A Lesson in Leadership by Moshe Glasser


            In Parshat Beha'alotcha, Bnai Yisrael tried the patience of Hashem again.  Here, they wanted meat, even though they had daily access to the most miraculous and perfect food, manna.  Even though they had been rescued from slavery by Hashem Himself, Whose miracles were far beyond what any human has since witnessed, they complained because they wanted meat!

            The literal translation of the Pasuk (11:4) is that they "desired a desire."  Did they have desires before?  It would seem in this situation that desires would only compound their food problems.

            Moshe seemed exasperated by the people's demands at this point.  "Where will I find meat?" he asked Hashem.  Perhaps Moshe was so far removed from human desires that he could no longer understand those desires or deal with them.  This is evident from Miriam's complaint towards the end of the Parsha that Moshe had separated from his wife Tzipora because his constant duty to Hashem required him to always be pure.  This was seen by Miriam as arrogance, but it shows us that Moshe was far removed from the human level of Bnai Yisrael, even after their witnessing of so many miracles.

            Moshe's inability to see the situation from Bnai Yisrael's point of view could be one of the reasons that the elders were appointed.  The elders were more in touch with the mainstream population of Bnai Yisrael and could therefore identify with their problems.

            Hashem here teaches us a lesson on how to be a leader.  A leader must be in tune with those he leads and be sensitive to their needs and desires.  Even if Hashem does not like those desires, the leader must be understanding.  A leader who is too far removed from the people can never be a great leader.

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