Sir, What a geshmak, how refreshing to start the morning with your front-page picture of a beaming Robert Aumann, our newest Nobel Prize winner (â€œNobel winner: Conflict won't stop,â€ October 11). His substantial yarmulke and bea utiful, untrimmed beard tell me that he and his colleague will not be present to receive the prize on December 10, a Shabbat. S.Y. Agnon was the first winner for whom the tradition-laden ceremony was pushed over to Sunday.
While I'm on the subject, I want to thank Ariel Jerozolimski for his year-round superb photography. His work does a great deal for the appearance of the paper.
M.M. VAN ZUIDEN
Timid ain't good
Sir, â€œEgypt is not doing enough,â€ stated Silvan Shalom. But what is the foreign minister expecting Egypt to do now that it did not do before? (â€œShalom takes on Egypt, PA,â€ October 8.) The flow of arms from Egypt to Gaza was known to Mr. Shalom, but he preferred to not offend by criticizing it. The illusion that Egypt nee ded to get into Gaza to stop arms being smuggled there from Egyptian territory is mind-boggling. This playing na ve, allowing an Egyptian Trojan horse into Gaza, will come back to haunt us as more troops are added in the future.
Egypt is still armed to the teeth when the only enemy it has is Israel. And when its official media screen a version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to educate its citizens about Israelis, it's not a good sign.
Their turn now
Sir, As someone who supported the Gaza disengagement I'm surprised Ariel Sharon hasn't been as blunt as he should be against further prisoner releases (â€œSharon weighing gestures to Arabs,â€ October 6). Mahmoud Abbas demands more releases as â€œconfidence-building measures.â€ However, since the last release of prisoners what has the PA done to stop terrorism? Nothing. What has it done since the withdrawal?
It's time for Israel to sit back and wait. It's time for the Arabs to provide the confidence-building measure s.
Holier than thou
Sir, The High Court of Justice decision on not using â€œhuman shieldsâ€ to knock on Palestinian terrorists' doors was highly disappointing (â€œHalutz promises to implement HCJ ruling,â€ October 6). O ver the years we have seen Israel's judges speciously legislating from the bench on a variety of issues, especially those related to national security. Last week in Australia a judge ruled on a highly contentious issue by stating that he felt for the situ ation, â€œbut my hands are tied by legislation.â€ In cases of no legislation surely the correct response would be: â€œIt is inappropriate for the court to decide.â€
It's time for Israel's judges to end this â€œholier than thouâ€ practice.
Sir In â€œ'Have a nice day' TV campaign aims to stop anti-Arab prejudiceâ€ (October 7), it would be more effective and honest for spokeswoman Abir Kopty to acknowledge the volumes of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic printed material in Arabic. Isn't it false naivete to ask why we are often afraid, or angry, when we see Arabic writing? Isn't the answer obvious?
Sir, Perhaps this snub in the face of Pakistan's unparalleled c atastrophic earthquake, causing untold additional lives not to be saved, will prove to the credulous Israelis who hailed the much-ballyhooed handshakes between the foreign ministers, and between the president and prime minister of Pakistan and Israel, tha t Pervez Musharraf's quest was for warmer relations with the US, and not with Israel (â€œPakistan snubs Israel's aid offer,â€ October 10).
The tragic death toll, rising by the day, could not neutralize Pakistan's inherent hostility to Israel even while aid offers from its rabidly-hated neighbor, India, were being accepted.
Lakewood, New Jersey
Religion's tribal & cultural colors
Sir, While I have no problem with Shmuley Boteach's Noachides campaigning, I do take issue with his p ortraying Christianity as exclusively appealing â€œto those who prefer a more coporeal religionâ€ and Judaism to those who prefer a more subtle and intangible God without benefit of intermediaries (â€œFor a confederation of Noachides,â€ October 11).
Surely th ere are as many approaches to Judaism as there are to Christianity. There are whole sections of the strictly Orthodox Jewish public, with the imprimatur of their rabbinic authorities, who prefer a more corporeal, angel-and-demon and popular kabbalistic ap proach with invocations to saintly and heavenly intermediaries; just as there are disqualifiers of such an approach in favor of a strictly rational and philosophical interpretation, one championed by the Rambam Maimonides and his school. Similarly the re are unitarian Christians and theologians who adopt a figurative interpretation of the trinity formulation. We even find a Tosafot, a medieval commentary to the Talmud, which avers that the Christian monks themselves did not accept the Trinity literally, and therefore Christianity cannot be equated with idol worship.
The bottom line is that religions, even of the same denomination, have a significant tribal and cultural coloring reflecting the history and experiences of their varied adherents. There ar e French, Roman and Anglo and American Catholics. English and American haredi Jews differ from each other, and both differ from the born-and-bred Mea She'arim ones, reflecting their differing cultural backgrounds.
Generalizations are heartwarming to those who make them; but it ain't that simple!
Sir, David Golinkin's â€œSolving a mahzor mysteryâ€ (UpFront, October 7) actually solves nothing. He offers an alternative version of the second mishna in t ractate Rosh Hashana in which every living creature is described as passing before God â€œkivnei maronâ€. The correct version, Golinkin asserts, is kivnumeron, a Greek and Latin word referring to a legion or troop of soldiers. The problem is th at this reading cannot be reconciled in any fashion with two of the three explanations of the term â€œkivnei maronâ€ offered by the Amoraim in tractate Rosh Hashana, and even according to the third interpretation â€œlike the troops of the House of Davidâ€ t he connection to the House of David is unclear. Presumably the rabbis of the Talmud had the clearest knowledge of the mishnaic text they were expounding.
Finally, the oldest extant printing of tractate Rosh Hashana (c.1480) [of Spanish origin], as well a s the second printing (Pesaro, c. 1515) [of German origin] both state â€œkivnei maron.â€ The first Venice edition (1520-1523) as well as the subsequent editions also state â€œkivnei maronâ€ (and not as quoted by Golinkin).
RABBI DOVID KAMENETSKY
Sir, I was shocked and heartbroken to read â€œIDF takes on top killer suicideâ€ (October 11). Reports tell of 30 soldier suicides so far this year. Is collecting guns the best answer the army can come up with to deal with thi s terrible tragedy? Surely the defense budget has enough funds to give these unfortunates psychological and emotional support.
Are training staff and officers taught how to recognize a youngster suffering from depression, or are they contributing to the problem with harsh treatment? In an interview with the wonderful Gen. Dan Halutz, the chief of staff said: â€œOur people should be proud of their army we have the most extraordinary young generation, prepared to give of themselves for the countryâ€ (â€œHalu tz's 'work plan' to keep us alive,â€ October 7). The suicides show that we are not giving back what these young people deserve.
Sir, A friend just returned from a wonderful vacation in Greece reported how the Gree ks really know how to make visitors feel welcome and happy. This of course made me think of how we can make our tourists and guests feel the same.
First just smile! You'll be surprised how many people, young and old, will return your smile. I learned i n a Torah class that it is a mitzva to present a pleasant face to those we meet and greet; a reflection of God's grace. Some hassidim teach that it is a very great mitzva to stay happy. But how to achieve it? Here are five ways, according to some great rabbis.
Return to Nature every day the beach, the woods, the mountains, the fields, the desert, or even a park.
Do two hours of exercise everyday, good for mind and body.
Appreciate your blessings and gifts, big and small, and all acts of kindness.
Read the holy books. Their beautiful teachings of justice and compassion increase happiness.
Be slow, careful and honest in all transactions.
PETER SHMUEL LEVITT
The great Berlyne
Sir, Thank you for reprinting â€œTaking stockâ€ by the late Alex Berlyne (October 3). I began reading The Jerusalem Post a few years ago and was unaware of him. What an incredible piece of writing. Emotional, rational, a dreamer, realistic; Berlyne was all of these. Somehow I do not think he feared death. He was far too inquisitive.
When I was a boy in London in the 1950s I lived in my grandparents' house. If I said something witty or clever at the dinner table, my bubba would say, â€œAin sophâ€, and kiss me repeatedly. I later learned soph was classical Greek meaning â€œintelligence,â€ â€œbrightness,â€ an understanding of more than the eye perceives.
Alex Berlyne. Ain soph.
Los Angeles â€º