Devarim 5769: Seeking and Bringing True Jewish Leadership and it’s Applications


by Moshe Burt

A number of years ago, Rav Aba Wagensberg spoke out in a shiur that Sefer Devarim represents Moshe Rabbeinu’s Mussar to B’nai Yisrael as the time of his death drew near.

He explained that near the end of Sefer BaMidbar, we began to see indications, via the story of Zelafchad’s daughters, Reuven and Gad’s desire to settle east of the Jordan, etc., that the B’nai Yisrael finally desired to accept Moshe Rabbeinu’s teachings and his Mussar which was meant to bring about the perfection of the Jewish people in emulation of the ways of Hashem as they were about to enter Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Wagensberg gave over a thought that the B’nai Yisrael, after all of the rebellions, all of the contention, all of the failures which the rebellions and contention wrought, finally came to the collective, unequivocal realization that Moshe Rabbeinu was Hashem’s annointed — the undisputed leader and that his words are the words of Hashem.

This point seems to indicate that a Jewish leader, a Godol HaD’or is only as effective as his people’s unity with, recognition of and desire for the application of his leadership; that Jewish leadership flows from a unified people actively seeking the Godol’s leadership rather than expedience, band-aids and political goaltenders. In other words, contrary to a Nixonian economic concept; the “trickle-down theory,” effective, righteous Jewish leadership evolves upward, the “trickle-up theory” where the Am actively recognizes, endorses and seeks and encourages the Godol’s leadership and it’s application thereof.

He spoke further about the sequence of donning and removing tefillin’s shel yad and shel rosh where the shel yad is donned first before the shel rosh and the shel rosh is removed first and only afterwords the shel yad, equating the tefillin sequence with a person’s active learning of Jewish law (Halacha) and Jewish history and then learning Mussar concerning the practical, day-to-day real-time, real-life applications of what has been learned.

But in our times when there seems not to be a singular leader of B’nai Yisrael of caliber and note. The B’nai Yisrael, in doing battle with the Gezeira rah, must each become his own leader. Or as the Gemara reads, “Where there are no men, be a man.” And that was the spirit with which the outlawed game Revava was created. Chaval that we didn’t or wouldn’t activate it’s rationale and its strategies in the weeks before the expulsion of our brethren from Gush Katif.

Every believing Jew, Whatever his level, must take on his own leadership mantle within the body of B’nai Yisrael, with righteousness, but without the contentiousness of a million generals.

Every Jew, every Israeli must look deep within himself and come to true, consistent answers as to why he’s here, why there is a divine legacy to the Jews of Eretz Yisrael and how he relates to the murderous hatred of ALL Jews equally (religious and secular) by the Arab, Islamic nation. This murderous hate defies analysis, rationalization or attempts to remediate by way of misread (as weakliness) Israeli misguided, misdirected kindness, morality and desire for peace.

Every Jew, as his own leader, if he thinks deeply enough, must come to the inescapable conclusion that the Arab’s irrational lust for death to the Jew and destruction of the State of Israel emanates from Shemayim, as a form of what’s written in Parsha Toldos.

In Parsha Toldos, Yaakov Aveinu, in his remaining Bracha for Eisev said;

“…your brother you shall serve; yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40)

Rabbi Artscroll renders Rashi;

“When you are aggrieved” as meaning; “If Israel ever transgresses Torah, and is thus underserving of dominion, you will have a right to be aggrieved that he has taken your blessing and you may cast off his yoke from your neck.” (Artscroll, Stone Chumash page 141: Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 40)

The Chumash explanation of the posuk concludes in this way:

“This is in consonance with the prophecy given to Rifka while she was pregnant: Her two sons would not be able to coexist; when one ascended, the other would decline.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 25, posuk 23, as rendered in Stone Chumash, page 141)

And finally, the Jews, whatever their level of emunah and observance, must of necessity come together, as the masses of the modern-day medinat Israel once were as when they fought the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War or when Israeli soldiers rescued the 100 hi-jacked Entebbe hostages. They must again shed or subvert their sectorial disputes and jealousies in the interest of unity and toward the larger national interest of seeking and bringing to power a true Jewish Leadership, rather than falling prey to divide-and-conquer, monetarily and morally corrupt, self-interested, self-enriching, teflon/etrog governance.

But maybe, that genuine Jewish leader, the true Godol HaD’or, the Torah-true head of state is out there, obscured, hidden and waiting for the people to bring about the proper climate for his leadership. The proper climate can seemingly only come about through the deconstruction of the cancerous rot which is modern-day medinat Yisrael’s governance which encompasses entrenched minsterial institutions and university faculties, its courts and justice system, its media and bureaucracies. And let us not forget about the consolidation of wealth within the hands of a relative handful of families who control Israel’s financial standing. The reality seemingly is that without eradication of the cancerous rot that is Israel’s current institutions, even the evolvement of true Jewish leadership is subject to the slippery-slide of political compromise and/or attacks by these entrenched institutions which would whittle down the credibility of and eventually doom any attempt to invoke Torah values. We were seemingly witness to the perfect example of this slippery-slide when Menachem Begin, the closest of any prime minister of modern-day Israel to possessing these values, was ultimately unable to lead with any Torah integrity due to the pressure of subversion by the entrenched ministerial, institutional, political and media rot.

B’Ezrat Hashem, as we pray and hope for each year, that this Tisha B’av FINALLY be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and be returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.