2012.11.11


Post US Elections, Part 1


by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Edited: Ashirah Yosefah


The American people, like any other people, are obviously entitled to vote for whomever they think will best serve their nation, or their own personal self interests. The fact that outsiders feel differently than they do about which candidate is best suited to lead the United States of America is largely irrelevant, though for the sake of international cooperation, and even world peace, it is often worthwhile taking such outside opinions into consideration when electing a President.

But what about Jewish Americans? For many, there is, or at least should be, a dual loyalty, one to their host country and one to their national homeland. Obviously, I am not talking about Jews who disassociate themselves from the Jewish State and consider themselves only Americans, and for whom they pledge allegiance only to the US of A. I refer, instead, to those American Jews for whom the future and security of the Jewish State is an issue and somewhat of a priority, if not more. Unfortunately, this latter group has all but disappeared.

According to a recent poll, 90 percent of Jewish Americans who were asked the question said that the welfare of Israel does not really factor into their choice of President. It’s not that they are not concerned about the future of their Jewish homeland, it’s just that they are more concerned about their own person welfare and future. Maintaining a high standard of living, or at least the potential to one day achieve such a station in life, is what drives them, primarily, like most of their fellow Americans, to vote as they do.

Hence, ironically, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s verbal shows of support for the Israeli State essentially missed their mark. They impressed non-American pro-Israel Jews around the world, and probably far right pro-Israel American Christians, but the people who should have been impressed enough to vote for him, American Jews with any sense of loyalty to the Jewish State, were unmoved and instead voted for incumbent President Obama.

In short, many American Jews still feel that President Obama is better for them, even though he might be dangerous for Israeli Jews. In spite of the controversy surrounding his background, his unaccomplished record on the way to the White House, his reported mishandling of government, and his less than ally-like support of Israel, they feel, like the rest of Americans who voted President Obama back for another four years, that he is their ticket to a prolonged, comfortable American exile.

Irony of ironies, it is just the other way around. Yes, Mitt Romney is probably better for the Jews of Israel, and probably the Jews of America as well. His brand of politics and his conservative attitude would have been closer to a Torah approach, at least closer than that of Obama and the Democratic party. And, for that very reason, as President, he probably would have prolonged the American Exile by reducing any pressure on Jews to consider living elsewhere in the world, such as in Eretz Yisroel.

On the other hand, President Obama has sanctioned same-sex marriages. Like Mayor Bloomberg of New York, he calls it “progressive,” a forward step in the right direction. The Torah calls it an abomination, but the President of the United States of America, and the Mayor of one of the most densely populated Jewish communities, see it as a moral advancement of society.

While we read about Sdom and its destruction in the Torah, an uncharacteristic Hurricane pummeled New York City, including Jewish, and even religious, communities. And even though, as the Malbim explains, the practices of Sdom existed elsewhere in the world, and would for generations to follow, what made Sdom uniquely evil was that such practices were sanctioned by law.

Every society has moral deviants; man is born with a yetzer hara and spends the rest of his life battling it, very often losing the battle. But at least when he does, he usually knows that he has done wrong, even if he pretends to the contrary. He might even do teshuvah, on some level, after being hounded by his conscience.

However, when a practice becomes legally acceptable, and is even promoted, it is a statement about the philosophy towards the life of a particular society. That may be reason for joy for some, and for derision against the Torah and its supporters which advocate the opposite, but that is irrelevant for Torah-believing, Torah-abiding Jews. Lot’s sons-in-law, and his friends as well, found his counter-Sdom approach funny at best, meddlesome at worst, but at the end of the day, it was only because he did not completely capitulate that he survived the Divine wrath directed at his home town.

Well, that plus the fact that he was related to Avraham Avinu. The main point is that when it comes to Creation, there are certain sins that it can carry and others that it cannot. The main difference is that sins it can carry bring a Divine response that usually leaves the innocent bystanders intact, whereas the sins that Creation cannot bear hit everyone within a certain vicinity by association alone.

That’s why Lot had to get out to survive the blast.

That’s why Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sdom on her way out.

As a Torah Jew, how does one live in a place that legally sanctions a Torah abomination? How do you even vote for leaders who support such sanctions? Because of personal finances? Did we not learn anything from the story of Lot, and how he almost went up in smoke with the rest of his neighbors because he couldn’t leave his personal investments behind (Rashi, Bereishis 19:17)? Are we so out of touch with redemption that we allow ourselves, once again, to be blind to the dangerous reality developing around us in exile?

