Chanukah And Children (I)
In “Chanukah: Not Just a Children’s Holiday” (front-page essay, Dec. 16), Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb notes that because the emphasis is put on children, adults can feel left out in celebrating Chanukah. It was never intended to be so, of course; all are supposed to celebrate.
Rabbi Weinreb’s point can also be made about the Pesach Seder. Again, it’s for all to celebrate. So why is there an emphasis on children’s participation? For the same reason so much of the Chanukah celebration is geared toward children: to educate them from a young age.
Dr. Elie Feuerwerker
Highland Park, NJ
Chanukah And Children (II)
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is obviously correct in observing that among the general Jewish public, Chanukah is widely perceived as a children’s holiday. However, while he helpfully points to lessons grownups can glean from the Yom Tov, he chose not to focus on why Chanukah has come to be thought of as a children’s holiday.
He did point to “American culture” as one possible reason. I’m sure he was referring to the gift-giving tradition among Christians at Christmas. And it is unfortunate that so many of us have come to mimic our non-Jewish neighbors in this regard.
Also, there are few restrictions on this Yom Tov that emphasize its special status as is the case with Pesach, Sukkot and Shavuot. While in many respects the mitzvot of Seder, matzah, lulav, esrog and sukkah appeal to children more than adults in terms of fascination, the idea of restrictions is still there, reminding all of the serious and spiritual nature of those occasions.
I read with great interest last week’s news story about Magen David Adom’s reported plan to cease operating ambulances adorned with the Star of David in the West Bank. I recall that several months ago there were reports that MDA was thinking about ending its use of the Star of David as an emblem on some of its ambulances as the price of its membership in the International Red Cross and because of opposition from Arab states – something that was heatedly denied at the time by MDA spokesmen.
Now a newspaper like Haaretz has seemingly confirmed that MDA indeed has promised to make the above-mentioned changes. It would be an outrage if the Star of David were abandoned, either directly or indirectly.
Chazal And Science
In his Dec. 2 letter to the editor, Dr. Yaakov Stern stated “whoever believes the Talmud erred in scientific matters” is guilty of heresy. Rishonim and Achronim disagreed over issues and hashkafa. It is unfortunate, therefore, when someone today, whose views are based on some Rishonim and Achronim declares those who hold opposing views – based on other Rishonim and Achronim – to be heretics.
We see in the Gemara that Chazal often turned to “experts of the day” when they did not have the needed knowledge. Two examples: R’ Yochanan, afflicted with scurvy of the gums, turned to a wise non-Jewish woman for a cure. He then taught it to his students (Avodah Zarah 28a). Rav spent 18 months living with a cattle breeder to understand which animal defects are temporary and which are permanent (Sanhedrin 5b). Of course, the “experts and scientists” were using the knowledge of their day, which did contain errors.
Poskim today often turn to modern scientists before issuing a psak in related areas rather than using Talmudic science.
I have a question for those who say Chazal could not have erred with regard to science: Do they use a doctor whose training is based on modern science – or do they use someone whose medical practice is based on the medical knowledge of the Talmud?
Gingrich And The Palestinians
Israeli Leaders Should Learn From Newt
Newt Gingrich did something very unusual for a public figure. He told the truth about one of the great hoaxes of history. He said the Palestinians are not a real people. They are simply Arabs who migrated to the Jewish homeland for a better life. He also said the peace process is a delusion because the Palestinians do not accept Israel’s right to exist.
In contrast to Gingrich’s refreshing candor, every recent Israeli prime minister has accepted the lie of a Palestinian people and nation that never existed. They have subsidized, appeased and legitimized Israel’s mortal enemies who have no unique history, religion, culture, appearance or language to merit their own country on Jewish land and no right to call themselves Palestinians. Jews living in the British Mandate of Palestine were the real Palestinians before Israel was reestablished in 1948.
These historical facts are never mentioned by Israel’s prime ministers, whose first priority seems to be pandering to the U.S. State Department, The New York Times and European anti-Semites.
New York, NY