In our Torah portion this week, God tells Moses, “Single out Joshua son of Nun, an inspired individual, and lay your hand upon him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before the whole community, and commission him in their sight. Invest him with some of your authority, so that the whole Israelite community may obey” (Numbers 27:18-20). The timing of this portion beautifully coincides with the Republican and Democratic National Conventions serving to remind us of the fact that in every generation the transitions of leadership must be public and filled with a bit of dramatic flair.
In my Reflections last week, I used the word “spectacle” to refer to these National Conventions, and this week’s Torah portion reinforces the idea that the transfer of power and the investment of authority to new leaders in every age must be somewhat of a spectacle. Over the course of the past two weeks, the Republicans and Democrats have done a wonderful job rolling out their candidates for the world to see. With powerful words and rituals, these televised events have captivated the world in much the same what that Moses and Joshua must have captivated our ancestors as they prepared to transfer the mantle of leadership.
Now, as we prepare to move from the spectacular nature of the conventions to the brutal realities of the campaign season, a shift in responsibilities begins to fall on our shoulders. This shift is at the heart of our democratic system. Each of us now bears the responsibility of sorting through the facts and mulling through the details of proposed policies and visions. As we journey down this campaign trail together, let us make a conscious effort to remain courteous and respectful every step of the way.