web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rav Moshe’

A Torah Perspective On Educating Our Children About Sexuality (Part II)

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

While it once may have been possible to shelter our children from inappropriate exposure to sexuality, today it seems to be an impossible goal. Even parents who have made every effort to appropriately safeguard their family may find themselves unhappily surprised at what their child’s friends have exposed him to. In addition, outdoor secular media such as billboards, bus ads and newspaper covers portray disturbingly graphic images that force us to confront the fact that our children are being exposed to ideas and ways of life we may consider to be harmful to their souls and their mental health.

Furthermore, as we become more and more aware of the existence of sexual predators in our midst, and the terrible damage that survivors of sexual abuse experience, it is even more important for parents to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their children about sexuality. If children do not possess clear knowledge and age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused, they will find it difficult to protect themselves against those who seek to abuse them. We must find a way to inoculate our children by appropriately and respectfully exposing them to Torah ideas about sexuality and modesty, so that the first images and concepts that fill their developing minds are the proper ones.

If some readers are concerned that talking about sexuality with their children is somehow immodest, consider this segment from a teshuvah of Rav Moshe Feinsteinzt”l. The teshuvah was written in response to criticism Rav Moshe received in regards to controversial ruling he issued. Rav Moshe allowed artificial insemination to be performed under certain circumstances and was accused by some, as permitting what in their opinions was technically adultery. His response to that complaint reminds us that what is “unclean” or “impure” is only defined by halacha, and not our own neurotic feelings of shame:

“I am impressed that there are those who can be found who are unafraid to give rebuke. But in truth…your complaints come from a perspective that is external to the Torah, and without realizing it, this has affected…[your ability] to understand the mitzvos…the laws of the Torah are true whether they are lenient or strict, and we do not derive chumros from ideas external to the Torah” (Igros Moshe)

It seems that when Rav Moshe said, “We do not derive chumros from ideas external to the Torah,” he was referring to his critics, whom he believed were influenced by Christian notions of sexuality, while he was deriving his ruling from the strict halacha. In the same vein, those who have difficulty tolerating an age-appropriate Torah discussion about sexuality with their children may be under the influence of notions of shame and disgust toward what the Torah considers to be a mitzvah.

True, the halacha requires extreme modesty in regards to sexuality and other matters. As it states in the Gemara:

“Everyone knows why a bride enters the chuppah (marriage canopy). Nevertheless, he who defiles his mouth [with obscene language], even if his fate has been sealed for good fortune for the next 70 years, will have his fate overturned to bad fortune.” (Shabbos 33b)

However, this alone does not rule out discussions of sexual matters since presumably there is a difference between obscene language and purposeful, educational discussion.

More on this topic in Part III.

Feminist Trends At The Jewish Art Salon

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Tzelem: Likeness and Presence in Jewish Art

April 26 – May 17, 2009

Stanton Street Synagogue

180 Stanton Street, New York

http://web.me.com/yvf/JewishArtSalon

 

 

It was a little surreal sitting in the sanctuary of the Stanton Street Synagogue at the opening of the Jewish Art Salon exhibit. It was hard not to notice the sharp contrast between the synagogue’s tragically decaying collection of Zodiac signs painted on its walls and its dusty interior – some parts of which might still bear original grime dating back to 1913 when the synagogue was built – and the vibrant new art created by the 29 artists affiliated with the salon (including both the authors of this column). And then it turned out that two of the speakers, Archie Rand and Richard McBee, shared a common Jewish art experience: each told the assembled crowd of nearly 75 that he had received a ruling directly from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (1895 – 1986) encouraging him to paint without fear of violating the Second Commandment.

 

I did not speak up, but my father received smicha, rabbinic ordination, from Rav Moshe, and when I read one of the great rabbi’s decisions prohibiting elementary school instructors from teaching their students to draw lest they learn to illustrate the celestial bodies and come to violate the Second Commandment, I asked my father how he could have allowed me to draw. On a trip to New York, he approached Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rav Moshe’s son, at his Lower East Side yeshiva, Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim, and was told that it was permissible for me to draw. Even representational art was allowed, as my father presented Rav Dovid with one of my pen-and-ink drawings of Rav Moshe, which and as far as my father knows, Rav Dovid has kept. 

 

It takes a group of people obsessed with Jewish art congregating in an illuminated synagogue to tease out these sorts of connections. But what, if anything, can the Jewish Art Salon reveal about emerging trends in Jewish art?

 

Identifying trends in exhibits is a difficult endeavor. Reporters often tout movements of more painting or more sculpture at Whitney Biennials, but in my experience, the shows tend to be similarly organized as parking lots of works that are disjointed rather than unified. Trends have a way of popping up just about anywhere when one insists on looking for them. Yet, it seems significant to me that not only were a majority of the artists exhibiting in the salon women, but many of the works in the show could be said to have feminist content or themes.

 

 

 

Archie Rand. “Ruth (For Kitaj).” Acrylic on fabric. 2002

 

 

Archie Rand’s Ruth, (For Kitaj) references the late Jewish painter R. B. Kitaj (1932 – 2007). Rand represents Ruth the Moabitess as a red-headed woman wearing an ochre blazer and purple pants, and carrying a purple backpack (presumably for gathering Boaz’s grain). The blond-haired Boaz, clad in blue jeans and a lime-green blazer, and bearing an orange backpack (he is also harvesting his grain), approaches from behind, and speaks (via cartoon bubble) in Hebrew from Ruth 2: 8, “Have you heard, my daughter? Do not go to gather (grain) in any other field.” Never mind that Rand situates the scene in a field that seems better equipped as the set design of a horror film than for growing grain. Despite modernizing the costumes and the architecture of the houses in the background, Rand has remained true to the encounter between the two characters.  A literal reading of the text of the Book of Ruth may leave readers with a picture of an older man protecting and ultimately marrying a much younger widow.  However, Rand has empowered Ruth by representing Boaz as a younger man who stands off to the side, while Ruth occupies a prominent position in the middle of the canvas, and wears an expression on her face that surely conveys a mixture of pain and alienation on the one hand (she lost a husband and a people), and anticipation on the other (of her newfound faith and people, and husband-to-be).

 

 

Deborah Rosenthal. “Either/Or: Autumn Adam and Eve.” Oil on linen. 41″x31″. 1997-9

 

 

            Deborah Rosenthal’s Adam and Eve employs a different sort of strategy. Where Rand makes Ruth prominent by placing her in a central position – after all she is the  heroine of her own story, evidenced by the book bearing her name – Rosenthal’s painting blurs the boundary of where Adam ends and Eve begins, and vice versa. Somewhere in the composition the Tree of Knowledge also stands, and it may have sprouted wings worthy of a demon, or perhaps Satan disguised as a serpent. Rosenthal’s colors and forms are so visually seductive that it is easy to fall in love with the painting’s movement and to temporarily lose sight of the literal content of the work. Stanley Fish argued in his book Surprised by Sin that readers of John Milton’s Paradise Lost underwent a parallel journey to Adam’s. Just as Adam was tempted, sinned, and then sought forgiveness, readers are lured to Satan’s charismatic character; they then realize their “sin” and seek clemency. The same process might be said of Rosenthal’s Adam and Eve. Just as Adam and Eve confused the proper boundaries in the Garden of Eden, surely with a little help from their serpentine friend, viewers experience a bit of the taste of the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

 

 

John Bradford. “Judah and Tamar.” Oil on canvas. 24″x36″. 2008

 

 

If Rosenthal can be said to blur the boundaries between figures, John Bradford’s Judah and Tamar turns the figures into geometric boundaries. This painting, which looks like a Piet Mondrian grid with an orange, green, and blue palette, abstracts the figures of Jacob’s fourth son and his daughter-in-law to the point that though visible, they blend into the grid. Though Tamar dresses in red (perhaps because she is impersonating a prostitute) and seems to summon Judah, the characters seem frozen in space, as immobile and monumental as the colored rectangles that surround them.

