Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Pitfalls Of Power Rabbi Binyamin Kahane -1994


Rabbi Binyamin Kahane


Two years after the Jews left the suffering, slavery, and humiliations of Egypt, they began constructing the Tabernacle – the place where G-d’s Presence was to rest in this world and the pipeline by which all the Jewish people’s prayers would reach their Father in Heaven.  Considering the historic nature of this event, one would have expected the leaders of the Jewish people to set an example and play a key role in contributing toward the Tabernacle’s construction.

Instead, we find (Exodus 35:27) that the princes donated the onyx stones – which were the very last items needed in the Tabernacle.  Rashi writes, “Rabbi Nathan said: Why did the princes contribute at the beginning of the dedication of the altar but not at the beginning of the construction of the Tabernacle?  Because they said:  Let the community contribute what it will contribute, and we will complete whatever is lacking.  And since they were slothful at first, ‘yud’ is missing from their name {the world neis’m’} is spelled missing a ‘yud’.”  

Rabbeinu Bechaya adds:  “For it is the way of princes to look down on the rest of the nation. . . These princes, who not long ago were lowly slaves, immediately started looking down on their brothers after receiving their high appointment.  About this the Talmud says, “Four people are intolerable . . .  {One is} the public appointee who looks down at the rest of the community for no reason’ (Pesachim 113b).”

The Torah’s concern for someone’s high position affecting his ego is clearly evident in its laws regarding kings.  The Torah state, “He shall not multiply horses for himself . . .   Neither shall he multiply for himself wives so that his heart turns away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. . .  And he shall write a copy of this Torah. . . . And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life that he may learn to fear the L-rd, his
 G-d. . .that his heart not be lifted up above his brethren” (Deuteronomy 17:16-20).  

And the Rambam in Hilchot Tefillah (5:10) adds:  “One must bow five times during every Shemoneh Esrei. . . .  But a king should remain prostrated from the very beginning of Shemoneh Esrei and not raise his head until the conclusion.”

We see the arrogance, corruption, and egoism of Israeli politicians most overtly during election seasons.  Every party steps on the fresh blood of Jewish victims to further its political advantage, though none of them possesses an iota of a solution to the problem.  We have observed our “leaders” basking in the glory of Nobel Peace Prizes and the friendship of gentile leaders and Arab murderers, so engrossed with themselves, their declarations of peace, and their place in history that no amount of Jewish blood can budge them from their “vision.”   

May it be G-d’s will that these politicians be replaced by leaders guided by the Torah, leaders who know that “it is not high appointment I give you, but rather servitude: (Hariyot 10a).  May we merit leaders who follow the path of Moses our Teacher, who not only was not concerned about his place in history, but even was willing to have his name stricken from the Torah(“Erase me please from Your book” – Exodus 32:32) in order to save the Jewish people from annihilation.  We need leaders who possess self-sacrifice to serve the community – not exploit it.
Darka she Torah 1994  

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