web analytics
September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Tale Of Two Kings


The election season is upon us. Once again, we are being called on to select the next leader of the free world.

Candidates of both parties are falling over themselves to tell us how wonderful they are. They are quick to point out the shortcomings of the other side. From “family de-values” to drugs to essays written in kindergarten to being too Christian to not being Christian enough to opposing a war they voted for to flip-flopping on immigration, abortion or what their favorite baseball team is – this motley crew of candidates has done little to convince this writer that any of them is particularly honest.

I would challenge anyone to show me one candidate who has not, in one way or another, re-made himself to appear more palatable to the electorate.

Perhaps this week’s Torah portion can give us some insight into what to look for in a leader.

Joseph, the hero of Egypt, was dead. He had brought prosperity to a land that could have been devastated by famine. A grateful nation venerated him. They honored him in his lifetime and revered him after his death.

That held true for a while, anyway. A new king arose over Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph (Exodus, 1:8). According to the Talmud, he wasn’t a new king at all.

The Egyptians were concerned about the growth of the Jewish population. The Israelites were increasing by leaps and bounds. There was a fear that Joseph’s nation might form a fifth column and join forces with Egypt’s enemies. The Egyptian people demanded that their king address their “Jewish Problem.”

The king at first demonstrated a bit of integrity and refused. He couldn’t bring himself to take action against Joseph’s people. Joseph had been so good to Egypt. But the masses wouldn’t take no for an answer. They ousted the king.

Spending three months as an ex-king was more than he could bear. Thus, a new king arose over Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph. The “new” king with a new attitude conveniently didn’t know – or at least acted as if he didn’t know – Joseph. The persecution began.

Moses worked for his father-in-law. Like his ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses was a shepherd. Impeccably honest, he went far away into the desert to avoid grazing the sheep on someone else’s property.

The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 2:2) describes a day in the life of Shepherd Moses:

“When our teacher Moses, may he rest in peace, was watching Jethro’s sheep in the desert, a lamb ran away. He ran after the lamb until he reached some bushes. Once the lamb reached the bushes, he found a pool of water, and stopped to drink. When Moses arrived there, he said, ‘I didn’t know you ran away because you were thirsty; you must be tired.’ He placed the lamb on his shoulder and carried him. The Holy One, Blessed be He said, ‘You showed such compassion to a lamb … you will be the shepherd of My flock – Israel.’ “

Immediately after this event, God began to speak to Moses through the Burning Bush. He informed him that he was to have the honor and privilege of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. He told Moses to gather the Elders of Israel and go to the Pharaoh and demand that the slaves be released.

Moses wasn’t interested in the job. He felt he wasn’t worthy. He argued that he wasn’t articulate. He claimed that no one would listen to him. “Please send the one you usually send [Aaron]” (ibid. 4:13).

Moses didn’t want to become the leader of Israel. His older brother Aaron had always been the leader and the prophet. Moses didn’t want to hurt his brother by taking an honor that should be Aaron’s.

God told Moses that Aaron had already been informed of Moses’s appointment. Aaron was thrilled that Moses had been chosen for this sacred task. Only upon hearing that Aaron was happy did Moses reluctantly agree to become, in effect, the first king of Israel.

There you have it. Two kings. Two kings of nations. One was not a leader at all. He was a power- and glory-hungry slave to his own people. He had no character; he stood for nothing but his own selfish ambitions.

The other was nothing but character. He was a humble servant of his people. He felt he wasn’t worthy. He shunned honor and cared only about the feelings of others, be they man or animal.

One was a leader. One was a follower. Moses and Pharaoh.

Which one reminds you of the current slate of candidates?

About the Author: Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz, a mohel (BrisRabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, NewYork, is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His blog on the weekly Torah portion can be read at TorahTalk.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Tale Of Two Kings”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
PLO / PA / Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
PA Unity Government Not Unified
Latest Indepth Stories
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, former Field Marshal and Minister of Defense

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

A Gaza building, reportedly used by Hamas, destroyed by the IDF on August 26, 2014.

For too long the media and international community have been preaching that “Palestinians” bear no responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and they are passive victims of the conflict.

The Iron Dome was called on for the first time in 2013 to intercept a missile fired by terrorists in Sinai at Eilat.

Iron Dome intercepted over 1,000 rockets aimed at Israel with a success rate of over 90% in 2014

We talked about the responsibility that comes with the pen, its potential to influence and inspire.

Amnesty International:The crippling of the power station was “collective punishment of Palestinians”

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

More Articles from Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz
Israel's Chief Rabbinate

Everyone who knows Rabbi Weiss can attest that he is a man of honesty and integrity.

jewish family

Mrs. Cohen displayed that simple, unquestioning, adamant adherence to Torah-true Judaism that typifies many of our German-Jewish brethren.

Is it appropriate for players like Tim Tebow to make grand gestures of prayer to a Master of the World Who has His Hands full dealing with much more important things?

Many years ago when I was helping my congregation write a new constitution, I submitted a first draft to an expert who had been involved in setting up new shuls.

One paragraph read, “All matters of halacha (Jewish law) will be determined by the congregational rabbi.” Pretty straightforward, I thought.

The election season is upon us. Once again, we are being called on to select the next leader of the free world.

The pope has generated a bit of controversy.

First, he permitted congregations to go back to the old custom of praying in Latin. (More about that later.) Then he announced that only the Catholic Church qualifies as a real church. Protestants, as far as the pope is concerned, simply don’t make the grade!

Yes, Torah lives on. Yes, the Lubliner Rav’s dream lives on. THEY WERE SINGING AND DANCING IN YESHIVA CHACHMEI LUBLIN!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-tale-of-two-kings/2007/12/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: