What makes a leader legitimate?
This week’s Torah portion, Koarch, examines this question through the examples of Moses of Korach. In Numbers 12:3 Moses is described as, “a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.”
Commenting on this verse, Ibn Ezra (13th Century Spain) wrote, “Moses never asked for recognition, nor reward.” He accepted the burden of leadership because God told him to. It was not a role he sought. In fact, he did everything he could to avoid it in the beginning.
Korach on the other hand desires power. Of Korach, Ibn Ezra wrote, “As Korach was angry about the appointment of Elitzafan to leadership. He was also envious of Aharon,” Korach is jealous and wants power, so he is willing to challenge Moses.
Korach pretends to care about the needs of the people, but he wants power for its own sake. Moses did not want power, but he serves the people.
We would be wise to pay attention to those who wish to be our leaders. Do they want power for their own advancement, or do they truly wish to serve? The motive makes all the difference.