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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor


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Holy Garments

I was intrigued by the title of last week’s front-page essay by Rabbi Eliyahu Safran – “Bigdei Kodesh: Reflections on the IDF Uniform.” Reading the article, I found myself enlightened as to the source of the recent abhorrent phenomenon of disrespecting the IDF madim. In stark contrast, I was moved to tears by the vignettes of gedolim who accorded the utmost honor and respect to the IDF uniform and especially the brave chayalim who wear it.

Particularly during this bleak period of the Three Weeks, the sinas chinam and reprehensible conduct of those who oust our noble chayalim from shuls and batei midrash and who exhibit the ultimate in kafui tov by physically and/or verbally attacking them cannot be tolerated.

Instead, we should all internalize the beautiful and appreciative attitude that our gedolei hador had for our best and finest, to whom we literally owe our very lives, and convey sincere hakaras hatov, both in word and deed, to these fine young men who serve with unsurpassed mesiras nefesh and dedication.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Naomi Gross
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel

Standing With Rav Kook

I would remind those who would deride the IDF uniform for this or that religious reason that it actually symbolizes the protections all Israelis and visitors to the country – including the critics – enjoy.

There is a time and place for politics, even politics masquerading as religion. But when it comes to the IDF, I stand with Rav Kook, zt”l.

Michael Mintz
(Via E-Mail)

Beards And Cops

I can’t believe that in the 21st century there is still a dispute about whether a beard could disqualify someone from a job, especially when it represents a religious practice (“Judge Hears Dispute Over NYPD Beard Policy,” news brief, July 5).

I thought we had moved on as a civilization a long time ago. Lest one think that there are legitimate practical concerns about beards on those engaged in law enforcement and similar endeavors, just look to the IDF, which seems to have overcome any problems in that area.

Goldie Lerner
New York, NY

Dr. Lamm’s Contributions

I applaud your tasteful editorial last week on the retirement of Dr. Norman Lamm. There are few public figures who have contributed as much to Jewish education as he has.

Much of the success of Yeshiva University can rightly be attributed to Dr. Lamm. In large measure it is thanks to his efforts that generations of young Jews have been well prepared to take on the challenges of life, be they religious or secular in nature.

Harold Mendelson
(Via E-Mail)

Councilman’s ‘Leftist Agenda’

Re your editorial last week on New York City’s stop and frisk controversy:

I tend to agree with you that New York’s approach to fighting crime is the primary reason why the city has not had repeats of 9/11-type terror and experienced a downturn in serious violent crime.

What I found fascinating, though, is your observation that much of the opposition to these policies is rooted in a left of center ideology espoused by such elected officials as Councilman Brad Lander, who makes no apologies for it. In fact, I Googled his name and found that you only touched the surface about what I believe to be his leftist agenda.

As you pointed out, it is incumbent on those who were taken in by his assurances that he was not a doctrinaire leftist and supported him when he first ran for City Council to proclaim publicly that they made a mistake. Lander is free to believe and advocate anything he wants to. But the rest of us have the right to disagree and hold him up to the light.

Reuven Lazarus
(Via E-Mail)

Shameless Politicians

It’s widely understood that the U.S. faces a looming financial crisis, due to uncontrolled growth of social welfare “entitlements.” But there is another sort of “entitlement” that’s just as pernicious and likely, in no small way, to have contributed materially to the above-mentioned crisis.

It’s just been announced that disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is running for New York City comptroller. This in the wake of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner’s bid to be mayor of the city. What a great team they would make!

Have these men no shame? Do they feel so entitled, so unique in their abilities, that they won’t just slink quietly off the public stage? How ill-informed and easily manipulated do they think voters are? It’s been said that voters get the leaders they deserve. We soon shall see.

Richard D. Wilkins
Syracuse, NY

Faith And Proof

Reader Josh Greenberger writes (Letters, July 5) that one can prove the existence of God. Why then is there a hugely disproportionate number of brilliant Jews, including Albert Einstein, who did not and do not believe in the personal God of Judaism? Wikipedia has a lengthy list of Jewish atheists and agnostics. Only emunah – faith – can make a Jew believe, especially in the post-Holocaust era.

Even if one could somehow prove that a powerful being created the universe, that still would not mean he is the God of Judaism, whose greatness one cannot even begin to conceive. The being could be omnipotent but not omniscient, or omnipotent and omniscient but not all-good.

The path to belief in God is in appreciating that God is not only the Creator of the universe but also its constant Sustainer. As we declare in Shacharit: “And in His goodness He renews daily, perpetually, the work of Creation.”

Jacob Mendlovic
Toronto, Canada

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