Are We Commanded to Vote?

Is voting a mitzvah?

That depends whom you ask.

Jewish Values Online, the website that adheres to the Jewish tradition of asking the rabbi, presented the question to three rabbis from three denominations.

They all agree that voting is a good idea and the right civic thing to do. But are we required as Jews to go to the polling stations on November 2?

Orthodox and Conservative rabbis think we are.

Rabbi Gidon Rothstein, Orthodox, looks to the great sage Rabbi Soloveitchik and concludes that Jews are required to vote since political involvement helps the community and is also a nice way of showing gratitude to the United States.

Conservative Rabbi Wayne Allen quotes prophet Jeremiah who speaks of the need to participate in the welfare of the countries in which we live. “And, if not an actual Jewish legal obligation, voting is certainly interpretable as a prophetic instruction,” Rabbi Allen writes.

But Reform Rabbi Joseph Blair believes that all these arguments do not amount to any halachic obligation to vote. In fact, he even finds reference in ancient Jewish writings to the need to avoid any engagement with the government.

If there is any Jewish imperative for voting, Allen argues, it is for tikkun olam — repairing the world.

That is if you believe that voting will make the world a better place.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Are We Commanded to Vote?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close