Our sages used a folk saying to explain how great disasters might befall a nation:
“When the shepherd is angry with the flock, he blinds the eyes of the leading ewe” (Baba Kama 52a)—and woe to the flock whose leaders are blind!
These things hold true in all ages, because even in times of peace and plenty we must check things out, be aware of dangers to come.
How much more true is this in times of soul-searching, at a time when there is a need for a fundamental examination of our lives, when the very roots of existing reality must be explored.
Such exploration must be made not only in terms of existing assumptions, but on a review of the most fundamental values, and at such times it is essential that the eyes of the community see far and clear and penetratingly.
In ancient Israel, the prophet was defined as the “Scout of the House of Israel,” the one who saw from afar and who, in simple speech, was called “the shepherd.”
A nation needs its guides and shepherds, its scouts and leaders of the flock, who will carry out the function of leadership: the ability to feel and the power to think.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz