The Hidden Blessings of Plagues and Impeachment
There is a tradition within Judaism that all actions in the world can be viewed through the lens of the Torah reading of the week. Based upon that premise, each of these columns is to help us understand the politics of the world through a biblical lens.
As the impeachment trial in the Senate began this week, the House managers and Democratic Senate leadership have already publicly demonstrated their partisan willingness to remove a duly-elected President by any means they can. On Tuesday, they dragged the rules approval resolution out for 13 hours, attempting to pass 11 unique amendments to the resolution (all were defeated)…just to get the rules for impeachment set up! Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's request to save time and at least bundle the proposed amendments together, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted on dragging out the process and making the Senators, and the American people, participate in what the Democrats always knew was a waste of time. But in doing so, they demonstrated clearly once again that the entire process of impeachment is not about seeking justice, but a manifestation of their vitriolic hatred for the president. The more they insisted on wasting time, the more they showed to the Senate, and to America, their true intentions, goals, and beliefs: to remove President Trump in a partisan way no matter what.
This isn't the first or only time Representatives Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler et al have shown who they really are and what their agenda really is. Everyone who watched the hearings of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees saw how there was no desire for the truth, just a kangaroo court with a pre-ordained outcome by House Democratic leadership. In Tuesday's opening statements, Nadler and Schiff were so nasty and disrespectful that even Chief Justice Roberts had to step in to admonish both sides to remember they were not on a schoolyard playground but in the halls of the Senate.
To those of us Californians who have followed Schiff's career, none of this abhorrent behavior is shocking. This is the same man who last March was proud of physically cutting Stephen Colbert during a comedy routine. “A lot of others have been on the show, but only one member made him bleed", he proudly and disgustingly said about injuring Colbert. This is the same man who consciously chose to enter into the Congressional record a “transcript" of President Trump's phone call that was entirely fabricated. Schiff has for many months publicly propagated false rumors about the president whenever possible; lied about his contact with a “whistleblower;" and even attempted (on tape) to get supposed dirt on the president when approached by a pair of comedians posing as Russian spies. All of his latest behavior this week is just an opportunity for the world to see who he and his cohorts really are, and that is the hidden blessing found in this painful experience of impeachment.
We learn about the potential good that can come from seeing the true nature of things in this week's Torah reading (Vaera, Ex. 6:2-9:35), which details the first seven plagues upon Egypt prior to the exodus. Often students learning this portion question why God needed to send plagues on Egypt, why He hardened Pharaoh's heart, and why God didn’t just set them free. The answer can be found in the benefit that is already coming with this impeachment trial.
If God had simply set the people free, it would not have been clear to both the Egyptians and the Hebrews that God is awesome and all-powerful. Without plagues, within a few weeks or years, people would have claimed that the exodus occurred because of a variety of reasons other than Divinity. By enacting the plagues, as painful as they were for everyone (even though the Hebrews were not directly affected by the plagues, it was painful for everyone in Egypt to experience their horrors), all the people in Egypt were able to see the true and duplicitous nature of Pharaoh. They experienced the greatness of God. The plagues became the lens through which Egyptians and Hebrews alike became able to see the truth, to recognize who Pharaoh really was, and to know more of God's greatness.
In the same way, although this entire impeachment process has been a sham, it has also shown to all of America the duplicitous nature of the Democratic Party's leadership and their lack of actually caring about election results or Constitutional process. A year ago, many Americans thought Schiff was just misguided, Pelosi was trying to hold onto power, and most outside of New York did not even know Jerry Nadler's name. Senator Schumer was considered to be relatively fair-minded and committed to upholding the Constitution, even by his opponents.
Now, as we traverse through this trial in the Senate, those illusions about Democratic leadership are being dispelled.
The repeated bad behavior of the Democrats has unified the Republicans. Even some Democrats and Independents have started to consider breaking away from the leadership's trope of lies and atrocious actions. The American people, beginning with the revelations about Schiff's conduct and hidden basement hearings, have started to recognize that the Democrats' hatred of President Trump is so great that they are willing to destroy the Constitution and the nation in order to remove him from office. Even the most liberal media pundits are starting to be frustrated with the Democrats' behavior, and more moderate Republicans who have shown no love for President Trump in the past are beginning to be outraged at the Democrats' actions.
Over 3,000 years ago, the pain of the plagues led not only to freedom but to clarity. Now we are experiencing the pain of an impeachment trial, but we must remember that this too is waking up America to see the truth about the inherent and deep corruption inside Democratic leadership. May all Americans always remember this time of revealing the truth about Schiff, Nadler, Schumer, and the Democrats, and may we all be blessed to see and remember the truth that has been shown to us through this painful process.
Rabbi Michael Barclay is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, CA., and the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together”. He can be reached directly at [email protected]