In our last post we discussed the reasons that a number of our Sages cried. But humans are not the only ones who cry. “Our Rabbis taught: for three does the Holy One blessed be He cry every day: on the one who can occupy himself with Torah but does not; on the one who is unable to occupy himself with Torah and [yet] does; and regarding the communal leader who is haughty towards the people” (Chagigah 5b).
Man’s mandate is to emulate G-d. “Just as G-d is merciful so too must we be merciful, just as G-d is kind so too must we be kind, just as G-d is patient so too must we be patient”(Shabbat 133b). This near heretical concept - how dare man compare himself to G-d - is the opening message of the Torah. Man, the pinnacle of creation, is endowed with tzelem elokim; we are created in the image of G-d. We are in the words of the Psalmist “a little bit less than G-d” (Tehillim 8:6). And if G-d is the Creator so too must man be a creator. There is no higher act of creation than bringing life into this world and just as this was the first action of G-d it is the first mitzva given to man -“be fruitful and multiply”. We are mandated to use our G-d given talents in the area for which they are best suited. And we need those best suited to Torah study, research and teaching to devote themselves to this crucial task. It is a personal and communal tragedy when that does not happen.
And if the most talented do not occupy themselves with Torah study then those of lesser talent will do so. And for this G-d cries a second tear.
As important as Torah study is - “the study of Torah equals them all” (Mishna Peah 1:1) - working on behalf of the community is of even greater importance. Torah is meant to be implemented in the real world and that is the task of our communal leaders. And that is a most humbling task. Those who use power to lord over others, those whose position leads them to arrogance bring great sadness to G-d - and are highly unlikely to be doing their best for the community. Wasted potential, misapplied potential and arrogance - those are things worth crying about.
The strength of our economy is dependent on the proper allocation of resources. The Jewish community is no different. How sad for man and how sad for G-d when our communal resources - both personnel and monetary - are not applied in the most effective manner. There is so much talent in the Jewish world and so many who give so much to make our communities stronger. Yet at the same time we must do a better job in creating the conditions that would attract the best and brightest to the twin pillars of Jewish life; Torah study - and in our tradition study must lead to teaching - and communal service.