Where did Mordechai come from? A Purim Call for Change in Leadership


Who was Mordechai that he set in motion a chain of events to save the Jews of Persia from destruction? I don’t mean to ask how he merited such a position, but who was he in the Jewish community to be the one that took initiative?

Mordechai was a member of the Great Sanhedrin, but there is no indication in our Biblical text or Rabbinic literature that he planned Esther’s role in saving the Jewish people with anybody else.

Seemingly the rest of the Sanhedrin was uninvolved in this particular plan to save the Jewish people, and Mordechai was acting as a rogue agent. Perhaps the established Jewish leadership during that time became too apathetic, lost direction or became powerless over the years. While they may have served the official roles as leaders of the Jewish community, they were not able to respond to the actual present challenges that faced the Jewish community.

Today we are still in a similar position in the Modern Orthodox Jewish community. We have a lot of leaders and great institutions, but not enough of them are working to solve the real problems our community faces.

Our leaders need to have the confidence to stand up for what they believe in, and not cower in fear of being criticized. The Modern Orthodox community cannot remain fearful of its Yeshivish cousins to the right. They are amazing people, but we have different values that must express themselves differently.

Until we are able to act confidently for what we know is right, instead of crippling ourselves to fit another group’s standards.

We have a beautiful set of values and morals that are at the foundation of our Modern community. We need to be confident enough to let those values influence our actions, and drive our communal initiatives.

This may require a new crop of Modern Orthodox leaders. This may require newer and smaller institutions to rise up. We need to change the way we operate, or find new people to chart our course.

We need to stop taking steps backwards out of fear, and beginning stepping forward in confidence.