Tuesday, January 19, 2021

what it takes to be a leader

The Yalkut Shimoni (Shmos ch 3) writes:

 וּמֹשֶׁה הָיָה רֹעֶה, כְּתִיב (תהלים י״א:ה׳) ״ה׳ צַדִּיק יִבְחָן״, אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק, בַּמֶּה בּוֹחֵן אֶת הַצַּדִּיקִים, בְּמִרְעֶה. דָּוִד נִבְחָן בְּמִרְעֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ״מֵאַחַר עָלוֹת הֵבִיאוֹ לִרְעוֹת בְּיַעֲקֹב עַמּוֹ״. [עָמוֹס] נִבְחָן בְּמִרְעֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (עמוס ז׳:ט״ו) ״וַיִּקָּחֵנִי ה׳ מֵאַחֲרֵי הַצֹּאן״. אַף מֹשֶׁה נִבְחָן בְּמִרְעֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וּמשֶׁה הָיָה רֹעֶה.

Hashem tests tzadikim to see if they are worthy of leading Klal Yisrael before he turns over the reins to them.  How does he test them?  By seeing how they behave as shepherds.  If they can manage a flock of sheep, then Hashem turns over his flock of Klal Yisrael to them.

Let's look back at how Moshe got that job of being a shepherd.  Moshe was a prince in Egypt, but he threw away his position and intervened when he saw a Jewish slave being abused.  Pharoah wanted to kill him, so he was forced to flee.  When he got to Midyan, he saw the shepherds there treating the daughters of Yisro unfairly, and once again he intervened to set things right and stand up for the underdog when no one else would.  

None of that was sufficient to earn him the job of leader of Klal Yisrael.  Yet if a little sheep ran off on its own away from the flock and Moshe had to chase it down and carry it back, that proved that he was fit to be the leader of Klal Yisrael.  

It's not the one time act of heroism or bravery that proves someone has what it takes to lead.  It's the day in and day out show of caring in doing what seems like a mundane and thankless job that proves it.  (from R' Nissim Yagen)


  1. The great things a person does shows us his abilities...the little things the person does shows us his quality
    -Rabbi Chaim Yakov Levine ZYA

  2. -- Amos, a tzadik but no king, rebuked leaders in Israel who'd taken "the reins" without test -- 'you're finished!'*

    who was Amos as a shepherd that Hashem should choose him for such nevua? one to recognize firsthand bad shepherding, and as himself an owner** of flocks, he would fire any shepherd of his who kicked an errant lamb 'for good measure'...

    *v'avlu n'os haro'im, 1:2

    **Rashi, 1:1a, 7:14a (whereas Moshe tended Yisro's flock, and David his father's)

    -- "It's not the one time act of heroism or bravery..."

    but the two time act doesn't hurt: David would not only "chase...down and carry...back" "a little sheep"*, but snatch it from the jaws of a bear, the maw of a lion...

    *where do we see Moshe pursue a single stray sheep of klal Yisrael**? meanwhile Moshe's concern to distance himself (the sheep) from trespass (Rashi's text-based midrash at 3:1a), manifests again at Bamidbar 20:17

    **Dasan and Aviram, Bam. 16:25, are hardly innocent little lambs