(JTA) — While a majority of Orthodox Jews are expected to vote for Donald Trump in next week’s U.S. presidential election, a major Israeli Orthodox rabbi who also has a large following in the United States strongly condemned the president in an interview this week.
Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, head of Yeshivat Har Etzion in the West Bank, questioned Trump’s mental and moral fitness in an interview with the Israeli magazine Makor Rishon.
“This is a mentally disturbed person without any inhibition or judgement who controls the button of the the most powerful nuclear weapons in the world — and here people applaud him for opening an embassy in Jerusalem,” Lichtenstein said.
“They don’t stop for a moment to think about the moral damage that he inflicts on the United States, or even on the world. They don’t ask how it’s possible to abandon the fate of humanity to such an unbalanced man, who doesn’t recognize the concepts of truth and falsehood,” he said.
“All of this will harm us, even if there’s an embassy in Jerusalem,” he added.
Lichstenstein is a highly influential leader among religious Zionists in Israel. He is also the grandson of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, who led New York’s Yeshiva University for decades and is considered the leading spiritual authority of American Modern Orthodoxy in the last century.
In the interview, Lichstenstein also spoke out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has widespread support among religious Israelis, saying he had focused too much on foreign policy and security at the expense of domestic issues and suggesting he may have been influenced by Trump.
“Part of it is connected to what’s happening in the United States, where norms are being trampled,” Lichtenstein said. “It’s possible that Netanyahu feels that Trump legitimizes certain behaviors, like screaming at representatives of the media in the middle of a gathering of journalists.”