Response to An Open Letter – Yes, But…

Earlier this week, a small group of public figures from our community, several of whom I consider very dear friends, posted An Open Letter in which they articulated their concern over the current political trajectory of some in the Orthodox community.

Highlights of the open letter include:

The unhealthy confusion of Torah values with politics brings disrepute to Torah and harm to Torah Jews.

No party platform can substitute for our mesorah… Our interests may dovetail with a particular party or politician in one or another situation, but our values must remain those of Sinai, not Washington…

We are a people charged with modeling and teaching ethical behavior and morality to others. It should be inconceivable for us to be, and be seen as, willing disciples of deeply flawed people who are now the de facto arbiters of what is morally acceptable. We should be ashamed when Torah leaders seem to have been replaced as our ethical guides by people of low character and alien values.

As Orthodox Jews, we live in a benevolent host society to which we have rightly given our loyalty. It is thus important that we not be regarded by the American public as turning a blind eye to the degradation of our moral climate in exchange for political support for parochial interests.

We must not allow ourselves to be co-opted by any party. But we must reject the efforts of those who, for self-serving electoral gain, seek to turn Jews against any party or faction. Our practical focus should be on recruiting allies and building alliances, and we ought to shun partisan posturing that only alienates us from those who govern us.

We must ensure that Israel is not used as a political weapon. We must oppose efforts to turn support for Israel from a broad consensus into a wedge issue. Although we may rightly be concerned about trends regarding Israel in some corners, indicting an entire party as anti-Israel is not only inaccurate but has the potential of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nor should any party’s strong support for Israel become a justification to blindly support its politicians in every other matter.

To that end, let us commit to being guided only by Torah perspectives and strive to insulate ourselves, our families, students and congregants from being influenced by the objectionable speech and conduct that have come to infect many parts of the political spectrum.

When we vote, let us do so as Torah Jews, with deliberation and seriousness, not as part of any partisan bandwagon. We are not inherently Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals. We are Jews – in the voting booth no less than in our homes – who are committed, in the end, only to Torah.

I am very pressed for time and regret that I cannot say all that I would like to say, but I feel that the open letter requires some response, however brief.

My first response is that I agree with much of the letter in theory and some of it in practice.

I find it irksome and upsetting when fellow Orthodox Jews, be they Democrats or Republicans, immensely admire and get excited about people whose theology, philosophy or associations are antithetical to Torah values, simply because these people might say or do things that are of benefit to us, bolster our positions, or concur with our actions or ideologies. Whether these people are atheists, evangelicals, secular Israeli politicians, ethical humanists, Hollywood celebrities or political commentators, or anyone else – we might really appreciate their taking our side on certain important issues, and we should express it vocally, but to internally revere or inherently identify with such people as part of our core mission is downright wrong.

Furthermore, to display what at times can seem like quasi-religious commitment regarding political platforms and personalities, spouting forth words of excessive adulation and allegiance as if the political entity were Toras Moshe, is obviously off the mark. And even worse is when people are infatuated with the political and they try to turn it into the religious. This is the opposite of emes and is ziyuf ha-Torah, a distortion of the Torah.

But this is where it gets sticky, for there is a major difference between idolatrous devotion to a political candidate and robust support of the candidate for important practical reasons.

The open letter is concerned with members of the Orthodox community appearing to be “willing disciples of deeply flawed people who are now the de facto arbiters of what is morally acceptable…. people of low character and alien values”. But make no mistake – nearly every high-ranking politician, from across the entire spectrum, has committed acts exhibiting major character deficiencies and often much worse. It cuts in every direction.

When the present occupant of the White House, whom we all know has no shortage of flaws and failings, ran against someone who, along with her husband as 42nd president, was party to more scandals – including countless improprieties of a criminal nature far surpassing anything of which the current president has been seriously accused, literally rivaling the most notorious mobsters – no such open letter was issued, as Orthodox Jews gathered behind this political duo and some rabbis conferred overly-enthusiastic and very public blessings upon this couple’s political aspirations. The current president’s presumed contender likewise lacks “clean hands”, from significant charges of plagiarism to lies about his academic record, and more… Modern-day corrupt and scandalous comportment by presidents and presidential candidates brings us back to the Kennedys, Lyndon Johnson and of course Richard Nixon, and most likely much further.

And you know what? For every politician whose major indiscretions have been documented, there are probably a dozen more politicians about whose numerous seismic infractions we will never know. We must realize that even the best of politicians from any party is not a model of virtuous character and is more likely a model of the opposite.

For this reason, the debate about supporting politicians who exhibit moral deficiencies becomes pretty much moot, and we can only vote according to the issues, for in any election, neither side is typically an example of integrity and good moral fiber. Please see my article about this prior to the previous presidential election.

There is another point to bear in mind. Our mesorah for dealing with political leaders and tribal chieftains, going back to Avrohom Avinu and Ephron Ha-Chitti, to Yaakov Avinu and Eisav, and throughout history, has been one of pragmatism and not idealism. We work with leaders and political forces to assist our causes, regardless of these leaders’ and political forces’ own shortcomings and lack of exemplary character. We do not stand our moral ground, call out lack of appropriateness and eschew working with political leaders, or work with them while condemning their unethical conduct; quite the contrary – we are bidden to show support and even publicly express reverential praise if that is what is needed. We need not and dare not be “frummer” or more proper than our holy Avos when dealing with what are often existential issues facing our community.

No one accused Avrohom and Yaakov of failure to set an ethical example in their accommodation of Ephron and Eisav, nor were any other great spiritual leaders of our people who throughout history had to negotiate with and befriend offensive counterparts censured for these associations, as it has always been obvious that our religious-spiritual ideals are lofty but that we need to work with even the lowliest of characters in a manner that gets things done when it comes to matters of paramount communal import. This partnering with the devil was never assumed to indicate acquiescence to objectionable values, nor should it be interpreted as such now. We are of course adjured by the Torah to serve as examples to humanity of the Godly message and to proclaim its truth, but this does not conflict with the Torah’s mandate to go so far as to even publicly befriend, laud and reward despots, as warranted and required by the circumstances. So long as we do not internally identify with such individuals, we are doing the correct thing and abiding by our mesorah. (This is in no way an implication that the leaders of this country are despots! I am merely trying to dramatize a point. But think about the numerous Jews who were saved throughout history, and the many existential crises involving Jewish survival and the State of Israel that were overcome successfully, BH, often by appeasing the most corrupt and malicious of world leaders, and sometimes doing it quite publicly.)

Returning to the contemporary American scene: We must also bear in mind that there are millions of Jews supporting each political party, candidate and cause, and until Moshiach, it will foreseeably remain this way. No one politician, movement or party is going to observe Orthodox Jews supporting the opposition and decide that “the Jews have now withdrawn their support from us”. The ramifications of Orthodox Jews appearing to be partisan are pretty negligible in the present landscape and the broader scheme of things.

Furthermore, let us not forget how the current occupant of the White House has treated the Israeli cause, from Yerushalayim, to the Golan, to Iran, to Hamas and the PA, to calling out and defunding backers and awarders of terror, to the honor accorded the Israeli prime minister and the refusal to tamper with internal Israeli politics (in contrast with how the previous occupant of the Oval Office did things), to public and often private support for the State of Israel’s right to defend itself as it makes incursions into Gaza, Syria and Iran (!) – remember prior administrations’ repeated behest of “we call on all sides to immediately stop the aggression” and absurd censure of “we condemn the violence by all parties”? – to unparalleled backing at the UN, to redefining anti-Semitism most favorably, to the federal government going after violent anti-Semites in New York City, and more. I lack the time to provide hyperlinks for this all, but please Google and you will see it quite clearly and indisputably.

We should do our best to curry favor on both sides of the aisle – I agree wholeheartedly – but at the same time, when one party is stamping out its racist element, while the other party refuses to put a lid on hate speech emanating from its radical members and is unable or unwilling to outrightly condemn anti-Semitism, it is a tall order and perhaps unrealistic to expect fellow Orthodox (and all other) Jews not to feel and say that one party has their back, while one party does not as much. Not to mention the disparity between one party’s position on issues relating to biblical, traditional values and its support for law enforcement, versus the other party’s embrace of values which offend the traditional/moral milieu of America and its Orthodox citizens, and this party’s tolerance (and worse) for some of its most vocal members’ calls to defund the police and reform the criminal justice system in a manner that can endanger everyone. It is not difficult to understand why one of America’s most senior rabbinic leaders has just openly called on us to vote for Trump.

We dare not lionize and be hero-worshipers of any politician; we worship only Hashem and know that whatever happens in this world is in His hands and is not the product of human accomplishment. At the same time, no one should frown upon displays of appreciation, support and even loyalty to political leaders who have gone to great lengths to assist and defend our community and its interests, and who have taken a strong stand for neighborhood safety and security, regardless of the motives behind such actions. Showing strong support is exactly what we are supposed to do and is what is right.

The Torah is not only a set of ideals, but is also practical guidance for navigating the real world. The facts on the ground matter, and we have a mesorah for dealing with all sorts of characters – a mesorah which endorses working amicably with those who are not examples of integrity, and exhibiting friendship to them as the case may require, rather than making a values protest.

The open letter might be correct in theory, but I respectfully submit that in application, things are different.

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159 Responses

  1. Yaakov Menken says:

    This is an excellent and needed response. The one thing I might have emphasized further is the unfortunate comparison between any president’s “dissembling” and personal conduct on the one hand, and abortion and gay marriage on the other. The President has done absolutely nothing but tread on ground that the media and previous White House occupants had long since hardened to stone — and the idea that they are somehow comparable in terms of corroding society at large is simply untrue.

    The only possible exception might be lies that steal from (“you can keep your plan”) or endanger (Iran Deal) every American. But the current occupant of the White House has done none of that.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Too many of us lack any sense of proportion. We shouldn’t expect America’s leaders to be philosopher kings, but should realize that there is a continuum between indiscretion and treason. One tactic of politicians in hot water and facing defeat is to make people totally cynical about all politicians. This somewhat evens the score. Citizens and voters, wise up!

    As for specifically Jewish concerns, we need to use our critical thinking skills and tap into our vast Torah resources, including our Gedolim, to make sound policy judgments. In today’s 24/7 environment of lashon hara, motzi shem ra, and general disinformation, we need an objective anchor, as opposed to Jewish PR men for hire. No party will sign onto our maximum program, but some parties can’t or won’t even meet our minimum.

  3. Steven Brizel says:

    In an ideal world we should be dancing at everyone’s chasunah.The question left often by the letter and challenged by R Gordiner is IMO and I recognize that others may and will disagree as follows:

    1)it is naive to think that when we vote for politicians we are voting for Gdolim or Tzadikim
    2)Hollywood Academia and the left are responsible for the moral decay of the US
    3) which party is more amenable and supportive of vouchers and free exercise of religion
    4) The left academically and culturally has already moved the Democrats back into supporting the Iran deal and the failed logic of the two stateSituon which most Israelis outside of the secular Ashkenazi leftist elite have rejected
    5) We have to ask when we vote which party is more in our interests and more conducive to the long term needs of our community to paraphrase Norman Podhoretz look st policy not tweets

    Left unsaid by the ad is the violent anarchism in too many of our streets which has nothing to do systemic racism but which is anarchism plain and simple rooted in a leftist brainwashed version of American history Ask yourself which party turns its back to the same and calls it peaceful protest That issue and the failure to recognize the involvement of far too many of our brothers and sisters who mistakenly view Judaism as consisting solely of social justice is noticeably missing from this letter

    • Raymond says:

      I agree with virtually everything you said here, except perhaps for the matter of the President’s Tweets. I realize that even many of his supporters object to his tweets, but I have always liked his tweets, because to me at least, they are the President’s way of communicating straight to the general public, without the very negative filter offered by the mainstream media, which has turned into little more than the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party.

  4. Reb Yid says:

    Moral decay.

    Our current President has a total lack of any morals at all.

    No empathy for anyone but himself.

    Only a desire to bully the most vulnerable and promote hatred and division.

    If the previous officeholder had done 5% of the evil things that this President has done, this blog would be non-stop condemnation.

    Ymach shemo.

    • Bob Miller says:

      The most vulnerable at the moment include:
      1. Victims of violent crime and vandalism
      2. COVID-19 patients distanced by propaganda from useful drugs
      3. People without jobs, religious services and other necessities because of capricious, arbitrary state and local edicts
      4. Professors, teachers, and others who won’t bow to anti-American, hard leftist intimidation at their workplace

      Members of all races belong to all four categories.
      One party openly welcomes and celebrates antisemitic, racist haters in and out of office. It imagines that these haters’ “official” victim status makes normal rules not apply.

      • Yossi says:


        I don’t think any of the signatories are supporting the other party; we all understand that the left is corrupt, dangerous, misguided, and is taking this country down a road that we might not be able to turn back from. But I don’t think that has anything to do with the letter.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Yossi, I’m less confident about that than you are. Blind hero worship is bad but, especially this year, a failure to mobilize against our chief enemies is worse yet.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Spying on your adversary and politicizing the IRS were what ultimately cost Nixon the presidency Of course walking away from Israel and raising the race card when all failed were other dubious achievements and hallmarks of the Obama presidency

    • G. Weiss says:

      REALLY?? And your evidence of your malicious claims are what??
      For just ONE example, Trump’s signing into law of the bipartisan bill to permanently fund HBCUs — which he set as a goal barely 30 days after his inauguration — is immoral, how? It shows no empathy for anyone but himself? Is bullying the most vulnerable and promoting hatred and division, HOW, EXACTLY????
      Your comment shows your brainwashing by the MSM and says NOTHING about President Trump’s accomplishments which especially UPLIFT the most vulnerable, and which the left only ever gives lip-service to every four years.
      It is YOU and your side who are all the malicious things you have accused Trump of being while TRUMP IS ACTUALLY DOING THINGS TO IMPROVE the lives of ALL AMERICANS.

    • Raymond says:

      Ironically, everything you said here describes not our current President, but rather describes Barack Hussein Obama down to its details. Obama had no use for such quaint notions as morality, is a complete narcissist, bullies his opponents, promotes hatred and division, and does evil things. Yemach shemo to Barack Hussein Obama.

  5. Michael says:

    It was incredibly heartening to see the nuanced and balanced perspective that the original open letter offered. How sad it is to see the black and white thinking that is so pervasive nowadays rear its head once again in response.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Some kinds of nuance make needed distinctions, while other kinds conceal a reluctance to take a stand.

  6. Yossi says:

    Steve, Rabbi Gordimer, Rabbi Menken,

    I think you are all missing the point so badly it’s scary. I am a member of the Monsey yeshivishe community, learn in a kollel, and daresay have a better view of what the authors of the letter are talking about than any of you.

    Many members of the kollel that I learn in, and a different kollel that I run, will find a way to excuse and justify Trump’s behavior. They think he’s a tzadik, say, as Rabbi Gordimer’s article does, that all goyim are corrupt, say that every single goy has affairs, is really vulgar, etc. It’s just not true, as Rav Henkin, the Netziv, and so many others wrote. There’s no moral equivalency between Biden’s alleged plagiarism, and the atrocious behavior of Trump.

    And let me make it clear-I’m going to vote for him, and not for Biden, because I believe the progressive agenda is much more dangerous. But Trump is like Achashverosh-he may be good for the Jews, but he is a boor. I’m not even saying that we should spend time denouncing him, but let’s be aware ourselves-he’s a horrible, boorish person whose personal middos are atrocious. We liked Bush the 1st and 2nd, but never did we support them like this. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are heroes in the yeshivish circles, and their strident, belligerent way of talking, and the way they justify everything the President does, is mimicked in the halls of many yeshivos and kollelim.

    This article seems like such a knee-jerk defense, and a weak one at that. Practically, what the authors of the letter are calling us to acknowledge is that we hold our nose and vote for him. Practically, you are not going to hear many people say that, even privately.

    As Eytan Kobre so often points out, we have become captive to a party. And I don’t believe for a second that he, or any of the other signatories, would call for supporting Biden. They are just calling out the rampant moral relativism we are exhibiting when we sing the President’s praises and gloss over, or even outrightly deny his flaws.

    Although, ironically, I think Rabbi Gordimer and Rabbi Menken’s responses really make the Open Letter’s points, my benefit of the doubt for them is that they aren’t sufficiently in the circles that exhibit the behavior that the Open Letter is describing. If they were, they would find it almost impossible to disagree, I think.

    Jonathan Rosenblum actually made this point before the last election-that while he would have thought not to vote for Trump, he can accept that if the Gedolim say to, we should, but how can we not at least express to our children and our families how repugnant we find him?

    • Bob Miller says:

      Many details of Biden’s personal and family corruption have already come out. Plagiarism is not his major flaw.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Policies not Tweets IMO and WADR anyone can differ are what counts We don’t judge presidents on their personalities but rather on their policies Take a look at any biography of any of the greatest presidents None were tzadikim in any sense of the word

      I grew up reading the NYT and watching Walter Kronkite and reading about Ed Murrow Those days in my house have ended The mainstream media today has lost any sense of objectivity and is an arm of the progressive left Fox News (especially Sean Hannity and Laura Ingrsham )Ben Shapiro Commentary the WSJ and National Review are all far better reads and worth watching than the mainstream media who collectively have lost all sense of objectivity since 2016 and who have all harbored strong biases against Israel

    • Robert Lebovits says:

      If the members of your kollelim have conflated Donald J. Trump the man with the person who as president has promoted actions that we support as frum Jews, then their capacity for critical thinking is so disordered they have no business sitting and learning. As a private citizen before becoming a political figure there was no admiration for his behavior coming from the Torah community. It is difficult to believe that any thoughtful person in our world gave him any esteem for his personal conduct.
      Pres. Trump’s policies and choices, now that he is the leader of our country, have often – though hardly always – advanced causes that are congruent with more conservative values and actions that help Israel and are subscribed to by many frum Jews. We can appreciate those deeds without losing sight of his human failings. That does not mean we have illusions about him or the party he represents as our protectors. Only HKB”H is regarded in that capacity. If the other party took parallel positions we would appreciate them equally.
      Both the letter and the response are disturbing and regrettable because they reflect the degree to which we as manimim bnei manimim have lost sight of how the world really operates. We have allowed the fierce political divisions of this country to be internalized by us and manifest in our treatment of one another with its loss of civility and honor. We know that as the am hanivchar our conduct is paramount in determining the betterment of this world. Our Creator has told us so. Whatever efforts we exert to influence the direction of the general society through “natural”means, does not permit us to become hostile to one another because of differences in our approach to bringing about our shared goals. It is our partisanship that is most destructive. We should know and do better.

      • Raymond says:

        For whatever my opinion is worth, I think that if one confines oneself to the Kollels of this world, that one gains a distorted view of the world that lacks proper perspective. I am certainly not against Torah learning, of course, but I do think that having a well-rounded education is necessary to fully understand our world. We do not need to know every nook and cranny of the secular world, but I do think we should study the best of what it has to offer, to supplement our Torah learning.

    • Reb Yid says:


      The facts are indisputable how historically awful, corrupt and incompetent this President and Administration have been.

      You want to start with Trump’s own hotels around the world/Mar a Lago and how much business we as taxpayers are on the hook for every time our President plays golf or holds a meeting there?

      The man has zero notion of what it means to be a public servant. It’s all about how much money he can make for himself, period. He does not care about you or me or anyone else.

      Biden was not my choice in the primary, or even my 2nd or 3rd one. But my goodness, he at least has a basic sense of decency, honor, love of family and decades of sacrifice for others in public service that is completely lacking in our current President.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Did JFK and Clinton act properly in their use of the White House bedroom and carpets ?No court has ruled that Trymp has acted unethically or illegally in either playing golf or sponsoring s conference at his own property

      • Reb Yid says:

        Steve Brizel:

        Why don’t you look up the term Emoluments Clause.

        It’s in our Constitution. His entire Presidency has been one gigantic violation of it.

      • Sarah Elias says:

        Reb Yid, I am 100% sure that if Trump violated the Emoluments Clause even by a hairsbreadth, the media and House of Representatives would have made a major scandal of it. That they haven’t is pretty well proof that he hasn’t.

      • G. Weiss says:

        You’re right R.Y., Trump isn’t a lifelong swamp-dweller like Biden is who extorted the Ukranian govt to stop investigating the company his son Hunter was getting money from for doing nothing. As opposed to Trump who DONATES 100% of his salary to others.
        I know people who are from DE and who provide a full picture of the moral turpitude of Joe Biden despite his dumb as a box of rocks-aw-shucks demeanor.
        How many of the Trump children have been arrested, have consorted with prostitutes, been accused of drug use, or slept with his brother’s widow as the Biden offspring are accused of doing? So whose children reflect a love of family and a basic sense of decency exactly?

      • Dovid says:

        Evidently this November your vote will not be “for” someone, but rather “against” someone. You’re not alone. Barring some extraordinary circumstance, I will voting against defunding the police, against refunding Iran, and against empowering the woke/intersectionality proponents.

      • Raymond says:

        The facts are are indisputable how historically awful, corrupt and incompetent that the Obama Administration has been.

        You want to start with Obama’s ties to terrorists such as William Ayres, his close friendship with antisemite Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright?

        Barack Hussein Obama has zero notion of what it means to be a public servant. It’s all about how much he can radically transform America, period. He does not care about you or me or anyone else.

