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A Bisl Torah – Leading by Empowering

Often, we don’t realize our worth or leadership potential until someone surprises us, “You are the one needed for this moment.”
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February 29, 2024
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The golden calf story bothers me. After escaping Egypt and the fiery vengeance of Pharaoh, the children of Israel are close to receiving God’s written instructions. Moses leaves the group to embark on this divine mission, only to return to find a scene of pure chaos. I don’t blame the recently freed Hebrew slaves. Before heading to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, Moses and Aaron should have engaged in a vital conversation.

In full detail, God tells Moses to anoint Aaron and the priests. A pretty involved ritual. But God doesn’t tell Moses to anoint Aaron as a leader in his stead. That when Moses is absent, Aaron must see himself as the one gathering, comforting, admonishing and encouraging the people of Israel. With Moses gone, Aaron’s role collapses and he doesn’t condemn the debauchery occurring before him.

Ki Tisa (the name of the Torah portion) is translated, “When you elevate.” The beginning of the parsha speaks about the census, each person being counted as individual contributors. However, Aaron doesn’t receive his own pep talk. A moment when Moses should have pulled him to the side, reminding him of his greatness and commitment to God and the Jewish people. Often, we don’t realize our worth or leadership potential until someone surprises us, “You are the one needed for this moment.”

There is leading by example. This is leading by empowering. Moses missed his chance with Aaron. Perhaps the Torah gives us this story so we don’t make the same mistake.

Shabbat shalom


Rabbi Nicole Guzik is senior rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.

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