Gidon: The Reluctant Leader - -

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Resource Type: Shiur in: English
Age: 12-16
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

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Resource Goal


  1. The chanichim will discuss what leadership characteristics we can see in Gidon, and why he was chosen to be the Shofet.

  2. The chanichim will discuss why Gidon refused at first to accept the leadership of being a shofet, and if this is an appropriate response. They will discuss the questions: How does one balance being humble with stepping up to be a leader? How does one go from doubting oneself as a leader to realizing their potential?

Resource Contents

Written by- Sarah Gordon

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

Machal Shiur 9: Perek 6


  1. The chanichim will discuss what leadership characteristics we can see in Gidon, and why he was chosen to be the Shofet.

  2. The chanichim will discuss why Gidon refused at first to accept the leadership of being a shofet, and if this is an appropriate response. They will discuss the questions: How does one balance being humble with stepping up to be a leader? How does one go from doubting oneself as a leader to realizing their potential?

Intro: Once again, theres a lot of stuff about Gidon. Im giving you guys a lot of stuff for 2 shiurs, but again, feel free to spend more time on this and do a 3rd shiur, or only choose parts of it to give over, or as usual, feel free to use your own shiur. Im just trying to give you guys background information to help you understand the seder.

A New Enemy:

The bad guy attacking Am Israel now is Midyan. This is a much more severe oppression then Am Israel has dealt with before. Midyan is attacking Am Israel and stealing all of their crops:

2-3- If Bnei Israel sow any crops, Midyan swoops down and steals the food. In response, Bnei Israel have to build minahot tunnel roads bypass roads.

6- Bnei Israel have become impoverished by Midyan. Morale is terrible! They cry out to Hashem from pain, not teshuvah (like in Egypt), and Hashem sends them a messenger, a Navi, to explain why this is happening this is a punishment for avodah zara.

The last time a messenger from G-d appeared to Bnei Israel was all the way back in Perek Bet here it was a Malach and not a Navi, but similar purposes; there it was a Malach giving them mussar about their failure to conquer the land. Now a Navi is coming to tell them what is happening is due to their avodah zara.

(**Remember: Shmuel is writing this sefer for a dual purpose. On one hand, one can look at the situation in the time of Shoftim and say that it is only because the Jews had no centralized leader ein melech bYisrael. However, there is another reason having a King will not help you unless you also have religious reform. The ideal is having a king who will push the nation in religious reform and in following G-d.

Ask the chanichim: If you were living in Israel at this time and Midyan was oppressing you, what would you say this is due to? What is causing this type of oppression (the same thing people say today about the situation in Israel); there is no strong government, no leader to kick out Midyan This is all true. But theres an additional reason that the people are not following G-d. This is what Shmuel is also trying to teach you need a King AND you need religious reform. This is what the Malach is coming to tell Am Israel. The situation stinks now not just because there is no leader, but because you are doing Avodah Zara).

Gidon is Chosen:

Hashem sends a Malach to recruit Gidon to be the Shofet and save the people. In analyzing the following Perek we will try to figure out (1) why is Gidon chosen (2) why does he reject the job (3) what does this teach us about Gidon?

11- Gidon is threshing wheat in a winepress. Why? Where do you usually thresh wheat and what do you usually do in a winepress? In a winepress you step on grapes, not wheat! Weird. But what does a winepress look like? Its low down and hidden. Remember, what is Midyan doing to Am Israel? They are swooping down and stealing their food. So if you want to provide food for your family, what are your options? Gidon is threshing wheat in the winepress because the Midyanim will not see him and he can hide the food and feed his family. Ask the chanichim: What does this show about Gidon? (1) Ingenuity. Creativity. He can think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to getting around the enemy (like Ehud). (2) Gidon fights back. He resists. Hes not going to sit there and mope about the oppression from Midyan. He will fight back, and find food for his family, despite what Midyan is doing, he will resist and not give in.

An ancient winepress, from Neot Kedumim, Israel.

You can show the chanichim the picture and ask them why someone would want to thresh wheat there instead of grapes. What can you see about a winepress from the picture?

To the right is a picture of people threshing wheat; where you throw the wheat up in the air and the wind separates the part you want from the chaff the part you dont want (think Hilkhot Shabbat). Is this an easy melacha to hide? Would the Midyanim see you doing this if you did it in your field?

13- When the Malach announces to Gidon Hashem Imach, Gibor Chayil! what does Gidon respond? Why do you think he is answering in this way? Gidon relies: Is Hashem even here? Where is G-d, where are the miracles that happened at Yetziat Mitzrayim?? Gidon sounds bitter, frustrated with the situation.

14- Gidon is told by the Malach to go with this koach to save the Jewish people. Which koach?

Malbim: We see from Gidons response to the Malach before that hes thinking about how Jewish people need to be saved by G-d, these hashkafic issues are boer blibo, burning within his heart, so go with this concern you have for Am Israel seen by what you are struggling with philosophically.

***Leadership trait: The fate of Am Israel must be boer blibo burning in your heart concern for other Jews. Ask the chanichim: Why is this important in a leader? What other leaders in Jewish History embodied this trait?

Akeidat Itzchak: The koach which the Malach is talking about is that Gidon cares about people and whats happening to them, and because of what is happening to Hashems name by the people being in disgrace.

**On a more peshat level, I think the koach could just be Gidons passion that we see in his response. Its ok to be frustrated and angry and to not understand G-d, but at least Gidon cares, he is passionate, he is not apathetic.

Gidon: The Reluctant Leader:

15- Gidons 1st reaction to being offered the job is to decline who is he? The smallest guy in the smallest shevet not someone appropriate to be the shofet.

