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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
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IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Letters To The Editor

Flawed History

According to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, the Holocaust never happened. Even more malevolent than Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust is the clear inference that Israel owes its creation to the Holocaust.

Contrary to Ahmadinejad’s version of history, the million or so Jews who fled the Soviet Union were victims of Russian xenophobia, not the Holocaust. It was Ethopian intolerance, not the Gestapo, that prompted the immigration to Israel of the Falasha Jews. And the Sephardim, who now constitute more than half of Israel’s Jewish population, were not driven out by Nazi fiat but by Arab and Iranian belligerence.

Mitchell Finkel
Silver Spring, MD
 
 

Disgusting Remark

The remark made to First Lieutenant Chaim Spilman by an old yeshiva rebbe of his – that he, this rebbe, must have not pinched and hit him hard enough when he taught him because look at the way Mr. Spilman turned out – disgusted me beyond words (“A Seder in Saddam’s Palace,” op-ed, March 17). Based on his inspirational article, I’d say Mr. Spilman is a Jewish hero. The fact that the style of yarmulke or the type of pants he wears could elicit such a disparaging comment from this rebbe speaks volumes about the superficiality of much of what passes for frumkeit in our day and age.

Something tells me that it wasn’t just Mr. Spilman’s yarmulke and pants that bothered this rebbe. I wouldn’t be shocked if it is the very idea of a Jew – let alone an Orthodox Jew – enlisting in the military that is so foreign, so “goyish,” if you will, to this rebbe and others of like mentality. I couldn’t disagree more. Frum Jews like Chaim Spilman do us all proud. Would that we had more like him.

Yitzchak Stromberg
(Via E-Mail)
 
 
 
Directing Prayers To God

I was appalled to read the March 10 “Lessons In Emunah” column. We are commanded to be tomim – wholehearted – with Hashem. (Devorim 18:13). This means, and has meant for millennia, that we address our requests to Hashem through prayer. We don’t pray to idols and we don’t pray to dead people.

There is not one word about Hashem in this woman’s story; there is only a description about how she petitioned the deceased Lubavitcher Rebbe to help her. If “Shoshana K.” wanted divine assistance, she was bound by halacha to address herself to the God of Israel.

The m’forshim explain that when Moshe Rabeinu died Hashem kept his burial place a secret so that it should not become a shrine that would attract those who might be misguided by his greatness into deifying him. Was the Lubavitcher Rebbe holier than Moshe Rabeinu?

Mark Ian Binsky, Esq.
Brooklyn, NY
 
 
 
Gerut As A Weapon
 
 
Your March 17 editorial reported that the Jerusalem Bet Din has invalidated several conversions performed by a member of the RCA. This is not the first time I’ve been made aware powerful rabbinic organizations using gerut as a weapon against individuals and groups with whom they have a disagreement. If the “less powerful” party doesn’t step into line, the “more powerful” party begins invalidating conversions. It’s a rabbinically sanctioned form of humiliation and dominance.
 
I actually had this conversation several years ago with a rabbi who had been embroiled in various bet din proceedings against a rabbinical organization. “Chaim Yankel [not the real name] decided to testify against me,” he said. “So I called up some poskim in Yerushalayim and they began invalidating Chaim Yankel’s conversions. He thinks I don’t have connections? That’ll show him.”
 
I was shocked by this casual treatment of converts. “Why aren’t you concerned about the gerim themselves?” I asked. “They haven’t done anything to you! Why would you have their Yiddishkeit called into question?”
 
“It’s no big deal,” he replied. “They just have to go to mikva again.”
 
With all due respect to the rabbi in question, it is a big deal. Converts go through rigorous training and huge life changes in order to join Klal Yisrael. They have to fill out reams of paperwork and have their tevila (immersion) observed by a bet din. Why is it acceptable to tell them, months or years later, that they have to do it again? Which section of Shulchan Aruch allows rabbis to force innocent people to go through this procedure several times? And what kind of message is this sending to converts and potential converts? That their status as Jews can be challenged at any rabbi’s whim?
 
I think this is one of the major reasons so many groups have come together to create uniform conversion standards. Not just to address the destructive force of intermarriage, but to protect the rights of these innocent and sincere “Jews by choice” who find themselves being used as pawns in games of rabbinic one-upmanship.
 
Mordechai Samuels
Via E-Mail
 
 
 

Evolution: The Argument Continues

‘Kangaroo Court’

Zev Stern’s statement (Letters, March 17) that one should take challenges to evolution before scientific organizations or publications is pathetic. It would be like walking into a Kangaroo court. These people’s faith in evolution is well entrenched; they’re not about to take dissenting views seriously.The Jewish Press and other such publications are precisely where challenges to evolution should be taken. You can only have a problem with this if you have no answers to these challenges.

Stern condemns what he perceives as “character assassination” of people who believe in evolution, but yet has the temerity to make the statement that “many gedolim are so small-minded.” Such little respect for the great ones of his own people! And he then has the gall to say that “Gentiles have more respect for their colleagues with whom they disagree.” He should be ashamed of himself.
 
Beth Miesler
Brooklyn, NY
 
 

Earth’s Uniqueness

Space exploration speaks volumes of scientists’ misdirected assumptions about life on Earth, which thrives in every nook and cranny, under the most adverse conditions: at the bottom of the ocean; near water vents of several hundred degrees Fahrenheit mixed with poisonous sulfuric acid; in the desert; in 70 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in some parts of Antarctica.

It’s inconceivable that something as tenacious and as resilient as life has not left its mark on any other planet or moon. Mars once had water, according to scientists. We shouldn’t have to dig for life. If it got wiped out, we should find bones strewn throughout.

How do you account for billions of species in earth’s history and not so much as a one-celled organism (certainly not an elephant) on other planets? Evolution? It certainly doesn’t seem like it.

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY
 
Errors And Hoaxes

In view of the lack of evidence for evolution, that it is still being advocated by some Orthodox Jews is indeed perplexing.

Despite 150 years of searching worldwide, paleontologists have given up hope of ever finding even one transitional fossil, let alone a single set to close the gaps between the phyla, classes or even species, to support the supposed evolutionary line. “Neither Darwin, nor any Darwinian has ever given an actual causal explanation of any single organism or any single organ” (Sir Karl Popper).

The stupendous myth of prehistoric men, missing link ape-men and man-apes is based entirely on the discretionary reconstruction of a very few, widely dispersed, bone shards. Java Man was found to have been based on an ordinary gibbon’s skull, Orce Man on a donkey’s skull, Ramapithicus on an orang utang, Pithecanthropus on an elephant’s knee cap. The sole evidence brought to support evolution and the existence of Nebraska Man, in the famous 1922 Scopes Trial, turned out to be the tooth of an extinct pig!

Entire imaginary phantom populations of supposed sub-humans – Cro Magnon Man, Neanderthal Man, Peking Man, Galley Hill Man, Fontechevade Man, Swanscombe Man, Grimaldi Man, Nutcracker Man, Olduvai Man, Wadjak Man, Leakey’s 1470 Man etc.etc. – are now acknowledged as being 100 percent true modern homo sapiens.

Piltdown Man was for 50 years ensconced in the textbooks as absolute proof of evolution until exposed as an expertly contrived hoax conceived at the highest levels.

Amnon Goldberg
Safed, Israel
 
 

‘Theory’ In Name Only

I hope the following will once and for all put an end to the debates on evolution and the young vs. old Earth.

One of the most cogent and verifiable streams of data proving the Earth is more than 6,000 years old comes from observing the half-life of radionuclides. Elements such as thorium and uranium have naturally-occurring half-lives in the millions and billions of years of age. Their radioactive decay gave rise to the shorter-lived nuclides, such as radon, and the stable element, lead.

Chemists and physicists can explain far better than I how these elements only arise from other elements. Lest you think that radioactive elements speed up or slow down their rates of decay at random, I would posit that the violation of the laws of thermodynamics would cause such a state of chaos that nothing in modern life would be possible. No automobiles. No cell phones. No computers. The rate of decay is a measurable constant, and those of you with children learning natural logarithms in calculus can glance in their books and see the formula that is used to calculate the rate of decay.

Evolution is a theory in the sense that Kepler’s theory of planetary motion is a theory. If Kepler were not correct, then Neil Armstrong would have had an ordinary July in 1969. Evolution is a theory in the sense that Copernicus and Galileo formulated theories about the solar system. It’s a theory in the sense that Einstein’s relativity is speculation and not a fact of modern physics. The same can be said of quantum physics and mechanics, and the wave/particle nature of light. These have been measured, verified, established. So, too, predictions based on evolution have been verified and have borne amazing observations in biology.

If you believe in the heliocentric solar system (for which espousal Galileo was tried by the papal Inquisitor in Rome), you believe in a scientific theory with as much validity as evolution.

But then again, the Flat-Earth Society has its adherents too. At the website http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flatearth.html, Christians who read the Bible literally insist that a young Earth and a 6 day creation means the Earth is not a spherical object (well, oblate spheroid, but near enough to a sphere), but rather is flat as a matzah.

Beverly E. Barton, Ph.D.
Newark, NJ

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