The summer after my freshman year in college I worked at Disneyland and an Arby’s Restaurant. At Arby's, because I was 18 years old, I could work the roast beef slicer so I didn't take orders very often. But I got to observe the process frequently. To my disgust, many customers treated my coworkers contemptuously. Too bad I could not quote this Sabbath’s parsha, Pekudei, to them:
“These are the accounting of the Mishkan . . . And Moses erected the Mishkan . . .” (Shemos/Exodus 38:21 and 40:18).
This week’s parsha details Moses’s accounting of the donations collected to construct the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle carried by the Children of Israel in the wilderness, and all of its utensils and the first time he set it up.
So Moses, a paragon among leaders, the man chosen by G-d to take the Israelites out of Egypt, the greatest prophet who ever lived, stoops to bookkeeping and construction. May I be candid for a moment? Surely among a bunch of Jews he could have found at least one person who knew something about accounting. And couldn't some burly youths have set up the planks and thrown tachash hides over them? After all, the parts of the Mishkan weighed a lot!
By handling these chores himself Moses epitomized leadership and exemplified personal growth.
Leaders Welcome Accountability to Thier Followers
Many leaders think that their position entitles them to their followers’ trust. Moses knew a leader earns it by his actions. The Israelites had donated a fortune to build the Mishkan. As chairman of the building committee, Moses saw he must personally account for the contributions. Rather than feel demeaned by answering to his constituents, he felt responsible and acted in accordance.
When G-d ordered Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that the Children of Israel be released from slavery, Moses protested he was not the person for the job. We can sympathize since he had a speech impediment and considered himself a poor communicator.
When it came time to erect the Mishkan, G-d tells Moses what to do and this time he obeys without question. Despite the daunting physical requirements of the task, Moses had faith that G-d would not have assigned him the job were he not capable of completing it.
Finally, note in both cases Moses shows that:
Part of being a good leader is being a good servant and follower
If only the nasty customers had realized there is dignity in service, whether to a fellow human being or the Almighty.
Are there things that are beneath a leaders dignity?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!