As Role Models for the Community

Yael Eckstein  |  July 25, 2022

Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the LORD commands…” — Numbers 30:1

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Matot-Massei, from Numbers 30:2–36:13. Matot means “branches,” and Massei means “journeys.”

With all the turmoil we have experienced in the world over the last few years, I hear many people talking about a crisis of leadership. Here in Israel, we have struggled to keep a government together, which has required new elections over and over again.

Many people I talk to have lost faith in their elected leaders. But despite all the uncertainty and conflict, we must always remember that God is still in charge. He has been with humanity through worse times, and He is faithful.

Against this backdrop of anxiety about war and uncertainty, we must remind ourselves that even if our political leaders are unreliable, God always keeps His word. Just look at what the Jewish people have been through in the past century. We went from the lowest point in our history, on the brink of complete destruction in the Holocaust, to the fulfillment of the biblical prophecies of the ingathering of our people from the four corners of the earth to back to our biblical homeland.

If that doesn’t remind us that God keeps His word, I don’t know what will.

As Role Models for the Community

Still it is important that our leaders keep their word, too, and in this particular instance, it is very clear that as role models for the community, leaders must set the example and set the tone. We see this in how God issues the next command in this week’s Torah portion: “Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: ‘This is what the LORD commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’” (Numbers 30:1-2)

Everywhere else in the Torah, when Moses instructed the people about what God had commanded, the Bible simply states that Moses told the children of Israel. Only here, when introducing the obligation to keep our vows and promises, Moses addressed his words specifically to “the heads of the tribes of Israel.”

The message is as clear as it is relevant to our leaders today. As role models for the community, leaders have a greater responsibility to follow God’s commands. Whether or not leaders keep their promises to the people can lead to either hope or despair for the entire community. Moses wanted the leaders to hear this message first and foremost so they would understand the added importance for those who are in positions of power and influence to keep their promises.

May God bless our leaders with wisdom and integrity to be good role models and to keep their word!

Your Turn:

Take a few moments today to pray for wise and honest leadership in these trying times.

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