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The Election We Deserve

The Election We Deserve

Friday, 9 September, 2016 - 2:02 am

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In this week's Torah portion, G-d instructs us with the commandment of crowning a king for the Jewish people.  400 years later, the prophet Samuel is disgusted with the Jewish people for making this exact request, asking Samuel to help them crown a Jewish King.  What’s going on? Is it a mitzvah or a travesty to have a king?

Chasidic philosophy explains that there are two types of kings:

1) One whose job it is to keep the people in line.

2) One to help lead the people to greater glory.

The first king is necessary when there is a depraved people that cannot control themselves. They need a king who rules through fear to keep them in line. The second king is for a people who have achieved personal greatness but need a leader to help them individually and communally achieve their greatest potential.  Samuel was angry that the Jewish people wanted the first type of king, while the mitzvah is for the second type of king.

A big election will soon be upon us. While in every election the stakes are high and the rhetoric fierce, this election is truly special, in a bad way. We have the most disliked candidates in the history of polling. How did we get here?

As with the king who matches the people he rules over, we, too, get the election we deserve. We have to do some major soul-searching (the month of Elul is a perfect time for that); what did we do to deserve such candidates?

A very large majority of us want to do good, be kind, and inspire our families and friends. We talk about it and think about it, but do we always match it with our actions? Are we kind to strangers, respectful to neighbors, and charitable in our communities? Do we control our anger when we want to lash out?

This week’s Torah portion tells us to raise ourselves up, and we'll deserve better leaders. Work on ourselves, our families, and communities, and we won’t get untrustworthy and fear-mongering candidates, but rather candidates whose main clash is how they can help us "be all we can be."

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