Israel Forever

For the week ending 4 February 2006 / 6 Shevat 5766

Cast a Tiny Shadow

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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In the “land of unlimited opportunity” there is something called “Groundhog Day”. According to popular legend the groundhog emerges from its winter-long hibernation on February 2nd to see what sort of a shadow it casts. This will determine for this creature, otherwise known as the woodchuck, whether the sun is warming the earth enough for it to come out of its hole or whether to return to it.

Powerful leaders are frequently like the groundhog, casting a tiny shadow while imagining themselves as giants. In this week’s Torah portion we see the Egyptian ruler Pharaoh acting in such a manner as he defies the power of G-d even after being smashed by nine plagues.

There are some despots in the world today who ignore Divine authority and laugh at world opinion. The Iraqi dictator now standing trial for crimes against humanity is perhaps the prime example of power-drunk rulers who only realize how tiny a shadow they cast when they are militarily defeated and face execution. There are others like him whose hatred of Jews and has led them to a confrontation with the free world that will inevitably lead them to the same fate.

Leadership spells responsibility, not an ego trip of imagined giant shadows. Like the groundhog these villains will eventually return to their holes and leave at peace forever.

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