Leadership For The Greater Good



On Shabbat we will conclude the book of Bamidbar (Numbers) and then begin Devarim. It’s amazing how fast time goes! Yesterday, I was listening to Russell Brand’s podcast interview with former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink. Russell Brand was interviewing Jocko about leadership. Jocko explained that leadership in the military is not top-down leadership like we tend to see in the movies, leaders in the military form a cohesive unit. The leader listens to members of their team. They build trust and put the interests of the group above themselves and inspire others to care for the common good. Unlike the “leaders” that we see today who only care about their own agenda.


In Parashat Mattot, B’nai Yisrael are on the final leg of their journey into Eretz Yisrael. They are along the east bank of the Jordan and within sight of their destination. Reuben and Gad had large flocks of cattle and felt that it would be best for them to stay there. The land was ideal for grazing. They asked Moshe for permission to stay there.


וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ אִם־מָצָ֤אנוּ חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ יֻתַּ֞ן אֶת־הָאָ֧רֶץ הַזֹּ֛את לַעֲבָדֶ֖יךָ לַאֲחֻזָּ֑ה אַל־תַּעֲבִרֵ֖נוּ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּֽן

It would be a favor to us, they continued, “if this land were given to your servants as a holding; do not move us across the Jordan” (Bamidbar 32:5).


Moshe realized immediately that they were putting their own interests above those of the nation. They had their own agenda instead of being mindful of what was best for their community. There were a series of wars that B’nai Yisrael fought in order to inherit Eretz Yisrael. Moshe’s response is: “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the Lord has given them” (Bamidbar 32:6-7)?


וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה לִבְנֵי־גָ֖ד וְלִבְנֵ֣י רְאוּבֵ֑ן הַאַֽחֵיכֶ֗ם יָבֹ֙אוּ֙ לַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְאַתֶּ֖ם תֵּ֥שְׁבוּ פֹֽה

וְלָ֣מָּה (תנואון) [תְנִיא֔וּן]אֶת־לֵ֖ב בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל מֵֽעֲבֹר֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נָתַ֥ן לָהֶ֖ם יְהֹוָֽה


Moshe reminded Reuven and Gad about how the episode of the spies demoralized the people. As a result, that generation did not merit to enter the land. Moshe was completely honest. They propose a compromise, they will settle on the east side of the Jordan. They will fight alongside their brethren, and they will not return until all of the battles have been fought and the land has been conquered. Moshe restates their position and asks them to affirm their commitment. Reuven and Gad dud fulfill their promise to help settle the land.


When we finish a book of the Torah, we say "Chazak Chazak V’nitzchazek" Be strong, be strong and let us be strengthened!


Along B’nai Yisrael’s journey into Eretz Yisrael, there were forty-two stops. Rabbi Wolbe, in his podcast this week, mentions a principle in Kabbalah that there have been forty-two spots on our journey in exile. Our last stop is America. We will achieve our full redemption and return to the land. May we merit to achieve our full redemption very soon!