Politics & Parsha: “Shul Politics Like Never Before”
Each week IPA Director of State Affairs Howie Beigelman takes a look at the weekly parsha and discusses it in a way you may never have seen. Any hashkafic, halachic or political opinions are personal and do not reflect the official psak or policy of the OU.
Lesson of the Year
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. — Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th US President, Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, WWII
Moses tells the Jewish people G-d’s eyes are on the land of Israel all year long. The Hebrew is grammatically curious – mei’reishit ha’shana (from the beginning of “the” year) ad acharit shana (until year’s end).
The Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt”l, asked why the Bible leaves out a second “the?” He suggested, each year we begin with a set of resolutions, proposed changes, and we tell ourselves, this is THE year. By year’s end, though, it’s just a year, like any other, littered with unfulfilled promises, discarded resolutions and unmet goals.
This is as true in the geopolitical world as in the spiritual/psychological one. Candidates make promises; elected officials lay out goals for the fiscal year or the legislative session, and diplomats or generals set benchmarks. But, as happens without fail, life intervenes. And we look back at the close of session or as we gear up for reelection and wonder, what happened – or at least why?
The base is disappointed, our allies let down and our opponents jeer. On the personal side, we feel we’ve failed our families, our friends smirk knowingly and in either case, everyone is left standing once the music stops.
Biblically speaking, while this is seen as a common occurrence, by wording it just this way, the Bible hints to us that we must still always make the effort at promises and possibilities. Dreams and goals tell us what we value and how we aim to make those values real. In the words of football great Vince Lombardi, “In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”
That’s the lesson of “the year” from the Bible and it works in our public lives as much as in our private ones. Dare. Try. Promise.
Words to consider, ideas to ponder — politics & the parsha.