February 24: What of Zeresh?

What of Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and her deeds? Haman is troubled by a Jew and turns to his wife for advice, with disastrous results.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
What of Zeresh?
Sir, – Women of the Megila unite! Championing Queen Vashti and Queen Esther for their deeds, Hallel Abromowitz- Silverman (“The great Kotel Schlep,” Comment & Features, February 21) hopes to mirror the women of the Megila.
But there is a black hole in her reflection. What of Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and her deeds? Haman is the rising star of Persia with a bright future. He is troubled by a Jew and turns to his wife for advice, with disastrous results. Zeresh’s recipe for success would have been better left in the kitchen.DANIEL ABELMAN Jerusalem
Sir, – I am somewhat Orthodox but not at all haredi, and personally do not care if ladies wear tallitot (prayer shawls). But it seems silly to break age-old customs (unless they cause great harm), even if we see no logic in them.
When Hallel Abromowitz-Silverman gets married I would hope that she does not wear a black suit or tuxedo and have her groom wear a white wedding gown. I would hope that she gets a diamond engagement ring and he does not.
That’s the way it is and has been for centuries. It starts early in life, when baby boys are ritually circumcised and baby girls are not.
Problem of Ariel
Sir, – Arguably, the recognition of Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university has drawn some negative responses in the academic world, but overall the reaction has been minor.
David Newman’s simplistic characterization and overemphasis on the university (“The Ariel own goal,” Borderline Views, February 19) are reminiscent of a ghetto mentality.
Israel is a sovereign democratic country where decisions are made day in and day out on a variety of topics, including the recognition of certain institutions as universities. There has not been one academic institution in Israel recognized as a university in over 30 years despite the fact that the population has nearly doubled! Furthermore, given the fact that hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens live in Judea and Samaria, the area’s residents and others are entitled to be enriched by the presence of an institution of higher learning near their homes, and by the myriad of benefits (including higher education for thousands of Arabs) that arise.
Sir, – The revelation by David Newman that an American university professor refused to issue a letter of reference to an Israeli institution “if it was not clear that that institution categorically opposed the recognition of Ariel” is absolutely astonishing.
Since when is it the business of a university to delve into political issues completely unconnected with its academic work? Even worse, this professor is creating a secondary extension of his personal boycott by expecting Israeli universities to disown Ariel.
My reaction, however, is diametrically opposed to Newman’s.
Rather than castigating Ariel for daring to become a university, he should stand up for academic independence and ask the American professor whether he would refuse to cooperate with a Saudi Arabian university because that country is undemocratic, tyrannical, racist and homophobic, and its women have no rights, or with a Chinese university because its government has almost wiped out Tibetan culture?
Haredi service
Sir, – Michael Rappaport’s view (“The importance of full-time Torah study,” Comment & Features, February 19) is terribly skewed, perhaps driven by the fact that he only recently made aliya or, more likely, that he is a lawyer.
Regardless, he should consider the following:
1. No one with any perspective feels that our army cannot function without conscripting haredim. What they feel, and rightly, is that our society cannot function without shared responsibilities and values.
2. No one with any wisdom feels that education is not important. What they feel is that a narrowly based, haredi-directed education is not enough to support either the haredim or the country.
3. No one with any values minimizes the fact that the Torah is and should be the source of our values. However, one would have to be blind not to recognize that the Torah itself mandates the specific requirement for everyone to serve in the army, as well as the general requirement to support the country.
Sir, – Like the current situation regarding haredim and their lack of service and participation in society, the arguments made by Michael Rappoport suffer from a lack of balance. They also suffer from an error of omission.
Nobody should dispute the value of education, but his misuse of an analogy between full-time Torah study and student deferments in the United States in the 1960s is deeply flawed.
Rappaport omits the crucial fact that those deferments were temporary, ending for almost everyone after four years, when they completed their undergraduate education. Those students – I was one of them – also were generally studying a broad curriculum preparing them for a lifetime of work.
A balance of skills is important to the proper functioning of society. As important as Torah study is, it is also clear, beyond any reasonable argument, that the current situation is out of balance, unhealthy for Israel in general and unhealthy even for the haredim themselves.
Sir, – Attorney Rappaport believes that Torah study is important. But apparently he does not believe in the importance of the study of medicine, chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, the arts, and not even law. Otherwise, how can he say that those who study these subjects, and many more, can delay their studies for three years in order to fulfill their obligation to defend the state, while yeshiva students cannot? Iron Dome has been much, much better at fending off Hamas rockets than have Torah principles, and Ofeq and Techsar give us a much clearer picture of what our enemies are up to than can be gleaned from reading the Talmud. These technologies were developed by people who had to postpone their studies for three years of army service, and yet succeeded in their praiseworthy projects.
A three-year delay before studying Torah would not prevent those students from learning the Torah, which would not change in that time – although science and technology certainly would. I even think that they would be better people and more mature, though some may decide as a result that there is more to life than just Torah.
And that, of course is what really worries the rabbis – not whether we can defend our state or who will pay to maintain it.
Bus-stop butts
Sir, – Last summer a law was passed that forbade smoking at bus stops. Since then there has been absolutely no change, mainly due to the fact that there are no notices at bus stops stating that smoking is forbidden.
On the odd occasion I have dared bring the law to the attention of smokers at bus stops I received abuse and rudeness – despite having approached them in a friendly manner.
I sent a mail on the subject to the Environmental Protection Ministry but received no reply.
Without notices at bus stops – which could be included on the very welcome electronic timetables – there will be no improvement.
Any good ideas about how to improve the situation?