Letters to the Editor
Doesn’t the liberal view of the world seem so alien? A genocidal madman like Saddam Hussein is beaten and captured, yet liberals are calling for George Bush’s head. Huh? Islamic terrorists blow up busloads of Jewish children and liberals vilify the Israelis and sympathize with the Arabs. This obsession with moral equivalence is so perverse it cannot succeed; it’s just a fabricated reality based on illusion and denial.
Boca Raton, FL
Once again, this time thanks to Sen. Sam Brownback (“Standing Steadfast With Israel,” op-ed, July 30) we see that Torah Jews have more in common with the Christian Right here in America than we do with our assimilated liberal brethren, who, according to every poll and study, are overwhelmingly in favor of gay ‘rights,’ abortion on demand, situational morality, etc.
In addition, no group in America is as irreligious as our Jewish people, who consistently rank behind every other ethnic and religious demographic in terms of attendance at religious services, belief in God, and knowledge of the Bible.
Personally, I would feel more at home with a Bible-believing Christian like Sam Brownback as my neighbor than a liberal Jew who thinks that religion is outdated and that one must follow the editorial line of The New York Times in order to be a cultured and intelligent human being.
New York, NY
In the My Machberes column of July 30, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum wrote that the great Yonason ben Uziel promised that whoever prayed at his tomb (at a place called Amuka in Eretz Yisroel, according to the article) for a match, would have their wish granted within a year.
It should be noted that the renowned librarian and scholar Rabbi Meir Wunder (author of Meorei Galicia encyclopedia, among other works), did a study some years ago and discovered that belief in the powers of prayer at that site was non-existent until it was concocted by a tour company circa 1953-5713 (cited by Rav Nosson Kaminetsky in Making of a Godol, volume I, book one, p. 688-9). Therefore I think people should not be overly taken with that claim.
If individuals do choose to pray there, presumably they are not committing a very overwhelming transgression. However, we should at least be careful not to get their hopes up too high by promising results within a year, when they may later be dashed, with the people possibly suffering great disappointment and letdown if their match takes somewhat longer to appear.
Also, it is known that many people have prayed there and remained single for a long time afterward. How does that make Yonason ben Uziel look? Hopefully not, chas v’sholom, like someone who is not reliable. Therefore I think that people should be careful with regard to repeating such tales. Our Torah is a Toras Emes and we should stay away from claims that have no basis in our tradition, no matter how tempting they may seem.
Boruch M. Selevan
More On Menachem Av
In a letter to the editor in the July 30 issue, Rabbi Marshall Gisser criticized my Expounding the Torah column of July 16 in which I wrote that Menachem Av means we console Hashem; he writes that we cannot console Hashem, nor can we ascribe any human emotions to Him. He is the Creator and we are the created, and He needs nothing from us.
Certainly, we cannot attribute any physical features and human emotions to Hashem. Yet, we find a deep, intricate and innate relationship between Jews and Hashem. As such, the service of Am Yisrael in tefilla, Torah and mitzvos is connected with Hashem. When I wrote about the meaning of Menachem Av, I said that it means we console the Av, our Father in Heaven.
Our Sages tell us (Berachos 3a) that Hashem is saddened by our exile, as He declares, “Woe unto the Father – Hashem – who exiled His children among the non-Jews.” Therefore we may – and should – console Hashem, kavyachol.
The galus haShechina – the exile of the Shechina – is a prevalent term in the Talmud and midrash. Thus the Talmud teaches (Megillah 29a), Come and see how precious Jews are before Hashem. For, wherever the Jews went into exile, the Shechina went [along], to Egypt, to Babylon, etc. As such, the exile has an effect on Hashem; Rashi notes (Devarim 30:3) that Hashem, in the Torah, wrote a redemption for Himself. Also, it is written (Vayikra 16:16), ”Who dwells with them in their impurity.”
With reference to the connection between a son and his father, the Talmud states (Shavuos 48a), ”The power of the son is better than the power of the father.” It’s better, yet the son’s power stems from the father’s power.
Every feature here evolves from its spiritual roots Above. In all Jewish souls here there is vested the Essence of Hashem, as Tanya states (Ch. 2) ”Every Jewish soul is part of Hashem from Above.” As such, Jews have the power of a son (Devarim 14:1) and we are thus able to console Hashem.
This is similar to the Talmudic story (Bava Metzia 59b) which describes Hashem as saying, “My children, you have been victorious over Me!”
The Shaloh (Ten Maamaros 29a) clarifies the Mishnah (Avos 6:11): ‘All that Hashem created in His world, He created solely for His glory.” For Hashem created the world in a way that our service is for the need of Hashem, and He gains pleasure when His will is fulfilled. Thus the Talmud cites Hashem’s words to Am Yisrael (Berachos 6a): “You have made Me a significant entity in the world.” As is written in Nach (Job 14:15), ”For the work of Your hands (i.e., the human beings) You desire.”
May we continue to serve Hashem and may He redeem us – and Himself – from galus, with the speedy advent of Moshiach.
Rabbi Abraham Stone
The Left’s Hate-America Obsession
Avi Davis’s July 16 op-ed article (“Liberal Smarts – Or Lack Thereof?”) perfectly captures the breathtaking combination of arrogance and ignorance that is the Politically Correct Liberalism of today, particularly on our college campuses.
