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Tevet 16

Be cautious in associating with the ruling powers, because they seek people's closeness only for their own purposes (Ethics of the Fathers 2:3).

Time has not changed some things. Even several thousand years ago government figures were known to be fair-weather friends who exploited their friendship for personal advantage.

While this is as true now as it was then, why is it written in a volume on ethics?

Some people lust for power. Those who lack their own authority try to associate themselves with the powers-that-be in order to share in their power. Just as actual power can corrupt, so also can the desire for power, since we may then do whatever is necessary to ingratiate ourselves with the authorities, including compromising on our principles.

The Talmud discourages such associations by pointing out that they are likely to be exercises in futility. Like so many other lusts, the lust for power holds out a promise of bliss, and inevitably results in bitter disappointment."

Today I shall...

try to avoid seeking authority and dominion over others, and rather seek mastery over myself.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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