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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

84 comments

  1. The R. Sacks conversation was very interesting, but I can’t escape the feeling that his materialist interlocutors got the better of him somewhat – perhaps the subtlety intrinsic to his argument means that it is harder to get across in the space of a short discussion than the more straightforward, ‘why should I use anything but the so-far-successful scientific method to investigate reality?’ supposition spouted by Dawkins and co. The chief rabbi seemed to spend much of his time appealing to consequences, i.e. what would a world without religion be like as opposed to whether religion actually tells us anything useful about reality.

    He also seemed to veer dangerously close to a deist position in his description of a God not overtly involved with the world he created, although perhaps he was merely echoing R. Natan Slifkin’s rejection of intelligent design, in favour of a God whose grandeur is expressed by the wisdom with which he established the system in the first place.

    Another issue, which is not a critique of what the CR was saying so much as an open question, is how to get from the broad appeals to ‘religion’ or ‘God’ in general to the very specific Orthodox Jewish view of a God who demands very particular things from a very specific group of people.

    Additionally, it is certainly a big kiddush hashem for R. Sacks to be regarded, even by his arch-atheist opponent, and certainly by the (distinguished) presenter as a man of intellectual gravitas who has something worthy to contribute to current discussions of cultural import. It was also nice that the discussion was so civil overall – perhaps this is an English thing.

  2. Professor Dawkins believes (in the theological sense) that God does not exist and is on a mission to evangelize that belief.

    Serious question: For those who believe interfaith dialogue with Christians is forbidden, what are the halachic implications of engaging in (interfaith) dialogue with Athiests (such as Dawkins)?

  3. More precisely: for those who poskim who assert interfaith dialogue is forbidden, what are the halachic implications of engaging in (interfaith) dialogue with Athiests (such as Dawkins)?

  4. GIL:

    “Nowadays, it is hard to say that wigs cause improper thoughts.”

    nowadays?

  5. The Dawkins conversation looks interesting, I definitely want to check that out later. I was pessimistic about Sacks engaging with assertive confrontationalist atheists, I’m glad to see that a discussion has taken place.

    IH, it’s “atheists” by the way, not “athiests.”

  6. I apologize for my all too frequent typos.

  7. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Abba’s Rantings:

    “Nowadays”, when the standard for modest non-Jewish women in our society includes uncovered hair. In Muslim Spain 800 years ago, uncovered hair would have been shocking and provocative; as such a sheitel would have been likewise and prohibited.

    Rabbi Broyde has written about this too. If it’s just plain provocative we’re not going to accept loopholes. But if it fits today’s standards of modesty, then if it also fits technical halacha, dayeinu.

  8. Shalom Rosenfeld:

    which aspects of tzeniyus are dictated by contemporary norms and which are not?

  9. which aspects of halacha are dictated by contemporary norms and which are not?

  10. Abba: Some are and some aren’t. Issues of das yehudis are dictated by contemporary norms, which is why married women only wear one head-covering and not two. And whether something causes hirhurim is a matter of metzius.

  11. “In Muslim Spain 800 years ago, uncovered hair would have been shocking and provocative; as such a sheitel would have been likewise and prohibited.”

    For unmarried women as well. I don’t see how this is relevant to our שער באשה ערוה, which for better or worse, according to majority rabbinic interpretation that it only applies to married women makes the entire concept something of a religious mystery rather than a fact about sexual allure.

  12. ושבו בנים לגבולם!

  13. One of the worst days in Israei history. You’re right. No other news is appropriate on a tragic day like this.

  14. R’J,
    I think they were talking past each other.
    GT

  15. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4136732,00.html

    obviously Israel can’t expect others to hold firm against terrorism when they are the biggest cavers to terrorist ransom demands in the world.

  16. See the following from NYT

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/opinion/saving-a-soldier-encouraging-terror.html

    Op-Ed Contributor
    Saving Shalit, Encouraging Terror
    By WALTER REICH
    Published: October 18, 2011

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    Washington

    ALMOST every day, during a recent stay in Jerusalem, I walked past the tent that the parents of Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was captured in 2006 by Hamas, had pitched near the residence of Israel’s prime minister. Theirs was a long vigil.

    Distraught but dignified, and most of the time not knowing whether their son was dead or alive, the Shalits have haunted the conscience of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country.

    My head told me that by giving in to Hamas’s demand for a thousand prisoners in exchange for Sergeant Shalit, Israel would encourage more abductions and free terrorists who would almost surely murder many more Israelis. But my heart told me that these bereft parents deserved all the support they could get. In the end, my heart won and I walked up to the tent, signed the petition and gave a donation.

    I knew I’d done wrong.

    Last week, Israel agreed to exchange Sergeant Shalit for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Today, Sergeant Shalit arrived in Israel and the first 477 of the prisoners were released. I don’t blame Mr. Netanyahu, his cabinet or his security services for giving in to their hearts, too.

    It couldn’t have been easy. The prisoners released today include those who orchestrated suicide attacks on a Jerusalem pizzeria (15 killed), a Passover seder in Netanya (30 killed), a bus in Jerusalem (11 killed) and a bus in Haifa (17 killed). The remaining 550 prisoners, not yet named, are set to be released in two months.

    Clearly, the Israeli leaders and officials who approved the exchange were willing to pay a high price to maintain Israel’s sense of solidarity. They want Israeli parents to feel reassured that the government will do all it can to save their captured sons and daughters. And Israeli soldiers are presumably more ready to go into battle if they know that.

    Yet, Israel’s leaders should have listened to their heads, painful though it would have been. The consequences of past prisoner releases should have convinced them that the exchange would almost surely prove, in the long run, the more costly choice. In the past three decades, according to one estimate, Israel has released about 7,000 Arab prisoners in exchange for about 16 Israelis and the bodies of 10 more.

    Another estimate has put the number of Arab prisoners exchanged since 1985 at about 10,000. According to a 2007 report by an Israeli terrorism victims group, 177 Israelis were murdered in the five years before the study by recidivist terrorists who had been freed.

    Abbas ibn Muhammad Alsayd, released in 1996, was subsequently involved in three terrorist attacks, including the 2002 bombing of a Netanya Passover Seder. In 1998, Iyad Sawalha was released as a “good-will” gesture; in 2002 he detonated a bomb that killed 17. And in 2003, Ramez Sali Abu Salmin was released; 7 months later he blew himself up in a Jerusalem cafe, killing 7.

    Israeli leaders should realize that releasing 1,027 prisoners for one abducted Israeli soldier will result in more abductions, and that such extortionist and hugely disproportionate mass releases must, finally, stop.

    The spokesman for the military wing of Hamas has stated publicly that Sergeant Shalit “will not be the last solider kidnapped by Hamas as long as Israel keeps Palestinian prisoners detained.”

    Another group, the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, which was involved with Sergeant Shalit’s abduction, announced, “The abduction of soldiers is our strategy.”

    And today, Wafa al-Bass, who was imprisoned in 2005 when she was caught smuggling a suicide bomb through a Gaza checkpoint while pretending to seek medical treatment, said, after being freed, that Palestinians should “take another Shalit” each year until all remaining Palestinian prisoners were free.

    You don’t have to read the work of the psychologist B. F. Skinner to understand the danger of positive reinforcement as it applies to the exchange of prisoners for abducted Israelis. You need only read Mr. Netanyahu himself, who in his 1995 book, “Fighting Terrorism,” wrote that “prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”

    Nor is the return to terrorist attacks on Israelis the only consequence of freeing such prisoners. The case of Samir Kuntar, who was set free in 2008 in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers, should serve as a lesson. Mr. Kuntar had killed an Israeli man in front of his 4-year-old daughter and then killed the daughter by bashing her head with his rifle — while the man’s wife, hiding nearby, accidentally smothered their 2-year-old trying to keep her quiet.

    Mr. Kuntar is now a hero among Palestinians and across the Muslim world. He and other prisoners released by Israel were honored by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the elimination of Israel. Mr. Ahmadinejad gave Mr. Kuntar a medal for “supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance.”

    Given this history, it is absurd to see Israel’s exchanging a soldier, or even dead bodies, for hundreds of prisoners as a policy that strengthens the country’s sense of solidarity or morale.

    What will Israeli leaders say to the relatives of the civilians who almost surely will be killed by the prisoners released in the Shalit deal — and to the parents of the soldiers, as well as civilians, who will be taken captive by Hamas for further prisoner releases?

    Continuing to take existential risks for peace, even ones unlikely to bear fruit, may be necessary for Israeli leaders. What is not necessary is taking suicidal risks that will save one sergeant but guarantee the abductions of many more soldiers and the murders of many more Israelis.

    One’s heart can’t help but celebrate for the Shalit family. But one’s head can’t help but throb contemplating the many abductions — and the numerous dead — that his release will yield.

    Walter Reich, a psychiatrist and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, was director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum from 1995 to 1998. He is the editor of “Origins of Terrorism.”

  17. R’ Mycroft,
    Ye’yasher kochakha for the illuminating analysis. But on the optimisitc side (since we are already dealing with a fait accomplit), the gemara in Berakhot 46b describes HKB”H as “Shalit Be’olamo”. Maybe the international press coverage of Shalit will subconsciously remind the Palestinians of Who is the real Shalit (the Ribbono Shel Olam, asher bachar banu mikol ha’amim), and Hamas will change its ways to follow the Noahide Code.

  18. mycroft – see rabbi avi weiss’s take that was just emailed to me by a friend. i found it to reflect what most feel today.

    Gilad Shalit’s Release: A Heavy Hearted Celebration
    By Rabbi Avraham Weiss

    Gilad Shalit has come home. Is this a time for euphoria or upset?

    The head tells us that this is a terrible deal.

    The lopsided exchange may lead to more terrorism, more Israeli deaths. Nadav Shragi, in a report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs analyzed the aftermath of the exchange in 2004 of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive. According to Shragi, “those freed in the deal murdered 35 Israelis” by 2007. And of course, the lopsided exchange may inspire more hostage takings, more kidnappings, more ransoms to be paid.

    During the Second Intifada I traveled to Israel, often for just a day or two, to share words of comfort with those who had lost loved ones in terrorist attacks. Never will I forget those moments.

    October 18, 2000: At the start of the second Intifada, two Israeli soldiers lost their way in Ramallah. They were taken to a police station where they were beaten. Vadim Norzhich, one of the soldiers, was lying on the ground with a knife in his back when Aziz Salha removed the knife and stabbed Vadim in the chest three times. He then proceeded to the window proudly waving his bloody hands for all to see. Salha is amongst the terrorists who are being released. In the little town of Or Akiva, I sat with Vadim’s widow Irina. Both Vadim and Irina were émigrés from the former Soviet Union and were recently married. As I left, Irina’s father, Issai, turned to me and said, Vadim will always be remembered as he pointed to his daughter, Irina, who was pregnant.
    August 9, 2001: Terrorists blew up the Sbarro Pizza store in Jerusalem. During that time, I was leading a group from my synagogue to Israel. One of our participants, Howard Green, is related to Chana Tova Nachenberg. The two of them were sitting together in Sbarro when the attack took place. That night, I stood near Chana Tova as she lay unconscious in the ICU at Hadassah Hospital. Two years ago, I visited Chana Tova in the Reuth Center in Tel Aviv. There she lay, still unconscious. So she remains to this day. Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who transported the bomber to the restaurant is amongst those now being released. In 2006 Tamimi gave an interview to an Israeli newspaper, where she proudly proclaimed that she feels no remorse whatsoever for her role in the attack.
    March 27, 2002: A suicide bomber blew up the Park Hotel dining room as Jews assembled for a Passover Seder. Although I visited many of the wounded in the hospital following that attack, what was most striking was a visit to the Park Hotel a year later. My attention was drawn to the renovated ceiling. There, embedded, was a fork, which remained from the force of the blast. Here, too, the accomplices who transported the bombers to the hotel are now being released.
    So the head says this is a bad deal. But, the heart — the heart feels differently. Today, Gilad Shalit is not just a soldier. He is Israel’s unknown soldier, precisely because he is so well known, he is so identifiable. Gilad’s picture released soon after his capture, with his boyish look, his thick black glasses, his soldier’s uniform which seemed a bit large for his body, will forever remain in our hearts. He was the picture of innocence, forced to grow up too quickly in the hands of brutal men and women. His image is on billboards around the world. His name on the lips of prime ministers and presidents. Today, Gilad is not only the son of Aviva and Noam, he is everyone’s son. He is everyone’s brother. The exchange is not only an exchange of over a thousand terrorists for one soldier, it is an exchange of a thousand for Gilad– the symbol of every soldier.

