Editor’s Note: This article is the winner of the first Fresh Ink For Teens Writing Contest. Nearly 30 contestants from around the country answered the following question: “If you could choose a Jewish leader, past or present, to run the United States whom would you vote for and why?” The winner receives a $180 Amazon gift card.
Jewish history is permeated with individuals who demonstrated tremendous leadership. From Avraham to Ben-Gurion, these leaders have shepherded us through a changing and unforgiving world, ensuring our survival in the face of overwhelming odds. Potentially, many of these leaders would be outstanding choices for president of the United States. If I had the capacity to vote for one of these individuals to become president, my ideal candidate would be Aharon HaKohen.
Although often overshadowed by his brother Moshe, Aharon played a critical role in the journey of the Jewish people. He was a pillar of strength upon whom Moshe relied and a source of support for the entire nation. Aharon possessed characteristics that would serve him well as president.
Famously, Aharon was committed to reconciling his fellow Jews. Ethics of the Fathers (1:12) states that Aharon was a “lover of peace and a pursuer of peace.” When he observed two Jews quarreling, Aharon would do his utmost to restore amicable relations between them.
With Aharon at the helm, the United States government would achieve unprecedented levels of cooperation and productivity. Aharon’s love of peace would translate into his facilitation of bipartisanship in a divided Congress and his willingness to compromise for the good of the nation. Moreover, he would be the consummate diplomat, striving to achieve a lasting peace for the United States and the world. Aharon would usher in a new era of harmony.
In Exodus (4:14), God tells Moshe that when he returns to Egypt from the land of Midian, Aharon will see Moshe and “he will be glad in his heart.” Aharon did not resent being eclipsed by his brother; instead, he selflessly assisted Moshe in the latter’s crucial mission. Clearly, Aharon would embody the value of democracy as “government for the people.” His altruism would lead him to invariably prioritize the public’s problems over his own political gain. Aharon would readily sacrifice his pride in order to settle the disputes between the Republican and Democratic Parties. As president, Aharon would genuinely care about the people.
Perhaps Aharon’s most understated trait was his courage. According to the Midrash, as the Jews were experiencing a divine plague (Numbers 17:12), Aharon confronted the Angel of Death and compelled his opponent to cease the epidemic. In addition, after learning of the deaths of his sons Nadav and Avihu, Aharon displayed his profound inner strength by simply remaining silent (Leviticus 10:3). The steel of Aharon’s personality would enable him to be an exemplary commander-in-chief and a rock of inspiration for the nation during trying circumstances.
The United States is in the midst of a turbulent phase in its history. The economy teeters, extremism is on the rise and the future is bleak, particularly for students such as myself. Meanwhile, the government appears woefully incompetent for the task of rebuilding the United States’ glory and confidence. In these troubling times, we need a president who will emulate the qualities of Aharon HaKohen.