The title of this piece may seem obvious. As much as we await Moshiach’s arrival each minute, and as imminent as that arrival would seem to be, we are still – as of this writing – in golus. He hasn’t yet come.
So why the news flash?
For one who is tuned in to popular frum culture as well as much of the machinations in the world of “frum politics,” it would seem that Moshiach must have already come and we are no longer in golus, no longer subordinate to the society in which we live. We demand our rights, loudly, and express our political preferences – and deride our political opponents – with vim and vigor. We vote “our” people into positions of power, and have no compunctions about announcing our presence, in grand fashion, in any neighborhoods where we might wish to live.
These behaviors are a result of the fact that, through the grace of Hashem, we have been treated quite well in our American golus, as well as our golus in many other countries these last several decades. We have become quite comfortable with the rights we’ve been given and the equality with which we are treated. We forget, though, that Moshaich has not yet come, and we still are – whether we feel it or not – at the mercy of the nations among which we find ourselves.
While forgetting this crucial fact is never a good thing, it is especially dangerous now, when the animosity against us, worldwide, is on the rise. It is never a good idea for a visitor to walk around a company headquarters acting as if he owns the place, and especially not when the owner’s family members are already eyeing the visitor with disgust and disdain.
Pro-Trump – Anti-Trump
There has been a lot of noise lately, in this paper as well, regarding whether Yidden should be pro-Trump or anti-Trump (or, as the relativists among us suggest, whether they should be allowed to choose as they see fit). The “pro-Trumpers” point to his many accomplishments, as well as his continued potential to serve the interests of our communities. The “anti-Trumpers” make note of the many aspects of the president’s personal life and behavior which, to put it mildly, are at odds with our ideals and beliefs.
It can be suggested, though, that, in truth, both sides have it wrong – and our forgetting that we are indeed still in golus may have a lot to do with it.
As frum Jews, we fully support the president – there is no question about that. The hundreds of conservative judges he has already put in place; the fact that he is willing to stand up to and call out the anti-Semitic, racist, immoral, socialist and plain ridiculous notions of the far-left; and the support he has expressed – and given – to our communities are all reasons why any frum Jew must support this president.
Add to that the fact that the opposing party has clearly become a home and a haven for open anti-Semites and far-left “progressives” whose aim is to control our lives, our education, and our freedom to practice our religious as we see fit, and it is simply impossible and immoral for any religious person to support that party at this point in time.
This is as far as whom we, as a community, support. Still, while we support Trump fully, we are hardly “pro” Trump. The whole idea of us being “pro” this or that politician, much as we might support their ideas and seek to elect or re-elect them, is anathema to our very identity. We are an “am levodod yishkon,” a nation that dwells alone. Trump is not “one of us,” nor are we one of “his MAGA chevrah.” It wouldn’t be proper – both because this is a family paper and because of the respect we must have for the office of the president – for us to delineate the many reasons why we could never be “pro” Trump, even while we support him one hundred percent. To revel in his antics and gloat in his crude mannerisms, to identify with Trump the man, is completely irreconcilable with the basics of what defines a Yid as a person.
This is the same reason, though, that the “anti-Trumpers” are misguided as well. To profess a refusal to support someone for president because we find it impossible, even loathsome, to identify with him is to believe that we should be voting for someone with whom we can identify. Nothing could be more mistaken. We are in golus, and we utilize the blessed opportunity granted us by Hashem to influence our government by voting for those under whom we can best live our lives as ovdei Hashem. We don’t identify with anyone for whom we vote! We are Yidden in exile, among strangers, seeking to make as little noise as possible and get by as best we can. We aren’t “part” of either party or “friends” with any candidate.
We support whichever side is best for our interests, nothing more and nothing less.
Working with Friends – and Enemies
Let us remember for a moment how we dealt with these matters for many hundreds of years in Europe. Back then, rarely, if ever, did we identify with our rulers. Most weren’t elected either. Yet, Jewish history is replete with hundreds of stories of shtadlanus, of the town’s rosh hakohol, the g’virim, and the rabbonim always working to establish a “relationship” with the poritz, the mayors, the governors, the emperors and the kings. More often than not, the feelings each side held for the other was hardly a secret, ranging from tolerance to contempt to open hatred.
Despite all of that, however, we learned to swallow our feelings and our pride and to work towards the greater good for our brethren. If it was money that would allow the rulers to continue to tolerate us, we did our best to provide what we could. We made deals, gave gifts, and sang praises of those hardly worthy. We did what it took. We weren’t “pro” or “anti” the rulers; we weren’t part of their world in any way, shape or form. We supported whatever policy would work for as long as we were in golus amongst them.
Importantly, we learned to get along with our enemies; we had little choice. We couldn’t afford to let loose and tell them what we really thought of them. They knew what we thought, and we knew that they knew it, but the game needed to be played, and we – in exile and at their mercy – played it as best as we could.
We mustn’t forget this today either. True, we have liberties today that we didn’t have in earlier times, and we are allowed to express ourselves more openly that we once could. Even so, we cannot afford to completely alienate even those with whom we strongly disagree. Supposing – just as an example – that Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York one day becomes president. Or that any other liberal local leader one day wins a far more powerful office.
We may be at odds with these leaders, and we can – and usually should – try to bring those who oppose them to power. Still, we cannot close all lines of communication, nor can we afford to antagonize them more than absolutely necessary. Much as we await him every day, Moshiach has not yet come, and we must remember that. We may have been given a lot of freedom, and we may have amassed quite a bit of power, but we are still at the mercy of the nations amongst whom we dwell, and we must never forget that.
The less noise we make and the less visible we are, the better. Whenever possible, it is always better to promise a candidate our support in exchange for his support of our community’s interests, rather than to vote in “one of our own.” That should be a very last resort – and in following with daas Torah. It is infinitely better if we could find a way to work with others already on the ballot or convince someone who would support our interests to run. We don’t need the attention, the press or the visibility brought about when one of our own is forced to represent us.
For millennia, gedolim would review the parsha that deals with Yaakov’s meeting with Eisav before they had to go and meet whoever the rulers may have been. Yaakov could have given Eisav quite an earful. He had bought the bechorah fair and square, while Eisav was a killer and a glutton. He’d outsmarted Eisav quite a number of times and could have gloated over his victories.
Instead, Yaakov humbled himself before Eisav, bowing to a man for whom he must have felt only contempt. He gifted Eisav with many, many gifts, called him, “Sir,” addressed him with respect and humility, and allowed Eisav to feel that he was in power while Yaakov was subservient.
This is the model we are to follow until Moshiach does, indeed, arrive, may that day come speedily. Until then, we must take a step back, and while we support whomever we must support and we show our unending gratitude to those who deserve that gratitude, we mustn’t get carried away in any direction or think of ourselves as being “in” any camp.
On the day when we’ll merit to witness Hashem being “meloch al kol ha’olam kulo bichvodecha,” on that day we’ll know that we are an essential and inseparable part of the ruling party.