Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
Bush And Knishes
I’m new to The Jewish Press, or maybe I should say The Jewish Press is new to me. I live in the Miami area, and only recently began reading your paper as a result of my newly kindled interest in Judaism. There’s so much to read each week, and I particularly appreciate the Torah columns and your great op-eds and editorials.
Speaking of editorials, I loved your editorials endorsing President Bush, although I knew – as did you – that outside of the Orthodox community, most American Jews would sooner vote for the worst imaginable Democrat than for a Republican. In fact, my next door neighbors, transplanted New Yorkers in their eighties, calmly informed me that they’d have voted for Al Sharpton over Bush, because, in their words, “the Republicans want to take away our Social Security.”
I was glad to read that younger Jews were more likely to vote for Bush than their elders, so at least there’s hope that the next generation won’t be the mindless, robotic Democrats their parents and grandparents prove themselves to be election after election.
In closing, I’ll share with you an observation a friend of mine made about these Florida senior citizens all around us who still think Roosevelt was the greatest thing that ever happened to Jews and who believe that the essence of being a good Jew is to support any liberal Democrat: “Bush could convert to Judaism and then complain about his colonoscopy over diet soda and knishes, and still those old Jews wouldn’t vote for him.”
Worthy Role Model
Re Boruch Selevan’s Dec. 24 letter to the editor criticizing frum Jews who follow the career of a rising young superstar boxer who happens to be frum himself:
I am a frum Jew who’s been involved in kiruv for over twenty years and can claim to have brought – with the help of dedicated rabbanim and community members – a very large number of students to some level of Yiddishkeit. I say this not as a boast but to qualify my opinion.
I have also boxed, and I have a black belt in Jiu-jitsu. In my opinion, it is about time that Jewish youth have a strong frum role model in the media. Our Torah is replete with heroes, from Avraham to the achronim, who fought and won decisive battles for Torah and Hashem. Contrary to some opinions, they did not just set down the sefer and pick up the sword. It takes years of practice, physical conditioning and some measure of pain to produce a fighter.
Today we encounter the phenomenon of a Jewish community losing its hold on its youth to non-Jewish gang-style rappers, tough-guy Hollywood actors and left-wing “freedom fighters.” (If you think this is a phenomenon exclusive to the non-frum world, you just don’t know your kids.) And why not? Youth admires strength and courage over all things. How many kids dress up as soldiers, cowboys and swordsmen on Purim? How many as gedolim?
It is when I understood that Jewish youth need a constructive character-building environment, supported by the Torah and the empowerment that physical skill and strength provide, that I started to succeed in kiruv.
Admirable Young Boxer
Given all the world’s ills, I find it appalling that Mr Selevan has nothing else to worry about besides what an admirable young boxer chooses to do with his life. I happen to know the young man in question personally, and the fact that he wears his frumkeit on his sleeves is commendable and should be given at least the moral support of the frum community at large.
I am not writing to debate whether boxing is the frum thing to do. I simply wish to salute a man who is “mekadesh shem shomayim befarhesia.”
Those Pro-PETA Letters (I)
I was shocked and horrified at the number of recent letters to the editor agreeing with the ludicrous claims put forth by PETA. Readers who claimed that PETA is correct according to our Holy Law neglected to indicate how exactly the practices at AgriProcessors contradict the Shulchan Aruch.
The fact is that the cutting of the arteries in the neck during shechita causes an immediate loss of blood pressure in the brain. This means, in laymen’s terms, that the cow no longer has enough energy in its brain to power its nerve cells. As a result, the cow doesn’t feel a thing. All twitching by the animal is due to muscle spasms – a reflex action not connected to the brain, and therefore the nerves, at all.
I congratulate Nathan Lewin, reader Amy Wall, and The Jewish Press on their excellent points and strong stances on this issue. I am dan lekaf zechus all those readers who did not respond; I assume they agree with the position of The Jewish Press on this subject.
Those Pro-PETA Letters (II)
The Gemara teaches that inappropriate foodstuffs have a dulling effect on the mind. I can only surmise that the respondents to the anti-PETA editorials who, with the exception of Amy Wall, sided with the radical organization must have ingested halchically forbidden materials.
One can state categorically and unequivocally that vegetarianism is not, never was, and never will be a higher form of Judaism. Certainly it is any Jew’s prerogative to choose the herbivorous life – that is, until the Beis Hamikdosh is rebuilt, whereupon all must partake of at least the korban Pesach – but to aver that God considers us sinners for eating properly slaughtered animals is an outright lie. From the advent of our nation, when kosher meat was available it was unstintingly consumed.
And what, pray tell, do Orthodox vegetarians suggest we’ll do when the Third Temple is rebuilt (speedily and in our days)? Right, we’ll shecht tomatoes (beef tomatoes to be sure) and sprinkle the juice on the mizbeach.
As to the insinuation raised by some of the writers that yes, PETA represents a lunatic fringe but Hashem made them a tool to highlight religious and ethical infractions at the plant: I can accept this possibility, but as Ms. Wall deftly noted, we must turn to our accepted kashrus organizations to rectify the matter (I am in no position to determine whether anything is in fact amiss), and not play into the hands of a group that would not only bar all consumption and use of four-legged creatures, but fish and fowl as well.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
Rav Teitz’s Approach To Torah
Since last Wednesday friends have been telling me how much they enjoyed Dr. Yitzchok Levine’s memories of my father, HaRav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, published on page one of The Jewish Press (“Master Builder: Rav Teitz and the Elizabeth Kehilla,” Dec. 24).
Dr. Levine is one of a group of scientists and mathematicians that my father welcomed to Elizabeth, New Jersey. He saw their enjoyment and accomplishment in their fields combined with their love of Torah as a promising sign for the Jewish future.
I was struck by one passage in Dr. Levine’s engaging account. “My eldest son,” he wrote, “was born in July 1970. I asked Rav Teitz to be the sandak at his bris, and he graciously agreed. The bris was on a Shabbos. We davened in the Bais Yitzchok shul and then walked across the street to my home for the bris. Since he and I needed our taleisim for the bris, we wore them as we made our way from the shul to my home. As we were walking outside with our taleisim clearly visible, Rav Teitz turned to me and said, “Thirty-five years ago, who would have believed that one could walk in the streets of Elizabeth wearing a tallis?”
Dr. Levine concludes, “The fact that we could do this in 1970 without any qualms was evidence of how far Rav Teitz had taken the Jewish community since he had become the rav.”
What surprised me was my father walking outside with his tallis visible. He had remarked more than once that only in Israel should one do this – that is the only place that is our home, and where we can feel completely at home; everywhere else we are guests and must conduct ourselves accordingly.
This was not a “golus Jew” mentality; he was not afraid. It was a Torah view of the difference between living in Israel and all other countries. He also disliked ostentatious displays of observance; parading one’s piety made the piety suspect.
Then how did he not only wear a tallis outside but make a positive comment about doing so? Some context will give the answer. A person who studies Torah is aware that “one p’sak [decision] does not fit all.” If one senses the complexity of life and appreciates the depth of Jewish law, one realizes that different circumstances require different responses. One can dislike flamboyant frumkeit, but on a mid-summer Shabbos when one will be sandak at a bris (and the eruv would be built a few years later), one can leave his tallis on to walk from shul to the baby’s home.
This consideration of the variables in life is crucial to the vitality of halacha. When I encounter the phrase about the Torah being written in “black on white,” I think that the Torah holds all the contrasts and does not reduce life to a uniform grey.
His positive remark about doing something unusual is equally revealing. His “gam zu l’tovah” wasn’t a sentimental echo. He thought that if you analyzed it correctly, an obstacle could be a challenge and even an opportunity. He could not abide complaining, bemoaning and criticizing. His favorite quotation in the Torah was Avraham’s answer to Hashem, “hineni,” here am I. He interpreted all that was contained in this single word: “here,” not with the excuse that elsewhere you could be an observant Jew; “am,” at this moment, not saying previous generations could keep Torah but not a modern individual; “I,” not ‘someone else should do something,’ but I will act now. Because he wanted to see what was good he found it in people and in situations. He was positive about making an exception for a simcha.
I am glad that Dr. Levine’s reminiscence led to this exploration of an approach to Torah that is both profound and positive. Thank you for mentioning Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah, the biography of Rav Teitz published by Ktav.
Rivkah Teitz Blau
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The importance of the caucus on organ harvesting in China, sponsored recently by the Liberal Lobby in the Knesset, cannot be exaggerated. On the surface, the caucus’s topic seems odd. Knesset members and other VIPs were called together to discuss horrors being perpetrated by the Communist regime in China against what the government there calls “regime opponents.”
My mother, the eldest daughter of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, was niftar last month at the age of 92. She took her last breath in her home in Efrat, Israel, next door to the shul that was my father’s for 24 years before his passing in 2007.
It comes down to his being famous.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
It’s only natural to see increasing evidence of Jerusalem’s glorious Jewish past being unearthed, quite literally, under modern Israeli sovereignty. The new archaeological finds are also very timely – as the Arab onslaught attempting to detach Jerusalem from its Jewish roots gains steam, the facts on the ground, or “under” the ground, show quite otherwise.
The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”
Nearly 13 years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak journeyed to Camp David to end the conflict with the Palestinians. With the approval of President Clinton, he offered Yasir Arafat an independent Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and in part of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
As the controversies besetting the Obama administration continue to grow in number and intensity, the prospect that President Obama would seriously consider military action against Iran, should that country continue its drive to become a nuclear power, becomes more and more remote. So we welcome the current enhancement of sanctions against Iran on the federal and New York State levels.
To his parents’ friends, he was “Mrs. Greenberg’s disgrace,” but to sports fans he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Jewish baseball players of all time. Long before Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg excited Jewish sports fans with his prowess on the baseball diamond.
To eat is to live – to keep our physical bodies alive. For without the body, there is nothing. No experience. No memory. No joy and no hardship. But man, unlike animals, eats to live and to enjoy. So how should a Jew respond when he is challenged as to why he imposes upon himself not just ceremonies dedicated to the enjoyment of eating but even more to the limiting of what he can eat?
Neither Secretary of State Kerry nor the president he serves seem to understand Russia’s goals in the Middle East.
You might think that six Khamenei followers might split the hardline vote but don’t worry as that will be taken care of in the ballot-counting if necessary.
Let’s think what OUR interest is, and act according to it.
This past Friday, I went shopping at a local supermarket and noticed a piece of paper on the floor with what looked like Hebrew lettering. On closer examination, I was shocked to see that this small pamphlet with some form off advertising contained the full text of “Krias Shma al Hamitta,” (the Shma Israel recited [...]
Dear Editor, I read with interest Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu’s February 24, 2013 article entitled, Women of the Wall Rabbi Calls Knesset Achashverosh. In 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision that allows Women of the Wall to pray at the Kotel once a month on Rosh Hodesh. That is why Women of the Wall only [...]
Today is my brother’s second yartzheit and a Torah was dedicated in his memory.
I know that some people in heterosexual families see themselves as underdog victims harassed by threatening gays.
In Praise Of Marc Shapiro (I) I thoroughly enjoyed Elliot Resnick’s interview with Professor Marc Shapiro (“Things Once Taken For Granted Are Now Considered Unacceptable,” April 27). It’s a real credit to The Jewish Press that the article ran at all, which is a sad commentary on the state of Orthodoxy today and the fearful, [...]
Correct Distinctions Kenneth Levin’s April 20 front-page essay (“The Empty Rage of Jewish ‘Progressives‘“) makes precisely the correct distinctions between Alvin Rosenfeld’s monograph and the responses of his detractors. If they don’t want to be lumped together with self-styled progressives who delegitimize Israel, they should watch the company they keep. Richard Sherwin(Via E-Mail) No Debate Lately there [...]
Independence Day The celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut is a declaration that the Nazis failed to obliterate four millennia of Jewish life. But while we’ve earned the right to rejoice, let there be no illusions. Once again, the very nations that stood idly by while millions of innocent Jews were slaughtered are jeopardizing Israel’s survival. The [...]
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