The stature of the leader is the measure of the people. Without a unified nation, there is no King.
Once the Holy Ba’al Shem Tov was praying with a minyan of his closest disciples. The Ba’al Shem Tov used to pray at great length with intense dvekus, longing and yearning for his Creator. His disciple would finish their prayers much earlier and then wait, sometimes for hours, for the Rebbe to finish.
Once the Ba’al Shem Tov extended his prayers even longer than usual and the disciples grew weary of waiting. They decided each one to attend to whatever he had to do and then to gather again in the Shul an hour later. After an hour, they had all returned and they waited some more until the Ba’al Shem Tov had finished his prayer.
He then turned to them and accused, “You’ve created a great disunification in that you went out to attend to your private needs and left me here alone!” Then he told them the following parable.
It is know that the nature of birds is to migrate to the warm countries during the winter months. Once, the inhabitants of one of those countries spotted an unusually beautiful and unusual bird with feathers of every color in the universe, and he was perched at the crest of a very high and mighty tree that was impossible to climb. When the King of the land heard about the bird, he decided that he must capture it. He ordered many, many people to be brought to the forest where the tree was located. One was to stand on the shoulders of the other until they were able to reach the perch of the beautiful bird, and then to bring it to the King.
The procedure of reaching the heights of the tree was very arduous and time consuming. Some of those at the bottom of the human ladder lost sight of the task at hand. Weary and disgruntled with the amount of time it was taking, they began to disperse. It goes without saying that the whole ladder toppled to the ground, injuring those on the highest sections. The King wanted that his people should be banded together with a common purpose, but this time nothing was gained.
“It was good”, concluded the Ba’al Shem Tov, “when you were bound together with me in my prayer. But when you disbanded, each going his own his own separate way, everything fell. What I had hoped to achieve, was lost.”