Remembering Rabbi Klass (I)
I just read Naomi Mauer’s column about her late father. What a wonderful tribute to an obviously wonderful, gifted man. He is surely with Hashem, having earned that right many times over. What a warm and meaningful learning experience it must have been for her and her siblings, growing up with such a patriarch.
How many of today’s adults are paying psychiatrists and psychologists for analyzing “what went wrong” in their childhood and adolescence?
It’s a tonic for the soul reading an article like Naomi Mauer’s that remembers the beauty, the love, the togetherness, and the faith of a caring, happy, and Torah-inspired family. Great job. Her writing talents are also very obvious.
Remembering Rabbi Klass (II)
As much as Naomi Mauer said about her father – and as well as she said it – there is still more to say. Both her parents were incredible Jews and unbelievably good human beings! High quality, the likes of which you rarely ever find anymore.
And her father was a rav with a heart – not one of these phony frummies who shukel a lot and try to out-machmir the next guy and look holy but don’t care about people. We are in such need of rabbanim like him now!
I loved her mother so very much! She was one of a kind. A Klass act.
Don’t Split the Baby
Jewish Press chief editor Elliot Resnick had it right when he reminded a Zionist crowd in Florida two weeks ago (“Jewish Press Editor Speaks In Florida,” news story, Jan. 31) that a mother never agrees to split her baby – which is how King Solomon in the Bible identifies the true mother of a child being claimed by two women.
Some Jewish leaders, Trump supporters, and even Orthodox Jews are tempted to stand behind Prime Minister Netanyahu and agree to “split the baby” in half. The true owner of the land, however, can have only one response to the new peace plan: “Not one inch.”
Imagine if the Islamic nations guaranteed Israel peace plus all the territory from the Nile to the Euphrates. In return, all they asked was one thing – that Israel’s chief rabbi cut out just one letter from a Sefer Torah. There isn’t a rabbi in the world who would even dare consider agreeing to such a public chillul Hashem.
Yet, there are Jews considering cutting chunks out of the Holy Land and, adding insult to injury, giving them away to create a terrorist state.
President Trump is, hands down, the best friend the Jewish nation has ever had in the White House. But he and his advisors are trying to impose a political and economic solution on a religious question. Fortunately, the Trump administration has actually offered “two” peace plans. In his remarks in Israel last week, Vice President Mike Pence said: “the Jewish people clung to an ancient promise that…[G-d] would lead this people to inherit the land that He swore to your ancestors that He would give them.”
Pence reminded us of the religious solution to peace – the one-state solution. Our deed to the land comes from G-d, and our claim extends beyond the entire West Bank – into the East Bank.
Siri: Not a Friend of Israel
Re “Apple’s Siri Declares Israel A ‘Zionist Occupation State’” (news story, Jan. 24):
If you ask Siri on your iPhone, “What is the capital of Mozambique?” she will correctly respond, “Maputo is the capital of Mozambique.” If you ask Siri, “What is the capital of Uzbekistan?” she will correctly respond, “Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan.”
But if you ask Siri, “What is the capital of Israel?” she will answer, “Here’s what I found” – and refer you to a variety of websites.
Joel Fine, M.D.
Did Lubavitch Save American Jewry?
Last week, Rabbit Shmuel Butman seemed to claim that the sixth and seventh Lubavitcher Rebbes single-handedly saved Orthodox Judaism in America.
Rabbi Butman is not the first Lubavitcher chassid to make this argument, but he is simply wrong. America was not a spiritual wasteland when the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe arrived on these shores in 1940. Among the veritable Torah institutions that already existed at that time were Yeshivas Chaim Berlin, Yeshivas Torah Vodaath, RJJ, and Yeshiva College.
There were also Orthodox newspapers, countless Orthodox shuls, and Orthodox kashrus. The OU had been around since 1898 and the Agudas Harabonim since 1901. There were also numerous programs on the Lower East Side and elsewhere designed to inspire Jewish youth to grow up to be proud observant Jews.
Shortly after the Lubavitcher Rebbe arrived, so did people like Rav Aharon Kotler who started Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood; Rabbi Elya Meir Bloch, who started Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland; Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz, who started Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn; and chassidish personalities like the Satmar and Bobover Rebbes who rebuilt their communities almost from scratch.
Preceding their arrival were people like Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who started Maimonides School in Boston; Rabbi Eliezer Silver, who started Agudath Israel in America; and Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan, who started Bais Yaakov in America – all in the 1930s.
The sixth and seventh Lubavitcher Rebbes left behind extraordinary legacies. They instilled Jewish pride in countless American Jews who desperately needed it, and many Jews living in remote areas of America may well have been forgotten if not for Lubavitch shluchim. Possibly tens of thousands of Jews have become observant because of Lubavitch. Its achievements are truly unbelievable.
But would Orthodox Judaism have died in America if not for the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe’s arrival on these shores? No. Not even close.
The Biased Times
Starting with the Holocaust, which it essentially chose to ignore, The New York Times has an almost unblemished record of being an anti-Jewish newspaper. It should perhaps not be surprising, then, that the Times has published a flood of news articles, editorials, op-eds, and even a book review chastising President Trump for the peace plan he unveiled last week.
The gist of all of them is that the plan is not only one-sided but an insult to Mahmoud Abbas and the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs. No redeeming feature in it was found by the Times.
To its shame, The New York Times serves as a mouthpiece for pro-Arab rhetoric. Only new management might lead to a chance in course. Right now, its biased coverage is only getting worse.
New York, NY
Let’s Respect Each Other
I believe the controversy over women learning Daf Yomi is part of a far broader discussion. A prominent chareidi rabbi boycotted the recent Siyum HaShas because he heard the renowned rosh yeshiva Rav Hershel Schachter would attend, and he refused to share the dais with someone representing Yeshiva University.
This week’s parshah contains a beautiful Midrash which states that 12 channels opened in the Red Sea so that each tribe could pass individually. Rabbi Avigdor Miller derived from this Midrash that diversity is cherished in Judaism. We embrace the idea that Syrian Jews are different than Satmar chassidim, for example. There’s a critical caveat, though. Each group must recognize the right of the others to, not only exist, but thrive.
Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier did a splendid job in your January 31 issue illustrating that women who’ve taken the plunge into the sea of Talmud have solid halachic authorities upon whom to rely. Sadly, I imagine that many in the chareidi camp will look at the names of those who support women’s learning in his article and dismiss them because they largely come from YU.
It’s time we end this bigotry. How can observant Jews seriously speak about the scourge of sinas chinam and at the same time openly evince antipathy for other religious Jews?
Dr. Yaakov Stern
Let’s Be Pragmatic (I)
As someone entirely unaffiliated with politics, I want to express my wholehearted support for the campaign to have frum Jews register as Democrats. While I personally identify more with the Republican Party, I am also pragmatic about the realities of New York political life.
Here in Brooklyn, there’s just no way a Republican can get elected. We have a better shot at electing people of moral clarity if we support more moderate Democrats, and the only way to do that is to vote in primaries. But you can’t vote in Democratic primaries if you’re not a Democrat.
Let’s Be Pragmatic (II)
I think some people misunderstood the point Councilman Chaim Deutsch made in his letter to the editor two weeks ago. I believe the councilman was merely telling people to register as Democrats so they can vote to defeat dangerous candidates in Democratic primaries.
He was not talking about whom to vote for in the general election. I will never again vote for a Democratic candidate in a general election, but I’ve remained a registered Democrat so I can vote in the primaries and keep dangerous candidates off the general election ballot. If these candidates are not on the ballot, they can’t win.
West Hempstead, NY
Let’s Be Pragmatic (III)
I was truly stunned to see the letters to the editor in last week’s paper. In response to Chaim Deutsch’s plea for people to register as Democrats in Brooklyn, people responded from all over the country saying he’s wrong. What?
If you don’t live in Brooklyn, you don’t understand what we’re dealing with here. Most of the politicians are progressive and anti-religious. Our yeshivos are basically under siege! The few good politicians we have are all Democrats because you can’t elect a Republican in Brooklyn!
It’s moronic to be registered as a Republican in New York City, and anyone who tells you to register as a Republican is trying to hurt the frum community’s ability to have a say in local politics. Remember Farah Louis’ election? She was running against an anti-Semite who called us “greedy landlords.” She won by a few hundred votes because of the frum community. When Orthodox Jews vote together for a candidate, they can sway an election.
In conclusion, if you want the next Ilhan Omar to be elected in Brooklyn, go ahead and register as a Republican. But don’t complain afterwards.
Let the People Vote
President Bill Clinton said the biggest disappointment of his presidency came at Camp David when the Israeli prime minister agreed to 99 percent of Arafat’s demands, but Arafat still refused to sign an agreement with Israel.
Clinton said he realized that no matter what Israel did, the Palestinians would never recognize Israel and make peace. The question is why. Here are two reasons:
- Arafat, Abbas, Hamas – they all needed (or need) an excuse to stay in power. That excuse is Israel. People who make fighting Israel the basis of their leadership cannot afford to stop fighting Israel. And so they continue.
- Remember Anwar Sadat? Any deal with Israel means immediate assassination.
Here’s a possible solution: Let the United Nations oversee a vote in which the Arabs decides on whether to recognize Israel and conduct negotiations on the proposed peace plan. Voting yes would implicitly mean they disapprove of paying money to terrorist families and educating their children to hate Jews.
Such a vote would circumvent their leaders and eliminate the fear of assassination or reprisals. The UN should arrange such a vote. In the meantime, it should declare with the U.S. – once and for all – that one can’t expect a country to negotiate with a people committed to its destruction.
Judge Norman Ciment
Miami Beach, FL
Is Bernie a Communist?
Bernie Sanders is on record in the 1980s – on videotape, actually – uncritically praising the so-called virtues of the communist dictatorships of Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Soviet Union.
Sanders and his second wife Jane spent their 1988 marital honeymoon in the Soviet Union. Why would Bernie Sanders – of all places on this planet – voluntarily choose to spend his honeymoon in the Soviet Union?
And from the numerous communal kibbutzim in Israel that Bernie Sanders could have chosen to join in 1963, why did Sanders pick Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim, one of whose founders was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union?
If Sanders were to ever publicly disclose the truth about his past, tens of millions of dollars in donations to his campaign would cease.
Meanwhile, the so-called democratic socialist prefers flying on his personal private jet plane to sitting with us commoners in coach. Perhaps that’s why Sanders vehemently refused to disclose any of his tax returns until April. He didn’t want to admit that he has been a member of the top one percent of Americans all along while publicly, dishonestly, pretending not to be.