First some background information on reactive vs proactive behaviour.

During the 40 years journey in the wilderness, the Torah clearly describes Moses' leadership as reactive - merely responding to spontaneously occurring events instead of proactive - planning and taking measures for preventing them. Those include:

  • Numerous complains of Bnai Israel on physical conditions, i.g. lack of fresh water, food, meat etc - after they complained, Moses took steps to solve it.

  • Public transgressions: the Golden Calf, the spies, Bnot Moab - after Beny Isroel sinned Moses tried different ways to fix it.

  • Parashat Itroh - establishing the first judicial system - Moses didn't plan well and could undermine the whole enterprise, and many more.

Seemingly, many of those episodes could be prevented or totally avoided, if Moses, as a prophet, adopted a more active approach, by foreseeing the possible problems and preparing for them.

Here are some examples of how Moses would act if he adopted a proactive style of leadership:

"By expressing his care for his people he asks Hashem every time what awaits Bney Isroel at their next stop - is there enough food and water, what are the enemies and dangers etc. After Hashem tells him the plan, Moses gets back to the nation and proposes a plan of passing it in the most convenient and safe way."


"Before sending the spies, Moses holds a meeting to find out the general attitude of the chosen 10 people. Turns out they are not as eager to enter the Promised Land as Moses and Yehoshuah. Despite the effort, the spies refuse to change their outlook. Moses aborts the mission and nobody's hurt."

It also seems that Moses as a prophet was not commanded on a specific form of management, his reactive style seems to be his own choice.

So why did Moses adopted a reactive position instead of a proactive?

  • How do you know he didn’t? Why is this a worse position to take? – DonielF Jan 28 '18 at 2:21
  • 2
    Huh??? Moshe's primary position and focus was eved Hashem - a servant of G-d. Except for a few occasions, it doesn't seem that he did anything without G-d's saying so, first and without HIS approval. And, with perhaps one or two exceptions, he had complete faith in G-d's actions and decisions. This faith is not an indication of being reactive. When people complain to him, all he tells everyone is have faith in G-d that he will provide for your needs. Was Moses supposed to anticipate that people would complain that they hated the mahn and had insufficient meat? Should he have kept a freezer? – DanF Jan 28 '18 at 2:43
  • @DanF Huh you too. I elaborated my question. Moses was a prophet and a wise man. He knew the roots of all the troubles they had in the desert. For the Golden Calf, for example - did he leave a backup plan? "OK, guys, just in case I'm late or I don't come back etc"? How about asking Hashem about the natural conditions of their next stop, when you go on vacation, don't you anticipate kids' worries about food and water? – Al Berko Jan 29 '18 at 14:18
  • How about the Meraglim? The meforshim are clear there were two ways of seeing the benefits of the Promised Land (Rochel and Lea), but he didn't hold a meeting with the Meraglim before and after the journey to discuss different aspects of it and prevent the disaster, he let the show go on. – Al Berko Jan 29 '18 at 14:23
  • I'm standing by my previous question. Refer to Devarim 8:3 clarifies the reason for G-d's starving us and making us thirsty - In order to make us know that man does not live by bread, alone, but, rather according to G-d's word. More practically, though, the mahn was pretty much guaranteed to fall daily (except for Shabbat.) But, even that was a test of faith. According to Midrash, they had a well (of Miriam) travelling with them. Re, the meraglim - read the section in Devarim (I think it's in either Devarim or Va'etchanan), it seem clear that initially, Moshe tried to discourage the people. – DanF Jan 29 '18 at 15:50

I believe Moshe Rabbeinu maintained a very proactive stance; he told Klal Yisroel exactly how to behave, and the majority complied. The cases in the Torah are isolated and relate to a small section of Klal Yisroel. These cases were dealt with as they came up.

  • I elaborated the question. Moses did not prevent the troubles, he merely reacted. – Al Berko Jan 29 '18 at 14:13
  • @AlBerko I agree with this answer. Yes, there are troubles that came up, but remember how many of them there were and how many of the camp was involved with them. Virtually all of those troubles were limited to the first year and a half or so in the desert: the remaining 38.5 were virtually uneventful. – DonielF Jan 31 '18 at 15:44

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