Tuesday, Apr 13, 2021

Is Trump or Biden Achashveirosh?

This headline is not a Purim joke. Although many of my colleagues at the Yated infuse the Purim edition of the Yated with all kinds of Purim satire, I have never done that. I would love to, but it is just not one of my talents.

But seriously, if you had to decide who the Achashveirosh of our time is, who would you choose?

Chazal tell us that Achashveirosh was a stable boy who rose to become king due to a confluence of “circumstances.” You know, he was “lucky” and in the right place at the right time.

We, of course, know that there is no such thing as “lucky,” and when it comes to world affairs, Hashem moves the “chess pieces” at will in a way that sometimes makes it look almost natural.

Then again, if you objectively look at Donald Trump’s rise to power, it doesn’t really make that much sense either. Trump was a New York real estate guy with a big mouth and an even bigger ego who had been tooting his own horn with varying degrees of success for more than three decades. Yes, people knew who Trump was, but virtually no one took him seriously, surely not a serious presidential contender. After all, he was a “virtual reality” star. How could anyone take such a guy seriously?

The Escalator Ride that Started it All

I remember the famous picture of Trump going down the escalator in Trump Tower in New York when announcing his candidacy. It had all the makings of Trump pageantry, but truth be told, no one took him seriously. Even the late Rush Limbaugh, who ultimately became one of Trump’s staunchest supporters, was going with Ted Cruz at that time.

The truth is that I am not sure if Donald Trump himself believed he would become president. It wasn’t the first time he said he was running for president, and if Trump was anything, he was a brilliant self-marketer and promoter and may have thought that throwing his hat in the ring would give him free publicity. Boy, was he right!

I don’t think he ever imagined on that day when he came down the escalator that his candidacy would take off the way it did. In the language of kefirah, he was in the right place at the right time with the right brash personality to make short shrift of his Republican opponents and resonate with the masses of Republicans and Democrats who felt totally disenfranchised by both parties. Here was an outsider who was ready to come in and blow up the whole thing.

In the language of emunah, however, just as Hashem uniquely put King Achashveirosh in his place to save the Yidden, so too, the fact that Trump won the election really doesn’t make sense. Rather, there were things that Trump had to do for the Yidden, and therefore, even though it didn’t make sense that he became president, he did, and when his shlichus was over, he was unceremoniously bounced back to Mar-a-Lago.

Now, I am not saying that the comparison is a perfect one. Chazal tell us that Achashveirosh was a tremendous rasha, and I know that some of my good friends who are hyper-partisans on Trump’s behalf (wrongly in my belief) will be all over me, telling me what a great man Trump is and asking how I can compare him to the rasha Achashveirosh. I am not actually comparing him to Achashveirosh. Rather, I am comparing the unlikelihood of each of them becoming president/king and how Hashem uses figures in history bishvil Yisroel. Trump is certainly one of them.

So yes, in many ways, Trump is like Achashveirosh. It didn’t really make sense that he became president, and he did many important and good things for the Yidden.

The Biden Comparison

But the more I think about it, the more I think that Joe Biden may resemble Achashveirosh even more than Trump. Firstly, Chazal say that Achashveirosh was a melech tipeish. I am not the person to start gauging the strength of Mr. Biden’s intellect – that is beyond my paygrade – but I can quote former Defense Minister Robert Gates, who worked under Democrat and Republican administrations, who opined that Biden would not be a very good president, saying, “Biden has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

When he was given the opportunity by CBS’s Margaret Brennan to walk back that statement, Gates said, “I think I stand by that statement….”

To be wrong on virtually every major foreign policy move and national security issue for forty years running takes unique talent.

Truth be told, the first few weeks of Biden’s presidency have not shown any surprising flashes of newfound brilliance. In fact, most of what he has done has been very concerning. On the foreign policy front, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin put it best when he wrote, “Trump Derangement Syndrome leads people to do weird things, but Biden’s attempt to cancel Trump’s biggest victories is among the weirdest. Why would Biden trust the untrustworthy Iranians and undo the enormous progress Trump achieved? Does he hate Trump more than he loves peace?”

Yes, Biden has cooled off the US relationship with Israel, its only staunch ally in the region, while cozying up to Iran. Biden has openly trashed the Saudis, who regardless of their human rights record are an important ally. Amazingly, Biden looks right past the human rights abuses of China and Iran but finds fault in Israel and the Saudis.

On domestic policy, aside from the far-Left economic policies which are almost certain to ruin the economy, Biden has embraced the worst of the progressive policies. These policies will make it harder and harder for us to live as faithful Jews in the United States.

So, yes, he is in many ways a melech tipeish ,and his policies – which, by the way, are anti-science – show tipshus and a dogmatic, slavish adherence to progressive leftism that will ruin America and chas veshalom bring Divine wrath on this wonderful country.

A Small Tribute to a Lone Voice

This is perhaps also the juncture to pay tribute to an important voice that has been stilled, the voice of Rush Limbaugh. Now, I am not going to make a saint out of Rush. He had plenty of human failings. Nevertheless, we must pay tribute to him as someone who openly smashed many avodah zaras of the Left that the present Biden administration seeks to foist upon us. First and foremost, he unapologetically ridiculed the lobby that has been trying to normalize conduct that the Torah calls toeivah. He did this with humor and ridicule that drove them crazy. That was a great feat.

He also showed the bankruptcy of the feminist agenda that has been so poisonous to Yiddishkeit and generally promoted belief in G-d. Without a doubt, he had a role in slowing the erosion of decency and many important values that make it possible to live in this country as frum Yidden. For that, he deserves our unreserved thanks.

He also exposed the “environmentalist wackos” for what they were, people who worshiped the earth, made an avodah zarah out of the environment, and abused science to try to promote socialism. In 1992, he said, “The militant environmental movement is the home of the new socialists in America, and they’re after the punishment of America. America’s responsible for all this.”

He also exposed the “animal rights” lobby as an immoral movement that equates animal rights with human rights and says that, in essence, humans and animals are the same.

Achi Babayis?!

There is another aspect of Trump vs. Biden with regard to who is really the Achashveirosh of our times.

It is no secret that we frum Jews felt a certain sense of influence and even security when Trump was in the White House. Trump, as a product of the New York City real estate industry, has had dealings with frum Jews for decades. He knows us, he understands us, and many critically important members of his inner circle were Orthodox Jews whom he trusted implicitly. We knew that when push came to shove, “We have a friend in the King’s palace.” Chazal tell us that this is the way that the Jewish people thought about Esther Hamalka, as well.

Throughout Megillas Esther, the name of Hashem is not mentioned. It is only alluded to in the words “Yavo Hamelech V’Haman Hayom – And the King and Haman should come today.” The first letters of each of those words make up the four-letter name of Hashem beginning with yud and ending with hey. On the surface, this posuk seems to be the low point in the story of Megillas Esther. The Jewish queen seems to be forging an alliance with the archenemy Haman, who wants nothing more than to butcher the entire Jewish nation – men, women, and children – in cold blood.

Certainly, when Esther invited Haman to an exclusive party with her and the King, all the Jewish pundits and opinion-makers of the time must have been horrified. How could Esther, the Jewish queen, join together with the evil enemy of the Jews, Haman? Yet, in that same seemingly horrific invitation, the Shechinah is mentioned. That is where we see the greatest manifestation of Hashgochas Hashem. How is this possible?

When the “Sister in the Palace” Was the Problem

My rebbi, Rav Yitzchok Knobel, once told me that his grandfather, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, said as follows. One of the answers given in the Gemara is that Esther knew that her brethren were aware of her nationality. They knew that she was Jewish and felt comforted knowing that, in the Gemara’s words, “Achos lanu b’vais hamelech, we have a sister in the King’s palace,” and she will save us. Esther, however, understood that without Hashem’s divine mercy, there was absolutely no chance of Klal Yisroel being saved. After all, the fact that she had been picked as queen also had no natural explanation. Esther recognized that this feeling of complacency exhibited by the Jewish people was dangerous. She knew that without evoking Divine mercy with their tefillos, they would be doomed. What did she do? She invited Haman to an exclusive party with Achashveirosh and herself, with the intention of the Jews thinking that she no longer cared for her people and was only interested in saving herself. In this way, they would feel completely bereft of any possibility of being saved through natural occurrences and would resort to their last hope.

What do Jews do when they are pushed against the wall with no other recourse? They turn to their only Source of comfort, who they can rely on to save them from trouble: Hashem. They would stop putting all their trust in Esther and would pour their hearts out to Hashem in prayer. In this way, they would be saved.

That is, indeed, the underlying reason why the name of Hashem is found in the roshei teivos of the words “Yavo Hamelech V’Haman Hayom.” This is the only time there is a direct allusion to Hashem’s name in the entire Megillah, because in this most unlikely of places, this place that looked like the ultimate darkness, Hashem and His salvation were found. This traitorous invitation issued by a Jewish queen to a person who avowedly swore to commit genocide against the Jewish nation was ultimately the true harbinger of their redemption.

The message for us is clear. In many ways, the people around Biden are hostile to us, to our values, and to the Yidden living in Eretz Yisroel.

Now is the time for vatipol lifnei raglov, to fall in front of Hashem and cry and beg and daven. On Purim, Chazal say, whoever sticks out his hand, even the unworthy, is given a donation. Let us all stick out our hands to Hashem, fall at His feet, and beg Him once and for all to save us – not just a temporary redemption, but the ultimate redemption, may it be soon, amein.

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