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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘ANYONE’

The Holocaust as an Expression of Kindness? Seriously?

Monday, August 5th, 2013

One of the things that never fails to upset me is when people of stature start trying to explain the Holocaust. There are some rabbinic figures who have tried to do so, both past and present. It seems like there is a new addition to those ranks in the person of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, a venerated Rabbinic personality of the 20th century.

I do not say this to disparage him. He is a man who garners tremendous respect from observant Jews from all walks of life. There are people who consider his Hashkafos about Judaism their guide to life. He has a wide following, perhaps greater today posthumously than when he was alive.

My introduction to Rabbi Avigdor Miller was when I read his book, Rejoice O’ Youth which was an unsuccessful attempt to refute the theory of evolution.  For many years that book angered me. But I have mellowed in that regard and now believe that he has every right to his views on that subject and to promote them in a book. Just as others do to refute it.

I recall also being upset at something I once read about him where he strongly disparaged Modern Orthodoxy. I will be Dan L’Kaf Zechus that he was not disparaging observant Jews that are modern but meticulous in their observance and respect the Mesorah. He was probably referring to those I like to call MO-Lites. Jews who are not so meticulous about their religious observances and are more assimilated into the culture than they are into their Judaism. Or those Modern Orthodox Jews that are on the extreme left and try to innovate practices that depart from the Mesorah.  Like Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) and Yeshivat Maharat.

According to an article in Mishpacha Magazine, his son, Rav Shmuel Miller, has published a book posthumously written by his father  that in my view is unconscionable. The thesis of the book is that the Holocaust was actually a Chesed… a kindness from God in the way of a wake-up call! It is called  ‘A Divine Madness’ – Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s Defense of HaShem in the Matter of the Holocaust.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller did not want to publish this work during his lifetime. He felt that so soon after the Holocaust it would upset survivors. His son has decided that enough time has passed and published it. Rabbi Avigdor Miller is certainly entitled to his views. But I am entitled to totally reject them.

He is not the first one to put forward the theory that the Holocaust happened because Jews were abandoning the Torah and observance in droves in the period prior to the Holocaust. But what is so upsetting about this particular thesis is that he considers the Holocaust a kindness. I understand his point. Which he tries to illustrate using an example once cited by the Chofetz Chaim as follows.

If someone is in the coldest region on Earth like the North Pole and falls asleep, he will freeze to death in short order. If someone is there next to him, he will try to wake him up from his slumber. If calling out to him, won’t work, he will shake him. If that doesn’t work he will smack him. If that doesn’t work, he will take a stick and hit him. An onlooker might see this as being cruel and not understand that he is trying to wake him up in order to save his life. In other words what looks like a cruelty to another human being – is actually a kindness meant to save his life.

This is such a bad analogy that it boggles my mind that it was even attempted let alone published in a book.

There are 6 million individual stories of savage slaughter that happened in the Holocaust. And that is just about Jews that were systematically killed. There could be as many as another six million stories about horrors experienced by survivors.

Just to cite 2 personal examples.

My father escaped the Nazi death camps by hiding in 3 different bunkers with other families until his city was liberated by the Russians.

When the first bunker was discovered, the escape route planned in such an eventuality via the town sewer system enabled an escape by my father and my 3 older brothers (who were in their early teens at the time). But my father’s first wife (my brothers’ mother) never made it. She was captured while trying to escape. The next bunker was a makeshift one in the forest. That too was discovered, but my oldest brother got caught while my father and his two younger sons escaped. My father heard his oldest son screaming as he was being carried off by the Gestapo.

My wife’s uncle was an Ish Tam – a Gerrer Chasid; kind and sincere; simple  and pure in his devotion to God. He had not an ounce of evil in his bones. He had a beautiful family – a wife and children – prior to the Holocaust. They were all slaughtered by the Nazis except for him. He was captured by the infamous Josef Menegle for purposes of medical experiments. That left him without family and sterile after the war… never able to rebuild his family. Although he did remarry and made Aliyah.  He was a truly good man who never questioned God.

You can multiply these two stories by the number of victims and survivors. How many stories like this and far worse have we all heard?!

If this is God’s Chesed, I’d like to know what it’s like when He gets angry! How dare anyone say that God decided to torture innocent people in order to wake us up? Rabbi Miller does not make understanding the Holocaust any easier. He makes it even more difficult to understand, in my view.

Many great rabbinic figures were slaughtered by the Nazis. It is said that the great people of any given generation are punished because they did not protest the increasing rejection of Mitzvah observance of their time. Even if that’s true, how can such inhumanity to the average Jew – innocent people who are not Gedolim – be explained?

How can anyone say that being tortured by the likes of Mengele is the same as being hit with a stick at the North Pole?! How can anyone say that forcing Jews to dig mass graves for themselves and then being shot into them is the same as being hit with a stick?! How can anyone one say that the millions of Jews marching into the ‘showers’ at Auschwitz and Buchenwald is the same as being hit with a stick. Such analogies are an insult to not only the six million who died, but to all the survivors and their children, of which I am one!

Wake up call?! How exactly did all the torture endured by survivors wake up all those who lost their faith after the Holocaust?

My negative attitude about the Satmar Rebbe is well known here becauseof his antipathy towards the State of Israel and his disparagement of Rav Kook. But there is one thing I do agree with him about. The Holocaust cannot be explained.  And all victims of the Holocaust including survivors have earned an automatic place in the world to come – even if they did not remain religious.
I therefore object in the strongest possible terms the publication a book which espouses the view that the Holocaust was a ‘wake-up’ call. His right to publish such opinions should not trump the hurt such views have upon survivors and their children.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Keeping Voter ID Honest May Boost Democracy and Sanity

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

For as long as I’ve had my U.S. citizenship, I would wonder every election day, standing in line before the folding table where the nice elderly lady rifled through the voters book in search of my name. When she found it, she would push the book at me and ask me to sign my name on the blank line, right below a sample of my signature.

It occurred to me, time and again, that anyone, male or female (my full name Yoram could be totally acceptable from a female in our neck of the woods), could come up to the table in my place, say that they’re I, and copy my signature. Then they could go inside the booth and pull the lever any way they wished.

Nevertheless, I accept the much publicized fact, normally provided by liberal sources, that the rate of voter fraud in the U.S. are miniscule.

In 2007, a report prepared by the staff of the federal Election Assistance Commission found that, among experts, “there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud.” The report was based on research conducted by Job Serebov, Republican elections lawyer, and Tova Wang, voting expert from the Century Foundation. The final version released to the public, however, stated that there was “a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.” (Wikipedia)

An article in Slate reported that during the Bush 2 Administration, DOJ ” devoted unprecedented resources to ferreting out polling-place fraud over five years and appears to have found not a single prosecutable case across the country.” (Wikipedia)

But we did have incidents in our recent history, when major elections were decided based on questionable voting, once in 1960, once in 2000. Why not bolster the veracity of our voting system by requiring that each voter present a picture ID?

The most common argument from the left is that this would be a blatantly anti-minority, anti-poor and anti-elderly move. Elderly Black folks who never owned a car just don’t have a driver’s license, and may not have the skill set and mobility to acquire a state picture ID for non-drivers (every state is obligated by law to provide one, free of charge).

The Democratic Party has criticized voter identification laws, voicing concerns that the laws could lead to disenfranchisement of poor, minority or elderly voters. But in 2012 an investigation by Reuters found that voter ID laws in Georgia and Indiana had not led to lower turnout of minorities and concluded that Democratic concerns about this “are probably overstated.” Reuters reported that in Georgia there was an increase of four percent in turnout for African American voters in 2008, compared to 2004, which was prior to the voter ID law (of course, 2008 was also the Obama year, but it shows that if the poor, the minorities and the elderly are charged up by the elections—they’ll make the effort to get themselves ID cards). (Wikipedia)

In the 2010 Georgia midterm elections, turnout for African Americans was seven percent higher than the midterms in 2006, before the voter ID law was introduced. In Indiana, while no information is collected on the race of voters, Reuters found that voter turnout increased in 2008 for two counties with non-white populations higher than 40 percent. Also, in the Indiana midterm elections of 2006 and 2010, turnout increased compared to the 2002 election before the voter ID law was introduced. (Wikipedia)

Just one digression: it strikes me as amazingly odd how binary our political left and our right have become. Two raging debates in America today pit left against right over government registration. On voter ID, the left is against, the red states are pushing it like gangbusters. On gun registration -–the exact reverse: the left is crusading to maximize government control, the right is willing to allow gangsters to own anti-tank missiles without registration, if that what it takes to keep government off our backs. But I digress…

Let me tell you about my Israeli ID card, the “blue card.” It has my picture, it lists my wife and child, complete with their ID numbers. It is openly available to police, banks, the electric company, my cable provider – they all can have it. Israel is a land without ID privacy – and no one seems to mind.

Tibbi’s Roundup: ‘Asifa’ Organizers Snub Women, Lubavitch

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Happy New Week. I’m trying a topical approach to my roundup, so I went trolling for new, interesting things about Lag Ba’Omer (only a couple of days ahead), the ‘Asifa’ in Citi Field, and stam interesting Jewish tidbits. Let me know if this format works for you, I’m trying new things.

There’s a classifieds ad circulating the Israeli blogosphere which just has to be translated and shared as the most insightful sales pitch ever:

For sale, first owner! Encyclopedia Britannica, the complete set – 45 volumes! Bargain price, or to the highest bidder. I no longer need it. I got married last week – and my wife knows everything.

Is that deep, or what? And just in case you might actually be interested, since this year has seen the shutting down of the printed Britannica, the number for this wise seller is, in Israel, 03-576-9283.

Let’s blog.

LAG B’OMER, ANYONE?

Going to Meron. From Jerusalem people like myself including hundreds of thousands of Jews, are making their way to the Galilean city of Meron Wednesday night and Thursday 10th May, 2012, participating in the annual celebration of Lag Ba’Omer. Police in the quiet town situated just one mountain away from the mystical city of Tzfat are expecting half a million Jews to arrive, traveling in busses, private cars, and some even on foot.  As of 7:30pm Wednesday night, its expected for 20,000 people to have already arrived. Midnight Rabbi Inspires

First haircut & pe’ot shaping ceremonies for 3 year old boys are the highlight of Lag b’Omer for many families, as everyone gathers to help snip. Actually, everywhere in the world, Jewish boys born between Pesach and Lag b’Omer receive their first haircut and pe’ot on Lag b’Omer. Upon reaching the age of 3 (i.e., completing three years and beginning the “holy fourth” – see Lev. 19:23-25), a Jewish child begins to receive his or her official training in mitzvot. Rabbi Babs, Lech Lecha

Lag B’ Omer Picnic. The Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer is next Thursday, May 10. Since this holiday is celebrated with picnics, parades and bonfires there’s still time to grab these great picnic essentials: Fun napkins from Target, Crate and Barrel’s collapsible basket… Rita from Connecticut, Design Megillah

 

MORE ASIFA NOTES

The Internet Asifa @ CitiField. Some people expressed their frustration with the fact that women cannot attend, others blasted the rabbis for ruining the Jewish future. As I am female, I will not be able to attend the asifah (bummer, no inspiration for me), a male friend kindly offered to take his time and attend on my behalf, so hopefully, there will be more to discuss after May 20th. Tania, Thinking Jew Girl

Lubavitch not invited to “Internet” asifa. I’m sorry for doing this, for airing our “dirty laundry” here in public, and in English yet! but this charade has to stop. This week’s meeting with the Satmar Rebbe is only one example of the exclusionary tactics being used by the organizers of the Internet event. You can choose not to believe what I write here, if it makes you feel good, but I know it to be 1000% true. Many efforts were made to get the organizers to include Lubavitch in this asifa. They were all rejected. For all kinds of supposed reasons. All people involved got the run-around, and the end result was that we got the message. Even the Skulener Rebbe said it has nothing to do with him. Hirschel Zig’s Blog Mistaken Report Says Asifa at CitiField to Be Held on May 28. Matzav.com has confirmed that despite a report in the chareidi media this week indicating a change of date, the upcoming Ichud Hakehillos L’Tohar Hamachane gathering, otherwise known as the “Internet Asifa,” will be talking place on Sunday, May 20, at CitiField in Queens, as originally scheduled.

A report on the front page of the Brooklyn-based Hamodia newspaper on Monday stated that the event would be taking place on May 28. Organizers, though, tell Matzav.com that this is mistaken and that the original date, May 20, was never changed. Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter

Life Beyond Internet. On Monday, Paul Miller, a Senior Editor at a “technology-focused news publication” called The Verge, announced that he was quitting the Internet for a year. He’s switched to a “dumb” phone, and has pledged to neither use the Internet nor ask others to use it for him, if he can.

His reasons for this drastic move are informative. He hopes that “leaving the internet will make me better with my time, vastly more creative, a better friend, a better son and brother… a better Paul.” He said that he was spending an average of over twelve hours each day using some sort of device with an Internet connection, not even including his smartphone. Yaakov Menken, Cross Currents

Internet Asifa. While I often think that a stance may be valid even if I don’t agree with it, when it comes to the internet, I don’t even think the chareidi view is valid. I mean, let’s look at what happened. The internet comes out, and chareidi Rabbis decide it’s like TV. They assur it completely. Then, they see that some people need it in order to make money. Then they decide it’s still forbidden, but there are loopholes. You can show proof that you need it for work, and then you can have it – but only if the woman of the house has the password, and her husband is dependent on her to open it up. You also need a filter that meets chareidi standards. Proud MO, OrthoWatch

 

JEWS AT LARGE

Jewish leadership fails us again. The Netanyahu government keeps praising Obama and publicly smiling even though Obama keeps sticking the knife in. As a result American Jews maintain their support of Obama. Because Netanyahu doesn’t defend our right to build, they and even Israeli Jews, lose confidence in our rights. Many become ashamed of the “occupation” because our government gives the impression that criticism of us in this regard is well founded. Under these conditions we cannot win the PR battle. Ted Belman, Doc’s Talk

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/jblogs/tibbis-roundup-asifa-organizers-snub-women-lubavitch/2012/05/05/

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