With elections coming up, let us take a look at the “leadership workshop” at the beginning of Sefer Shemot. Here are just a few things Moshe Rabbeinu teaches us:
- A leader can grow up in the home of Pharaoh – as a prince of Egypt – but never forget his people, his identity, and his family. He has courage to face Pharaoh, the ruler of the world’s greatest empire, the man who also adopted and raised him, and tell him the truth to his face.
- A leader is not necessarily charismatic. He can be a stutterer and a less-than-impressive speaker. Moshe himself does not claim perfection. He mentions his shortcomings without shame: “for I am slow of speech and of slow tongue.”
- A leader works with maximal cooperation and minimal jealousy, hatred, rivalry, and treading over other people. Moshe begins his leadership role alongside his brother Aharon and his sister Miriam, with each of them utilizing his or her own talents.
- A leader does not say “We must change the People” or “Change the Torah” or “Change lands.” He is faithful and devoted to the people even when they err, and he does not despair even if it is difficult for him to teach them Torah or if the people have no will to keep going to Eretz Yisrael.
- A leader does not attribute success to himself. He is a believer. He knows that he is only a channel, a messenger. The most important man in the exodus of Egypt is also the humblest.
Of course, we do not expect our elected leaders to be Moshe Rabbeinu, and surely not in the next 100 stormy days. Still, these parshi’ot, which accompany this election season, remind us that we have something to strive for.