By Mark Gerson
Every week in synagogue, we Jews read a portion (a parsha) of the Torah, scheduled so that we complete the Torah in an annual cycle. The parsha that was read last week was Beha’aloscha, which is in the middle of the Book of Numbers. Coming after the unforgettable foundational stories of Genesis, the spectacular liberation in Exodus, the laws decreed in Leviticus, and before the great summing up in Deuteronomy, the Book of Numbers is sometimes overlooked. This underrated book of the Bible covers the almost 40 years between the Exodus and the Book of Deuteronomy, when the Jews are poised to enter the promised land. This journey is full of gripping stories, important rules and—most significantly—remarkably astute and highly practical guidance to help us live better, happier, and more meaningful lives today.
The main actor in this journey—as in each book of the Torah except for Genesis—is Moses. He has demonstrated moral courage in leaving the comforts of the palace to stand with his people against the evil Pharaoh, physical courage in fighting to protect the vulnerable, fortitude in negotiating on God’s behalf to free the Jews, leadership in conducting the greatest escape in military history, vision in betting the future of the Jewish people on education in an almost entirely illiterate world, and tenacity in guiding an often-maddening people to a promised land that they are not ready for.
Read more at If Moses Needed a Mentor, Don’t We All?