Why I Wish Rabbi Manis Friedman Could Moderate The Upcoming Presidential Debate
“Is anything sacred anymore, including the position of President of the United States?”
I haven’t been able to stop asking myself this question following the last Republican Presidential debate that clearly reflected the same loss of humility, modesty and intimacy that has caused this nation to reach its current condition. No doubt, our concern for “secured borders” should extend to personal borders as well. Demonstrating the same harmful thinking that has divided the United States, tossed God to the curb, and set it in a tailspin does little to increase our confidence in the proposed leadership or our collective future. And the Democratic candidates don’t seem to be doing much better.
So disheartened and confused by the “bad behavior” too many of the Republican Presidential candidates have displayed throughout the campaign process, I reached out for answers from a true leader and expert on the topics of humility, modesty, intimacy and borders -- Rabbi Manis Friedman. If you do not know him, Rabbi Friedman is a Chabad Lubavitch Hassid, Shliach, rabbi, author, social philosopher and public speaker. He is also the dean of the Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies and author of the book Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore?, currently in its fourth printing. Ironically, this book offers helpful insight into the issues plaguing the relationship between ‘man and nation’ just as it does those plaguing the ‘marital’ relationship, in my opinion, which I further realized during my time spent chatting with Rabbi Friedman. It is no wonder the Rabbi came to mind in my dismay.
As hoped, I concluded our interview with a renewed clarity and deeper understanding of our present position as a nation and world as well as our fate, given things don’t change...or do, for that matter. It’s the kind of awakening that has made Rabbi Friedman world famous (and that’s putting it mildly). Whether you agree with his responses or not, reading and thinking about them is well worth your time. I promise you that you will gain more wisdom, comfort, insight, direction, and hope from reading what the Rabbi has to say in his interview below than all of the Presidential debates combined.
What is your personal mantra?
“God needs me more than I need him.” We really don’t have needs; ours are mostly imaginary. We always feel our needs are so important; we become desperate, unhealthy...not good. But God does have needs. He created all of us for a reason. He must need us for that reason.
What suggestions do you have for our incoming President to help increase the faith in our nation and bring us back closer to God?
If you want to bring the nation closer to God, you have to believe in him. We have to adopt the mindset that we are in his service, all the time, and lose the mindset that he exists to serve us.
Where, do you believe, God is in the never ending chaos the world is experiencing lately? And do you believe that this chaos translates to the beginning of the end of the world?
There is no end to the world. The craziness must come to an end and it will...once we have worn ourselves out from all of it. Then, we will return to one answer -- “Follow the rules.” We’ve been reckless in ignoring all of the wisdom passed down to us through ages. We keep seeking new answers when all of the answers we actually need are within the rules originally given to us by God.
Explain why the people of the United States should want and choose to support Israel?
Supporting Israel is really supporting the Bible, God, morality, and so on. It’s representation of what’s “right is right” and what’s “wrong is wrong.” Failing to accept this is one of the main reasons our society is plagued with so much anxiety. We shudder our roots and anchors then wonder why we are so anxious. Some things are just true and real. They should never be doubted, such as remembering where you come from.
What do you believe is the most misunderstood aspect of Judaism, the Jewish community, and Jewish way of life by those practicing other religions in the United States?
The belief that Judaism is a religion. It isn’t. Judaism is a people -- a people gathered by God on Mount Sinai for the purpose of bringing enlightenment to the world. We were created (chosen) for this ‘Judaism.’ Unlike religion - which comes with benefits and rewards - Judaism does not. We don’t seek to go to heaven or even retire. We seek to serve God while we are on earth.
Name a non-Jewish faith leader you admire and why?
John F. Kennedy -- specifically when he said the phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” That was the healthiest statement made by any President and leader to-date. It inspired a nation to seek out being challenged as opposed to being pampered. Put another way, “Don’t be my sugar daddy. Make a Mensch out of me.”
Name some Jewish-born leaders living in the Unites States whom you admire and share why.
Ordinary people with high ideals, especially Chabad missionaries who dedicate their lives to serving others.
What do you believe this nation's Achilles heel is? Explain.
Narcissism. Forget the heel, the whole body is wrapped with it. The entitlement, “me generation” our nation is overrun with is extremely dangerous.
When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
As the guy who did the least amount of damage.
Suffice-it-to-say, I move that the first Republican-Democrat Presidential debate include Rabbi Manis Friedman as a moderator. Sit the Rabbi right next to Megyn Kelly and invite God to occupy the third seat on the panel. I am confident that by the end of that debate, we would need no others.
I’m also rather certain that ‘faith’ would quickly become the hottest topic on the campaign trail.
Many thanks to Rabbi Manis Friedman and his team for making this interview possible