This is my attempt at blogging. I'm still learning about the blogging world, and this is my own personal study hall.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Well, I guess it's time I posted a response to the "Dual Loyalties" debate between Isaac and Menachem. And by the way, when did you start going by Menachem? After you left YU, I suppose. (I hope I'm not embarrassing you by publicizing your time there).

Anyway, I'll address the topic at hand. I am actually very interested in this topic and was thinking about it just today. (I hadn't actually read your conversation until a moment ago). I came to a similar conclusion, apparently, to that of Dershowitz. However, I have to qualify that. It is true that I am loyal to both because of the way I perceive them both in being "right" (morally, not politically).

{WOW! That was a great play! (I'm watching the Suns-Mavs game 1. Stoudamire and Marion fast break in the first quarter - check for highlights on the internet).}

The difference between me and Dershowitz is that I am driven not by some Western, democratic ideal of what is "right" but by what Torah Judaism says is "right". I base my politics on that as well. And we can debate Separation Between Church and State another time - that's another one of my favorite topics. But I don't see anything wrong with allowing HaShem to guide my philosophy in life, which would, in turn, affect my political leanings.

I will never allow Eretz Yisrael to fall to anyone else's hands or be corrupted if there is anything I can do to prevent it. But as far as the State of Israel is concerned, I am loyal inasmuch as it is the conduit through which I am able to fulfill {Another WOW from the game - Stoudamire's block, leaping over Nash} what I believe is a Biblical duty to live in Eretz Yisrael (I also heard once, although I have not been able to find the source, that the RaMB"aN states somewhere that you can only fulfill Mitzvoth on the DeOraitha level if you are in Eretz Yisrael) and insasmuch as it is the home of millions of Jews.

But I am loyal to the United States because I know that it is the only nation in the world where I can comfortably wear a Kippah on the street late at night (I know a lot of people don't feel exactly the same way, but I do, and it's the only place that is true, except maybe Australia. Although I'm married to an Australian I have not yet been there, so I don't know for sure.) AND because it is "just" AND because it is my birthplace. If any of those were to cease to be true, my loyalty would likely falter.

But I don't foresee that happening, even in today's seemingly unstable political environment, because the system has proved that it can overcome political instability. It has managed to stabilize itself. People crave stability and normalcy. The environment after Bush was elected in 2000 stabilized because people kept on referring to the man as "President Bush" and it was a fact that could not be denied. And eventually, after a while, the opposition came to realize that the only way to get their way was to go back to working within the system. But I digress. My faith in the system was tested, but it proved itself to me really only this year, and I no longer fear the instability that was threatened.

So, to review, I am loyal to the U.S. and I intend to remain loyal, because I do not believe that any of the factors that make me loyal will cease to exist. I am loyal to the State of Israel and I intend to remain loyal as long as the factors that make me loyal remain true. I believe that the State of Israel's "right"ness or "faithful"ness is slightly less stable than America's. But I will always and ever remain unfailingly loyal to Eretz Yisrael and Kelal Yisrael.

I do not foresee my loyalties to any of the above coming into question or conflicting. If either the State of Israel or the United States of America were to suddenly be at war, that would mean that one of them has deviated from that which makes it worthy of my loyalty. But Eretz Yisrael and Kelal Yisrael cannot do that.

I hope that answered your questions without creating too many more.

Good night.


Blogger menachem said...

1) interesting layering of parenthesis and sqiggly brackets. I just use multiple parentheses when i layer parenthetical statements like that, though i thought about using squiggly brackets and square brackets. The problem is, you limit yourself to 3 layers (unless you try to use these guys <>, but then you run into html issues. For really great work with parenthesis, which i try to emulate in my writing, read Joseph Heller's "Something Happened." The writing has a wonderful three dimensional feel to it.

2) I was kind of reminded of Bush's famous interview that he gave on a golf course where he said something like "we will win the war on terror" or something, then went "now watch this drive" when you interspersed your dual loyalties article with comments from the game. i'm not saying it's good or bad, it's just what occured to me.

3) You left Israel and Canada off your list of countries where it's safe to wear a kippa. Also vatican city, but only if it's one of those big puffy reform ones.

4) remember the zakheim issue? where were his loyalties? these are the consequences of his actions.

5) i disagree about israel's "rightness" being less stable than america's. as stated, right now their interests alighn, but america's interests are promotet more by big business and special interests than democracy, and democratic decisions in a media-controlled atmosphere like america's is suspect (to say nothing of electing senators every six years as opposed to israel, where seems sometimes like every couple of months we're going back to elections...)

expect a blog from me sometime on issues 1 4 and maybe 5. i'm trying to stay off politics for a bit, restraining that urge for comments on other people's blogs for now, but we'll see.

7:55 AM

Blogger menachem said...

oh, and i don't care that people know i was in YU, just so long as they don't find out i went to ner yisroel...

and i've been trying to go by menachem since KBY... only started being succesful in YU a bit, and then alot when i did mada in israel and made aliya

7:59 AM

Blogger Seth said...

So I guess it's Menachem.


1) Thank you...

2) ...I think.

3) I deliberately chose to leave both Israel and Canada off of my list of places where I feel perfectly safe wearing a Kippah. My wife is Australian, as I said, but grew up in Canada, and her family still lives there. With Ali I have been to Windsor, Toronto, Edmonton (her home town), Jasper, and Montreal, and I have been to Toronto, Windsor, and Ottowa without her. I most definitely do not feel safe wearing my Kippah in public in many places in Canada.

As for Israel, I recognize the Arab villages and "territories" as part of Israel and don't think it's such a great idea these days to wear a Kippah there.

I'll have to come back for the rest of your comments.

4:54 PM

Blogger Koppie said...

First of all, going back to your previous post, welcome to DC! There's only one way to find out what a place is like or a career is like, and that's to live in it. Now that you've been immersed in the environment long enough you're starting to see its true nature.

The question, which you've already realized, is: now that you know its true nature, is it still something you want? Politics can be incredibly exciting. Especially in DC. It's a beautiful city with an interesting culture and probably the most interesting politics in the country. But it all comes at a price. The price includes lots of hard work, very little pay, and lots of bullshitting, politicking, backstabbing, and ass-kissing.

Joe Lieberman, and other deeply religious people, seem to think it's worth it. So maybe the question is not whether your morality can coexist with the seemy underside of politics. Maybe the question is rather: is this a lifestyle you want?

About dual loyalties. I feel THREE loyalties: to Canada, the US, and Israel. I allow my loyalties to coexist and blend into one another and don't feel the need to draw lines or set conditions. Each country has importance to me and I'm okay with that.

Oh, and I TOTALLY feel that your religious beliefs should color your political choices. This is a religious country and most of our legal system is based originally on the Judeo-Christian tradition. That can't be denied. The line between church and state is very simple for me: this government does not have the right to impose a single religion on other people.

What does that mean? Well, it means that if you want to make a law about something, you'd better have a non-religious reason for it. If you want to outlaw abortion or gay marriage, you'd better have a non-religious reason for doing so. Otherwise, you're imposing your religion on other people.

What's wrong with that? Well, the Jews have been at the wrong end of that stick many times throughout history. We, of all people, ought to know better than to bring that particular sword out of its sheath.

1:25 AM

Blogger menachem said...


2 of your statements completely contradict each other...

you TOTALY think that one should make his descisions politicaly, but at the same time should have non-religious reasons for them.

seth: america and australia have places where you shouldn't wear a kippa as well. and walking in the territories with or without a kippa doesnt make a difference, white man.

7:11 AM

Blogger Just Shu said...

can I still call you mendy?

4:57 PM

Blogger menachem said...

you can call me sir

9:06 AM

Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Hey Seth, it's a fellow YU/Stern graduate. I don't want to leave my name, b/c I would like to keep my anninnimity(sp?). However, I've known you since our Akiva days, went to Stern with Ali and lived on the same floor as her in Schott. Anyways, great to see you blogging. Hope to see ya around the blog world. Check mine out. Later.

7:09 AM


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