Road Map To Jordan

Originally, today’s “Palestinians” were nomadic, itinerant laborers who were imported into the Jordan River region by the Ottoman Turks in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Ottomans tried to settle these nomads into this area as a source of cheap labor. Today, the population of Jordan is approximately 65 percent Palestinian. This must be recognized in any road map to peace if the present roadblocks are to be removed.

All roads from Israel to Jordan should be opened to one-way traffic for all the “Palestinians.” Jordan should be renamed “Palestine” to represent the true nature of its population. This road map to “Palestine and Peace” should inspire the emigration to Jordan-Palestine of Palestinians from all over the world. This could finally create peace in the Middle East – as long as Jordan’s king doesn’t massacre thousands of Palestinians as his late father did in September 1970.

Harry Grunstein
Montreal, Canada

Peace Mirage

There never will be peace between the Jews in Israel and the Arabs in (so-called) Palestine until the Arabs: 1) Stop teaching their children to hate and kill Jews; 2) stop glorifying the suicide bombers as holy martyrs while presenting their families with big financial rewards; 3) stop the constant propaganda in their media and death sentences to the “infidels” in their mosques; and 4) be prepared to go through a bloody civil war to completely wipe out Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Tanzim, Force 17, Al Aqsa Brigades, Hizbullah and all the other terrorist crazies (including Arafat and his PLO) once and for all.

You can have the best of intentions and draw up all the “road maps” (the few clear thinkers among us call them “road traps”) you want, but no tangible, lasting peace will result until the Arabs do what they have to; eventually, our leaders (including President Bush in America and Prime Minister Sharon in Israel) will come to this realization. Until then, peace in the Middle East is strictly a mirage.

L. Bloom
Baltimore, MD

Fear Of ‘Activists’

“The Lemrick Nelson Verdict” (editorial, May 30) points to something that has plagued the Jewish community for years. Most everyone seems to look over his or her shoulder before
taking a position on any issue for fear of not being politically correct. G-d forbid that someone will not take the most radical position on an issue for fear of being targeted by “activists.”

This is true with regard to both domestic and international issues. Even someone with the record of Ariel Sharon is not immune. I happen to disagree with what I believe to be his overly conciliatory policies. But, contrary to what is being said by some of our more ‘activist’ brethren, I would hardly put him in the category of a Neville Chamberlain.

Sharon Wilder
New York, NY

Soft On Bush?

I was disappointed with last week’s editorial “Abu Mazen Now On Notice.” To my mind The Jewish Press puts far too much stock in President Bush. I will grant that Israel is lucky that Al Gore lost the 2000 election, but you seem to think that George W. Bush is the answer to Israel’s prayers. Apparently you even believe that President Bush’s strong personal commitment to the “road map” will somehow intimidate the Palestinians to the extent that they’ll put a stop to the con games they’ve been playing since the Oslo agreement was signed in 1993 – simply out of a fear of angering this no-nonsense president.

Your editorial also tried, with your speculation that there are secret understandings Sharon may have with Bush, to explain away some of the serious concessions the prime minster already agreed to even before sitting down to negotiate.

I happen to think the road map is a prescription for disaster. It was not something conceived by President Bush because of its potential for furthering Israel’s security interests, but rather as
a payback to British Prime Minster Tony Blair for his key support in the war against Iraq.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the road map – leaving aside its specific provisions – is that by setting arbitrary timelines it repeats the error of Oslo with a message of inevitability that is nothing short of an invitation to continued Palestinian duplicity.

Moreover, it sadly appears that the only one who has been put on notice has been Prime Minister Sharon. If anything, Abu Mazen continues to fear Yasir Arafat much more than he does George W. Bush.

Menashe Selidiker
(via E-Mail)

Arik, We Hardly Knew Ye

Arik Sharon is still remembered by people over 45 as a courageous war hero. Some of those people find it hard to believe that Sharon has become a wimp and is so quick to give in to
foreign pressure.

We, on the other hand, are not so surprised. We remember him as the executive director of the destruction of the Jewish city Yamit and the man who gave sanctuary to Arafat and his band of terrorists in Beirut (and later in Ramallah).

Sharon was given the opportunity to go down in history as the greatest Jewish leader of modern times. The people of Israel gave him full support to wipe out Arab terror, but instead he has given in to all of the Arabs’ demands and received nothing but dead Jews in return.

Mr. Sharon and his Likud party have a lot of explaining to do. Can someone please tell us why these guys have been wasting so much public money to win elections against the left-wing Labor and Meretz – and then when they’re voted in they execute the same or worse policies against the State, the Land, the People and the G-d of Israel?

G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and no one has the right to give it away. The Jewish settlers didn’t come to settle the land because of Sharon and they will not leave the land
because of him.

It is time to show support to the Jews who are loyal to our heritage and birthright and question the authority of those who are willing to give all of that away.

If all the Arabs put down their guns there will be no more war.

If all the Jews put down their guns there will be no more Jews.

David Ha’ivri
Kfar Tapuach
Shomron, Israel

Anti-Gentile Bigotry

I was appalled at the level of outright bigotry displayed in a couple of letters from readers recently featured in Rebbetzin Jungreis’s series of columns on ‘missing’ parents.

One letter-writer was not really worried that the parent isn’t home or that the nanny doesn’t speak English and therefore may not of much help in an emergency. Rather, she trembles at the idea that the nanny, a non-Jew, may have to be called to pick up the child and take her home in the event of an emergency.

In another letter, the writer draws the conclusion that the non-Jewish person babysitting the young boy fed him a sandwich of salami/ bologna and butter “on purpose.” On what did she base this conclusion? Did she have any evidence that the caretaker knew that this combination was forbidden? No. If the caretaker had been intent on having a Jewish child eat forbidden food, she could have just as easily given him a ham sandwich, or a sandwich of non-kosher salami which would have easily gone undetected.

The ignorant, malicious, type of thinking displayed in these letters may be seen in certain circles as some sort of higher level of piety, but in reality it is no different from accusations that all Jews are thieves and cheats. The distorted thinking displayed by the writers of these letters is of the same nature and should be offensive to all. Then again, certain elements in the haredi community spout the same mindless condemnations of their Modern Orthodox co-religionists, so should I be surprised at the outright bigotry displayed toward others not of their ilk?

Robert M. Solomon
Brooklyn, NY

Heed Rabbi Porush’s Warning

Rabbi Menachem Porush’s columns in the May 23 and May 30 issues of The Jewish Press were probably the most urgent he’s written in all the years he’s been enlightening your readers
with his Torah perspective on Israeli politics. I sincerely hope that his plea for support to save Torah education and financial aid to destitute families elicits an overwhelming response from
Jewish Press readers.

There is a famous story that when the Chofetz Chaim was told of the death of Soviet dictator Lenin (may his name be obliterated), he responded, “Are Jewish children learning Torah in Russia?”

Today, we can proudly answer that yes, Jewish children are most definitely learning Torah in Russia, the United States, and in other areas of the Diaspora. But thousands of other children’s
chinuch in our own Holy Land is in dire jeopardy.

The Zohar states that before the Final Redemption, Israel will be ruled by the airev rav (the mixed multitude). Let us not be deceived by Prime Minister Sharon and the Likud’s past record of showing a sympathetic attitude toward religious Jews. His alliance with the Shinui party – which blatantly proclaims that it seeks to uproot every vestige of Jewish religious life from the state – shows that he will not stop at anything to retain political power. Even the Labor party, which had threatened to rescind many of the agreements with religious parties going back to Israel’s creation, never actually carried out these evil “gezairos.”

The Sharon-Shinui regime is cutting the flow of money to yeshivas and stipends to large families at a record pace. A rav of a community in Israel has already directed his followers to
put plans in place asking the parents to take turns teaching in the cheder. It has reached the point where the end of funding to yeshivas is sadly becoming an inescapable reality.

I have no answer except that the same measures taken by this rav to perpetuate Torah learning in his community must be taken by all Torah communities in Israel. Torah and
Judaism are synonymous. Without Torah we cannot survive as a people.

