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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Australian Rabbi: Love Muslims and Everything Will Be OK

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Christian and Jewish religious leaders in Australia have launched a “We’ll love Muslims 100 years” campaign to express love and support for the country’s Muslim population, the JTA reported.

“We have Muslims who are made to feel like terrorists in the past few years and they report the atmosphere is similar to post-9/11 and it is simply as a result of cultural incompetence,” explained Rabbi Zalman Kastel, of the Together for Humanity Foundation.

He and pastor Brad Chilcott, national director of Welcome to Australia, a non-profit that focuses on issues relating to immigration and asylum, are heading the campaign that is supposed to make Islamic jihadists love Christians and Jews.

The name of the campaign – loving Muslims for 100 years – is a riff on a recent headline, published in the Weekend Australian, that stated, “We’ll fight Muslims 100 years,” according to a report in The Guardian.

It is clear why they will love Muslims for only 100 years and not any longer because if “love” is the solution to Muslim terror, there won’t be any Christians and Jews left in the world in the year 2114.

The year is 2024 is more likely, but let’s not quibble about the extra zero added on to 10 years.

Any assumption that Rabi Kastel is another Reform “rabbi” smoking The New York Times is dead wrong.

Believe it or not, he is a strictly Orthodox rabbi born and raised in Brooklyn.

He and his non-Jewish pals plan three major love events in Australia to rally Australian Muslims around the banner of love.

The Together for Humanity Foundation has been around for 12 years, in which time its love has paralleled the spread of fanatical Islam to the point that many Muslim countries as well as almost the entire non-Muslim world, except Israel, is scared to death, literally.

The Humanity Foundation was launched less than year after 9/11 and 12 years before the Islamic State ISIS has declared war on the United States, although President Barack Obama dismisses the declaration while ISIS beheads one American journalist, prepares another one for death and claims it has cells in the United States ready to strike fear into the hearts of heathen Christians and Jews who do not accept Islam. It does not mean middle class Islam but the real stuff that also expresses love – love for hate and love for death.

The catalyst for the “We’ll Love Muslims for 100 Years’ campaign was a recent headline the Weekend Australian, “We’ll fight Islam 100 years.”

It is forbidden to express the words “fight” in the world of Woodstock, unless one is fighting for “love” of everything, including hate. Or as John Lennon sang, “Imagine.” That is far as Rabbi Kastel’s reality goes – imagination.

But he insists he is not living in Woodstock.

It would be interesting to know what Talmudic discussion he uses for his outlook. But so far he is using his foundation’s Muslim president, Christian chairman and an atheist patron to back him.

The good rabbi, may God grant him a speedy spiritual recovery, is bothered by the “harsh talk” against Muslims in mainstream and social media.

“I was concerned about shrill, harsh talk we see both in social and mainstream, even though there is a lot of good interfaith work going on in Australia every day,” he said, quoted by the London Guardian.

“As a result, we have Muslims who are made to feel like terrorists in the past few years and they report the atmosphere is similar to post-9/11 and it is simply as a result of cultural incompetence.

“We are all on the same team, if I may use that word, in terms of the result, and that is peace.”

Israelis Fiercely Oppose Inter-Marriage

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Three-quarters of Israeli Jews and nearly two-thirds of Israeli Arabs would not marry someone from a different religion, according to a Dialog poll conducted by Haaretz this week.

The survey found that opposition to interfaith relationships was highest among Haredi Jews, at 95 percent, while 88 percent of traditional and religious Jews and 64 percent of secular Jews also opposed inter-dating.

Seventy-one percent of Muslim Israeli Arabs opposed interfaith relationships, but only half of Christian Israeli Arabs were opposed.

Across religious denominations, Israeli Jews would be much more opposed to their relatives marrying Arabs than they would be to relatives marrying non-Arab non-Jews. Only a third of secular Jewish Israelis would be opposed to a relative marrying an American or European Christian, but a majority would oppose a relative marrying an Arab. Seventy-two percent of Israeli Jews overall would be opposed to a relative marrying an Arab.

Last week, a small far-right group protested in Jaffa outside the wedding of an Israeli Arab and a Jewish-born Israeli who converted to Islam.

Intermarriage rage in Israel used to be minimal but has grown to approximately to five percent nationwide, and only 1 per cent of less in Judea and Samaria.

The primary cause for the rise increase is the large-scale immigration of Jews from the former Soviet bloc. Approximately 300,000 immigrated even though only the father was Jewish. A child is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, regardless of the religion of the father, according to Jewish law.

Not surprisingly, opposition to intermarriage was lowest among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. More than half would avoid having a relationship with a non-Jew, but if they were to fall in love with a non-Jew, only 35 percent would insist their spouse convert.

Two-thirds of Israeli Jews see intermarriage as a serious threat to Jews worldwide, and one-third see it as a serious threat to Jews in Israel.

The rate of intermarriage in the United States has shot up to more than 60 percent.

Rabbis Find Bugs in Most American Fruits and Vegetables

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The majority of fruits and vegetables are now suspect for infestation, according to rabbinic authorities.

Rabbis are finding the tiny bugs in previously “clean” fruits and vegetables under the microscope, and the (Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc website notes that it “is continuing conducting an intense review of its policy regarding insect infestation in fruits and vegetables.”

The rabbis note that the insects can be removed with proper cleaning but add that most people simply do not have the knowledge to do such a proper cleaning. Bug checking has become a major topic for seminars for rabbis and kosher supervisors as well as ordinary consumers.

The cRc wants to keep customers away from that task. “Many times one comes across a fruit or vegetable that is highly infested with insect,” they said. “This is especially true with some organic produce. In such a case, one should not attempt to try and check and remove the insects and the produce should not be used. This is due to the fact that you are highly unlikely to properly check and remove all of the insects.”

A Montreal kosher supervisor Montreal recently issued a “kashrus alert” about strawberries that were found to contain bugs.

However, kosher agencies offer advice on how to cut the suspected fruit or vegetable and how to properly rinse. For those in kosher food service this can create havoc in a business.

“Imagine ordering a large quantity of a fruit or vegetable only to be told by the rabbi that I cannot use it because my agency just sent out an alert about it,” one caterer said.

A major kosher supermarket said it had to discontinue some salads when such notices were received by their rabbi. Some vegetables have become no-nos as rabbis say they cannot be checked.

A good example is artichokes, which the rabbis say cannot be properly checked for insects and are not recommended. Fresh artichoke bottoms may be used after a general inspection to rule out obvious infestation. Canned artichoke bottoms are acceptable only with a reliable approval from a kosher agency.

Frozen artichoke bottoms may be used if there are no added kosher sensitive ingredients. When asked for their reaction, some rabbis simply said that when pesticides are no longer used, it is no mystery why the bugs thrive.

Consuming bugs is against Jewish law.

War Diary: A Letter to My California Cousins

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write.

I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza.

No matter what is reported in the United States about the war, the pictures inevitably are those of bloodied Gaza children who were killed by IDF forces today.

For the first time in the past two decades of conflicts with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah, Israel has found itself in a live or die situation in which Hamas, like Hezbollah eight years ago, uses civilians as human shields, a war crime.

Any other country would have finished this war in a day by carpet bombing terror-infested areas, no matter the cost of lives. A couple of thousands of innocent people would have been killed, Israel would be condemned left and right, but by sheer might, the IDF would have been able to continue to take over the rest of Gaza. The Arabs there would know they would meet the same fate as the first 2,000 if they cooperated with Hamas and allowed themselves to be exploited.

Unlike many others, I am happy the world judges Israel by the double standard because in order to be a Light Unto Nations, we really have to stick to our own standard.

That is why the IDF did not carpet bomb Gaza today. It also cannot continue to allow Hamas to threaten our existence by committing the war crime of using civilians as human shields. Those civilians killed today were innocent victims. I will not get into the argument if they were victims of the IDF and Hamas. I know the answer, and everyone can come up with his own conclusion.

I will say that whatever news you read, it is not complete.

Back in 1981 or 1982, I was a senior copy editor for one of Canada’s largest newspapers. That is a fancy title for five people who sit at a desk, rip off wire copy and decide what you will read and what you will not read.

