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I've been reading Newsweek since 1975, when, as a yeshiva student in Israel, I subscribed in order to keep abreast of world events when otherwise not ensconced in the study of Torah. It's been three and a half decades, and my subscription, which lapses next month, will not be renewed. The reasons are reflective of the current state of American culture and mainstream journalism.
The words are from Ari Shavit, journalist for Israel's left-wing daily Haaretz, directed to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu (who took office, actually, last March 31 and has been prime minister less than a year) naturally responded by denying the charge, saying "My vision is of an Israel that is a world technological superpower, anchored in values, reaching peace from strength . we are working to jump-start the economy, to augment our security and to strengthen Israel through inculcating basic national values."
Special Note: For the past two weeks my columns have focused on the sad state of contemporary family life - controversies between siblings, parents, and children. Unfortunately, however, this deplorable state of affairs is not limited to families. Our communities and our institutions are all ridden by "infighting."
Last week I wrote about the difficulty of enforcing a tznius standard in some of our schools. I reported the stories of two children of the chronically ill, who by circumstances not of their doing could not meet the "tznius" criteria set by the school and kept being fined for infractions.
For a country that has fought for thirty years over the question of a woman's right to choose, we seem to all agree that once a child is born parents have no choice. They are not allowed to send their children to the school they prefer without incurring backbreaking financial penalties.
Social conservatives constantly bemoan the erosion of traditional family life and morality. In their view, narcissism and materialism plague the American landscape.
One of the reasons that parenting is so difficult is because parents are caught in a paradoxical situation. What every child wants most is to be loved as he is. However, the parent (horeh) is also a teacher (moreh), which comes from the word hora'ah - instruction. A teacher's job is to civilize the child, instill values, shape attitudes and correct negative behavior. We can't let our children go out into the world as pampered slobs or short-tempered bullies. We want them to be hard working, reliable, thrifty, considerate, patient and organized.
When one decides to have children, one has to decide: how one intends to bring them up, what values one will imbue in them and how one will stress their importance. Whatever they may be, when one instills the right values in a child, one later receives the dividends of one's efforts. This was proved so true this past Yom Kippur for Rebbetzin Judith Friedlander.
It is our fantasy, our illusion, our wishful thinking (supported by the movie industry and our own values) that as we age or become ill, we will be cared for by our ever-smiling and patient spouses and children, surrounded by our loving, laughing, cherubic grandchildren whose sole wish is to hug and kiss us and listen to our stories.
In last week's column I published a letter from a young man who felt that he was treated unfairly in his quest for a shidduch.
It's always a revelation when a world-renowned intellectual attacks religion as silly and juvenile only for us to discover that his or her own personal life might have greatly benefited from a commitment to the biblical values that they so casually dismiss.
Reminders of the mainstream media’s egregious political double standard vis-à-vis liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, come on an almost daily basis – the latest being last week’s New York magazine, the cover of which features a head shot of John McCain smack in the middle of a concentric-ringed bulls-eye board accompanied by this charming teaser copy: “Target: Bush-Backing, Surge-Loving, Economically Clueless Geezer.”
Two weeks ago I debated Michael Steinhardt, the renowned philanthropist and self-declared atheist, and Prof. Noah Feldman, arguably America's foremost thirty-something legal mind, on the subject of whether or not Jews are different based on their values.