Leaning, learning and light

‘And the Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, an individual who has spirit within him, and lay [or lean] your hand upon him; Stand him up before Elazar the Priest and before the entire congregation; and command him before their eyes. And give of your glory upon him in order that the entire congregation of the children of Israel may obey him”’ (Numbers 27:18-20)

By
June 27, 2013 15:23
Cattle on the plain

Cattle521. (photo credit: Israel Weiss)

 
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‘And the Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, an individual who has spirit within him, and lay [or lean] your hand upon him; Stand him up before Elazar the Priest and before the entire congregation; and command him before their eyes. And give of your glory upon him in order that the entire congregation of the children of Israel may obey him”’ (Numbers 27:18-20) In these three verses we see the “passing of the guard,” the passing of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Embedded within the three actions God commanded Moses to perform, we may begin to define three forms of traditional Jewish leadership.

Firstly, Moses was to “lay his hands” upon Joshua, an act expressing a conferral of rabbinic authority, semicha (literally a laying upon or leaning upon), from master to disciple. Since Moses was traditionally known as Moshe Rabbenu, (“Moses our teacher”) and since Joshua is biblically and midrashically described as Moses’s devoted disciple, it is perfectly logical to deduce that the first transference from Moses to Joshua was that of religious legal authority.

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