Menachem Bluming Muses: Politics; Who Is Right?

There is a story of a group of Jews in the 1920’s who were debating which political philosophy aligns with the Torah? Each was able to quote the Torah as support for their preferred ideology. 

One argued for monarchism, as the Torah itself condones rule by a royal family. Another argued for socialism. Doesn’t the Torah command us to share our wealth with the poor? A third insisted that the Torah is communist. We don’t really own any property, it all belongs to G-d.

No one could win the debate, as each side presented strong Torah proofs for their case. So they turned to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to adjudicate. 

The Rebbe told them: 

“You are all right. Every political platform, indeed every man-made philosophy in the world, is a mixture of both good and evil. Only the holy Torah, G-d’s wisdom, is pure goodness. You can find the positive elements of every other philosophy in the world somewhere in the Torah.”

Profound foundation. There is no political party that doesn’t have some good points. Each one in its own way is trying to save the world. But among those good intentions will always be mixed in some bad ideas (in some, VERY bad ideas). Politics is man-made, and people are a mixture of good and evil. Nobody is perfect, and no political body is perfect. 

We need a political system so we go with democracy. To quote Winston Churchill in his speech to the House of Commons in 1947, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” So too, when it comes to voting, we have to choose the worst party, except for all the others. But it would be wrong to say that any one party or platform is completely aligned with Torah. The messy game of politics can’t live up to that ideal.

Mendel (Menachem) Bluming based on Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz, Volume 4 p200

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