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New York - Agudath Israel: Invoking Jewish Values Against Lieberman In Health Care Debate Wrong

Published on: December 23, 2009 05:13 PM
By: Agudath Israel PR
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New York - The executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America expressed disappointment with Jewish activists who have attempted to use Judaism – and Senator Joseph Lieberman’s personal Jewish observance – to criticize the Connecticut lawmaker for his opposition to a Congressional health care bill that contains a “public option.”

Some religious representatives of Jewish and other groups have accused Mr. Lieberman, because of his opposition to a particular version of the health care reform bill, of not properly expressing his religion’s ideals.  One group, the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center, has gone so far as to call on the senator to “do teshuva” and “bring… the values of an ‘observant Jew’ to the public service of the American people.”

“One can argue the details of the health care bill in good faith,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel.  “But to claim that one or another position on those details is mandated by the Jewish faith is simplistic at best.”

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“The rabbis of the Mishneh,” the Agudath Israel leader noted, “taught that Torah should not be ‘made into a shovel with which to dig’ – that people should not appropriate the mantle of Judaism to promote their own personal or political convictions.  The Torah has much to say about caring for the sick.  But turning it into a tool to promote a particular provision of a health care plan – or into a bat with which to pummel an outstanding public servant who happens to think that provision is objectionable – dishonors the Torah.”

It is ironic, Rabbi Zwiebel added, “that people who are usually disapproving of anything that smacks of mixing religious beliefs and politics here are so harshly criticizing an observant Jew for not hewing to their particular notion of ‘faith and religious tradition’ with regard to the health care debate.”


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1

 Dec 23, 2009 at 05:34 PM gam ani Says:

I agree 0 will all the above. Thank you Mr.Leiberman your a real mentch.

2

 Dec 23, 2009 at 05:37 PM professor Says:

Rabbi Zweibel hit the nail on the head. I especially appreciate the last three lines of his statement.

3

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Senator Lieberman is a class act!
I wouldn't put much stock in ANYTHING that comes out of Obama-Chicago-land!

4

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:20 PM Ich shaym zich oych nisht Says:

For a change Zweibel is on the mark! This had nothing to do with religion and the Jewish liberals brought this into the picture. Why did ALL Republicans vote against it? Where were these Jewish liberals for the Nebraska BLACKMAILING! in this health bill??? Nebraska demanded Medicaid provisions into perpetuity !! Forever and ever!!! Where were the liberals for that?
Lieberman voted his true conscience as an independent ! Maybe these Jewish Liberals did not like that he walked 5 miles on Shabbat to the Congresssional hearings. Do these Jewish liberals also support medical care for the 12,000,000 illegal aliens in the US. Shame on them for making this a religious issue. But what do u expect ! Most of them don't keep the precepts of the Jewish religion anyway although we must always love them as ur true brothers. But this point is a shanda for them to bring up with Judaism!

5

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:24 PM Dave Says:

One presumes, therefore, that based on Rabbi Zweibel's statements, Agudath Israel well henceforth refrain from using Torah as an argument in any political lobbying. After all, it is not, as he said, a shovel.

6

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:41 PM PulpitRabbi Says:

Well said, R' Zwiebel.

7

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:41 PM Babishka Says:

Arthur Waskow has a long history of taking whatever is the popular liberal trend and calling it "Judaism."

8

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:55 PM uninsured yid Says:

Lieberman is not a mensch. Working on behalf of the profits of insurance companies instead of fighting to make sure that sick people can see a doctor is horrible.

9

 Dec 23, 2009 at 07:14 PM AE Says:

I'm sure Rabbi Zwiebel would never bring up religious values when it comes to gay marriage or abortion, and would only evalute those issues based on their secular merits alone.

10

 Dec 23, 2009 at 09:50 PM A-good-Jew Says:

Rabbi Zwiebel is a real mentch!! Fantastically Said!!

12

 Dec 23, 2009 at 10:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Shouldn't we be able to use Jewish wisdom to evaluate social problems?

13

 Dec 24, 2009 at 12:22 AM Been There Says:

Reply to #8  
uninsured yid Says:

Lieberman is not a mensch. Working on behalf of the profits of insurance companies instead of fighting to make sure that sick people can see a doctor is horrible.

I agree with uninsured yid.
Not only is Lieberman not a mentsch, but what he did was absolutely against the Torah, no matter what Dovid Zweibel says -- unless Agudah has a plan whereby uninsured Yidden will have health care.

14

 Dec 24, 2009 at 08:41 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #9  
AE Says:

I'm sure Rabbi Zwiebel would never bring up religious values when it comes to gay marriage or abortion, and would only evalute those issues based on their secular merits alone.

What are you talking about? When did he say to evaluate anything on secular merits alone? He's against using the Torah to support a secular agenda, not the other way around!

16

 Dec 24, 2009 at 06:00 AM Yori Yanover Says:

I don't like Lieberman particularly, but I don't recall him ever using his faith in a political debate, so in my book he doesn't deserve to be attacked on those grounds. He does deserve rebuke on many other grounds. A registered Democrat from the Lower East Side, I admit I was truly inspired by his VP candidacy in 2000, but it's been downhill ever since.

During his VP debate with Cheney, JL said he didn't have to go into public service, he would have done very well in the private sector; to which Cheney responded that he would do his best to get him there. It was the single good joke I ever heard from Cheney, but no one seems able to push Joe back to the private sector, not even the majority of the primary voters in Connecticut. Maybe this time around he'll land a job with Aetna, whose interests he's been serving so loyally.

18

 Dec 23, 2009 at 09:44 PM normal Says:

There is a big difference between invoking Torah properly and just "using" it to "back" your preconceived notions. The cynics posting here are evidence of why Moshiach isn't here, and the reason gedolim in eretz yisroel want frum blogs stopped. VIN, step up to the plate and serve klal yisroel and keep the destructive comments off the site.

19

 Dec 24, 2009 at 06:46 PM Joseph Says:




The Agudath is so correct!

Senator Lieberman is not OBLIGATED to support the “public option”


What in the word does that have to do with Judaism?


Thanks Rabbi Zwiebel for making this point!

20

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