The story is told of the cantor who was approached after the synagogue services by an indignant member of the congregation.

"That was the most awful rendition I ever heard in my life!"

The president of the synagogue turned to the cantor to console him: "Oh don't worry about him, he just repeats what everyone else says!"

This week's Torah reading speaks of the song which Moses and the Israelites sang after the redemption from Egypt and the miraculous splitting of the sea: The verse states that "Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to G‑d..."

Like everything Jewish, there are several opinions about how the song was sung!

The Talmud tells us that according to Rabbi Akiva, Moses said the first few words of the verse, "For He has triumphed gloriously" and everybody responded, "I will sing to G‑d". They continued to respond with this refrain "I will sing to G‑d" after each verse that Moses sang.

According to Rabbi Eliezer, however, Moses sang "I will sing to G‑d," and everybody responded, repeating "I will sing to G‑d". They continued, with the entire congregation repeating each verse after their leader.

Rabbi Nechemiah’s opinion is that Moses began by singing the opening words of the song, following which each person sang the rest of the song on their own.

These three opinions represent three different degrees of leadership and ability to inspire.

Rabbi Akiva is showing us a scenario where the people are totally given over to their leader. He alone sings the song of gratitude to G‑d, with the people simply affirming everything that he is expressing.

Although it may appear to be the ultimate unity, with everybody united behind one cause, Rabbi Eliezer takes this is unity even further. According to him, they did not merely affirm what Moses was singing by repeating the same refrain, but they actually repeated the words themselves. It was more personalized. Each individual was able to internalize the words, thus becoming a reflection of that person's own deep feelings and comprehension. The very same words, expressed by hundreds of thousands of different people, were able to take on many different nuances, depending on the individual person.

Rabbi Nechemiah takes leadership to the ultimate level. The trouble with repeating the verses after Moses is that this seems to imply that the song was not from the very deepest, inner self. If it is really coming from their own deepest, essential being, why should they need to repeat it after somebody? Surely it is a natural expression of their self, without needing to be shown? According to Rabbi Nechemiah's view, Moses merely had to get them started through a few words of the song, thereby inspiring them to reach deep within and experience the miracle, with the result that each of them sang the entire song on their own.

True leadership is about empowering others to tune in, to be in harmony with the leader and the ideals being expressed and lived, to the extent that it is not even necessary to show another person exactly what to do or what to say, because that person is already so connected and "in tune" with the ideals and concepts involved, they are thinking and living these concepts and therefore the feelings and the ideals come "naturally" to them.