The Anatomy of a Leader

Leadership is so important and there is an abundance of literature and coursework on the topic. Leaders are often held to a different standard, being that they are so often in the public eye. Leaders are looked to for inspiration, direction, and to set the tone for their organizations. Yet, beneath layers of leadership exists a person like every other who has a uniqueness and individuality that is at the core. When we think and consider our leaders, do we see them only as leaders, or as distinct people who serve as  leaders?

Parshat Naso begins with the accounting of the Levites:

Bamidbar Chapter 4:1-2

וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר יְוָ֔ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לֵאמֹֽר׃ נָשֹׂ֗א אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ בְּנֵ֣י קְהָ֔ת מִתּ֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י לֵוִ֑י לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לְבֵ֥ית אֲבֹתָֽם׃

G-d spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: Take a [separate] census of the Kohathites among the Levites, by the clans of their ancestral house.


However, in the previous Parsha that we read before Shavuot the Torah already counts the Levites. See here:

Bamidbar 3:13-15

וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּמִדְבַּ֥ר סִינַ֖י לֵאמֹֽר׃פְּקֹד֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י לֵוִ֔י לְבֵ֥ית אֲבֹתָ֖ם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם כׇּל־זָכָ֛ר מִבֶּן־חֹ֥דֶשׁ וָמַ֖עְלָה תִּפְקְדֵֽם׃ 

G-d spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying: Record the descendants of Levi by ancestral house and by clan; record every male among them from the age of one month up.

Why the recount? Additionally, in the first count the Levites were counted from the age of one month old, and the second count is from the age of thirty. What is the reason for this?

The answer is that the first count addresses the Levites themselves unrelated to their leadership positions reflecting their own personal sanctity and goodness. The second counting lists their responsibilities and how they served the nation of Israel.

It is fitting that our Parsha this week begins with a listing of the Levites and their leadership because prior to the start of this Shabbat, our community is paying tribute to the CEO and leader of our Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, Jennifer Dubrow Weiss.

Jen has served as CEO for 10 years in addition to 20 years at JFCS before that. Her accomplishments speak for themselves, as you can read about in this recent article in the Jewish Community Voice.

However, just as by the counting of the Levites the Torah accounts separately for their professional responsibilities and their personal greatness, so too we must recognize that underneath the layers of professional leadership rests an energetic caring and sensitive daughter, wife, mother, sister. and friend who has a truly large heart who is worth celebrating for that alone.

So, Mazel Tov Jen and the entire community. May Hashem grant you health and the strength to continue building and enriching our community for many years to come.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Epstein
Community Scholar in Residence