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Chayei Sarah: America Speaks

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Do Not Fear G-d

Admission: I voted for President Bush. (I hear the murmuring). But it was not a vote for Bush as much as it was a vote against someone else.

That someone was not John Kerry.

My vote was against the liberal establishment of the East and West Coasts that showed utter contempt for faith in G-d – my faith and the faith of millions of others.

And I believe (faith, again) that I am not alone. I submit that the election was determined by one key factor: Americans simply could not tolerate the relentless attack we have been witnessing against the faith of Mr. Bush – not because they support the President and all his policies, but because in the American consciousness there is a profound sense that faith cannot be so utterly discredited.

The icing on the cake was a New York Times Magazine cover story a few weeks ago (Without a Doubt, by Ron Suskind) depicting Mr. Bush as a man whose decisions are determined not through reason and political process, but through Divine inspiration.

He describes the support for or against Bush as a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion. He quotes Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush: The instinct President Bush is “always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do. He truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence. But you can’t run the world on faith.”

Give me a break. George W. is a politician not a saint. He climbed the ladder of power through political machinations not religious ones. I’ve seen a tzaddik. Bush is no tzaddik. Yet, ironically, many in the media have turned Bush into a man of absolute faith, and Kerry into a man of reason.

Ironically, many in the media have turned Bush into a man of absolute faith, and Kerry into a man of reason.

Once the liberal press painted the picture in this radical fashion, pitting the election as one for or against G-d, the people of faith in this country came out in-masse to vote for faith.

Not that Mr. Bush is necessarily a man of G-d. Frankly, I find it quite hilarious that the left have made Bush into a Divine man. Why Bush earned that right, only G-d knows. But he has. And that is to his credit. Perhaps it is due to his faith.

But the issue here is not about President Bush. It’s about faith. This country is fundamentally built on the principle etched into our currency: In G-d we Trust. And that’s what this election was ultimately about.

I am cynical enough to not believe in the personalities and personality cults created around candidates. In this mass media, “sound-bite” era, you can only feel sad at the way politicians are marketed, how the campaigns are geared to manipulate our impressions, not much different than the marketing of, say, toothpaste. So, one can hardly expect to know what candidates truly stand for.

Americans in particular like to root for heroes – in sports, in entertainment, and why not in politics. People therefore forge personal allegiances to the candidates, projecting upon them their own lives, just as they may fantasize about movie stars. Heroes and villains are easily created, and then perpetuated. For some Bush is almost like a Nazi. For others Bush is the hero and Kerry the selfish liberal. Frankly, all marketing clichés. Don’t buy into all the messages sold to us through multi-million dollar PR campaigns.

On a serious note, however, getting beyond the cheers and the cries following the election results, I for one am not taking a stand – pro-Bush or pro-Kerry. They both have their flaws. This article is not meant to support or criticize the President. It’s meant to address a larger issue that has emerged.

What will go down in history, long after Bush and Kerry are forgotten, is the consensus. Close to 60 million people made a statement that they want G-d in their lives.

By no means does this suggest, that the other 55 million voters voted against faith and G-d; everyone has their right to believe (or not believe) as they see fit. And undoubtedly many people of faith voted against Bush for good reasons. Indeed, some may even have seen in Kerry a deeper commitment to religious freedom. A vote for Bush does not mean a vote for G-d (as Carl Rove would want us to believe). The point here is to understand what compelled so many to come out and vote for Bush, even if they disagree with him and his policies.

When America is challenged, when it is under duress and in crisis, it gravitates to its roots: That we are here because of Divine providence; that all men are created equal, which guarantees us unalienable rights. Take away G-d, and you take away the unalienable rights. Because “rights” on their own are alienable, subjective and arbitrary. And that’s what the election was ultimately about.

The attacks on Mr. Bush’s faith forced the American public to respond. It’s quite amazing to hear that a majority in the state of Ohio chose to overlook the loss of thousands of their jobs, and instead voted on the grounds of moral values and character. What does that tell you?

It will be fascinating to see how the New York Times will cover this. Don’t be at all surprised to hear how some, in their ongoing contempt, will continue to dismiss the morality issue and argue that people were basically hoodwinked; or that the war in Iraq caused people to support the incumbent; or some other excuse how the public was manipulated to elect Mr. Bush.

All you have to do is read Gary Wills article, The Day the Enlightenment Went Out, in the Times of November 4th. He attributes Bush’s victory to the brilliance of Carl Rove. Rove “calculated that the religious conservatives, if they could be turned out, would be the deciding factor. Mr. Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

He goes on to explain that America, with its “fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity” resembles Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Sunni loyalists more than it does the European countries. And that’s why “the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.”

Based on this logic, of course, the majority of Americans elected Mr. Bush because they are narrow-minded fundamentalists, who have extinguished the “enlightenment.”

Some liberals will never concede the possibility that people authentically believe in G-d, and that this faith may have profound merit.

Interestingly, it’s these liberals that forced people to suddenly confront the issue of G-d – as if Bush was G-d’s representative, and the other side was not. Bigggg mistake. Had they not been so vehement and contemptuous they may have had a victory…

And what about the power of a majority – one of the cornerstones of a democracy?

I have a friend who was waxing eloquent about the beauty of democracy. Confident in Kerry’s victory, he was lauding the strength and virtue of majority rule. “It’s the people – the majority of the people – that ultimately decides. Numbers never lie.”  After Kerry’s loss by close to 4 million of the popular vote, this friend tells me in a deriding tone: “What can we do about the fact that America has been taken hostage by the narrow minded “religious right,” and Bush’s campaign has brainwashed the South and the Midwest?”…

What happened to the power of majority? Is the majority only right when they agree with YOU?!

I can’t but help wonder whether the liberal movement today is just an outgrowth of the French Enlightenment’s disdain for “la canaille” [the rabble], a phrase used to denigrate the masses.

“As for the canaille,” Voltaire told d’Alembert, “I have no concern with it; it will always remain canaille.” And it would remain canaille because it was uneducable. The people would never have “the time and the capacity to instruct themselves; they will die of hunger before they become philosophers…. We have never pretended to enlighten shoemakers and servants; that is the job of the apostles.”

Close to 60 million people made a statement that they want G-d in their lives.

The thinkers of the Parisian Enlightenment felt that the people could not be educated because they could not be enlightened; and they could not be enlightened because they were incapable of the kind of reason that the philosophes took to be the essence of enlightenment. They were mired instead in the prejudices, superstitions, and irrationalities of religion. This was the great enemy – l’infâme. Religion, Voltaire wrote to Diderot, “must be destroyed among respectable people and left to the canaille large and small, for whom it was made.” Diderot agreed. The poor were “imbeciles” in matters of religion, “too idiotic – bestial – too miserable, and too busy” to enlighten themselves. They would never change: “The quantity of the canaille is just about always the same.”

Diderot made it clear that “the general mass of mankind can neither follow nor comprehend this march of the human spirit.” “We must reason about all things because man is not just an animal but an animal who reasons; … whoever refuses to search for that truth renounces the very nature of man and should be treated by the rest of his species as a wild beast; and once the truth has been discovered, whoever refuses to accept it is either insane or wicked and morally evil.” Diderot believed that we must distrust the judgment of the “multitude” in matters of reason and philosophy because “its voice is that of wickedness, stupidity, inhumanity, unreason and prejudice.” “The multitude,” he concluded, is “ignorant and stupefied.”

Is this obnoxious elitism the root of today’s liberal paternalism and the welfare state, as Gertrude Himmelfarb argues in a new book, The Roads to Modernity?

After reading and hearing the passionate arguments being made against the faith-based presidency of Mr. Bush, you wonder who is more fundamentalist: the faithful or the men of “reason”? Edward Gibbon, the 18th century British historian (far from an orthodox religious believer) jibed against those French thinkers who “preached the tenets of atheism with the bigotry of dogmatists.”

In another article (The Idea of Compassion: The British vs. the French Enlightenment) Himmelfarb quotes Tocqueville, who was speaking of the French revolutionaries – but he might have been of the philosophes – when he said that their “salient characteristic” was a loss of faith that upset their “mental equilibrium.” They adored the human intellect and had supreme confidence in its power to transform laws, institutions, and customs. But the intellect they adored was only their own. “I could mention several,” Tocqueville sardonically observed, “who despised the public almost as heartily as they despised the Deity.” This was very different, he added, from the respect shown by Englishmen and Americans for the opinions of the majority of their countrymen. “Their intellect is proud and self-reliant, but never insolent; and it has led to liberty, while ours has done little but invent new forms of servitude.”

Have some Americans regressed to the French form of so-called “enlightenment”?

Truth be told, I have both a skeptic and believer inside of me. But just as I don’t allow the believer to silence the skeptic, I also don’t allow the skeptic to invalidate the believer. That would be driven neither by reason, skepticism or faith; it would be plain dishonest.

One can fully understand the paranoia and fear of a religious right taking control and dogmatically imposing their religious positions. After all, over the last two millennia hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in the name of religion. The intolerance, tyranny and oppression of the church, ruling with absolute authority had created a “religious fatigue,” which, coupled with the advancements in open-minded reason and science, finally came to a climax with the “enlightenment” and the powerful rebellion against religion and religious authority (at least in its formal form).

And today we don’t need any historical reminders of the destruction wreaked in the name of religion. Fundamentalist Muslims have waged bloody war against the infidels of the West – essentially a replay of the Christian Crusades of the first millennium.

In light of all this, the resistance to religious control by government is quite understandable. Indeed, the powerful fear is in direct proportion to the intensity of church control and the millions of gallons of blood shed in the name of religion for so many years. After being so severely burned by corruption and abuse, there exists, for good reason, a deep embedded suspicion of any governmental authority advocating religious beliefs.

Thus, the severe reaction to President Bush and his faith based initiatives.

However, we must never allow our own fears (even legitimate ones) to cloud our vision. Abuse has the power to cause us to “throw out the baby with the bathwater,” and run away even from healthy experiences. How many people avoid committed relationships because they have been hurt by loved ones?

The true challenge is to know how to embrace the power of faith – even after we experienced its abuse – and distinguish between healthy faith and unhealthy faith.

The Founding Fathers were all too aware of religious abuse. Hence, the separation of Church and State. Yet, their brilliance was the realization that they cannot allow years of abuse to distort mans’ healthy beliefs. Thus, the same framers of the constitutional separation between religion and government, also began the Declaration of Independence with the words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The nation’s founders understood that without a Creator who created us all equally, “unalienable rights” are no guarantee. Many monrachs, for instance, believed that they were chosen  by G-d and were superior to the common man. Ironically, so did the elitist French Enlightenment.

Another reason many fear faith and G-d – in addition to centuries of religious tyranny – is due to a lack of understanding what true and healthy faith is all about (and this too, is a result of the distortions created by centuries of faith abuse). True faith is not merely the absence of reason. It is an inherent human faculty, part of the “Divine Image” in which we were all created, that complements reason, and allows us to reach places that we could never reach with pure logic alone. Faith is what gives humans: the courage and the commitment to love (something reason alone could never sanction); the power to discover; the ability to hope; the capacity to overcome impossible odds; the belief in yourself and in others.

I submit that this is what Americans voted for on Election Day 2004: A vote for G-d in our lives. A G-d that we no longer have to fear. After years of religious exploitation, we have matured to the point where we can embrace the virtues and beauties of the sacred, and integrate it into secular life.

This may the challenge of our times: To revisit faith after its misuse and abuse for so long, and reclaim it as a critical and most powerful tool in our lives.

G-d works in strange ways. Not the people of faith but those that fear faith were the ones that made faith such an issue in America today. With the intention of mocking President Bush’s “simplistic faith” they inadvertently deified him and turned him into a (false) saint. In effect, unwittingly they crystallized an issue that otherwise would perhaps not been quite noticed, and provoked million of people of faith to come out and cast a vote against the bigotry and dogma of non-believers.

Americans are a very tolerant people. They will tolerate flag-burners and atheists. They believe in freedom of religion, that every individual can choose to worship or not worship any deity one wishes. Separation of church and state – a wall between organized religion and political authority – is a must. No organized religion can rule the country. But Americans will not tolerate intolerant skeptics: Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. “In G-d we Trust” – a non-denominational universal G-d – is the driving force behind all our freedoms and liberties.