At that time, I was totally out of touch with family. I had rejected Judaism for journalism and certainly had no connection with Israel. I never did. I never was a Zionist. I refused to look at pictures from Israel when my parents, may their memory be for a blessing, came back from their first trip here in 1960. My reason was that the country is not a religious state. At that time, at the age of 16, I was very, very observant.

So with that background, with no knowledge of Israel and not a care about the country, I read the wire copy that reported about the war in Lebanon. Every day, I read about the IDF “invading” and bombing Lebanon, and somewhere later in the articles, I read that Hezbollah had fired rockets on the Galilee.

This went on day after day. I read between the lines and told myself that something did not make sense. That is when I gave up journalism and set in motion my eventual return to Judaism. The spark of being a Jew never is extinguished.

I walked into the office one day and announced I was quitting the highest paying job I ever had and ever will have in my life. I didn’t even think of explaining why. No one would have understood.

There is in inherent bias in foreign media that Israel is wrong. “Objective” news reports are reported with the assumption that something is not right with Israel. That is true in the spiritual sense. Israel still is not what people want it to be.

Chabad Gives New Tefillin to Wounded Soldiers Who Lost Them in Battle

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wounded IDF soldiers whose tefillin were destroyed in clashes with Hamas received a pleasant surprise in the hospital on Wednesday with a brand new set presented by Young Chabad, the Kikar Shabbat website reported.

Several troops told visitors in the hospital that they were without their tefillin, and the Lubavitch House in Paris responded quickly to help fulfill a request to replace them.

Members of Young Chabad visited the soldiers the same day with a visit and a gift of new tefillin.

One woman from Pisgat Ze’ev, in northern Jerusalem, said that her son, who suffered injuries that required the amputation of one leg, learned in Chabad while in Morocco.

“This is the most important gift for my son,” she said.

Kidnapping Saga: Lapid Dusts Off His Siddur to Pray

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Secular Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid’s turning to prayer for the safe return of three teenagers kidnapped by Palestinian Authority terrorists symbolizes the country’s ability to plug the dikes against surrender to the frustration that has followed the initial reaction of anger to the abductions.

Every media outlet in the country has rightfully tried to keep the crisis in the headlines, but the truth is that for all the efforts to report something new, the bottom line is “nada.”

Zilch. Zero.

If the security forces know something, they aren’t saying or may even be lying to throw the terrorists off course. Hanging on to every word to interpret, analyze and dissect, journalists have covered every possibility and every angle possible,  and the IDF has carried out thousands of searches for the terrorists and their captives, Gilad Sha’ar, Naftali Frankel and Eyah Yifrach.

Lapid, during a visit to the family of Sha’ar, told Gilad’s mother, “I haven’t prayed for six years. Since the bar mitzvah of my son I haven’t been in a synagogue. When the story of your sons broke, I looked through the entire house searching for my grandfather’s siddur. I sat and prayed.”

It would be easy – and mean – to ridicule Lapid, whose who has made a religion out of spewing venom against observant Jews, especially Haredim.

Mocking him so would simply be another way of venting frustration, and we have already seen this week enough cracks in the unity that Israelis have displayed in their prayers for the kidnap victims and the trust that the IDF will find them alive and will capture the terrorists, dead or alive.

Naftalii Frankel’s mother Racheli said this week, “I believe wholeheartedly that they will return, but whatever happens, remember God does not work for us. Do not forget, even if God forbid, something happens, I believe they will come back but if not, please be united. Be united.”

Not everyone was listening.

David Ha’Ivri, who has done wonders in the Shomron Regional Council to bring journalists like Lapid as well as foreign media and political leaders to see for themselves that Jews are not oppressors and that settlers are not terrorists, vented his anger and frustration on the Arutz Sheva website Thursday and blamed the Israeli security forces for not preventing the kidnapping.

And Rabbi Dov Lior of Hebron-Kiryat Arba, one of the leading national religious rabbis, blamed the kidnappings on the failure of Israelis to do more mitzvot.

Between Ha’Ivri, Rabbi Lior and Lapid, guess which one gets the thumbs up for saying the right thing at the right time?

