Dear SHA Community,
I hope that you had a wonderful Rosh HaShana.
With Yom Kippur fast approaching, our concentration on repentance intensifies. Repentance encompasses much more than correcting specific sins; it includes changing one’s path and developing one’s character traits. This week’s parasha, VaYelech, teaches a lesson about one important character trait - humility.
Moshe gives words of encouragement to his disciple, Yehoshua – the next leader of the Jewish People. “And Moshe called to Yehoshua and he said to him before the eyes of all of Israel be strong and courageous…”. Is the Torah telling us that Moshe spoke these words of encouragement to Yehoshua in front of the Jewish People (“before their eyes”) or did Moshe privately tell Yehoshua to be strong and courageous when he was leading the Jewish People?
The author of the Meshech Chochma, Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, understands our verse to mean that Moshe spoke to Yehoshua privately and told him to project strength and courage to the Jewish People. Yehoshua began as an unassuming leader whose humility extended to his outward demeanor. His humility was negatively impacting his ability to lead the people. Moshe told Yehoshua to remain humble while also showing steely resolve and projecting strength and courage to the nation. Through this demonstration, Yehoshua would be able to win over the people while remaining humble.
This message is important for all of us. Like Yehoshua, we should all strive to have integrity between our outward and inward persona. Moshe taught Yehoshua that humility is knowing your role in any situation and includes leading courageously without feeling superior to others.
We all have positions of leadership - whether professionally, communally, familially or socially. In our pursuit of repentance, let us use Yehoshua as a model and set humble leadership as a goal in the coming year.