A Lesson in ConsistencyFebruary 23, 2020 - 12:00 am
So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.” — Numbers 27:18
As we remember the anniversary of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s passing this month, we offer you a selection of his devotional thoughts on leaving a legacy of faith. To learn more about Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, visit our Limmud Study Archive.
There is an interesting debate in the Talmud, Judaism’s oral tradition, regarding which verse in the Bible illustrates the most important principle. One Jewish sage suggests: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Another sage chooses: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). A third scholar decides: “Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight” (Numbers 28:4). In the end, all agree that the third sage is correct.
We can understand the first sage’s choice that the belief in one God is the underlying principle of the Bible. We can also understand the second sage’s opinion that loving others is of paramount importance throughout the Bible. But what is the third sage’s opinion all about? How can the command for the “daily offering” be of such importance as to underscore the main message of the Torah?
The sages explain that the daily offering is a lesson in consistency. Consistency is of chief importance in the Torah. We can argue about which value is greater – belief in God or loving others, but consistency trumps them both. Why? Because our values are only as valuable as we make them.
If we believe in one God but don’t act that way all of the time, then we diminish that value. If we believe in loving others, but only practice it when we feel like it, then that value isn’t worth as much as it could be. However, when we learn to be consistent – to continuously and reliably act in accordance with our values, then we increase the power of everything that we believe in.
In our verse today we read about Moses passing on the mantle of leadership to the one whom God had chosen to be the new leader of the Israelites: Joshua.
Why Joshua? According to Jewish tradition, Moses had suggested one of his own children. Or perhaps Caleb, who was the one who had spoken up when the ten spies spoke badly about Israel. Joshua hadn’t done anything outstanding at all.
The sages explain that Joshua was chosen because he stayed by Moses’ side day-in and day-out. Joshua made it his business to learn from Moses, draw closer to God, and help others do the same, every single day of his life. This is what made Joshua great and deserving of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.
Think about it: The daily, quiet acts of righteousness are what God values most. We don’t need to do anything extraordinary – just be extraordinarily dedicated to all we do.
You can honour the lifework and legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein through a memorial donation that will bring critical humanitarian aid and hope to those in need. Through your partnership, we can continue to bring Christians and Jews together to support Israel and her people.