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The Most Powerful Person, the Most Powerless Person

Who is the Greater Servant – the King or His Subject? A Meditation on the Essence of Leadership

48 min

Class Summary:

"A Talmudic story about Rabbi Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua on a boat conveys the essence of leadership from a Jewish perspective. " "King Rechavam was the son of perhaps the most popular king in Jewish history, King Solomon, yet the majority of the nation rebelled against him leading to the fragmentation of the kingdom, and the establishment of a rival kingdom. In this class we will analyze the events leading up to this fateful split, and discover from the words of Rechavam his tragic mistake in his understanding Jewish leadership, and conversely, what constitutes ideal Jewish leadership and kingship." "Who is the greater servant – the king or his subject? This is the great struggle of every person in a position of leadership. "

Please leave your comment below!

  • KK

    Kayo Kaneko -10 years ago

    Mele


    B"H



    I just realized my husband- will-be is like a king you discussed. He is really a chasid, deserves ira shamaim. Yet, becasue of his humble selflessness, he camouflages it. 

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  • Q

    question -12 years ago

    Shlomo
    If indeed one has to follow the advice of the elders and not be harsh on the people (rather a servant) then how was it that precisely in Shlomo's time was the best era for the Jewish people. What did Yeravam mean that Rehavam shouldn't be so harsh like his father? Maybe the answer is that new generation is always weaker in some sense that the previous one. What do you think?

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    • A

      Anonymous -12 years ago

      Re: Shlomo
      Hi Reb Shlomo,



      It i a good question. But I guess we cannot compare Shlomo to Rechavam his son. Shlomo was a titanic personality, besides being the son of David Hamelech, appointed directly by Hashem via Shmuel the prophet. He was also a prophet, a man of great holiness and spiritual wisdom. The Jews were thus happier to submit and serve him. In the next generation, however, things had to change.



      Also, the era of Shlomo was indeed great, yet it does not mean it was perfect. This may have been one of the imperfect realities -- the heavy burdens and taxation. Even if the Jews were content and happy to serve Shlomo, this aspect may have been troubling to them even if they overlooked it for the above reasons and perhaps others.

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  • KT

    Kayo, Tokyo -13 years ago

    Yid
    Barucch HaShem

    I think Jews are the same way. Jews have to be priests to G-d and to the nations of the world. To be so, Jews have to be humble, bitle to HaShem, and serve on the half of goim. In that way, Jews will be truly respected as servants of HaShem by goim and Anti-Semitism will ends.

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  • ME

    Mr. Essess -14 years ago

    Right On!
    As a business man, and leader of a company of over 30 people, I must tell you that your points, insights, and of course, the words of our holy TANACH are very true, and very powerful.
    Well said!! Thank you, and G-D bless your efforts with this site, and with your other holy endeavors!

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  • SF

    Samuel Ferdinand -14 years ago

    Sukkos
    For 2 years b/4 my Bah Mitzvah I always wondered what it was all about as it was taught in Hebrew.. I do hope the Rabbis today explain to the childen the english traslation as this article does about Sukkos.. It would bring a lot of Jewish folks to understand their religion and bring them closer to it.. Thank you, Sam

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  • MG

    mordi gordy -14 years ago

    fellow Jew
    It so happens that a fellow Jew hired and fired my son in a summer job. Friends in the profession asked,
    "What did he expect from your son ? "

    I have been able to co-exist with this mamser in shul, where he is held in high regard. All his prayers over food etc etc are useless as far as I am concerned. He nay be frum, but he is a dolt towards a young fellow Jew. A shlepper in terms of tzeddakah.

    My son, who happens to be quite bright is none the worse for wear, it seems. Thank goodness.

    What has this to do with the Jewish communal spirit ? Well, if my son got scarred, this frum gentleman would have suffered an inglorious comparison to a certain Nazi leader. It is perhaps the lowest blow to a fellow Jew, but it beats poking his eyes out. Since my son is excelling, i believe my angst/anger is/was misplaced. Maybe by next Yom Kippur my deep seated resentment will have calmed.

    Thanks for listening. You don't have to post this. If push came to shove I would naturally help this dolt. But only because my son has shown no scar.

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  • ESE

    Esther Sarah Evans -14 years ago

    ב"ה b"H inyan: only solution
    b"H
    The Nazis had their "final solution", and they succeeded only too well, but barukh HaShem its finality was cut short by HaShem. Our ONLY solution is open recognition of HaShem and His Mitzvot and at least our, klal Yisrael's observance of Shabbat, thus enlisting HaShem's help not just once, but as eternally as we, in our efforts to observe, will call on Him. He never deserted us, but too many of us tried to desert Him. Isn't it easier to observe Shabbat, even if that means trying to learn some laws, than to go ourselves and/or send our children to battle, to be subjected to terror of rockets and bombing, not to mention the precious loss of time discussing only negative issues. Want to put the stopper on anti-Semitism? Show the whole wide world how much we ALL love HaShem and appreciate doing His Mitzvot. No matter how complex our laws may sometimes seem, this is the simple and human alternative with Kedusha. Choose life and live to go to all kinds of Kiddushim, and we will be spared having to go al Kiddush HaShem to our deaths. Chareidim, who know what Ahavas Yisrael is and don't regard Yiddishkeit as an elitarian club for the few, should now invest their time in their fellow Jews, make some practical use of their learning to bring klal Yisrael to the point of global observance, make every Jew hungry for more and more Torah and eager to perform Mitzvot. There's the wonderful challenge HaShem gave us to test both our learning and our Midos. Why not combine them all now into one globally observed Shabbos and Sukkot together. Here's your chance.
    Take 5 for 770 and, following Chabad's example, help all our people return to Torah Mitzvot, so that we may never have to relive the tragedies of the past years. Remember, it is a global affair. Not enough for a few to observe. That ends in tragedy. KLAL YISRAEL is needed to save KLAL YISRAEL, and HaShem will do the rest.

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  • SC

    Shoshannah Chana -14 years ago

    Our Jewish People
    Rabbi Jacobson,
    Your D'var Torah is quite suitable for the upcoming Chag HaSukkot. It does take all kinds of Jews - as unique and different as we are - to constitute Israel and the world. Yet, there is such joy in the knowledge that each of us has a Neshama that is Chelek Keylokim, B " H! We are One people with One heart and soul!
    It has taken a Chutzpah-dika Bibi to refute the liars of the world; and he is the example that is needed to start arousing our people to renew their realiztion of their roots and to take action.
    I intend to show your D'var Torah to a very young woman from Crown Heights who objects to the displaying of the Israeli flag with the American flag at our school, which is Lubavitcher. I do understand a part of her objection, but I feel strongly about her understanding that we Jews do not really have another land.
    May HaShem speedily bring us to Yerushalyim on eagle's wings - B'Mherah B'Yameinu!
    Chag Sameach!

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  • MH

    Marv Hershenson -14 years ago

    Bibi's Speech and Your Essay
    Rabbi: I just read your essay and as ususal you make me think and your words do resonate within me. With this being said, I am saddenned by many of co-religionists who are asleep at the "wheel." Their lack of will or their delusions about "change and hope" is an addiction to keep their souls asleep. These individuals are caught up in more secular pursuits and is as if their spiritual selves are disconnected. I am frustrated by their blindness, by their unwillingness to move into a different paradigm which would allow them to see what is real and fantasy. To move into this transformative state may require, G-d forbit, a challenge/incident that wakes them up. Thank you for listening. Hag Sameach! Marv.

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  • DT

    Dov Trietsch -14 years ago

    ishar coakh
    Rabbi, It is not the first time that you have opened my mind to a depth of undersatnding, and I know that, with G-d's help, it is not the last. shelo paam akhat bilvad kamu aleinu lechaloteinu, ela she-bechol dor va-dor kamim aleinu lechloteinu, vehakadosh baruch hoo yzileinu miadam. Amen. Gmar Khatimah Tovah.

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  • C

    Chana -14 years ago

    Contrasting "truths"
    In comparison to Obama's ignorant and arrogant speech which preceded his own, Netanyahu scored bigtime. What a galvanizing moment for us! However, there are always those whose gaps in logic and bitter hatred negate the truth. Sheker ayn lo raglayim...except in the UN at the General Assembly podium.

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  • YAL

    Yisrael Aryeh Leib -14 years ago

    Bibi & Rebbe
    the middle link above is the same as the one you reference.

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  • CG

    Chaya Gross -14 years ago

    His Strength and MISSION from the Rebbe
    BH
    Check out chabadinfo.com to hear the talk Bibi gave to the Jewish leaders at the 92nd St Y after his address at the UN.
    His strength and sense of mission came from his meeting with the Rebbe in 1984. NOW THAT WAS REALLY IMPRESSIVE!

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  • YAL

    Yisrael Aryeh Leib -14 years ago

    Bibi, acting as the Rebbe's Shliach
    Bibi said twice on 9/24 after the speech that he was acting as the Rebbe's Shliach (used the word Shliach in speech at 92nd St Y):
    In UN Hallway after speech:
    http://www.youtube.com/watc...
    92nd St Y:
    Better quality but clips off the end:
    http://www.youtube.com/watc...

