July 19, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 19, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

On Election Day, the Chosen People become the Choosing People because, like other United States citizens, they are able to exercise their constitutional rights. For some Jews, “exercising” one’s rights sounds like a schlepp but it requires minimal physical effort. Voting is one of the few activities in life wherein it is perfectly acceptable to just “mail it in.”

Some Jews become confused and turned off by “suffrage” because it sounds too much like “suffering,” something Jews know all too well. The term “suffrage,” however, means the right to vote so while suffering is bad, suffrage is good. The takeaway is that you should not judge a word solely by the first few letters. By way of further example, (i) pain is bad but painkillers are good, (ii) terror is bad but terrific is good and (iii) filth is bad but filthy rich is good.

When it comes to voting, many Jews choose a candidate based solely or at least primarily on whether he or she has a Jewish-sounding last name. For example, if Moshe Goldstein is running for office, he is getting the Jewish vote under almost any circumstance. Indeed, even if Goldstein promises to raise taxes, he will get the Jewish vote, unless he’s running in a two-person race against Tzippora Blumenthal, who promises to lower taxes.

Even if it is unclear whether a particular candidate is Jewish, many Jews will still vote for that candidate as long as he or she has a Jewish-sounding name like Kevin Kohn, Maya Mayers or Craig Levitt.

Even if it is confirmed that the candidate is not Jewish, many Jews will vote for a candidate with a name that at least sounds Jewish-friendly, like Patrick McKugel, Nancy Von Mazel and Giovanni Knishi. The opposite of a Jewish-friendly name would be Randolph Bamalek and Kendra Shaman.

Even if the candidate is not Jewish and does not have a Jewish-friendly name, that candidate will still get many Jewish votes if she or he uses a Yiddish word in a speech or interview, e.g., “If elected, I promise to end your tsuris,” “I need your vote because every bissel counts” or “As your representative, I will have an open-door policy so feel free to stop in and schmooze.”

On the topic of elections, the Torah, at Devarim 17:14-15, provides: “You shall be free to set a king over yourself, one chosen by [Hashem]. Be sure to set as king over yourself one of your own people; you must not set a foreigner over you, one who is not your kinsman.” One does not usually associate a king with a democratic process. In fact, one could argue that the appointment of a king could end a democracy before it begins just like inviting your entire extended family into the yichud room could end the yichud vibe before it begins.

When it comes to communal appointments, the Talmud notes that “one may only appoint a leader over a community if he consults with the community and they agree to the appointment…” (Berakhot 55a-11). However, getting a typical Jewish community to agree on anything is no easy task. Some Jewish communities have spent years arguing over (i) the carpet color selection for the shul coatroom, (ii) whether the community can support yet another pizza place, (iii) whether the Eruv is actually up or down, (iv) whether a family can reserve a bar mitzvah date for an unborn child and (v) whether vegetarian cholent technically qualifies as cholent.

On the importance of elected officials, Pirkei Avot provides as follows:“Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbor alive.” (Pirkei Avot 3:2) This statement, of course, is not to be read literally as a prediction of cannibalism. Rather, it is intended to highlight the importance of government and its anti-chaos benefits. That said, without the fear of government, every Jew might swallow his neighbor’s babka.

The Rashbam notes the importance of speaking up, including via voting, even if you find yourself in the minority: “If in your opinion, the majority are about to commit an error in judgment, do not remain silent because they are the majority, but state your view. This applies even if you know beforehand that they will not accept your viewpoint but that of the majority.” (Rashbam 23:2) This means that the Libertarian Party, the Green Party and Kanye West belong on the presidential ballot.

Final thought: It is better to run for office than to run for cover or your life.

By Jon Kranz

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles