A Long And Storied Life
You know how to get to my heart and soul. The outstanding Oct. 7 In Memoriam reflections on the life of Arthur Federman by his grandchildren brought uncontrollable tears running down my cheeks. And then Naomi Klass Mauer’s Oct. 14 op-ed tribute to Mr. Federman made me choke up once again.
At my age (I’ll be 90 next month), I can easily relate. And I can readily appreciate Mr. Federman’s toils and troubles, and his boundless courage and determination to succeed in what was a long and storied life.
Thanks for sharing.
Los Angeles, CA
Learning From Saul Singer
Saul Jay Singer never ceases to amaze me with his weekly “Collecting Jewish History” columns and his occasional front-page essays. His Oct. 14 front-pager, “The Art of Sukkot,” was an enjoyable and educational tour de force of history, culture, and the arts.
I learn so much from each of Mr. Singer’s articles.
Kindness To Animals
Many Orthodox Jews seem not to know or care that the Bible and Jewish law are full of admonitions and commandments to protect animals, nature, and the environment. Indeed, such teachings are fundamental to Judaism and its traditions.
Kindness to animals is even required in The Ten Commandments, wherein God forbids us to make our farm animals work on the Sabbath; we must give them, too, a day of rest (Exodus 20:10; 23:12).
When God made his promise to Noah and generations to come never again to destroy the earth with a flood, He included in the Covenant “every living creature….the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth…” (Genesis 9: 12-17).
Psalm 36 states, “…man and beast thou savest, O Lord. How precious is thy steadfast love…” And Proverbs 12:10 suggests there are two types of people: “A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Truly, in the words of Psalm 145:9, “His compassion is over all His creatures.”
Indeed, Jews invented the concept of kindness to animals some 4,000 years ago. There is an entire code of laws (“tsa’ar ba’alei chaim,” the requirement “to prevent the suffering of living creatures”) mandating that animals be treated with compassion. Jews are not allowed to “pass by” an animal in distress or animals being mistreated, even on the Sabbath.
It is hard to imagine that abuse of animals would be pleasing to a merciful God Who repeatedly prohibited cruelty to animals and Who instructs us to allow our animals an entire day of rest on the Sabbath; to leave some crops in the fields for the wildlife; and to allow oxen to eat while working.
Trump And Jewish Values
Re Sara Lehmann’s Oct. 14 “Right Angle” column, in which she makes the case for supporting Donald Trump:
Although non-Orthodox Jews overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, Orthodox Jews overwhelmingly side with Trump over Clinton. No one should be surprised that so many Orthodox Jews disapprove of Clinton, but maybe we should be astonished at the number and percentage who support Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency.
Is Trump at all in line with fundamental Orthodox Jewish values, whether Modern Orthodox, haredi, or otherwise? I believe the answer is a clear no:
* Character. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of basic decency in how he treats his fellow human beings, frequently insulting and shaming people. Our tradition emphasizes the gravity of embarrassing someone by comparing doing so to committing murder.
* Business Practices. Trump justifies his fitness for the presidency on his supposed business acumen and success. Yet he has a troubling history of failing to pay what he owes to contractors and workers, even when he walks away with millions.
* Disregard for Truth. One of the most widespread criticisms of Hillary Clinton is over her lying and deception. Yet, after evaluating more than 250 statements from each candidate, the respected fact-checking website Politifact rated 27 percent of Clinton’s statements as Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire – not even close to Trump’s 71 percent rated as Mostly False or worse.
* Arrogance and Narcissism. Trump’s obsession with poll numbers, popularity, and winning show his narcissistic self-absorption. He defines as a loser anyone who does not support him. He has made the preposterous claim that he knows more about the ISIS terrorist group than “the generals.” In Judaism we value modesty and humility.
* Tolerance of Anti-Semitism. Trump has a number of times re-tweeted items from far right anti-Semitic writers, and he has refused to quickly and unequivocally distance himself from avowed anti-Semites and racists.
* Racism. Trump’s stereotyping of Mexicans as rapists and murderers should offend all Jews, who have too often been victims of vile characterizations.
* Sexism. Trump repeatedly belittles and demeans women, calling them dogs and pigs and focusing on their weight and appearance. Recent revelations seem to indicate that Trump’s attitudes have at times translated into predatory behavior toward women.
* Lack of Self-Control. Trump gets irritated easily, lashing out in response to the merest of perceived slights. Despite repeated promises from some supporters that Trump would start acting more presidential, we have seen that he cannot maintain such an act for long.
* Demagoguery. Despite promoting himself as a “law and order” candidate, Trump appears to have little respect for the rule of law and democratic norms, as can be seen from his praise of Russia’s Putin and his support of waterboarding and killing family members of terrorists.
* Israel Policy. We have no idea what Trump’s Israel policy is or might become. There’s almost no political issue on which Trump has not changed his position over the years.
How can someone committed to Jewish tradition, law, and values vote for, let alone support enthusiastically, a candidate who exhibits the character traits listed above? Any one of those traits ought to give pause to any voter, let alone to Orthodox Jews.Our Readers