Precious few are leaders in the truest sense of the word. Most of our "leaders" are individuals who have found an already-existing attractive cause that they decide to champion. The person's powerful personality and persuasive speaking skills cause others who already ascribe to the same policies to appoint him or her as the spokesperson for this cause. In fact, however, this individual is only spearheading a manifesto that was developed by another person, or persons, long ago. The moment this leader steps out of line by expressing an idea of which the "followers" don't approve, they won't hesitate to ostracize him/her and seek another "leader."

Leaders do exist, but they are far and few between. The beginning of the 20th century saw a number of individuals who were true leaders. History has proven that some of the ideas that these leaders espoused were — well-intentioned, but — practically flawed, unsuccessful in the long run, and brought untold misery to billions of people. Nevertheless, they attracted a massive following. This is a common factor shared by leaders, those with good ideas or bad ones: they draw crowds. People anxiously crave leadership; they yearn to be led by a person who has fresh ideas and initiatives, a person who speaks what s/he truly believes and isn't concerned by approval ratings. This is especially true regarding the youth; historically, they have always been the first to embrace a genuine leader with real ideals.

The Mishna states: "Adam was created alone [unlike the animals, of which G‑d created multitudes of every species] to teach us that every person is obligated to say 'the world was created just for me!'" Adam was created without any peers because G‑d didn't want his behavior and his service of G‑d to be based on another's opinion; He didn't want Adam to shape his personality based on societal norms or expectations — He wanted Adam to be a true leader. And, indeed, no sooner Eve was created than Adam made the critical error of following instead of leading. "If the fruit is good for Eve, then it must be fine for me too" was the error which caused him and all his future descendents to be expelled from the Garden of Eden.

As descendents of Adam, we were all created with the innate ability to be leaders. We are meant to have a positive effect on our colleagues and peers. This is especially true today, when unfortunately so many are ignorant of their Jewish heritage, and illuminating the lives of others by introducing them to the meaning and fulfillment offered by the Torah and its commandments is the calling of the hour.

Leadership begins with people who have tremendous integrity, a contagious passion for their convictions, and are completely unaffected by their neighbors' opinions of them — be they positive or negative. Such people will naturally draw a captivated audience.

Aping is for monkeys; we must strive to be human.