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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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The View From The Beis Medrash

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Beis-011714-Rav-YosefRabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Shas For Sale

When Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, died last October, the former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel and spiritual leader of the Shas political party left behind a unique Talmud set originally published in Munich in 1949. Later this month, the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem will publicly auction off the set, a series of 19 books that is the first post-Holocaust Talmud edition printed in its entirety in Germany.

The set is expected to fetch between $40,000 and $50,000. It was designed to commemorate the fact that it was printed on German soil, featuring an illustration of a Jewish township and a concentration camp with the caption, “A labor camp in Ashkenaz in the days of the Nazis.” It will also include a passage from Psalms 119:176: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.”

(Israel Hayom via JNS)

Optimism For Pollard’s Release

There is optimism surrounding the possibility of Jonathan Pollard’s release after 27 years behind bars.

Walla News, a Hebrew-language news agency, reported that two of the most senior former diplomats of the last several decades – U.S. ambassadors to Israel Sam Lewis and Thomas Pickering – opined that it is time to release Pollard. Interestingly, both diplomats served in their respective government roles in 1985 when the Pollard affair came to the fore. Lewis left Israel three months before Pollard’s arrest, and for Pickering the Pollard case was his personal “baptism by fire.”

A recent demonstration for Pollard’s release

A recent demonstration for Pollard’s release

Both ambassadors were formerly strong opponents of Pollard’s release. Pickering explained that he has changed his mind because he believes that Pollard’s release will be helpful to Secretary of State John Kerry in his efforts to advance Israeli- Palestinian negotiations.

Pickering, who served as ambassador when the Pollard affair created an unprecedented crisis between the U.S. and Israel, said that as far as he is concerned Pollard would always be someone who betrayed the U.S. “What he did was wrong and dangerous, and I really do not accept Israel’s complaint about his [disproportionate] sentence. But to tell the truth, I think that achieving an Israeli-Palestinian framework agreement is far more important than the continuation of Pollard’s incarceration.” Pickering sent this clear message to Kerry: “Diplomats have to take challenges and turn them into opportunities.”

Unlike Pickering, Lewis said that he sees no connection between Pollard and the peace process. “Whoever tries to create a link between the two is mistaken. [Then-Prime Minister] Netanyahu tried to do this in 1998 at Wye, and he did enormous damage to Pollard in doing so. In my opinion Netanyahu’s attempts to create linkage between the two issues contributed to Pollard’s still remaining in prison.”

Lewis postulates that Pollard should be freed mainly on humanitarian grounds. “He betrayed us, and I am glad he sat in prison, but 27 years is time enough. Even if he may get out in two years from now, I think there is something compelling about the appeal by more than 100 members of Knesset to Obama to free him now.”

Lewis summarily dismissed the claim that there is any connection between Pollard and the US spying in Israel, which was recently revealed by documents published after being leaked by Edward Snowden, an American. “The question is, whether after 27 years in prison, he still represents a security threat,” Lewis said.

Yarmulke In Division I College Sports

The Algemeiner reported that Northwestern University freshman Aaron Liberman on Sunday was the first player known to wear a yarmulke in a Big Ten basketball game. Northwestern is a Division I team.

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