Again, here is another rant-y discombobulated nighttime post since I am tired but I feel like I have what to say.
I just read Mr. G’s posting (I think it was Etan but I’m too tired to check now. Still, you can read his posting HERE.
This triggered a series of thoughts in my head about what could possibly be the reason for all this mistaken focus. (Maybe I believe it? Maybe I’m used to playing the Give the Benefit of the Doubt Game? I’m not sure.)
This is what I’ve got.
He’s right that there is a lot of focus on narishkeit instead of in important areas, there are a few things I’d like to mention.
Gedolim don’t get appointed generally speaking (except in chassidic dynasties and stuff) so it ends up being more of an organic process. This means that:
A – Gedolim are ‘elected’ by the people and therefore to a certain extent reflect, to some degree, the BETTER side of general society.
B – Gedolim don’t necessarily know what’s out there. They very often have a very limited idea of what is out there because they are busy being holy. I don’t mean this in an obnoxious way, very often the only way to get holy is to shut out all the idiocy around you. So they may know that there is idiocy, but not always know how deep it goes.
It therefore makes sense that the rabbanim in question would think that they are building upon a foundation that they think is at least partially there and that just simply ISN’T. If you read Mesilat Yesharim, for example, the Ramchal discusses all these different levels, or steps, and these rabbonim think we as a community are further along than we actually are. What I’m trying to say is that, perhaps society is seeped in externality so when they try to have a relationship with Hashem it is through external means. (This is the BETTER side of society that I was referring to, the side that is interested in a relationship with Hashem.) So they go and find rabbanim to represent their community, rabbanim who are going to place focus on EXTERNAL stuff.
These rabbanim are then coming from one of two places.
1 – They think everyone is doing better than they actually are, so they are trying to build upon it
2 – They know how low we have fallen and they are trying to get our hearts to follow our actions…and maybe since we aren’t commanded to keep these chumrahs, we don’t have the same kind of yetzer harah against them, and their logic is that we practice making sacrafices for Hashem when its easier and it will build us to be able to sacrifice for Hashem where it REALLY counts.
THAT, and I heard from a fairly reliable source that people often make things up and then pass them of as the comments of the g’dolei hador. And the gedolim aren’t current-events saavy enough to pick up on it and beat them down.
In the end, gdedolim are people and therefore imperfect. It’s important to remember that we are in galut and Hashem has put us in this generation for a reason. We need to learn from it and change the world by changing ourselves and thereby setting an example. And part of this means not focusing on the faults of our generations leaders (as mocking Torah scholars is a big no-no…BTW not something I am accusing YOU of at all, just bringing up an issue that sadly is far too common) but instead on steering things towards the better.