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Let not Alexander the Small dictate policy to Alexander the Great (Lech Lecha 10/28/17)

Rabbi Neil Schuman

“Let not Alexander the Small dictate policy to Alexander the Great”
It’s now a year in the Jewish calendar from last year’s Election Day. (The Jewish calendar moves 11 days earlier every year when it’s not a Jewish leap year). Last year, when we read Parshat Lech L’cha, most of us were surprised (or should I say, shocked) when Trump won the presidency. It was a contentious election, and in the aftermath of the election results, we were unsure if President Trump would continue the positions and dispositions that Donald Trump, the presidential candidate, displayed.
Many people transform when they’re given the mantle of leadership.
Menachem Begin was such a radical and firebrand in his youth that Ben Gurion refused to refer to him by name in the Knesset. He called him, “The man now sitting to the right of Mr. Bader.” However, when Begin became Prime Minister, it was he who was willing to be the dove and participate in the Camp David Accords, creating a lasting peace with longtime nemesis, Anwar Sadat and Egypt.
Before Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister, he had been considered the ultimate Hawk, the father of the settlements. But then when he became Prime Minister, Sharon was the one who uprooted 8000 settlers and disengaged Israel from all of Gaza. Critics on the right condemned him, but he explained, “The view from here is different than the view from there.”
There is a legend about Alexander the Great that sums up elevation and transformation most brilliantly.. When Alexander was first serving in the Greek army, one of his superiors insulted him and he swore revenge someday. Later on in life, when he became the ruler of the Greek empire, one of his aides remarked to him how he had never taken vengeance on his old time adversary. Alexander replied, “I am not going to allow Alexander the Small to dictate policy to Alexander the Great.”
Well it’s nearly one year later, and our President, on the other hand, has been fully consistent with all that he promised and displayed during his election campaign. He has not deviated from his original agenda, his twitter account is just as active as ever, and this president, does not “turn the other cheek” ever.
But that does not mean we don’t have to.
This week, I explained to Kita Gimel (our third grade Hebrew School Class) the premise behind Psalm 95, “Shira L’Hashem Shir Chadash, Sing unto G-d a new song!” Why do we constantly need a new song? For our understandings and perspectives in life constantly change. Our work when we’re ten is better than when we were six. Similarly, our mindset when we’re 40 and 60 is more developed than when were 20. Our new song represents the deepening of our understanding, and our maturation.
In these times, when there’s so much belligerence and negativity in the air, we really need to take the high road in our actions and speech.
We need to model that “Alexander the Small does not dictate policy to Alexander the Great” and that our growth and maturity are evident in all we do.
Wishing you a wonderful week,
R’ Neil

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