Severing Our Roots

Jews of all political persuasions joyously celebrate Tu b’Shvat with beautiful fruits grown on trees planted and nurtured by the residents/settlers of Eretz Yisrael.

As every schoolchild knows, if a tree or a nation is severed from its rootsit will inevitably wither and die. Nevertheless, Mr. Olmert and his cohorts have embraced policies that forcefully tear Jews from their historical, legal, and religious roots – roots planted firmly and incontrovertibly thousands of years ago by our forefathers throughout Judea and Samaria

We must demand that Israel’s caretaker government apply the lessons of Tu b’Shvat. Rather than dismantle miraculously resurrected Jewish communities, it must put a halt to the morally rootless disengagement/expulsionprocess.

Henry Moscovic
Flushing, NY

No Surprise

Hamas’s landslide victory was not unexpected. Anyone who monitors the various opinion polls taken among Palestinians knows that the majority support suicide bombings and the murder of Jewish men, women and children.

While Fatah paid lip service to civilized behavior, its factions continued to routinely kill and maim, while stealing as much European and American aid as possible. Hamas has simply been honest about its agenda, and that agenda appeals to most Palestinians.

Hamas’s win was all the more a foregone conclusion thanks to Sharon’s retreat from Gaza. The more na?ve among us believed “disengagement” would bolster the institutions of government and order in the area (at the expense of 10,000 Jews and their established communities). The fact is, the Arabs saw the Israeli withdrawal as an abject surrender to violence. Arabs perceive concessions as a sign of weakness, which is why they do not reciprocate.

The only question supporters of Israel need to ask themselves is whether they would want their own homes located next to a Hamas municipality. If the answer is yes, then it’s entirely reasonable to continue the retreat from Judea, Samaria, Hebron and Jerusalem in return for “peace.”
Scott David Lippe, M.D.
Fair Lawn, NJ


Kudos To Plaut
I visit The Jewish Press’s online edition virtually every day and I refer hundreds of people to your site and your excellent articles. I maintain a large e-mail list of people with interest in Israel.
Recently I sent around Steven Plaut’s “Israel’s Plague of Conspiracism” (front-page essay, Jan. 27) and got dozens of e-mails commending the article, Professor Plaut, and The Jewish Press for running it.
Controversy seems epidemic among Israel’s supporters and conspiracy theorists are dangerous because they obfuscate our real goals. Steven Plaut and Daniel Pipes perform a valuable service to our cause. Barry Chamish and his acolytes do serious damage.
I am one of the contributing editors of Outpost, the monthly publication of Americans for a Safe Israel, and a member of the executive committee of the organization.
Ruth King
(Via E-Mail)


‘Couldn’t Have Been Amir’
I’d suggest that readers who are very fluent in Hebrew access the websites listed below and see the medical evidence on the Rabin assassination. The hard factual evidence definitively shows that Rabin was shot from the front with one real bullet to the chest. Yigal Amir shot blank cartridges at Rabin’s back and this “shooting” was videotaped and witnessed by dozens of people at the scene who testified at the trial that Amir shot at Rabin’s back. Yigal Amir thus could not have killed Rabin.
The clincher was Rabin’s chest X-ray taken at the hospital which was shown on Israel’s Channel 2 last October and which was digitally enhanced by some experts.
Dr. Josh Backon
(Via E-Mail)


Call To Action

If my fellow Jewish Press readers are as upset and outraged as I am at the manner in which the Israeli government viciously attacked its own people, many of them youngsters and Knesset members, then do something about it. Call the Israeli consulate at 212-499-5426/5300 and send letters to the consulate at 800 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017.

Speak out about how you feel – about your revulsion at the disgusting and unJewish way the government acted against Jews. Demand an immediate inquiry into what happened and insist that the guilty parties – especially the ones who gave the brutal orders – be arrested and jailed.

If we fail to speak out, the government will do the same thing again and again and again.

Let’s all learn from Moshe Rabeinu, who felt the pain of his brethren in Egypt and did something about it. This is no time to be silent.

Izzy Broker
(Via E-Mail)

Torah, Science And Evolution –
The Debate Rages

Foundation Of Modern Biology

Re the letters (Jan. 6) attacking evolution and reader David Fass’s defense of it:

The fossil record clearly displays changes in the forms of life existing over large spans of time, with the deepest sediments showing simpler life forms and the with more complex animals showing up later. Scientists have traced through successive layers of the fossil records the evolutionary changes in genetic lineages. They have unearthed in recent years the transitional fossils that Darwin predicted would be found, which connect dinosaurs with birds, reptiles with mammals, etc. Biologists have observed hundreds of cases of natural selection, such as insect resistance to DDT, or fish and mice developing more camouflage to afford them greater resistance to predators.

I could fill up every page of The Jewish Press with the evidence in favor of evolution, and it would be only the tip of the iceberg.

The average life expectancy is over 70 now because of scientific advances. The drugs we take, the life-saving surgeries and transplants for our loved ones, were all developed and performed by the same scientists who believe in evolution and use evolutionary principles in their discoveries. Evolution is considered the foundation of modern biology.

