Definition of a Shamash
- What is the difference between Shammai the Elder and Hillel the Edler's teachings on how to light a Chanukkiah and observe Chanukkah?
- Which tradition do we follow today? Why?
Chief Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Power vs. Influence
THERE ARE TWO FORMS or dimensions of leadership. One is power, the other, influence. Often we confuse the two. After all, those who have power often have influence, and those who have influence have a certain kind of power. In fact, however, the two are quite different, even opposites.
We can see this by a simple thought-experiment. Imagine you have total power, and then you decide to share it with nine others. You now have one-tenth of the power with which you began. Imagine, by contrast, that you have a certain measure of influence, and now you share it with nine others. How much do you have left? Not less. In fact, more. Initially there was only one of you; now there are ten. Your influence has spread. Power operates by division, influence by multiplication. With power, the more we share, the less we have. With influence, the more we share, the more we have.
So deep is the difference that the Torah allocates them to two distinct leadership roles: king and prophet. Kings had power. They could levy taxes, conscript people to serve in the army, and decide when and against whom to wage war. They could impose non-judicial punishments to preserve social order. Hobbes famously called kingship a “Leviathan” and defined it in terms of power. The very nature of the social contract, he argued, was the transfer of power from individuals to a central authority. Without this, there could be no government, no defence of a country and no safeguard against lawlessness and anarchy.
Prophets, by contrast, had no power at all. They commanded no armies. They levied no taxes. They spoke G-d’s word, but had no means of enforcing it. All they had was influence – but what influence! To this day, Elijah’s fight against corruption, Amos’ call to social justice, Isaiah’s vision of the end of days, are still capable of moving us by the sheer force of their inspiration. Who, today, is swayed by the lives of Ahab or Jehoshaphat or Jehu? When a king dies, his power ends. When a prophet dies, his influence begins.
- What does Rabbi Lord Sacks say is the difference between power and influence?
- How did prophets spread their influence?
- The angel that speaks to Zechariah says that the world will be changed not through might or power, but by spirit. How is this true in OUR world?