    So which is it? Is the release of Gilad a time of sadness, or joy? Is it a time of upset, or elation? Is it the time to mourn with the mind or celebrate with the heart.

    Ecclesiastes writes: “everything has its season…a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to wail and a time to dance,…a time to rent garments and a time to mend.” Ecclesiastes seems to be saying that there are distinct times for each of these emotions.

    Yehuda Amichai, the great Israeli poet, understands it differently. He writes: “Ecclesiastes was wrong about that…A person needs to love and hate at the same moment. To laugh and cry with the same eyes…To make love in war and war in love.”

    Jewish Law marks this phenomenon when it asks that at the height of our greatest joy, at a wedding itself, that we break a glass to remember the shattered Temples, the shattered human temples, that need fixing.

    As Gilad Shalit falls into his mother’s and father’s arms, as he is embraced by his siblings, Israel, the Jewish people and humankind of moral conscience will be dancing and singing. For me, also, in the midst of the euphoria, will be flashes of different images – of Vadim, of Chana Tova, of the Park Hotel massacre, faces of countless many who were mercilessly murdered – and their relatives and friends who are wounded for life.

    But, today, even with all of these images, my heart still wins out. I felt this way in an exchange I recently had with my eldest grandson Gilad, who lives in Israel and will soon be enlisting in the Israeli Army. When Gilad Shalit’s release was announced, my grandson said, “Just remember Sabi (grandfather), I’m not worth a thousand.” There was silence on the line. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I found it difficult to speak. Finally, when I could, this hardened activist, who years back argued exchanges should not take place but now feels differently, lovingly responded, “Gilad, you’re right, you’re not worth a thousand. You’re worth at least a million.”

    Today, the heart wins out, but this is not a moment of euphoria. It is that moment under the chuppah (wedding canopy) when we celebrate joy and happiness only to firmly plant our foot on the glass and breaking it remembering the souls and the families whose lives are forever shattered.

  19. We asked some Israeli cousins and friends what they thought about trading for Gilad. Here are 2 responses:

    “So long as Israel tells its soldiers is that we bring every soldier home, and we have an obligatory draft, we have to do all we can to bring every soldier home.
    At the same time, I understand the unease and even rage, especially of the families of terror victims, who feel hurt by the exchange and the release of so many terrorists.
    And we all are at risk with over 1000 terrorists out of jail.”

    “Everyone thinks the same-painful but the right thing to do. We are proud of the country-the ability of Israelis to live with complex situations in a mature and sober way is uplifting.”

    Both are religious women who had/have children in the IDF.
    We live in a complicated world and region.”

  20. “Gilad Shalit’s Release: A Heavy Hearted Celebration
    By Rabbi Avraham Weiss

    Gilad Shalit has come home. Is this a time for euphoria or upset?

    The head tells us that this is a terrible deal.

    The lopsided exchange may lead to more terrorism, more Israeli deaths. Nadav Shragi, in a report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs analyzed the aftermath of the exchange in 2004 of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive. According to Shragi, “those freed in the deal murdered 35 Israelis” by 2007. And of course, the lopsided exchange may inspire more hostage takings, more kidnappings, more ransoms to be paid”

    Agreed-end of story.

    “Today, the heart wins out, but this is not a moment of euphoria. It is that moment under the chuppah (wedding canopy) when we celebrate joy and happiness only to firmly plant our foot on the glass and breaking it remembering the souls and the families whose lives are forever shattered.”

