What of Zeresh?
Sir, – Women of the Megila unite! Championing Queen Vashti and
Queen Esther for their deeds, Hallel Abromowitz- Silverman (“The great Kotel
Schlep,” Comment & Features, February 21) hopes to mirror the women of the
But there is a black hole in her reflection. What of Haman’s
wife, Zeresh, and her deeds? Haman is the rising star of Persia with a bright
future. He is troubled by a Jew and turns to his wife for advice, with
disastrous results. Zeresh’s recipe for success would have been better left in
Sir, – I am somewhat Orthodox but
not at all haredi, and personally do not care if ladies wear tallitot (prayer
shawls). But it seems silly to break age-old customs (unless they cause great
harm), even if we see no logic in them.
When Hallel Abromowitz-Silverman
gets married I would hope that she does not wear a black suit or tuxedo and have
her groom wear a white wedding gown. I would hope that she gets a diamond
engagement ring and he does not.
That’s the way it is and has been for
centuries. It starts early in life, when baby boys are ritually circumcised and
baby girls are not.HAROLD FRANK
Modi’in Problem of Ariel
Arguably, the recognition of Ariel University Center as a full-fledged
university has drawn some negative responses in the academic world, but overall
the reaction has been minor.
David Newman’s simplistic characterization
and overemphasis on the university (“The Ariel own goal,” Borderline Views,
February 19) are reminiscent of a ghetto mentality.
Israel is a sovereign
democratic country where decisions are made day in and day out on a variety of
topics, including the recognition of certain institutions as universities. There
has not been one academic institution in Israel recognized as a university in
over 30 years despite the fact that the population has nearly doubled!
Furthermore, given the fact that hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens live
in Judea and Samaria, the area’s residents and others are entitled to be
enriched by the presence of an institution of higher learning near their homes,
and by the myriad of benefits (including higher education for thousands of
Arabs) that arise.AMIR TAMARI
Sir, – The revelation by David
Newman that an American university professor refused to issue a letter of
reference to an Israeli institution “if it was not clear that that institution
categorically opposed the recognition of Ariel” is absolutely
Since when is it the business of a university to delve into
political issues completely unconnected with its academic work? Even worse, this
professor is creating a secondary extension of his personal boycott by expecting
Israeli universities to disown Ariel.
My reaction, however, is
diametrically opposed to Newman’s.
Rather than castigating Ariel for
daring to become a university, he should stand up for academic independence and
ask the American professor whether he would refuse to cooperate with a Saudi
Arabian university because that country is undemocratic, tyrannical, racist and
homophobic, and its women have no rights, or with a Chinese university because
its government has almost wiped out Tibetan culture? ALAN HALIBARD
Sir, – Michael Rappaport’s view (“The importance of full-time
Torah study,” Comment & Features, February 19) is terribly skewed, perhaps
driven by the fact that he only recently made aliya or, more likely, that he is
Regardless, he should consider the following:
1. No one with
any perspective feels that our army cannot function without conscripting
haredim. What they feel, and rightly, is that our society cannot function
without shared responsibilities and values.
2. No one with any wisdom
feels that education is not important. What they feel is that a narrowly based,
haredi-directed education is not enough to support either the haredim or the
3. No one with any values minimizes the fact that the Torah is
and should be the source of our values. However, one would have to be blind not
to recognize that the Torah itself mandates the specific requirement for
everyone to serve in the army, as well as the general requirement to support the
country.CHAIM A. ABRAMOWITZ
Sir, – Like the current situation
regarding haredim and their lack of service and participation in society, the
arguments made by Michael Rappoport suffer from a lack of balance. They also
suffer from an error of omission.
Nobody should dispute the value of
education, but his misuse of an analogy between full-time Torah study and student
deferments in the United States in the 1960s is deeply flawed.
omits the crucial fact that those deferments were temporary, ending for almost
everyone after four years, when they completed their undergraduate education.
Those students – I was one of them – also were generally studying a broad
curriculum preparing them for a lifetime of work.
A balance of skills is
important to the proper functioning of society. As important as Torah study is,
it is also clear, beyond any reasonable argument, that the current situation is
out of balance, unhealthy for Israel in general and unhealthy even for the
haredim themselves.ALAN STEIN
Sir, – Attorney Rappaport believes
that Torah study is important. But apparently he does not believe in the
importance of the study of medicine, chemistry, biology, physics, engineering,
the arts, and not even law. Otherwise, how can he say that those who study these
subjects, and many more, can delay their studies for three years in order to
fulfill their obligation to defend the state, while yeshiva students cannot?
Iron Dome has been much, much better at fending off Hamas rockets than have
Torah principles, and Ofeq and Techsar give us a much clearer picture of what
our enemies are up to than can be gleaned from reading the Talmud. These
technologies were developed by people who had to postpone their studies for
three years of army service, and yet succeeded in their praiseworthy
A three-year delay before studying Torah would not prevent
those students from learning the Torah, which would not change in that time –
although science and technology certainly would. I even think that they would be
better people and more mature, though some may decide as a result that there is
more to life than just Torah.
And that, of course is what really worries
the rabbis – not whether we can defend our state or who will pay to maintain
Rehovot Bus-stop butts
Sir, – Last summer a law was
passed that forbade smoking at bus stops. Since then there has been absolutely
no change, mainly due to the fact that there are no notices at bus stops stating
that smoking is forbidden.
On the odd occasion I have dared bring the law
to the attention of smokers at bus stops I received abuse and rudeness – despite
having approached them in a friendly manner.
I sent a mail on the subject
to the Environmental Protection Ministry but received no reply.
notices at bus stops – which could be included on the very welcome electronic
timetables – there will be no improvement.
Any good ideas about how to
improve the situation? RUTH HALFON