By Fred Isaac
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
by Alan Jay Gerber
Rabbi Zvi Grumet’s “Moses and the Path to Leadership” [Urim Publications, 2014] is an excellent profile of the great lawgiver which will provide you with a rigorous, close analysis of his biography and leadership talents. This documents how he withstood the test of his leadership as a teacher and master of G-d’s law and teachings. The book’s topics are most timely to this season’s Torah readings of the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. Moses’ talent and gift of resilience, trust, and wisdom, are given their timely due within the context of his leadership talents as a teacher of the holy writ. This book forces you to recast your previous regard to Moses’ place in the history of our people. Read this work with caution as well as respect; both the subject and the author richly deserve it.
Rabbi Grumet is a musmach (recipient of rabbinic ordination) of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and is a graduate of Yeshiva University. He is a senior staff member of The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, coordinator of the Bible Department at Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi, and a distinguished faculty member at the Pardes Institute.
Rabbi Francis Nataf’s latest chumash commentary “Redeeming Relevance” [Urim Publications, 2014] deals with the
Book of Numbers. This commentary contains a relevance that gives it a heft both intellectually and religiously, a factor that is a rare commodity today among our Bible commentators. This quality is found in the way Rabbi Nataf deals with such complicated personalities such as Bil’am, Korach, the daughters of Tzelofchad, the spies, and the actions of the tribes of Shimon, Levi, Reuven, and Gad. Chumash is rarely taught in this manner at most shul shiurim, but it can be had by the simple addition of this work into your shul library.
Excerpts were taken from “On July 4th, warm summer book suggestions” The Jewish Star (July 2, 2014)
To see the full list of book suggestions click here.