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    Three-point agenda of spiritual leadership – Yitro

    Moses & Jethro, by James Tissot

    Moses gave his father-in-law Jethro an account of what he did as leader of the Israelites: “The people come to me to seek God; when they have a matter in dispute, they come to me and I judge between one and another, and I make them aware of the statutes of God and His laws” (Ex. 18:16-17).

    The Ramban (Nachmanides) explains that this verse encapsulates the tasks of a spiritual leader.

    He must pray for everyone who is in difficulty (“the people come to me to seek God”). He must promote peace in the community (“I judge between one and another”). He must teach the people Torah (“I make them aware of the statutes of God and His laws”).

    The role of the rabbi encompasses all three tasks – helping human beings, creating understanding and dialogue, and teaching the Torah.

    But the emphasis varies between one rabbi and another, and no two rabbis are identical.

    It sometimes happen that communities compare rabbis and wonder why their rabbi is not like the rabbi of a different community – maybe more approachable, more spiritual, more intellectual, more charismatic – but they all have their strengths and their weaknesses.

    So do the communities themselves. Rabbis compare communities just as communities compare rabbis; and though the rabbi’s own community may be a disappointment in some ways, the rabbi who can only see the bad points has quite a problem with his eyesight.

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