Nov 3, 2009

Rav Steinman decides the NJ elections

A number of elections are coming to a close in the USA, including interesting races in NY for mayor and NJ for governor.

In NJ, the rosh yeshiva of Lakewood yeshiva announced that he asked Rav Shteinman which candidate they should support. Rav Shteinman told him to support the Democrat candidate, because he thought this candidate will better support the yeshivas.

The ultra-orthodox community has generally supported the Republican candidates, so this decision is a bit surprising, but so Rav Shteinman advised.

The askanim of NY have gotten upset at Lakewood over this. They say the haredi community should not interfere in elections. They always call people to go out to vote, but they never specify a candidate. Rav Yehuda Levin, an rav in Flatbush, said that the Lakewood community did not explain the dynamics of the local politics, and the haredi community should not interfere in the elections.

1. I am surprised Rav Shteinman said anything. I don't remember any previous election in the US where the rabbonim of Eretz Yisroel actually specified a candidate to support. the closest it came to was when Obama ran for President, but even then I seem to remember they kept quiet.

2. I am surprised this Rav Levin accused Rav Shteinman of not understanding local politics. Since when do haredim believe that to be an issue when discussing the gedolim? I thought they automatically understand everything and all related nuances... (tongue-in-cheek)

3. I am surprised he said the [local] haredi community should not interfere in US elections. Perhaps it is not a direct or accurate quote. While it might be smart to keep quiet and play your cards right as supporting both, or at least not being against either, candidate, it is not called "interfering" when you live there and call to support a specific candidate. It is part of living and participating in local issues and elections. You might decide not to, but there is nothing inherently wrong with doing so.


  1. If you ask RAYLS, he will answer you. If you tell him the tzaddim, he will weigh them based on that information.

    He did not call Lakewood and intervene. Someone (the RY of Lakewood) called him and asked. I am sure if he would call you, you would be able to advise him also.

    I imagine Eav Levin said that RAYLS was not explained the American political scene. Not that he was explained and didnt chaap.

  2. I too have my doubts that this is really what R. Shteinman said. He's misquoted all the time.

    I have no problem if people choose to be bound by his opinion on whom to vote for, but I don't think people are obligated to vote that way if their own opinion (yes, own opinion) says otherwise.

    I also agree that anyone is allowed to involved in politics as much or as little as they want.

    Lastly, I have a problem when people choose a candidate solely based on who's perceived to be best for yeshivas. There are many other important issues that could go into your choice of governor that this one issue.

    But this would require one to think for himself. But today we live in luxury. We indulge in the luxury of allowing someone else do our thinking for us. It's so much easier that way.

  3. bad move by those RY. if i'm not mistaken, it is illegal for a non-US national to make a significant contribution monetary or otherwise in ANY US election.
    This is why only R' CP Scheinberg requests that all US citizens in israel vote

  4. Apparently, the question was whether they should support the party that gives the most money to the yeshiva, despite its support for Gay Rights.

  5. Todays event may be the end of American Right-Wing Orthodoxy, (or "Torah-True Judaism", or simply the 1939-2009 Aguda) which has been replaced with Israeli Charedism. יהי זכרו ברוך

  6. it is a bit troubling when the gedolim of America feel they cannot decide on their own a purely local issue and have to ask the gedolim of EY.

  7. Anon, my point exactly. You can't just pick the candidate that's best for yeshivas. It depends on what other things they support. In Israel some of the charedi parties stayed in the govt with Kadima even though they knew Jrslm was on the bargaining table. But hey, as long as they got their funding for their yeshivas...

  8. harry-er than them all, you are very much mistaken. Foreign nationals are certainly entitled to express their opinions, and help candidates in any way they like. The only restriction is not on them but on the candidates, who are not allowed to accept donations from foreigners.

    Just think about it: even if US law didn't allow foreigners to express their opinions, what difference would it make? US law is not binding on foreigners, after all. Why should R Steinman give a hoot what US law forbids him to say or do?

    Also: the First Amendment means that US law can't prevent anyone from expressing his opinion. Any such law would be automatically invalid.


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