The Rabbinical Alliance of America – Igud Harabbonim, representing nearly one thousand rabbis serving throughout the United States – calls on the political powers in Washington, D.C., to calm the rancor and acrimony enveloping our government and citizenry at levels more dangerous than seen in recent history.
As rabbis and spiritual leaders, we always look to the sacred texts of the Torah – Bible & Talmud – for moral direction and insight and in all situations.
Firstly, we hereby declare our support for a physical barrier at the southern border as advised by President Donald J. Trump and recommended by leaders of both parties in the recent past. The basis for this non-political decision is PIKUACH NEFESH – the saving and protection of human life, and the security of US citizens and would-be immigrants who unwittingly subject themselves to grave danger in traveling to the US to attempt to immigrate. This assessment by the RAA is based upon the principle that PIKUACH NEFESH – protecting human life – overrides all other considerations, including important political, business and sociological concerns.
The need to preserve all human life is informed by our religious tradition and the decisions regarding implementation are left to the experts in the field, namely the chief executive of these blessed United States and the experts entrusted with the responsibility for protecting the borders.
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of workers employed by the Federal Government are not receiving their wages in a timely manner due to the political gridlock in our nation’s capital. This is both untenable and immoral as the Torah adjures that one is obligated to pay wages in a timely manner to workers. As it is stated, “on that day you shall pay his hire” (Deuteronomy 24:15).
As US citizens, we are obligated to make sure our taxes funding the government are not held hostage to political maneuvers. The people directly affected, and their concentric circles of millions of fellow citizens cannot be considered with ambiguity and ambivalence.
We call upon our elected political leaders to come to make accommodations and immediately ameliorate the family crises inducing actions of this unseemly partial government shutdown.
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Presidium Chairman of the RAA, implores both sides of the political divide to resolve the government shutdown that is adversely affecting millions of fellow citizens. By doing so, we as a country save the vulnerable families and individuals who serve us and are struggling to survive without their wages.