Aaron has died. Miriam has died. Moses too will die before his people enter the Promised Land. In Pinchas, this week's Torah portion, G-d commands Moses to stand Joshua before the entire community and instill into the younger man some of Moses’s own spiritual authority. Earlier in the portion, Moses stands before the community with Pinchas himself, who eventually would become High Priest. For the Israelite people, new leaders have arisen.
A traditional prayer during the Torah service prays for the well-being of our leaders. Yakum Purkan -- Aramaic for "may salvation arise" – begins, "May salvation arise...for our masters and sages...for the leaders of the academies, for the judges at the gates..."
We certainly ought to pray for the leaders of our synagogue community, of the Jewish people, and of the Jewish state. We should also pray for our national leaders. As we celebrate 242 years of independence, we express gratitude for our revolutionary leaders -- those with whom we are well familiar and those whose names we will never know. They bequeathed to us what potential national salvation, offering a vision of what we might become, what we might achieve, what we might aspire to.
It is now incumbent upon us to pursue that vision and to pray for the wisdom of today’s leaders, so that this potential salvation becomes a reality for all who call this land home.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill