A Distant Telescope
Avi Ciment’s article on his father’s “telescope” for the future (“Bring Out the Telescope,” Jan. 20) brought back a memory. More than 45 years ago, I was working with a lovely non-Jewish woman who was engaged o a Jewish man. She raved about him in so many ways. I didn’t say much; she was clearly a friend of the Jewish people and of Israel.
One day, she came into work and announced that she had broken the engagement – and she was heartbroken about it. I asked what happened.
She replied, “He was forever asking about our children. Would they go to a Jewish school, a Jewish camp, or to synagogue. I said, ‘We don’t have any children. We can discuss those things later.’ He said, ‘No, I need to know now.'”
His telescope was in place. And, I suppose, hers was as well and when the visions didn’t match, she wisely broke the engagement.
Upshot – he married a Jewish woman and raised three Jewish kids.
Silver Spring, Md.
It’s Not Only Modern Orthodox
I generally eschew clichés, however in this case I’ll make an exception. David Ferster is entitled to his opinion, and he argued his position quite well. However, he’s not entitled to his own facts, and here he came up more than a bit short. Mr. Ferster correctly asserted that Rav Moshe was concerned for maris ayin and therefore, when the Jewish establishment is viewed as kowtowing to the liberal (immoral) agenda, it creates a chillul Hashem. The problem with Mr. Ferster’s contention is that he considers Modern Orthodoxy solely to blame for accommodating the SSA camp. In fact, it was Shelly Silver who was at the forefront of advancing such legislation, at least in New York State, and the last time I checked, the late speaker was by no means Modern Orthodox. His religious hashpa’ah came from Rav Dovid Feinstein, whose credentials were impeccable. Moreover, it’s well known that various Chassidic groups will support candidates with blemished records in this area in exchange for financial incentives. This is reality and this is pragmatism.
Is this the correct attitude? That’s not for me or anyone else to say. Ultimately, Hashem will pass judgment on this generation. Mr. Ferster calls on Modern Orthodoxy to follow the dictates of the Torah and challenge society’s descent into decadence. Why is that only Modern Orthodoxy’s responsibility? What’s needed is a united front, in which all branches of Torah Judaism work together, in concert with devout Christians and Muslims, to stem the tide. The truth is, however, that this is really pie-in-the-sky thinking and I don’t expect any real change to occur until Moshiach comes. Until then let’s stop pinning the tail on the Modern Orthodoxy donkey. I recall a conversation I had back in the late eighties when I was finding myself religiously. I asked a certain patient (a rabbi from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) to describe a Lower East-Sider, i.e., what group do we fall into?
He simply answered, “We’re Jews.” Labels are divisive and Hashem wants His children to be united.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
The Crying Left and the Obedient right
The title speaks to what the pundits have already confirmed. The left are a bunch of crybabies who get all their demands and the right stands by to deliver all concessions to the right.
Israeli and American politics are a sham. The left imposes its will when not in power and the right collapses out of its own ineptitude.
Take judicial reform. On the exact agenda that the right came to fix, they became the laughing stock, accepting the Deri result. The left laughs together, reveling in their unabashed behavior.
In the U.S., Jim Jordan demands answers and is treated like a child by the Justice Department, which just says no. When the left jovially signed with their pens at the Trump impeachment gala, they moved with ease and sympathy to their cause. The left always wins and that’s why politics is a sham.
Moral turpitude is the definition of politics and the right and left are members. Israel is not a religiously run state and the greatest hope is that the collective left can be guided to return to move toward some kind of truth.
Legislation Long Overdue
Florida Republican State Representative Mike Caruso introduced new legislation that would make putting a swastika on a building a third-degree felony. It would also cover maliciously defacing a religious cemetery, and it could result in a five-year prison sentence. Considering the increase in antisemitic hate crimes, this is long overdue.
Considering that my family burial land is in Baron Hirsch Cemetery on Staten Island and that vandalism there is out of control, my wife was horrified at being buried there. We made the painful decision not to be buried there but to be buried on Long Island. That decision cost us more than $4,000.00.
Boca Raton, Fla.
It’s (Not) About Time
A young guy in shul this morning who is visiting from Israel asked me what time we would get to Borchu. I know from experience that lots of my fellow Orthodox Jews keep a sharp eye on the clock while they are davening; in fact, the amud that the baal tefillah uses in my shul has an actual listing of the various times he should be reaching the various sections of the service.
I find this notion absolutely ridiculous! I told the young man, “I have no idea. When I’m davening, I’m talking to Hashem, not looking at the clock.”
Why on Earth are we so very obsessed with time during prayer when we should consider ourselves to be in a place beyond time and space? There is one guy in my shul who, after Mincha, announces how many minutes and seconds we have until Maariv. This is foolish for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that in the days of the Gemara there was no such concept as seconds. They hadn’t been invented yet! And to imagine that G-d is standing in heaven with a stopwatch, timing us to see if we start the one precise and proper moment – and that it matters – is something a small child should be embarrassed for thinking.
It reminds me of that pathetic joke – Someone asks a young Orthodox Jew whether he ever thinks about G-d. The young man responds, “Are you kidding? I get up in the morning, say my prayers, wash and get dressed, do Daf Yomi, then I’m off to Shacharis, then to yeshiva where I learn all day, then attend a series of shiurim, then there’s Mincha and Maariv, and then the rav gives a class. When am I supposed to find time to think about G-d?”