    Worse quality, clips off the beginning, but has most of the ending:
    http://www.youtube.com/watc...

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  • I

    Isaac -14 years ago

    missing
    I thought Netanyahu could have yet done better, as well as he did. He did not need the blueprints and minutes to demonstrate that the Holocaust was true. He could have spoken of the hundreds of thousands of survivors who lost complete families etc.

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  • GP

    George Pugh -14 years ago

    UN
    He might as well have saved his breath: look at how the Jews voted in the last election and what Obama has done and said.

    As to willow, it may have no scent or taste, but like the common people, it can ease pain.

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  • Y

    YYJ -14 years ago

    To Jehoshua
    1.Not all the kings indeed had this level of bittul. We were describing the ideal, not always reflected in reality. Take the history of so many other Jewish kings described in Tanach as moral failures, far worse than Rechavaam.
    2.Indeed, that is why Rechavam did not merit to remain the single king of the entire people. Actually, this already began toward the end of Shlomo’s life, who -- relative to his level -- also lacked in bittul, and Hashem said he would take the kingdom from his family, as described there in Tanach.
    3.The other tribes may have not felt all of this, or perhaps they did know it, but felt an obligation toward David and Shlomo and the promise of G-d that the kingship remains in the house of David. So they overlooked the flaws. Sometimes people settle for a less-than-perfect leader because they have no one better and\or to keep it in the family. Some Chassidic dynasties function this way.

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  • Y

    Yaakov -14 years ago

    Beautiful! Playing it Out in Real Life
    Wonderful! The Rambam's use of "just as" was beautifully pointed out. I saw something like that in Tehillim 63:2-3. "My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a parched and weary land...So to (כן), in the Sanctuary to have beheld You, to see Your might and Your glory."
    I understand this to mean that to the same degree that I long for You, so will I behold You. The longing is an integral, essence-part of the beholding.
    In a practical way, someone was telling me how much their poverty has taught their kids about the value of money, and that when they have money, which they might soon,they're afraid their kids will lose all that. I answered, thinking of this shiur, that in their case the only thing that is going to make them money is applying elevated wisdom to the ideas they have, and then that elevated wisdom will yes be part and parcel of their new life and intimately tied in with it; so much so that they won't have to worry about that wisdom leaving them. It will be within the money they have; it will preserve the money they have; and preserve the values they had when they began working with their ideas and wisdom.
    Thanks for that.

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  • E

    Elki -14 years ago

    To Levi
    I think the message is that it's about motive. Yes, leaders should step up to the plate, but not for the grandeur but rather "to serve" the people serve Hashem.

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  • L

    Levi -14 years ago

    Is humility the only way?
    How does this idea play out in real life?

    If someone believes that they have leadership qualities, and they have the chance to help others by being a leader. Shouldn’t they say, let me step up to the plate and help. Like Doctors, Rabbis, ext..

    Can there not be an instance where a person is looking to lead in order to help others?

    It seems from the class that a leader should not want the positions but be forced in to it. Why can people just feel that they can make a difference and want the position in order to help?

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  • M

    ML -14 years ago

    Thanks, but may be too early...

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  • Y

    YG -14 years ago

    Answers to the Questions and exercises
    I recently had a debate with the editor of a Jewish News Website who took issue in regards to an article written in honor of gimmel Tammuz. It was clear from his response that he had been heavily influenced by Mesnagdim, or better yet sonim, and so I decided to engage him in conversation in order to set the record straight. The debate went back and forth a few times until it seemed that he had enough and dropped the whole thing. There were times where he respected much of what I wrote but he never officially conferred upon me the title of victor. Realizing that he had enough and at the same time confident that my point was delivered in a clear manner I too decided to leave go. To my astonishment, I realized that this same editor begaj to include in a subtle manner stories involving Lubavitch institutions some even taken from Chabad.org - that was enough for me.

    I am happy to see that I had the good fortune of being the source of positive influence in another instance where again my protest was met with opposition. This was most apparent in the answers of the exercises penned by ML who just last week answered in a very different tone. I congratulate you publicly for the quick action.

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  • A

    Anonymous -14 years ago

    A perfect discription of the Rebbe

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  • ML

    Meira Lerman -14 years ago

    My Answers to Your Questions
    My answers to your Questions and Exercises in the curriculum.
    1. What are the main qualities a leader needs to have?
    Mostly the same that our Role Model for all leaders of all the times Moshe had: DA’AT, TIFERET and HOD. Separately (according to my assumption) they can be found in a transmitter, a spinal cord, and a heart. They are very important on the position of a Faithful shepherd at well.
    Now, when we know the requirements, what should we do to merit such leader in our generation?

