July 22, 2024
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Emor 5775: Servant Leadership

The description of the daily Temple service tradition teaches that the kohen on duty in the morning would cleanse the oil cups for the menorah, refill them, add in new wicks, and light them. When the Jewish people merited a miracle, one of the lamps would never extinguish and the kohen would remove it, clean the cup, add new oil, and return the still-lit flame.

What stands out here, beyond the miracle, is that each morning, a priest would literally roll up his sleeves. No page or intern touched the menorah. Nor was it contracted out to a service. A caretaker was not hired.

The kohen, part of the tribe of Levi, and as close to aristocracy as Jewish tradition ever got, literally got his hands dirty each day as part of his official duties as steward in the House of the Lord.

While this is no way to run a modern government, with trillion dollar budgets and responsibility for so much, the lesson is still a good one. Leaders don’t just get to stand at the podium or sit on the dais. Leaders work to get things done.

Words to consider. Ideas to ponder. Politics and the parsha.

Howie Beigelman works at the intersection of nonprofit advocacy and Jewish communal affairs. Follow him on Twitter @howielb.

 

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