Were they alive, old-style liberal patriots such as FDR, JFK, Hubert Humphrey or Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson would doubtless be appalled by the blatant anti-American venom spewed by the likes of Nicholas de Genova, the Columbia University professor who at a spring 2003 “anti-war” rally there called for “a million Mogadishus” to defeat “the U.S. war machine.”
But I think Mr. Davis errs on the side of charity when he attributes this phenomenon to merely “an inability to appreciate that the rules of war have changed” and to not yet being “capable of comprehending” the threat that Islamofascism poses to our way of life.
Yes, they are, as he said, grounded in “the dialectics of the Cold War” – and therein lies the problem. Many of these people came of age, politically, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era. They were indoctrinated by Marxist-oriented professors who taught them that America was a fundamentally evil country founded by slaveholders and made great by greedy land-grabbers, robber barons, environmental polluters and military imperialists. Brutal Soviet despots and Third World dictators and killers who defied Evil America were romanticized and presented as wise, benevolent champions of “equality” and “peace.”
Every flaw in the American system was mercilessly picked apart and every abuse in the systems of our enemies whitewashed and rationalized away. Many of that generation’s young brainwashees stayed on campus, first as grad students, then as adjunct instructors and, years later, as full faculty members; they in turn taught this “tradition” to their pupils, some of whom also became today’s teachers of Mr. Davis and his probably much less-discerning fellow students.
Having imbibed this toxic brew for decades, is it any wonder that although we now fight a very different enemy, many U.S. “academics” – and through their influence, our media and popular culture – still reflexively cast America’s leaders (particularly Republican ones) not merely as perhaps mistaken on a particular policy, but as wicked, devious conspirators and manipulators who always pursue wrong-minded, evil policies.
Just as they cheered the Communist victory in Vietnam in 1975 following our withdrawal, they nodded approvingly when Evil America was humiliated by Ayatollah Khomeini’s followers during the 444-day U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis as payback for our support for the deposed Shah. They thought it equally just when Osama bin Laden’s air pirates murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 as payback for our troop presence in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East, our support of Israel, and our role as the world’s un-Islamic “Great Satan.”
To these people, we have always been the bad guys – and, apparently, always will be.
Far Rockaway, NY
The Democrats And Their Convention
Anyone who grows up in the Jewish community comes to know people whose perspective on life can be distilled into the question they ask about any event or occurrence: Is it good for the Jews or is it not good for Jews?
Last week the Democratic Party opened its national convention on the night of Tisha b’Av. How can anything that starts on Tisha b’Av be good for the Jews? History is full of troubles that started for Jews on that date – the return of the spies who told Moshe that Israel was no good, the destruction of the Temples, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the start of World War I. Might there not be a message from Hashem here?
(One also has ask the following: If there were an official day of mourning in the African American community that commemorated the historical suffering of black people, would the Democratic Party dare convene a convention on the evening of its observance?)
Still don’t get the message? What about the lack of any mention of the importance of Israel as an ally and friend of the United States by the presidential nominee, Mr. Kerry? Or the presence of Al Sharpton up front and center stage? While there are many good people within the Democratic Party who are very helpful and very good to the Jewish community, these questions and others warrant serious consideration.
New York, NY
Not Your Father’s Democratic Party
I am an American Jew, and I am voting for George Bush, but more precisely against the Democratic Party. My reasons:
1. Bush has had the courage to repeatedly defy the United Nations and to give Ariel Sharon the leeway he needs, both tacitly and explicitly, to take whatever action Sharon deems necessary to defend Israel. As recently as last week Sharon was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while the U.S. will press Iran to get rid of its nuclear weapons, it will not do the same to Israel, because America (read: George Bush) understands Israel’s special situation.
2. The Democratic Party is no longer my home, as it was for my parents and grandparents. The Zionist views and Jewish concerns of my family have not changed over the past 40 years; it is the Democratic Party that has undergone a stupefying transformation.
Look at the speakers who received thunderous applause at last week’s Democratic convention: Al Sharpton, Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson. Beyond the convention, look at some other very recent events that disclose much about the soul of the modern Democratic Party, if we Jews have the courage and objectivity to regard them squarely:
a. Several weeks ago, Democratic voters in a primary in Virginia renominated one of the most unabashed Israel bashers in the House of Representatives, James Moran.
b. Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the International Court’s decision declaring Israel’s security fence illegal. Forty-five Congressmen opposed the House resolution and supported the Court’s outrageous decision. Forty of them were Democrats.
c. David Brooks, in his July 26 column in The New York Times, quotes Michael Moore – who was honored with a seat in the presidential box at the Democratic convention – as saying, in discussing the epicenters of evil in the world, “It’s all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.”
The Democratic Party’s drift away from Jewish interests didn’t begin just yesterday; harbingers of it were visible here and there years ago. Today, however, the evidence has mounted to such a high level that it’s obvious to all except those who refuse to see it.
To those American Jews who are capable of looking at the facts without blinking, it is obvious that the future of Israel and, yes, possibly American Jewry itself is safer in the trust of George Bush and Tom DeLay than in the hands of Kerry, Sharpton, Carter, and Jesse Jackson.
Staten Island, NY