Who is the true leader? Does the leader’s behavior mold the behavior of the community or is it the community’s activities that affect the leadership?
In response to this question the Gemara on today’s daf (=page) discusses two of the last kings of Judea during the period of the first Temple. King Yoshiyahu was a righteous king, and two of his sons became king. The Gemara identifies his son Yehoyakim as a king who was not good, even though his generation was a virtuous one, and his other son Zidkiyahu as a virtuous king, even though the generation was evil.
In support of this position, the Gemara teaches:
For Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai: What is the meaning of: In the beginning of the reign of Yehoyakim, the son of Yoshiyahu, king of Judah?The Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to reduce the world to formlessness and emptiness because of Yehoyakim, but when He considered His generation, His anger subsided.The Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to reduce the world to formlessness and emptiness because of the generation of Zidkiyahu, but when he considered Zidkiyahu, his anger subsided.
Although the Gemara does not quote a scriptural source for this teaching, the prophet Yirmiyahu appears to support this view. In Chapter 36 of Sefer Yirmiyahu, the story is told of how Yirmiyahu was commanded by God to commit his prophecies to writing so that they could be read to the king. The officers who heard the scroll read were impressed and became frightened. They insisted that King Yehoyakim hear it as well, but when it was read to him he took it and burned it, against the urging of the officers. Furthermore, Yehoyakim tried to kill Yirmiyahu who was forced into hiding.
In contrast, King Zidkiyahu is portrayed as a weak king, but not an evil one. While he is criticized, he shows great respect for the prophet and protects him (see Chapter 37), and the main description of evil activities is reserved for members of the community (see II Divrei Ha-Yamim 36:14-16).