We’ve all likely had the experience of being let down by someone we looked up to.  Certainly, we have all known relationships that have ultimately failed because whatever covenantal relationship was at its foundation foundation was broken–whether that was a romantic partnership, a business relationship, a friendship, or even a familial tie.  Those breaks are painful–the breakdown of the relationship itself hurts us, and when the relationship itself must end, the severing that is necessary for our own wholeness and healing can also cause us much pain.

But we’ve also likely known another kind of breakdown: whether of someone we knew personally, professionally, or someone in the public sphere…people we have looked up to, admired, and even exalted, who have acted in ways that destroy the very fabric of the lens we once saw them through.

Yes, we know people, even leaders, are fallible–look at our biblical heroes, after all.  But when we see those leaders actively act in ways that fall far short of our expectations–that go against the very lessons that we have learned from them, the sense of loss is profound.

We can begin to question.  Everything.

Who were we that we saw them as our mentors, our role models? Was there still truth to the lessons that we learned? Can we still take wisdom from their words, even when we no longer seek their council?

When the actions of one whom we have seen as a teacher fall short, it hurts in a unique way.  We doubt our own ability to choose teachers and we can be unsure of where to turn, not sure what lessons we can trust.

When we are the ones who are leaders, this is a humbling reminder–of the responsibility we have to be careful with our words and with our actions.  We must be aware of the pedestal on which some may try to place us, and perhaps offer reminders of our humanity along the way.  And to teach our fallibility as one aspect of our truth.

It is ever important to know before whom we stand: in all directions.

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About rabbiisa

I'm a Reform Rabbi with a passion for education! I'm also a pop culture fan, political junkie, and NY Times crossword puzzle addict. I am INTP, a proud member of Red Sox Nation, and a fan of the Oxford Comma.

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