September 28: Ask the Rabbi, too

The warning that people with medical conditions should check with their doctors before fasting is critical.

September 27, 2006 22:31
letters March 2008

letters good 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Ask the rabbi, too Sir, - Re "Dietitians advise: Start preparing body for fast now" (September 27): The warning that people with medical conditions should check with their doctors before fasting is critical. However, the decision needs to be made in conjunction with a wise rabbi. Fasting is a quintessential Jewish custom which anchors each of us, as individuals, to focus seriously and deeply on our past deeds, our commitment to goodness and to God, and our connectedness to each other and our people. Prayer reinforces this act with words. Even those who perform no other ritual find strength and meaning in the Yom Kippur experience. A rabbi and doctor can together advise those with medical conditions about the ways to drink and eat small amounts, at stated intervals, allowing for halachic fasting. For those whose health requires more frequent nourishment, the rabbi provides reassurance that our tradition obligates them to eat and drink. With spiritual guidance we can all preserve Yom Kippur as a poignant and holy day. ALICE EIGNER Ma'aleh Adumim Powerful patronage Sir, - While concurring that royalty should strictly refrain from judgmental politics, this does not exclude the Norwegian royal couple from using their exalted status to empathize with their tiny, victimized Jewish community. Reading how the "untouchable" King Harald and Queen Sonja are idolized by their loyal subjects brought to mind the late, lamented Princess Diana, whose worldwide popularity was burnished by her indefatigable energy in highlighting, among her other charitable work, the tragedy of Aids and land mines. What especially endeared Diana to millions was her generous spirit, warmth and sympathy, and in this she stood head and shoulders above the crowned monarchs of Europe as a marvelous example of powerful patronage. During WW2, in another example of royal morality and leadership, the Danish king bravely defended his Jewish community and, by example, encouraged his entrenched and Nazi-occupied nation to save their lives. This should shame those Norwegians who display such overt hostility, through their political leadership and media, toward Jews, and Israel in particular. I applaud the courageous Ambassador Miryam Shomrat ("Ambassador's criticism of Norwegian royals sparks diplomatic row," September 27). GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya Hither and thither Sir, - Sderot under attack again; it's happened so often that it does not really make news. Israelis seem to have blithely accepted the fact that it is perfectly all right for Sderot to be constantly under a barrage of Kassam rockets since, so far, the people of Tel Aviv and elsewhere in the central region have gone unscathed ("Sderot mayor: We've been neglected," September 27). We seem to be very selective in what "provocations" we choose to respond to. Yet the Kassams may be getting more dangerous. New versions are far more penetrating and have far longer range. Ashkelon is a major source of power for the country and these rockets have already hit the city many times; but our government - woefully negligent - has not yet done a blessed thing to protect southern Israel. It seems to be running around without any concept of a unified master-plan for our defense. Leaders are running hither and thither, from one country's diplomats to another country's diplomats, hoping the sky won't fall! It's no way to run a country. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Perfect match Sir, - You published a wonderful and important op-ed by Shmuel Katz explaining our security situation ("The real reason that the IDF was unprepared," September 27). It went perfectly with the defense minister's statement in your page 2 headline: "Peretz to NGOs: No partner for peace." I'm pleasantly surprised that Amir Peretz, who voted against the budget, seems open enough to learn from the facts rather than let ideology close his mind to the truth. BATYA MEDAD Shiloh Wrongs, small and big Sir, - Daoud Kuttab's "Small wrongs need correcting, too (September 25) ended with these very worthy words: "Perhaps I am naive, but until and unless Israelis have the courage to correct a small wrong done to individual Palestinians, the real peace we all want between our two peoples will continue to elude us." To lead up to this utopian hope of peaceful coexistence Kuttab had to dig years back for an example. I'm not in a position to judge the case of destruction he refers to by the IDF to a building in Ramallah in 2002 which, to our credit, was repaired - albeit four years later. Not so fixable, however, are the slightly bigger wrongs done to individual Israelis, as in the killing of Kobi Mandel, the IDF soldier lynched in Ramallah, or the Israelis mobbed and killed when they wandered into Palestinian territory to buy flowerpots. Perhaps naive isn't the correct term to describe such a clouded and one-sided position. NAOMI FEINSTEIN Givat Ada Distressed, unimpressed Sir, - I was very distressed to read that Moshe Muscal, the bereaved father who heckled Prime Minister Olmert at a Kadima political rally, was visited by the police as a result ("Police probe bereaved dad who heckled PM," September 27). There are many countries throughout the globe where the police are used to intimidate those who express opposition to the ruling regime, but they are not regarded as the democracies of the world. HILLEL HURWITZ Ra'anana The missing ingredient Sir, - I read Sharon Shenhav's "An exercise in 'halla diplomacy'" (September 26) with rising excitement and bated breath, waiting with increasing tension for the final paragraph, when she would give us the recipe that excited the whole of Scotland. All to no avail; the halla recipe which the chef who catered the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla will now likely use exclusively for all his functions was missing from her oped, so we will have to be content with the recipe passed down from our grandmothers. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Sir, - I was intrigued by Sharon Shenhav's 'halla diplomacy' and would certainly appreciate her publishing the recipe. But I fear that our Foreign Ministry is not sufficiently well-bred to adopt her suggestion. AHARON TOPPER Jerusalem Sir, - I could actually smell Sharon Shenhav's halla while reading her wonderful article. But she left out one important ingredient: the recipe. So, Sharon, please share - as promised! CHAYA HEUMAN Ginot Shomron The Editor responds: Sharon Shenhav's halla recipe will appear in an upcoming Short Order column in the Friday UpFront magazine.

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