A common theme throughout Jewish history is the ability of the leadership to cause Am Yisrael to follow Torah as well as the opposite.
In the Chumash, the most glaring examples are the Sin of the Golden Calf and the Sin of the Spies.
The Zohar (2:191a) on Ki Tisa brings that the Sin of the Golden Calf was instigated by the 2 leaders of the Erev Rav, who used their avodah zarah to cause the people to stray.
In the Chumash we see that 10 leaders caused the nation to not want to enter Eretz Yisrael, causing the 40 years sentence in the desert.
Melachim II has a recurring theme: whether or not the king caused the people to sin like Yerov'am ben Navat before them, or if they did what was right and made the people do what was right.
The common theme is that one person really can make a difference, specifically a leader. Now we see the necessity in defining Moshiach as someone who causes Israel to follow the Torah (See Rambam Laws of Kings, chapter 11).
However, it is not limited to the Moshiach. This appears to be the intent of the GR"A regarding Anshei Amanah (Men of Faith/Truth). These are people for whom Truth is an ultimate value. There are two leadership roles that must be filled by Anshei Amanah in the final generation: Moshiach ben Yosef, and the Sanhedrin.
Moshiach ben Yosef because Moshiach ben Yosef is from Yesod, as is Truth. Truth will sprout forth from the ground (Tehillim 85:12), meaning that the sprouting will be dependent on human action.
However, not to dwell on what is not in our reach (Moshiach ben Yosef is not yet "here" for us to gather behind, and we cannot at this point make the appointed person in to that role), let us discuss the Sanhedrin.
There are three main aspects to the Geulah before the crowning event when Moshiach ben Dovid arrives:
- Ingathering of the Exiles
- Establishment of the Sanhedrin
- Building of the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim
The Ingathering of the Exiles and the Building of Yerushalayim all began in tiny steps approximately 200 years ago. Every point is a building-block. In order to get the minimum 600,000 Jews, it took time, and indeed we are close to an absolute world majority of Jews in Eretz Yisrael. To build the Beit HaMikdash, there has to be a city around it. What was then fantasy is now reality.
People in the past looked down upon the Aliyah movement in the early 19th century, but patience and persistence have proven that it can be done. Yet people expect differently of the Sanhedrin. Historical perspective shows us patience is necessary.
There is now a stepping stone in place. The utmost was done to make this kosher, however at this stage, it was to be expected that there will be those that look down upon it.
The task of the Sanhedrin at this time is to get ready. Walk with wisdom. For one day soon, we will demand that the Sanhedrin take the lead as the sole authority of Torah for Am Yisrael. Whatever disputes we now have regarding its legitimacy will soon fade.
Truth will yet reign again.