The question remains, how do we as frum Jews deal with these issues? Do we stick our heads in the sand and sound like members of the Flat Earth Society? I often feel great sorrow that the overwhelming majority of Jews are not frum and do not have the slightest interest in Torah. This will not change, if we, who represent the Torah, continue to present ourselves as primitive know-nothings.

Dov Cohen
Brooklyn, NY

Speculation And Assertion

Mr. Fass really does seem to miss the point of his critics. He uses the word “science” and “scholarship” as if all sciences were the same and all scholarship was worthwhile. It is obvious that scholarship varies from the invaluable and essential to the useless, the pseudo-scholastic, and pure propaganda on behalf of various causes and ideologies. Not all sciences are equally as rigorous or advanced, and some fields called “science” and some scientific endeavors are an intellectual disgrace and hardly if at all scientific.

The basis of all science is the establishment through proof and disproof of fact, relationships, processes, etc. Theory, models, and explanations built on them are necessary and useful but are not the same as fact and cannot be treated as if they were. Many such theories pander to ideology, bias and cultural outlook.

A good deal of evolutionary theory is mere speculation and assertion that is impossible to prove or disprove and therefore is not scientific at all. A lot of it is intellectual nonsense and offensive to reason and real science. Evolution is culturally one of the main props to (and belief tenets of) modern secularism and secularist pseudo-religion and requires the thought police to defend it.

Dr. Levi Sokolic
London, England
Sages And Science

By firmly asserting that the laws of Mother Nature are “the will of God,” the Rambam, in his preface to the Guide to the Perplexed, made their study indispensable to the comprehension of Torah; a declaration that instantly gave legitimacy to other scholars, ranging from Rabbenu Bachya (“All the sciences are needed for Torah study”), Yaakov ben Dovid Proventcali (“The seven sciences are excellent in the eyes of our Sages);” the Maharalof Prague (“Sciences are a ladder to ascend to the wisdom of Torah”);

the Chasam Sofer(“Sciences are entrances and gates to the Torah”), the Gra (“To the extent to which a person lacks knowledge in the other sciences, he will lack accordingly a hundred-fold in the science of Torah);” and Yonathan Eybeschitz (“All the sciences and condiments [are] necessary for our Torah”).
Of course, precedent was on their side.
Yehuda haNasi, the redactor of the Mishna, actively sought non-Jewish advice (Pesachim 94b); when Rav was unsure about mumim (identifying physical defects in sacrificial animals) he spent eighteen months “on site” with shepherds studying pathology (Proverbs 1, 7); Yehoshua used scientific data to explain the punishment of the serpent in Eden (Berachot 8b); several rabbis conducted ichthyological tests to determine the kashrus of certain fish; Assi the askan conducted experiments on ravens (Midrash Rabba III, 19, 1); the test results of gentile agriculturalists helped formulate the halachas of kilayim, “mixing vegetable seeds” (Shabbat 85a); post-mortem results performed by Queen Cleopatra were used to dispute a position of Yishmael over how long the tumah (impure) period should be after childbirth (Nidah 30b); and Shimon ben Chalafta earned the nickname askan bidevarim (“experimenter”) after testing ants to disprove a Solomonic theory of animal leadership (he also relied on a scientific experiment to overturn Yehuda’s declaration that a featherless chicken was treife [Chullin 57b;Chagigah 12b]).
This earlier pattern allowed the Chazon Ish to lace his seforim with a dose of modern physiology; Yaakov Emden to encourage his students to study medicine; Simcha Zissel Ziv to introduce arithmetic into his mussar schools (“as necessary adjuncts to Torah”); Shimshon Rafael Hirsch to argue that these studies were even imperative to perform certain Torah dictates (“earning a livelihood”); and Yaakov Ettlinger, during the bitter halachic argument over machine-baked matza that required a knowledge of technology, to ask, “Why, in matters of nature, we should not accept the good from them [the natural scientists] to strengthen the weak areas in our knowledge, in order to keep more effectively the mitzvot?”
Joe Bobker
Los Angeles Jewish Times

Monkey Business

Our Sages teach that Amalek has the same gematria (numerical value) as sofeik (doubt). The Satan is well aware that he would make no inroads in the Orthodox community by denying the existence of a Creator and, by extension, His blueprint the Torah. Instead our adversary employs those who claim fealty to the Torah while treating scientific doctrine as sacrosanct to create doubt about the veracity of the biblical narrative.

Certainly, they acknowledge, Hashem created man – but He did so through the process of evolution. Impressed by their erudition and expertise, the unsuspecting observant Jew is swayed and in many cases convinced that in fact the Torah’s account is allegorical. Admittedly it strains one’s credulity to fathom a single entity bringing this entire universe into being in the span of six days and then maintaining each and every aspect in complete synchronicity. Difficult, yes, but infinitely more logical than insisting that gazillions of accidents somehow produced an ordered system with all elements in perfect harmony and function.

Mr. Fass would like to portray this debate as religion versus science, but this is totally disingenuous. Interestingly, he chose to ignore Amnon Goldberg’s brilliant letter (Jan. 6) which made quite a convincing case for a 6,000-year-old universe. In fact, many outstanding scientists repudiate evolutionary theory, while ostensibly Orthodox Jews embrace the notion.

Mr. Fass, you disgrace the great name of the avos – that would be King Kong, Magilla Gorilla and, of course, Bonzo the Chimp.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY