Who Should Repent and What They Should Repent For

Juda Engelmayer

It would seem that the events in Las Vegas have stirred up political emotions once again, and some people are again taking aim at President Trump.  Just as Yom Kippur is in the rear-view mirror, the world begins again not having learned anything.

While in synagogue, I had a chance to sit and consider what has been happening lately.  In the past few weeks there had been several articles written by Jewish rabbis, who also deem themselves Jewish thinkers, advising fellow Jews who may have — and still support — President Trump, that as the sacrosanct Day of Atonement approached, Jews must atone for the sin of voting for Donald Trump.  I read those in jest mostly, thinking how diluted my religion seems to have become that we now use what was once precious personal prayers between man and G-d to flaunt our outward political agendas.

When I voted for Donald Trump, I did not accuse anyone who did not of violating the Torah.  When I supported our president over Secretary Clinton, whom I just felt and still feel is wrong for us on many accounts, I did not think that someone who wore an “I’m With Her” shirt was an Apikoros (heretic).  I just thought they were wrong.

Rabbi David Ingber wrote in Tablet Magazine, “This Yom Kippur, Can We Forgive Trump’s Voters?”, which was a presumptuous question at best — which Rabbi Ingber also admitted.  Yet, it was my father, with whom I often disagree, a distinguished rabbi in his own right and a prolific writer, who wrote this Trump penitence piece in first in August, where he reckoned, “that continuing to support President Trump is a communal sin for which we must repent in the season of repentance.”

When he sent me his draft before it was published, I pretty much ignored it, thinking he was just being his liberal self; pushing his 60’s flower-child agenda ahead of his rabbinical teachings.  Since his piece published though, these others have now come out too, and It occurred to me that there is a deeper issue at play.  The left, and yes, the Jewish left too, not only believes they are right (meaning “correct”), but they also feel that anyone who does not agree with them is not merely wrong, but are sinful, racist haters who are ushering in the dark days of what the Christian belief calls Armageddon.

Every president has positives and negatives, and all political parties can stake claims on which were which, and to whom.  Yet, this time around Americans have become so vitriolic about politics, and the left has decided that Donald Trump is not like the devil, but the Devil himself, and they are willing to divide and destroy the country to prove it.  One only needs to look at CNN’s coverage to see that nothing in the world matters except what Donald Trump (and his administration) does wrong.  Not to say that news should not cover a president, but the lengths they go to in doing so here are obvious to the exclusion of any other actual news events.

As if to have us believe that the Clinton era was unflawed and only reveled, people saw Hillary Clinton as the savior of the world; a female president we can be proud of and have our young women idolize.  Well we do need a female president and all parties should find people who can live up to that standard, but Hillary was not it.

The problem is that now, with issues like Women of the Wall — which I support, and the trend of more orthodox-leaning Jewish communities looking to admit women into the rabbinate or approve them as yoetzet halachot (a woman certified to serve as a rabbinic advisor for women) where men used to be the only ones permitted.  Jews on the left saw Hillary as almost a mandate for their own agendas. They saw in her what they hope for their communities to become one day — more open and progressive on certain issues while keeping the traditions and foundations that actually make Jews Jewish (unlike how many in some orthodox circles act, Judaism is not intended to be misogynistic.)

What Jews who supported Trump saw, was not an unflawed figure, but a better choice for what we see America needing and what we want for Israel.  When we look at this country and the age of pollical correctness, to the point where we cannot even call someone out for just being wrong without being accused of being a bigot of some kind, we see true deceit.

Trump, in his idea of “making America great again,” touts the idea that you’re not correct merely because of your color, race, religion or sexual orientation, but because you actually may be correct on facts, or have good ideas or promote the kind of world we want to live in.  That is, after all, what Americans strive for — equality and inclusion that are on par with the highest and best standards, and not some diluted sense of righteousness as a way to “prove” how inclusive we are.

Look at Israel and United Nations.  Did we need Trump to be elected to put an ambassador in like Nikki Haley who calls the world body’s hypocrisy what it is?  Seemingly so.  Clinton never did as Secretary of State and President Obama, while admittedly making sure Israel was military strong quietly, never once called out the rogue nations for bashing Israel.  In fact, his parting salvo was just the opposite.

In the age of political correctness, Obama did not want to be at odds with Jew haters in public.  Trump called them all out in his United Nations address and Haley does it all the time.

Should he have been quick to be firm and poignant against white supremacists in Charlottesville?  I wish he had been. Racists should be quickly deplored. Does that make Trump a racist?  Hardly!

Donald Trump says ridiculous things, is often unscripted and comes off often like he really does not understand diplomacy and politics.  That is who he has been since he came to the celebrity scene more than thirty years ago.  It is nothing that the left did not know before he ran, or became president.  As celebrities go, when Mel Gibson had his anti-Semitic rant, he quickly became a pariah in Hollywood.  When CNN Anchor Rick Sanchez had his bout with anti-Semitic comments, he was quickly rebuked and tossed off the air.  Yet, in Trump’s celebrity history, he had been known as wild and brash — but was never seen as these others.

What changed?  He became president and pissed off the left who wrapped their hopes in a continued Obama legacy with a female president.

Has Trump changed? No!  He is who he is and America chose him over Hillary.  Is he evidently new at this? Yes! Yet, his closest supporters never thought otherwise.   Is he a vile anti-Semite? A prejudiced confederate? No!

He’s a narcissistic, opinionated unabashed New Yorker who most self-respecting southerner would otherwise revile.  So why would leftist Jews think people who voted for Donald Trump need extra repenting?  He won, and in that, they feel their Woodstock era love-in, not their Judaism, has been compromised.

Maybe it has. Maybe the era of political correctness has passed. On Yom Kippur we know that we have to repent for true offenses like lies and deceit.   Political correctness is sheer deceit and is tantamount to lying. Maybe these left leaning rabbis should ponder what they be repenting for next time around.

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