web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Confronting A Prominent Writer’s Untruths

      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 Kingdomand 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-Nazisand 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.”
 
      (He also accuses Jews of plagiarizing “shamelessly” from Christianity to have a holiday that “coincides with Christmas,” even though Chanukah precedes the birth of Jesus by 250 years.)
 
      Hitchens sees the heroic Jewish revolt against the Assyrian Greeks as that of a primitive nation fighting against superior Greek enlightenment in order to sustain its superstitious ways. But such criticism is beneath Hitchens, who consistently supported the invasion of Iraq against liberal colleagues because of his noble objection to Saddam’s brutality and tyranny.
 

      Far from being enlightened, the Greek leader, Antiochus IV, was the Saddam Hussein of his time. And just as Arab men, women and children deserved better than to be forced to live under a vicious murderer like Saddam, the ancient Jews should be applauded rather than condemned for having stood up to the same.

 

 

        Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the host of the “The Rabbi Shmuley Show,” airing daily on “Oprah and Friends” on XM Satellite Radio. He has just launched his new book, “The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him” (St. Martin’s Press). His website is www.shmuley.com.

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.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Confronting A Prominent Writer’s Untruths”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz delivers lecture.
IDF Chief Rabbi: Nothing is Holy to Muslims on Temple Mount except Al Aqsa
Latest Indepth Stories
Greiff-112814-Levaya

My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri

All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.

Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Abbas has been adding new layers of rhetoric to his tactical campaign to de-Judaize Jerusalem

The Jew’s crime is his presence.

Hamas’s love for death tried to have as many Palestinian civilians killed as possible

Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

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.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/confronting-a-prominent-writers-untruths/2008/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: