From the Torah’s perspective, a great leader is one who has no ego and is able to “lower” himself to care for those who are “beneath him.”

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

The Book of Esther, tells us that every day Mordechai would walk to the concubine’s residence to find out how Esther was keeping and what was happening to her.

One can imagine that it wasn’t pleasant for Mordechai, the senior sage of the Jewish people, to be snooping around the harem on a daily basis. It didn’t look nice, to say the least. But it was the right thing to do.

His cousin, Esther, had been taken to the harem as part of Achashverosh’s search for a new wife. Mordechai wanted to be sure she was well treated.

As a reward for his concern and efforts on behalf of Esther, the Midrash (rabbinic literature) says that God made Mordechai a leader of the entire world, a position in which he could concern himself with the welfare of every single Jew.

As the Megillah concludes: “For Mordechai the Jew was King Achashverosh’s deputy, the leader of the Jews, and accepted by the multitude of his people, seeking the welfare of his people and speaking peace to all their descendants.”

What many people may not realize is that, according to the Talmud, Esther was not only Mordechai’s cousin, but his wife as well!

In essence, the Midrash is saying that because Mordechai showed concern for his wife, he merited to become the “deputy king.” How great is the reward for showing care and concern for even one person!

Even the “small stuff” can lead to great rewards. Indeed, we are told the Moses and David also merited to become great leaders as a reward for the care and concern that they had for others – even animals!

Abraham would spend his days welcoming guests into his tent and providing absolute strangers, including idol worshipers, with food and drink. And the list of Jewish leaders who were careful with the “small stuff” and “small people” goes on and on.

From the Torah’s perspective, a great leader is one who has no ego and is able to “lower” himself to care for those who are “beneath him.” Mordechai’s daily appearances in the women’s quarters in sincere concern for Esther’s welfare was similar to the character traits shown by Moses and David and for which Mordechai merited to become a leader as well.

We should never think that it is beneath us to stop, say hello and show interest in another person’s welfare, especially if that someone is “lower” than we are on the “totem pole.”

A man should be especially careful to show concern for his wife. (This is not to suggest that a wife is lower on the Totem pole!)

Care and concern for others is a traditional trademark of the greatest leaders.

Why not emulate that characteristic and also become great?