Good And Meshuga
I just wanted to compliment you on printing the letters from S. Steiner and Sam Kosofsky.
The Steiner letter politely addressed an especially mean-spirited Letter to the Editor about Warren Hecht. The original letter-writer reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Baruch Spinoza: “What Paul says about Peter tells us more about Paul than about Peter.”
As to the Kosofsky letter, I recently visited Israel and was curious what people there thought of Trump. The Israeli taxi driver said, “We like Trump. He is meshuga!” A 70-year-old American man who’s been living in Israel for 40 years said “Trump is a [expletive], but he’s good for Israel.” And an American woman in her 30s, who’s been living there ten years, said, “It’s really too bad that it has to be someone like Trump who turned out to be the best for Israel.”
So I agree with Mr. Kosofsky: We should express hakaras ha’tov for what Trump deserves, but let’s stop getting carried away. I’m sure no one is davening that their daughters will marry a guy like Trump.
Do We Ever Learn?
Last week’s edition of your excellent publication contained a letter from yet another person who has over-imbibed on liberal-flavored Kool-Aid. S writes: “I have had enough. I can’t take anymore” of Jews becoming a “public cheering squad” for President Trump; and by “our rabbis” doing so, “it reaches a level of chilul Hashem.” Huh? Chilul Hashem?
Bizarrely, he acknowledges that “we owe President Trump hakaras ha’tov (gratitude) for his friendship, for supporting us, for helping make Israel strong, for recognizing Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel when no other president would, for not being Obama who was the opposite, for standing up to the tyranny of Iran, for opposing terrorism, and for many other similar positive actions.” However, he bemoans that Trump is not a role model because, to paraphrase him, our President embodies the opposite of the midos of honesty, “common human decency,” speaks “lashon ha’ra,” isn’t “a loyal spouse,” and so on.
Sir, the role of the President of the United States is to implement and enforce the laws written by Congress, appoint heads of the federal agencies, act as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, etc. – it is not to be the country’s rosh ha’yeshivah or to give a shiur in sh’miras ha’lashon during the State of the Union address. Of course, if the President is an exemplary role model and the perfect husband, all the better. But which president is? Bill “I did not have  relations with that woman” Clinton? John F. “a worse philanderer than Trump” Kennedy (LA Times, March 24, 2018)? Thomas Jefferson, Franklin (and Eleanor) Roosevelt, LBJ, or Warren Harding? (See “Historic Presidential Affairs,” History.com, May 7, 2018).
Is Trump more dishonest than Barack “if you like your health care plan you can keep your plan” Obama? Bill “I did not have relations” Clinton? George H.W. “Read my lips, no new taxes” Bush? Richard Nixon? To the contrary, Trump is the only President to have actually kept his word that Jerusalem would be recognized as the capital of Israel.
Is Trump more oveir on lashon ha’ra and r’chilus than Jimmy “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid” Carter? Richard “Jews are atheistic, immoral bunch of [expletive]” Nixon?
Is Trump – who compassionately commuted the life sentence of Alice Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender who had already served 21 years, and the 27-year sentence of father of ten (including an autistic child) Sholom Rubashkin – more lacking in decency than Obama, who sold Israel down the river in the UN, forcefully pushed through the Iran deal (the greatest existential threat to Israel during this decade), sent over a billion dollars in cash to Iran, treated the Prime Minister of Israel like a dog by leaving him in a White House meeting room for over an hour while Obama sat down to dinner with his family, and who on his third to last day in office pardoned Chelsea Manning, a soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking voluminous secrets about US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq that endangered so many operatives? Is Trump any less decent than FDR, who imprisoned over 100,000 Americans for the crime of being of Japanese descent? Than Bill Clinton, who on his last day in office pardoned Marc Rich, accused of evading $48 million in taxes and illegally trading with Iran in oil, but whose ex-wife was a prominent fundraiser for the Democrats? Than the so called “Lion of the Senate” presidential candidate Ted “let Kopechne drown inside the submerged car” Kennedy?
