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Devar Torah - Toldos

Thursday, 19 November, 2020 - 12:10 am

The 2020 Elections in the Service of Hashem:
With Every Vote we tip the Scales to Geula
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything a Jew sees and hears is a lesson in avodas Hashem. What happened over the last few weeks during this election cycle clarifies a Sicha from the Rebbe (Kedoshim Likutei Sichos v. 27).

One of the big issues in this year’s election was about validating legitimate votes. There are allegations of suspicious behavior behind irregularities in the way the machines count votes, stuffing ballot boxes, mail-in voter fraud and changing votes.  Where do we find a similar idea in the Torah and what is the lesson for us in our service of Hashem?

The Torah commands  us to use honest weights and measures.  Not only are we forbidden to falsely  or inaccurately measure something for personal profit, but even to possess a false or inaccurate measuring device is forbidden. The Rambam writes that someone who denies the mitzvah of using exact weights and measures denies the exodus from Egypt.

The point is that whenever someone steals or cheats he's denying the existence of Hashem and that Hashem is watching over every action. Therefore why is the only denial that the Rambam mentions about false weights and measures and not every form of stealing or deceit? Why isn't every form of stealing and deceit tantamount to denying the exodus from Egypt?

The halacha that we are not allowed to possess a false measuring device is actually considered worse than stealing. The reason is because stealing is specific to one particular act. It’s worse when a person  uses a false device to present themselves as honest and simultaneously use it to facilitate a theft. Having this kind of an intention to mislead and steal is far worse than just a particular random act of theft. It shows evil intent to deceive. Therefore Hashem does not just punish the person for the act of stealing but also the evil intent. This is the meaning of the Rambam. Just like Hashem punished Egyptians for their intentions as well as their actions so too renouncing the mitzvah of using accurate weights and measures is tantamount to denying the exodus from Egypt.

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One of the great foundational principles in Judaism is the concept of free choice as is explained in the Rambam in the laws of  Teshuva. This is the element of democracy found within Judaism. Every single person regardless of their station in life is important and has great impact when they utilize their freedom of choice properly. This is the concept of voting in the Torah. Everyone has free choice how to vote. Chassidus explains that we have two Souls, a good and a bad inclination all within our one body. Both inclinations are vying for the winning vote which is to control the body. It's a two party system.

The difference in avodas Hashem is that it's not just a campaign that occurs every 4 years rather we vote in each moment. Every thought speech or action equals one vote. The question is do we vote for Hashem or the opposite.

When are the votes tallied? At night as we recite the Shema.  Krias Shema before we go to sleep is a time for  a legitimate tally of what we accomplished throughout the day both positive and negative. We cannot just focus on the positive or the negative, stuffing the ballot box is forbidden! When we know the true tally we know our situation the way it really is and we can go forward  with our lives either increasing evermore in good or correcting what is wrong.

The only issue is that we are biased. Therefore we need objective ‘poll observers’ to help us oversee our service of Hashem to make sure it is fair and unbiased. This is the role of the mashpia.  The Rebbe demanded that each one of us appoint a mashpia and created  the campaign of ‘Aseh lecha Rav’.  

The true challenge of having a mashpia is that we tend to keep them at a distance. We don't reveal to them all the votes. We skew the results. We count in private where they cannot observe the actual tally. When the votes don't go the way we want we change the algorithm in the voting machine or we stuff the ballot box  in the middle of the night.

In addition we fool ourselves saying that our vote doesn't really matter anyway. The Rambam says that with one act, word or thought we can tip the entire scale of the world to bring the geula. The Rebbe would quote this Rambam often. Unfortunately we do not value our own vote. Instead we convince ourselves that our vote doesn't really matter. We see this in the world today with how false poll numbers are portrayed in the media. They create a false impression that the result is forgone so why bother voting. The reality is that the results in many states showed that the races were very close and that indeed every vote was consequential.

The Alter Rebbe explains in the 25th chapter of the Tanya the bond of a Jew with Hashem when he does a mitzvah. This union of the soul and Hashem is eternal. It transcends time. Hashem has eternal pleasure from even one mitzvah. The Alter Rebbe writes in chapter 27 that when a person refrains from doing an aveira or even a bad thought he subdues the sitra achra. When the sitra achra is subdued here below, then the glory of the Hashem, rises above all, more than by any praise, and this ascent is greater than all else. 

This is the power of each vote by everyone from the most simple to the most lofty.

By  realizing the power of our vote, and exercising our vote in each moment by both pushing away the negative causing pleasure on high and the eternal connection with Hashem through the positive, we have the power of our vote to bring Moshiach!

A Good Shabbos

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