June 27: Speck of dirt

Every day brings a new story about rabbinic comings, goings and goings-on (“Dark days for the Chief Rabbinate,” Analysis, June 24 and “Police question Metzger in bribery, money-laundering probe,” June 21).

June 26, 2013 22:01

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

Speck of dirt

Sir, – Every day brings a new story about rabbinic comings, goings and goings-on (“Dark days for the Chief Rabbinate,” Analysis, June 24 and “Police question Metzger in bribery, money-laundering probe,” June 21).

I don’t know if there is some sort of beat-up taking place, nor whether the stories have an element of invention and distortion.

But one thing is clear: in the light of the Talmudic dictum that a talmid haham, a wise scholar, should not have a speck of dirt on his garment, all of us rabbis have to keep our noses clean and give nobody the slightest grounds for accusing us of inappropriate actions.

Every rabbi should be bound by a code of professional ethics, the formulation of which every rosh yeshiva, seminary head and rabbinic organization should be involved in.


The writer is the emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia

Sir, – 55 years after my aliya, I am experiencing a sense of deep shame and disappointment.

Not, heaven forbid, in Israel, with its proud record of achievements in so many fields, but rather in the narrow-minded and corrupt leadership of certain sections of the Orthodox establishment.

The article by Jeremy Sharon on June 21, “Stav rejects criticism from ‘convicted criminals’” sums up the tragic situation in three short columns.

In the past few days, I have spoken to several staunch supporters of the Shas party who are deeply embarrassed by the way their spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has been manipulated into insulting and even provoking violence against Rabbi David Stav, referring to him as a “rasha” – an evil person (“Tzohar calls on Shas leader to repent for comments against Stav,” June 17).

I vouch that anyone who has met Stav or heard him address diverse audiences, must share my impression of this worthy rabbi as a caring individual, a man full of compassion for his fellow Jews and a great communal leader, who richly deserves widespread support in his bid for the Chief Rabbinate.


Sir, – This week, as we marked the 17th of Tamuz, commemorating the breaking of the walls of Jerusalem, we should remember that it was also a pervasive internal rot that led to national destruction.

Israel today, strong against its external enemies, must reexamine its inner defenses. The actions of the Chief Rabbinate and its haredi backers are a desecration of the name of God, and have brought shame and derision on our country.

The day when we will be “a light unto the nations” has yet to come.


Sir, – The absurdities of the system of two chief rabbis are threefold. First, hassidim who neither respect nor conform to the powers of the rabbis are instrumental in their selection.

Second, the institution of a Sephardi and a separate Ashkenazi rabbi perpetuates a split in the Israeli people which is fortunately disappearing and needs no help.

Finally, we have the scandal of a chief rabbi confined to his house under suspicion of bribery.

The Diaspora has functioned very well mostly without chief rabbis.

It is time we do away with this harmful institution.


Eminently fair

Sir, – The proportion of keeping 60% of gas and oil revenues found in the State of Israel and exporting 40% to countries in the world seems eminently fair (“Government approves keeping 60% of natural gas in Israel,” June 24).

A country like Israel must export in order to survive and grow economically. Exporting oil and gas will make Israel financially independent and give Israel the monies to enhance the quality of life for all segments of the population. We are always worried about weaker elements of the population. What a blessing it will be to know that the budgets of the future will reflect surpluses so that we can do great things educationally, scientifically and enhance our military survival.

What a blessing has been bestowed upon this remarkable country Israel!


Sir, – Kol hakavod to our prime minister for his recommendation that Israel retain 60% of its natural gas for home use. Furthermore, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich has also joined the “good guys” by protesting any decision to export more of our gas. This is a wise decision, and can only be good for Israel and its future. Yacimovich’s threat to take the issue to the High Court is an additional step to make sure we do the right thing.

For once, Israel’s leaders on both sides agree that our gas reserves are too important to our future to be bandied about! Let us hope they don’t change their minds.


Private party

Sir, – How come that no mention is made of the cost to the Israeli taxpayer of the additional security required for the various events to mark the 90 birthday of President Shimon Peres (“Poll: Private donors don’t justify Peres party,” June 23).

The ferrying of guests from their hotels to the various events required additional police escort services, as those in the vicinity experienced in the constant wailing of police car sirens, even at midnight when the roads are relatively empty.

Cannot we, the humble folk, be even permitted to a quiet night’s sleep without having to encounter thoughtless and unnecessary use of sirens by the police escorts?


Sir, – Having read Gil Hoffman’s article “Poll: Private donors don’t justify Peres party” I note that Shimon Peres was actually born on August 2, 1923. I fully agree that our president, having given and achieved so much for Israel, rightly deserves full recognition with a gala party, but why two months early? The reason for my interest is that I was born 19 days later, also 90 years ago, but a lavish birthday party is certainly not on my list of priorities.

I would, however welcome the president’s opportunity to meet some of my favourite personalities, for example, a visit from Julian Fellowes who created and wrote the fabulous TV series Downton Abbey, and maybe I could also invite its star, Dame Maggie Smith.


Sir, – The celebrations surrounding the 90th birthday of President Shimon Peres have sent an inspirational message to many citizens of Israel. I hope that this inspiration will also reach the Israeli business community.

In the contemporary Israeli job market, job hunting can be a difficult and demeaning task for job seekers of all ages. In particular, people above the age of 40 are met with discouraging responses. They are frequently told, unabashedly, that they are “overqualified” or that the prospective employer was “looking for someone younger.”

Years of experience and dedication are often glossed over, as employers choose younger, less experienced and less “expensive” workers to fill job slots.

It’s time for the Israeli business community to keep its doors wide open to workers of all ages, to encourage businesses to grow, develop and reap the benefits of youth as well as experience! As the president has shown us, it is certainly possible to be productive and contribute to society, even at advanced ages! Rather than rejecting the middle- aged and older workers, employers should give them encouragement and opportunities! The message to our youth should be that hard work, experience and devotion are valued and appreciated by Israeli society, in order to continue to expand the economy and really build our country.


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