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I Rule or G-d Rules? A Torah Thought for Parshat Korach by Moshe Feiglin

Is it not enough that you have brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that you also want to rule over us? (Datan and Aviram demanding justice – This week’s Torah portion, Korach, Numbers 16:13)

It is clear that the Dynamic Duo, Datan and Aviram, are actually highlighting their own faults in the verse above. They call the death camps that they had just left in Egypt a “land flowing with milk and honey,” making it clear that in the rest of the verse they are also not speaking the truth. In other words, they have an ulterior motive – in this case, power.

The drive for power is not necessarily understood by people who are not in leadership positions. It is commonly believed that the strongest human drives are survival and propagation of the human race. But the urge to rule supersedes all others. Kings murder their sons, sons murder their fathers – the drive for power is difficult to comprehend.

“How is it that the leaders of the Right always change their minds when they come into power?” the betrayed voters ask themselves time and again. The answer is that they change their policies so that they can remain in power. Do they care about themselves more than their Homeland? Not at all. They simply believe that if they remain loyal to the Land of Israel and lose their jobs, somebody worse than them will replace them. In this manner, the fine line between personal and international integrity is blurred. In their minds, they are not power hungry, but simply acting in the nation’s best interests.

The strongest form of government is an interim government. An interim government cannot be overruled and voted out (because it has already finished its job). It cannot be pressured. The world always waits for Israel’s interim governments to finish their term before renewing its pressure on the newly elected government. Why? Doesn’t a short-term prime minister have national interests that can be threatened?

Not really. What really pressures prime ministers is a threat to their power. The prime minister that has already lost his power does not buckle under outside pressure.

True Jewish leadership takes responsibility. It conquers the drive for power. And that is no simple task. According to Maimonides, a king must bow every time he says the Amidah prayer in order to break his heart. A Jewish leader who governs with Jewish values is humble before G-d. This humility before the Creator, so sorely lacking in Israeli politics today, bolsters him against all the pressure in the world.

Shabbat Shalom,

Moshe Feiglin 


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