My friend is a traveling salesperson. He sells yarn to retail stores. He told me that one Knitting Club had a sign posted: “No Political Discussions Here.” I heard many offices and schools apply the same creed.
We applied the same message in our synagogue.
Once people started discussing politics at a friendly breakfast in the dining hall. One was a Republican – the other a Democrat. Each was touting their candidate. One became offended and left the synagogue and never returned.
It was too bad. He was a nice man. He had much to gain from Judaism.
Now – no more politics in our shul. Yes we limit “Freedom of Speech” in order to have peace in the synagogue. Want to discuss politics? Go outside – go to a restaurant – but not in our Synagogue. A synagogue is a place for peace – not quarrel. A place to grow – not a place to stagnate with ideas that bring people no where. You will rarely convince the other party that you are right. What will you be left with – bad feelings.
Rabbi Brandt from France told a joke:
The Evil inclination / Yetzer haRa came to Noach / Noah before the flood and wanted to enter the ark. “I’ m sorry you can’t enter the ark. You have to enter as a couple. Where is your mate?” he told him. The Evil Inclination searched around and decided to marry Quarrel Mongering. Noah let them in. Eventually – they had a baby. They called it Politics.
Vote – very good. Write to your congressman. But political discussions are rarely lucrative. I met a person who refused to marry a person with different political views. I asked what if the person you meet is kind, sensitive and has the right Torah values but would vote for the other candidate – would you refuse matrimony? He explained he wouldn’t think it would be a good match.
“Lev Melech BiYad Hash-m” (Mishlei / Proverbs 21:1) King Solomon – the wisest of all men – said “Like Channeled waters, the heart a king is in the hands of Hash-m / G-d – He directs it to whatever he wishes.” G-d directs the heart of the rulers to achieve His own purpose. (See Commentaries on the verse.)
So in actuality – our comments will make no difference in how the politician will act. Our actions of kindness towards others may influence the politician. Because when G-d sees us doing His will – He will influence the politician decide to do things that benefit people – like we helped people benefit with our kindness. Prayer to Hashem also makes a difference.
Many a time a parent is very adamant upon their views. What do they teach children – to hate people with views different from theirs. To argue. To adopt the views and “morality” of society.
They spend their time trashing others – so the children learn its alright to insult others – like their friends and family.
Being too much into politics also detracts from one’s Torah learning. If one is constantly involved in political discussion – the opportunity cost is losing time to learn Torah. The Torah what it means to be Jewish. It teaches:
Learning to respect others. Learning to do acts of Kindness. Learning to respect parents and grandparents. Learning to be a peaceful person. Learning to establish a positive relation with friends and family. Learning to establish a relationship with our Creator. Learning the True morality of Hash-m. Learning to be respectful with all people – regardless of their race or face or occupation.
Political discussions is sometimes anti-ethical to the Torah. The Torah promotes gratuitous love between our fellow Jews. Political discussion may cause gratuitous hatred.
Political discussions may turn off people – like potential friends, old friends or potential marriage mates. It may get a person so involved that people lose sight of the priorities in life – getting married with a Torah-minded mate, doing kindness with others that may not share your political views, establishing a Torah family, etc.
My recommendation to any politically opinionated person : Spend at least as much time studying Torah as you do expressing your political views. Many sites exist. You will live a more serene life – a life full of peace, love and understanding. See our links section for a list of sites. Gentiles can take time to learn about the Torah’s 7 Noahide laws for all humanity.
The Torah tells us in the time of Mashiach people will be polarized. Some on one side of the fence. Others on the other side of the fence. I hope to be among those on the Side of the Torah and Hash-m. Amen.