Weekly Cycle

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Politics and the Book of Shmuel

There are interesting dynamics playing out in politics today that parallel those in the Tanach. Some of the main characters in the Book of Shmuel are Eli, Shmuel, Shaul, and David. 

An important theme in the narrative is age. Eli is a faithful servant yet is quite old, and cannot manage his corrupt sons running the Tabernacle (Mishkan). Shmuel, who is raised in the Mishkan, is also a devoted servant, yet also faces similar problems later in life. The people therefore ask for a king.

Shaul at first has no interest in becoming king, yet when he does, he cannot let go of power. He is also very righteous, but his downfall comes from listening too much to the people and in not recognizing his own mistakes, particularly in the face of the command to destroy Amalek.

As David eclipses Shaul, both in military accomplishments and popularity, Shaul becomes more and more enraged and isolated.

David is also extremely pious and righteous, yet his life is mired in controversy almost from the moment he is born. He is persecuted around the clock. He makes mistakes, but recognizes them immediately and is quick to ask for forgiveness. David has a way of connecting to and inspiring the people that is unparalleled.

His general, Yoav, is also not without controversy, yet is too politically powerful to reject outright, and is also instrumental in accomplishing the king’s agenda.

The major political figures in American and Israeli politics today, Biden, Trump, Netanyahu, Gantz, Gallant, all have characteristics that parallel, l’Havdil, the above mentioned personalities. Right now, what we really need above all, is one who can best play the role of David.

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