

A leadership that puts Israel before everything

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald – The Parasha in our everyday life- Tetzaveh - Purim – 5781

"Israel before everything!" This slogan entered our public life only two years ago. But since then, we have had an intense and different year with the Pandemic around, which disrupted the routine of our lives. We have already gone through three closures. And, we also managed to have three elections. The feeling is that a decade passed by and not only two years!

It is possible to look back in perspective and examine whether this election slogan did indeed express a true and sincere worldview of a different leadership that puts the people of Israel first, out of humility and devotion and putting the ego aside. A leadership that pursues national unity and reconciliation and works to heal Israeli society. Or, whether, it was just a campaign slogan born on the creative tables of advertising agencies to buy the public's heart, and rake in another handful of seats.

The special combination of Shabbat Tetzaveh with the holiday of Purim, connects the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu with the leadership of Mordechai and Esther. In Moshe Rabbeinu we can see the Jewish roots of leadership that seek to 'put the people of Israel first'. Parashat Tetzaveh - Part of the project to build the Mishkan under the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu, begins with a command of a leader:

וְאַתָּ֞ה תְּצַוֶּ֣ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֨וּ אֵלֶ֜יךָ שֶׁ֣מֶן זַ֥יִת זָ֛ךְ כָּתִ֖ית לַמָּא֑וֹר לְהַעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד׃

"You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly'. (Shmot 27:20)

א"ל הקב"ה למשה, משה מלך עשיתיך, מה המלך גוזר והן עושין, אף אתה גזור עליהן והן עושין וגו'

"The Holy One said to Moshe: Moshe, I have made you a king. Just as the king issues decrees, and they act; so you issue decrees over them, and they shall act". (Midrash Tanchuma Buber Tetzaveh 2:2)

But unlike kings who command from above and impose the task on their subordinates and do not bother to engage in it, Moshe deals with it himself:

"'to bring you': Let them bring it before him and he will see it" (Ramban ibid).

After all, in this Parasha, the name of Moshe, the commanded king, is not mentioned at all (Moshav Zkenim ibid). And it must be said that Moshe is not like the leaders who put themselves at the center, the Mishkan is the nation's general concern. With all his greatness, self-importance, and historic role, there was greater humility:

וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣יו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃

"Now Moshe was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth" (Bamidbar 12:3). Only humility, devotion and putting the ego aside, can put the general interest first.

Sages likened Mordechai's leadership to the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu:

אִישׁ יְהוּדִי הָיָה בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה, אִישׁ מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה מָרְדֳּכַי שָׁקוּל בְּדוֹרוֹ כְּמשֶׁה בְּדוֹרוֹ, דִּכְתִיב: וְהָאִישׁ משֶׁה עָנָו מְאֹד, מַה מּשֶׁה עָמַד בַּפֶּרֶץ... אַף מָרְדֳּכַי כֵּן...

"There was a Jewish man in Shushan the capital" -The word 'man' (ish) teaches us that Mordechai was the equivalent of Moshe in his generation as it says about Moshe "and the man (ish) Moshe was exceedingly humble". Just as Moshe stood in the breach… so to Mordechai (Esther Rabbah 6: 2). "Up to this point Moshe was considered a 'man', because the name 'man' is said of someone who is very, very agile and when one breach comes and he stands against it, he is called 'man'. Just like Mordechai who stood in the breach and is called אִ֣ישׁ יְהוּדִ֔י: A Jew." (Maharal Ohr Chadash)

Mordechai also set aside all his personal matters and put the fate of the people of Israel first, even though not all people showed him appreciation:

ורצוי לרוב אחיו. מלמד שאין אדם יכול להוציא ידי חובתו לכל העם.

"Popular with the multitude of his brethren" - teaches that no man can extricate the entire nation from the grasp of obligation.

For you cannot find better for Israel than Mordechai as it is written: popular with most of his brethren but not all of them, as he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his kindred" (Midrash Lekach Tov on Esther 10:3).

He also excelled in humility: "'Popular with the multitude of his brethren' - and here the scripture mentioned the greatness of his virtue of modesty when he mentioned Moshe Rabbeinu." (Ibn Ezra, Esther ibid)

This is the ideal model of Jewish leadership: "As a person rises above spiritually, he feels the great value of the majority, the public begins to live within him, in his heart and the depth of his will. He feels the many needs of the public, the magnitude of the value of life, the beats in the general public, and he stands entirely as one formation, he feels the reality of the public, and is filled with endless love and respect. Then he rises above to be an ideal public leader, his thoughts are sanctified in the holiness of the majority, and his morals ascend to be righteous for the masses". (Orot Hakodesh Part III)

Contact Form

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input