Gidon And Leadership -

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Resource Type: Shiur in: English
Age: 13-15
Group Size: 5-20
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

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Resource Goal

Goal: Through the story of Gidon, the chanichim will discuss the issues of:

  • When its acceptable for a leader to step down.

  • Striking a balance as a leader between helping the community and taking time for yourself.

Resource Contents

Sicha #1: Gidon and Leadership

By Sarah Gordon and Adam Soclof

Many of the ideas from these shiruim are adapted from the book "Shofet HaShoftim" by Yisroel Rozenson, published by Machon Herzog.

For Eidot Gimmel and Daled:

Goal: Through the story of Gidon, the chanichim will discuss the issues of:

  • When its acceptable for a leader to step down.

  • Striking a balance as a leader between helping the community and taking time for yourself.

Trigger: Divide the chanichim in half, and have each madrich take a group. The groups should be of 5-6 chanichim. (If you have a large bunk, you might want to consider asking one of you Tzevet by anaf to help out with the sicha). Hand out the 3 scenarios to each group. The chanichim can each present one of the scenarios and then the group can discuss them based on the accompanying questions. (Obviously, you do not need to use all the questions. These questions are here to help frame your discussion, therefore use only the ones that you think will be useful for your bunk, and feel free to adapt, add, take out material, and make this sicha your own!).

Discussion Questions (after looking at the scenarios):

  • What do you think of the above situations? Did Josh, Shira and Jake make the correct decisions? Were they justified in those decisions? Why or Why not?

  • If you know that you have certain talents and skills, can you turn down a leadership position?

  • Are there legitimate and illegitimate reasons to give up a leadership position? What are legitimate reasons for turning down a job? Examples: too much work, scared of self esteem, time, school work, not enough time to have fun, hang out with friends. Is there a difference between these reasons? Are some more legitimate then others, or are all either legitimate or illegitimate (meaning it could be your right to turn down a position even if its mainly due to laziness. Or, maybe you are always required to help your community even if the reason not to is legitimate).

  • Is there are difference between the different reasons given in the different scenarios? What were they?

  • What could Josh have done to boost his self esteem? Is it ok to pass up on a position because you are nervous that you will fail? What if you know that you will do a good job but are just nervous

  • With Shiras case, why does she not want to be a Rosh Pluga? Is wanting to have a good time with your friends laziness in this situation or justified? Do you agree with her decision? What else could she have done?

  • With Jakes case, how much do we need to balance our personal lives (school work, grades, sports team, hanging out) and helping out communities and schools? Does one come before the other? What would you have done had you been in Jakes situation?

  • Does it make a difference if someone else do the job? Will they do as good a job as you? What if you know that they wont and that there is something you can bring to the job that no one else can? Are you then obligated to take it?

  • Are there any examples you know from your own lives or from friends that are similar? What did you/they do in those situations?

Sources: Discuss with the chanichim the story of Gidon (sources attached):

  1. Shoftim 6 (14-15): The Malach commands Gidon to go and save the Jewish people. Gidon responds But how will I save the Jewish people? Im a nobody! I am from the smallest and weakest Shevet of Menashe and Im the youngest person in by family! {Compare to Shaul, when he is offered the Kingship of Israel, he responds: But I am from one of the smallest tribes of Israel, and my family is the smallest out of the families in Shevet Binyamin, why are you even talking to me? (Shmuel Alef 9:21). Same response as Gidon who am I, I am a nobody, I am not capable of doing it.}

  2. Shoftim 8 (22-24,27,30): After Gidon leads the Jewish people to a tremendous victory against Midyan, they ask him to become their King! Gidon refuses, stating that only G-d could be there king. He then proceeds to retire from leading Bnei Israel (we dont hear from him again). But, though Gidon gives up the responsibilities of being a King, he still keeps the bonuses he builds a giant golden monument (a tribute to his success), has many sons (70) and names his son Avimelech (literally: My father is a king!).

More Discussion questions:

  • Why is Gidon nervous at the beginning when he is offered the leadership? Is this normal (yes!)? Which of the scenarios is this most similar to? Why do you think Gidon accepted to be the leader if he was nervous?

  • What do you think of Gidons decision to not become the King? Why do you think he made this decision? Was this the right decision?

  • Is turning down a position (what Gidon almost does at the beginning of his leadership) different then retiring? Is one more legitimate then the other?

  • If Gidon really did not want to be king, why did he still keep a lot of the bonuses that kings get, such as lots of wives/kids, the golden monument, naming his son My father is a kingetc? What could this show about his decision?

  • Was Gidons decision to give up the leadership a valid one? If you are very talented at a certain leadership role, and you are making a big difference, can you give that job up? Could Gidon retire? (Think about a great teacher you had or principal who then left and moved on to other positions. Did you get someone to replace them who was on the same level? Probably not!)

  • Along these lines, ask them if they think Yehuda could ever retire from Machaneh? What if there is no one else to do the job?


For Eidot Gimmel and Daled, this issue of leadership and when one can pass on a position will become a very real issue pretty quickly. Whether it is in camp in Eidah Daled, Machal, Tzevet, or in high school in the next few years, you are all going to be offered leadership positions. Be it a gabai in school, being a madrich/a in Bnei Akiva, student counciletc. These are all real situations that you will have to think about and continue to debate.

You will have to decide, are there times when it is appropriate to pass on a leadership role? What are your priorities? Is this leadership position something that you can do that no one else can? How will you balance stepping up as a leader and your own personal time?

You will need to balance looking at the moment (issues of nervousness, taking away time from hanging out with friends, schoolworketc), and looking further ahead (what will you learn from this experience, what will you influence long term - your community, shul, school, other kids..etc).

These issues are all seen in the progression of Gidons character, from self esteem issues, to abdicating and giving up responsibility. Can someone retire? Of course, its their personal choice. And for Gidon, maybe it was the best decision personally. But nationally, for the Jewish people, Gidon turning down the kingship was disasterous. The people were asking for a permanent king instead of the Shoftim cycle which was not working out and Gidon refused to step up. Consequently we see things start to fall apart in Shoftim until we come to Sefer Shmuel, where finally, a Kingdom is established.

Therefore, although it is sometimes okay to pass up on leadership positions, we still need to be focusing on when we can step up to help out communities and nation as a whole.


Josh is one of the most active chanichim in Eidah Daled. He always volunteers to help out, leads his bunk in cheering at meals, and is one of gabbaim during Tefilah. He knows that he is a strong candidate to be picked for color war captain but he absolutely does not want this to happen. Even though deep down Josh knows that he would do a great job as a captain, he is still really nervous that he does not have the skills necessary for it and is scared about the amount of responsibility that it requires. The next day Josh corners his Rosh Eidah and makes it clear to him that he does not want to be chosen as captain. His Rosh Eidah tries to convince him that he really is the best person for the job, since already his friends look at his as a leader, but Josh is adamant - this job is not for him!

Shira is dreading the upcoming chutz, since she knows she will have to be a Rosh Pluga for a fire pit. This means that she will be assigned a groups of other campers and will be responsible for making sure that food gets cooked on her fire, that all the campers and tzevet eating at her pit get food, that this area is clean, and that the project they are assigned gets built. Shira knows that she will learn a lot from this experience, and that it will be very cool to be in charge, but she wants to hang out with her friends and have fun on the chutz, not have to look after other kids. She decides that if there is an option to not be a Rosh Pluga she will take it!

School elections are coming up and Jake notices that there is still time to apply to run for student council president. The more Jake thinks about it, the more he feels like this is something that he would be good at. He can be involved in his school, be a leader in his class, and help run fun programs. His friends start getting excited and encourage his to run for President. But Jake is unsure since he knows that taking on this job will definitely affect his grades, and will take away from time that he wanted to use for other activities, such as playing for the basketball team, and volunteering in his shul. Jake debates whether he should run at all, or perhaps run for a job that will take up less of his time, such as treasurer or vice-president.. Meanwhile, Jakes classmates approach him and tell him that he would be a really great President and that he shouldnt pass up this opportunity to help his school. But he keeps thinking, shouldnt his own personal time come before the needs of his class?

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