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Rabbi Ari Enkin

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

Some are of the impression that leadership and greatness can only be achieved by the elite. Nothing is further from the truth.

This week’s Torah portion is Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22) and it opens the fifth and final book of the Torah by the same name. In fact, the entire book of Devarim is essentially one long sermon that Moses delivers to the Jewish people before they enter the Land of Israel. Moses reviews their 40 years of wandering – their experiences, their challenges, their errors, and God’s kindnesses. In this way, the people could learn from their mistakes and better themselves before they enter the palace of God: The Land of Israel.

In one of his reviews of past events, Moses recalls the time when he told God that he couldn’t do it himself anymore. That he needed help with leading the people. God accepted Moses’ claim and advised him to appoint a panel of sages who would help him with the leadership duties.

But wait a second! Could it be that the same Moses who led the people out of Egypt, the same Moses who unleashed the Ten Plagues, the same Moses who performed the miracles – was no longer capable of leading his own nation? What happened that caused Moses to call for backup? Was he burnt out?

The answer is no, no, and no. Make no mistake – Moses remained the same dynamic and powerful leader that he was on day one as he was on the day he passed away. However, God agreed that Moses should not be the sole leader, and here’s why: If Moses had remained the sole leader from the beginning to the end there was a concern that a negative message to the people might have unintentionally been conveyed. Some people may think that leadership and greatness could only be achieved by the elite. But regular people? Nah, they don’t stand a chance.

Nothing is further from the truth. Judaism teaches that every single person has the potential to become a Moses. To become a leader. To have an effect on the entire nation! From Moses to Joshua, Gideon to David, Sara to Devora, and Ruth to Esther: Even the simplest of people, ‘regular’ men and women throughout history – just like you and me- became the Moses of their time. Every person has something, something special, and something unique that no one else has. A talent, a skill, an insight on God, Torah, and spirituality. Something that many others can benefit from.

This is what greatness is. This is what Moses and God wanted to demonstrate by appointing a staff and assistants to Moses. No, nobody became like Moses – but everyone became a Moses commensurate to their abilities and talents. The one who goes through the hospitals visiting the sick or the one who collects charity for the poor, or the one who opens his home to guests – he or she may not be Moses, but he or she is having an effect and making a mark on the nation, and certainly in the life of another human being.

How great and simple it is to be Moses! All you need to do is maximize and fulfill your potential!.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!