Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Power and 70 Nations

My previous blog post was a bit stark and perhaps had an element of "we're all doomed". I'm an optimist by nature (how else would I survive as a project manager?) and so here are two quotes that related to people's relationships with governments.

In Bamidbar, Parshat Beha'alotcha (Book of Numbers) 11:16 Moses asks G-d if he can share the load and is instructed to appoint 70 men to act as lesser prophets (compared to Moses) to help look after the Israelites:
"Hashem said to Moses, gather to me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and its officers; take them to the Tent of Meeting and have them stand there with you."
Ramban (Nahmanides 1194-1270) wrote the following commentary:

Gather to me the seventy men from the elders of Israel
Ramban discusses the significance of the number seventy here and in other contexts

Our Sages of blessed memory, have mentioned that there are seventy nations in the world, with seventy languages. And each one of these nations has a constellation in the heavens and a heavenly minister above which determines its affairs, like the idea that is stated in Daniel (10:13), And the minister of the Persian kingdom, referring to an angel, and it is written there, besides the kings of Persia and Behold, the minister of Greece (ibid. v20). And this is the meaning of what is stated: It shall be on that day Hashem will deal with the hosts of heaven in heaven and the kings of the earth on the earth (Isaiah 24:21). And the Sages said further that the seventy bulls offered on the holiday of Succot allude to [the seventy nations] (Succah 55b). And in Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer  we find as well: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the seventy angels who surround His Throne of Glory, "Come let us confuse their language"  (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer Ch. 24).... 
There is more to this quote, but it's not directly relevant to this blog post.

What nation might have this minister?
Every nation has a minister watching over it. Which means that each nation is subject to Divine providence. One of the things that I like to look for in reading up on geopolitics is how well or badly the heavenly minister interfaces with those in power in each nation. The coupling has it's ups and downs as every relationship has.

Anyway, whilst I believe that we are subject to general providence via this heavenly minister and associated constellation - we are also subject to individual providence. So why bother having a government at all?

Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 3:2 answers that with the following quote:
2. Rabbi Chanina, deputy to the kohanim, would say: Pray for the integrity of the government; for were it not for the fear of its authority, a man would swallow his neighbor alive....
That's it... this blog post does not really have a "message", just some quotes to get you thinking about how some form of governance is necessary and built in to the framework of reality. Plus how you relate to that and may even try to influence it as a magician. Good luck with that!