In a quote: "with great power comes great responsibility" - Uncle Ben
This week we embark on a journey.
This week we embark on a journey. A journey of repetition.
This new book, Devarim is to the Torah as is Harry Potter in 60 seconds to the Harry Potter series, a summary. In this book Moses details the trials and tribulations of the people as they prepare to enter into the land of Israel. Devarim is underpinned by tragedy, it is underpinned by the knowledge that Moses, who after enduring the vices and virtues as a leader, will not enter into the Land of Israel.
But the topic of debate in this week's parsha is power and how we come to claim it.
It is written:
הָב֣וּ לָ֠כֶם אֲנָשִׁ֨ים חֲכָמִ֧ים וּנְבֹנִ֛ים וִידֻעִ֖ים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶ֑ם וַאֲשִׂימֵ֖ם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶֽם׃
Pick from each of your tribes men who are wise, discerning, and experienced, and I will appoint them as your heads.”
This statement seems to sit awkwardly within the democratic framework. Moses recalls that each tribe was called to "pick" i.e. select/decide/vote on a "wise, discerning and experienced" person to represent the tribe and to act as a mediator. But, these elected officials will wield no power until they are endorsed by Moses when he "appoints them". What does this mean?
I would argue that we must separate the technical and the practical.
The technical side of things is that the chosen leaders of the tribe wield no official power until they are instated by Moses. Only once he has proclaimed them as head are they able to be considered as opinions of significance.
Practically however, these leaders have been chosen by their people - the ultimate declaration of faith - to be their representatives. Whilst officially they may not wield the power within establishment, they have the power of people behind them! A power that overshadows institutional power.
And so we must remember people power trumps official power. Every. Time. For us madrichim and leaders within the community (ultimately we are all leaders) we must always remember that it is people who give us power not titles.