Review of Moses and the Path to Leadership

November 25, 2014

By Fred IsaacMosesWeb2

Many recent books have pointed to great leaders—Jesus, Lincoln, etc.,—as role models for modern managers and leaders. In this book, Zvi Grumet (formerly at the Lookstein Center) examines Moses as the exemplar of leadership, using the Torah and Jewish scholarship to develop his thesis.

Grumet divides his thesis into five parts, including: Moses’ “zealotry” and how he controls his emotions; “the man of the people or the man of God”; growing pains on “The Rocky Road” through the Wilderness; how “Leadership Emerges” in Deuteronomy; and “The Leader as a Teacher.” Each section contains three chapters dealing with the identified aspect of leadership. The first chapter poses the relevant issue as presented in the Torah. The second analyzes how the stories in Exodus and Numbers resolve the question both for the people and Moses himself. The third chapter summarizes the lesson both in Torah terms and for us. The arguments are made using Torah primarily, but other Biblical texts and Talmudic sages are also cited, as well as classical and modern scholars, to reinforce the discussion. The book contains indexes of names and relevant Biblical stories, and a timeline of chapters in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy that chronicle the key events cited in the volume.

While it does not discuss contemporary society directly, Grumet’s book can certainly provide insights into the modern world. It is recommended for synagogue libraries with extensive Torah Study collections, as well as academic libraries interested in demonstrating the value of biblical tales. It may be beyond most Bar Mitzvah students, but rabbis and mentors can also use its perspective on well-known stories.

This review originally appeared in the AJL Newsletter

Review of Moses and the Path to Leadership

July 21, 2014

by Gad DishiMosesWeb2

Grumet’s new book, Moses and the Path to Leadership, joins an ever growing library of works utilizing close readings and other literary tools from the field of biblical studies to highlight the timeless messages embedded in the text. Grumet brings an array of modern sources that pertain to leadership development and success and weaves these throughout his analysis.

The book focuses on the leadership qualities, or lack thereof, of Moses and how certain leadership characteristics developed over the course of his career. As Grumet lays out in his closing timeline, the main prongs of focused study revolve around Moses’ leadership being people-focused or God-focused, the use or misuse of his zealotry and Moses’ management, leadership and vision of and for the nation.

For example, Grumet begins by noting how Moses is first portrayed as a zealot when he kills the Egyptian smiting a Jew. The negative result of Pharaoh wanting to kill him impacts Moses’ hotheadedness when he flees to Midian. There, his zealotry is moderated as Moses deals with the foreign bullying shepherds without violence. While in Midian, Moses’ zealotry is further tamed as Moses retreats from public life and shepherds Jethro’s flocks. For the reader, this clearly foreshadows his future role as leader of the people. However, for Moses, this served as an avenue to control his zealousness by quarantining himself away from anything that might flare his anger.  Read the rest of this entry »