Sermon: Shabbat Bo – The State of the Union

January 27th, 2012 by admin | Filed under Sermons.

State of the Union
Shabbat Shalom.
It must be so difficult to be a leader of a nation. We learned on Wednesday that on the eve of the upcoming State of the Union Address, another Navy Seals Mission, authorized by President Obama, had successfully rescued 2 aid workers, 1 of whom is an American, whom been held hostage by Somali pirates in Somalia. I can’t imagine the stress of sending those Seals into obvious mortal danger, and then to stand before a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.
I did watch the speech, but I am not about to comment on the content of the speech. What I do want to share is something that I was involved in just prior to the speech; an on-line, typed conversation with a FaceBook friend, not on the public page of FB, but through private messaging.
This FB friend, is a former resident of Springfield, he grew up here, his parents of blessed memory where members of the shul, and we are primarily FB friends based on what I believe is our mutual passion for U.M. sports – Go Terps! This is person also happens to be a rabid, full-throated Republican. For example, during the weekly debates by the candidates vying for the Republican nomination to run for president, he posts on FB a running commentary. Now, I don’t have to agree with his political positions, but I usually find them an interesting read and perspective.
However, whenever he posts something that is critical of President Obama, he refers to him not as President Obama, rather by a 1 word derogatory play on his last name: Obummer. And, then Tuesday evening, just prior to the speech, he posted the following: “Everyone make sure to watch Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels deliver the GOP response to the nearly hour long crap-fest called the State of the Union.” After that posting, I had enough, and sent him a message!
What did I object to? Not his freedom of speech right to criticize the president’s policies or decisions. What deeply bothers me is the denigration of the Office of the President by the derogatory personal mocking of a president’s name, and by the insulting the constitutionally mandated State of the Union address.
Then, to add insult to injury, yesterday, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, with her public pointing and wagging her finger in the face of the president!?!??! You don’t like what the president says, speak out against the issues – a right protected by what those Navy Seals; do risking their lives to protect our freedom, but do so while respecting the office of the presidency – which demonstrates how democracy works!
Which brings me to this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Bo; it begins with the bringing of the last 3 plagues upon Egypt, and teaches a powerful lesson on the respect of leadership, even if you don’t agree with what the leader is doing.
After the 9th plague, the plaque of darkness, God tells Moshe to have the people collect objects of silver and gold form their Egyptian neighbors, and we read that “the Lord disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people” (Ex. 11:3). Yes, we see God’s influence, but we are told in a midrash on this verse that it is because during that period of darkness, the Hebrews did not take advantage of the Egyptians and plunder their homes.
However, note what the 2nd half of that verse states: “Moshe himself was much esteemed in the land of Egypt, among Pharaoh’s courtiers and among the people” (Ex. 11:3). Amazing, a leader being shown respect not for his positions on issues, obviously they were in direct opposition to those of the Pharaoh’s courtiers and the Egyptian people, but still receiving the respect of the office of leadership.
There is a lot to learn from this 1 verse of our Torah; if only modern politicians and their supports could learn it, too.
Kain y`hee ratzon – may it only be….ALUASA