As we draw near to the end of the year 5779, and I gather my thoughts, I cannot help but reflect on the two elections in Israel this year, and in truth, at this moment, the political outcome is far from clear – אין לנו על מי לסמוך אלא על אבינו שבשמים.
As I begin to write these words on the 18th of Ellul, the elections are very much on my mind. We are still waiting for the official “conclusion” of the elections, though change does appear to be on the horizon – הכל לטובה. It is ultimatelyהקב”ה who runs the world.
And it is exactly with these recent events in mind that there are a few thoughts that I would like to share with you as we approach 5780.
Baruch Hashem, in about seven weeks I will celebrate my 30th anniversary of Aliyah. I did manage to vote once or twice in England before leaving, but besides remembering who I voted for, I remember very little else. I have however, had the privilege to vote in Israel many times. For me “Election Day” in Israel is the realization of Yom Haatzmaut – Yom Haatzmaut is the historical day of Independence whilst Election Day is the direct ramification of Independence. The mere experience of choosing a Jewish “King”, a Jewish government, is almost unbelievable, especially when these past elections occurred on the exact same Hebrew date as did the outbreak of the Second World War eighty years ago – a mind blowing contrast to say the very least.
However, even as a believer in the State of Israel who takes Election Day very seriously, in all honesty there is a far more important election day coming up – Rosh HaShana.
As you all know, the issues that are discussed in the run-up to regular elections are critical; it is really a Yom HaDin, for the entire country, not just the members of Knesset and their parties. Issues are raised and analyzed repeatedly, events are revisited, analysis after analysis, until the day of reckoning finally arrives. And when the results are declared we all have a good idea of public opinion, at least regarding certain fundamental issues.
There are many types of media used to try to wake up the electorate during the run up to voting day, and as we near the final day of judgement the intensity becomes contagious. Indeed, given this fact, I have never really understood those who choose not to vote.
Our first General Election this year happened in juxtaposition to Pesach, and for me the parallel between the redemption from Egypt and the redemption from our most recent exile as reflected by elections was obvious.
On this occasion, however, the elections took place in Ellul, just under two weeks away from Rosh HaShana – and the underlying similarities seem so clear to me.
We are entering our own critical personal elections. As the verse states – will we have to choose between life or death? We are not voting ליכוד או כחול-לבן we are voting for our lives!
Last year we asked the ריבונו של עולם, to write us in the book of life – למענך אלוקים חיים, we asked to live longer in order to serve the Almighty, in order to refine ourselves and become better people; have we kept our promises?
On Rosh HaShana we are not discussing unemployment, taxes, inflation or security. These elections are about the quality of our lives, and we and we alone stand responsible; not Mr. Netanyahu, nor Mr. Gantz. It is so easy to judge others. The time has come to judge ourselves, and this is perhaps the most sobering thought of all.
Chazal provided us with a variety of “media”, in order to awaken us from possible complacency in the run up to these most important “self-elections”. If we are Sefardim, we have been blowing Shofar and saying selichot for over three weeks by now – an intensive period of preparation, day after day – בן אדם מה לך נרדם.
If we are Ashkenazim, the process is slightly more of a progression. Whilst we blow shofar from the start of the month reciting twice daily לדוד ה’, we only begin with selichot as we draw closer to Rosh HaShana.
Every day תקיעה שברים-תרועה תקיעה – are we listening, are we preparing ourselves? The elections in Israel can happen twice yearly, but there is only one Rosh HaShana. We will only have one chance, there will be no מועד ב – no second sitting for this exam.
It goes without saying that the national Election Day is of great importance, however this election day of Rosh HaShana is so much more important.
It is on this day that we will analyze our personal manifesto; what we said we would do and what we have actually done; what resolutions are we making and in which direction are we going – “How can I go forward if I don’t know which way I am facing?”
Are we going to choose life, real life, meaningful life? The time has come to stop criticizing political leaders and parties – that election is over. The time has come to look inwards. The choice, I believe, is ours.
Before the Almighty writes anything down in His Book, I think He would like to see what we are going to write in ours!
I would like to bless you all with a good, happy and sweet year
A healthy year
A year of good news
Of spiritual elevation
A year of peace and prosperity for Am Yisrael
A year of stability and progression for the State of Israel
A year of safety and success for our armed forces
A year of unity and redemption
A year of truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
Ketiva VeChatima Tova,
בספר חיים ברכה ושלום