A Model of Rabbinic Leadership
If you want to see what an actual great Torah leader is like, then Rav Eliezer Melamed, shlita, is a wonderful example. In his latest essay, he demonstrates an aspect of what leadership is about: presenting an overall vision for the nation. Here are some choice extracts (bear in mind that this is translated from Hebrew, and some idioms and nuances are lost in translation):
"The identity card of the People of Israel is the vision to establish in the Land of Israel a great and blessed nation that adheres to the values of faith, charity and justice, and brings blessing to all families of the world... In order for us to fulfill the great vision, God gave us the Torah, so that in the light of its guidance and commandments, we can engage in the improvement of the world, and establish state institutions committed to imparting the values of truth and goodness....
"By the grace of God, by means of the self-sacrifice of the pioneers and soldiers, the State of Israel was established, and inspired by faith and Torah it is growing ever more prosperous, and we have a wonderful opportunity to be partners in its further development. I will attempt to illustrate the path to the realization of the vision, in the light of the guidance of the Torah.
"Work: In the Torah, we learn about the enormous value of work. Our forefathers worked diligently, and were blessed. Even when Jacob our forefather had every reason to neglect his work, he continued to work diligently and faithfully, and was privileged to rejoice in his labor. Numerous mitzvot and halakhot instruct us to respect an employee and his work. The more we are able to educate towards the value of work, the more diligent and loyal labor force we will have, and blessing will increase...
"Science: The Torah relates to science with great respect, to the point where it is said that a person who lacks one of the world’s wisdoms, lacks ten countermeasures in the Torah (Rabbi Kook in the name of the Gra). The sciences reveal the divine wisdom in the creation. In addition, science is extremely beneficial to man for his well-being and health, and its development encompasses the value of work, and the settlement of the country. Therefore, in a proper Jewish education, the study of the sciences must be greatly encouraged, each student according to his ability. Highly talented students who can engage in the development of science for the sake of increasing knowledge, and for the benefit of the lives of individuals and society must also be encouraged. As a result of such an education, we can hope to raise more scientists who can contribute to humanity, and even workers in other fields will be able to deepen their understanding of their jobs, and develop them. As a result, everyone will be able to enrich their work with new ideas, grow to be outstanding employees, and contribute to society as a whole.
"Torah Study: In order to fulfill all these values, there is a mitzvah to set times for Torah study, for by doing so, we revisit and learn all the mitzvahs dealing with honesty and truth, and the value of work and creativity. From Torah study, we can also draw inspiration to develop new ideas, and find solutions to complicated problems. To this end, special attention must paid that the study of Torah indeed be the Holy of Holies: on the one hand, of most important status, and on the other hand, a fountain for all, in a way that Torah does not supplant the status of work and science, but strengthens them."
It's not just Rav Melamed's particular views on the role of Torah, science and work which are refreshing. It's also that he actually has and articulates an overall vision, and thinks about what is required for it to be fulfilled, and how it would work out for the entire nation. This is the kind of thing that certain other significant sectors of Orthodox Jewish societies simply never talk about. They don't even have a plan for their own society, let alone for the country. We are blessed to have such people as Rav Melamed.
NOTE: You can purchase Rav Melamed's works in Hebrew at this link and in English at this link. They are also freely available online and there is even a special Android app with them.