"Leadership is the capacity to turn a vision into reality.” - Warren Gamaliel Bennis
History has seen many visionary world leaders in various disciplines. It is their gift that has brought us this far. For many of them, realizing and following their dreams was not easy. Some had to overcome difficult dilemmas. Many selflessly sacrificed their personal freedom yet remained defiant and persistent in the pursuit of their vision. It is this desire to turn a vision into an encouraging reality that I was hoping would continue to ensure our unending survival and fertile permanence on this earth.
Our Jewish people have also been blessed with great visionaries. The Torah, our rich literary and cultural endowment and our difficult Jewish history have produced brilliant leaders who faced and rose up against the hardest of challenges because they possessed a dream, a vision that they were determined to turn into a reality. There is much we can learn from studying the lives of our great Biblical figures of men, women, prophets and sages.
Abraham is one of them. Born and reared in a polytheistic, idolatrous society, he was prepared to divorce himself from it and put his trust in a single, invisible and imperceptible G-d and abide by His directives without any questions. He was ready to leave the comforts and luxuries of his life in Ur behind and follow the vision that G-d had gifted him. Furthermore, he was ready to enter a Covenant with this a-physical G-d; a Covenant that would ensure the future and victory of his descendents. That necessitated being possessed of great vision.
After him, Moses led a nation of former slaves through the extremely harsh conditions of the desert for forty years. The people he guided never stopped complaining. They rebelled and repeatedly expressed a wish to go back to Egypt. Yet Moses had kept his gaze fixed on the vision of going to the Promised Land. He was determined to bring them to the only place where they could live in Peace, as a free people where they could weave the tapestry of their own destiny. He persisted and pleaded on their behalf even when he knew that he would not be joining them there. We all draw inspiration and learn much from such stories of great visionary leaders past and present. We follow, with much admiration, their strength of character as they struggle with leadership roles and situations while remaining focused on their goal and having no selfish interest other than the welfare of their people.
In recent years, as was confirmed to the world this week, there has been one world leader who has not only been blessed with the gift of vision but has toiled hard to turn it into a reality. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister has been advocating against a nuclear Iran for many years. He has done it not only for the state of Israel and its people but the wellbeing of the entire free world as well. Like a modern day Abraham and Moses, Mr. Netanyahu has stood firm in his steadfast warnings about the dangers facing humanity should it give in to Iran’s demands. He has appealed to the sense of reason of world leaders. He has pleaded with them. He has done it despite ongoing efforts to belittle him both from within Israel and from without.
Unfortunately, he has tried to share his clarity of vision with a world that suffers from the worst kind of blindness;the kind that has sight, but not one trace of vision.