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Parshas Shemos - What Makes A Leader

By BJLife/Rabbi Binyamin Zedner

Posted on 01/04/18

L’iluy nishmas my rebbi, Harav Asher Zelig Rubenstein, Zt’’l


“And it was in those days and Moshe grew up and he went out to his brothers, and he saw their suffering “


Rashi adds on that Moshe made a special effort that his eyes should see and his heart should feel the suffering of the children of Israel. Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz used to say that sight is the means through which you are able to feel for another person. Only by seeing can a person have a strong degree of empathy for the suffering of others. Just a plain seeing alone is not sufficient. Rather a person needs to make a “special effort” to observe carefully. When a person observes carefully, he will be able to feel for another person from the depths of his heart.


This is the reason why the sages said that a blind person is considered as if he were dead, said the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir. Without being able to see, one cannot feel for another person. He is as if he were alone in the world. When a person is alone, there is an aspect of not being fully alive.


This attribute of becoming more sensitive to the suffering of other people is a basic trait to develop. Make an effort to truly “see” people. Some people are experts at seeing the faults of others. When one works on seeing the suffering of others, one’s focus is on helping them. This prevents seeing the negative, and leads to many acts of kindness. This was the trait of Moshe and it is incumbent upon us to use this as a model for our own behavior.


There is a midrash which says that when Moshe was a shepherd one of the sheep ran away from him. He ran after it and found it at a pool of water and drinking. On seeing this Moshe said if I would have known of your need to drink I would have carried you rather than tire you by chasing after you. Hashem declared if this is how you acted with rachamim towards your animal all the more so you will do for your bothers. This is why he became the leader of bnai yisroel.


The yartzeit of my rebbi, Rav Asher Zelig Rubenstein zt”l, is coming up next week. He was a person who possessed this trait of “seeing” that we find in Moshe. He had the rachemim to be that leader, as well.


I would like to share with you a story. Once, while in yeshiva, I had a tooth problem. The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l saw me and told me that he wanted to tell me something in his office. So he brought me into his office and said to me, “You need to see a dentist in order to learn well. Go have the problem fixed, and I will give you the money for it as well.” There are many other similar stories to tell, but this was who our Rosh Yeshiva was.


We need to bring into our lives these two middos mentioned in the vort regarding Moshe and demonstrated in this story as well. Remembering the middos of our leaders will help us to truly “see” others and show them rachamim.