Vayeishev: A Czar for Everything

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    • Tzvi Chulsky 1 year ago

      Upon arrival in Egypt, Yosef first encounters the Cooking Czar[1], who hires him and eventually puts him in prison, where he encounters the Prison Czar[2], then the Service Czar and the Baking Czar[3]. This is the hallmark of a society with a slave mentality: everyone is a “leader” within the hierarchy, strictly set above some and below others. No activity can do without a government-appointed czar.

      The term was first seen in this form in the United States with Woodrow Wilson’s appointment of Bernard Baruch as an “industry czar”[4]—the appointment of a Jew by the “leader” of a non-Jewish land to a powerful post below him. Richard Nixon then appointed a drug czar in 1971 and an energy czar in 1973. Under Barack Obama, there were at least 39 czars, including an AIDS Czar, a California Water Czar, a Domestic Violence Czar, a Faith-Based Czar, an FCC Diversity Czar, a Great Lakes Czar, an Oil Spill Czar, a Safe Schools Czar, a Sudan Czar, and a 9/11 Health Czar, to name a few.

      As the number of czars and bureaucrats and various “leaders” proliferates—and, far worse, when we tell all our children that we are educating them to be “future leaders”—it is important to understand where this means that our society is going. And as it happens, we are seeing several aspects of the fallout in the most important item in the current news cycle: the Twitter files.

      What is perhaps most significant—more so than the fact that Twitter banned Donald Trump at a time when the election was hotly contested, and more so than the fact that they lied about whether they secretly controlled how viewable different accounts were (they did)—was the fact that government agencies like the FBI were meeting with people at Twitter and asking them to censor certain things—and not others—that may influence the election. Twitter employees like Yoel Roth were thrilled to take their temporary places in the czar hierarchy. This kind of government meddling spells the destruction of a free society.

      As humans, we have a predisposition to prefer order, and the disorder of freedom and free association, each human being living life as he chooses, can make us uncomfortable; it may seem in our minds as if the czar structure is somehow better because it is more “orderly,” more “organized.” But humanity is not a machine or a filing cabinet. For people to truly live and to truly realize their potential, we need to break out of slavery into freedom. Today’s West is doing the opposite.

      Before the amidah, we say a paragraph called Ezrat Avoteinu. In it, once we establish that God is the one who protects and redeems us, we give an example: ממצרים גאלתנו ה’ אלקינו, ומבית עבדים פדיתנו. Egypt is referred to as a “house of slavery,” and God, we assert, redeemed us from it. Everybody in Egypt was a slave, locked in the czar structure. Let us not yearn for a return to Egypt; let us instead turn to God and seek to escape it.

      [1] Breishit 39:1; some interpret שר הטבחים as the Bodyguard Czar
      [2] ibid. v. 21
      [3] 40:2
      [4] not a formal term, but this is how these appointments are colloquially referred to

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