Monday, November 3, 2008

?צי דערלאזט תורה זיין א סאציאליסט





An excerpt of a letter by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy"A, to a writer in the Yiddish Forverts in Nisan of 5723/1963:

מען האָט געצויגן מיין אויפמערקזאַמקייט אויף אייער אַרטיקל וואָס איז אויך איבערגעדרוקט געוואָרן אין דער ארץ­ישראל'דיקער פּרעסע, און דעם אָפּקלאַנג וואָס דער אַרטיקל האָט אַרויסגערופן באַ אַ טייל לייענער.

איך בין זיכער, אַז איר נעמט זיך ניט צום האַרצן דעם נייען אופן פון רעליגיעזער פאַרפאָלגונג, אָדער ריכטיקער, אַנטי­רעליגיעזע רעאַקציע. אָבער אַזוי ווי אומדירעקט בין איך אין דעם אויך פאַרמישט, דערמאָן איך עס אין דעם בריוו. דער עיקר אָבער וויל איך ניט באַהאַלטן מיין האָפנונג, אַז דער דערמאָנטער אַרטיקל, ווי אויך האָפנטלעך די צוקינפטיקע, וועלן דערמוטיקן די גאָר פילע מיטגלידער פון די "פאָרווערטס" קרייזן אַרויסצואווייזן, אָפן און אויסדריקלעך, די טיפע ענדערונג וואָס ס'איז פאָרגעקומען באַ זיי אין די לעצטע יאָרן אין צוזאַ­מענהאַנג מיט זייער שטעלונג צו די אידישע מקורות און טראַדיציעס. און באַ אַ טייל פון זיי איז דאָס אפשר גאָר קיין ענדערונג ניט, ווייל זיי האָבן שטענדיק געהאַט אַ פּאָזיטיווע שטעלונג צו די פראַגען.

אגב איז די גאַנצע טענה מיר אומפאַרשטענדלעך, וואָרום נאָך אין מיטן ברען פון דער רעוואָלוציע אין רוסלאַנד האָב איך געקענט פּערזענלעך פיל סאָציאַליסטן, און צווישן זיי אויך גאָר ראַדיקאַלע, וועלכע זיינען געווען טיף­רעליגיעזע מענטשן שומרי תורה ומצוה, שטאָלצירנדיק דערמיט און גלייכצייטיק פאַרנעמענדיק פירנדע פּאָזיציעס אין דער סאָציאַליסטישער באַוועגונג אין רוסלאַנד. אויב עס זיינען נאָך דאָ אַזעלכע וועלכע זעען דאָ אַ קאָנפליקט פון גרונט­אידייען, קומט עס פּשוט פון אומוויסן, אד"ג.

(ממכתב י"ג ניסן, תשכ"ג)

איך באַשטעטיג די ערהאַלטונג פון דעם בוך פון אייער מאַן. . און איך דאַנק אייך פאַר דער אויפמערקזאַמקייט.

The man who sent me the letter is an Obamanite. He wants free healthcare and believes BHO will give it to him were he to - G-d forbid - become President. He also wants the Government to take the money from the rich Jews and give it to the poor, many of whom never worked a day in their lives... He sees this letter as "proof" that Torah and Socialism can go hand in hand, and that his (the man who sent me the letter) beliefs as a Socialist are not contrary to Torah.

44 comments:

Schneur said...

As far as this topic goes My friend Marc Shapiro posted an interesting essay on Rabbonim and Socialism of the Seforim blog about 6 months ago. If people are interested in this field , they should read it.
Many gedolim like Rav Yehuda Ashlag, Reb Itzekel Ponovieszer (Rabinowitz)were openly Soialists. Even a man like Rav Yolles was very close to the Communist party in the uS in the 1920's.
The Poale Agudas Israel in Poland and in Israel were also mild socialists seeking protection of Chassiidc workers (not all Chassidim in Poland were negidim , kezinim and alufim , most were aremeleit evyonim)
The Tore is certainly not against helping the have nots , not does the Tore sanction a society based on classes.
Perhaps the new Orthodox society has become so middle class in nature that the poor are looked upon as dregs.
In general we all ought to spend some time reading the Navi and thinking what the message of the Prophets was and its relevance to our day.
Just for the record I am not supporting BHO.

sheichet said...

