Allow Others to Shine

Yael Eckstein  |  March 1, 2023

Two little girls hugging each other

Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. — Numbers 27:20

As The Fellowship marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership in his honor.

Can a person ever be too great a leader? A leader is sometimes so great that a number of problems can arise, not in spite of their greatness, but because of it.

For example, when people see their leader as the only one capable of leading them because everyone else is so far beneath that person’s greatness, this can lead to a crisis of faith in whomever comes next. When the seemingly perfect leader passes on or steps down, instead of being satisfied with the best replacement available, people despair and never really give proper respect to the successor.

Another common problem is that a leader who is too revered often inadvertently prevents others from rising to positions of needed leadership; everyone else pales in comparison.

Allow Others to Shine

In the story of Moses passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua, God gave a very interesting instruction to Moses: “Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.”

Why did God tell Moses to give Joshua “some of your authority?” The Hebrew for “authority” is hod, which more literally translates to “majesty” or “glory.” The Jewish sages explain that God wanted Moses to transmit to Joshua some of his greatness, not all of it. What does this mean?

The rabbis used a metaphor to describe the difference between Moses’ greatness and Joshua’s. They taught that Moses resembled the sun and Joshua resembled the moon. The simple understanding is that the sun is brighter than the moon. So, too, Moses was greater than Joshua. But there’s another important point here.

When the sun is out, no other source of light is visible. Try shining a flashlight outside on a sunny day. Try seeing the stars. But when the moon is out, even when it is shining fully, other lights can shine brightly as well.

As great as Moses was, his greatness made it difficult for the other leaders of the tribes of Israel to assert their own leadership. And this leadership was essential for the next stage of Jewish history, the entry into the land.

Moses was exactly who Israel needed to lead them as they left Egypt and survived 40 years in the desert. But as an independent nation in their own land, they needed Joshua, a leader who allowed others to shine, as well.

Your Turn:

In all ways that we lead—as parents or grandparents, in the workplace or in our communities—find ways to allow others to shine. Let’s look for ways to enable the contributions of others.