The other day I sat through a discussion between Christian friends about conservatism and religion. One commented that some of the conservative theorists’ ideas about man’s imperfections come from the Christian idea of “original sin.” That’s where they lost me. Obviously I come at it from a different angle. To Jews “original sin” is the pain we put our mothers through when they are pregnant and give birth to us. “You should never have that pain!!” BTW we also believe that life begins when the kids get married and we move to Boca Raton.
Another thing we Jews believe is that we are supposed to enjoy our time on this Earth and the greatest joy one can have in life is connecting with God. And that’s why I fall on the conservative side the aisle, because Liberalism, and most liberal programs try to put a layer between God and Man. Which is probably why despite the reputation of Jews being liberal, the more “orthodox” ones beliefs and/or practices the more likely they are to reject the stereotype and reject liberalism, and support politicians who are more conservative.
Conservative principals such as limited government, individual responsibility, and traditional morals are all deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. Even the fact that America’s founders intended for the county to be led by people who based their political decisions on religious values (something that scares the heck out of most liberals) complements Jewish tradition.
It starts with the creation narrative in Genesis, which explains that man is created in God’s image. But we are also taught that our maker has no bodily form, so how can that be? The Bible is not teaching us that we are all dead ringers for the “big guy upstairs.” If that was the case the pictures on everyone’s driver’s licenses would look the same (and no one would be able to get a check cashed), and all of those TV shows about solving crimes would be very boring because everyone would have the same DNA.
“Created in God’s image” is supposed to teach us that just as God acts as a free being, without prior restraint to do right and wrong, so does man. God does good deeds as a matter of his own free choice, and because we are created in his image so can man. Only through free choice, can man truly be, in the image of God. It is further understood that for Man to have true free choice, he must not only have inner free will, but he must exist in an environment in which a choice between obedience and disobedience exists. God thus created the world such that both good and evil can operate freely; this is what the Rabbis mean when they said, “All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven” (Talmud, Berachot 33b). God controls all the options we have, but it is up to man to pick between the correct or incorrect option.
When it comes right down to it, free will is the divine version of limited government. God picks which is the correct direction and even gives us a guide book in the Bible, but he does not pick winners and losers. It is up to each and every one of us to pick the direction we want to proceed…