Hallmark of a Great Leader

Yael Eckstein  |  February 21, 2023

Engraving of Moses with his arms up and God above him.
(Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Ivan Burmistrov)

Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. —Exodus 27:20

This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.

I’ll never forget the first time my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, had me speak to a group of Christians. I was not an experienced public speaker and didn’t believe I could do it. He told me to trust God and know that the right words would come out. That experience was a life-changer. From that day forward, my confidence in myself — and my trust in God to show me the way — has only grown.

In that one moment, my father built me up by allowing me to grow. And it wasn’t just with me because I was his daughter. My father was only able to build a large and successful organization like the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews by giving others an opportunity to shine.

Hallmark of a Great Leader

This message is hinted at in the Book of Exodus. We read, “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.” What’s unique about this verse is not what’s written in it, but what’s missing. Let me explain.

From the birth of Moses until the end of Deuteronomy, Moses’ name is mentioned in every Torah portion. This is especially true when it comes to God’s commandments. But this verse and the more than two chapters that follow it and are included in this Torah portion do not include Moses’ name. Not even once!

As the Jewish sages explain, these chapters are all about Aaron’s appointment as the High Priest and the duties of his descendants. Because this section of the Torah is all about Aaron’s role, Moses, in his great humility, understood that this was Aaron’s time to shine. So, unlike every other chapter containing God’s commandments in the Torah, Moses’ own name does not appear.

The Bible states that Moses was the humblest man of all (Numbers 12:3). And he was also the greatest leader of Israel, the role model for all leaders for all time. Humility and leadership may not seem to go together — particularly in today’s world.

But true humility is being able to move aside peacefully and joyfully so others can have their moment. This is also the hallmark of any great leader. A good leader can lead the way. However, a great leader can empower others so that they can forge paths of their own.

Your Turn:

Who can you empower today? Give a child a grown-up task. Ask advice from someone that people usually ignore. Find ways to give people their moment to shine.

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