Yosef was a most charismatic person. He was young, attractive and as the Torah tells us on three occasions, he was an ish mazleach, a successful man. His rise to power, both in the house of Potiphar and in Pharaoh’s court, was meteoric. Even in jail, the wardens quickly appointed him to a position of authority. Yet charisma can go only so far – especially in a highly controlled political system. It is hard to fathom how Pharaoh, seemingly on a whim, appointed him Viceroy of Egypt and only “[my] chair will be above you” (41:40).
Who should get the blame for the meraglim fiasco? Was it the report of the spies, or the lack of faith of the people that did us in? Might it be possible to question Moshe’s judgment in sending spies in the first place? And might we even question G-d who, knowing the fickle nature of His people, allowed them to fail? When leaving Egypt, G-d “did not lead us the way of the Philistines, although it was the shortest route, because G-d said perhaps the people will lose heart when they see war and will return to Egypt” (Shemot 13:17).
In electing Rob Ford as mayor, voters in the city of Toronto have voted for change. Our mayor-elect has been most forthright in his plan of action, with a focus on the need to cut city spending. Yet despite the wide margin of victory and solid mandate from the voters, it is far from clear how much of his agenda he will manage to implement.