Sources of our national being
Sir, – Regarding Eran Baruch’s “A secular Jew is
no less Jewish than any other” (October 28): It is almost impossible to
categorize a Jew as secular, orthodox, haredi, traditional orthodox, traditional
secular, or any combination of the above, without really knowing the
individual’s inner Jewish soul.
Therefore, the statistics cited in this
op-ed are somewhat questionable.
However, Baruch is absolutely correct
that Jewish culture and tradition are the heritage of all of us, no matter how
one embraces them.
It is rather sad how some secularists seem to disdain
any whiff of Jewish tradition out of hand. This apparently stems from the early
Zionist ideology of trying to break the ties of traditionalism that prevailed at
that time, which opposed any change in the Jewish condition of the
Today, however, we are a free people in our own land, and it’s
time for all of us to try to understand the sources of our national
being.HAIM M. LERNER
Ganei Tikva Staying grounded
Sir, – Professor Gil
Troy writes symmetrically of “the perpetual conundrum – how to give the
Palestinians enough concessions to feel satisfied while giving Israelis enough
assurances to feel safe” (“It’s not us, it’s them,” Center field, October
There’s no symmetry, though. At any time the Arabs can simply decide
to feel satisfied – and they’ll be satisfied. Israel can’t simply decide to feel
safe and be safe. We felt safe in 1972 and weren’t safe in 1973.
Canadian professor, and even for an Arab contemplating the condition of his
people’s dignity, the important issues may all be in the mind. But we Israelis
must always consider the dangers on the ground.MARK L. LEVINSON
Herzliya Tutu: Patron of what?
Sir, – Regarding “Tutu urges opera not to tour Israel”
(Arts in brief, October 27): Is there a clearer example and justification to
call on the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the new Johannesburg Holocaust and
Genocide Centre to remove Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a patron?
Town The next Palestinian leader
Sir, – What are we to make of Dennis Ross’s
statement enjoining Israel not to lose the chance to make peace with “unique”
Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad? After all, said Ross, they
have rejected violence (“Ross: Failure in talks could imperil gains made in
security,” October 27).
His characterization of Abbas notwithstanding,
examples abound to the contrary. Was it not in fact Abbas who opened the first
Fatah Congress in 20 years with the declaration that “resistance” remains an
option? Periodic reports of similar calls for armed struggle by the
misperceived-as-moderate leader have surfaced before and since.
if we could accept Ross’s spurious claim for a moment, shouldn’t we still worry
about the next Palestinian leader, one who just as well may not reject the use
of violence? JEFF DAUBE
Director, Israel office Zionist Organization of America
Jerusalem PC paralysis
Sir, – Ray Hanania (“Racism is in the eye of the
beholder,” October 27) sees a discriminatory skeleton in the closet of those who
would protest the sacking of Juan Williams by National Public
Hanania fails to mention that the call for Williams’s sacking came
from CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), a front group for Hamas in
the United States.
Hanania’s comparison of Williams’s comments to those
of three high-profile media personalities falls far short of the
Helen Thomas, in a moment of candor, said: “Tell them to get the
hell out of Palestine.” Octavia Nasr lionized a Hizbullah terror chieftain on a
social network, and Rick Sanchez gave traction to a timeworn anti-Semitic canard
on the air. Williams was dismissed for stepping over the red line of political
correctness that prohibits criticism of Islam.
Ironically, Juan Williams
also noted on O’Reilly’s program that “political correctness can lead to a type
of paralysis where you don’t address reality.”
NPR’s dismissal of Juan
Williams demonstrates exactly the type of political correctness of which he
Jerusalem Codes without magic
Sir, – Rabbi Shmuley
Boteach, in “Rise of the religious charlatans” (October 26), has unjustly
characterized all Torah code efforts as magic, soothsaying, profiteering and
Various groups and individuals do indeed misuse the tools of Torah
codes study, both in print and on the Internet, and it is indeed a problem. To
whatever extent dishonest presentation, flawed methodology, and distortion of
results are in fact involved, warnings to the public are called for, and are
But Boteach’s careless words of dismissal across the board
are comparable to one who would advise discarding the Bible because of its
misuse by missionaries. He thereby promotes a gross misperception of the
scientifically disciplined codes research which has been conducted quietly over
the past three decades.
It has been our privilege to serve on the team of
professors, computer scientists, mathematicians, linguists, and scientists
working with Professor Eliyahu Rips of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, for the
past 20 years.
The idea of Torah codes was first recorded by the sages
Rabbi Bahya ben Asher (commentary on Genesis, 11th century) and Rabbi Moshe
Cordovero (Pardes Rimonim, 16th century). Its study was renewed in the 20th
century by Rabbi Michoel Dov Ber Weissmandl, who searched for codes by hand
while in hiding from the Nazis.
In our times, Dr. Rips was the first to
conjecture that if such codes were real, computer programs could be designed
that would be able to identify such patterns, and a protocol could be developed
to distinguish between random and non-coincidental occurrences, using
standardized statistical procedures accepted in the world of scientific
Random occurrences can be found with irregular frequency in any
written text, even on a cereal box, and certainly in any text the length of War
and Peace or Moby Dick.
However, those who are familiar with the
research, are technically qualified, and have taken the time to study the
findings observe that such patterns occur in the Torah with a statistical
significance not remotely approached by searches of comparison
Contrary to Boteach’s incorrect characterization of the research,
it is entirely unrelated to foretelling the future or making
Dr. Rips has publicly stated, in remarks posted on the
Internet, that all attempts to make predictions based on Torah codes are futile
and of no value.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from the
scientific research regarding the Torah codes is that they exist and are not a
Documented at www.torahcodes.net are 10
scientific papers that have passed peer review in three scientific journals,
along with letters of support from a number of leading Torah authorities of our
Boteach’s condemnation helps keep the veils drawn over a gift
for our age.HAROLD GANS
Senior Cryptologic Mathematician (ret.) United
States Department of Defense Baltimore ART LEVITT
Jerusalem Out of the way,
Sir, – Kudos to Abraham Israel for his articulate depiction of one of the
problems faced by non-profit organizations in Israel (“The tax on charities,”
You would think that the government would get out of the way
of “third sector” services and let them do their jobs.ELLIOTT CAHAN
Executive director, Darche Noam Institutions Modi’in