letters to the editor 88.
(photo credit: )
Sir, - Anshel Pfeffer got it all wrong with the story of Menachem Begin and "his own financial scandal with Herut's corrupt Tel Hai fund" ("Great men have great lusts," September 29). The Tel Hai fund had borrowed a considerable sum to repay debts accumulated over the years for losses on its daily newspaper, on an old fund that paid fallen Irgun fighters' families and some of the injured themselves, etc., etc. At a certain point money was borrowed from private individuals, and when the time came to repay there were no funds available and some of them came literally knocking at Begin's door.
He took it upon himself, as a debt of honor, to try and raise the amount necessary. He traveled far and wide in bitter wintry weather, inviting all kinds of ailments, which ultimately gave him the heart attack he suffered a few months before the 1977 Knesset election which brought him to power.
So Begin did not have his "own financial scandal." As a man of the highest integrity, he did all in his power to end the financial crisis of his party's fundraising instrument. I am not sure there has been another act like this in Israel's political history.
The rabbi erred...
Sir, - Re "For a kinder, gentler Judaism" (October 3): In my opinion, advising a woman blessed by God to reach the age of 100 not to come to synagogue on Rosh Hashana was an error that could have adversely affected her health by enforcing upon her solitude and isolation from the community.
God is magnanimous, and other rabbis might have looked at the circumstances differently and approved of her being taken to shul in a wheelchair pushed by a gentile.
Probably the rabbi consulted forgot the expression "Shabbos goy," also Hillel's maxim to "Love your neighbor as yourself." He needed to put himself in the old lady's shoes and consider her feelings.
On the holiest days of the year, especially, it is our duty to emulate God, and act accordingly.
...no, not at all
Sir, - Linda Maurice bemoaned a sad reality: the limitations of advanced age that deprived a dear Jewish woman from attending synagogue on Rosh Hashana, Shabbat, due to the prohibition of "carrying" on the Sabbath. I believe any reader would feel terrible reading how she couldn't be where almost every Jew was on that day. Thus being "tolerant" and sensitive is not, thank God, the sole legacy of just "some" wonderful Orthodox rabbis.
But, Linda: Your grandmother turned to the rabbi not in order to have this God-given sensitivity override the law which she has kept her entire life. Rather, I believe she was asking one genuine question: Knowing that the only way she could be in synagogue would be via a wheelchair - what did God want her to do? In other words, her motivation was to do God's will on Rosh Hashana on God's terms, one of which is the prohibition of pushing a wheelchair on Shabbat.
As such, I submit that the rabbi answered her question from her perspective, before which we should all stand in awe. I envy the decree God wrote on her behalf this past Day of Judgment!
RABBI Y.C GRUNSTEIN
Beth Israel Synagogue
Halifax, NS, Canada
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