 

 

 Ita Aber. “Evolution 1.” Paint, appliqu?, quilt, and embroidery, 22″x24″. 2009

 

 

Ita Aber’s Evolution 1 at first looks like a series of circumscribed hearts – the sorts to grace notes passed between grade school girls in class, or pasted in instant messenger chat windows. Yet the work represents not a rosy, melodramatic worldview, but the horns (karnayim, the same word that gets mistranslated elsewhere leading to Moses being depicted with horns) that were attached to the corners of the altar in the Tabernacle. Aber’s red then is not a stand in for love, but the blood of the sacrifices. “The use of red refers to the sacrificial blood that was daily splashed on these horns, thereby effecting the atonement for sin,” according to the exhibit catalog by Richard McBee and Joel Silverstein. “Her work stands in dramatic tension with the Christian and popular image of a valentine.”

 

It may be a misuse of mathematic induction to argue for an emerging feminist trend in Jewish art at large, just due to representations of Ruth, Eve, and Tamar, and media generally identified with traditional women crafts being used to show the altar’s horns. On the other hand, though, as I have often pointed out to peers in my master’s courses in art history, despite the fact that many people point to religious communities as the epitome of conservatism and repression of progressive movements like feminism, it seems like religious artists and exhibits can usually be counted upon to be even more diverse and progressive than even the most activist secular galleries and museums.

 

Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, D.C.

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, April 21st, 2004

Responding To Alarm Bells

Michael Freund’s alarming op-ed of March 12 (“Anti-Semitism Not The Main Threat To Europe’s Jews”) is disturbing because what he describes is readily apparent to anyone who bothers to learn and understand what is happening – the trend and statistics he presents have been ongoing for years. Our rapid downward slide continues in the face of disgraceful apathy and indifference.

Mr. Freund points out that “this is a disastrous situation that should be raising alarm bells throughout the Jewish world.” To me, “alarm bells” are concerned Jewish voices crying out in unison and with fervor to break out of our destructive apathy. We must remind ourselves that we are being tested just as our predecessors were. History teaches us many painful lessons. Anti-Semitism is one of them. We know that anti-Semitism is an overwhelming problem for us and beyond the ability of the Jewish people to control or conquer. Only Hashem can lift that yoke off our necks, but first He wants something from us, and that is why we are being tested. I am certain every Jew knows the answer.

A good start would be an avalanche of letters to the editor of The Jewish Press crying out for Jewish unity. We must raise our voices full strength if we hope to rise above those ominous
alarm bells.

“Naaseh v’nishma” - ring a bell?

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY



No ‘Spiritual Leader’

If a gang of murderers began terrorizing one of our towns, we would want our police to do whatever was necessary to ensure our safety. No one would worry about what the gang members thought of us, or whether they would retaliate.

It is, therefore, difficult to understand the reaction of many to the decisive action of the Israeli government which dealt justice to Ahmed Yassin, an arch-terrorist responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, including many women and children.

And why is that a mass murderer referred to as a “spiritual leader?” Is that an attempt to cloak him with some semblance of respectability? I know of no other “spiritual leader” who advocates murder and mayhem in this manner

Avi Kuperberg
Fair Lawn, NJ



They Loved Yassin

Israel’s elimination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin shows how widespread support for terrorism really is. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians decrying Israel’s execution of a chief terrorist doesn’t say much for people who claim they want peaceful relations with anyone, let alone Israel.

Even here in New York, the Arab-Americans who were interviewed seemed to see no justice in the elimination of a master terrorist; they condemned Israel! Are these the same Arab-Americans who after 9/11 cried “discrimination,” and who claimed they were just a bunch of peace-loving Americans?

People who feel sympathy for a vicious murderer do not belong among civilized human beings.

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY



Too Much Modern, Too Little Orthodox?

Last year I created a firestorm in this section by deriding Modern Orthodoxy, labeling the movement spiritually bankrupt and essentially irrelevant. In light of what I’ve read of late in The Jewish Press, I would like to amend my earlier statements. I am now forced to conclude that Modern Orthodoxy is not Judaism.

As exhibit A we present Marla Rubinstein, who describes herself as a Modern Orthodox supporter of John Kerry (Letters, March 19). Actually, she doesn’t so much support Sen Kerry as she reviles President Bush. Among the charges she levels at the president is that he is anti-gay. Ms. Rubinstein, the last time I checked the Torah calls homosexuality an abomination. But then, you’re Modern Orthodox, so I guess you have a modern, updated version of the Bible which deletes phrases that people like you consider offensive.

Then we have the feminists and their lackeys, such as Rabbi
Yosef Kanefsky of Los Angeles, who advises his congregants to
whisper the bracha ‘Shelo Asani Isha’ when there is a woman
in attendance.

And then there’s the recent to-do over the permissibility of a Lower East Side eruv, which featured a letter from a Lower East Side resident who wrote that he uses the eruv despite the
glares of his neighbors. Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, stated – and his sons Rav Dovid and Rav Reuven uphold this – that there is no eruv on the Lower East Side. By flouting this p’sak, one
demonstrates callous disregard of our chachomim – and in many ways this is worse than an act of chillul Shabbos.

I could cite many other examples, but suffice to say that an attitude has crept into Modern Orthodoxy that halacha must be adapted to suit the masses. In the good old days, those who
were non-observant at least owned up to it; now they hide under the guise of Orthodoxy. (I should make it clear that my remarks are not aimed at Jews of any particular locale – the concept that the Torah should not hinder one’s lifestyle can be found across the Jewish spectrum.)

It would be best if we consider the following from Rav Mordechai Gifter, zt”l: ‘Orthodox is a Greek word. I am a Torah Jew.’ Torah Jews abide by the dictates of the Creator as
expounded by our chachomim. They do not capriciously call for changes to suit their needs and desires.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY



More Involvement Needed

There are many organizations and individuals providing support, counseling, job training, and various programs to help teens at risk and their families. Those who work in this field are deserving of a hearty yasher koach, to say the least, for their efforts. It is work which requires
much patience and I am sure that they must have to deal with many frustrating and disappointing situations.

These organizations cater basically to families and teens who come to them for help. But there are many teens at risk out in the street who are suspicious of those they see as ‘professionals.’ They do not want to deal with someone whose career is focused on “saving youth.” They do
not perceive these people as truly caring and they do not feel they need salvation.

What is needed is a network of caring individuals who devote their time to maintaining contact and relationships with these youth by reaching out to them. Currently there is a very small group of these “street outreach workers.” But their resources are limited and, therefore, they cannot reach out to all the lost youth.

Volunteers are needed to be trained and strategically placed in areas where teens “hang out” -  street corners, kosher eateries, etc. It is no small task and it requires exceptionally caring and gifted people. The rewards, however, are enormous. What mitzvah is greater than saving
Jewish neshamas?

This problem not only involves teens at risk. It affects their parents, siblings, and the entire community. We cannot ignore it, for if we do, it constitutes a major chillul Hashem.

Yisroel Friedman
Rochester, NY



UJA-Fed: Not Cutting, Maximizing

We at UJA-Federation of New York recognize the significance of Jewish education to the continuity of the Jewish people, and thus we welcome the opportunity to respond to recent Jewish Press editorials and to concerns about the Fund for Jewish Education.

UJA-Federation has a 24-year-old partnership with Gruss Life Monument Funds through The Fund for Jewish Education. The fund’s distribution of more than $100 million in support of Jewish education throughout the New York area is a major achievement. It should be noted
that this fund represents only a portion of our commitment to and allocations on behalf of Jewish education. We are constantly seeking out ways to advocate for and insure quality day school education for Jewish children and to address the needs and concerns of day school students and professionals.

