Donald Trump Is a Nebekh: Why That Matters This Yom Kippur by Rabbi Avraham Bronstein

In his Laws of Repentance, Maimonides describes how the Biblical Pharaoh’s punishment for refusing to free the Israelites when he had the chance was losing his capacity for free will and ability to repent. Pharaoh suffered to be sure, but the brunt of the final plagues was borne by the Egyptians. When pundits note how easily Trump is baited, how “he cannot help himself,” they are, perhaps, more correct than they know. It is, at the end, sad that he ended up this way, and sadder that, at seventy years old, the chances of him meaningfully turning his life around are slim.

Trump is a nebekh because, for whatever reasons, he lacked the reflective capacity to prevent himself from turning into what he is, and because those around him stood by and watched it happen. The very real damage he has caused so many people over his life, let alone the ragged tear he is ripping in our body politic, is the result.

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