As individuals we must speak up. All Torah-true organizations, regardless of their political or religious viewpoints, must unite and do everything in their power to stop the internal enemies of the Jewish people from destroying us from within.

Yisroel Friedman
Rochester, NY

FFB’s, BT’s And Dating

Jacob Snyder, a baal teshuvah (BT), writes poignantly of his hardships in getting Frum-From-Birth (FFB) dates (Letters, May 23). In Mr. Snyder’s view this is evidence of anti-BT “discrimination” and is unfair. He says, “I would even hazard to say that perhaps the reason G-d has afflicted the frum world with … a dating crisis has a lot to do with the way the FFB world is treating baalei teshuvah in the dating domain.”

I do feel sorry for all those – BT and FFB – who are having trouble finding their life-mates, but I think Mr. Snyder is himself being unfair. Mr. Snyder asks the FFB world to recognize the sacrifices BT-people make in becoming religious. Fair enough, but two points come to mind:

First, FFB’s and their ancestors have made the same type of sacrifices, and they did so long before the days of Kosher Delight, no-work Saturdays, and Torah Umesorah day schools.
My own great grandfather, during the Great Depression, lost his job every Monday because he was absent from work each Saturday. Yes, in a sense I’m riding on his coattails, but
wouldn’t Mr. Snyder want his own offspring to ride on his coattails?

Second, Mr. Snyder seems to assume that it is the FFB community’s duty to reward his personal sacrifices by letting him marry its daughters. I think that we are all better off leaving reward and punishment to G-d Himself. That said, the FFB community is to blame for not being honest enough with the BT’s it brings into the fold. Kiruv workers should give full disclosure: Yes, we want to teach you about Torah and frumkeit, but as a BT you might have a limited dating pool, and – rightly or wrongly – FFB’s are often elitist and focused on pedigree. Indeed, it is interesting that the faction that one often hears boasting of its own exclusive commitment to kiruv – the yeshivish – are, according to Mr. Snyder, the least willing to marry BT’s.

Mr. Snyder’s letter is required reading for all kiruv workers. Perhaps if he had been better informed from the get-go, he would have been spared his disappointment, and we FFB’s
would have been spared his “increasing rage” at us. Mr. Snyder, may Hashem reveal your basherteh soon.

Chaim Steinberg
(Via E-Mail)

Dr. Stern Fan Club Called To Order

Think This Reader’s Angry?

How dare Dr. Yaakov Stern portray “the furor over Agudath Israel’s non-participation in the
Washington rally for Israel” as part of what he terms “the contretemps between Modern
Orthodoxy and Torah Jewry?”

For one thing, it is idiotic – yes, idiotic – to exclude from the ranks of “Torah Jewry” all of
those thousands of shomrei Torah and Mitzvot who studied Torah at RIETS and heard shiurim from the incomparable gaon Rav Joseph B. Soloveichik, zt”l, and other gedolim and who identify with Modern Orthodoxy.

For another, Dr. Stern’s sophomoric suggestion that adherence to the Agudah line on the Washington rally determines whether one or is not part of “Torah Jewry” shows just how clueless he really is. In fact, I saw many participants at the rally I knew to be card-carrying members of the Agudah. Also, is it possible that Dr. Stern is ignorant of the fact that even several members of the Agudah’s Moetzet argued for such participation, though they were ultimately outvoted?

What chutzpah for Dr. Stern to have concluded his mindless vituperation with mussar: “In a world so fraught with peril, is it sensible for us to cast aspersions on each other? With so much
to rectify, it’s time to turn introspective.”

Physician, heal thyself.

Yitzchak Reiles
New York, NY

…This One’s Even Angrier

Dr. Yaakov Stern – in my opinion a classic example of the type of Orthodox Jew who so turns
off our non-Orthodox brothers and sisters – must have broad shoulders to have taken it upon himself “to set the record straight” about the dismay voiced by some readers over the direction that gedolim gave to European Jewry “during the years leading up to the Holocaust.”

