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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Rubin’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, May 14th, 2003

Steely Determination

As I watch the amazing resoluteness and steely determination displayed by our president in the face of vociferous domestic opposition and international condemnation, I can’t help thinking that had George W. Bush been in the White House in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, far fewer Jews would have perished at the hands of the Nazi beasts.

William Schorr
New York, NY

Meaningful Date

I write this on April 9, 2003, truly a historic day – the Fall of Baghdad! I have been trying to get work done all day, but am glued to the TV as I am sure many others are, even at offices and schools around the country and the world, watching the jubilant scenes in the city center.

It is also the 100th birthday of David Horowitz, the late Jewish Press UN correspondent. May his name be remembered for a blessing.

I find this highly significant and meaningful. How David would have rejoiced at the fall of this modern “King of Babylon.” So much is yet to come out, and the battle is far from over, but it seems that once again, as David always said throughout his life, Joseph comes to the aid of Judah, and stands as a beacon to the whole world for freedom, justice, and righteousness.

James Tabor
(Via E-Mail)

Times Ignored Pro-Israel Resolution

Re the March 28 cover story by Tom Gross regarding bias at The New York Times:

While Mr. Gross’s article was both enlightening and thorough, I would like to add another example of bias at the Times. I was frustrated to read the Times article (3/13, pg. B4) that reported on the New York City Council resolution against war in Iraq. If, indeed, the Times
believes this body to be a great moral voice, or an authority on world affairs, then it becomes difficult to understand why it ignored another resolution passed by our City Council that related to a similarly grave and controversial issue.

On August 15, the Council passed, by an impressive margin, a resolution calling for the United States government to declare the Palestinian Authority a terrorist entity. It further called for the closing of the Palestinian mission in Manhattan, on the grounds that the offices of a terrorist organization pose a danger to all New Yorkers. Yet the Times did not report on that resolution at all.

It seems that the Times engages in selective reporting. When there is an opportunity to report on a resolution that liberals approve of, such as the antiwar resolution, the Times provides substantial coverage. By contrast, when a pro-Israel resolution was passed, the Times ignored it.

Eliezer Schnall
West Hempstead, NY

Khalidi’s Numbers

I love your paper. Thank you for your wonderful reporting and columns. Especially the recent article on The New York Times by Tom Gross – absolutely first-rate reporting that ought to be published in every paper in the United States and Israel.

I copied you yesterday on a letter I sent to the University of Chicago Center for International Studies about Dr. Rashid Khalidi claiming 2000 Palestinian civilian deaths. Apparently he does not believe that Palestinians are trying to kill Jews in Israel. Or perhaps he counts as “civilian” anyone who is not wearing an official uniform. Although he accepts the Red Crescent figures, I’ll almost guarantee that he would not consider Magen David Adom as equally official.

I guess his response should have been predictable, but to me it is still sad that a world-renowned university would accept such levels of “scholarship.”

Kori Lessing
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

No Settlements When PLO Was Created

Once again the editorialists at The New York Times take the old and fallacious PLO propaganda position that it’s “all about the settlements.” With all due respect, anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that the PLO was founded in 1964 – three years before Israel’s victory in the 1967 war.

The PLO charter still calls for the destruction of Israel. PLO schools teach hatred of Jews and incite school children to become martyrs by murdering Jews. The PLO has been complicit in terrorism, is irreparably corrupt and has shown no interest in improving the quality of life of its
own people.

There were terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians prior to the 1967 war and on Jews in the area prior to the birth of the State of Israel.

Why is it so hard for the Times to recognize that the real problem is the inability of the Muslims to accept the sovereignty of Israel and the civil rights of Jews, period? For Israel to give up land for mere promises is insane. When Muslims stop the incitement and the anti-Semitism,
when they leave behind their culture of violence, perhaps then peace will have a chance. Until that time, would any New York Times editorial writer put his or her family at risk on the basis of the PLO’s promises?

Louis Averbach
Santa Monica, CA

Shafran’s ‘Hasbara’ Reaches Non-Orthodox

I must take issue with your April 4 editorial’s characterization of Rabbi Avi Shafran’s “seeming
continuing obsession … to appear in the pages of The Jewish Week.”

Rabbi Shafran is the director of public affairs for Agudath Israel and the director of Am Echad, Agudath Israel’s effort to represent the values of Orthodoxy to the secular world. It is his job to articulate – in a concise and accessible way – profound concepts (such as the
controversy with Rabbi Berman over Rav Soloveichik’s views). He does this admirably and tirelessly. Unfortunately, as the public “front man” for Orthodoxy in the media at large Rabbi Shafran is frequently the recipient of vitriolic criticism from those in the secular world who would rather keep the view of the Torah world tucked away in the shtetl.

Am Echad was created as a “hasbara” effort on behalf of Orthodoxy, and as such, Rabbi Shafran’s columns and comments regularly appear in the secular press. The point is precisely to counter and challenge the secular world view. Given the Orthodox community’s (and Israel’s, for that matter) experience with being misrepresented, caricatured, and belittled in the media, Rabbi Shafran’s (and Am Echad’s) efforts should be welcomed, encouraged, supported – and lauded.

Orthodoxy is the only growing Jewish segment of the population not only because of less intermarriage and a (Im Yirtzeh Hashem) higher birthrate, but because many formerly secular Jews recognize the value and integrity of the Torah way. Without ambassadors like Rabbi Shafran in the media, many potential ba’alei teshuva would never be exposed to what Judaism really means.

Sincerely (and speaking as one of those people).

(Dr.) Nicole Brackman
Silver Spring, MD

Editor’s Response: The critical comments directed at Rabbi Shafran’s appearance in the pages of the Jewish Week were at the tail end, actually in the last paragraph, of an almost column-long editorial in which we took Rabbi Saul Berman to task for the free and easy way he attributed motives on great issues to Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveichik, zt’l, and for “cavalierly defaming such luminaries as the Brisker Rav and the Chafetz Chaim among others”
in order to make negative points about the concept of Da’as Torah.

The thrust of the editorial was clearly not about Rabbi Shafran, and we are surprised that Dr.
Brackman focused not on its main points, with which she presumably would agree, but on some peripheral and brief comments.

In any event, Dr. Brackman says that “It is [Rabbi Shafran’s] job to articulate – in a concise and accessible way – profound concepts (such as the controversy with Rabbi Berman over Rav Soloveichik’s views)” to the secular world.

We can only reiterate the concern we expressed. There is no “concise” way to explain the notion of “Da’as Torah” to an audience that is primarily secular and which generally dismisses the notion of halachic imperative and certainly scoffs at its jurisdiction in non-religious decision-making.

And let’s take a look at just what Rabbi Shafran told the readers of The Jewish Week as part of his “hasbarah” responsibilities:

“Jewish tradition refers to Torah leaders as the ‘eyes of the community.’ That is because they see things more clearly than the rest of us. Not necessarily perfectly. And there are times when G-d purposefully hides things from even His most accomplished disciples. But more clearly all the same.”

Wow! We can just see with the mind’s eye the devoutly secularist readers of the Jewish Week, heretofore convinced of the efficacy of their own intellect, rising as one and acknowledging an epiphany.

