Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz; “Who is worthy of being a rabbi”

The city of Dvinsk (nowadays: Daugavpils) in Lithuania had at one point two great chief rabbis who were appointed, inter alia, in order to counterbalance each other.
One was Rabbi Meir Simcha haCohen, who was the rabbi of the mitnagdim, and the other Rabbi Yosef Rozin, known as the Rogochover Gaon, who was the rabbi of the Chassidim.
Incidentally, they had an excellent relationship.
One day a third person – a Jewish doctor or lawyer, someone with an official diploma – was also appointed as the rabbi designated by the authorities.
Sometime later a local gentile encountered a local Jew and told him:
“Last night we got together to drink and play cards all night, and one of the gang was your rabbi.”
The Jew asked, “You mean Rabbi HaCohen?” “Of course not!” said the gentile. “Rabbi Rozin?” the Jew asked. “Surely not!” replied the Gentile.
“So who was it?” asked the Jew.
The gentile named the rabbi designated by the authorities.
To this the Jew responded: “Him? He is your rabbi, not ours!”
Indeed, the question about all kinds of rabbis, designated or not designated, is: whose rabbi is he?
Is he the rabbi of this or that organization that chose him?
Is he perhaps the rabbi of the 1920 Edict for Electing the Rabbinate, or maybe the outcome of this or that intrigue?
If so, it is no wonder that he is connected with all kinds of acts or rumors that are not exactly pleasing to God.
Who, then, is worthy of being a rabbi, a “head” for the People of Israel?
It is hard to tell, but there are some indications.
The Hebrew letters of the name Israel also form the words li rosh, which mean “I have a head,” or “a head for me.”
The People of Israel is seeking its head.
There may not be a visible head, but it is nevertheless incumbent upon us to seek a real head and to follow him, regardless of whether or not he has some public office, is famous or anonymous.
We must find a person who is a head, one who can feel the pains of the public as well as of the individual and uplift them, one who can cry over the sorrows and tribulations of the Jews both to God and together with other people, and occasionally also participate in the joys of his fellow Jews.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz