Parshah Pinchas פינחס (Numbers 25:10-30:1)
After 40 years in the desert, the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land of Israel. Moshe, who will not enter, raises the question to Hashem regarding who his successor is going to be. Who will be the new leader? Moshe is concerned:
“Let God’s community not be like sheep that have no shepherd.'” (Bamidbar 27:17)
Who can replace Moshe? It seems like an impossible task. The person G-d chooses will have to fill big shoes to replace Moshe. However, nothing is impossible for HaShem. He answers Moshe’s request for a replacement:
“…take Yehoshua son of Nun, a man of spirit … and invest him with some of your splendor so that the entire Israelite community will obey him.” (Bamidbar 27:18, 20)
One of the questions one might ask: ”Why Yehoshua, who was selected by G-d to replace Moshe, will receive only “some of the splendor of Moshe”? Moshe had a unique prophetic ability and closeness to G-d that no other human before or after him has achieved. Why couldn´t Yehoshua have been given the same ability?
One thing that needs to be examined is the underlying reason that created the need for a leadership change in the first place. Moshe could not enter the Land of Israel because he was too great! This might make no sense, but it does from G-d’s perspective. Moshe’s unique relationship with HaShem became a crutch that the Israelites had come to rely upon too much. If Moshe continued to lead them into the Promised Land, they would have remained passive. In other words, the Israelites would have waited for miracles again from Moshe to solve their problems and fulfill their needs. God knew the Israelites were about to enter into a new chapter of their history and they would become spectators rather than participants in their Jewish destiny. It is no wonder when G-d says on Moshe’s death that Moshe made the mistake of using too much of the power that he had given to him. By striking the rock, Moshe gave the impression to the Israelites that he and not HaShem was the source of this miracle. During their journey in the desert, many miracles happened to the Israelites, and it became a norm for them after a while. The supernatural became natural to them. Now, it was time for them to be dissuaded from their reliance on miracles. They were about to enter the Land of Israel, and now, it would require them to shift into a different type of living and existence. Miracle manna would soon be replaced by agriculture, and their survival and sustainment would no longer be guaranteed through Moshe and Aharon. Instead of waiting for their leaders to perform miracles, the people would now become partners with G-d.
Moshe’s generation witnessed miracles after miracles every day. Moshe’s unique and miraculous leadership was what the Israelites needed in the wilderness. HaShem always knows how to use the right person at the right time, at the right place and for the right purpose. After leaving the wilderness, what the Israelites needed was to begin a new chapter, in which their own relationship with God would blossom and grow through their obedience and faithfulness. This is the reason why Yehoshua could not receive the same ability as Moshe. Sometimes, we also expect miracles from others instead of trusting and relying on HaShem. But only God of Israel can provide miracles and nobody else! Shabbat Shalom! ~~~~~~~ Yosef
Read the May 2015 newsletter from the European Union for Progressive Judaism. Click here to read and download.
Read Torah from Around the World #280: Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) By: Rabbi Rene Pfertzel, Keren Or, Lyon, France and Finchley Progressive Synagogue, London, UK.
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