Nov. 9, 2020

Jonathan Tobin on 1 Samuel 8:10 – “The Beginning of Politics: Executive Power and Its Discontent” - S1E89


Jonathan Tobin, Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), joins Mark on the podcast today. In addition to his role of leading the JNS in its syndication of Jewish articles and essays to Jewish newspapers all across the country, Jonathan also writes articles, essays, or columns, for the JNS on a daily basis, which are almost always its best content. On top of all that, he is also a contributing writer for National Review and a columnist for the New York Post, Haaretz and other publications. The passage he has chosen to discuss is 1 Samuel 8:10.

Jonathan begins by describing his discipline as a writer, and sharing his summary of the passage, its meaning for him, and its relevance to the 2020 American election. He and Mark then discuss its focus on executive powers, Theodor Herzl and the need for Zionism and a Jewish State, the need to conform in certain ways, and Samuel’s choice of Saul as king. They also examine Israel’s journey to becoming a holy nation, the two different Jewish votes, and Jonathan draws the episode to a close by sharing the two lessons he has learned about humankind. As you listen in today, you will quickly discover precisely why Mark considers Jonathan ‘one of the most consistently interesting, instructive, and enlightening columnists in America today’, and how his analysis of ‘Samuel and American political sociology’ in this episode offers many valuable lessons and insights so very necessary for these turbulent times.

Episode Highlights:

· Jonathan’s discipline as a writer · His summary of the passage and its meaning for him · Its relevance to the current American election · Its focus on executive powers · Theodor Herzl and the need for Zionism and a Jewish State · Conforming in certain ways · Samuel’s choice of Saul as king · Becoming a holy nation · The two different Jewish votes · The lessons about humankind that Jonathan has learned

Quotes:

“I don’t get to all the ideas that I have.”

“We want to be like other nations…we need someone who can galvanize us.”

“You are going to regret this.”

“Samuel in a sense is the first Libertarian.”

“We hear you, we still want the king.”

“God is your king, you’re not like other people…you are a covenantal people.”

“The Jews were never going to be…treated by others as normal, and will never behave normally.”

“We have been struggling for more than 3000 years with this conundrum about how we need…normalcy, we need to be able to defend ourselves. In our own day, we need Zionism, we need a State of Israel, but we’re never really going to be normal.”

“In order to be great, you have to do some things the same as everybody else.”

“It means Israel should have an army and thus enable itself to be special.”

“Universalism is the parochialism of the Jews. We’re never quite satisfied.”

“We have this God that keeps asking us to be different, to be special – something that we struggle with, we resist, and yet we’re always drawn back to it one way or the other.”

“There’s probably no two groups in America that vote differently than Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews.”

“The dichotomy is actually growing…much like the rest of America which is becoming more partisan.”

“People believe what they want to believe.”

“If you will it, there is no dream.”

1 Samuel 8:10 Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people, who were asking him for a king. https://www.sefaria.org/I_Samuel.8.10?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en

Links:

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