The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
It is time to finally inter a malicious libel against Jews and Judaism that is getting increasing attention in the media, namely, that Judaism will not allow for the breaking of the Sabbath to save a non-Jewish life.
Given that Judaism is the religion that introduced the idea that all humans are created equally in God’s image, and the rabbinical sages wrote 2,000 years ago that “even a gentile who studies God’s law is equal to the High Priest” and “the righteous of all nations have a share in the World to Come” (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 13), it would seem incredible that anyone would believe such nonsense.
Yet the latest to repeat this libel is the gifted writer Christopher Hitchens, who, in his book God Is Not Great, writes of Baruch Goldstein, “While serving as a physician in the Israeli army he had announced that he would not treat non-Jewish patients, such as Israeli Arabs, especially on the Sabbath. As it happens, he was obeying rabbinic law in declining to do this, as many Israeli religious courts have confirmed…”
In our second debate on religion, held last week, I asked Hitchens to identify even one Jewish court that would uphold such a thing. As his source he cited not a court but his “dear friend,” the late Israeli writer Israel Shahak.
Research on the incident reveals the following: In 1965, Shahak sent a letter to Haaretz saying he had witnessed an Orthodox Jewish man refusing to allow his telephone to be used to call an ambulance for a non-Jew because it would violate the Sabbath. In the same letter Shahak also alleged that a rabbinical court in Jerusalem confirmed that the man acted according to the dictates of Jewish law.
From the beginning the story was curious. What prohibition could there possibly be in allowing someone else to use one’s phone on the Sabbath? Then, in 1966, the story was investigated by Immanuel Jakobovits – one of the worlds’ leading medical ethicists who later would become chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and a member of the House of Lords – and found to be a hoax.
Writing in the journal Tradition under the title “A Modern Blood Libel,” Jakobovits noted: “Dr. Shahak, challenged to substantiate his personal ‘testimony’ was eventually forced to admit that the Orthodox Jew he had ‘witnessed’ refusing the use of his telephone simply did not exist. The whole incident had been fabricated in true Protocols style. Equally overlooked was the circumstance that the Rabbinate, far from having confirmed Dr. Shahak’s allegation, had in fact ruled that the Sabbath must be violated to save non-Jewish no less than Jewish lives.”
In further refutation of Shahak’s libel, Jakobovits cited a lengthy responsum by Isser Yehuda Unterman, chief rabbi of Israel, who stated unequivocally that “the Sabbath must be violated to save non-Jewish life no less than Jewish lives.”
But such libels about Jews were, sadly, par for the course for Shahak who also alleged that Jewish children are taught “whenever passing near a cemetery, to utter a blessing if the cemetery is Jewish, but to curse the mothers of the dead if it is non-Jewish” (Jewish History, Jewish Religion) and even accused Jews of worshiping Satan.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) calls Shahak “one of the world’s leading anti-Semites,” and as Jewish Press senior editor Jason Maoz noted in his Jan. 25 Media Monitor column (“The Wicked Son”), Shahak’s work is regularly referenced by neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.
Eli Beer, chief coordinator of the United Haztalah Emergency Ambulance Service of Israel, who oversees 1,100 medical volunteers, approximately 60 percent of whom are Orthodox, told me, “If someone would say we won’t save a non-Jewish life on the Sabbath, he is a liar. If he is Jewish, Christian, or Muslim we save everyone’s life on any day of the year, including the Sabbath and Yom Kippur, and I have done so myself. Indeed, as an orthodox Jew it is my greatest honor to save the life of a non-Jew, and I would violate any of the Jewish holy days to do so.”
It would behoove a scholar like Hitchens to remove from future editions of his book this slander of “many” Jewish courts teaching Jews that it is forbidden to save non-Jewish life on the Sabbath, along with other gratuitous attacks on Jews and Judaism that are misleading and inaccurate. Principal among them are his unfortunate statement that Jews are not “blameless” for anti-Semitism and his characterization of the festival of Chanukah as “an absolutely tragic day in human history” without which “the Jewish people might have been the carriers of philosophy instead of arid monotheism.”
About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.
What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.
The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.
Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviet’s persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined
Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion
Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry
Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”
On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor
After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process
Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria
Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony
On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.
The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.
Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.
If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.
The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.
American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/confronting-a-prominent-writers-untruths-2/2008/02/06/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: