I saw a post about the pledge of allegiance and got to wondering if Jewish law forbids saying the pledge of allegiance. If the answer is ‘no’, wouldn’t that make it seem that religious Jews are less patriotic? And then I got to wondering if this is true of religious Christians (Yes, I wonder too much). And then I realized that it seems to be a contradiction that it is religious Christians who are the most patriotic. It is understandable that in Israel, the non-(sometimes anti-) religious Jews are anti-patriotism. They don’t believe in the Covenant that gave us this land. They also do not value the precedent of living and fighting as an expression of an attachment to this ideal. But religious American Christians should be saying their allegiance is to Jesus and not the government. Why are religious Christians more patriotic? Shouldn’t the secular see the government as the highest valid authority and an expression of social morality? This should be especially true in an age when the left is driven by the call for social justice. They should be more patriotic.
This reminds me of an incident from my days (long ago) in the IDF. At the end of basic training, soldiers are given a Bible and sworn in. Halacha (Torah law) forbids taking an oath. In order to comply with this, after the officer shouted out his part of what we were swearing to, the religious soldiers responded with, “I declare” while the secular soldiers shouted out the standard “I swear.” The officer, a non-religious young Israeli, was very amused that despite the lopsided 9-1 ratio favoring secular over religious, the words “I declare” drowned out the “I swear.” The religious soldiers were simply ten times more enthusiastic about serving in the IDF.
For me, the reasons for this were clear. Serving in the IDF was not simply my service to my fellow man, though it was certainly that as well. The IDF was an expression of my service to God, and since he created man in his image, I served man with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might, or as much might as my trusty M-16 could muster.
But just as it is in Israel, the politics in America and the rest of the world are divided along religious lines; the religious are right-wing and the secular are left-wing. I can think of a lot of reasons for this:
Religion trains people to live for a greater good. A non-belief in God teaches a person that they are living just for themselves, that they are the ultimate authority and the ultimate goal. Even when the non-religious express a moral ideal, it is warped and self-centered. In the 1960s, young people protested for social issues: the war in Vietnam, equal rights for blacks and women. There is a strong ‘social justice movement’ today but it is not about social justice at all. It is focused on the self and on lifestyle issues. People who are pro-life are concerned about the unborn. People who are pro-choice are concerned about their lifestyle. They claim that they are concerned about the mother however there is no concern expressed for how abortions are emotionally traumatizing for women. Even issues concerning sexuality have become entirely subjectified with the individual establishing what was previously determined by God.
The built-in failure of a self-based secular social justice is that the individual retreats so far into their own reality that there is no connection, no material with which to weave any social fabric. In a religious system, the inner God element that connects all of mankind is explicit. Connecting with your fellow American is readily apparent as an act of service to God. Taxes
As a Jew, this is built into the very beginnings of the Bible. Abraham was not promised a place in Heaven. He was promised that his descendants would be a nation with a land. The Jews became that nation in the crucible of slavery and received the Torah as a nation.
Secular Jews in American have rejected Israel and are wandering a spiritual wasteland, ripe pickings for a fake code of morality. Jews, with a biologically built-in concept of social justice, have always been leaders in the left-wing social justice movement. But when the eternal longing for Israel is taken out of the Jew, the social justice loses its grounding and its rudder and goes horribly adrift. Rejection of Israel inevitably leads to self-loathing because the Jewish soul was not intended to wallow in the self-aggrandizement that is the basis of intellect-based morality. Judaism is not a belief in ethical monotheism. Judaism is a nation that was spiritually transformed to be a vessel for bringing Gods light into the world. Part of this process required the death of the self as embodied in Isaac. It is simply impossible for a Jew to be like the other nations, to be self-centered, self-motivated. When a Jew peers into the depths of his soul, there is nothing there, no self, only God. If he attempts to create a self-centered concept of reality or morality that is not God-centered, there will be nothing to connect it to and he will flail about, adrift in a sea of chaos.
Yesterday, I learned that there were 5.4 million members of Christians United for Israel which, according to some accounts, is more than the number of Jews in America. So, it is now undeniable that there are more pro-Israel Christians that Jews in America. This is mind-numbingly astounding. Christians, particularly pro-Israel Christians, are overwhelmingly patriotic. This is especially true when the new wave of Democratic leaders are markedly socialist. And yet these patriotic Christians who powerfully self-identify as American see no contradiction in expressing this by supporting a foreign country; Israel. Were they standing next to me at the IDF swearing in, my CUFI friends would be screaming their lungs out while secular Jews would most probably be giving a lukewarm ‘I swear’ (at best).
This is as far as I take it. I have spent 57 years trying to understand my Jewish soul. It has led me to the inevitable and uncomfortable conclusion that I am different than the Christians who have chosen to bless me and my nation. I can clearly see how I am different than the Jews who reject Israel. But I cannot understand the Christian standing next to me. I am entirely unlike him. Which is precisely how God intended it.