He further opines: “Our rabbis and newspaper columnists keep touting [Trump] as one the greatest men in world history.” That’s a blatant mischaracterization. The essence of what rabbanim and [non-ingrate] columnists write is that they have hakaras ha’tov to a president who has been so good to the Jews and Israel.
But the whopper of the year award has to go to his opinion that “the hypocrisy of this reaches a level of chilul Hashem in many ways and does not do us proud.” Chilul Hashem?!? To show hakaras ha’tov to a president who (even he admits) has done so much good to Israel, and is certainly not worse, and most likely better, than a slew of so many other presidents. On the contrary, as a matter of halachah, someone who lacks hakaras ha’tov (e.g., someone who week-after-week bashes a president who is so good to the Jews and refers to the President of the United States as a “boor”) is the one creating a chilul Hashem.
The Gadol HaDor, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, makes an astounding observation. Why, in Emor, does the Torah follow the pasuk about bringing a korban todah, a thanksgiving offering (22:29) with v’lo s’chal’lu es Sheim Kodshi v’nikdashti b’soch B’nei Yisrael (22:32), the concepts of chilul and kiddush Hashem? Rav Chaim answers that a k’fui tov, an ingrate, is kofeir ba’ikar. This is a concept we find throughout the time that B’nei Yisrael were in the midbar and were punished due to their lack of hakaras ha’tov and constant complaints. Such ingratitude is a chilul Hashem – and people should be careful about throwing that term around lightly, and especially of accusing rabbanim (who, I would venture to say, are more knowledgeable than the writer in the halachos of chilul Hashem). Klal Yisrael was almost destroyed, and forced to wander in the midbar for 40 years, because rather than recognize Hashem’s chesed, they complained about the mahn and the loss of the “good times” in Egypt when they had melons, cucumbers, and garlic. Does klal Yisrael ever learn? Certainly not our liberal brethren.
Democrats: The Party of Infanticide
In years long past, they were the party of slavery, Jim Crow, the Black Codes, the KKK, and segregation – this was the sordid and disreputable history of the Democratic Party. In an apparent effort to eclipse their own abysmal history, they’ve now fervently embraced one of the most hideous practices ever in civilized history: infanticide. Democrats are now perfectly complacent with the murder of babies merely seconds prior to birth. If that doesn’t sufficiently perturb you, and you’re still obstinate in your euphemistically-named “pro-choice” position, you’re an evil and execrable person who deserves neither life nor respect, and are a pathetic excuse for a so-called “human” being.
Anyone who’s still affiliated with the Democratic Party at the present juncture should be utterly ashamed of himself.
Sports: The Great Unifier
January 31 marked the 100th anniversary of baseball legend and civil rights activist Jackie Robinson. It reminded me of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ebbets Field. It was a time working and middle-class men and woman of all ages, classes, races, and religions commingled in the stands rooting for Jackie Robinson and his teammates, regardless of ethnic origin, game after game.
The original Brooklyn Dodgers name was derived from Brooklyn residents who would dodge trolley cars, which ran for decades until their own decline and final death in the 1950s. The golden era of baseball in New York City took place in the 1950s, with a three-way rivalry between the American League’s Bronx Yankees and the National League’s New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. All three teams claimed to have the best centerfielder in baseball. On street corners all over town, citizens would argue whether the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle, Giants’ Willie Mays, or Dodgers’ Duke Snider was champ. Ordinary Brooklyn natives could ride the bus, trolley, or subway to Ebbets Field to see their beloved Dodgers. Everyone could afford a bleacher, general admission, reserve, or box seat. Hot dogs, beer, other refreshments, and souvenirs were reasonably priced.
Just as Jackie Robinson fought racism in the 1950s, Detroit Tigers’ Hank Greenberg had to do the same with anti-Semitism in his time. Robinson and Greenberg both document the long-lasting relationship between African Americans and Jewish sports fans standing together for decades in support of each other.