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Dvar Torah: Shemot

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What makes a good leader great?

In Parashat Shemot, we are told that Moshe was tending the flocks of Jethro, his father-in-law. When he was standing at the foot of Mount Chorev he noticed a burning bush. Then, coming closer to the bush, Hashem appeared from within it and charged him with the responsibility to deliver our people from Egypt.

Why was Moshe, of all people, selected to be our leader?

Let us have a look at the passage immediately preceding this. There we find that Moshe was on the run. He was fleeing for his life, from Pharaoh, king of Egypt having saved the life of a fellow Israelite by killing an Egyptian taskmaster. And now Moshe arrived in Midyan. He came to a well and he noticed an injustice: The first people to arrive at the well side were the seven daughters of Jethro with their flocks. But male shepherd after male shepherd had come along and pushed them aside. Moshe would not tolerate such unfairness – he stepped forward and personally watered the flocks of the daughters of Jethro. After that Jethro invited him into his home where he got to know one of the daughters, Tzipora, whom he married. Now let’s consider that action of Moshe – it was particularly brave! After all, there was a price on his head, this was high risk! Surely he would not want to attract attention to himself now that he was a stranger in the land of Midyan. However, seeing an injustice, he was simply unwilling to stand idly by. He had to come and protect the rights of others.

The fact that Hashem chose Moshe to be the leader of our people at this specific moment teaches us that in Hashem’s eyes what makes a good leader great, is not only being concerned with those within your own group but with those well beyond it. A great leader is somebody who leads his or her people but at the same time, is there for the rest of humanity because every single human being is created in the image of Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom