Moshe knew that he was soon to die and would not be chaperoning the Jews into Eretz Yisroel. Therefore, he requested of Hashem that a new leader be appointed. This new guide, Moshe specified, should be courageous to lead them in battle and have sufficient merits to carry them through. Moshe stated further his concern that “the congregation of Hashem not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”
“The congregation of Hashem should not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” When one person speaks with another we expect ideas to be communicated with similes, metaphors, and parables. When Moshe speaks with Hashem, though, we would anticipate direct elucidation of ideas. Why did Moshe find it necessary to resort to parable in asking Hashem for a new leader?
Moshe was aware that leading required a skill of harnessing opposite approaches and applying them simultaneously, in perfect balance. Nowhere is this harmony of antagonistic roles as apparent as in the work of a shepherd. On various levels, a shepherd’s role is to serve in a dual capacity: He must take the sheep to food and water and he must steer the sheep away from danger, grazing them in safety. The shepherd must actively provide his flock a framework in which to satisfy their needs. He must hover silently in the background, allowing his sheep to roam in pasture and forage on their own. He must know what to do and what not to do.
Perhaps that is the reason for Moshe’s use of analogy: it so precisely communicated his idea of the fitting candidate for leadership. A leader must protect those he leads, and still let them flourish on their own.
We are all leaders with influence on those around us. Sometimes, what we don’t do is a stronger education than that which we do.
Rabbi Chaim Brisker (1853-1918) developed the current Yeshiva system Torah learning style. There was another Talmid Chacham with a reputation for innovation and depth parallel to that of Rabbi Chaim. Despite this marked similarity, he never reached the prominence of Rabbi Chaim. Rabb Boruch Ber Leibowitz (1864-1939), renowned Rosh Yeshiva,and primary student of Rabbi Chaim, commented “The greatness of Rabbi Chaim, which held him apart from even this brilliant Talmid Chacham, was not the wisdom of what he said but the wisdom of knowing what not to say.”
If a small child is missing, one must violate the Shabbos to do anything necessary to find him or her.