Throwback Thursday — When a Leader Sins

From my 2010 archives

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 (Leviticus/Vayikra 4:22-24).

Notice that the Torah says when, not if. Also notice that a leader is responsible for paying attention when he is told [or reminded] 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 talmid chacham and a Cohen gadol is ignorant of the Law, the mamzer  (product of illicit/incestuous parentage). . . 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.

In my book, a menschlich mamzer am haaretz (ignorant decent person) comes ahead of a menuval talmid chacham (lecherous scholar).

(Hat Tip to B)


3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday — When a Leader Sins

  1. In the Australian context: Kluwgant would shecht the korban, Telsner would supervise, the Yeshivah Centre Board would all look on & applaud, while the YC community & most of the rabbi(t)s would run for cover claiming they knew nothing. But have no fear: no-one will actually own up & bring the korban.

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