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The Times They Are a Changin’

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The Stunning Election of President Trump: What Does it Mean?

How do you react when you are shocked and shaken up? Do you try to rationalize and explain away the shocking events, or do you allow yourself to be open to a new reality and adjust accordingly?

Shocking moments are reality checks. The way we respond to them teach us volumes about our characters and how trapped we are by our comfort zones and conventional wisdom.

The stunning victory of Donald J. Trump surely goes down as one of the greatest shockers in recent history.

And how people are reacting to it is most telling.

Stunning. History in the making. Shocking upset. The greatest upheaval in US Presidential history. A devastating loss. These are some of the ways that the surprising election of Mr. Trump is being described.

No one (except for a select few, who perhaps are as stunned as everyone) expected it — not in the establishment, not in the government, not in the media. Without even a campaign office in some of the states he won, without a well-oiled political machine, without spending exorbitant sums as the Clinton campaign spent, without the support of his own party, against all the polls and predictions, despite all his guffaws and offensive remarks — despite all the odds, Trump pulled off this sound and astounding victory, winning states in which no one ever expected him to be a contender.

Every one — foremost in the media and political leadership — is rubbing their eyes. Just look at their faces — like a doe caught in the headlights. What happened?! No one can wrap their head around this.

What did indeed happen? Is Trump a genius? Was the establishment and the media too arrogant? Did the blatant bias of the most powerful voices in America backfire? How could so many experts and strategists have so misread the sentiments of the US public? How did a man vilified by many reputable voices win such a resounding victory? What does it say about the credibility and reputation of the venerable New York Times, as one example of many media outlets that made it their crusade to defeat Trump (venturing far beyond their mandate of reporting the news without prejudice)?  The questions will certainly be asked for years to come. But will anyone ever find the answers?

Perhaps this belongs in one of those watershed junctures in history which can never fully be understood. Maybe there is an invisible hand which shows its guiding force at key moments in time?

This unprecedented election can only be understood by placing it in historical context of events that are shaking up the world today, forces that are disrupting the existing systems and institutions, leading us into a new era.

Shock is the natural reaction to changes that jolt us out of comfort zones and conventional wisdoms. Shock always comes hand in hand with true transition from one state to another. As we see a ne order arising it disturbs our existing institutions.

Groundswells like these can either overwhelm and upset our very foundations, they can demoralize and disorient us; or they can be seen as convulsions preceding a new birth.

If we allow our egos to stand in the way, we will look to blame others and all types of factors (except ourselves) for these shake-ups. However if we stand humble, and set aside our own agendas, we can allow these seismic shifts to open up new horizons.

When your comfort zone is challenged you can either feel threatened or you can embrace the new possibilities and opportunities it opens us up to.

Ask yourself: When things don’t turn out the way you expected, do you try to find ways to explain it away, or do you challenge yourself and your expectations? In other words: Do you adjust reality to fit your existing framework, or do you adjust your framework to fit the new realty?

How you answer this question will define, with far-reaching implications, your personality and your capacity for growth.

I submit that the shocking or stunning election of the 45th US President is far bigger than Mr. Trump and the electorate. It is part of many dramatic changes taking place in the world today – in the Middle East, in Europe and in the USA. It is the “invisible hand” of history exposing to us that we are on the threshold of a new world order.

We are now at a major juncture. And we have a choice how to proceed: Either we will embrace a new unknown and be part of a new era, or we will stubbornly hold on to the past and to our old perception, criticizing what we don’t understand, and thus dooming ourselves to a faded yesterday.

As a recent Noble Laureate wrote in the turbulent 60’s: Come mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don’t criticize what you can’t understand, your sons and your daughters are beyond your command, your old road is rapidly agin’, please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’. The full text is below.

How we choose will make all the difference.

Please go here to view a more elaborate talk I gave last night on this topic.

 

Come gather ’round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’

 

Come writers and critics

Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide

The chance won’t come again

And don’t speak too soon

For the wheel’s still in spin

And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’

For the loser now will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’

 

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’

It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’

 

Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is rapidly agin’

Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’

 

The line it is drawn

The curse it is cast

The slow one now

Will later be fast

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin’

And the first one now will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’

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Stever

Mike’s comment best reviews the rabbi’s words. “WHO ARE YOU TO SAY WHAT THE INViSIBLE IS OR WHAT IS DOING. ARE YOU G-D? Rabbi, are you that egotistical and arrogant to think you know the mind of Hashem? Who knows what the outcome of all this is. Doesnt look good from my human perspective. Israel came out of the Holocaust if we use the Rabbi’s reasoning. The invisible hand at work. It may be. The more I comment the more I see the Rabbi has a point. (Confused)

Fred P.

