11 May BAMIDBAR- SHAVUOT- JEWISH ROYALTY
A university professor once delivered a speech in front of a group of students, and he asked, “How many people in the room consider themselves leaders?”
Very few students raised their hands. The vast majority were reluctant to describe themselves as “leaders.”
The professor then said, “I’m afraid that you don’t understand what leadership is. I’m going now to tell you what it means to be a leader.”
He proceeded to tell them that several years earlier, he was approached by a woman who was in her senior year at that college. She told him she needed to tell him a story. The night before her first day in college, she was with her parents in a hotel near the university, as she lived far away. She was very nervous about starting college, and she was crying inconsolably, and even vomited out of anxiety. Her parents tried, in vain, to calm her nerves. Finally, they reached a deal. She would go to college the first day, look around and see what it’s like, and if she then decided she couldn’t go through with it, her parents would take her home.
When she arrived on the first day and started getting herself set up, she was overwhelmed. The campus was large and foreign, there were throngs of people she did not know, and she felt very intimidated. As she was waiting on line for something, she decided she would go home. She just couldn’t do it.
“Just then,” she said to the professor, “I saw you.” He was wearing a funny hat and was raising money for a certain cause. Anytime a student donated some money, the professor gave him a lollypop. The professor then walked over to the student standing in line ahead of this girl, have him a lollypop and said, “Hi, why don’t you give this lollypop to the wonderful young woman standing behind you?” And that boy did.
“That changed everything,” the girl told him. “Somehow, that cute little scene made me feel at ease, and I said to myself, ‘I can do it.’ I just wanted to thank you, because the only reason I stuck it out is because of you.” The girl then mentioned that she was dating that student who was standing ahead of her in line, and eventually, they got married.
The professor explained to his audience that leadership is not about exerting power, but about giving. And since everyone has what to give, everyone can and should strive to be a leader.
His point, to a large extent, reflects the Torah’s conception of royalty. From the Torah’s perspective, “royalty” means recognizing that everything one has is undeserved, and is given to him for a purpose, to help and to make a meaningful impact. And so everyone is capable of leadership. As long as we realize that our blessings have been given to us by G-d for a reason, for a purpose, in order to serve others, then we are all leaders.