Politics & Parsha: Re’eh 5771

Posted on August 25, 2011 In Archives

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.

Give it a Rest

@AriFleischer: Pres O is entitled 2a vacation. It may not look good given the economy, but even Presidents (& their staffs) deserve a break (tweeted August 19)

Shemittah, what Jewish law calls the “Sabbatical” year, and what modern agriculture (circa early 18th century – but in pre-modern versions since at least the time of Charlemagne) via crop rotation lets some land lie fallow is a curious concept. By giving the land a rest for a year, the soil replenishes and rejuvenates, making it able in the following year to produce better crops. Left in use year after year, the soil eventually runs dry and turns out inferior crops and smaller yields.

Curious but not strange.  We understand this today not only regarding farmland but in any fitness routine, where muscle groups need a day off, and even in the working world. We need vacations, and yes, there’s that word, sabbaticals. People grow stale, tired, bored, predictable.  We feel sometimes, in the words of Bilbo Baggins (OK, the words of JRR Tolkien) “like butter scraped over too much bread.”

Sometimes in our own “professional development” as people – in our own Torah learning or other reading and study – we need to change it up some.  Put aside what we have been focused on for days, weeks, even years or decades.

Coming back to it, we are fresher, our perspective is newer and we think of new ideas and are stimulated anew by old ideas.

This is true as well in government. We are so focused on issues or problems and shoulder deep in the pros, cons, yeas and nays that we can’t find a third way, or a fourth. If we step out of it, leave it, and focus on other issues, when we return, often a solution presents itself. If not, the tempers and passions on both sides have cooled some to allow compromise or – dare we say – cooperation.

We push legislation or executive actions so hard sometimes that we fail to see the diminishing returns, just as a farmer fails to see the smaller, less robust crop yields.

And then we leave it, focus on something else, try a different bill, and see success.

That works as well in our families and friendships and communities. We try so hard to make change or progress and sometimes, all we need is to give it a rest.

Words to consider, ideas to ponder — politics & the parsha.