On the roof of the Aish center looking down at the Western Wall with Chevra & Davai in 2011

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where are our leaders?

Earlier this week, I visited some family in Boca Raton.  One night, while waiting in line in a local pizza place, I noticed something on the wall that really caught my eye.  It was a tee shirt with Moshe Dayan on it.  I walked over to look closer and I saw that this company was also advertising tee shirts with pictures of Theodore Herzl, Menachim Begin, David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir.

As I was waiting in line, and since it was December 25th and the place was packed with Jews it was a long line, I started to think about Jewish leadership.  It’s not just our political leaders of the last couple generations that we celebrate.  On the walls of the homes of countless religious Jews there are pictures of great Rabbis like the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Chofetz Chaim or Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik

It seems like on both the secular and religious worlds, the previous couple generations were packed with great leaders, heroes really.  There were people of such personal integrity and iron wills to fight for both the spiritual and physical safety of the Jewish people, that we celebrate their lives, but what about today?

If I wanted to print t shirts up today or hang pictures up of the great leaders of our nation, who would be on them?  Where are our heroes?

Where are the great men and women of our generation who stand up to fight for us and we have so much that needs fighting for?

Where is the great leader of Israel who stands up to unite us and bravely says what we know (or at least I think) to be true?  Jews of every corner of the religious spectrum, including the charedim, must serve in the Israeli military, but we need to change our military to be a Jewish military based on the values and principles that G-d set forth in his Torah.

Where is the business leaders who stands up and says that all Jews must be 100% honest in business?  Jews who commit illegal acts, stealing money from both Jews and non-Jews and going to jail not only brings disgrace to them, it brings disgrace to the entire Jewish people, Israel and G-d.

Where are the religious leaders who stand up and unites us ad Jews?  It doesn’t matter what synagogue someone prays at or even what particular customs they have.  It doesn’t matter if their Chassidish or Litvish or Modern Orthodox or whatever.  They are Jews.  In my heart of hearts, I can’t believe that when I reach my day of ultimate judgment, I’m going to be judged on what shul I daven at or whether I wear a gartel or not… so how can I judge others?

Several years ago, I heard Rabbi Joseph Telushkin quote the Lubavitcher Rebbe who quoted the Medrash in the Torah portion of Shemos.  In Shemos, we’re told that Moses went out one day and saw an Egyptian beating a Jewish person.  Moses looked around and then killed the Egyptian.  There are many explanations to what it means when we read that Moses “looked around.”  The simple answer is that Moses looked around and saw that nobody was there to witness Moses killing the Egyptian.  A different answer is that Moses looked into the Egyptian’s future and saw that nothing good would come from him, even in future generations.  The answer given my Rebbi Yehuda in the Medrash is that when Moses looked around, there were plenty of people there, but… nobody was doing anything.  Everyone was standing silently.  Nobody was helping.  Nobody was leading and since nobody was leading, he stepped up to lead.

The answer is clear… where are our leaders?  Our leaders are us.  We need to do it.  We need to stand up for G-d and the Jewish people.  We may not be ready.  We may not think that we can do it or we should do it, but we must do it. 

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