FOUR FACETS OF LEADERSHIP
Moses enjoyed a privilege above all other prophets and sages in our history: G-d spoke directly to him. Although Moses’ name is absent from this week’s parsha, the reading begins with G-d addressing him personally as ve’atah tetzaveh, “and you shall command” with the pronoun atah, ‘you’, standing alone as a separate word for emphasis, rather than just being incorporated into the usual verbal form tetzaveh, ‘you shall command.’
The Zohar on this week’s sidra points out that this peculiarity is employed three times more in our readings of the Tabernacle. In chapter 28:1, we read ve’atah hakrev elecha, ‘and you shall draw near to you.’ In chapter 28:3, we find ve’atah tedaber, ‘and you shall speak’ and finally, in chapter 30:23 of next week’s sidra, ve’atah kach lecha, ‘and you shall take for yourself.’
Four verses, then, with ve’atah: ve’atah tetzaveh, “and you shall command; ve’atah hakrev elecha, ‘and you shall draw near to you; ve’atah tedaber, ‘and you shall speak’; ve’atah kach lecha, ‘and you shall take for yourself.’
These phrases demonstrate the different types of role that Moses was required to exercise when fulfilling his role as leader. Indeed, they can be seen to be roles that apply to any leader. There are occasions when what is necessary is ve’atah tetzaveh, ‘you shall command’. A leader, fundamentally, is one who is entitled to give orders. He must, at times, be the Commander-in-Chief, issuing instructions for the benefit of his people.
Yet a Jewish leader cannot be a dictator, ruling only by fiat and decree. His role has to include ve’atah hakrev elecha, ‘and you shall draw close to you.’ It is vital that he is able to connect to his people, to gain their support. He must be able not only to command but also to be approachable. His ability to draw people into his confidence and to reach out with warmth is a crucial part of his role.
At other times a key part of his function will be simply to address his people. This is no mean task. He needs to be able to express his message with clarity and conviction. Ve’atah tedaber, ‘and you shall speak’ is the dimension of leadership that demands the ability of hasbarah, effective communication.
Finally, there will be the occasions when what is required is ve’atah kach lecha, ‘you shall take for yourself.’ There will be times when the leader cannot delegate. The task will be to take personal control of the situation and become directly involved.
Four facets, then, of leadership, derived from G-d’s direct speech to Moses: to command, to connect, to communicate and to control.
The true challenge of a great leader is when to apply which role. When to order and when to bond. When to talk and when to shut up and get your hands dirty!