I dunno, 1st off I think there is a difference between reforming social services and being a "socialist". People should look into what socialism actually is before labeling. For one thing socialism is not necessarily a bad thing all around, just as capitalism is not a good thing all around. Each has its Maalos & Chesronos and an extreme to either end is not necessarily a good thing. In addition capitalism shares a main Chisoron with Socialism, namely that it is coruptable and eventually those in power will corupt it, like the USSR did with Socialism and the US does now with Capitalism. Second thing is that B"H Obama is not actually a socialist, even if he leans towards a socialistic mindset. Like Schneur, I'm not necessarily supporting BHO. I'm just pointing out facts which people miss in their BHO-wants-to-kill-all-the-Jews Paranoia.

Joe in Australia said...

A person who is inclined towards socialism can easily portray halacha as socialist: everybody has an obligation to support the poor, and the Bais Din can even expropriate property to enforce this when necessary. The standard of living isn't a bare subsistence: rather it is "according to their needs". Sounds like socialism, or even communism to me.

On the other hand, someone inclined towards capitalism can portray halacha as being libertarian: there is such a thing as private property, and in fact halacha doesn't easily deal with things that are owned by "the public". The assumption made by halacha is that people are earning money privately in greatly varying amounts, otherwise there would be no need for the Bais Din to expropriate it. And so forth.

Really the Torah predates both socialism and capitalism and there's no reason to think that either system is especially consistent with it.

Lutziner said...

Schneur, from my experience it's davka people living in these "socialist paradises" that are the least likely to help the have nots. Capitalistic America has arguably the strongest "giving" ethos in the world.

A google search turns up a study that conservatives give a larger proportion to charity than liberals.

Josh said...

Both systems of thought are heavily indebted to Judaic sources and it is no surprise that some Jewish thinkers realized these affinities. It is not as if Europeans did not have the Bible, Zohar etc in front of them when they formulated the philosophies which would lead both to dialectical materialism and to classical liberalism.

Goldwasser Story said...

COL in English Very funny translated.

http://209.85.171.104/translate_c?hl=en&sl=iw&tl=en&u=http://col.org.il/&usg=ALkJrhgL6nLIEygUFMJObLQJrjakijdthA

noting said...

seems like these socialists like the pro-socialist comments here and posted them
http://7fatcow.com/2008/11/04/tzig-does-socialism/

schneur said...

I am not a Socialist. Personally history shows that Communist regimes are not friendly to Jews. Socialist regimes like those in Sweden are no different than their captalist counterparts. I just wanted to point out that any number of chashuve Jews supported Socialism.
Many Polish Jews told me that in the inter War period tens of thousands of frume Yidden voted for the Jewish Socialist labor Bund in Polish elections as a vehicle for improving their economic situation.
Let me add that the 1st Minister of Justice in the post Czarist regime in Russia was another Orthodox Jew N.I. Shteinberg.

Gandalin said...

It was one thing to be a "socialist" in the early 19th century, but quite another thing today, after socialists (including National Socialists, Fascists, and Communists) murdered tens of millions of innocent people and ruined every economy they took over.

noting said...

"after socialists (including National Socialists, Fascists, and Communists) murdered tens of millions of innocent people and ruined every economy they took over"

Yeah, last time I was in Denmark, they were killing people in the streets; in Sweden they slaughter children; in Norway the kill Jews; in France they kill all minorities. These are socialists countries, ya know? Go visit them, you'd e surprised what wonders Democratic socialism can accomplish

noting said...

As a Socilaist I made a shehechiyonu last night, and am very excited about the new dawn. Most frum Jews will benefit from his administration. for starters, just think of the four thousand a year for 18-22 year old yeshiva students in exchange for civil service, which in the case of Chassidic Jews will be fulfilled with service in the Chassidic communities themselves.

Hirshel Tzig said...

so can I take that campaign promise to the bank now? Will the great Leader come through? Maybe you can loan me that 4000 dollars right now? Oh, I forgot, I'm older than that. But still, maybe some nice bachur would loan me the money, since it's as good as done....

noting said...

Tzig, in my chat window I have the message "OBAMA=HITLER"; 'tis not nice to beat the loser in the throes of defeat so I won't gloat for fear of hurting your medieval political feelings.

Hirshel Tzig said...

not medieval, but rather 1776 political feelings. I'd call your political leanings mid 1930s, if you get my drift.

noting said...

"1776"
Master, the field hand's become president!
:)

Hirshel Tzig said...

somehow I knew that would be your response, yet I posted it anyway. Reactionaries like yourself see only fault in the greatest nation in the world, that's because they want to punish prosperity and progress. People progress, that is. They'd rather we just sit back and sip espresso and nobody have anything. Make the rich work hard and then take their money. Just health care, so that when you get old and wanna die the government will give you medical weed and help you pull the plug...

noting said...

Progress to what? To 48 million people suffering without health care in the richest country in the history of man? Progress to what? Towards Wall Street romping it up and screwing over everybody then getting a one trillion dollar bail out? Progress to what? To your impoverished, your hopeless, your ghettos without opportunity? Progress to what? To kill people by not offering them health care?

Here's an example: a PHD student friend of mine making 15,000 dollars a year, barely covering rent and food, not being eligible for medicaid and medicare since she is in the system of educational loans. She has no health care, and cannot afford private insurance in any way. What do you say to this hard working person? What do you tell them when they are sick and cannot go to a doctor. she can't go to emergency rooms either since it would be too expensive and she pays her bills.

Hirshel Tzig said...

not that it matters now, but BHO was the BIGGEST recipient of Fannie Mae and Fredie Mac contributions even though he was only in the senate for 4 years!

As far as healthcare goes; most states offer (at least New York does) healthcare for people in that income bracket.


Any man will tell you that Socialism breeds very little, it takes any and all incentive to produce. I shudder to think where the WORLD would be were we too a Socialist haven like the nothings you speak of, Denmark, Sweden.

noting said...

"As far as healthcare goes; most states offer (at least New York does) healthcare for people in that income bracket. "

Not if you are a PHD track student. There is no plan. Please don't lie here. She is ambitious and has pursued every avenue.

There's your America, the land of the sick the lame and rich people running around telling them they are to blame.

Gandalin said...

noting,

So the tiny, racially and ethnically homogeneous Scandinavian countries, which aren't really socialist anyway and are not dominated by socialist parties haven't killed their own citizens.

That does not refute the plain truth that the communists, national socialists, fascists, and other leftwing statist parties who did control their countries and did install controlled command economies did in fact kill more than 100 million people who got in their way.

In a command economy, where there is no market to set prices and allow individuals to make their own free decisions, each and every facet of economic, cultural, and political life ultimately depends upon the coercive powers of the State.

More that 50% of the Federal budget, and large proportions of the State budgets, go towards things that the Founding Fathers of this great Country would never have considered legitimate functions of a government of just powers.

Plainly stated, Shimon has no right to take from Reuben in order to give something to Binyomin. If Shimon wants to pay for Binyomin, let him pay himself.

noting said...

"
So the tiny, racially and ethnically homogeneous Scandinavian countries, which aren't really socialist anyway and are not dominated by socialist parties haven't killed their own citizens"

why I am wasting my time with you I don't know. They are the most advanced countries as far as human rights are concerned. There have never ever been any such problems in these countries whatsoever. Your use of these ridiculous comparisons from the Soviet Union to democratic socialist states in Western Europe, borders on the infantile, but quite in tow with the un-educated, dumb, political discourse in the frum world.

"Plainly stated, Shimon has no right to take from Reuben in order to give something to Binyomin. If Shimon wants to pay for Binyomin, let him pay himself."

Check out what Jewish law really says about the redistribution of wealth on the other socialism thread, in a comment by schneur. Destroys your premise. See the Rebbe's letter as well and perhaps the gmoro about taxation of every community so that there can be a hostel for poor people, food, clothing... Talk about taking from Reuven to feed Shimon.

Who came up with this socialism works in homogenous cultures thing? Reagen? Goldwater? How do you know this? Has America yet been tested by socialism? Oh wait, yes, it is about to...

noting said...

