Mark Newman

Who’s Better: Shmuel the Prophet or President Trump?

Anyone who even casually knows the Hebrew Bible (Tanach) has heard of Shmuel the Prophet.  He accomplished many great things of which two were anointing Shaul (Saul) of the tribe of Binyamin (Benjamin) the first king of Israel and later anointing David of the tribe of Yehudah (Judah) the king of Israel.  Additionally, Shmuel wrote Sefer Shoftim (the Book of Judges), Sefer Shmuel (the Book of Samuel), and Megillat Rut (the Scroll of Ruth), three of the 24 books in Tanach.  Clearly, Shmuel was beloved by God and left a lasting legacy from which the entire world has benefited in the millennia since his passing.

In fact, Shmuel is so beloved by God that in Sefer Tehillim (the Book of Psalms), Shmuel is compared to Moshe (Moses) and Aharon (Aaron): “Moshe and Aharon were among His priests and Shmuel among those who invoke His Name; they called upon Hashem and He answered them.”  (Tehillim 99:6) Not bad, eh?  [The Babylonian Talmud Tractate Berachot 31b and Tractate Taanit 5b both point out this comparison.]  Even the great Prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) compared Shmuel to Moshe: “Hashem said to me, ‘Even if Moshe and Shmuel were to stand before Me, I would have no desire for this people.  Send [them] away from My Presence and let them go!’” (Yirmiyahu 15:1)

If I wanted to be known as accomplishing great things with lasting value, I would want to be great like Shmuel.  Could our President Trump possibly be compared to the Prophet Shmuel?  On the surface, not at all but before we make a definitive conclusion, I suggest we take a broader look at the question.

Donald John Trump the individual person is and has lived a life quite different from that of any Biblical Prophet and surely cannot be compared in any sense to these spiritual and moral giants that literally spoke for God and represented how to walk the proper path in life.  The question in our day is whether an individual who appears to be very far removed from a Godly life could or should ever be the leader of a great nation such as the United States of America.

That’s where Yiftach (Jephthah) comes in.  Remember him?  No?  He definitely was never a former US President or even a former US Vice President.  Who was Yiftach and how is he relevant to our discussion?

If you go back to Tanach, specifically Sefer Shoftim (Chapter 11:1-3), it says:

Yiftach, the Giladite, was a mighty man of valor and he was the son of a concubine; Gilad begat Yiftach.  Gilad’s wife bore him sons and when the wife’s sons grew up they drove Yiftach away and said to him, “You will not inherit in the household of our father for you are the son of another woman.”

Yiftach fled because of his brothers and settled in the land of Tob.  Boorish men collected around Yiftach and vetured forth with him.

With that background, could you ever imagine a boorish man like Yiftach becoming any nation’s leader?  Let’s read on to the next few verses, 4-8:

And it happened after a period of time that the Children of Ammon made war with Israel.  And it happened when the Children of Ammon waged war against Israel that the elders of Gilad went to bring Yiftach (back) from the land of Tob.  They said to Yiftach, “Come and be our chief, and we will do battle with the Children of Ammon.”

But Yiftach said to the elders of Gilad, “Was it not you who hated me and drove me away from my father’s house?  Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?”

The elders of Gilad said to Yiftach, “For this have we now returned to you—that you go with us and do battle with the Children of Ammon and that you become a leader over us, over all the inhabitants of Gilad!”

Yiftach becomes their chief and leads them to victory.  The story of Yiftach continues until Chapter 12 verse 7 where it says, “Yiftach judged Israel for six years.  Yiftach the Giladite died and was buried in cities of Gilad.”

Yiftach was far from a perfect leader as Sefer Shoftim notes when he made a vow that ended up with horrible repercussions upon his own daughter; nevertheless, he still continued as a judge over the nation for six years, after the battles were over.  [It should be noted that, according to the great commentator Radak, Yiftach was buried in cities, rather than in a city, as punishment for what he had allowed to happen to his daughter.]

Now that we have a good picture as to how great the Prophet Shmuel was and how deficient in comparison Yiftach certainly seems to be, what possible connection could all this have with President Donald Trump?

For that, we need one more background piece from the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashana 25a-25b.  Here, the discussion is centered around a verse in Sefer Shmuel, specifically Chapter 12, verse 11, where it says:  “So Hashem sent Yerubaal (actually Gidone but called such because he quarreled with the idol Baal—Sefer Shoftim, Chapters 6-8) and Bedan (actually Shimshone [Samson] but called such because he came from the tribe of Dan—Sefer Shoftim, Chapters 13-16) and Yiftach and Shmuel and He rescued you from the hand of your enemies from all around, and you dwelt in security.”  It then quotes the verse from Sefer Tehillim (99:6) mentioned above.

The Talmud goes on to say, “Scripture has equated three of the least significant leaders with three of the most important leaders.  This Scriptual equation comes to tell you that Yerubaal in his generation is like Moshe in his generation; Bedan in his generation is like Aharon in his generation; Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation.  This comes to teach you that even the most insignificant of the insignificant who has been appointed a leader over the community is like the most distinguished of the distinguished.”  [According to the great commentator Maharsha, “the most insignificant of the insignificant” is a reference to Yiftach (who was the least of the “three insignificant leaders” listed in the verse).  His authority was no less than that of “most distinguished of the distinguished”—Shmuel.]

Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation.  Now you surely see where we are going with all of this, right?  Donald John Trump is not necessarily the most moral and proper individual in the world but US President Donald Trump was duly elected by the American people via the only proper allowable democratic process sanctioned in the US Constitution–he legitimately won an overwhelming majority of votes in the United States Electoral College.

Our US President Donald Trump is making lasting contributions with historical records of job employment—full time job employment (usually with benefits)—for blacks, hispanics, those without a college education, women, and everyone else.  Moreover, the wage increases in these past three years for the first time in decades has disproportionately gone to those who earn the least income.  More than just an economic benefit, full time jobs provide dignity for US citizens and helps family formation/retention which is the single most important factor that insulates against the plethora of social maladies that now afflict all of us.

He has placed more Federal judges (a lifetime position) with a respect for the US Constitution as it is written by the Founding Fathers (along with only very few Amendments in the two and half centuries since) than any President before him (in his first three years).  This has begun the process of returning the value of a written Constitution that has served us so well despite the efforts of Leftists to shred the world’s democratic template with their “Living Constitution” ideology, an ideology specifically designed to allow interpretations that are so far removed from the US Constitution, the written words would cease to have any meaning or protection from tyranny.

President Trump is the first US President in many decades to motivate successfully a majority of our NATO allies to increase their defense spending toward a target they set many years ago and never met.  Now, in only three years, some have met the target and many others are moving in the right direction.  That increases the possibility of regional peace.

President Trump is the first US President ever to recognize and act upon some obvious realities regarding Israel and the Middle East, realities without which there never could be anything remotely resembling peace in that savage region.  Trump’s courage and common sense in his administration’s decisions vis a vis Israel are truly historic in the most positive way for the entire world.

Similarly, look at President Trump’s actions in regards to the world’s greatest State sponsor of terror, Iran, to whom president Obama gave $1.4 billion of cash, allowed them full access to conduct business and make more money for their terrorist activities, and gave them carte blanche to create nuclear weapons in no more than 15 years from the date of agreement [an agreement which was never submitted to the US Senate for ratification as a treaty, as it should have been].  President Trump has blessedly reversed all of president Obama’s subservience to the Mullahs, held Iran’s feet to the fire, and their government is now struggling to remain in control.  Better yet, even the normally feckless Europeans are now warning Iran that if it does not stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons, they will join the US and cut off all trade.  They never would have done this without President Trump’s leadership.

These are only some of the many very positive and consequential accomplishments of Donald Trump’s remarkable Presidency so far.  Not all of his policies are uniform improvements for sure and some we will not know their utility for years to come.  Inevitably, some of his policies will have to be revised or possibly reversed.  That’s the way every President’s administration must act and will be judged.  There are some good policies, and some bad policies.

Consequential Presidents have either many more very good policies than bad policies or many more very bad policies than good policies.  So far, to me, it seems President Trump is consequential and clearly has many more very good policies than bad policies.  For the first time in my adult life, regarding President Trump’s re-election, I will be able to vote for a US President rather than merely vote against the other candidate for US President (assuming President Trump doesn’t do anything horribly negative between now and the election in November 2020).

Donald Trump the individual, has many flaws, and we should never look to him as a paragon of moral clarity or as a model of moral behavior for any of us.  Donald Trump, our US President, has achieved a remarkable amount of good in just three years and we should all be most grateful for that.  Even though he might not be a Shmuel, he is our Yiftach.

About the Author
Mark Newman is married to Ellen Newman and together were blessed with raising Ariel Yitzchak a”h for 18 years in Great Neck, NY to love Judaism and Israel. Mark has worked professionally for over three decades in the US Federal government as a civil law enforcement officer.
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