What Do Real Leaders Have? Deuteronomy tells us what to do.

In what ways do real leaders differ from pretend ones? The solution is in the book of Deuteronomy.

Jewish researcher and Hebrew scholar Irene Lancaster looks on what Deuteronomy has to say about leadership.

A lot of talk regarding leadership has been prevalent as of late. It’s mind-boggling how quickly the UK political establishment is moving to replace one expelled leader with another.

The former leader of the Soviet Union has just died, aged 91, and has been heralded as the person who saved the Russian people from certain ignominy, as a traitor to the Communist cause, or even akin to Moses, the reluctant Jewish leader who took the Jewish people out of bondage, but did not himself reach the promised land.

We have also just experienced the 50th anniversary of the Munich Massacre of 1972, when Palestinian terrorists slaughtered Israeli athletes and trainers as they slept in their beds, and Germany failed to rescue the day.

Finally, today marks 25 years since Princess Diana tragically passed away. On the same day, my 22-year-old daughter saw a bomber detonate himself in front of an approaching Jerusalem bus, leaving behind a trail of blood and body parts. She rang to say she was ‘OK’ and that is why I remember every last day of August.

It could thus be worthwhile to explore how the Hebrew Bible deals with the subject of leadership. Shoftim (Judges) from Deuteronomy (16:18-21:9) (Devarim, meaning “words”) is the sole place in the Hebrew Bible that addresses the topic of kings.

Otherwise, the Hebrew Bible is significantly more interested with the treatment of the weak and dispossessed, the outsider, the widow and the orphan, and how ‘you’, the average individual, would treat these disadvantaged members of our society.

The Hebrew Bible is unique in the literature of the Ancient Near East in that it addresses the treatment of widows, orphans, and “strangers” from the perspective of the average person, like you and me. Under other words, leadership, although required, is absolutely not adequate in Jewish law and Jewish mythology.

This omission of a command to follow the monarch from the Hebrew Bible is quite odd. Moreover, the monarch’s authority is severely limited. David’s failure is due to his excessive wife-bearing (thus, cementing treaties with other nations). Solomon fails because, despite constructing the First Temple, he acquires many women (representing worldwide political influence), horses (representing weapons of war), and wealth, and he raises taxes on his citizens to pay for it all. How about anyone in particular?

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No, we Jews are not expected to take orders from the “brother” we choose to lead us. Thus, the monarch, who is at best a necessary evil and a sop to human nature, is to be viewed by Gd as an equal. The religious, political, and governmental systems of Judaism are among the most democratic in the world.

This means that the Hebrew Bible does not promote monarchy as the best form of governance, as we have shown. But if the Jewish people, despite the cautions against monarchy, nevertheless desire to conform to the norms of other societies, then so be it. Let them have a king so long as he doesn’t conflate his function with that of the priests, and the priests’ job with that of the judges (the upholders of the law), and the prophets’ role with that of the transmitters of the word of God. The prophet is not like the senior minister, and that much is certain. There will be no “global king” in the line of a Jewish king or queen.

Because Judaism has a very straightforward teaching. People who are prepared to give up everything in the end will obtain everything. Let’s look at the most extreme case to see how this works. Everyone agrees that the prophet Moses, who led our people out of Egypt, is the most significant Jew in history. But not even Moses was without flaws. First, he didn’t consider himself a strong communicator and enlisted his brother Aaron to do the talking for him. But the difficulty with PR people is that they normally seek to win favour, and regrettably, that is what Aaron, for all his excellent abilities, did with respect with the Gold Calf episode (Exodus 32). (Exodus 32).

And when Moses hit the rock to get water for the moaning crowd, he seemed to have lost his cool. God had instructed him to only “talk” to the boulder (Numbers 20). But isn’t it true that people who have trouble communicating often resort to violence? The fact that Moses had to resort to hitting the rock instead of finding another way out is ironic. Therefore, at the conclusion of his life, Moses is denied access to the Land of Promise.

