This generation, according to Rav Kook, is a complicated but spiritually advanced generation. It is a generation that wants to believe in ideals. Even their selfishness and ill will is couched and rationalized with ideals. Every leader speaks in terms of the “common good” and the accepted politically correct version of fairness. Yet such “speak” cannot be confused with sincere yearning for truth. World leadership is replete with priests of self-delusion. There are some leaders who are intent on deluding others but they are not as dangerous as those who continually delude themselves. John Kerry stands out as one of the latter.
John Kerry likes to declare that “I’ve got a plan”. Regrettably his plans may have been well meaning and politically correct but they have never been thought out and have usually culminated in failure. This was true of his stance on Granada and then on the Marxist-Leninist Sandanista dictatorship in Nicaragua. His misstatements and misalignments continued with his stand against Operation Desert Shield/Storm . Yet he continues to be persistent in his lack of foresight and insight.
In his speech in Munich ( of all places), Kerry spoke of his concerns regarding Israel. I was touched by his declaration and concern that “While there is prosperity and momentary security in Israel.. it is an illusion that is bound to change if talks flounder”.
I almost shed a tear when he displayed real worry about the boycotts looming over Israel. Especially in light of reports that Kerry was actually behind some of those Boycott plans. He said “”The risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure”.
I still remember with fondness Kerry’s “fears” that if Israel does not comply the Palestinians will begin another Intifada. So much heart from one man.
Yet John Kerry and others would do well to learn the lessons of true leadership in this week’s Torah portion.
Regarding the breastplate that would be worn by the High Priest in the temple we read:
“And the stones ( of the breastplate) shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names; like the engravings of a signet, every one according to his name, they shall be for the twelve tribes. …..”And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goes in unto the holy place, for a memorial before HaShem continually.( Exodus 28:21,29)
The meaning is clear. The twelve stones “upon his heart” “wherein every individual stone was distinct and unique symbolized the necessity of the leader to be deeply connected to the care, concern and love for every individual of the collective of his people.
John Kerry may be working out of a deep need to do what he believes would show concern and love for all the residents of this area.
Yet the High Priest was to wear something else as well.
“And thou shall take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, according to their birth….. And thou shall put the two stones upon the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before HaShem upon his two shoulders for a memorial. ( Exodus 28:9-12)
It is not enough to feel “love and compassion” for those people the leader wants to serve. One must all also bear the responsibility on his shoulders for their daily living and existence. The leader must take responsibility for the implications of all his designs and plans. Kerry may want to concoct all types of plans on paper out of a desire to show real concern, but if he avoids the reality of the Middle East and ignores the facts on the ground because they get in the way of his vision, then that leader becomes extremely dangerous.
The Ephod connected the stones on the shoulders with the breastplate over the heart. Separating those two from either direction can be deadly for the people looking for leadership.
It is comforting, then, to know that John Kerry, the European Union and others do not really control the world. Hashem does .As a result this plan as many others before it will deteriorate quickly. It is our prayer that no blood will be spilled G-d forbid in the midst of that deterioration.
LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved