28 July 2016
This week’s parasha, Pinchas, describes the devastating news that Moses receives from God that he will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. After all that he had done to lead the Israelites to freedom, to say nothing of taking the scenic route through the Sinai for 40 years! And how does Moses respond? With anger, despair, bitterness? Disappointment, perhaps? Quite the opposite. Instead, Moses thinks of appointing a successor.
Leadership is tested through adversity. A boat captain’s skill is proven not on a smooth pond, but in the stormy ocean. Having received a blow to his pride and his dreams, Moses responds in a profound manner. He acknowledges his fate and thinks of his people. Fearing that they may become like “sheep that have no shepherd,” he begs God to appoint a new leader, “who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall take them out and bring them in.”
Each of us will endure disappointment at not being able to complete all that we set out to do. It’s the nature of life. Rather than linger on the challenges life throws at us, we might instead take to heart what Moses teaches us and place our focus on supporting others. We must consider the fate of all who come after us, and create our own “succession plans” for our families, businesses, organizations and synagogues, so that our personal – and our community’s – work may continue.