Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Chicago Cubs and Torah Leadership

Guest Post by Rabbi Mordechai Finkel

Steve Bartman is an innocent man. He did nothing wrong and that was later conceded by Moises Alou the man who was most affected by what happened on that fateful day. Any fan who sees a foul ball coming at him will instinctively reach out and try to catch it. Rabbi Finkel's post is not meant to castigate him but rather to compare the Chicago Cubs that year to today's rabbinic leadership. While I wish he had used another example - the reaction of the public at the time is pretty much the way Rabbi Finkel describes it. With that in mind I present his guest post. - HM

How many Cubs fans will ever forget being at the cusp of clinching the National League Championship in 2003? They were leading the Giants 3-0 with only five outs to go in the game. A simple pop fly along the left field line became the turning point in the game. One Cubs fan, Steve Bartman, swooped in and tried to catch the ball instead of Moises Alou. By the time the Cubs managed to get the next two outs the score was 8-3.

While the Cubs players had solid reputations, excellent credentials, and the necessary team spirit, that is not what people remember them for. People remember this team as people who failed in the clutch. At the very time where their leadership and dominance was supposed to shine they choked, and gave the game away after a fan interfered with a catchable foul ball. Legendary broadcaster, the late Ron Santo, said it best, “I guess it’s true when they say that the Cubs are loveable losers!”

It is true that the present day Roshei Yeshiva are respected by most of the students in their respective yeshivos, but to be a Torah leader they must be able to shine in the clutch, when the game is on the line.

It’s easy to be a Rosh Yeshiva when the question posed to you is, “What Bracha to make on Corn Flakes?” If a Rosh Yeshiva fails to lead by defending and enabling Jewish criminals instead of the aggrieved party – often reflecting a situation when a person’s Yiddishkeit is on the line - it’s time we as a community reassesses whether such a Rosh Yeshiva can be considered a Torah leader.

Allowing the outside influences on to the field of play to interfere with professionals is a sign of a monumental collapse. Money and power should have absolutely no bearing whatsoever in the decision of Torah law. By abrogating their responsibilities of leadership and allowing pride or other considerations to sway their judgment Torah leadership is essentially saying, "We are Roshei Yeshiva but true leaders we aren't".