Latest update: August 13th, 2013
The Real Heresy
As a survivor of the Transnistria death camp, I was shocked and dismayed at the words and deeds of someone who calls himself a chassidic rabbi and who banned all uniformed IDF soldiers from his group’s synagogues and yeshivas. The reason: “To pray with those clothes is like praying while making the sign of a cross. These clothes proclaim heresy!” (“Bigdei Kodesh: Reflections on the IDF Uniform,” front-page essay, July 5).
How can anyone utter these words and go on living with himself? It takes a lot of chutzpah to live in Israel under the protection of Hashem and His emissaries, the IDF soldiers, and instead of being grateful, throw stones and resort to vicious name-calling.
As the Jerusalem Talmud says, “ungratefulness is heresy” (Berachot 9). This chassidic rabbi is a disgrace to chassidus, and an embarrassment to the rabbinate.
Let it be stated, emphatically and unequivocally, that any Jew who lifts his hand to throw stones at an IDF soldier who comes in peace is a rodef (a pursuer in the Talmudic sense). Of such a Jew the Psalmist said, “may his right hand wither” (Psalm 137).
Kew Gardens, NY
Skewed Foreign Policy
I can only hope the end result of both the civil war in Syria and the military coup in Egypt will be favorable in the long run. Based on previous occurrences in that region of the world, however, it’s hard to be optimistic.
One thing is certain, though: our secretary of state, John Kerry, will continue to emphasize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as being our main concern when events in the Middle East, Iran and North Korea are of greater urgency.
Our foreign policy is askew when John Kerry visits Israel and the Palestinian territories five times while both Egypt and Syria are burning and a regional conflict between Shiites and Sunnis should be our immediate concern.
Silver Spring, MD
An Arab Terrorist State?
Israelis fully understand the perils of a two-state solution and prefer the status quo (even though Benjamin Netanyahu may say he favors a two-state solution, he knows that under current and foreseeable circumstances this would be suicide for Israel).
Any intelligent and objective observer knows a Palestinian state would most certainly be a terrorist entity dedicated to the destruction of Israel. The only question is, which criminal terrorist organization will rule that state?
It is easy to predict what will happen if and when a Palestinian state is created. Rockets will fall on Tel Aviv as they did on Sderot from Gaza. Israel will be condemned for retaliating and protecting itself from the onslaught. And the goal of destroying the Jewish state will continue unabated (no matter what piece of paper is signed).
The Arab Spring – now the Arab Fall and soon to be the Arab Winter – proves that merely giving people the right to vote is totally insufficient when it comes to transforming a non-democratic society into a democracy. Without democratic ideals we have subjugation and chaos.
Israelis and Jews throughout the world pray for peace. But is it attainable? Just read the news reports on how Muslims are killing brother Muslims. Think of what the Islamists would do to Israelis, Jews and all other infidels given the opportunity.
New York, NY
In addition to the scientific arguments put forth by reader Josh Greenberger (Letters, July 5) concerning the existence of God, there is verification via the fulfillment of biblical and Talmudic promises, predictions and prophecies throughout history.
In Genesis 12:2 Hashem tells Abram, later to have his name changed to Abraham by Hashem, that his name will be made great. Today, more than 4,000 years later, Abraham is revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians.
And in Genesis 17:5 God tells this first Patriarch, “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of a multitude of nations have I made thee.” Consider all the spiritual and biological descendants of Abraham there are in the world today.
As recorded in Genesis 28: 14 & 15, God says to Abraham’s grandson Jacob, “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north and to the south…and I will bring thee back unto this land.”
History has shown the dispersion of Jacob’s descendants to the north, south, east and west. In our own time, we see the ingathering of Jews to the Land of Israel.
Indeed, there were many other specific predictions of the dispersion of the Jews, the drying up of the Land of Israel, the new fertility of the Land of Israel, and the return of the Jews to Israel.
Hashem’s Unfathomable Ways
“But Rabbi, they can’t both be right!” exclaimed the exasperated congregant.
“And you’re also correct,” was the bemused rabbi’s response.
Whether one subscribes to reader Josh Greenberger’s thesis that God’s existence can be proven or agrees with reader Jacob Mendlovic’s contention that it must be accepted on faith, at the end of the day a Torah-true Jew must believe without a scintilla of doubt that Hashem created the universe ex nihilo 5,773 years ago and constantly micromanages its every aspect.
I would like to address a point made by Mr. Mendlovic; to wit, that it’s difficult for some to believe in God in light of the Holocaust. Quite some time ago I spoke to an elderly woman who had survived Auschwitz and no longer adhered to the tenets of our religion. I asked her if she’d been religious before the war and she responded affirmatively. I followed up by asking if she had believed in Hashem back then, to which she gave an even more assertive yes.
“So what do you think happened during the war?” I asked her. “Did He die?”
This caught her off guard and when I saw that it made her uncomfortable I changed the subject. But I’d made my point.
The Holocaust was a test of faith for those who thought they had Hashem pigeonholed; who thought they understood and could thereby predict His actions. The truth, of course, is that as mere mortals we can’t possibly fathom Hashem’s ways. We must follow His dictates and trust that if we do so, whatever happens will ultimately be for our good.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
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