Even Chief Rabbis Need to Repent

As I read through this week's Haftara (Yishayahu 1:1-27) I feel like I am reading a prophecy that was directed towards the religious leadership in Israel today.

God is telling the Jewish people that He is not interested in their sacrifices, prayers or holiday celebrations as they behave in a corrupt manner. They are told in sentences 16-17: “Wash yourselves, purify yourselves, remove the evil of your doings from before My eyes; desist from doing evil. Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the victim, do justice for the orphan, take up the cause of the widow.”


God tells them that if they do Tshuva (repent) then they shall “eat the goodness of the Land”, but if they refuse and rebel they will be “devoured by the sword”.


In sentence 23 we read: “Your princes are wayward and associates of thieves; the whole of them loves bribery and pursue illegal payments; for the orphan they do not do justice, the cause of the widow does not come unto them.”


In the past month we have seen a Chief Rabbi accused of money laundering, fraud, bribery, embezzlement, stealing money from a number of charities and breech of public trust.


We have also seen a former Chief Rabbi curse a potential candidate for the chief rabbinate by calling him an “evil man who is dangerous to Judaism and the Torah”. A day after the former Chief Rabbi’s comments, the potential chief rabbi was attacked at a wedding by people who don’t agree with his policies.


All Rabbis, especially those in the public eye have to realize that these types of behavior are unacceptable. They cause a desecration of God’s name and distance people from our religion. They must follow the words of the Prophet Yishayahu and repent.


Luckily we have many wonderful Rabbis and leaders but they are not the ones who usually make the headlines!


We hope and pray that the end of the Yishayahu’s prophecy will be fulfilled (sentences 26-27): “And I will return your judges as in earliest times and your counselors as at first, after that you shall be called ‘Ir HaTzedek’, City of Righteousnes, Faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with justice and her returnees with righteousness.”