Ironically, faith in a Creator and in the edict that “all men  [perhaps it should be amended to “humans”] are created equal” with “unalienable rights” is the reason that we must respect the choice of a non-believer. I wonder if the French Enlightenment would have returned us that favor with equal passion? Would they have honored the right and dignity of each individual to choose faith, even if it seemed to them as inferior canaille?

Be careful what you don’t believe in. Your passion against faith may end up stoking its flames. Your vehement doubts may give birth to the deepest faith of all.

Which atheist was it that said: “I hate you G-d, just as if you had existed.”

A take off on Voltaire: If G-d existed, you would need people who denied His existence. That denial can be as strong as faith itself, and perhaps it is just another manifestation of faith.

So, democrats and republicans, skeptics and believers, secularists and the religious, Europeans and Asians, Christians and Muslims: Whether you like it or not – America has spoken:

Faith, moral values and G-d are the most important priorities in our lives.

This is President Bush’s mandate.

Now let us work on integrating faith and reason.

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Anonymous

I received your email today, America Speaks: Do Not Fear G-d. I would like to tell you that I voted for Kerry, and that I am a board member of my synagogue, a believer in God, and an observant Jew. I would like you to explain to me why my vote for Kerry was a vote against God and faith. What an unbelievably arrogant point of view! I would be interested in your answer. -Anonymous Simon responds: Firstly, I apologize if my words sounded arrogant and may have offended you. That is the exact opposite of my intentions. And I… Read more »

Ms. Katz

I do not know who you are, but you wrote to me, and I read what you wrote. I think you are missing something in your argument. Many of us who supported and voted for John Kerry are troubled by Bush, not because he is a man of faith. We don’t like that he thinks his faith is better than other faiths. We don’t like that he is trying to impose his faith and values on our nation. We cannot reconcile that a man of faith plans to amend the Constitution to exclude others, many of whom are of faith.… Read more »

Anonymous

Very good!!!!!!!! Congrats on your insight and courage to provide an important perspective which will be very controversial in this bluest of states and where on the upper west side– a Bush supporter is the rarest of species. You will definitely receive a flood of negative reaction because you have cohesively articulated a regionally unconventional view but an opinion that is defensible. As background, I actually voted for Kerry –tried to vote for Bush–because of W’s strong support for Israel. I was undecided up until the last minute… your write-up may have swayed me if you published it before the… Read more »

Debra Grossmann

Shame on you. You think that BUSH would actually do more than look upon you, a JEW, with anything but contempt in his heart and sadness for your utter soul? If the religious right were wearing their garb, they would be in sheets (KKK in case you do not remember those years) and your temple would be burned. You have foolishly bought his rhetoric — but go into Texas wearing your yarmulkah and see how friendly the religious right is to YOU. You bought the lie, in which he makes you all think he is a spiritual man of G-d… Read more »

Anonymous

What about the vicious attacks on Senator Kerry’s character, the merciless angry tone and mocking at the Republican convention? It was enough to make any rational human being extremely nauseated. The anger and mocking certainly was not becoming of a “faith community”.

Anonymous

David Barker

I am proud to be PAGAN. I don’t believe in these new fangled religions. I get very pissed off by fundamentalist Christians and any other miscellaneous god botherers who proselytize, don’t know their subject, and think theirs is the only way. It ain’t! We believe in an earth based religion that has been around for several thousand years long before any new age stuff. The world didn’t start in CE, but many thousands of years before that.

Bright Blessings

David Barker

Anonymous

A SHANDEH!!! Since you have taken the liberty of sending me an email, allow me to respond with a question. How can you, an orthodox Jew who believes in the Bible’s teachings, including the sanctity of life, justify your vote for a man who uses faith to push his own self-aggrandizement, who condemns the poor, who puts our money into the pockets of the corrupt corporations whose profits helped elect him, a man whose hands are dripping with the blood of over 1100 DEAD GIS AND OVER 11000 MAIMED GIS and countless thousands of Iraqis and other nationalities for the… Read more »

Jacob W.

