The Torah describes two models of leadership: Moses and Aaron. Moses’ leadership was stern and unyielding. The First Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Kook, stated that he lived “a life detached from the mundane concerns of the common man.” For the rabbis of the Talmud, this was a necessary trait, in order to be able to receive prophecy, and as a result he taught it according to its absolute truth, in order that “the Law pierce the mountain.”
Aaron, on the other hand, “loved peace and pursued peace” (Avot 1:12). He is described as being a “lover of people.” His compassion was how he “brought the Torah down” and made it accessible, “demonstrating its beauty” in a way that others could understand and relate.
He saw the very best in people. It was his very love of others, and faith in them, that would inspire people to want to live up his expectations of them. He was gentle and unassuming, never one to take credit, but always behind the scenes, urging others to be the best that they could, in order to ensure the best outcome for all.
Through the centuries, Aaron’s model of leadership has become a rabbinic ideal, and contemporary theories of leadership reinforce what the Torah laid out for us: when we approach others with love and faith in our hearts, then we will be most effective at encouraging others to live according to the highest standards.
When I reflect upon Aaron’s model of leadership, I can’t help but think of my beloved colleague, Rabbi Stanley Miles. His love, compassion, faith, idealism, dedication and commitment to helping others are truly inspiring. I will always be grateful for how he reached out to me, personally, the first week that I first arrived in Louisville, in July of 2002. He offered me mentorship and friendship, and through the years, he has continued to be both for me – wise counsel and trusted colleague, friend and advisor.
There are many reasons to love Louisville, and Rabbi Miles’ spirit, kindness and rabbinic leadership have helped to shape many of these. In June, the Jewish community will have the opportunity to share their gratitude, to celebrate his legacy and to offer up blessings for his next chapter. And I, for one, am very excited to say that Rabbi Miles has agreed to include in his next chapter, his continued support and rabbinic counsel to Jewish Hospital.
All year, Rabbi Miles has joined several of us at Jewish Hospital, as we work on a new program that will connect our hospital to the Galilee Medical Center in our Partnership2Gether region in Israel. This is part of our larger vision to ensure that Jewish Hospital’s new place within its KentuckyOne Health family ensures that it continues to deepen and strengthen its Jewish identity and commitment.
This is only possible with the support of the Jewish community. I am personally deeply grateful to Rabbi Miles and, indeed, all of the clergy of Louisville that have pledged their support of Jewish Hospital as it transitions to its own new chapter.
It is human nature to be scared of change, but with the wisdom and faith of our leaders, we have the ability to transform transitions into opportunities. This coming month, we will all have the opportunity to thank Rabbi Miles for the loving wisdom and rabbinic leadership that he has brought to us all, and to wish him many blessings for the new chapter that he will begin as he becomes Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Shalom.
Thank you Rabbi Miles for all that you have done for the Jewish community and for Jewish Hospital, and thank you for your continued commitment to lead us into the future. May countless blessings be yours as we have been blessed so deeply and profoundly by you.