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Letters week of Jan. 8, 2009
What Would She Consider 'Reasonable Response'?
In a recent article, "Demonstration Takes Place Against Israel," in the Jan. 1 issue, you reported: "What Israel is doing now, in Gaza, is unjust," said Rabbi Linda Holtzman, religious leader of Congregation Mishkan Shalom, who spoke from the podium.
She did make a point that she was not representing the synagogue: "I believe that people have a right to self-defense, and this was so much beyond a reasonable response."
What would she consider a "reasonable response"?
Israel said stop doing this (to Hamas) or we will do what has eventually taken place.
What is a "reasonable response" to people who are unreasonable?
Some Groups Managed to Avoid Madoff Fallout
While Yeshiva University allowed board member Bernard Madoff to handle its investments (Nation & World: "Madoff Scandal Rocks the Philanthropic World," Dec. 18), American Jewish World Service followed a better path.
Around 1990, when I served as a board member for several years, we were about to re-elect our treasurer, who also handled our investments at the bank that employed her. Jack Spitzer, international president of B'nai B'rith and a board member, objected.
A spirited debate ensued, with Rabbi Balfour Brickner of Stephen Wise Synagogue siding with the treasurer.
Finally, Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, brokered a compromise, which allowed the treasurer to be seated, but also called for the investments to be moved to another bank.
Had Yeshiva University followed this model, it would surely be in better financial condition today.
In addition, it would also be following a precept surely found somewhere in the Talmud: Don't expect something for nothing!
Camps Were in Poland, but Not Polish-Made
Robert Leiter's book review, "Poems and Paintings From the Condemned," in the Dec. 25 issue, uses the adjective "Polish" when describing certain concentration camps.
Please be aware that such camps were, in fact, German.
They were conceived, designed, built and run under the control of Germans on German occupied territory throughout their period of operation.
Don't Ever Discourage the Doing of Mitzvot!
In response to Rabbi Joyce Newmark's Torah commentary in the Dec. 25 issue ("What Constitutes True Nature of Repentance?"), a Talmudic ethic reinforces her message that the imperfect, early stages of teshuvah are valuable.
The Talmud provides that if a person performs a mitzvah for the wrong reason, God's faithfulness to that person would not exceed heaven; if he performs a mitzvah for the right reason, God's faithfulness goes beyond the heavens.
If Joseph's brothers suddenly had a sincere desire to do the right thing because they were caught, their teshuvah would merit God's faithfulness, albeit to a limited degree: not to exceed the heaven.
Another teaching further reinforces that, even if people do a mitzvah for the wrong reason, they should not be discouraged, as they will eventually do it for the right reason.
All teshuvah is a step in the right direction.
Chevy Chase, Md.
About Terror, India Has Lots to Learn From Israel
Your Dec. 11 opinion piece, "What Lessons Can India Draw From How Israel Has Dealt With Terror?" by Barry Rubin, was refreshing in its clarity about the problems facing India.
The vast, left-leaning sections of Indian, U.S. and European societies continue to give in to the blackmail of the Pakistani nukes and instability. They make the common mistake of moral equivalence between the Pakistani and Indian governments.
When was the last time that Hindu extremists from India went to Pakistan and shot up civilians? Do we need to bother counting how many times the opposite has happened?
Pakistan and India do not suffer from the same terrorists.
Pakistan suffers from terrorism at the hands of the Taliban. On the other hand, militant groups like LeT and JeM only kill Indians. That is why the Pakistani ISI and military continue to train and support these Jihadi groups.
India has a lot to learn from Israel.