“Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.” — Numbers 27:20
As we remember the anniversary of Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s passing this month, we offer you a selection of his devotional thoughts on leadership. Learn how you can honor Rabbi Eckstein’s lifework and legacy through our Wings of Eagles ministry.
Moses was nearing the end of his life and the leadership of Israel. God’s commanded to Moses to appoint a successor as he neared the end of his life and his tenure as Israel’s redeemer and leader. As we have read previously, Joshua was chosen as the new leader.
Now we read that God specified to Moses, “Give him some of your authority . . .” The verse varies in Hebrew and reads: “Give him some of your majesty . . .” From this, the Jewish sages explain that Moses was directed to transmit to Joshua some of his greatness, but not all of his greatness. Joshua would prove to be an excellent leader; however, there was only one Moses, and he reached a level that no other leader ever could.
Jewish tradition holds that that when the elders heard that Joshua had been chosen to succeed Moses, they bemoaned the fact that Moses’ face resembled the sun (in its radiance), while Joshua’s face only resembled the moon. “Woe to us for the embarrassment; woe to us for the shame and disgrace,” they exclaimed.
What does it mean that Moses was like the sun and Joshua only like the moon? And what is the shame and disgrace that the elders referred to?
The sun is obviously more brilliant than the moon, and similarly, Moses, whose face literally shined like the sun, was on a greater level than Joshua. However, at the same time, the sun is not as accessible as the moon. We can gaze at the moon for hours at night, but it’s not possible to look at the sun for even one moment.
Similarly, the level of Moses’ greatness was not attainable for the elders of Israel. Except for the messiah, Judaism teaches that no one can ever be like Moses. However, when it came to Joshua, his level of greatness was possible for others. The difference between Joshua and the elders was not talent; it was effort. This was the shame of the elders; they, too, could have been on the level of Joshua had they only exerted themselves as he did.
We all have great potential inherent inside of us. The question is: Do we invest the time and effort that it takes to unleash our greatness? God doesn’t expect us to become someone that we weren’t created to be, but He does expect us to become all that we can.
You can honor the lifework and legacy of Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein by participating in the Rabbi Eckstein Memorial Freedom Flight, bringing Jews from Ukraine and countries of distress home to Israel.