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

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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.

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4 thoughts on “Where did Mordechai come from? A Purim Call for Change in Leadership

  1. SW

    While I agree with many of your points- a few clarifications:
    1) At least in Rabbinic texts, it seems clear that Mordechai was not acting alone, and that he recognized that there was a divine hand at work here (orchestrating the events leading to the Jews’ ultimate salvation).
    2) Mordechai did mention at one point, that if Esther does not act to save the Jews- salvation will come from “another place” (‘im hahareish taharishi ba`et hazot, revah vahatzalah ya`amod lay’hudim mimaqom aher, v’at u’beit avikh toveidu…) So once again, either he was working (or thinking about working) with others, OR once again, he saw the divine hand at work.

    In our current situation, it is often hard for leaders to actually see the divine hand at work (although they may claim to be doing things in the name of God- whether or not that is true is a matter of perspective).

    But we do need people to take action! You are correct in stating that our true leaders need not be afraid of condemnation. Our leaders from Tanakh have definitely faced harsh criticism from others: Jeremiah was certainly no beloved leader at the time- Ezra faced opposition, Moses, Solomon, etc…

    Let us hope that one does emerge soon…

  2. Enough Already

    I think the pseudo-intellectual garbage that you spew on your blog has got to stop already.

    Most importantly, the main point of Judaism is to fit your life into Torah, not the other way around. Therefore, when you give your half baked Torah thought of the day, it’s not the Torah’s role to be the hook to hang it on. Don’t look for your message in Torah, find the Torah’s message in itself.

    This is just your most recent offense. Saying Mordechai was acting “rogue.” Saying that the rest of the Sanhedrin had lost their relevance. All so you can make your point that leaders aren’t leading the way YOU think fit. Where do you come off? Who says that they fear the Yeshivish? Maybe they are simply not ready to take the first steps down the slippery slope you’ve decided to run down?

    Your message about leadership aside, please stop using the Torah for your own agendas. It’s inauthentic and it’s just plain bad taste.

  3. DearSear Enough,

    It’s too late at night to give you a proper response, but I just want to thank you for being such a loyal reader of my blog. Please do tell your friends.

    -Aaron

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