Have We Become Right-Wingers?

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I understand why many, perhaps most, Orthodox Jews have come to reject liberal positions on a number of public issues. In some instances, such as abortion, there is conflict between what halacha requires and what is essentially being embraced by people of a liberal orientation. More generally, there is disagreement over the role of religion in society, particularly in what is referred to as the public square. Finally, there is that nebulous term called “values” which was a feature of the recent presidential election and subsequent political analysis.

But if Orthodox Jews reject liberalism, does this mean that we need to or should reject liberal policies on a number of public and social issues where there are no clear halachic requirements? As an illustration, are we to reject what liberals advocate regarding a minimum wage? I don’t know a single Orthodox Jew who can make do on what is now the minimum wage. What about racism? Or the environment which encompasses a number of increasingly frightening concerns? I could readily give other examples.

And even if we are not comfortable with anything espoused by liberals, shouldn’t it be sufficient – and probably religiously correct – to eschew all ideologies? Yet, it is evident that a great number of Orthodox Jews are comfortable with the right-wing. They agree with the right-wing on gun control. What is emerging is an increasingly expanding comfort zone between Orthodox Jews and right-wingers. Are we forgetful of history? Do we delude ourselves and forget that those on the right include far too many who have articulated anti-Semitic views? Are we forgetful of what Jews experienced for centuries at the hands of devout Christians?

I am not advocating that we come out against the right or become liberals. I am advocating that we be true to Judaism and recognize that halacha is our guide, not any political ideology.

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37 Responses

  1. Charles B. Hall says:

    I teach future doctors at a medical school and I am married to a practicing physician who does melachah in treating non-Jews on Shabat with the full support of her posek. If the halachah were according to R’Sternbuch, there could be no Jewish doctors in the United States today, because it is illegal here for doctors to discriminate against patients on the basis of religion. But I am aware of no frum physician in America who has received such a psak.

    Regarding the politics, I think Prof. Schick’s points are well taken. My own politics moved significantly to the left as I became frum. I see nothing of lassez faire capitalism in Torah values — in Biblical Israel, you can’t even sell land! I see no Torah support for environmental degradation. Torah requires that businesses pay fair wages and compete fairly and provides for communal sanctions when they don’t. Notwithstanding the anecdotal horror stories from Canada about long waits for elective procedures (some of which have been proven not to improve health outcomes) objective measures show that health outcomes in Canada are at least as good, if not better, there and in other countries with government provided health care than in the United States — at far less cost, and with everyone having accesss. (Ideologues like to ignore this empirical evidence.) Taking care of our poorest citizens is a communal responsibility and has been under Torah law for over 3,000 years — Rabbi Hertz points out that it was not until the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England that a non-Jewish society had done this. How can we Jews support the degradation of the social safety net? And what good midot result from fanning resentment of high taxes? All our parnassah is from HaShem, anyway! I remain puzzled by the support of frum Jews for right wing causes in the United States.

  2. David Waghalter says:

    Some unconnected points:

    1.) I don’t know about the statistics, but I can speak for myself: as I became more politically conservative, I found myself becoming much more tolerants of others.

    2.) My own turning to the right religiously well preceded my turn to the right politically. While my religious beliefs might have “warmed me up” to accepting politically conservative positions, I didn’t turn until after 9/11.

    3.) I take a little umbrage at the implicit comparison of modern American conservatism of the Reagan-Bush strain and the “right-wing” position of the Nazis. I know no one here is calling Republicans Nazis. What I mean is to even say they are on the same side of the political spectrum is ridiculous. Were the Nazis in favor of privitization? Were they zealously pro-Israel? Fear of Nazi-like thinking should not cause fear of modern day neoconservatism. The Nazis were really on more of a “Z” axis.

  3. mykroft says:

    Re Edvallace: I’m not sure what a Zionist today outside of Israel is-essentially any Jew who wants to can go there. To what extent is a certain sector of MO making an avodah zarah out of Zionism because it is easier. Note the Zionism of Rav Soloveitchik ZT”L was a non-messianic one. His position was probably closer to a Rav Yacov kaminetsky ZT”L-that after the Holocaust and the Soviet Union Israel was needed to give hope- than it is to the Gush Emunim.
    I’m not getting into the issue as one who lives in the Galut can’t to what extent has the lack of return to Israel been a historical tragedy as great as happened in Ezras time when only a small minority returned. One could at least question the hypothesis that we failed-after 67 -God gave us the classic Land of Israel. Essentially Jews did not return-God saying your not interested-I’m taking it back.
    I agree the facts could be spun your way too-but I wanted to point out my hypothesis is certainly as an accurate way of reading reality. Frankly, 20 years ago-I don’t believe the yeshivish world would have permitted one like myself who may not be from their machene to comment on a blog like this. Even the existence of a blog with discussion couldn’t have existed 20 years ago.
    As far as the so-called turn to the right-a leading Orthodox sociologist wrote recently that the so-called turn to the right may be a limited YU-RIETS one. After Rav Soloveitchik’s ptirah-a vacuum was opened whereby Roshei Yeshiva who had less influence when he was alive were free to take leadership. Be that as it may-money beats everything, the Board that appointed the first non Rabbi-Richard Joel at YU-he is not disappointing- is building alternate organizations in YU. The numbers of adherents according to the sociologists study don’t show the turn to the right.

  4. dilbert says:

    Shabbat shalom to all

  5. ben meir says:

    I don’t mean to belabour this Canada/US comparison – I was trying to demonstrate that Canadian helath care is not superior, but ‘bo nagid” that Canada has better health care, the US has many more social programmes than does Canada. HUD is stronger, charity on a per capita basis is stronger.

  6. Edvallace says:

    Mykroft,
    “A reason probaly not intended by the author-how Modern Orthodoxy won the battle. Being involved in the world is the essence of MO while being halchickly committed. Look in many respects the Agudah is the classic epitome of MO. Confusion the term MO has been appropriated by some non believers of Yahadus-as opposed to the modern beliefs of eg Rav Soloveitchik etc. MO is totally committed to halacha. There are friends of Orthodoxy who may pay dues to organizations but are not Orthodox.”

    You raise an interesting and not one that I disagree with but that’s because I believe we could spin it the other way too. If Agudah is classic epitome of MO, I’d have to think that MO is actually Agudah. What I mean by this is that both of them have come closer to each positions in certain respects over the years to the point that today they’re difficult to distinguish from one another.
    Yes, many who claim to be Agudists look, live and dress like MO’s. And many MO’s now look, live, act, and dress like Agudists. Black hats and Kollel are now rampant in the MO circles, mixed dancing is out, even mixed seating is no longer standard [though it exists]. On the other hand, even loyal Yeshivalite have managed to create situations for themselves that allow them to intermingle with the outside in a manner that isn’t inconsistent with their lifestyles. Much of this is due to the fact that the facts on the ground have changed over time and old positions are no longer relevant.
    Many MO’s are simply not as focused on Zionism as they once were. But that’s partially because few Zionists are either.
    Many Lakewood alums now allow their children to speak Hebrew because refusing to do so is no longer necessary to protest secular Zionism.
    The bottom line is that the distinctions between Yeshivish and MO are not nearly as great as they once were and it’s due to many factors, not because MO “Won the battle”.

  7. mykroft says:

    “This too, is patently false and slanderous. If anything, secular education is now far more accepted among Orthodox Jews than ever before due to many things: 1] More Baalei Teshuvah who insist on their children receiving secular education 2] Acceptable forms of such training i.e. Private colleges, COPE, etc. offering training on our terms 3] The higher costs of raising families etc. 4] The fact that computers are an essential part of life today, mandating training etc.

    A reason probaly not intended by the author-how Modern Orthodoxy won the battle. Being involved in the world is the essence of MO while being halchickly committed. Look in many respects the Agudah is the classic epitome of MO. Confusion the term MO has been appropriated by some non believers of Yahadus-as opposed to the modern beliefs of eg Rav Soloveitchik etc. MO is totally committed to halacha. There are friends of Orthodoxy who may pay dues to organizations but are not Orthodox.

  8. mykroft says:

    “As Jewish orthodoxy has turned to the right, the amount of racism, intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness has increased, which all play into the conservative camp.”

    You need evidence for this statement. I have seen the opposite, if anything. People are more “open” than their parents, less likely to make certain remarks – and I think this goes across all of society.”
    You’re probably both right-why Dilbert is right-but may be more due to sociology than hashkafa a lot of the recent turn to the right is due to different ancestry of Orthodox Jews, the post WW11 immigration of Holocaust survivors are different socilogically than the Jews who came here before WW11. Test -check the Orthodox Jews ask when they or there ancestors came to US-thye divide may be there rather than in kiyyum hamitzvot.
    Certainly Chareidim have been active in Vaad Hatzalot and Yad Sarah etc. Thus I think there is an element of elu vaelu. But re Chareidim the story of R. Yaaco Kaminetsky ZT”L following a funeral procession of a non Jew because all are created bstelem elokim-needs to be repeated more often.

  9. Sholom Simon says:

    ben meir, I’m afraid I don’t understand your point. Your artificial low drug prices in Canada have nothing to do with how fast you can get on an operating table. It may be a symptom of a common cause, but there is no causality between the two.

    As for who devalues life — yes, abortion is often a litmus test for liberals. But why is abortion the only measure of the devaluation of life? What about the life _after_ a child is born? Is Medicade, food stamps, etc etc., related to the quality of life? Isn’t the cleanliness of our air and water, and healthfulness of the food we eat, related to the quality of life? What about the death penalty applied to cases where there is a real safek? What about supplying death row defendants some adequate defense attorneys for those who otherwise can’t afford them?

    I’m not dictating any position on those issues — only to say that those issues must be included in the calculus of how one values life.

  10. ben meir says:

    Mr Simon
    I live in Canada, the home of the great liberal society – you will die faster here with artificially low drug prices (read – threat of poor patent protection)than in the cut throat private pay world in the US. One has to wait months to get an appointment with a heart specialist and then many more months to start treatment – in the States you would be on the operating table the next day.
    Alhough I did not mean to attack liberals, it is not a generalization to say that they are the authors and defenders of this devaluation of life. Support for abortion is THE litmus test to be a “liberal” candidate.
    As far as charity to non-frum causes what would you call Aish or NCSY – they are not self supporting (although that would be a great topic for a post – a purely financial cost benefit analysis of Baalei Teshuva, are they a net positive or negative to the community from a strictly financial perspective)

  11. Zev says:

    Dilbert, in one sentence, you accuse “haredim” of bigotry toward other races; in the next, you yourself display bigotry toward haredim. You attempt to justify this by saying that your simply describing what you see. But that’s what all racists say!

  12. David Brand says:

    To get back to Dr. Schick’s main point, I think it’s important to note that although there has been a greater tendency of Ortho Jews to vote GOP, we must always look out for what’s best for our community. My attitudes currently are much more in line with the Republicans. However, we should never allow our votes to be taken for granted by either party. I can think of a couple of groups that the Dems took for granted. How far have those groups advanced recently? Remember that in the last election cycle, the Republicans knew that they had a fantastic opportunity to capture many Ortho Jewish votes. The Dems’ response was to have Kerry go out and talk about his “perfect” voting record on Israel. Dr. Schick aptly says that we do not need to subscribe to any “isms” beyond the Torah. We need to do what’s best for us. To that extent, I agree wholeheartedly.

  13. Sholom Simon says:

    ben meir — you started out great, when you complained about the tone, writing “but lets stay away from personal attacks and over generalizations.”

    But then you wrote: “we are living in a world that does not value life anymore – and the champions of such nonsense are called Liberals.”

    As Marvin Schick wrote in his blog:

    What about the sick and elderly whose health is endangered because they cannot get affordable drugs from Canada? Or the lives that might be saved through stem cell research? Choosing life is not a selective process that is subject to ideological whims, yet it seems that those who are most vociferous in proclaiming the right to life are concerned about life at the time of conception and as death approaches but have little regard for what happens to human beings in between.

    It’s not due to liberals that you most likely have higher levels of lead and mercury in your blood than you’d like.

    Neither liberals nor conservatives have the market cornered in concern for quality of life. You were right the first time: “lets stay away from personal attacks and over generalizations.”

  14. Yaakov Menken says:

    I have to agree with the above comment about the decline in tenor. I may have been too hasty in letting the original comment through. Now that I did, let’s address this rationally.

    “As Jewish orthodoxy has turned to the right, the amount of racism, intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness has increased, which all play into the conservative camp.”

    You need evidence for this statement. I have seen the opposite, if anything. People are more “open” than their parents, less likely to make certain remarks — and I think this goes across all of society.

    “How many really frum Jews support their local Solomon Schechter, Federation, or other non-frum institutions, to say nothing of the united way, american cancer society, or other non-Jewish institutions?”

    Asking a frum Jew to support an educational system that disparages Torah SheBa’al Peh is a bit far-fetched and unfair. But let me answer your second question: a survey by the Jewish Week found that Orthodox Jews were more likely, yes, more likely, than Conservative or Reform Jews to have given a “substantial” ($5,000 or more) donation to a secular charity like the American Cancer Society. So the evidence on record is that a rightward shift leads to greater philanthropy, not less.

    If you claim that MO are more likely than Charedim to give to the ACS you may be right. That means the Charedim are giving more, but giving it to Jewish poor in Israel, and yeshivos.

    Are you of the opinion that the yeshivos are over-funded, and the money should be sent to the ACS? I am sure that any sincere, impartial survey will show that the “right-wing” Jews donate, on average, as much as the general population to secular charities. And that’s besides all the money given “internally!” You cannot, fairly, challenge the philanthropy of the frum community.

  15. ben meir says:

    First of all, a comment on my perception of a decline in the tone on this blog. When this site began there was I believe a deliberate decision to stay away from ‘loshon borah’ and to behave better than previous attempts. We are discussing passionate important issues, but lets stay away from personal attacks and over generalizations.
    One overarching comment thought, one that while previously mentioned needs expanding is, that the Liberals have abandoned us, not the other way around. Democrats are not as bad as liberals in other countries, but alot of these so called liberals are anti-semites and yes, they have poor values – life has become cheap – Schiavo particulars aside – we are living in a world that does not value life anymore – and the champions of such nonsense are called Liberals.
    This is an issue I struggle with. I am shocked noone has yet to mention Churchill’s famous quote about if you aren’t liberal when young you have no heart, conservative when older you have no brain. BUT I am finding that I am becoming more liberal as I grow older. My parents (and I suspect grandparents) were Reagan democrats and I grew up within the framework of the decline/death of communism (something my kids are not even being taught about in school) and all of the 1980 conservative values – the greedy decade etc. I think that there is a new strain of people that are conservative in outlook, but do realize that you have to share and sometimes there is a greater good and sense of responsibilty we must assume. These are majorly Jewish concepts – they are referred to as chesed, tzedaka and ‘arvus’ – (I know this is unique to us, but conceptually it can be expanded to other groupings). So while I do agree with civil rights, I can’t agree with affirmative action with quotas, while I believe in unemployment I don’t think you should be allowed to exist on this forever, while I believe in subsidizing education for those who need help -I don’t think there is anything nonJewish in asking for accountability. I guess what I am saying is the social safety net is a wonderfully Jewish concept – but I would not like to see it abused in the way it has been over the past 40 years. I would call this concept Comapssionate Conservatism, but I belive someone is already using that term ;)

  16. Edvallace says:

    dilbert,
    “How many really frum Jews support their local Solomon Schechter, Federation, or other non-frum institutions, to say nothing of the united way, american cancer society, or other non-Jewish institutions?”

    Solomon Shechter is obviously not getting my support. Until they start teaching Torah Judaism it’s not happening and you know that. The Federation actually receives plenty of money from Frum Jews although a miniscule amount of that actually goes to Frum institutions. Most of it goes on things that are either anathema to a Frum Jew or at best ambivalent. I know whereof I speak, because I worked for a Federation for years. American Cancer Society gets our money but we primarily support institutions like Chai Lifeline that offer services to the ENTIRE Jewish communitty as do our Bikkur Cholim’s, Medical Referral services, Food Banks etc. etc. etc. We may focus our giving on our institutions but rarely do our institutions focus their giving solely on us.

    “I would also disagree with your characterization of the untenability of the position of the modern orthodox- something which we both know is patently false.”

    Huh? Pray tell, why then have the majority of MO institutions taken sharp turns to the right? Why are most Young Israels now staffed by Rabbis who wear black hats, eat only cholov Yisroel, no more mixed seatings in many places and forget the once venerated mixed dance.

    “As far as intolerence, I can only compare my non-Jewish work envirnoment with my social and shul work environment. Unfortunately, I hear a lot more racist remarks, use of bigoted language, and other indications of attitude in the frum society.”

    If your comparison is to the work environment you can forget that one because the reputation of the corporate world as a backstabbing, greedy, selfish, and spiteful place, is known to all, not just you and I. Do Frum Jews sometimes express their feelings about others races in a manner that’s innapropriate? Absolutely. So do most people BTW – but only among company that they feel is understanding of it, IOW – in private. You are not privy to those conversations but they take place every day, everywhere.

    “And, one can certainly be outwardly devout, and still fixated on money.”

    Yes, you can be Frum and fixated on money. I just don’t know where you know that Frum people are more fixated on it than others? How many Kollel members do know in your Christian and Muslim communities? Who supports them?

    “I am describing what I see, not what I feel. No, I dont think I have these traits, and just because I see them, and describe them, doesn�t make me guilty of having them, any more than you going to a baseball game makes you a Yankee player.”

    Unless, of course, you’re not as objective of your feelings than you think you are.

    “Using the impact of ba’alei teshuva on frum society has been shown to be innacurate as the number of ba�alei teshuva is very very small in relation to the frum society as a whole. This has been discussed in detail elsewhere, although I cant remember the place exactly.”

    That really helps. Unfortunately its innacurate. Their number may not be huge but their influence has certainly been felt especially in smaller Jewish communities where they constitute a sizable part of the community and serve on boards of every kind. Artscroll hasn’t grown into what it is because Lakewood has been producing more yungerleit.

    “And, going to college and taking only accounting courses, having no interaction with other students except in the classroom, and heading straight back to yeshiva afterwards is not exactly exposure to college and the ideas. I am certainly not critcizing this path, but it does not lead to a wide experience. The type of secular education that is accepted generally is the one that leads to better business prospects and parnassa, not to english professors and chemistry professors.”

    Those accounting courses are taken for a reason. They become accountants and interact with the greater population. Same for a host of professions that Frum people specialize in. If you think that forgoing the “college experience” leaves us in the dark, I fear you’re greatly overestimating its effect.

    “Dont get mad at me for holding a mirror to society. I describe what I see. you are free to disagree.”

    Peace brother but be careful before you slander a community unequaled in its piety. Don’t forget that Moshe Rabbeinu was taken to task for claiming that “They won’t believe me”
    Kol Tuv

  17. dilbert says:

    Different Rivers- you misunderstand me totally. I do not hold by anything that R. Sternbuch writes. I do not agree with mercy killing, not Jews, not non-Jews. Again, i brought that only to show those to the right of me that they could not automatically call the Schiavo case murder, and that they were ignoring someone who they(not me) ought to pay attention to. I put the note at the top of the post to emphasize this point. Maybe I should have spelled out: I do not agree with this shita in the least but merely bring it show the chareidi community that they need to think a bit more before they start labelling the Shiavo case as murder. Maybe I will change it. My view on the Schiavo case is more nuanced. I am opposed to removing her tube, but in the context of the freedom of options issue, I do not agree with the militant protests against it. I can try to explain in more detail when I have more time.

  18. dilbert says:

    Edvallace- Until there are official studies proving either your point or mine, we will have to agree to disagree. However, I too will discuss your claims a bit. How many really frum Jews support their local Solomon Schechter, Federation, or other non-frum institutions, to say nothing of the united way, american cancer society, or other non-Jewish institutions?

    I would also disagree with your characterization of the untenability of the position of the modern orthodox- something which we both know is patently false.

    As far as intolerence, I can only compare my non-Jewish work envirnoment with my social and shul work environment. Unfortunately, I hear a lot more racist remarks, use of bigoted language, and other indications of attitude in the frum society. And, one can certainly be outwardly devout, and still fixated on money.

    I am describing what I see, not what I feel. No, I dont think I have these traits, and just because I see them, and describe them, doesn’t make me guilty of having them, any more than you going to a baseball game makes you a Yankee player.

    Using the impact of ba’alei teshuva on frum society has been shown to be innacurate as the number of ba’alei teshuva is very very small in relation to the frum society as a whole. This has been discussed in detail elsewhere, although I cant remember the place exactly. And, going to college and taking only accounting courses, having no interaction with other students except in the classroom, and heading straight back to yeshiva afterwards is not exactly exposure to college and the ideas. I am certainly not critcizing this path, but it does not lead to a wide experience. The type of secular education that is accepted generally is the one that leads to better business prospects and parnassa, not to english professors and chemistry professors.

    Dont get mad at me for holding a mirror to society. I describe what I see. you are free to disagree.

  19. “dilbert”: “The quotation from R. Sternbuch was there only to show all my friends who are to the right, who are proclaiming far and wide that we are murdering Ms. Shiavo, that there is a shita by a chareidi gadol that might allow mercy-killing, and that maybe they should acquaint themselves with some literature before making pronouncements. I certainly do not hold by this shita in the least.”

    I had thought it was a basic principle of the halachic process that once you accept a particular rabbi’s decisions l’kula, you must also accept his decisions l’chumra as well. So it seems a bit disingenuous to quote his decision in support of mercy killing of non-Jews while disclaiming the basis for that decision, which is the assumption that non-Jews are all idolators deserve to die anyway. This assumption could, G-d forbid, be just as easily be used to support allowing the use of perfectly healthy non-Jews for target practice at the rifle range. (I know that’s not what R’ Sternbuch explicitly permitted, but his logic would apply just as well to this case.)

    Second, what we are (or were — she has now passed away) talking about in the Schiavo case is not the same as the case R’ Sternbuch addressed. He was discussing the case of a patient in extreme pain, whose death was expected in a short time. In the Schiavo case, we had a patient whose death was not expected within a short time (which was the point of starving her), and who was not (before the starvation process was started) believed to be in any particular pain. So R’ Sternbuch’s teshuva is irrelevant in any case, unless you want to claim that since Schiavo was not Jewish, she was therefore an idolator deserving of death. Which is a claim I hope you would vehemently reject.

    I also hope you would see the oddness of the claim of the pull-the-tube people, who claim that on the one hand, Schiavo needed to be put to death to “end her suffering” and on the other hand that she would not suffer the pain of starvation/dehyrdration because she was so far gone mentally as to be incapable of suffering. It should be obvious that both claims cannot simultaneously be valid. If she is capable of suffering, then death by starvation/dehyrdration is cruel and inhuman. If she is not capable of suffering, there is no need to put her to death to end the suffering she is not capable of experiencing. In fact, there is no need to put her to death at all except to save the money spent taking care of her. Which would seem to indicated that it’s the left, not the right, which is overly concerned with money.

    As for disparaging comment about (non-Jewish) minorities (and non-Jews in general), I too have heard these sort of remarks from Jews, including frum Jews, but I have heard them almost exclusively from Jews who are on the left politically. In one particular case, I was told to “look in the mirror and see who I should vote for” when I expressed an objection to voting for a particularly corrupt White (Catholic) candidate for mayor when his opponent was Black. In numerous — and I really mean numerous — other cases, I have been told — by Jews who are lifelong Democrats — that “we” need to support abortion, because without it there would be too many Black people. (This of course was the same goal Margaret Sanger had when starting Planned Parenthood, but it was wrong then and it is wrong now.) I have never heard a comment like that from any Republican of any religion, even the “pro-choice” ones.

