For the week ending 26 February 2011 / 21 Adar I 5771

Nations in Uproar - Today and Tomorrow

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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"Why are the nations in an uproar?" asks King David (Tehillim 2:1).

While the Psalmist was referring to the Messianic era when "the rulers of the world will take counsel against G-d and His anointed Mashiach" (ibid. 2:2), we may ask the same question today when it is the people who are rebelling against the rulers. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are all undergoing dramatic changes and this has created a domino effect in other African and Middle Eastern lands. And even in Israel, the only true democracy in this part of the world, the country was on the verge of a peaceful civil rebellion because of the government-induced rise in the cost of living.

The common denominator seems to be the failure of those in power to properly relate to the needs of the people. "Power corrupts," said Lord Acton, "and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

While those like Mubarak and Gaddafi, who wielded absolute power, were finally challenged for their absolute corruption, even where power is limited, like in Israel, there is the danger of corruption arising from good intentions. The idealistic ambition to develop Israel's economy into American-style capitalism backfired when the Hisdadrut Labor Union joined forces with the manufacturers and municipality heads to successfully challenge the government.

Of course the above-mentioned developments are causes for concern for Israel. Will the "cool peace" with Egypt survive if the radical Moslem Brotherhood comes to power? How will the changes in Egypt affect the efforts to free Gilad Shalit in which Mubarak seemed to play a positive role?

One other concern, that the Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and the rest of Israel may also be moved to violent protest, is dismissed by political analysts. The anger of the starving, jobless masses in the countries of upheaval is hardly present in Israel where Arabs enjoy a higher standard of living than their brothers in Arab lands. The hatred of despots enriching themselves and their families at the expense of a suffering populace is certainly not applicable to Israel's democratically elected leaders.

We may suggest another perspective of the recent developments. Our Talmudic Sages call attention to the connection between the Psalm mentioned at the outset and the one following it, which refers to the rebellion of Avshalom against his father, King David. The explanation given is that if someone should be skeptical about the prophetic vision of the nations rebelling against G-d, he should be reminded that if so unlikely an occurrence as a son rebelling against his father could have taken place, it is also possible that a rebellion against the Heavenly Father will happen. Perhaps the totally unexpected current wave of rebellion against human rulers is a Heavenly-orchestrated preview of that universal rebellion which will be the prelude to our ultimate redemption.

May this thought strengthen us in our constantly repeated declaration that we anxiously look forward to the arrival of Mashiach, soon in our days.

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