Legitimizing The Illegitimate

I wish to congratulate The Jewish Press for its courage in confronting the problem of misguided left-wing Orthodox rabbis who join with those of the deviant streams in Lishma. Such theological dialogues not only serve to legitimize these movements, they confuse the unlearned and further divide our people. Our sages’ condemnation of such so-called movements is quite clear.

Participating in a forum with them – thereby seeming to give equality to the teachings of so-called rabbis who deny the fundamental principles of our faith – is definitely not the answer.

Robert Markowitz
Brooklyn, NY

Root Of The Problem

Ten years ago, at the time of the shameful Oslo treaty, I delivered a sermon condemning this mockery to the dismay of my shortsighted audience. Today, if they are still around, they may realize that neither Oslo nor the devastating road map nor a fence around Jerusalem will bring peace to the holy land.

The roots of evil are the desecration and utter profanation that are rampant throughout the country. The prophet who lives at a time of disaster cries out in the name of the Almighty, ”I shall be to her (Jerusalem) a wall of fire round about, and I shall be a glory in the midst of her.”

The sacred flames of the holy Torah are the only protection and fence from all evil at all times. Arafat is no more than a tool serving as a wake-up call for our people to make a drastic change before it will be too late, G-d forbid.

May the New Year enlighten us to intensive Torah study; then we may be privileged to witness the final redemption.

Rabbi Jacob Eisemann
Elizabeth, NJ

Unwarranted Attack

I was surprised to read the mean-spirited letter from Fred Selidiker in the Sept. 12 issue regarding Council Member Simcha Felder’s trip to Israel. I think it was very admirable that
Mr. Felder accompanied the mayor, and I enjoyed reading about it.

The people of Israel are grateful beyond words whenever a person of note comes for a solidarity visit. When the elected official returns home he can then talk and write about his visit,
as Mr. Felder did. We will never know how many people are motivated to visit Israel as a result. One wonders what Mr. Selidiker would have done had the mayor invited him along.

I assume Mr. Selidiker has made his own trip to Israel to show solidarity with his brethren. I, for one, would welcome a letter from him about his most recent trip to Israel, and, yes, I’d like
to read about which buses he took and the excitement he generated among the shopkeepers and cafes he patronized.

I would hope that at this time of year, when we beseech the Almighty to look favorably upon our deeds, we would give others the benefit of the doubt.

Amy Wall
New York, NY

Wishful Thinking

In a New York Times story on Sept. 15 under the byline of Greg Myre (‘Sharon Aide Says Israel Is Considering Killing Arafat,’ page A8), there appears this interesting paragraph:

“”We are the brave people, and we will continue until we reach Jerusalem,” Mr. Arafat said, referring to the goal of a state with a capital in the eastern part of the city.”

How heartwarming for Mr. Myre to attribute such sanguine ambition to Mr. Arafat, whose Arabic-speaking followers have all learned to interpret Arafat’s “reaching Jerusalem” as a metaphor for his goal of not only establishing a capital in “the eastern part of the city,” but, indeed, for capturing all of Jerusalem, all of Israel, and, of course, eliminating the Jewish state. Four paragraphs later, in a classical Freudian slip, Mr. Myre reveals his subconscious vision of
a state of affairs in which Arafat emerges victorious:

“Mr. Sharon’s government has shunned Mr. Arafat, saying he has encouraged violence against Israel and has refused to order Israeli security forces [italics mine] to prevent attacks.”

So there we have it: a Palestinian state in which Arafat would be in control of all of what used to be Israel and of directing Israeli security forces.

Come back tomorrow to read more of this reporter’s free association. In your dreams, Greg, in your dreams.

Saul Grossman
(Via E-Mail)

Keep Arafat Isolated

On the question of whether Yasir Arafat ought to be exiled or killed, the answer must depend on whether the action taken will benefit Israel.

What is the reason for wanting Arafat exiled or killed? He is an obstacle to “peace” – the reason Israel cannot make “peace” with the “Palestinians”? If Arafat were to make the ultimate contribution to “peace” by dropping dead of a heart attack, that would be a valid reason, given the current climate, for the Arab terrorists to murder Jews in retaliation and the world to condemn Israel for aggravating Arafat and causing him to have a coronary. Imagine the reaction, then, were Israel to actively kill Arafat.

If Arafat is exiled, the world will become his stage, giving him the best opportunity to rally for the cause of the “Palestinian” people. Imagine Arafat in England: “Your Majesty, I give you the honorable President Arafat.” This would not happen in England? More likely in France?