    On the one hand, I am glad to hear you treat non-Jews on Shabbos. But if you believe in “mercy killing” I be afraid to have you treat me, especially if you believe in “mercy killing” of Jews as well. (If I were unconsious in a hospital gown, could you tell I’m Jewish?)

  20. Edvallace says:

    “As Jewish orthodoxy has turned to the right, the amount of racism, intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness has increased, which all play into the conservative camp.”

    I find it fascinating that you’re comfortable with making these statements while claiming not to possess these lovely character traits. I suppose one could make an equally valid argument to the effect that as Orthodox Judaism has turned to the right [although it was always there – the only things that changed is that more modern orthodox has realized the untenability of their position and moved to the right – Lakewood and Brisk were and still are the same Lakewood and Brisk]
    greater tolerance and understanding have been the result. Outreach is at an all-time high, Daf Yomi reaches all sectors of Jewish society, Tzedakah is dispensed at unprecedented rates etc.

    “In addition, there has been a decrease in the emphasis on secular education, which results in less exposure to liberal ideas in college(where there has also beena turn to the right), and less exposure to liberal thought as expressed in books and history.”

    This too, is patently false and slanderous. If anything, secular education is now far more accepted among Orthodox Jews than ever before due to many things: 1] More Baalei Teshuvah who insist on their children receiving secular education 2] Acceptable forms of such training i.e. Private colleges, COPE, etc. offering training on our terms 3] The higher costs of raising families etc. 4] The fact that computers are an essential part of life today, mandating training etc.

    “The result is a group of narrowminded, devout, intolerant, money fixated, secularly ignorant orthodox Jews, who are perfect members of the conservative right.”

    Please note that we are at once, “Devout” and “Money fixated”! Which is it?
    As far your intolerance accusation goes, it’s hardly worth refuting but I’ll spend a sentence on it for others who are more open-minded.
    The range of charities supported by the larger Orthodox community is so much greater than by any other Jewish faction that your assertion is laughable.

    How you get off spewing such bigoted talk about a group that while not perfect, truly expend endless resources on being the best people and Jews they can be, is mind-boggling and illuminating.

  21. Shira Leibowitz Schmidt says:

    Commentor #7 above, “mykroft” repeated a very serious allegation about Rav Yechiel Weinberg z”l that is untrue and must be rectified. “Mykroft” wrote

    …there is an historical problem that many Orthodox Rabbanim tend to be more fearful of the left’s perversions-communism-than the right’s perversion-Nazism.
    An extreme version of that is the letter by Rav Munk ZT”L and Rav Yechiel Weinberg “Sreidei Aish” ZT”L to Hitler Yemach Shmo Vzichro praising him for cracking down on the godless communists. Letter is published as appendix to Shapiro’s book on R. Y. Weinberg

    Anyone who has access to Marc Shapiro’s book can open to that appendix and see CLEARLY that Rav Yechiel Weinberg, the “Sreidei Aish”, is NOT signed on that letter. From so many repetitions, that accusation is gaining currency. But just look at the letter and the signatures – R. Weinberg is not there. Marc Shapiro explains in chapter 5 why he included that letter in the appendix of his biography of R. Weinberg, “Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy.”
    Shira Schmidt

  22. dilbert says:

    Different Rivers- I am a frum Jew. The quotation from R. Sternbuch was there only to show all my friends who are to the right, who are proclaiming far and wide that we are murdering Ms. Shiavo, that there is a shita by a chareidi gadol that might allow mercy-killing, and that maybe they should acquaint themselves with some literature before making pronouncements. I certainly do not hold by this shita in the least.

    My comments about intolerence were made in sadness and based on my personal experience, talking to people, overhearing conversations. Unfortunately, I hear more and more use of certain words, disparaging remarks about minorities, and an increasing emphasis on monetary things, size of houses, etc. Obviously, this was a gross generalization designed to explain a trend. And, I think unfortunately there is some validity to my observation. Obviously a generalization does not hold for everyone, and I am sure that you and many like you can find reasons to support conservative candidates and causes. I have myself. But I was pointing out an over arching trend.

    About treating non-Jews on Shabbat. I do it everytime I am on call on Shabbat. My posek holds that not only is it not ossur in this situation, it is the right thing to do.

    My guess is that we probably agree on a lot of issues, just that we come to them from different sides.

    As far as cozying up to the right wing Christians, I think you can be narrow-minded and still do it. I dont find those things to be incompatible.

    In summary, I was a bit harsh in my comments, and I apologize for my tone. However, I think the statments in them unfortuantely have significant truth, and it is a trend that worries and frightens me.

  23. mykroft says:

    Different River: I once heard Dr. Abraham speak-he apparently was a close talmid of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT”L-his position was disturbing to me in that it essentially agrees that one can’t treat lo yehudim on Shabbos.
    I believe a lot of the hashkafic debate revolves on how one treats “darchei shalom”. Is darchei shalom merely a utilitarian concept-essentially that if we don’t do something mipnei darchei shalom the amei halom will do something bad to us. Or is darchei shalom a positive precept roughly based on “darcheiha darchei noam”. Very big hashkafic difference and frankly permeates how one treats the world around us.

