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Unimpeachable

Friday, 27 September, 2019 - 8:01 am

Impeachment is in the air.

As many people know, I don’t use my rabbinic position to advocate political parties, positions or persons. Today is no different. But, the talk about impeachment does bring some valid questions to the fore.

The truth is that the Framers of the Constitution debated whether a President should be impeachable. And, if removal from office is an option, which crimes would rise to the definition of an impeachable offense? What would be the process for impeachment?

In parliamentary systems, such as in the United Kingdom and Israel, the prime minister can easily be removed from office by a vote of no-confidence. In the American system, the Executive branch has more separation and, subsequently, more protection.

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The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything a person witnesses must serve as a lesson in life. All this talk of impeachment is certainly something we have all experienced this week. How can it serve as a lesson in my life?

Let’s step aside from emotionally charged politics for a moment and ask the same questions about ourselves and our relationships. Are there offenses that would completely break a relationship? What wrongdoings would rise to such level?

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In this week’s parsha Nitzavim, Almighty G-d renews His covenant with the Jewish people. Below are the opening verses of the parsha:

You are all standing this day before the Lord, your G-d the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel, your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp both your woodcutters and your water drawers, that you may enter the covenant of the Lord, your G-d, and His oath, which the Lord, your G-d, is making with you this day, in order to establish you this day as His people, and that He will be your G-d, as He spoke to you, and as He swore to your forefathers to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, but with those standing here with us today before the Lord, our G-d, and also with those who are not here with us, this day.

These words were delivered to the Jewish people as they stood on the verge of entering Land of Israel some 3300 years ago. The Torah emphasizes that G-d’s covenant is with Jews of all generations.

However, the last verse seems redundant. If G-d is delivering these words not only with you but also with those who are not here with us, this day, why the need to state but with those standing here with us today before the Lord, our G-d? Aren’t those words superfluous?!

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It’s possible for Jews of the 21st century to maintain that our relationship with G-d isn’t the same as our ancestors. True, we have inherited a great tradition. And yes, the covenant is passed down from one generation to the next.

But, one may imagine, we have not spoken with G-d in the same way as our ancestors. We have suffered many setbacks and challenges. True, our nation and tradition have remained intact, but can it compare to previous generations? The fabric of our Jewish family is fraying. We have gained much, but also lost a fortune.

My babka can’t even compare to my Bubby’s... Certainly my Talmud study is inferior to my great-grandfather’s!

So, maybe this covenant is not exactly identical throughout the generations…

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The Torah’s response to this attitude is unequivocal! Our relationship with G-d – in every generation and on every rung of societal hierarchy – is immutable and constant. By repeating itself, the Torah leaves no room for doubt. We stand before G-d in a covenant in 5779, just as we stood before G-d in 2488.

In fact, the parsha this week continues to tell about the future of Jewish history.  Jews may, at times, neglect this covenant. Nonetheless, our bond with G-d will not be broken. Ultimately, we will return to G-d.  As the Torah declares:

And you will return to the Lord, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children, then, the Lord, your G-d, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your G-d, had dispersed you.

Hashem is eternal. His love and affection for us is likewise eternal. Many relationships can be broken. But, our bond with G-d is fresh, eternal and – unimpeachable.

We may not be perfect, but we will always be His people.

As we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, let the beauty of Hashem’s devotion and loyalty inspire us to reciprocate with allegiance and love.

Shana Tova!

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