April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How can you vote Democrat? How can you vote Republican? These questions seem newly  perennial with the advent of democratic republics. Even Jews, we who are specifically told by our  Sages not to involve ourselves too much in politics, cannot seem to escape this dual categorizing of  our fellow humans. Questions like this point to a gaping lack of nuanced thinking in our culture. It seems that many vote nowadays as members of a political party, not as people of a Judaic ethic indebted to our historical pursuit of righteousness and justice.

It is not outlandish to recognize that our current choice of presidential candidate is not ideal. Yet some behave as though they cannot entertain the fact that our candidates are moral compromises that we are simply stuck with. This is not to say that they do not have their own saving graces, but it is certainly to make the point that had they been alive in any prior generation they most likely would never have been entertained (in a Judaic ethic) as leaders of a small colony, let alone  leaders of the free world.

There appears to be an idol-like devotion people have to the political candidate they feel worthy of the title “President,” one side in their support of a candidate and the other in their opposition to said candidate. I understand these are desperate times, but there is a proper attitude in such circumstances. One can, with a bit of nuance present, both recognize the compromise we face  and place their vote. It would simply be slightly more uncomfortable. We would not be beholden to  a party leader but would solemnly vote in line with the Judaic ethic we have molded since childhood. It may make our reality slightly grimmer but at least we would know that we could recognize something better when we see it. Some cannot utter the phrase “I wish I didn’t have to but I am voting for Trump/Biden.” Why? What part of ourselves would we sacrifice for believing this?

The main point I would like to drive at here is that it behooves us to ask of our political  candidates questions similar to those we would like to see in a Jewish leader. Just replace “candidate”  with “talmid chacham.” Will this “talmid chacham” prove himself worthy of being a leader? Will this “talmid chacham” show humility in the face of those who adhere to his or her ruling? Will this “talmid chacham” follow the ethical principles of care for the poor, for the needs of his or her community, for the promotion of mutual respect between people, for the security of his or her constituents?

We must remember that the Tanach displays at best a skeptical (leaning toward distasteful)  attitude of having political leaders for baser instincts such as that is what is the norm. When the  people asked for a king of Shmuel it was clearly not met with open arms and dancing. How do we  reconcile the reality of no longer having prophets and being forced to choose a leader in the  Western society we are indebted to? One thing is for certain, we must not become political puppets. We must remain rationally and Judaically ethical first, to the demands of our time. We should heavily consider the impact of our vote. Perhaps it will be part of changing history. Perhaps for the better.

Dovidchai Abramchayev
Teaneck
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