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“And Moshe said to him, ‘Are you being zealous for my sake? Would that the entire people of Hashem could be prophets'” (11:29)

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Two elders prophesied in the camp. When Moshe’s son, Gershom, heard the prophecies, he ran to tell his father. According to one comment in the Midrash, the prophecy predicted Moshe’s imminent death in the desert and Yehoshua’s ascension to leadership. Moshe received the news of the prophecy calmly.  Yehoshua, on the other hand, was greatly shaken by the prediction, and he asked Moshe to imprison the two prophets.

Moshe’s response to his student Yehoshua reveals his greatness and underscores his brilliance as the quintessential leader of Klal Yisrael. Horav S.R. Hirsch, z.l., derives from Moshe’s perspective the necessary attitude a Torah educator or Rav should demonstrate toward his students and congregants.  The goal of mechanchim, educators, should be to make themselves superfluous. In other words, their goal should be that their students attain such a level of erudition that they no longer need their teacher.

With the words,  “Would that the entire people of Hashem could be prophets,” Moshe Rabbeinu demonstrated leadership characteristics that reflected no jealousy nor fear of being equalled or surpassed by others.  The sincerity, candor and august dignity that was the essence of Moshe is revealed here. He was a man who never sought personal gain.  He never attempted to emphasize the inequality between himself as leader and his brethren. Indeed, it was Moshe’s greatest desire that his “talmidim” would all achieve his level of wisdom and knowledge.

This attitude stands in stark contrast to that of secular leaders who seek to distinguish themselves by making sure that their followers do not surpass them. It is almost intolerable for them  to share any position of equality with a member of the community. The sense of insecurity that many of today’s leaders have is indicated by their inability to trust subordinates by delegating power to them. In contrast, are those individuals whose self-confidence nurtures the growth of their students and assistants. These leaders encourage their proteges to the point that they truly have nachas when their followers achieve positions of leadership.