Blog

291http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2016/11/RabbiLyonsBlog-11_18_2016
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 11_18_2016
11/17/2016 12:00 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 18, 2016

 

In April, 2016, New York Times columnist, Arthur Brooks, wrote, "Liberals should be liberals and conservatives should be conservatives. But our duty is to be respectful, fair and friendly to all, even those with whom we have great differences.” The title of the article was "Bipartisanship isn’t for wimps, after all.” Brooks was right. We’ll always debate issues we hold dearly; but, Judaism has taught us to debate for the sake of heaven. How do we know if we’re arguing for the sake of heaven? In the 17th century, a rabbi taught, "This is how you know: if the [debaters] love each other completely in heart and soul, then that is a sign that their argument is for the sake of heaven. But if they are enemies, and they bear hatred for each other — that is not for the sake of heaven, and Evil will live inside them.”

Criticism is a healthy part of debate; when it’s constructively expressed it enables us to hear each other. Contempt leaves no room for debate; it’s a reliable signal of impending doom. It’s as true about marriage and relationships as it is about the fabric of our nation. The question is, "What kind of disagreements are we going to have with each other?” Will they flow from mutual respect or will they emerge from unmitigated aversion.

History proves that arguing our differences with unmitigated aversion leads to objectifying and demonizing our foes. The results have led to social marginalization at best and ethnic cleansing at worst. Arguing and debating with mutual respect, even if it isn’t with love in our hearts and souls, has always proven to be the nobler way.

Barbara Tuchman wrote, "[Truth, justice, and temperance] may in truth be in every man’s power, [but] they have less chance in our system than money and ruthless ambition to prevail at the ballot box. The problem may be not so much a matter of educating officials for government as educating the electorate to recognize and reward integrity of character and to reject the ersatz. Perhaps better men flourish in better times and wiser government requires the nourishment of a dynamic rather than a troubled and bewildered society. If John Adams was right, and government is ‘little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago,’ we cannot reasonably expect much improvement. We can only muddle on as we have done in those same three or four thousand years, through patches of brilliance and decline, great endeavor and shadow.” (Tuchman Barbara W. The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. Ballantine Books, 1984. Epilogue p.387.)

We’ll all have to decide which times we’re entering, brilliance and endeavor or decline and shadow. Whichever one we choose is a matter of opinion; but, how we act is not. Our faith and culture demand that we challenge our adversaries only through means of civil justice granted us by the Constitution and laws of the land. Violence and demonization are not answers. Our hope is that everybody will adhere to the highest values of their respective faiths and cultures in order to achieve the greatest good for our country. In 1984, Barbara Tuchman wrote about the follies of civilizations and nations of the past, including our own but only in hindsight. She couldn’t have foreseen the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves, today. Nevertheless, she warned us about them.

Let all lovers of America debate our future with hearts and souls turned in affection to each other for the sake of Heaven; and, may all our efforts be worthy of God’s blessing on our great land.


 

You may contact Rabbi David Lyon here.

Blog Search

Categories

Archives

201806June2
June 2018 (2)
201805May3
May 2018 (3)
201804April4
April 2018 (4)
201803March5
March 2018 (5)
201802February4
February 2018 (4)
201801January4
January 2018 (4)
201712December4
December 2017 (4)
201711November2
November 2017 (2)
201710October2
October 2017 (2)
201708August3
August 2017 (3)
201707July4
July 2017 (4)
201706June4
June 2017 (4)
201705May2
May 2017 (2)
201704April3
April 2017 (3)
201703March4
March 2017 (4)
201702February3
February 2017 (3)
201701January3
January 2017 (3)
201612December4
December 2016 (4)
201611November3
November 2016 (3)
201610October3
October 2016 (3)
201609September4
September 2016 (4)
201608August2
August 2016 (2)
201607July5
July 2016 (5)
201606June2
June 2016 (2)
201605May3
May 2016 (3)
201604April4
April 2016 (4)
201603March3
March 2016 (3)
201602February2
February 2016 (2)
201601January4
January 2016 (4)
201512December4
December 2015 (4)
201511November3
November 2015 (3)
201510October2
October 2015 (2)
201509September2
September 2015 (2)
201508August4
August 2015 (4)
201507July5
July 2015 (5)
201506June4
June 2015 (4)
201505May2
May 2015 (2)
201504April5
April 2015 (5)
201503March3
March 2015 (3)
201502February4
February 2015 (4)
201501January4
January 2015 (4)
201412December3
December 2014 (3)
201411November3
November 2014 (3)
201410October4
October 2014 (4)
201409September2
September 2014 (2)
201408August3
August 2014 (3)
201407July3
July 2014 (3)
201406June3
June 2014 (3)
201405May3
May 2014 (3)
201404April4
April 2014 (4)
201403March3
March 2014 (3)
201402February4
February 2014 (4)
201401January5
January 2014 (5)
201312December3
December 2013 (3)
201311November3
November 2013 (3)
201310October4
October 2013 (4)
201309September2
September 2013 (2)
201308August5
August 2013 (5)
201307July4
July 2013 (4)
201306June4
June 2013 (4)
201305May5
May 2013 (5)
201304April4
April 2013 (4)
201303March4
March 2013 (4)
201302February4
February 2013 (4)
201301January5
January 2013 (5)
201212December4
December 2012 (4)
201211November5
November 2012 (5)
201210October4
October 2012 (4)
201209September2
September 2012 (2)
201208August5
August 2012 (5)
201207July4
July 2012 (4)
201206June3
June 2012 (3)
201205May5
May 2012 (5)
201204April4
April 2012 (4)
201203March5
March 2012 (5)
201202February4
February 2012 (4)
201201January4
January 2012 (4)
201112December5
December 2011 (5)
201111November3
November 2011 (3)
201110October3
October 2011 (3)
201109September4
September 2011 (4)
201108August4
August 2011 (4)
201107July3
July 2011 (3)
201106June4
June 2011 (4)
201105May4
May 2011 (4)
201104April4
April 2011 (4)
201103March5
March 2011 (5)
201102February4
February 2011 (4)
201101January4
January 2011 (4)
201012December5
December 2010 (5)
201011November4
November 2010 (4)
201010October5
October 2010 (5)
201009September2
September 2010 (2)
201008August2
August 2010 (2)
201006June3
June 2010 (3)
201005May5
May 2010 (5)
201004April3
April 2010 (3)
Captavi QixSuite™ - Hosted Marketing Automation Software ©