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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘revelation’

Inclusiveness at the Foot of Sinai

Friday, January 17th, 2014

The Torah tells us that at the moment of revelation all the Jews at Sinai were able to see (Exodus 20:15). Is it possible that of the several million there was not one single person who was blind?

Here Rashi states that in fact a miracle occurred. In his words, “there was not among them a single blind person.” Rashi additionally points out that in fact not one Jew was mute or deaf. After all, the Torah states “and all the people answered” (Exodus 19:8) and that the Jews declared “we will do and hear” (Exodus 24:7).

The full text of the Torah actually reads “and all the people saw the voices.” It is certainly possible to see images, but is it possible to see voices? He suggests the power of the people to see was so profound that it went beyond the usual. In his words, “they saw that which should be able to heard, which is impossible to see at any other place.” In other words, at Revelation the moment was so powerful that they saw what is normally heard. Their vision was so powerful that they even saw voices.

Another thought comes to mind that differs from Rashi’s suggestion. Perhaps at Revelation there were those among our people who were not in perfect physical shape. There may indeed have been some who could not hear. However, the text may be suggesting that even the hearing-impaired were able to overcome this limitation by a greater ability to see. This may be the meaning of seeing voices. Unable to hear, they compensated with their ability to see. Similarly, there may have been those who couldn’t speak or who couldn’t see but were able to somehow, with Gods help, make up for this limitation at this most amazing moment in history.

The idea that those who are handicapped have a place in Judaism is fundamental to Torah. Some of our greatest leaders struggled with limitations. Yitzchak couldn’t see; Yaakov was lame for a period of time and Moshe suffered from a severe speaking handicap. Despite these difficulties, they rose to unbelievable heights.

Which is the greater miracle at the time of Revelation? On the one hand, it certainly reflects God’s intervention if all people, even those who couldn’t see, were given sight at that moment. On the other hand, Revelation, which embraces even those with limitations, makes an extraordinary statement. It teaches us that just as everyone was welcome at Sinai, so too must we do everything in our power to see to it that everyone in our community is embraced.

In the end, the test of our community is the way it reaches out to the most vulnerable – from the forgotten to those who are often cast aside to those with physical or emotional or learning disabilities. “And they saw the voices” reminds us that all Jews, even the most vulnerable, stood at the foot at the most holy space of all.

Denmark Bans Meatballs to Accommodate Muslims

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

One of the largest hospitals in Denmark has admitted to serving only halal beef — meat that is slaughtered in accordance with strict Islamic guidelines — to all of its patients regardless of whether or not they are Muslim.

The revelation that Danes are being forced to eat Islamically slaughtered meat at public institutions has triggered a spirited nationwide debate about how far Denmark should go to accommodate the estimated 250,000 Muslim immigrants now living in the country.

The halal food row erupted in July when the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet reported that Hvidovre Hospital near Copenhagen has been secretly serving only halal-slaughtered meat for the sake of its Muslim patients, for the past ten years. The hospital serves more than 40,000 patients annually, many (if not most) of whom presumably are non-Muslim.

Halal — which in Arabic means lawful or legal — is a term designating any object or action that is permissible according to Islamic Sharia law. In the context of food, halal meat is derived from animals slaughtered by hand according to methods stipulated in Islamic religious texts.

One such halal method, called dhabihah, consists of making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck that cuts the jugular vein, leaving the animal to bleed to death. Much of the controversy involving halal stems from the fact that Sharia law bans the practice of stunning the animals before they are slaughtered. Pre-slaughter stunning renders the animals unconscious and is said to lessen their pain.

Amid a surge of public outrage over the decision to serve only halal beef, Hvidovre Hospital’s vice president, Torben Mogensen, has been unapologetic. “We have many patients from different ethnic backgrounds, which we must take into account, and it is impossible to have both the one and the other kind of beef,” he says.

“First,” Mogensen adds, “I do not think that a slaughter method as such has anything to do with faith. Second is, of course, that all chickens in Denmark are halal slaughtered, and it has to my knowledge not caused anyone to stop eating chicken.”

Mogensen also says the hospital is not trying to “push the Islamic faith down the throats of non-Muslim patients”

In a press release, Hvidovre Hospital states, “We introduced halal meat both for practical and economic reasons. It would be both more difficult and more expensive to have to make both a halal version and a non-halal version of the dishes. Then we have two production lines. It requires more people, more equipment and more money.”

The hospital advises non-Muslims to take it or leave it: “We always have alternatives to halal meat such as pork, fish or vegetarian dishes. It is a question of attitude.”

According to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, there is no comprehensive inventory of the number of hospitals in Denmark have halal meat on the menu. But officials at the University Hospital in Aarhus, the second-largest urban area in Denmark after Copenhagen, say the decision by Hvidovre Hospital to serve only halal is an example of political correctness run amok.

In an interview with the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Ole Hoffmann, the head chef of Aarhus University Hospital says: “We have never had a patient ask for halal meat, and therefore it is an issue that we have never discussed. I think it is a strange decision. If there was a desire to serve halal meat, then we would of course consider it, but we would never completely eliminate non-halal meat.”

 

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/denmark-bans-meatballs-to-accommodate-muslims/2013/08/18/

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