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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘position’

Weekly Israeli Poll Avg: Likud-Beteinu at 38; Labor at 22; Right would earn 69 total seats.

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Quick Take: This week’s average shows Likud Beitenu and Labor position similar to last week. Shas gains and takes the third position while Lapid’s Yesh Atid drops and falls into the fourth position. Hadash passes Meretz, while Kadima and Independence pick up gains. Am Shalem is also picking up steam. The right block gains ground this week with the help of Shas and Am Shalem’s gains.

Knesset Jeremy Weekly Average #5 (week of Nov 5-Nov 11) of 3 polls (Panels, two Maagar):

Current Knesset seats in [brackets], Week 4 average in (brackets)

38.0 (38.0) [42] Likud Beitenu

22.3 (22.1) [08] Labor

13.0 (11.7) [10] Shas

11.0 (14.7) [--] Yesh Atid

9.0 (9.1) [07] National Union-Jewish Home

5.6 (5.8) [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ

3.6 (4.0) [04] Hadash

3.6 (3.0) [01] Am Shalem (polled in all 3 this week)

3.3 (4.2) [03] Meretz

3.3 (3.7) [04] Ra’am-Ta’al

3.0 (3.1) [03] Balad

2.3 (1.7) [28] Kadima

1.6 (0.5) [05] Independence

69 (66.3) [65] Right 51 (53.6) [55] Center-Left

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Petraeus: Did a Great Man Have to Fall?

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Did General Petraeus have to resign? He opened himself as head of the CIA to blackmail, which is a major security breach. So the argument goes. But surely once he admitted the affair, he presumably couldn’t be blackmailed any more. And yes I know there are many facts as yet unknown, like this mystery second woman who complained about email harassment. But for now, Petraeus seems to have resigned over marital infidelity. And if so, did he have to leave his position? Why, because he displayed personal weakness? But this was a public, as opposed to a private, position. And years of counseling unfaithful husbands and wives has taught me that private failings do not necessarily indicate public faithlessness.

Those who say that a man who cheats on his wife will cheat on the country forget how many privately moral men have been publicly immoral, and vice versa. As an example, there was never a suggestion that Richard Nixon even looked at a woman that wasn’t his wife. Neither did Jimmy Carter, and he was the worst president in memory. Conversely, my issue with Bill Clinton’s presidency was not Monica Lewinsky, which does not interest me in the slightest, but rather his moral failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide, which is utterly unconnected with his marriage. Thomas Jefferson was one of the great public men of the past thousand years, but he was replete with private moral failings, as was FDR, JFK, and LBJ.

It is my own opinion that an American hero like David Petraeus who served his country with distinction and honor deserved better than to leave his post in humiliation and ignominy, even if his own immoral actions brought it upon himself.

A few weeks ago, at the height of my campaign for Congress, a fellow Republican candidate got into hot water locally for comments she made about Martin Luther King whom she criticized a few years back as a womanizer. Two days later I gave a speech in which I explained that Christian morality demands perfection because Jesus is perfect. But Jewish morality is based on the idea of struggle, that people are human, have many failings, and their righteousness rests in the courage they show in wrestling with their nature to choose the good amid a predilection to do otherwise. Not one person in the Hebrew Bible is perfect. That and the Jewish emphasis of communal redemption over personal salvation – that what we do for others matters more than how personally virtuous we are – would have us acknowledge Martin Luther King as the greatest American of the twentieth century despite his personal failings. No other American did more to restore this great nation to its founding ideals of the equality of all of G-d’s children than King.

Similarly, few men have done more to combat terrorism and save human life in our generation than Petraeus. As the author of America’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and commander of the surge, he took a war being waged by terrorists that was claiming the lives of thousands of civilians, and humiliating the world’s foremost force for good in the world, the American military, and reversed the situation. As someone who proved that terrorism could be defeated when so many Americans had given up, he is owed a debt of gratitude by this and every other civilized nation.

Still, there are important lessons from the Petraeus tragedy.

The first is the admonition of the ancient Rabbis’ on the need for a certain alertness in even the everyday interactions between men and women, a notion that is scoffed at in modern society that wants to pretend men and women have melded into some sort of unisex gender. In an interview with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show this past January, Petraeus’s biographer and the woman he is alleged to have had the affair with, Paula Broadwell, said that the general had helped her in what she described as a mentoring relationship and that, given their shared passion for fitness, he took her running from time to time in Kabul. “That was the foundation of our relationship. For him, I think it was a good distraction from the war.”

Now, take a soldier who is away from his wife for lengthy periods of time, put him around an adoring female fellow member of the military for long stretches, and you have a potential problem. The same seems to have allegedly been the case with Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower and his British driver Kate Summersby during the Second World War. Men and women can, of course, be friends. But that presupposes they respect the natural attraction that adheres in most situations and safeguard against conditions that foster inappropriate intimacy. As the sage Hillel said, “Do not believe in yourself until the day you die.”

Then there is this: having counseled many men who were unfaithful to their wives, I discovered that the principal reason men cheat is the desire to be desired, to feel special and extraordinary, to counter the effects of a broken ego and low self-esteem by feeling wanted, especially by an admiring woman. How would this apply in the case of someone like Petraeus who was so universally admired? I’m not sure and it might not.

But all the biography now appearing about the General says he has always been driven, always been highly ambitious, and more often than not, ambition is fueled by the need and desire to prove oneself. The New York Times reported that Petraeus wanted to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but the Obama Administration, afraid of a high profile rival, pushed him in the direction of the CIA posting, with the concomitant lower, more secretive profile that was out of the press limelight. The same New York Times says that the affair began in earnest after he had taken his new posting. Did he miss the public acclaim? Did he begin to feel somewhat overlooked amid the immense power of his lower-profile role? Again, this is all mere speculation.

But the lesson for the rest of us mere mortals is that if someone of such iron discipline as General Petraeus can err this big, we all need to be on our guard – men and women alike – to get ego boosts from those things which are wholesome, holy, and healthy, rather than what is harmful, however hot.

Originally published on Rabbi Pruzansky’s blog, Rabbipruzansky.com.

Naftali Bennett Wins Bayit Yehudi Vote, Orlev Quits Politics

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Businessman and former Sayeret Matkal (Special Forces) officer Naftali Bennett parachuted his way into the top position of the Bayit Yehudi (“Jewish Home”) party on Tuesday, at the first of two Primary votes. The second vote will be for the party list.

The next challenge that Bennett has in front of him will be to integrate all of the Ichud Leumi party members into the party, so that they will run as one large list.

The Bayit Yehudi party represents the Religious-Zionist sector.

3:46 AM  (Wednesday – Israel Time) Naftali Bennett is the winner of the Bayit Yehudi primaries, with 67% of the vote, and Orlev with 32%. A small number of votes are left to be counted on Wednesday. Final results will be officially announced by the party at 10:00 AM.

12:03 AM (Wednesday) Zevulun Orlev has announced his retirement from politics. Bennett is the new head of the Bayit Yehudi party.

11:35 PM With 40% of the votes counted, Bennet has 9429 votes, and Orlev has 3829 votes.

The ballot count is currently in progress in the primary race between Naftali Bennett and Zevulun Orlev for the head of the Bayit Yehudi party.

The count so far indicates that Bennett  is leading with some 70% of the votes.

There are reports that Bennett plans to announce his victory at midnight.

 

The Making of a President and the Making of a Gadol

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

I must say that I was a little bit amused by the video featured on Aish.com. In about 3 minutes Mrs. Lori Palatnik proudly explains the difference between how Americans choose their leaders and how Orthodox Jews chose their leaders. Choosing a President in this great country of ours is a democratic process, but it is heavily influenced by money and power; ads and sloganeering; and smearing the opponent. Politics at its worst one might say. Certainly the best man available for the job may not be elected, or even running.

Contrast that with how Jewish leaders in Orthodoxy are chosen. Gedolim are chosen by rabbinic peers she said with pride. Those peers recognize that the greatest man of the generation is one whose Torah knowledge supersedes all others.

The example she gave is Rav Moshe Feinstein. He did not run for anything. He was not elected by the people. Rabbinic peers saw his responsa on Jewish Law and realized that the breadth and depth of his Torah knowledge superseded theirs. Hence he was chosen as the rabbinic leader of the generation – the Gadol HaDor.

I had to smile when I saw that. I’m sure Mrs. Palatnik is a very nice woman – sincere in her pride about how Jewish leadership is chosen. But despite the fact that in theory, the Gadol HaDor is supposedly chosen based on his level of Torah knowledge by people qualified to do so, it doesn’t always work out that way. Nor is Judaism unique in this regard. If I am not mistaken the Pope is chosen by peers qualified to do so too.

And is the process really as objective as Mrs. Palatnik indicates? Hardly. There are very often politics involved. The criteria considered for rabbinic leadership is not universal. A truly great leader whose Torah knowledge may supersede all others might never be considered for that position.

Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik is a case in point. There is almost universal agreement that his Torah knowledge was incomparable. I have been told more than once by Lakewood type Avreichim that if not for his connection with YU (or with Mizrachi; or his dissent on certain public policy issues with Rav Aharon Kotler; or the fact that he had a PhD in Philosophy- pick one!) he would have possibly become the Gadol HaDor. Again – politics!

When most Charedim think about who the Gedolim are, they think about who is on the Agudah Moetzes. That is after all where Rav Moshe Feinstein – the man she uses to illustrate her point – was chosen to belong as a Gadol. Of course R’ Moshe was a Gadol of that stature without the Agudah Moetzes. One could say that he graced the Agudah Moetzes by joining them and allowing them to call him their leader. He obviously supported the ideals and goals of Agudah. They did in fact choose him for the right reasons. But that is certainly not always the case.

How are people chosen by this group to become members? First of all they choose only Charedim. And their choices are not always based on Torah knowledge. Their choices are often based on religio-political affiliation. For example they will ask a rabbinic leader in the Yekke (German-Jewish) community to join because of they want to appeal to that demographic. The same is true for choosing a Sephardi Rav for membership. Or a Chasdic Rebbe. But are these people the greatest, most knowledgeable men of the generation?

Let us indeed look specifically at how a Chasidic Rebbe is chosen among Chasidim. The fact is they are not chosen by peers at all. It is Yichus that gets them there. They inherit their positions from their fathers or their fathers in law. They may be brilliant people, well trained for leadership by their fathers. But are they chosen by peers based on their highest level of Torah knowledge? Hardly.

It may be coincidentally the case that a Chasidic Rebbe who inherited his position is a truly brilliant and Torah knowledgeable person in his generation. That was certainly true of the Lubavitcher Rebbe who inherited his position from his father in law, the previous Rebbe. But the fact is that he was not chosen for his genius. He was chosen because of his relationship to his father in law.

There are people today who are great Torah scholars, geniuses without peer who lead generations of Orthodox Jews and yet would never be chosen as a Gadol on the Agudah Moetzes. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein is a case in point. There is little doubt in my mind about his greatness in Torah.

But he is virtually ignored, if not disparaged by his Charedi rabbinic peers. He has about as much chance of being invited onto the Agudah Moetzes as I do. The same is true about Rav Hershel Shachter. He too is one of the brightest rabbinic minds of the 21st century. And yet he too would never be chosen by his Charedi peers as the Gadol Hador – or a Gadol at any level.

The truth is that even R’ Moshe was not considered by everyone to be the Gadol HaDor. Satmar didn’t. Neither did Lubavitch. Nor did the thousands of students of Rav Solovetchik. Nor did most Israeli Charedim. They all had their own rabbinic leader whom they considered greater. I have been told that in Israel – R’ Moshe’s name was rarely heard. Certainly not in the context of Gadol HaDor.

So the bottom line is that I agree in theory that Torah knowledge is the most important factor in making one a rabbinic leader. And that Torah scholars are best equipped to recognize it and make those decisions. But in reality the best people are not necessarily the ones chosen to lead.

The factors considered by the voting public in choosing a President are not always the important ones. A President can for example be voted into office based almost entirely on his Charisma. I believe that this was very much the case with JFK, for example.

But Orthodox Judaism does not live up to the ideal Mrs. Palatnik says it does either. I’m sorry to say that politics and Yichus (in the case of Chasidic Rebbes and increasingly in the Yeshiva world) may very well be a greater factor in choosing a rabbinic leader than Torah knowledge is.

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Sarah And Hagar

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

A historical drama unfolds before our eyes in this week’s Torah portion. It is a dramatic confrontation whose impact has shaped Jewish history for thousands of years.

Sarah and Hagar, two women – two worlds – faced each other.

On the one hand Sarah, Avraham’s wife and the mistress of the household; on the other, Hagar, the defiant slave girl, Avraham’s concubine, chosen by Sarah as a surrogate mother.

Can you picture yourself in Sarah’s position? Would you be able to make the ultimate sacrifice as Sarah did, elevating her maid to the position of her husband’s concubine for the sake of providing him with an heir, as he so keenly desired?

But Hagar proved less than equal to the task. As soon as she was certain of her pregnancy, Hagar displayed the characteristic arrogance of those who achieve a sudden rise in status without a corresponding growth in dignity.

Of the two women, it was Sarah who emerged victorious from the conflict: she retained her dominant position while Hagar, humiliated, fled to the desert. It was there that Hagar learned through divine prophecy of her destiny to give birth to Yishmael, “v’hoo yihyeh pereh adam, yado bakol v’yad kol bo — and he shall be a savage creature; his hand shall be against every one, and every one’s hand shall be against him.” (Bereshit, 16:12)

This prophetic pronouncement established Yishmael’s propensity for violence and lawlessness and his descendants’ future history as a road map of an incessant war of terror without borders.

The savagery of Arab history, the Muslims’ centuries long, bloody incursions against their neighbors, is well documented. Was fourteenth century Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun echoing the Biblical prophecy when he wrote in his Muqqadima (Introduction to History): “The Arabs are a savage nation… savagery has become their character and nature… it is their nature to plunder whatever other people possess… they are not concerned with laws. It is noteworthy how civilizations always collapsed in places the Arabs took over, and how such settlements were depopulated. The Yemen where the Arabs live is in ruins. The same applies to contemporary Syria.”

Was Susan Hatis Rolef, dovish editor of the Labor Party monthly SPECTRUM, doing the same when she wrote in the Jerusalem Post (August 13, 1990): “But we know, and we have known ever since modern Zionism began over a 100 years ago, that the other nation which inhabits this land has an extremely violent and brutal streak in it, which is part of its cultural heritage and is unlikely to change overnight.”

And yet, I believe, for Hagar the most painful aspect of the Divine revelation was the command to face reality – to return to the civilized world of Avraham’s household and peacefully submit to its laws, accepting Sarah’s rightful, dominant position. Hagar did so and Yishmael was born there, destined however to leave it early for the wilderness, choosing to live by the laws of violent physical force.

In the dramatic confrontation between the two women, Sarah and Hagar, a symbolic pre-enactment of history took place. The sons of Hagar have yet to learn to face the reality of their situation. They have yet to learn to rise above their impulsive nature of savagery and submit to the laws of civilization, where nations respect the possessions of others, and refrain from plundering what is not rightfully theirs. They have yet to acquire a set of values other than violence inherited from historical antecedents.

