middot humility torah leadership to live by

leadership to live by

Written by  rav rafael

art-crown-of-patienceNow this man Moses was exceedingly humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth. (Num. 12:3)

This verse appears in the context one of Moses' most difficult trials, a rebellion of sorts by his brother and sister.  From Exodus through Deuteronomy we experience the revelation of Hashem through the story of a humble leader and the Children of Israel.  The Torah narrative points out explicitly the trait of humility that Moses possessed.  Why is this trait so important for spiritual leadership within communities?

Humble leaders are hard to come by.  The political systems of our world are not set up for the success of such people.  We know that Moses was not put in his position through some human electoral process, but was appointed by Hashem because of a calling and his quality of character.  So why is it so important for the human voice of Torah in the wilderness to possess anavah, the trait of humility? 

“All virtues and duties are dependent on humility,” Duties of the Heart, Rabbi Bachya Ibn Pakuda

As the leader of a brand-new nation, Moses needed to live out the Torah he was conveying to the people.  The entirety of his character needed to exemplify the application of God’s framework for the Children of Israel.  This must be rooted in the one middah: humility.  All other middot rest upon a balanced sense of humility.  As a leader, Moses couldn’t be so humble as to let others walk all over him or cause him to cave to their egos and unrighteous desires. On the other hand, he could not let the strength of his ego overwhelm the self-identity of his followers.  Moses’ humility was a humility of balance.  The key element of this balance was that his allegiance was solely to Hashem and not to building up his own name. 

Moses modeled his leadership on devoted service to the people.  Operating as the King of Israel, he was constantly occupied with how best to serve the people and bring them closer to their Creator, rather than building up his own self interests within the kingdom.  Through all of this, Moses’ humility allowed him to make an honest assessment of his own character strengths and weaknesses.  From this, he learned and grew to be the humble leader of his people.

Our Sages teach us that the prototype for the future Mashiach (Messiah) is Moses.  Moses was willing to give up his very essence and being for the sake of saving the people after the incident of the Golden Calf.  This dedication to the people and the Torah serves as the foundation for the kingship of Israel.   Selfless sacrifice for the unity and sanctity of the people was what defined Moses, and what defines the living legacy of Messiah Yeshua.  Both gave up greatness to magnify all of Israel.  This is leadership to live by.

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