In Stephen Covey's bestseller, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", the author writes about the concept of an "Emotional Bank Account" (pg 188). I'm going to paraphrase a bit:
We all know what a financial bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that's been built up in a relationship.I understand that you trust the gedolim. I once did too. I too was told how truly great and wise they are. I believed it all. I trusted them. Just like you do. I was taught that everything they do is for our best. That nothing they do is for their own interests. That all their decisions are fair, honest, proper, kind, just, and most of all, according to the Torah. Comparing it to the analogy of the bank account, I had a tremendous reserve of trust for the gedolim.
If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, keeping my commitments to you, and other trust-building behaviors, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes, and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. When the account balance is high, there is confidence in each other, reliance, and most obviously trust.
But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, overreacting, ignoring your concerns, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn. The account is depleted. The trust level gets very low.
If a large reserve of trust is not sustained by continuous deposits, a relationship will eventually deteriorate. Previously high amounts of trust can not be relied on for new withdrawals. And if the trust isn't there now, does it make sense to act as if it is?
On a rare occasion, I would notice something that didn't seem right to me. Sometimes I heard about an incident which didn't seem so fair or honest. But confident that the gedolim wouldn't ever do anything unfair or less than honest, I brushed it aside and kept my faith strong. To return to the metaphor, a small withdrawal of trust was made, but it was more than amply covered by my reserve.
However, I started learning of other things regarding our gedolim which continued to make larger and larger demands on my trust. Apparently, sometimes they do overlook things when it suits their purposes. It seems they don't have solutions for many of the problems in their society. Rumor has it that some of them made some really dumb mistakes over the years. Many bits and pieces of information passed my way that cast doubt on the towering greatness of these figures. As I encountered these challenges, for the most part they were met with strong skepticism. After all, I was taught well: "The gedolim are to be trusted, and it's not our place to question them." That huge reserve of trust was pushed forward and presented to cover all these slight depletions.
But the demands kept piling up. I found myself deducting from that trust more and more and instead of concrete deposits of trust, all I was given in exchange by those representatives of the gedolim were hollow promises of, "They're the gedolim. They'll pay you back. Just trust them. You'll see." And I continued to do so. I continued to give them my trust. Long after the account was empty, I still managed to scrounge around, sell off parts of my good sense to raise the capital, and again rely on what they told me. But eventually, I realized that I could keep up the sham no longer. I had nothing left to give them. Pretending to give them trust that I no longer had was just idiotic.
Ok, enough with the bank account metaphor. I think I got a bit carried away there. But I really need to ask you, all of you who continue to trust the gedolim, Why? Why do you continue to have confidence in them? It doesn't make any sense. You're not blind to all their indiscretions, are you? How can you disregard it all? How can you continuously respond to any insinuation against their integrity with an equanimous, "They are the gedolim. It's not our place to question them." You continue to ignore all the mounting evidence that your confidence is misplaced. Why?
You say you trust them, but this is not real trust. Real trust is earned. It needs to be maintained, nurtured, and cultivated. When a person is loyal to some ideal, even when there is no rational basis for it, I believe a more fitting term for that behavior is blind faith. Is that what is expected of a frum Jew? To have blind faith in these leaders? To check in one's own good sense at the front door, and just follow along because that's what "trusting the gedolim" means?
From what I am constantly hearing, I can only assume that you all believe that is so. That despite all evidence to the contrary, the gedolim must always continue to be trusted. They must not be challenged, questioned, or held accountable. And of course, they must never be defied. We must continue to place our confidence in their decisions, no matter how wrong they seem to us. Well, if this is what you believe, all I can say is, Enjoy your Judaism. I want no part in this mindless cult. If I'm wrong though, then please explain to me what the hell is going on. Because I just don't get it.