And Moshe spoke to HASHEM, saying: “Let HASHEM, the G-d of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them, and who may come in before them, and who may lead them out, and who may bring them in; that the congregation of HASHEM not be as sheep which have no shepherd.” And HASHEM said unto Moshe: “Take for yourself Yehoshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and press your hand upon him… (Bamidbar 27:16-18)
Take for yourself: Encourage him verbally, [and say,] “Fortunate are you that you have merited to lead the Children of the Omnipresent!” Rashi
a man of spirit (ruchos): As you requested; someone able to deal with the character of each and every individual. — Rashi
Moshe is not only told who it is that he should choose as a leader to replace him. We are privy to details of the replacement process. The Torah opens a window for us to understand why Yehoshua was chosen and how he was invited to serve. These are instructive points for seeking future leaders for all generations. What does it take to be a leader of the Jewish People?
So much is revealed in these few words of Rashi. Moshe is told to encourage Yehushua with words. That is how he is to be taken. The text of that appeal is telling, “Fortunate are you that you have merited to lead the Children of the Omnipresent!” Not just anyone would be sufficiently motivated to accept such a giant yoke of responsibility.
All that weight could only rest comfortable on the shoulders of someone who appreciates the inestimable value of caring for the Children of the Almighty.
Another vital quality is that this leader is not just a leader of the masses. The group is made up of individuals and a leader has to be able to relate to and communicate appropriately with each and every individual. The following story, related to me by one of my Rebbeim may just provide a charming portrait of both of these critical qualities of true Torah leadership.
His wife was driving though the back roads of Rockland County one Sunday with a car filled with kids, her kids. She pulled over by a sign advertising “garage sale” and all the children followed her out of the car. It was an impressively large parade of little people.
The woman hosting the garage sale exclaimed in amazement, “Are these all your children?” The Rebbetzin responded poignantly, “No!” They are G- d’s but I have been given the responsibility to watch over them and see to it they grow up right and fulfill their G-d given potential!”
I can’t say the garage sale lady was ready for such a grandiose response but it reveals the thinking of the Rebbetzin and lands a great and powerful lesson. A parent needs to know and appreciate these kids are not ours! They are really G-d’s! We don’t own them! They are not our property? “Fortunate are you that you have merited to lead the Children of the Omnipresent!”
This pertains to parents as well as teachers and more. Whoever realizes that each person needs to be appreciated, not as a number, but as a unique Divine Soul has already applied for a position of leadership. We can also now appreciate that leadership opportunities are not reserved just for heads of nation states but are readily available for anyone who cares to care that much.