parasha

Pinchas 5777

A Man of Spirit
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites

In this week’s parasha, Pinchas, we read about the difficult message conveyed by God to Moshe, the nation’s loyal leader, that he must climb up Mount Abarim and see the Land of Israel from afar.  Why from afar?  Because he will not be privileged to enter it.Moshe, who when still in Egypt saw himself as committed to the welfare of the nation; Moshe, who stood in front of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and demanded the liberation of the nation of slaves; Moshe, who liberated the nation, split the Red Sea, got the Torah and gave it to the nation; Moshe, who led the nation devotedly through forty years of wandering in the desert – is now being told that his role is over.  He will not reach his destination.  He will not enter the Land of Israel.  He – the revered leader – will die in the desert.And what is Moshe’s response to this message?  Does he pray?  Does he plead for his life, for his respect?

He has one request more important than all others:
"Let the Lord…appoint a man over the congregation,
who will go forth before them and come before them…so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd."

(Bamidbar 27, 16ading the nation is no easy mission.  Therefore, he is concerned.  He knows that without a devoted leader, the nation will be “like sheep without a shepherd.”

God responds and reveals to Moshe who his successor will be:

The Lord said to Moses, "Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and you shall lay your hand upon him…
By his word they shall go, and by his word they shall come; he and all Israel with him, and the entire congregation."

(Ibid, Ibid 18-21)

Yehoshua Ben Nun, about whom we already heard in the story of the spies, will merit taking over for Moshe and bringing Am Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael.

Why was Yehoshua privileged to do this?  Why was he chosen to lead the nation? God provides us with this answer Himself in His words to Moshe.  Yehoshua’s special quality is defined in the phrase “a man of spirit”.  Yehoshua had spirit.  He had motion.  Those who were near him were inspired by his special spirit.

But what was this spirit?

The sages of the midrash tell us that Yehoshua would “arrange the benches and spread out the mats in the Beit Midrash (seminary).”  Yehoshua was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He did not come from a family of leaders or a privileged family.  He had devotion.  He worried about men and women who come to learn Torah from Moshe and took it upon himself to arrange for them to have comfortable places to sit. 

This is seemingly a minor act.  But the truth is that this is where spirit resides.

Devotion and loyalty were the beacons that lit Yehoshua’s path.  Even in the above-mentioned story of the spies, of which Yehoshua himself was one, he stood out in his devotion to the task and his loyalty to its goal.  He did not look for problems and therefore did not find them.

The spirit that filled Yehoshua’s heart was one of responsibility.  Was he asked to arrange the benches and the mats?  We will probably never be able to answer this.  But chances are that he did this of his own initiative, out of a sense of responsibility and devotion, and therefore was praised for these acts.

A true leader grows from below and paves his path with the purity of his heart.  Traits such as devotion, loyalty, and responsibility are those that help him develop and become worthy of the role.  

All Torah weekly sections

אתרי הכותל

במתחם הכותל המערבי מספר אתרי תיירות ייחודים, אשר מעניקים מבט מיוחד על תולדותיה של ירושלים ועל ההיסטוריה של העם היהודי לדורותיו.
הצטרפו לרבבות שכבר ביקרו באתרי הכותל ותיהנו מחוויה מעצימה שלא תישכח במהרה.

All western wall sites