I learned something quite disappointing from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s recent column on the chief rabbinate and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (“Why America has no chief rabbi,” February 7). The lesson I intuited was that Rabbi Boteach has an easier time writing about the praises of such personalities as Michael Jackson than he does in addressing the work of a personality as dignified as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. The column purported to be a discussion about the chief rabbinate but it was instead a discussion on the failures of Rabbi Sacks.
Having a column read by thousands places a moral burden on the writer. The column requires fairness and balance. Neither appeared in last week’s article.
Surely Rabbi Sacks has his shortcomings. We all do. Perhaps he should have spoken up more often on more issues. I lack the information to judge. But he was a symbol for Jews world-over of dignity, and of the radiance of Torah scholarship. No small feat. His soaring words brought ancient teachings to life. Perhaps his successor will build on his strengths and learn from his mistakes.
Rabbi Boteach convinced me that Rabbi Sacks is fallible, like us all. He neglected to remind me of the inspiration and pride Rabbi Sacks gave to thousands of Jews in the U.K. and elsewhere. That was no small feat. That oversight is what made last week’s column a disappointment. Rabbi Boteach can be very inspirational. A reader would not know that from last week’s column.