There are two types of people in the world – those who are inspired by Mussar and those who are turned off by it. Mussar is a school of study that teaches religious self-improvement. Traditional Mussar, as practiced in many yeshivas to this day, has a rabbi exhorting his listeners, often yelling at them, to be more careful in their actions and attitudes. This is frequently accompanied with a Torah insight and maybe even a good parable. But it can be scary: fire, brimstone, judgment day – all the horrible implications of religious failure, in graphic detail.
Rabbi Avraham Isaac HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) was an extraordinary Torah giant. His genius was astounding – there was no field of Torah study he had not mastered. His recall was astonishing – great scholars related that no matter what Torah subject they discussed with him it would appear as if he had just recently learned the issue in depth.
"Now we have the possibility of permanently stopping the yearly gay pride march in Jerusalem," Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America told The Jewish Press at the end of a two-week trip to Israel, which ended earlier this week.
The multiple ironies are staggering. On December 15, 2008, just before mounting his indispensable and purposeful Gaza operation against Palestinian terrorism, Prime Minister Olmert had released 230 Palestinian terrorists. To be sure, these freed terrorists were supposedly Fatah, not Hamas, but Mr. Olmert's underlying strategic calculation was still unreasonable and wholly self-destructive.
The Israeli election was on the surface a tie between Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni (who replaced Ehud Olmert as party chief). While Livni loudly proclaimed victory because Kadima had come out one parliamentary seat ahead, the election was largely a victory for the Israeli Right.
Dear Mr. Madoff, Having kissed my daughter goodnight, I sat in the final quietude of the raucous street crowd’s secular New Year's celebration. I could not help but hear her earlier words as we watched the fireworks in Central Park from the roof of our building.
It’s very difficult when a democratic country has to confront an illegal terrorist group. Whatever we do is being photographed; whatever they do, nobody sees. For example, when they throw a rocket on a settlement in Israel, it’s not being photographed. You cannot see a mother trying to defend her child and the resultant sleepless night. Have you ever seen on television a sleepless night?
Initially dismayed at the phenomenon, we have by now grown used to seeing pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas demonstrators behave like Holocaust-era Nazis. These haters goose-step, Nazi-style, and shoot out their arms as they deliver the Hitlerian sieg heil salute. They also chant and scream such charming slogans as “Jews to the ovens,” “Hitler did not kill enough of you” and “Jews to the gas chambers.”
It took The New York Times long enough to issue a correction concerning Rashid Khalidi's Jan. 8 op-ed column. Those of you who read the Monitor’s Jan. 16 column (“What Did Moshe Yaalon Really Say?”) will recall that Khalidi, the Columbia University professor of Arab studies and Barack Obama’s longtime friend, acquaintance or friendly acquaintance (depending on whom you asked and when) cited an incendiary statement allegedly made in 2002 by former IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”
The George W. Bush years are now behind us. But Barack Obama, while still waging an American war on terror, will almost certainly remain committed to a so-called "Two-State Solution" in the Middle East.
Among the many posthumous additions to Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik's literary legacy, one book always seemed conspicuously absent: a Soloveitchik Haggadah in English.
Editor's Note: Several years ago, the bestselling novelist Christopher Buckley, accompanied by his late father, the writer and iconic conservative intellectual William F. Buckley Jr., visited Auschwitz. He had never published his haunting account of that experience, but the current furor over Bishop Richard Williamson's claim that the Holocaust is largely a myth and "not one" Jew was gassed at Auschwitz compelled him to do so on The Daily Beast website, where he is a regular contributor.