        Donald J Trump is my choice for President, because at least has a basic sense of decency, honor, love of family and decades of sacrifice for others in public service that is completely lacking in Barack Hussein Obama.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      In no way did I imply that Trump was a Tzadik I said that one should look at policies not Tweets No one disputes the fact that the Democrats have been in the mode of Resistance to any policy Trump ranging from derergulation appointment of judges recognizing Jerusalem and taking out a terrorist mastermind All of the above and the hysterical reaction of the Democrats and their allies illustrate that they are not interested in a real debate on the issues .Instead the Democrats bet the farm and lost on Russiagate impeachment trade with and stealth of intellectual property by China remaking the Federal judiciary and climate change . The Democrats love the shutdown of the country because they have a dystopic view that we will never recover and get a vaccine and are ignoring the anarchist led riots on the street Deep down the Democrats knew that the only way they could win an election would be via a massive repression . The Democrats would rather have our cities economically prostrate and kids out of school as opposed to offending the teachers unions who have enjoyed a nice vacation during the pandemic as opposed going back to school with kids who are the least likely to carry the virus because they would rather protest than teach when Reagan was confronted with the threat of a strike by air traffic controllers he fired them Itvis tragic that no governor or mayor has contemplated replacing teachers who would rather protest than teach with teachers who want to teach the next generation

      • tzippi says:

        I don’t know if I see all the Democrat governors that way. I think Gretchen Whitmer has done quite passably under these extraordinary circumstances.

    • Yoni Samber says:

      I agree with every point you make.

    • Michael says:

      Thank you for writing an in-depth response which I find essentially reflects what I was trying to say above when I wrote
      “It was incredibly heartening to see the nuanced and balanced perspective that the original open letter offered. How sad it is to see the black and white thinking that is so pervasive nowadays rear its head once again in response.”
      Bob, it is rather surprising that you find the open letter’s authors nuance to reflect a “reluctance to take a stand.” In fact, they have taken a strong stand, and an incredibly bold one at that, and it’s unfortunate that your interpretation of “take a stand” can only mean endorsement or renouncement of a candidate.

    • Raymond says:

      Part of being a good Jew is to show appreciation for the very few friends that we Jews have in this world. Donald Trump has been described by many as THE most pro-Israel President in modern American history. That in itself should preclude we Jews of looking for excuses to condemn the man. We should be writing letters of appreciation to him, and doing all we can to campaign on his behalf. We should pray to G-d that He makes sure that our President win in November, both for the sake of the Jewish State of Israel as well as the meaningful survival of America.

  7. Steven Brizel says:

    I have been and still am a Democrat I am looking in vein for the party of FDR HST JFK LBJ HHH Scoop Jackson and Daniel Moynihan which has been taken hostage by the progressive left

  8. Steve Brizel says:

    I thought the letter avoided the real issue which is the the threat posed to all people of faith including the Torah observant world of a militant no quarters given secular left that seeks to tear down thhat which has made the US a Malchus Shel Chesed When a King James Bible is burnt in public that should make all of us realize the ultimate goal of the purportedly most peaceful protests Is the destruction of all commu is whose values are not in consonance with the secular militant left

    • Reb Yid says:


      Southern, GOP led states are taking down the Confederate flag. So did NASCAR. Alabama state troopers saluted the casket of the late John Lewis as it made one final trip across the Pettus Bridge in Selma.

      The world is changing. You may not like that fact, but you are fooling yourself by having a straw man or bogeyman upon whom to assign all blame. A growing majority of Americans from all walks of life, from every state, and from rural, suburban and urban areas alike, are looking long and hard at systemic racism and other systemic issues in our country which have festered for centuries.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        You assume there is something present in the Us called systemic racism Many Americans disagree with that assumption and the rewriting of history that underlies such an assumption

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Many of us were taught and studied American history as opposed to being brainwashed via Marcuse Zinn and the 1619 project

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Like it or not being proficient I reading writing arithmetic American history world history and Western civilization is evidence of literacy not systemic racism I remind all readers of Saul Bellows comment in Mr Sammlers Planet as to to the merits and achievements of Western civilization and dead white males Claiming that science literature Mathematics and history are racist because they demand you master and become proficient with facts out of your sociological comfort zone and make you think is what makes you a knowledgeable person A degree in What makes me a victim does nothing for you as a person except make you think everything in the world revolves around being a victim Torah committed Jews know that we have been victims of religious based persecution and secular based industrialized slaughter and ideological movements that strive to remove our neshamas from us but we never made all of our commitment wholly dependent on being a victim but rather as Am HaNivchar with Divinely commanded mission and responsibility

        Three are a lot of awful sports teams in America If I were their coach I would take my my team to West Point Annapolis Boston Philadelphia DC Gettysburg and Philadelphia so that the team could gain an appreciation that so many Americans died so that grownup could grow up play a kids game and get paid millions of dollars for that skill No other country provides that opportunity Until athletes appreciate that fact as opposed to displaying their mistaken views about America I suspect that many Americans will be tuning out sports that are negative about America but seem willing to make deals with and censor themselves about China and its abuse of human rights

      • Reb Yid says:

        At one point people were taught that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.

        And that slavery was legal and justified.

        Times change.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Re the Emoluments Clause no Court has ever ruled that Trump violated the same Concludiond rendered by a lynch mob Democratic committee (or prosecutor) do not have the force of law

    • Yossi says:

      You are missing the point of the letter. The letter is NOT talking about what the political issues of the day are. The letter is not addressing who to vote for, or analyzing the state of politics in this country. If it were, it would need to make some of the points you make. The letter didn’t mention any Republican or Democratic talking points.

      What the letter DID mention is the moral danger that is happening to frum Jews RIGHT NOW as they celebrate a morally bankrupt person. That is a threat to our internal belief system. There is no one in our circles advocating tearing down statues, defunding the police, or violent protests, and hence, no need to disavow it in a letter. Isn’t that what’s going on here? Why does this letter get a response that is political, when it is decidedly unpolitical? Unless you believe that anything that criticizes Trump the man is political. And again, I don’t believe for a second that any of the signatories will vote for Biden (but we should ask them).

      • Michael says:

        Bingo. This is exactly the point. The open letter is, at its core, not about politics! It is about Torah and how we should be developing our hashkafas haolam.
        It is rather ironic to see so many responses focused on the details of political issues.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Unless they reacted in similar fashion to Obama’s manifest character (not to mention policy) flaws, I’m not impressed.

      • Raymond says:

        Those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome are missing the point. Donald J Trump is a highly moral human being. He did not have to pursue the Presidency, but did so out of the love and appreciation for this country, at great personal sacrifice. There are endless stories of how he has used his considerable wealth to help individuals in need, and he was honored for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of Israel long before he ever decided to run for President. His canceling of the Iran Deal, his defunding of the Palestinian Authority, his recognizing the Golan Heights and at least some parts of Judea and Samaria as permanent parts of Israel, and his moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, makes him a Righteous Gentile. The ones who we really need to worry about and condemn are the Barack Hussein Obamas of this world, who would throw both Israel and America to the wolves if given a chance. President Donald J Trump is helping to Make America Great Again.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Bob Miller:

        On this site, when Obama was President there were constant posts maligning him at every turn.

        We have seen zero of this with Trump.

        He is a rasha, plain and simple.

        “What is this to you?” That has been his response to covid which has killed more than 150,000 Americans.

    • tzippi says:

      I didn’t read that in the letter.
      What I did read was, even if we are finding ourselves voting consistently with one party, we have to realize that we can’t outsource things, assume anyone will speak for us.
      I see that as quite necessary, when I read some of the hero worship written by frum people, who should presumably know better.
      Maybe, if they read the letter – and this essay too, lots of food for thought – they might think about nuance.

      • Raymond says:

        I am not sure why having appreciation for our strongly pro-Israel President constitutes hero worship. Rather, such appreciation is a sign of a good moral character.

  9. ben dov says:

    Just because I’ve done some mitzvos does not put me in the category of a tzadik hador. Degrees matter. That Biden e.g. plagiarized a speech decades ago does not mean he has the character problems of Donald Trump. Yossi is entirely correct. Rabbi Gordimer, I’ve seen you write much better articles than this.

    • Raymond says:

      The one with real character problems is Barack Hussein Obama, with how he was so willing and eager to throw both America and Israel under the bus. Meanwhile, the strongly pro-Israel Donald Trump can best be characterized as a Righteous Gentile. May he continue in his noble efforts to Make America Great Again.

  10. dr. bill says:

    I find that Trump’s personal flaws are monumental and a disgrace to the office he holds. ( Clinton is not running and is irrelevant.) The truth of Obamagate and the dirty/illegal acts around the 2016 election will come too late and be spun in any case by both sides. I still cannot tell what Biden is up to; how will he govern. My fear that 1) the left has a prominent position in the democratic party, 2) academia is an almost lost cause, and 3) even hard science must conform with liberal axioms telling us obvious truths. His VP choice will be telling and together with what we discover about 2016 will likely cause me to support Trump.

    my choice is not a reflection of a halakhically mandated decision; it is more fundamental than that and rooted in an underlying appeal to ethics which in my mind is kadmah (and more fundamental) le’torah. Some might be more comfortable calling it the SA’s fifth helek.

    • Raymond says:

      Jimmy Carter is a highly moral family man. Obama is similarly devoted to his wife and family, and yet both were notoriously awful Presidents hostile to the Jewish State of Israel, hardly to be preferred over the strongly pro-Israel Righteous Gentile Donald J Trump, who despite all opposition is doing what he can to Make America Great Again.

  11. Tal Benschar says:

    I am reminded of something R. Aharon Soloveichik quoted in the name of his father, R. Moshe Soloveichik, in shiur one day. (I later saw almost the same idea in the name of the Kovner Rav).
    In Parshas Vayera, the Torah states just at the beginning of the story of the destruction of Sdom:

    וַ֠יָּבֹ֠אוּ שְׁנֵ֨י הַמַּלְאָכִ֤ים סְדֹ֨מָה֙ בָּעֶ֔רֶב וְל֖וֹט ישֵׁ֣ב בְּשַֽׁעַר־סְדֹ֑ם וַיַּרְא־לוֹט֙ וַיָּ֣קָם לִקְרָאתָ֔ם וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ אַפַּ֖יִם אָֽרְצָה:

    Rashi there comments:

    ישב כתיב אותו היום מינוהו שופט עליהם
    On that very day, they had appointed him judge over them. (quoting the Midrash Rabbah)

    Now is it not odd that on the very day that Lot was appointed judge that the city was destroyed? While Lot was no tsaddik like Avraham, it is clear that he had learned some positive things from him. One would think that appointing a person like Lot would be a step up for the bnei Sdom.
    R. Moshe answered, that the difference in Sdom between before and after Lot’s appointment is like the difference between Russia under the Tsars and Russia under the Communists. Russia under the Tsars had corrupt laws, it was awful to the Jews, and mistreated them. But the judges and other officials were also corrupt, and in many cases, a fat bribe could avoid the worst of the troubles. (Reference the famous story of R. Chaim collecting money to free someone on Erev Yom Kippur).
    Russia under the Communists was worse. They had oppressive laws, and the people implementing those laws were incorruptible; they truly believed in them. There was no bribing the yevsektizia; they truly believed in suppressing religion to bring about the paradise of communism.
    Donald Trump certainly has many character flaws, and any God-fearing person who defends them had better make a cheshbon ha nefesh. At the same time, all of his flaws are personal – he is a boorish, self-centered, self-aggrandizing narcissist. He has no ideology, other than doing what he thinks makes him look good and will get him re-elected.
    His opponent , apart from his obvious dementia, has a history of bending whichever way he thinks the political wind is blowing. (He was once very close to several Southern segregationist Senators. My how times have changed.) And his party is now controlled by radical true-believers, in the vein of yevsektzia.
    Should they come to power, they will do their darndest to force their ideology on the country, and the life of God-fearing people will suffer. Want a taste of that – look at what happened in Great Britain with the Vizhnitzer girls school and the educational bureaucracy in that country. (You can read about some of it here: That is what is coming to the U.S. if the radical element takes control.
    So the unfortunate choice is between someone with deep character flaws and someone who will usher in a cabal of true believers in a hostile ideology. As between the character flaw and the ideological one, I will, reluctantly, take the former.

