News and Politics

Donkey, Elephant or Jew?

July 20, 2016

[To understand this message, you must have an open mind and heart. For those who have not yet reached the level of sophistication to look at the world from outside their comfort zone, I echo the warning of our Master the Rambam: the following words will only bring upon you anger and pain.]

There can be no greater philosophical distance between the Bet Midrash I was raised in, and the Bet Midrash of the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum. But in my Bet Midrash, the words “accept truth from whomever says it” were proudly embroidered on our flag.

The Satmar Rebbe was once escorted down a Williamsburg street by his Chassidic entourage. From the distance, a young, non-Jewish man was walking towards them. The Rebbe stepped off the sidewalk and gestured to the young man to pass in peace. His Chassidim were startled at the Rebbe’s strange actions and told him that it was more fitting for this man to step off the sidewalk for their great Rebbe. The Rebbe replied: “Remember my words. This is not your city and you do not own these sidewalks. We are just grateful citizens sojourning through this land, waiting to return to our true home. This sidewalk belongs to that man, and though I may use it, in his presence it is proper to step off the sidewalk and allow him to walk on it instead.”

I’m sorry to break it to you. I know you have been misled until today by rabbis and community leaders, by teachers and friends. As comfortable of a sojourner as you may be, and as grateful as I am to this great country which has provided us with unprecedented liberties and freedoms as Jews – this is not our home. Other men and women own this land and are generous enough to allow our presence here.

When a guest comes to your home for a Shabbat meal, only if he is a fool will he meddle into your arguments with your spouse!

How long will you continue to meddle into their affairs and fight on matters that are not yours? Where is your Derech Eretz, your manners and etiquette?

Furthermore, how can Jews be either Democrats or Republicans, when neither of those parties are governed by the laws of our holy Torah? These are man-made parties following non-Divine paths and opinions!

“But one of them is “closer” to Torah values!” I have heard you shout.

Closer? Just as Judaism is no closer to Islam than it is to Christianity, we are not closer to either of these two parties.

For example:

Is the Torah “pro-life” or “pro-choice”? Sometimes the Torah is against abortions and sometimes it permits them! How dare you oppress our Poskim by forcing or allowing laws in this country that would tie their hands in a case of saving your sisters life?!

No my dear friend. The Torah is neither Democratic nor Republican, and neither is our God. Rather the Torah is a Torah of truth, and demands from us to see the truth in both parties and discard the lies from each.

You wish to vote? It is your right! Maybe even your responsibility! But please, keep it to yourself!

This is not our war. Do not drag these politics into our schools or houses of worship! Our rabbis and communities are already enough divided, we mustn’t divide them more because of battles that are not ours! Stop fighting with your family, immediate and extended, over ideas that are not ours!

Lastly, do not lift your hand or open your mouth against our benevolent hosts in this great land! You may eat your Shabbat meal here, but have the decency not to pry your head into their affairs!

For remember my dearest brother and sister: you are not a donkey, nor are you an elephant – you are a Jew.

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  1. Good morning rabbi Yonathan!
    I am always happy 2 read yr texts & learn from them
    I’m not sure if u remember me – Alicia Faierman (Daniel Faierman’s – Z”L – sister)
    All the Best for U & yr family!

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