If Bush is a man of faith then why does he give tax cuts to the rich and cut services to the poor when every major religion (especially his) that we must take care of those less fortunate. If he is man of faith why does he hord millions of dollars in personal wealth when many of god’s children in his own country go to bed STARVING. If Bush is a man of faith then why did he approve the execution of more of god’s children than any other governor in our history. If he is a man of faith… Read more »

Michael A. Bedar

Rabbi Jacobson, I agree that this election outcome is about faith and reason, and I am glad you articulated this much. I, a person of faith, voted for Kerry primarily on the issue of faith, as did everyone I know of in the community of faith, which is the Tree of Life Foundation, in which I am deeply involved. I write to make a point that I feel you left out: how this faith-based election demonstrates what faith is. If as you claim, Kerry seems to represent an intolerant “enlightenment,” I don’t think it is because of Kerry. In the… Read more »

Anonymous

Rabbi Jacobson,

You got it wrong. You voted for Bush not for G-d. Your vote was not a vote for G-d. John Kerry and other Liberals believe in G-d, they just believe that our role in the world as G-d’s partner means caring for the poor, the vulnerable, of treating everyone in the image of G-d, of helping to complete the world. We don’t believe in a world of absolute justice (as defined by a preacher’s reading) but a world of justice and mercy of compassion and commitment and responsibility to each other.

Anonymous

Anonymous

A presidential election is not a vote for or against G-d, it is a vote for his record. One should consider the war with Iraq, the economy, education, environment. The more I hear from all of you pro Bush people, the more I feel sickened. I am not an east or west coast elitist, nor am I secular. I am an American citizen making an informed decision based on politics. I suggest you leave God out of the equation. Thank you for letting me know who the real opponent is, it is a soon to be God fearing Fascist society.… Read more »

Janet Goldstein Reagan

I am open-minded and was myself undecided until I entered the booth. Whether I voted for Bush or Kerry is not important, but that I have the right to have an opinion and make a choice without having my unwavering belief in G-d challenged or questioned. I am a Jew first and foremost, from a long line of Litvak Zionists and my only son has made Aliyah. My professional life is Business Manager to 3 Jewish institutions in my hometown; I attend Synagogue regularly, serve on Federation Committees, have volunteered at Jewish Family Services, am a past Vice-President Hadassah and… Read more »

Steve Guttman

Please withdraw my name from your list. How can someone so smart be so blind to all Bush’s shortcomings? I guess you do not believe in stem cell research, feel that gay marriage is worthy of a constitutional amendment and women should not have the right of choice with regard to their bodies. Steve Guttman Simon responds: Thanks for your words and I guess, your two-edged compliment. I don’t know if I am that smart frankly. I seem to have offended you and some others apparently — exactly the opposite of my intentions. Since you may be familiar with some… Read more »

Anonymous

Rabbi Simon, What hurt was your timing and the stereotyping in your vitriolic, which you have owned here so courageously and graciously. I am so glad to receive your email today. I am interested in healing and learning and growing with my fellows. On the day after the election I felt as if I was in aninut- my dead was laying unburied before me. I could not mourn yet as I was in shock. I am a faith-based married lesbian and daughter of a Holocaust survivor and a 9/11 survivor. This election went to the core of frightened people on… Read more »

Sue Spiegel Pastin

Truth be told, I have both a skeptic and believer inside of me. But just as I don’t allow the believer to silence the skeptic, I also don’t allow the skeptic to invalidate the believer. That would be driven neither by reason, skepticism or faith; it would be plain dishonest. Good for you. But why couldn’t you just have written a letter to the editor or op-ed piece for the New York Times instead of voting for a dangerous man who wants to both undermine the Constitution and roll back the New Deal? And who has many cruel and immoral… Read more »

Anonymous

You stated: >>I submit that this is what Americans voted for on Election Day 2004: A vote for G-d in our lives. A G-d that we no longer have to fear. After years of religious exploitation, we have matured to the point where we can embrace the virtues and beauties of the sacred, and integrate it into secular life.<>Americans are a very tolerant people. They will tolerate flag-burners and atheists. They believe in freedom of religion, that every individual can choose to worship or not worship any deity one wishes. Separation of church and state – a wall between organized… Read more »

