It’s interesting that the inconclusive elections in Israel come the same week as this week’s Parsha, Ki Tavo, “And when you come into the Land...”. Today, it would read “And when you come into the voting booth." Going into a voting booth can be viewed in a similar light. The ancient Israelite was instructed to bring the first fruits of Land to the Cohanim, the priests. While at the alter the Israelite is then instructed to recall and retell the story of the people’s history from the days of Avram to the enslavement in Egypt and their liberation by God’s mercy.
Going into a voting booth we are also asked to make an offering...our vote is the offering. Today, it is an offering that can be informed by one’s economic status, one’s insecurity, one’s prejudices and one’s values, hopes and dreams. Imagine, if, at the polling center we were asked to recount our history, as Jews, the historical struggles we faced and the values and Mitzvot that we chose to follow at Sinai and set forth in our sacred teachings. Sadly, we are not asked to know our history when we go to vote.
I feel the results of the vote in Israel do not take into account the aspirations of Israelis and Jews outside of Israel. While we are identified so strongly with Israel, we don’t have a vote. We might have the story, but not the offering. And what about Palestinians living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories? How are their voices heard? Was the Land not promised to two peoples? How we, as a Jewish people, see each other and how others see us is a major issue. I’m concerned that we are not addressing these concerns and challenges.
It is my hope and prayer that in the new year we find ways to mend ourselves as individuals, as a people and as a nation.
From Psalm 27 recited in Elul: “I remain confident of this:
That I will see the goodness of the Divine
in the land of the living. Be patient for the Eternal One;
be strong and take heart.”
L’Shanah Tovah Tikateyvu, Reb David