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A leader can't be indifferent and detached from the painful exile of his people. But he can't be too engrossed in it either. For if you are outside of a problem, you can't solve it. But if you are part of the problem, you also cannot solve it.

Rabbi Allouche

There are no coincidences. Even the place in which we are born is Divinely designed for a reason. 

Yocheved, the woman who bore and raised Moses — the all-time leader of the Jewish people — was born in a very peculiar place. As her family traveled from Israel and entered Egypt – there, she was born. In between the borders of both countries.

The mother of Moses could not have been of the generation that was born in Egypt, a generation for whom the bitterness of exile was the reality. But she could not have been of the generation born in the Holy Land, for whom the bitterness of exile was never real. She had to be both. Thus, she was born in between two countries.

The same is true with leadership: A true leader also needs to live “in between the borders” of exile and redemption. A leader can’t be indifferent and detached from the painful exile of his people. But he can’t be too engrossed in it either. For if you are outside of a problem, you can’t solve it. But if you are part of the problem, you also cannot solve it. A leader needs to be “in-between those borders,” both inside and outside. Inside, with empathy, understanding, and a feeling heart, yet outside, with a fresh, independent, focused, and solution-oriented mind.

The legendary Chassidic master, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch was known to sweat profusely during private audiences he held with people who came from around the world to seek his counsel. His sweat was so severe, that, every hour or so, he would ask his secretary for a change of clothes.

One day, his secretary asked him: “Rebbe, why do you sweat so much? Why do you exert himself so vigorously?”

The Rebbe’s replied:

“Don’t you understand? In the past hour, twenty people came to see me. Each of them poured out their hearts and asked for my assistance in curing their ills. To relate to each one’s problem, I have to see it through their eyes. So I must “change my clothes,” divest myself of my own personality and clothe myself in theirs. Then, in order to answer them, I must re-assume my own persona – otherwise, why would they come to consult with me?

Did you ever attempt to change your clothes forty times an hour? If such physical dressing and undressing would exhaust you and bathe you in sweat, can you imagine what it takes to do so mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?”

We live in a broken world. Many face daunting challenges. Others, carry deep aches and hurt. It is time for our inner leaders to emerge, “in between the borders” to feel the pain of every individual suffering, and then, and only then, offer guidance from a perspective of redemption. 

Our leadership will then, undoubtedly, pave the path to individual and collective redemption. May it come speedily. Amen.