Friday, 20 January, 2017 - 2:19 pm

While I strongly believe a rabbi should never publicly take a political side or voice political opinions, I also firmly believe a spiritual leader needs to direct his audience to derive important lessons from current world events. How then, does one treat a Presidential Inauguration, specifically today’s inauguration? Is it politics or news?

In an effort to determine that, I sent a text message last night to about a dozen and a half friends, asking them – putting their political views aside –had they learnt something positive from the elections or the new President?  I was hoping to get an unscientific idea of the feelings out there. Some replies still had political undertones and I cannot share them here; most have focused on the idea that “anything can happen”, something I wrote about in early November; one responder encouraged me to just “stay on Twitter”, not knowing that I haven’t yet learned how to navigate the world of social media.

I found this response to be most inspirational: “I’ve learned that life can be better when you turn off the TV and read a book.” This is so true. At the end of the day, whatever your political view, following politics is guaranteed to give you a headache and if it doesn’t, that only means you haven’t followed it enough. Actually, following anything too much will do the same: work, sports, Facebook, etc.

This is just another great reason to celebrate Shabbos. Imagine having a 25-hour built-in oasis in your life; an entire day that you spend on the gifts of Judaism and family and on no other nonsense? Even if you aren’t yet ready to commit to full Shabbos observance, don’t you think disconnecting from your TV and/or Facebook for one day a week will do you amazing good?

Come to think of it, there is one member of the First Family who is going to be doing just that in Washington. Like or dislike her, I think that as Jews, that’s one message we can rally around.

Gut Shabbos (without your smartphone),

Rabbi Mendel Greisman


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