Mashiach and Jewish Leadership

Mashiach and Jewish Leadership: Part 11 – The Evolution and Development of Inspiration

The statement "Do not be scornful of any person and do not be disdainful of anything, for you have no person without his hour and nothing without its place supports our premise that every Jew has the potential for leadership; it just awaits the right time and place to manifest itself. In the case of the leader, his hour or "mazal" (soul root)–hidden in the deepest realms transcending consciousness–relates to his spark of Mashiach, as taught by the Ba'al Shem Tov. This level of consciousness, termed in Kabbalah "the unknowable head," is the most elevated point of the soul, enmeshed in the highest point of "keter" (the first of the ten sefirot–channel of Divine energy–which corresponds to the superconscious realm of experience–and thus accounting for the image of a "crown," which suggests an aura surrounding one's consciousness). In fact, it is so hidden, one is totally unaware of the extent of his own potential. All the more so are others unaware of his true leadership abilities.

Nonetheless, through intense service of G-d, some of a person's potential begins to manifest. In the Chassidic model of leadership, the potential leader first begins to prepare himself by delving into the sweet light of the inner dimensions of Torah. When he begins to teach these mysteries, it awakens the desire for teshuvah among his students, which is his primary conscious intention. Since he is aware that he possesses on some level the possibility of leadership, he begins to create a network and organization that can most efficiently channel and spread the wellsprings of Torah. Though his efforts are now directed publicly, still only a small amount of his potential is recognized by himself and others.

At this point a crucial transformation must occur if his circle of influence is to grow. For a Jewish leader to make his mark on a community he must be able to inspire those around him to aspire to ever-greater levels of Torah learning, observance of mitzvot and deeds of lovingkindness. The ability to motivate others, though, ultimately rests upon his own inner level of being inspired. This is the third dynamic of leadership–the evolution and development of inspiration.

Being inspired is intrinsically bound to that which we previously described as G-d's determining factor in identifying a potential leader–the attribute of compassion (rachamim). When compassion is aroused from "below," a corresponding degree of compassion is aroused from "above." Viewing the world through compassionate eyes gives one the ability to see beyond superficiality and first impressions, allowing the inner spark within all human beings to shine forth.

He who wishes to lead must overcome his desire to judge others, allowing a sense of compassion to form his basic worldview. First, he cultivates compassion and understanding for every soul that descends from its exalted source on High to this lowly world. He looks beyond superficial appearances to the most inner potential of the soul. Next, he feels unlimited compassion for the People of Israel, as they continue their ancient struggle to progress from exile and oppression towards total redemption. Lastly, he relates personally to the exile of the Shechinah and G-d's pain, as it were, in bearing a world so in need of rectification and unification.

Each of these levels of compassion elicit a response from "above," manifest as inspiration within the heart of man. The sense of inspiration is a fundamental motivating force in man, driving him to not merely relate or empathize with the pain of others, but to act directly and forcefully to alleviate that pain. Though inspiration is legitimately channeled into a wide range of creative endeavors, its primary purpose, especially in a Jewish leader, is to rectify reality and elevate all around him, thus revealing G-d's redeeming presence in every situation of life.

Although a person can be inspired in an almost infinite number of ways, prayer in both the formal and spontaneous sense is perhaps the most powerful vehicle for consciously achieving inspiration. Given the proper conditions, virtually any phenomena can arouse inspiration, but this is what could be termed "second hand" sensory inspiration. Prayer is directed to G-d, the source of all inspiration, and is therefore immediate with no physical intermediary. The word for "prayer" in Aramaic is "rachamei," the same root as the Hebrew word for "compassion." This illustrates the intimate connection between compassion and inspiration. We are taught in Kabbalah and Chassidut that the chief weapon of Mashiach is his prayer and his consummate sense of compassion.

From the verse: "And G-d will give you compassion and have compassion upon you" we learn that compassion and inspiration, in the ultimate sense, are a gift from G-d. As we become aware of the need to be more sensitive to others, G-d graces us with that ability. This creates a spiral effect in the soul, where compassion produces the inspiration to act, which in turn draws down additional compassion and inspiration from above.

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