Start at home
Sir, – The article by Charles Jacobs and Karin McQuillan
(“Passover’s unlearned lesson,” Comment & Features, April 4) raises an
interesting and vital point: Those self-styled “progressive” Jews who invoke
tikkun olam, not only at the Seder table but in their political exhortations,
have long used the term as a fashionable mantra divorced from its original
I doubt whether most of the do-gooders realize that
tikkun olam derives from the second paragraph of the Alenu prayer, which
observant Jews recite three times a day. It expresses Israel’s Messianic hope
that “we may soon behold the removal of abominations [such as race hatred and
slavery] from the earth” and “the utter destruction of idolatry [such as the
current anti-Israel obsession].” This hope is linked with a key phrase –
“letaken olam bemalkhut Shaddai” (when the world is perfected under the kingship
of the Almighty).
“Let My people go” has likewise become a watchword that
omits its continuation – “that they may serve Me” (Exodus 9:1).
of these expressions the context is all-important since they remind us of the
Divine imperative to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus
Ignorance of Jewish sources reduces tikkun olam to a meaningless
phrase. We therefore should concentrate on improving ourselves as loyal Jews
instead of trying to “fix the world” at our nation’s expense.
Jerusalem The writer is chairman of the Jewish Bible Association No
sympathy at all
Sir, – It was shocking to read the words of Jonathan Rosen (“In
their shoes,” Inside Out, April 4): “When we, as Israelis, put ourselves in the
shoes of that average Palestinian who voted for Hamas in 2006, it is hard not to
be sympathetic, even if we justly abhor the choice he made. The results,
after all, have been terribly discouraging for him.”
All that seems to
matter to Rosen is the fact that Hamas has largely (and, thankfully) failed in
its goal to kill, maim and injure as many innocent Israeli civilians as
It is not hard for me, as well as for all decent moral people,
to have no sympathy at all for those who voted into power an evil and murderous
regime. My sympathy goes, rather, to those who truly deserve it – Hamas’s
Sir, – In response to
Jonathan Rosen’s request that we put ourselves in the Palestinians’ shoes, as
hard as I might try (I admit that I do not try very hard) I could never imagine
being part of a nation that is willing to murder members of another nation in
I could never imagine blowing myself up just to kill other
people, no matter what the cause. I could never imagine saying on television
that I wish I had more children so that they could all be ‘martyrs.”
would never allow my children to blow themselves up, no matter how desperate I
might be. I would never allow my children to go down to the road to throw
cinderblocks on passing cars.
The Jewish people suffered from thousands
of years of pogroms and persecution, and never took up arms against innocent
people. I am proud to be part of the nation whose people wear shoes that
epitomize morality and kindness.
Rosen also mentions that after terror
attacks, life in Israel goes back to normal.
I don’t think any of us who
live in Israel have gone back to normal after seeing close friends and relatives
killed in attacks. We worry that our soldiers might fall in battle or be lynched
We worry that our kids might flag down a ride and end up in
Ramallah. We worry when our kids drive home to Judea and Samaria, and we worry
every time we hear sad songs on the radio that mean something awful has
Excuse me, Mr. Rosen, that is not normal.
Sir, – Moti Zimrat (“Turkey owes us an apology
over the ‘Struma,’” Comment & Features, April 4) says that “maybe” the
Holocaust-era Jewish refugee ship Struma “was mistakenly hit by a Russian
The beginning of revisionism, perhaps? In “Feiglin:
Turkey should apologize for ‘Struma’” (April 2), your reporter correctly asserts
that “the Soviet submarine Shch- 213 torpedoed the ship” on February 24,
The vessel was commanded by D.M. Denezkho, who ordered the firing
of a single torpedo on the Struma, calling it, according to Soviet military
archives, “an unprotected enemy vessel.”
Soviet authorities commended the
crew for “having shown courage.” What an outrage! In 1964, Jurgen Rohwer, in The
Sinking of the Jewish Transporter Struma in the Black Sea, established beyond
dispute that the Russians sank it intentionally. The Soviets admitted to the
fact, and all research on the matter is conclusive.
The fascist Romanian
and heartless Turkish regimes of that era have blood upon their hands, but it
was the Russian Communists who fired the torpedo that killed all but one of the
Any international criminal lawyers out there?
Netanya Middle class woes
Sir, – I have to defend Finance Minister Yair
Lapid against detractors and critics regarding his recent comments about even
the middle class, with a monthly income of NIS 20,000, being in financial
straits (“Lapid: I won’t let Israel become Cyprus or Greece,” April
People even in the upper-middle class (but not the wealthy) earn high
salaries only on paper because they are so highly taxed. They also struggle to
pay for their kids’ education and worry how to pay for even modest weddings for
them. Forget about helping their kids buy a home or saving for
If the upper-middle class is struggling, then those earning
much less are in horrific straits.
Using the upper-middle class as an
example shows just how hard it is to make ends meet.
High tax rates plus
exorbitant costs for food and housing must be tackled by the government. If this
will be good for the uppermiddle class, it will be better for the working
Israel is an amazing place in which to live. Our leaders must take
the lead in creating tax reforms and reforms to the market, regulating the
prices of basic goods, especially food, for which exorbitant sums are presently
charged by the industry.
Beit Shemesh Call them WOS
With the month of Iyar approaching we most probably will be treated to another
vociferous demonstration at the Western Wall. I suggest that the group calling
itself Women of the Wall change its name to Women of the Shawl.
this for two reasons: 1. Wearing a prayer shawl seems to have become a prime
issue for many of these women.
2. There are many other women present at
the Kotel, either on a daily basis or on a regular basis during Rosh Chodesh,
who could equally go under the name Women of the Wall.
For the great
majority of women praying at the Western Wall – the last visible remnant of our
historic presence on the Temple Mount – the site inspires and connects us with
our history and the Almighty.
Among these devoted women are members of
the religious Zionist organization Emunah, who pray at the Wall every Rosh
Chodesh, followed by breakfast and a study session, very often led by women.
There are countless haredi women, young and old, who are also at the Wall any
day of the week.
The “Women of the Shawl” have been allotted a separate
section where they can pray with mixed genders and using their preferred
rituals. For their own sake and for the sake of unity, they should use
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