Why aren’t conservatives compassionate?

December 30th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


I consider myself libertarian conservative and I believe in being financially and morally conservative and obedient. However I’m very questionable on your recent stances on immigration and compassion in relation to scriptures. Leviticus 19:34: But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
Do you think that maybe conservatives find it difficult to maintain their throne (or authority), because they (per your policy as you said on your podcast) refuse to display compassion, or mercy?

∼ Esosa


Dear Esosa,

And when was the last time you beat your wife? (Or husband. Sorry for not being precise but a Google check suggests that your name can be male or female.) In other words, we reject your closing premise. We don’t think you’re right that conservatives lack compassion.

May we suggest you read the book, Who Really Cares? by Arthur C Brooks and James Q Wilson, which surprised the authors when the data they collected suggested that while liberals talk about compassion and caring and see themselves as compassionate and caring, conservatives tend to actually be more compassionate and caring.

The Bible that we know is meant to be studied along with ancient Jewish wisdom—the transmission that accompanied the written text when God taught both written and oral Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Without the oral transmission there are many verses that contradict each other. We could counter the verse you offered with verses calling for killing every man, woman and child of Amalek or demanding that some groups be expelled from Israel when the Israelites conquer the land.

There are quite a few different Hebrew words that could be translated as stranger, some of which refer to converts and others to individuals who do not convert but who have adopted basic core values. The verse you quote does not refer to anyone and everyone nor does it demand that you allow amongst you people who threaten your existence. We fail to see the compassion in turning America into a country where bombs regularly explode in the marketplace, where female genital mutilation is tolerated or where innocent civilians face an increased threat of violence.

It is also important to be aware that compassion is not the only and overriding Biblical value trumping all others.  For instance, raising a child only with compassion, yielding to the wishes of the youngster in the name of compassion and avoiding temper tantrums by supplying whatever is wanted—in the name of compassion—won’t raise a happy and productive child; it will raise more of a monster.  There are many Biblical values that override compassion.

Until our country can differentiate between those wanting to adopt American values and assimilate and those wishing to subjugate Americans to their values, sadly, many people whom we would love to welcome and who would be assets to this country need to be kept out as well. Since we have spent the past sixty or so years destroying a unified concept of American values, helping others has been made greatly more difficult. While each step of the liberal agenda along the way was touted as compassionate, the end result is a fractured country full of increased internal hostility and weakened resources that is less able to help those truly in need.

Compassionately yours,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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