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Lead or Leash?

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And Moses spoke to G-d, saying: “G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who will go before them and come before them, who will take them out and bring them in…”

Numbers 27:15-16

Rabbi Israel Salanter was once asked to explain the Talmudic prediction that in the days before the coming of Moshiach, “The face (i.e., the leadership) of the generation will have the face of a dog.”[19]

Said Rabbi Israel: “Have you ever seen a man and a dog walking? The dog always runs ahead; to the casual observer it seems that it is the leader. But every now and then the dog turns around to see where his master wants to go, and changes direction accordingly.

“Today, our world abounds with such ‘leaders.’ But a true leader is not one who merely ‘goes and comes before the people,’ while looking over his shoulder to see if they are still following him. He is also the one who ‘takes them out and brings them in’ – who leads them where he knows they must go.”

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber


[19] Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a.

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