Correction: schneur's comment on this post.

noting said...

"which aren't really socialist anyway and are not dominated by socialist parties haven't killed their own citizens. "

What BS. They are completely socialist countries with taxes upwards of 60%.

I have spent time in these countries and most people who I knew, who were maiking incomes in the highest bracket, were OK with aing the high taxes. Similar to the amazing statistic that voters making over 200,000 a year voted for Obama by over 10% over McCain.

They call the system of those countries "cradle to grave" socialism.

The recent right-wing flare-ups in those countries are nothing but flareups, with the core socialist programs in those countries rooted in stone.

Gandalin said...

noting,

"Check out what Jewish law really says about the redistribution of wealth on the other socialism thread, in a comment by schneur."

OK, so show me where Jewish law says that you have the right to confiscate my property so you can devote it to your pet social engineering projects.

And, by the way, for those of us who actally pay income taxes, when you add up federal, state, local income taxes, property taxes, and other levies, we are very close to 60% government confiscation here, too.

noting said...

"OK, so show me where Jewish law says that you have the right to confiscate my property so you can devote it to your pet social engineering projects."

I just showed you. Read my previous comment.

noting said...

Joe in Australia put it even better,

"everybody has an obligation to support the poor, and the Bais Din can even expropriate property to enforce this when necessary. The standard of living isn't a bare subsistence: rather it is "according to their needs". Sounds like socialism, or even communism to me."

Gandalin said...

noting,

Is this the comment that you think illuminates my question?

"The Tore is certainly not against helping the have nots , not does the Tore sanction a society based on classes."

Let's get this straight: socialism is not about "helping the have nots," it's about controlling the economy and every aspect of people's lives. Even if socialism did "help the have nots," it surely wouldn't be the only way to do it.

IMHO, what the Tore enjoins is that each pshuter Yid should have rachmones on the other pshuter Yid. That is individual to individual. Nothing to do with taxes, socialism, a controlled command economy, or the Gulag.

And the Tore doesn't know a society based on classes, in the marxist sense, not because the Tore believes that filthy anti-Semite Marx's meshuggas about the use of the dictatorship of the proletariat to create a classless society, but simply because the marxian concept of classes is an artificial construct that is worthless outside of Marxism-Leninism's self-referential hall of intellectual mirrors.

As for Joe's comment, when did a Beis Din ever take control of an entire economy in order to accomplish its wishes? When did a Beis DIn ever expropriate the "means of production" and retain control of them?

Gandalin said...

noting,

"Helping the have nots" is not the same thing as socialism.

Socialism means the governmental and often violent control of every aspect of the economy.

When did a Beis Din ever seize control of the "means of production" and take over an entire economy?

And how did starving millions of people in the Soviet Union, and killing millions more in the Gulag, "help the have nots"?

How is Mugabe helping the have nots?

How is Castro helping the have nots?

Just take a look at North & South Korea.

Korea is the most genetically homogeneous nation on earth. It is a small country. It had the same history for thousands of years, until 1945, when it was divided in two.

The North was more industrialized and more prosperous than the South. As late as 1960, South Korea was on the economic level of the Sudan. No natural resources. No capital. Nothing but grit.

So half of Korea was put under communism, and half under capitalism.

50 years later, what is the result?

The free market half is the world's 11th biggest economy.

The communist half is literally starving, and can be noticed from space, by the absence of artifical light at night.

When my parents were communists, they could at least claim ignorance of the real truth.

We don't have that luxury.
50 years

noting said...

I will only respond to your first paragraph since it disqualifies you from being a valid view for me to to read. You can't make these unqualified statements "it's about controlling the economy and every aspect of people's lives."

Oh yeah, go to Scandinavia you nincompoop, You're talking from a place where the sun don't shine.

You make these inane statements which makes so so glad I don't live or hang out with frum Jews anymore.
You continue to repeat the same idiocies even after I repeatedly explain to you that you are wrong.

Socialist countries in Western Europe do not control every aspect of their citizen's lives. You are still in an MIA camp in Vietnam or something.

I'm outta here. Write a damn letter the the Jewish Press.

noting said...

"As for Joe's comment, when did a Beis Din ever take control of an entire economy in order to accomplish its wishes? When did a Beis DIn ever expropriate the "means of production" and retain control of them?"

Am Haortez. Open a gemoro and close your ABC talk radio

noting said...

Gandalin
get it through your thick skull since it has been said here twenty times. We are discussing European democratic socilaism, not the the Communism of the soviet Union. Therefore, Idyot, nothing that you say again anad again applies.

Should I write that in a different way to get it into that thick skull of yours?

Hirshel Tzig said...

noting

there's no need for name calling.

Gandalin:

I think by comparing Socialism to Marxism and gulags you're defeating your point. Noting IS talking about Western European Socialism, not North Korea and Castro's Cuba. Why not talk about the failures of those systems?

noting said...

I apologize. It's been a long time since I blogged regularly.
Two thing I have lately realized: Blogging is not good for the blood pressure and politics creates such bad blood. It was not till this election that I have had such violent chats and conversation with close friends. I have had these arguments before, but somehow, in this election, people really broiled.

Gandalin said...

Hirshel Tzig,

I am sorry that I riled up your other dutiful reader.

You are right, marxism and communism are not the only forms of socialism. Fascism and National Socialism are leftist, statist ideologies, too.

As for Western European style "democratic socialism," first of all, these economies are not 100% socialist, they are really expensive welfare states. But to the extent they are socialized, I think that they crush the entrepreneurial spirit that grows wealth and provides opportunities.

There are differences from country to country in Scandinavia. Denmark is the most enterprise-friendly Scandinavian country. (The business tax rates, by the way, are lower in Scandinavia than in the USA.)

Western European countries have very poor economic growth rates, very high unemployment rates, and much less freedom than Americans enjoy. The EU is essentially a soviet style system with an unaccountable bureaucracy, a self-perpetuating legislature, and it is increasingly ruled by bureaucatic decrees. Moreover, Europeans themselves are so tired of it, that they are not even reproducing. Their populations are dwindling, and they are only propping themselves up with massive immigration.

I still don't know where in Jewish law it says that you can take away half of what I earn by the sweat of my toil, in order for you to distribute it to your pet projects, favorite bureaucrats, and social programs.

And by the way, I think that the Aish Rebbe whose e-mail you quote in another post is accurately reporting what many of BHO's supporters expect and desire. Anti-Semitism has been a prominent feature of European socialism for 200 years. Don't be surprised that the leftists, who have decided to ally themselves with the jihad, adopt that same line.

Gandalin said...

Hirshel Tzig,

And another thing. In this country, there are a host of non-governmental, voluntary charities. Individuals make individual commitments to fund these charities and many of us also volunteer our time and energy directly to programs that are "helping the have nots."

In Western Europe, such voluntary tzedoko is practically unheard-of. It is assumed that every legitimate need of a human being is taken care of by the government, from "cradle to grave" as noting says, and there is in consequence no direct, personal, voluntary (in the fullest sense of will, decision, choice) chartiable activity.

In this way, socialism actually makes people worse. It makes them less enterprising, less self-reliant, and indeed, less charitable. The "new man" that the socialist state requires and calls into being is an automaton, a soulless creature dependent on the decisions of bureaucrats for every morsel of food and every scrap of clothing.

And a comportment towards his fellow citizens that is polluted by informers and the necessity of informing even within the family.

Anonymous said...

As has been noted by the Baali Mussar, Socialism destroyed the internal self worth of a human being.

Gandalin said...

Hirshel Tzig,

I know this is not supposed to be a political blog, and I am sympathetic to your desires. My comments are more cultural than political. It is astonishing to me that 80% of Yidden in this country voted as they did. That represents a cultural problem . . . namely the complete victory of communist propaganda in portraying itself as wanting to help the have nots, while falsely claiming that other socialists cults such as national socialism and fascism are not socialist.

In reviewing my posts, I do not feel that I directed personal attacks at anyone, nor did I disparage those with whom I disagreed.

