Parshat Pinchas 5773–Shabbat Torah Study–What it takes to be a leader.

Rashi references a Midrashic interpretation that when Moshe asked God to appoint his successor (Bamidbar 27:15), Moshe really hoped that God would appoint one of his own children, just as God appointed Aaron’s children to succeed him. The Sages tell us that Moshe’s request should be seen as having been granted. What?!? But we know that Joshua was appointed to lead B’nai Yisrael after Moshe. How can we understand what the Sages are telling us by this? We learn from many sources that parents are to teach their children (v’shinantam l’vanecha) and that students are to honor their teachers just as they honor their parents.

Rambam writes that, “Just as a person is commanded to honor and revere his father, so he is under an obligation to honor his teacher even to a greater extent than his father, for his father gave him a life in this world, while his teacher who instructs him in wisdom secures him life in the olam habah (the next world).” Parents have the status of teachers and teachers are accorded the status of parents. So, no, Joshua was not Moshe’s child by birth, but he had the status of son to Moshe Rabeinu (Moses our Teacher). Moshe may have been disappointed that one of his own biological children was not selected, but it was a positive and hopeful sign of equality and egalitarianism that the leadership of our people passed to someone by merit in knowledge and wisdom—a way that is accessible to all. Thus, we each have the potential to follow in the footsteps of a Moshe or a Joshua..

This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Rachel Shere who will teach on the subject of “the still small voice”—the kol d’mamah dakkah, that we read of in this week’s Haftarah. What is it? Where is it? How can I listen for it? How have I not heard it? 10:00 a.m. in the Youth Lounge. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.

Shabbat Shalom,

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