(photo credit: Courtesy)
Let us mourn this
Sir, - On Tisha Be'av, which begins tonight, we should mourn more than the physical loss of the Temple. We should mourn those who desecrate our values and the name of God.
We do not need a Third Temple; our prayers have already been answered. We have a state, a beautiful country that came about after lots of tears and prayers.
All we have to do now is revive our ethical calling, putting lovingkindness in the place of ritual sacrifices.
OLGA P. WIND
Murder, he said
Sir, - Re "Far-Right march in Rahat" (July 27): Whether or not you agree with the march whose purpose was to report on illegal Beduin building is not the issue; it's the double standard applied here.
A Beduin demonstrator warned that the march would be greeted with a lethal response: "If Baruch Marzel comes in, then he will get what he deserves - a bullet in the head."
Why was this man not arrested for incitement and a threat to murder? If Marzel threatened anyone in these words, there is no doubt he would be arrested to stand trial.
Inalienable Rights of the Jewish People
Sir, - I support the Anti-Defamation League's move to get the UN to disband the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People ("Dump the CEIRPP," Editorial, July 22.) However, I am under no illusion that this is likely to happen. Nor do I think the UN would ever consider setting up a parallel committee on behalf of the Jews.
What I do expect is for the Israeli government, the media, the Israeli people and supporters of Israel, Jews and non-Jews, to insist upon the Inalienable Rights of the Jewish People.
The basic right, from which all others derive, is to a sovereign state of our own in our historic homeland, Eretz Israel. While this right was articulated in the Balfour Declaration, formalized by the League of Nations and adopted in the UN Charter, its legitimacy does not only derive from the decisions of the international community, but from much deeper sources.
The right to our God-given land, to which the Jewish people have given unwavering allegiance for 3,000 years, has been earned - in the face of every obstacle - by the purchase of land, dunam by dunam; by generations of back-breaking toil; and by the idealism and initiative that resulted in the creation of the essential material and cultural underpinnings of a modern society. This right was paid for in pain and suffering, and in the blood of our people shed in the unrelenting wars and onslaughts of terror waged against us.
Finally, this right was ennobled by the hope it gave to harassed and persecuted Jews throughout the world, and the succour and shelter it has provided to the displaced and the dispossessed.
From this right to a sovereign Jewish state of our own stems the right to settle in our land, the right to live in peace and security, the right to pursue our faith and nurture our culture, and the right to be faithful to our heritage and ensure its perpetuation for the generations to come.
It is high time we in Israel confronted an increasingly hostile world and asserted, clearly, that we are here not by the grace and favor of others but by right; and that not only have we the inalienable rights of all sovereign democracies, but the duty to determine our essential national interests and act in accordance with them.
Sir, - Re "Fighting our friends instead of our enemies" (Yehuda Bauer, July 27): I decided to read one of Knut Hamsun's novels. The only available one at the library was Hunger ( Rebel Inc. 1996), and I recommend the foreword by Duncan McLean.
The novel, written in the first person singular, strongly reveals a morbid disposition and is repetitive ad nauseam. It left me very disturbed for days.
While there is no question about Hamsun's greatness as a writer, my deep and lasting impression was that I was facing an unbalanced personality.
Sir, - "The Battle in Religious Zionism" (July 17): Prof. Shmuel Glick's rejection as head of Religious Zionist Lifshitz College because of his work at Conservative institutions cannot be lumped with the other issues argued between what the author termed "liberal" versus "national-haredi" (Torani) Zionists.
The other examples in the article are a matter of ongoing debate over how halachic Judaism should deal with current problems such as the demands of Orthodox feminists, alternative lifestyles, older single women's ability to have children and the like, played against the backdrop of the tendency to a more stringent, all-embracing view of halachic observance among many of the Religious Zionist graduates of yeshiva high schools and ulpanot.
The question of whether someone holding a position in a Conservative Synagogue can teach Torah in an Orthodox one is not really part of this inner Orthodox lifestyle debate. It is fairly new in Israel, because Conservative Jewry did not have a foothold here until recent years, but old hat in the US. It was posed to the revered halachic authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein over 40 years ago, and he stated unequivocally that even if the lecturer is a great Torah scholar, and even if his work at the Conservative Synagogue or Rabbinical Seminary does not concern questions of faith, he should not be allowed to teach Torah in an Orthodox institution; and if he has been hired, his position should be revoked.
A reading of similar responsa on related subjects shows that Rabbi Feinstein considered Conservative Judaism an educational threat. He was not a blanket extremist - for example, he also wrote that one may turn a blind eye to, though not condone, non-observant Jews who ride to Orthodox Shabbat services so as not to alienate them; and that women can be kashrut supervisors.
I myself, as a college student in New York, turned to Rabbi Feinstein to ask if I could accept a part-time job teaching young children in a Conservative Hebrew School. He answered that I may do so only if I make it clear to my employers that I will teach - and preach - Orthodox Judaism in the classroom.
Running a religious teachers college is about shaping educational policy and goals for future generations. The reactions were to be expected, as was the final decision.
Religious Zionist Educational
Authority, Education Ministry
No place like home
Sir, - At 171â„2 years of age, our only child decided to make aliya from Montreal. Though we suffered severe separation anxiety, we supported this move for two basic reasons: She was doing something that would make her happy; and she was fulfilling a deep-rooted desire that we, her parents, never quite attained.
Things are quite different today than they were in 1951, when I attempted aliya. Communications are instantaneous, frequent travel is far more available, and Israel is far more developed.
Unfortunately, the Korean War and a four-year stint in the US Navy changed my direction somewhat, and I remained in the Diaspora until 11 years ago. Now, finally, I'm home ("Love at first sight," Letters, July 27).
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - Thank you for publishing the recent supplement titled "A Tribute to Western Aliyah, Building a Stronger Israel, One Person at a Time." I felt good reading it. What a wonderful country, Israel.