American citizens have exercised, perhaps the most important gift bestowed upon human beings, the ability to choose. The idea that the people can elect and if necessary impeach leaders as a result of freedom of choice is a miracle. This has particular significance to someone like me, a second-generation child of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, whose grandparents did not share such freedoms.
Perhaps the outcome of the election does not conform to your choices. Perhaps you may even find some of the election results offensive, but the underlying fact that we, the citizens of this great nation, have the freedom to choose our leaders and shape policy, in a transparent way, is something that is not afforded to the majority of people living today.
As I write these words I find myself among thousands of my colleagues, who have come to New York for the Annual International Convention of Lubavitcher Rebbe Emissaries. These Chabad Emissaries have, together with their wives and children, left the comfort of their hometowns, moved to the four corners of the earth, and dedicated their lives to the purpose of spreading light and joy around the world. Many have arrived from countries where there is very little freedom.
Some of them are living in dictatorships with a real possibility of at any moment being taken without cause by the authorities. In such countries they have no rights to properly defend themselves. I am compelled to ask why? Is it just a coincidence that we, you and I, have this great privilege of freedom here in our great nation? Are we simply lucky, and they not?
Historically, many people of the world have been denied their right to exercise choice. However, freedom of choice lies at the very core of our living Soul. Unlike animals, by design, human beings have been granted the ability to contemplate and chose. As the dust of the election settles, it is incumbent upon us to remember that this great gift of freedom allows for true debate and real progress. As a student of the Baal Shemtov’s teachings, I am once again humbled by the great responsibility that comes with the gift of freedom. Our choices carry the ingredients of a kinder and better world.