Judaism: Navigating a Sea of Discord
Published: Thursday, August 28, 2014 10:55 PM
War against terror rarely reaches a definitive conclusion. Such is the case with the last conflict Israel has endured. At best Israel will experience a time of dangerous and sinister quiet, yet it is clear that that Israel will have to deal with the venomous terror and murderous hunger that has become the hallmark of activist Islam.
The more direct challenge that will beset this country in the near future will be the rancorous discourse regarding the decisions of Netanyahu’s government regarding the events of this summer. His approach, balancing his desire to destroy Hamas with sensitivity to the opinions of a judgmental hostile world view of Israel, remains controversial. Netanyahu believes that his success is measured by the fact that Israel was able to ensure that the battle and destruction of Hamas was prolonged without a single UN council decision demanding a ceasefire.
There will be many demanding that Israel should have simply destroyed Hamas once and for all. On the other extreme there will be those that believe that Israel should have been talking and compromising with the enemy from the start. This clash of views threatens to topple Israel back to the rancorous and dis-unified state that existed before the people of Israel found common purpose and passion this summer. This is the ultimate danger to our people and country . How to navigate this tempestuous sea of discord will be determined by the type of leadership Netanyahu chooses to adopt.
In the Torah portion of Shoftim , Moshe describes the attributes that a king must aspire to in order to truly rule with justice and compassion.
15 thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom Hashem thy G-d shall choose….he shall not multiply horses to himself, …'17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, MISHNEH TORAH out of that which is before the priests the Levites.
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear Hashem his G-d, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them;” ( Deuteronomy 17:15-19)
The Netivot Shalom teaches that there are four important points that must be achieved by the prospective king.
The first is to avoid the seduction of power and strength. “he shall not multiply horses to himself,”(ibid 15) The horses represent physical power and might. He must always be aware of the limits of that power. Israel may have one of the strongest and most intelligent army in the world but even its strength is limited.
Secondly the Torah tells him that “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away(ibid 17);. The passions of mankind are a powerful and fickle dictator. The leader of the nation of Israel must be careful not to let any passions irrelevant to his leadership guide his decision making, whether they be related to his personal life or to his inner drives of arrogance and pride.
Thirdly the Torah warns against the temptation of the trappings of honor and leadership, “neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold”(ibid 17).A true leader cannot see himself as being raised above the people but rather as its representative.” that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren,”( ibid 20)
Finally and most importantly he must be clearly aware of the source of his power” And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book,(MISHNEH TORAH) out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear Hashem his G-d, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them; ( ibid 16-19)
It is only in this fashion that Israel’s leadership will continue to draw the people closer together and empower them to continue in the struggle which still lay ahead. This is so because this struggle is not about politics or land but rather about the Divine plan of destiny.
Both the people and the leadership must be transformed to be the vessel hat will allow for such a plan to become fulfilled.
Lerefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved