Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Sunday, February 16, 2020
The Moses Primary (Times of Israel)
The Moses Primary
Which Democratic presidential hopeful would the Torah pick to run against Trump? The one with money...and the one no money
With the primary season upon us, people naturally are asking who among the Democrats running the Torah would pick to contest Trump for the presidency. Well, in this week’s portion of Yitro, Moses makes his choice. And it’s…. (drumroll, please)…well, everyone.
You see, Moses’ father in law Jethro (not the guy from “Beverly Hillbillies”) suggests to Moses that he delegate some of his leadership responsibilities, so that he won’t continue to be overwhelmed by the many cases being brought to him by the rank and file. The criteria they establish for choosing these new leaders is illustrative. If you take a look at this page of commentaries from the portion, you will see that one of the qualifiers is that the nominees be “capable people,” (“Anshei Hayil,” in Hebrew).
What does that expression mean?
Well, pick a commentator and you get a current candidate. Rashi says, “Rich men,” who are beholden to no one. He would clearly be a Bloomberg supporter. Rashbam focuses on the quality of fearlessness, one we can certainly ascribe to Joe Biden, who has never backed down from a fight. Ibn Ezra looks for physical endurance – think of Klobuchar in that blizzard. Nachmanides is looking for wisdom and honesty, which frankly, means he is possibly thinking about writing in Larry David, but these qualities could define any number of candidates, including Buttigieg, whose birth chart reveals that he is “wise beyond his years.” And then there’s the next line in the Torah, the next qualification, “who spurns ill-gotten gain,” which Ibn Ezra immediately defines in one word: “money.” So he would be the Sanders or Warren delegate.
All of which goes to show us that political eligibility is in the eye of the beholder. And Moses will probably wait until at least Super Tuesday before deciding.