It also does not escape my attention that my comments were met with a veritable fury of abuse and name-calling. I suggest that such tactics derive from the inability of those who use them to argue against the facts with which they are confronted.

noting said...

"namely the complete victory of communist propaganda in portraying itself as wanting to help the have nots, while falsely claiming that other socialists cults such as national socialism and fascism are not socialist."

contrast that with

וואָרום נאָך אין מיטן ברען פון דער רעוואָלוציע אין רוסלאַנד האָב איך געקענט פּערזענלעך פיל סאָציאַליסטן, און צווישן זיי אויך גאָר ראַדיקאַלע, וועלכע זיינען געווען טיף­רעליגיעזע מענטשן שומרי תורה ומצוה, שטאָלצירנדיק דערמיט און גלייכצייטיק פאַרנעמענדיק פירנדע פּאָזיציעס אין דער סאָציאַליסטישער באַוועגונג אין רוסלאַנד. אויב עס זיינען נאָך דאָ אַזעלכע וועלכע זעען דאָ אַ קאָנפליקט פון גרונט­אידייען, קומט עס פּשוט פון אומוויסן, אד"ג

according to the Lubavitcher Rebbe Gandaling speaks out of "ignorance".

noting said...

mistake in my last comment. i meant to contrast the rebbe's quote with this quote from gandalin not the one in the previous comment "It is astonishing to me that 80% of Yidden in this country voted as they did. That represents a cultural problem

noting said...

Btw, I would vote for BIBI in Israel.

noting said...

Gandalin,

My name calling, while not appropriate, derives from your repeated ignoring of veracious statements that i made. Tzig, hardly on my side in this argument, even saw this and called u for it. then you go ahead and agree. then in your next comment you take it back. make up your mind on that one.

we are speaking here of social programs which exist in democratic societies. you repetaedly hark unto communism and the soviet union which we are not discussing here at all.

you asked me where does the torah take away funds and i told you that the gmoro explicitly does so and says that you must tax the citizens for housing for the poor etc. this is socialistic. check out joe from australia's comment on that, a comment which i quoted to you twice, but again, you ignore..

I said these things before but you repetaedly ignore what i wrote and that is bound to frustrate any thinking man.

again: the point of tzig's post was the rebbe stating that socialism and torah do not contradict each other and that anybody who thinks they do does so out of ignorance

noting said...

"IMHO, what the Tore enjoins is that each pshuter Yid should have rachmones on the other pshuter Yid. That is individual to individual. Nothing to do with taxes, socialism, a controlled command economy, or the Gulag."

your humble opinion contradicts the gmoro that stipulates mandatory taxes for housing and food for the poor, and, as pointed out above, this would mean taking care of all their needs.

Does this contradiction of what you say and what the gmoro says seem clear? or shall i repeat it again, for the 17th time

noting said...

I never thought I'd quote an Aish rabbi

"
Socialism and Judaism
Question

Is the economic idea of socialism (which I believe in along with Judaism) compatible with Torah or Talmud?

Answer

Though economics in Judaism is usually associated with capitalism, there are numerous socialist ideas within Judaism. We are obligated to provide for all the poor people in the community, via a 10% tax, food distribution, marrying off the poor, etc. - (source: "Code of Jewish Law" Y.D. 250:1). Also, the land division in Israel amongst the tribes, was according to population - (source: Numbers 26:54) There are other social laws concerning the Kohanim and Levites - (source: "Maimonides" Jubilee 13).
With blessings from Jerusalem,

Rabbi Shraga Simmons

http://judaism.about.com/library/3_askrabbi_o/bl_simmons_socialism.htm

Gandalin said...

noting,

Sorry not to have commented earlier on your interesting points. I have been away.

Look, basically the mistake you are making is to conflate helping the poor, and providing charity to the poor, with socialism.

Socialism is not charity.

Socialism is the control of all economic activity by a bureaucratic elite.

Thus, although I am willing to stipulate that the gemoro provides for taxes to support the poor, I do not accept that the gemoro enjoins socialism.

Socialism ruins economies. The more socialistic, the more controlled, the worse it is.

I am all for providing for the poor.

However, we need a free market in order to generate the wealth that permits us to take care of the have nots!