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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘CALL’

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 .

Risks You Need to Know Before Buying Dividend-Paying Stocks

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

In my last blog, “Three Reasons to Buy Dividend-Paying Stocks,” I described the benefits of buying dividend-paying stocks and why people may think that they are a worthwhile investment. But before you rush to buy dividend-paying stocks for your portfolio, take a few minutes to read about some of the pitfalls involved with this kind of stock.

1. Sometimes, a company will either reduce or suspend its dividend payments. If this happens, it may be prudent to reconsider staying invested in the company, as most companies will only cut dividends as a final resort. The cut/elimination of dividends may be a wake-up call to a company’s demise. Shareholders won’t generally rejoice at getting smaller than anticipated payments, so why would the company risk their negative reactions, unless it is in some sort of trouble?

2. Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” and this definitely applies to dividend-paying stocks. With dividend-paying stocks, you are going to be hit for taxes twice. First of all, the IRS levies the usual corporation taxes from the company itself on its profits, before shareholders are even compensated. Then, the company transfers whatever profits are left to the shareholders (i.e., you), and you have to pay another tax on the dividends that you receive! (If you have dual citizenship or are living in Israel, the Israeli government may also levy a tax on dividends. Check with your accountant to confirm that you won’t be double-taxed.)

3. Although it’s great that companies may reward their shareholders by paying dividends to them, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Consider the possibility that the reason why the company is paying its investors (as opposed to reinvesting in its own growth and development), is because it can’t find any better investment options right now. Indeed, many large companies tend to pay out dividends when their growth has started to slow. Perhaps this is not what you want, as you would prefer to invest your money into something that is a little more dynamic.

Are you still thinking about buying dividend-paying stocks? If so, I suggest that you reread my last blog, “Three Reasons to Buying Dividend-Paying Stocks,” and then read this article again as well. If you have the full picture, it will be easier for you to see if dividend-paying stocks are really for you.

Evolution Vs. Revolution in Struggle over Haredi Draft

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The Knesset was humming with the sound of bells on Wednesday as the call to vote for an equal service bill filled the building.

“You have a responsibility to contribute to your country, to the state that you get benefits from,” FM Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu spokesperson said. “Those who serve will receive.”

The proposed bill was shot down by a 74-20 vote.

The opposition in large part came from the Haredim. Avraham Chasida, 32, is a Chassid from Jerusalem and an army veteran. He believes that the army is a method for protecting the Jewish people. In turn, he also said that continuing to learn Torah is the only way the Jewish people will really be protected.

Chasida set up a tent in Wohl Rose Park outside of the Knesset in protest of the new bill. He explained that there has already been a natural increase in army service in the Ultra Orthodox community without force or punishment. In 2007, 305 Haredi men were serving, and in 2011 that number has increased to 2,372. The sentiment was a confusion at changing something that is already working.

“Don’t just be right, be smart,” he said. “After 64 years, you can’t take people and turn it around and switch it in one shot.”

Knesset members are also aware that the transition must be smooth. “We can’t have a revolution, we have to have evolution,” MK Tzipi Hotovely said, adding that the Army needs to be prepared for the Haredim just as much as the Haredim need to be ready for service.

However, time is of the essence, and not only because of the August 1 deadline posed by the Supreme Court. Hotovely said that the window of opportunity exists now – because in the near future Knesset representation will change.

A spokesperson for Yisrael Beytenu echoed her statement. “We’ve had 64 years to evolve,” he said. “Demographically, it will be impossible to pass this bill 20 years from now.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu is now working on a bill that is quite similar to the Tal Law, and if all goes well, should be passed before the end of the month.

The Disingenuousness Of Divestment

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

The recent call by NYU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for TIAA-CREF to divest holdings in targeted companies doing business in Israel is part of a troubling trend that exposes dangerous radicalism on campuses disguised as efforts at achieving social justice.

In 2010, for instance, student-led groups at both UC San Diego and UC Berkeley introduced initiatives to demonize Israel once again in the court of world opinion. One effort, disingenuously named “UCSD Divest for Peace,” was aimed at divesting university funds from U.S. companies which benefit Israel and which take a “non-neutral financial stance in the occupation of Palestinian territories.”

The Berkeley initiative, endorsed by 41 students groups in March 2010 and cynically named “A Bill in Support of UC Divestment From [Israeli] War Crimes” was promoted by an anti-Israel effort named the “U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.”

The latest NYU effort, an “Open Letter to TIAA-CREF CEO and President Roger W. Ferguson from NYU Faculty and Staff,” signed by over 70 members of the NYU community, has as its purpose “to pressure TIAA-CREF into divesting its holdings in 5 key companies which profit from the illegal Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians.”

It has at its core the same baseless accusations and libels against Israel, namely, that a company like Caterpillar “sells the bulldozers used by the IDF to destroy Palestinian homes, infrastructure, and fruit and olive trees;” Elbit Systems provides “drones used to kill Palestinian and Lebanese civilians;” Northrop Grumman builds weaponry that “Israel needs to defend itself from crowds of children throwing stones;” Veolia “operates a light-rail system linking Israel’s illegal settlements to Jerusalem;” and Motorola “manufactures surveillance equipment for Israeli checkpoints” [emphasis added]. Advertisement

These companies, it is asserted by SJP, are not only complicit in the slaughter and oppression of the completely innocent Palestinians, but the firms profit, in an immoral and rapacious way, from the suffering caused by their occupation and dispossession.

Clearly, there is no historical context to these outrageous claims, no moral balance, no acknowledgement of Israel’s existential threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other of its genocidal neighbors – only condemnation for being an oppressive, racist, murderous colonial settler state, illegal, in the view of activists, under international law.

This core sentiment has come to define the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the notion that the repeated defamation of Israel will result in its eventual expulsion from the supposed civilized community of nations. But the call for divestment is merely a tactic through which Israel will be marginalized, and eventually extirpated, as a pariah state with no moral justification for existing.

Thus, Students for Justice in Palestine, which gives public expression to notions of “social justice” for everyone in the Middle East but actually means justice for the Palestinians alone, admits, when pushed, that the sole underlying purpose of its calls for divestment is not, as is frequently though falsely described as creating a Palestinian state that will exist “side by side with Israel in peace,” but actually as a new entity that will either economically, militarily, or demographically subsume Israel.

The moral benefit to casting the Palestinians as the perennial victims, of course, is that it makes it easy for SJP and other apologists for terror to justify homicidal aggression against Jewish targets as a legitimate means of “resistance” to occupation – a legitimacy they claim as a right under the intellectually contorted precepts of international law, which has given NGOs, stateless actors, and radical movements the same rights as democracies engaging in self-defense.

SJP and others repeatedly use this intellectual ploy to promiscuously demonize Israel, not to mention to justify terrorism as an acceptable tool in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. “Resistance is justified when people are occupied!” screamed SJP demonstrators at an NYU rally held last April.

“Divestment campaigns and requests for institutional divestment,” a University of Wisconsin guide for BDS radicals reveals, “provide debate material that places Palestine solidarity groups in the most favorable position to present their case. No other form of activism has generated as much debate and attention towards the plight of the Palestinians as does divestment. No other approach has presented the Palestinian struggle in a more positive light than does divestment.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-disingenuousness-of-divestment/2011/10/18/

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