What, Me Worry?


obama-sadBy CJ Srullowitz

The emails I receive daily commenting on the actions and attitudes of President Obama range from clever to cockamamie, but nearly all are disrespectful. These messages, conceived through a combustible combination of accessible technology, anonymity, and fear that often borders on paranoia, form a new and lethal poison in the domain of character assassination. Not since Jimmy Carter has the Jewish world-both Orthodox, and, increasingly, non-Orthodox-been so openly critical of a sitting U.S. President.As an American, who believes in freedom of speech, I have no problem with these criticisms, ugly as they are. As a registered Republican, I find some of them humorous, and even find myself in agreement their efforts. But as a Jew I am deeply troubled.

Let’s be clear: I’m no fan of Barack Obama. No, I don’t believe government intervention in the financial markets will fix more than it will disrupt. Yes, I do believe that U.S. interests lie in a strong and stable Israel. No, I don’t think government-managed health care will lead to better and cheaper health care for me and my children. Yes, I am eagerly awaiting the November 2010 elections, not to mention those in 2012.


These sorts of taunts, particularly those launched by purported Orthodox Jews, are wrong because they display a lack of conviction as to Who is really running the world.

Never mind the minefield of chillul Hashem, which is rarely considered by those launching attacks. Never mind the potential backlash against the Jewish community for protesting against a popular president. Let’s leave those concerns alone for a moment, and focus on another challenge: recognizing our true beliefs.

From the simple perspective of intellectual honesty, is it fair to leave G-d out of the equation? If we call ourselves believers, what or Whom do we actually believe in? Have we, too, been swept up in Obamania to the extent that we believe that its magical powers supersede those of our own-Torah, tefillah and tzedakah?

Question: To what extent does our belief that G-d is running the show prevent us from fretting over the current political landscape? Young children sing every morning “Adon olam…veHu haya veHu hoveh veHu yihiyeh-Master of the universe…He was, He is, and He will be.” Always. God is here, with us, every day. What, me worry?

We all know that we are charged with hishtadlus, that we must make “practical” efforts in this world. G-d makes this demand of us. And, no doubt, if we see our efforts in that light, they are holy actions. But it is also possible to cross the line. If our hishtadlus has us behaving in a way that breaches polite discourse, that goes beyond loyal opposition, that creates chillul Hashem, then it is not hishtadlus.

It is incumbent upon us to vote. But once the vote is tallied and the “wrong” candidate has won, isn’t it equally incumbent upon us to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the Almighty is still ultimately in charge?

“But,” the argument goes, “haven’t we learned from Jewish history that we are under constant threat? Wouldn’t it be naïve not to worry?”

Simply, my answer is, no. Because “worry” is the wrong action plan. The correct action plan is “concern.” Concern means we understand the problem and will take an intellectual course to try and solve it. Worry, however, is an emotion, which may or may not lead us to proper behavior.

Let’s look at Megillas Esther and follow the actions of Mordechai, who was dealing with nothing less than the survival of the Jewish nation. While the rest of the Jewish world partied at Achashveirosh’s palace, Mordechai stayed home. While everyone else bowed down to Haman, Mordechai resisted. Then, when Haman received Achashveirosh’s permission to destroy the Jews, Mordechai ripped his clothing and dressed in sackcloth. He stood before the palace, waiting for any news from inside. Reading the Megillah to this point, one would surmise that Mordechai is a very worried person. Worried about the Jewish people, worried about Esther, worried about his children’s future.

The verses, however, tell a different story. At the key moment, when Esther shows some reluctance to move forward and approach Achashveirosh to plead for her people, Mordechai tells her, essentially, “No worries.” “Revach vehatzalah yaamod layehudim mimakom acher- Rescue and salvation will stand for the Jews from another place.” That’s a pretty confident statement from someone who, moments ago, had been pacing outside the king’s palace.

