When a Leader Sins

When a  nasi (cheftain of a tribe of Israel, i.e., a political leader) sins by doing anything unintentionally which according to G-d’s command should not be done, and he realizes his guilt, or the sin of which he is guilty is brought to his attention, he shall bring  . . . a sin offering (Vayikrah 4:22-24).

Notice that the, the torah says when, not if. Also notice that part of the responsibility of a leader is to pay attention when he is told of misdeeds.

The mishnah deals with these issues at length in Horayot. At the end of Horayot we are told about matters of yichus.

A Cohen is before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisroel, a Yisroel before a mamzer . . . This applies when they are all equal. But if a mamzer is a talmud chacham and a Cohen Gadol is ignorant of the Law, the mamzer . . . precedes . . . the Cohen Gadol.

What an extraordinary way to end horayot. In various ways we are reminded that yichus is not an unlimited claim to privilege, nor is leadership an exemption from responsibility. In fact leaders have an even heavier responsibility to recognize, confess, correct and atone for their sins.

(Hat Tip to B)

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