6 Kislev 5778 / Friday, November 24, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Election Fever    

Election Fever

Give the average person the choice between political activism and prayer, and he'll much prefer signing petitions, writing letters, convincing other people...


King Solomon teaches us an important lesson in life: "Many are the contemplations in a man's heart, but the counsel of Hashem is that which will be fulfilled" (Proverbs 19:21). His father, King David, said, "The counsel of Hashem shall forever be fulfilled" (Psalm 33:11). In other words, what happens in the world is not our doing but the product of "Hashem's counsel" - Divine will and ordinance.
Many people have difficulty with the above concept. Give them the choice between an hour of personal prayer and an hour of political activism - signing petitions, writing letters, convincing other and the like - and nineteen times out of twenty, they'll choose activism. Why? Human arrogance makes a person desire to be in control of his own destiny. It's difficult for the average Joe to reconcile himself to the principles of emuna, for emuna teaches that Hashem is in charge of things and not the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Israel.
A Jew is not the average Joe. He believes in the Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Emuna. The very first principle states, "I believe with a full and complete belief that Hashem, blessed be His Name, is Creator and Director of all the creations, and He alone, did, does, and will do every single deed." There are no exceptions.
Do you know what that means? It means that Hashem will decide who will win the US Presidential Elections on November 6, 2012, later this week. It also means that Hashem will decide who will win the upcoming Israel elections on January 22, 2013. It also means that political activism is a waste of time.
My beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush, may Hashem bless him, disdains politics. He neither discusses them nor thinks about them. he instructs me to do likewise. Before the last election in Israel, he instructed his students: "Don't waste a single moment discussing the elections or campaigning; this is time that can better be utilized in Torah and in prayer. On the day of the election, go - cast your ballet and exercise your democratic privilege - and that's it! Then come right back to your job at hand - learning, praying, and raising a family."
We think we know what we're doing, but our vote doesn't matter anyway. Time and time again, especially in Israel, voters elected hawkish right-wing governments that ended up doing things that were beyond the sweetest dreams of the left. Nationalist Menachem Begin uprooted the gorgeous settlements of Yamit, Neviot, Ophira, and DiZahav and gave the Sinai back to Egypt. Staunch right-winger Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan led to the destruction of Jewish settlements and ultimately Hamas control over Jewish Gaza. What you elect is not necessarily what you get.
American history is no different. Liberal governments have frequently been more hawkish than conservative governments, and vice versa. It's not the elected politicians who are pulling the strings, it's Hashem. Ein od milvado -  there is no one or nothing but Hashem!
So, when election day rolls around, we do our civic duty and cast a vote. No more! Heaven forbid that anyone should waste even thirty seconds in front of a television listening to pointless conjecture and watching election returns. For a Jew, this is bitul Torah and an irreversible waste of time that we'l never get back.
If you want to influence world events, then pray! Prayer makes a person Hashem's partner in creation. And, if you don't feel that your prayers can move mountains, then your highest priority should be to strengthen emuna.
Hashem really doesn't care which party or candidate we vote for. Our true choice in life is not at the ballot box, but at the daily decision-making times when we're faced with choosing between right and wrong or body and soul. Do we get up a half hour earlier to daven in a minyan? Do we turn deaf ears to the silly ducks in the neighborhood who call us prudes and dress modestly? Do we surf the web or open a Gemara? These are the seemingly insignificant decisions that we make every day, which are capable of totally changing the world.
I don't know who or what you're voting for, but I cast my ballot for emuna. Hashem is doing a great job in running the world. I'll let Him continue to run the world, and I'll try my best to do my job. The best way to utilize the day off for election day is a nice long personal prayer session and an extra page of Gemara. Let's put the enthusiasm of election fever into our praying and learning. The rewards are tremendous!
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