Miriam

So, democrats and republicans, skeptics and believers, secularists and the religious, Europeans and Asians, Christians and Muslims: Whether you like it or not – America has spoken: But what percentage??? it was really awful close – doesn’t that say something?? Does it invalidate the rest of us who do not believe that our President has served us well or that he represents the lofty and wonderful goals you think he does…because he appears to support Israel more than Kerry??? Faith, moral values and G-d are the most important priorities in our lives. Yes, it is a pity though that we… Read more »

Anonymous

How I wish you were right in your analysis, however I disagree with your view of the President. A Christian, which is what Bush claims to be, is known by his actions like a popular hymn says” And they’ll know we are Christians by Our Love.” Yet, this administration has repeatedly demonstrated that what they stand for is profit for big business and for the wealthiest citizens at the expense of the poor and less fortunate. Despite all the references to God which do appeal to the American psyche, Bush and cronies have set back the environmental movement to a… Read more »

Simah Devorah Schlosser

Thank you for putting into words what so many of us have been feeling and expressing to each other. I suppose FEAR is the catalyst for this lack of trust in each other and Hashem that’s been causing so many people to behave (dare I say this) CHILDISHLY. I sat next to a woman on the bus who was wearing a Kerry button and a man on his way out told her not to give up. She said she’s going to wear the button for the next four years. How sad! It’s really hard sometimes to disassociate ourselves from our… Read more »

Geri

Dear Reb Jacobson:

I cannot express to you how utterly disgusted and disillusioned I am by the Bush-supporting faction within Judaism, for I see his circle as representative of everything — greed, self-righteousness, intolerance, insensitivity, not to mention ignorance — that runs counter to any form of Judaism with which I would want to be associated. I cannot understand how educated Jews are unable to see how corrupt, how ethically deficient is this regime.

Geri

Todd Amodeo

Dear Rabbi Jacobson, I appreciate your letter. I just don’t understand how you can possibly side with a faction of this country who’s goals as described by Rabbi Tovia Singer, “are dedicated to the idea of bringing every Jew to a belief in Jesus.” Here’s the link: “EVANGELIZING THE JEWS” With all due respect, evangelicals (like Bush) believe that you are going to burn in hell. Here’s another quote from the Outreach Judaism website: Tom Short, an itinerant evangelist brought to campus by the A&M Christian Fellowship, told one student that, because she is Jewish, she is going “to burn… Read more »

Anonymous

Please unsubscribe me. I can get all the simplistic reductionist nonsense I want on Fox News 24 hours a day six days a week. By the way, the only place G-d is mentioned by the founding fathers is in the Declaration of Independence. Any and all reference to G-d was deliberately omitted from the Constitution. There IS a reason for that. -Anonymous Simon responds: Thank you for replying. I apologize if I offended you in any way, that was the opposite of my intention. I am aware of the sensitivity of the issues that I raised and I also know… Read more »

Norman Beim

America has spoken?
Hardly. Barely more than half of America has spoken. There is another half. The trouble is this clash of G-ds is what’s wrong with the world.

Norman Beim

Simon responds:

It’s true that barely more than a half of America has spoken. How do we get
the other half to speak? Do you think that they are intimidated or apathetic
to the whole G-d debate, and don’t feel that they can make a difference?

Best,

Simon Jacobson

Norman responds:

I’m afraid you misunderstood me. I think all religions, for the most part, are more destructive than they are helpful. That goes for patriotism as well.

Anonymous

You seem like an intelligent man. I don’t understand how you can believe a Christian-based country (are you aware that 1/3 of Americans are fundamentalists?) is useful to the Jewish community. Please remove my name from your “wisdom” emails. Thank you. Anonymous Simon responds: Thanks for your words and I guess, your two-edged compliment. I don’t know if I am that intelligent frankly. I seem to have offended you and some others apparently — exactly the opposite of my intentions. Since you may be familiar with some of my writings and thoughts, you probably know that nothing is more important… Read more »

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

<<True faith is not merely the absence of reason. It is an inherent human faculty, part of the “Divine Image” in which we were all created, that complements reason, and allows us to reach places that we could never reach with pure logic alone. Faith is what gives humans: the courage and the commitment to love (something reason alone could never sanction); the power to discover; the ability to hope; the capacity to overcome impossible odds; the belief in yourself and in others.<< Dear Rabbi Jacobson Your essay is excellent!! But to the above paragraph I would add that true… Read more »

