In this week’s Parsha, Moshe appoints his devoted student Yehoshua as his successor.

Leadership comes with great and awesome responsibilities.

Reb Aaron Cohen, the son-in-law of the saintly Chofetz Chaim, applied for the position of Rabbi in a city. When he was turned down, he shared his feeling of rejection with his father-in-law. The Chofetz Chaim at first tried to comfort him by telling him that Hashem – G-d ― runs the world and everything that happens is for the best. While his soothing words calmed Reb Aaron for the moment, the Chofetz Chaim had a sense that he was still inwardly disturbed.

The Chofetz Chaim then said to his son-in-law, “I will share a personal story with you on the condition that you keep it secret during my lifetime.” Reb Aaron assured him that he would honor his request.

The Chofetz Chaim began: “I was appointed the Rav of the City of Radin, and a short while later, the kosher butcher in town was caught selling Treif. His Kosher certificate was removed and the store was closed.”

“Some time later, the butcher came to me and said that he had done Teshuva – repentance – and asked if he can have the Kashruth certificate reinstated. I looked into the matter and concluded that the butcher was sincere and I reinstated the Kashruth certification. I made him pay a hefty penalty to give to the Shul whose members’ trust he had violated.”

“The butcher did not live long after he reopened, and after a while, the whole fiasco was forgotten. “

The Chofetz Chaim continued: One day, while I was studying Torah in the Shul, I dozed off and in my dream three respectful looking men came to me. The eldest addressed me, “Yisroel Meir, do you recall the incident of the butcher?” I said, “Yes.” He then asked me, “When you issued your ruling to penalize the butcher by contributing to the Shul, was it so that he should never again trick the inhabitants of the city, or was your intent that the penalty should act as an atonement for his sin?”

“I began to tremble, and the man standing told me he would wait until I compose myself, for he needed an answer. I thought deeply as to what my intent was, and I concluded that it was a fine and not for the purpose of atonement.”

“When I awoke, my head was pounding and I couldn’t find a place for myself. I went back to my studies and I again fell into a stupor. This time the butcher came to me in my dream; he looked disheveled and shared his upset with me. ‘Rebbe! Look at what your answer did to me in the Heavenly court. When they brought up my sin of selling Treif, the prosecutor claimed that I needed an atonement for the sin in hell. I claimed that I paid the penalty and that acted as an atonement.”

“Then the heavenly court decided to come and ask you as to what your intention was. When you said it was a penalty rather than an atonement, I was sentenced to experience the hardship of hell to cleanse my sin.”

After relating the story, the Chofetz Chaim told his son in law, “After this happened, I decided to leave the Rabbinate. I tell you this in order that you understand the awesome responsibility of the rabbinate so that you should not feel that bad that you weren’t chosen.”

The Torah details the laws of family inheritance in the land of Israel, beginning with the law that if one dies his estate goes to his son. One detail that was not addressed was what would be in the case when one had only daughters? In fact, the five daughters of Tzalafchad, who had no brothers, came to Moshe and asked him how their fathers’ portion of the land should be distributed. Moshe said he did not know the answer and asked the Almighty, Who ruled on the matter.

Commentators ask, why did Moshe defer to G-d on this matter? Why wasn’t he able to rule on it? An answer offered is, when the daughters of Tzalafchad asked their question, they stated, “Our father died in the desert sojourn. He did not die through Korach’s rebellion against Moshe, rather, he died because he sinned in regards to violating the laws of Shabbat.”

When Moshe heard them say their father was not caught up in Korach’s rebellion against his authority, Moshe, as a judge, felt that that this information was considered bribery for these words might sway his objective ruling on the matter. Moshe therefore deferred to G-d, who ruled on the matter.

Throughout our history, rabbis and judges recused themselves from judging a dispute when they felt even the slightest notion that one of the parties might influence the decision in their favor.

Moshe set an example of how we are to uphold G-d’s laws with purity of conduct!