• Shternie Bell

Why a Leader?

Two millennia before Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, El Lissitzky and many other Jewish socialists there was a man named Korach. He disputed Moshe's leadership in an episode which is recorded in this week's Torah portion. His main argument was: "Why do you lift yourself above the others? The whole congregation is holy and equal".

Korach took issue with the nature of Moshe's leadership. Unlike the different levels in the hierarchy of Priests, Sages, Levites (Korach was a Levite) and Israelites which were all relative to one another, Moshe reigned supreme in an absolute manner which far surpassed the entire nation.

Korach focused his argument on the fact that when it comes to action, Mitzvot, there is no distinction between who is doing it. The money given to charity is the same Mitzvah whether it is Moshe giving it or any other person. Therefore Moshe should not raise himself above the others.

Korach gains traction with his argument and rallies the support of 250 men for his cause. Their heated protest reaches a boiling point and Moshe tells them to come back in the morning with incense, and G-d will make it known whose argument will prevail.

Korach's argument seems fair enough, do not all Jews have a G-d given soul and body which is equal? How could one claim superiority over the rest? What is the role and purpose of a Jewish leader?

We find answers to these questions in Moshe's asking them to return in the morning when the sun shines. Every person and every good deed has an intrinsic value that is infinite. Sometimes this value is covered up, like a precious gem buried in the ground, covered with dirt. Although its value is the same, it isn't seen and does not shine with the brilliance of a clean and polished stone.

This is where Moshe comes in. As I wrote about last week, a Tzadik has access to the truth behind the Virtual Reality that most of us see. Because of the alignment with their soul and spiritual transparency, their being and actions are luminous and shine like a bright diamond. The Tzadik is G-d's gift to us; allowing us to see the infinite potential we each contain and the bright light we can contribute to the world. A Tzadik does not seek greatness or superiority. A Tzadik walks humbly and works tirelessly to help our souls and actions shine with the greatest light. The Zohar states that there is an extension of Moshe in every generation who carries this role.

This Shabbat, the 3rd of Tammuz, marks the 28th anniversary of passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The Rebbe embodied this daily, during the 43 years of his leadership and in the 28 years since his passing. The Rebbe's impact as a leader of world Jewry has reached all corners of the globe and reverberates with ever increasing energy. From Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to Naomi Campbell and in our local community here in El Cerrito, the light continues to shine. This day is a special time to think about and connect with the Rebbe, and attempt to reveal the gems hidden inside us and those around us.

Shternie Bell


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