Misuse Of Rashi In Antiwar Ad

Dr. Mandell Ganchrow’s point-by-point rebuttal of the Shalom Center’s full-page antiwar advertisement in The New York Times (“Jews Must Support the War in Iraq,” Op-Ed, April 4) failed to mention the key flaw in the ad.

The quotation (“Seek just end by just means”) attributed to Rashi in the verse in Deuteronomy 16:20, which is cited as the proof for the opposition to the war, is not found in Rashi. Instead Rashi explains that it instructs Israel to “Seek a proper Court of Law.” This explanation actually makes the case for the U.S. government’s decision to go to war. Rashi and all other leading Jewish commentators of the past 2,000 years state that this verse instructs Israel
to select just, honorable, and impartial judges to enforce the Law, for without a just and impartial legal system a state cannot exist.

Our president, George W. Bush, went to great lengths to implement this dictum by going to the UN Security Council for approval, which he obtained in Resolution 1441, and then going even further in seeking a second resolution. It was only when France with its veto power made it clear that it would not approve any war resolution, no matter the evidence, that the president decided to act.

What is even more ironic is that this verse cited in the ad (and approved by the numerous signatories) is in the section of the Torah dealing with the rules of war, which our government and our armed forces are following. The Torah begins with the requirement of first offering peace negotiations with the enemy (verse 20:10), which the president did. It continues with the prohibition of wanton destruction of the land (verse 20: 19), which the Coalition forces have implemented by the using directed bombs, respecting holy sites and refraining from random firing into population centers.

On the other hand, the enemy disregarded this by placing armed fighters and weapons in the midst of houses of worship, hospitals, and civilians. The Torah forbids the random slaughter of woman and children (verse 20:14), which the Coalition forces are practicing. On the other
hand, the enemy, by placing themselves among civilians, and even using woman as suicide bombers, is not.

But the ultimate irony of using Rashi to make the case in the ad is that Rashi witnessed the wholesale slaughter of Jewish men, woman, children, and babies by Christian religious fanatics in France and Germany during the First Crusade in 1096. The First Crusade ushered in hundreds of years of persecutions, massacres and wholesale book burnings in France and Germany that ended with the theft of the very extensive Jewish property in France (evidence
of which has been recently excavated in archeological digs), and the expulsion of Jews from France in 1306, which ended more than 1000 years of Jewish presence in France. The rest of the sorry history of Jews in France and
Germany to this day is well known.

(Dr.) Bert Zauderer, Sc.D.
Philadelphia, PA

Chutzpah Of France, Germany

The audacity of the pompous French and the nerve of the eternally aggressive Germans know no bounds. They and the other dwarf nations were, and still are, opposed to the action taken by America to rid the world of one of its cruelest dictators.

Realizing that America, along with her allies, is successful in the war effort, and that Saddam with his henchmen are either dead or on the run, the shameless French and Germans insist that the post-war reconstruction of Iraq should be delegated to the forum of the inept United Nations.

Of the close to 200 UN member nations, 49 are Muslim countries that hate us. (I will be generous and say that perhaps there is an exception among them that proves the rule.) That puts 25% of the UN membership in the hostile corner even before you add France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Holland and the other nations that refused our request to have them join us in the noble endeavor to free the world of a tyrant.

Were President Bush to cave in to the demands of France, Germany, Russia and others, he would render the war effort a failure and betray the brave men and women in uniform, especially those who died in the valiant effort to make the world a better place.

Joseph Ceder
Far Rockaway, NY

Wiesenfeld’s ‘Selective Memory’ Tarnishes Him, Not Rabbi Rubin

I applaud the firestorm of criticism that has been leveled at Jeff Wiesenfeld for his intemperate
and gratuitous attack upon the late Rabbi Schulem Rubin, of blessed memory. It is as sad as it is shocking that Wiesenfeld is so devoid of human sensitivity and so disconnected from accepted norms of human courtesy that he remains (in his letter of last week) totally oblivious to the gross impropriety of his rant against a deceased spiritual leader.

Even if his argument were correct (which it is not), it should have been couched as a critique of a policy (which he now belatedly admits was the policy of many Orthodox leaders, and not just of Rabbi Rubin) rather than as an assault upon an individual who can no longer respond. To those who have written letters and editorials in support of Rabbi Rubin’s tenure as director of New York State Kosher Law Enforcement and in horror at Wiesenfeld’s inexplicable, belated attack upon a departed communal leader, I extend my thanks and would merely add the following:

Wiesenfeld seeks to blame Rabbi Rubin for the court ruling which struck down the kosher
laws, but his argument is based on a flawed understanding of both the law and kashrus.
Wiesenfeld does not hold himself out to be either a lawyer or a student of halacha (Jewish law), yet he apparently believes himself to be an expert on both. Your editorial writers have already responded in erudite fashion to the legal inaccuracies in Wiesenfeld’s tirade. As to kashrus, suffice it to say that Wiesenfeld would have readers believe that the kosher laws were meant to uphold merely a “simple” standard – “separation of meat and dairy, no pork or shellfish, ritual slaughter and unleavened products for kosher Passover sales.”

Oh, really? Is there any conceivable way of describing “ritual slaughter” as a simple matter?
(Imagine trying to put this argument over on the Jewishly learned readers of this newspaper!)

And what of vendors who claimed they were providing “kashered” meat and poultry, but
performed such “kashering” in a manner unacceptable to the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan
Aruch)? Would Wiesenfeld deny that a consumer fraud existed in such practice, or would he have preferred that the issue be ignored because it did not fit his personal definition (found nowhere in the law or in Judaism) of what constituted “basic” kashrus?

Wiesenfeld makes the absurd claim that Rabbi Rubin deemed the Commack Meats (plaintiffs in the Court case) unkosher because the supervising rabbi was Conservative rather than
Orthodox. The truth, as he well knows, is that Rabbi Rubin only prosecuted cases when butchers were caught in a violation. Many butchers thereafter attempted to avoid being penalized by making all sorts of claims (including trying to intimidate Rabbi Rubin with full-page newspaper ads). Ultimately, the Commack butchers tried to wrap themselves in the flag of “Conservative rights.” But the premise for the violation could never have been anything other than the physical evidence that the inspectors found. As Wiesenfeld knows, every violation had to be reviewed by the attorney general. Does he imagine that the New York State Law Department would have approved a case based on the Conservative credentials of the mashgiach?

Wiesenfeld’s own stridency undermines his statements. He makes a curious reference to the
recent kosher laws as “these exemplary laws” when he, as well as everyone else, knows (and as Jewish Press editorials have pointed out) the laws were struck down because of what Federal judges considered constitutionally flawed 100-year-old language about enforcing “orthodox Hebrew requirements.”

Laws with problematic language can hardly be called “exemplary.” When Wiesenfeld uses the
term, it emphasizes how much his diatribe is motivated by personal animus rather than reason.

Wiesenfeld purports to now regret that he did not agitate for the replacement of Rabbi Rubin
early in the Pataki administration, although he admits that Rabbi Rubin’s continued tenure was
supported by leading Orthodox organizations and individuals. (Does he imagine that this was a mere Orthodox cabal, or does he understand that the support was garnered by Rabbi Rubin’s impressive work over many years?)

He now asserts that only his fear of political repercussions kept him from acting. Yet, the
history of Rabbi Rubin’s tenure during the early days of the Pataki administration was marked by Wiesenfeld’s repeated assertion to many persons that Rabbi Rubin had to be kept on (despite his original appointment by a Democratic administration) because he was scrupulously

Kashruth supervision was thought to be susceptible to corruption in the wrong hands, and
Rabbi Rubin’s reputation as a person totally devoted to honest kosher enforcement was a great comfort to the new state administration. Wiesenfeld, now consumed by some inexplicable bitterness, cannot seem to remember why it was that he concurred in Rabbi Rubin’s retention, but he spoke of it to enough people with long enough memories that he cannot now get away with obfuscation on the subject.

Finally, and most important, Wiesenfeld’s assertion that the “collapse of these exemplary laws” is part of Rabbi Rubin’s “legacy” is patently incredible on its face. The laws collapsed for legal
reasons that need not be further detailed here, but Rabbi Rubin’s legacy is, in fact, that he, with
single-minded determination and unbounded energy, built up the Kosher Law agency from a
small, ineffective, often inactive bureau, occasionally suspected of corruption, to a dynamic,
incorruptible powerhouse of consumer protection.

For a generation, his was the voice (and the face) of Kosher Law Enforcement. Those who
sought to make an extra dollar by cheating the kosher consumer were deterred, or exposed, by the inspections which he put in place and, when a violation was found, he would not back down from following through, regardless of the size, importance, connections or the religious affiliation of the perpetrator. That was Rabbi Rubin’s legacy.

Even before I knew Rabbi Rubin well, certainly more than a decade before I had the great honor of becoming his son-in-law, I was an admirer of his work on behalf of kosher law enforcement and I said so, most notably perhaps in a 1986 letter to then-Governor Cuomo which I wrote as president of the Riverdale Jewish Community Council. Everyone knew of, and acknowledged, this impressive legacy – even Jeff Wiesenfeld. His selective memory does
greater dishonor to him than to his intended target.

Mark Friedlander
Riverdale, NY

Still Talking About That Talking Fish The Case For Reincarnation

The concept of a soul being reincarnated into a fish should not be ridiculed. The chief disciple of the Arizal stated: “If a man’s good deeds outweigh his misdeeds, his soul will pass on into a human body. If otherwise, into that of an animal or an inanimate object. For example incest will cause a soul to be reincarnated into an unclean animal; the souls of two adulterers will be placed into two opposing granary millstones, to grind against each other forever; an arrogant
communal leader into a bee; dishonest shochtim who falsely purvey treif meat as being kosher and informers (mosrim) into barking dogs; those who are cruel to the poor into crows; a murderer into the sea and so on” (R. Chaim Vital, Sha’ar Hagilgulim – “Gate of Reincarnations”).

The soul of the evil prophet Balaam was restituted by being reincarnated into the donkey of R. Pinchas ben Yair. R. Moshe Teitelbaum stated that in a previous life he had been one of the sheep in Jacob’s flocks!

An even more astounding concept is that of men’s souls being reincarnated into women’s bodies and vice versa, and that of Jewish neshamos being reincarnated into gentile bodies
(geirim) and vice versa (apostates)!

Very occasionally pristine “new” souls descend to this world, never before reincarnated into neither man nor beast. This has been said of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Shneur Zalman of
Liadi, who is considered to have been the last and the greatest of the Acharonim.

Amnon Goldberg
Safed, Israel

Makes Us Look Primitive

The view expressed by Dr. Yaakov Stern in his letter to the editor of April 4 – namely, that a
story about talking fish can be taken seriously because anything within the scope of Torah is
possible – is irrational, particularly for someone who goes by the title of Doctor.

How is a silly talking fish story “within the scope of Torah”? This story was reported in the
secular media and made the Torah community appear to be primitive and steeped in superstition. This will not bring any Jews closer to Yiddishkeit. Dr. Stern does the community a great disservice by stating that this nonsensical story should be given substance and by analogizing it to stories about rabbonim curing people today with brachos.

I do not know of one documented case in modern times where someone with an untreatable
malady was cured by a bracha from a rebbe. There is not one accepted gadol today who claims that he can treat diseases with a bracha. I do, on the other hand, know of situations in our community where people with medical problems, instead of rapidly seeking advice from physicians, relied on brachos or received erroneous medical advice from rabbonim – with tragic results.

I hope Dr. Stern treats his patients instead of sending them to rabbonim (or maybe he entertains them with talking fish stories).

Dov Cohen
Brooklyn, NY

Letters to the Editor

Letters To The Editor

Friday, May 9th, 2003

A Place At The Seder

His Eminence HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, the former chief rabbi of Israel, has given his blessing to a proposal by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner calling on all Jews to set a place at the table for Jonathan Pollard on Seder night. His empty chair symbolizes the longing and hope of the nation to see Jonathan (Yehonatan Ben Malka) free and speedily returned home to Israel.

Yaakov Leeds

Moynihan Wrong On Pollard

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a true friend of Israel and a strong voice at the UN on behalf of the causes we held dear. He gave of himself selflessly and we remember him and his efforts with gratitude.

However, we must also note that together with Senator Joseph Lieberman he was a loud and strong advocate for the life sentence meted out to Jonathan Pollard. In this case his convictions, not Jonathan’s, were very wrong.

Sidney Green
(Via E-Mail)

Cardozo Honors Tutu

On Tuesday, April 1, Cardozo Law School, a subsidiary of Yeshiva University, presented its annual International Advocate for Peace Award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for his work in ending the apartheid in South Africa. The recipient of the award is chosen by two student groups and sponsored by the school.

The archbishop has been making public anti-Semitic statements for years. In a 1989 trip to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, for instance, he “urged Israelis to forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust”; in 1988 he stated that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism.”

As recently as April 2002, Tutu compared the Israeli government to “Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic and Idi Amin,” and advised Americans not to fear the “powerful [American] Jewish lobby.”

In response to these latest comments, the Zionist Organization of America “urged Jewish allies of Tutu to publicly protest Tutu’s latest anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slurs.” ZOA National President Morton Klein referred to the remarks as “vicious libel.”

As a Jewish Cardozo student, I appreciate being able to attend a law school that has a mezuzah in each doorway, sells only kosher food and makes sure its Spring break coincide with Passover.

While I haven’t agreed with everything the school has recently done, such as inviting the Iraqi Ambassador to the U.N. to speak on the topic “Democracy in Times of War,” the school’s intellectual honesty – its willingness to encourage an exchange of ideas – is something I value
about Cardozo.

Presenting a peace award to an open anti-Semite is intellectually dishonest. I expect more from Cardozo, and from Yeshiva University.

C. Frid
(Via E-Mail)

What They Really Mean

The liberal who unctuously says, “I support the troops, I pray for their safe return,” but who markedly fails to say that he supports the mission to which those troops were ordered by their commander-in-chief, and the cause to which they are devoted, is in reality expressing contempt for those troops.

He sees them, not as soldiers risking their lives in a war, but simply as victims to be kept safe from harm. In doing so, he has abstracted the harm from the mission which has placed them in harm’s way and which gives the potential harm its meaning. The liberal is, in other words, treating the soldiers as bodies without souls. But what else would you expect from a liberal?

Lawrence Auster
New York, NY

Rumsfeld’s On Our Side

Your paper is usually perceptive in analyzing historical forces, so it was particularly distressing to see you highlight incorrectly the partisan views of General McCaffrey and other of his ilk trying to undermine Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (news story, March 28).

There are two elements in this campaign against Rumsfeld. The first attack dogs are the entrenched Pentagon Bureaucrats aided by the Clinton-era retired Army officers who are challenged by Rumsfeld’s plans to eliminate encrusted archaic policies and pork barrel waste.

More important, the second echelon attack dogs are the State Department Arabists who recognize that Rumsfeld is a man of morals and integrity who threatens their views and plans for the Mideast. They understand that his view of ensuring democracy requires the complete elimination of terrorist rogue Arab regimes.

Rumsfeld’s strategic plan will of necessity be opposed by Secretary of State Powell and those pushing the notorious “Road Map.” We will therefore see attempts to demonize Rumsfeld and undermine his relationship with President Bush as Rumsfeld pushes support for the Iraqi National Congress and complete elimination of Ba’athists in post-Saddam Iraq. And Rumsfeld’s view of what he termed the “so-called” occupation of the West Bank sticks in the
throats of all foes of Israel and bespeaks possibly a more honest appraisal of Judea-Samaria at the highest levels of the administration.

You should, therefore, be very careful not to give aid and comfort to the opponents of Rumsfeld and to correctly grasp the forces opposing each other in the Bush administration.

Marvin Belsky, M.D.
New York, NY

Marxism Run Amok

I am a 1980 graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University. I cannot say that I am surprised by the weak response and relative silence of the university administration to the De Genova incident. The content of Prof. Nicholas De Genova’s diatribe (during which he explicitly called for an American defeat in Iraq and wished for “a million Mogadishus,” referring to the ambush of American troops in Somalia in 1993 that left 18 Americans dead and 84 wounded) is one of countless instances of Marxist ideology run amok, not only at Columbia, but throughout most of academia.

Free speech is an inherently ambiguous concept that requires definition and interpretation. Freedom of speech can be acceptably curtailed during times of war to prevent propaganda which might undermine the national interest (Schenk vs. United States, 1919). Clearly, the law accepts a limit on free speech.

Claims of “academic free speech” are specious, at best. Feelings of self-entitlement and the desire to indoctrinate generations of students with leftist propaganda do not automatically endow academic institutions with a different brand of free speech.

The De Genova scandal, coupled with Columbia’s long-time courtship of unabashedly pro-Arab, anti-Jewish professors, has led me to request that the Barnard Office of Alumni Affairs permanently remove me from its mailing lists. I will no longer associate myself with a university that either implicitly or outwardly condones anti-American, anti-Jewish, and Communist activity.

Sharon Horvitz
(Via E-Mail)

Joel Exhibits Courage, Leadership

I’m confused as to why reader Joyce Herschenson feels that Richard Joel, as president and international director of Hillel, has done nothing to combat the increasing problem of anti-Semitism on campus (Letter to the Editor, April 4).

Consider the following facts:

● Just this past week, Hillel sent 700 students from campuses across the country to attend the AIPAC Conference. The sessions and workshops they attended will help prepare these students to be more forceful pro-Israel activists on campus.

● Last month, Hillel executives met with the Senate Republican Conference at the Capitol building to discuss the rise of anti-Semitism on campus.

● At a recent Hillel rally at the University of Michigan, more than 1,000 people gathered together to voice support for the university’s investments in Israel – and to preempt an anti-Israel rally scheduled on campus later that week.

● Hillel has been responsible for sending more than 10,000 Jewish college students on the Birthright Israel program, and they have returned to their college campuses as stronger advocates of Israel and other Jewish causes.

● The Israel on Campus Coalition, a partnership of Hillel and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, provides a united community front to promote a pro-Israel agenda, and to respond to the resurgence of anti-Israel activity on college campuses.

As the guiding force behind Hillel, Richard Joel has strengthened Jewish identity among Jewish students on campus, and has certainly provided them with the ammunition to counter anti-Semitic activity that they might face.

I, for one, am looking forward to his tenure as president of Yeshiva University, where I’m sure he will exhibit the same courage, leadership, and commitment to excellence that earned him such respect at Hillel.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT

By The Rivers Of Babylon…

In Mishna Berurah, the halachic masterpiece of the Chofetz Chaim, under the heading of “blessings to be made upon seeing seas, rivers, mountains or hills,” it says that upon seeing one of the four rivers mentioned in Scripture one should make a blessing. These four rivers include the Tigris and the Euphrates. There are Jewish troops among the Allied forces and the reporters covering the war. There are about 40 Jews still living in Baghdad itself. And in a
democratic Iraq of the future, no doubt more Jews will visit. Upon seeing the rivers, the words of the blessings will certainly be uttered once more.

Dr. Elie Feuerwerker
Highland Park, NJ

Points For Education

A hearty thank you to The Jewish Press for your “Points for Education” feature that is helping our Judaica collection to grow.

Chava Goldstone
School Librarian
Bruriah High School
Elizabeth, NJ

Kashrut Controversy: Jeff Wiesenfeld Answers His Critics

You, the editors and publisher of The Jewish Press, know very well of the paid and
uncompensated service I have provided to the Jewish community with a full heart and
conscientiousness for 25 years. Being off the public payroll is liberating as it permits one to express the full and unvarnished truth of a matter – however unpleasant that truth may be. What your readers are about to learn in this letter are facts that until now have not been widely known but which should be, as they contain larger lessons on how our community acts for and against its own interests.

The following is not meant to impugn the late Rabbi Schulem Rubin, for I operate under the
assumption that he was well intentioned. He was, however – as we all sometimes are – wrong on the points described. As for the long-time nemesis of many of us in public service, I will detail some of the antics of one Isaac Abraham.

First, as to the issue of kosher law: It’s time that our community know the truth concerning the
New York State kosher law saga. As Governor Pataki’s former executive assistant, I can give you the facts:

The so-called kosher laws, which stood for many decades, greatly benefitted kosher consumers, Halal observers, the lactose-intolerant and many others as a simple and, yes, pure
consumer protection measure. Enforced for many years as intended, they upheld what was a simple standard of kosher – i.e. separation of meat and dairy, no pork or shellfish, ritual slaughter and unleavened products for kosher Passover sales. This was “definitional” kosher for centuries.

In recent decades, however, many Orthodox Jews adopted the “glatt” standard as popularized
by Hungarian Jews who came here following World War II. Despite the anachronistic “Orthodox” misnomer, New York State in fact enforced only the basic, definitional consumer-protecting “simple” standard.

About 20 years ago, then-governor Mario Cuomo elevated Orthodox Rabbi Schulem Rubin,
an employee of the kosher law division of the New York State Department of Agriculture and
Markets, to the director’s position of that division. The late Rabbi Rubin had a knack for making himself the “kosher hero” in the press, and he was supported by some influential members of the Orthodox community in his endeavor to enforce the more Orthodox standards.

Rabbi Rubin decided that he would pay extra attention with his inspectors to kosher
delicatessens that were open on Shabbos, and he expressed his disdain for non-Orthodox kosher supervision – this despite the evidence that violations of the kosher statutes occurred with equal frequency across the board. Remember, our laws related to the product, not whether the storekeeper was shomer Shabbos.

I have yet to meet an Orthodox Jew who relies on the State to determine what is kosher. The
State standard was intended to be – and worked for so many years – as the basic standard. It is to my regret that I did not fervently recommend the replacement of Rabbi Rubin early in our
administration. Because of the support for him voiced by several leading Orthodox organizations and individuals, I felt I would be doing the governor a disservice by urging him to immerse himself in a Jewish political quagmire. How could I recommend to the governor that he uphold the intended (or “lesser”) standard, when that would put him at odds with his “core” Jewish supporters?

Even as a non-lawyer, I knew Rabbi Rubin and his supporters were headed down a road
toward the collapse of the near-century-old kosher laws, but I was not about to fight with them or give the governor’s political competitors false ammunition.

Rabbi Rubin’s legacy, in part, is that he is responsible for the legal collapse of these exemplary consumer protection statutes. It was irresponsible of him to deem Commack Kosher Meats “unkosher” because the supervising rabbi was Conservative and not Orthodox.

The successor I ultimately recommended, Rabbi Luzer Weiss, is, as a chassidic Jew, even
more to the right on the Orthodox spectrum, but he has always understood the true nature of the laws he is bound to enforce. He has been universally regarded as fair and equal in his enforcement. I wish I had moved to replace Rabbi Rubin four years earlier. Rabbi Rubin believed what he believed, but these beliefs were not the laws of New York State.

On these and other matters, sometimes – only sometimes – government knows better than
those in the community who have other ideas.

Now, because no one else has the nerve to do so, I will speak to the issue of Isaac Abraham. This individual and his cohorts spend much time playing one public official off against another. They have done this for 25 years and anyone who is anyone in the Jewish community knows about it, but I am the first to put it in writing.

I wish to emphasize not only that Abraham’s continuous charges against me are false – I
adamantly deny making the statements he attributed to me – but that I filed an official
complaint, three years ago, with the New York City Police Department.

In the 1994 gubernatorial election, the Satmar community supported Mario Cuomo over
George Pataki. That was understandable, as they felt they were being loyal to the former governor. But in government, when elections are concluded you have to govern, so I convened a meeting of the then-Satmar leadership with Gov. Pataki in April 1995.

Isaac Abraham had been a volunteer in our campaign and was certainly treated properly, but
he threatened me to the effect that he would “get me” if I brought Rabbis Glantz, Weider, Freund, Lefkowitz and others to meet with the governor. He insisted that he should be the go-between for Satmar and the governor, as well as others.

Well, that is not how government works. Government is compelled to deal with legitimate
leadership. Isaac Abraham may have been a volunteer the Pataki campaign of 1994, but he did not have, and still does not have, any formal standing in the Satmar leadership. At any rate,
from that day forward he has been embarked on a campaign against me.

I remain a respected public servant. I don’t know where Isaac Abraham and his allies are busy
now, nor do I care.

Jeff S. Wiesenfeld

Editor’s Response: It is unfortunate that Mr. Wiesenfeld continues his calumny against the late Rabbi Schulem Rubin by insisting that he brought about the demise New York’s laws protecting the kosher consumer. To be sure, he has now toned down his charge. Thus, in a recent editorial we noted that Wiesenfeld had claimed in another publication that “Rabbi Rubin’s legacy is that he is singularly responsible for the legal collapse of these exemplary laws….” (Emphasis ours.) Now Mr. Wiesenfeld says in his letter to The Jewish Press that “Rabbi Rubin’s legacy, in part, is that he is responsible for the legal collapse….” (Emphasis ours.)

And he also now concedes in his amended remarks that he “operate[s] under the assumption that [Rabbi Rubin] was well intentioned.” Yet it is very troubling that so key a former official seems incapable of acknowledging the incontrovertible fact that those laws were invalidated by the Supreme Court, not for the manner in which they were enforced but for their substantive provisions which were based upon “Orthodox Hebrew requirements.” That is, the Court specifically ruled that there was no way the kosher consumer laws could be constitutionally enforced precisely because they called for adherence to that standard.

Mr. Wiesenfeld’s lament that he did not put an end to Rabbi Rubin’s tenure because the latter persisted in rejecting the notion that his job was to enforce a “lesser” standard for kosher is most curious. All Rabbi Rubin did was enforce the law on its terms. What seems to bother Mr. Wiesenfeld is that Rabbi Rubin did not pull his punches. Nor is his attributing to Rabbi Rubin’s successor, Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the adoption of the lesser standard all that complimentary to Rabbi Weiss – if indeed the charge is accurate, which we doubt.

We also find Mr. Wiesenfeld’s summation regarding the enforcement of the kosher laws odd, to say the least. “On these and other matters,” he writes, “sometimes – only sometimes – government knows better than those in the community who have other ideas.” This sounds dangerously close to allowing government the right to mislead those it assures it can be relied upon.

Takes Issue With “Purim Prayers” Claim

In the March 14 issue of The Jewish Press I came across (page 49) an insertion encouraging
people to have special kavana (concentration) in tefilla (prayer) on Purim. It stated that Chazal say that on Purim “we beseech, and he [Hashem] answers, no matter what our merits, no matter what our flaws.”

While it is surely fine and laudable to encourage people to daven with kavana on Purim, as well as all year round, it nevertheless seems that the extravagant words in the piece are off the
mark and misleading, for the following reasons.

1) The piece claims that “Chazal tell us….” The term Chazal is used to refer to the Sages of the
Mishna, Talmud and Midrash. However, no source from those great sages is given to back up the claim. The three named sources (Divrei Yechezkel, Nidvas Pi and Toras Emes) are relatively recent works – not Chazal with their universally accepted authority.

2) The impression the piece gives is that on Purim anyone can ask for anything from Hashem
and be guaranteed that his request will be granted. In addition the fact that there is no basis for such a guarantee in Chazal, disseminating such words can be harmful to those who might believe them literally and who could suffer great letdowns and loss of faith if they don’t get everything they ask for.

3) Let us examine where this notion came from. It seems to be (at least partially) as follows.
There is a halacha that on Purim, with regard to giving tzedakah to an individual of unknown
veracity, “kol mi sheposheit yado nosnin lo” (whoever stretches out his hand, we give to him).
Some people took the aforementioned halacha and combined it with the general principle that
Hashem treats people as they act toward others (mida kineged mida – measure for measure). So therefore, goes the logic, if we give to anyone who asks, so too Hashem will give anything to anyone who asks Him for it on Purim.

This line of thought seems to have serious limitations however. After all, we are not obligated
to, and indeed do not, give every collector on Purim anything he asks for, but rather just at least a nominal donation. So the claim that Hashem will give anyone anything he requests on Purim (with no limitations) does not come under the principle of Heavenly mida kineged mida (reciprocity) but actually far exceeds it – and therefore falls outside its bounds.

4) Another issue is the claim that Purim is unique with regard to automatic and guaranteed
acceptance of prayers. Rambam (Mishna Torah, Hilchos Teshuva 2:6), based on Chazal, states that prayer during aseres yemei teshuva is immediately accepted, as is prayer by a congregation that repents and cries out fully and sincerely at any time. He does not mention a special status in that regard for Purim. Perhaps Purim might be a good time to pray – but we should not overemphasize it at the possible expense of the rest of the year, when Hashem is just as close to a tzibbur that prays properly.

5) There are things that can block acceptance of our prayers, such as the aveira of gezel (see
interesting discussion by Rav Solomon, mashgiach of Lakewood Yeshiva, entitled “Unanswered Prayers” in the book With Hearts Full of Faith (Mesorah). Even on Yom Kippur there is no guarantee that we will get everything we ask for; although Hashem hears our tefillos, He may not always say “yes” to them. Presumably the same holds true for Purim, even for those who want to claim a Purim-Yom Hakippurim correspondence.

6) Finally, I was also taken aback to see that the piece carried the name of the Chofetz Chaim on it. While it undoubtedly gives strength and credibility to the message, I believe that it is of
questionable propriety to use it to promote an idea that he arguably would not have accepted. I looked through his renowned Mishna Berurah and did not find, in the lengthy chapters of commentary on Purim, such a promise as was promoted in the article. This strongly supports my suspicion that he would not agree with it. Not everything written in any sefer was accepted by the Chofetz Chaim – sometimes omissions can speak volumes.

To sum up, the attempt to promote proper and better prayer on Purim, though presumably well intended, is not well served by poorly chosen words and exaggerated promises. Hopefully, those behind it will not repeat such mistakes in the future.

Boruch M. Selevan
Brooklyn, NY

Letters to the Editor

Letters To The Editor

Friday, May 2nd, 2003

Exposing The Times

The expose by Tom Gross that you carried on your front page last week (“Distortions and
Double Standards: How the New York Times Routinely Misreports Israel”) makes an iron-clad case against the journalism of what he calls the world’s most important paper. Gross’s work is especially important as the mainstream media by and large maintain a code of silence when it comes to this kind of criticism.

I would have one important addition to his conclusions. The reporting of the Times is not
just anti-Israel, but also fraudulent and dishonest because it clearly and deliberately distorts reality in the Middle East, as Gross so persuasively demonstrates. It is also anti-Semitic, as it employs one standard for Israel and a different standard for the rest of the world. The double standard is a classic technique of anti-Semitism.

It is important to call things by their right names. The Times should not transform terrorists into “militants” or “demonstrators,” and critics of the Times should not use milder terms for its fraudulent and dishonest journalism or for its anti-Semitism. The public will only appreciate the dangers of Times journalism and its potential damage if it is called by its right names.

Herb Denenberg
Radnor, PA

Moran’s Hate

Re the hateful remarks by Representative James Moran:

A Washington Post editorial correctly asserted that “Mr. Moran’s comment will be used to concentrate the poison of anti-Semitism in many parts of the world where it remains virulent and dangerous.” Indeed, at the same time that Congressman Moran’s inflammatory comments
were becoming a focus of attention in the U.S., the 17th victim of the recent Palestinian suicide
bombing in Haifa died of her wounds. Ironically, this young Israeli woman’s name was also Moran (Moran Shushan). No doubt, the horrific comments of Mr. Moran of Virginia will only contribute to the hate that brought about the death of Ms. Moran of Haifa.

Eliezer Schnall
West Hempstead, NY

Royal Pain

Queen Noor (widow of King Hussein) has just come out with a memoir replete with anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish cliches. (For example, the reason that Hollywood movies supposedly portray Arabs in a bad light is because Hollywood is controlled by Jews.)

I am sure that Noor – who has always lived the most luxurious life, having been born stinking rich to an Arab-American who made it big – will be making the inevitable book tour across the country. Will the American Jewish community again lie prone while the anti-Semitic propaganda increases? Will the ADL again rest on its laurels? What is needed is a truth squad.
The ADL needs to do more than just have the Times publish a mangled letter by Abe Foxman.

Joe Adams
(Via E-Mail)

Wants Tougher Coverage Of Joel

Although Richard Joel never seemed to make headlines before, I’ve noticed that ever since he
was chosen as the next president of Yeshiva University, a number of articles have appeared
in Jewish newspapers about how he’s the greatest thing since chopped liver. What really got me last week was a full-page ad about his tenure as president and international director of
Hillel, the Jewish campus organization.

Mr. Joel was lauded for several accomplishments for which many could claim credit. But what struck me was that in one publication that carried the ad there was also a front-page “bullet” and an accompanying, full-blown story elsewhere in the paper reporting on the virulent and deeply embedded anti-Semitism on college campuses across America.

I wonder where Mr. Joel was when all of this was taking root? It is very nice to read about how he was involved in a bunch of feel-good projects, but something seems out of joint.

Joyce Herschenson
(Via E-Mail)

‘Sophomoric Tripe’

Re: “Boro Park Y Honors Dov Hikind” (article, March 28):

You really have got to be kidding. I find it simply unbelievable that anyone other than someone in Dov Hikind’s office could have written a line like the following: “Few political leaders
are as much admired and loved by their constituencies as well as by the rest of the world as New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.”

“As well as by the rest of the world?” Give me a break. How many people outside of Boro Park and Flatbush have ever even heard of Dov Hikind?

I don’t know who really wrote the article, but it was not an effort worthy of your paper, which,
I must tell you, has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of sophisticated news coverage and
commentary. Please be careful to exercise more restraint in the future. This kind of embarrassing, sophomoric tripe wouldn’t make it into a high school newspaper. Your readership has come to expect better from you.

Murray Lebow
New York, NY

Logical Conclusion

When the Iraqis film a dead British soldier, that is a war atrocity that no one with an ounce
of humanity can comprehend, states Tony Blair.

Palestinians dip their hands in Israeli soldiers’ blood and wave them triumphantly in the air.

Iraqi soldiers who put on civilian clothing and shoot at American troops or who put on U.S. and UK uniforms are violating the Geneva Accords and will be treated as war criminals.

Palestinian soldiers regularly put on civilian clothing or Israeli uniforms in order to attack
Israeli civilians.

Iraqis who place their military installations in civilian locations are thugs, states a U.S. army

Palestinians place their military installations nowhere else but in civilian locations.

Iraqis who attack from mosques, hospitals or next to historic sites are acting like thugs and the
U.S. and UK armies will follow the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions and shoot back at them regardless.

Palestinians regularly attack from mosques, hospitals, ambulances, private homes, and so
forth – and occasionally take over a historic church to shoot at Israelis.

For engaging in activities that do not begin to match in scope or barbarity the unremitting
activities of the Palestinians, the Iraqis are called thugs, terrorists, Nazis, war criminals who
commit atrocities, whose murderous regime must be replaced.

Therefore, there can be only one compelling logical conclusion: As soon as George W. Bush
and Tony Blair kill Saddam Hussein, they must implement the “Road Map” that will force Israel to agree to the presence of a Palestinian Authority state.

Yacov David Shulman
Baltimore, MD

No Surprises

Newspapers and TV reports express surprise at some unexpected occurrences in the war in
Iraq. A suicide bomber lures American soldiers to his taxi, then blows himself up, killing himself and the four soldiers. Iraqi women and children are used as human shields.

Coalition forces are faced with the dilemma of incurring “collateral damage” as they
recognize that the enemy is hiding in hospitals and schools. Iraqis in civilian clothes attack
troops. Iraqi soldiers pretend to surrender and then kill their captors. U.S. POW’s and MIA’s
are murdered execution style without regard to the rules of the Geneva Convention.

