Israel Forever

For the week ending 7 January 2006 / 7 Tevet 5766

Promises, Promises

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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As the Israeli parliamentary elections swing into high gear, the voting public keeps hearing promises from the competing politicians how they are going to be saved if they cast their vote for the party which they head. One party is waving the social banner, promising to narrow the gap between rich and poor. Another is projecting itself as the only one which can guarantee Israel’s security against its enemies.

How to relate to the promises of politicians, in Israel and throughout the world, was expressed by Yehuda in the Torah portion we read this Shabbat. In his confrontation with his brother Yosef, disguised as an Egyptian potentate, he angrily declares that “you are like Pharaoh”. The midrash quoted in Rashi’s commentary explains this as meaning, “Just as Pharaoh makes promises and does not fulfill them, you too made promises and fail to fulfill them.”

If Yehuda made this denunciation of foreign politicians, we have the right to expect Jewish politicians to be more faithful in keeping the promises they make to their own brothers. Not only will such fulfillment improve the lot of the electorate but will serve as a merit to secure Israel forever.

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