By Alexander Zushe Kohn
Baal Shem Tov says that everything we see or hear contains a lesson for us in
our Divine service. Commenting on this, the Rebbe MH"M, explains that major
events contain major lessons. Indeed, on many occasions the Rebbe himself would
highlight the lessons contained in the current events of the time.
weeks ago, on Tuesday, November 7, a significant event took place – Americans
cast their vote for President! At the time of this writing, the American people
still don’t know for sure who their next President will be. [Editor’s Note:
although Bushvictory has since been certified in Florida, giving him a majority
of electoral votes, it is clear – at least at this point – that the legal
battle is far from over, as the Democrats have decided to contest the election.]
Initially Bush was declared the winner, but by such an incredibly small margin
that in the election-crucial state of Florida the votes were recounted, as
mandated by Florida law. The recount confirmed Bush’s victory, but by an even
smaller margin than the original count. As of this writing, Florida is counting
its votes yet again, this time by hand.
America is split down the middle. One could fairly say 50-50. Maybe if the
weather had been a bit nicer a few more people would have gone to vote for Gore.
Or maybe if the weather had been a bit uglier fewer people would have gone to
vote for Bush. Whatever the case, the ultimate winner, by American law, will be
the one who in the final analysis has 1 vote more than his opponent, as it were.
take out a Rambam and open it to the Laws of Repentance, chapter 3, law 4. It
says there that every person should at all times view himself and the entire
world as being perfectly balanced, 50-50, on the scale of merit and sin.
"If they commit even one sin, they will tilt themselves and the entire
world to the side of guilt and cause destruction; if they commit even one good
deed, they will tilt themselves and the entire world to the side of merit and
bring about salvation and deliverance..."
first impression upon reading these words is probably something like, "naaaaah...
Come on... My little mitzva is gonna make it or break it? Yeah, if the
world is perfectly balanced... but that’s a very big ‘if’! I mean, of
course the Rambam is right, but..."
what about the Rebbe’s comparison of a mitzva to an atom? Ye know, if
you rub an atom the wrong way – BOOOOM! Moreover, the Rebbe adds, even a child
can press that red button and cause the entire world to ‘change.’ We don’t
know which is the right button, but if we keep our fingers on the control panel,
we’re eventually gonna hit it. It could be me, it could be you, it could be a
Jew putting on t’fillin in Katmandu.
2000! One vote! That’s all it takes to determine the next President of the
5761! One more mitzva may be all it takes to determine that Moshiach is
the next leader of the world. How did Avrohom Freid put it? "One more Mitzva
is all that we need... aaahhhaaa."
interesting lesson of Election 2000 can be taken from the Nader phenomenon. Most
of Nader’s voters would have voted for Gore had Nader not been running. So, in
an ironic twist the democrats actually undid themselves. In other words, people
who did not want Bush to win the elections actually helped him do so by not
voting for Gore.
a strange way I found this phenomenon to contain a very encouraging lesson. We
Jews have been entrusted with the mission of being "a light unto the
nations," and we Lubavitchers have been entrusted with the (added) mission
of being "a lamplighter unto the Jews." Sometimes, however, we feel so
overwhelmingly outnumbered by the "un-lit" and by all the false
ideologies, that we don’t even bother. We adopt a live-and-let-live attitude.
Along comes Election Campaign 2000, and tells us, "Relax. Darkness has
another adversary – darkness!" Since evil is by definition thoroughly
self-centered, one false ideology won’t allow another false ideology to reign
supreme. So we’re not alone. We’re up against many lies, but at the same
time, all those lies are also allied with us in their fight against each other.
of reminds you of the war of the four kings against the five. Perhaps, even the
victors – the four kings – were weakened by the fighting, making Avrohom’s
subsequent battle against them significantly easier. [Incidentally, or shall I
say, by Divine providence, this was the Torah portion of the day following
Election Day, when Americans woke up to the news of ‘the split.’]
don’t despair; if you can’t beat ‘em, they’ll beat themselves!