Moses asked Hashem to appoint a leader to succeed him, “A person who can understand and relate to each individual” (Numbers 27:16, Rashi). Hashem responded, “Take to yourself Joshua, a man in whom there is spirit.” How does Hashem’s response satisfy Moses’ request?
The human being is a composite creature, comprised of a body and a spirit. The spirit is the force that directs a person away from self-gratification, to be devoted to a higher goal.
A person who is preoccupied with satisfying his own desires cannot empathize fully with others. The ability to relate to and understand each individual requires extraordinary empathy. Such empathy is possible only in a person who has subordinated one’s self-gratifying drives to the spirit.
In the Sefard siddur, the morning service reads, “The superiority of man over animal is naught, save for the pure soul.” We can pride ourselves in being dignified human beings only if our behavior is under the direction of the spirit rather than the animal body.