The Cardinal Conclave and the Sanhedrin, A New Pope and A New Nasi - March 16, 2013
The institution is old and venerable, historic and important. Adherents of the faith turn to it for guidance.
But there are concerns that it is not responsive to changes in the world.
Part of the problem is the people running it. Is the group making the decisions too insular? Can fresh thinking of new people break through? Is the current leadership too tied to the past in order to embrace a new future? Are they too resistant to change for the institution and the religion's own good?
Perhaps a fresh face and a different perspective would be just what the institution needed to bring it into the new world!
I am not talking about the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, I am talking about the Nasi, Rabban Gamliel, who was the head of the Sanhedrin.
The single most famous story in the Talmud about the renewal of religious leadership and the impact that has on the creation of a different kind of religious community comes from Berakhot, 27B. Rabban Gamliel, dynastic head, stuck in his ways, ended up disserving the institution that he loved. His colleagues fired him and put in a fresh new face, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah (of the Haggadah fame, "Verily I am like a man of seventy." He was 18 when he was made head of the Sanhedrin.)
How do these two stories of old institutions trying to find new leadership reflect on each other? The Vatican and Jerusalem. The Cardinal Conclave and the Sanhedrin. The Pope and the Nasi.
A community of the faithful trying to preserve and to renew.