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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘details’

The Devil is in the Details

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

I was shocked to read last week in the Jerusalem Post that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, is supporting a radical and dangerous leftwing “peace plan,” and worse, this plan is being promoted to the youths of Efrat and other settlements.

“Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the founder and chief rabbi of Efrat, has expressed support, at the behest of his 18-year-old grandson, Eden, also a resident of Efrat, who has taken a leading role in drumming up support among teenagers and young adults (or, [in the words of the plan’s chief promoter Eliaz] Cohen, “infecting them with the sense of hope that is expressed by this proposal).”

I met and spoke with Rabbi Riskin a few times this week and he wanted to emphasize that he insists he “never accepted the plan.”

Rabbi Riskin said he was approached and was presented with a germ of an idea for a peace initiative, but was not made aware of any clear formulation of the terms of the plan itself.

Rabbi Riskin said he liked the name of the plan, “Two States, One Homeland,” and the concept as it was presented to him: a plan that would allow for peaceful coexistence, and did not require anyone, Jew or Arab, to be expelled from their homes.

Rabbi Riskin is a big believer and proponent of peace and coexistence between Jews and Arabs. He puts his money where his mouth is, and is known to personally get involved in helping Arabs who live in the villages around the town of Efrat. Without a doubt, this Rabbi is one of the reasons there so little friction between Jewish Efrat and its Arab neighbors.

He gave the plan’s advocate some stipulations of what any plan must include if he were to support it:

1) The Israeli-Jewish areas where Jews lived must clearly constitute a strong majority of Jews who would be establishing a Jewish State.

2) Not only would Jews have rights of access – and of course shared ownership – to the Temple Mount,  but would also be permitted to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount.

3) There would be a complete cessation of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda in Palestinian media and publications.

4) The Arab areas must be demilitarized.

Alas, the good Rabbi was not thinking like a good radical leftist, and didn’t consider the far more dangerous provisos that any typical leftwing “peace plan” might include.

Nothing New at All

The Jerusalem Post article’s author, Andrew Friedman, claims “the plan is a departure from the classic two-states-for-two-peoples formula,” but it’s anything but that.

It instead takes elements from some of the worst proposals, ideas that even Peres, Beilin and Sarid refused to entertain, and makes them the cornerstones of the plan.

But that’s not what makes this plan dangerous. The danger lies in the fact that this peace plan’s proponents are targeting Jewish settlement youths and older settlers who truly believe that coexistence is possible, repackaged to make the plan sound benign.

Unlimited Arab Refugees Allowed to Overrun Israel

The “Two State, One Homeland” website clearly states (emphasis added):

Immigration and naturalization Both states will have the right to define their own laws of immigration and naturalization within its boundaries. The State of Palestine would be at liberty to naturalize Palestinian refugees as it sees fit, and the state of Israel will be at liberty to naturalize the Jews of the diaspora, as it sees fit.

The Open Land vision a. The two states would be committed to a vision of one land, within which the citizens of both states have the right to travel and live in all parts of the land;

If their intentions aren’t clear enough from the text above, let me explain it, a fundamental cornerstone of the plan allows for the new Palestinian State to freely invite in millions of “Palestinian Refugees”.

Two million Jordanian Arabs, half a million Lebanese Arabs, and half a million Syrian Arabs (for starters) will be offered citizenship and entry into the new Palestinian state, where they will then be granted free access to the entire country — including the state of Israel, or what’s left of it.

Rabbi Riskin was surprised to learn this was a cornerstone of the plan, and made it clear that he in no way supports such an idea.

Efrat to Become Part of the Palestinian State

Rabbi Riskin was actually shocked to learn that his own town of Efrat would be transferred over to the Palestinian State, and any of its Jewish residents who choose to remain might be allowed to obtain Palestinian State citizenship, or otherwise will be granted “permanent residency” status.

It’s implied in the plan that the Jewish residents remaining inside the Palestinian State will be disarmed.

While he believes there can be land concessions in exchange for peace, Rabbi Riskin said he could never accept a plan that transfers sovereignty of the settlement blocs, and of Jews, away from the State of Israel.

What Demilitarized State?

While the plan calls for some “demilitarized zones” and decommissioning “armed militias and unauthorized organizations,” the Palestinian State will be anything but demilitarized.

In the Q&A section, the authors make it clear that the State of Palestine will be a completely independent sovereign entity with its own independent security force – but not to worry, the plan’s Arab co-authors say “they have no interest in tanks and planes.”

With a plan like this, they won’t need them.

By the way, all the plan’s Arab co-authors “are senior Fatah officials, all of whom served long stints in Israeli jails for murder,” according to the Jerusalem Post article.

Don’t you feel safer now about their intentions?


I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

This plan is nothing more than a regurgitation of the worst of the radical left’s most dangerous ideas.

But the authors are actually playing a different game.

They are trying to get it support from the settlers and the settlement youth, apparently through obfuscation of the dangerous ideas in the plan and playing off the naiveté and idealism of those they approach.

