Transcript: Tonight’s speech by Netanyahu’s yetzer hatov – When the Leader Sins

Transcript: Tonight’s speech given by the yetzer hatov (good inclination) of the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, 20.40, 23 March 2023 (2 Nissan 5783), Jerusalem

‘When the Leader Sins….’

My beloved brothers and sisters,

We, the Jewish people, have been given a unique gift, the Holy Torah. The Torah itself tells us that it is our wisdom and our understanding in the eyes of the peoples.

Our Torah is split up into weekly portions. Each weekly portion is further split into seven readings, one for each day of the week. The Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch tells us that the daily reading helps us ‘to live with the times’, By this he meant, we must not only study it, we must also live by its messages.

The genius of the Torah lies not only in the plain reading of the text. It lies in the many additional layers of meaning that can be discerned through recognising subtle variances, for example, in the grammar or the word choice.

Today, this holy day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, this auspicious day when our great Tabernacle was first inaugurated in the wilderness at Mount Sinai, after an unprecedent collective effort, not just by one, not just by some, but by all the people, like ‘one person with one heart’, to build a Home for HaKadosh Baruch Hu in this world, among us, I have been profoundly moved by today’s reading from the Torah.

‘When the Leader sins and unintentionally transgresses one of all the commandments of the Lord, His G-d, which may not be done, incurring guilt….’ (Leviticus 4)

Sforno, the great Italian commentator, of blessed memory, observes that in the passages immediately preceding and following this one, the Torah has stated, ‘if’ the Kohen Gadol sins, ‘if’ the Great Sanhedrin sins, and ‘if’ one of the people of the Land sins. However, for the leader, it states ‘when’. Says Sforno: ‘When a leader sins’ …for, after all, it is expected that he will sin.”

Rashi, of blessed memory, the greatest of all Torah commentators, observing the same distinction, in place of the word, ‘im’ (if), the use of the word ‘asher’ (when), linked to ‘ashrei’, meaning fortunate. Says Rashi: ‘Fortunate is the generation whose ruler sets his heart to bring an atonement for his unintentional sin. All the more so that he has regrets over his intentional sins.’

The Ramban, of blessed memory, the legendary Spanish kabbalist, the great defender of our faith, and the commentator second only in greatness to Rashi, observes the inclusion of the phrase ‘his G-d’ for the leader, but not for the Kohen Gadol, for the Great Sanhedrin or for one of the people of the Land. Says the Ramban: ‘even though the ruler is the lord of the land who has no fear of any flesh and blood upon him, he must still fear Hashem, Who is his G-d, for He is the Lord of the lords’.

My brothers and sisters, I, your leader, have unintentionally sinned. I have also intentionally sinned. I fear Hashem. I have learned my lessons.

We must again be like one person with one heart. We must never divide, or be divided. We must collectively build a Home for G-d in this Holy Land.

Let us all forgive each other, as we pray that Hashem forgives us.

Let us now work together – not only on judicial reform, but on true freedom and equality for all people in this Promised Land, fulfilling the unique mission that we alone have been entrusted with – to bring G-d’s glory down from heaven to earth, and to shine light to all the Nations through our example.  It starts now.

About the Author
Adam Gross is a strategist that specialises in solving complex problems in the international arena. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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