Democracy – The People Have Spoken

Finally, Its over! I mean – the elections of course. Yes, the elections are over and the voice of the people has been heard – Democracy at work.

Yet, while the election campaign season and all of its excesses may appear to be quite unseemly, or even downright ugly, the fact is – that there is no other way to create a representative form of government. So, we are stuck with it.

The losing side, of course, will claim that their loss was really a result of misinformation and that it is a distortion of the real issues facing the country. In my view, such a claim is not totally without merit.  Thomas Jefferson is purported to have written “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic.”

In other words: Democracy is a preferred form of governance only to the degree that there is adequate dissemination of accurate information among the electorate. This vital function is largely left to the popular press and the electronic media, which in turn is beholden to the need to sell papers or to fund the news program. Not a very reliable structure.

We, the Jewish people, are considered the “People of the Book”, and for good reason. From the very inception of our peoplehood at Sinai, the study of Torah was established as the single most important religious pursuit. This is because, in the words of our sages, “Talmud study is superior because it leads to action.” Without adequate information and knowledge, Judaism cannot thrive, and in diaspora conditions cannot even survive.

While this may seem obvious, that fact remains that today we are confronting arguably the most Jewishly ignorant generation of all time. The irony of this situation is that in terms of secular education the Jewish community excels both in the Diaspora and in Israel – boasting the highest percentages of degreed people. Even those who are active in the secular Jewish community and even leaders in the secular Jewish community are woefully ignorant of their own religion. Fortunately, ignorance has a surefire cure – study. It works one hundred percent of the time. All it takes is a commitment to make study a priority in one’s life. With all of the hand-wringing going on about the state of the Jewish community in America and the search for “solutions” to the problem of Jewish assimilation, the one you don’t hear is about is genuine Torah study.

How about the launching of a massive campaign to promote and encourage Jewish literacy and Torah study?!? With today’s technology everything is already accessible online (including a course on Prayer by yours truly at all that is needed now is to stimulate the “will” of people to do so.

About the Author
Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan is an Ordained Rabbi and a Regional Director for Chabad Lubavitch in the State of Maryland. Additonally, he is also the spiritual leader of "The Shul at the Lubavitch Center" in Baltimore, MD and has been a radio & TV show host for over thirty years.
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