Letters to the Editor: February 4, 2016

The only way to be a religious Jew is to observe the commandments and traditions, not seek to overturn them for personal motives.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Western Wall prayer
With regard to”Praying room” (Editorial, February 2), I beg to differ with your increasingly liberal viewpoint. The fact that there will be increased space for non-traditional (non-Orthodox and other) prayer at the Western Wall is not an “official acknowledgment that there is more than one way to be a religious Jew,” as if the cabinet can decide such matters.
It might be an official recognition that different people practice Judaism in different ways and with different standards, and recognition that the government feels it important to provide opportunities for different practices.
But as far as I know, the only way to be a religious Jew is to observe the commandments and traditions, not seek to overturn them for personal motives.
I don’t think the government has officially stated otherwise.
How good it will be to hear more heartfelt, sincere prayer at our holiest site, especially if this opportunity is seized by Diaspora Jews who strongly supported it. If they do not share in the victory (heaven forfend), it might seem that their efforts were political rather than spiritual.
The Kotel prayer area expansion is a Pyrrhic victory. Inasmuch as aging major donors to Jewish federations abroad are primarily from the liberal movements, their constant pressure on Israeli governments has finally been relieved with a $10 million budget for an area of their own at the Western Wall.
Visit most any liberal temple in the US on any Shabbat. You’ll find that the majority of attendees are there for the bar or bat mitzva ceremony only. Even these events are becoming less frequent, as the essential byproduct of liberal theology has yielded a fertility rate approaching that of a convent: less than one Jewish child per Jewish mother.
Some outdated surveys show the Orthodox as only 10 percent of US Jews, but they do not consider rates of growth and decline. When they do, they indicate that the liberal movements will be depleted of adequate non-endowment funders in about 35 years. The new prayer plaza will then be but a relic of an era in Jewish history that came and went.
“Praying room” places you on the wrong side of the mehitza.
Supporting religious pluralism might be politically correct, but it is an oxymoron.
Even “orthodox” adherents concede that some leaders have abused the system. Indeed, improper practices must be redressed. But this does not translate into throwing out the baby with the bath water! Government capitulation to demands of changing the status quo at our holiest shrine will only bring further discord.
Since the destruction of the Second Temple, traditional Western Wall worship has been the symbol of our faith and continuity.
The hope that we would one day return was the inspiration that kept us alive as a people despite our physical separation from Israel.
Setting aside a place of worship in the area for alternative religious expression is unconscionable.
Let those who seek such expressions find it in their own congregations.
Rabbi Susan Silverman (“A sadness still lingers,” Comment, February 1) has brazenly and unashamedly taken 3,500 years of Jewish tradition stretching back to the Divine revelation at Sinai and attempted to shatter it.
She has made a mockery of Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Ezra, the men of the Great Assembly, Hillel, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai, Rabbi Akiva and the Jewish martyrs of all history who gave their lives willingly for the sake of God’s Torah. She has rejected Rabbi Judah the Prince, Sa’adia Gaon, Maimonides, Nachmanides, the Gaon of Vilna and the holy Baal Shem Tov.
She knows better.
At the opening of the Hebrew University in 1925, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook observed that of those throughout history who embraced movements that deviated from the Torah, nothing was left. They had all been swept away by waves of foreign cultures that engulfed them.
What astounds me is that at a time when the handwriting is so clearly on the wall, the ranks of those who have abandoned Torah and mitzvot are in serous decline and grave danger of disappearance.
Rabbi Silverman extols the virtues of movements that have not stemmed the tide of assimilation, but have accelerated it.
I can assure the rabbi that when the ranks on the southern side of the Kotel begin to diminish, or, for that matter, at any time she chooses, she will be welcome on the northern side.
We will greet her and make her feel at home with us. We will not remind her of her shameful remarks about Polish shtetls.
Bygones will be bygones, and the process of healing will begin.
For her sake, though, I suggest this come sooner, because there may not be any later.
The writer is a rabbi.
Helping ourselves
With regard to “Antitrust Authority opposes sale of Mega to Rami Levy” (Business & Finance, February 2), the dismantling of a supermarket chain might not seem apocalyptic, but laying off close to 4,000 workers and sending them into the ghost dance of unemployment and poverty can have a serious domino effect to the economy.
We do have the capability to stop this, not with great self-sacrifice or distraction, but simply by buying our groceries from this establishment for a week or month or so until it gets back on its feet.
Looking after others is in fact looking after ourselves, and in this case there is really no major change to our daily life or comfort zone.
Hit the tunnels
Far down in your article “PM: Paris initiative means PLO won’t talk” (February 1), you report that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised harsh military action against Hamas should the terrorist group launch new attacks on the Jewish state from its rebuilt tunnels connecting Gaza to Israel.
In order to save Israeli civilian and military lives, and to prevent kidnappings and damage to Israeli cities and towns, wouldn’t the preferred course of action be to destroy the tunnels before Hamas can renew terrorist attacks? One can speculate on why Netanyahu is hesitant to have the IDF destroy the tunnels. Pressure from the US and international community to exercise restraint is one plausible reason. However, during the 2014 Gaza war, the international community was unfairly critical of Israel for defending itself from thousands of incoming rockets launched from Gaza.
Netanyahu should consider paying less attention to the international community, which has deep-seated biases against Israel, and instead take the necessary steps to protect the Jewish state.
Rochester, New York
Hamas recently announced it was building tunnels six days a week, with about 1,000 diggers.
I suggest filling all the tunnels with sewage, as well as pig fat.
This can all be diluted with sea water from the adjacent Mediterranean.
This is a serious proposal. You need to keep those bastards above-ground.
Palm Desert, California
Due to an editing error, the crossword puzzles and solutions appearing in the February 3 Jerusalem Post were identical to those that appeared on February 2.
The solutions to those puzzles appear in today’s Post on Page 22, together with completely new crossword puzzles. We apologize to our many puzzle fans.