Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another New Letter in the Jewish Press

OK, it's a couple of weeks new.

This letter was written in response to a letter written by a Kahanist about how Meir Kahane proved that a Torah-true Israel cannot be a democracy. I wrote that I did not remember the Torah advocating any particular political system, and that even if it had, a hothead demagogue like Meir Kahane would not be the best guy to run it. Among the arguments (or lack thereof) in the letter were that the anti-kosher slaughter laws passed by Sweden and Norway proved that democracy could result in anti-Jewish legislation (as if a dictatorship could be relied on for being in perfect harmony with Jewish law).

Torah And Democracy

It was amusing to see reader David Ferster (Letters, May 5) use Meir Kahane as a source for his disagreement with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. (I’ll take Rabbi Riskin.)

I am not clear on where the Torah "opposes" Western-style democracy. I don’t believe the Torah weighed in on the issue. The idea of a king comes from Nevi’im. (The idea of monarchy, lest we forget, was not especially well regarded by Shmuel, who resented having to set the whole thing up.)

The question is, Which system of government will best leave us in a position to uphold the Torah’s values? It is not a question of whether the two are compatible, though those who argue that democracy is a derivative of Judaism are probably engaging in some wishful thinking. No system of government is "compatible" with the Torah; it would devalue the Torah to make such a pronouncement.

In a democracy we are free to practice the Torah and to try to persuade those who disagree with us. The way of the Torah is not closed to us in a democracy. There is no such assurance in a dictatorship, and certainly not one run by someone like Meir Kahane.

The policies of Sweden and Norway are red herrings in this discussion. (For the record, the anti-shechita laws in these countries are very old, and though the laws are unfortunate, they do not prevent one from being a Torah-observant Jew in those countries.) They certainly do not prove that dictatorship is preferable to democracy.

Michael Brenner
Woodmere, NY


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

I haven't heard about those laws, but now that I did, it seems to me that addressing these discriminatory policies directly is much more important than leading a moot discussion on whether Torah is "compatible" with democracy or not.

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your readers may be interested to listen to Meir Kahane's views firsthand. They can download his videos here: samsonblinded.org/blog/and-if-youre-looking-for-a-messiah.htm The downloads are full DVD and sound quality is way better than on google video or youtube.


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