May 9: Remembering them

Over the years, Rabbi Weiss has touched my heart many times with his thoughts and musings on the ways of our world and of Israel.

Remembering them
Sir, – Regarding “Of silence, soldiers and switching gears” (Comment & Features, May 8), almost nine years ago I went to sit shiva with my husband at the home of Stewart and Susie Weiss.
Hearing of their loss, my husband and I were moved to visit neighbors we did not know in an act of comfort. I, a lady in a green pants suit, sat with the women, most of them dressed observantly, quietly trying to help give strength. They couldn’t know that I, too, had “entered the club no one wants to join,” almost 40 years ago now. They couldn’t know that as I told Susie Weiss, “May you know no more sorrow,” I, too, was holding grief in my heart.
I was just a neighbor, undertaking a simple act of solidarity....
Over the years, Rabbi Weiss has touched my heart many times with his thoughts and musings on the ways of our world and of Israel. May he go from strength to strength, and may the whole Weiss family know no more sorrow.
Kfar Yona
Sir, – We mourn all soldiers lost to us all the time, but today is specially set aside for this purpose.
On this day we should not forget our kidnapped soldier who has been captive for almost five years.
We have been unable to get Gilad Schalit released and we do not even know how he is faring.
The time has come for Israel to take all measures possible to find out how he is and if he is.
A concerted demand must be made for the Red Cross to visit him. Our government should call on the world to insist that this happens. Until this is achieved, the government should stop all visits to Palestinian prisoners by both family and friends.
Stringent measures should be taken to deprive Hamas – and now also Fatah – of the assistance Israel gives in whatever form. At least we will know what is happening with this precious soldier, and the rest of our soldiers will know how much we value them.
Tel Aviv
Fitting tribute
Sir, – Thank you so much for your tribute to the outstanding geriatrician, Dr. Ephraim Yaul of Herzog Hospital, and your wonderful review of his new book (“Trying to reach 120,” Health & Science, May 8).
My late husband, Avram, was a patient in Dr. Yaul’s department for over a year following a series of debilitating strokes, and I consulted with him frequently during that time. He cared for his patients with a special combination of medical experience and personal sensitivity. And, thankfully, he also found time to address the needs and concerns of the family.
I am forever grateful to Dr. Yaul for his support during that difficult period. May he be blessed with continued health and activity, until 120.
There was another
Sir, – In “An exemplary judge” (Comment & Features, May 5), it is mentioned that Moshe Landau presided at Adolf Eichmann’s trial and it was he, too, who pronounced the only death sentence ever carried out in Israel’s history.
This is a common fallacy that has been repeated numerous times in various newspaper articles.
In fact, the death sentence was carried out twice in Israel.
The first case was Meir Tobianski, a former commander of the Schneller army camp in Jerusalem who, during the War of Independence, was suspected of passing information to the enemy. He was tried by a special military court martial on June 30, 1948, found guilty and immediately executed by firing squad. He was tried without a lawyer and with no possibility for an appeal.
A year later he was posthumously acquitted.
Greatly troubled
Sir, – The Prime Minister’s Office asked that the Interior Ministry remove two housing projects over the Green Line in Jerusalem from the agenda of the ministerial committee that approves housing projects (“PMO lowers profile of east J’lem housing projects for Obama-Peres meeting,” May 4).
This should trouble us greatly, as it once more proves that our prime minister still worries more about what will upset the weak and hostile Obama rather than building homes for Jews in the Jewish land, which is what he was elected to do. We also have the usual double-talk from the Prime Minister’s Office that has now become the norm: “Israel is maintaining a policy of not engaging or publishing construction in Jerusalem at sensitive times. Israel has never taken on restrictions in Jerusalem construction.
Israeli building policies have not changed during any of the recent administrations.”
It is time for the people to wake up and decide whether they are prepared to allow Obama to run their lives, or whether we stand as proud Jews, secure in the justness of our cause to build in our historic and legal land.
We did not finally come home only to have it taken from us or, even worse, actually give it away.
Remember “Never Again,” and let us mean it.
Change the rules
Sir, – Regarding “Fischer: Home prices threaten banks” (Business & Finance, May 4), the Bank of Israel’s concern to protect citizens from the dangers of spiraling interest rates is admirable. However, citizens should also be protected when they are locked into very-long-term mortgages at fixed rates without the option of nonpenalty exit dates to exploit changing rates in the market place.
Notice periods should be fixed to enable flexibility and ease population mobility, which, historically, was very unpopular with governments of Israel.
Kiryat Ono
Time to rejoice
Sir, – No matter how many proverbs he quotes, I absolutely cannot distinguish the fine line Shmuley Boteach (“Hate bin Laden, but do not rejoice at his death,” No Holds Barred, May 3) is trying to draw between being thankful that the monster Osama bin Laden is dead, but not, God forbid, rejoicing.
It seems to me that congratulating US President Barack Obama and the American people, and subsequently giving his thanks to God, are in complete contradiction to this! It would be inhuman of us – as mere humans – not to rejoice at the death of this subhuman, as one would upon learning that Hitler no longer inhabited this planet.
Sir, – Shmuley Boteach made what seems to be an all-toocommon error in discussing God’s reaction to the Jews who rejoiced at the drowning Egyptians after the splitting of the sea: “Yet, the Talmud says God Himself rebuked the Israelites: ‘My creatures are drowning in the sea, yet you have now decided to sing about it.’” This is simply false. God’s rebuke was actually directed at the angels that wanted to rejoice as well, not at the Jews. In fact, religious Jews, including Shmuley Boteach, repeat this rejoicing in the “Song of the Sea” every single morning near the beginning of their prayers.
The Gemara is telling us that there are two different perspectives to evil people being killed: an angelic view and a human view. While angels need to appreciate the tragedy of the wasted potential for good in an evil person, humans are not expected to do this.
In the opening chapter of the Laws of Mourning, the Rambam spells out what our human attitude should be when truly evil people are killed: “[Even] their family puts on white [festive] garments, eats, drinks and rejoices, because the enemies of God were destroyed. And [King David] says about them – ‘Behold, those that hate God, I hate.’” This may not be as politically correct as some might like, but it happens to be what Judaism really says.
Ramat Beit Shemesh