Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Why I am Celebrating on Election Day 2016

Dear Henry,
       Tonight, Tuesday November 8, 2016, I plan to have a great celebration. I will not be hosting a belated Denver Broncos Super Bowl victory party. Nor will I be throwing myself a belated 31st birthday bash, or even, for that matter, an early 10 year anniversary party. Rather, I will be partying because of the 2016 Election. And not because my candidate is going to win—I think it is safe to say at this juncture that all indications point to the fact that Peyton Manning is in fact too far behind in the polls to make another one of his legendary last minute comebacks. Rather, while millions and millions of Americans will be nauseously watching the results come in, I will be sipping a New Belgium Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Beer, celebrating the profound lesson these elections have taught me. While part of my joy is admittedly that the madness will seemingly come to an end for a couple years, and I no longer have to explain these candidates’ immorality to my children, the real joy is rooted much deeper than that.
         The Talmud teaches us something extremely profound in the Mishnah at the end of Tractate Sotah:

Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair says: From the time the Temple was destroyed, scholars…have been ashamed, But strong-armed men and Baalei Lashon (literally men of tongue, those whose strength lies in slander and defamation) have triumphed, and there is none who seeks, and none who searches, and none who inquires. Upon whom can we lean? Upon our Father in Heaven…In the period before the Moshiach comes, chutzpah will increase… and the truth will be absent…the face of the generation is like the face of a dog[1]….Upon what, then, can we rely upon? Upon our Father in Heaven!

          One of the great challenges of our affluent, comfortable generation is that we often fall into the trap of thinking that we are in charge. We are running the show, we can rely on ourselves and our own leaders to take care of our well-being. We can fall into the trap of thinking errantly that our society can do it ourselves—we do not need the Almighty’s Divine assistance. Sometimes charismatic leaders arise, that give us hope, and we mistakenly think that they have all the answers.
        This evening, I celebrate and embrace the Divine reminder that this way of thinking is incorrect. As King David writes so eloquently, “Hashem is with me, I have no fear, how can man affect me? It is better to take refuge in Hashem than to rely on man. It is better to take refuge in Hashem than to rely on Nobles.” This election, in which many people report holding their noses as they submit their votes, an election in which many people view the choice as a decision between the lesser of two evils, is a profound reminder that no, in fact, we do not put our hope and trust in the hands of Man (or Woman). It reminds us what the aforementioned Mishna mentions: We rely on the Almighty.
        On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we offer the following prayer, which, given the circumstances of our elections, I was able to say with more intensity and concentration than ever before: “Iniquity will close its mouth and all wickedness will evaporate like smoke, when You will remove evil’s dominion from the Earth. Then You, Hashem, will reign alone over all Your works…” May we see soon, speedily in our day, a time where we are living in G-d’s Kingdom, where righteousness triumphs, goodness prevails, and corruption and immorality are merely a distant memory.

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe

[1] Rabbi Elchanon Wasserman, who quoting the holy Chofetz Chaim explains “the face of the generation are the leaders. A leader must guide the people and be a role model to teach them right from wrong. But in the period before the Moshiach, the leaders will first check to see if their views will be popularly received, like a dog that looks back to see if his master follows.”