Israel Forever

For the week ending 30 July 2005 / 23 Tammuz 5765

When a Leader is Beloved

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

We live in a time when leaders in many countries, including our own Israel, are extremely unpopular with a large segment of their people. The contrast between them and the great leader of our people, Moshe, stands out in the Torah portion we will be hearing read this Shabbat in our synagogues.

When the Jews learned that G-d had told Moshe that he must initiate a war against their Midianite enemies, after which he would depart this world, they were reluctant to participate in an effort which would precipitate his death. The Torah, therefore, described the mobilization of a thousand soldiers from each tribe as forced conscription.

Rashi calls attention to the love Jews had for their true leaders. Although these same Jews were sometimes extremely critical of Moshe, even to the point that he felt threatened by their seeming rebelliousness, when the chips were down and his leaving them seemed imminent, they demonstrated their love for him by refusing to volunteer for a war which would hasten his departure.

This is the nature of a leader who is not elected by his people but appointed by G-d. But it does set a standard for elected leaders in Israel who must strive to win the affection of all their people in order to guarantee peace and prosperity for Israel forever.

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