The answer is to keep Arafat where he is and isolate him from the world, and to exile the “Palestinian” people. Let Arafat stay where he is and have no contact with the world and the world no contact with him. Israel must mount an attack against Arab terror with the objective of totally destroying the Arab terrorist infrastructure, and not simply to stop an imminent Arab terrorist attack and delay the next one. The Israeli government must put an end to the myth that there are Arabs who are a “Palestinian” people with an invented right to a “Palestinian” state.

I realize that it’s easy for me – someone as old and as fat as Ariel Sharon and who is not faced with the immediate prospect of being killed by an Arab terrorist murderer – to give advice, but Israel will not have peace until it destroys the Arab terrorist murder movement, and until the Israeli government defends the right of the Jewish people to all of Eretz Yisrael. At his next press conference, let Sharon ask, “How is it that I, who was born in ‘Palestine,’ am not a ‘Palestinian’ while Arafat, who was born in Egypt, is?

Irving Schachter
Flushing NY

The Nanny State

In New York City, the bastion of America’s welfare state, the public schools will now provide free lunch to all children, regardless of income. This is another nail being hammered in the coffin of the family. Parents ought to be responsible for their children’s health and welfare, not the state.

In the same vein, Senator Hillary Clinton is upset with former EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman for not warning rescue workers at the World Trade Center about the air quality in lower Manhattan after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Let’s see. Two 110-story buildings collapsed after being hit by hijacked planes. Plumes of dust and smoke filled the air for days after September 11. Rescue workers seeing and smelling the air wanted to get “official” word from the federal government on whether to use facemasks or respirators.

Are people so docile that they have to wait for Washington to tell them what to do? Apparently, some people can no longer think for themselves. Instead, they rely on Washington to tell them what to do.

If we do not reverse this trend, the total abolition of family, community, private property, and free enterprise will be complete in another generation.

Murray Sabrin
Leonia, NJ

Another Perspective On Gibson’s ‘Passion’

You predict that the release of Mel Gibson’s “Passion” film ‘will ignite the kind of virulent
anti-Semitism that provided the foundation for pogroms through history and the Holocaust little
more than half a century ago” (‘Where’s the Pope’ ‘ editorial, Aug. 22). You urge the Catholic Church to reaffirm its edict of 1962 absolving today’s Jews of the responsibility for the death of Jesus.

With Israel already subject by the Arabs to the most viciously anti-Semitic campaign of
violence since World War II, I assume that your prediction refers to the Christian or Western world, where anti-Semitism has taken on a more subtle tone in recent decades. While there may be, G-d forbid, a future revival of Christian anti-Semitic violence, this is hardly likely to result from the release of a single film with a religious theme, decidedly unoriginal plot, Aramaic dialogue, and a movie star not quite popular enough to run for governor of California as the producer.

As a result of at least several cultural conditions prevalent in today’s Western world, a “passion” film today, no matter how facially provocative, does not have nearly the potential for
arousing anti-Semitic passion as the passion plays of yesteryear. First of all, religion is as not as dominant a part of people’s lives as it once was. Second, there is a seemingly infinite number of entertainment options nowadays with which the movie would have to compete. Third, since the entertainment of our day includes so much material that would have seemed shocking to previous generations, people have lost the capacity to be shocked.

And finally, under prevailing mores, violent race-baiting, even against Jews, is socially unacceptable (except, perhaps, if it’s done by Arabs, but that’s a different story). Mel Gibson’s
movie is likely to be most popular among those already inclined to believe what’s represented in it. Except for a nutty few, the choir to which Mr. Gibson will be preaching is unlikely to be inspired to violence.

Even assuming that Mel Gibson’s “Passion” is worth battling, the Anti-Defamation League’s
challenge of the film based on historical and theological grounds smacks of arrogance. For one
thing, there is no truth-in-movies law. For another, the “scholars” upon which the ADL relied are not necessarily the final arbiters of the truth of what happened two millennia ago.

Mr. Gibson is entitled to his own religious beliefs which are apparently reflected in “Passion”
and the ADL, as a Jewish organization, has no business telling Mr. Gibson that he is not being a faithful Catholic.

As misguided as it may seem to me, I can understand the ADL’s position because it is consistent with what appears to be the main goal of that organization: promoting political
correctness in public discourse about Jews. But The Jewish Press? Since you are a newspaper that advocates treating Conservative and Reform rabbis as persona non grata, I am amazed that you would urge the pope to reaffirm a Catholic religious edict, even one that is purportedly anti-anti-Semitic. By doing so, I believe you are, in a sense, inadvertently conferring legitimacy on a religion which, even in its “mainstream” form, repudiates Judaism.

And I question whether it really makes a difference, in terms of anti-Semitism, whether Jewish deicide is an official part of Church doctrine.

Anti-Semites have always come up with false accusations to level against the Jewish people to
justify their actions, like blaming us for the Black Plague, AIDS, and 9/11. Deicide is just another false accusation, albeit probably the most powerful one. Seemingly, the deicide charge is more a symptom then a cause of anti-Semitism. This is evidenced by the facts that anti-Semitism predated Christianity and has had its most fervent following during the last half-century among non-Christians (i.e., Muslims).

The United Nations repealed its resolution equating Zionism with racism, yet other anti-Israel
resolutions still disproportionately dominate the UN’s agenda. The Palestinian Authority
purportedly removed the clause from its covenant calling for Israel’s destruction, yet the PA permits – if not openly encourages – mass murder of Jews in the land of Israel. In a sense, I think we might be better off if the UN and the PA had continued to officially declare themselves anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, because then they would be conveying their true beliefs to the world as opposed to hiding them under the veil of political correctness. The same might be said of the Catholic Church and the deicide charge.

Zachary M. Berman
Bronx, NY

If Only…

Goldie Taubenfeld and her five-month-old son Shmuel were killed last month in the terrorist bus bombing in Jerusalem. She and her son were the only victims who resided in the United States, in New Square, a town only 30 minutes from my home.

Since the beginning of the intifada, I have watched the news on television every day. Like all
of us, I have watched the gory pictures of dead and maimed women and children lying in the streets and malls of almost every major city in Israel. And like all of us, I helplessly wonder what I can do to make a difference. Yes, I have gone on organized missions to Israel, and have given money to organizations that provide for the needs of the survivors. I have bought goods at the Israeli fairs, said Tehillim, and marched on Washington. But when all is said and done, I am only a visitor in the story.

But as I began to read about Goldie Taubenfeld, I realized that her family must be sitting shiva barely 30 minutes from my home. Hashem had given us an opportunity right in our own backyard. I opened up my computer every day waiting for some direction. For sure, every major organization from the far left to the far right would be organizing busloads of people to the Taubenfeld home to show our support; after all, what better opportunity for klal Yisrael to unite as a community in these terrible times. Terror knows no boundaries. We all know that. From right to left, from young to old, we all face the same fate.

Thursday and Friday came and went. Perhaps there would be a major announcement in shul on Shabbos. But there was nothing. By Sunday I realized that no announcement was coming. And so on Monday my husband and I decided to take the trip alone. Even then, in my mind, I had visions of thousands of cars making their way up the winding roads to New Square. But the roads were empty. We reached the house. Several people were talking quietly outside.

It was at that point that my husband and I parted ways. He entered the house through the
mens’ entrance and I followed a woman up a long flight of stairs. I entered a small room. Eight or nine women were sitting shiva in the front of a room filled with many women from the community. I thought that I would stay a few minutes and then quietly leave. But before I had a chance to execute the plan, a woman quickly approached me. “You must sit up front,” she said to me. Although I’m sure it was not true, I felt that every eye in the place was watching me as I made my way to the empty seat in the front row.

As I sat down, I was face to face with Mrs. Schwartz, Goldie’s mother. She was flanked to her right by her several daughters, and to her left by her granddaughters. It was quite clear to her as well as to everyone else there that I was not from this part of town. For as hard as I had tried that morning to dress to blend in, some things are just not possible.

And then Mrs. Schwartz looked at me for a few seconds trying to place me. “Did you know my Goldie?” she asked me. I didn’t know how to respond. My eyes filled with tears, and I felt my words getting stuck in my throat. “I just wanted in some way to say how sorry I was.” I mumbled. The room was totally silent. And then for the next 15 minutes the most amazing thing happened. Mrs. Schwartz and her daughters directed the entire conversation around me, telling countless stories about Goldie.

“Remember when she sat at the pediatrician with her friend’s baby the day before Pesach, just
to make sure that the baby wouldn’t have to be in the hospital on Pesach?” asked one sister. “Do you remember when as a little girl she would bring cake and milk to Manny, the neighbor every day?” said another. “Or the time when her neighbor asked her to accept a delivery of chickens, and the chickens came at five in the morning? Goldie got up and unpacked them into her freezer and then got up again at seven to repack them back into the box so the neighbor would never know of her inconvenience. But in reality, it wasn’t an inconvenience to Goldie. She was totally selfless.”

I knew that these stories were but the tip of the iceberg of Goldie’s life. I had only been at the
Taubenfeld’s house for 15 or 20 minutes, but I knew when I left that they had given me a very
special gift. They had shared a piece of Goldie with me, and I knew that I would carry it with me forever.

The Taubenfelds got up from sitting shiva just hours before the beginning of the month of Elul, a month of retrospection for us as individuals and as a community. Imagine how wonderful it would have been had we crowded the streets of New Square in the tens of thousands to bring comfort to the Taubenfeld family. And imagine how wonderful it would have been for all of us to have merited knowing Goldie and her family. We as a community took a wrong turn by not traveling the road to the Taubenfeld house.

Chani Schmutter
(Via E-Mail)

Question Of Shaimos

I am very disturbed by all the charities that include some form of Hashem’s name in their contribution request letters, whether in the form of a bracha or a tefillah. Many people, myself
included, throw some of these envelopes away without ever opening them. I am quite sure that, inadvertently, I have been guilty of disposing of Hashem’s name in a totally inappropriate way.

Now I try to open all envelopes just to make sure there is no shaimos in them. I don’t
understand why these yeshivas and frum organizations do this. Is there some sort of heter for
this? Isn’t it a classic case of Lifnei ivair lo sitain michshol? In fact, a recent issue of The Jewish
Press contained an insert that had Hashem’s name in it which fell out of our paper when it was
delivered by our letter carrier. At first we didn’t even realize it was an insert. I can only imagine
how many more of these inserts fell out and were disposed of improperly. How many ended up in the garbage?

What a desecration of Hashem’s name this is.

Jeremy Hoffman
(Via E-Mail)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass Responds: For The Editorial Board: The text of the insert that appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Jewish Press was a surprise to our advertising department. There is a standing rule that all advertising – which, of course, includes inserts – must be approved in advance of publication. Yet at times – especially as regards inserts – delivery of material is totally off schedule. This is a fact of life that all publications are forced to live with.

This particular insert arrived at the printing plant with a standing order, but a copy to be
reviewed for acceptance did not arrive at our office in time for an appropriate review.

The shem Hashem that appears at the end of the ”Yehi ratzon” contains, interestingly, two yuds – not the usual yud-keh-vov-keh. The Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 276:9,10) states the shemot which may not be erased are Havaya (yud-keh-vov-keh), Adnut, Kel, Elokah, Elokim, Shakay, Zvakot. (Others add Ekyeh asher ekyah.) Additionally, partial letters of some of these are also forbidden to be erased, such as kel when the intention was Elokim and yud keh from the name of yud keh vov keh – but shin daled of Shakay or tzadi [b]eis of
Tzevakot may be erased.

The Rema (ibid. 276:10) adds that alef daled of Adnut or alef heh of Ekyeh may be erased and that the yud yud that appears in many siddurim may be erased as well.

All of these are obviously done only in time of need. But it does give us a limud zechut, a means of finding merit, for those who toil on our behalf by establishing and running necessary organizations for Torah Judaism, especially Efrat, which is fighting the silent holocaust of wanton abortion at a time when rampant intermarriage is decimating our people.

Indeed the Gaon R. Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igros Moshe, Yoreh De’ah 2:135) and the Gaon R.
Menashe Klein, the Ungvarer Rav, shlita (Mishneh Halachos 7:183) decry the practice of writing whole pesukim without the shemot.

HaRav Klein explains that many sefarim today are not written in ktav Ashurit but ktav
Rashi, which does not have the same level of kedusha.

My uncle, HaGaon HaRav Sholom Klass, zt”l (Responsa of Modern Judaism Vol. II, p. 534)
quotes the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 18b) to the effect that the day they stopped using Hashem’s name on bonds and notes was declared a holiday.

He states additionally that if the Name is not intended for holy purposes we may write it in full
or erase it (Tosafos, Shavuos 35a and Tosafos Avoda Zara 18a, Hogeh Hashem). The Beth Lechem Yehuda (Yoreh De’ah 276:10) authorizes the usage of the name of G-d such as is inscribed on coins, if it was intended l?shem chol, for secular purposes.

He also cites the Beth Yosef (Tur Yoreh De’ah 276) who quotes the Rashbatz that if one wrote the name of G-d without having the intention of holiness, then it isn’t holy and he may erase it.

Gilyon HaMaharsha (Yoreh De’ah 276 ad loc. in the margins) permits usage and erasure of the Name if it is written in a language other than Hebrew, lashon hakodesh. This is in accord with Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11).

Because we prefer to err on the side of caution, we are taking steps to assure that the problems described in your letter will not occur again.