July 28: Love one another

A reader wants to visit Nablus and the Temple Mount; another hopes for a pardon for Shahar Mizrachi

Love one another
Sir, – It’s interesting that the Talmud describes Tu Be’av as a time for young men in the process of selecting a bride to watch young, dancing women (“Tu Be’av – A different kind of love,” July 26).
Obviously, the standards of modesty were different back then – I don’t think that today, the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate would permit such a public display of sexual mingling.
While Yonatan Sredni points out that the holiday could evolve as one that commemorates a love for the Land of Israel, it could also commemorate a love of one Jew for another, thus ensuring the continued survival of the Jewish nation.
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Help me, too
Sir, – The article “For Palestinians, surf’s finally up” (July 26) demonstrates the human resolve of humanitarians like Tzvia Shapira who raise money to take young Palestinian children “who can see the sea” from their West Bank homes but “can’t get there because of Israeli restrictions triggered by terrorism.”
I would like Ms. Shapira to assist me, too. As a resident of Ginot Shomron, I see places like Joseph’s grave in Nablus, Sebastia and the Temple Mount, but because of the physical and political minefields involved in visiting these Jewish religious and historical places, they are out of reach.
I wish to be in these places, just like the young Palestinians playing in the sand of Bat Yam. Only in this way will the “surf’s up” become “peace’s up.”
Revolting inference
Sir, – I am shocked by the AP writer of “Gaza flotilla has roots in pro-Palestinian group” (July 25), who implicitly appears to claim that women are responsible for sexual harassment that befalls them. To paraphrase the writer’s words, modern clothing and friendliness lead to “tensions, including sexual harassment,” and a woman’s permissiveness leads to rape. The guilt and morals of the perpetrators disappear, like magic.
Please let AP know that this is not just antiquated, it is revolting.
Behind Mizrachi
Sir, – As you suggested in your July 25 editorial (“Outlaws over lawmen”), we hope that President Shimon Peres will step in and cancel completely the sentence of Shahar Mizrachi, a cop who was doing his job!
A fan speaks up
Sir, – Since Liat Collins mentioned in her latest column (“Consuming interests in Gaza,” My word, July 25) that she gets many negative e-mails, I thought she might appreciate a thank you.
The Jerusalem Post would not be the same without these columns.
They are invariably very well thought out and spot-on, as her former countrymen would say.
Keep up the good work, Liat!
FRANK LIPPMAN Seattle, Washington
Ben-Gurion was wrong
Sir, – Regarding “Unconverted” by David Horovitz (July 23), it is true that the traditional Orthodox have long had a monopoly on religious authority in Israel. But this monopoly came about through Ben-Gurion’s historic mistake in believing that Judaism as a religion was on the way out and would be extinct in the State of Israel within a decade or two. This was because of Ben-Gurion’s serious error in not understanding the societal function of religion in general.
This function is as follows: Every society is built upon unprovable assumptions about what is right and wrong, good and bad.
For example, we cannot logically prove that the Golden Rule is true; we rely mainly on natural intuition.
But we also rely on the ongoing affirmation of such rules by society’s institutions, particularly religion.
Ben-Gurion and his cohorts believed that secular nationalism would be an adequate substitute for traditional religion. But nationalism does not tell us why spouses should be loyal to each other, or why children should be loyal to parents, and vice versa. So, despite modernist secularism’s expectation that religion was dying, history (and modern sociology) have shown that religion is essential to social existence.
So the monster that Israel’s founders created by granting a monopoly on the Jewish religion to an obsolete clique of Medieval pietists has now become a major barrier to social solidarity within the nation, and to international support from co-religionists outside the country. Many secular Israelis live in a social category within Israel that protects them from Orthodox coercion, and probably do not sense the ongoing diminution of Jewish unity and of support for Israel that this coercion has been causing for decades, and is currently worsening, both in Israel and abroad.
It may be in one sense true that those who object to Israel’s laws should become Israeli before objecting to them. But many, and perhaps most, Diaspora Jews will just abandon Judaism and Israel rather than uproot themselves to make aliya. Further, Israelis who advocate the negation of the Diaspora should be careful – they may get their wish and then see the State of Israel go under for lack of international support.
Sir, – Conversions, conversions and more conversions. Don’t the Reform and Conservative streams know you cannot wave a magic wand over a human being and turn him into a Jew? There have to be guidelines.
For 2,000 years, the Jewish people have lived by the book, namely the Talmud and Mishna. These books give strict guidelines on conversions.
If people don’t wish to accept religious Judaism, let them choose their own way of life, but don’t try to make someone who is not a Jew into a Jew.
The Jewish people suffer from enough assimilation worldwide.
Please don’t bring us any more.
JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva
They didn’t fight for it
Sir, – On Tisha Be’av I visited the Western Wall (“Tisha Be’av tension,” July 20).
I had gone there with my wife, Drora, and our two young sons a few days after it was liberated in June 1967. We caressed the stones and cried, remembering the many soldiers who had paid with their lives to enable us to reach the site.
Families and unmarried men and women stood together in their grief and joy.
The fallen fighters had come from all but one strata of society: the haredim. Our elder son, Moshe, later fell in defense of Israel.
Now the haredim have taken over the Kotel. A partition separates men and women. Conservative and Reform women are not permitted to pray in their own way. A woman cannot even hold a Torah, let alone read from it. It is misogyny running wild! Who gave the haredim authority over the Wall? And by what right?
Kotel and frivolity
Sir, – Regarding the arrest of Anat Hoffman for carrying a Torah at the Kotel (“Women of Wall head arrested for Torah reading at holy site,” July 13), I am reminded of the joke about the son who left the shtetl for the big city and wanted his father to send money. He threatened that if he did not get money soon he would do what no Jew ever did. The father became frightened and traveled to his son to give him money. When he asked what it was that no Jew ever did, the son told him he would have donned tefillin on Shabbat.
Anat Hoffman falls into this category.
What is not sanctioned as a mitzva by thousands of years tradition and practice is totally meaningless in a religious sense, and a frivolous act of political feminism.