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 The national sport here in Israel is politics. Everyone engages in it and it is played at all levels of society, in the workplace, the family, in the synagogue and especially in local and national government. Elections are held frequently and are conducted in a vigorous and contentious manner, with no holds barred. No Israeli government coalition has ever served its entire mandated time and we are treated to national elections approximately every three years.

Elections are expensive and divisive, but everyone enjoys them because they are the field on which our national sport of politics is played. It should come as no surprise that we are due for another national election sometime in April of this year. Everyone in the country is gleefully preparing for the event. Politics allows for personal ambition to be engaged and on display for all to see. Reticence, embarrassment or restraint are not the tools to be employed when dealing with running for office and Israeli politics generally.
Elections by their nature presuppose that the citizens of a country know what is good for them and who is best to be their leaders. This presumption has been tested severely over the course of centuries of elections and democratic processes. Nevertheless, we are convinced, as Winston Churchill once said, that democracy is a very inefficient and ineffective way of governing, but it is the best way that human beings have devised so far in their long history. Because of this, elections continue to be held regularly in the Western world and here in Israel as well. It is a messy way of trying to decide things, but we have not yet devised any better system and therefore we adjust to the constant presence of elections in our communal life.
There is no question that ego plays an important part in all elections and is reflected in the candidates that are running for office. Many times it dominates and plays a greater role in the electoral process. However, someone who has no ego is not really fit for leadership nor can that person ever achieve success in our current electoral world. Calvin Coolidge, who had perhaps the smallest ego of any president of the United States, did not even bother to campaign away from his front porch in the 1924 election in the United States. And he won the election very convincingly. Such a tactic apparently would be doomed to disastrous failure in today's world and system of elections. Modesty and humility are in short display in the season of elections. It is noteworthy to see that the greatest leader of the Jewish people, our teacher Moshe, was described in the Torah as being the most humble of all human beings, the paragon of modesty itself. Yet he was a very strong leader and in fact became the role model for all future leaders, political and religious, of the Jewish people.
Apparently, there is a method that allows one to exercise great leadership qualities without having to resort to overweening arrogance. I will admit that that is truly a fine line not easily recognized or observed. But, in the end, it certainly is a necessary quality for leadership to function properly and be of benefit to the people at large.
Rule of the majority often turns into tyranny of the minority. Especially in elections as they are now held, very rarely do we find an overwhelming and convincing majority from one side or the other. Here in Israel, this always forces government to be composed of a patchwork of differing political parties and leaders with differing views as to the future of the country. Because of our system of proportional representation, in the elections for the parliament smaller parties are always represented in the government coalition. These parties usually have a limited objective and view the entire country through the prism of their basic electorate.
This is democratic to the core, but it causes a constant feeling of instability in the makeup of the government. It is the reason, as I pointed out earlier, that no Israeli coalition government has ever been able to serve out its entire term in office. Everyone becomes antsy after a few years and hopes that it will be able to improve its position by dissolving the government and going forward to new elections. Political parties here in Israel rise and fall as the seasons change. But one can be certain that whenever a party does disappear from the electoral map, a new one will arise to take its place. Let us all sit back and enjoy the spectacle and hope that the result will be positive for the future of our state and the Jewish people.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein 

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