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Shabbat Commentary

14/15 July: Shabbat Pinchas comes in 8:58 pm, goes out 10:13pm

Toward the end of parshat Pinchas, God instructs Moses to appoint Joshua to replace him as leader.  The Torah teaches that when Moses lays his hands on Joshua, passing on the mantle of leadership, he only passes on part of his glory.  God says to Moses, “Invest him with some of your authority, so that the whole Israelite community may obey.”  (Numbers 27:20)

Why some, and not all of Moses’ glory?   The Talmud takes off on this passage with a fascinating insight.  “The face of Moses was like that of the sun; the face of Joshua was like that of the moon.”  (Talmud Baba Batra 75a).

What is the difference between the sun and the moon?   The Hasidic Rebbe Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter of Ger wrote, “Unlike the sun which dominates the sky, the moon allows other heavenly bodies to shine.”  Moses who had seen God face-to-face was an overwhelming presence.  Joshua knew that true leadership means not overwhelming others, but allowing others to step forward and share in the glory.  The true leader is the one who can share leadership, and in so doing, can help others also become leaders.

 


 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

July 13, 2017