In America (and in most Western democracies) voting for political leaders on both a local and a national level is an opportunity given to adult citizens, but one that is ignored by many.
Traditional rabbinic literature and contemporary Jewish thinkers have made the case for taking an active role in civic matters, and helping to choose local leaders and government officials that advocate for their constituency. Consider these sources as you head to cast your ballot.
Rabbi Yitzhak taught, “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted.” – Talmud, Brakhot 55a
“This is the generation and those who seek its welfare” (Psalms 24:6). Rabbi Judah the Patriarch and the sages differed in this matter. One opinion was that the character of the generation is determined by its leader. According to the other opinion, the character of the leader is determined by the generation. –Talmud, Arakhin 17a
“Shemiah said: Shun authority.” Just what does this mean? That a man should not on his own place a crown upon his head. But others may do so. –Avot D’Rabbi Natan 11
Rabbi Hanina, the Deputy of Priests, would often say, “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear of it, people would swallow each other alive.”– Pirkei Avot 3:2
A Prayer for Voting by Rabbi David Seidenberg
With my vote today I am prepared and intending to seek peace for this country, as it is written:
“Seek out the peace of the city where I cause you to roam and pray for her sake to God, for in her peace you all will have peace.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
May it be Your will that votes will be counted faithfully and may You account my vote as if I had fulfilled this verse with all my power.
May it be good in Your eyes to give a wise heart to whomever we elect today and may You raise for us a government whose rule is for good and blessing to bring justice and peace to all the inhabitants of the world and to Jerusalem, for rulership is Yours!
Just as I participated in elections today so may I merit to do good deeds and repair the world with all my actions, and with the act of [fill in your pledge] which I pledge to do today on behalf of all living creatures and in remembrance of the covenant of Noah’s waters to protect and to not destroy the earth and her plenitude.
May You give to all the peoples of this country, the strength and will to pursue righteousness and to seek peace as unified force in order to cause to flourish, throughout the world, good life and peace and may You fulfill for us the verse:
“May the pleasure of Adonai our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us, may the work of our hands endure.” (Psalms 90:17)
Pronounced: ah-doe-NYE, Origin: Hebrew, a name for God.
Pronounced: eetz-KHAHK, Origin: Hebrew, Hebrew name for Isaac.