Say Little, Do Much: Powerlessness
By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER
I recently attended a “Friends of Scouting” dinner keynoted by astronaut Mark Kelly. He encouraged and inspired young Scouts and their leaders, speaking of his youth, his military service, and his storied career.
He discussed the assassination attempt in which his wife, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was shot and grievously wounded. Weighing consequential medical decisions in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, he met with her entire surgical team: senior lead surgeons as well as the youngest residents fresh out of medical school. Captain Kelly insisted on hearing from the youngest, least experienced doctors first, lest their opinions and creative insights be unduly influenced by intimidating “superiors.” He sought the fullest possible range of options and perspectives as his wife’s life hung in the balance.
How similar this approach is to the wisdom of Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:1. In deciding ritual law, the “Gadol” – the most eminent among the judges would give his opinion first. In capital cases – matters of life and death – those judges most lacking in seniority and relegated to the side benches would be first to offer opinions.
Perhaps the wisdom of the ancient Sanhedrin helped save the life of a distinguished daughter of the Jewish People.
Perhaps we should all be open to the voice of the young, marginalized, and powerless.