This week’s Torah portion contains one of the most dramatic events in the entire Torah, the incident of the Golden Calf. From this story we find a powerful message regarding leadership, as we consider the responses of Moses.
When Moses sees that the Israelites have constructed an idol, he responds with anger and rage. He smashes the tablets of the law that he has brought down from the mountain and exposes a very volatile part of his character.
After his fit of rage, Moses recognizes his mistake. Hoping for a second opportunity to demonstrate proper leadership and direction, Moses removes himself from the situation. He prays to God; he asks for forgiveness for himself and the Israelites; and he makes himself vulnerable by taking a stance of humility.
Whenever we find ourselves in a position of leadership and/or authority in the face of crisis, it is imperative to maintain clarity of mind. Whatever the situation may be, this Torah portion is instructive. We need to step away from the chaos and take the time to regain perspective. We need to distance ourselves from getting emotionally entangled. We need to set aside the ego (pray a little for patience) and then reengage with humility and respect.
Whether in our homes or our places of work, these actions, which are modeled by Moses in our portion this week, can go a long way toward establishing effective leadership in times of crisis.