From The Other Side Of The Bench
By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
It’s been a few weeks since we last communicated, and so much has transpired. Most of it occurred in shul, but a lot of it played out on the world stage as well. The UN (United Nothing) held its annual circus, at which time Iran’s leader reveled in the opportunity to crucify Israel and the West, and America’s apologizer-in-chief once again served his guests a nice piece of appeasement pie. Not to worry, the truth should come out one day.
As we go to press, hearings are under way in Washington that have already revealed that the White House lied to the American public about the embassy attack in Benghazi. At no time did anyone in intel or the State Department believe that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to a movie trailer (one that looked like it was put together by a group of third-graders). Nevertheless, the White House trotted out spokespersons and cabinet members and ambassadors to feed the Americans a lie in order to pacify Muslims and in order to keep Joe American from thinking Obama and the State Department fell asleep on the job. Not to worry, the truth should come out one day.
But they did fall asleep, because a record exists that more security for the embassy and the ambassador was requested but was denied. Why would such a request be denied? To give the voting public the illusion that matters were under control there and that Obama’s handling of events in Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and, for that matter, Iran are based on sound reason and intelligence. Not to worry, the truth will come out one day.
We also witnessed a presidential debate whose performances surprised a lot of people—most notably, Obama himself. There was more spin after Obama’s lackluster performance than a washing machine on rinse cycle. Gore blamed it on the altitude in Denver, and Obama says he was unprepared for the Romney that showed up. Obama said that he prepared for the debate assuming Romney would tell the truth and didn’t prepare for a Romney that would lie. I am sure that makes sense on some planet.
I was not the least bit surprised. I knew the truth would come out and that Obama could not put on a display that was so at odds with reality. With no Teleprompter to guide him, with no press secretary to lie for him, with no adoring press to coddle him, he was as weak as the economy and as lost as his foreign policy. The truth does eventually come out.
For good measure, we were also treated to Syria’s dropping one bomb on Turkey and Turkey’s responding with days and days of retaliation. No calls for restraint, no accusations of “disproportionate force.” Because Turkey is not Israel.
And all of this unfolded against the backdrop of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos. On Rosh Hashanah we accepted authority and on Yom Kippur we accepted responsibility. We agreed to submit ourselves to judgment. But who exactly are we presenting for judgment? Is it the angelic man dressed in white on Rosh Hashanah and the man divorced of earthly desires that appears on Yom Kippur who is submitted for judgment? One would hope so, because who isn’t pure on those days? But is that person the true person that is standing before G‑d to be judged?
Just a few days after Yom Kippur, G‑d tells us to go outside, to a temporary booth, a hut, without all the trappings of luxury we are accustomed to. “Out” yourself. Let the truth of who you are, devoid of your materialism, egotistic accomplishments, and, yes, lies, stand in judgment. Let the person without the protection of the home, without the protection of the shofar and the kapporos and the Kol Nidrei and the High Priest, let the “outed” person be judged, because in the end a person cannot escape his record.
If the truth does eventually come out, why are so many people still fooled by the lies?
A non-Jewish lawyer asked me the other day why we fast on Yom Kippur. “Wouldn’t it be easier to stand in shul all day and repent after downing a few sandwiches and a milkshake or two?” I told him that fasting is an act of desperation. Repentance is only complete when man changes—and only a desperate man changes.
When things are just “bad,” man thinks that things could be worse, so he is not motivated to make changes. However, when man reaches a point where things are desperate, then and only then will he vote for change.
“But Seidemann, things are desperate! It is so clear! We all saw the debate. The truth came out! How is it that Obama isn’t trailing by 20 points in the polls? The economy, Benghazi, the list is endless. Why don’t the masses see the truth?”
Good question. And here is the answer: A sizable portion of the populace either does not recognize desperation or is so uninterested that it just does not matter to them. Being uninterested means other people need to come up with the solution. Not recognizing desperation means other people’s problems don’t bother me. Either way is dangerous for the future of this country. So we have a job to do over the next few weeks and that is to point the truth out to as many people as possible. We simply do not have the luxury of letting the truth reveal itself over time.
On a totally unrelated topic, I was quite taken aback, in a positive way, a few months ago when a reader informed me that every week for years now, she had been reading my articles, over the phone, to a friend of hers in Brooklyn, who was sight-impaired. I was both flattered and embarrassed at the same time.
Two weeks ago this reader approached me with tears in her eyes and told me that the friend she had been reading to passed away. I felt that woman’s loss and pain, and I hope that she can fill that void in her life.
On second thought, maybe the topics are somehow related. Maybe it is incumbent on all of us to help others see what they seemingly cannot see for themselves, be it important events playing out on the world’s stage or something much less dramatic, like my weekly effort to share a few thoughts with you. v
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or