Yisro: Everybody's a Leader
I came home today from the kollel with interesting news. My three middle kids received an invitation to Yerushaliyim for Shabbos! That leaves us with my 16 year-old daughter, 6 year-old son, and soon-to-be six month-old smooshball.
My daughter is down with Covid, and over the past three weeks, I, my wife, my son, and my other daughter have all been down, one after another. So, this should be a nice break having the house emptied out for two days.
It'll be very quiet... and hopefully, very relaxing.
A few years ago, an American rabbi, who was a high-school teacher in America, decided to join the political party called Meretz. For those who are not familiar with Meretz, they are a left-wing party that is quite openly anti-Torah. We're not talking about a Labor party, which is also left-wing, we're taking about a party whose raison d'etre is to attack Torah institutions. So, it's no surprise that this caused a bit of an uproar. Here you have a high-school teacher thinking he knows what's best for the Jewish nation, and joins the enemy to "help us out."
One of his reasonings for supporting cutting funding to yeshivos was a famous dictum: "A thousand students enter the Bais Medrash and only one goes out to hora’ah” (to become a Torah authority). So, in his eyes, only the brightest and the best should be allowed to continue yeshiva studies long-term, and the rest of us should not be given such a chance. After all, since we're bound to "fail," we're not worth the money spent.
This week's parsha discusses this idea a bit. We see at the beginning of the parsha that Moshe was single-handedly dealing with all cases and teaching Torah to the masses. Yisro, his father-in-law, saw this and told him that he will wear himself down and wear the people down. He needs to find "leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, and leaders of tens…" and anything which is too difficult for each leader to handle, he will send it "up" to the higher leader.
While it's true not everybody is destined to be the leader of the Jewish people, or even leaders of large communities, each person CAN be a leader on some level. Of course, in order to do so, he needs to educate himself as much as possible.
There is somebody here with whom I am friendly. Wonderful person. He does not exactly fit the standard Israeli "ultra-Orthodox" way of life. After yeshiva and a little kollel, he did his army service as a "kashrus rav," keeping his eye on the kitchens of a few nearby bases. After a while, he left and became an independent mortgage broker. Around a month ago, he was asked to start a Daf Yomi class (one page of Gemara each and every day). When is this class going to take place? Simple! Before the "neitz" minyan--the minyan that starts every morning 30 minutes before sunrise. So, before THAT, he will be giving this class. I personally think he and his cohorts are nuts, but that's just me.
So, here you have somebody who is not considered a talmid chacham, who works full-time, being a "leader of tens." Sure, it's not as "glamorous" as the leader of hundreds or the leader of thousands, but let's be honest, how many of us can make sure we learn, prepare, and understand a page of Gemara each and every day, without any breaks, and know it well enough to deliver a class at any time between 4-5 a.m., while holding down a full-time job? Perhaps, it's not glamorous in this world, but in the next world? Such a thing is priceless.
We can go even "more simple" than that. What about parents? They too are leaders. In most cases, they are not leaders of "tens" (though after grandchildren, who knows), but they are certainly leaders. They are solely responsible for the future of their children, and ultimately, their children's children.
So, while most of us will not be the future leaders of "thousands," we certainly have the opportunity to be the leaders of the Jewish people, each according to their level. And the more we learn and the more we improve ourselves, with Hashem's help, the more successful we are bound to be.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!