May 13: Grateful to Herod

Augustus Caesar is said to have commented that it was better to be Herod's pig than his son, since Herod didn't eat pig.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Grateful to Herod Sir, - The discovery of King Herod's tomb after decades of searching was a great event. Herod was a cruel man; he murdered members of the Hasmonean family, whom he perceived as a threat to his rule, including his wife, Mariamne, and her two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, and even his son and potential heir, Antipater. Augustus Caesar is said to have commented that it was better to be Herod's pig than his son, since Herod didn't eat pig. Yet because Herod rebuilt the Temple we now have the Western Wall, the Jewish people's most hallowed symbol. We also have Herod to thank for the fortress of Masada, which he no doubt built for his own gratification, and for the beautiful city of Caesarea. Herod was reportedly so hated by the Judeans that they rejoiced on the day he died. But we should be grateful for the treasures he left to posterity ("Herodion lesson, Alexander Zvielli, May 10). RACHEL KAPEN West Bloomfield, Michigan Title to the Land is perfectly clear Sir, - If, indeed, the Bible is "No more than a creation myth," as your correspondent claims (Letters, May 8), it was created over a 1,000-year period in our Land, which has had a continuous Jewish presence ever since. This historical fact alone legitimizes Jews' title to their ancestral homeland. MILTON J. KRAMER Arad What's worse than brainwashing children? Sir, - It was quite disturbing to see a rip-off of Mickey Mouse on Palestinian television encouraging children to take up violence against Israel and the United States. What's worse than brainwashing children in a hateful way? We cannot expect peace in the region when the seeds of hatred are being planted so deliberately in the young. It is up to Palestinian leaders to send a message condemning such shows in a very swift and aggressive way ("After furor, Hamas pulls Mickey Mouse lookalike character urging Palestinian children to fight Israel," May 10). STEVEN CLAYTON Ocean Parkway Investigate those dangerous taunters Sir, - Re "IDF to investigate skirmish at roadblock" (May 10): Soldiers manning roadblocks are doing dangerous and nerve-wracking duty. Taunting them interferes with their work and seriously endagers their lives, distracting them from terrorists who might be lurking. The demonstrators' actions were an offense deserving serious investigation. The role of the media in such demonstrations should also be examined, and the credentials of any instigating members taken away. Our security and the lives of our soldiers are not fodder for cheap "scoops." ALFRED INSELBERG Ra'anana Start from scratch Sir, - Amotz Asa-El's "After the fall" (UpFront, May 4) was encouraging. Close to 100% of Israelis would like to see Ehud Olmert and his government go quicker than a lightening bolt. It is said that people are "tired of new elections." If so, what's the alternative? Surely there can be no better opportunity to "clean house" and build from scratch. Now is the time for new people to come forward, people who put the well-being of the country before themselves. If the polls are to be believed and the only option is electing the Likud under Binyamin Netanyahu, it could be a missed opportunity and likely "more of the same"; and for the Likud to welcome back Kadima defectors who were part of the most corrupt and inept government in the history of the state is not an alternative that the population deserves. I. KEMP Nahariya Moses, Joshua, Olmert, Peretz Sir, - Terrorist rockets strike near a kindergarten, threatening your children. You are feeding some 10,000 terrorists in your jails. The terrorist population is increasing faster than jack-rabbits. Some third-world nation could sure use 10,000 laborers to help build new roads. Send the terrorist chieftains into exile. Destroy terrorist hideouts block by block. Protect your children, or more Jews will die. Eliminate the threat to your nation. Moses and Joshua would not be taking their crap ("Waiting for disaster," Editorial, May 9.). LUJACK SKYLARK Benld, Illinois Getting to know you Sir, - It was surprising - and saddening - to read Dr. Jonathan Schorsch interpret the fact that many haredi children's media extol ahavat Yisrael as evidence that there must then be a dearth of such love in the Orthodox community ("What has the Torah come to teach us?" May 8). He seems inexplicably bent on seeing the negative. And it was disappointing to read that he still insists that rejection of Reform or Conservative theologies implies rejection of Jews who affiliate with those movements. I have no doubt that Dr. Schorsch considers some belief-systems to be clearly beyond the Jewish pale - and no doubt, either, that he does not reject Jews who claim to have embraced them. That said, I thank Dr. Schorsch for accepting my Shabbat invitation. The Shafrans truly look forward to meeting the Schorsches. He can reach me at Agudath Israel: 212 797-9000. As to the "real question" he poses - whether I would be willing to visit with a non-Orthodox Jew and have what food my kashrut level permits me - the answer is, "Of course!" I have done that many times, and hope to in the future as well. RABBI AVI SHAFRAN Director of Public Affairs Agudath Israel of America New York Write me? Sir, - I love Israel and pray daily for the people, and I'd love to have penpals from Israel, of both sexes. I am 49 and a Christian pastor. My address is 4827 N. Sheridan Rd., No. 1510, Chicago, IL 60640. AUGUSTINE ARMAH Chicago