The First Smicha (Ordination)
In Parshat Pinchas, Moshe is commanded to ordain Yehoshua, his successor in front of the congregation.


In Bamidbar 27:18-20, Moshe is told to: take Yehoshua, lay your hand on him (vesamachta et yadcha), set him before Elazar and before the congregation…


In Bamidbar 27:22-23, Moshe implements what God commanded him: He took Yehoshua, laid his hands on him and set him before Elazar and all of the congregation…


Rashi points out that Moshe laid his hands generously in much greater measure than he had been commanded. God said to him: “Lay your hand” in the singular and Moshe did it with both hands, making him a vessel full to the brim and heaped up, so he filled him with a generous helping of his wisdom.


In order to ensure a smooth transition, Moshe’s successor was chosen and ordained during his lifetime. While Moshe was still alive it was understood that Yehoshua would one day take over and that he had Moshe’s approval.


Throughout the generations our great Rabbis ordained other Rabbis in order to make sure that they would have a successor and that their tradition would continue.


Some of the greatest Rabbis of our generation have passed away in the past 25 years in the United States including Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Rav Moshe), Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (The Rav) and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (The Rebbe).


None of these Rabbis chose one successor, each one ordained many other Rabbis to ensure that their teachings would continue in the different streams of Orthodox Judaism, Rav Moshe in the Orthodox Union and Agudat Yisrael communities, The Rav in the Torah U’Madda Yeshiva University community and The Rebbe in the Chabad Lubavich Community.