Emunah Is Our Only Ideology

By Avraham Y. Heschel

Texas National Guardsmen patrol looks the Texas–Mexico border on the Rio Grande. (AP Photo/Eric Gay/File)

It was in the middle of a conversation with a family friend and the topic of the recent midterm elections came up. When I made an offhand remark that on many issues, the views of conservative politicians in the United States are aligned with Torah values, he seemed genuinely surprised that I hadn’t said on “all” issues.

“Name me one issue in which we have a different view than they do,” he challenged me.

I responded with the first example I could think of.

“What makes you assume that being anti-immigration is something that Torah Jews should agree with?” I asked him.

Only two days later, I felt vindicated when another friend shared with me that Harav Yeruchem Levovitz, zt”l, the revered Mashgiach in pre-war Mir, addressed the issue of immigration, and later sent the source — the sefer Daas Torah on Parashas Vayeira.

Reb Yeruchem — as he is known to the world — taught that the sin of Sedom — which resulted in their destruction — was their refusal to engage in acts of kindness.

“They didn’t allow guests to come from other countries — presumably from Sedom to Amora you were able to go,” he explained. “Rashi indicates that up to three days, a guest was permitted to stay, but more than that they would not allow him to remain.

“If we reflect on our current situation,” Reb Yeruchem continues, “don’t we see a parallel? … Without a passport or a visa, it’s impossible to enter any country. There are guards at all the borders. Previously, there was no such concept of passports, and one was able to travel from country to country without any special permission needed. … Recently, because of concerns [that immigrants would cause unemployment], America has closed its borders. It was a prosperous country, [and the residents] were worried that everyone would come.”

Reb Yeruchem goes on to bemoan the fact that the notion of closed borders has become so accepted in the world, although it all emanates from a fear that allowing in strangers would somehow cause financial harm to those who were already there, something he says is against emunah in the Ribbono shel Olam. He then wonders if the devastating financial depression that was then affecting the world — presumably referring to the Great Depression — wasn’t a punishment because of the act of closing the doors of a country in the faces of guests.

This powerful teaching reminds us that, while there is no doubt that most of what the liberal ideology espouses is an abomination for Torah Jews, and it poses grave spiritual and even legal danger to us, this does not necessarily mean that we should necessarily agree with everything that the GOP, or even the conservative pundits, say or do.

Instead, every individual issue must be separately evaluated through the lenses of Torah hashkafah to see what our approach ought to be — and even whether this is something we ought to be formulating an opinion on. We may be registered with a specific party for the purpose of being able to vote in a primary, but ideologically, we are neither Democrats nor Republicans. Our only affiliation is to the eternal truth of the Torah, wherever that will lead us.

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