Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
Spielberg’s Selective Equivalency
It is clear that Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, “Munich,” attempts to portray the Muslim killers of the unsuspecting Israeli athletes as just simple family men, no different from the Israelis they murdered at the Munich Olympics.
We all should ask ourselves, given that we cannot ask it of Spielberg or his ultra-leftist screenwriter, Tony Kushner, why Spielberg’s earlier war movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” did not turn into a showcase of moral equivalency. Why were the Nazis not portrayed as simple family men and the Americans who fought them as guilt-ridden, tormented souls?
Here’s why: Because Spielberg knew he would have been lynched and his studio burned to the ground had he tried foisting that bit of morally equivalent liberal trash on the American public.
It’s a sign of the Jewish community’s spiritual bankruptcy that a man like Steven Spielberg was ever accorded iconic status in the first place. So he knows how to make an entertaining movie. Good for him. He’s rich beyond the average millionaire’s dreams thanks to his filmmaking ability. But how that makes him someone we as Jews should look up to is beyond me.
Like Father, Like Son
I read Naomi Klass Mauer’s article about Shlomo Aumann,z”l, with great emotion (“A Teacher, a Boy, a Prayer and a Nobel Prize,” op-ed, Dec. 9). You see, Shlomo befriended me at Yeshivat Sha’alvim where I studied for two years. He was a great all-around guy, and with his fluent English he made us chutz l’aretz bochurim feel at home. He was the nephew of the rosh yeshiva, Rav Meir Schlesinger, but you would never have known it. He was just one of the guys.
It doesn’t surprise me that his students loved him as a math teacher. He was beloved by all the b’nei yeshiva. He was serious in his learning, and so very focused. Of course, nothing can bring back Shlomo, Hashem yikom damo, but may the family take comfort in knowing that both son and father were mekadesh Shem Shamayim – Shlomo in making the ultimate sacrifice to protect
the Jewish people and his father, a proud Orthodox Jew, in receiving the Noble Prize for economics.
I have never minded criticism, but I must admit to be rather taken aback by a critique by an individual who apparently doesn’t understand the English language. I was charged by reader Chaim Silver (Letters, Dec. 16) as having committed the “major error” of mistranslating the Hebrew word tam as na?ve and therefore as not having understood the classical Hebrew word.
He writes that throughout the Tanach tam is used in the sense of “honest, sincere and wholehearted devotion and is idiomatically linked to the kindred adjectiveyashar, honest and straightforward.” If he had only bothered to check Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (1949) he would have found that the word na?ve comes from the Latin “nativus” which means “natural or unaffected simplicity, candid, frank and artless, actuated by candor and love of truth.”
It would seem that my translation of na?ve is precisely the one that Chaim Silver felt should have been used – had be but understood the meaning of na?ve.
He also charged me with calling Jacob “out of touch,” although he did not cite my phrase in context. I was explaining the Malbim who attempted to justify Rebecca’s action, and in that context I wrote that she was trying to prove wrong Father Isaac’s contention that the “studious, spiritual, out-of-touch Jacob could never manage the materialistic political and military machinations involved in blessing.”
If you check the source in the Malbim you will see that this is exactly what the commentary was trying to say.
I’m a student at a well-known yeshiva. Before you continue to call your publication “The Jewish Press,” let me introduce something to you. It’s called Judaism.
Several weeks ago I saw a copy of your paper on the table in my house and was astonished that the front page had a photo of an Arab man without a shirt on. (It is a halacha that a man may not walk around without a shirt – except in a pool or other bathing facility – even in the privacy of his own house.) I let that pass as perhaps some kind of technical error.
More recently, however, I was again shocked at your choice of a photo for the front page – a lady kissing her husband. The Gemara discusses the topic of looking at women. One amora concludes that a man may not look at the pinkie of a woman. Perhaps that only refers to looking at a woman with non-kosher thoughts. However, everyone agrees that looking at a man and woman making physical contact in any way, shape or form is forbidden.
I see no difference between your paper and the garbage that is sold at newsstands in Manhattan. Your publication is about as “Jewish” as the pope.
The sum of the “few people” who claim Chananya Weissman is “an unusually courageous person” (Mr. Weissman’s words from his Nov. 4 op-ed article “I`ll Sign My Name To It”) increased by one (yours truly) once I read his Dec. 16 front-page essay, “A ‘New’ Understanding of Talmud Torah.” Despite growing up myself defining torah l’shmah as a “self-contained pursuit” – the belief Mr. Weissman differs with – I find his article less incensing than thought-provoking.
I therefore itch to read the spitfire challenges sparked by his thesis, as well as how he meets them, just as he fields the presumed objection from the case of ben sorer u`moreh, where he points to its moral lessons to show that it’s not for study alone.
Chananya Weissman has written provocatively in this paper aboutsimcha reforms and his specialty, shidduchim. He’s clearly out of his league, however, when it comes to Talmud Torah. His front-page essay was, as always, well written and passionately argued, but in this case intellectually corrupt.
Mr. Weissman asserts “there is no such concept in Judaism” as learning for the sake of learning. Even casual students of the Torah are familiar with the Nefesh HaChaim by R’ Chaim of Volozhin, the prime disciple of the Vilna Gaon. In what is undoubtedly the most famous exposition of Torah lishma, he explains (based on the Rosh Ned. 62a), a concept eerily similar to what Mr. Weissman claims doesn’t exist. While there may be differing opinions, to insist there is no such concept is either egregious ignorance of the primary sources or a willful distortion of them.
Mr. Weissman states the ramifications of this “new understanding” include the complete upheaval of the yeshiva curriculum and virtual obliteration of the kollel system. He goes so far as to equate learning as it is expressed in most yeshivas with bittul Torah. Of course, Torah study in our yeshivos and kollelim is not perfect, and there is definitely room for improvement, but that’s a far cry from Mr. Weissman’s challenge of the entire institution.
All too often people who acknowledge their relative inferiority when it comes to matters of halachic significance become self-proclaimed authorities when it comes to Torah hashkafa. Whereas I presume most Orthodox Jews will defer to recognized Torah authority when it comes to hilchos Shabbos or kashrus, many seem to have no qualms dismissing rabbinic consensus on fundamental Jewish philosophy. What they fail to realize is that Judaism is not a democracy – every opinion is not created equal.
Mr. Weissman correctly points out that Torah means instruction. It is the Source of not only laws but also our world view. I feel safe with our gedolim and Torah leaders as guides.
Virtually every point made by Rabbi Eidensohn in his letter of December 9 reflects significant misunderstandings about the science that he is attempting to criticize. However, it’s not the errors in Rabbi Eidensohn’s letter that I find most troubling. What disturbs me more is the smug belief, evidently shared by many in the yeshiva world, that the working scientist is on average less intelligent than the typical potted plant.
How else can we explain the rabbi’s readiness to believe that he has discovered fundamental problems in the theories of physics or biology that have escaped the notice of scientists who study these fields professionally? Such an attitude reflects either an unusual degree of hubris or a fundamental belief that scientists are all bumbling idiots. I suggest it’s the latter.
For example, the rabbi triumphantly cites the second law of thermodynamics as evidence against the possibility of evolutionary processes. Does he think the scientists who study thermodynamics and biological processes have absent-mindedly overlooked this issue? Or that because of their unfortunate stupidity they just cannot quite grasp the basic principles of thermodynamics that the rabbi somehow innately comprehends?
Surely even the faintest degree of respect for scientists’ intellectual capacities would have led the rabbi to inquire whether they had previously considered this issue. And they have. It’s discussed in many popular science books and on about 300,000 websites, which I assume are not yet banned in Monsey.
(Incidentally, if the rabbi will re-read his own letter, he will find that his repeated use of the term “closed system” provides an important clue to understanding why evolutionary processes do not violate the second law.)
The yeshiva world has long found it convenient to ridicule science and scientists, and the rabbi’s letter exposes a common conceit that a yiddishe kup and high school diploma provides better insight into the fundamental questions of science than does eight years of dedicated graduate study and a career of scientific experimentation. Well, let me break the bad news – a yiddishe kup and high school diploma provide virtuallyno insight whatsoever into the fundamental questions of science, especially considering the cadaverous state of most yeshiva science curricula.
