Torah For Today! This week: Brexit and division
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Torah For Today! This week: Brexit and division

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks at a topical issue and delves into scripture for an Orthodox Jewish response

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

British and European flags
British and European flags

Division among leaders is clearly apparent as Parliament struggles over Brexit. So, what does the Torah say about this?

In the archives of Samaritan history, a break-up between leaders of the Priesthood led to the disestablishment of Mount Gerizim as the centre of spiritual Israel.

Eli the Priest, who at that time mentored the future High Priest, refused to approve the office to the 15-year-old son of a deceased high priest.

This resulted in a split in the priesthood and the eventual permanent move of Eli’s traveling tabernacle to Jerusalem, after David was anointed by Eli’s mentee, Samuel.

A split between two brothers in the Hasmonean family led to the setting up of yet another Temple, this time in Elephantine, Egypt.

The Temple of Onias is mentioned in the Mishnah as a viable alternative to Jerusalem to bring one’s sacrifices.

Onias is said to have broken rank after his brother embarrassed him by tricking him into wearing women’s clothing and being ridiculed by an assembly of rabbis who saw him in that state.

Recent events in the UK Parliament underline the desperate need to inject some safe guidance to ensure that the people who voted in the referendum do not end up in a state of civil unrest because of political divisions.

While accommodations are made for the differences of opinion, such differences must not become new allegiances which are irreparable.

Had the Israelites been united throughout history over their Temple, perhaps they would not have lost it and their independence time and time again.

The will of the people is a highly-prized element in Biblical and Rabbinic Judaism and leaders must reign in ambition to serve that will and, predominantly, God’s will.

  •   Rabbi Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to Merseyside Army Cadet Force
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