Frum Jews in Politics

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  • #616758
    flatbusher
    Participant

    I think it’s best frum people stay away from politics. They never can just cater to other frum and the temptations of power can lead to all sorts of negative things.

    #1114883
    Joseph
    Participant

    Pirkei Avos had something to say on this topic.

    #1114884
    lesschumras
    Participant

    The same can be said for frum ;awyers.

    #1114885
    akuperma
    Participant

    There will always be a need for people to deal with the ???? ????? and that includes dealing the government and the local community. It is very easy to tell if a community activist or politician someone is doing so ?????? since those are the ones driving old cars, arguing with tuition committees and whose spouse are urging them to concentrate on their day job and let others run the community.

    edited by mod

    #1114886
    Avi K
    Participant

    Flatbusher,

    1. Every job has its temptations and every junior clerk has his little area of power.

    2. Why should they just cater to the frum (whoever they are)? The general idea is to engage in tikkun olam. How an individual should do it is different for every individual depending on his strengths and weaknesses.

    Joseph, I think that you are referring to the injunction (2:3) not to become known to the rulers because they will use you when it is to their advantage and not help you when you need them. However, that can be true of any senior position.

    #1114887
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    I agree with you on a broad level. BUt having frum politicians on a local level can be and has been useful.

    R’ Meir Shapiro z”l served in the Sejm (polish Parliment)

    #1114888
    golfer
    Participant

    I might not totally disagree with you, flatbusher.

    But a better rule might be that frum people should stay away from fraudulent activities.

    I’m not sure I would equate politics with fraudulent activity.

    But I can see why one might be inclined to do so.

    #1114889
    akuperma
    Participant

    ubiquitin: Did R.Shapiro get rich from his membership in the Sejm?

    #1114890
    flatbusher
    Participant

    I don’t think you need to be a politician to work on improving the situation for the frum community, but the chilul Hashem that comes out of being politics can be tremendous.

    #1114891
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    akuperma

    I highly doubt it. why do you ask?

    #1114892
    Avi K
    Participant

    Flatbusher, also the kiddush Hashem. For that matter, the same can be said for being someone who learns Tora. The Gra says (Even Sheleima 2) that Tora is compared to water because it makes everything grow. Someone with naturally good middot who learns will become even better but the opposite is also true.In fact, Rav Aviner said that a Tora learner who has bad middot will add ??? to ??? as we say here by finding “frum” excuses for what he does.

    #1114893
    oomis
    Participant

    Sounds almost oxymoronic. It could be a great Kiddush Hashem, though.

    #1114894
    akuperma
    Participant

    ubiquitin: When someone goes into public service, which is important work but with lousy pay, and emerges wealthy at the end of a long but poor paying career (such as some people we know from our own community, not to mention the Clintons, not to mention a lot of Israeli politicians), it suggests that perhaps they weren’t as dedicated to the public good as they want people to believe.

    If someone services the public without enrichment themselves, it probably indicates someone who wants to serve the ???? ????? ??????.

    When we see gedolim involved in public affairs it tends to be of the former type. And many of the baal ha-battim who get into politics, seem to be of the latter.

    #1114895
    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @Flatbusher

    @lesschumras

    This small town legislator and lawyer doesn’t agree with you. I receive no remuneration for serving on my Town Council. There is virtually no opportunity for g’nava. Maybe I could get my street plowed first, if I called the head of the Department of Public Works.

    I represent all the people in my district, most of whom are not Jewish, never mind frum. I have a major investment in property in this town and serving protects my investment.

    Voters know me as me, not as an alien ‘religious jew’ in strange clothing who speaks with an accent. I have no political asperations of a higher level.

    My law practice is generally wills, trusts, contracts and pro bono Juvenile law. Judges in Connecticut (with the exception of Probate) are appointed, not elected. I turned down a judgeship years ago…besides the religious problems, I wouldn’t want a cut in income.

    Even frum Jews need legal representation, why shouldn’t their lawyer be a religious Jew?

    #1114896
    Joseph
    Participant

    Maybe I could get my street plowed first, if I called the head of the Department of Public Works.

    Wouldn’t that be wrong to do?

    #1114897
    lesschumras
    Participant

    CTLawyer,

    The NY State legislature is corrupt. In addition to Silver, his State Senate counterpart is currently on trial for influence peddling and trading favors in order to get his son a job. The deputy majority leader has been convicted and resigned. Two other legislators have also been convicted ( only Silver is Jewish so they’re not picking on Jews).

    A lawyer in my shul was disbarred for using escrow funds; the frum attorney representing my aunt’s ex husband pulled every unethical trick in the book. Those are just two examples

    #1114898
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    A frum jew in politics causes alot of halachic issues. The snow plow is a good example. What if the mayor is required to sign off on the Snow Plows going out to clean the road for a Shabbos snow storm.

    What if some event happens on Shabbos like C’V a shooting and it requires the mayors attendence at some press confernce

    #1114899
    ubiquitin
    Participant

    akuperma

    all that is good and well. I was replying to the op’s blanket statement

    “I think it’s best frum people stay away from politics. They never can just cater to other frum and the temptations of power can lead to all sorts of negative things. “

    (as well as Joseph “Pirkei Avos had something to say on this topic. “)

    That there is nothing wrong and it is in fact useful to have frum people in politics (at least on a local level) and I brought an example.

    #1114900
    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @lesschumras

    I have read all about the issues in the NY state legislature. My position on a small town legislative council does not present those opportunities for major graft. Our yearly budget is less than a day’s budget in NY. No member gets paid, we even provide/bring our own coffee, water bottles, pens, pads, etc. to meetings.

    This is a town without sidewalks and no municipal garbage pickup, where neighbors help neighbors, without being asked.

    @Joseph…it would be wrong in most instances, and I’ve never requested special treatment. That said the town does maintain a list of first responders and those streets are usually plowed early.

    @Zahavasdad……..

    Mayors don’t sign off on plows going out to plow. The department head of the Public Works Department or Highways Department authorizes crews. The money is budgeted annually. If money runs out, the streets still get plowed and that department comes before the Board of Finance for a supplemental appropriation. We don’t have a Jewish Chief Exec in our Town, but a press conference for a police issue (shooting, etc.) would be handled by the Police Chief and maybe a member of the Board of Police Commissioners (volunteer position).

    No one needs the mayor for these things in big cities, they show up because they like the TV/Press attention and sound bites.

    Our Town has a two day festival in the late spring. I don’t attend Shabbos, I volunteer on Sunday.

    December 24th, I work a volunteer night shift handling calls in our 911 center so some non-Jewish town employee can spend the evening with his/her family.

    The lower and more local the level of politics, the less of a problem it is for a frum Jew to be involved.

    #1114901
    Avi K
    Participant

    Zahavasdad, why is that a problem. First of all, the drivers are almost certainly gentiles. Secondly, it is pikuach nefesh as there are elderly and unfirm peopel who will not be able to get their meds, not to mention the fact that an ambulance might need to get through. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach allowed using the electric company’s electricity on Shabbat even though Jews might fix problems because of the consideration of elderly, infirm, babies, etc.

    #1114902
    flatbusher
    Participant

    CT Lawyer: Why do people insist on drawing generalizations from one, sometimes personal example? Fine, it doesn’t apply to you in a small town with no payment or opportunity for graft, but you are just but one small example. How about commenting on frum people in politics in general?

    #1114903
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I heard somewhere from the Bostoner Rebbe and he said he was glad frum jews did not run Israel and he mentioned the Airport. He admitted it would be very hard to close the airport for 24 hours or more since flights land at all times , are delayed before takeoff (If a Flight would be delayed to land on Shabbos and the airport would be closed the airline would be liable to put up all the passengers in the departing city and most airlines would just refuse to fly to israel if they were forced to do that)

    #1114904
    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    flatbusher…………

    My comment showed that there are many levels of government and your supposition is not universal.

    If I lived in B’nei Brak or a similar community, wouldn’t want my local politicians to be Frum?

    #1114905
    Avi K
    Participant

    Zahavasdad, I have thought for a long time that the frum are afraid to form the government. If they would get the highest number of seats in the Knesset they would demand a recount. However, halachic solutions must be found so that Israel can be completely run according to Tora. Perhaps running the airport with Druze, Arabs who hold citizenship and Russians who are not halchically Jewish. Perhaps a widening of Rav Shlomo Zalman’s heter for the electric company (a plane might have to make an emergency landing).

    #1114906
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    These were just some issues, the snow plow issue came up last year in jerusalem where there was a storm on Thursday Night-Friday Morning and the Snow plows worked into Shabbos and one of the Rabbi’s complained.

    In America we really dont think about these things, but in Israel it can be complicated. Running a municipality really is a 24/7 job

    #1114907
    charliehall
    Participant

    “R’ Meir Shapiro z”l served in the Sejm (polish Parliment)”

    Rav Hirsch served in the Moravian Parliament.

    Two Chief Rabbis of the UK served in that country’s House of Lords.

    Many frum people have served in the Knesset and a few in the Cabinet.

    And there have been at least two frum Jews who have served in the US Congress.

    #1114908
    charliehall
    Participant

    I can’t see why there would be a problem with having the snowplows run on Shabat, ESPECIALLY in a Jewish area. If you have a life threatening medical emergency and the ambulances can’t get to you because of snow, you might well die. This is pikuach nefesh!

    #1114909
    charliehall
    Participant

    And the airport is similar to the snowplows. While there is no need to have regular scheduled air travel, you need to have the airport open in case of medical emergencies. We do that with hospitals!

    #1114910
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The Airport would have to be open for the following scenerio

    A Britsh Airways flight is schedualed to leave London at Friday 6am for Tel Aviv. However there is a delay and the flight cant leave until 12 noon meaning it will arrive in Tel Aviv After Shabbos Starts. If you close the Airport, British Airways will be forced to put in a hotel and feed all the passengers and crew in London for the 200 or so passengers costing them alot of money. They will then decide not to fly to Israel, Most airlines would decide to do this as well because they dont want to lose money either.

    You can say Shabbos trumps this and that is correct, but British Airways doesnt care

    #1114911
    sholomrov
    Member

    “Two Chief Rabbis of the UK served in that country’s House of Lords.”

    If you understand how the British House of Lords operates you’ll know that that could hardly be called being ‘in politics’, certainly not in the context that it’s being used in this discussion.

    #1114912
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Rabbi Johnathan Sacks who as Chief Rabbi is a representative of the jewish community to the Royal government went to William and Kate’s wedding at Westminster Abbey. He got some slack for attending this wedding as a government employee

    #1114913
    Joseph
    Participant

    The Chief Rabbi at the time did not go to the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana.

    #1114915
    Avi K
    Participant

    Charlie, how did you forget that Joe Lieberman was AG of CT and that Michael Mukassey was Bush II’s second AG? BTW, I heard of a case decades ago where a Jew was given a summons for operating his pushcart on Sun in NYC. When he went to court he explained that he kept Shabbat and could not take off two days per week. The conversation went like this:

    Judge : What do you do on Sat?

    Vendor: I go to a synagogue.

    Judge : Do you go there every Sat?

    Vendor: Yes.

    Judge : Did you go there this past Sat?

    Vendor: Yes.

    Judge : What parsha was read?

    The vendor answered correctly and the judge dismissed the summons adding “If you hadn’t known I would have hanged you”.

    #1114916
    Nechomah
    Participant

    CT – Just FYI, but December 24, 2016 is the first night of Channukah.

    #1114917
    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    Avi.. Joe Lieberman started as a State Senator her in CT representing my home district in New Haven, the State AG. Then US Senator.

    I worked in his original primary campaign more than 45 years ago. (Along with both Bill and Hillary).

    Nechomah..I’m aware of the calendar. Which is why this year I’m volunteering on the 24th, not 25th. There is no restriction from working on the first night of Chanukah if not Shabbos.

    #1114918
    charliehall
    Participant

    “how did you forget that Joe Lieberman was AG of CT and that Michael Mukassey was Bush II’s second AG? “

    I didn’t forget; I just didn’t mention them.

    And I presume that you didn’t forget that Obama’s current Secretary of the Treasury and former Budget Director and White House Chief of Staff is Jack Lew, also an Orthodox Jew.

    #1114919
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The Chief Rabbi at the time did not go to the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana.

    He was not invited.

    The Wolf

    #1114920
    Joseph
    Participant

    Wolf, as I recall he arranged not to be invited as otherwise he would have been invited and he wouldn’t attend. There wasn’t a change in Royal protocol between Charles and William’s weddings as to whether the Chief Rabbi should be invited.

    #1114921
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    he arranged not to be invited

    Do you have some citation for this? A Jpost article describes the non-invitation of Rabbi Jakobovitz as “a snubbing”

    In addition, it seems that Rabbi Jakobovitz was invited to and attended the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday thanksgiving service in St. Paul’s.

    The Wolf

    #1114922
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    We can debate the protocol of the Chief Rabbi of The British Empire attending the Royal Wedding

    But on a more local case, Say in lakewood, NJ a tragic event happens in a church like what happend in SC , the mayor of lakewood who is a frum jew cannot claim that it is against his belifs to attend some sort of service for the victims at the church, Well he could not attend, but the backlash would not be very good

    #1114923
    Joseph
    Participant

    Wolf, I would never take JPost (or other Israeli papers) at their word. Especially an article referring to events 20 years prior on a different continent. In any event, if you look at the JTA article from 1981, the Chief Rabbi said he wasn’t snubbed.

    #1114924
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    In any event, if you look at the JTA article from 1981, the Chief Rabbi said he wasn’t snubbed.

    I’ll drop the point because it’s a side issue and the fact that he went to St. Paul’s for the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday thanksgiving service shows that Rabbi Jakobovitz did not have a problem with going into a church for official functions in his role as Chief Rabbi.

    The Wolf

    #1114925
    Joseph
    Participant

    FWIW, the wedding was an official Christian church service with the galachim conducting a religious ceremony and prayers.

    #1114926
    Avi K
    Participant

    Charlie, I did forget. TY for reminding me.

    #1114927
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Avi

    Depends on the person and circumstances of the person whose funeral it is. Some you dont have to attend to, but others you must attend otherwise you will be seen and out of touch and inconsiderate. The attack for example in South Caroline at a church, if a frum jew was the mayor of that town there would have been a major outcry if he would not attend such a funeral.

    If a police office was killed its another situation where you really must attend the funeral.

    If it was just some murder on the street he doesnt need to attend

    #1114929
    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    Charlie,

    As you well know, Jack Lew prays at a non Orthodox synagogue (it’s not Orthodox even if they append that word to the name of their religion)

    #1114930
    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    ZD,

    You’re making an issue where there isn’t one. The Mayor of Lakewood has dealt with such issues without entering the church and without any ill feelings from non Jewish citizens of Lakewood or from the family of the deceased.

    #1114932
    lesschumras
    Participant

    There is a famous story in a book written about Jewish gangsters who grew up in religious homes. A Jewish mobster explained to a Mafiosi that he couldn’t attend a Mafia funeral because he was a Cohen. Another Jewish hit nan wouldn’t kill on Shabbos

    #1114933
    Avi K
    Participant

    There was one in Brisk who made a bar mitzva and invited the whole town. They were afraid not to go but how could they eat his food? The Bet HaLevi went to him.

    BHL : Do you steal?

    Crook: That’s my parnassa.

    BHL : Do you desecrate Shabbat?

    Crook: Business is business.

    BHL : Do you kill people.

    Crook: If I have to.

    BHL : Do you eat nevilot and tereifot?

    Crook: The rav suspects me? Does the rav think that I am a goy?

    #1114935
    charliehall
    Participant

    “Jack Lew prays at a non Orthodox synagogue”

    Ah, the heresy hunters can’t take the week iff.

    FWIW Joe Lieberman is a member of the same synagogue. And so am I.

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