By Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht
In the coming months Americans will find themselves in the midst of a very vibrant and raucous political campaign. Although the election in November is not for President it is being viewed as a referendum on the current administration’s policies both domestic and abroad.
The wise sages of the Mishna long ago adjured us to respect the government of the land. As we read in “Ethics of our Fathers” Rabbi Chanina the deputy High-Priest, said: “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the respect of it, men would swallow one another alive”.–Personally, I shy away from publicly speaking about politics. This is due both to my calling and of practical wisdom. You do not want to risk alienating those who may disagree with you politically and thus distance them from Torah and Mitzvah observance.
We respect elected government officials for they represent the collective voice of the people.
As such we all have an obligation to acquaint ourselves on the issues of the day and to vote accordingly. We all recognize that elective office is an institution from where our elected officials may influence and promote the wellbeing – both materially and spiritually – of society.
In the upcoming November elections there is one issue that will be compelling and central to my decision for whom to vote in the Congressional races for the U.S. House of Representatives and that of the U.S. Senate.
Namely, I will want to know, what is the official “party platform” of the candidate in regards to the State of Israel? I will want to know of the candidates the answer to these questions: What is your stand towards the State of Israel? Do you support an undivided Jerusalem? Will you oppose Jewish people living in Judea and Samaria? Do you support the formation of a Palestinian state carved from the area which is Israel today? Will Jews have the right to dwell in security and safety in Judea and Samaria or do you want them relocated (uprooted) from their homes as was done to the once thriving Jewish communities of Gush Katif, in Gaza?
Those seeking re-election or new candidates running for elective office are by and large, essentially fine people who strive to serve their constituency with honesty and sincerity,
It is for this reason precisely that we should be focused on the positions of the “power base” or organizations and movements active within the Democrat, Independent or Republican parties who are supporting any given candidate.
As a member of the Jewish people and as an American citizen for generations, I refuse to be sweet- talked to support those that call upon America to treat its ally Israel with neutrality.
I will not be neutral when it comes to the safety and security of my brothers and sisters in Israel. Likewise I will not express “neutrality” towards promoting an undivided and united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty and the right of the Jewish people to live in Israel throughout its borders.
Perhaps this is why those who are sincere about improving the world through “tikkun olom” will be resolute and sincere in making their vote reflect their love of freedom and democracy. They will do so by supporting the beleaguered people of Israel now and let their voices be heard well before the upcoming November election.
The cry of Am Yisrael Chai needs to be heard loud and clear throughout the length and breadth of these blessed United States of America by all who profess a love of Zion and that of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht is president of the Rabbinical Council of CT and spiritual leader of Beth Israel of Westport/Norwalk.