The critical difference is this: Mordechai was concerned, but he was never worried. Mordechai wasn’t being naïve. He understood that everyone had to do their hishtadlus. He even suggested that Esther’s entire climb to the top of the political ladder was for this very moment.

But he was never worried.

It is incumbent upon every believing Jew say, at some point, “Enough.” I have worried enough. I have voiced my opinion enough. I have blogged and emailed enough. I have voted enough.

It’s time to hear what G-d has to say.

{Lulei, Republished with permission}

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I think people digrading and deemonizing Obama agree with every word in this article. They’re just saying that from the facts on the ground it looks like trouble and it’s time to do Tshuva and prepare for the Geulah. We make fun of Haman although we know it was all Hashem…

  2. I can’t agree with this article. While we know that Hakadosh Boruch Hu runs the world, Barack Obama is clearly a Sonai Yisroel, having absorbed his love of Islam while growing up and his hatred for Jews while listening to his pastor. Why should we be different than Mordechai who refused to bow to the rosha? Mordechai ridiculed Homon and added to his humiliation, forcing him to wash him, clothe him, cut his hair and be his stepstool.

    Those who hate us and who hate HKB”H (same thing) we are required to revile. Rabeinu Tam in Sefer Hayashar says that one form of Ahavas Hashem is loving those who love Hashem and hating Hashem’s enemies.

    In addition, the man is inept, having no executive experience or anything beyond academia. There is nothing to respect him for, especially after he has himself shown no regard for the office itself, constantly blaming the previous president for everything that goes wrong.

    Needless to say, if the Gedolim say otherwise I will be the first to reverse myself. I have heard nothing but private opinions and analogies to what Gedolim have said sometime somewhere so I am adding my own.

  3. Chaim Z: I believe you missed the point of the entire article, I think you should go back and read it again.

  4. chaimz:
    I hear what your saying, however think for a moment-
    would a self respecting person degrad himself by saying disrespectful things toward another?
    Would The Chafetz Chaim say what we are saying?
    If yes, yes.
    If not, I think we might need to rethink…

  5. I believe we all need to stop and think. I too agree that he is no fan of eretz yisroel( & klal yisroel ?) However if Hashem had to COMMAND Moshe & Aaron to respect Paroh ( see parshas vaeira perek vov), who by his DIRECT command ordered the slaughter of jewish baby boys in Mitzrayim, how much more , I believe, we need to respect the person who was democratically elected and is leading the greatest golus we have ever known.

  6. I also agree that these thoughts are right on target. Unfortunately, the criticisms that are beyond the pale that come from our community are because they are prejuidiced, hamaivin yavin.
    please note, a picture of a sign from a tea party rally stated: “Obama takes his marching orders from the Rothschilds”. you don’t have to be a big chacham to know whom they’re referring to, don’t think the right wingers are our great friends either.

  7. This article is not worth the paper written on. Jews have to stop being cowardly and stand up for your rights! Obama is a hater of the Jewish people and Israel and we must make our voices heard! Stop being a bunch of namby pambies.

  8. Real Jew,

    “Stand up for your rights” is an American slogan, reflective of American values, not Jewish ones. Jews don’t stand up for their rights; they stand up for the Torah, and the Torah requires us to behave like mentchen, and be cognizant of Hashem’s will.

    Criticism of a U.S. President must be done in a mentchliche way or not at all. The mocking, hysterical tones – not to mention the racial overtones of some – are not in line with halachic/hashkafic behavior.

    I agree with the previous commenter. Ask yourself: What would the Chofetz Chaim do?

  9. “Standing up for the Torah” also translates into “standing up for your rights.” Torah advocates self-defense (Haba L’Hargicha etc.) and the Radziner urged Jews in the Holocaust to run in the forests and join the partisans. By the way, he was from the few Rebbes who encouraged Jews defending themselves and sadly few heeded his advice. Had they listened to him perhaps 6 million would not have perished. I do concede, however, that voiced opposition must be done so respectfully and cordially.