The hardest thing for newcomers or outsiders to Orthodox Judaism is to accept that certain people are to be trusted. Bumper Stickers say “Question Authority”. How can one fight the self-evident truths of bumper stickers?
I’m not talking about the trust in “infallibility”. The papal concept about Catholic doctrine is not at all analogous to our issue of trust in rabbis. It’s a passage at the beginning of Parshas Shoftim that concerns us. “When a matter is hidden from you, in any matter of Jewish Law, purity, criminal law, civil law or ritual law or any other matter, go to the Priest and Judge who will decide the matter. You shall listen, and not veer to the left or right.”
Sure, every reasonable country aspires to be a Nation of Laws, not of men.
But as the SCOTUS has made clear, there are always people where the buck stops.
If we are going to live Jewishly, we have to accept that we must trust people.
Which people? Well, there’s the rub! That’s a long discussion.
But doing “what is right in our eyes”, while often a recipe in daily decisions, cannot be the answer in a national system of law, which is what the Torah expects.
This trust is called “Emunas Chachamim” in Pirkei Avos Chapter 6, and it is one of the ways in which Torah is acquired. When it comes to Torah She’Baal Peh, which contains the content of everything we do, it is the most important of those 48 ways.