Monday, November 14, 2016

Self Control And Leadership

The story goes that Mrs. Kennedy once walked in on JFK when he was busy transgressing the 7th of the ten commandments [one of many, many instances]. When he noticed her, he said "What can I do? I can't control myself". [Yet - that didn't stop him from becoming an American folk hero. Until this day people talk about him as if he was some god. All he was, was a מושחת - a morally corrupt power, money and honor seeker]. 

A number of decades later we had another President who also had numerous affairs in the White House [I won't say his name but he is related to the Democratic nominee in the recent Presidential race]. 

Of course, there have been countless world leaders over time who were moral weaklings. The question is and has always been - Are such people fit to be leaders? Some people say that what they do in their private lives is irrelevant. What matters is whether they are good, strong and wise leaders. Their moral failings are irrelevant. 

Others say that if they can't control themselves - then how can they control a country?? It starts with self control and once that is in place then they may extend that control to the public sphere.   

It seems clear that the second approach is the correct one. Many of the Baalei Mussar point out that Yosef was only appointed to be second to the king in Egypt after he proved himself and withstood the seductions of אשת פוטיפר. It is explicit in the Medrash that there is a direct correlation between the two.

We have a President-elect who has a long history of not controlling his urges [including his urge to say stupid or offensive things]. Yet, he is now supposed to lead hundreds of millions of people and to be the Commander In Chief of the army. So he has peoples lives, livelihoods and well being in his hands and he doesn't even control himself.

Scary, no? 

[Note - This is not to say that his opponent was better. But that doesn't matter anymore because the elections are over and it is a mute point]. 

So here are the lessons:

1] Put your faith in the One Above and not in anyone below. His own wives couldn't trust him so how can we?! 

2] Daven that his lack of control express itself in good deeds and not the opposite. Let his aggression [and he seems to possess quite a bit of that] be taken out on evil people and regimes.  

3] If YOU want to lead - and we are all leaders at some point, whether at home, at work or both - take control over your own urges and passions and then you will be fit to guide others.