Bibi’s Terrorist Release
Once again the government of Israel has demonstrated that, contrary to the myth that it never makes deals with terrorists, it in fact deals with terrorists all the time – and on lopsided terms in favor of the bad guys.
It is sheer lunacy to release convicted killers of Jewish (and Palestinian) civilians simply to keep Mahmoud Abbas smiling at us. How many fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who are well and happy and alive at this moment will die in the near future as a result of this obscene release, Mr. Netanyahu? How many fresh graves will be dug to contain the victims of the beasts you’re letting loose?
How many more empty cliches about your commitment to Israel’s security will we hear Bibi mouth in the aftermath of the bombings and the shootings that are sure to come?
Damage Already Done
Re “Stop The Dishonest Academic Boycott” (op-ed, Dec. 27):
Unfortunately, at the university level the damage has already been done, fueled by oil-rich Arab nations and China, with grants to American universities and cooperative branches of our major colleges in those countries.
While individual professors and even entire departments at universities are eager to attack Israel for its imaginary violations of human rights, there is a marked reluctance to denigrate actual violators of human rights, including Arab nations and China.
Silver Spring, MD
Rabbi Meiselman And Science (I)
In his rejoinder to my critique (Letters, Dec. 13) of his book Torah, Chazal & Science, Rabbi Moshe Meiselman assumes that I did not read the book before commenting on it (Letters, Dec. 27).
To the contrary, I did peruse most of the relevant sections. It is his approach and his conclusions with which I differ. By presupposing that Chazal are inerrant in science and insisting that belief to the contrary is heretical, he boxes himself into a dangerous corner. To wit: once any such mistake is exposed, Rabbi Meiselman evidently would hold that Judaism as a belief system collapses.
His approach includes labeling a rishon’s opposing view a forgery. That is how he treats the declaration by Rav Avraham, the Rambam’s son, that the Sages made errors in science. Elsewhere he contrives a progression of thought to insinuate that the Pachad Yitzchak, who rejected the Talmudic belief in spontaneous generation, later retracted. And he ignores gedolim such as Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, who wrote that Chazal were not experts in the natural world.
(This said, I do believe the book contains some valuable insights and source materials, and I have recommended it to friends.)
It is fair to say that were our Rishonim alive today, they would recognize, in light of modern science, that there are significant scientific errors in the Talmud. This may be uncomfortable, but it is even less comfortable to ignore the truth.
Far Rockaway, NY
Rabbi Meiselman And Science (II)
Kudos to Rabbi Moshe Meiselman for so beautifully articulating the position of those who believe the Talmud represents a work of absolute truth (Letters, Dec. 27).
It behooves us to try to understand the mindset of those who challenge this belief. When the Reform movement began, it targeted the Written Torah, hoping to disprove its Divine origin. The contemporary attacks against the Talmud are far more subtle but no less insidious. These skeptics do not necessarily suggest that we depart from halacha. But then they add: The Talmud was written by men; admittedly very great men, but all humans are fallible and therefore there must be errors contained therein.
As Rabbi Meiselman noted, however, those who aver that the rabbis of the Talmud were limited by the knowledge of their times do not appreciate the caliber of these luminaries.
If one expresses doubt as to the veracity of even a single letter of the Written Torah, it is deemed heretical, so why should that attitude not apply equally to the Oral Torah, which was also given at Sinai?
What motivates these detractors? I believe that many Jews, fully observant to be sure, would like to have their cake and eat it too. They want to practice the religion to the fullest but have their hashkafa reflect the “wisdom” of the times. This is folly because Judaism is timeless.
I’m certain that the overwhelming majority of those in the opposing camp have the noblest intentions. They believe that one searching for truth must question everything. But we are Bnei Yisrael and have already been given the truth, entrusted by Hashem to our sages.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
That Black Man Might Be Your Brother
The purpose of this letter is to make the olam aware of an issue that comes up for many of us on Shabbos. I am not writing this to discuss when it is permitted to approach a non-Jew to help you out on Shabbos. Rather, I wish to focus on whom you might be inadvertently choosing to assist you.
The reality is that we have many converts in our midst. They come in many nationalities and colors. I am a dentist in Boro Park and have a black Jewish dental assistant whose parents converted.
To be brief, her father was a soldier in World War II. He was so moved by his exposure to survivors in the concentration camps that he decided to undergo an Orthodox conversion and moved his fledgling family to Jerusalem. Unfortunately he died at a young age and the children grew up experiencing much difficulty. One daughter went off the derech and moved back to the U.S., where she adopted a totally secular lifestyle. She had a few children who knew they were Jewish but knew little about Judaism.
One of those children was recently in New York to visit his aunt. Walking in Flatbush on Shabbos, he was approached by two frum women who asked him to help them by turning on a light. How should they have known that the black man with braids was a Jew? After they hinting to him several times what it was they wanted him to do, he understood and flipped on the light. A child witnessing the event sheepishly told the women, “I think he is Jewish.” The young man promptly responded, “Yes I am, and Shabbat Shalom.”
Let this story teach us not to make any assumptions. The first question to ask when approaching someone you need help from in such a situation is, “Are you Jewish?”
Dr. Joshua Canter
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