“For he is a faithful shepherd.”

Friday, 1 July, 2016 - 5:44 am


Dear Friends,

Rabbi Elazar, in the Zohar, Part I, defines who is a true leader. He analyzes the approach and the behavior of Noach, Avraham and Moshe Rabbeinu in emergency situations. All three experienced a time during their lives in which the generation was supposed to be punished and even destroyed while they were to be saved, and each one of them reacted differently.

Noach knew that a flood was supposed to come and wash away all of creation, and he built an ark in order to save his family, as the Creator told him to do. But what about the rest of his generation? Noach did nothing; he did not try to stop them from committing sins, and he did not beg for mercy for them. He did make sure to keep at one of each type of living being, so that the world would continue to exist after the flood.

Unlike Noach, Avraham Avinu did much more. Not only did he work with his generation, accept them all and show them the right way, as it says, “And he called there in the Name of Hashem, G-d of the World,” but he did much more than that. When he heard about the decree to destroy Sdom and Amorah, he began to pray and ask for mercy. He did everything to prevent the decree from being carried out. But he didn’t pray for mercy for the wicked people of Sdom – he asked for mercy for the righteous among the city’s residents “Perhaps there are… righteous people in the city… It would be sacrilege for You to kill the righteous with the wicked.” He did not pray for the wicked. It seems that he understood that the wicked have no merits, and therefore they should not be prayed for. And therefore, when Hashem informed him that there are no righteous people in the city, he ceased his efforts. “And Avraham returned to his place.”

Moshe Rabbeinu, the leader of the Jewish People, presents a different level, a different approach of a leader. Both in the case of the Sin of the Golden Calf and in the story of the Spies, we are talking about people who sinned, who betrayed Hashem. And in this week’s Parasha, Parashat Shelach, we are told of people who fought and incited the people against Moshe Rabbeinu “And they spoke against Moshe and Aharon.” But, when Hashem says, “I will strike them [the people] with the plague and annihilate them, and make you into a big nation,” Moshe Rabbeinu, that faithful shepherd, does not think of himself, but rather approaches Hashem immediately and begs, “Please forgive the sin of this nation according to the greatness of your kindness.”

For that is a true leader – he is not concerned only with himself, and does not just wait for others to come to him; rather, he goes to them. He does not ask only for salvation for the righteous, but sees the good in everyone and prays for everyone, and as Rabbi Elazar says at the end of his homily in the Zohar, “For he is a faithful shepherd.”


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

Comments on: “For he is a faithful shepherd.”
There are no comments.