The “Middat HaShavuah”, taken from this week’s Torah portion of Parshat Naso, instructs us to lead by first making an offering. The verse reads as follows:

Parshah: נשא

Key Verse: וַיַּקְרִ֙יבוּ֙ נְשִׂיאֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל.  

במדבר ז:ב 

Middah: Lead by first making an offering  

I understand the idea of “lead by first making an offering” to be very similar to the idea of “leading by example.” In the Torah portion, it says that on the day that Moses finished setting up the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its furnishings, as well as the altar and its utensils. When Moses finished anointing and consecrating the Mishkan, the heads of each of the tribes drew near, and brought an offering to G-d. When they had brought their offerings before the Mishkan, G-d told Moses to accept the offerings. And this went on for 12 days, each day a different head of a different tribe, but each offering was the same.

Interestingly, the Torah tells us that the first head of a tribe to bring an offering was Nachshon ben Aminadav, my favourite personality in the entire Torah! Nachshon plays a minor role in the Torah, but his contributions, especially when it comes to leading by example, are significant. According to a Midrash, the Red Sea splits because of Nachshon’s actions. G-d tells Moses to go forward and then the sea will divide into two. Shouldn’t G-d have told Moses, “I will split the sea and then you can go forward”? This Midrash tells us that Nachshon jumped into the sea before it split, and it was actually because of his leadership by example that the sea split! So when we look at this week’s Torah portion, it should come as no surprise that it was Nachshon who was the first leader to bring his offering. Nachshon is the Torah’s example of leading by first making an offering, or leading by example.

At The Toronto Heschel School, I believe that we are creating tomorrow’s leaders and we are encouraging the students to lead by example. The Derech Eretz which they demonstrate each and every day, the way they conduct themselves, be it in the classroom, on the playground, or on the sports field, we are constantly providing our students with opportunities to lead by example. We ask our students to consistently model their behaviour through their actions. We encourage our students to be effective members of their classroom communities. Leading by example means that we follow the rules, be it in the classroom or on the playground, and to maintain high standards in all aspects of school life.

Leading by example is challenging and emotionally draining, but it can be rewarding when you look back and see results. Our world today needs more Nachshon’s, more people who lead by example. As you contemplate this week’s Torah portion, ask yourself the question: How can I be a Nachshon, how can I lead by making an offering, by giving of myself, by setting an example, today?

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach,

Moreh Alan