Monday, May 10, 2010

Who is Fit to Lead?

Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk, zt”l, was anxious that his son Rav Eliezer, zt”l, succeed him in leading his chassidim. But of course this could never be like the mere dynasty of a king who bequeaths the kingship to his son no matter the worthiness of his scion. The chassidim needed an exceptional guide who did his utmost to perfect himself and continue ascending in avodas Hashem. In order to ensure that his son was not resting on his impressive laurels, Rav Elimelech would give him mussar every so often to galvanize him to further efforts. “Our sages teach that when Moshe and Aharon would walk in front of the nation, Nadav and Avihu would follow them. Nadav said to Avihu, ‘When will these old-timers die and you and I will lead the generation?’”
Rav Elimelech explained, “Know my son that Nadav and Avihu were very great tzaddikim. But even so, they would wonder from time to time whether they were really on the level for the job of leading the nation. This is the meaning of their strange words. Nadav asked ‘When?’ When will we make a real cheshbon hanefesh? ‘These two elders will eventually die and it will be up to us to shoulder the burden of leading the generation.’ It is our task to continually make a cheshbon hanefesh whether we are worthy of taking their place...’”
Rav Elimelech sighed and concluded in a very moving matter. “The younger generation always feel worthy of filling in the shoes of their elders. In truth they need to work hard to much improve themselves in holiness and purity. They do this by following the ways of their elders and delving deeply in Torah and avodah. It is only in this manner that one can possibly be fitting to lead.”

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