Parshas Shemos 2018: The Unassuming Leader
Moshe Rabbeinu would have been a very unlikely pick for a leader of over 600,000 people.
Moshe was a man who was exiled from his land with no family and no home. It seemed he would be living as a fugitive his whole life in the desert of Midian. Yet, Hashem picked him to redeem the nation. As it says, “So now come, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and take My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." (Shemos 3: 10)
Why? What was so special about Moshe?
To answer this, we need to understand what it takes to be a leader then, we can appreciate why Moshe was perfect for the job.
Traditionally, a (great) leader is an individual who inspires others to move in the same direction for a specific cause. He is highly principled and committed and he inspires others in a way that is pervasive. Naturally, others tend to have confidence in him and believe in him.
In a time of crisis, he will to step up and face the challenge. Some of the greatest leaders are forged in a moment of crisis. Sometimes, they were never viewed as leaders before. They had all the makings of a leader but people never looked at them in that way. Then when the heat is turned up, while other people are falling apart, these individuals rise and take their leadership roles.
Everybody recognizes a leader. Anyone can see the qualities in a leader and while they may be difficult to define they are not difficult to recognize.
Moshe Rabbeinu was all that and more.
Moshe tended to his sheep like no one else. He had a unique sensitivity for each animal. If even one sheep strayed or ran off, he would chase it down and bring it back into the flock. The needs of a little sheep took priority over his own needs. Moshe would travel quite a distance to graze and water the flock in the wilderness, (no man’s land), rather than allowing the animals to graze from another person’s field. He cared for everyone.
Additionally, he saw the burning bush, it was there for people to see but only he saw it because he wanted to see it. He cared. He took note of things that others didn’t think twice about. To him a bush on fire that was not being consumed was something that needed attention. These examples also illustrate his deep and genuine humility.
Not only did he possess leadership qualities, but most importantly he was completely dedicated in serving Hashem. This trait above all, qualified him as Hashem’s number one pick.
In ancient Egypt the leaders were the most elite, powerful, and excessive. Moshe grew up in this setting. Yet he was far from a power-hungry, big shot. Hence, people didn’t all flock to him right away because to them he wasn’t an obvious “leader”. However, Moshe went from overseeing his sheep, to corralling an entire nation with the utmost level of dedication.
That’s why Moshe was chosen. He could put Hashem before himself and he could put his people before himself. This character trait was the was the bedrock for him being a successful leader even with his unassuming status.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters