The Making of a Good Leader

Unfortunately, over the past few years there have been too many Jewish leaders who have ended up disappointing the Jewish community with immoral and unlawful acts.


There have been Rabbis removed from pulpits as well as members of the Knesset including a president who had to step down.


These “leaders” have desecrated God’s name, what is known in Hebrew as “Chilul HaShem.”


Should we be surprised? Is it unheard of for a Jewish leader to transgress?


In Parshat Vayikra, when we read about the Korbanot (sacrifices) that need to be brought after a person transgresses, it is not just the lay people who are expected to bring the korban, the rulers are expected to bring the korbanot as well.


In Vayikra 4:22 it says: “When (asher) a Nasi, a ruler, sins and does inadvertently something against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done and has incurred guilt. If the sin that he committed becomes known to him, he shall bring his offering, a male goat, unblemished.”


The Torah uses the word “asher”, “when” and not “im”, “if” since rulers are human and they are prone to sin. Sforno adds that often those who are wealthy and powerful may be more likely to sin.


The problem with many of the current scandals is that the leaders try to cover up their mistakes instead of owning up to them.


The hope according to Sifra is that a leader who seeks atonement even for his unintentional sins will surely repent for his intentional sins.


Let’s hope and pray that our new leaders will not repeat the mistakes of the past and that the new leadership will sanctify, not desecrate, God’s name and be a true Kiddush Hashem. As humans, our role models may err from time to time yet to gain our respect and God’s approval, they must be big enough to admit their wrongdoings and serve as examples that we should be proud to look up to.