Thursday, March 03, 2016

Jewish Leadership: Spiritual vs. Mundane

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Moses assembled the entire congregation of Israel by verbally summoning them (see Rashi on Leviticus 35:1). The ability to do so bespeaks the moral/spiritual authority he commanded, rather than any mundane or organizational authority that he could muster. Not only in that generation did Moses assemble all of Israel by employing speech, but throughout history the influence of Moses on the Jewish People has been recognizable. As our sages said: 

“In our world, if a mortal prince enacts a decree, whether it will be fulfilled remains to be seen. Yet Moses decreed many decrees and passed many enactments and they continue to endure forever and ever.” (Shabbat 30a). 

Moses’s speech and influence, which guide us to follow in G-d’s pathways in accordance with the holy Torah, are the strongest influence on the Jewish People’s conduct down through the generations. 

Today, we must distinguish between leaders concerned only with the here and now, who are transient and temporary, and the eternal leadership of the Jewish People, which lives and endures forever. 

A leadership that ascends to power by mundane means, i.e., by way of political organization of one form or another, has no power to influence and unite the nation in the long-term. Only a spiritual leadership that derives from the strength of our holy Torah, and that showers some of its spirit on the political, practical leadership of the nation will have the strength and ability to unite the Jewish People down through the generations. 

The day is not far off when we will be privileged to see how the spiritual leadership and the political leadership will walk hand in hand, as was in the past, during the times of Kings David and Solomon. At that time, the daily request of our prayers will be fulfilled: 

“Restore our judges as at the first, and our counselor s as at the beginning, and remove from us sorrow and sighing” (Shemoneh Esreh). This in turn will lead to, “Return in mercy to your city, Jerusalem, and dwell in it as You promised… and speedily establish in it the throne of David.” (ibid.) 

Looking forward to complete salvation, 
Shabbat Shalom.

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