Tag Archives: society

Jewish Scholars Wanted to Know Years Ago: Are These the Leaders We Deserve?

 

Who is a Leader?

Who is a Leader?

Whenever I get ready to write a headline for a post, I google it, to make sure that it hasn’t been used before, but also to search for content that might be relevant. This time, my search results were lackluster. I did see this headline, from Israel’s Ha’aretz paper, which was really close to what I wanted to say: “Are the Leaders of Today the Leaders We Deserve?  Though the article was written three years ago, referring to Obama, Martin Luther King, and the impending Israeli election, it asked similar questions.

Asking these kind of questions is not a recent phenomenon. In the era of the Talmud, scholars were discussing aspects of character, leadership, and community. Perhaps because we’ve been outsiders for so long, we tend to think objectively about the society around us, and our place in it (or not):

Rabbi Yehuda Nesiah (grandson of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, the redactor of the Mishnah) were in disagreement: “One said: According to the leader, so the generation. The other said: According to the generation, so the leader.”   Talmud, Arachim, 17a.

What is your opinion? Is our society reflective of the characteristics of our leaders, or are  have we produced the leaders that represent our values, morals and ethics?

What do you think of this in light of the presidential race?

Are you surprised by the character flaws of the candidates? Did you expect more in the way of the choices you have? In what way are these candidates reflective of our society? Are enough people who are disappointed with the choices we have turning a mirror toward our society and its flaws? How much responsibility should our society bear? If so, how would things change? How do we encourage the types of leaders we want? Is that even possible?

There are those who think that we have very good choices in front of us and might be wondering why I’m even writing this. There is enough evidence of candidate scandals, dishonest dealings, name calling, hostile speeches, angry rhetoric, and divisive tactics to fill pages. You just can’t wish the evidence away.

I’ve heard and read many complaints about the leaders we find front and center in the Presidential race. I’ve experienced this from media on the right and left, online publications, blogs, and posts. The comments about the situation range from anger, disbelief, frustration, to hope and faith.

But I have yet to hear anyone turn those observations inside out (maybe I missed it, please let me know) and examine the kind of society that produced such choices.

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World-Wide WordPress

Miss World Map

Why didn’t you tell me that people in Malaysia read your blog?

That’s what someone recently said to me who was poopooing the very idea of a blog or that anyone might be interested in what I have to say about such a niche group like Jewish teenagers.

(Come to think of it, would those readers know the word poopoo? For those in Malaysia, it means to mildly deprecate or dismiss something as not important).

So you can imagine how funny it is when I check my ‘stats’ on WordPress to see a map of the world (similar to the one above) with readers distributed in far-flung countries that don’t even seem to have a Jewish population at all, let alone Jewish teens.

This is very funny to me.  Talk about reach.

But really, this is hard to fathom.

I’ve written before about how Jewish teens enrolled in Jewish education after the typical age of drop-off (bar/bat mitzvah) are off the Jewish communal radar.

They seem to be the “forgotten few” — for foundations seem to favor those teens that attend summer camps or day schools.

I mean, where are these statistics coming from? Are these actual readers? Or are wires crossed somewhere?

I’m still giddy at the idea that someone out there reads this blog and the issues I care about.

Recently, I ran into someone who I haven’t been in touch with for quite some time and she nonchalantly said, “Oh, I know what you’re up to, I read your blog.”  (really? and you don’t comment? or follow?)

Where are your readers? Is this surprising to you too?