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July 05, 1996 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Coining
JulY 19

THE JEWISH NEWS

Viewers Guide
To The
Olympic Games

A

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save section
with stories, informa-
tion and photographs
that enhance your
Olympics viewing
pleasure!

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PARKING AND ENTRANCE IN REAR

On A Level Head
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Shabbat Pinchas: Numbers 25:10-30:1; Jeremiah
1:1-2:3.

RABBI ALON TOLWIN SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

T

his week's sedrah is unique
because it is the only one
named in honor of a Jew
who did something good.
While there are sedrahs whose
names are shared with evil gen-
tile prophets, some whose names
are action verbs, skin conditions
or places, this is the only one
which is named for a righteous
Jew. This is psychologically odd.
If I were an ancient priest who
was trying to convince people to
accept my book, it would behoove
me to name a few chapters in
honor of their leaders. For that
matter, I might even write one or
two more complimentary things
about the Jews and their leaders.
Yes, it is quite odd that the au-
thor doesn't do this.
Here is Pinchas, truly one of
the great leaders of the Jewish
people. In an act of incredible
heroism, in a time when every-
one else, including Moshe, had
given up, Pinchas saved the Jew-
ish people. It ought to come as a
surprise that Moshe is told to ap-
point Joshua rather than Pinchas
as his successor. Compared to
Pinchas, Joshua doesn't seem to
warrant the attention.
Are there any hidden talents
or leadership skills that Joshua
had, unreported, that Pinchas
lacked?
In this world it is clear that the
"Pinchases" get the attention. Do
the people who attract the at-
tention deserve the mantle of
leadership?
Very possibly this week's por-
tion places the appointment of
Joshua next to the acclaim of Pin-
chas to contrast what a real
leader should be (Joshua) as corn-
- -pared-to-what we think a leader
should be (Pinchas). This is not
meant to belittle, in any way, Pin-
chas' mighty act. But it may il-
lustrate that not every war hero
is qualified to be president.
We are told that Joshua's
greatness was that he was a pas-
sionate lover and student of
Torah. Though it might sound
wimpy in contrast to the act of
Pinchas, it is the essential ele-
ment needed for leadership.
What is leadership? Ulti-
mately it is the ability to consis-
tently make the right decisions
about day-to-day needs. If our
choice is between a Joshua who
consistently makes good, sound

Alon Toiwin is the executive
director of the local office of
Aish HaTorah.

decisions in every situation but
is weak in crisis or a Pinchas,
good in crisis but not wise on dai-
ly matters, we need to choose the
Joshua.
A society cannot move into a
future by surviving crises. It has
to be able to deal with routine,
day to day reality. Dealing with
crisis is the special skill of Pin-
chas. He was even better in this
than Moshe. But a crisis, by its
very nature, is a unique and pass-
ing event. Most of the time, so-
ciety is not in crisis. Therefore,
the true leader has to be trained
to lead a society in times of non-
crisis.
This was Joshua. He trained
and learned as he could from the
Torah, the instruction book of life
to prepare himself for day to day
dealings. It stands to reason: If
you want a leader who is best go-
ing to lead a society, pick a leader
who has studied the instructions
first.
We've all dealt with or heard
questions such as "what would
you do if your child came home
and told you 'X or 'Y'?" Or, "what
would you do if you found out you
had 'A' or TT disease?"
They make great talk show
fodder or after dinner discussions.
Preparing for a crisis is our way
of talking and sounding mean-
ingful.
But how many people really
prepare for the non-crisis? How
many people sit at the dinner
table and ask how they can make
the very act of eating meaning-
ful? How many talk shows raise
the question, "is day-to-day life
meaningful when there isn't a cri-
sis?"
Dealing with the non-crisis
world is more real than dealing
with the crisis-laden one. We are
often inadequate in the face of the
non-critical situations. This in-
adequacy allows problems to ac-
cumulate to the point where they
eventually reach crisis propor-
tions.
We surely must learn to deal
with non-crisis situations since
these are the most common. The
one who understands this dy-
namic is the one best able to lead
people, including himself. To ap-
point a permanent leader whose
only skill is crisis prevention is to
ask for inevitable chaos when the
crisis subsides.
For this reason, Joshua was
evidently the best choice for
leader. Only our modern-day
preoccupation with crisis could

c_\

N

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