The Transfer of Leadership
STUDENT SUMMARIES OF SICHOT OF THE ROSHEI YESHIVA
SICHA OF HARAV
YEHUDA AMITAL ZTL
The Transfer of Leadership
Adapted by Tomer Mevorach
"You are all standing today before the Lord your God " (Devarim 29:9). Rashi (29:12) writes:
"A different interpretation: 'You are all standing (nitzavim)' because Bnei Yisrael were parting from one leader (Moshe) and taking on another (Yehoshua); therefore he made them stand ceremoniously, in order to exhort them. Yehoshua did the same thing, and likewise Shemuel, who said 'Stand and I shall judge you' (I Shemuel 12:7) when they parted from his leadership and entered the leadership of Shaul."
The source for Rashi's interpretation here is to be found in the Midrash Tanchuma (Nitzavim 1), but Rashi changes the language of the midrash in two ways. The midrash reads as follows:
different interpretation: Why did Moshe make them stand ceremoniously? Because
they were passing from one approach (daat) to another: from the approach
of Moshe to the approach of Yehoshua, and [later on] from the approach of
Yehoshua to the approach of the Elders. Yehoshua likewise made them stand
ceremoniously, as it is written, 'And Yehoshua gathered all the elders of
The midrash talks about the differences between the approach or way of thinking of different leaders, while Rashi emphasizes the actual transition from one leader to another. Also, Rashi adds the comment, "in order to exhort them."
Why the need for exhortation? Perhaps this was necessary because the nation would now need to follow a new leader, to whom they were not yet accustomed. Obviously there were significant differences between Moshe and Yehoshua, but Rashi blurs these differences; the midrash, in contrast, emphasizes the different styles or ways of thinking that characterize each of them. There is no real contradiction between these two interpretations: after all, Rashi accepts the explanation of the midrash concerning the difference between the leaders. According to his understanding, however, the leaders ultimately walk the same path despite their differences in approach. In terms of personality, Moshe is certainly different from Yehoshua, but in terms of their leadership there is continuity rather than a break.
As we read this parasha, our yeshiva, too, is about
to undergo a change in leadership. After Sukkot , Rav Mosheh
We chose to go about the process in this way in
order to avoid an unfortunate phenomenon in the yeshiva world whereby after a
Rosh Yeshiva retires, the yeshiva is split, and sometimes even closed down,
because Roshei Yeshiva have not designated their successors and the
students are left in confusion. I am happy to say that not only did we accept
the committee's recommendations, but we are implementing them: three years ago
I am not leaving the yeshiva; I am only leaving the
post of Rosh Yeshiva. I believe, and our yeshiva has always
believed, that the primary expression of the role of Rosh Yeshiva
is delivering a weekly shiur klali (a talmudic lecture to the
entire student body). There exist yeshivot in which the Rosh
Yeshiva is not capable of giving a shiur klali; in our case,
thank God, even among the regular faculty there are many who are capable of it.
After Sukkot I will cease delivering the shiur klali and Rav
In past years the yeshiva has grown, undergoing many changes, with the final word in the hands of the Roshei Yeshiva. The decision-makers at our yeshiva, thank God, are not all kinds of interested parties and machers. The decision-makers are the Roshei Yeshiva, whose role as stated is to concern themselves with the students, and to serve them.
I have served alongside
The yeshiva continues to develop. Upon becoming
(This sicha was delivered in Elul 5768 .)