On Judging our Leaders

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13 Responses

  1. Jameel @ The Muqata says:

    Each of us should candidly admit that we would not want to make these decisions, and pray to be worthy of leaders whose eyes are opened by Hashem.

    How about today’s brilliant decision to remove the land, sea and air embargo of Lebanon, in exchange…for nothing. Not even the barest minimum of proof that our IDF soldiers are still alive…or a visit from the Red Cross. Nothing.

    We need to embrace the mantle leadership of Israel, and openly say that we are willing to make these decisions. Why do (most) religious politicians in Israel not consider themselves or their constituents worthy of running and leading Israel?

    Yes, these are difficult decisions, and we need to believe we are worthy of making them correctly, instead of abandoning Israel’s leadership to those lacking in faith.

  2. Harry Maryles says:

    As is usually the case, Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum has provided us with a thoughtful and thought provoking column. And I entirely agree with his views on this subject.

    Al Taden Chavercha Ad SheYagai Limkomo. And no where should that adage from Avos apply more than to PM Olmert and his government and the recent war against Hezbollah. “Never judge others until you are in their shoes”.

    It is oh… so easy! …to say “throw the rascals out” because the war did not provide the six day war-like victory everyone had hoped for. We were all disappointed about that. But to heap blame on the Israel PM and his government is grossly unfair.

    Thank you Rabbi Rosenblum, for pointing out the words from this Mishna in Avos and applying it so aptly in our day.

  3. Chareidi Leumi says:

    It is easy to sit in our armchairs yelling that Israel should send 50,000 reservists into Lebanon for a massive ground action or stand outside shul demanding that the IAF level every Lebanese village from which Hizbullah rocket fire emanates. Far more difficult is taking responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.

    Since many of those who “stand outside shul” had children fighting in Lebanon while the children of the current PM are all draft dodgers who support extreme left anti-Israel policies while living outside of the country – I think the shul goers should get a bit more credit than you give them.

  4. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The only problem is that Olmert is not my “friend”. He is an operative for forces outside Israel seeking to destroy it. He is in the finest tradition of Peres, who entered into negotiations with Egypt over final borders purposely using maps that were advantageous to the other side. One gets the feeling that Olmert is like a prize-fighter ordered to “take a dive”. He is certainly being paid well for his trouble with the support that he gets from the likes of S. Daniel Abraham.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    In countries that hold elections, few voters have ever been in the place of a decision-making elected official, but all are expected to evaluate and judge such officials and their appointees, and to vote accordingly. And to speak their minds to the officials between elections.

    In exactly which political leaders can Israeli voters now place their trust regarding defense issues? Based on what track record?

    We Jews who live outside Israel do not have the above dispensation that applies to Israeli voters, but we are their brothers and sisters concerned for their well-being and often informed enough to render an opinion.

    “When things go wrong,
    Go wrong with you,
    It hurts me, too.”

  6. Jewish Observer says:

    “Each of us should candidly admit that we would not want to make these decisions, and pray to be worthy of leaders whose eyes are opened by Hashem”

    There is judging and there is judging. If by judging ….. we mean to criticize the leaders and imply that we, who are so much smarter would have done it differently, then I agree with Jonathan. However, if by judging ….. we just mean to express our thinking; as in “acknowledging that I don’t have all the pressures of our leaders, such and such is what my sechel tells me should be done”, then what’s wrong with it? We do this all the time while learninge.g. “If I were Rashi I would have said …” we don’t literally mean to say that we know we are right. In effect, we are just expressing our current understanding.

    Another dynamic at play is that those without the pressures and influences might have a perspective that those who are living it cannot have. That is why people hire (excuse the expression) consultants. As long as the judging is not judgmental, why not benefit from some clear thinking presented positively?

  7. Eliyahu says:

    I don’t think that each of us should candidly admit that we would not want to make these decisions. Pirkei Avos also says that b’makom she’ein ish, hishtadel l’hios ish. I.e. in a place where the leaders are lacking, be a leader.
    If we honestly think after thorough reflection, that we would do a better job than the current PM, or that at the very least we know people who would do a better job, why should we not want to make these decisions?
    R’ Rosenblum is quite correct when saying that in judging Olmert and co. we should be aware of the high stakes. Nevertheless, even if we understand that the current leaders are human and make mistakes, on a purely practical level if they are repeatedly proven wrong in their promises and assumptions, we are within our rights to find them wanting and decide that we would like to be served by someone with a better track record. In 1940, when the British realized that Chamberlain made all the mistakes and Churchill was right all along, they dumped Chamberlain.
    We should do the same with the current government, for the same reasons. Jameel is right, why should we leave decisions in the hands of people who are lacking in essential and basic knowledge and faith to the Jewish ideals? In his memoirs, Churchill writes that after being appointed Prime Minister (in the middle of a great defeat), he was relieved and slept well. He finally had the ability to do what he thought was right, his track record was good and he therefore had confidence in the future. The right-wing/religious track record on the peace process is much better than that of the left, why should we not have confidence in our judgement?

  8. YM says:

    It is for exactly these kind of decisions that I wish the leaders of Israel were Torah Jews who made their decisions on the basis of Halacha, or at least with a very large dose of daas Torah

  9. mycroft says:

    Great Post!! What I usually expect from Rabbi Rosenblum.

  10. Jewish Observer says:

    “…made their decisions on the basis of Halacha, or at least with a very large dose of daas Torah…”

    can you have a large dose of daas torah without the basis of halacha?

  11. Jewish Observer says:

    “Chamberlain made all the mistakes”

    – But only because Russell was one heck of a defender

  12. Jewish Observer says:

    “Al Taden Chavercha Ad SheYagai Limkomo”

    This (interesting transliteration of the) maxim refers to judging someone who did something indisputably wrong; and exhorts the observer not to imagine that he (the observer) could have done better. Applying that here would be to say that our armchair commentary re: the Israeli leaders is in fact correct, but that it is unfair to assume that we the armchair occupants could have executed more capably than the leaders in power.

    Let’s not make it personal. Let’s grant that we personally could takeh NOT have done better. But lemaaseh is our analysus correct? If not, al tadin does not apply. If yes, let’s shed the personal stuff and learn something from it.

    (I have been learning gemara for 35 years)

  13. dovid says:

    I don’t know what Yehoshua Friedman’s sources are to state that Olmert is a mercenary for forces inimical to Israel, but one cannot help noticing that Olmert’s decisions have been either bizarre or treacherous to Am Israel. It goes way beyond his and his fellow ministers’ lack of daas torah or any interest in it. Even from a pure secular point of view, they are ill-qualified for leadership because they are not Jewish patriots. They lack basic love for Eretz Israel. At least, the early Israeli leaders, despite their shortcomings, had a sincere appreciation of the centrality of Eretz Israel, its importance in the conscience of the Jews al over the world, and education of children in this spirit. It would have been inconceivable that their children would dodge draft or live in Paris (Be sure Olmert’s sons don’t learn Mesilas Yesharim in Paris.) Therefore, the problem is not how complex are the issues they are facing, as Rabbi Rosenblum’s article suggests, but how ill-suited are Olmert and his fellow ministers to tackle them. The complexity of the issues only magnifies further this problem.

    Re. Samir Kuntar, I wonder why Israel didn’t take him out discretely. Jews have been targeted for years to have them exchanged for Kuntar. He is the gold prize that Arab terrorist leaders would like to pull off, even though Kuntar is neither Shia nor Arab. Could anyone enlighten me whether Kuntar has the din of a rodef?

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