Amazingly, in the portion of Pinchas, Moses records an incident in which he is proven wrong by five young girls. It’s hard to imagine how Moses can possibly maintain his credibility as the leader of the nation and the lawgiver if a few youngsters know the law better than he does!
One thing is clear: In a world where power, control and personal honor reign supreme, Moses and other biblical figures stick out like a sore thumb.
Moses is not interested in being right; he is interested in truth. And if someone, anyone, understands truth better than he does, he is more than happy to defer. Far from undermining his credibility, this can only support it. I, for one, would much prefer my lawgiver to be humble than right. A leader who needs always to be right, will lead his nation astray to protect his own pride. A leader who is more interested in what is right than where it comes from, will not let his ego stand in the way of doing what is best for his people.
A leader who wants to be right, will not see truth when it hits him between the eyes. A lawgiver, such as Moses, who is interested only in what is truly right, will more often than not find the truth he is looking for. Moses is credible not in spite of his humility, but because of it.
I believe that this applies to all areas of life. It might seem that we will lose the respect of others if we admit that we are wrong. My experience has been the opposite. Accepting we are wrong increases people’s respect for us – be it with a spouse, one’s kids, in the workplace or with friends. People respect and trust someone who is willing to admit he is wrong.
Accepting that you are wrong makes people trust you a great deal more during those times when you insist that you are right. In Torah’s opinion, this is the fundamental quality required for leadership. And that’s why Moses was the greatest leader in our history.