Opinion: Corzine vs. Christie – How to Deal With Communal Endorsements You Don’t Agree With

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matzav_networkBy Rabbi Yosef Shubert, Matzav.com

This week’s election has created a fervor that I haven’t seen in a long time and I think that that’s a good thing. But I have also witnessed reactions that clearly cross the line from political disagreement to below-the-belt bashing and slander.

I am not here to give mussar or tell people what to do. But as I’ve tried to do the past times that I have written here on Matzav.com, I would like to stress the importance of common sense and decency prevailing over emotions and vendettas.

For the sake of this discussion, I’d like to discuss the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey which has spurred lively discussion on this site and on various blogs. I don’t live in Lakewood, but I have close relatives who do, and I’ve been told that there are strong disagreements among a large segment of the kehillah with the endorsement of the local Vaad of incumbent Governor John Corzine. People feel that the endorsement doesn’t take into consideration of the “little guy,” the average frum Yid trying to make ends meet and paying the highest taxes in the nation. I happen to agree with them, based on my limited knowledge of the various candidates and the realities that have existed under Corzine.

Where I live, in New York, I know frum people who have had it with Mayor Bloomberg and his non-stop ticketing campaigns. While the frum community is expected to come out for Bloomberg at the polls, I am still on the fence and may cast my vote for Bill Thompson. I still have a day to decide.

Either way, my message here is that it disturbs me when election campaign lead to the direct bashing of people and askanim, by name, on websites, in articles, and in conversation. Suddenly, there is nothing holding anyone back from saying the Chaim Yankel, who is an active askan, is an absolute bum because he backs So-and-so. “Chaim Yankel is looking out for himself, not for us,” is what one hears.

And you know what? That might be true! But when did such speech become permitted? We have laws regarding the way speak for a reason – not for when it is easy to adhere to them, but for when it is difficult and for when we truly want to announce to the public that So-and-so is a less than virtuous individual.

You don’t have to agree with the Vaad in any town or in any city. But there is a way to disagree and a way to make your argument. I know this won’t be taken well, but the fact that various sites allow public criticism and mockery – yes, mockery – of askanim and other communal leaders, by name, or by clear reference, is a disgrace. And if this site would ever allow it, I would castigate the editors here just the same.

So how is one supposed to make one’s voice heard? Good question. The answer is by intelligently pointing out to the public the flaws of an endorsed candidate. The answer is by going to the polls and making your voice heard. The answer is by intelligently making the point that if your communal representatives are not looking out for your interests, you are going to lead or get involved in grassroots movements that will look our for the interests of the little guy.

You don’t like what is happening around you? Don’t settle for some coffee room banter. Get active, get off the fence and get involved. Stop leaving it to others.

The most straightforward argument I read on this matter was actually a letter that was emailed to me. The letter appeared in the Yated Ne’eman and I share it here with permission:


Dear Editor,

I have been very surprised to see a number of political endorsements addressing the Orthodox Jewish community asking them to vote for Democratic gubernatorial incumbent Jon Corzine of New Jersey.

The gist of the logic is that the endorsers would have us believe that our community can milk more money out of Corzine for education: schools and yeshivos as well as government help and protection regarding a number of local issues, relevant to the various Jewish communities that make up New Jersey.

As a resident of New Jersey who sees what is happening in my state, I am having difficulty finding justification for community leaders using or perhaps abusing their influence by urging the Orthodox community to vote for a person who has, at best, a very dubious record in many areas that are relevant to our community.

As pointed out in the front-page story of last week’s Yated, Corzine has driven the already high taxes in New Jersey to unprecedented levels; his massive toll hikes have cynically taken advantage of New Jersey residents dependence on highway travel, and his position on defi ning moral issues is completely at odds with the Torah viewpoint.

Perhaps even more importantly, the members of the Torah observant community must understand that a vote for Corzine is a vote for Obama!

The New Jersey race is being closely watched, and if a traditionally Democratic state goes Republican, this is the strongest message possible that we can send to Obama that his policies represent a danger to Americans and especially to acheinu Bnei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel.

A vote for Corzine is a vote for Obama and just increases the probability of the Hitler in Iran going nuclear and threatening our brethren in Eretz Yisroel. A vote for Corzine just helps facilitate the atmosphere that let the Goldstone Report pass, and threaten Israel with pariah status in the world. A vote for Corzine tells Obama that you are not outraged at his lopsided outreach to the Arab world where all of their excesses are excused and Israel’s supposed faults are magnifi ed under a microscope.

A vote for Corzine tells Obama that he can continue with his ineffectual policies that embolden the Communists and quasi-Communists in China and Russia and wink at other human rights abuses in Sudan and everywhere else in the world except for Israel.

I am not an influential community leader, nor do I head a national organization or institution of learning, but I also don’t have the negius of any public fi gure whose organizations are sitting at the public trough.

I am just a simple resident of Lakewood scratching my head and trying to understand how local concerns override Klal Yisroel’s concerns.


A Working Stiff

This is the way we should fight for what we believe – in all situations. Not by name calling, not by resorting to lashon harah, and not by slinging mud, but by expressing our views coherently, and by building a grassroots effort led by regular, good, decent people, rather than those with extra time on their hands who like to stir the pot for the sake of stirring the pot.

 See you at the polls tomorrow.

 {Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. And having a hard time deciding whether to vote for Corzine or Christie. There are pocketbook issues that make Corzine better, and there are pocketbook issues that make Christie better. However that is not the only issue and voters should take into consideration moral, ethical, trustworthiness, and ability to make tough decisions. I think Corzine is more trustworthy and has the better ability to make tough decisions, yet Christie is more moral and more ethical. Being that I am uncertain I am leaning towards Shev Vaal Taaseh and not voting for either candidate.

  2. By not voting for Christie you are in affect voting for Corizine and by doing so you are actively supporting Obama and his agenda. Don;t sit on your hands. Get off your comfortable couch and pull the lever for the Republicans and send a very loud message for the entire country to hear and see.

  3. I believe that many people in Lakewood will go to the polls and vote for the Local candidates and not be able to bring themselves to pul the lever for ANY of the Governor candidates . We eed to vote for the local and County but it is too gut wrenching to deal with the governor rce

  4. Shev Vaal Taaseh is exactly what corzine likes you to do so i say to all the frum people shev vaal taaseh is not the answer you must go out and vote for Christie that is the right thing to do

  5. When it hurts one screams! wow is to us how can it be the city of torah the beacon of light the pride of our ppl has fallen its lights dimmed its soldiers shamed generals disgraced
    wow to support an advocate of the largest immorality in the world have we no shame where can we run where can we hide how will we ever be able to raise our heads high our banner displayed?
    what happened to “in fire and water to sanctify hashems name” is this the honor guard is this the crown of torah?
    when it hurts you scream! so unfortunately no matter which candidate wins we have suffered a hard loss! pls print this note it is not loshan hora or forbidden speech of any form!

  6. To Help TIme,

    It May not be loshon hora or forbidden speech, but it certainly is a misspelled comment! Know the difference between “WOW” and “WOE”? THere’s a big difference, but I assume people are so used to missepelling on the blogs, or they are so ignorant of correct spelling themselves, that they probably understood you anyway!

  7. Many of you are failing to recognize another vital issue in regard to the election.
    The Ss marriage is the first issue. The second issue is who is the establishment is and who do they represent. It is obvious that they are making sure they remain anonymous. Why would they do that? In the years past we saw all their names on the letterhead. The answer is because they are all scared and trying to mask their agenda. Most establishment members do business with the Township. Some have gotten and some are still trying to get sweetheart deals. Some even have contracts directly with the township. They almost all own property in the town that requires constant zoning changes for them to be money makers. Some of its members make their money by being askonim and running programs and getting grants for various self interest groups. As for the candidates they endorse and have put into office most have serious real estate holdings and or dealings in town. ( Mishalonu, Unzere) They manage properties on behalf of the largest and most influential askonim and developers in town. How do we allow such conflicts of interest? I don’t believe there is another town in the United States that elects people with such self interests. Many third world countries would not stand for this.

    It is time to set up a new establishment as Reb Elyashiv instructed Rav Malkiel. Reb Elyashiv very clearly that it be composed of the 7 Tuvei Hair. So let us ask The Roshei Yeshivah respectfully to see to it that we have a Vaad and Beis Din of the 7 Tuvei Hair.

  8. The last two comments are right on the money. WHile I try to vote for the people recommended by the VAAD, I am becoming more and more aware that Lakewood is becoming a scary place. While I don’t know whether or not to believe evertyhing in those news and views that were linked above, I know that the idea behing them is true. THere are a handful of people running things in this town and noone else know half of what’s going on! Scary for us.

  9. As an outsider who used to reside in Lakewood and have children living there I feel that I must comment on the recommendations.
    The establishment is not worried about the small guy but mostly they are thinkingwhat is good for them and then they think what is good for the general community.
    Firstly a VOTE FOR CORZINE IS A VOTE FOR OBAMA (he was campaigning with Corzine today) and we know what a disaster he is both in this country and for Ertetz Yosroel. Remember if Corzine wind he can not run again and will be out in Four years. He could not care a hoot about the small people and will raise taxes through the roof.

    Mr. Christie is going to have to prove himself and as a true Rebuplican he will lower taxes. Also, how can a true yid who follows the Torah vote for a person who will sign into law a SS toaivia bill. We just the week before last lained abot the door habmul chazl tell us that the mabul came because they legalized (wrote kessobos) and we should vote for such a person Chas Vesholom ONE IS NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE FOR SUCH A PERSON .

    I am telling all the people in Lakewood go out and vote and VOTE FOR CHRISTIE; you are not allowed to listen to the Vaad IY”H we will see hashem will guide the people of Lakewood in the right direction.

  10. Let’s remember that Money for Torah is “Torah”. Not quite sure why some people criticize decisions made by our institutions that are related to Money considerations. Im Ein Kemach, Ein Torah

  11. To BshteiEinayim: The reason people question our institutions about monetary decisions is because, people have their own negios about money and how it will affect them so the decisions are not purely beneficial to all. Nevertheless, I will still vote for the recommendations of the vaad, because even though I know there is more to this than meets the eye, I don’t know any better myself, YET.
    It’s interesting to note that the recorded message from R’ Shenkolewski, that came today, only mentioned who to vote for locally,and didn’t mention the governor’s race at all.

  12. The Vaad would not appear to be so ‘tainted’ by ‘special interests’ if it had the minimal transparency of publishing the names of its constituents. Additionally, no one likes to be told by a Secret Council what to do; with a name attached, it becomes more human.

    And I would like to point out that while corruption is universal, of course, the reason it is so upsetting in Lakewood is that so much more is (or was, sadly) expected of frum Yidden.

    Here’s hoping that Moshiach’s imminent arrival will bring us all together again, in all ways.

  13. Ultra-dependency on the government creates all kinds of conflicts of interest within Jewish communities. Within this setting, vaadim are subject to pressure from interested parties looking out for themselves. We have, sadly, learned from the outside world how to do machine politics, which can only hurt our image and foster bad government.

  14. I believe that the above article is mistaken. If a vaad gets involved in politics by endorsing a candidate, they put themselves out as a target for criticism and for a challenge against the legitimacy of that endorsement.


    An endorsment is a statement equivalent to, “vote for this candidate because we, the endorser, support this candidate”.

    Accordingly, the only way to counter that statement and debate with someone who is voting for the candidate because of the endorsement is to demonstrate why that endorsement is faulty. Saying that it’s “assur to do so” is placing the truth at a disadvantage and favoring, by default, the opinion of the potentially biased endorser.

    The only way to fix this problem is to eliminate endorsements, which would raise many Free Speech issues, not to mention be quite difficult to do in reality.

  15. Too many words.

    Be aware that sometimes the disagreement with an institution such as the Vaad cannot be discussed intellectually as one is not necessarily privy to all aspects of the issues which is really the one weakness of democracy. However the “screaming ” is precisely because one feels the determinant of the vaads endorsements are purely for self gain and not the interests of the public at large. The argument is precisely with the idea of the vaad’s insistance on the public voting for their candidate when their endorsement is meaningless or, worse, detrimental, to ones own interests.


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