While the Jewish people certainly didn’t invent democracy, we should have.
Democracy’s ethics of equality and freedom of religion have allowed us not only to survive as an otherwise often subjected minority, but to flourish dramatically and fully participate in society. Far beyond these clear gifts of the post-enlightenment world, democracy enabled the Jewish people to respond to God’s original call to the first Jew (Genesis 12) to be a nation and a blessing. As a people, the creation of democratic societies and our intimate involvement in them allows us to be a powerful and direct cause of positive change in the world. Simply put, without the protection and possibilities that democracy has given us, we could not fulfill our destiny as Jews.
Aspects of the first seeds of democracy were embraced by ancient Jewish sages who – both in Babylonia and especially in the Land of Israel – were sensitive to the costs and benefits of various forms of government, especially for minority cultures. It was not only survival instincts that guided them.
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