Each week IPA staff and guest contributors take a look at the weekly parsha and discuss 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.
Rosh HaShannah – Access Control
Before they drafted an American Constitution, the Founding Fathers sketched out what they thought the America of their dreams would – or should – look like. In writings such as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and in the Federalist Papers of Jefferson, Hamilton & Adams, they wrote about what to them would make America great – but also, in the words of de Tocqueville, what would make America good. (Conversely, Marx also wrote his Manifesto describing how he thought a better world order would look.)
To create a country – or a community – or to advance a cause takes thought & effort. We often think about this when we have the opportunity to advocate for the community. Advocacy takes thought & it takes preparation. As my colleague, Maury Litwack has written, you need to know who you are asking, what you are asking & why.
While klal advocates – be they lay or professional – have the opportunity to represent the interests of the broader Jewish community as well as individual Jewish needs before chief executives, the legislative chambers and the courts, not to mention in the court of public opinion through the media, there’s a price to that privilege.
It is an obligation to represent the community with integrity, honesty and wisdom. Not every issue – no matter how important – deserves to be brought up to every elected official. When, what & how to advocate are vital.
So too, on Rosh HaShannah – we are not merely citizens or subjects of the Almighty. We are His children, princes, princesses and nobles. (And I don’t just mean Baron Sacks of Aldgate). We, like the trusted counselor or cabinet member, have access to the King, in his most private sanctuary – and we can ask for anything. That requires wisdom to know on what to ask.
What will we say? For whom and for what do we pray? What are our priorities & what are our actual needs as individuals, communities and nations? Those answers take thought & they take preparation. I don’t know if you can get the Federalist done in 10 days, but we can all start to think this Rosh HaShannah and ask for what is best.
K’siva v’chasima tova to all.
Posted by: Howie Beigelman, Deputy Director of Public Policy