As every day passes without real news, the danger grows that frustration will turn to hopelessness.

Pundits already are warning that the army’s operating against the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria could have repercussions as we get closer to next week’s beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Security forces have arrested more than 300 terror suspects and killed at least one, while three soldiers have suffered light injuries.

Rabbi Berel Wein, in comments on the Jewish view of frustration., has written,  “Usually, frustration leads to feelings of anger and anger leads to bitterness of spirit and even to violence….

“’Blowing off steam’ is an understandable reaction to moments of extreme frustration. Yet the Torah and Jewish tradition militates strongly against such expressions of anger in almost all circumstances of life. Maimonides, who advocates moderation and a middle of the road approach regarding all human behavior traits, nevertheless advocates extremism in avoiding anger.

“The Talmud is replete with statements denigrating anger as a response to the frustrations of life. Anger is a statement that there is no God present in the world. Anger by its very presence is heresy and a denial of faith.”

Easier said than done, but Lapid, of all people, has shown the country how to do it.

Ten Questions on Evolution and Judaism

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

“Heresy!” An uproar erupted in parts of Israel yesterday when the Education Ministry announced that evolution will be taught to seventh through ninth grade pupils across the state education system, including in national-religious schools. Evolution is feared by many as being heretical. But is this really the case?

Here are ten questions about evolution and Judaism, along with brief answers. This does not substitute for the detailed discussion that this topic requires; it is merely intended as an introduction.

1) Evolution is alleged to have taken place over millions of years. But doesn’t the Torah teach that the universe was created just a few thousand years ago?

There is a strong (albeit not universal) tradition in Judaism that “the account of creation is not all to be taken literally,” to quote Maimonides. Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman (1843-1921), a member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages, suggested that the Six Days of Creation were lengthy eras rather than 24-hour periods. Maimonides himself, as the commentaries on the Guide to the Perplexed reveal, was of the view that the Six Days represent a conceptual rather than historical account of creation.

2) Why should schools accommodate evolution? Isn’t it just a theory, not a fact?

“Evolution” is a confusing term, because it covers two very different concepts. One is common ancestry, the concept that all animal life arose from a common ancestor – simple organisms gave rise to fish, fish to amphibians, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to birds and mammals (without getting into how that could have happened). This is supported by a wealth of converging evidence along with testable predictions. Common ancestry is considered by all scientists (except certain deeply religious ones) to be as well-established as many other historical facts, and is thus often referred to as “the fact of evolution.” It is of immense benefit in understanding the natural world – for example, it tells us why whales and bats share anatomical similarities with mammals, despite their superficial resemblance to fish and birds.

The second and very different aspect of evolution is the mechanism via which one species changes into another. This is called the “theory” of evolution. It is, however, important to bear in mind that the word “theory” has a very different meaning in science than in everyday conversational English. It does not refer to wild speculation, but rather to an explanatory mechanism. Most, though not all, biologists believe that random mutations, coupled with natural selection, broadly suffice to explain this mechanism. The issue is, however, of zero religious significance, as we shall explain in the answer to the next question.

3) How can we accept scientific explanations for how animal life came about? It was God who made everything!

We have a science of meteorology, but that does not stop us from saying that God “makes the wind blow and the rain fall.” We have a science of medicine, but this does not stop us from saying that God “heals the sick.” We have documented history of the process involved in winning the ’67 war, but this does not stop us from talking about God’s miraculous hand. God can work through meteorology, through medicine, through history, and through developmental biology. This is why it makes no difference if the neo-Darwinian explanation of the mechanism for evolution is true or not.

4) Doesn’t the Torah say that animals and man were created from the ground, not from earlier creatures?

Indeed it does. But what does that mean? The blessing recited over bread is “Blessed are You… Who brings bread out of the ground.” But what actually happens is that God created wheat, which man sows, nature grows, and man transforms into bread. Yet the blessing simplifies this in describing God as bringing bread out of the ground. By the same token, the description of God bringing animal life out of the ground can refer to His creating the raw material of nature and the natural processes that lead to the formation of animal life.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/rationalist-judaism/ten-questions-on-evolution-and-judaism/2014/06/02/

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