Shabbat Parashat Vayeitzei |5770
Parashat Hashavuah: Learning from Ancient Political Mistakes
Harav Yosef Carmel
The Arab state of Syria is situated approximately where the ancient nation of Aram once stood. This nation had a major impact on its Israelite neighbors until the two were exiled by the Assyrian Kingdom.
The international relations of Aram and Israel began as follows. Yaakov secretly ran away from Lavan, who pursued him until they met at Mt. Gilad. There they may a peace treaty at a stone monument named Galeid. They also set the boundary between the two at that place. This treaty was broken many times, for which the prophet, Amos, chides Aram (Amos 1: 3,5).
Let us look at another element of the relationship between the nations. Ba’asha, the king of the northern Kingdom of Israel laid a siege on the Kingdom of Judea, led by King Assa. The latter’s idea to extricate himself was by emptying out the treasure houses of the Temple and sending it to Aram to convince them to break their treaty with Israel and attack them, so that the siege would be lifted. At first glance the scheme succeeded (Melachim I, 15: 18-20). However, the prophet criticized Assa for relying upon Aram and not on Hashem and said that because of that, “the king of Aram escaped from his [Assa’s] hands” (Divrei Hayamim II, 16:7). We would have expected it to say that Ba’asha, who was the enemy at the time, escaped Assa’s hands. Apparently, the intention is that since Assa used the enemy of the Jewish people to kill other Jews to save himself, he lost the opportunity to take back the land that the Aramites had taken from the Land of Israel. The situation went from bad to worse, as Assa punished the prophet, the people protested, and Assa attacked the protestors (ibid.:10).
The mistaken political solution that Assa came up with caused great damage in several ways. It hurt the international standing of the Kingdom of Judea and weakened its internal resolve and the harmony between segments within the nation. Let us pray that Hashem, who can control the hearts of the kings and officers, will give wisdom to our leaders, so that they learn from the mistakes of the past and lead our nation and our state in a manner that will find favor in the eyes of G-d and man.
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