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You Must Lead

Message from the Desk of Rabbi Steven Burg

Dear Aish Family,

I love Jewish weddings! There is something incredibly inspirational and joyous in attending a wedding. As Jews, we believe in the “Baton Factor.” Our job is to pass the baton of Judaism to the next generation. In Hebrew we refer to this as the “Mesora.” It is our responsibility to carry the torch of Judaism and ignite the next generation’s heart to love and live with the Almighty. While attending the wedding of the son of Aish partners Kenny and Meredith Yager, I had two fascinating conversations which helped me focus on this concept.

The first conversation was with Aish partner and close friend, Azi Mandel. Azi is a true Jewish leader. He has been the President of multiple Jewish schools and is active on behalf of numerous Jewish causes. We started to discuss a local Jewish institution and what its future leadership would look like. After discussing the lack of candidates to fill this position, we segued into an analysis of the underlying issue. Azi suggested that we need more leaders who understand that taking responsibility is the ultimate calling of a Jew. He is right.

To put it bluntly, there is a lot going on in the world today. The Jewish Nation is under constant threat on a physical and spiritual level. We haven’t seen this level of hate and apathy in decades. Our youth is totally ignorant of the morality and beauty of Judaism. We need Jews to take responsibility. We need you to take responsibility.

After this inspiring exchange, I was walking across the wedding hall when a young woman stopped me and asked if I was Rabbi Burg from Aish. She said that she reads my weekly email every week. She told me how inspired she was that our Yeshiva Leadership Academy remained open throughout the pandemic. We discussed how difficult that was and the crucial role Aish played in saying Kaddish (mourner’s prayer) for Jews around the world. I gave her my card and invited her to visit the next time she was in Jerusalem.

Both of these conversations left me very inspired and thinking about the role of Aish in the world. Aish must be a beacon of light, inspiring Jews all around the world. The Jewish people look to Aish to illuminate the darkest days and lift up our brothers and sisters. While this is beautiful, it is not enough. Aish must also teach, promote, instruct, convey, inculcate and engrave on every Jew’s heart the concept of responsibility. My friends, don’t wait for others to lead. You are all leaders. Let us join together and lead the world back into the living arms of the Almighty.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Steve Burg