“If you . . . heard the rabbi at Yom Kippur services talking about the Jewish imperative to help refugees, you know that he said he couldn’t get into politics . . . “
I question the entire premise of rabbis not “getting into politics.” Advocates for social justice do not do their work cheaply and easily, and sometimes it is even at their own peril. Real prophets are regularly spatted on and ratted on, not invited to preside at Presidential Prayer Breakfasts. You think that Isaiah (58) got a gold star when he preached his blunt, bold outcry against social injustice, the very words we re-read every Yom Kippur morning?
Rabbis (AKA “bnei ha-nevi’im”) who are blessed with the gift of a working moral compass must bring it to the fray even when it is to the denunciation of evil politicos and policies. Risk drawing God into the debate. Some Jews-in-the-pews will always get rankled, but the decent ones, inevitably in the majority, will respect their Rav even more as he/she helps them adjust their own moral compasses.
“The time for the kingdom may be far off, but the task is plain: to retain our share in God in spite of peril and contempt.
“There is a war to wage against the vulgar, the glorification of the absurd, a war that is incessant, universal.
“Loyal to the presence of the ultimate in the common, we may be able to make it clear that man is more than man, that in doing the finite he may perceive the infinite.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)
WILUDI (Marc H. Wilson) is a retired rabbi who writes from Greenville, SC. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.