Letters: JULY 11, 2014

It seems that no peace movements have the antidote, unless or until the indoctrination of hatred fermented from infancy is obliterated entirely within homes and schools in Muslim society, and replaced by grassroots movements in academia, sports, science, music, agriculture, medicine and business ventures.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Fighting for peace
Sir, – The article “Can we fight for peace?” (The Region, June 27) by Tamara Zieve is essentially a piece of yellow journalism.
There is nothing balanced; it is simply a left-wing puff piece.
Take the title. What is the IDF fighting for? War? What are the Palestinians fighting for? Peace? Is there even one activity of Combatants for Peace that takes place in the West Bank or Gaza Strip? Are they marching there pressing for peace? Is there even one critical remark of the Palestinian leadership? Sulaiman Khatib says, “Most Palestinians are responding to the current situation with political reason rather than emotion.” What does he base that on? The number of rockets launched, the number of children kidnapped and killed? Avner Wishnitzer admits opposition to Israel will continue even if the occupation ends.
He’s right, so what is he really saying? A balanced article would have sought comment from some government source to counter the meaningless expressions of CFP.
Sir, – With regard to “Can we fight for peace?” I joined a campaign (35s Campaign for Soviet Jewry) in the late 1960s, to which I committed myself wholeheartedly, and jubilantly celebrated its fulfillment some 20 years later when 1 million Jews were liberated.
Much as I applaud the dedicated efforts of the NGO Combatants for Peace and share in its aspirations, the perceived reality of negativity and virulent hostility toward Israel evidenced throughout the Middle East and within the Palestinian community in particular is a truism. And thanks to British and French colonialism and their demarcation of borders with reference to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan (which, incidentally, exposed Britain’s betrayal of the Balfour Declaration), Sunni and Shi’ite factions continue their relentless orgy of violence and destruction against one another, which has been ongoing for hundreds of years.
It seems that no peace movements have the antidote, unless or until the indoctrination of hatred fermented from infancy is obliterated entirely within homes and schools in Muslim society, and replaced by grassroots movements in academia, sports, science, music, agriculture, medicine and business ventures. Respect and validation is the answer.
Stimulating place
Sir, – Barry Davis’s article about the Diaspora Museum (“A new home here for Diaspora Jewry,” Cover, June 27) brought back happy and interesting memories for me.
Coming on aliya in 1962, 20 years later I decided to become a volunteer guide at the Diaspora Museum, having become very interested in Jewish history.
So I went to the director of the museum, Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, who had designed a one-volume encyclopedia of Judaica. He autographed one for me, and I treasure it till today.
As it happened at the time, they were about to display a new exhibition called, “World of Yesterday, Jews in England 1870-1920.” Having been born in England, that was significant as my first exhibition.
Other tours I guided were “In the footsteps of Columbus – Jews in America,” “The Jews of Ethiopia,” “Return to Life: Holocaust Survivors, From Liberation to Rehabilitation,” as well as “Rebecca Sieff and the WIZO Movement.”
It is no wonder that Irina Nevzlin Kogan has found it a stimulating place.
Herzliya Pituah
Hair loss
Sir, – In “Hair scare” (Health, June 27), a reader asks if new immigrants are susceptible to hair loss. Dr. Julian Schamroth, who responds to the question, mentions psychological stress.
Making aliya is very stressful and sudden hair loss can be due to stress. This is probably the cause of the writer’s hair loss as well as that of other new immigrants she knows. When the stress is relieved, hair will often grow back. However, stress can deplete the body of nutrients and a consultation with a knowledgeable health practitioner might help her identify the nutrients in which she is deficient and which she should add to her regimen.
Another cause of hair loss is hypothyroidism, which the doctor also mentioned. There can be a number of different causes, including uptake by the thyroid of fluoride instead of iodine, which is one of the reasons why Health Minister Yael German originally wanted to remove fluoride from our water supply. If these individuals came from areas where the water was not fluoridated, the fluoridation of water in Israel might be a possible cause.
The writer is a blogger on nutrition.
Elusive depth, beauty
Sir, – Apparently the depth and beauty of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook’s writings eluded not just Yosef Haim Brenner and the late justice Haim Cohn, but also Mati Wagner (“A tortured soul,” Books, June 27), who reviews Yehudah Mirsky’s book Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution. Perhaps it eluded Mirsky himself.
The majority of Rav Kook’s works are culled from his journals, which were the result of a wide variety of mystic experiences that were given a poetic expression filled with Torah ideas and literature. This contributes to the difficulty in reading his works superficially.
He was aware of this.
Rav Kook was not a politician.
While he had many thoughts on public life in Israel and about the Jewish state, his perspective was theological: a concern for the spiritual ascent of the Jewish people, which is meant to accompany the rebuilding of Jewish life in Israel.
He recognized the value and spirituality inherent in secular studies. He was well-versed in philosophy, from the Greeks to Hermann Cohen; he drew on their ideas. He was aware of modern science; there are even hints of his knowledge of the Big Bang theory. However, as a deeply religious, observant rabbi, he did not embrace the Enlightenment.
Finally, in pointing to his “many legacies,” Wagner (and Mirsky?) misses two most important legacies. Rav Kook was one of a very small handful of genuinely innovative, religious Torah thinkers of the 20th century.
In addition, he was and remains the inspirational teacher of four generations of religious Zionist leaders who share his ideas and his deep religious passion.
Beit Shemesh
Hardly nonsense
Sir, – In “The missing mezuza” (Tradition Today, June 27), Rabbi Reuven Hammer discusses how a pair of “ultra-Orthodox” men examined his mezuza without permission and relayed that it was non-kosher and, unless fixed, “terrible things would happen to us.” Hammer questions: “Does a mezuza protect a house? ...
Since when does Judaism teach such superstitious nonsense?” A few thoughts: If the men did take it off without permission, this was wrong and halachically forbidden. No one may take off someone else’s mezuza without permission – it is trespassing (see Baba Batra 88a). Also, the term “ultra-Orthodox” is pejorative.
Religious Jews don’t like it. Ultra means “extreme” or “too much.” We wouldn’t refer to any other group with a demeaning appellation, so why do so here? Finally, numerous sources clearly state that the mezuza does offer protection. See Talmud (Menahot 33b), Rav Yosef Karo in his Kesef Mishna, the Maharam m’Rottenburg, the Tur and the Sefer Haredim. See also Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yoreh Dea 8:30), who cites proof of protection from the Jerusalem Talmud.
We should observe it not for the protection, but for the reason cited in the Rishonim.
New York
The writer is a rabbi and author of
Mezuzah: A Comprehensive Guide.