Yocheved Daphna

Greetings! That was a thoughtful piece, especially all of the historical bookmarks. I am amazed that more people, especially Jews, do not take into account the correct historical perspective. President Bush has been one of the best friends that the Jewish people have ever had in the White House. Why does everyone forget that the Clintons invited Arafat to the White House six times and the Bushes refused to invite him even once. One more historical fact – the Clintons also entertained Hamas in the White House to celebrate the end of Ramdam. In other words the Clintons actually feasted… Read more »

Daniel Singer

Hi Simon. You wrote: “Faith, moral values and G-d are the most important priorities in our lives. This is President Bush�s mandate. Now let us work on integrating faith and reason.” “No organized religion can rule the country.” In my opinion, you miss a significant point. You say: “No organized religion can rule the country.” Wanna bet! Bush’s faith is informed by highly specific assumptions of the “Left Behind” series of novels concerning the certainty and literalness of Christian mythology around the Christian Rapture idea. Pre-sales, before even in bookstores for the last one alone, began at almost. 2 million… Read more »

Jeffrey Rubin

Dear Rabbi: I am always interested in your thoughts about life and the importance and meaning of interpretations of Jewish law. But when you emphasize faith as reason to vote for a candidate. The NY Times article on Bush was an eye opener which showed that he is not a person who should hold the highest office in the land with life and death powers. Faith in G-d does not equate with an ability to make well thought out decisions which are based on facts and rationale. Bush is a danger to all men, especially Jews. He believes his G-d… Read more »

Anonymous

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciated your article: AMERICA SPEAKS: Do not fear G-d. Thank you so much for articulating the sadness and frustration “people of faith” feel from being judged by “liberals”. The Bible says G-d is slow to anger—and because He takes so long to react to our “sin” (arrogance, pride, self-sufficiency, immorality, etc.) we think we’ve gotten away with things. However, I think the times they are a’changin’—G-d has finally been aroused. After years and years of desperate, abusive slavery in Egypt, a point was finally reached where G-d heard the cries… Read more »

Judith Bron

Your newsletter was brilliant but I want to disagree with you on one point. This country was set up on the philosophy of “freedom from religion” rather than “a separation of church and state” as it has been played out by those you refer to as “modernists”. What do I mean? The Governor of New York cannot pass a law that every citizen of his state must become a Baptist Christian. This is totally illegal. We have the freedom from being told which religion is correct and create hatred by stating which religion is wrong. The concept of a G-d… Read more »

Anonymous

I would have voted for President Bush too, if in USA, but not because I would have been voting against Mr. Kerry, but because of those who were against him for his continued support of Israel and fight against terrorism. ‘Those’ meaning, leftists extremists, Osama bin Laddan, EU under annan, and the supporters of terrorism.

Mr. Kerry is a nice man, I can tell by the way he treats his wife and daughters…and well done for him getting so far…I mean wow…running for president is a big thing…but something else was needed at this time…

Uriela Sagiv

Dear Simon:

Just wanted to tell you that I thought “America Speaks” was brilliant. And so beautifully reasoned and documented.

Nothing short of superb.

Bob Finkelstein

I disagree with several points in your take on the election. I don’t believe that 100 percent of the people who voted for George Bush did it because they were upset that the democrats were attacking his faith. I have spoken with lifetime Republicans who said that they were uncomfortable with George Bush and remain scared for the future of the country but who just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Kerry because they weren’t sure where he stood on many of the issues because his speeches and his record did not jibe. If you look at the exit polls… Read more »

Anonymous

Rabbi Jacobson Your article was thought provoking. Many people will agree with your thesis that those who voted for Kerry voted against faith. Unfortunately, our world has been taken over by the media. We are fed “sound bites” and “spin”. Many of us believe what we hear and read in the media, before doing our own research. In a perfect world, before the next election, someone will figure out how to solve this problem. By the way, I HEARD Mr. Kerry say, when asked about his faith during a debate, that he had very strong beliefs but did not feel… Read more »

Benjamin Gruder

Dear Rabbi Jacobson, I wonder whether the politically conservative ‘wing’ of Judaism has a part to play in de-polarizing the religious landscape in the US? Here’s an example. When Kerry said in one of the debates that he voted against the ban on “partial birth abortion”, he invoked a Jewish value of saving the life of the mother (his brother is a Jewish convert). Where are the Jews on the Right loudly proclaiming that there is an actual religious belief that fetuses are not on the same level as born human beings? This is not a secular anti G-d position.… Read more »

Shmuel Goldsmith

A lead of 51% to 48% isn’t a “consensus.” The re-election of Bush isn’t “America” speaking; it’s a bit more than half of America speaking. The rest of America was saying that they’d prefer a leader who may not be as certain in his faith, but whose values lead him to care about the poor and the disadvantaged, the ordinary working man and woman, and the state of the economy and the environment that we will bequeath to our children and grandchildren. Here’s something else to remember: Historically, the Left has brought us — the Jewish people — repression of… Read more »

David Sher

Simon, I read with great interest your article entitled America Speaks. Frankly I was very surprised by it because I have usually found your logic to be impeccable. This is absolutely not the case here. I agree with some of your premise, which is that God is an indispensable part of the structure of our society; that God was clearly part of the framers thinking when the constitution was written. I also agree with you that in electing Mr. Bush, the country displayed a yearning for a more moral society based upon respect for time honored traditions, a love of… Read more »

Benny

Simon:

Excellent!! Your best article yet!

David Segal

I really enjoyed this article and agree, as I voted the same way.

Best regards,

David Segal

Lorrie Kazan

This is really hard to read. As a spiritual person, who cares deeply about the environment, and intelligence, I was strongly for Kerry. I guess we can hook into this issue with whatever is our particular zeal. I don’t think anyone can deny what the Bush administration has done to the environment, and G-d knows what they are planning to do. It will take divine intervention, at this point, in order to protect the earth. I don’t relate to the issues the way you do. So, now that you have supported the idea of faith, how are we supposed to… Read more »

David Klinghoffer

Rabbi, excellent! What a wonderful article, I hope it gets wide circulation.

I’d also add that it’s refreshing to hear a Jewish Bush-supporter give a reason for voting for the President having to do with something other than Israel! There is so much more to the election than that.

Good Shabbos.

Lucy Zammarelli

I regret that you feel the way you do; I think you are all wrong. I think you may be ignorant of the suffering the current administration has inflicted on individuals. Perhaps your life has benefited by the Bush policies, but many of our country’s most vulnerable, including impoverished families, the mentally ill, the addicted, and the traumatized, have been beaten down severely. You may be smug enough to proclaim your affiliation with pride, but to me it seems full of hubris. The damage is done, but the consequences will follow us for a long, long time. May G-D help… Read more »

Susan

Rabbi Jacobson, I’ve only read your first 3 lines so far, but just want to say that you’re the first person I’ve “heard” say exactly what I’ve been saying — “I didn’t really vote FOR Bush, I voted against all the liberals in this country who totally don’t get it.” In fact, I was super open-minded about Kerry until the last week, he simply never gave me the confidence to vote for him and I was not going to vote for him just to vote against someone else. On the other hand, I was quite happy to vote “against” a… Read more »

Roberta Arnold

Dear Simon, I just sent you the new map of the United States. Where was your sense of history. Where was your sense of wisdom to vote for them!! They are as dangerous as the Nazis were in the 1930’s in Germany. The dangerous part about Bush is he thinks that G-d is telling him what to do! And, everything he has done since he stopped drinking alcohol and blowing coke has been a total failure. My friends in Europe have asked if “if the American people are really that STUPID”. You will pay for this in Social Security. Your… Read more »

Marian Bauer

Thank you for revealing your vote for the President. I too, proudly, voted for the President for I saw him as a man of honor and courage to stand up for the principles that I hold so dear. Of course, there were many times when my friends who were Kerry supporters who say” Don’t you want a future for your grandchildren?” To which I always retorted, “That’s why I am voting for George Bush.” Your e-mail today reconfirms my convictions. Your emails serve to be a” guiding light.”

Robin Blumenthal

Amen and Amen, Simon. Thank you for having the courage to say what many of us (particularly those part of the media establishment) have felt for a long time. Good Shabbos!

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