Every time the US Presidency changes parties, half the country thinks that their savior has arrived. This thinking reached absurd and delusional levels during the past four years. But Trump was not Mashiach, and Biden will not be Mashiach either. Thousands of years ago, David HaMelech taught, “Do not rely on nobles, nor on a human being, for he holds no salvation” (T’hilim 146, ArtScroll translation). If he said this about powerful kings like himself, then it is certainly true of America’s leaders, who function in a government that is intentionally designed to limit their power.
Politics is the new religion, a godless one full of false prophets, idols, extremism, polemics, heresy hunting, and self-righteousness. Stay out of the cult.
I am at a loss. I’m experiencing a crisis of faith in some way. As an Orthodox Jew who learned in yeshivos in my youth, I always expected a certain amount of decency, mentchlichkeit, midos, and perhaps moderation from my fellow Orthodox Jews. Yet, today I find instead that my peers ascribe to crazy conspiracy theories and take common cause with radical anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-democratic groups like the Proud Boys, white supremacists, QAnon, neo-Nazis, the KKK, etc. Some took part in last week’s riot (hopefully not many) and others applauded it. Is this really Yiddishkeit? Should our choice of president and political affiliation allow us to participate in a chilul Hashem?
As to frumkeit (piety and spirituality), it seems that the more outwardly frum people are, the more they disregard safety precautions during the pandemic. I was given to understand that mask wearing and social distancing are not practiced a lot in much of Brooklyn, Lakewood, Monsey, and chasidic enclaves in Israel. Will they get the vaccine when it becomes available as Dr. Glatt told us to do? Is all of this an anti-Semitic conspiracy? Really? My best friend/chavrusa is in the hospital with COVID now. Hashem y’racheim. May he and everyone else suffering have a r’fuah sh’leimah. Haven’t we lost many g’dolim and others to this terrible disease? I heard Rabbi Willig say it’s a chiyuv to get the vaccine. I heard Rav Asher Weiss and Rav Reisman encourage everyone to wear masks, maintain social distance, and get the vaccine.
I beg everyone to act responsibly and use common sense and follow the relevant halachos as our poskim rule.
Damaging Photos Surface of Moses Not Wearing Mask During Egyptian Plagues (Satire)
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT—Archeologists working in Alexandria, Egypt, have recently discovered damaging photos of Moses not wearing a mask during the Egyptian plagues.
They uncovered more than a dozen pictures of the Jewish leader, and all of them show Moses not wearing a mask during each of the ten plagues.
“This is unacceptable,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, reacting to the news. “As one of the most important figures in Jewish history, we’d expect Moses to follow simple CDC guidelines and wear a mask as required. But as I understand it, Moses was fairly old at the time of the plagues and if it was up to me, I would have advised him to retire at that point, and offered him to live in one of our very own nursing homes.”
Upon further examination, however, the mystery behind the photos was finally revealed. A note was discovered not too far away from where the photos were discovered with the following message from Amazon: “Hi, Moses. Unfortunately, UPS ran into a swarm of locusts when attempting your mask delivery. They will try again. You can contact UPS for more information. PS. Please give us an advance warning before the next plague. Thank you.”
Just to play things safe, Mayor Bill de Blasio put the entire country of Egypt into the red zone.
The left has won. They control both houses of Congress and the White House. They also control the DOJ, FBI, and CIA, and the media. Warren Hecht is rejoicing. Now they can push through their agenda: partial birth abortions, gay marriages, no freedom of religion, and no freedom of speech.
Warren and his left-wing friends claim that the Courts all ruled that the election results were correct. No such thing happened. In Wisconsin, by a four to three decision, the Courts ruled that enough illegal votes were counted to flip the results to Trump. But they dismissed the case anyway because of laches (filed too late). When the Trump legal team filed lawsuits before the election, it was too early; and when they filed after the election, it was too late. In Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada, the Trump team demanded an audit of the mail-in ballots. The Courts ruled that the audit could not take place till after February, when it would be too late.
Trump held a peaceful rally at the Capitol. The people demanded an audit to find out the truth. All of Trump’s rallies have been peaceful; the violence is always caused by BLM and Antifa. Unfortunately, some BLM and Antifa infiltrated the rally and caused chaos. Some Trump supporters may have joined them, but they were a very small fraction. Trump denounced the riot immediately. The media and the anti-Trumpers falsely claimed that Trump instigated the riots. They did not even mention the Antifa supporters. These same hypocrites supported the mob riots in the summer, which were far more violent. These hypocrites also support violence against Trump supporters.
