One of the primary factors in the miracle of the survival of Klal Yisrael, the Eternal People, both physically and spiritually, was the existence of inspired and learned leadership. The period of the Exodus and the giving of the Torah under the leadership of Moshe represented the zenith of this inspired leadership. This continued on with Moshe’s talmid, disciple, Yehoshua, Joshua, and the other elders of the generation. After their death, a new era began. The people, even after having studied Torah under Moshe and Yehoshua, were now firmly established in the land, devoting much of their energies to agriculture and providing for their families, while at the same time being exposed to the pagan culture of the remnants of the Canaanites. They were no longer on the same spiritual level as they were when they entered the land. G-d, in turn, dealt with them in a different manner than He had in the past and provided a different set of leaders to guide, protect, and inspire them in these new circumstances. These leaders were known as the Shoftim, the Judges. The dynamics of their leadership under these changed circumstances and the life of the first of the Judges, Othniel ben Kenaz, are the subjects of this lecture.
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