letters to the editor.
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Why soldiers die
Sir, - In your Letters column of August 29, two writers rightfully expressed their indignation at Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's statement that religious Jewish soldiers, unlike their nonreligious comrades, are especially protected on the battlefield. But both writers overlooked an important point.
Rabbi Yosef, like all of us, must be aware of soldiers who were reported to be religious, yet nevertheless were killed in action. This does not sound logical unless, in his mind, the act of joining the army makes a Jew automatically irreligious ("Ovadia Yosef's comments anger bereaved parents," August 29).
Sir, - I am the proud mother of three sons who, thank God, all returned safely from their army service. Each lost many friends in battle, some of them religious boys like themselves, some not. All were fine young men, and they are still deeply mourned and fondly remembered by my sons. My heart goes out to the families of those young men. I am certain God Himself wept for the losses.
The title of rabbi does not give anyone the privilege of speaking in God's name, nor are the words of any rabbi to be deemed "ex cathedra." No man among us can grant us absolution for our sins, and no man can pronounce God's sentence on us.
SHULAMITH W. LEBOWITZ
Sir, - Sarcasm aside, haven't there been enough misspeaks by Rav Ovadia over the years that perhaps, as we begin a new year, Shas could allocate some funds toward a proofreader or modern marketing expert to review the rabbi's public Torah lessons and speaking engagements? How one so clever can be so unaware of the consequences of his statements is beyond me.
Why serve God?
Sir, - In "The joy of accountability" (August 29) Avi Shafran wrote: "The shofar throughout Elul calls on us to refocus on what alone is real in life: serving our Creator."
Even supposing that there were a creator who created us, why would serving him be the only real thing in life? Why should we serve him at all? I could imagine feeling gratitude for his troubling to create us, and I could imagine wanting to feel some sort of connection to him, but ultimately why would our purposes be his purposes and not our own, however we came to be here, and however we came to have them?
This is a radical world view, and it is utterly irreconcilable with a liberal humanist one.
DAVID J. BALAN
Sir, - I am an American who loves Israel. I study Hebrew and pray for Israel daily. I want you all to know that the majority of Americans are pro-Israel. We stand with our democracy-loving brothers and sisters. I say that you must stop giving land away. Israel is Hebrew land, and it always will be. God bless you all.
Thank you, Israel
Sir, - I just wanted to THANK the Israeli people and government for sending help to Greece to fight those horrific fires ("Israeli team lauded for helping battle against Greek blazes," August 29).