Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It is well known that Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zatzal strongly condemned those that voted for candidates that would not uphold Torah values. Yet there were many Gedolim that had no problem voting for such candidates or endorsing them if they felt there were other benefits for the Tzibur. Coming up on this years midterm elections, Is there any Issur according to Halacha to vote for any candidates, or is it all dependent on what is overall best for us?

share|improve this question
3) Or is it dependent on what's overall best for the United States, in the estimation of the voter, 4) Or is it dependent on what's best for the voter him/herself? –  Isaac Moses Oct 12 '10 at 1:11
Why would this year's midterms be any different from whatever elections R' Miller and other gedolim apparently disagreed about? –  Isaac Moses Oct 12 '10 at 1:12
NB: Beware simplistic analyses of who is or isn't in support of "Torah values." Don't forget that the Torah has values for all aspects of our lives, and that the Torah's position is frequently too nuanced to fit onto a bumper sticker. I submit that every candidate's policies uphold some Torah values and violate others, so if you're trying to vote pro-Torah, you have to do a careful analysis of all of the possible realms of disagreement. –  Isaac Moses Oct 12 '10 at 1:16
The premise of your question would be strengthened if you'd cite publications that express R' Miller's and other gedolim's positions. –  Isaac Moses Oct 12 '10 at 1:17
I will reword to clarify. It is really a question for all times, being asked at this point of midterm elections. You are correct to note that although a candidate may be upholding some Torah values often he will violate others. –  Gershon Gold Oct 12 '10 at 1:58

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Almost everyone upholds some Torah values at the expense of others. For example, someone may support giving Tzedakah (a good thing) and supporting workers (in general a good thing at times) at the expense of support of positions that Torah doesn't hold of. Remember that some people who support Israel may, at times, not be ethical in office (or may turn around and go against Israel!).

Moreover, all politicians are known to lie, and what the politician will REALLY do is not known to anybody outside of very close staff.

Therefore it takes a big Rov to decide which politician is actually more in line with Torah than others.

P.S. I don't mean to bash any politicians particularly, but the Mishna does say to stay far from government!

share|improve this answer
Besides outright lying, what a candidate says and what an elected official does are often very different merely because the former tends to lack a great deal of information about the real conditions experienced by the latter, and certainly about how those conditions may change in the future. If you're turning to a Rov to prognosticate about which candidate would actually do what if elected, it'd be best if he's both an expert in politics and policy AND a navi! –  Isaac Moses Sep 14 '11 at 16:00
@IsaacMoses, I've also heard that a reason presidents don't do as they'd said they would is that lev m'lachim b'yad Hashem, God influences their decisions once they are in office. –  msh210 Jan 29 '12 at 7:47

A person will need to weight the different issues. If a candidate is against a Jewish value in one area, but strong in an other area, then the voter will need to evaluate who's best overall. However, in many elections, one candidate or party is against far more Jewish values than the other side, so its quite easy to tell who a Jew should vote for.

share|improve this answer
Reiterating my comments on the question, let me point out that many times when it seems obvious which candidate is for the most "Jewish values," that analysis is based on a very circumscribed list of hot-button issues but ignores many other important values. In addition, it's important to differentiate between issues upon which a candidate is likely to make a practical difference if elected and those less likely to see any real change as a result of the election. Often enough, what seems like an obvious call to very many people becomes less obvious when analyzed thus. –  Isaac Moses Sep 14 '11 at 15:55

I heard in the name of the Moetzet HaGedola that it would be Asur to vote for someone who does not uphold Torah values.

share|improve this answer
-1 Sometimes the only two candidates with a real chance of winning are both non-Torah values candidates. However, one could be bad, and the other could be far worse. Given that choice, we still need to vote for the lesser of two evils, lest we end up with the greater of two evils! –  user1095 Jan 29 '12 at 9:04
@HachamGabriel no, it's not. You quoted from some "moetzet" that it is assur to vote for someone who does not uphold Torah values. In the scenario I gave above, you are saying it would be assur to vote for either of them. –  user1095 Jan 29 '12 at 15:25
@Will, I'd go further and suggest that by the wording of the standard presented here, it would be forbidden to support any candidate in diaspora elections, ever. Every single one of them doesn't uphold some Torah values. In addition, I'd caution, as I have elsewhere in the thread, that choosing the "lesser of two evils" from the point of view of Torah values is much more complicated than most people assume. –  Isaac Moses Jan 29 '12 at 15:42
@IsaacMoses I agree with your reisha. Your seifa, however, threatens to neuter any influence that the Jewish community has in any given country. That is very dangerous indeed. –  user1095 Jan 29 '12 at 15:51
@HachamGabriel That's every case. Have you seen any tzaddikim running for political office lately? –  user1095 Jan 31 '12 at 15:30

There is an article on this topic by Rabbi Mark Dratch in which he argues that voting for e.g., a pro-abortion candidate is not a violation of "lifnei iver" because it is indirect--one is only voting for a legislator who will then vote to violate the Noahide laws. (This of course would not help for the legislator himself.) However, he concedes that there may be a prohibition of "strengthening the hands of transgressors"--מחזיקין ידי עוברי עבירה--in supporting such a candidate. (Rabbi Dratch attempts to neutralize this problem, but his reasoning is flawed.) Last, it is not true that halakhah has a specific policy proscription for everything--halakhah does not mandate what percentage of the GDP the government should spend. Certain areas, i.e., "hot-button social issues," are clearly mandated. I don't think that if a candidate is for gay marriage and abortion, the fact that e.g., he is for more headstart funding has any halakhic weight.

share|improve this answer
What is his attempt and how do you think it is flawed? –  Double AA May 8 '12 at 3:23
He compares voting for a candidate to selling wood to an idolator--since the wood can be used for permissible purposes, we do not assume that he will use the wood for idolatry--he quotes Nedarim 62b and the Ran there. So too, Dratch argues, voting for a candidate who has many positions, some of which are not against halakhah, is like selling wood. The flaw is that there we assume the wood will be used for just one purpose--if we know that some of the wood will be used for idolatry, there would be no heter. The politician will certainly vote for many different things--not comparable –  wfb May 8 '12 at 3:51
@wfb, we don't know a political position will be used to aid abortion: the subject may never come up in the legislature. –  msh210 May 8 '12 at 4:19
Also, even if it did, so long as the vote margin is greater than 1 you may not have directly influenced the decision. –  Double AA May 8 '12 at 5:47
Some other Torah values that are worthy of consideration for their "Halachic weight": 1) Avoda Zara - Would the candidate's election be likely to increase or decrease the practice of Avoda Zara? 2) Murder - What affect would the candidate's election have on the prevalence of murder, perhaps including as perpetrated (according to Halacha) by foreign or domestic governments? 3) Theft - What affect would the candidate's election have on the prevalence of theft? 4) Courts - What affect would the candidate's election have on the fairness of relevant judicial systems? –  Isaac Moses Nov 4 '14 at 16:26

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.