Letters to the Editor
It is beyond argument that an Arab ‘Palestine’ will be another terrorist state. The area is currently ruled by terrorists, dominated by terrorist organizations, and populated by a society so ingrained with hate for Israel that it will take generations – if it happens at all – to change that mindset. It is imperative to understand that we are involved in a religious war where thousands are waiting in the wings to become martyrs. The years of terror in Israel are harbingers of what we can expect from Arab ‘Palestine.’
In 1988, the unrepentant ‘Stockholm Five’ – Rosensaft, Hauser, Kass, Udovitch and Sheinbaum – shamefully dealt with Arafat. They will go down in history for resuscitating the washed up, discredited, despised and humiliated Arafat and his fellow terrorists. Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and friends brought further death and destruction with their Oslo debacle. At
Camp David, Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s offer of nearly everything offered further evidence that his goal is the destruction of Israel over and above the creation of ‘Palestine.’ And once again we have Beilin, Peres and friends attempting to raise hopes for “peace” by promoting the potentially catastrophic Geneva Accord.
Why study history if we do not learn from it?
Israel’s Weak PR
If Jews are so smart, why are Israeli public relations efforts so inept? The Arabs have managed to convince the world that the crux of the problem in the Mideast is not suicide bombers but the settlements and the fence. Soon it will be Israel’s nuclear deterrent. They’ve also managed to convince universities around the world that the Israelis are cruel oppressors who rape and massacre Arab women and children. To all these charges Israel responds with weak and pathetic denials – which never catch up with the original charges because people will believe there must be some truth to the accusations.
Prior to the onset of World War II, Hitler told the world that there would be no peace in Europe until Czechoslovakia stopped torturing its German citizens. The world believed him and said ‘Good Riddance’ when England and France handed democratic Czechoslovakia over to Germany with the expectation that ‘peace in our time’ would follow.
The Arabs likewise have discovered that if they scream any absurdity long enough and loud enough, people will believe it.
Israeli leaders and government spokesmen would be more effective if, instead of offering weak apologies or denials to ridiculous charges, they showed some outrage and took the offensive in denouncing the Palestinian Authority for oppressing not only Jews but also its own people.
Worst To Come?
Re Rabbi David Willig’s air-clearing letter to the editor (‘How Will We React?’ Feb. 13):
I find it mind-boggling that Americans, and perhaps more specifically American Jews, feel the worst is behind us. Do we really think that if we catch the Saddams and Osamas of the world,
everything will be all right? Obviously, terrorist leaders must be apprehended, but I fear the worst is yet to come. Synagogues, day schools, shopping malls, sporting events, hotels, concert halls – there are so many open and vulnerable targets, and American Jews should
I pray that Hashem protects His people wherever they are, but reality is staring us in the face. Does this mean we should lock ourselves in our houses and live in fear? Of course not; we must continue living our lives with purpose while remaining alert to the fact that we live in dangerous times. And we should also keep in mind that, ultimately, whatever happens will be “the fault of the Jews.” Knowing this, every Jew should remember where his true home is found: Israel.
Miami Beach, FL
Re Naomi Klass Mauer’s tribute to her father on his fourth yahrzeit (‘Remembering Rabbi Sholom Klass,’ Jewish Press, Jan. 23):
I agree that anyone who met Rabbi Klass never could forget him. I was particularly glad for the mention of the uncountable acts of charity performed by Rabbi Klass and his wife, Irene, since those are the most wonderful things remembered by those of us who knew him.
Thank you for a beautifully written tribute about a very special person whom we loved and miss.
Upon receiving the Jan. 23 issue of The Jewish Press, I immediately noticed the front-page blurb ‘Remembering Rabbi Sholom Klass.’ This line appealed to me more than anything else in the news at the time, and I turned to page 11 to read Naomi Klass Mauer’s article on her father.
‘Anyone Who Met Your Father Will Never Forget Him,’ proclaimed the headline, and you can’t imagine how true that is. As his first cousin, I’d like to tell you about the Sholom Klass I knew during my youth when we, as youngsters, visited Brooklyn and got to know Sholom’s family.
It was during our summer visits to Coney Island and, later, Brighton Beach, that we learned of our great beach athlete Sholom, who became handball champ at the nearby Manhattan Beach Club. We were able to sneak in from time to time and watch him play, bare-handed, and beat
Sholom in his late teens was a very handsome, lean, blue-eyed young man, and to us kids he was a real hero. On Saturdays he would take us to the local Young Israel, where we learned to daven with passion. When we were around him we felt elevated, as here was a champion who stood humble in the presence of G-d.
Later on, of course, we knew of how he struggled for so many years, together with his wife, Irene, and his father-in-law, Raphael Schreiber, to make The Jewish Press the world-famous publication it eventually became.
I too believe that anyone who met him will never forget him.
Joseph J. Savitz
We Stand Corrected
Please permit me to correct several inaccuracies in the history of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath that appeared in the Machberes column of Jan. 30.
1) Reb Shraga Feivel Mendelovich, zt”l, was not the founding menahel of YTV. He only joined the yeshiva about five years after it started (and first as a rebbe only). There were at least two menahelim before him. One was a pioneering Torah educator by the name of Rav Chaim Yechezkel Moseson (he was also involved in the early years of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Yeshiva of Brooklyn, Yeshiva Tifereth Yerusholayim and Yeshivas Rav Yisroel Salanter). Another was Rav Mordechai Eliyohu Finkelstein.
2) In the list of roshei yeshiva of YTV, an early rosh yeshiva of the mesivta, Rav Moshe Don Sheinkopf, was omitted, along with Rav Moshe Rosen.
3) The lifespan of Rav Dovid Leibowitz, zt”l, was 1889-1941 (niftar 15 Kislev 5702/December 1941).
4) The rabbonim of Williamsburg played important roles in the founding of the yeshiva (in 1918) and mesivta (in 1926) of Torah Vodaath. Rav Zev (Wolf) Gold, zt”l, famous Mizrachi leader, was an early vital supporter who gave the yeshiva its name after the name of the yeshiva of Rav Reines, zt”l, in Lida, Europe. Rav Yehoshua Baumol, zt”l, author of Teshuvos Emek Halacha, was a vital mover in the founding of the mesivta.
Also noteworthy is that in its early days the yeshiva was ‘ivrit beivrit,’ though that did not last too long.
It is impossible to give credit to everyone involved in such a large mosad, as no one knows every detail of the history. Nevertheless, we should try to be as accurate as possible so as to be makir tov to those who put so much energy into it.
(Sources: Reb Shraga Feivel by Yonoson Rosenblum (ArtScroll); Jews of Brooklyn (University Press of New England); newspaper clippings.)
Boruch M. Selevan
Answering Leib Stone
‘One Issue’ Is An Important One
In reader Leib Stone’s response to the defenders of Rabbi Levin – a category in which I am proudly included – he again refers to Rabbi Levin as a ‘one issue’ man in a negative sense
(‘Leib Stone Won’t Be Silenced By Critics,’ Letters, Feb. 13). May I point out that during the Holocaust period, one might have characterized the Jewish hero Rabbi Michoel Ber Weismandel, zt”l, as a ‘one issue’ man.
We are living in a time when a televised football game turns into a pornographic sideshow
performed by pop idols in front of hundreds of millions of impressionable young viewers. As it
now stands, beginning in May of this year, marriage licenses will be issued to gay couples in
the state of Massachusetts.
Does anyone reading this not believe that America is headed toward devastation if the current level of moral decay continues? Does anybody truly believe that we in the haredi community will be exempt from the effects of this destruction because of our ‘successes in Jewish
education,’ as Mr. Stone puts it?
My question to Mr. Stone and all of Klal Yisrael is this: Why must we always wait for an
actual churban (G-d forbid) to commence before we have viable ?one issue? leaders to step up and lead the way?
Shlomo D. Winter
Leib Stone, it appears you still don’t get it. What readers found objectionable was not your
stance that gedolei Yisrael should be above reproach – it was the fact that you belittled Rabbi
Yehuda Levin by labeling him a “one issue” man. (As an aside, failing to mention the particular issue by name was quite disingenuous; homosexuality is a very grave offense, and its growing acceptance carries potentially calamitous ramifications. But that’s a subject for a different discussion.)
What is called for at this time is not a recanting of your position but an apology to Rabbi
Levin as an indication that a Torah Jew can disagree without being disagreeable. Mr. Stone,
you came off in your two letters as smug and pretentious. A simple mea culpa would go a long
way toward changing that perception.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
Stone Is Correct – But Levin Is Right
I agree with Leib Stone that many Torah organizations have no interest in the gay issue, period. When I, together with a tiny handful of activists, fought various pieces of gay rights
legislation, one of the biggest problems was finding someone in a major Torah organization who would even come to the phone. Two senior members of the Torah community hung up on me. They have no time for these things, and less interest.
I once attended a meeting of senior chassidic rabbis who backed an Orthodox politician who
voted the gay position on a certain bill. The reason? “He can’t look foolish by being the only one to vote against the gays.” This is Daas Torah today.
So Mr. Stone is correct about the attitude of Torah leaders toward ‘gay rights’ issues. But we
will soon see that Rabbi Levin was right and the Daas Torah people were wrong.
There are already laws on the books in New York State that make it very difficult to fire a
homosexual employed by a yeshiva or synagogue. I have discussed the matter with government attorneys and others interested in the issue. In the Torah community, however, nobody wants to listen to these things.
In the towns and villages of Europe there was a rav and there was a rosh yeshiva. The rosh
yeshiva took care of learning and the rav took care of the community. Today, we must turn to roshei yeshiva for worldly matters. And they are not terribly excited about the prospect. Yes, they have their priorities. But we as a community deserve protection for our children. We deserve the vigilance of those like Rabbi Levin who fight problems rather than ignore them.
Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn
We Questioned Gedolim
At the risk of being accused of writing another diatribe, I would like to clarify some of the issues raised by Mr. Leib Stone in his letter of February 11.
1. Mr. Stone implies that since Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and other gedolei Torah were in
contact with Agudath Israel on all public issues, we must assume that the public silence of the Agudah on morality issues was dictated by the gedolim.
Does Mr. Stone have direct knowledge that this question was ever honestly brought before Rav Moshe and the other gedolim?
Is it possible that people within Agudah intentionally avoided asking the gedolim their opinion on how to deal with morality issues for fear that the gedolim would prevent Agudah from
honoring various senators and congressmen who were leading the fight against decency and
Having personally spoken to Rav Moshe, zt”l, at the time he gave me his letter/psak, I very much doubt that he would have approved of publicly honoring leading pro-abortion and pro-gay rights politicians at Agudah dinners. I firmly believe that he would have regarded these actions as a chillul Hashem.
2. Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, often explained to us why many otherwise fine Orthodox Jews
rationalize their silence on the moral issues and even go so far as to publicly honor politicians who advocate the worst kinds of degeneracy. The Torah states that “bribery blinds even the wisest of men.” This means that when money is involved, albeit for worthy public purposes, even talmidei chachomim may be misled.
The Talmud cites many cases where great sages recused themselves from acting as judges in
lawsuits if they had received some small benefit from one of the litigants.
3. Referring again to my own personal experience with Rav Moshe: we carried with us letters from the Debrecener Rav, zt”l, and, yibodel l’chaim, the Kashauer Rov, shlita, urging Rav
Moshe to forbid this public honoring of degenerate politicians at the dinners of Torah institutions.
Since Rav Moshe was very old and frail at the time, he was surrounded by people who took care of his physical needs and screened all visitors to his home on the Lower East Side. This Palace Guard censored us and did not allow us to approach Rav Moshe until we agreed to avoid any mention of honoring degenerate politicians. Obviously, they were afraid of what Rav Moshe would say to us if he were asked this question.
We received a pretty strong letter from Rav Moshe concerning the obligation of every Jew to
show his strong opposition to “gay rights” legislation, but it did not mention the issue of
publicly honoring degenerate politicians.
What a contrast to the time, many years before this incident, when Rav Moshe was still in
good health. I visited him in his apartment and asked whether Jews could support capital
punishment (Rav Moshe said yes). It was so different. There was no Palace Guard to screen me and prevent me from asking anything I pleased.
In conclusion, while Mr. Stone speculates on what the gedolim might have been doing behind
closed doors, we have no need to speculate – we actually went to the gedolim and put the question to them.
Rabbi William Handler
Jews for Morality
Terrorist Atrocity Underscores New York-Israel Kinship
Last August, while making a voyage of solidarity through Israel, I had the good fortune to
meet Yehezkel “Chezi” Goldberg and his son at Ben Yehudah Mall, and I was grief stricken to learn of Chezi’s murder in the most recent suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem.
A family has lost a son, a husband and a father. A community has lost a vital citizen, and
because Chezi was the victim of the terrorism and violence that threatens all life in Israel today, our meeting will always stay with me.
As New York City’s mayor, I know firsthand how acts of terrorism and threats of mass violence can send a wave of anxiety, fear and uncertainty across an otherwise strong and vital community. As the families of Israel begin to heal from this tragic loss of life, my City and all its people stand in support in calling for an immediate end to the violence, and the people of New York optimistically and hopefully embrace the cause of all Israelis.
With the murder of Chezi Goldberg the world once again sees the ruthless face of terrorism.
Anywhere that terror strikes – in the Middle East or in the streets of Lower Manhattan – it’s an
assault on all free people.
That is why I traveled to Israel in August, where we met with the injured at Hadassah University Medical Center. One terror victim was, tragically, just 1 month old. We visited the
Western Wall and then boarded the No. 2 Egged bus to ride the route that was the target of
terrorism. We lit candles at the site of the bombing on Shmuel Hanavi Street to honor the memories of the 21 people who were killed in the attack, and spoke with the rescue workers who acted so courageously. And afterwards, we walked the streets of Jerusalem and demonstrated that the people of the City of New York stand united with the people of Israel.
Many of the recent attacks took place halfway around the world but they brought loss and grief to many of our neighbors right here in New York City. As a city that has been struck by terrorists, we share their anguish and their outrage and our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones in the attacks. After the attack on the World Trade Center, offers of help and expressions of support poured into New York City from people around the world. That meant more to us than we can ever say, and we’ll never forget those who stood by us.
Now, in the face of these barbaric crimes, it’s our duty to show solidarity, demonstrate our
humanity, and proclaim our resolve to stop terrorism everywhere.
New Yorkers will not forget the people across the globe who have suffered from terrorism. Our hearts, once filled with sympathy for the struggle of our ally Israel, today well with empathy, as we face a common enemy. The special kinship New Yorkers feel with Israel is stronger now than ever. Like Israelis, we are members of a free society who cherish our liberties. No matter what they do to shake our will, we will never let the terrorists win.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY
Response To The Case Of The Crying Child
Rabbi Romm’s analysis of my position permitting a parent to carry a crying child home on
Shabbat was somewhat ambiguous (Letters, Feb. 13). He states that the theory I presented was not proper halacha, for it is only operational ”in defense of a common practice that [one] is powerless to change.” Namely, it is not normative halacha.
The suggestion is that one should only rule on the basis of what is deemed normative halacha.
Yet the Minchat Shabbat, a sefer accepted as authoritative by the overwhelming majority of
decisors of halacha throughout the world, rules that one should not criticize those who follow the lenient position. In other words, contrary to Rabbi Romm, it is normative halacha not to criticize those who carry children.
Rabbi Romm cites a Talmudic passage that condemns ruling according to normative halacha in
an area that follows a practice stricter than the norm. This implies that the Lower East Side
observes practices above and beyond normative halacha.
Which is it? What is to be halachic policy for a community? Normative, or stricter than normative, halacha?
Let’s review the case. A child is crying and sitting on the street on Shabbat. He refuses to
walk or budge. Is it normative halacha to stand and simply let him cry hysterically? Is this not a
classic case of bedi’avad, a situation after the fact in which halacha permits one to be more lenient than lechat’chila, at the outset?
The Magen Avraham and the Aruch HaShulchan rule that in a case where there is a halachic debate between two views – one permits an action lechat’chila and the other totally prohibits it – should a bedi’avad situation develop, normative halacha would rule that bedi’avad, after the fact, it is permissible for rabbanim to rule like the lenient position (Magen Avraham, Orach Chayyim 254:11; see also Aruch HaShulchan 254).
Accordingly, even though, lechat’chila, the local rabbinic policy on the Lower East Side may be not to carry on Shabbat, it is important to ascertain whether bedi’avad, to console and care
for a hysterical child sitting on the sidewalk, local rabbinic policy is still not to carry the child home.
My position is that in such a case normative halacha will rule like the authorities I presented,
permitting carrying the child home. This is not a case that we are powerless to change. This is a shevut di’shevut bimekom mitzva – carrying a child on Shabbat in the street is only a rabbinic
ban. Also, most rabbis hold that our streets are forbidden to carry in only from a rabbinic view. Thus in such a case of a double rabbinic ban, should it relate to a mitzva (or even to the anguish or pain of a child), the Pri Megadim and the Minchat Shabbat contend that one should not protest against those who carry, based on these reasons (Mishbetzot Zahav 325:1; Minchat Shabbat 82:28).
Coupled with this is the fact that the incident took place in an area ruled by a number of rabbis
as permissible to carry, for it is included in the Manhattan eruv sanctioned by the major
synagogues and rabbis of the Upper East Side. Of interest is how HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, would rule concerning the crying child in the street on Shabbat.
At issue is the local policy. Have all the local rabbis in fact actually ruled that it is proper to
leave a child on the street crying on Shabbat? If so, then Rabbi Romm’s premise may be correct. Namely, the local community has a policy stricter than normative halacha. That’s a situation anyone and any community may observe. But it is quite harsh to maintain that those who follow another halachic perspective should be castigated, especially in an area included in the revised Manhattan eruv (revised years after HaGaon Rav Feinstein was niftar).
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Ariel Israel Institutes