D onald Trump is a disgrace.
Donald Trump is a patriot.
Barack Obama had a heart.
Barack Obama is a traitor.

Over the last 17 months, since Donald J. Trump was elected president, these claims have been made by partisans on the left and right, in newspaper columns, on broadcast airwaves, and across the Internet. Most agree that modern history has never seen a more politicized time. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has unleashed the political animal in all of us and forced us to take sides in a debate that has split the United States apart.

All of this political energy has forced the heated rhetoric to our doorsteps — and it’s hard to ignore. The question is, how much should we care? Should we engage in the political back and forth? Does it really matter what Donald Trump does or says? Doesn’t the Ribbono shel Olam run the world? Isn’t Donald Trump — or any US president — just a puppet in a much larger drama?

To address some of these questions, we turned to a group of professionals, some of whom make politics their living and others who are engaged in the issues from the sidelines. We presented them with a list of questions and then asked them to give us their take on the political climate today and how a frum Jew should conduct himself in such an environment. The questions were: •

How much do politics really matter to an observant Jew, and how much should they matter? •

Should we get involved in the daily ups and downs of the political world? •

Is political involvement a necessary measure of hishtadlus or does it signal a lack of faith? •

Is it good and right to impose religious values on politicians, or is that unfair or inappropriate? Should we expect our politicians to behave as role models, or should we only seek role models within the Torah world? •

Finally, what, if anything, does Judaism teach us about correct political behavior?

Our respondents, who span the political spectrum, brought a wealth of experience and insight to the discussion.


Respondents: 

David Lobl ....................................................Like Ephraim and Menashe

Tevi Troy.................................................................................Keep It Real

David Luchins.............................................................................Stay True

Norman Eisen…............................................ As a Jew in the Public Eye

Hank Sheinkopf….................................................. In the Political Game

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein........…..................... Every Little Bit Counts