And the sons of Sarah – is it their destiny to painfully reassert their rights to Avraham’s legacy time and again – or perhaps there will come a time when their survival in this land will not be analogous with reiterated victory.

Aryeh Deri to Head Shas

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Reports are indicating that Aryeh Deri will return as the head of the Shas party, while Eli Yishai will receive the senior government position, assuming the party joins the next government.

The reports say that both sides have, for the most part, agreed to the terms and assuming no major changes will sign on them them soon.

A Happy 90th To Ralph Kiner

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Ralph Kiner turns ninety on the 27th of October.

Where have the years gone?

Many Jewish Press readers grew up watching Kiner’s Korner, the post-game television show featuring yesterday’s heroes and the Mets’ one-day wonders.

Tom Seaver may have been on most often as he frequently was the star of the game. Seaver and Kiner, stars from different generations, formed a relationship that would eventually pair them in the Mets broadcast booth.

Kiner originally teamed with Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson; from 1962 through 1978 the trio called Mets games from the team’s debut under Casey Stengel in the fabled Polo Grounds through its first 14 years at Shea Stadium.

To those of us outside New York and born a bit earlier, Ralph Kiner holds memories not of the broadcast booth but of great slugging exploits on the baseball field.

In his first seven seasons (1946-1952), Kiner led the National League in home runs while playing for the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the big Forbes Field drawing card and drew many a Jewish fan from the nearby Murray Hill district.

The Pirates lured Hank Greenberg for the 1947 season after the 36-year-old Jewish superstar was sold by the pennant-contending Tigers to the cellar-dwelling Pirates.

After Kiner’s slow start in 1947, Pirates management wanted to send the slumping outfielder back to the minor leagues. However, Greenberg lobbied the higher-ups to keep the young outfielder and promised to work with and even room with him on the road.

Kiner, a non-Jew from Alhambra, California, responded warmly to Greenberg, a Jew from the Bronx.

“Hank Greenberg was the biggest influence in my life,” Kiner told me years ago on the baseball beat.

“I idolized him when I was growing up in Los Angeles and he was a young star with the Tigers. The Tigers became my favorite team and he was my idol. So when he came to the Pirates I was thrilled and wanted to get to know him and learn some hitting tips from him.

“The first thing he said to me was, ‘Let’s stay late and take some extra batting practice and extra fielding practice.’

“Hank would spend hours at extra batting practice and extra fielding practice even when we were on the road after games. Most of the time we would be the last ones to take our uniforms off. Hank also taught me how to dress well.

“He took me to a haberdasher and I tried on different clothes. Hank picked out everything that he thought would look good on me. I can still hear him saying, ‘That looks good on you’ and ‘That doesn’t look good.’ ”

Kiner responded to Greenberg’s tutoring by batting .313 with 51 home runs, 28 more than he’d hit the year before. Two years later Kiner hit 54 round-trippers and batted .310.

While Kiner was baseball’s big slugger, Greenberg ascended to the general manager’s position with the Cleveland Indians. Kiner and Greenberg kept in close contact through the years. Greenberg eventually traded for his friend and Kiner spent the last season of his career with the Indians.

A bad back forced Kiner’s retirement in 1955 and Greenberg offered him the GM job with Cleveland’s top minor affiliate – the San Diego Padres, then of the Pacific Coast League. To save some dollars for management, Kiner thought it would make sense for him to double as the radio play-by-play man.

Greenberg joined Bill Veeck in an ownership role with the Chicago White Sox in 1959 and brought Kiner in two years later as a broadcaster. The following season Kiner opted to join the brand new Mets.

“I owe my good fortune to Hank Greenberg,” Kiner acknowledged.

Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before
moving to a big-league front office position where he earned a World Series ring. The author, columnist, lecturer and president emeritus of one of Detroit’s leading shuls may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net. His column appears the second week of each month.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/baseball-insider/a-happy-90th-to-ralph-kiner/2012/10/11/

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