  24. mykroft says:

    The Nazis were not from the left-don’t be mislead vy the name National Socialists-their evil philosophy was a conservative one. The Communists were a left one. Just plain basic history,

  25. Zev says:

    “Very nice Mr. Schick, and a point I have tried to make myself with too many GOP-Jews.”

    Mr. Schick’s point applies equally to liberal, Democrat-Jews, such as DovBear.

  26. In re: the comment of “dilbert” above. (I saw this right after leaving my comment above.)

    On a different post (“The Unconscious and the Unaware” by Eytan Kobre), “dilbert” left a comment referencing a post on his own blog, here which cites an opinion of HaRav Moshe Sternbuch allowing the so-called “mercy killing” of non-Jews, with the following justification:

    Rav Sternbuch starts with the assumption that shedding blood is prohibited and that this also applies to a Jew killing a non-Jew. He then states that “The Rabbis in our generation have considred the question of whether in our day non-Jews should be considred to be in the same category as the idol-worshippers of Biblical days. They generally come to the conclusion that the non-Jew in our day could be considered an idol-worshipper. Now, according to the Torah, an idol-worshipper is deserving of death. … since the patient could perhaps be classified as an idol-worshipper who is deserving of death, a Rabbi may give the Jewish doctor permission to sign the authority.

    Is this not indicative of the “intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness” that “dilbert” himself criticizes in his comment above? To be fair, he prefaces his remarks on his blog by saying that “this opinion is brought for interest and discussion” — but the opinion present clearly supports his position, and the equation of modern non-Jews with worshippers of long-defunct idolotrous religions is the only justification he mentions.

    He also closes by pointing out that “At the end of the chapter he emphasizes that ‘permission for a Jewish doctor to violate the Sabbath to treat a non-Jew is only to be given in exceptional cases[.]'” This is clearly not the halacha as practiced by most Orthodox doctors today, nor is it supported by most other authorities. Yet, it fits in with the “intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness” that he so criticizes when (he thinks) it is practiced by Jews who vote differently than he does.

  27. “dilbert” says:

    As Jewish orthodoxy has turned to the right, the amount of racism, intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness has increased, … The result is a group of narrowminded, devout, intolerant, money fixated, secularly ignorant orthodox Jews[.]

    Can anyone read those words and not think they are motivated by antisemitic stereotypes? I don’t know if this “dilbert” is an antisemite coming to this website to provoke us, or a Jew who has internalized these stereotypes, or something else entirely. But this is such a weird thing to say. The claim is, basically, that Jews who are politically conservative are those Jews who are guilty of every antisemitic stereotype ever used by Czarist, Marxist, and Nazi propogandists, especially the one about being “money fixated.” There is some deep-seated hatred lurking not too far under the surface of that comment.

    As to the content, let me just present my own story. I am Orthodox. I vote based on what I believe, not a party line, but I have almost never been able to vote for a Democrat in good conscience (if at all). But I don’t meet your stereotype — I have little money, no investments, a house too small for my family, and an extensive secular education — four university degrees including a Ph.D. from one of the top universities in the world (in my field — I took courses from three Nobel Prize winners). I haven’t a racist bone in my body and most of my friends (not to mention most of the readers of my blog) are non-Jews.

    Which reminds me, you are being inconsistent — in your comments on the Terri Schiavo posts, you accuse politically-conservative Jews who want to save Ms. Schiavo of cozying up to the Christian Right — but here you accuse politically-conservative Jews of “intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness.”

    You can’t have it both ways. Which is it?

  28. Joseph says:

    No we are not. Neither do we forget what was done to us by National Socialists in Germany or more traditional Socialists in Russia. We are also extremely comfortable with the idea of vouchers for private schools.

  29. DovBear says:

    Very nice Mr. Schick, and a point I have tried to make myself with too many GOP-Jews.

  30. mykroft says:

    Although in general Orthodox Rabbis have tended to be more conservative than liberal. I remember Rabbi Feldman-of cross currents-giving the benediction at the convention that nominated Jimmy Carter. I’m not sure it is fair but my gut feeling of the editors of Tradition that Rabbi Feldman edited for 13? years- most were ones who were more liberal than conservative in their political beliefs. There is no contradiction between being frum and being liberal or conservative politically.
    I do believe that if one pays attention to the haftorot that we read they tend to espouse ideas that are reflective of ideas that are more liberal than conservative. The haftarot are important not only because they represent the ideas of neviim and by nevuah fron the Rebono Shel Olam-but they represent what Chazal wanted us to remember eg the haftorot of a fast day are they words of a liberal or conservative, the haftarah of Yom Kippur morning are those words of a liberal or a conservative. The concern with the world and non Jews of Sefer Yonah is self evident.