    • Yaakov Menken says:


      A friend of mine was shoulder to shoulder with the President at some time before COVID. He thanked the President for all he’d done for the Jewish People, especially in Israel. The President, though, was more interested in his pardon of Rubashkin.

      Trump is phenomenally wealthy. He is used to driving tough deals and getting his way. But he does not merely care about looking good — actually, there are few more willing to constantly look bad, at least in the eyes of the same dishonest media that called McCain and Romney “racists” until they lost. Trump is the one who forced integration upon Palm Beach, FL country clubs — and who, in his first days in office, provided unprecedented funding to HBCUs and aimed to lower minority unemployment.

      The media would have you believe that Trump mocked a reporter’s disability, and called neo-Nazis fine people. These are not just ridiculous, but vile. If he were really that bad, would they need to lie about him to convince you? Calling him a racist, like calling him an anti-Semite, is slander for base political purposes, and nothing more. All of these are truly indefensible.

      Had Trump lost, they’d be back to lionizing him for his integration efforts. So all of that says far more about the character of the speaker than about Trump. Ditto those who will say I’m claiming Trump is a tzaddik, simply because I am encouraging you not to believe the lies. If all it takes for them to deem a person a “tzaddik” is that he or she doesn’t glorify Nazis or make fun of disabilities, their friends must be people of really, really poor character!

      I do not believe “Yossi” is at all correct. I don’t know of many people, in or outside yeshivishe circles, who would confuse Trump with a tzaddik. Yossi’s “better view” from inside his kollel is categorically at odds with that of almost every person I have met, kollel student or not, Jew or not, religious or not, who supports Trump and his policies. But they are also realists — much as you are correct that in the end it is about policy, let’s not pretend that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden don’t have “deep character flaws” of their own.

      I don’t think we need to lionize Trump or endorse his every silly idea to reject the demonization. In the end it’s about policy, the course of the country. The reason they lie about Trump and scream about his character is to distract you from the issues that matter — because if you retain focus, it’s a very, very easy decision.

      • Michael says:

        Rabbi Menken,
        What you are saying about people not lionizing him and that everyone understands it’s just about the issues is simply not correct. All one needs to do is look at most of the chareidi media (perhaps excluding Mishpacha) from 2015-2019 (by now, even previous supporters have become more measured in how they speak about the president).
        I do not have the time nor interest to dig through numerous examples, but I am sure that readers of the various publications, and I imagine this includes you as well, know what I am talking about.

      • tzippi says:

        He can be really charming. Charismatic. He may be funny and loyal to those close to him. I get why he got where he has.
        But the 2016 primary season was profoundly disturbing. By the time my state voted, there weren’t too many options besides Cruz and Trump. I wanted Any Republican Besides Trump. I was nervous that Trump would, in his search and destroy strategy, do a birther on Cruz, so I had no choice but to vote for Kasich. Bonus points: Unlike November, I didn’t have to hold my nose.

      • Yaakov Menken says:


        Just saying that something is so doesn’t make it so. One who cares about accuracy in media would first acknowledge that CNN still has videos entitled “Trump mocks reporter with disability” and “How many ‘fine people’ would march with Nazis?” If your version of “lionize” is “does not engage in biased lies and slander,” your moral compass is in urgent need of recalibration.

        I have read plenty of pieces in Charedi media mocking Trump’s foibles, but which also address reality — e.g. that on confronting anti-Semitism, preference for Trump/R over Pelosi/D runs 60:1.

      • Chaim says:

        I want to second that.
        Non of the many kollel guys I know in Lakewood worship Trump at all. We are smart enough to know the difference between pragmatism & idealism. We also don’t equate someone who is pro abortion which the Torah considers a form of murder as being any more moral than the lowest politician in the US.
        The Jewish people have never looked up to non Jewish leaders for moral inspiration. Don’t forget the 8 years of hostility from Obama before you vote for a Biden & company.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    I suspect that there are many Americans who are afraid to express their views in public because they are afraid that a dissent from the neighboring Marxist pC line will cost them their jobs Dr Bill in indentifying the three major issues presented by the left had identified issues that the silent majority was concerned about in 2016 and remain so despite all of the polls and the mainstream media to the contrary

    It is disgraceful that we now know that the illegal and legally unsupported surveillance of Trump and his campaign was orchestrated by an incumbent president whose aim was to ensure that his policies were not changed who appeased terror and who raised the race card when Americans rejected his policies

    • Reb Yid says:

      It is Trump who is threatening democracy and becoming more fascist by the day with his personal Gestapo. Truly unparalleled in our nation’s history. The fact that you either do not see this or ignore it implicates you and everyone else who still, amazingly, are supporters of our wretched President.

      It is far, far, more than personal traits. It is taking aim at every American and every democracy around the globe.

      As Jews, we have a special obligation to heed these warning signs and to fight them with every breath.

      Ymach shemo.

      • G. Weiss says:

        Can you tell me any other Administration – Republican or Democrat – that has battled the Chinese Communist Party for their intellectual property theft? Obama certainly didn’t go after the CCP for their incursion in the South China Sea either. But Obama DID give BILLIONS to the mullahs in Iran – sounds like you’re okie-dokie with that or did you fight that or did you fight Obama’s assassinating of AMERICAN CITIZENS on foreign soil (INCLUDING their minor American children??)
        You should be embarrassed by your hyperbolic attacks that are utterly lacking in any substance, but if you’re a leftist you have no shame.

      • Reb Yid says:

        G Weiss:

        There were bounties placed on the heads of American troops , funded by Russia.

        Our dear President has done nothing to even speak out against this, let alone even discuss this with Putin.

        Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave.

        Our President cares not one whit about our own country, its troops or its citizens. He is Putin’s poodle. He’ll criticize just about every other nation and leader on earth, but not Russia or Putin.

      • Tal S. Benschar says:

        Reb Yid, I second G. Weiss’s criticism of your over-the-top rhetoric against Trump. As someone who has harshly criticized him, the use of language generally reserved for the Nazis (like Gestapo and Yimach Shmo) is outrageous and cheapens the real evil that occurred 85 to 75 years ago in Europe. Trump has many flaws but he is far from a Nazi.

        “Truly unparalleled in our nation’s history. ”

        You don’t seem to know much about American history. Why don’t you read this article about the Palmer raids, conducted during the administration of Woodrow Wilson:

        And while we mention Woodrow Wilson, let’s not forget that that man was truly a horrible racist, even compared to others in his time.

        The notion that Trump is the most evil, or racist, or anti-democratic president in U.S. history is sheer stupidity.

        The U.S. is still the freest nation on earth in terms of free speech, and Trump is regularly criticized and mocked every day in the press, with no governmental repercussions. His policies are regularly challenged in court, and when he loses, the Administration respects the courts’ decisions. (Subject, of course, to appeals.) Less than two years ago, we held mid-term elections in which Trump’s party lost control of one of the houses of Congress. If he is acting like a fascist, he is sure doing a very poor job. More like Bozo the Clown than Benito Mussolini.

        There is plenty about Trump to criticize. Your absurd rhetoric both makes you look foolish and cheapens the real evil the Nazis, yimach shmam, committed.

      • Dovid says:

        “As Jews, we have a special obligation to heed these warning signs and to fight them with every breath.”

        Perhaps an example of a warning sign is the demand to defund the police and refund Iran.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Wilson was an avowed segregationist.

        No doubt on that front.

        There were other fronts where he worked for the common good, however.

        None for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however. And you can bet he’ll be seeing some jail time once he leaves office or is escorted out if need be.

        It’s frankly a shanda that some on this board see little to nothing wrong with DJT as President (let’s not even get into his personal traits….just about his role as President which is just as egregious). He fails every conceivable test.

        His own political party is making for the hills as best it can, but when you’ve been tied to the hip with the man you may run but you can’t hide.

        Ymach shemo indeed. He has been a curse to this country and to our world. It will take decades to undo the damage he has already created.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Rioting and damaging Federal institutions deserves to be responded to by law enforcement But if local politicians refuse to let police preserve law and order it is absolutely permissible and constitutional to use federal law enforcement Calling such officers Gestapo does not help the liogic or merits of your cause

      • Raymond says:

        It is Barack Hussein Obama who is threatening democracy and becoming more fascist by the day with his personal Gestapo. Truly unparalleled in our nation’s history. The fact that those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome either do not see this or ignore it implicates President Trump’s detractors who still, amazingly, are bigoted against our truly great President.

        It is far, far, more than personal traits. It is taking aim at every American and every democracy around the globe. As Jews, we have a special obligation to heed these warning signs and to fight those with Trump Derangement Syndrome with every breath.

        Ymach shemo to Barack Hussein Obama

      • lacosta says:

        i would be shocked if more than 10% of readers here believe that a Biden-Harris-Schumer-Pelosi-AOC administration will somehow be better for Jews than the Trumpian chaos we are forced to tolerate. Given the imminent death of Justice RGB , his reelection may be the last chance to keep the arch left vicious virulent anti-patriarchal religion types from legislating against us , by getting us something safer to us than the Sotomayor clones Biden will push….

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    I suspect that there are many Americans who are afraid to express their views in public because they are afraid that a dissent from the neighboring Marxist pC line will cost them their jobs Dr Bill in indentifying the three major issues presented by the left had identified issues that the silent majority was concerned about in 2016 and remain so despite all of the polls and the mainstream media to the contrary

  14. Mordechai says:

    Just a question that I think requires at least some thought – Can we honestly be sure what Trump will do once reelected? Currently, he is playing to his base. But he does not appear to value loyalty and long-term relationships. (Look what he did to our allies the Kurds.) If reelected and unable to run again, can we be so certain that he will continue his current policies? Maybe he would devote his energy to making himself richer rather than supporting freedom of religion and Israel (things that his base wants)?

    Additionally, Trump has bungled Covid-19. I don’t know if it is far fetched to say that Trump is a potential security threat – that if the US got into a war with China, would Trump be able to handle it or would he completely bungle that too?

    None of this means that I won’t necessarily vote for Trump but I do think these points deserve some thought.

    • Robert Lebovits says:

      Please describe how Trump “bungled” COVID-19 and what alternative policies were offered by his political opponents contemporaneously. Every state’s governor has had exclusive authority over the mandates regulating their citizens’ behavior.
      Dr. Fauci has stated more than once that the administration has never ignored his recommendations and the science was followed. Early on both Govs. Newsome and Cuomo acknowledged that when called upon, the federal gov’t provided all the assistance they requested.

      • Reb Yid says:

        We’ve suffered more than 150,000 fatalities to date, far worse than any other country on earth. Currently at a clip of over 1,000 fatalities per day. Our President has asserted that he takes no responsibility for this.

        We’ve suffered the worst economic collapse of any nation on earth and the worst in our history–even worst than the Depression. The worst unemployment figures in our nation’s history by an exponential degree.

        We got rid of Hoover and Dubya for catastrophic collapses under their watch, and the same will most likely occur, please God, in November. Like them, Trump has refused to use the power of the national government to assist our country’s citizens in a meaningful way.

      • Mordechai says:

        – Setting an example and calling on citizens to wear masks.
        – When governors want to impose restrictions, support them (within reason), don’t encourage protesting for reopening unless CDC guidelines are met.
        – States cannot match the purchasing power of the Federal Government. The Federal Government needed to effectively coordinate supply purchasing.
        – Don’t hold the CDC back by saying their guidelines are too restrictive. This resulted in lost time when we didn’t have guidelines.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Earth to Reb Yid:
        GW Bush was reelected in 2004 and never thrown out. McCain and fellow RINOs in 2012 never had a chance because they didn’t go after Obama. Yet he still came fairly close.

        The Trump Administration’s supply chain initiatives with major US companies achieved remarkable, rapid results.
        Also note that Democrats are OK with maskless mass rallies and riots as long as their own buddies do them. They look on the CDC as a center to control Republican behavior only.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Earth to Reb Yid:
        GW Bush was reelected in 2004 and never thrown out. McCain and fellow RINOs in 2008 never had a chance because they didn’t go after Obama. Yet he still came fairly close.

        The Trump Administration’s supply chain initiatives with major US companies achieved remarkable, rapid results.
        Also note that Democrats are OK with maskless mass rallies and riots as long as their own buddies do them. They look on the CDC as a center to control Republican behavior only.

      • Dovid says:

        “We’ve suffered the worst economic collapse of any nation on earth and the worst in our history–even worst than the Depression. The worst unemployment figures in our nation’s history by an exponential degree.”
        Reducing unemployment requires businesses to reopen. But if businesses reopen then that’s also open to criticism since ostensibly it causes the pandemic to spread.
        If Biden has gone on record with a plan to reduce unemployment and stave off the virus, how does it work?

      • Robert Lebovits says:

        Reb Yid:
        1. Your first claim is false. On a per million basis, the only way a comparison can be made of countries with different sized populations, the US ranks in 8th place of the top 12 countries in the world. Even that ranking is flawed because we have no accurate numbers from China, Russia, Iran, and virtually all the countries on the African continent. The figures from the WHO are unreliable at best, if not outright fraudulent.
        2. This is another bogus claim ignoring that the economy 6 months ago was near its peak in US history and even with the decline our economy is still as robust as most other administrations. The fall has transpired over only 2 quarters which is nowhere long enough to be a benchmark. Finally, it was directly the result of a pandemic which has damaged every nation’s economy and not a result of Trump policies. No one could have avoided this crash once the Chinese had so recklessly infected the world with this virus.
        3. Your last point is particularly confusing. On the one hand you criticize him for not exerting more national power. Yet you have also decried his “fascistic” tendencies, accusing him of usurping too much power. Which do you want, more power or less?

        1. He “bungled” COVID-19 because he did not wear a mask until very recently? How would you describe the actions of governors whose policies directly resulted in thousands of nursing home deaths? Abysmal? Unconscionable? Criminal? There is no randomized study documenting the precise effectiveness of masks and the consequences of not wearing them so long as social distance is maintained. The CDC guidelines for wearing a mask in public specifically stipulate they should be worn when social distancing is not possible.
        2. Considering that the three state of NY, NJ, and PA comprise more than one third of all US fatalities due to COVID it would be reasonable for any president to be cautious in supporting the governors of those states in their restrictions. Trump has backed governors whose policies show positive results.
        3. Bob Miller has addressed the issue of the supply chain. As for the CDC, there is no evidence Trump has held them back in any way. The CDC is not sacrosanct and there is certainly room for criticism.

      • Reb Yid says:

        1. The US has 4% of the world’s population but 26% of the world’s covid fatalities (and said US figure unquestionably an undercount at that). This might be understandable in a less developed country but it is unconscionable for the world’s richest nation.

        2. When this first broke, our President figured he would throw trillions at the market while denying and ridiculing the virus and that would take care of both issues. Instead, it exacerbated both to record heights. That money was instead needed to go to hospitals, states and local communities. As certain governors in the South also learned, trying to open up our economy artificially without seriously tackling the virus ended up making things far, far, worse.

        Again, the enormity of the unemployment situation and of the GDP meltdown is worse than even the Great Depression. Perhaps you have seen the various charts where it looks like the weeks and months of 2020 have fallen off the chart that stretches back to the early decades of the 20th century. Mind you, Trump asked for this–he always bragged about how “good” the economy was (never mind that he was riding the tailwinds of a superb economy handed to him by his predecessor who rescued our country from Dubya’s economic debacle) and how “good” his poll numbers were. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

        Ask anyone, as Reagan once did, if they are better off now than they were 4 years ago, and the overwhelming proportion of Americans will answer ‘no’.

        3. For the most part, Trump wants to completely dismantle our government, our democracy and our Constitution. (Incidentally, there has never been an Administration that has come close to the amount of turnover as this one). The main use he has for it is to print money has been sent to the bond market and for bailouts for his corporate cabal. He sees himself above the law. His use of his Gestapo to tear gas unarmed protesters at Lafayette Square for the sake of a woebegone photo-op speaks for itself. If you are fine with a President sending unmarked military personnel to create havoc and injure unarmed media and protesters, then you haven’t read up on your history of fascist regimes.

        Government can do good. Even Republican government. This President, however, only uses government (when he uses it at all) to make things worse and terrorize vulnerable members of our society.

    • Raymond says:

      Once one starts asking hypothetical questions, there is no end to it. Anything is possible. Who knows? Maybe Donald Trump will turn into a devotee of Barack Hussein Obama. Maybe he will grow wings and a tail. Meanwhile, I would rather judge him by his actual performance as President so far, and in that sense, he has been absolutely magnificent, certainly among the greatest Presidents that this country has ever had. Yes, he is hated big time by his detractors, but then again, so was Abraham Lincoln in his day.

      And as for national security and a possible war with China, I would certainly rather have a strong, resolute leader like President Trump in charge of our country, than Sleepy Joe who has trouble stringing enough words together to form even a single sentence. Let us hope that voter fraud is kept to a minimum so that America can once again choose Donald Trump as our President in November, so that he could continue to Make America Great Again.

  15. Nachum says:

    You’re too generous, R’ Gordimer. The “letter” is a simple political screed for one side that demonizes its opponents as not being frum and tries to very thinly disguise itself with “reasonable” cliches that have been used for decades by charedim or charedi-leaners who want an excuse to vote Democrat.

    (Sadly, MO who vote Democrat don’t need excuses.)

    • Bob Miller says:

      The chance that committed religious Jews will go and imitate Trump the libertine is rather low. In contrast, the chance that the signatories are creating confusion when the situation demands resolution is high. I have not forgotten the many creative excuses that Orthodox Jews inside and outside Obama’s administration advanced for his reckless policies . Anyone can find examples archived at this blog, and in Orthodox magazines. No such person should be lecturing us now.

    • Lawrence M Reisman says:

      I find your characterization quite surprising, given that 4 of the 7 signatories are known for their right-wing, Republican sympathies.

      • Raymond says:

        Any time anybody has politically conservative views, the Intolerant Leftists automatically label them Right-Wingers. If John F Kennedy were to run for President today, with his emphasis on personal responsibility as well as his anti-Communist stance, the Radical Left would label him a Right-Winger. President Trump is certainly no Right-Winger, but simply a man with traditional, American values, and for whom we should do everything possible to help him Make America Great Again.

      • lacosta says:

        and to double up Raymond , today we can safely label Obama a homophobe [ he was against same sex marriage ] , and the arch-racist is MLK [ judge people on character rather than their race ? find me a statue i can deface]

    • Dovid says:

      Nachum – in more recent times, strategically, it’s makes little sense for 5-boro Yidden to limit registration and voting for the Republican party since it blocks them from the primaries and/or divides the vote resulting in AOC, Tiffany Caban and fellow their fellow DSA travelers.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Increasingly, it makes little sense for “5-boro Yidden” to stay put. Non-socialist Jewish impact on election results in NYC has dwindled and will dwindle further regardless.

  16. lacosta says:

    there is a risk of having [leftist ] democratic control of the trio of the white house, the house and the senate. one of the only protections left to orthodox / haredi jews in USA is the RFRA act that was innocuously signed by Clinton the He . This law is the bleak tenuous thread that allows for , for example , banning zoning laws to discriminate against haredi establishments , and allows a rabbi/yeshiva to get away with banning same sex marriages or trans students or teachers . it is no secret that one party is salivating to remove this protector of atavistic patriarchal homophobic religions and their practitioners.

    The current zeitgeist that would make haredi life in the US prone to pariah status , would additionally find a certain apartheid entity in the middle east worthy of calumny and demolition . thus , escape there would just make it easier for those here with animus to us [#jewlivesdontmatter] to conveniently have us all in one place .
    wouldn’t that be special.
    If someone says you need to vote like your life depends on it , that may not be so farfetched….

  17. Lawrence M Reisman says:

    Rabbi Gordimer should note that in 1992, a number of prominent rabbonim, such as Rav Schwab and Rav Miller, pointedly supported Bush 41 against Clinton because of Clinton’s immoral behavior, and even though Clinton was by far the more favorable to Israel.

    • Bob Miller says:

      At the time, Clinton was personally immoral and Bush was not. If Bush had been a sleaze like Biden, they could have decided differently, possibly choosing Ross Perot.

    • Dovid says:

      Mr. Reisman – Mea Culpa. But let’s also keep perspective. When Clinton was first running in 1992 he was asked who he would nominate for the Supreme Court and he responded Mario Cuomo and Guido Calabrese. These 2, in comparison with Pres Obama’s nominations, were conservative. Also, Pat Buchanan was given the floor at the 1992 Republican convention; considering his history of Holocaust denial and not-so-concealed hostility towards just about anything Jewish-related, his speech’s angry tone and strident rhetoric was chilling.

    • Raymond says:

      Well, apparently both Rabbi Shimon Schwab as well as Rabbi Avigdor Miller had special insights, because as it turns out, both George HW Bush as well as George W Bush were far better for Israel than Bill Clinton was. For a while now, it has been Democratic Presidents who have been lousy for Israel, while Republican Presidents have been great for Israel. Greatest of them all is Donald J Trump, who is not only the best friend that Israel ever had in the White House, but is also doing what he can to Make America Great Again.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Trump is not using Jewish employees to beat Israel into accepting agreements and policies favorable to the Arabs. Recent Presidents, including even Republicans, were not above that.

  18. Raymond says:

    Even though I am seeing this just one day after it was posted, I see that I have already come very late to this discussion. Obviously it is a very timely issue that people have strong feelings about. As is my usual practice, I am going to give my perspective before I read what others have said, so as to make sure I think for myself and not just repeat what other people may have already said.

