Spiritual leaders are always held in high esteem. Believed to be the servant of G-d A-mighty, a higher standard is attributed to them. Especially Priests – those that participate in the Divine Service of the Temple had a specific set of rules and laws that required them to maintain a particular responsibility and to maintain higher standards of holy behavior and purity.
Perashat Emor describes certain rules of behavior to include to whom a Kohen – Priest – may marry, disqualifying physical and personal blemishes, how they can eat by safeguarding the sanctity of offerings and Terumah, and their prohibition to be in contact with a cadaver.
Such an importance that Judaism places in the position of a Kohen – Priest, a spiritual leader. They are held in a higher spiritual level and demanded of them a higher standard of behavior. They are the role model that we ought to emulate and follow. Their way of behaving, their speech, their attitude and their human relations are so important, that we should learn from them and apply it to our mode of behavior.
How different is the behavior of Priests and spiritual leaders of other faiths and religions? In the days of old and throughout history we have read and heard about the excesses of their lifestyle, their abuse of the masses, their immoral acts and unethical behavior, their bloodthirsty behavior, all in the name of their idol-god. They were the privileged few, a special club that under penalty of death it was criticized or invaded.
Even in our days, in remote areas of the world, in still primitive regions and countries, those same behaviors still exist and flourish. Moreover, in not so remote or primitive areas, despicable behavior still exists. Certain spiritual leaders, in their sermons and preaching, emit calls for murder, debauchery, immoral acts, and unethical behavior. These are broadcasted via the internet, television, fliers and radio. Needless to say, most of those calls are hurled against our people and Israel.
We have been witnessing in the last decade and more, many Religious Leaders that are archenemies of Israel and the Western World, people who are responsible not only for calling upon the murder and torture of so many people but also of actually murdering in cold blood thousands of innocent people in the name of G-d. Their followers call them “Sheiks or Imams”, Priests in their religion. Like them, many with that same title and even higher titles have used their pulpit to sow hatred, immorality and commit unethical acts.
Fortunate are we, as the recipient of the Torah and the Wisdom of G-d, which has allowed us to maintain our Priests – Spiritual Leaders at that spiritual height, that we ought to maintain. Unfortunately, we have seen some exception even in our ranks; however very far from the same magnitude, extent, enormity or degree; for we are the Jewish People.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.