This week’s Torah reading relates how Korach came to Moses with a protest: “The entire nation is holy and G‑d is among them. Why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of G‑d?”

By and large, the people supported Korach, and so Moses set up a challenge: Korach and 250 of his followers would bring an incense offering, as would Aaron the High Priest. G‑d would accept one offering and the others would die. When the offerings were brought, G‑d accepted Aaron’s, and the earth opened up and swallowed up Korach and his whole household.

What was so terrible about Korach’s complaint? Seemingly, his complaint is legitimate. Since the people are all holy, each one of them possesses a spark of G‑dliness, why should one person be “exalted”? Why then did G‑d support Moses and Aaron?

The resolution to these questions depends on an understanding of the dynamic of leadership. Certainly, the entire nation was holy, but to express that holiness, the people had to be motivated and inspired. That requires a leader, a Moses.

A leader empowers people to realize their potential and express it. Without such leadership, even though people possess positive qualities, it is possible that they will be lazy and fail to manifest them.

Although the people all possessed an essential G‑dly spark, it was the responsibility of Moses to bring that G‑dliness into revelation. Certainly, they possessed the potential; but as the Biblical narrative indicates, there were many occasions when they failed to live up their potential. Moses’ leadership motivated them to push forward and express who they really were.

Moses was not given his position to relish his accomplishments and receive honor for them. Instead, his position was a trust. He was charged with a mission and he followed it faithfully. Rather than think of himself, he thought about his people and what he could do for them.

This was not a one-day or one-year responsibility. Instead, throughout the entire time he was leading the people, Moses was thinking of them.

This is not merely a story of the past. In every generation, we must seek leaders, people who will spark us to utilize the positive qualities which we possess. Rather than fear submission to their authority, we should welcome it, understanding that it will enhance our position and not detract from it. Simply put, following the guidance of a leader enables a person to accomplish more than he could on his own initiative.

By the same token, leadership is not restricted to a select few. In our homes, at our workplaces, and in the social environments we choose, we all serve as leaders from time to time. When we are given such a position, we must emulate the selfless dedication shown by Moses and nurture our charges, rather than seek personal advancement.