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Parashat Emor – “Fortunate is the generation whose leader is willing to admit having erred.”-Talmud


Being a leader requires walking a fine line. On the one hand, the authority of the position must be maintained, and on the other, a leader must be great enough to admit when he makes an error. Truth is central to the Torah and is one of the foundations of the universe we live in. Adherence to the truth will not jeopardize one’s authority but will instead earn him the trust that is needed to lead.

Our greatest leader, Moshe, exemplified this quality of leadership. To quell a rebellion against the authority of his position, he made it absolutely clear that his authority was of Divine origin. Yet, when there was a question of law that he misinterpreted,  which happened on several occasions, he did not hesitate to admit that he was wrong.

Now, no one could have possibly contradicted him had he refused to admit his mistake since he was the sole source of Torah law. How simple would it have been for him to say, “No, this is what G-d said,” and could well have justified a lie for the greater good of securing his position of leadership. But Moshe knew that truth would never endanger the Torah. It is only falsehood that is a threat.

In the Talmud, there are many instances when Jewish leaders vigorously defended the authority of their position but had no difficulty admitting when they were wrong. It is commendable for a leader to admit to his mistakes and his generation is considered fortunate to be led by such a person.

~Rabbi Shaul