Ki Tissa - Inspired to Lead

by Rachel Ellis Fried, Age 13

"When I pray, there is a feeling inside of me

of love and serenity, of radiance, and of sparks."
In my parshah, Ki Tissa, Moses as the leader of the Israelites is faced with a dilemma. How does a leader react when his or her followers stray from the direction they are teaching them to follow? At the beginning of my parshah, the Israelites are wandering in the desert following their leader Moses. They have stopped at Mount Sinai, and are about to receive the greatest gift of all time. The tablets which will remind them of G*d’s commandments. Moses goes up onto the mountain, but while he is there, the people decide to build a golden calf as an idol. They sing and dance around eh calf, and worship it as a god. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets, he sees what the people have done. He throws down the tablets, but after he cools down deeds with G*d to forgive the Israelites.

His reaction is a critical point in Jewish history (pause) as well as in the history of mankind.

May be the reason the whole incident of building the golden calf occurred was because the Israelites’ leader, Moses was not with them to keep reminding the people that G*d did exist, that G*d was with them, and that you can not pray to G*d through an idol.

But instead of Moses, Aaron was in charge. And Aaron’s leadership left something to be desired. Aaron was like a baby-sitter or care taker who doesn’t provide a vision, but just bends to the loudest will. A leader will listen to his or her people, educate them, and inspire them with a vision. A baby-sitter will not.

It can be said that the Israelites were a people raised in slavery, with little education. I feel that education is the solution to many worldwide problems,. In this situation, the Israelites needed to be educated by the tables which Moses was to bring down from Mount Sinai. These tablets would explain how the people were to live their lives. If the Israelites understood the laws of G*d and internalized the values in them, they would not need an idol like the golden calf to workshop.

They needed to be educated in the laws that would help us grow into the magnificent people we have become. But it takes a leader to educate and inspire, not a baby-sitter.

Part of leadership comes from understanding the needs of the people, being able to communicate the vision in a way that people can hear and use in their lives, and most importantly, not giving up and abandoning their people when they fail.

For a mother does not give up on her children, a teacher does not give up on her student, and Moses did not give up on the Israelites.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the second set of the 10 commandments, his face was glowing with radiance. And all of the Israelites saw what Moses was feeling internally on the outside. The feeling of being touched by G*d. The god which made a covenant with Abraham, the god who makes miracles happen, the god who is forgiving, and the god who loves all of his people.

I feel touched by God. When I pray, there is a feeling inside of me of love and serenity, of radiance, and of sparks.

I realize that the real challenge of leadership is to find a way to make that inner feeling of radiance and sparks visible to others-like Moses did. Only then can you influence others and make the world a better place. On this day I feel more touched by G*d than ever. When I davenned shacharit this morning, I felt that G*d was truly watching over me. For today I am a Bat Mitzvah. Which manes I now will take on the responsibility to showing others the love for Judaism, and the love for G*d that I have acquired during my life.

It is now that I will begin my long journey to finding out and understanding how to do what I’ve dreamed of doing. Becoming a leader, by what I do and by the example I set. As a leader I have to learn how to make my inner feelings of sparks and radiance visible to others.

Only then will I be able to lead myself and others toward a better world.