Ask the chanichim: Is this appropriate for Gidon to turn down a position of leadership? Is this ever appropriate to do? Is this being humble or is this just low self esteem?

Leadership Scenario:

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. Even though deep down Jake knows that he would do a great job as a president, 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. 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, what if this job really isnt for him?

Questions: Is it right for Jake to turn down the position? Why is he scared to run? Are his concerns valid? Can he know that he wont do a good job if he doesnt try first? What would be reasons to run? What would you do?

Gidon can be compared to both Moshe and Shaul, who also turned down leadership positions when they were first offered them:




Job Offered


Leader of Am Israel take them out of Egypt


First reaction

() :

() :


Asks for signs: The Malach sends fire which consumes his korban, later on the sign with the sheeps wool (the wool is wet when the ground is dry and vici versa)

Asks for signs: His hand turns to tzarat, his staff to a stick, water will turn to blood

Doesnt ask for signs but they are offered: He will find his donkeys and will meet specific people along the way, he will have a Nevuah

Reason asks for signs/turns down leadership

Low self esteem. Who am I from smallest tribe and family to be a leader?

It seems that Moshe knows he can do it- but doesnt think Am Israel will listen to him thinks he will be ineffective (example: you know you are a good counselor but you know this bunk is crazy and you cant handle them)

Low self esteem. Who am I from smallest tribe and family to be a leader?

Inner Strength/Leadership trait

Passionate about Am Israel asks Where is Hashem?, is making wheat in the winepress

Searching for the lost sheep (cares about everyone under his care)

Searching for lost donkey (cares for everyone under his responsibility)

Meeting with Hashem, or something heavenly


Hashem (at the burning bush)

Shmuel - Navi

Growth of the Charachter

Gidon gets over his low self esteem slowly but then gets haughty at then end (tomorrows shiur), turning down the offer to be a king, but taking on many of the perks of being a king, without taking the responsibility.

Moshe becomes a great leader, while completely in charge of the Am:

() :

Yet, he is also called:


Moshe was able to balance being a great leader, and not compromising his stepping up, with being a true Anav.

Shaul also slowly gets over his self esteem but gets haughty at the end, becoming jealous of David and trying to chase him down.

What is true Anavah or humbleness?

Real Anavah is the difference between Gidon at the beginning, and Moshe at the end of his career. Anavah is NOT denying that you have great strengths and talents. Real anavah is knowing that G-d gave you special talents that He gave no-one else. This could be genius math skills, a killer 3 pointer shot, a great ability to relate to other people, ability to be a great doctor.etc. Each of us is given unique talents to fulfill our tafkid in the world, a tafkid that no one else can complete (think about Machal how there are so many of us, and how we are so different, yet we make up one group, where everyone brings their unique talents to the group). Anavah doesnt mean pretending you dont have talents and not stepping up to take on responsibily, but it means the opposite - knowing that these talents came from G-d, and not because personally we are so great . Anavah is knowing that I now have the responsibility to use the strengths that Hashem gave me to help other people.

The catch is the greater strengths that youve been given, the greater responsibility you have to use them and to answer to Hashem that you did the most you could with the great power he gave you that is true anavah. With great power comes great responsibility!

Actually another great mashal is Spiderman 2, where Spiderman wants to give up being a superhero and have a normal life. But at the end he realizes that he cant deny the powers that he has, and has to use them to be a leader and help others.

Gidons Opening Mission:

25 32: However, at this point, Gidon still lacks a lot of self esteem. Part of this is seen in how he is always asking for signs to make sure Hashem is with him. Gidon has two signs happen one from the Malach - proving that this whole thing is true, with the fire going on the mizbeach. Then Gidon must do another sign to prove his potential to himself he must go on a mission and break the idols in the city that the Jews are worshipping! And replace it with a mizbeach to Hashem and sacrifice a 7 year old par (Symbolic to the 7 years they have been under midyanite rule that it is time to rebel).

27 - Gidon however is afraid to take charge without this sign, but even then he will not break the idol alone and gets 10 men, but they are scared to do it during the day and go at night.

**This is also an important mission, because as we said before, now the people are continuing to do Avodah Zara (its more serious now since a Navi had to come and yell at them), so Gidon has to go on a mission that no other shofet does to cleanse the people from Avodah Zara.

***This gets back to our other point that Shoftim is not just about having strong leaders, but about leaders who will bring about religious reform and get rid of Avodah Zara.

29: Then in the morning the people Jewish people! Who had avodah zarah that they were still worshipping! - find out that their idol is gone and the pasuk says: vayidrashu vayivakshu (pasuk 29) very ironic because this is what you are supposed to do with an ir nidachat an idolatrous city to find it and destroy it (Devarim 13, 16-18: vedarashta vebakashta), but here they are doing the same action to find out who disgraced their avodah zara the backwards irony of this generation.

Gidon gets in trouble and his father bails him out. How does Gidon appear here? A little weak and passive. He destroyed the avodah zara but his dad had to save him.

In Pasuk 12 the Malach greeted Gidon by calling him a gibor chayil, but really hes only a gibor in the eyes of G-d, not in the eyes of himself, or the ppl, or his father. His potential needs to be actualized. But Gidon will grow into his leadership position. Stay tuned for next time.

Conclusion: Gidon is very nervous about stepping up and has low self esteem as a leader, since he needs signs and encouragement. However, potential is there for him to be a great gibor chayil, as we saw in his passionate reply to the Malach. He cares about the nation, helps get rid of Avodah Zara, and Hashem will help him realize his potential to be a great leader.

Resource Comments

Machal Shiur 9: Perek 6

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