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admit mistake

More often than not, people hide their mistakes when, in hindsight, something went wrong. Not Moses. He admitted the truth voluntarily.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is “Devarim” (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22), and with it we begin the book of Deuteronomy and the final days of Moses’ life.

As many great leaders do before they die, they leave their family, friends, and followers with words of wisdom and rebuke, what we call “constructive criticism.” Moses was no different. Having led the nation through 40 years of all kinds of adventures, some good, some bad, he certainly had something to say about their time together and to offer advice for their next stage: life in the Land of Israel.

One of the first things Moses opens up with is the disastrous episode of the 12 spies almost 40 years earlier. The nation wasn’t satisfied with God’s promise of a land of blessing, a land flowing with milk and honey…they wanted human confirmation of it as well. Twelve spies were sent to check out the land and 10 of them returned with a slanderous report, scaring the nation into wanting to stay in the desert, or worse, return to Egypt.

It was the sin of the spies that caused the Jewish people to have to wander in the desert for 40 years! Indeed, the day that the spies returned from their ill-fated mission was the 9th of Av, Tisha b’Av, the national Jewish day of mourning. Also of interest is that this Torah portion is always read on the Shabbat before Tisha b’Av.

In addition to rebuking the people for the fiasco of the spies, Moses does something else. Something tremendous, in fact. He confesses that he, too, supported the idea of sending spies to check out the land of Israel. As it says: “The idea was good in my eyes…” (Deuteronomy 1:23).

If one examines the story of the spies, where we first encounter it in the Book of Numbers, it is not completely clear if Moses opposed the idea of checking out the land of Israel, supported the idea, or was neutral. Now, in hindsight, when it is clear that the idea was a disaster, Moses could have said “I knew it” or “I told you so.” But no, Moses confessed that he thought it was a good idea! What honesty! What integrity!

More often than not, people hide their true feelings and thoughts when, in hindsight, something went wrong. If we’re lucky they’ll run away from the issue, but more often than not, they’ll lie about it or make up all kinds of crooked explanations as to why they had agreed in the first place. Not Moses. He admitted the truth even when he could have gotten away without doing so.

These are the types of leaders, bosses, and coworkers that we need and that we need to be. Being a leader, being a person of integrity is about being honest and earning the trust of others.

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.

https://unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-justice-must-prevail-regardless-of-the-amount-in-dispute/

https://unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-the-jewish-perspective-on-war/

https://unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-showing-respect-even-during-rebuke/

https://unitedwithisrael.org/unity-will-bring-redemption/

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