July 10: Pumping Talmud

Haredim not serving in the IDF are a stain on the haredi community and, as such, on Israel.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Pumping Talmud
Sir, – With regard to “Cabinet okays bill on haredi enlistment amid criticism” (July 8), haredim not serving in the IDF are a stain on the haredi community and, as such, on Israel. Since it is by Jewish law forbidden to rely on a miracle, we need an army to protect us from our bellicose neighbors.
There is an untruth foisted upon haredim, that learning Talmud is kiddush hashem (the sanctification of God’s name). It is not. Learning Talmud is like pumping iron or preparing for a race. Kiddush hashem is taking what we have learned and applying it in the outside world.
A haredi army unit instructed and led entirely by male haredi officers would be total kiddush hashem.
Having served in the IDF, including fighting in Lebanon, I can attest that there is considerable “down time” available for study. In a haredi unit, there would be ample opportunity to learn with colleagues.
The writer teaches at Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem’s Old City
Deplorable situation
Sir, – In its July 8 editorial “Freeing the rabbis,” the Post expressed, in my opinion, what many Israelis think and wish for.
The deplorable situation is the outcome of having appointed unfit and uninspiring rabbis to head the Chief Rabbinate. Their nomination is the result not of their merits, but how best to perpetuate a monopoly by an outdated and incapable rabbinate.
The main concern of our chief rabbis is to serve their masters – for Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger it is the Lithuanian anti- Zionist leadership, and for Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar it is the dictates of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and advancing and protecting Shas. This has been made possible by perverted coalition dealings agreed upon by secular politicians whose lives are not really affected by those they vote for.
Let us hope that although the chances are slim, things will change and Rabbi David Stav will be the next Ashkenazi chief rabbi. Otherwise, it’s best to forgo the institution altogether and find more appropriate ways to offer proper services of religion to all Israelis.
Sir, – “Freeing the rabbis” certainly places you in the company of those who believe in Israel as a state of the Jews rather than a Jewish State.
While no sane person would desire a halachic state (which never in the history of the Jews existed), to divorce the rabbis from the public purse is the classic case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
The opinions of rabbis may indeed clash with modern sensibilities, but as long as they are based soundly on Halacha they have the right to espouse them.
That they conflict with the current policies of the government or public opinion is wildly beside the point. If the rabbis, as stated, are “representatives of the State of Israel,” then surely most MKs from Yisrael Beytenu, Bayit Yehudi, Shas, Meretz, all the religious and Arab parties, and even some from the Likud must be removed from the public payroll, as they, too, espouse opinions that “are seen as a reflection of the official state position” although they clearly are not.
If you desire to throw off the yoke of Torah, I suggest that America is the place to be. Those of us who made aliya by choice from safe, secure and affluent lives in the West did not come here to give up on the idea of a Jewish state and to live in neither a halachic nor secular state, but to build a state that combines the best of both worlds.
Abolish the Chief Rabbinate. We don’t need it.
We need two officials, one to head a national kashrut organization and one to be a chief rabbinical justice. Nothing more.
No more charades. Freedom for rabbinical excellence.
Making peace
I appreciate US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts and personal commitment to work for a better future in the Middle East (“Fighting windmills?,” Diplomacy, July 5). A lasting peace can be achieved only when both sides truly want one, and their leaders are empowered to conclude one that is based on moral principles.
In the past, Israel has made many concessions. Thousands of terrorists were freed under the false assumption that releasing convicted murderers would help bring peace. Yet we were wrong, time and again. Whenever terrorists were released a new wave of terrorism struck and innocent citizens were murdered.
Freeing murderers is immoral! It does not make for a better society. It is simply wrong. I expect Kerry, as representative of the American nation around the globe, not to encourage such an immoral act against social justice.
History has taught us this lesson well. I lost Tal, my dear 17- year-old daughter, 10 years and four months ago in a terrorist attack because Israeli politicians came under pressure to free the killers of innocent people.
As the father of two other children who live in Israel and yearn for peace, I would like to ensure that they will be alive when peace eventually comes.
"Send in the fools” or “deja vu,” no matter how one views things, the State Department’s useful idiots of today hardly differ from those of the past. Consider New York Times editor A.M. Rosenthal’s piece from March 1988 titled “No Suicide for Israel.”
Rosenthal emphasized how the arguments presented back then were “empty of historic realities that brought about the crisis and must be understood to find a way out.... The cause is 40 years of Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel, 40 years of furious hostility and military attempts to destroy her.”
He reminded readers that references to “occupation” were a historic distortion, given that Gaza and the West Bank, which Egypt and Jordan, respectively, had seized, were territories intended to be part of a Palestinian state under the UN partition plan of 1947.
Referring to a planned peace conference, Rosenthal likened it to a chicken “being invited to negotiate under the sponsorship of four foxes and a lame dove. To think the major powers would not pressure Israel for Arab advantage is not only naive but black comedy.”
He concluded with a thoughtfully constructed prognosis that should a Palestinian state come into being it would be “run by the PLO and other Palestinians sworn to destroy Israel.” The Americans had a right to suggest solutions, he wrote, but not to suggest suicide.
Useful archives
Sir, – Your historical archivist par excellence, Alexander Zvielli, proves that what goes around does not always come around in the same way.
“From our archives” of June 30: “65 YEARS AGO: Widespread arrests of IZL and Revisionist political party members continued in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Netanya, but many of those arrested were later released....
50 YEARS AGO: ...three marauders from the Gaza Strip were killed and a fourth was wounded.... Israel was to buy US Army Hawk missiles.... 10 YEARS AGO: ...according to reports by both Israeli and Egyptian officials Hamas in Gaza was on the brink of declaring a ceasefire, a statement unprecedented in an organization which called for the destruction of Israel.... One of the Hamas leaders was reported to have said: “Let’s be frank, we cannot destroy Israel.
The practical solution is for us to have a state alongside Israel.”
History is learned from Zvielli’s painstaking selections, which hopefully will be published and become required school reading.