This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Beha'alotecha is taken from Numbers 8:1-12:16. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he explains the difference between Power and Influence, how Power works by division; Influence by multiplication, and what real leadership embraced by the Tanak looks like.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Beha'alotecha - Numbers 8:1-12:16
In I Cor. 13:12 it says, “For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as Elohim has fully known me. The rabbis say all other prophets saw their prophetic visions through a tarnished mirror but Moses saw his prophetic vision through a polished mirror, as it is said, “He beholds the form of Adonai.” What made Moses so unique? He heard the voice of Adonai directly and clearly—even audibly! He didn’t receive visions He simply heard Elohim’s voice and what he heard he passed on to Israel. Moses, unlike other prophets, spoke with Elohim without riddles or mysteries. Because of this unique level of revelations His voice was the equivalent of the voice of Adonai.
Moses had no dreams to be interpreted, no visions to be figured out; no riddles; no dark sayings. He heard the voice of Elohim. This is why Torah is the foundation for the rest of the Scriptures. If any book of Scripture or prophecy of any prophet did not agree with Torah, then there was a serious problem. For this reason, some writings are not considered Scriptures! This has implications for how we understand the Apostolic Scriptures. If we take verses from an epistle Paul wrote to a specific congregation and twist it and then use it to nullify the Torah, we have things backwards and upside down. In fact, Paul would be shocked! Paul does not trump Moses! Paul actually quotes Moses and relies on Torah for proof-texts! Yeshua, however, was the prophet like Moses, and even surpassed him in that He heard directly from Elohim. Yeshua perceived His vision clearly and saw Him face to face and spoke mouth to mouth.
I understand why Moses had moments of great despair leading the people of Israel. In this parashah—Moses is at the height of his generosity as a leader. It comes after one of his greatest, deepest moments of despair. People, as usual, were complaining, this time about food. They were tired of manna. They wanted meat instead! Moses appalled that they have not yet learned to accept the hardships of freedom; prays to die (Num. 11:10-15)!
Adonai in Num. 11:16-17 told him to gather 70 elders to help with the burden. We see the Ruach was poured out but also rested on two other men; Eldad and Medad who were not among the 70 chosen but stayed in the camp. Joshua saw this as a potential threat. However, Moses quieted Joshua. Moses shows mercy and gentleness to these two men who were not supposed to be among the 70. But wait…later when Moses leadership is challenged in Num. 16 by Korach and his followers he shows no mercy, gentleness or generosity. In fact, he is sharp, decisive and unforgiving. Why the difference between Korach and Eldad and Medad?
To understand we must grasp the difference between two concepts that are often confused: Power and Influence! We look at them as similar if not identical. People of power have influence and people of influence have power but this is not true. Power and influence are quite distinct and operate by a different logic. Let me give you an example: You have total power and whatever you say goes. Then on that day you share your power with 9 others. You now have at best 1/10 of the power you had before. Now—you have a certain measure of influence and you decide to share it with 9 other people whom you make your partners. You now have 10 times the influence you had before, because instead of just you there are now 10 people delivering the same message.
Power works by division; Influence by multiplication. Power is a zero-sum game—the more you share, the less you have. Influence is a non-zero game—the more you share, the more you have. Throughout Moses’ 40 years at the head of the nation, Moses held two different leadership roles: Prophet, teaching Torah and communicating with Elohim, and King, leading people on their journey, directing their destiny and supplying their needs. The king had power including life and death. Prophets had none, but they had influence, not just during their lifetime—but even today! When a prophet dies his influence begins! This is why Moses’ reaction was so different in the case of Eldad and Medad and that of Korach and his followers. Eldad and Medad sought and received no power but received the same influence—the divine Ruach that emanated from Moses. They became prophets! Num. 11:29, Moses said to Joshua, “Are you so zealous to protect me? I wish all of Adonai’s people were prophets! I wish Adonai would put His Ruach on all of them!” Prophecy is a non-zero-sum game. Influence… the more we share the more we have. However, Korach sought power and power is a zero-sum game. When it comes to “malkhut” (Kingdom) the leadership of power, the rule is: “There is one leader for the generation not two. “A Kingdom divided will fall!”
Moses could not let the challenge of Korach go unchallenged without fatefully compromising his own authority. All power, according to Torah, rightly belongs to Elohim. Real leadership embraced by the Tanak is that of influence, above all that of prophets and teachers. We understand that Biblical Judaism was the first and greatest civilization to predicate its very survival on education; houses of study, learning as a religious experience.
As leaders we are to mobilize others to act in certain ways—not because we hold power over them but because we inspire and teach them how to achieve things as a group. We need to make disciples. We need to raise up disciples. They will in turn continue the work into the future. Power diminishes those on whom it is exercised. Influence and education lift and enlarge them. Not all of us have power—but we all have influence…which is why we each can be a leader.
The most important forms of leadership come not with position, title, robes of office and not with prestige and power. But with willingness to work with others to achieve what we cannot do alone: To speak, to listen, to teach, to learn, to treat other people’s views with respect even if we don’t agree, to explain patiently why we believe what we believe and do what we do, to encourage others, to praise their best endeavors and challenge them to do better still. We must always choose influence rather than power. Influence helps change people into people who can change the world.
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Be the influence in someone’s life. Step up and out of mediocrity. Become filled with the Ruach and begin to prophesy in the camp. Look what Adonai can do through you! Just yield yourself to Yeshua on this Sabbath day and see what Elohim will do. See you at the altar!