web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Tale Of Two Kings


Share Button

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?

Share Button

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.

No Responses to “A Tale Of Two Kings”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

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!

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: