There is a tradition within Judaism that all actions in the world can be viewed through the lens of the Torah reading of the week. Based upon that premise, each of these columns are to help us understand the politics of the world through a biblical lens.
As we watch the impeachment hearings of the House Committee on Intelligence and the abhorrent behavior of Chairman Schiff as he continually lies and shuts down any real dialogue with the Republicans on the panel, there is a question that must come to the consciousness of any religious person: Where is God in this kangaroo court, and what can we learn from biblical teachings that is applicable during this challenging time? What guidance can the Torah give to the ten men and women on the Republican side (nine members of Congress and legal counsel Stephen Castor) that can lead them in these hearings to seek actual justice? It must be disheartening for each of them to face the obstacles of Chairman Schiff, but is there biblical advice that can be found that will help them and this nation in the face of a clearly unfair process? Can these ten people really make a difference when faced with such a challenge?
The Torah is filled with not only Divine wisdom, but prophecy, warnings, and guidelines for behavior. This week’s Torah portion, Gen. 18:1-22:24, called “Vayera” (meaning “and He appeared,” referring to God appearing before Avraham) is filled with classic stories about the promise and subsequent birth of Isaac, the covenant of circumcision, the binding of Isaac on Mt. Moriah, and more. But given the tumultuous proceedings of this week in the impeachment hearings of the House Committee on Intelligence, it might be useful to review one of the teachings from this portion of Torah regarding Sodom and Gomorrah.
The text teaches that God determines that Sodom should be destroyed, but his beloved prophet Avraham argues on behalf of the people. “What if there should be 50 innocent among the city?” Avraham argues with God. He continues to have a dialogue with God, posing that it would be wrong for God to destroy the innocent with the guilty. Forty-five righteous people could save the city—40, 30, 20, and eventually the Lord agrees that if ten good people are found, then Sodom will not be destroyed.
From this understanding comes the Jewish practice of the incredible power of ten people. A “minyan,” a complete prayer group, needs ten people, and we understand that ten righteous people committed to a goal can change the world. God will always save us, even if there are only ten people deserving.
Ten people committed to acting right can change everything. No matter how grim things may look, it is important that this teaching from this week’s Torah portion is remembered by us all, and especially by the ten Republican members of the House Committee on Intelligence during these hearings.
It is clear to anyone who looks seriously at the facts as opposed to the media leaks and propaganda that these impeachment hearings are significantly less than fair or appropriate, and as Senator Graham rightly said, “is a political exercise that’s different than anything that’s ever happened when it comes to trying to impeach a president.” It is clearly full of the darkness of partisanship, subterfuge, and lying. Led by Congressman Schiff, abusive rules have been created that have nothing to do with righteousness or a pursuit of truth, and are specifically designed to prevent truth from being explored.
Like ancient Sodom, it would seem that the House is committed to their practices, even when they know they are not righteous. That have embraced a behavior that even many of the Democrats in the House know is wrong, but have rationalized their unethical behavior by believing that their goal of overturning Trump’s election is worth sacrificing their values for. And at first glance, it would seem that they will get their way, at least as far as impeaching the president for trial in the Senate.
But the Torah teaches that there is another opportunity. There are ten Republicans questioning (or at least trying to ask questions) during these hearings. The same number that was required to save Sodom in ancient times. Led by Representatives Nunes and Jordan (who is on the Committee temporarily for these hearings), these ten have an opportunity to fight for what is right. Ten could have saved Sodom, and these ten men and women could save our nation’s integrity as well.
Although it would seem as if there is a foregone conclusion to these hearings, the Torah teaches us this week that God will come to the aid of ten people committed to righteousness. If they can come together and truly fight for what is right, constantly and publicly opposing the kangaroo court processes that have taken over these hearings, they have an opportunity to shift the consciousness of America. By striving to make these hearings about really finding out the truth, they, with God’s help (and we have already learned that He will always help ten people committed to righteousness), can help expose the darkness that has infiltrated our political system. And in shining a light on the reprehensible behavior that is currently in the halls of Congress, they have the opportunity to heal it. They can affect countless people’s votes, especially in swing districts, as they point out the corruption of these hearings…leading people to reject the behavior of Schiff, Omar, Tlaib, Pelosi, Waters, and the like and to elect more honest representatives in 2020.
Let us all hope that like Avraham, these ten members of Congress fight for righteousness and ethical behavior in these hearings, and refuse to quietly accept a destruction caused by others who place their own values above what is truly right. That they all continue the courageous behavior of Representatives Stefanik and Ratcliffe who refuse to let information about Schiff’s duplicity be hidden. That they all continue to have faith that by acting righteously, they will overcome the darkness that is pervading our political system and bring healing and justice to our nation.
May they all be guided to find strength and courage, and to shine a light on the darkness that seems to have taken over so much of the behavior of the current House of Representatives, leading to a deep healing for the sake of all the nation.