Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Image is Everything or What Makes a Leader- Ben Zion Netanyahu, z"l

This week Jews around the world will be reading Achrei Mot/Kedoshim on Shabbat.  The parasha begins Achrei mot shnei b'nei Aharon, after the death of the two sons of Aaron.  what follows is instruction on how Aaron is to approach God and serve the people Israel.  Aaron's sons died in parashat Shemini, three parshiyot prior.  At no time do we get a glimpse of Aaron's (or Elisheva's, Aaron's wife, or their uncle Moshe's) reaction.  As leaders in the community, and our immediate conduit to God, they are expected to put on a stiff upper lip and be always in control.

Contrast this with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reaction to his father's death on Monday. A great historian and Zionist who made aliyah with his parents at age 10.  He became a follower of and aide to Ze'ev Jabotinsky.  Ben Zion Netanyahu cared deeply about his family, both his personal family, Tzila z"l, his wife who passed away in 2000, and his sons, Yoni z"l, Benjamin, and Ido, and the greater Jewish community.

V'nifkadita ki yipakeid moshavecha, you will be missed because your seat is empty.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke movingly of his father and the impact his father continued to have on him throughout his life.  He shared memories, personal and national. The Prime Minister's love and pain can be felt in his words.

Even more telling perhaps, are the pictures: Prime Minister Netanyahu in a short-sleeved shirt and slacks supporting his father last summer, A choked-up PM Netanyahu standing by his father's graveside, and a picture of PM Netanyahu with his son Yair, all the pain of loss on the PM's face and Yair's hand on his father's shoulder as they lean into each other, heads touching, sharing the moment and the emotion.

This year in the Diaspora Achrei Mot is a doubled parasha reading with Kedoshim.  Together they are to teach us how to be holy.  PM Netanyahu shows us, by sharing his own pain, that it is not only to our leaders of old that we should look for instruction, but to our leaders of today.

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