September 13: Irony of Uman

The reason Rabbi Nahman chose to be buried in Uman rather than in the Land of Israel was to ease the burden on his followers.

Irony of Uman
Sir, – According to tradition, the reason Rabbi Nahman chose to be buried in Uman rather than in the Land of Israel was to ease the burden on his followers who would have to schlep all the way from Ukraine in order to visit his grave (“‘Every face of Judaism’ at ecstatic gathering around Rabbi Nahman’s grave,” September 8).
What an irony! Now his followers schlep all the way to Ukraine in order to visit his grave.
Sir, – Ben Hartman errs in Rabbi Nahman’s lineage. He was not the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, but the great-grandson. His mother was Feiga, daughter of the Baal Shem Tov’s daughter, Edel.
Inconvenient facts?
Sir, – Why are some columnists so forgetful of facts that are inconsistent with their pet theories? In “Ignore the fanatics” (Yalla Peace, September 7), Ray Hanania writes about Kiryat Arba: “People have been killing each other there since the settlement was created in the heart of Hebron.”
Wrong! Hebron is one of the four ancient Jewish holy cities, and a substantial part of its population was Jewish, peacefully and continuously, for a couple of thousand years until 1929, when the local Arabs staged a pogrom. They armed themselves with hatchets and knives, killed many of their defenseless Jewish neighbors, and hacked limbs off many of the survivors. They succeeded in their objective, rendering Hebron judenrein until 1967.
Like many of his ilk, Hanania evidently believes that history began in 1967.
Self-defeating move
Sir, – In “But what about the Strip?” (Encountering Peace, September 6), Gershon Baskin asserts that the best way to bring about a popular uprising that will oust Hamas in Gaza is to give Palestinians “a clear choice between the end of the occupation and the creation of a state in the West Bank as opposed to the continued repressive regime and no hope offered by Hamas.” But then he suggests removing elements of the “economic siege,” rejuvenating Gaza’s industrial base, reopening 90% of the closed factories and allowing thousands of Gazans to return to work in Israel.
If anything, this course will remove the “clear choice” that Baskin recommends, and will not produce the desired result. Any decline in support for Hamas in Gaza is, at least in part, because Gazans see the vast disparity between the West Bank’s economic expansion and their own dire economic circumstances.
They recognize that they could benefit from similar economic development if it were not for the repressive pariah regime under which they suffer. Allowing an industrial boom in Gaza would remove that very incentive for regime change.
At the same time, Hamas itself would benefit financially both because of the additional taxes it would collect from its citizens and because of the money it would no longer have to expend on social services for the needy. In effect, Israel would be subsidizing Hamas as the latter strengthens its grip on Gaza.
We all hope that the Gazan population will throw off the yoke of its terrorist rulers. Clearly, initiating an economic boom there will not accomplish that.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’akov
Reverse is true
Sir, – Dan Izenberg’s September 6 report “IDF witness: General told me to cut short probe of Corrie death”) is very misleading.
Your reporter states only several paragraphs into the piece that it was due to a dispute as to who should be the investigating body. Both the headline and the reasons given for the intervention from above suggest that Israel has something to hide and that the IDF is irresponsible and disorganized.
The reverse is the case. The investigating officer was young and relatively inexperienced. The fact that his superiors saw fit to suspend his continued participation in the investigation shows the seriousness with which the IDF regards the unintended death of a civilian – who in any case should not have intentionally placed herself in a restricted area of limited military conflict.
Dancing disagreement
Sir, – Ora Brafman’s harsh critique of the Jerusalem Ballet (Arts and Entertainment, September 1) could not be any farther from the truth. I had the pleasure of attending the performance and was impressed by the high level of the dancers. They put on a fantastic show that was well worth the money I paid for my ticket.
As I read her review, I wondered if Brafman was at the same performance. She claims that “there is easy access and exposure to the best ballet companies in the world, at least through the media.” I can say without a doubt that the magic the beautiful young Israeli dancers of the Jerusalem Ballet produced on the stage far exceeded the cold digital experience of viewing ballet companies from around the world on my computer screen.
I was raised in New York City, where I had exposure to some of the finest productions in the arts, and in my estimation Nina Timofeeva and the Jerusalem Ballet’s efforts are well within their ranks.
Wealth is not the only virtue
Sir, – A very interesting project – attempting a listing of the world’s richest Jews. But how about Jews who are rich in intellect, virtues and spirituality? And did you forget that Pirkei Avot defines a rich person as one who is contented? I wonder how many of these criteria fit the billionaires on the Jerusalem Post’s list.
Sir, – We feel that the September 8 supplement listing the 50 richest Jews in the world was a most inappropriate addition to the Rosh Hashana Jerusalem Post.
In the same newspaper, we read reports of influential and powerful representatives of government and public offices accused of cheating charities and taking bribes to use their authority for illegal and monstrous building – and in the same edition a report that so many of Israel’s needy would not have food on the table to celebrate the New Year.
We feel that even readers’ input could have produced a supplement highlighting the righteous Jews of the world, the decent and generous people who do not hit the headlines but spend much of their time and energy helping others. Many of these people do not have big sums to donate but give freely of their time and expertise to improve life for the needy, the sick and the disadvantaged.
And then there are Jews with vision who have changed their lives around and in so doing have improved quality of life for others.
Sir, – I was sorry to see that the Jerusalem Post marked the Jewish New Year with a listing of the 50 wealthiest Jews in the world.
Rosh Hashana is a time for repentance and introspection, including an emphasis on prayer and charity at the expense of worldly pleasures. As such it seems an especially inappropriate time to highlight people whose mark of distinction is their extraordinary success in amassing material wealth.
Perhaps a list of great Jewish philanthropists, educators or spiritual leaders would be both more appropriate to the season and more instructive as a set of role models for those who aspire to have a meaningful impact on the Jewish world.
Sir, – There was a glaring omission in your otherwise interesting and informative Rosh Hashana supplement. With my wife, three daughters, sons-in-law, 11 grandchildren and countless number of good friends, I am, certainly without question, the richest Jew in the world.
Petah Tikva