Over the last two weeks, a terrible culture has again reared its head in our nation's capital and we find our politicians accused of terrible conduct in relation to sexual abuse. When our leaders fail, or when they are seen to fail, even if it is unfair, we find ourselves disoriented, not knowing what to do next.
In our weekly Parsha, we also see a spectacular failure of leadership. Aharon was asked by the Jews to make for them an idol. Unfortunately, perhaps as a way of delaying the inevitable, he agreed to help. In the process, he brought about guilt on our nation that our sages tell us has yet to be expiated. How can we go on after such an event?
The answer lies in the additional reading this week. We will read Parshat Parah, the mitzvah to slaughter and burn the red heifer and use its ashes
to purify those who came into contact with a dead body. This mysterious mitzvah comes to atone for the sin of the golden calf, which was led by Aharon. However, Aharon is not the one to bring the sacrifice, and indeed, he cannot.
When there are such gross failures, we must look not to our leaders to fix the situation, but to ourselves. Each of us has a role in becoming acquainted with the problem and doing whatever we can to improve. Sometimes it is just to be aware and help those around us. Occasionally there are specific remedies we can provide. In times of trouble, we expect our leaders to fix the situation for us. Perhaps we should instead expect more of ourselves so that it does not happen again.