Fighting Over Swordfish
With great respect and deference to Rabbi Hershel Schachter, I must ask in regards to his halacha column last week (“Are Swordfish Kosher?”): Why now? There are certain things we don’t do because they may sow confusion in chinuch, cause a breach in fences designed to keep us from wrongdoing, create a maras ayin, or run counter to age-old mesorahs. I believe eating swordfish falls under all four categories.
Debating the kashrus of swordfish just stirs the pot. While some stringencies go too far, overturning a widespread practice like not eating swordfish would cause great machlokes and strife. The Jewish people already face external struggles. Why create internal ones?
Chaim Yehuda Meyer
While I congratulate the Jewish Press on publishing a letter written by the nephew of late leader of Neturei Karta praising the state of Israel, I think some of the many items omitted in his letter should be noted.
For example, the writer takes satisfaction that his sons are able to serve in Golani and paratrooper units while still being religious, yet he makes no mention of the sacrifices made for decades by boys serving in hesder units connected to yeshivot affiliated with either Mizrachi (e.g., Kerem B’Yavneh) or Poalei Agudah (e.g., Sha’alvim).
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav also talks about ZAKA and Yad Sarah without giving any credit to Modern Orthodox organizations such as AMIT and Emunah that financed hundreds of facilities with kosher food that have made everyday life in Israel more livable.
Nor does he mention how much stress the social safety net has been under due to education policies that make such a large portion of the charedi public unprepared for modern-day jobs.
Finally, the writer takes pride in the fact that every “year the Israeli government donates millions of shekels to the Torah world.” He neglects to mention that charedi political parties get this money because they make it their top priority. Thus, when the Sharon government threw 10,000 settlers out of Gaza, the charedim remained in the government and, of course, were rewarded with the millions of shekels.
Doesn’t Believe Portman
Natalie Portman has stated that her “decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others.” Question: Is Ms. Portman discomposed by those BDSers who now claim her as one of their own as much as she is discomposed by the supporters of Israel who question her loyalty to Israel and the Jewish people?
In the same public statement, Ms. Portman beseeches the world to “not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own.” Ms. Portman’s reversal of her prior decision to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony was initially communicated via her representative (whom she presumably pays to interface with the public, and who presumably communicated her initial acceptance). How much credence should the words of Ms. Portman’s own spokespeople now be given in any matter?
Kenneth H. Ryesky
Petach Tikva, Israel
The Gedolim Should Decide
The debate over secular education in yeshivos should not be decided by lay people – however well-meaning they may be. As with everything that pertains to Yiddishkeit, it should be in the hands of the gedolim.
The fact is that the menahalim of yeshivos look to the gedolim – whether they are litvish, chassidish, or sefaredi – on how to educate their students. That is how it should be. By doing so, they will be able to withstand the ever-growing pressures of this generation and live as Hashem wants them to live.
Rabbi Joseph Spielman