web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Mel Gibson’

Mazel Tov – Cause For Weeping

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

There is so much tragedy, so much sham in the world, that people no longer know how to make a distinction between emes – truth, and blatant falsehood – and we Jews suffer from this plague more than others. Israel is constantly under attack, constantly demonized by a world that has become increasingly anti-Semitic, by a world that would secretly be happy to G-d forbid, see yet another Holocaust unfold.

Even a blind man has to see the brazenness with which anti-Semitism has escalated among the nations, and this despicable condition prevails in our own United States as well. From Jimmy Carter to Mel Gibson to Helen Thomas to Oliver Stone who spoke out in support of Hitler’s policies and damned the “Jews who control Washington,” anti Semitic vituperative continues unabated.

Oh yes, all these people were quick to apologize, but their apologies are empty, worthless words. The Jew-hater of today drops his venom and then hides behind those hypocritical words: “I’m sorry…I apologize…I misspoke…” And with those vacuous explanations, the Jewish community is lulled back to sleep. But what we have to remember is that the situation has become such that these hatemongers feel comfortable giving voice to their incendiary remarks.

Now it’s one thing when we, the Jewish people, have to deal with all these outside satanic forces, but it’s something else again when the decimation comes from within. Long ago, our prophets proclaimed, “Your destruction shall come from within…”

The Patriarch Jacob, whose life experience foretold our own exile, beseeched G-d, “Rescue me from the hands of my brother – from the hands of Esau…” (Genesis 32:12). Our sages comment on the apparent redundancy in the passage. After all, Jacob had only one brother, and he was Esau, Therefore, it is understood that the word brother must be a reference to him. Why then, the repetition?

But the Torah is imparting a profound, vital teaching, to help us survive the dangers that lurk in exile. Sometimes, it will be the bloody hands of Esau that will prey upon us, and that, alas, will be only too easy for us to identify. But at other times, the onslaught will be more insidious. Esau will appear in the guise of a brother and extend the hand of friendship, love and marriage. And that will spell the ultimate decimation through which, G-d forbid, entire families will silently disappear.

I recall, many years ago, when my husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, was called by a local funeral chapel to officiate at the funeral service of an elderly Jewish woman. In her old age, the woman had moved to Florida, but the family plot was in a cemetery in Queens, so they brought her back to New York for burial. Since there was no family rabbi to officiate, my husband was called by the chapel.

When my husband returned home, he broke down and wept. I was at a loss to understand his total grief. After all, the woman was in her late 90s. She had lived to a ripe old age and my husband had never met her. Why the extreme reaction, I wondered. When I asked him for an explanation, he told me that she left behind three sons, and the wives of all three wore little crosses around their necks… the grandchildren, of course, were not Jewish.

“Today,” my husband said, his voice choking with tears, “I buried the last Jew in this family. Thousands of years of Torah and majesty, thousands of years of sacrifice and martyrdom have come to an end for this family with the death of this old lady. Is this not cause to weep?” my husband asked. His question hung in the air. There was no answer anyone could give.

All this occurred many years ago. In those days, there were still individuals capable of shedding tears at the thought of a Jewish family silently disappearing in the melting pot of intermarriage. Today, such events have become so commonplace that no one even takes notice. And more, in many Jewish circles, there is actual rejoicing. “As long as my children are happy, that is all that matters” parents rationalize. With over 50-90 percent intermarriage, depending upon the community, the Jewish people are silently hemorrhaging, and most often, these events are greeted with shouts of “Mazel tov!”

A case in point was this week’s wedding of Chelsea Clinton to Mark Mezvinsky, a Jewish young man. I actually heard some of our people respond to this interfaith marriage presided over by a Reform rabbi and a Christian minister with excitement and elation.

“Isn’t it wonderful,” they gushed, “that in the midst of all the dismal news in the world, we can celebrate such a joyous event! Mazel Tov! It just goes to prove that all this talk about anti-Semitism is highly exaggerated.”

There are people among us who are so far removed from their faith that they don’t even begin to comprehend the extent of the Jewish tragedy. Whether it’s Chelsea Clinton marrying Mark Mezvinsky or Caroline Kennedy sealing her marriage vows with Edwin Schlossberg, it doesn’t diminish the painful reality of yet another Jewish family silently disappearing. The fact that multitudes do not see it this way, the fact that they do not comprehend the loss compounds the sorrow and testifies to the spiritual bankruptcy of our people.

Alas, it is only too easy for some of today’s Jews to give up their faith since they do not know what they are giving up. They belong to an orphaned generation that lives without a memory, without a past.

My husband’s tears were not only for that elderly Jewish mother, but for all the mothers and fathers who have become the last on their family trees. Not only is there no one to remember their names, but there is no one to even pronounce the Kaddish for them. Just consider that tragedy, and you too will weep.

Misfocusing On Mel

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

        This summer there was a big hue and cry over the anti-Jewish rants uttered by a very drunk Mel Gibson after he was stopped by police for driving like a drunk – out of control, with an inability to think and judge clearly.

 

         While most people were outraged by the rather nasty remarks he spewed out regarding his God’s kinsmen, they glossed over an equally disturbing mindset of his – an apparent disregard for human life – as manifested by his knowingly getting behind the wheel of a car while he was physically and mentally impaired by alcohol. For there can be no dispute that cars – being driven by those whose judgment and reflexes have been undermined by alcohol, drugs, medication, lack of sleep, dementia, severe depression, illness, distractions like cell phones, eating/drinking/reading/putting on makeup etc. – become weapons of mass destruction. Hospitals and cemeteries testify to this fact on the ground.

 

         When he turned on the ignition and went barreling down the highway, Gibson, who knew he had a drinking problem – he was not a novice who accidentally imbibed too much and had no idea of the debilitation affect alcohol would have on his ability to drive a car – was demonstrating to the world that if he indeed cared about other people’s safety and their right to live an intact life – it wasn’t a priority. His “needs” came first.

 

         And that was where the outrage should have been focused on – not on the ravings of a gentile with a chip on his shoulder. There are millions of anti-Semites on this planet. Even Jewish ones. What’s the big deal if there is one more? And based on his recent movie about the Crucifixion, his attitude towards Jews should have come as no surprise.

 

         The very real possibility that he could have maimed or killed a young person taking an early morning jog, or a middle-aged mother walking the family pet is what everyone’s ire should be focused on, not his pathetic, unoriginal remarks about the Jews.  Due to irresponsible driving, lives with tremendous potential a have been prematurely snuffed out. Parents who spent years nourishing and protecting their children see the fruit of their labor destroyed. Parents bury children and children bury parents and families are demolished.

 

         And unlike bigots, cars driven by impaired drivers do not discriminate. Everyone is a target.

 

         Because of his fame, Gibson was singled out, but in reality he is typical of millions of individuals who unfortunately who put their self-serving needs, wants and agendas above the common good – never mind that their self-absorbed indulgences put others at risk. These don’t just include people who are impaired (while driving, flying or boating) but also those who deliberately misrepresent their skills or their products or their message, or  those who are capable and competent but  who end up doing incomplete or shoddy work.

 

         Why? There are several simple but morally unacceptable reasons: love of money; apathy, laziness,  lack of time, boredom,  a lack of interest or integrity to give their full attention to the task at hand. Others simply have a hidden, self-serving agenda.

 

         People from all walks of life and social and economic levels and cultures are guilty of this callous behavior, and range from professionals such as pharmacists, doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, therapists, politicians, journalists and teachers to tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, mechanics; manufacturers and retailers, food growers and restaurant owners and staff – and even sellers of “kosher” meat.

 

         Many are so self absorbed and so focused on themselves that they truly do not give a damn if the outcome of their incompetent, apathetic or unethical actions cause serious harm to individuals or groups of people. Their prime directive is to make themselves feel good – who cares if it’s at the expense of innocent people who just want to live their lives in relative peace and comfort?

 

         And that is where the public outrage should be focused. At self-indulgent behavior that puts others at risk – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

 

         As the child of Holocaust survivors, it wasn’t pleasant for me to hear a well-known celebrity’s poisonous tirade against the Jews, but more troublesome for me was the fact that the “Lethal Weapon” star, by driving drunk and not in control of his “wits” had indeed become a lethal weapon. Thanks to the police who stopped him – the only carnage that resulted – was to his own reputation.

