In this week’s reading, Moshe (Moses) is told to appoint Yehoshua (Joshua), “a man who has the spirit within him,” to lead the Nation of Israel after Moshe’s passing. Rabbi Asher Zelig Rubenstein shlit”a, whose classes are available on TorahMedia almost immediately after they are given, discussed last night the concept of “a man who has the spirit within him” to be a leader.
Democracy, he pointed out, is somewhat hypocritical. We select leaders because they think like us, to represent our way of thinking — and then we mock those same leaders when they follow the poll results. We know that they are not leaders, but rather followers.
The Mishnah says that at the end of times, “the face of the generation will be like the face of the dog.” Some explain that the “face” is a reference to our leaders, who will “lead” the same way that a dog runs ahead of his Master. It is not the dog, but the dog’s owner, who determines which way they will go — but to the uninformed observer, it looks like the dog is “leading.”
A true leader, by contrast, is able to be firm in the face of public opinion. Yehoshua, who had always been the quiet follower, listening to Moshe and following his every word, “had the spirit within him” to lead the nation, and not be its follower!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org