Thursday 7 January 2021

Exodus and Statesmanship

 From RRW 

A Message from Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

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Dear Friends,

As Jews around the world begin the book of Exodus, and as we at Tikvah prepare to launch our lecture series on Jewish statesmanship, I thought I would share a few related lectures that show how the Exodus story impacted some of the greatest non-Jewish statesman in the history of the West.

On July 4th, 1776, a committee of Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin was formed with the goal of selecting a seal for the nascent United States. Two of these founding fathers chose images from the Exodus story as embodiments of America. I discuss the implications of Franklin's and Jefferson's suggestions in the second lecture, titled "America’s Passover: Franklin, Jefferson, and the Seal of the United States," of my Tikvah online course on Jewish Ideas and the American Founding.

A century and a half after the Founders looked to Exodus for inspiration, Winston Churchill wrote a remarkable and little-known essay titled "Moses: The Leader of the People." In retrospect, this interpretation of the Moses story is instructive considering the legacy of Churchill himself, the greatest statesman of the twentieth century. I consider what Moses taught Churchill in the third of my lectures on the Hebrew Bible, available here.

Several years ago, at a public event at Yeshiva University, I discussed with the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and with Senator Joseph Lieberman, the impact that the Exodus story had on America and England in the past, and how we as Jews should utilize its tale as Jews in largely non-Jewish polities today. The full conversation can be seen here.

A reminder to please register for my upcoming Jewish statesmanship series, which will begin in two weeks, on Monday, January 18, at 8 PM. I am excited to take this journey through Jewish political history together. You can register for it here.

Looking forward,

Meir Soloveichik

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