When leaders disappoint us

In Psalm 118, the psalmist wrote “tov lachasot ba Adonai mibtoach ba adam”…. It is better to put trust in God than to put trust in man. A commentator quoting the Vilna Gaon clarifies it by stating that “it is far better to put one’s trust in God’s protection, even without a pledge from Him, than to rely on the most profuse assurances of human beings”.

Most of us, however religious or non-observant we may be, tend to put our trust in men such as religious leaders or elected politicians. And too often they disappoint us. I find it admirable that on American currency it is written “In God we trust”.

Looking at the horrific numbers of our murdered martyrs in the Holocaust, six million righteous souls, the question must be begged for a response…. Why did so many die? The answer is tragic.

In eastern Europe, many of the ultra-Orthodox rabbis dissuaded their followers from emigrating to Palestine or to America. “America is a goyishe land”, they said. “Palestine is a socialist country; the kibbutznikim don’t even believe in God”. Those ultra-Orthodox Jews were told by their rabbinic leaders to remain in Poland, Lithuania, Hungary and other countries where Hassidim flourished. Had they not heeded the bad advice of their religious leaders, some two or even three million Jews could have been saved prior to the outbreak of war. Lithuanian Jews, who were not followers of Hassidic movements, emigrated mainly to South Africa and continued to live an Orthodox life. Others perished in gas chambers.

When the war ended in 1945, the British allowed only few survivors into Palestine. And after independence in 1948, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, the “old man” of Israeli political life, preferred to grant visas to Jews who could do labor, who could populate kibbutzim, who could contribute to a new socialist society. He was not enthused about welcoming many Orthodox Jews. “We need working hands, not prayers”.

One of Ben-Gurion’s loyal aides and companions was a Hungarian Jew named Teddy Kollek. Over many years he served Israel with fervent devotion. He was probably Jerusalem’s most outstanding mayor. He achieved immense financial contributions from Jews in western countries and was able to build, not only in Jerusalem, but throughout the country. A leader beloved by many.

It was only after Kollek’s death that we learned that during the British mandate, he had been a malshin, an informer, telling the British secretly where Irgun and Lechi fighters were hiding, revealing their names, their locations, their plans. Many non-Haganah defenders were arrested and imprisoned due to the information that Kollek gave to the mandatory authorities.

Have we not been deceived? Have we not idolized the “saintly” ultra-Orthodox rabbis, many whose followers now in Israel do not even recognize the State of Israel? In 1948, they raised the white flag of surrender to the Jordanian troops rather than choosing to live in the Jewish state. In our time, they have been the friends of Yasser Arafat and have traveled to Iran to assure the ayatollahs of their goodwill.

Have we not been disappointed in our political leaders in whom we placed our trust? What other country has a former President and a former Prime Minister who now sit in Israeli prisons for their crimes?
Are we not disappointed in many of our rabbis who spew hatred against non-Orthodox Jews, Christians, and those who do not follow their religious guidelines?

And where is the leadership in our government today? Jews are being stabbed to death daily while members of government sit in council meetings discussing what to do to solve the problem.

We need a military government that can take immediate control, dictate curfews and demolition of homes of those who lift up a hand to harm us. Our leadership hesitates to take strong action for fear of alienating American President Obama. Vladimir Putin would not hesitate to take strong action.

Our leaders have disappointed us. And we ourselves have been guilty of a deafening silence. We say “Am Yisrael Chai”, the nation of Israel lives. But bitterly regrettable, today many in the nation of Israel die.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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