Letters To The Editor

Friday, November 14th, 2003

Flickering Light

As a former fundamentalist Protestant I extend kudos to Ben Noach Roy Neal Grissom, who touched on many significant issues in his Oct. 3 letter to the editor.

Here’s a news flash – Torah isn’t politically correct. What is this insanity of Orthodox Jews who are registered Democrats? The Democratic party - that left-leaning tower of pseudo virtue; a party that proudly supports abortion, gay marriage, etc. Last year I worked at the polls for the first time and saw the registration list. Of the 100 or so Orthodox Jews I know in my polling precinct, only five were registered as Republicans and none as Independents.

And then there are all those museums that claim to be devoted to Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish life, and so forth. But many of these are really (or also) devoted to ‘tolerance,’ multi-culturalism, etc. There are Jews who are destitute, shuls with no Torah scrolls, and soldiers and security guards without bulletproof vests in Israel. Yet there are a lot of Jews, some of them Orthodox, who are giving money to support these museums. And, sad to say, they are proud of themselves. It makes me sick.

Finally, regarding the Bnei Noach: In my 10 years of Jewish life I have never heard any rabbi stress from any pulpit our obligation to teach the Seven Laws of Noach. In fact, I have heard the Bnei Noach spoken of only once, at a Shabbos table in an Orthodox home with liberal, intellectual pretenses. The attitude of those at the table was benign amusement at what they felt was a rather quixotic movement.

We have failed, and are failing, in our responsibility to be ‘a light unto the nations.’ We can and must do better. When I was an Evangelical Protestant we use to talk about the problem of ‘bless me clubs’ - people who essentially prayed that G-d would bless them, their family, their friends, and the people in their church. Oh, they wanted others to be blessed as well, but never lifted a finger or prayed for it to happen. In essence they wanted their own little club:
G-d and themselves.

I’m afraid that Judaism too has its “bless me clubs.” Their prayer seems to be, “Bless my family, my friends, my shul – and don’t bother me with the rest.”

I’ve been a Roman Catholic, an agnostic, and an Evangelical Protestant. I can tell you that there are vast numbers of people who would eagerly become Bnei Noach, and some who would convert to Judaism (yes, I mean Orthodox Judaism) if they knew what it was about and that it were possible. But then we would have to enlarge our tents and our little club would not be so exclusive.

I hope that those who read this letter will open their eyes and hearts a little to the vast potential we have in this new year. The potential to shift American culture back toward traditional values by voting for conservative candidates, to prioritize Jewish funding, and to be “a light unto the nations.”

Chavah bat-Avraham
(Via E-Mail)


Talking Tashlich (I)

Mr. David Love (Letters, Oct. 3) laments the lack of attendance at the Tashlich ritual since, in his opinion, it offers an opportunity for social interaction. In fact the Aruch Hashulchan, in Hilchos Rosh Hashana, states that it is preferable to avoid the Tashlich ritual entirely since it leads to prohibited social mingling.

Yitzchok Lieberman
Brooklyn, NY



Talking Tashlich (II)

You say that it was “a twenty-year hiatus” since your last visit to Queens for Tashlich, Mr. Love. And yet you express surprise at the change in “scenery” that greeted you on Rosh Hashanah afternoon. Unless you’ve been stranded on a far-away island, you must know that within that substantial time frame there was much going on – much that affected us individually and as a whole.

Let me explain. While I do recall looking forward to Tashlich in my youth – or, to be truthful, to the latest in fashion, gossip, and to catching the eye of that cute guy - I somehow fail to remember feeling remorseful for the past year’s misdeeds, the tears threatening to spill, or the beseeching recital of the meaningful words in my Machzor that were composed and assembled centuries ago for this soul-searching occasion.

But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone. Its lessons, though, have served to carry us baby boomers to a higher plateau - so necessary to fight the temptations that surround us in this increasingly decadent world.

Ahh … the innocence of a bygone era leaves us filled to the brim with nostalgia for the ‘good old days,’ along with a strengthened resolve to fight the ever-present yetzer hara – and to keep our own children from getting mired in its snares.

Tashlich is not about standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by. Nor was it instituted as a shidduch social event. Rather, it is an exalted opportunity to connect with our Maker and to cleanse ourselves spiritually before the day of reckoning. Somewhat of a challenging task, in view of the physical (gashmius) enticements that beckon to us from all directions.

That rebbe you mention in your letter, Mr. Love, is on to something. And you can bet he isn’t the only one. Today’s tzores (troubles) awaken us to the reality that our Father in Heaven is the One to turn to. A social gathering is hardly conducive to such solemn supplication.

Find a remote spot by the edge of a lake - a stream, a deserted stretch of beach – and allow yourself to contemplate the natural wonders of our Creator. Let humility and reverence wash over you. Those who’ve missed the opportunity to get in touch with their spiritual selves via this age-old lofty custom – take heart. You have till Hoshana Rabba to tune in, to hear the late autumn wind whistle its melancholy tune to your soul. Do let the sun catch you crying. It
will warm your heart.

Rachel Weiss
(Via E-Mail)


Big Bad Bush

The Bush/Cheney team constitutes a danger to the U.S. For years after he leaves office, President Bush will continue to negatively impact our future with consequences that defy comprehension. Bush’s childish beliefs that the realities of the world should be defined by him alone have - and will – cost America dearly.

Bush’s reasons for invading Iraq are now different from what they were during his State of the Union address, and he would have us believe that things are going well over there. His sole concern is that the wealthy are not rich enough; providing tax cuts to the wealthiest is his definition of acting righteously.

America was the leader of the world. Under Bush, the U.S. is a feared superpower that appears to be a rogue nation. We are defined as a selfish oil-grabbing aggressor interested only in the spoils of Iraq. Reliable, dependable and faithful allies no longer trust America. We have made ourselves outcasts in a world we once led.

Edward Horn
Baldwin, NY



Praise For Community

One of the things a Jew must do is be grateful for what Hashem has given him or her. I just wanted to write this letter to sing the praises of the Jewish community of Dallas, Texas.

My husband and I have been warmly welcomed by this community. There are such lovely people here, and such wonderful organizations. We have the Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA) which reaches and teaches no matter what your level. I’ve been taking classes through them for some time, and on a busy erev Shabbos Shuva one of my teachers took the time and trouble to call to see how we were doing and to offer his best wishes for the yomim
tovim. Often, as I take my lunchtime walk around one of the frum neighborhoods where I work, a rabbi will be passing in his car and slow down and even toot his horn to make sure I see that he is greeting me. (It’s very rare around here to hear anyone honking a horn!)

Some of the members of the community live in modest apartments; others live in grand, opulent homes. There is one lady of my acquaintance who lives in a breathtakingly beautiful home, and yet she is so down to earth. There is no arrogance about her at all. She attends the same classes I do. She and her husband are raising beautiful children, and I’m sure that has everything to do with the good middos of the parents.

One of our Dallas rabbis, Aryeh Rodin, graces the pages of The Jewish Press with his columns. We are so fortunate to have him here. He is a beacon of light that shines from here throughout the Torah world.

May this community continue to grow and prosper.

Phyllis M. LaVietes
DeSoto, TX



Sorry For The Oversight

Re ‘Sixty Years Since the March of the Rabbis on Washington’ (Jewish Press, Oct. 10):

Not to take any luster away from Rabbi Eliezer Silver, but the sponsor and leader of the delegation that marched on Washington was Rabbi Israel Rosenberg (of blessed memory), who was at the time president of the Agudas HaRabbonim and who happened to have been my grandfather. There was no mention of his name in the article.

Alice Pekelner
Brooklyn, NY


Kosher Twice A Year?

It is with great interest that I read the ‘Machberes’ column dealing with the Satmar Bes Din allowing an eruv in Williamsburg. It is something I have a tremendous difficulty understanding.

How is it that an eruv is permissible and kosher for two Shabbosim during the year and invalid the rest of the year? If the eruv is kosher for these two weeks, it is obviously kosher for the
other 50 weeks. If anything, we should be more machmir before Hoshana Rabba.

Has Yiddishkeit become a religion of convenience?

Chag Sameach.

Melvin Heching
Monsey, NY




Making Enemies Over ‘The Passion’

I read with interest both Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s and Rabbi Tovia Singer’s op-ed pieces on Mel
Gibson’s movie ‘The Passion’ (Jewish Press, Sept. 26). They both agree that the chances of an
explosion of anti-Semitism in America is an unlikely result of the film, though it seems that
Rabbi Singer is focusing on the possible reaction in Europe while Rabbi Lapin feels that the Jewish backlash against the movie risks alienating and causing a rift with the American Christian community, possibly leading to less of a welcome in this land and less support of Israel from them.

While I agree with Rabbi Singer that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe, I strongly feel that Rabbi Lapin’s scenario is a likely one in this country, and wonder how Rabbi Singer
would answer these questions:

1) Rabbi Singer implies that in the Mel Gibson film, “the Jews get all the credit for committing deicide.” I have read many articles about the film from people who have actually seen it, but I never learned this. He also expressed hope that the film not show Jews screaming “His blood
be on us and on our children” or “there will be celebrations on the streets of Ramallah.” Again, my understanding is that this line was cut from the film. Why raise hypothetical inflammatory
arguments?

2) If the issue is Europe, why are American Jewish groups defaming Mel Gibson in American
papers like The New York Times? Perhaps if he had been approached with respect rather than assault, with an assurance that only European distribution was the issue, he might have worked with the Jewish community. But self-proclaimed representatives of the Jewish community are working on getting the movie stopped from distribution in this country, not abroad, and I’m afraid may be making enemies in this country by their strong-arm tactics.

3) Rabbi Singer has correctly pinpointed the location of today’s anti-Semitism in post-Christian secular Europe and the radical Islamist world. Does he really think that those anti-Semites are not already aware of the anti-Semitic interpretations of the Gospels along with the
“Protocols of the Elders of Zion?” 

4) Most religious Christians put even yeshiva students, let alone uneducated Jews, to shame
with their knowledge of the Bible. Why are we acting as if they would not know what the Gospels say without a movie to inform them?

5) Rabbi Singer also correctly points out that the Catholic Church in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) “changed the way the Roman Catholic Church officially views the Jewish people” and “declared that the Jews, as a nation, are not culpable for the crucifixion of Jesus.” But what he left out is that the Church did not renounce or rewrite the Gospels. He appears to be confusing “scholarly” analysis of the Gospels by academicians with the actual words that remain in the Bibles found in every Christian’s home and most hotel rooms.

6) Why did organizations like the ADL give approval to and not protest movies like the just
released “The Gospel of John” which has the most anti-Jewish remarks of any of the Gospels while making such a fuss about the Passion, which I understand never quotes any of those incendiary lines? As Rabbi Singer states, “As far as the Book of John is concerned, it is the Jews who bare the sole responsibility for murdering Jesus.” Has Rabbi Singer also protested this film, which is in English and features major actors? Why only protest Mel Gibson’s film, which is in Aramaic and Latin and which at one point Gibson was planning to release without subtitles?

7) Rabbi Singer suggests that if Mr. Gibson disagreed with his father’s remarks he would say
so. But don’t Christians revere the Ten Commandments – including the one that says “Honor your father and your mother? - and aren’t they the ones fighting to keep them in public view
while Jewish organizations are fighting to remove them?

8) It is as insulting to say that American Christians care less about what happened to Jesus
3,000 years ago than what happened two years ago to the World Trade Center as it would be to say that Jews don’t care about what happened thousands of years ago to our forefathers. I bet Rabbi Singer cares, but he didn?t realize when he wrote that how patronizing and insulting it sounds.

I share Rabbi Singer’s concern for European Jewry, but I fail to see how causing ourselves to be hated in this country will help. And I can assure you, as an Orthodox Jew who talks to Christians regularly, that it is the attitude manifested by Rabbi Singer (and the groups maliciously criticizing Mel Gibson in the name of Judaism) that is responsible for creating the basis for a completely unnecessary backlash against Jews in our home, the United States of America.

Samuel Silver
Chairman, Toward Tradition
Atlanta, GA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-35/2003/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: