I am thoroughly and totally disgusted by the blatant and vicious shaming of Yael (Ivanka) Trump, especially by ostensibly Orthodox people.
Facebook and Twitter are ablaze with snide, smarmy comments that call into question the sincerity (and by extension, the validity) of Yael Trump’s conversion to Judaism, because she attended her father’s Inaugural Ball on Friday night and was driven home afterwards, out of concern for her safety. Those behind these posted comments are the same people who (correctly) protest when the Israeli Chief Rabbinate questions the religious bonafides of converts. Their hypocrisy screams to the heavens. 36 times the Torah condemns hurting, or oppressing or discomfiting a convert (Baba Metzia 59b). The Torah makes absolutely no distinction between the daughters of kings or the sons of day workers. People are entitled to oppose the policies of President Donald Trump. However, they have absolutely no right, none, to vilify his daughter, a woman who chose to join Klal Yisrael and who is, by all accounts, a sincere Shabbat Observer.
Yes, they snidely object, but what of attending the Inaugural Ball on Friday Night?
It’s a good question, and perhaps there was room to demur. Perhaps the bigger Kiddush HaShem, Sanctification of God’s Name, would have been achieved by not attending. However, there is also halakhically unassailable precedent for Jared and Yael to attend her father’s inaugural ball, on Shabbat. Indeed, those who carp and criticize are showing their abject ignorance of Halakhah, or they are revealing that their political convictions take precedence over their religious convictions.
The Rabbis made allowances for those in public office, and the family of the President definitely falls into this category (cf. Rambam, Hil. AKuM 11, 1-3). The same holds true of being driven home on Friday night, which was justified on the grounds of the couple’s personal safety (Piquah Nefesh). Does anyone doubt, especially in the white hot atmosphere that obtains in the US today, that someone might try to harm them? Furthermore, Jared and Yael apparently did nothing that was forbidden on Shabbat.
All of this leaves me thinking of the words of the second century BCE Hasmonean king, Alexander Yannai to his wife, Shlomtzion Alexandra: ‘Fear not the Pharisees and the non-Pharisees, but [fear] the hypocrites who ape the Pharisees; because their deeds are the deeds of Zimri but they expect a reward like Phineas’ (Sotah 22b).