When You Lose, Say Little. When You Win, Say Less
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, these columns are to help us understand the politics of the world through a biblical lens.
It has not been a good week to be a Democrat, and it seems like one thing after another keeps pounding them. The president was acquitted of the kangaroo-court impeachment accusations of the House, after delivering a magnificent State of the Union speech. Nancy Pelosi looked like a spoiled brat tearing up that speech, and the entire Democratic Party looked like pouting sore losers by refusing to applaud even for a Tuskegee Airman or a child's education. The whole impeachment farce backfired on them: raising President Trump's support and hurting Democrats in the polls. And of course, the Democrats completely failing at their own caucuses in Iowa was a huge defeat for all of the Democrats and their candidates. It has been so tough on Democrats that they must feel as if the entire sea just collapsed on them.
And on a certain level, it has. But we must be careful not to rejoice in their defeats, realizing that although absolutely necessary, none of this is good for the nation.
We read in this week’s Torah portion how over three thousand years ago a sea literally collapsed on the Egyptians as they were pursuing the ancient Hebrews after the Exodus. The story is famous: how Pharaoh and the Egyptians were pursuing the Hebrews through the Sea of Reeds, and God closed the waters upon them, drowning them (Ex. 14:28).
But a less famous story is added through the oral traditions of the Talmud (Megillah 10b). Here it gives additional details to this event. We are taught that upon the destruction of the Egyptians, the angels started to sing songs, but God stopped them, crying “The work of my hands are drowning and you want to sing songs?!?” Although it was necessary that God destroy Pharaoh, God also reminds even the angels not to rejoice at the downfall of anyone. As King Solomon says in the Book of Proverbs (24:17), “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.”
This may be the most important lesson we all need to remember during this time of repeated defeats of the Democratic leadership. As I teach my children, “When you lose, say nothing. When you win say even less."
It was incredibly important for the survival of our nation that our president got acquitted. The inappropriate actions of Pelosi and the other Democrats have shown the country how unfit for leadership these people truly are. The Iowa caucus fiasco demonstrates either the incompetence and/or the corruption of the Democratic Party. These failures by the Democrats have been necessary, but the worst thing anyone can do now is revel in them.
Our country has been torn apart because of Trump Derangement Syndrome and the vitriolic hatred of the left…a hatred that has inspired all of the Democratic senators and nearly all of the Democratic House members to act in ways that are antithetical to the practices and values of our Constitution and the nation. Their hatred has led them to turn their backs on America. Thank God they have been defeated and shown the American people how their hatred has corrupted them.
But if we want this nation to survive and thrive, we cannot allow ourselves to rejoice in their loss.
If the goal is to truly make America great again, we need to be able to have productive dialogue between the Democratic and Republican parties. Yes, we should disagree, but respectfully. We do not need to make the opposition into the personification of “evil" (something that the left has been doing to President Trump and has led us to this dark place), but rather we need to move forward in an ethical and righteous way.
Pelosi and company have acted like spoiled children. We must make sure not to retaliate like children winning a game in a schoolyard. There is no good in this process that the Democrats have led us down other than to publicly reveal their lack of ethics so that voters will hopefully choose to elect better representatives. The impeachment process has hurt the country, and caused challenges by taking time away from the leaders who could, and ideally should, be working on real issues: immigration, secure borders, homelessness, the economy, appointing judges, etc. Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer, and Nadler's antics have hurt the country, even breaking up families and relationships. Now is not the time to retaliate against them by rejoicing in their defeat, but to work even harder to heal the country and establish good policies that serve the nation.
King Solomon continued his teaching about not reveling in an enemy's defeat. “For if the Lord sees this rejoicing it will displease Him and he will turn away his wrath from him.”
May we all be grateful for the outcomes of this past week, and look forward to seeing more successes on the part of the president and the nation. And may we always remember to be dedicated to coming together as a country with many opinions but one goal: for us all as a nation to thrive, prosper, be healthy, and be peacemakers in the world.
Rabbi Michael Barclay is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, CA. (www.NerSimcha.org) and the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together”. He can be reached directly at [email protected]