    To begin with, I have to be suspicious of this sudden call for Orthodox Jews to not be partisan, just when there is such a sharp discrepancy between the increasingly antisemitic Democratic Party led by the Squad (Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez) and the wonderfully pro-Israel policy of President Trump’s Administration. What is really bothering those who call for non-partisanship is the overwhelming, justified support for our President that exists among traditional, Orthodox Jews. Had things been the opposite, such as during the good old days when we Jews had such strong support for Israel from Democrats such as Robert Kennedy, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, while not having such support from Republicans such as Barry Goldwater, such calls for non-partisanship simply would not be happening.

    A second point I wish to make here is that I think that some Jews make a mistake about politicians in a way that is very similar to how they view the Jewish State of Israel. What I mean is, some Jews expect politicians to be Rabbis, and expect the Jewish State of Israel be a throwback to the classic days of King David and King Solomon. It is great to be idealistic, and our religious values must never be compromised, and yet, if we do not survive physically, it becomes impossible to accomplish anything spiritually. I see politicians as being like the golem. The golem was not some spiritual giant, but simply a physical force coming to the physical defense of the Jews. Presidents such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W Bush, and Donald Trump may have their flaws, but meanwhile, they have been truly wonderful friends to Israel. They are protecting its very fragile existence. Same goes for the Jewish State of Israel itself. Obviously it has many shortcomings, but meanwhile, it provides us with the means to physically defend our Jewish lives, and that is certainly no small matter at all.

    Besides, I am not all that sure that Donald Trump is the horrible human being that his detractors keep accusing him of being. There is absolutely zero evidence of him being a racist, and while he did make that one unfortunate, brief comment about women so many years ago, that was in a private conversation and therefore none of our business, and yet to his enemies, he can never live that down, while those same detractors completely overlook and excuse Bill Clinton’s constant womanizing. John Kennedy’s exploits with women are, shall we say, legendary, yet he is beloved by people from both sides of the political spectrum to this very day. Again, we are not choosing which great Rabbi will lead this nation, but rather a politician who will best protect us from physical harm. And on that score alone, when I see how it is the Democratic Governors and Mayors doing everything they can to encourage the rioting, looting, and burning down of businesses that has been going on lately, while it is the Republicans who are desperately trying to restore some law and order to our nation, for me it is no contest who should rightfully win in the upcoming November elections. I must say it was a good feeling when no less a Torah giant than Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky himself, endorsed our strongly pro-Israel President for re-election. And let us not forget that the greatest Torah giant of the second half of the last century, Rav Soloveitchik, was a Republican, as was Rabbi Avigdor Miller, and that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was quite insistent on not handing even one inch of our precious Jewish land over to our sworn enemies. How right he was.

  19. Schmerel says:

    The question of why do frum people support Trump with all his faults is hardly unique to the frum world. It is true of most non-Islamic religious groups

    It’s not because anyone has illusions that he is some sort of saint. The reason they want him re-elected is that he is from the few things preventing the US from turning into quasi-socialist, anti-personal freedom, anti-religious, and even more anti-non-minority country.

    Much as Trump makes fun of and insults politicians he disagrees with, he NEVER starts up with religious people, leaders, practice or belief. He also never tries to control the life of John Doe in the street who is looking to live his own life and mind his own business.

    I live in the NYS area and work in NYC. Every time I turn around I read about the politicians competing to make more laws, more bans, more fees, more harassment of the working class who are not on entitlement programs and lower the quality of life.

    With the exception, of course, made for illegal immigrants, criminals and LGBTs who receive obsessive government focus and concern.

    And when it comes to religion and morals… To put it this way. It is a much bigger deal in the Democrat party that the governor of Virginia allegedly wore black face thirty years ago than his current support of infanticide.

    I absolutely don’t want this on a national level. Therefore I support Trump

    Yes it would be wonderful if Trump had the personality of Ronald Reagan or even Obama. But Obama’s efforts to force Catholic employers to go against their religion providing certain employee benefits is a lot more of threat to freedom of religion than Trump’s personal failings.

    • Mordechai says:

      You make valid points. Given that we agree about Trump’s low character, can we be confident that he will continue to support religious liberty if he wins another term is no longer seeking reelection? He may focus all of his efforts on trying to get richer after he would leave office.

      • Schmerel says:

        What money is there in fighting religion?How would it conceivably be in Trump’s interest?

        If you are going with the assumption of “you don’t know what he will do after the election” Biden who probably has no intention of running again at age 81 is a lot likely to be manipulated by the far left of the Democratic party into taking very anti religious positions.

        Even if Biden does expect to run again, being hostile to religion is not a political liability among Biden’s base.

        Trump OTOH has enough enemies that there is no way he can afford alienating his few bases of support. If his (non-Jewish) religious supporters join the Democrats in the perennial calls for his impeachment he will be out the door very quickly. Mike Pence certainly isn’t someone who can be accused of hostility to religion.

    • Mordechai says:

      Remember how Trump abandoned the Kurds. No, he was not the first to necessarily abandon them, but we see that he doesn’t always view loyalty as going both ways.

      • Dovid says:

        Mordechai – is your point stating that just as the President “abandoned” the Kurds (quotes used since I’m not informed of the topic) he could just as likely abandon our interests? Of course that’s possible. But in my view, regarding our interests, the Democratic Party has already engaged in such reckless abandonment.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Obama is as cold as ice, no way wonderful.

      • Raymond says:

        Barack Hussein Obama is cold-blooded, that lately I have started to wonder if he may be a genuine psychopath. Keep in mind that most psychopaths actually have a lot of charisma, and so he used that charm to become the first truly dangerous man to have in the White House. What a sharp contrast to our great President Donald J Trump, who is doing what he can to Make America Great Again.

  20. Schemerel says:

    I frequently hear the accusation that frum people look at Trump as a moral figure.I live in a very right wing community and have to hear anyone express that view. Even in the online world I only see that as an accusation, I never see anyone actually make such a claim or argument.

    It probably is true that many in the frum world believe that Trump is not as black as white villainous as the media depicts him. e.g. There are many stories about him being moved to help people in unfortunate situations from his own money. I don’t know whether those stories are true or not but one thing is certain, there are no similar claims being made about people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden by people who worked with them.

    • Raymond says:

      It is the Radical Left who expect our political leaders to be substitute clergymen. We conservatives know better than to engage in such foolishness. We conservatives look to our Rabbis for spiritual leadership, and look to President Donald J Trump to help Make America Great Again.

      • Bob Miller says:

        It doesn’t depend on one politician or any number of politicians. Against all opposition, open and hidden, voters in this republic need to vote according to their true interests and the true national interest. That’s our hishtadlus, but Hashem really does everything.

  21. Eliyahu says:

    In some ways the debate on who should the frum jews vote for in this election is academic. The vast majority of frum Jews live in NY, NJ and Maryland which are all deep blue states that will not vote for a Republican president. Same for Illinois and California. So voting for this or that candidate will not change anything on a practical level, but is essentially making a statement. So while I can see why someone would want to make the statement that the Democrats are so awful that even the current president is preferable to them, I could also see the argument that the best statement to make is either to write in a candidate or not to vote because both alternatives are bad, each in its own way.

    • Bob Miller says:

      If the parties now differ in a clear-cut way, with one emphatically against Jews and Jewish interests, we need to be engaged.

    • Raymond says:

      Any Jew, Orthodox or not, who does not vote for Donald J Trump this coming November, is contributing to the destruction of the United States of America. The more realistic among us, in contrast, are supporting President Trump’s efforts to Make America Great Again.

  22. Heshy Friedman says:

    Any Jew who votes against Trump has no gratitude and is probably a democratic operative or a radical leftist. There are good reasons why normal proud Jews support Trump. Everyone knows the list of things he did to help our people. No need to repeat it. But not everyone remembers how he saved a little orthodox three year old boy from california who needed an emergency operation and no airline would let him fly with his medical equipment. In stepped a tzaddik Donald Trump and gave his plane to fly the little frum boy. The reason Trump is alive today is because he saved the little boys life. Now I know you liberal cynics will laugh. But what you don’t remember is how the very next year after saving the little boy, Trump was scheduled to get on a helicopter with three of his executives. Guess what. The Almighty stepped in and changed Trumps mind at the last minute and the helicopter crashed and killed his three executives with Trumps life being spared. There are many secret stories how Trump has helped the frum community but I will not reveal them as they are top secret. But you should all know that we never had such a pro Jewish president in the history of America. Now you cynics know why the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are supporting Trump. It’s not a coincident that polls have shown that 97 per cent of Orthodox Jews support Trump. It’s a Kiddush Hashem to support our great President. Maybe we can have him change the law so he can be president for three terms as Rosevelt yemach shemoi was president three terms. Trump 2020 and 2024

    • tzippi says:

      There is a lot to thank Trump for.
      But this kind of rhetoric gets me nervous. It’s the language of those who will point to the prophets talking about an unlikely gentile leader being in a key position in the days of Moshiach. Once you start to say, this is Trump, he’s been chosen for big stuff, well, pardon me for getting nervous.
      If I would be proud about anything, it would be being a reluctant Trumper. I was in 2016 and the president hasn’t made it easy to be otherwise in 2020.

    • Raymond says:

      I agree with every word you said here, and I, too, wish that Donald Trump could be our President for at least as long as Franklin Roosevelt was our President. The only problem with such an idea, though, is that such a repealing of term limits would have enabled Barack Obama to essentially become our dictator, which would have destroyed this country. Meanwhile, we can focus on at least getting Donald Trump re-elected President in November, so that he can continue to undo the terrible damage done to this country by Obama, and so President Trump can continue to do whatever is necessary to Make America Great Again.

    • Bob Miller says:

      I’m fine with the US Constitution as it stands. What we need is for officials, elected or appointed, to stop reinterpreting it into oblivion.

    • Bob Miller says:

      They probably trust readers to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      Today’s general standards have devolved a lot, so this is relatively tame, even if over-the-top.

    • Lawrence M Reisman says:

      Thank you, Yosef Chaim, for posting what I was thinking about civility and collegiality of comments.

  23. Steven Brizel says:

    The bottle m line remains IMO policies not Tweets Only the Democrats like total shutdowns of society suppression of civil liberties and dystopic news coverage of body counts and fretting over whether a vaccine if developed before Election Day will work Only the Democrats call riots mostly peaceful protests and support the rewriting of history the demolition of police departments and the metatastazing growth of the progressive extremely secular intersectional left a Only the Democrats tried to preventvTrump from changing dangerous foreign policy initiatives by spying not just on Trumps campaign but on Trump himself Only the Democrats created a false narrative about an eminently qualified Supreme Court Justice Only the Democrats would destroy the nuclear family and hold American industry captive to the goals of China and radical environmentalists who are green on the outside and red in the inside Only the Democrats threw Israel under the bus at the UN talked about Jerusalem but did nothing about it and only the Democrats appeased terror and sent cash to Iran the greatest exporter of terror in the world Only the Democrats viewed anti Semitism as merely one of many different forms of prejudice If you like to discuss issues and not Teeets or fantasies about abuse of power that’s why we have debates When Federal institutions are threatened by rioters and local governments refuse to allow police to do their jobs then you send in Federal law enforcement These are the issues that Democrats refuse to discuss
    If you want to vote for Biden give us some reason why as opposed to the feverish rhetoric of the Radical left the mainstream media and academia

  24. Michael says:

    It really is interesting to note that so many commenters assume the authors of the open letter were advocating for people to vote for Biden or, alternatively, not vote for Trump.
    My understanding of the letter was that they were endorsing nobody. What they were saying, as I understood it, is that we need to ensure that we don’t equate a presidential candidate or political party’s platform with Torah values.They are calling on us to ensure that our hashkafas haolam, the prism through which we view the world, including politics, is informed purely by Torah values. While the Republican platform may be relatively more aligned with Torah values, it is not Torah values. Thus, while it is important we vote, we ought not make who we vote for a central part of our identity.

    • Bob Miller says:

      We can choose responsibly with eyes open, stand aside and not choose, or blindly continue previous bad habits.

    • Raymond says:

      As much as I am a huge supporter of President Trump, I never mistake him for a religious leader. I have my Rabbis fill that latter function. Meanwhile though, when it comes to politics, it is crucial for the survival of both Israel and America that we continue to support President Trump, who is doing what he can to Make America Great Again.

  25. Yosef Chaim Gershuny says:

    Whether one agrees or disagrees with Rabbi Gordimer’s post, it is a reasonable response to the Open Latter posted by Rabbi Shafran. Unfortunately, many of the comments here display the exact vitriol and divisiveness addressed in the Open Letter. It is worth noting that Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote that such political machloket “derive from the yetzer hara and the forces of evil.” Igros Moshe O.C. 1:46.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Aside from opposing vitriol, what do you recommend to the 2020 voter?

      • Yosef Chaim Gershuny says:

        If asked, I would tell them to educate themselves on the issues, decide which issues are most important to them, learn where the candidates and their parties stand on those issues, and vote (or don’t vote) accordingly. That’s what I told my daughter when she first voted (and as an Israeli citizen she’s done a lot of voting the past few years).

  26. moshe shoshan says:

    Rabbi Shafran and his colleagues’ letter shows remarkable moral clarity and courage. Hashem is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. American Orthodoxy has aligned itself uncritically with the Religious (i.e. Christian!) Right. The dominant political line of Crosscurrents is a prime example of this. As result core Torah values have become transvalued in to pasul “liberal” values. This is no different from liberal Jews identifying Judaism with liberal progressivism. both distort Torah and yiddishkeit and are chillul hashem. One can be a yerei shamayim and oved hashem and vote for either party.

    • Robert Lebovits says:

      For a moment let’s take the discussion out of the realm of party politics and look instead at the agendas and platforms we are seeing from the two sides of the aisle.
      “One can be a yerei shamayim and oved Hashem and vote for either party”. Is that statement still accurate in regard to the two sets of policies we are offered? They are certainly not equally congruent with Torah and yiddishkeit. Taking the concept of yerei shomayim to an operative level would call for choosing the one that more directly supports the freedom to live a Torah life.

    • Bob Miller says:

      1. I don’t see the “uncritically”.
      2. One can be a yerei Shamayim and oved Hashem and still make catastrophic decisions.

  27. Steve Brizel says:

    We all know that the Same Torah contains Shmitta and Yovel Nidah and Mitzvas Onah and Piryah vRivyah compensation of injured persons and protection of private property

    When it comes to American politics the issue is which party acts in the best interests of the Torah committed community and will protect and support our values . IMO that is a function of realpolitik and assessment of where the candidates stand in very critical issues such as free exercise of religion support of the conventional family structure and Israel and opposition to terror and state supported terrorism not whether a candidate is a Tzadik

    • Eliyahu says:

      In terms of realpolitik, how will voting for Trump en masse in New York and New Jersey and Maryland help the Torah committed community? It will not change the election result at all but it may lead to the democratic leadership saying (paraphrasing James Baker III), forget the orthodox, they don’t vote for us anyway. Again, from realpolitik standpoint perhaps it would make more sense (at least in NY) to register as democrats and influence the Democratic party to remain sane.

      • Peri says:

        I agreed with you in 2016 so I didn’t vote the top of the ticket because I was afraid that Trump was a loose cannon. Then came the argument that Trump lost the popular vote and I was sorry that I didn’t vote for him.

        Thus far he has been the most Pro Jewish/Israel president in American history. I have much hakaras hatov/gratitude to him for this and I plan to vote for him now.

      • Bob Miller says:

        This experiment of many decades, loyally voting Democratic for your reasons, didn’t stop the Democrats from turning against us and Israel as they became radicalized. Radicals aren’t scared by our remaining voting power, and aren’t swayed by anything we can offer other than obedience. Sanity is in their rear-view mirror.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Realpolitik means looking at the views of both parties and asking yourself which party supports the policies that will protect our communities from the views of the radical left when carried into public policy whether by acts of a runaway Democratic Congress a left wing judiciary and a bureaucracy that expands its appetite as to whom to regulate which has enormous influence in the media and academia and a disturbingly Increasing influence within the Democratic Party

      • EG Edelson says:

        That’s what certain askanim would have us do. The problem is, some Democrat policies have already gone way beyond insane. As others on this thread have mentioned, specifically LGBT issues have gotten entirely out of control, with the potential to adversely affect our families and institutions. I would like to know what the askanim – who pride themselves on being able to work behind the scenes and build bridges with those who may not share our values – are doing about that. Until and unless I know that issue is being addressed, I will not be comfortable putting myself on record as in any way seeming to endorse those who would advocate such policies.

  28. Josh K says:

    :::[N]early every high-ranking politician, from across the entire spectrum, has committed acts exhibiting major character deficiencies and often much worse…. For this reason, the debate about supporting politicians who exhibit moral deficiencies becomes pretty much moot….:::

    This is both a factual error and an important hashkafic error as well.  Before becoming frum I worked professionally on political campaigns and Capitol Hill for about a decade and saw quite a bit of the underbelly of the system (I worked for Republicans incidentally).  I’d like to share an important point based on that experience:

    Factually, it’s just not true to say politicians are all horrible people, there’s a significant spectrum that includes genuinely honorable individuals, a few really horrible ones, and a lot of very needy but otherwise pretty morally average people.  Many of the needy ones tend to act out sexually because they are looking for outside validation, which is what drove them to run in the first place.  And most politicians will place their own reelection first, telling themselves they can’t do other good things if they don’t live to fight another day.  But even the needy ones are more flawed than evil and there really are a lot of genuinely admirable people out there in office.  At the Presidential level let’s look at the last two decades of major party presidential nominees besides Trump:  Bush, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Obama, Romney, and Clinton.  Some of them are more admirable people than others, but putting Clinton aside (she’s a whole discussion on her own) none of their moral behavior is anywhere on the same planet as bad as Trump’s and there is a genuine hero in the bunch.

    More perniciously the entire approach is rooted in cynicism, a dangerous middah I shouldn’t need to have to decry here.  Once you assume “they’re all bad” you doom yourself to being ruled by the worst of the bunch.  To give a real life example; different states have very different political cultures with widely different levels of political corruption.  Some states have real corruption (New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Illinois, South Florida, a lot of the Mid-Atlantic; notice the relatively corrupt states include most of the big frum populations) others are mostly clean (Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, the West in general, parts of New England, and most of the Midwest), and others in the middle (the South, other parts of New England, pockets of the Southwest).

    What creates those different levels of corruption?  The primary factor is how cynical the local electorate is.  The average voter in New Jersey assumes every politician is corrupt and therefore doesn’t get too upset when he finds out someone is in fact corrupt.  The average voter in Wisconsin doesn’t share the cynicism and is much more willing to toss the bum out when he finds out about graft etc.

    Rabbi Gordimer is explicitly arguing for the cynical approach, which is both factually inaccurate and corrosive.  That kind of belief is dangerous both to the holder and to klal the holder is a part of – it should have no place in a Torah community.  That seems to be part of what the writers of the Open Letter were decrying and it’s unfortunate to see Rabbi Gordimer and so many commentators here embracing such a negative middah.
    What makes Trump uniquely morally corrosive isn’t that his middos are so much worse than other politicians, although they are, it’s that he shamelessly flaunts his vices in public and turns them into virtues in his supporters eyes’.  That spreads cynicism and corruption permanently in his wake and even those frum Jews who think it is worthwhile to support him (a discussion for another day, that was not the subject of the Open Letter) need to keep his corrupting influence clearly in mind and far from our hearts. 
    :::Our mesorah for dealing with political leaders and tribal chieftains, going back to Avrohom Avinu and Ephron Ha-Chitti, to Yaakov Avinu and Eisav, and throughout history, has been one of pragmatism and not idealism.:::

    Yaakov dealt with Esav because he had no choice and when Esav offered to travel with him he pointedly declined.  Yaakov did not vote for Esav, nor did he excuse Esav’s “indiscretions” because “Moav is just as bad.”

    :::The ramifications of Orthodox Jews appearing to be partisan are pretty negligible in the present landscape and the broader scheme of things.:::

    This is still true but it’s a lot less true than it was 20 years ago.  As more and more non-frum Jews fully assimilate we need to see ourselves as representatives of the whole of the klal in the political sphere.  That means taking a leadership role in reaching out to all politicians on behalf of wider Jewish causes, Israel especially.  Rabbi Gordimer’s statement above assumes an abdication of that responsibility.  We can get away with this for maybe ten more years give or take but it’s time to start changing this attitude.

    • Bob Miller says:

      It’s fine to say there are gradations of badness, but…
      Your list of Presidential candidates you allege to be better than Trump needs some editing. Leave out the traitors and the rapist.
      That list in itself casts doubt on anything you’ve written. Anyway, try reaching out sincerely to AOC or Keith Ellison. I’m sure they ready to reverse course.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Forget the rapist part of my 1:13 comment; that was the other Clinton, whom you left off your list for some reason.

    • Robert Lebovits says:

      Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your experience and your insights into the political world. You obviously have a keen sense of how things work. Unfortunately, current events suggest some of your perspectives are out of date.
      A common error in the process of decision-making that we all make at different times is known as the “normalcy bias”. This shortcut in our thinking allows us to quickly evaluate a situation by comparing it to past experiences and determining if we have been here before and how that turned out. The normalcy bias, for example, explains why so many people stayed in New Orleans and Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina despite all the warnings of how dangerous it was going to be. Many people believed that it was just going to be like every other hurricane, albeit a bit stronger, and they had survived those so they’d survive this one as well. Tragically, it was much more devastating than they had ever encountered and as a consequence many people died needlessly. Some writers have suggested that this bias was also at work during the Holocaust, people thinking another pogrom was coming only bigger. No one could imagine the the true horror because it had never happened before.
      The last two to three years has seen such a profound radicalization of the Democrat Party that it hardly resembles the party we knew even 10 years ago. Positions that were previously considered Far Left are now essentially mainstream. The economic socialism and cultural shift of Bernie Sanders has been embraced by younger Democrats and Biden himself has promised to make his administration the most “progressive” of any in the history of the US – with the blessing of his old boss. Coupled with the rise of “cancel culture” and the occasionally-violent social upheaval that Democrats have joined, there is no longer anything one could call “moderate” within that party and no leadership willing or able to work toward creating a centrist gov’t.
      Therefore, we are faced with the most undesirable of choices, having to choose between that which is bad and that which is worse. You rightly point out that the personal ugliness of Trump brings with it more moral corrosion (we already got a fair amount from past presidents). But the institutional, unapologetic drive to remake the country by Democrats into a brave new world is a greater existential threat to our future well-being. If Rabbi Gordimer is not interested “in reaching out to all politicians”, perhaps it is because he sees little chance of success with those who dismiss our concerns as no longer in step with the times.

