Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Horayot 10: Leadership, Responsibility, Intent/Benefiting from a Sin/Mitzva

Today's daf moves us directly into lessons about leadership.  Until this point, Masechet Hodayot has prepared us for understanding what it means to be in a position of power.  The King and the Kohen Gadol offer more significant sacrifices than any other.   Power is not about riches alone, but about greater responsibility.

We learn that one who sins with pure intent merits more than one who does a mitzvah with impure intent.  The rabbis go to great lengths to insist that we should strive to do all mitzvot; we should not be discouraged by worrying about our intent.

Rabbis have been assigned to lead when they do not have other sources of income.  But all rabbis who are in positions of great leadership are held to a higher standard.   Leadership roles were characterized as positions of servitude and not honours for rabbis who could not earn a living.  

We are told the story of rabbis who travelled by boat together.  Rabbi Yehoshua packed flour and bread.  Rabban Gamliel brought only bread.  The trip was delayed, and Rabbi Yehoshua shared the extra bread that he made with the flour he had brought.  He explained that he knew that the trip might be delayed due to the star that would appear and mislead the sailors - it appeared every seventy years.  Why did you come on this trip, he was asked.  Knowing that something might happen should not stop us from living.  We should just prepare more carefully.

At the end of our daf, the rabbis discuss those who sin and profit from that action.  One of their case examples is Ya'el.  The rabbis converse about how many times she had intercourse with Sisera in order to eventually save the Jewish people.  The rabbis are hesitant to allow her any benefit - she enjoyed the sin, they say.  Or, perhaps, tzadikim do not enjoy their sins.  Regardless, these sins ultimately benefited the Jewish people.  And we are encouraged to do what we have to do, even if that is sin, for the sake of saving one life.

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