I don’t mean to suggest that the layperson shouldn’t exercise his or her full intellectual abilities in trying to critically assess and assimilate the latest scientific findings. One need not believe everything one is told, by scientists or by anyone else.
But the fact of the matter is that scientists are generally highly educated and intelligent people who have a substantial level of competence in their fields of study. Their methods of investigation and analysis have proved staggeringly effective over the past 300 years.
The image of the “idiot scientist” conjured up in Rabbi Eidensohn’s letter may be comforting to some, but it’s ultimately just crude escapism.
About the Author:
You must log in to post a comment.
France 2 and Enderlin must have their press accreditation revoked and be thrown out of Israel.
Slaughter is a routine, widespread practice among many Moslem families.
parently an affront to J Street’s worldview, the focus of which appears to be the creation of a Palestinian State, whether or not that will bring peace.
My mother, the eldest daughter of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, was niftar last month at the age of 92. She took her last breath in her home in Efrat, Israel, next door to the shul that was my father’s for 24 years before his passing in 2007.
It comes down to his being famous.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
It’s only natural to see increasing evidence of Jerusalem’s glorious Jewish past being unearthed, quite literally, under modern Israeli sovereignty. The new archaeological finds are also very timely – as the Arab onslaught attempting to detach Jerusalem from its Jewish roots gains steam, the facts on the ground, or “under” the ground, show quite otherwise.
The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”
Nearly 13 years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak journeyed to Camp David to end the conflict with the Palestinians. With the approval of President Clinton, he offered Yasir Arafat an independent Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and in part of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
As the controversies besetting the Obama administration continue to grow in number and intensity, the prospect that President Obama would seriously consider military action against Iran, should that country continue its drive to become a nuclear power, becomes more and more remote. So we welcome the current enhancement of sanctions against Iran on the federal and New York State levels.
To his parents’ friends, he was “Mrs. Greenberg’s disgrace,” but to sports fans he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Jewish baseball players of all time. Long before Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg excited Jewish sports fans with his prowess on the baseball diamond.
Let’s think what OUR interest is, and act according to it.
This past Friday, I went shopping at a local supermarket and noticed a piece of paper on the floor with what looked like Hebrew lettering. On closer examination, I was shocked to see that this small pamphlet with some form off advertising contained the full text of “Krias Shma al Hamitta,” (the Shma Israel recited [...]
Dear Editor, I read with interest Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu’s February 24, 2013 article entitled, Women of the Wall Rabbi Calls Knesset Achashverosh. In 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision that allows Women of the Wall to pray at the Kotel once a month on Rosh Hodesh. That is why Women of the Wall only [...]
Today is my brother’s second yartzheit and a Torah was dedicated in his memory.
I know that some people in heterosexual families see themselves as underdog victims harassed by threatening gays.
In Praise Of Marc Shapiro (I) I thoroughly enjoyed Elliot Resnick’s interview with Professor Marc Shapiro (“Things Once Taken For Granted Are Now Considered Unacceptable,” April 27). It’s a real credit to The Jewish Press that the article ran at all, which is a sad commentary on the state of Orthodoxy today and the fearful, [...]
Correct Distinctions Kenneth Levin’s April 20 front-page essay (“The Empty Rage of Jewish ‘Progressives‘“) makes precisely the correct distinctions between Alvin Rosenfeld’s monograph and the responses of his detractors. If they don’t want to be lumped together with self-styled progressives who delegitimize Israel, they should watch the company they keep. Richard Sherwin(Via E-Mail) No Debate Lately there [...]
Independence Day The celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut is a declaration that the Nazis failed to obliterate four millennia of Jewish life. But while we’ve earned the right to rejoice, let there be no illusions. Once again, the very nations that stood idly by while millions of innocent Jews were slaughtered are jeopardizing Israel’s survival. The [...]
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-118/2005/12/28/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: