The winner of Ukrainian “Dancing with the Stars” was Volodymyr Zelensky, then actor and comedian, and now President. Zelensky heard the call of justice and freedom, becoming a world leader. He has invited others, Ukrainian and European, Jewish and Christian, to honor that call as well.
The call to action is not a conversation. It is a sacred summons or a holy appeal. The call is an assemblage of political, sociological, historical, and theological constructs. The answer to the call is action, not mere words. Zelensky’s duty is to have faith in his people and nation, leading them through the most perilous time of their lives.
Others drawn to political or spiritual service describe “hearing the call.” As one of my teachers said to a group of prospective rabbis, one does not become a rabbi is if one could choose to do anything else. To hear the call is to be compelled into service for a purpose beyond one’s needs and comprehension.
The third book of the Torah begins with the word “Vayikra,” meaning God called. In this case, Moses is given instruction as to how the people shall offer sacrifice to God. Most times God speaks to Moses saying, (viyidaber HaShem el Moshe, laymor). In this case, God called to Moses from the “Tent of Meeting (the Mishkan).” And the holiest of Jewish leaders heard that call, yet again.
Great people who truly get the call have the discretion to know if the call is authentic and valid. The call might come from the Mishkan, from the cries of children, or the yearning for true freedom.
Some believe that they are called to pursue their own passion. Idealizing the pursuit of passion can lead to failure, and with it disgrace, self-loathing, and confusion. When one idealizes their passion, then anything less than success is unacceptable. Undue passion may lead to overconfidence and detrimental outcomes. If one believes that their call to action, their passion, is directed by history or God, then they may delve into insane zealotry . . . like so many autocrats before.
The calling is about following a higher purpose rather than the pursuit of a specific outcome. To be called to service is to stand at the altar of holiness, for freedom and for justice. The leaders who are truly called, as if from the tent of meeting, are those who value life and liberty. And may God bless the leaders who have answered the call of preserving and protecting a more Godly world.
Rabbi Evan J. Krame