Forum Replies Created
1. You had said, The biggest threat to Jewish religious liberty is the left.” I would agree that there are some on the left who have a problem with bris milah and shchitah and would also agree, as others have suggested that those views may surface more loudly one day, after they have their way on some other more “pressing” fronts. But the numbers and percentages of those on the left who have these views are far outnumbered by wackos on the extreme right who are avowed anti-semites and wish they could ship us out of here. Moreover, unlike these right-fanatics, very few of the left activists have an issue with the religion called “Judaism;” they are against these practices along the same lines as PETA protesting against eating steak.
2. You said” “Homosexuality and adultery . . . have been forbidden by many societies for years, not just on religious grounds.” I beg to differ. All such countries have at least a tradition of Christianity or Islam, whether or not they are still overtly religious. Greece was pre-Christianity and apparently didn’t have a problem with homosexuality.
3. In light of my argument for ‘live and let live’ rationale, you would in fact support legislation against avodah as I described it?
4. Seems we’ve lost the legislative fight on same sex marriages and other social issues. Even conservative judges have had to uphold this as a right based on the state constitutions. The best hope is that there is now a conservative supreme court. In the meantime, it’s clear to me that fighting harder legally or argumentatively only produces an equal and opposite response. Maybe the only hope is to convert their politics by abandoning the angry rhetoric. The plaintiff in Roe v. Wade ended up becoming a pro-lifer because she said the Chrisitian right was “nicer” than the left. L’havdil, when it comes to esrog, people aren’t concerned with just being yotzei, and go beyound mikar hadin. Maybe we have to see these social/morality laws as defining the absolute bottom of the barrel, and meanwhile build conservative values through programs and other means instead of politics, laws, and fighting, which isn’t working anyway. Not to mention, once the political tides turn, the political parties the frum world loves to bash will look at us as their enemy and good luck getting them to help us.
To get out of the weeds for a moment, I’d like to candidly share an over-arching view of why I am compelled to support a certain amount of “liberalism” (as I understand the term), while I am concerned of the slippery slope problems that may ensue. I think the following sentiment may very well speak for others too:
We understandably have concern of governmental and societal persecution, being that’s been the norm for thousands of years. A ‘live and let live’ society seems logically the best way to prevent future persecution. Using avodah zorah as an example (abortion is obviously a complex issue and most of us aren’t about to poskin as to whom and when it is OK, etc.), would you support an amendment to the constitution outlawing mamash avodah zorah? Assume for the moment it could be done and would be upheld. Of course as a frum Jew I don’t want avodah zorah spreading throughout. But history tells us that there could just as easily be a law forbidding Yiddishkeit, chas v’shalom. Should the risk matter? A big part of my understanding of what America is, is that we recognize that since we could be the next target, it’s better to have a sort of truce whereupon we allow people to live as they want – within reason. Of course where to draw the line will always be a headache. Of course if the halacha states unequivocally that we’d have to support laws against avodah zorah, then that’s our answer. Short of that, just as we don’t want emboldened Muslims lobbying for mandatory sharia law, why would we feel the need to impose halachic standards on goyim? We’re a complex nation with lots of religions and ethnicities. Every country that favors one over the other results in strife. civil wars, or pogroms. Boruch Hashem so many of you have had it so good in this country that you feel so strong about your political views and feel you can take part of our political system so freely. Let’s not take our newfound liberties for granted. What’s wrong with being thankful for the safety and security we’ve experienced in America til now and be good guests until Moshiach comes? And while I do believe that laws may sway values over time, given how polarizing politics have become I increasingly think we’ll need to look for non-political means to influence morality which is probably more effective anyway if done right. Think about it: crusading against toeva marriages only results in an equal opposite reaction. If for example we encouraged the value of modesty, for example, there would less of a need to legislate/adjudicate toiva marriages and abortions.
I see the hallmark of “liberalism” as people who vote and advocate for others interests and well-being, not just their own, exactly of the theory that we all benefit in the longer run.
Given the above, can you personally say the halacha unequivocally requires us to try and outlaw avodah zorah?
UJM: I believe it was Roosevelt administration behind 5-day work week (a democrat), along with other protections through the unions. If I am mistaken please let me know how. Some employers I read were already giving off Sundays. With increased Jewish immigration it became a popular idea politically to make it 2 days. Having said that, yes agreed. Things change. Neither party has the emes. Only Torah can offer that. And yes, some democrats hold sterotypes of Jews that we hope aren’t true or don’t look good, and the expanding rights they create are ridiculous (and yes, it’s self-serving). But I can tell you as someone who has traveled extensively to “red-states” that republicans can also be anti-semetic, and very often put this on display, even out of ignorance. A big difference is they are the only remaining pro-Israel party and have typically supported family values.
It’s Time for Truth: similar response, good points, I think I noted this. But don’t understand your last point.
Correction: Previous response should have directed to Avi K. Apologies, CTL. Hi there Avi.
Exactly, it’s a trade-off and I’m so I’m not defending liberalism 100%, and also as times change so must the measures. On discrimination laws, yes, the concern is assimilation. My understanding is Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi supported the czar over Napolean for this very reason. Having said that, most of the examples you gave wouldn’t effect a religious Jew (except for showing favoritism in hiring). But if your view is that it is better to live with precarious rights in order to encourage a more wholesome or halachic America, maybe that’s a discussion worth having some time. Finally, you say, “The laws that protect Sabbath observers (which, BTW, have more holes than Swiss cheese) can also be construed as conservative as they encourage religion.” The big point to make on your statement is that whether you can “construe” something as conservative ignores the reality that it’s generally only the liberal groups that have pushed for these things. By the way, yes , there are cutouts: why should I be entitled to a job at a bar if all their business is on a Saturday? Makes sense. Anyway, there are things like abortion we don’t like but there are things on the right that could also be against halacha or dangerous to a Jew. It seems as orthodox Jews have gotten more comfortable and affluent, they are automatically willing to take a sledgehammer to the laws that have benefited them rather than fix them with a scalpel. Personally, I believe many of us don’t have an adequate background perspective of history and how this country works, so it’s not something done on purpose; much of the inflexible conservative hype we hear is a result of a dangerous business model the oligarchal media companies re using, preying on less educated folks, but that’s for a different day.
There’s a larger perspective very few are addressing here: Even though the democratic party today stands for some issues that many of us fee uncomfortable with, Jews have benefited much from liberal values and still do. If your non-frum employer gives you Saturday off (and even Sunday), this is directly or indirectly the result of a liberal movement. The fact that an employer is not supposed to discriminate against you based on your being a Jew is due to laws supported by “liberals.” Or the ability to shop in a store, for that matter. It’s the conservative movement which pushes back, arguing for rights of the individual over the inclusion of non-Christians to take part in mainstream American society. We have it so good in America compared to the past and too many of us have forgotten. Political parties aren’t sports teams. You can find your own way and not be pressured by cnn or fox to be a card-carrying anything. Why not be an independent? Especially as a Jew, as another poster says, the Torah isn’t necessarily conservative or liberal., it’s the Torah. Although it’s hard swallow some positions, the maalah of ‘live and let live’ policies is that at least we’ll have more of a place in America. For sure, it’s a balance.