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The Fellowship  |  February 20, 2020

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Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. — Esther 10:3

As we remember the anniversary of Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s passing this month, we offer you a selection of his devotional thoughts on leadership. Learn how you can honor Rabbi Eckstein’s lifework and legacy through our Wings of Eagles ministry.

The date was chosen. The fate of the Jews and their leader Mordecai was sealed. Even King Xerxes had consented to the plan to exterminate a minority in his own kingdom that extended to 127 provinces. As the clock ticked and the date got closer, Mordecai and Esther took action.

Mordecai was like the quarterback calling the plays and orchestrating the situation in order to save his people from the clutches of evil. In the end, he and Esther were successful. He was the hero and she the heroine. The Jews were saved and were even given an opportunity to punish their enemies.

With all that said, it’s more than surprising when the book of Esther concludes by telling us that Mordecai was held in high esteem by many of his fellow Jews. Many, but not all. After all that had happened, there were still people who weren’t Mordecai’s fans.

What was wrong with those people? Didn’t they know what Mordecai had done to save their lives? How was it possible that there were still people who did not hold Mordecai in the highest esteem?

The truth is that to anyone who has been in a position of significant leadership this isn’t a question at all. When you are a leader it is impossible to please everyone. There will always be those who believe that they can do better and they will make it known to whomever will listen.

Leaders have to make decisions that are wise, not popular. A leader who no one likes won’t have much of a following, but a leader who everyone likes probably isn’t really leading at all, either. There always needs to be a delicate balance between being sensitive to the feelings of others and doing what is best, even if unpopular. Mordecai got the balance right, and the fact that most people – but not all –loved him is the greatest tribute to his success.

Whether you are a leader out in public or just in your own private life, you too will have to make unpopular decisions. Like it or not, it’s impossible to make everyone happy all of the time. There is one person’s opinion that counts more than any other’s and that person is YOU! If there are a few people who don’t like you as a result, there is a pretty good chance that you have chosen right!

You can honor the lifework and legacy of Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein by participating in the Rabbi Eckstein Memorial Freedom Flight, bringing Jews from Ukraine and countries of distress home to Israel.