Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Shoftim

What is the key to continuous good leadership?

In Parshat Shoftim, we are told that a king must write a Sefer Torah during the period of his reign. This passage is introduced with the words “וְהָיָ֣ה כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ עַ֖ל כִּסֵּ֣א מַמְלַכְתּ֑וֹ – and it shall come to pass while he sits on his throne”.

The Ktav Sofer asks beautifully: surely the Torah should have said ‘בשיבתו ממלכתו‘ – if it means ‘while he is sitting on his throne’? The word כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ indicates a meaning closer to: ‘as if he is sitting on his throne’.

The Ktav Sofer answers: in order to be a good king, every day of his reign should be as if it is his first day in office. ‘כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ עַ֖ל כִּסֵּ֣א – it should be like the time when he ascended to the throne’. Like that day, when he was fired with ambition, when he made many fine resolutions, when his intentions were great, when he dreamed of providing outstanding leadership for the nation, which would have long-lasting implications for his people.

If you want to succeed in the long term, think about your aspirations on day one. This is such a beautiful message. It can be applied to the workplace as well. In order to be a good employee, think of your first day in the firm. Your intentions, your motivation, your excitement.

Similarly in a marriage, we should always reflect on the feelings, the excitement we had on the day of our wedding. Charged with potential. Let us strengthen and enrich our relationship on every day through our marriage as if it was always day one.

So it is within all areas of our endeavour. And the Ktav Sofer adds beautifully, that this is why the Passuk commences with the word ‘וְהָיָ֣ה‘,

וְהָיָ֣ה כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ“. If it were ‘ויהי – and it will come to pass’ – that, according to our tradition would indicate bad news here. But והיה is a sign of good news, of happiness, of fulfilment.

So that is the key to finding a happy and fulfilling position in the long term: Let every day always be like day one.

Shabbat shalom.