“And it came to pass... that Moses spoke to the children of Israel” Deuteronomy 1:3
Writing this piece during a visit to Israel, I had an ideal opportunity to survey the state of leadership in our national homeland. It’s not going too well. We’ve got an ex-president in jail, a current Chief Rabbi under police investigation, a leader of a major Chasidic sect who has absconded to Morocco.
Should I continue with the case of a past prime minister who was recently convicted on a count of “breach of trust”, not to mention a party leader who served two years for receiving bribes?
This sorry litany of scandal is all the more remarkable in the light of our biblical tradition of countless great leaders. In this week’s parashah, Moses starts to deliver the great speech of leadership, inspiring while practical, admonishing and at the same time congratulatory. All the while, his leadership qualities are peerless and so the people listen and every word is incorporated into the Torah and each idea is cherished to this day.
How did Moses achieve this level of undisputed leader of the Jewish people throughout all time? The key contrast between Moses and our current crop of “leaders” is the absence of personal interest.
He started life as an outsider, an Egyptian prince, then a life as a Levite who were not landowners. He did not hold shares in Red Sea Crossings Ltd and his children were not in the etrog importation business. His only interest was teaching the Torah. Sadly we have lost such leadership values. Maybe we need a Knesset of foreign princes to turn it around.