In this week’s reading, G-d explains to Moshe how his successors will be chosen. Hashem Himself will choose the leader, “who will go out in front of them, and who will come in before them, and they will go out and come in, and the congregation of G-d will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

If you ask most people what they think is the ideal form of government, they will probably choose democracy. When compared to communism, dictatorships, monarchies and oligarchies, we see their point. But is it really such a great choice? In the United States, tens of millions of dollars will be wasted this year to convince millions of people, most of them woefully ignorant of the candidates, issues, and policy choices, to pull one lever versus another — based entirely upon advertisements which willfully distort the opponent’s record and glorify the candidate’s own, and “news” reports whose partiality is obvious. If that is insufficient to give you second thoughts, one word: Egypt. That’s the country that just selected the Muslim Brotherhood, a “suspected” supporter of terrorism according to the US, to lead it. Gaza similarly elected Hamas, a murderous gang unquestionably in the same category. And for that matter, Hitler ysv”z was elected democratically as well.

Interestingly enough, the Mishnah [Sotah 9:15] says that one of the signs of the “footsteps of the Messiah” is that “the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog.” There are many explanations as to what this means, but one of them is that the leadership will lead in the manner that a dog leads its owner. The dog bounds ahead, but is limited, leashed by the owner. When they come to a street corner, the dog may choose to go in one direction, only to find the owner choosing a different one. Moments later, where is the dog? Out in front of its owner once again, “leading” in the new direction. That’s what democracy looks like!

The Avnei Azel explains that in order to be a true leader one must lead, rather than being driven by polls. The Jewish Nation must be a meritocracy, with a leader capable of uplifting the people, rather than being dragged down by them. He must “go before them” and lead the congregation, rather than looking over his shoulder to see which way people want to go, and then fulfilling their desires. Look how much abuse Moshe had to put up with because he wouldn’t do whatever the congregation wanted! And that’s what made him, although he was “the most humble of men,” also an unparalleled leader.


  1. Most of the people trying to get re-elected here in the United States, they are like wolves dressed like sheep.

  2. Your mention of Hitler being democratically elected is in error. Hitler was not elected; President Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor and when Hindenburg died in office, Hitler assumed the office of President.

  3. Excelen t!!!, put it on the major newspapers in the world, maybe many politicians understand what politics and democracy is all about


  4. Please help me learn Hebrew. What does ysv”z mean. Thank you for the analogy of a leader and a dog. Thank Hashem for elections.

  5. Re: “…the face of a generation is ike face of a dog.” to me means that what the people in a Democracy are only as good as its leaders which are constantly transforming the Democracy. Faces although different are “different”! The face of a dog may be similar but it is different.

  6. A good leader wouldn’t hurt. Right now, I don’t see one on either side.

  7. Those were the days when G-d could designate a successor, or a leader for us. Those days are unfortunately gone and
    will not return until the Messiah comes. Indeed, in Navi we learn that the prophetic age is now over. We will just
    have to wait for the Messiah to come to be truly lead. We have had great political leaders and gedolim over the years, but
    no individual has been universally accepted by all. Let’s face it:; this will not happen until the Messiah arrives.


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