    2. Why is humility so essential for a king?
    First of all it is principal of “KIDERECH – KACH” (look at the curriculum source # 3)
    Second, because he should not be a self-styled dictator or self-imposed tyrant, but G-d’s representative on the earth and as such should have to be involved in bringing out and nurturing the best qualities of each person, that means “helping us to mature from our fragmentation, our divisiveness and become one through our souls unity”, or practically speaking live up to full of our potential. Finally we can be unhooked from Maslow, Freud, Darwin and Copernicus. Our self-esteem will come back!
    Is it only so that we can entrust him with power, or is it even more than that?
    More, because he need two sites street trust: from above and from below.

    3. Are you a leader?
    I was a LEADER when I was three.
    Since then I had mastered my sound R… and started articulate correctly: I am RIGHT! I am a READER!

    4. “If you will be a servant to this nation, they will be your servants all the days,” the elder advisers told a young Jewish king. What did they mean by this advice?
    They tried to teach him common sense. They told him, what was best to do with his chutzpa as "a leader of few millions of Prime ministers."

    5. Do people look up to you?
    I would rather pass this question not to be suspended from this forum

    As what?
    As a loyal student of Rabbi Yosef Jacobson

    Are you worthy of it?
    Ple-e-ease!

    6. The Torah confers tremendous honor on a king. Why give so much respect to a human being?
    Coming back to the question # 1, one has to keep in mind purpose of a heart: this small piece of four chambers muscle pumps blood to each 6 billions( not sure to how many) cells in our body. Each of those cells is singular entity with specific purpose and identity. Nevertheless, it is heart that organizes all of them together to become one human body. Even brain and lungs depend on a king, sorry, on Heart. And once again about BITTLE: a heathy heart is completely empty at the begining of a new cycle...
    Just like blood, running through the vessles, is soul of body and none of systems can do without it, the same is with each of us: we cannot do without nurturing, all-encompassed guiding, rules, laws and just loyalty to a high purpose of our life. None of us, even those who think that they can… Because “we all are spiritual beings on physical journey”. How we deel now without a leader? It is a good question. Maybe G-d holds us on remote control for a while, but it is a long distance remote, so we all have nuemorous of crabs.

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  • J

    Jehoshua -14 years ago

    2 Kingship
    According to your explanation, Rehoboam showed that he hadn't bittul to HaShem, so the 10 tribes rejected him as a king. How you'll explain that the 2 tribes DID ACCEPT Rehoboam as a king? If Rehoboam has no bittul => he can't be a king!
    Kol tov,
    Jehoshua

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  • E

    Elki -14 years ago

    Bittul
    Thank you for a thoughtful and stimulating shiur.
    It seems that kings and leaders and those in any postion of authority have the biggest nisayon to succeed in bittul. It's so easy to be impressed with one's self.

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  • B

    Ben -14 years ago

    It is boring
    It is boring,but nice

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  • DKSA

    Daniel Kaye Sydney Australia -14 years ago

    Yishar koach! Thank you!
    You were a bit repetitive and dragged the message out a bit, however it was very inspiring, thank you, also thank you Levi Melecki, very nice curriculum!

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  • I

    Isaac -14 years ago

    David?
    If so, how did David do what he did with Bat Sheva and her husband? if he was a complete servant to G-d, how did he do this?

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  • M

    M -14 years ago

    for all
    This is not only the kings and leaders but every person - limashal when a friend sees in you service, sees you as living for something greater than yourself they will be drawn to you etc. when a spouse sees you truly devoted to her you can never great greater commitment from her etc. The idea of a king or leaders is foreign to most, possibly.

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  • G

    Goldi -14 years ago

    tonight
    This is soo inspiring for anyone who wants to lead..ie their own family(Father/Mother) or teacher..etc This essential message has been lost in the din of technology and chaos. Yosher Koach! Thank you!

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  • N

    Neshama -14 years ago

    Leadership
    Beautiful rendition of Kingship/Humility; I thought, of course, of The Rebbe. The new setting is very fitting; I like it better than the other, this looks real and much cooler. Thank you.

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  • S

    Steven -14 years ago

    Jewish Retreat
    Just back from the retreat in Connecticut. If you can make it next year...GO!!!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • J

    Joe -14 years ago

    Music
    This music is beautiful.

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • August 17, 2009
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  • 27 Av 5769
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  • 4008 views

In honor of the birth of a son to Aryeh and Raizy Schottenstein By David and Eda Schottenstein By N'Shei Chabad of New Haven in loving memory of Chaya Tamar (Berta) bas Shabtai

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