The parshah we just read, Toldos, is undoubtedly one of the most enigmatic in the Torah. We are told of Rivkah favoring Yaakov, while Yitzchak favored Eisav due to “his game that was in his mouth” (B’reishis 25:28). Subsequently, we are told of the highly unusual story of Rivkah advising Yaakov to dress up in goat’s skin in an effort to parade as Eisav and usurp Eisav’s brachah from the unsuspecting Yitzchak.
Finally, when Yitzchak realizes that he was duped into believing that Eisav is the better child, he cries out in great trepidation, “Who…where is the one who hunted game for me?!” (ibid 27: 33). Rashi in his commentary writes at that point that the gates of Gehinom opened before Yitzchak.
The great Mirrer Rosh HaYeshivah, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichos Musar 5732:4), explains that Yitzchak’s trembling was due to his sudden realization that he had lived a life of having been deceived in his basic beliefs. Here he was believing against the judgment of his wife Rivkah that Eisav was the better of the two sons. Now he sees how easily he was fooled, and his belief system is falling apart. That is like having Gehinom open before your very eyes.
There were few people who were bigger fans of Donald Trump than me – especially now that we see the disaster brought upon us by Biden and the Democrats in just a few short months following the booming years of Trump. Absolutely no US president was as good to Israel and the Jews as Trump: the appointing of David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel and Nikki Haley to the United Nations, the departure from the Iranian Nuclear Deal, the defunding the Palestinian Authority (especially “Pay for Slay”), moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the liberated territories and the Golan Heights, releasing Rubashkin, etc., etc.
Now we all knew that Donald Trump was a grubber ying, a coarse man with an inflated ego. But admirers of Trump were willing to look past that, owing to his great work on behalf of the country and of Israel. Most liberal Jews were not. They could tolerate reprehensible behavior from Bill Clinton and even the weird behaviors of Joe Biden, but not Donald Trump.
Over the years, we had to watch as Donald J. Trump put his own foot in his mouth on many occasions, including saying there were very fine people on both sides of the issue in the Charlottesville, Virginia, racist rally. We dismissed it as Donald Trump being careless Donald Trump.
But last week, he crossed the line. Mr. Trump invited the virulent racist anti-Semite Kanye West and his pal, notorious anti-Semite Nick Fuentes, to join him for dinner. His feeble excuse was that he did not know who Fuentes was.
Puleeese…How can an ex-president of the United States invite someone to his house without vetting him? Especially since there are so many top secrets held in Mar-a-Lago. Isn’t that a reckless breach of security?
More importantly, who cares about Fuentes? Why did he invite Kanye West? As Ben Shapiro succinctly put it: “A good way not to accidentally dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you don’t know is not to dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you do know.”
This is quite hurtful to a guy like me, who admired Trump for all the good he has done. I don’t know how I can get past it. To their credit, the ZOA, which last week honored Donald Trump at a gala event, this week was very critical of his decision to invite West and Fuentes. I haven’t seen anything yet from Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL on this topic; perhaps he feels he does not need to say anything, as the situation is obvious. Like a broken clock, he can be right twice a day.
Very interesting is the fact that the OU issued a critical statement on Trump. They did not speak up against BLM anti-Semitism, nor President Obama’s association with Jeremiah Wright, nor the mistreatment of Governor DeSantis by the Jewish Heritage Society, nor Ben & Jerry’s, etc., but here they found their voice. Maybe we will see more of the OU speaking up in the future.
But my dear Warren and friends: This is not a time to gloat and say, “I told you so.” If it were, then I could gloat that “I told you about Biden’s refunding “Pay to Slay.” I told you about the drive to renew the Iranian Nuclear Deal. I told you about the Biden administration’s recent interference with the Israeli democratic process. I told you about the ineptness that led to the catastrophic pullout from Afghanistan. I told you about out-of-control crime. I told you about the border disaster. I told you about runaway inflation, etc., etc.”
This is a time to realize that our good friend Donald Trump has shown a terrible case of bad judgment, perhaps even a fatal flaw. Remember, Donald Trump has what many of his secular Jewish detractors do not have: Jewish grandchildren.
I am not going to easily forgive or forget what Donald Trump has done with his kashering of West or Fuentes. It is truly painful. But as Jews, we always must consider the alternatives. I know there are good ones in the GOP.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.