message from the Emeritus Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Lord Sacks, at the Ezra Madrichim seminar in August.
To all of you at Ezra taking part in this wonderful leadership seminar, I wish you Brocho and Hatzlocho – every blessing and success. And let me just share with you some thoughts about why youth movements like Ezra are so important. You know as we begin Ellul and we begin the countdown to the Yomim Noraim and we say every day that extraordinary psalm, ‘ledovid Hashem ori veyishi,’ I think to myself, what is the greatest model of young leadership? I think of Dovid Hamelech. When Shmuel realised that Shaul was not the right man to lead the Jewish people, he was told by G-d to go to the children of Yishai, the children of Jesse, and of course they didn’t even think of bringing David there – he was so young. Nobody even thought of him as a candidate and yet it was David, the young man, the youngest, who really changed the Jewish world and became the greatest king in Israel’s history. The person whose descendant will be the Moshiach. It is young people who change the world and I think it is Dovid Hamelech who tells us why.
“It is young people who change the world”
First of all, number one, when you are young you can say with absolute feeling, ‘Hashem ori veyishi mimi iroh,’ that ‘G-d is my light and my salvation of whom shall I be afraid?’ When you are young all the possibilities are open to you. As the late Robert Kennedy once said, ‘there are people who see the world the way things are and ask why? I see things that have not yet been and I ask why not?’ And when you have that courage of knowing that, ‘G-d is my light and my salvation of who shall I be afraid?’ you really can go with emunah and without fear and begin to change the world. Number two, Dovid Hamelech said something so beautiful in ‘ledovid Hashem ori veyishi,’ that to me it is one of the most important lines in the whole of Judaism. ‘Ki ovi veimi azovuni veHashem yazveni,’ Dovid imagines there could be a parent who discerns their child. Maybe people don’t believe in us, even our parents sometimes don’t believe in us, but G-d always believes in us. ‘G-d will hold me close, gather me in.’ You go and show the people of whom you are the madrichim that you believe in them, that nobody is ever cast off from Hashem and you as Hashem’s agent, as his ambassador, you are bringing them close. And when a madrich brings young people close, he helps change their lives and makes them into the people they never dreamed they could be but they really could. Finally, I want to say to you this: come Rosh Hashanah we are going to [say], malchios, zichronos and shofros. To me there is a line that was written for you, it is one of the most beautiful in the mussaf of Rosh Hashanah. It comes of course from the prophet Jeremiah, ‘zocharti loch chessed nuarayich ahavas kellulosiach, lechteich acharai bamidbar b’eretz lo zoruah,’ ‘I rememer the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, then you were willing to follow me into an unknown, unsown land.’ Right now, what you are doing is learning the art of ‘Chessed Nuorayich’, that kindness and imagination and leadership of being young and nonetheless being willing to set out and take others with you on a journey to an unknown future, to bringing Yemot Hamoshiach.