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Making saints of sinners
Sir, - Shmuley Boteach is annoying with his relishing of sensational paradox ("The virtue of imperfection," December 3). Okay, I can agree that Mitt Romney was pretentious and self-righteous when he compared his virtue with the presumed lack of it in Rudy Giuliani's marital record. I also admit that the Talmud praises the repentant sinner over the perfect saint. But do we have to sing songs of glory to the sinners and make saints of them?
Boteach, who sensationalized us with his Kosher Sex, comes close to the glorification of the prodigal son in the New Testament, over the sons who never strayed from their father. It comes close to the Frankists who tried to bring the messiah by indulging in orgies, because another talmudic passage has it that the messiah comes either in a generation of perfect righteousness or one of perfect evil.
If we pursue Boteach's logic we have to be grateful for Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon for doing what they did, respectively, in the Oval Office. I did once write a sermon "Thank God for Sin" but that was in a spirit of irony, trying to find redemption for Yom Kippur and its rituals. I am afraid that Shmuley did not have his tongue in cheek when he penned his paean to man's depravity.
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
In praise of teachers
Sir, - I am not a teacher, nor have I ever been one, but your biased and vitriolic editorial left me appalled ("Failing schools," December 2).
Are, as you stated, our schools truly filled with "failed and mediocre teachers" who merely want "a hike in their pay." I think not. The teachers I have met and come into contact with are caring and dedicated men and women who, sadly, are looked upon in this, my adopted land, as grubby "gimmes."
During my working years, I would not have wanted to leave my workplace to go home and spend countless unpaid hours in preparation of lessons and marking of tests. They do that because they care about their students. No, the accountability is yours not theirs. If there are, and there may be, teachers of lesser quality than we would wish for our children, do you truly believe you will attract a new generation of more qualified teachers by not reducing class size? By not giving them enough money to live on so that they are not forced to seek additional work to achieve a decent standard of living for themselves and their children, without proper equipment and without respect.
Your editorial did a disservice to the multitude of dedicated teachers, damage to our children and damage to our image. Shame on you.
Hang 'em up
Sir, - While I agree with the writer Roy Runds that 17 year olds should not be granted a driver's license ("Drive death down," Letters, December 3), I would also suggest that many older mature drivers should "hang up" their keys and quit driving, especially when their eyesight begins to falter or arthritis begins to slow their movements.
That should help to keep death off our roads.
Sir, - Cycling to promote a more environmentally friendly Jerusalem while not wearing a crash helmet is dangerous, irresponsible and counterproductive (Photo, "Pedal to the Metal," December 3). Asphalt and high speeds are not a friendly environment for crack-able skulls.
Won't change Saudis
Sir, - Re Caroline Glick's charge of discrimination by the Saudis against Israelis at Annapolis ("Apartheid, not peace," November 30).
We are not going to change the Saudis in our time. If we want to deal with them now, we have to accept them as they are. The important thing about Annapolis is that the Saudis came. That they discriminate against Jews is not new, and that's why the media did not report it. The big story was that the Saudis came, and that was well reported.
Sir, - With approximately 80 percent of Israel's TV owners connected to either HOT or Yes, and with house builders no longer installing TV antennas, one not only wonders the need for the Israel Broadcasting Authority, let alone the need for its overpaid executives and technicians ("IBA seeks to raise TV license fee," November 30).
Binyamin Netanyahu, as finance minister, was correct when he lowered the TV tax since the majority of TV owners today have to pay both a large TV tax as well as a large monthly cable/satellite fee.
IBA may have financial problems that were brought about by its own poor planning and budgeting. It that sense it is unlike the average Israeli whose financial burdens are due to the increase in the price of gasoline, electricity, water, bread, etc; none of which was brought upon them by their own poor planning but by the poor management of others.
There's a difference
Sir, - Apparently US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can't tell the difference between a road in Alabama when she was a kid and a road in Judea and Samaria ("Rice: I know what it feels like to be a Palestinian," November 30).
There is one big difference between the two roads. You couldn't use the road because of the color of your skin (and that's something that always embarrassed me as a proud American, even though I never discriminated against anyone personally).
The Palestinians can't use the road because of what their fellow Palestinians do. It's called terror. That's not called racism. It's called protecting yourself from terror. That's the kind of protection you should be affording us Americans.
Another festival of light
Sir, - I have many pen-friends around the world. A lady I write to in India told me about their festival that falls around the same time as Hanukka, called Deepavalli, meaning a row of lights. It also celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
In northern India, it is celebrated to mark the victorious return of Lord Ram (after 14 years of exile in the forest ) after he destroys the demon king Ravana and rescues his wife Sita from his clutches. It also marks the end of one harvesting season and the beginning of the new year. The goddess Laxmi (goddess of wealth) is also worshipped on that day - a lucky day to start new ventures, build a house, buy a car, etc. In southern regions, it marks the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Nakasura, and welcomes the season of goodwill.
All over India, massive spring cleaning takes place days beforehand. A hand of friendship is extended to friends and foes alike, and they are greeted with sweets and gifts. Lamps and candles are lit in every house to dispel darkness and welcome warmth and the glow of love. It is a national holiday and families celebrate together. It struck me how, despite our different beliefs, we have more to unite us than to divide us. And like our Christian friends, we all want peace on earth and goodwill towards men.
This lovely lady named Rita Mukherjee, told me that this year she would also be adding prayers for peace in our region.
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