Uniforms of U.S. soldiers are found in Iraqi hideouts suggesting that disguise will be used
as a weapon to infiltrate the enemy.

All of the above brings to mind the similarities to the war the Arabs have been waging against Israel for these many years, especially since Sept. 2000. The teen-age suicide bombers; the use of women and children as shields; the disguises as Israeli soldiers or religious Jews; and the bestial murders of Israeli soldiers and children where the dismembered bodies are no longer recognizable – all of this is the way Arabs fight. There should be no surprise for
Americans here.

There should be no surprise that tens of thousands of “Palestinians” are dancing in the streets, celebrating every “victory” of the Iraqis and burning Bush and Blair in effigy. We read that 30,000 Arab marchers chant, “We advise our brother in Iraq to concentrate on martyrdom operations which will plant terror in the heart of the infidels.”

I suggest that the coalition leaders seriously consider Israel’s experience in fighting against
the terror to which it has been subjected since well before its creation, and expect that the
war in Iraq will develop along the same lines. There should be no surprises.

Helen Freedman
Executive Director
Americans For a Safe Israel

Readers React To Editorial On Wiesenfeld’s ‘Cheap Shot’

Low Blow

I was horrified when I read Jeff Wiesenfeld’s remarks about the late Rabbi Shulem Rubin in a
recent issue of the Jewish Week. But then The Jewish Press made me feel a little better by
expressing exactly what was on my mind in its editorial condemning those remarks (“Cheap Shot,” March 28).

Whatever one thinks of Rabbi Rubin – and I realize that a public figure will always draw both
criticism and praise – it was a low blow for Wiesenfeld to attack a man who is no longer with
us. And to attack him in a publication like the Jewish Week, which is even worse than the proudly secular Forward when it comes to maligning Orthodox Jews, was doubly offensive.

In the past I’ve agreed with many of the political positions taken by Wiesenfeld, who prides
himself on being a straight-shooter. This time, however, he shot himself – right in the foot.

Herb Wachsman
Brooklyn, NY

Too Flamboyant?

As a regular reader of The Jewish Press over the years, I seem to remember stories about how Rabbi Rubin flamboyantly enforced New York’s kosher laws. What sticks out in my mind was his practice of sending out two particular inspectors in the dead of night to uncover violations. Dubbed “Starsky and Hutch” after a TV detective duo of the 70’s, their exploits were often reported in The Jewish Press by Rabbi Rubin.

Rabbi Rubin always seemed to me to have been larger than life and projected almost a crusading image well beyond how law enforcement official typically appear to the public. I can well understand why food establishments given violations would personalize their cases and blame him for over-zealousness.

I don’t mean to justify Mr. Wiesenfeld’s remarks attributing to Rabbi Rubin the invalidation of the kosher laws by the Supreme Court, and you were certainly correct to note that Rabbi Rubin is no longer around to defend himself and the court did not base its decision on improper enforcement.

Yet something in me says that Rabbi Rubin’s penchant for drawing so much public attention to
kosher law enforcement triggered a lot of ill will which may well have provoked a serious
groundswell against the laws – and which produced a cadre of people willing to go as far as
was necessary to have them eliminated.

Moshe Weinraub
Brooklyn, NY

Silent George

It would have been nice if Gov. Pataki had issued a statement immediately after his former
aide Jeff Wiesenfeld’s outrageous and unfounded attack against such a distinguished rabbi as the late Shulem Rubin appeared in the Jewish Week. Maybe the governor doesn?t read that particular newspaper.

Yossi Schochet
(Via E-Mail)

Stark Contrast

If I understand Jeff Wiesenfeld’s attack on the late Rabbi Shulem Rubin correctly, it was based on Rabbi Rubin’s having done his job by pursuing violators of the law with a vengeance. This is to be starkly contrasted with Mr. Wiesenfeld, who laments not having done his job when he failed to advise Gov. Pataki, his boss at the time, to remove an official (Rabbi Rubin) he felt was detrimental to his administration.

Deborah Fried
Staten Island, NY

Past Remarks

While I applaud The Jewish Press for taking on former gubernatorial aide Jeff Wiesenfeld for
tramping on the grave of former Kosher Law Enforcement Director Rabbi Shulem Rubin,
Wiesenfeld’s most recent anti-Orthodox tirade should not come as a surprise to those who are
familiar with other incendiary remarks he has made in he past.

In 1997, the Forward newspaper reported that Wiesenfeld was critical of Orthodox Jewish
organizations which had decided not to participate in a Holocaust commemoration ceremony since it was being held in a Reform temple. While still serving on Gov. Pataki’s staff as a “Jewish liaison,” Mr. Wiesenfeld was quoted as saying, “If there’s anybody out there who sees fit not to recognize Reform and Conservative Jews, they better get in touch with Hitler and Himmler because they made a very bad mistake.” At that time, Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel, called Wiesenfeld’s remarks “intemperate.”

In 1999, during his confirmation hearing before the New York State Senate to become a board member of the City University of New York (CUNY), Wiesenfeld was asked pointed questions by then-State Senator Dan Hevesi about other insulting remarks he had made about Jews – including one allegation in which Wiesenfeld repeatedly referred to certain members of the chassidic community as “savages.”

A transcript of the hearing revealed that Wiesenfeld never denied making these controversial statements and would only respond to the senator’s questions by saying “I have no answer for you. I think my twenty-year record speaks for itself.”

It sure does.

Isaac Abraham
Brooklyn, NY

Balancing Faith And Reason

A talking fish? Oh come now, what will they think of next, a donkey who talks back to his
master? Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum’s dismissal of the fish story as a complete hoax disturbed me (Letters to the Editor, March 28). As I am not privy to the details of the incident, I cannot make a reasoned judgment, but I would suggest that Rabbi Teitelbaum does the community a disservice by essentially implying that those who believe in the supernatural are gullible fools.

The Torah is the quintessence of rationality, and it will not countenance any false doctrines.
That said, there is an element which exists well beyond the realm of human logic. Call it mysticism or Kabbalah or whatever you will, but it can’t be ignored. Who among us doesn’t know of individuals afflicted with severe maladies deemed untreatable by doctors but cured after a bracha from a rebbe? Or women consigned to childlessness who miraculously give birth?

No one is disturbed when science cannot find an answer, but we’re far less forgiving of our
spiritual leaders. Baruch Hashem we live in a country whose technological advancements have
allowed what was once unthinkable to become commonplace. But is has come at a great price – the diminution, at least on the subconscious level, of the need for Gedolei Yisrael.

Having taken Rabbi Teitelbaum to task, I would like to defend and perhaps elaborate on the
position taken by Dr. Yitzchok Levine in his letter. Inasmuch as they were essentially in agreement, this might seem odd, but truth is often hidden beneath the underlying principles.

Dr. Levine noted that he was a talmid of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, for some thirty-odd years, and that the Torah giant never discussed matters such as gilgulim (transmigration of souls) since the subject was not explicitly raised in the Gemara. Rabbi Miller felt there was enough work for us to do without delving into the esoteric.

