Next steps in the coming years

21 Cheshvan 5773/November 6, 2012

I’m writing this on Election Day before we know the results.    Every Election Day, Tuesday’s psalm of the day (82) reminds us that only God can bring perfect justice; and our role as citizens of a republic should remind us that we have political responsibilities in between elections.

Progressive Jews should help the progressive movement strengthen its leaning toward sacrifice for others and for future generations.  Those of us who believe in government assistance for people who need it should expect recipients to pay it forward to society (which they want to), and should choose programs that focus on the long term (such as education and health care) over our short-term convenience.  Such an attitude can help progressives reach out to the many Americans concerned about government becoming too intrusive or expensive.

We must also educate progressives worldwide that the only way to influence Israel is to end all threats to its existence.

Republican Jews should educate their allies to find their own ways of ensuring that everyone enjoys respect and dignity and is not left out.  Don’t be enablers for resentment and cruelty, and learn from the Sages, not Rabbi Ayn Rand.

Finally, however you voted today, take warning from the noxious invective levelled against Obama since 2008.  It reminds me very much of the extreme hatred aimed at Yitzchak Rabin 17 years ago, and I think it comes from the same place.  Within the Jewish people, and within each of us, there is a perpetual tension between great idealism and hope on the one hand, and fear, resentment and insularity on the other hand.  In order to convey the moral guidance that Judaism can offer to the country and the world, we must be guided by the conviction that God is acting in the world and wishes it to be better for all its people.

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