Yochanan Gordon

The Soul Of Politics

Politics has never been my forte. Don’t get me wrong—I am up-to-date with the various candidates and goings-on; however, from an analytic standpoint it’s not a science that I have ever figured out.

Science in general was never my subject. Earth science, biology, or political science. Pretty much if it had the word science in it I would invariably shut down. Just ask my mother and she’ll happily tell you.

I recall years ago, as a young child, running out to the front of my parents’ home to grab the daily newspaper, whereupon I’d reach straight for the sports section. It wasn’t much of a thought. I’d instinctively take the main section straight to my father’s room and keep the sports section for myself.

There was a time, however, when, as I’d peel away the news section and hand it to my father, it would occur to me that I should probably begin expressing more of an interest in the news and politics. I was well aware of my familial background in media, and although at that young age I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do for a living, I knew there was a chance that I’d end up where I am today.

The Chabad Kinus HaShluchim is happening this weekend, culminating on Sunday with the gala banquet, which I understand is open to the public but will be scaled down due to COVID restrictions. I’m mentioning this here because Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, the vice chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch emcees the mammoth sit-down dinner each year. My father told me that when he was a camper in Camp Gan Yisrael, his father, Nison Gordon, would employ the then-young Kotlarsky to procure the daily New York Times for my father during his stay in summer camp. While I’m sure my father, even at that young age, had at least a mild interest in news and politics, I would still venture to say that his primary interest was in getting the sports section.

In recalling this anecdote, it struck me as ironic that long before Rabbi Kotlarsky would send out his first shliach, he was a shliach of my zaide’s to provide my father with a newspaper.

I know what you’re probably thinking. There is a rule in the sugya of shlichus: “Ein shliach l’dvar aveirah.” To that I would say that while politics has always been characterized as a dirty game, riddled with lies and scandals for the sake of gaining political points, I think it has drifted much farther afield today than it was back then during my father’s childhood years.

But without delving into the nitty gritty of political debate, which is beyond my area of expertise and is a debate that carries on without any resolution, I want to make an observation regarding the origins of human leadership and its devolution into the political sphere.

We were placed on this world by Hashem, and our allegiance is to Him alone. Throughout time, G-d has sent us leaders in every generation in order to help direct us in the proper direction. They served as chariots who themselves were completely nullified to G-d and through whom we were able to serve G-d in the proper way.

In the days of Shmuel HaNavi, the Jews of that time sensed a lack of leadership so they petitioned Shmuel in order to anoint a king. Shmuel wasn’t pleased with the request, and it seems that Hashem Himself didn’t take too kindly to it, but it was granted out of necessity. Now, without getting too involved in this episode, it’s important to realize that the entire essence of a king is that of a transparent being leading directly to Hashem. The sefirah of malchus, the Zohar says, is defined by the characteristic of, “leis lah m’garmeih klum”—it has nothing of its own and possesses just that which is transferred into it from the higher sefiros. Similarly, a king in the physical sense was meant as a springboard for the people to serve G-d in what was for them the most optimal fashion due to the limitations of their spiritual stature. Shmuel was disheartened by this request because he wanted the people themselves to rise to the level of the King and have direct access to Hashem on their own. However, the role of intermediary between G-d and the people would end up weakening over time into a figure who would mandate decrees and execute his leadership of the people for better or worse.

By contrast, politicians in their purest sense are meant to represent the people. It’s for this reason that they campaign in vying for the votes of the people they will represent. One of the chief differences between the two parties in American governance is that the Democrats believe in large government and the Republicans in small government. Obviously, the more people you put above you, the less freedom you will have. This explains a lot of the difficulty and reckless leadership that we have had to interface with since this new administration took office. We are in a position where a government that was meant to work for us, meet our needs, and reinforce our rights and freedoms has continued to work against us, while not even adhering to the mandates that are placed upon the people. In short, the Democrat Party is deteriorating at breakneck pace into the perverse dictatorial king who forgot what his purpose was in the first place.

While there may be flaws and imperfections in both systems of governance, certainly as Jews seeking the space and freedom to serve our Creator with relative peace and serenity, smaller government has boded much better for us along those lines. We continue to daven and plead with Hashem to deliver us from this exile so we can serve Him directly. But until that time, we need to do our part as a community that allows us to live lives dedicated to the service of Hashem and to educate the next generation to follow suit. So get out and vote. 

Yochanan Gordon can be reached at ygordon5t@gmail.com. Read more of Yochanan’s articles at 5TJT.com.

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