Yes, the times they are a changing’ Rabbi. However, not for the better. As stated in a prior comment, I too am still trying to see the face of Hashem in Mr. Trump (despite his own lying, cheating, abusive behaviors and hurtfulness to other human beings whom he has come into contact with and employed over the years). He, too, is currently being investigated and has had scandals that have occurred. His refusal to allow all his assets (including those in which his closest family members have interests) to be placed in a third party blind trust, to exclude his… Read more »

Rivka

I do not know anyone who is surprised. But I live in Israel… In fact, the only private people I know, on both continents, who expected a Clinton victory were either strongly partisan Democrats or on the farthest left of the poitical spectrum. I truly hope the times they are a’changin’, but not with a return to the 60s misdirection. That would not be change, that would be a continuation of the 60 years of closemindedness that that decade initiated. The narrowmindedness that s causing the childish anxiety and violent acting out by young people who are not used to… Read more »

Justin Presser

Dear Rabbi Jacobsen, I hope you and your family are keeping well. Thank you for your wise words as always Yes times are a changing as there is clearly a whole parallel world (I’m sure many worlds) where so many have felt marginalized and ignored for a long time. So many have not shared in the wealth and life that have bee created over the past 50 years, many have known much hardship and disappearing opportunity while those who have succeeded live without enough though for those who missed out but are still trying their hardest. They perhaps are rightly… Read more »

PAUL THOMASON

ENJOYED AND PRINTED YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE RESULTS OF A “WONDERFUL ELECTION.”

Rin

The sun is setting and Shabbat is beginning. I am not sure how to respond to your post as I have many concerns. I, too, believe that Hashem is present to help us and guide us. Sadly, if I support Trumps election I will be supporting those people who are staunch and unyielding who believe in the destruction of other human beings (is this a throwback to the 60’s when we will find ourselves hanging from trees again?). How can I support the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist movement, and the Neo-Nazi movement? Yes, I realize that they are… Read more »

mike

are you kidding me? what you write and all the comments above make me ashamed to even be associated with this brand of orthodoxy. It’s why I left and – though I was on my way back – I will not return. it sounds like your saying is that the ‘invisible hand’ is behind the outrageous and sickening election of this scoundrel. do you call everything you like this ‘invisible hand’? then you not-so-subtly say that we should embrace this new era of racism, sexism, and the end of health care and social services for the poor. otherwise you say,… Read more »

Julie EB

Rabbi Jacobson frequently offers an insightful interpretation of current events, life and Torah. I find his Wednesday evening online lesson to be enlightening and helpful. I truly appreciate Rabbi Jacobson’s insights into our president elect. It has given me a much needed way to think of our country’s future. Many thanks

Alan N. Finkelstein

Very excellent, but not sufficient credit to the author of this ode:

Bob Dylan. A Jew.

Please correct.

Richard R.

WOW! I love your articles but reading the lyrics of Bob Dylan (one of my favorite songwriters) reminded me of his genius! The times are changing and may the hand of Hashem guide us in the right direction. The moral relativism and secular humanism of the 70’s and onward have been and continue to ruin our country. This article coming out on Veterans Day will hopefully be a sign that all those who have sacrificed their lives, limbs as well as their families and friends throughout the generations, will not have given it in vain.

Harry Pearle

Dear Rabbi Jacobson, Thank you, for your video on the Trump election and this commentary. However, I have two concerns: 1) You mention lines from a “recent Nobel Laureate” but you do not mention who that person is. I assume it is Bob Dylan. It seems to me that his name should be mentioned out of respect for his work. In addition, I hope that you obtained permission to reprint the lyrics, which may be subject to copyright. (If so, it might be good to mention that permission was granted in the text.) 2) I wrote a short note on… Read more »

Karen

Things may not have turned out as expected, due to some of the reasons the article mentioned, but they turned out as i had hoped. The shock i felt was over the direction the U.S. was headed in. Changing times……hopefully for the better.

Sylvan

I think the damage that has been done to AmeriKa over the last couple of decades may be irreversible. One thing I do know is that President Trump will be a friend and supporter of Israel, unlike obama and the clintons.

Yitzchok G

Thank you! May we see, in a revealed way, the hand of G-d guiding our leaders, and all of us, rapidly to what signs I saw as a youth during the massive massive peace marches in San Francisco:

The signs were about beating swords into plowshares, and nation not lifting up sword against nation any more, but it really was. . . .

Signs calling for the coming of Moshiach!!

The protesters were decrying the Vietnam war then, but there was a bigger picture . Trump was elected and there is a bigger picture, also.

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