True Leadership

by | Aug 14, 2016 | Torah Thought

We all feel hurt when something we love is taken away from us, especially something that we ourselves worked hard to build. Who could know this better than Moses, who reminds us in this week’s Torah portion how he pleaded with God to allow him to enter the promised land.

With God’s help, Moses had built the ragtag bunch of slaves he led out of Egypt into a nation. it was Moses who fed them, disciplined them, chastised them, answered their annoying questions and intervened to save them from annihilation.

Can we truly imagine what Moses felt when God told him he would never enter the land of Israel? Despite his outstanding leadership, his steadfast dedication, his strength and compassion, he would never…ever…see his dreams fulfilled.

Perhaps then, Moses’ greatness was not his accomplishments, but his humility. Moses petitioned God repeatedly to change his mind, to let him be the leader to take the Jewish people into the land, yet God steadfastly refused. This is perhaps the only time in the Torah that God refused Moses’ heartfelt pleading, for on every other occasion he pleaded for others—this time he pleaded for himself.

In the end, Moses receives God’s decision with humility. He has the vision to see that he has built something far greater than himself and that the work of continuing it would ultimately fall to others. Because of his humility, Moses was able to let go of the limelight, to step out of the sun, and calmly hand the reigns of religious leadership over to his successor Joshua.

We all feel hurt when something we have built is taken out of our hands. The spiritual challenge this presents us each with is “letting go.” letting go of being in control. letting go of our sense of ownership. letting go of the rush that the responsibility gave us. it means realizing that the child we have given birth to is ready to make her own decisions and be responsible for the consequences they entail for her. in those moments, whether we are parents, entrepreneurs or activists, our duty is to understand that “letting go” is our moral responsibility.

—Rabbi Marc Kraus, Temple Emanuel