Joshua Hammerman
Rabbi, award winning journalist, author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi"

And the winner is…God

There were many winners and losers in Tuesday’s election, but perhaps the greatest winner of all was God.

This will undoubtedly not be the conclusion of those who claim to know God’s every whim, who have pontificated from the rafters about the diabolical Dems and their ostensibly Muslim/socialist/unAmerican/Israel-hating leader.  I won’t be so bold as to suggest that God wanted to teach a lesson to the radical right, even as they cling to God while simultaneously blaming an act of God, a storm named Sandy, for the crushing defeat that swept Barack Obama back into the White House.

And I won’t be so theologically naive as to claim that God was waiting for this precise moment to endorse gay marriage, which for the first time won popular referenda, or strike down the misogynistic excesses of losing Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.  Nor will I suggest that God ordained that the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin, be elected in Paul Ryan’s state, or that God caused the New York Times to slap the headline “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” on Mitt Romney’s fateful 2009 op-ed, or that God arranged for Mitt’s 47% diatribe to be secretly recorded, or that God created Candy Crowley specifically for the purpose of catching Romney’s Libya gaffe in the second debate.  I won’t claim that God wanted to punish Congressional Republicans for refusing to compromise or to teach my kids that you can’t buy elections, no matter how many millions you spend.

I have no idea what God wants.

And that is precisely the point.

Maybe now the Tea Party will read the tea leaves and recognize that, while God may not have caused them to lose this election, the election was lost the minute the GOP tried to bring God into it, especially during the primaries.  Come to think of it, maybe God actually wanted to be left out of the Democratic platform, as a sign that S/he prefers to be left out of politics altogether.

Exit polls suggest that Romney was seen by a majority of Americans as the one who could best deal with the economy.  Too bad for Romney that he and his fellow Republicans didn’t stick to that message.  Whenever they veered off message and onto their holier-than-thou pulpit, they were spanked by the electorate.  Romney mocks “rising oceans?”  Hello, Sandy!  The GOP rolls out Catholic bishops to attack Obamacare?  Obama wins among Catholics. Romney cynically adopts an ultra right, theo-centric view of Israeli politics, purely in order to try to drive a wedge between Jews and Obama?  He goes on to lose 70 percent of the Jewish vote.

It’s hard to fool Jews.  When it comes to mixing God and politics, we’ve seen it all, and usually it doesn’t end well.  Unfortunately, the effort to drive a wedge between Jews and Obama only succeeded in driving a greater wedge between Jew and Jew.

Just as many on the Israeli right fully expected God to prevent the withdrawal from Gaza, so did many undoubtedly see Romney as their divinely ordained savior, not so much from the Iranians, but from actually having to talk to the Palestinians.  Glen Beck claimed that God chose Romney and it appears that Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed, otherwise why would he have put the security of the state at stake by so brazenly injecting himself into American politics?  It’s a darn good thing 70 percent of American Jews didn’t buy into the scare tactics, knowing that Israel’s security will not be compromised with the White House remaining under current occupancy.

God wants Romney. God wants settlements.  God wants gays to get AIDS. God wants women to have children of rape. God brought Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina to punish the sinful cities of New Orleans and New York.

Does God really want these, or would God perhaps select the box marked “none of the above.”

Yes, God was the big winner in Tuesday’s election. Now maybe we can compose a Blue State Bible that restores God to pulpits and pews rather than the mud-stained world of parties and polls.  Maybe then we can begin to emphasize the doctrines of love and tolerance that characterize faith at its best.  Maybe then we won’t continue losing our kids to lives of cynicism and anomie.  Maybe then, the rigid lines that divide us will truly begin to dissolve.

If God was sending us a message in Obama’s reelection, maybe it was that we should never be so sure about which message God is trying to send.  “The opposite of faith is not doubt,” wrote British ex-bishop Richard Holloway, “it’s certainty.”

That’s a lesson we learned this week, with or without God’s help.

About the Author
Award-winning journalist, father, husband, son, friend, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and rabbi of Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT. Author of Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi – Wisdom for Untethered Times and the upcoming book, "Embracing Auschwitz." Rabbi Hammerman was a winner of the Simon Rockower award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for his 2008 columns on the Bernard Madoff case, which appeared first on his blog and then were discussed widely in the media. In 2018, he received an award from the Religion News Association, honorable mention, for excellence in commentary, for articles written for the Washington Post, New York Jewish Week, and JTA. Among his many published personal essays are several written for the New York Times Magazine and Washington Post. He has been featured as About.com's Conservative representative in its "Ask the Rabbi" series and as "The Jewish Ethicist," fielding questions on the New York Jewish Week's website. Rabbi Hammerman is an avid fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and all things Boston; he also loves a good, Israeli hummus. He is an active alum of Brown University, often conducting alumni interviews of prospective students. He lives in Stamford with his wife, Dr. Mara Hammerman, a psychologist. They have two grown children, Ethan and Daniel, along with Chloe, Casey and Cassidy, three standard poodles. Contact Rabbi Hammerman: rabbi@tbe.org (203) 322-6901 x 307
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