When Korach staged his rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu, the sun and the moon ascended to a higher heaven and exclaimed, “Ribbono shel Olam, if You bring justice in behalf of the son of Amram’s son, we will give forth our light; if not, we will not shine.”
In that moment, He shot spears and arrows at the sun and moon. “Every day,” the Ribbono shel Olam rebuked them, “men worship you, and yet you give your light. For My honor, you do not protest, yet you protest for the honor of flesh and blood.”
Ever since then, Chazal teach us, the sun and the moon are shot at with spears and arrows every day before they consent to shine (Nedarim 39b).
This Gemara came to mind when I saw the passionate, outraged reaction to the decision of a Jewish congressman from New York to support the Iran deal.
As I indicated in a previous article, whether or not it is our place to lobby against this deal is a question that each individual should ask his own spiritual mentor. In recent days and weeks, it has become increasingly clear that there are various viewpoints among leaders of various kehillos on this issue.
In contrast, however, both this New York congressman — and the Jewish U.S. senator from N.Y. who has announced his opposition to the deal and earned high praise for doing so — have been among the most powerful proponents of efforts promoting the recognition of immorality, and have cast vote after vote to this effect. On this issue there is no question as to what the Torah view is.
In Adar 5743, Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, signed a letter about a law regarding immorality that was then being considered by the New York City Council, and he wrote that it is a “chov kodesh on each and every one to do everything possible to influence every member of the council to vote against the bill. …”
He further asked that on each day of the committee hearings, yirei Hashem should fill the room where the hearing was taking place to be “mekadesh shem Shamayim and to reveal openly to all the nations” the view of the Torah on these issues.
Over the years, many other Gedolim also signed proclamations and wrote teshuvos expressing the view that we have an obligation to protest about these matters.
In light of these letters, on numerous occasions I asked prominent askanim why they remained silent when local elected officials espoused views and passed bills that were the antithesis of Torah values, and even often endorsed these politicians.
I received a variety of responses.
Some insisted that such protests were best off being delivered privately. “No purpose in antagonizing them by attacking them publicly,” is how one askan put it.
Another told me that they had to pick their battles. “We won’t get them to change their minds in any case, so why destroy a working relationship over this?” (This argument, incidentally, is a deeply flawed one, but we will leave this angle for another article.)
Now, however, that some well-intentioned individuals in our community have seen fit to publicly and sternly criticize the New York congressman’s position on the Iran deal, both these arguments fall flat. The chances of convincing him to change his mind at this point are virtually the same as getting him to change his mind on moral issues.
It is very possible that the Iran deal poses a real threat to the Jews of Eretz Yisrael. The views of liberal politicians on moral issues certainly pose a grave spiritual threat to all of mankind.
It is vital that members of our community show consistency when it comes to voicing public opposition to decisions made by our elected officials. Those who see fit to express their indignation over support for the Iran deal — provided they are guided to do so by their spiritual mentors — should by all means do so. But as taught to us by the sun and the moon, at the very least, the level of protest and the intensity of the lobbying efforts on moral matters should be no less than those on the Iran deal.