Only Five Hours Left to the Fast

Besides being an attorney and law professor, I also have been a rabbi for more than thirty years. Almost every Yom Kippur and Tish’a B’Av -- Judaism’s two 25-hour-long fast days -- I see congregants looking at their watches or the clock (and, on Tisha B’Av, at their smart phones) as the fast day wanes on. They are the ones who are beginning to suffer headaches, perhaps nausea, or -- worse -- migraines. They come to me, 19 or 20 hours into the fast, and ask the ultimate theological question: “Rabbi, how many hours are left to the fast?” 

When we Orthodox Jews fast, man, do we fast — no food and no water. None of this “I-am-fasting-so-I-only-drink-juice” baloney. When we fast, we do it full-court-press. And the result, for some, is that the head swoons a bit, and other discomforts hit as we pass the three-quarters mark. But we always make it to the end of the fast day. We know that water and other beverages are just around the bend. And bagels and lox in their wake. Just five more hours left to the fast.

That is how all Americans now should view Obama. Only five more hours left to the fast. He has wreaked more damage on America, and on the world, often through incompetent interventionist policies and equally often through incredibly incompetent inaction, than has any American president before him. He never was qualified to get the job, and -- remarkably -- he somehow never grew while in the job. He rose in American politics without any executive experience, lacked world affairs experience, and had served only very briefly in the United States Senate, doing limited legislative work and leveraging his very brief time there to focus primarily on running for president. He ran for president at a perfect time for him -- facing the weakest of Republican presidential candidates, John McCain, and an American economy that was in utter collapse amid his campaign. So everyone wanted a change, and he slipped in, with the famous proclamation that this would be the day that the oceans stopped rising and the earth healed.

Suddenly we had a narcissistic incompetent, a vindictive and petty megalomaniac who surrounded himself at one famous public speech with Greek or Roman columns on either side, like an emperor addressing his empire. And the world’s liberals and bleeding hearts lapped it up. Historians will scratch their heads a century from now as they try determining how Obama got awarded the Nobel peace prize practically on the day he was elected. Americans will remember the president who left his post to shower the International Olympic Committee with his awe, expecting them to respond by awarding the Olympic games to Chicago. He lost that one, as he has lost every single negotiation in which he has engaged with foreign sources.

He does not know how to negotiate. He opened America’s relations with Cuba -- a thoroughly defensible political decision half a century after tensions with Havana reached a boiling point during the Cuban Missile Crisis -- but he got nothing in return for it. He pulled back Poland’s and Czechoslovakia’s ability to defend themselves from Russian aerial aggression without gaining a reset with Vladimir Putin. He announced to the Taliban that we would be withdrawing soon unilaterally from Afghanistan, and he announced that all the gains America had achieved in quieting Iraq, after the “Surge” urged by Sen. McCain and overseen by Gen. David Petraeus had succeeded, would be abandoned by a complete American withdrawal.  As ISIS emerged to fill the void in Iraq, he joked of them, calling them a mere “J.V.” — a junior varsity team of first- and second-year students, nothing serious, nothing to lose one’s head over.

On his watch, Putin has seized the Crimea and now makes territorial inroads in Ukraine, while opponents either get assassinated in front of the Kremlin or get imprisoned for decades.  On Obama’s watch, Egypt went from Mubarak to Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood — in which Obama strangely rejoiced — until Gen. Al-Sisi miraculously rose to put down the Moslem Brotherhood, a development that initially saw Obama restrict American support for Egypt.  On Obama’s watch, America remained silent as Iranians risked their lives in the streets to protest fraudulent elections and demand freedom.  On Obama’s watch, Libya went from a crazy and deranged dictator who had slowed somewhat with age, to new crazy and deranged terrorists running wild, tearing up the country, murdering Westerners and assassinating an American ambassador in Benghazi.  On Obama’s watch, Yemen now is in flames while China has gained control of 90 percent of militarily strategic rare-earth elements.

When our American ambassador in Benghazi was murdered, Obama and Hillary Clinton -- the latter another blight, though far less appealing to American voters -- tried a ploy to shift blame for their own incompetence and mismanagement to a schlemazel (guy with bad luck) who had posted a dopey 10-minute film on Youtube that was disrespectful to the Mohammed of the Koran. It was a pathetically bad film, with maybe 300 views and four “likes,” and virtually no one had seen it. So Obama, Clinton, and their staff put out the word that the murder of the American ambassador in Benghazi, actually timed to coincide with the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 World Trade Center tragedy, was the result of the insignificant Youtube video. They sent out Susan Rice, a remarkably unqualified political amateur whom they had elevated to America’s United Nations ambassador and who now fittingly is Obama’s National Security Advisor, to go on one television talk show after another, blaming the massacre in Benghazi on the ten-minute Youtube video. They even arrested Nakoula Nakoula (aka Sam Bacile), the maker of the video -- as they now are moving to arrest United States Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who has opposed Obama on both his Cuba giveaway and on Obama’s now trying to give away Israel.

Even with America’s friends, Obama is an embarrassment. In South Africa at the somber memorial for Nelson Mandela, Obama was taking selfies with Angela Merkel. When he visited England, he gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod and Prime Minister Gordon Brown a box of 25 movies DVDs, a gift the London Telegraph described as “exciting as a pair of socks.” After notably missing the mass march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he sent John Kerry to France with folksinger James Taylor to sing “You’ve Got a Friend.”  And then, of course, Israel.

It is important to remember that 6 years and two months have passed since Obama’s first inauguration. More than three-quarters of his maximum eight-year term are done. Only 22 months to go. Only five hours left to the fast. These will be a painful 22 months, as the last five hours of the fast always are.  He has done so much damage already, to all of us, including his supporters, who have him to thank for their lost jobs, frozen wages, and forced healthcare options that compel them to pay for Sandra Fluke’s bed time, and there is so much more damage yet to be wreaked.  But, on the other hand, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated, we all “have his number” now. He no longer fools us with sweet promises he will not keep. We know he wants to destroy America’s oil industry, so that industry now is conducting hydraulic fracking on private lands that he cannot control.  The Congress knows how his Internal Revenue Service targeted political conservatives for harassment, how his Justice Department under Eric Holder became a tool of politics that has fanned racial tensions in a country where race no longer is a factor in people’s everyday decisions, that he has no intention of securing America’ southern border but instead plots to add 11 million votes and then to force them to vote. We all have him figured out now. The voters know him well enough to surround him on both sides with both a Republican Senate and a Republican House of Representatives, augmented with an overwhelming array of Republican governors. 

Little by little, his power and authority is being reined in. He is a lame duck from whom many in his own Democrat Party are shirking and withdrawing, even as he quacks ever louder as his oceans recede and ponds recede. We just need to be strong a bit longer. Not to give in to the temptation to buckle, not to snack and not to drink. Just five more hours left to the fast.  The tea and coffee, bagels and lox, are just around the corner.  We can do it. 

We always have.

Rabbi Dov Fischer is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine (Steimatzky: 1985). His political commentaries have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review,  Los Angeles Times, and in other major American publications.  He formerly was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, is an adjunct professor of law at two prominent American law schools, and is Rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California.  He is author of Jews for Nothing (Feldheim: 1983) and is in his fifth year as a member of the National Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings can be found at  As with all of Rabbi Prof. Fischer’s writings, this commentary expresses his own views.