  31. mykroft says:

    Marvin Schick raises very good questions. Frankly Dilbert in “Jewish communities are more affluent, and the right wing is more in tune with their fiscal and tax concerns,” hit a lot of it on the head. I would vary that point-the Jewish decision makers tend to be way above average in income and are frankly selfishly benefiting by right-wing conservative fiscal and tax policies. A more interesting variation is why Roshei Yeshiva would tend to find it in their interest for right wing fiscal policies. Assuming arguendo-that in general they are not affluent-the fiscal interests of the Yeshiva are met by the contributions of the extremely wealthy-not by the average Jew.
    As Dilbert mentioned Jews tend to be affluent-BUT not nearly as affluent as even ethical physicians might think.
    In addition to a lot of what Dilbert wrote-I think there is an historical problem that many Orthodox Rabbanim tend to be more fearful of the left’s perversions-communism-than the right’s perversion-Nazism.
    An extreme version of that is the letter by Rav Munk ZT”L and Rav Yechiel Weinberg “Sreidei Aish” ZT”L [see comment by Shira Schmidt, below] to Hitler Yemach Shmo Vzichro praising him for craccking down on the godless communists. Letter is published as appendix to Shapiro’s book on R. Y. Weinberg. Jews have been physically persecuted more by the right-but the left’s ideology historically has been more problematical for Torah ideals.

  32. dilbert says:

    If you are young and are not liberal, you have no heart. If you are old and are not conservative, you have no brain. The increasing identification with the right wing/conservatives is a product of a number of factors: Jewish communities are more affluent, and the right wing is more in tune with their fiscal and tax concerns, the right wing has successfully marketed itself as the protectors of values(whether this is true or not is another issue) and we believe in values. As Jewish orthodoxy has turned to the right, the amount of racism, intolerance, disrespect for non-Jews, and narrowmindedness has increased, which all play into the conservative camp. In addition, there has been a decrease in the emphasis on secular education, which results in less exposure to liberal ideas in college(where there has also beena turn to the right), and less exposure to liberal thought as expressed in books and history. The result is a group of narrowminded, devout, intolerant, money fixated, secularly ignorant orthodox Jews, who are perfect members of the conservative right.

  33. Aaron says:

    I would remind Mr. Schick about the tolerant, liberal Europeans, & their attitudes about Israel & Jews in general, in comparison with the ‘right-wing’ Americans’ viewpoint.

  34. edvallace says:

    Excellent point Mr Schick. I do believe however, that most Orthodox Jews don’t subscribe to the Conservative viewpoint reflexively. Rather, what we’re witnessing is a radical shift from the near automatic alliance with the Democratic party that has now shifted to the liberal side of most issues and increasingly Jews are finding themselves siding with Conservatives who are now affiliated with the Republicans. IOW – we haven’t changed our positions – they did and now we find that we’re on the other side.
    I often tell people [those who’ll listen] that I’m neither a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or conservative. I’m just a Jew who tries to follow what the Torah says and at times the Torah is more in line with the libs and at times the conservatives.

  35. Orthodox conservative says:

    Why is it a negative to “agree with the right wing on gun control?” As has been shown time and time again, there is no correlation between gun control and homocide rates. Moreover, I agree we should not be “forgetful of history.” Specifically, let’s not forget that it was the Nazi regime that enacted tight gun control legislation in Germany in 1938. Ultimately, gun control is just another way of making people more dependent on government, and less capable of defending themselves.

  36. adie says:

    the increased movement to the right has more to do with foreign policy than domestic issues IMO.

    on domestic issues, tax cuts benefit the religious in particular, who use fewer social services.

  37. We have not “become right-wingers” in the sense of adopting some “right-wing” ideological principles as a substitute for halachic or other Jewish values.

    However, if you have a Torah-based outlook, and you form opinions on public issues based on that outlook, these days you will mostly find yourself agreeing with people the media calls “right-wing” or “conservative” (unless you are Sholom Simon :-) .

    I suspect this is no different from what most people do — they have some set of principles in their mind, they form opinions based on these principles, and find that those opinions generally land them in one political “camp” or another. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think people start out by saying “I’ll be a liberal” or “I’ll be a conservative” and then decide what to think about a given issues by asking what other people in their “camp” think.
    (I’m sure there are exceptions to this.)

    If you’re interested in why, if each person decides each issue independently, why people end up dividing into “camps” (say, if you agree with side A on foreign policy, you are likely to also agree with side A on the minimum wage and abortion), I’d recommend a book by Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions. Sowell’s idea is that people have a small number of choices of basic principles (worldview) which produces opinions on a wide variety of seemingly unrelated issues. With two basic worldviews, we end up with two groups of people, who agree with each other on most issues most of the time (obviously not always). That’s why we end up with a spectrum of political views with two “ends” (“left” and “right”) rather than a multidimensional hodgepodge.