      • Reb Yid says:

        The reason why most remained in New Orleans is because they were either poor, sick, black or old or some combination thereof and did not have the resources to move. Those who fled were overwhelmingly white, had a place to flee to, and resources to accomplish this.

        The same has generally been the case of core urban areas in all times of transition. The most vulnerable are always left behind. This is no less true of the urban Jewish experience in American


      • Josh K says:

        @Robert Lebovits your comments above are about whether it’s a good idea to support Trump or not, which is a distinct issue from what the authors of the Open Letter addressed. They made a point to stay neutral on that topic. I did as well because I wanted to focus on the letter and Rabbi Gordimer’s response to it (I admit Rabbi Gordimer veered off into the substance of why he’s a Trump supporter, but I was trying to stay away from that part of his writing). If there was a good forum to have a discussion about the substance of Trump as his election impacts the frum community and the promulgation of Torah values that wouldn’t devolve into name calling I’d be all for having it, but it’s hard to have that discussion civilly as many of the above threads show.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Most politicians are neither Tzadikim Gamur or Reshaim Gamurim but like most of us Beinonim We are not voting for Tzadikim but rather from a Realpolitik perspective as to who will act and who do trust will act in our communities interests

  29. Peri says:

    Two of the signatories of the open letter are consistently pro democratic

    The open letter is very polished but it lacks the common sense of the Poshiter Yid to know who our enemies are at this point in time

  30. Reb Yid says:

    What makes Trump uniquely morally corrosive isn’t that his middos are so much worse than other politicians, although they are, it’s that he shamelessly flaunts his vices in public and turns them into virtues in his supporters eyes’. That spreads cynicism and corruption permanently in his wake and even those frum Jews who think it is worthwhile to support him (a discussion for another day, that was not the subject of the Open Letter) need to keep his corrupting influence clearly in mind and far from our hearts.

    Best paragraph of the entire thread. Thank you for providing a sane and clear analytic perspective on the specific issue raised by the post.

    • Schemerel says:

      It is not true that Trump shamelessly flaunts his vices in public and turns them into virtues in his supporters eyes.

      The Democrats on the other hand are very insistent that you share their views on moral issues or face being cancelled.

      A very intelligent sophisticated New York Times article arguing for something antithetical to Torah has a lot more effect on it’s readers-frum ones included-than Trump acting like a boor.

  31. Heshy says:

    Democrats means supporting abortions on demand,gay marriage,euthanasia,BLM,teaching atheism and evolution,and fining stores that put up modesty dress notices etc. top Kabbalist have stated that Trump is a prelude to Mossiach. We see the world moving fast. We need to make a fundraising for him in Brooklyn as well. We could easily raise millions especially if we did a massive outdoor dinner on 13 ave. It’s a shame that he was not invited to the Daf Yomi Siyum. Instead they invited the democratic governor of New Jersey.

    • tzippi says:

      The president definitely wasn’t invited?
      And as for the NJ governor, considering how much Torah learning goes on his state, and that the siyum was held in NJ, how could they not have invited him?

  32. lacosta says:

    one of the greatest reasons to not vote for DEMs this time around will be the immediate repeal of RFRA , the law that prevents the government from jailing and otherwise banning rabbis /institutions that will continue to choose religious doctrine over PC doctrine in especially issues of sexual orientation….

  33. Bob Miller says:

    This comment applies to Rabbi Shafran’s new post, “Truths Both in Theory and Application” (closed to comments) and to this one:
    We should all reflect on the origins of the tactics now known as McCarthyism (Sen. Joe McCarthy and his sidekick are in the photo above Truths). The communists themselves previously innovated and perfected every such tactic, to use against their enemies and each other. If their radical leftist political successors ever succeed in America, G-d forbid, we can expect them to try much more of the same. The cancel culture already unfolding is just the start.

  34. Steven Brizel says:

    I agree Just take a look at the recent resignations from the NYT and MSNBC both of which were motivated by the same complaint of Twitter driving the reportage in a certain direction only with no room for dissent Like it or not the left also suppresses dissent and has no quarter for differing views on a wide range of issues and claims that all critics engage in or persecution or worse of the left

  35. Steve Brizel says:

    Can anyone here justify that a public health official in contravention to his governor has the right to close both public schools private schools and Yeshivos ? This is apparently what is happening in Montgomery County Maryland and NJ where Governor Murphy apparently is not letting private schools open if public schools don’t open We already see public officials handing down such decrees which may very well implicate the rights of parents to choose how to educate their children and free exercise clause implications as well Naturally teachers unions who are in the vanguard of protests worry more about keeping schools closed than in teaching children either in person or remotely and detest all forms of competition to their monopoly We now see the race card being played as to how or when schools are opened

  36. Steven Brizel says:

    Reb Yid – the growth of the suburb In general can be attributed to the GI mortgages available to the Geeatest Generation the developement of interstate highways and the great engine of social mobility known as the automobile coupled with the re ignition that Jewish institutions in the innner City were threatened by an increasing crime rate and anti Semitism from the radicalized African American community which manifested itself in the 1968 teachers strike in NY in Crown Heights in 1991 and in 2020 ,Those facts were in turn coupled with the recognition that strong communities where one could safely walk to and from shul coupled with the recognition that yeshiva education and summer camps were a far better means of inculcating Jewish values than public schools Those facts and institutions which were built by the sweat capital and effort of a heroically committed generation not those with money have nothing to do with money or racism WADR it is wrong as a matter of history to call such a commitment racist

    • Reb Yid says:

      The GI bill excluded blacks. Levittowns excluded blacks.

      The greatest period of socioeconomic mobility in modern US history assisted most if not all of our ancestors on this board in this way. But we need to acknowledge the systematic racism that made it much more challenging for some groups to advance than others.

      • Bob Miller says:

        You need to acknowledge the progress made after that, until Obama set out to reignite racial hostility while claiming to do the opposite.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Au contraire.

        The Kerner Commission in the late 1960s documented how much worse matters had gotten. Many portions of that report are sadly just as relevant today.

      • Bob Miller says:

        1. The GI Bill itself did not exclude blacks. The banks discriminated on their own without Federal pushback.
        2. The Kerner Commission was blind to the highly negative effects of the Great Society legislation and implementation on black family life.
        Also see

      • Reb Yid says:

        Black servicemen faced severe challenges in being able to receive assistance for college education. This was due to a combination of factors, including Southern politicians who applied segregationist criteria to these policies, and the lack of resource available to historically black colleges and universities in the South who unlike other institutions would accept them.

        You neglect to even mention redlining, which continues to this very day even if officially barred by law. It is far more likely for a black household earning $100,000 to still live in a poor neighborhood than a white household with half of that income.

        In any event, we are veering far, far away from the topic of this thread .

  37. Steven Brizel says:

    The Kerner Commission was a predecessor and incubator for the fallacious doctrine of systemic racism. IIRC any discriminatory portion of the GI Bill no longer exists African Americans emigrated north for better jobs and restrictative covenants on the grounds of race have been unconstitutional since 1948 .One wonders when those who are the most vocal on “systemic racism” ,which they cannot define ,systematically refuse to discuss dysfunctional one family head families which are a precursor of criminal conduct the high incidence of minorities committing violent crimes on members of their own minority teens raising children out of wedlock and the views that only mysognistic rap music and sports are the only way out of the inner city as opposed to getting an education being gainfully employed getting married and raising a family .When those who wail about “systemic racism” are willing to confront these issues then we can engage in a real dialogue about how to improve our wonderful but far from perfect country I don’t know how many of the readers here live in NYC but you can see the failed effects of the so called “Great Society” (which have not improved their targeted populations in the in the inner cities but as LBJ admitted created an entire sector that would always vote Democratic because they created a society based on entitlements rather than work )by riding the subways or driving through certain neighborhoods which despite the spending of millions of our tax dollars look like bombed out cities after WW2 with no signs of improvement That’s what happens when your local politicians say its better to collect welfare than work for Walmart When those who prattle about “systemic racism” are willing to address these issues then a meaningful dialogue about improving our great country can occur

  38. Steve Brizel says:

    The Kerner Commission unfortunately by blaming riots in Watts Newark and Detroit and elsewhere on “white racism” was an early incubator for whatcis now called”systemic racism” whose advocates offer no definition but rather equality of results in all aspects of education and lack a serious awareness of how this country abolished slavery and slowly but surely through the efforts of the SCOTUS and civil rights acts changed the landscape of the US If your view of history is rooted in Marcuse and. Inn you will never grasp those facts Quotas and affirmative action have been demonstrated to be the basis for college level remedial programs and disdain for the great contributions to Western thought of our greatest thinkers who were coincidentally dead white males To paraphrase Saul Belliw where are the great scientists writers and thinkers of any other civilization? Like it or not the US despite the protests of the progressive left represents how a society which was clearly split on slavery can better itself .Those who cry systemic racism and provide cover for anarchism are merely products of a false narrative of history peddled by the utterly ahistorical Zinn and The disciples of Marcuse in academia culture and politics

    Those who talk about systemic racism (which they cannot define ) resolutely refuse to talk about inner city crime perpetuated by minority group members on each other families without a stable two parent family which breed crime and are candidates for educational failure The Great Society did not end poverty but instead created a steady addiction to entitlements for future Democrats and disdain for education and implanted the views of inner city Americans as victims

    If you drive by and thru any inner city neighborhood or ride the NY subways outside of Manhattan you will see neighborhoods that looked like bombed out cities after WW2 poor public schools and crime infested streets

    FWIW IIRC the GI Bill has been free from discrimination for years and restrictive covenants on the ground of race have been unconstitutional at least since 1948.

  39. Steven Brizel says:

    Reb Yid I am willing to discuss any issue with you and to read what you post as well I will always defend your right to voice your opinion on these issues even though I passionately disagree with your stances Are you willing to defend the right of those who offer differing views to speak express themselves and participate in the open arena of ideas? The far left offers no such quarter for differing views in culture academia and the media

    • lacosta says:

      and if this is the attitude of the left when not in power , imagine when they get a clean sweep in these elections — we can look forward to left wing McCarthyism in the university and school setting , a gulag approach to [re]education , and increased efforts to ban charter/religious education . We see in tristate and california the outright discrimination against religious institutions in the guise of corona — it will make it easier to override non-PC religious institutions ,especially after they pack the supreme court….

  40. Steven Brizel says:

    Redlining was also banned by Congress No lender should be forced by law to lend to anyone who can’t make a monthly mortgage payment Owning a house is not a human right there are no free lunches in this world

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