Once again, the news is abuzz with yet another politician who allegedly abused his position. Allegedly, Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich conspired to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. According to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Blagojevich was caught on his wire tapped phones trying to get money, campaign funds, high-paying positions for his wife, and even a cabinet position or ambassadorship for himself, in exchange for the prestigious Senate position.

If these allegations are true, these actions constitute a major betrayal of the public trust. Clearly, appointments to positions of influence should be based on aptitude, not on deep pockets. It is also equally clear that anyone who was willing to pay for the seat is guilty of attempted bribery and should also be prosecuted.

But here's my question. Blagojevich's motives are obvious: he wanted the money. But what would inspire someone to pay substantial money for a Senate seat? I have to believe that the amount that would have been paid to Blagojevich would have been considerably less than the "paltry" $170,000 salary given to senators. More importantly, anyone with the capability to pay the kickback that Blagojevich demanded probably is an individual of considerable means, and doesn't really need the senate seat to put bread on his or her kitchen table...

By now, most of you are thinking that I'm awfully naïve. Of course it's not about the money! It's about the prestige and power! It's about membership in one of the most exclusive "clubs" in the world!

Well, allow me to suggest a radical alternative explanation...

But, first a little Jewish history.

In the first Holy Temple, the high priests were righteous men, truly worthy of their positions. They merited unusual longevity, with only nine high priests serving throughout the 410 years the Temple stood.

For much of the Second Temple Era – the most of which the Jews were subject to Greek and Roman rule – the position of high priesthood was up for sale to the highest bidder, which allowed many corrupt people to occupy the coveted position.

These impious high priests had very short tenures, for they would regularly die upon entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. The holiness of the location couldn't tolerate the presence of anyone who was less than absolutely righteous. In fact, the Zohar tells that before the High Priests would enter, they would be attached to chains—which is how their lifeless bodies would be dragged out of the Holy of Holies!

Thus, the 420 years of the Second Temple saw more than 300 High Priests! It was during this time that a new name was coined for the High Priest's personal office in the Temple: the Parhedrin Chamber. A "parhedrin" was a government official whose term lasted twelve months...

In one of his talks, the Rebbe points to an obvious question. These people weren't all delusional. They were well aware that they weren't worthy of the holy position they aspired to – in fact, many of them weren't even priests! – so what impelled them to pay huge sums of money to occupy a position that would ensure their ignoble demise after one year?!

Is the craving for power and fame so consuming?

Or... perhaps...

Yes, these were unworthy people. But even the most "unworthy" of Jews yearns to enter the Holy of Holies. G‑d's inner sanctum. The one place where heaven met earth in a palpable and obvious way. To connect with G‑d just once—even if it comes at the cost of life itself...

Not surprisingly, the Rebbe chooses the second option.

Now back to Blagojevich's cronies.

Is it possible that what they really want is to be of service to the public, to serve their people?

(Even if true, this doesn't exonerate them from what they allegedly did—just as history doesn't look kindly at those who bought their way into the high priesthood. But...)

Maybe we can learn just a little to adopt the Rebbe's outlook. To always try to find the positive, no matter how concealed it may seem to be.

There's so much beauty within every person. We need to find it. Within ourselves. And within all others.

What a beautiful world we can uncover.