Appointments: +972-545-893-399

Relay Races – Parshat Pinchas

One of the more exciting track competitions is the relay race. It depends on individual as well as team effort. There is a common goal and everyone is pulling for that goal. Each leg of the race is important to the individual as well as the team. The passing of the baton must be precise and coordinated or else the team loses precious time and energy.

The passing of leadership as well needs to be timely precise and smooth. In most democracies, when a new leader is elected he does not immediately start governing but rather there is a prescribed period of transfer from the former governing staff to the newly-elected one.

This week’s parsha, Parshat Pinchas also describes that form of transfer of leadership from Moshe to Yehoshua (Joshua). Moshe is told that he will not lead the people of Israel into the land of Israel. Immediately he requests that there be a smooth transfer. He asks that God hand pick a replacement.1 When this happens, Moshe does not hesitate and immediately implements the process needed to effect this change. He does not let ego get in his way. He has led the people for 40 years and is interested in their good and cares for a smooth transfer. Rashi2 points out that in appointing Yehoshua he gave him more even than God commanded him to give. Moshe very much wanted this transfer to succeed.

If we truly care about something we have been involved in, whether at work or in the community, then transferring the “baton” at the end of the stewardship should be done with the same amount of care and interest that was shown during our tenure. The project is what is important. It is what we worked for and invested time in.

Famed psychologist Abraham Maslow spoke of self-actualization as our ultimate goal and the highest level of fulfillment of human needs. Later, though, he added one other detail. If we self-actualize only for ourselves we will find ourselves wanting. Self-actualization is to be done in service of others in order for it to have a true and lasting positive effect on our psyche.

This concept, championed by logotherapy founder, Dr. Viktor Frankl, becomes central to a philosophy of human beings being here to serve and not simply to attain power or pleasure. We are motivated by a search for meaning in our lives. That meaning can be personal, attitudinal, creative, or experiential. It is on a higher level when it is also in service of others. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” President John Kennedy said.

We are all part of a team. This occurs all over – whether within our family, our community, our work, our city or even part of the human race. We worry about our children’s education, our own future and global warming. We care about this world of ours. Let us care for it. And let us leave the world a better place for those to whom we shall “pass the baton”.


  1. Bamidbar 27:19
  2. ibid. v.23