I remember the days I dreamt of living in a Jewish, religious country. The thought warmed my heart. I was naive then. I assumed that meant the country would be run by caring, righteous Rabbis, who not just learned Torah, but lived it in word and spirit. Instead what I found was corruption and lies. It ripped my dreams to shreds. I mourned the lost hope of the Utopian society I was looking for and I have yet to find comfort from losing faith in our leadership.
As Rav Steinsaltz so eloquently stated we are a nation that has no head. In effect we are a paralyzed nation, in a vegetative state of inaction. We suffer from major ailments like agunot, assimilation, abuse etc. We are lost because we see no solutions in sight for these issues. Of late we have lacked leadership that has the courage and virtue to stand up and say “enough”. We need leaders with integrity who aren’t looking for honor or power to take on these issues and make a serious effort to solve them. Unfortunately, our head has malfunctioned leaving our body helpless. Our problems will only escalate if we do not fix the situation now.
While I value having respect for the Rabbis, I believe there is a point at which it is necessary for the people to say when the system is not working. When our brothers and sisters are being forgotten, or worse ignored, we must speak up. Although it saddens me greatly to see the crumbling of a once powerful hierarchical system of respected Rabbis which have led our people in years past, I am relieved to see strong men like Rav Steinsaltz speak out. That is the first step towards change. The ones who are running the show have failed and until now no one was willing to stand up to them and call them out for their shortcomings and failures.
As much as I wanted to believe it was not true, it is. Nowadays the truth can not be hidden anymore. Day after day we find stories of incrimination or neglect and we cry. Let us cry. It is very powerful.
In Parshat Shmot, Hashem tells Moshe He will free our people because He heard our cry. As Rav Ari Kahn pointed out in his parsha shiur, that that was the first moment that they actually cried out to G-d. At times G-d waits for us to cry out to Him and then comes the redemption.
We cry now. We cry for our chained sisters and our lost brothers. We cry loud, for there CAN be answers, but we feel our hands are tied.
There exist amazing Rabbis and individuals that are very capable and creative. We must insist they step up and if they are too humble and claim, as Moshe Rabeinu “but they won’t listen to me”, we need to persevere. We know there are worthy men for the position, such as Rabbi Lichtenstein, Rabbi Steinsaltz and more. Let us band together and ask, beg and plead for them to rise to the head and revive our nation to the vibrant working body we are meant to be.