Yes, it’s a little strange to bring Jewish dietary laws into a political discussion, but there’s actually a point to all this. So please bear with me as I take a shallow walk through a deep subject to arrive at a political metaphor.
Most Americans are familiar with the concept of kosher dietary laws, at least in their broadest outlines. Everyone knows that Jews can’t eat pork, and many people know that Jews cannot mix meat and milk.
Keeping kosher is a lot more demanding than that, of course. There are many other dietary laws that only those who keep kosher know, such as the requirement that an animal be killed quickly and drained of blood, the proscription against eating an animal’s sciatic nerve or eating reptiles and amphibians (no French frog legs for the Jews!), or the limitations on eating fresh grain or fruit from young trees.
Most of the dietary laws originated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but rabbis have interpreted them and added to them over the course of a few thousand years. They’ve also sought to find meaning in them, such as seeing them as pushback against Baalist practices in Biblical times; common sense proscriptions against toxic foods; practical aids to help crops grow; and humanitarian guides, such as sparing animals the horrors of ritual sacrifice, complete with the animals’ guts slowly being removed. One doesn’t need to search for deeper meanings, however, to understand that keeping kosher is a significant lifestyle commitment that demands a great deal from the faithful.
Despite their commitment to the Torah, though, the rabbis were pragmatic men who understood that moral principles must outweigh religious practices. That notion — morality trumps rules — is how we get to the doctrine of “Pikuach Nefesh.”
I first learned about this doctrine when reading Holocaust remembrances. Vast numbers of the Jews caught up in the Holocaust were orthodox and abided by kosher dietary rules before the war. The challenge for them was that, whether in Nazi ghettos and concentration camps, or under the care of Allied troops after the camps were liberated, the likelihood of getting kosher food was nil or close to it. Under strictly observed kosher law, that should have meant that the Jews starved to death before the Nazis even got a chance to kill them.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, Jews, even orthodox Jews committed to kosher law, had rabbinical permission to eat whatever they could to survive:
In Judaism, Pikuach Nefesh (Hebrew: פיקוח נפש) describes the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta’aseh (command to not do an action) of the Torah becomes inapplicable.
Non-kosher food may be eaten under the following circumstances:
- If no kosher food is available to the person, and failure to eat the non-kosher food may result in starvation.
- If a non-kosher food product specifically is needed to cure an illness.
If necessary for recovery, a patient may eat non-kosher foods. In the Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 82a of Tractate Yoma mentions pregnancy cravings for non-kosher food (the passage discusses a pregnant woman who craves pork on Yom Kippur) as the paradigmatic example of a presumed life-threatening situation where a person is allowed to eat non-kosher food (and is permitted to eat it on Yom Kippur).
(The doctrine allows other normally forbidden activities to save a life, but I’m sticking with the kosher food issue, because it’s the one with which I’m most familiar. If you’re interested in the law’s broader application and its nuances, you can learn more here and here.)
So what do Jewish dietary laws and the doctrine of Pikuach Nefesh have to do with Donald Trump? To my mind, there’s a metaphor here.
Obama has been working hard over the last seven plus years to “fundamentally transform” America into a nation that’s not America at all. He’s erased her borders, ruined her economy, neutered Congress, strengthened the regulatory state at the expense of law and individual freedom, handed the keys of the nuclear kingdom to “Death To America” Iran, alienated our allies around the world, made common cause with some of the world’s most brutal nations, increased racial disharmony to levels last seen in the 1960s, dangerously weakened our military, and generally done what he could to destroy America’s deep commitment to individual liberty both at home and abroad.
Hillary will be no better. Indeed, because she has the opportunity on her first day to nominate at least one justice to the Supreme Court, filling a formerly conservative seat, a compliant Congress could mean it takes her only a single day to destroy America forever. After all, you can expect that anyone Hillary appoints will enthusiastically join the Sotomayor/Kagan/Ginsburg contingent. The Court will end up tilting not just Left, but hard Left for decades.
President Hillary will also do her utmost to destroy the Second Amendment, which I’ve argued is the most important amendment. After all, it is the only way in which Americans can exercise one of the most fundamental rights set out in the Declaration of Independence: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Believe me, I am not advocating bloody revolution. I’m just saying that a tyranny is a government that no longer fears its citizens just a little bit. If we don’t have even the theoretical ability to hold our government to account, all the amendments other than the Second are just words on paper. (For more on this, and other Second Amendment arguments, you may want to check out my affordably priced book, Our Second Amendment Rights In Ten Essays)
You can also expect Hillary to continue Obama’s trends in other areas: She’s no friend to the military, loathes Israel and has long ties to Muslims (including her pal Huma), strongly supports continued illegal immigration and amnesty to enrich the Democrat base, plays the race card whenever possible and allies it with the feminist, man-hating card, despises the free market but keeps corporate America alive to enrich herself, and generally can be expected to do whatever she can to destroy America’s deep commitment to individual liberty both at home and abroad. Oh, and she’s a corrupt, pathological liar who severely damaged America’s national security during her tenure as Secretary of State and coldly allowed four Americans to die on her careless, self-serving watch.
Thanks to Obama, we have a damaged, debt-burdened country. If America is not yet a dying nation, it’s a deeply sick one. The next president could make the difference between life and death.
Depending on who is doing the speaking, the religiously pure, “kosher” conservative candidate would have been Ted Cruz (my preferred choice), Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, or any of the other host of qualified Republican candidates who put their names on the primary dance card. But none made it, and we are left with the wildcard Donald Trump, a decided non-kosher Republican candidate. If we were talking about kosher food, Trump would be treif (i.e., non-kosher).
Purists are saying we should let America die under Hillary rather than violate conservative rules to vote for Treif Trump. I agree that Trump is most certainly not kosher, but I think America is facing a life and death situation. We therefore have a moral obligation to choose the candidate least likely to kill our nation, even if that means abandoning kosher purity for the Treif Trump. Sometimes pragmatism has to triumph over principle, especially when a life — our nation’s life and each of our lives — is at stake.