The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.” (Albert Einstein)
On the rabbinic license, it should say: “Not only are you not qualified for talking about politics. We hereby explicitly prohibit this rabbi from entering the political debate.”
Again Lord Chief Rabbi Sacks irritates me by giving his outsider opinion about politics, claiming he’s an insider.
How often do I need to say that rabbis are automatically disqualified from saying anything about politics? Someone with a fear of blood should not be a surgeon. Rabbis are (supposed to be) scrupulously honest and saintly. That renders one naive and totally unsuitable in the political arena.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: G-d will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer, a rare German church leader who kept speaking out against the Nazi regime.)
This time the good rabbi has talked against US rabbis endorsing Trump or Biden. That seems evenhanded, wise, balanced, peace-loving, calming an overheated debate. But it is flawed nonsense completely.
When facing evil, there is no neutrality. There is no evenhandedness. There is no impartiality. One must choose the side of goodness and speak up against spreading hatred, war-mongering, oppressive notions, etc.
The United States has come at a decisive junction between democracy or Trump, science, healthcare, and life itself or Trump, truth or Trump, and against racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism or for Trump. It’s so simple. If he is blind to that, that means already that he should stay out of politics.
Those who don’t speak up against Trump are part of the problem, on the wrong side of history, complicit. As angry US Black demonstrators shouted this week: ‘White silence is complicity.’
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transformation was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr)
This is the rabbi who wrote in a book (so, it was not a thoughtless slip of the tongue) only 20 years ago that European antisemitism is dead.
The problem with people who deem themselves valid opinion makers is that when they don’t know their ignorance, no size of mistake will prove to them to shut up. So, the only choice there is is to not listen to them.
Instead of advising US Orthodox Jews to not take positions in the 2020 debate, he should keep his political opinion to himself because no good can come from his unwise comments. His opinion degrades Judaism.
His call for Rabbis to be silent comes on top of a long rabbinic habit of not being bold, of Jewish men outside of Israel being cowards (with notable exceptions). (NB: I don’t blame the victim. It is scary to take a clear stance in the Diaspora. That’s not our fault.) We don’t need any additions to this.