Section:  Avodah   Category: Pirkei Avos
Pirkei Avos: Are You Running For Public Office?
Is it good to have a position of power in the government?  The Maharsha says in Sotah 41 that in previous generations people with great wealth ran away from public positions.  Nowadays they spend their wealth chasing these positions.  This he says is a big mistake.  The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (1:10) says "Al Tisvada L'Reshus"; don't become familiar with the government.  Rabbeinu Yonah says the reason is that the pressure of answering to the government is so great that one will ultimately throw off the pressure and responsibility and replace it with allegiance to the government's needs because of fear.  Moreover one mistake (which inevitably will occur) and you can pay with your money or even your life.

The Peleh Yo'etz says that this Mishna refers to someone who seeks government office.  That he says is quite foolish for why would someone want this job with all its pitfalls?  However he says if you are "appointed to a high position then this is a decree from Shamayim and you should not run away from the job.  You should daven to Hashem to guide you and help you succeed.  You should use your position to help your fellow Jew.  Stay modest and don't be arrogant in front of the people, especially the goyim. Respect every person no matter what their standing is because you never know...