According to Their Spirit

Yael Eckstein  |  July 20, 2022

Moses said to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community…” — Numbers 27:15-16

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Pinchas, which means “Phinehas,” from Numbers 25:10–30:1.

As a mother of four, I am often asked about my approach to parenting. I always quote the verse in Proverbs, “Educate children the way they should go,” which in Hebrew literally says, “Educate each child according to his way.” In other words, my parenting philosophy is to recognize that each of my children has a unique soul and must be treated accordingly. What works for one child does not necessarily work for another.

The key is to know who your children are as individuals… and my children are definitely individuals!

I try to bring this same philosophy to my leadership at The Fellowship. It’s so important for me to get to know everyone so I can best understand their own unique strengths and gifts. The key to good leadership is to keep the overall plan and mission moving forward, while honoring the individual roles played by each and every person involved.

According to Their Spirit

We see this message of leadership in this week’s Torah portion. As Moses neared the end of his life, he asked God to appoint his successor as leader of Israel. We read, “Moses said to the LORD, ‘May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community.’”

The phrase “the God who gives breath to all living things” is unusual. Why did Moses refer to God this way at this time?

In Hebrew, the verse reads “Elohei ha-ruchot lechol basar,” literally, “the God of the spirits of all flesh.” The Jewish sages explained that what Moses said to God was, “You know the spirit of each and every one of the children of Israel. No two of them have the same thoughts or feelings. Please appoint a leader who will bear the burden of each of them according to his spirit.”

God created each of us with a unique spirit. The strength of God’s people lies in the ability of each person to be valued for their own unique contribution to His kingdom. Moses understood and respected that uniqueness. He knew that the key to good leadership, and to all relationships, is the honoring of each and every person “according to their spirit.”

Your Turn:

What makes you unique? What is your special strength with which you can serve God?

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