Bizarre and Medieval

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Bizarre and Medieval
I’m not a vegetarian. I enjoy a piece of properly slaughtered and koshered chicken. At the same time, I completely endorse the protests of animal lovers over the cruel conditions in which creatures bred for slaughter are kept.
Now, the politicians are squawking about changes in the law regarding kaparot (“Knesset committee rejects Agriculture Ministry’s regulations for kaparot ritual,” August 13).
The custom among some Orthodox Jews, on the morning be fore Yom Kippur, is to take a live fowl – a cock for a man and a hen for a woman – and twirl it three times round the head while reciting a number of verses and the following: “This is my vicarious atonement; this is my ransom; this is my substitute; this bird shall meet its death while I shall find a long and pleasant life.” The bird is then slaughtered and given to the poor, or its value is donated to charity.
This ritual is not to be found in the Talmud. The earliest references are from Babylonia in the ninth cent ury, and the first complete description of the procedure does not appear until the Mahzor Vitry of the 11th century. It was condemned by both Nachmanides and Yosef Karo, among other scholars, as silly, pagan and superstitious, but the Kabbalists im bued it with a mystical interpretation and it was reluctantly condoned and somehow justified.
It is, nevertheless, the most blatant example of transferral magic conceivable – a medie val mishigas is how some deride it – yet it is still meticulously observed to this day in all its biz arre details.
To be oyf kapores means to be in deep trouble, like the hap less fowl.
Gregory Preger
They wouldn't dare
It’s hard to take seriously a column headlined “The one and only solution” (Encountering Peace, August 13). More than that, relying on the Palestinians to give up the Muslim imperative to displace infidels – us – from “Arab” land won’t work. No PA leader would dare do it, no matter what.
Steve Kramer
Alfei Menashe
Very Worrying
Your report “Ya’alon heckled by right-wing activist during Hebron visit” (August 12) included almost seven column inches describing and publicizing the inflammatory invective aimed at non-Muslims in general, and Jews in particular, by the local mufti, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, and Islamic leader Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi.
Their dismissal of any Jewish rights is flagrantly abusive. Neither your reporters nor the defense minister made any reference to Jewish rights at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The apparent acceptance of Islamic posturing is very worrying and mirrors in large part the situation at the Temple Mount, where “peace at any price” takes precedence over Jewish historical and sovereign rights.
It is worrying in the extreme that the status promulgated by Islamic extremists is picked up and reported worldwide, with no effective response or rebuttal.
Ivor Lewis
Bring him to order
What a pity the US Congress cannot “invite” President Barack Obama to be questioned about the secret negotiations he initiated with Iran two years before involving the other five countries (“Delegation of Republican law - makers discusses Iran deal with PM, president,” August 12). It would be interesting to know the name of the “intermediary” and what promises were made to the ayatollahs before the official negotiations.
As for President Obama’s claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interfering in US internal politics (“Obama: PM only world leader I can recall interfering in US policy,” August 10), may I remind him of his presidential visit here. He snubbed the people by refusing to address our elected parliament and spoke only to a very select group of students, where no one might ask an awkward question. He then more or less advised this group to change our government.
The president’s indirect interference in our last elections should also be remembered.
Is neither of these two examples tantamount to interfering in the internal politics of Israel? So why complain about a quid pro quo, especially in a matter that affects Israel’s existence, but not that of the US?
Emanuel Fischer
Pride in Shame
In “Subject: Taking pride in Israeli shame” (Center Field, August 12), Gil Troy made a statement that shocked and offended me to the core: “We [Israelis] should instill more democratic, Jewish and Zionist values that prioritize human lives and peace rather than worshiping maps and delusional fantasies based on slanted, anachronistic biblical interpretations.”
The Bible is anachronistic? Those who believe in Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank, are harboring “delusional fantasies”? We here in Israel should make “compromises [that] Palestinians – and the world – have been pressuring Israel to make”? Compromises like land for peace? Like splitting Jerusalem in half? And who are these people with the delusional fantasies? The Lubavitcher Rebbe? He, among others too numerous to mention, stands out in my mind as being against such ideas as land for peace and the dividing of Jerusalem.
The disengagement from Gaza is a prime example of the fallacy of the land for peace concept. There are many others.
While trying to use his column to promote the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestin - ians, Troy instead proposed that the Jewish Bible and the state - ments of many valued and world-renowned personalities are not to be trusted. I am truly shocked and disheartened.
Natana Pesya Bitton
If the Palestinians want to build a state, they should foster a culture of shame,” writes Gil Troy. But any anthropologist will tell you that honor and shame are very much the carrot and stick of Arab culture.
What seems hard for Troy to comprehend is that what looks like a cause for shame when your university is McGill, might look like a crown of honor when your university is Birzeit.
It is not that the whole world shares the same values and we need merely open the Arab leaders’ eyes to what the values imply. Before these leaders will sincerely express shame regarding terror crimes, they need to amend their values to distinguish between heroism and barbarism when practiced on their own side, and between aggression and residence when practiced by non-Arabs nearby.
The Arab side has a strong sense of shame, but it needs to be persuaded that shame should derive from killing Jews who could have been good neighbors, not from failing to drive the Jews into the sea. It’s a formidable challenge, with few takers.
Mark L. Levinson
Tongue in Cheek
Gil Hoffman (“Budgeting for electoral reform?” Frontlines, August 7) must have had his tongue in his cheek attempting to fulfill Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s belated campaign promise to change our warped electoral system. In my opinion, Netanyahu is an untrusting, weak character, with image over substance protecting his political survival on a tight - rope.
It is a disgrace and an embarrassment that we face the continuing political volatility to govern our country on a merry- go-round that has resulted in many unstable governments containing mainly second-rate legislators over the past seven decades. Our major parties are at fault when they woo corrupt, incompatible and extreme ultra-Orthodox politicians into government.
They become bedfellows with any coalition partner that provides voice and power – with our money – to manipulate the majority of the electorate. This extortion is not the leader - ship or management we require to survive in the tough and evil Middle East.
Jack Davis