As I write this column, it is not quite Rosh HaShanah. As you read this column, Election Day has passed (or will momentarily). Being neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, I cannot tell you which candidates for office were successful and which will become footnotes in history. But I can tell you that nobody really lost these elections.
The vitality of the American political process is one of the great blessings of our country. As virulent as campaigns seem to get, what is at stake is the privilege to give expression to values and principles that transcend policies and politics. Our Constitution trumps the intentions of any person or group in government, whether nefarious or altruistic in nature.
It is a great model for us to remember as we struggle with “standards and practices” in the microcosm and macrocosm of Jewish life. If you look back at the last generation, you will find that the central internal concern for Jewish community has rotated among Israel, human rights, pluralism, Jewish education, continuity and, of course, anti-semitism in various forms. Along with many others, we have looked outward to social welfare, security, endangered communities, environment and ethical conduct.
Yet in spite of differences in priorities and approaches, it has been Torah to which we have always turned for guidance. Three thousand years of interpretation yields a good deal more variation than the two hundred years of interpreting the Constitution, but the staying power of that central document has allowed the interpreters to rise and fall, but the Jewish people and our eternal values to survive.
We may lose sight of that blessing in our concerns of the moment. And absent a cyclical referendum like an election, we have less opportunity to formally recognize the persistence of Torah. So I am glad that we can find an analog in another part of our lives that reminds us of this gift. When Thanksgiving rolls around in a couple of weeks, remember to include this blessing in your gratitude.
Meanwhile, my congratulations go to our newest and renewed legislators and to the Senator who will be President. (That much prophecy is in even my reach!)