According to Dr. Stern, “While Jabotinsky called on the masses to flee, our great leaders knew that Divine wrath is inescapable and urged the people to do teshuvah.”

Here’s the problem, Doc: Since prophecy ceased with the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash,
even the most learned rabbi cannot know for a certainty if and when Hashem will choose to
unleash His Divine wrath. Urging people to do teshuvah is a wonderful thing, but dead Jews can’t do teshuvah, nor can they observe Hashem’s Torah.

I really don’t like raising the painful issue of the gedolim and the Holocaust, but since Dr. Stern
already did, I will point out that most of the European gedolim were wholly unprepared – and
hence unable to prepare their followers – for the Deluge that was clearly on the horizon.

Not only did many gedolim fail to comprehend the enormity of what was coming, but there were all too many who actively opposed the efforts of those Jews who did comprehend and who attempted to sound the alarm.

Let’s also recall that the Nazis assumed power in 1933 but by nearly all historical accounts
did not settle on an official policy of outright extermination until 1941. In other words, the
Nazis had a full eight years in power during which time they steadily, and in full view of the world, increased their brutal persecution of any Jews unfortunate enough to fall under their purview – and still there were rabbis in Europe who urged Jews to stay put, who warned Jews that fleeing to Palestine or America was not the proper solution. Those who listened, unfortunately, sufferd the final solution.

I would offer further comment on Dr. Stern’s letter, but I have no idea what he meant by his
closing statement, which I quote in full: “As Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, said, it’s best to do teshuva while eating a watermelon – i.e., when things are going well. It’s sobering to think that these may be the good old days.”


Leonard Herschman
(Via E-Mail)

Vastly Unimpressed

In his latest attack on non-haredi Orthodox Jews disguised as a letter to the editor, Dr. Stern
seemed bent on making a full-blown doctrinal defense of the haredi philosophy rather than
addressing the specifics of what reader Mike Senders had to say in his earlier letter.

Nor did I find Dr. Stern’s imperious declarations particularly illuminating, especially given the breadth and depth of the assignment he arrogated to himself.

I was reminded of an old aphorism that I will paraphrase: vast questions are sometimes tackled with half-vast efforts.

Isadore Zorelnig
Loa Angeles, CA

Stick To Your Day Job, Dr. Stern

I wonder why Dr. Stern persists in his folly of speaking up against Modern Orthodoxy almost
every week in the Letters section of The Jewish Press. Would he have been among even the third tier of the pupils of the intellectual fount of Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveichik, zt”l? Who exactly is Dr. Stern to presume to voice a personal opinion in a field occupied by one of the greatest Talmudic minds of the 20th century, and someone, as reader William Farkash observed last week, characterized by a “relentless search for halachic truth and … uncompromising personal piety.”

Dr. Stern may think it productive to champion what he believes to be the views of gedolim of this and other eras. But from what I’ve read of his efforts, he should leave that role to others.

Ira Kramer
Forest Hills, NY

What The Chofetz Chaim Said

Dr. Stern claims he is setting the record straight regarding the response of gedolim to the winds of war in Europe – and in two sentences, no less! Dr. Stern recounted the comments the
Chofetz Chaim made in 1930 foreseeing a war that would exceed in tragedy and toll even the
First World War.

I believe Dr. Stern misreads the Chofetz Chaim’s portents. Three years later, Hitler had
taken power and declared his intent to wipe out European Jewry. In 1933, when asked by the rav of Ponevezh, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, zt”l, what the fate of Eastern European Jewry would be, the Chofetz Chaim responded by quoting the pasuk from Bereishis regarding
Yaakov and Eisav’s impending confrontation and noted that no one had ever succeeded in
destroying our entire people. “One camp” would survive.

Asked which camp would escape if, G-d forbid, European Jewry was destroyed, the Chofetz Chaim quoted the pasuk from Ovadiah, “Uvhar Tzion tihyeh pleytah vehayah kodesh” (On Mount Zion there will be refuge, and it will be holy). The Chofetz Chaim recognized that
those Jews fortunate enough to escape to Eretz Yisrael would survive.

Had Hashem chosen to reveal to the Chofetz Chaim the full extent of what was to occur in
Europe, does Dr. Stern really think the Chofetz Chaim would have merely counseled that since Divine wrath is inescapable, the people should just do teshuvah? Unfortunately, Hashem saw fit to deny the Chofetz Chaim knowledge of the full extent of what was to be.

When faced with an illness, an individual does not have the sole option of retiring to his bed, Tehillim in hand. One is obligated to seek and avail oneself of medical care, and then, with
the requisite introspection and tefilah, hope that a cure is sent by Hashem via a doctor. Can any less be true on a national level? Is teshuvah the only recourse a believing Jew has to imminent disaster? That seems to be Dr. Stern’s understanding.

Does one not have an obligation to remove oneself from danger? While Divine wrath, if so
designed, is inescapable, no one – gedolei Yisrael included – knows that a calamity is
attributable to inescapable Divine wrath while that calamity is occurring. Consequently,
preemptive action, when and wherever possible is mandated. It is only decades later, through the privilege of hindsight, that we recognize the Holocaust to have been an event that transcended the natural historical process and that, all human efforts notwithstanding, could not have been prevented.

Finally, Dr. Stern feels that Jabotinsky’s call for mass immigration to Israel as a means of survival was diametrically at odds with the Chofetz Chaim’s call for teshuvah in the years
leading up to the war. While their ideology was certainly not the same, given the pasuk that the
Chofetz Chaim is recounted as quoting, I would conclude that Jabotinsky was tragically
prophetic. Unfortunately, Dr. Stern, has once again, allowed his feelings vis-a-vis non-observant Jews to cloud the truth.

Brad Herman, M.D.
Fair Lawn, NJ

Stands By Substance, If Not Tone, Of Letter

This past Shabbos a friend came up to me and said, “Mike, are you happy with the letter you
wrote to The Jewish Press?” [Editor’s note: Mr. Senders’s letter appeared in our issue of May 23 and was followed a week later by several irate responses.]

I paused for a moment. I wasn’t sure what he was driving at. You see, my friend is one who takes me to task on religious issues but rarely questions my sincerity. My answer to him, however, came quickly. For in truth my answer wasn’t really dependent on figuring out his motive for asking. I responded that “it wasn’t what I said that was wrong, it was the language I used in saying what I said that was wrong.”

My use in my earlier letter of the term ‘Cereal Rav’ was an unfortunate choice of words – and
since I used those words in a public forum, it is important that I use the same forum to express my full regrets for having expressed them.

What I meant to say was that the rav who compiled the detailed list of the different cereals
was the same rav who evaluated the wearing of a baseball cap on Shabbos through the halachic principle of ohel (tent). I in no way wish to impugn his Torah knowledge or cast aspersion on his kavod.

Our rabbis caution us to be careful with our words and I therefore also wish to clarify my words regarding the reciting of brachot.I still think there is a serious problem facing young children, and perhaps adults, when they recite a bracha – whether on cereal or, for that matter, a candy bar. Even after one has ingested one of these items and satisfied every halachic nuance regarding the source of its contents, something, I believe, is still missing – that ‘something’ being what Rav Soloveichik, zt”l, calls an awareness of Divine intervention in nature. He suggests that the creation of fruit or other natural produce is a miracle of G-d’s yeshuah and is therefore symbolic of our dependence on His chesed.

My point is that unless we incorporate into the teaching of brachot the idea that a child should
be saying, “Gee thanks, Hashem, for this delicious candy bar,” we may have fulfilled halacha and yet not conveyed to the child (or to ourselves) an emotional or spiritual charge of hakoras hatov to Hashem. At best, then, the child will say, “Boy! I can now eat this cereal cause I have fulfilled every aspect of halacha.” This may be satisfactory to some readers but certainly not to me.

Having said this, I remain firm in my opinion that Modern Orthodoxy has its own agenda and
stands on its own hashkafah as delineated in my original letter.

Chag Sameach to all of you.

Mike Senders
Cleveland, OH