I’ve been on self-imposed silence writing my sixth book, which I hope to be out before this coming Pesach, entitled “Road to Redemption.” My last book is most appropriate for this time of year, entitled “Repentance for Life,” and is available in only fine stores and on line at https://kodeshpress.mystagingwebsite.com/product/repentance-for-life/ or Amazon.
Nonetheless, a few words about the death of Queen Elizabeth II are appropriate. In truth, it is hard for an Israeli or American to wrap our minds around modern royalty. It so counters the democratic ethos with which we are raised. The United States itself arose in opposition to monarchy and the Constitution stipulates that the government may not confer any titles of nobility on anyone (with apologies to the Duke of Flatbush, the Dukes of Hazzard, the Prince of Bel Air or any other pretenders). And the pomp and pageantry, as gaudy as it is archaic, is an acquired taste, and for some, never to be acquired. But the outpouring of condolences, emotions, and support from across the world accompanied by extensive media coverage is something to behold and requires understanding.
Certainly it is story that is tailor made for the media, which is attracted to and covers well anniversaries, ceremonies, and milestones. And despite her long life and miles traveled, she never visited Israel (though her mother-in-law is buried here and perhaps there is a connection). Yet the irony is that the adoration of the Queen is something that runs completely counter to the values usually forced on us by the modern culture and its purveyors. We are constantly inundated with the notion that egalitarianism is among the greatest and most sacred values in modern life. We are all equal. We are all special. Birth means nothing (to some, birth does not even decide what gender you are). Here comes the Queen, and the other royals, representing an institution that is all about birth! Titles, positions, rights and privileges are bestowed upon individuals, and for life, simply because of their lineage.
Why then is that notion celebrated? Here’s a theory: it is because deep down people recognize that egalitarianism is false. It is not real. We are not born equal, and certainly not into equal circumstances. Some people are born into depressed circumstances and must strive to overcome them. Others are born into idyllic circumstances and must try to use their blessings to benefit others. And many are born into the middle class and attempt to fill their lives with meaning and purpose, pursuing happiness and success. Egalitarianism might be an ideal but it is a fraud and thinking people recognize that. Hence the profound interest in the Queen and her family.
Many of the Brits in my neighborhood are genuinely grieving over the death of the Queen and I think for reasons that transcend her longevity (which was astonishing). Most have known no other such figure in their lives. She was a fixture. But it is more than that. There are other values of which the Queen reminds us.
She represented nationalism, another concept that is anathema to the secular progressive left that dominates the media. They fantasize about one world, no nations, no borders, and no religion. And then there is the Queen, a symbol of the idea that it is human nature to coalesce into small groups such as families and communities and then larger groups such as nations. That so how the world was set up. That is normal. Countries like America lack unifying, living symbols of nationhood, and so suffer from divisions and acrimony. Israel has such an institution – the Torah – but its complete implementation in society still awaits. But nationalism is real and cannot and should not be pushed away. And the Queen was the nominal head of her church as well.
Furthermore , the Queen represented selflessness in pursuit of national greatness that is also sorely lacking today. Other countries do not have that and their societies are riven by petty politics and petty politicians for whom the national interest is not their primary objective. That is an inestimable deficiency. She was a unifying element of many different countries across the globe, exceedingly rare today.
Finally, it is important to recall our sages’ expression that the “human kingdom resembles the heavenly kingdom.” To have reverence for a human being is fraught with danger, humans being flawed creatures. Yet we are commanded to revere royalty – even Gentile royalty – because that reminds us of the infinitely greater reverence we must have for the King of Kings.
If the Queen’s passing teaches us that we not all equal or the same but are born into different stations in life from which we serve G-d and His creatures or if her passing imparts to us the importance of nations and the splendor of those who serve them selflessly, it is sufficient reason for all of us to reflect on her life and its lessons. And remember the King, whose kingship we will again acknowledge and celebrate on Rosh Hashanah.