This week's parsha
In the process of the Tabernacle's inaugural, the Torah describes an interesting scene: The time had arrived for the newly appointed high priest, Aaron, to bring his first offering to G‑d -- but he stood on the side, reluctant to assume his duties.
His brother, Moses, came over to him and said: "Aaron! Why are you fearful? L'kach nivcharta -- you were chosen for this!"
The holy Baal Shem Tov, founder of the chassidic movement, took these two words, "l'kach nivcharta," and shined a deeper light into them:
It was at that moment, when Moses saw his brother Aaron's hesitation to accept the highest position, that he finally understood why his brother was chosen. L'kach nivcharta -- it is for this – i.e., because of your humility and fear of heaven – that you were chosen. It was precisely because Aaron did not seek power or prestige that he was chosen to be high priest.
Now try telling that to our wannabee politicians… "I'm the best for the job!" "My experience demonstrates that I can tackle any issue!" "You can have 100% confidence in my ability to weather any storm…" Where's the realization of – and hence apprehension in the face of – the responsibility that leadership requires?
Isn't it ironic that while we are bombarded by speech after speech from self-idolizing hopefuls, polls show that 75% of Americans believe that there is a glaring lack of leadership in our country?
Rabbi Sholom DovBer, the fifth rebbe in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, once advised one of his chassidim to become a shochet (ritual slaughterer). The chassid was reluctant: "But Rebbe, I'm afraid! It's a huge responsibility!" (Due to the immense responsibility involved, the job of shochet is traditionally reserved for individuals of outstanding piety and integrity.)
The Rebbe smiled, and said: "Who then should I appoint as a shochet? Someone who is not afraid?"
Of course one must have the skills to execute the tasks that leadership demands, but humility and sterling character constitute the meat of the soup.
The world would be a much better place if the politico wannabees took this lesson to heart, don't you think?