The Consequences of Embroilment

A story is told of the time a fierce feud broke out between two families. As is too often the case, each side soon attracted its own group of backers and detractors. At the height of the dispute, a delegation came to visit a respected, older Rav and pressured him to take a side in the fight.

They went to great lengths to try to convince the Rav that the side they were supporting was fully in the right and that it was his rabbinic duty not only to defend their party, but to attack their opponents harshly.

The wise Rav refused to fall for their shenanigans. Recognizing that the rabble-rousers in his living room would never listen to him if he spoke about concepts like the greatness of peace and the dangers of machlokes, the Rav took a different approach.

“Eventually this machlokes will come to an end,” the Rav told them. “The two sides will patch up their differences and move on with their lives. Their children may even marry each other. If I come out against one of the sides now, that side will never forget, nor will they forgive me. Long after the two sides will have made peace, I will still be an adversary.”

This anecdote may very well be apocryphal, but it underscores an important point: Getting embroiled in a dispute of any kind often has long-term adverse consequences.

President Trump’s statement that Jews who vote for Democrats are showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” evokes strong reactions among many in our community.

It is an indisputable fact that our community owes a great debt of gratitude to the president. The friendship he has shown our community and the level of his support for Israel is unprecedented.

At the same time, it is important for us to realize that as Jews in exile, we cannot afford to limit our political relationships to one single individual or party. Even if the president does win re-election — and many in our community will do their part to try to make that happen — the maximum number of terms he can serve is two.

We hope and daven that Moshiach will arrive much sooner than that date. But if he, chas v’shalom, doesn’t, eventually we will likely have to deal with a Democrat in control of the White House. Currently, the Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives, and if past history is a guide, they may retake the Senate.

The progressive liberal agenda, especially when it comes to core moral values, poses an existential threat to Torah Jews, and we must be prepared to fiercely battle for our religious rights and liberties. That does not, however, mean that we should burn our bridges with the Democratic party. In a democracy, there is ample room for fighting over principles without taking a side in personal political battles.

Far too much is at stake, and the possible ramifications of our actions at this time can have a detrimental impact on us for years to come. How individual askanim or organizations should deal with the complex situation in Washington is best left to daas Torah to decide.

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