Devarim, Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22 – Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, July 25, 2020

Moses is described as “the most humble of all men.” (Numbers 12:3). Commenting on this quality, Ibn Ezra (14th C. Spain) writes, “Moses never asked for recognition, nor reward.”  In other words, he did not lead to serve his ego, or for his own glory, but because God chose him to do so. Moses’ model of leadership was service. 

This week we begin the fifth and final book of the Torah, Deuteronomy (repetition in Greek) or Devarim (words in Hebrew). This book is Moses’ final oration to the Israelites; his last opportunity to instil God’s laws, values and behaviors before they enter the Land of Israel. 

Moses, who was once afraid of speaking, now finds the words for a final testament and teaching. Despite his humility he finds the ability to leave an ethical will for the people he has shepherded for the last 40 years. It is his final act of service. 

Moses’ model of leadership seems in short supply these days, especially during this time of national crisis. Our leaders are more interested in acquiring wealth and power, justifying their behavior, and satisfying the needs of those who provide them with the funds needed for reelection. 

How refreshing would it be to have leaders whose primary goal was to serve the needs of the nation? How much stronger and healthier might our society be? Perhaps it is time we sought out such leaders.