No one knows where Moses was buried, and he can’t even enter the Land of Promise. The greatest Jew of all time, Moses, has passed away. Perhaps it worked out better that way. It seems to reason that if we had known the final resting place of the greatest Jew of all time, his cemetery would have become a shrine, attracting pilgrims and maybe inspiring devotion from those who came to pay their respects. And Moses, who outlawed the worship of any idols, would have become one. Then then, perhaps it was for the best.

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So what does Moses tell the Israelites in his last words before he passes on? This is covered in the Shabbat Torah reading (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9), which is titled Shoftim (Judges).

The first order of business for the Children of Israel upon entering the Land of Promise should be to establish courts of law and to select judges. As the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg properly emphasized: ‘Justice justice should you pursue’ (Deuteronomy 16:20). (Deuteronomy 16:20). Not rulers, but judges, are to be the primary arbiter of Jewish life.

Second, the Israelites shouldn’t build temples or even altars to false gods everywhere they travel. Why? This is due to the fact that erecting religious buildings distracts attention away from doing what is right. Building temples requires manpower, necessitates bringing in foreign materials, and takes attention away from the ordinary good deeds and concern for others that are the hallmark of a just and forgiving society.

In the single place in the Hebrew Bible where the role of the monarch is described, what does Moses teach us about the role of the future rulers of Israel? Moses lays out the monarch’s responsibilities, both good and bad, in Deuteronomy 17:14–20.

Also, it says, “When you enter the Land that the Lord your G-d grants you, and take possession of it, and settle it, [only then] will you declare, ‘I will install over me a ruler.'”

God will pick a person, but it will be a brother rather than an outsider, only after the foundations of society have been laid. That’s right; before God will anoint someone as king, he expects that person to have collaborated with others to lay the groundwork for that rule. This is not a top-down, hierarchical, or one led by a priest monarch. It is crucial to have a wall separating the legislative and executive branches.

Second, the new king should not acquire horses (weapons of war), since doing so would bring the children of Israel back to the Egypt mindset that they have since abandoned. Equally as problematic, he shouldn’t have an excessive number of spouses (with obligations to the nations from which they come). And he shouldn’t hoard a lot of cash because it will just serve as a distraction from his real work.

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If God chooses a Jewish ruler, what duties does he have?

In the sight of the Kohanim and Levites, “he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah in a book.” In other words, the king must always have access to the second copy of the Torah while the first will be stored in the storehouse so that future generations might benefit from the teachings of Moses. These scrolls are meant to serve as a continual reminder to the king that he is the Torah’s servant. Rather of stockpiling cash, he puts his valuable Torah copy in the vault.

So that he may learn to fear the Lord, his G-d, and to observe all the words of this Torah and these decrees, so that he may carry them out; and so that his heart may not become proud in the sight of his brothers; and so that he may not stray from the commandment to the right or to the left; and so that he and his sons may enjoy long life in their kingdom over Israel.

We have seen monarchy and various forms of ultimate authority throughout history, all of which run counter to the Hebrew Bible’s concept of a king. Most forms of absolute rule, whether monarchical or otherwise, exude an air that inspires adoration at the very least.

Whether we’re talking about political leaders like presidents and prime ministers or monarchs like emperors, kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, and duchesses, few have lived up to the standards of the Hebrew Bible. Similarly, many in positions of religious leadership fail to live up to their lofty claims of humility.

The Hebrew Bible teaches that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God, and that experts in different fields should pursue their own goals in the areas of law, prophecy, priesthood, and finally, sovereignty.

But, once again, we should seek guidance from prophets and judges; they are the only ones who have a firm grasp of the law and the knowledge necessary to preserve the world from collapsing beneath their feet. Kingship is seen as a last choice in Jewish thought, but judges and prophets are held in high esteem.

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My Passion for The Gospel bought about this great Platform.. I love to share the Good News. That's my PASSION. I don't believe the Gospel should be boring. Nobelie is so exclusive. You won't find what we offer any where else. You ask a friend.

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