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“There is a people that dwells apart, not reckoned among the nations” – Numbers 23:9

Amongst the blessings of the prophet Balaam we find this strange prophecy, which in our history has been both a blessing and a curse.

In teaching about this verse from the Torah, we also find many leadership lessons, asking what duty comes with singled out as exceptional. The early Reform Jewish Zionist, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver warns against hubris, pointing towards the extra duty which comes from being singled out, “Exclusiveness is a matter of pride and privilege. Distinctiveness is only a way of life which entails obligations. Our people were not proud, but humble.”

This week is a big one for Prime Ministers.  Here in the UK, we have a reminder that pride is no substitute for morality, and that stopping unwanted sexual advances and touching  is an issue that (thankfully) the British public still cares about.

In Israel, the news is of opportunity, as the first member of a Reform Jewish synagogue, Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv (though I am told his not an active member), Yair Lapid, became the 14th Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

While he likely doesn’t know teachings of other  Reform Jewish Zionists who came before him, I hope that Prime Minister Lapid will govern in a way that makes the above words of Balaam into a blessing .  That he will find only humble obligation in his high office, thus working for a  Jewish State that it is so exemplary it  makes our  humble hearts glow.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Jordan