I believe that his position derived from a rather well-known and straightforward Gemara which exhorts those beset by problems to look into their actions and make the needed corrections.
There is a great danger for those who are metaphysically inclined to seek out solutions in
mysticism, trying potions and amulets as a substitute for introspection. It’s difficult for many
to accept that they are responsible for their travails, but Rabbi Miller tried to impress this point
upon his followers.

So therein lies the rub. We stand on a narrow tightrope upon a giant precipice and it’s difficult to maintain our balance. Sway too far toward the realm of science and we convert it into a deity; place our faith in the occult and we lose sight of our mission on earth. I was fortunate enough to befriend a gadol of the last generation. I once asked him for the proper approach to rebbe maasehs (stories). He told me, “If you believe them all you’re a fool, but if you believe in none you have no emunah.”

Healthy skepticism about the talking fish? That’s fine. A belief that anything within the scope
of Torah is possible? Why not?

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY

An Exchange With Sen. Moynihan

Editor’s Note: The following exchange between George Topas, an author (“The Iron Furnace”)and commentator whose work has frequently appeared in The Jewish Press, and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served four terms as U.S. senator from New York, was featured in these pages nine years ago. We reprint it here to mark the occasion of Mr. Moynihan’s passing last week.

A Plea To A Righteous Man

Dear Senator Moynihan,

In this time of trouble and unrest in the world, a world seething with hate and violence, we
are also experiencing a crisis of authority at home.

You are and perhaps always have been the upright man in the Senate, and to people of
integrity you personify the conscience of our government. All the way back to the UN days you have fearlessly asserted the right stand on all the issues that came before that ‘August’ but amoral body.

Now we have before us a Munich-style, debased fawning before the ersatz Hitler, and hear
shouts for the dismantling of the Jewish state on an installment plan, euphemistically called the
peace process. The names of the actors have changed, yet the script, but for minor variations,
remains the same.

To date we have not heard a strong protest from the Senate against this partition-of-Israel
policy. There is even talk about stationing foreign troops in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to protect the ‘Palestinian’ Arabs. Who would protect the Jews is of no concern to those who demand a king’s ransom for giving Israel a stay of execution. For the way that the PLO wants to settle the problem is to make all these areas Judenrein (free of Jews), the way the Nazis did before the Holocaust. The ‘Palestinian’ nationality canard is accepted sine qua non.

To aggravate matters, the present Israeli government bartered Israeli control and, by implication, sovereignty over integral parts of the Jewish homeland. One of those parts, Jericho, is not only a gateway to all of Israel but is an integral part of Jewish ancestral patrimony dating back to its conquest by Joshua. It was reported that they did this to get ‘Israeli-Palestinian Arab votes’ needed to assure themselves the election. Some say that the U.S. pressured Israel to make sweeping concessions at its own expense. To a student of history, this is the most sordid ‘shweinerei’ ever contrived, surpassing Munich in its suicidal cynicism.

Dear Senator Moynihan, I know that I share the sentiment of countless thousands of fellow
Americans when I appeal to you for leadership to assert the truth, to condemn the perfidious lies which are given credence to disinherit the Jewish people and to put them in ghettos in their own Homeland. A protest must originate somewhere where truth and justice have not been wholly scorned and jettisoned overboard. For as long as people like you occupy the halls of a lawful and just government, there is hope that evil and evildoers will get no sanction.

Just as Zola and Piccard were chosen by Providence as men worthy to intervene in the Dreyfus process because they were revolted by the injustice unfolding before them, so too history awaits men of integrity to protest the injustice being done to a nation that has come to personify Dreyfus among the nations.

It is the fervent hope of all of us who feel overwhelmed by the continuous flow of falsehoods
and libel being hurled at Israel by the corrupt UN, and by all the voices seeking to convince one and all that Israel should be sacrificed for the sake of ‘peace now,’ that you speak out. For you have already demonstrated that you can see through the maze of lies and the sophistry that embellishes their true intent. Therefore we need your clarion call to expose this unbelievable assault on the truth and the charade to disinherit the Jewish people.

With this plea, which comes from the depth of my heart, I wish you continued success in championing the right course even when the integrity of our many democratic institutions has reached a low ‘water mark’ and is in great need of a moral boost. Often, one man can make a difference and save that which was, and always should be, right and noble about us.

George Topas

A Reply To A Righteous Man

Dear Mr. Topas,

I thank you – as all supporters of the State of Israel must – for your eloquent and heartfelt
letter published in The Jewish Press on March 25, 1994. Israel has survived the many challenges to its very existence because of the extraordinary abilities of its citizens, but also because of its loyal and passionate friends abroad. It surely needs that support today.

The future and the safety of the State of Israel has been and continues to be a concern of both Jews and non-Jews outside of Israel because we believe in the right of Jews to live in their
historic homeland and admire the Israeli commitment to peace and democracy. Israel’s friends have fought – occasionally against great odds, especially during the long struggle with totalitarianism – to prevent outside forces from imposing solutions on Israel. We have always
believed and continue to believe that as a sister democracy committed to achieving a just and
lasting peace with its neighbors, Israel deserves our vigorous support against the daunting odds it faces.

Thus, when the obscene lie was advanced by the Soviet Union and its Arab allies that Zionism
was a form of racism, the United States stood with Israel and fought until the odious Resolution 3379 was repealed. Likewise, when the Security Council has considered endorsing the Palestinian position on Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, I have consistently and emphatically urged the United States to veto those resolutions. It was a deep disappointment that this administration chose to ignore both the letter to President Clinton which Senator Connie Mack and I drafted – and which 83 senators signed – and the unanimous Senate
resolution that I sponsored along with cosponsors Alfonse D’Amato and Hank Brown urging the United States to veto the resolution. We wanted the United States to veto this resolution (which described Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ territory) to make clear that we will not tolerate outside intervention on this crucial issue.

Israel is a democracy committed to peace. On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the historic
peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, it is worth remembering that Israeli leaders in governments led by both major parties have proven many times over that they are committed to peace and to Israel’s security. Israel deserves and should have the support of the United States – I will fight to see that it does – as it continues to seek a secure and lasting peace on terms which are negotiated by and acceptable to Israel – and not imposed by any outside party.

Together, you and I and indeed all of Israel’s friends and supporters must continue to fight this
good fight.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)

Letters to the Editor

Rabbi Schulem Rubin, z?l

Friday, July 27th, 2001

Rabbi Schulem Rubin, z?l

We note with sorrow the passing of Rabbi Schulem Rubin, an indefatigable champion of the Jewish community. As a prominent pulpit rabbi and trusted counsellor, Rabbi Rubin provided direction to generations. As a confidante of many in high office, he facilitated access to decision-makers at critical times for more than 40 years. And as the longtime Chief of Kosher Law Enforcement of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Rabbi Rubin worked ceaselessly to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Jews would not unwittingly run afoul of the Halacha in a fundamental and defining aspect of our faith.

Rabbi Rubin combined a signature regal bearing with uncommon oratory. His personality was characterized by much warmth and instant empathy. He was capable of extraordinary acts of kindness and great loyalty. Yet, he was an astute student of the human condition and the foibles of life. And he was, without doubt, able to take the measure of any in public life.

Those who knew Rabbi Rubin well and worked with him over the years most certainly shed real tears at his passing.

May his memory be for a blessing.

Editorial Board

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/rabbi-schulem-rubin-zl/2001/07/27/

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