Vayakhel-Pikudei: The Pitfall of Power: Arrogance

Two years after the Jews left the suffering, slavery and humiliations of Egypt, they constructed the Tabernacle – the place where G-d’s Presence prevails in the world and the pipeline for all the prayers of the Jewish People to their Father in Heaven. Precisely at such a momentous occasion, one would expect the leaders of the Jewish People to step up and set an example in the building of the Tabernacle, and to play a key role in the contributions and sacrifices that are involved in the erecting of G-d’s house. But quite to the contrary, we find the following verse: “And the princes brought the onyx stones” (35-27) and Rashi comments: “Rabbi Nathan said: Why did the princes contribute at the dedication of the altar at the beginning, while at the construction of the Tabernacle they did not contribute at the beginning? Instead, thus did the princes say: ‘Let the community contribute what it will contribute, and we will complete whatever will be lacking. And since they were slothful at first, “yud” is missing from their name (the Hebrew letter “yud” is missing from the word prince, in Hebrew – Niseim). Rabeinu Bchai adds: “For it is the way of the princes to look down on the rest of the nation … and thus princes brought the stones that rested on Aharon’s heart, in order to atone for the arrogance of their heart. These same princes who not long ago were lowly slaves and now were princes of Israel – immediately upon receiving their high appointment, they started to look down at their brothers, and on this the Talmud in Trachtate Pesachim says: “Four things are intolerable … the public appointee who looks down at the rest of the community for no reason.”

Ego Rises With Power
The Torah’s concern for one’s high position affecting his ego is seen clearly in the laws dealing with the King. The following is written in Parshat Shoftim: “He shall not multiply horses to himself…Neither shall he multiply to himself wives that his heart turns not away; and silver and gold will he not greatly multiply to himself…and he will write a copy of this Torah. And it shall be with him and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God…that his heart is not lifted up above his brethren.” And the Rambam in Hilchot Tefilah adds: “One who prays must bow five times each and every tefilah…and the King since he prostrates himself from the very beginning of his prayer, does not raise his head until he finishes the entire prayer.”

Our Mission: To Bring Down the Haughty In Our Days
We can see the arrogance, corruption and egoism of the Israeli politican most overtly during an election year. Each party stomps on the fresh blood of Jewish victims to further its political advantage, though none of them possess an iota of a solution to the problem.

We have observed our “leaders” basking in the glory of Nobel Peace Prizes and in the shadow of gentile leaders and Arab murderers, so engrossed with themselves, their speeches of “peace” and their place in the history books that no amount of Jewish blood can budge them from their “vision”.

May it be G-d’s Will that these leaders be replaced by true Jewish leaders guided by Torah, and who know that, “It is not high appointment I give you, but rather bondage I give you.” May we merit leaders who go in the way of Moshe Rabeinu, who not only was not interested about his reputation in the history books, but was even willing to have his name erased from God’s Holy Book itself (“Blot me, I pray thee, out of Thy book which You have written”, Exodus, 32-32) in order to save theJewish people from annihilation. We must have leaders who possessself-sacrifice to serve the community, and not exploit it.

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