Parashat Hashavua for Sh'mini - Leadership in times of crisis
“Fire came forth from before the Eternal and consumed the burnt offering and the fat parts on the altar. And all the people saw, and shouted, and fell on their faces. Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before the Eternal alien fire, which He had not enjoined upon them. And fire came forth from the Eternal and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of the Eternal.” (Leviticus 9:23-10:2) In times of global crisis, each and every one of us is called to take leadership to be pro-active and to practice our values. Parashat Sh’mini offers us an insight to some of Moshe’s leadership qualities dealing with a crisis. At a sublime moment of the first ritual, at the tent of meeting, Moshe and Aaron are confronted with both a personal and a public crisis. Two of Aaron sons are killed and consumed by the holy fire in front of the whole young nation.
Moshe’s response to Aaron is short and decisive: “This is what the Eternal meant when saying ‘Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, and gain glory before all the people.’” And Aaron was silent.
His first response is to offer Aaron emotional support. The second is to provide short and clear instructions to the other brothers to remove the bodies, giving them a short and detailed explanation as to how to treat them and where to bury them, and lastly explains what to do upon their return and how to proceed with the ritual.
In the current state of the world, many feel that they have lost control over their lives; that the world they know has disappeared in a blink. In our Parasha, Moshe’s response is quick, without any delay. It is sharp and decisive and it is public. We can all do the same. Make yourselves a daily task list: short, clear and manageable, including: Who do I call today, what projects am I engaging, which book do I read, what knowledge or experiences do I share with others? Ask yourself who needs my support today to make the leap from reacting to the new reality, to responding to the changing circumstances and taking back control over their lives.
Leaders comes in many forms and styles. Today, more than ever before, we have the opportunity to show leadership in small, regular, constant acts of lovingkindness. Let’s not miss it, for our sake and for heaven’s sake.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.