Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Chief of Police from "Out of the Box"

By Zvulun Orlev

An Appointment "Out of the Box"
The surprising decision of the Minister of Internal Security to appoint General (Res.) Gal Hirsh as national Chief of Police and the sharp criticism of this decision bring to fore once again the question of how to relate to governmental decisions which can be defined as "out of the box." This new decision by the minister is not really very unusual. Recently we have seen some similar actions, such as: the dismantling of the Broadcasting Authority and firing its 1500 employees in order to establish a new authority; dismantling of the Authority for Fighting Drug Use and transferring its function to the Ministry of Internal Security; and establishment of independent Conversion Courts instead of continuing the existing struggle to maintain the proper standards of conversion under the control of the Chief Rabbinate; and more. 
My spontaneous reaction would be to view such moves as being correct and good. But is this really true? Doesn't support for such acts stem from a feeling of despair, impatience, and a lack of trust in traveling a long path? (Remember what Rav Kook is quoted as saying: "The eternal nation does not fear a long journey.") Is this an accepted technique? Doesn't such a move indicate an attempt to evade positive action? Or perhaps, worse yet, such moves are tainted with populism, an attempt at public relations in order to gain respect for brave and determined leadership (in the eyes of those who act in this way)? 
Based on my spiritual world, I have come to understand that the verse, "Rejuvenate our days as of old" [Eicha 5:21], emphasizes not only a rejuvenation but also "as of old" – to maintain a basis of the old foundations. That is what we have learned from the approach of Rav Kook: "The old will become rejuvenated, and the new will be holy." This might have been shortened by simply saying, "The new will be holy," but our Torah begins with "the old." A novel approach will be holy only if it is built up on a foundation of the old and not by eradicating it completely. 
From my friend Rabbi Yehuda Tovy of Bnei Berak I learned an explanation using this approach for the passage in the Talmud where it is written that if one brings joy to a bride and groom "it is as if he has rebuilt one of the ruins of Jerusalem" [Berachot 6b]. We might ask what joy there is to move into a ruin (or a prefab?), rather than to move into a new building. However, the point here is not to solve the housing shortage, but rather to give advice – Build your new living quarters based on the past, the ruins of Jerusalem and their eternal sanctity, as an expansion of the spiritual foundation that was constructed at Mount Sinai. 
It seems to me that the concept of thinking "out of the box," which I described above within the realm of public government and not in the realm of halacha, can also be applied to halacha and to our private, public, and nationalist approach to life. In his time, David Ben Gurion was criticized, and rightly so, that in his fondness for the Tanach, he attempted to skip hundreds of generations by moving straight "from the Tanach to the Palmach." Such a large gap is foreign to Judaism, which believes in maintaining the chain of tradition from generation to generation, without skipping over any generation or any link. 
There is no Room for Innovative "Testing"
I do not absolutely condemn any and all activities "outside the box," and I can even support and encourage the use of this method in creative activities where it is appropriate: in laboratories, research facilities, hothouses for development, and in workshops – in such fields as medicine, science, hi-tech, security, economics, and so on, and in any area where it is necessary to invent new approaches which can be tested in sterile surroundings without creating any danger for lives or gambling on our national interests. In such cases it is good to encourage innovation, a well-developed imagination, and a vision which goes "beyond the box," and we should indeed not accept merely "rejuvenating the old," based on "ancient tradition." However, blind copying of novel thinking into our public and social life should take place, if at all, only if there is no other option. In a subject related to national government, "thinking out of the box" can be viewed as an uncontrolled experiment, and it can sometimes entail a dangerous gamble. In national decisions there is no laboratory or experimental area where it is possible to evaluate the significance of a proposed move and its consequences. 
My Best Wishes in Spite of the Inappropriate Action
The decision of the Minister of Internal Security to appoint Gal Hirsh as Police Chief made the problem of "thinking out of the box" worse, since at first glance he does not have the minimum required skills for the job. This should include a good working knowledge and reasonable experience with the police force or with some other law enforcement group, and with other bodies which come into close contact with the police, such as the government, the Knesset, ministries of the Treasury, Internal Affairs, and Transportation, and local governments, among other things. The new chief needs proven ability and rich experience in managing large organizations such as the police (as opposed to the army, the police do not follow the orders of the government but only the law!). The chief also needs academic training in one of the major areas where the police work, such as law, criminology, economics, or public administration. One the other hand, the rank of a police major general (or its equivalent in the IDF or in civilian life), a high level of intelligence, a brilliant personality, creative thinking "outside the box" and a proven ability to convince others are not sufficient for the job of Police Chief. The chief is not responsible for fashioning the image and the vision of the police force, and he does not create policy. These are the tasks of the responsible minister. A Police Chief is a combination of an experienced commander, an efficient manager, and an independent and professional leader. 
Let us hope and pray that the best man "within the box" will be chosen for this job.

No comments: