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ב"ה

Which Political Party is Correct?

Monday, 12 July, 2021 - 2:14 am

 

Question of the Week

I am a staunch libertarian, and my wife is a big time socialist. We are happily married because we don't talk politics. But I do wonder, what is the Torah's viewpoint on political issues? Which political ideology would Judaism espouse?

Answer

It's refreshing to hear that you and your wife can disagree on politics and stay together. If only more people could put their differences aside and celebrate what unites them, the world would be in a much better place. You are a model for that better place.

There is a story of a group of Jews in the 1920's who were debating this very topic: which political philosophy aligns with the Torah? Each was able to quote the Torah as support for their preferred ideology.

One argued for monarchism, as the Torah itself condones rule by a royal family. Another argued for socialism. Doesn't the Torah command us to share our wealth with the poor? A third insisted that the Torah is communist. We don't really own any property, it all belongs to G-d.

No one could win the debate, as each side presented strong Torah proofs for their case. So they turned to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to adjudicate. 

The Rebbe told them:

"You are all right. Every political platform, indeed every man-made philosophy in the world, is a mixture of both good and evil. Only the holy Torah, G-d's wisdom, is pure goodness. You can find the positive elements of every other philosophy in the world somewhere in the Torah."

These profound words teach us the true position of Torah when it comes to politics. There is no political party that doesn't have some good points. Each one in its own way is trying to save the world. But among those good intentions will always be mixed in some bad ideas. Politics is man-made, and people are a mixture of good and evil. Nobody is perfect, and no political body is perfect. 

We need a political system. So we go with democracy, "the worst form of government, except for all the others." So too, when it comes to voting, we have to choose the worst party, except for all the others. But it would be wrong to say that any one party or platform is completely aligned with Torah. The messy game of politics can't live up to that ideal.

We should feel free to argue for our political ideologies. But as the Rebbe said, we are all right, and therefore all wrong. Let's learn to disagree, and still stay married. 

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

Source:
Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz, Volume 4 p200
Winston Churchill: "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" (speech to the House of Commons, 1947)

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