Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Voice And The Hands: The Case For Jewish Leadership

(ed. note: It has been nearly three years since the terror massacre in Mumbai. I wrote this piece then as part of the theme of parashat Toldot and "the voice of Yaakov and the hands of Esav". I present it again, slightly updated.)

By Jason Gold

I am not one to usually write a political commentary inspired by the weekly parasha but for better or worse, the events in this week's Torah reading along with the tragedy in Mumbai and others since then, fairly screams off both the holy and secular pages that we have and will all be reading. Perhaps one of the most famous statements in the Torah occurs when Yaakov, disguising himself as his hirsute brother Esav in order to rightfully claim the blessing of Avraham from his now blind father Isaac, elicits this puzzled response, "the voice is the voice of Yaakov but the hands are the hands of Esav". It is that statement that has defined the failure of the Israel both as a nation and as a people to establish themselves as leaders of Gd's kingdom on earth. The master plan as envisioned by Yitzchak was to have Esav working (the hands) to support Yaakov's Torah learning (the voice). Either one by itself would not be enough. But Esav, despite having the seeds of greatness in him (witness his primal reaction to loss of the blessing for he knows that Gd will not allow him to succeed without his righteous father's prayer to Gd on his behalf), perverts the mission of his hands and rather than working to help Yaakov establish Gd's nation, he becomes a hunter, a thief, a murderer who has gladly sold his birthright to his twin brother.

It is difficult to look in the mirror after the tragedy in Mumbai and subsequent terror tragedies and know that we all bear responsibility. And when I say "we" I mean all of Klal Yisrael, for is it not axiomatic that "kol yisrael areivim zeh et zeh"? Yet you ask, what could we have done? How could we have prevented these tragedies? We were not the terrorist savages that pulled the triggers. Perhaps not. But, we still enabled them. How? By not having the hands and the voice working in unison.

It is only the voice and the hands together and in balance that can bring greatness and peace to Israel. Either one by itself is not enough. We see glimpses of it through history and indeed, where the roles interchange. Witness Esav's voice through his filial devotion that was able to deceive Yitzchak and Yaakov's disguised hands that turned the tables. Or Yaakov using his hands to defeat Esav's guardian angel and forcing the angel to bless Yaakov with his voice. Moshe using hands and voice to help the Jews defeat Amalek in their first battle (which will be the prototype for the last). The Kohanim in the Temple, using hands and voice to bless the Jewish nation. And finally, King David, our greatest warrior (hands) and a Torah scholar (voice), from whom Moshiach will come forth, finding the site of the Beit Hamikdash. And conversely, we see how in two thousand years of exile, the voice grew great with Torah pouring out of the galut. Yet, it was not enough as we were exiled, chased, tortured and murdered by the nations; by Esav and his cohorts because we lacked the hands to defend ourselves. And then 60 years ago, we finally return to the land and we find our hands again but then the balance shifts in the wrong direction as the hands dominate the state of Israel and dominate the leadership in a corrupt path while the voice is content to have money for its yeshivas and social programs and forget about leadership and the nation as a whole.

This is where we find ourselves now. Israel is still reeling aimlessly with criminals in charge of its leadership. Criminals, hunters and yes even murderers whose pathetic, obsequious policies towards the Arabs and the terrorists they breed have encouraged the murder of thousands of Jews including Rav Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg in Mumbai, and so perverting the use of their hands in ways that would make Esav proud. And the Torah voices? Also perverted, propping up these miserable governments in exchange for money. Look in the mirror. We are all responsible for allowing this travesty in Mumbai like the travesty of Gush Katif, Sderot, Hebron, and others. After all, we started this destructive path by rescuing and then dressing up the murderer Arafat as a statesmen and allowing him and his terrorist thugs into Israel proper. All this because of the hands that are out of control with the proper voice nowhere to be found.

In January 2012 there will be elections in the Likud central committee and the districts. Likud voters will have a chance to begin correcting the imbalance of the hands and voice by keeping the Likud on the right nationalist path that it needs to take. A voice that stands for true Jewish Leadership in Israel. Faith-based leadership that will unite the voice and hands of the secular and the observant to begin to make a proud Jewish state. So I say to you Likudniks, when you use your hands to choose, choose those that will unite your hands with the right voice for all our sakes.

(With Hakorat HaTov, I acknowledge the Torah insights of Rav Ari Kahn SHLITA and Rav Yaakov Zelinger SHLITA. If I have distorted or misrepresented anything they have given over, the fault is mine)

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