Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Yehudah and a leadership lesson

Parshat VaYeshev
The Torah breaks from the story of selling Yosef to tell us about Yehuda’s “infidelity” with his daughter-in-law Tamar. The Torah begins the story by saying “and Yehudah went down,etc..”. rashi says because he had the power (maybe of all the brothers he was the only one with that power) to prevent the whole altercation with Yosef, and in hindsight they saw how they had made the wrong decision by going through with it (because of how it affected their father Yaakov), so his esteem went down in their eyes and he lost some of his leadership capabilities in their eyes.

I thought about this and realize this is a powerful lesson in leadership for us. A leader can rarely do something so wrong and remain in his capacity, at least with the same respect and leeway. However we see later in VaYigash that Yehudah again retook the reigns of leadership when he put himself on the line for the brothers and confronted Yosef, the viceroy of Egypt. “Vayigash Yehuda”!! he approached Yosef with confidence (kadma V’azla is the trop on those words) and forcefulness.
A leader can sometimes rethink his strategies and his ways and come to terms with them. Yehuda did this (I think) when Tamar confronted him in Beis Din with evidence (and she did it in a wise and subtle manner so as not to embarrass him) and he responded “Tzadka Mimeni” – she is right. Because Yehudah was put in this position, he had an opportunity to rethink and re-evaluate his ways. This could have been the death blow to his leadership (having an embarrassing story like this come out), but he rebounded beautifully and retook the reigns of leadership.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. We cannot let ourselves get down because of a problem we face. We have to re-evaluate and face our problems. By doing that, we can return on top of the world.
This specifically is a good lesson for our political leaders who have faced all sorts of problems and are now not looked upon as worthy leaders. If they would face up to the issues that have dogged them, and in some circumstances rethink their positions and come up with fresh ideas or more correct ideas, they could have themselves re-accepted as our leaders…

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