And, now that Obama and the Democrats are in the White House and the Senate for a second term, we can expect the slide to not only continue, but to accelerate.  America is not getting morally better, it’s becoming geometrically increasingly liberal, and no matter how much we try to protect our communities there from such anti-Torah influences, we really can’t. Even worse, by not fighting against such liberalism, we endanger ourselves because we create the impression that, as Torah Jews, it really doesn’t bother us that much. Otherwise, we’d leave.

Then there is President Obama’s history of his relationship to Israel and the Arab world. Where’s that going in the second term? Without any concern about being re-elected, the President is far freer to pursue his policy of Arab appeasement and Israeli restraint and capitulation. We can expect painful decisions being rendered from the White House shortly after the President is re-sworn in, painful for the Jews of Israel, painful for the Jews around the world, and painful for Jews in America with any sense of loyalty to the Jewish State.

That is why as much as my body wanted Romney to win, it was my soul that voted for Obama. I don’t mean that I actually voted, because I’m not American, and even if I was, I certainly would have voted Republican, even though—and this is the punchline—I know that doing so would have slowed down the Final Redemption.

You see, a Republican President might have been able to put the brakes on American liberalism. A Republican President would have understood the true threat to Israeli security, and would have continued to honor its ally status by standing with Israel against world capitulation to Palestinian demands. A Republican President in the White House would have given all of us the impression that the American Exile is alive and well, and able to continue on for years to come. Even though it can’t.

In fact, one of the reasons I knew that Obama would win was because I believe that the Final Redemption is closer than we think. I believe that the American Exile is coming to an end whether we’re ready for that or not. I believe that everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen is to this end, including President Obama winning a second term. It is him, and not Mitt Romney, who has the wherewithal to do that which will trigger events that will lead us into the Messianic Era, albeit via the War of Gog and Magog.

So, yes, I find it rather ironic that the man Jews voted into office to prolong the exile will be the man who will, in the end, shorten it. And, what Divine Providence does not accomplish through people it seems to accomplish through nature. How can I be so sure? Funny, that’s the same question the four-fifths that died in the Plague of Darkness asked Moshe Rabbeinu, and the Jews of Europe asked those who worried about Hitler’s, ysv”z, unusual rise to power.

But then again, we’re a people that has never known when to leave a good party. We’ve always stayed around too long, and have always paid a price for doing so. We come, we invest, and we stay, and stay, and stay . . . until it is our hosts who tell us to leave, or just try to eliminate us altogether.

The truth is, though, Democrat or Republican, there are things in motion too big for any President to solve, such as the U.S. debt and the ongoing recession. I’m not really sure why anyone would even want to be a leader of a country at this time in history because there is a good chance that the world will create problems too difficult for anyone to solve, and said leaders may not go down in the history books favorably.

But then again, someone has to do it. There is a master plan at work here, much of which is discussed in the Prophets. Events are destined to occur as God fulfills His promise of redemption for the Jewish people, new Temple included. It is not a question of what will happen and when, but of whom, as in who will He choose to play out the roles necessary to end history as we know it according to His extremely detailed and well-orchestrated design.

One thing I have learned on a personal level is that just because I can’t see how the events occurring around me are for my good, or how existing crises have real-time solutions, doesn’t mean that God can’t. On the contrary, as the Talmud says, before God inflicts problems on the Jewish people, He has already created the solution for them. It’s just a question of when we get to benefit from them.

However, something else I have personally learned is that my idea of a problem is not always the same as God’s idea of a problem. Likewise, sometimes what I think is the solution to the problem is not what God sees as the solution to my problems, and usually I don’t understand why until much later. In fact, it has happened that what I thought was the problem was really the solution, and what I thought was the solution had been, in fact, the actual problem.

Go figure. But that’s the difference between viewing history with a small picture point of view, as we tend to do, and seeing through the lens of the big picture, as God is able to do. It’s only after learning Tanach and its many commentaries that one can kind-of reach an aspect of that higher plateau, and with some Kabbalah, reach even higher into the mind of God, so-to-speak. But how many people do that these days?

Far too few, which is why Kibbutz Golios—the Ingathering of the Exiles—and the potential for redemption can stare people in the face, and they can totally miss them, rationalize them away, and hunker down into an exile that is about to close in on them. People don’t even learn from the past, choosing instead to assume that history does repeat itself and this situation is not that situation by a long shot.