The Rabbi & the Vote

What role should a rabbi play in your life?

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Comments (11)

(11) Joanne, April 6, 2012 2:07 AM

Politics Does Not Belong on the Bima

My rabbi says that he always considers which choice is better for the State of Israel, which candidate.My personal opinion is, as an American citizen, I need to vote for the candidate who will be best for America. In the prayer for the government, my rabbi cannot bring himself to pray for "The President and Vice President" of of the US, but instead says, "The officers and leaders and most valorous soldiers". What distresses me most, is that it was different during the prior Administration.As one of the few liberals in my Modern Orthodox congregation, I really don't understand how Torah observant Jews can ignore the refrain of taking care of "the orphan, the widow and the stranger" in our communities.

(10) Chava, March 29, 2012 2:35 PM

Building Pyramids

The world stands on 3 things, on the Torah, on the Avoda (prayers and service to G-d), and on Gemilut Chassadim (good deeds). When a Rabbi accepts the position as head of a community, he's accepting that, not only is he going to accept this premise, but he is going to be a conduit for his community using these three "legs" as a base. By accepting that G-d is the source of all his knowledge, and that anything he does, any guidance he gives, comes from G-d, the Rabbi takes a 2 dimensional form, an equilateral triangle, and a transforms it into a 3 dimensional form, a pyramid. The Rabbi then becomes a significant conduit for enlightenment for his community. A Bracha. I found many of the previous comments very much on target. Bringing a question about something that might be answered by another source, ie. carpet color, is like going to the dentist because there is a piece of food stuck between your teeth. The dentist can remove the piece, but a piece of dental floss may serve the purpose, and while you're at it, you might floss all your teeth and prevent buildup of plaque between other teeth. Do the research yourself, and if you still have questions, go ask the Rabbi. This, of course does not pertain to major issues, and different communities have different customs, none of which are wrong, just different. As far as elections are concerned, people have free choice as to whom to vote for. As with any issue however, if there is a significant issue that may affect the well being of the community, for instance the ratification of Megan's Law, than the Rabbi may be in his rights to support a candidate. It's not just religious communities that vote in blocks, businesses and organizations do as well. A Rabbi should not, however, allow his personal preferences to influence the community. His job is to protect and guide his community and he has to be very careful not to make his position into a bargaining chip, or a power trip. All the Best

(9) Anonymous, March 29, 2012 6:08 AM

For religious questions, ask. Could be anything, but ...

For starters, it seems only reasonable to be able to ask a rabbi any question with a religious dimension -- a voting choice, prospective shidduch, even a shirt color although that seems to me a stretch. Put another way, I cannot see the value or legitimacy of asking a rabbi anything that does not, in the view of the questioner, have a specifically Jewish religious aspect. In some cases the relevance is obvious, i.e. the halacha or local minhag in a specific observance. In others the questioner should be prepared to make clear, if the rabbi asks, whether a question should be referred to a lawyer, doctor, accountant, stockbroker, psychologist or interior designer, for example. A second point: Try to avoid pestering a rabbi with picayune stuff. Show a little rachmanus. A rabbi of any standing is deluged with questions of many kinds from many people. The more questions you ask, and the more trivial your questions, the less time and consideration you can expect for questions that really count, even from the saintliest and most astute Torah scholar. On a final note, if you have a choice of rabbis, consider carefully which one(s) to ask which question(s). If you don't know a rabbi well enough to decide with some confidence, ask around. After all, once you have asked, you should be prepared to accept the answer.

(8) Rachel, March 29, 2012 2:19 AM

The ultimate authority is the Torah

I've always thought it odd when I hear about people praying for answers to questions or flipping open their Bibles to a random page. Thank G-d, we Jews have our blueprint in great detail in the Torah. I will go to my Rabbi when I can't grasp the implications of an action in light of the Torah. I don't need to ask the Rabbi "should I keep kosher" or "is it wrong to engage in lashon hara" because the Torah has already given us the answer. However, I may well need to ask "is THIS product truly kosher" or "if I share a friend's problems with my spouse, is there a possibility that may be lashon hara?" So while I wouldn't ask my Rabbi about whom to vote for if there's clearly a problem with a candidate, or one candidate is truly outstanding, I would certainly ask his opinion if I were unsure about candidates based on the information about them. And I'd also ask what specific Jewish values the rabbi believed made one candidate the best -- a sterling personal life, commitment to the security of Israel, an understanding of the needs of the Jewish community locally? That would then inform my choice, which would also take into consideration the post for which the candidate was running. For example, I don't really care how a candidate for county council feels about the threat from Iran because the county council has nothing to do with foreign policy.

(7) Stephen B. Lerner, March 28, 2012 11:20 PM

Seperation of Church and State

Anyone who goes to a Rabbi, Priest , Minister or Imman for advice on who to vote for should consider a brain transplant. In addition any religious leader who endorses a political candidate from the pulpit is violation tax exempt stauus and The seperation of Church and State

(6) Anonymous, March 28, 2012 7:24 PM

Great Point!

From deep (painful) personal experience, I can heartily endorse your well thought out and presented view.

(5) Midwestern Jew, March 28, 2012 6:48 PM

Asking a Rabbi about your vote?

I have agreed with many of your past comments and observations. But asking a Rabbi for advice about my vote is beyond my imagination. Hashem gave me a mind, freedom and responsibility. Frankly most Rabbis I know (and most of our people for that matter) are committed liberals who cannot cannot separate current events from their own voting biases. My Christian friends often ask me, "Why does the Jewish community consistently support the liberals? The liberals take away our freedoms! Liberal policies support the people trying to kill Israel. Yet the American Jews line up with Democrats in every election cycle." Ask a Rabbi? Please!

(4) Anonymous, March 28, 2012 5:35 PM

Keep the separation of church and state,no talk about voting.That's not why we go to shul and not the Rabbi's position.

The rabbi will alienate at least 50% of the congregation if he spouts politics. My husband and I are very offended when a Rabbi, from the shul, or visiting, makes political innuendos.

(3) Suszana, March 28, 2012 3:42 PM

People who think they dont need the rabbi

Thank you for posting this!!!! I hope my family members will watch this too and consult their rabbi more often.

(2) Anonymous, March 28, 2012 3:12 PM

Wow! This blog was timed perfectly! IMO, a rabbi has two functions: First, the rabbi needs to serve as an advisor re: Halacha. When one is unsure about what is correct/proper (as I am), one needs an experienced rabbi to lead. The second role is to listen to Jewish children and adults in times of simchas as well as sadness. Granted, some congregants will disclose information that is best shared with a full-time professional psychotherapist. When that happens, the rabbi needs to guide the speaker in the appropriate direction.

(1) Avi Keslinger, March 28, 2012 3:10 PM

One must differentiate between goals and how to achieve them.

One's rabbi teaches Halacha and gives one one's hashkafa/the background behind it deending on which came first, the rabbi or the hashkafa. How to achieve that in the realm of politics is for the individual to decide. In fact neither Rav Kuk nor Rav Soloveichik would give concrete advice. They only set forth the ramifications of the different choices. Rav Tzvi Yehuda never even revealed for which party he voted but gave everyone who asked a beracha as all were part of the truth. Rav Aviner also does not endorse parties or candidates but does describe the differences between them.


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