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Lead On

By: Mrs. Sepha Kirshblum

In this week’s parsha, Parshat Vayikrah, we are given many details for karbanot. We are told “if we sin” "nefesh ki yechta", here is what you should bring. Interestingly though, when it describes the leader the pasuk says “asher nasi yechta" When the leader sins.” Why is it an assumption that a leader will sin but not the assumption of the regular people?

Anyone who has served in a leadership position or has been seen as a role model at any point in life knows that it doesn’t come without challenges. Sometimes the power goes to your head, and almost always, your every move is watched and scrutinized. Hence,so many mishnayot in Avot warn us against involving ourselves in leadership. But is that the goal? Avoid being a leader so that you don’t get an inflated ego and/or so people don’t watch your every move?

I think part of the answer lies in the Gemara in Bava Batra 17a. There it says that the rabbis taught that there were four people who died never having sinned. Binyamin son of Yaacov, Amram father of Moshe, Yishai father of David, and Kil’av son of David. Rabbi Zevulun Charlap notes that the wording is a bit strange. Why is it that each person is mentioned by stating his relationship to someone else? It seems clear that the Gemara wants us to make a comparison between these four people and their more well-known relatives. When we make the comparison we see that those who haven’t sinned pale in comparison to their counterparts in terms of their effect on Jewish History. We know and see that each of the three people who are used in the comparisons are people who did sin. They were also some of our greatest leaders. Moshe was the greatest of the prophets and leaders of the Jewish People, Yaacov was one of the Avot, and David was the greatest of the kings. So the question is what is preferable?  To be Binyamin or Yaacov, Amram or Moshe, Yishai and Kil’av or David? It seems that it is better to risk sinning and being a leader as opposed to living a life unblemished.

The Torah is telling us that leaders will mess up, but being leaders and role models are crucial. We should each be pushing ourselves to be role models for others, be the leaders that change Jewish History, and be ok if we mess up, knowing we just need to push ourselves to improve the next time.

Shabbat Shalom.






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