November 24: Respectful observation

Rabbi Yosef implies an almost mutually exclusive relationship between learning Torah and going to work.

November 23, 2010 23:15

letters 88. (photo credit: )

Respectful observation

Sir, – While meaning no disrespect, and not at all qualified to take issue with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in his dispute with MK Haim Amsalem (“Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slams party MK in weekly sermon,” November 22), a modest Torah education allows me to make an observation.

Rabbi Yosef implies an almost mutually exclusive relationship between learning Torah and going to work, and between the Torah scholars who “sustain the world” and their pursuit of an additional, honorable occupation. But the giants of Torah scholarship who were the architects of the Oral Law and the Talmud viewed this dichotomy quite differently.

In Pirke Avot, Raban Gamliel states the following: “Torah study is good together with an occupation, for the exertion of them both makes sin forgotten. All Torah study that is not joined with work will cease in the end and leads to sin.”

Petah Tikva

Papal controversies

Sir, – In the debate about Pope Pius (“Benedict praises Pius, dismays Shoah survivors,” November 22), there is no doubt that his wartime silence may have helped save many Jews who were hidden in monasteries. Whether he ordered Catholic institutions to save Jews or whether these were local decisions by priests and other Catholic leaders is something that should be investigated.

But we do know that following the end of World War II, many Nazis were aided by Church leaders to escape to South America and other lands, and thus avoid trial and imprisonment for their war crimes. Whether such aid had the blessing of the pope or was a decision by lesser Church officials should also be investigated.


Sir, – Regarding the pontiff’s recent comments (“Pope’s words on condom use by male prostitutes spur debate,” November 22), Benedict is in no way endorsing the use of condoms – even in exceptional cases. He’s merely stating that it could be the first step by a particular individual to realize that his action is indeed wrong.

The pope’s example of a male prostitute is very intentional. The Church doesn’t believe that male prostitution is a good thing.

Hence, it is not going to endorse anything that would facilitate that behavior, even if it’s with the good intention of protecting one’s self or another (i.e., from contracting AIDS).

That good intention doesn’t change the nature of the behavior.

Hamilton, Ontario

Hanegbi: Smooth...

Sir, – If we read them correctly, Tzahi Hanegbi’s views (“Kadima and the Likud, time to try again,” Comment & Features, November 22) are a far cry from his early days, particularly at Yamit. He has the smooth cadence of the polished politician he no doubt is today.

What’s more, his ideas for bringing Israel’s governing bodies to a more forward-looking position seem to be right-on. Calling on history (Eshkol-Begin, Peres- Shamir), he shows there is a good chance we can begin anew, if only Bibi will do the right thing and get together with Livni to form a more stable, centrist-looking coalition.


...too smooth?

Sir, – With all due respect to Tzahi Hanegbi’s political advice, his decision to remain a politician stands in startling contrast to the moral example set by John Profumo, Britain’s minister of state for war in the early 1960s. Although Profumo did not perjure himself in a court of law over his relationship with Christine Keeler, he lied to Parliament – and forthwith forsook all political ambitions and devoted himself to charitable works.

Rather than pontificate and cherish further political ambitions, Hanegbi should be devoting himself to unselfish worthy causes.


Beyond basic skills

Sir, – It was with great interest that I read “Ministerial committee approves massive overhaul for new driver training” (November 22).

But I wonder if the new course will teach basic road manners.

Perhaps as an ex-UK driver of over 40 years I am biased, yet I feel that lane-swapping on major roads without signals (or for that matter, never signaling), and suddenly swerving and stopping are things that have not been addressed in driver training here. And if motorcyclists continue to pass on the wrong side of the road and push through dangerously at traffic lights, we will never see a reduction in road accidents.

The new driving programs should also address the areas of patience and consideration for others.


Hadassah not alone

Sir, – I read with interest “A culture of safety” (Health & Science, November 21). However, I am concerned by the last sentence, which is entirely without foundation and potentially misleading, and might be anxiety-provoking to the hundreds of thousands of patients treated in the non-Hadassah hospitals in Israel each year.

Like Hadassah, other hospitals have extensive safety programs that have been in place for many years. But apparently unlike Hadassah, my hospital has collected statistics and can proudly demonstrate a significant decrease in accidental iatrogenic events.

This is a cardinal feature of any quality or safety program in a large institution.

Some of the concepts discussed in the article, particularly the preoperative checklist (known as Time Out in the United States and Rega Lifnei in Israel), have been in use at the Meir Medical Center (as well as other medical centers, I am sure) for nearly a decade. Bottles of blue hand washing liquid are ubiquitous in our hospital and are used liberally thanks to the tireless efforts of the infection control team.

In the field of blood transfusion – notorious for the potential for human error to cause serious morbidity and even mortality, and not singled out in the article – safety measures equaling and in some areas surpassing those considered standard around the world are in place at our and other Israeli hospitals.

Meir Medical Center, along with a number of Clalit Health Services hospitals, has received accreditation from the leading American health services authority, and other hospitals are in the process of receiving this stamp of quality and safety.

Thus, I believe that patients treated in public hospitals in Israel can rest assured that administration and staff members are acutely aware that patient safety is in our hands. It behooves all those involved in the endeavor of health care provision to continue to maintain these high standards – because to err, after all, is human.

Kfar Saba

The writer heads the hematology unit and blood bank at Meir Medical Center

Showing our cards

Sir, – Although I agreed with the points raised by David Horovitz in his latest Editor’s Notes column (“Didn’t we used to be on the same side?,” November 19), I take issue with his comment that, in certain circumstances, Prime Minister Netanyahu would be wise to volunteer an “open-ended freeze” in settlements “outside those areas we anticipate retaining.”

Since advocating such a freeze is tantamount to advocating evacuation, I find it hard to understand how Horovitz can so easily take in stride the horrific concept of tens of thousands of Jews being evicted from their homes, especially when experience has shown that concessions of this nature fail to bring peace any closer, but rather the opposite.

On a more pragmatic level, I also deplore the lack of sense in putting one’s cards on the table before negotiations have even begun.


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