The left has used this to go after Trump and all his supporters. They are running a frivolous impeachment to remove Trump a week before the inauguration of Joe Biden. Senators Cruz and Hawley called for an audit of the mail-in ballots so that the country will regain confidence in our election process. Biden responded by comparing Cruz and Hawley to Goebbels. The left is calling for all Trump supporters to be arrested for treason. Big Tech has banned the accounts of all Trump supporters and they colluded to destroy Parler. They used their hatred of Trump as an excuse to get rid of their competition. From now on, the left will not allow any free speech or free religion. May Hashem have rachamim and save us!
Preparing To Be Vaccinated
With the help of the Almighty, the vaccines have arrived in New York! New York’s Phase 1b fr COVID-19 vaccinations are available locally for those 75 years of age and older, educational workers, first responders, public transit workers, and public safety workers.
The mere thought of the availability of a vaccine is a relief for Americans who live in fear of contracting COVID-19 and is historic as some prepare for their first and second doses. Following inoculation, we will begin the process of returning to our normal lives. These changes are welcomed among those who are most vulnerable and considered essential workers.
It is incumbent to share a prayer for one to repeat while preparing to be vaccinated. This is the same prayer from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that is suggested to recite before one takes any medication: Y’hi ratzon…she’yihyeh li eisek zeh li’r’fuah, ki Rofei chinam atah.
The phrase loosely translates as: “May it be Your will that this treatment will provide me with good health, for You cure the unentitled as a free physician out of good will.”
The Chofetz Chaim elaborates on this personal appeal to remind us of our need to have intense concentration in our davening, and to appreciate that Hashem will bring healing and good health only with our efforts.
It is then noted that one should recite the following brachah (without Hashem’s name) immediately before receiving the vaccination: Baruch atah…melech ha’olam, ha’tov v’ha’meitiv.
This blessing is a form of a She’hecheyanu that is reserved for this kind of a situation, where the good that you are receiving provides benefit to others, as well: “Who is good and does good,” as described in its wording.
Today, the COVID-19 vaccine not only contributes to communal immunity and reduces risk to one’s family, friends, and those they encounter while out and about, but it also empowers those in the “phase 1b” categories to go out in society and mingle without any compromise and with less anxiety.
It is said that if receiving the vaccine will improve one’s daily routine – for some this may include returning to shul, attending an in-person shiur, or visiting with family or friends – and you are excited about this regained freedom, then that individual should recite the entire brachah – as they would recite Hashem’s name in a typical blessing. Others would say “Hashem Elokeinu” as mentioned above.
While saying this blessing, one should be reminded of our appreciation that the vaccine will hopefully bring protection, and have in mind that the success and the speed of the research that delivers this protection was all provided by our Creator.
May the blessings of our educators, health professionals, and elders, be fully realized for us and our families for a long and happy life in good health until 120.
One can check his or her eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine at am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov, and sign up for the vaccine at the website, vaccinepod.nyc.gov. To find vaccine locations, visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov. Information can also be obtained by dialing 833-307-1678, or 877-829-4692.
I condemn the violence that occurred last week, along with everyone else, presumably including every columnist in this paper. (I’m sure Mr. Hecht will have a field day, whacking all those “Trumpians” with a rhetorical club while they’re already down, their leader de-platformed from the Internet.) The violence committed against policemen and desecration of the Capitol by extremist Trump supporters on the literal fringe embarrassed everyone watching. However, that is no excuse to ignore the message of everyone else at that truly mostly peaceful protest. These thousands upon thousands of people, along with the hundreds of thousands watching online, felt that they had been the victim of the greatest fraud in history, and that they had no other recourse and nobody listening to them. Nobody was taking them seriously, so they took matters into their own hands.
I do not know if the election truly was stolen. How could I know? True and unbiased investigative journalism is no longer a thing. And every political commentator and pundit either says, “Yes, there was fraud” or, “No, there wasn’t.” Both sides look at the other side and laugh at them, call them stupid, conspiracy theorists, and traitors. Some commentators even say, “I’ve looked at the claims, and my conclusion is XX” and then they move on, as if such a statement convinces anyone. If you have the gall to publicly state a simple “yes” or “no” on the subject of election fraud and expect that to convince anyone, you’re a fool and you’re making things worse. If your goal truly is to combat “dangerous conspiracy theories” and convince people, then present your audience with all of the claims made by both sides and the rebuttals by both sides, and respect their ability to make their own decisions. Truth speaks louder than dogma.
Address people’s concerns. Ask their concerns. A major concern the MAGA base has is that no court has heard the evidence, instead dismissing cases based on technicalities. I haven’t heard any commentator address that point. There are also many legal concerns that were brought up by the objecting Representatives and Senators. There are hundreds of affidavits that I doubt any commentators in this paper have read, yet they peddle opinions regardless and expect to convince people. There are videos. There are rebuttals to those videos. There are statistical analyses and constitutional issues.
I call on every single political commentator to stop dangerous name-calling and dogma peddling, and instead transparently present all the issues at play along with all possible rebuttals – especially any right-wing political commentator. If you do not respectfully engage with the beliefs of thousands of your audience who place trust in you, then you are part of the problem you rush to distance yourself from. Right-wing commentators have spent literally years of their lives convincing their followings that the media is corrupt, politicians are corrupt, and judges are left-wing tools. You can’t say those things for years and then expect your base to believe things to be any different this time around with a simple “nah, that’s a conspiracy theory.” That’s just arrogance.
Do the job of those rare investigative journalists and present your audience with all of the facts so that they can make a decision, before you resort to personally attacking your own audience. Write respectful, multi-page analyses of all of the disparate concerns and allegations. Make several-hours-long videos. Engage with your audience, or else you marginalize them and make them feel unheard, and you become partly responsible for what happened last week.
Still a Trump Supporter
Based on so many of the Letters to the Editor for the Queens Jewish Link, it very much appears that Warren Hecht’s column is better suited for the Queens Democratic Link or the Reform Jewish Link, because the vast majority of Queens Jewish Link readers clearly are not concerned with what is best for a political party.
But what I think would truly be a highly meaningful column is if Mr. Hecht were to instead choose to write about the t’shuvah process for overcoming Trump Derangement Syndrome, as opposed to the chronic whining about the all-time most pro-Jewish US president. And it is my strong belief that Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld could easily point Mr. Hecht in the right direction for this suggested column to be quite a very big success.
Choni Herschel Kantor
Kew Gardens, New York
Here is one way to keep any fare increase in 2021 to the previously scheduled 4% level or less. In 2019, the MTA estimated it lost over $300 million to fare evasion. The MTA Office of Inspector General issued a report last September that “NYC Transit’s past practices for tracking how many bus and subway riders failed to pay their fare were unreliable and contained sampling shortcomings.”
In our COVID-19 world, ridership is significantly less. Does this translate into a significant decrease in fare evasion as fare collection resumed? It will be interesting to see the MTA’s statistics for fare evasion during 2020.
When the MTA is successful in One Metro New York (OMNY) replacing the old Metro Card coming online in 2021, will the MTA become more efficient in reducing fare evasion over coming years? According to the MTA’s own McKinsey consultants report, if all goes well, perhaps 80 percent of the pre-COVID-19 ridership will return some time in 2024.
Whatever happens over coming months and years, every dollar counts. The MTA, including NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro-North Railroads, need to do a far better job in dealing with fare evasion.
It is unfair to honest commuters who pay their fair share every day if they have to continue to see so many who routinely go unpunished for not paying their fare, as well.
Feeling on top of the world now that the Democrats have won, the author of “For What It’s Worth” tells the so-called “Trumpians” (i.e., a majority of the frum population [approximately 80% voted for Trump per polls] who have tremendous hakaras hatov to President Trump for all that he has done for Israel and for frum Jews) the following in last week's FWIW column: “While growing up, many Americans who supported the Vietnam War told the anti-war protestors, ‘America - love it or leave it.’ The 2021 version is, ‘If you believe that the entire system is corrupt and rotten to the core, then why stay here?’” How ironic! For four years he has been moaning and bellyaching about Trump, Republicans, and Trump supporters. What a shame that he didn’t take his advice in 2016 – “then why stay here?” – and move to a nice socialist Republican-free country. By writing for the Venezuelan Link or the Havana Jewish Times instead of the QJL, he could have saved so many QJL readers from running to their medicine cabinets for Mylanta and Maalox after reading his TDS-infused ramblings.