He has one request more important than all others:
“Let the Lord?appoint a man over the congregation,
who will go forth before them and come before them?so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
(Bamidbar 27, 16ading the nation is no easy mission. Therefore, he is concerned. He knows that without a devoted leader, the nation will be ?like sheep without a shepherd.?
God responds and reveals to Moshe who his successor will be:
The Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and you shall lay your hand upon him?
By his word they shall go, and by his word they shall come; he and all Israel with him, and the entire congregation.”
(Ibid, Ibid 18-21)
Yehoshua Ben Nun, about whom we already heard in the story of the spies, will merit taking over for Moshe and bringing Am Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael.
Why was Yehoshua privileged to do this? Why was he chosen to lead the nation? God provides us with this answer Himself in His words to Moshe. Yehoshua?s special quality is defined in the phrase ?a man of spirit?. Yehoshua had spirit. He had motion. Those who were near him were inspired by his special spirit.
But what was this spirit?
The sages of the midrash tell us that Yehoshua would ?arrange the benches and spread out the mats in the Beit Midrash (seminary).? Yehoshua was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He did not come from a family of leaders or a privileged family. He had devotion. He worried about men and women who come to learn Torah from Moshe and took it upon himself to arrange for them to have comfortable places to sit.
This is seemingly a minor act. But the truth is that this is where spirit resides.
Devotion and loyalty were the beacons that lit Yehoshua?s path. Even in the above-mentioned story of the spies, of which Yehoshua himself was one, he stood out in his devotion to the task and his loyalty to its goal. He did not look for problems and therefore did not find them.
The spirit that filled Yehoshua?s heart was one of responsibility. Was he asked to arrange the benches and the mats? We will probably never be able to answer this. But chances are that he did this of his own initiative, out of a sense of responsibility and devotion, and therefore was praised for these acts.
A true leader grows from below and paves his path with the purity of his heart. Traits such as devotion, loyalty, and responsibility are those that help him develop and become worthy of the role.