One peace-loving settler, who asked not to be named, told me he was approached by this group to attend one of their parlor meetings. He quickly caught on to their con.

But what about all the idealistic youths who are being targeted and don’t yet have the sophistication to ask the right questions or realize they are being hoodwinked?

One can only hope that Friedman is correct when he writes, “Predictably, the proposal has yet to make headway in the settlement community where distrust of the Palestinians is trumped only by a religious commitment to the Whole Land of Israel.”

It’s also trumped by sheer common sense, shared by about 70% of Israel’s voters who have been leaning decisively to the right over the past ten years. It’s highly doubtful they would buy this plan either – once they know what it actually says.

Stephen Leavitt

Rationality, Not Rational

Friday, August 9th, 2013

“V’zeh yihiye mishpat haKohanim me’et ham me’et zivchei hazevach im shor im seh vnatan l’Kohen hazroah zerah v’halechaim v’hakevah.

The most frustrating conversations are with those with whom we have deep fundamental disagreements. If conducted in the right spirit, without personal animus and with sincere dedication to the pursuit of truth, they can be very rewarding. When we surround ourselves only with those who see things exactly as we do, we limit our growth. When we surround ourselves only with those with whom we have fundamental disagreements, we never get past the same discussions. We need a balance between the two.

I have a dear friend, a moral philosopher who is a Torah observant Jew. Our fundamental disagreement, one which we can never get past, concerns the relationship between God’s Law and God’s morality. Because the answers to such momentous questions lie at the heart of one’s hashkafa, we need to explore them periodically, testing the current state of our thinking for validity and coherence.  Parshat Shoftim gives us such an opportunity.

After stipulating that the Kohanim receive Divine gifts in place of a tribal portion of the land, the Torah enumerates the Matnat Kehuna. When the meat is slaughtered for consumption, they receive the right shoulder, the two bones of the lower cheek, and the stomach or gullet. The Ramban contrasts the midrashic reading on the significance of these body parts to that of the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim. The former identifies each of the body parts with a feature of the zealous act of Pinchas. The right shoulder representing the shoulder with which Pinchas took the spear in his hand, the cheek bones representing the prayers he verbalized, and the stomach representing the organs of his victims, penetrated by his spear. In other words, the Matnat Kehuna are not a sinecure for the Kohanim but a reward for the acts of their ancestor. In Moreh Nevuchuim, however, the Rambam offers a more direct explanation: each of these organs is the most select of the animal’s body parts, the shoulder being the most select of the extremities, the stomach of its innards, etc. The Matnat Kehuna represent then the recognition that the best goes to God, in this case through the Kohanim who have been designated to serve Him.

This is not the only such explanation that the Rambam proposes. In Chelek Gimmel we find a broad selection of other mitzvot for which he offers rational bases. There is no question that the Rambam maintained that the mitzvot each convey a benefit upon Am Yisrael. At the same time, Jewish law retains its positivist basis for observance since these benefits are not the rationale for observance. The Rambam makes an important move that allows him to accommodate within his approach both the inherent rationality of the Law with its positivist basis for observance: the general outline of a particular precept is rational while its details need not be. In Chapter 26 (Pines translation):

“The generalities of the commandments necessarily have a cause and have been given because of a certain utility; their details are that in regard to which it was said of the commandments that they were given merely for the sake of commanding something.”

The Rambam cites shechitah as his prime example. As he elaborates in Chapter 48, the general mitzvah of shechitah is intended to allow the people to have the good food they require while protecting the animals they slaughter from a painful death. The general mitzvah then exhibits a rational purpose intended to benefit the people. The details, however, e.g., the particular simanim which must be cut, are “imposed with a view to purifying the people.” The Rambam is referring to a passage in Berashis Rabbah cited earlier that asks what difference should it make to Hakadosh Baruch Hu if animals are slaughtered by cutting their neck in front or in back? The Midrash answers: Say therefore that the commandments were only given in order to purify the people.”

The diyuk in the Midrash is clear: “What difference do the details make to Hakadosh Baruch Hu? Say therefore that the [details of the] commandments were only given in order to purify the people.” The Rambam can therefore conceive of a functionalist law with a positivist rationale for observance. The generalities of the Law are rational; the details of the Law are positivist in nature. The fact that the Torah exhibits an interior rationality does not preclude an absolute mandate for observance. By asserting that the details serve the purpose of requiring commitment to law independent of rational understanding, the Rambam puts the halachic system firmly on a positivist footing.

When the Rambam declares the Torah a reflection of the rational Mind of God, he does not mean to assert that it has lost its essential character as commandment. Those who interpret Jewish law as a set of social policy prescriptions miss the distinction between rationality and rationale. This confusion plagued the Wissenschaft des Judentums movement, leading those who saw Jewish legal sources as rational responses within a historical context to deny their binding nature. Similarly, those who cast Torah entirely as positivist decree may be victims of the same delusion, denying rationality in order to preserve rationale.

Rabbi Ozer Glickman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/rationality-not-rational/2013/08/09/

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