Israel Forever

For the week ending 14 January 2006 / 14 Tevet 5766

Time for a Change?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

One of the hottest topics of discussion in Israel these days is whether the time has come for a change in the system of government. The recent upheavals in the traditional political parties have cast a gigantic question mark on the viability of the parliamentary system which has existed since the beginning of statehood.

A major criticism leveled against politicians in Israel is that they insist on holding on to their seats of power long after the time has come for them to step down. A reminder of this tendency is found in the commentary of Ramban on this week’s Torah portion.

In his deathbed blessings to his sons the Patriarch Yaakov promised that the “scepter of royalty” shall never depart from the tribe of Yehuda. When the Hellenist Greeks were conquered by the Hasmoneans these kohanite descendants of Levi assumed the role of kings of the Jewish nation. They were indeed saintly Jews who saved their people from religious oppression but their failure to relinquish power to the Tribe of Yehuda brought upon them the tragedy of Herod’s wiping out the entire family.

Political power is a great responsibility. When Mashiach arrives it will transfer back to him as the descendant of Yehuda. Until then it should be in the hands of the people best qualified to use it for the benefit of the people and not for their own ambitions. We certainly hope that Heaven will guide the people in choosing the right leaders to hold the fort until Mashiach arrives to lead Israel forever.

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