Accepting, as I do, that the Torah is a factual document, Moses was the greatest leader in world history.
He emancipated his people from slavery and forged them into a nation. He produced on-demand miracles, didn’t lose a battle and, most significantly, provided them with a code of values that lives with their descendants 3,500 years later.
So what made Moses the great leader he was?
In this portion, the Torah starts us off with three that I believe are the absolute fundamentals of great leadership.
They are all in the following verse, but I only have space to talk about one.
‘…and Moses grew up and went out to his brothers and felt their burdens….’ The sages point out that in the previous verse, it said ‘the child grew up’, so this second ‘growing up’ seems redundant. They explain this is not the case.
The first was simply Moses becoming an adult. The second, however, was Moses taking upon himself responsibility.
This only happens if a person chooses. Moses was a man who accepted responsibility wherever he went. And taking responsibility is the first quality of a great leader.
In the eyes of a leader, problems should belong to him. He might consult and involve others, or even delegate to others.
But the problem is his to solve and if he does not, he is the one at fault. As the sign on President Truman’s desk stated: ‘The buck stops here.’
Great leaders take full responsibility when things go wrong. Small leaders blame circumstance and others. I look forward to America’s next Harry Truman.
Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt is founder of Tikun UK