Kenneth Cohen


It has been said that you can tell a great deal about a person, by the friends that he has. If his friends are good, upright people, then there is a great likelihood that you are the same. And the reverse is true if such friends do not possess good qualities. You are a reflection of them. The same is true of a society. When one looks at who is put on a pedestal, and gains the most notoriety, it is a reflection of the values of that society.

If politicians, rock stars, or sports figures, attract the most attention, it might point to a certain degree of vanity of that society. There are many reasons why living in Israel is such a privilege, but one of these reasons is overlooked or forgotten. There have been numerous occasions over the last twenty-five years, where, for at least a moment, Israel society pauses to put on a pedestal, those who rightfully, deserved that honor.

I am speaking of the honor given to several saintly rabbis, who were respectfully, sent to their graves, escorted by hundreds of thousands of people attending their funerals. Men such as Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Kaduri, and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu in the Sephardic community. The Ashkenazi community parted from such holy men as Rav Kanievsky, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and most recently, Rav Edelstein.
In the case of Rav Auerbach, there were approximately 300,000 people present. The secular Israelis could not understand what the fuss was, over an elderly Jew wearing a black suit with a black hat. The media did explain the brilliance and greatness of this man. All of Israel was taught for that brief moment, the respect given to a great Torah scholar, and how he had affected the lives of so many people.

G-d willing, we are getting closer to the time when these moments will stop being moments. It will be the norm to look to our spiritual leaders for direction. We will see a transition that will be the correct one. Those truly deserving to be put on the pedestal, will be there. When that happens, it will be a sign that Mashiach is knocking on the door.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at