During the past 24 years, the fund’s distribution system has been formula-driven. We have no intention of cutting the overall level of funding to Jewish day schools, but we have every intention of reevaluating the process to make sure we maximize every dollar committed to this Jewish educational priority.

UJA-Federation recognizes this is a sacred partnership and funding decisions will be made jointly with our partners at Gruss Life Monument Funds. We are grateful to our partners and have every reason to believe that future allocations to the Fund for Jewish Education will be every bit as meaningful as when Joseph Gruss, z”l, began this remarkable undertaking.

Alisa Rubin Kurshan, Ph.D.
Vice President
Strategic Planning and
Organizational Resources
UJA-Federation of New York






Lower East Side Eruv: The Conversation Continues


Benefits Of An Eruv

I’ve been following the eruv letters for the past few weeks and feel it’s important to say something publicly. I have lived on the Lower East Side my entire life and daven in the Bialystoker shul. My children are old enough to walk now, so an eruv for me personally is of little consequence. However, I have watched as young people moved into this neighborhood and moved out once their children were born. When I’d ask, they would tell me that the primary reason was that they did not want to feel trapped without an eruv.

Each year we lose families and we’re not getting new replacements. The neighborhood is experiencing a rejuvenation, but one that does not include young Jewish families. This, I believe, is because of our stance on the eruv (and the lack of quality schools.) I am unable to argue halacha, as I am wholly unqualified, but I would just like to see this issue brought up in a public forum. There has to be some reason for the various eruvim throughout Manhattan, but we hear nothing from our rabbinate.

There are many people down here who are interested in discussing the topic – if only it were
open for conversation. The Lower East Side is a great neighborhood to live in, and people are
generally accepted. I believe that there is so much more potential in this area, but by not opening up the conversation, and by taking a hard-line approach, we risk the future of our Jewish community.

Malki Cohen
New York, NY




Rav Moshe’s P’sak

I was blessed to have known Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. I can still feel the warmth of his smile, his gentle voice always filling me with care and concern for others. Recognized by the world as
a gadol (in a world that understood the meaning of true gadlus), Rav Moshe’s decision in halachic laws truly ”stood against the secular world.”

There was no one who questioned his word because he was the posek hador. As a posek he proved his love for everyone in Klal Yisrael - indeed, when one speaks about ahavas Yisrael, one immediately remembers the love Rav Moshe had for everyone who came in his daled amos. A posek literally puts his olam habah on the line when he gives his p’sak, because, as we all know, in the olam ha-emes we will say ”We asked and did as we were allowed.” The posek will bear the responsibility and, chas v’shalom, the punishment if his p’sak was not halachically correct – so you must love others to take such a risk.

Rav Moshe was known as a mekel who was easy in his decisions – one who was able to be a
”makil” because he knew halacha so well and because he always tried to make one’s life easier so that one could serve Hashem with a lighter heart. Even if there was no heter or a negative response to a question, Rav Moshe took the time to research (even though he knew the answer) and to explain so that each person knew of the personal involvement and concern the rav had for all.

In view of this, I find it difficult to listen to people discuss Rav Moshe’s decisions as though
they knew more or care more than he did.

Rav Moshe’s decision that an eruv was not permissible on the Lower East Side (a neighborhood I am proud to live in) was not decided on a whim; on the contrary, Rav Moshe
always tried to bring comfort to all. Nothing has changed, no walls have come up, to make Rav Moshe’s decision invalid. I cannot help but wonder whether any of those who disagree with Rav Moshe’s p’sak has the background in learning to ”discuss” his decision. I tend to think they do not.

To state that we on the Lower East Side are more stringent might be considered a compliment
- if it were true. We are in fact only doing what is halachically correct according to the p?sak of the gadol hador. The Lower East Side is a truly beautiful community and to say that people will not move here because there is no eruv is insulting to all of us. We have a lot more to offer than many communities, and if the walk to shul with a carriage on Shabbos, or being able to walk to a friend on Shabbos afternoon, is all someone is interested in, then I can only say: Come and see that we are much more.

Sarah Fein
New York, NY



Two Paths

During the past few weeks numerous letters to the editor have gone back and forth regarding
the halachic feasibility of erecting an eruv on the Lower East side of Manhattan, and whether or not an acceptable one may already exist.

The prohibition against making any eruv in the borough of Manhattan was signed on the
eighteenth day of Sivan, 1962, by Rabbis Aaron Kotler, Moshe Feinstein, Yaakov Kaminetsky, Chaim Bick and Gedalya Shorr, zt”l. These were the original signers at the first meeting; many other leading rabbonim eventually signed the prohibition which clearly states that one is ‘considered a mechalel Shabbos’ if one carries in Manhattan.

I wish to rest my case by stating that there are two paths an individual can choose. One path is
to follow the Torah by accepting the prohibition against an eruv as signed by Torah leaders. The other path is to follow those rabbis, no matter who they are, who now want to allow an eruv.

I wish everybody a good Shabbos and a chag kasher v’sameach.

Heshy Jacob
New York, NY



In Praise Of The Lower East Side

As a female member (recently arrived) of the Lower East Side community, I am compelled to
write you in response to Richard Katz’s letter of March 19. The baal habayit of our house, my
wonderful husband, Sol Wenig (a lifelong Lower East Sider), is the one who prepares and serves me the hot chulent each week. He also does the laundry while I purchase the flowers for Shabbos. When we were married three years ago this month, he was secure enough with himself to be com- fortable with me keeping my name. I wouldn’t call any of this “old thinking,” would you?

I am sorry to hear that Mr. Katz did not have a pleasant experience upon visiting the Lower East Side, and I invite him and his family to stay in our spacious “tenement” the next time he’s in town. You find what you seek in life, or as my aunt says, “The chulent is only as good as the company.” I am thankful that I am surrounded by warm and loving people in this great community and proudly boast that I have friends from ages three to ninety three.

Janet L. Riesel
New York, NY



Jews And The U.S. Military

I feel compelled to share with your readers some positive experiences I’ve had as an active
duty Orthodox soldier in the U.S. Army. I have been on active duty for over four years, having served the first three and a half at the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) located at Fort Stewart, just outside of Savannah, Georgia.

My experience has been nothing but positive and inspiring, due largely to the general level of
respect for my Orthodox lifestyle that other soldiers, both enlisted and officers, have
demonstrated. From my initial officer training at Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia and the Judge
Advocate General School in Charlottesville, the Army offered ‘reasonable accommodations,’ which is really all it is required to do.

I was excused from one formal activity that occurred on Shabbat (a field trip to a Civil War site that I was disappointed to miss), and walked to a couple of other events where my mere appearance was necessary. We had one training event on a Friday night, but I received permission so that I wouldn’t have to carry anything (being outside an eruv) or take notes. In advance of a social function, the organizers asked me what ingredients they could use for a non-alcoholic ‘grog’ – basically a repulsive punch concoction traditionally imbibed at
Army formal occasions.

I was told by more experienced officers during my training that if my Jewish practices, either for Shabbat or otherwise, would conflict with my responsibilities, I should respectfully approach a supervising officer to discuss what arrangements could be made, in advance of the activity. I have utilized this advice repeatedly, with much success.

Once I arrived at Fort Stewart, my colleagues and superiors were nothing but supportive and
respectful. Whenever I had on-call duty over a weekend, my colleagues agreed to cover Shabbat for me without any resistance or expectation of reciprocation, even though I always offered to cover two days for every day they covered for me.

As well, when I was sent to an emergency response training exercise that I was told would
end on Saturday, a lieutenant colonel responsible for overseeing my participation explained to me that he completely understood the concept of Shabbat because as a devout Roman Catholic he did not work on Sundays. I offered to sleep over at the meeting location and also to walk to the event, but he excused me from activities on Shabbat, adding that if anyone gave me any grief, he would handle it.

On multiple occasions I received generous support from a Protestant chaplain who is a Special Forces-trained colonel with service includes time in Vietnam, among other wars. He in
particular was very supportive in helping me get time off for Jewish holidays.

This colonel tried to encourage me to stay in because he feels the Army needs more Orthodox
Jewish officers, as I have also been told by a high-ranking Orthodox Jew who works in the Pentagon.

On many occasions I have developed instantaneous kinship with other devout, G-d-fearing soldiers and civilians due to our shared values. Various soldiers, civilians, veterans and their families have exuded a welcoming warmth that has reassured me as to the state of tolerance
and respect for Torah-based Judaism as viewed by greater American society.

I believe, therefore, that it is imperative that Orthodox and affiliated Jews become more involved with the U.S. military; in the Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard and Department of Defense civilian contexts. There is a great need for doctors, lawyers, budget planners, social workers, psychologists, nurses, chaplains, administrators, computer programmers and civil and public affairs officers. While Jewish communal employment opportunities, particularly in kiruv, are scarce and job losses due to outsourcing are growing nationally, the military offers great work experience opportunities along with excellent education, health care, housing, travel and retirement benefits.

Torah-based Jews are needed to interact with gentiles as well as other Jewish soldiers who may not have had a formal Jewish education. Many of the Jews I encountered came rom assimilated or intermarried homes, but their thirst for Jewish life and knowledge was inspiring, as they arranged to take time out from their busy training schedules in order to attend Jewish social functions. I have helped them locate Passover kosher food, hosted them for Shabbat and chaggim, counseled them on religious accommodation requests, invited them for Purim megillah readings and even helped build a sukkah on the Army installation. Some eventually
became shomer Shabbat and kashrut-observant.

Consequently, I founded the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists Military
Bar Committee (MBC), which is devoted to facilitating discussions, lectures and field trips in
the process of learning about current and historical military participation by Jewish soldiers.
Moreover, the MBC periodically visits hospitals and assisted living facilities to comfort present and past Jewish military servicemen and women. Finally, the MBC organizes visits to Jewish
schools, community centers and synagogues to educate and inspire the next generation of Jewish military servicemen and women.

I believe that through the patriotic contributions of Torah values by Orthodox and affiliated Jews – and by our willingness to interact with the greater American society in a military community context – American Jews and the nation are strengthened for the better.

Captain Yosefi Seltzer
Silver Spring, MD


Editor’s Note: Captain Seltzer is Active Duty Judge Advocate in the United States Army Legal Services Agency. He and his wife live in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland and are members of the Woodside Synagogue where Rav Yitzchak Breitowitz is the spiritual leader. Captain Seltzer is the founder and president of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists Military Bar Committee. For more information, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JewishMilitaryBar/ (He can be reached daytime at 703-696-1663 or at night at 301-920-0938.)

Letters to the Editor

Friday, March 19th, 2004

History’s Lessons

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?

Charlie Bernhaut
(Via E-Mail)


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.

Abraham Frank
Brooklyn, NY


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
be ready.

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.

Avi Ciment
Miami Beach, FL


Beautiful Tribute

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.

Barbara Gilor
Hashmonaim, Israel



Our Hero

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
all challengers.

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
Wilkes-Barre, PA



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
Brooklyn, NY




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
Brooklyn, NY


Disagreeably Smug

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
Brooklyn, NY





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
Monsey, NY



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
morality?

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
Vice Chancellor
Ariel Israel Institutes

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, March 10th, 2004

Sharpton Democrats (I)

Imagine if a white supremacist were running for the Republican presidential nomination and the party’s other candidates not only refused to denounce him, but actually welcomed his candidacy and went out of their way to make nice with him at debates and other joint appearances.

Switch the words ‘white supremacist’ with ‘Al Sharpton’ and ‘Republican’ with ‘Democrat,’ and you know why I will not be voting for the Democratic candidate for president this year. It’s my personal way of protesting the Democrats’ open-armed embrace of one of the country?s most notorious racial arsonists. The fact that President Bush has been an outstanding friend of Israel only makes my decision that much easier.

Michael Starr
(Via E-Mail)


Sharpton Democrats (II)

I find it sickening every time I see the Reverend Al Sharpton taking part in a Democratic presidential debate. We know his history with the riots in Crown Heights, with Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, with Tawana Brawley.

Any Jew who votes Democratic in the upcoming presidential election has to be out of his or her mind.

Leonard Wacholder
Brooklyn, NY


Arab-American Democrats

The pollster John Zogby, who happens to be the brother of Arab-American activist James Zogby, told the Village Voice that a majority of Arab-Americans are ‘vocal and militantly
against Bush’ and will vote for whomever his Democratic opponent will be next November.

How ironic that most American Jews seem to be just as anti-Bush. Arab-Americans are well aware of the unprecedented relationship between this administration and Israel, and so they plan to vote in their perceived self-interest. As usual, though, most Jews plan to vote not in their self-interest, or in the interest of the Jewish state, but entirely on the basis of their tiresome, knee-jerk obeisance to liberalism and the Democratic party.

The Arab-Americans who’ll be voting against Bush know exactly what they’re doing; I wish I could say the same about the Jews who’ll be voting against Bush.

Howard Kane
New York, NY


How Will We React?

I am writing in the wake of the murderous Jan. 29 bus bombing in Jerusalem. I do not wish to discuss the Israeli response, as I am not an Israeli. I am an American, and I would like to think about how America will respond when terrorism hits here. 9/11 was a one-shot deal and the nation is still playing politics with it. What will happen when terrorists start hitting random targets here on a regular basis? Can’t happen? Of course it can. The DC sniper was a Muslim. The start of the Iraq war was marked by a Muslim noncom killing American officers with a hand grenade. What will our reaction be when a shopping center is attacked? Or an American pizza shop?

Make no mistake. Just as the Spanish Civil War was a dress rehearsal for World War II, Israel’s war against terrorism is a dress rehearsal for the coming war against the U.S. Will we
fold like the Europeans at the first signs of terrorism and try to make peace with the devil? Or will we fight? And if we fight, how? Something to think about.

Rabbi David Willig
Rosedale Jewish Center
Rosedale, NY


Anti-Israel Librarians

I applaud The Jewish Press for publishing George Baker’s article about the increasing support of librarians for anti-Israel propaganda (‘Librarians Against Israel: The Outrage Continues,’ Jan. 30). I have been a professional librarian for almost three decades and have been doing much research into the increase of such propaganda and its availability. The Duke University website is the symptom but the real disease is the website of the American Library Association.

Take a short trip to www.ala.org, click Our Association, then Round Tables, then SRRT (Social Responsibilities Round table), then International Responsibilities, and, finally, Alternative Resources on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. There you will see four pages of the most vitriolic anti-Israel locations on the planet. You will even find the biased ALA
resolution concerning Palestinian libraries. Is it really necessary for a professional organization to have such a complete resource on one subject?

Perhaps such an exhaustive presentation is agenda driven. As a professional librarian, I know it would suffice to present one page to enable a researcher to investigate the issue. Even at that, one page is out of proportion and four pages on such a subject with a slant in one direction is outrageous.

In our Internet-based world it is relatively easy to promote and spread hate. Many people give great credence to what they find on the net. In the interest of bibliographic integrity and fairness, this skewed resource needs to be exposed and dealt with. It is also important to know that the ALA does not speak or represent the views of all professionals. Librarians as a
whole may not be anti-Israel, but the American Library Association certainly is..

Once again, I praise The Jewish Press for its doing its duty as a newspaper.

Eliezer M. Wise
Library Director
Tuttleman Library of Gratz College
Melrose Park, Pa.


Razor-Sharp Schick

I agree with op-ed contributor Joseph Schick (‘Don’t Demonize All on the Left,’ Jan. 30) that Steven Plaut in a previous article went too far in his criticism of opponents of Prime Minister Sharon’s security fence. Plaut is obviously correct that there are some ideological “crazies” on the Left who do not have Israel’s best interests at heart and are going to extremes. However, they should not be seen as representing all of the opponents of the fence.

I support Sharon’s plan one hundred percent, but I recognize that there are principled people who disagree with either the concept of separation itself or the prime minster’s precise formulation.

In closing, I must tell you how much I welcome the addition of Mr. Schick to your pages; his mind is as sharp as the razor of the same name.

Joshua Kaminer
(Via E-Mail)


Plaut KnowsThe Left

I enjoy Joseph Schick’s intelligent op-ed pieces, but must vehemently take issue with his criticism of Steven Plaut. Of course there are Israeli leftists who are well-meaning, patriotic citizens, and they and their families have sacrificed much for Israel. But Plaut writes of the large numbers of media and academic leftists who’ve internalized all the arguments of our enemies and spew them out with barely concealed hatred for anything that smacks of traditional Zionism.

Anyone who regularly reads Haaretz, the paper of Israel’s left-wing elite, is all too familiar with this phenomenon – and no one can convince me that most of Haaretz’s columnists aren’t more sympathetic to the Palestinians than they are to Israel (as P. David Hornik demonstrated so well in his Jewish Press page-one essay last week).

Steven Plaut knows Israel’s ugly radical Left as only a professor at Haifa University can. And Plaut knows there’s a difference between the old-style Mapai leftists and the unreconstructed Chomskyites who have such an inordinate influence on Israeli politics and culture.

Reuven Chertok
Jerusalem


Ariel Mitzna?

Steven Plaut and Joseph Schick both got it wrong. I don’t question Ariel Sharon’s desire to save Jewish lives, but the whole idea of unilateral disengagement makes no sense. Not only does it reward Palestinian banditry and savagery, it also effectively cedes land that belongs to us for absolutely nothing concrete in return.

Sharon’s plan is almost the same as the one pushed by Amram Mitzna in the last Israeli election. Mitzna was overwhelmingly repudiated by the voters, but Sharon has no shame in pursuing the very policy Mitzna championed.

Daniella Klonitzky
(Via E-Mail)



A Community And Its Poskim

We in the Bialystoker Synagogue enjoyed a pleasant Shabbat Bereishit when Rabbi J. Simcha
Cohen regaled us with a sparkling lecture, delivered with wit and aplomb. Apparently the
experience made an impression on him as well, because Rabbi Cohen’s most recent column
(”Carrying a Child on the Sabbath,” Jewish Press, February 6) makes reference to an incident he witnessed that Shabbat and uses it as a springboard to discuss some broader issues which
he applies specifically to our community. Since our community and our synagogue had the honor of being singled out in Rabbi Cohen’s article, I feel entitled to address some of the points he makes.

Rabbi Cohen opens with the scenario of a mother trying to coax her reluctant child to walk
home on Shabbat. Without an eruv, she cannot carry the child; how, then, shall they make it
home? Rabbi Cohen presents various standard halachic responses to what can be a frustrating
dilemma – holding the child in place, or walking in short increments (pachot midalet amot) while carrying the child. At this point Rabbi Cohen moves into what, halachically, is no longer terra firma.

”This is a tedious halachic method for carrying a child home,” he writes. ”There is also a simpler way.” He goes on to cite an essay by his grandfather in the sefer Minchat Shabbat, in which the author offers a limud zechut (halachic justification) for carrying children on Shabbat. ”[S]uch a legal loophole… can serve as a rationale for withholding criticism of those who are lenient and carry children in public on the Sabbath in communities without an eruv.”

There are several basic halachic objections (which are beyond the scope of this letter to detail)
to the argument of the Minchat Shabbat which Rabbi Cohen cites, but that is really besides the
point. A limud zechut is an argument which a posek himself does not truly consider halachically
valid, but offers in defense of a common practice that he is powerless to change. To cite it as a
”simpler way” to observance flouts the halachic process. Rabbi Cohen’s subsequent reference to ”withholding criticism of those who… carry children” is misleading. The article ostensibly is
offering practical advice to parents confronted with the scenario it describes at the outset. The only relevant halachic advice is that which is recommended as normative halacha, not common
practice which can only be sanctioned with great difficulty.

Rabbi Cohen then opines that the Lower East Side in particular is a neighborhood where ”one
certainly should not criticize those who carry children,” because it lies within the confines of the
Manhattan eruv, which was sanctioned by the Gaon Rav Menachem Mendel Kasher, zt”l. Here, too, one wonders how we transitioned from ”what to do” to ”what not to criticize.” But the issue runs much deeper, and a bit more clarification is required than what Rabbi Cohen provides in his article.

Rabbi Cohen notes that at the time that Rav Kasher offered his support for the Manhattan eruv, ”the Agudat Harabbanim and many roshei yeshiva disagreed with Rav Kasher.” He fails to mention that among these many roshei yeshiva was an individual whose name on the Lower East Side is essentially synonymous with ”rosh yeshiva” - the Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, who respectfully but firmly felt that Manhattan by definition could not halachically maintain a traditional community eruv.

We are currently blessed on the Lower East Side with the presence of Rav Moshe’s two sons,
Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, whose status as internationally consulted decisors of halacha makes them universally accepted as the poskim on Lower East Side community matters. They are both on record as affirming their illustrious father’s pesak. The article’s statement that ”local rabbis have not formally sanctioned carrying in the area” implies that the position of the Lower East Side rabbinate is somehow equivocal. It is not. The rabbanim of the Lower East Side universally affirm the pesak of Rav Moshe and his sons and pasken for the balebatim that carrying on Shabbat on the Lower East Side involves a Torah prohibition.

That being the case, it would be incorrect to say that one cannot criticize those who carry a
child on the Lower East Side on Shabbat. Whatever one affirms in the complex area of
Hilchot Eruvin – and certainly many great and saintly poskim disputed and continue to dispute
Rav Moshe’s halachic conclusions - one fact is clear. One has no right to challenge a pesak of a community’s recognized mara d’atra, the halachic ”master of the locale.” The Talmud relates
(Shabbat 19b) that Rav Hamnuna excommunicated a student who paskened according to the normative halacha in the town of Rav, who was known for espousing an opinion that was stricter than the norm.

Other neighborhoods are certainly within their rights to follow the poskim who set halachic
policies for their areas. We may, and should, follow ours.

Rabbi Zvi Romm
Rav, Bialystoker Synagogue
Rebbe, Isaac Breuer College, Yeshiva University


Leib Stone Won’t Be Silenced By Critics

The respondents (Letters, Jan. 30) to my letter regarding the opinion piece “Orthodox
Hellenism 5764″ contend that I wrote disparagingly about the author by calling him a ”one issue” man. Rabbi William Handler writes that the author ”would cheerfully plead guilty to
the charge,” yet concludes his letter by stating that I am either ”woefully ignorant” of the facts or ”willfully ignoring them” - because of my characterization of the author as a one-issue man!

The author of “Orthodox Hellenism” does not have to prioritize and is willing to go to great
lengths to further his cause, but the organizations he disparages are involved in numerous issues and must prioritize. As I stated in my previous letter, unquestionably the majority of gedolim whose guidance was sought on these issues by our community did not agree that the morality issue was the most critical issue facing us. That Rav Miller, zt”l, did believe that this issue was of paramount importance is well known and I don’t disagree. All agree we must fight for our interests on morality issues; the question is how, when and where.

Rabbi Handler cites Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzki, zt”l, as having
supported the author. They also had direct contact with at least some of the organizations mentioned. By following their advice an agenda was formed, and the morality issue was not made a top priority. Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote that during hearings in City Hall we should fill the chambers to publicly show that we are against abomination. Rav Moshe didn’t write that we should publicly attack and heckle politicians friendly with our community because they do not agree with us on this issue.

Rabbi Handler’s account of how Rav Miller helped arrange visas to America for the family of
one of the revered gedolei hador was heartwarming but irrelevant. As for his contention that if Rav Moshe mandated that each and every one of us be at City Hall for hearings, our public organizations should have provided transportation – well, that borders on the ridiculous.

As for Mr. Fried’s letter, it is naive to think that the gedolim in Eretz Yisrael are not aware of
what is taking place in Yerushalayim. I am sure that they have formulated a plan of action of how to fight this terrible chillul Hashem, and do not need a couple of Brooklyn-based activists to guide them.

The tone of Mr. Winter’s letter suggests a lack of emunas chachamim, albeit unintentionally, I
presume. Regardless, his argument that placing a great public emphasis on moral issues would have stemmed the moral decay in our society is purely conjecture. Even if he were right, it is beside the point. What is important, is that our gedolim decided that other issues, such as Jewish education, were of a higher priority and that is where we should concentrate our efforts and have our successes. The other letter, by virtue of the writer’s denigrating of roshei yeshiva in pre-war Europe and his backhanded swipe at the posek hador, does not deserve a response.

In sum, what I read was a lot of emotion with little or no substance, and Rabbi Handler’s diatribe not withstanding, I have not found any compelling reason to change my position.

Leib Stone
Brooklyn, NY


More Tributes To Chezi Goldberg, a”h


Chezi’s Legacy

Dear Chezi,

How to begin? What to say?

You have accomplished so much in your very short life. You had so much more to do; but, alas, you were cut short by the mire of strife in the land of your choice. Israel was in your heart and soul as were your wife and children. Your goal of helping souls find their way to a better quality of life according to our Torah was part and parcel of every fiber of your being.

May those who still inhabit olam hazeh follow in your teachings. You have left a great legacy,
Chezi. This life is but a preparation for the world to come. You are now on a higher plain.

May your spirit soar. You are now in a position to be a meilitz yosher for your family and
for Klal Yisrael.

May your family heal in time. May Hashem turn his face on them and on Klal Yisrael.

Enough is enough.

Frayda Garfinkel
Brooklyn, NY



Angel From Hashem

My heart is full of pain and my eyes full of tears when I think that Chezi Goldberg is no longer with us. I wrote to him about a certain problem which he eventually wrote about in his Jewish
Press column. But before it finally reached the public, Chezi spent two months going back and
forth with me on several rough drafts. And after the column appeared he spent several more weeks working with me on readers’ responses. I thought this man must be an angel sent straight from Hashem.

Chezi Goldberg touched my life with his kindness. May Hashem bless his wife and children
with all that is good.

Name Withheld


Shared Pain

My name is Yechezkel Chezi (Charles) Frajlick. I live in Brussels, Belgium and am a
communication consultant and a regular columnist for a French-language Jewish monthly. I was a ‘hidden child’ who survived the Holocaust by escaping the Gestapo three times.

What happened to your columnist Yechezkel Chezi Goldberg breaks my heart and I feel a deep sorrow. Sorry for my English, but I want to tell you that I am with you and share your pain.

Charles Frajlick
(Via E-mail)


Lesson Of Unconditional Love

I received the call from my brother at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29. “You were zoche to have met a tzaddik.” I could barely hear him. It was only after a few moments that his words began to sink in. His chavrusa, Chezi Goldberg, HY”D, was identified as one of the victims of the latest bus bombing in Yerushalayim. My brother was broken. Although our family for years followed Chezi’s articles in The Jewish Press, downloading his column from the Internet every Thursday since we made aliyah last July, I had only met him personally for the first time one week before his murder, at the Nefesh Mental Health Conference in Yerushalayim.

Whenever I attend such conferences, my goal is to take away with me at least one concrete piece of advice which I can put into action. Chezi’s presentation was wonderful. When he took out his yo-yo and spoke of his canary I immediately understood his special ability to connect with troubled youth. The topic he spoke on was the special challenges faced by those who make aliyah. He recommended that parents whose teenagers hang out “in town” actually pay a visit to “town” on a Thursday night to see for themselves what exactly their kids were up to. When I returned home that day I told my wife to plan on a Thursday night out.

We pushed off our Thursday night out for one week. After a day of listening to screaming
ambulances, making frantic cell-phone calls to our children who travel daily to school on
Yerushalayim’s buses, and then hearing about Chezi, we were just too drained to do anything. But we went the following week, just as Chezi had suggested.

The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that whenever we observe another person’s behavior, it is by Divine Providence that we should see it. And if we observe something negative, then this is G-d’s way of revealing to us a fault within our own selves, like a reflection from a mirror, because self-love often prevents us from seeing our own faults.

But a tzaddik has no faults, which is why Chezi, when describing to us at the Conference the
Thursday night scene of hundreds of our children hanging out on Ben Yehuda, spoke of the
unconditional love he would see expressed between the kids. Of course he saw the drugs, the alcohol and all the rest. But all that did was to spur him into action.

Rabbi Schwab from Neve once discussed with me why so many children from good families are caught in the web of drugs and trouble. After all, weren’t we always taught that age-old clich? about the apple not falling far from the tree? He answered that sure, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree - when there’s hardly any wind blowing. But if it’s windy and stormy, the apples can fly all over the place. And what our children are confronted with today is a raging storm.

What my wife and I observed on Thursday night was the storm our children are trying to
weather. These young, young children come week after week and gather where they know they will be loved and accepted for exactly who they are. We went because Chezi said we should.

After a previous bus bombing, Chezi wrote of how a tragedy must push us to introspection; how we need to look at each day as if it may be our last. Living here in Israel has given my wife and me much cause for this very type of introspection. And so I’ve often thought: If today is, G-d forbid, my last in this beautiful world, what can I do to give my children the strength they would need to deal with the special challenges they would face without me? Which is why I must strengthen my children every day with my unconditional love for each and every one of them as I teach them to love the Torah and Klal Yisrael.

Thank you, Chezi.

Rabbi Mordecai Weiss, MA
Mitzpe Yericho, Israel

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Supports Bush, But Criticism OK

I agree with Assemblyman Dov Hikind that George W. Bush seems the best choice for the Jewish community (“No Choice But Bush, op-ed, Jan. 23). I do think, however, that Hikind presents a rather simplistic critique of the Democratic candidates’ campaign statements. After all, while it’s true that we are at war, it’s equally true that we are in the midst of an election campaign, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public official to act as if all criticism of an incumbent is off limits.

Monroe Jacobowitz
New York, NY



Hakaras Hatov And The President

President Bush and leading members of the Republican party have publicly demonstrated their support for our beleaguered brethren in Eretz Yisrael in numerous ways. When leaders from
around the world were criticizing the Israelis for attempting to defend themselves against the terrorist bombings, President Bush stated unequivocally that the Israelis have the right to do so. While the leaders of Europe were embracing Yasir Arafat and his evil minions, President Bush was shunning them and having Ariel Sharon as an honored guest in the White House on several occasions.

President Bush led the war in Iraq which has removed not only a major funding source for the suicide attacks in Israel but has also eliminated one of the major strategic threats to the existence of Jews in Eretz Yisrael. All of this in the face of unrelenting, hateful rhetoric from world leaders, the Left, and many in the Democratic party.

We Jews owe it to President Bush to demonstrate our hakaras hatov and appreciation for his having the guts to fight for what is right, despite the continuous condemnation and criticism from the likes of George Soros. Might I suggest that each of us individually contribute some money to the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign and to the Republican National Committee? Perhaps if enough of us do, it will show that despite recent polls to the contrary, many Jews support our president and appreciate what he has done.

Mayer Mayerfeld
Brooklyn, NY


Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Democrat

The Democrats continue their attempts to paint President Bush as a liar because he told the nation Iraq was amassing weapons of mass destruction. The leading Democratic candidates
were saying the same thing, though, as a perceptive reader pointed out in last week’s Letters section. Here are some quotes I’ve dug up:

John Kerry, Oct. 2002: “Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try?… According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons… Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents…”

Wesley Clark, April, 2002: “He [Hussein] does have weapons of mass destruction… I think they will be found. There’s so much intelligence on this.”

Howard Dean, March 2003: “[We] have never been in doubt about the evil of Saddam Hussein or the necessity of removing his weapons of mass destruction.”

Joseph Lieberman, Aug., 2002: “Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.”

John Edwards, Oct., 2002: “We know that he [Hussein] has chemical and biological weapons.”

Asher Gordon
Brooklyn, NY



Thumbs Down On Sharon

Ariel Sharon has turned Israel into a tragi-comedy. He has surrendered Israel’s national sovereignty and does not make a move without getting the approval of the State Department and the White House. More Jews have been murdered under Sharon’s rule than under any previous prime minister. His ”security” fence is reducing Israel to a nine-mile wide coastal ghetto and will protect Israel as well as the Maginot Line protected France in 1940.

Instead of ordering his armed forces to defeat the far weaker PLO and the other terror gangs, Sharon releases terrorists and asks the PLO to resume ”negotiations” [i.e. Israel gives away its
land in exchange for more worthless promises]. Ten years after Oslo, with a record of 100 percent non-compliance by the PLO and thousands of murdered and permanently disabled Jews, Sharon, unbelievably, tells the Palestinians that if they do not resume negotiations he will unilaterally move back Israel’s borders and create a PLO state in the Jewish historic heartland of Judea and Samaria. He threatens also to forcibly evacuate the Jews living there or abandon them to be driven out or killed by terrorists.

Like all of the post-Oslo prime ministers, Sharon demonstrates callous disdain for the lives of his people and the land of his nation that is not his to give away. The damage that Sharon’s
appeasement policies have caused to the economy and to Israel’s civilian and military morale cannot be sustained and could prove fatal to the nation if continued much longer.

George E. Rubin
Bronx, NY



Territorial Give-And-Take

There is a long, long trail of concessions that stretches from Madrid to Oslo and from Oslo to Geneva. In 1991, as you may recall, the PLO came to the Madrid Peace Conference as an
adjunct to the Jordanian delegation. Today, 13 or so years later, they stand on the threshold of statehood. During those 13 years, the Palestinians have managed to turn every Israeli concession into an abject confessional. Of this we can be certain: as long as the concessions keep coming, as long as the Arab reading of history is left unexamined, all of our expectations about peace and reconciliation are destined to become the source of our sorrows and the vessel of our discontent.

For the Palestinians, some issues have become more equal than others. Checkpoints and refugees have, for example, become derivative issues. Their more sanctimonious sophistries have been reserved for the ”occupation.” It is the occupation that justifies the murderous excesses of the intifada. And it is their constant weeping and wailing about the occupation that has muzzled every hint of an Israeli past. This denial of our past, of our identity, prefigures a far graver denial: our very right to exist.

With a little understanding, the Arab world could easily turn this all around. They could begin with a rather modest gesture. For example, accepting the authenticity of our history could be
such a beginning. In deference to that history they might even want to consider an extraterritorial arrangement for some of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. That would not be such an extraordinary development. There are precedents. After the Six Day War, the Palestinians were given de facto control of the Temple Mount. And in Hebron, they continue to have equal access to the Machpela.

But there is an even more compelling reason to expect a little give-and-take from our Arab adversaries. Judea and Samaria were supposed to be our inheritance until the last wrinkle of time. The Arab world can therefore take some comfort in the fact that the retention of what is ours hardly constitutes the acquisition of what is theirs.

There is a rather conspicuous statistic that goes to the heart of this question. Israelis actually reside on a relatively small fraction of Judea and Samaria – less than two percent. The
Palestinians will in all likelihood reject any arrangement that would leave the Israelis with even a snippet of their biblical heartland. If it turns out that two percent is too much for them, then 98 percent should be too much for us

Mitchell Finkel
Silver Spring, MD


The Insurers’ Perspective

Re: Redlining Travel To Israel (news story, Jan. 23):

While I recognize that travel to Israel by Americans may be restrained by insurance companies using such travel as a reason to deny insurance, why should insurers be forced to insure travel
to dangerous areas? Doesn’t that increase premiums for all insured?

Ken Goldman
(Via E-Mail)


The Public’s Perspective

I too was turned down for insurance because I traveled to Israel. What was most infuriating was that I could not get anyone to talk to me about it. They were not even interested in whether I planned to go to Israel again. Even if the entire Middle East is considered a high risk area, I wonder if past travel to other countries is an automatic disqualifier.

Lauren Horner
New York, NY



Only In Israel

I just returned from a memorable month’s visit to Israel. The following incident should encourage those who have not already done so to go see for themselves why Israel is so special.

My grandson, who is studying this year at a yeshiva in Israel, joined us for a wonderful Shabbos at a hotel in Jerusalem. After Shabbos was over, he took the bus back to his school in Gush Etzion. Shortly after leaving the bus, he realized that he had left his cell phone on his seat. He dialed his phone, and, finally, the bus driver answered. The driver asked my grandson where he was, and then told him that since he, the driver, was still in the Gush Etzion area and had completed his route, if my grandson would just wait where he was, he would bring him his phone – which he did.

Perhaps a bus driver in another country would do the same, but somehow I doubt it.

Shirley Landman
Brooklyn, NY




Lucky Shidduchim

I enjoyed reading Chanaya Weissman’s Jan. 16 op-ed on the dos and don’ts of setting singles up (“So You Want To Be A Shadchan?”) I think his assessment of the current shidduch
situation is right on target. Unfortunately, many of those who are not acquainted with the shidduch system assume that because there is so much discussion on the “singles crises” and so many shidduch clubs and shadchanim trying to help, anyone who is still single must be so by his or her own doing.

What they do not realize is that a few haphazard attempts at lumping people together based on the a scant profile written on an index card is only a tiny step – and one that might actually
cause more harm than good. No matter how intuitive the so-called shadchan is, the best she can do under these circumstances is to take wild guesses.

The bottom line is that any shidduch that is actually made under these circumstances is probably nothing less than a miracle from above. Luckily, G-d makes miracles, and many actually do find their mate in this system.

Deena Burger
(Via E-Mail)



Readers Leap To Rabbi Levin’s Defense


Perception And Reality

Mr. Leib Stone argues in his letter to the editor (Jewish Press, Jan. 23) that the morality
issues that Rabbi Yehuda Levin focused on in his ”Orthodox Hellenism 5764” op-ed piece of Dec. 26 were not of ”top” priority for our gedolim of yesteryear.

Has it ever occurred to Mr. Stone, and those of like mind, that the phenomenal success of the
militant gay rights movement just might have been significantly enabled by the perceived ”low
priority” that leaders in our frum community have attached to issues of morality?

Shlomo D. Winter
Brooklyn, NY


Dismayed By Attack On Rabbi Levin

Very few letters to The Jewish Press have been more dismaying than the one last week by
Leib Stone entitled ”Torah Diplomacy” wherein he castigated Rabbi Yehuda Levin for being
”intellectually dishonest” and a ”one issue man.”

Mr. Stone may be analogized to some of the roshei yeshiva in pre-war Europe who, despite
warnings by some Jewish leaders such as Ze’ev Jabotinsky, chose to ignore the storm clouds
gathering on the horizon. If anything is intellectually dishonest, it is the characterization by Mr. Stone of Rabbi Levin as a man with only one issue on his agenda. Even if this were so, Rabbi
Levin’s one issue, which is morality in accordance with the Torah, may well be the most important issue the world is currently facing.

Are Jews, according to Mr. Stone, supposed to remain complacent when they hear of a planned upcoming world meeting of homosexuals in Jerusalem just because the mayor of Jerusalem happens to be in touch with the posek hador? For all we know, they could be discussing plans to build a new central mikva somewhere in the Old City or some other important topic.

Mr. Stone conveniently ignores the most salient aspect of Rabbi Levin’s piece – that Rabbi
Levin, himself an Orthodox rabbi and a long time emissary of gedolim such as Rabbi Avigdor Miller and the Skulener Rebbe, was expressing righteous outrage for the holiest of purposes - the preservation of the sanctity of G-d’s holy city. Rabbi Miller, as I recall, did not hesitate to criticize Orthodox rabbis for their complacency regarding much less important issues, and I cannot imagine any gadol disagreeing with Rabbi Levin regarding the wake-up call he issued.

Finally, even if Mr. Stone’s generalization that ”all movements which veered away from the
true Torah path started by attacking our rabbanim” may indeed contain some truth, the fact
is that at a time when all of the kaytzim have already passed, our rabbis have still failed to lead
us back into the land of our forefathers as one united people. For this reason, it may even be dangerous for us to regard them as being above criticism.

Lawrence Kulak
Brooklyn, NY



Gedolim And Rabbi Levin

In Mr. Leib Stone’s response to Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s article, Stone disparagingly refers to Rabbi Levin as a “one issue man.”

I’m sure Rabbi Levin would cheerfully plead guilty to the charge. He has, in fact, spent a
quarter century on this single issue: The Torah response to the terrible decline in moral standards all around us. In this endeavor, he has been informed and guided by many of this generation’s acknowledged gedolei Yisrael. He has developed extensive contacts with like-minded religious gentiles, politicians and media all over America. Rabbi Levin has earned a doctorate in this “one issue”.

The whole tone of Mr. Stone’s letter (“the author has … attacked our rabbonim…) is
intellectually dishonest and demands a factual response.

Please allow me to relate some interesting facts about one of Rabbi Levin’s main mentors, the
much-revered Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l: In the 1930′s, when Rav Miller was studying in Lita, he
helped arrange visas to America for the Svei family, whose son, Rav Elya, later became one of
the roshei yeshiva Mr. Stone refers to in his letter.

In 1983 Rav Miller wrote a glowing testimonial and approbation regarding Rabbi Levin to Rav Svei, in which he declared that: “everything that he (Levin) speaks is (based) on what I have
discussed with him over a long period of time and there is much good contained in his advice.”

The late Debriciner Rav, zt”l, undoubtedly one of the foremost poskim of the last generation, wrote a two-page halachic responsum regarding Rabbi Levin’s fight for Torah morality, where he stated: “Halevai my portion (in the world to come) should be with him (Levin) and those who aid and support him”. Rav Stern, zt”l, explicitly mandated publicly opposing pro-homosexual agenda office holders.

The esteemed Rav of Kashau, shlita, a rosh yeshiva, rav, posek and author of works that are
studied in yeshivas worldwide, is one of today’s most revered gedolim. In a joint letter with the
Skulener Rebbe, shlita, written five years ago, he refers to Rabbi Levin’s 20 years of work as follows: “He is fighting Hashem’s fight against this evil movement.” He further declares that Rabbi Levin is a “Shlucha D’rabonon B’chol Asar V’asar” (an emissary of the sages where ever he appears”).

Rabbi Levin also has a responsum written for him by the late Rav S. Z. Braun, well-known posek and author of Shearim Metzuyanim B’halacha, mandating active and public opposition to politicians who support the deviancy agenda (even if they provide funds to our community).

During the hearings on the original “Gay Rights” law in New York City at the beginning of
the Koch Administration, Moreinu Horav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, issued a clear and unequivocal
written psak directing “all those who heed our words to fill the chambers of New York City Hall all the days of the hearing regarding homosexual legislation … to publicly demonstrate that
Hashem’s People loath abomination.” Rav Moshe’s declaration was a response to a letter sent to him jointly by Rav Miller and Rav Stern, zt”l.

Rav Moshe, zt”l, personally gave us a bracha, as he handed this letter-psak to us, and urged us to be strong in this struggle. Thus, we consider this a mandate from the posek hador. This is a remarkably strong and direct statement which neither Mr. Stone nor the bureaucracies he defends has yet been able to explain away. Rav Moshe indicated that he wasn’t satisfied with belated press releases or articles in Coalition Magazine. He wasn’t even happy with merely having a representative of Agudah or the Young Israel testify at the City Hall hearings. He wanted a multitude to fill the chambers.

Why didn’t Agudah send a few busloads of people to City Hall to heed the mandate of Rav
Moshe? Was it because Rav Moshe’s statement was not clear enough? Or was it because Rav Moshe wrote this particular psak on Agudas Harabanim stationery, and this was, somehow, construed to mean that he only meant this for members of that organization and not for followers of Agudah?

These quotations from acknowledged gedolim v’poskim of yesteryear are clearly the basis for
Rabbi Levin’s “agenda and tactics.” They indicate clearly that authentic Da’as Torah mandates that, when dealing with immorality, the opposition needs to be very public – we must make a Kiddush Hashem.

In view of these facts, how is it possible, Mr. Stone, that you should still be able to write that
“they (the gedolim) did not make this issue a priority?” For shame, Mr. Stone, and whoever you represent.

Since 1979 Rabbi Levin has been a spokesman on the moral issues for the Agudas
Harabanim and the Igud Harabanim, with a combined membership of over 1,200 rabbonim and including roshei yeshiva.

Among the ziknei Yisrael and distinguished rabbonim who either supported, blessed, or
encouraged Rabbi Levin’s activities were: Rav Yaakov Kamenecki, zt”l, the late Voideslover Rav, zt”l, Rav Moishe Bick, zt”l (who procured an absentee ballot to vote for Levin in the 1984 New York City mayoral election), Rav Shmelke Taubenfeld, zt”l, rav of Chareidim in Monsey, Rav Motel Weinberg, zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Montreal, and the late Rav Teitz, zt”l, of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

To disparage Rabbi Levin as a “one issue man” demonstrates that either the writer is woefully ignorant of the basic facts about Rabbi Levin or that he is willfully ignoring them.

Mr. Stone’s personal invective disparages major rabbinic groups and the thousands of
followers of Rav Moshe, Rav Miller, the Debreciner, and the many other gedolim who have publicly supported Rabbi Levin.

Many Bnai Torah are puzzled by the relative silence and total non-prioritization of this issue by
Agudah, O.U. and Young Israel.

Rabbi William Handler
Jews for Morality



What Did The Posek Hador Say?

I am amazed at Leib Stone’s naivete. He says “the mayor of Yerushalayim has the backing of and accessibility to the posek hador,” so “to attack the mayor [on the homosexual rights issue] without knowing the directive he has been given may be an attack on the posek hador and not something the author is qualified to do.”

Has anyone actually heard from the posek hador on the issue of anti-homosexual rights
activism? Do we know what the posek hador has directed? Obviously, even Stone is not sure when he fails to tell us what it is and speculates that an attack on the mayor may be an attack on the posek hador.

Rational criticism for not following our gedolim can only be based upon a clear and direct
statement from them about what they want. I for one will not accept the word of those who have n’gius, whether they are individuals or organizations.

Menachem Fried
(Via E-Mail)


Dissenting View

As a Torah Jew, I can understand why homosexual conduct should be deplored and
discouraged. However, I cannot understand why homosexuals are not entitled to the full protections of civil law. After all, homosexuality is not a criminal offense and homosexuals are not exempt from paying taxes. How then can they logically be denied such things as access to housing and jobs?

Would anyone think that the police or fire departments should be able to refuse to respond to
calls for help from known homosexuals? Or that hospitals should not permit their admission? Or that insurance companies should be allowed to deny them insurance?

Dovid Summerstein
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-50/2004/02/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: