| Voice in the Crowd |

Back to Our Place

Directly addressing the One who plants ideas and intentions in the hearts of rulers

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o here we are.

The One who bestows kingship and controls monarchs and heads of state like puppets has chosen.

And maybe, just maybe, we can exhale and admit that it’s not the end of the world.

Personally, I hoped Trump would win. I think he was a great president. I think anyone who remembers the days when the Rubashkin file sat on the desk of the Obama administration, ignored, fobbed off by one under-secretary after another, will forever look at Trump and his team with warmth and gratitude. They were all in from day one, not for political reasons, but for humanitarian reasons. Ein HaKadosh Baruch Hu mekapei’ach sechar kol beryah, and he will be richly rewarded.

But in the last month, we saw something bizarre break through the ground.

We’re used to election fever in the frum world, but never of this sort. Even in Eretz Yisrael, the epicenter of passionate, leave-it-all-on-the-field campaigning, the euphoric singing and waves of reverence are reserved not for politicians, but for the gedolei Yisrael — it’s when Rav Chaim arrives at the Gimmel rally that the army exults at the sight of their general. Moshe Gafni and Yankel Litzman don’t have people dancing breathlessly in front of them, and the extent of their kavod is paparazzi snapping shots of them buying challah for Shabbos.

But here, Trump became the rebbe, the subject of breathless adulation and worship. This wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t Jewish. There’s enough sinas Yisrael out there without conflating it with Trump loathing — the two of them together can get us in real trouble. It was a matter of time until that would blow up. Normal, sane, heimeshe Yidden would never shut down the Garden State Parkway like it’s 13th Avenue on Erev Shabbos for a hachnassas sefer Torah, so why would they do it for a politician?

Looking at what happened and how it happened, I get it. This wasn’t genuine hero worship, but the misplaced result of desperation and fear. For months, we were told that shuls and yeshivos were dangerous, but rallies and protests were okay. Then Cuomo started with the finger-pointing and name-calling and the “they only understand money” rhetoric. Frightened people act in a different way.

It’s the stuff our national nightmares are made of, so Trump and his party became the protector, the only way we could survive this.

But now we go back to Plan A, and instead of quick-fix reassurance we stop and focus and wrap ourselves in the truth we’ve always known: that it was never Cuomo and AOC and the Squad and Bernie and the left threatening us, that all of them are really a force He controls — and one that can be neutralized with tefillah and bitachon.

That takes work. More work than draping a flag around your car.

But it’s what your zeides did and their zeides did too.

Trump lost and there’s disappointment, but I’ve detected in many of my friends — even the passionate Trumpers — perhaps a bit of relief. They also sensed that something was off. On Tuesday night they were furious and Wednesday afternoon they were incensed at voter fraud and by Thursday morning they were all healed.

(Yes, the usual experts at Shalosh Seudos or in the coffee room who, just five months ago, were self-taught epidemiologists, now possess astonishing expertise in voter fraud, constitutional law, and political science — but their audience is shrinking. The oilam is moving on.)

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here were some nice moments in the last few years, to be sure. Rubashkin is home with his family, teaching Torah and chassidus — that alone should make you smile. The courts are stacked with Conservative judges for years to come, a nice gift from the Master of the Universe as we try to get through the days in galus. The Palestinians have been exposed, again and again, as disinterested in any sort of peace.

And we go about our lives quietly again.

Rabi Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna: One who is koveia makom, sets a fixed place, for tefillah, the G-d of Avraham assists him.

When he dies, they will eulogize him by saying, “Where is the humble one, where is the pious one, of the talmidim of our father Abraham?” (Berachos 6b)

The piety of someone who sets a fixed place for prayer is clear, but why does this earn him the description of “humble”? Rav Dovid Cohen shlita once explained that the source brought by the Gemara is the pasuk in last week’s parshah, “And Avraham returned to the place where he’d stood.”

Avraham Avinu had pleaded for the people of Sedom. He’d begged. He’d forged new pathways in prayer, and then Hashem said no. Hashem turned him down.

And the next day, with the campaign over, his efforts unsuccessful, Avraham Avinu went back to the same “place” and davened as usual, filled with gratitude and awe and awareness of Hashem’s greatness.

This is humility.

Where is the humble one?

Now’s our time to be humble and bow our heads and accept His will and go back to our places, wherever we were before President Trump came down the escalator and into our lives. Politics goes back to being small talk, relevant as sports or weather, and readers can go back to arguing if we should be running Kamala Harris’s picture in the magazine.

A caterer told me last Wednesday that he needed Trump to win, because he had several kiddush orders that were contingent on a GOP victory. The final count is a rachmanus on the herring platters and charcuterie boards and the unopened bottle of Livet 18, but I have a proposal: There’s still reason to make a kiddush.

If the election was rigged, it was because the Master allowed it to be so, which means it’s the truest result in the world.

Joe Biden is a fine person and it’ll be okay. The loonies chomping at the bit to remake America will hopefully keep busy with climate change and we’ll get back to our shuls and siddurim, directly addressing the One who plants ideas and intentions in the hearts of rulers.

And we know He’ll listen, because it’s what we are taught: The G-d of Avraham will be at our side, and when we have that, there is no need for anyone else.

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 835.

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