Trump, Pelosi, and the Torah

Shortly after the State of the Union Address, the political pundits were hard at work spinning the story to fit their narrative. There were those who immediately spoke out and blamed Trump for a partisan speech. There were those that felt that his speech was a mini Trump campaign rally and Trump reality show.

People on both sides of the spectrum took note of the fact that Trump and Pelosi did not shake hands. The Democrats interpreted this as a clear indication that President Trump was actively and consciously ignoring and embarrassing the Speaker of the House.
Trump supporters passionately maintain the president did not notice the speaker’s outstretched hand and hence, did not shake it. Strangely, no one brought up the possibility that Pelosi’s outstretched hand and smirk afterwards were designed to test and entrap the president, hoping that, in fact, he would spurn it.

From a Torah perspective:

If he mistakenly did not notice, that is not a problem and there is no personal culpability. If he did notice and consciously refused, it would be wrong because at the very least it caused her public embarrassment.

If Pelosi tried to set up the president that too would be wrong since her motivation in extending her hand was insincere and was done purposefully to cause him public embarrassment by political fallout by the media observers.

Most notable perhaps was the response at the conclusion of Trump’s remarks. Pelosi openly and publicly ripped up the speech that Trump had just given. Interestingly, the initial reports of the media were once again spun according to one’s political bias. Some reported, “Pelosi tears up President’s speech.” Others reported, “Pelosi APPEARS to tear up President’s speech.” Of course, a closer examination of the video which indicated there was nothing on her desk until the president handed her the speech indicates that the first headline was correct. Pelosi herself acknowledged that she tore up the speech and saw no reason to apologize. In fact, she doubled down and said that Trump “had shredded the truth, so she is shredding his speech.” Aside from being very childish and politically unwise, her response would be a clear Torah violation of being spiteful and revengeful.

Sadly, political leaders today have degenerated into self-centered individuals who will fall prey to some of the basic failings of human nature which the Torah forewarned us about thousands of years ago.

Torah values and ideals are immutable, sadly so is human nature…

About the Author
Rabbi Zev Friedman is the Rosh Mesivta, Dean Of Rambam Mesivta for Boys and Shalhevet High School for Girls.
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