Aug 21 2015
The following is the text of a speech by Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, member of the Rabbinical Court of the Eidah Chareidis and one of the preeminent Torah authorities of this generation, on the subject of the Iran deal and American Jewish lobbying, given as part of his opening address for the beginning of the semester at his yeshiva, Yeshiva Gedolah of Ramot.
It has become public knowledge that Agudath Israel of America successfully lobbied members of Congress to vote against the President of the United States on the Iran deal. Their actions are very dangerous for world Jewry, because they are involving the religious Jews in the Zionists’ actions against the government, and who knows where this may lead? If, at some time in the future, the world situation turns bad, Americans will immediately blame the Jews for influencing the government, and why should we get ourselves into such a mess?
Furthermore, Jews who live in Iran have come to me and told me that the government there allows them to keep Judaism fully, without any disturbance. The Iranian government only works against Zionism and the conquest of Arab lands, not against the observance of Judaism in their country. But if the Iranian government hears that Agudath Israel, which represents a large percentage of Torah observant Jews, is working against the American government’s peace plan, then all of Iranian Jewry is likely to be in great danger.
Therefore, it is the obligation of all American Jews and rabbis at this time to speak up against this, and to make known that they have nothing to do with this action, and that their role is only to strengthen Jewish observance, not to get involved in politics. Our Sages have already stated (Avos 1:10), “Do not get involved with government authorities.”
Long ago, when someone proposed forming a worldwide rabbinical organization, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzensky of Vilna opposed the idea, and said that it would be a great danger to the Jewish people if one official were to be able to speak on behalf of all the rabbis in the world. And Rabbi Chaim Brisker himself, who helped establish Agudath Israel, separated from Agudath Israel when he saw that officials were likely to get involved in politics in whatever way they wished.