Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Pinchas

“Single out Joshua, son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit [ruach], and lay your hand upon him” Numbers 27:18

    This verse teaches two ideas about God’s conception of leadership. Outside of the sanctuary rites God rejects dynastic succession as the basis for leadership; and secondly, ruach, or spirit, is the essential criterion of leadership for the next phase of Israelite life.
     
    In Parashat Pinchas, Moses learns that Mount Avarim will be his final resting- place and Joshua, his trusted aide, will lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. For the first time in its existence as a community, leadership will pass from one figure to another.  What are the special skills or personal qualities that make a person an effective leader of the Jewish people? 

    What is ruach? The medieval commentators offer various interpretations of the word ruach in this verse. For Sforno, it is a quality of “someone who is ready and worthy to be presented to the King of Kings”.  Ibn Ezra notes that ruach is strength of character or physical strength. 

    The Bekhor Shor defines ruach as a series of traits: a spirit of wisdom, strength, piety and fitness for leadership. Rashi interprets ruach in relational terms: a leader who possesses it is someone who relates well to every individual. 

    The variety of definitions offered by the commentators shows the indeterminate nature of ruach. There is no one single quality of leadership, only leadership which is appropriate for the time. Moses is endowed with the kind of charismatic ruach which enables him to lead the Israelites to freedom and transmit the Torah to them. Joshua, on the other hand, possesses a ruach of military skill leading the Israelites in the wars against their enemies becoming the first judge in the Land of Israel. Moses and Joshua are the right leaders for their age; leaders come and go but God is eternal.  

Sidrah

Ha'azinu

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ha'azinu
Sidrah

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Friday, May 5, 2017

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
Sidrah

Shemot

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Friday, January 20, 2017

Shemot
Sidrah

Re'eh

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Friday, August 18, 2017

Re'eh
Sidrah

Vayikra

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Monday, April 3, 2017

Vayikra
Sidrah

Vayishlach

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Vayishlach
Sidrah

Beha'alotecha

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Friday, June 9, 2017

Beha'alotecha
Sidrah

Mishpatim

Rabbi Daniella Kolodny

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mishpatim