Monday, November 3, 2008

Why Jews will vote for Obama, a Sermon

Stop me if I get too preachy.

On second thought, do not stop me.   Some of you out there, especially the Ninevites in Congress and Palm Beach County, could use a good sermon.   

I have been reading "What God Can Do for You Now," by Robert Levine (Sourcebooks, Inc.,  2008).   Levine quotes Rabbi Harold Schulweis:  "Jewish holiness is in relatonship with the broken vessels of society: the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, the widow...It takes place in the marketplace, the prison, the hospital, the convalescent home." [page 178]    This refers to Leviticus, chapter 19, known as the holiness code, which explains in detail our responsibilities to our fellow men, especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

Democrat politicians, Obama in particular, preach about helping the poor, the homeless, the illegal alien, the sick, the minority, the sexually alternative, etc.   This message appeals to Jews, who have been inculcated with the holiness code their whole lives,   and liberals, who are laden with guilt, and others, who hope to be on the receiving end of government's largess.   The popularity of the democrat message is understandable.  Unfortunately,  those who buy into it are "...persons who cannot discern between their right and their left hand..." (Jonah 4:11).

Why is it wrong for Jews, in particular, to support the democrat-liberal social welfare agenda?
What is wrong is that it is an abrogation of their responsibility under their covenant with God.
The holiness code, and, arguably, much of the old testament, is about personal responsibility.
Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to set up governments to do our holiness for us.   Leviticus is about our individual obligations to our fellow man.  "You wanna be Holy, you do these things," it says.    It does not say, "You wanna be Holy, you pay your taxes and let your government do the dirty work."    It is not for Barack Obama to take the gleanings of your harvest and transfer them to others, it is for you to do so.   And the measure of your Holiness is not by how much you pay in taxes, but by how much you voluntarily do for you neighbor and your community.


Bafflegabbed said...

Could it not be said that, as a Jew, you are supposed to do as much as you can to help your fellow man. Therefore, you should "take the gleanings of your harvest and transfer them to others", as you say, but also do whatever you can to see that society does right by its collective gleanings as well?

Amanda said...

Sorry, Dad, but the whole premise of this is baloney. Taxes, government, congress, Obama, McCain, and especially Bush, are not holy, and the idea of holiness is one that should never be at issue in politics in this country. It's anti-American. You republicans hold up the constitution as this supposedly infallible, indestructible, and never (again) to be changed beacon of truth, written 232 years ago. IT says that church is to be separate from state, and yet your republicans consider anything not-christian to be not-american and not-constitutional. This alone should be enough to turn any Jew off to republicanism (you know, the multitudes of republican racists who hate Obama just because he's black, also hate Jews. ).

What is the government's job if not to take care of it's people? What you're suggesting reads as anarchy. No government, no laws, no taxes, only personal responsibility. I'm all for that, in's like nature. The problem is that you can't trust individuals. You can't trust masses either.....who can you trust? I don't know. I do know that the republicans, at least of the last eight years, have failed failed failed at taking care of it's citizens.

Desman said...

No, bafflegabbed, it does not.
And, Amanda, who said anything about Bush, or the Constitution. I was writing about my Bar Mitzvah, in which I read a few verses from Leviticus 19. And the book I quoted from, "What God can do for you now", is by a big new york lib. I recommend it; it is short.

Glenn said...

Rabbi Des,

I think most Jews who voted for Obama did so without consulting Leviticus. After all most of us who had the opportunity would have voted against Prop 8 ( despite the bigoted justifications for it in the holy texts.

Thank G-d for that!