The true mark of a great leader is the ability to teach and inspire others so that their presence is felt even when they are not there. A great company operates at peak efficiency even when the CEO is on vacation just as a great school functions smoothly even if the principal is away. A parent's role is to raise children so that they will become independent. When children and grandchildren embody the values of their ancestors long after they have passed away then we know we have a truly successful parent. In fact G-d Himself guided the Jewish people through their infancy and adolescence, providing us with prophets to guide and nurture us. It was at Purim time that we were forced to develop our independence, no longer having prophets to rely on as we began residing in exile.
While teaching independence must be the goal one must ensure that those affected are ready for such a step. A parent who grants too much independence too early is guilty of abuse. There is a fine line between providing a worthy challenge and risking potential catastrophe.
One of the fundamental principles of the Torah is its eternal applicability and relevance. Though given in a particular historical milieu much different from ours to a particular group of people much different from us, the Torah speaks to us like no other book. The Torah transcends any group of people even someone as great as Moshe Rabbeinu himself. Moshe was the one chosen to transmit the Torah yet he should not be equated with Torah. In fact the Talmud tells us that Ezra the scribe was a most worthy candidate for transmitting the Torah and would have done so if not for Moshe. Many commentaries point out Moshe's speech impediment was to ensure that no one would be swayed by his oratory. The Jews accepted Torah on its merits not because of who was giving it. Moshe understood that his role was to inspire the nascent nation to dedicate their life to Torah and to ensure that they in turn transmit it to their descendants. "Moshe prescribed the Torah to us an eternal heritage for the congregation of Jacob" (Devarim 33:4).
Unfortunately Moshe overestimated the ability of the Jewish people to understand this concept. Despite witnessing the divine revelation a mere weeks earlier the Jewish people were not yet ready to accept Torah absent Moshe. It was too early for Moshe to leave them as the Jewish people still needed his guiding hand. Thus when "the people saw that Moshe was taking a long time to come done from the mountain, they gathered around Aharon and said to him; make us a god that will go before us because this man Moshe that brought us out of Egypt, we do not know what happened to him" (32:1). Without Moshe to guide them they were incapable of worshipping G-d. Moshe Rabbeinu thought his role could be as teacher of Torah; little did he realize that for the next forty years he would have to "carry them in my (his) bosom as a nurse carries an infant" ( Bamidbar 11:12). It would take another generation, a generation that did not witness first hand Moshe's role in the exodus and receiving of the Torah, to understand that "normal" life continues after Moshe.
The Netziv explains that the desert experience was meant to wean the Jewish people of reliance on miracles. In Israel life would (appear) to be natural; we would have to work for our sustenance. Moshe, Aharon and Miriam represented the miraculous and thus could not be the ones to take the Jewish people into the land of Israel . Ironically it is only with the death of Moshe and the passing of the leadership to Joshua that the success of Moshe is fully demonstrated. Torah would continue under new leaders and new conditions.
This Shabbat we read Parshat Parah - detailing the ritual to purify those who come in contact with death. As tragic as death is Judaism teaches that the mourners must continue to lead a meaningful and productive life. Our role in this world is not dependant on any person no matter how close to us or how great they may be. We must transcend time and place by linking ourselves with the divine, by carrying out the demands of G-d