    The issue is not the sunk costs of pain of family members who lost terrorist victims-it is the future losses

  21. Here is a link to the short essay by Rabbi Weiss if that would be helpful to anyone:
    http://www.yctorah.org/content/view/743/54/

  22. “David on October 19, 2011 at 1:13 am
    Here is a link to the short essay by Rabbi Weiss if that would be helpful to anyone:
    http://www.yctorah.org/content/view/743/54/

    Appears identical to what
    “ruvie on October 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm
    mycroft – see rabbi avi weiss’s take that was just emailed to me by a friend. i found it to reflect what most feel today.

    Gilad Shalit’s Release: A Heavy Hearted Celebration
    By Rabbi Avraham Weiss”

    posted.

    I think that if one could make an analysis of RAW over the years he often thinks from the heart see eg his 1980s support for the Jewish Underground by such ideas as they are so dedicated which he admitted was wrong in the 2000s.
    see
    http://haemtza.blogspot.com/
    Chad Sameach Gilad for one who supports the exchange with some cogent thoughts.

  23. Since Ruvie posted e-mail that was originally from RAW I’ll take the liberty for posting e-mail originally from RH Billet. Posting does not necessarily mean agreement by me of any or all of his comments.

    Dear Congregants

    Yesterday’s return of Gilad Shalit after 5 1/2 years of incarceration in a Hamas dungeon in Gaza is something we have been praying for since the day he was brutally kidnapped. I do not believe that there is a single Jew or non Jew with a sense of compassion and a value system of decency who is not happy on a personal level for both Gilad and his family. Because of the graciousness of the YIW membership and administration, I am privileged to be in Israel for the last days of Chol Hamoed Succot and for Shemini Atzeret and was therefore privy to experience the festive mood in Israel as his family, friends, neighbors and the nation celebrated the return of a lost son.

    So if you have the patience to continue reading, I would like to share with you my feelings about this event. The views stated here are the opinions of someone who never risked his life for Am Yisrael or Medinat Yisrael. I have neither served in the IDF nor have any of my children served in the IDF. At the appropriate time, I have 5 Israeli grandsons who I hope will be soldiers in the IDF. Therefore, I certainly recognize that perhaps silence at my end is more appropriate than voicing a point of view on this latest prisoner exchange. Hence, I will try to present some objective facts and share the opinions of some Israelis who did serve in the IDF and whose views I find compelling.

    Once again, no one with a heart of flesh can deny being moved to tears of joy for Gilad Shalit and his family. The TV images of the reunion with his parents are very powerful. BUT there is another perspective on this both qualitatively and quantitatively disproportionate prisoner exchange.

    FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS OF THE RELEASED TERRORISTS
    Let us not ever forget that there are other compelling images that are seared into our memories and consciences. Can we ever forget the many pictures of blown up buses and broken bodies and destroyed families? Do you remember the image of the Ramallah lynching of three Israeli soldiers with the a dead soldier being tossed head first out of a window with his now freed murderer’s blood soaked hands in clear view. How about the Sbarro Pizza bombing or the number 23 bus with the dead driver’s head slumped against the wheel or the Cafe moment bombing, or the body bags of dead victims lined up on the roadside etc. etc. etc. etc………………….??????

    How do the permanently scarred families of the thousand plus Israelis killed during the second Intifada feel about the release of the murderers of their loved ones? They have been traumatized once again by this prisoner exchange! The argument that Gilad was alive and their family members are dead does not comfort or persuade them.

    THE LESSONS FROM PREVIOUS SUCH EXCHANGES
    This is not the first time that Israel has made such a deal. Take, for example the 1985 exchange of more than a thousand terrorists for three Israeli soldiers. Just to jog your memory, that list of murderers included the Lod airport killers, the Haifa-Tel aviv murderers, the Maalot killers, Gail Ribicoff’s killers etc. etc. etc. etc…………………………. Amongst those released murderers were the planners of Intifada #1 and Intifada #2. The most conservative numbers count well more than 100 dead Israelis linked directly to those released terrorists. So is the price worth it? How about if one of the victims was a member of our family? Will there be a price in blood to be paid for Gilad Shalit? We must say that we do not know. But, what is the likelihood that the answer is that everyone will live happily ever after?

    FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE IDF
    One of the most compelling arguments for this deal is that it was necessary to boost the morale of the IDF. Every soldier who goes to war for Israel has to know that the government of Israel will do everything in its power to bring home its captured or kidnapped living soldiers as well as the bodies of dead soldiers. There is no question that this is a very important principle! BUT, you should know that there are hundreds of IDF officers and soldiers who have signed declarations saying that they neither want themselves nor their bodies returned in exchange for murderous terrorists! This exchange makes every IDF soldier a desirable target for terrorists. It pays to kidnap IDF soldiers. It pays to murder Israelis and be captured because you will be exchanged for a kidnapped IDF soldier alive (like Gilad Shalit) or dead (like Regev and Goldwasser).

    FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE HALACHA
    The halacha puts great value in redeeming captives. The RAMBAM describes it as the greatest Mitzvah which includes at least eight other mitzvot. The halacha and the RAMBAM also say that one may not pay too high a price to redeem captives. But using all the permutations and combinations of other halachic factors to be considered, there have been halachic arguments advanced both pro and con this deal. So I will leave it as a disputed halachic issue.

    A FEW CLOSING COMMENTS
    1. It can be asked to any opponent of this exchange, “what would you do if you were Gilad Shalit’s parents”? One has to be grateful not go through this ordeal. No honest persons can know the answer to the question because they are not a parent of his. I can well imagine that they would lobby hard for their son’s release. But perhaps, there are some like Roi Klein who have the greatness of soul to put the nation’s interests above their personal interest. Or perhaps there are some who would lobby hard for their son’s release and hope (knowing in their heart of hearts) that the answer will, (and should ) be, “NO”. Remember there is a counter question that families of murdered victims of terror also have.

    2. The PM of Israel contradicted his own writings when he agreed to this deal. He suddenly found religion and quoted the Gemara that one soul in Israel is the equivalent of the world and the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim. Perhaps Ehud Olmert was a stronger leader when he refused to make such a deal because the price was too high? The Supreme Court refused to consider the appeal of the families of the victims of terror (“not our business”). But apparently approving the Gaza disengagement and the destruction of Jewish (not illegal) homes in Migron was their business to uphold ??!!

    3.Hamas won a big victory. they know that we uphold life. So they held out. If G-d forbid something like this happens again, the price will be very very high. And how can we say no when we have said yes too many times in the past?

    4. In the end we do do see the greatness of Am Yisrael. We celebrated the life of a kidnapped soldier (not a POW.) (POW exchanges for POWs is legitimate). The people in Gaza celebrate the return of murderers

    5. Perhaps the Gilad Shalit return was too loudly celebrated in Israel? Perhaps it should have been muted in light of all the counter concerns? In the end it was appropriate for Succot. It was a Kohelet day : a time to rejoice and a time to cry.

    Rabbi Heshie Billet

  24. “ALMOST every day, during a recent stay in Jerusalem, I walked past the tent that the parents of Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was captured in 2006 by Hamas, had pitched near the residence of Israel’s prime minister. Theirs was a long vigil.

    Distraught but dignified, and most of the time not knowing whether their son was dead or alive, the Shalits have haunted the conscience of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country.

    My head told me that by giving in to Hamas’s demand for a thousand prisoners in exchange for Sergeant Shalit, Israel would encourage more abductions and free terrorists who would almost surely murder many more Israelis. But my heart told me that these bereft parents deserved all the support they could get. In the end, my heart won and I walked up to the tent, signed the petition and gave a donation.

    I knew I’d done wrong”

    Note how easy it is to do wrong-the writer wrote a book about Origins of Terrorism did wrong by suppoting the Shalits-but still the very succesful work done by the Shalits is the future model for RL any future family that has a love one kidnapped.

    “So long as Israel tells its soldiers is that we bring every soldier home, and we have an obligatory draft, we have to do all we can to bring every soldier home”
    The primary job of any defense forces is to protect the citizens of the country-the primary job is not to minimize any casualties. It is an impotant measure to consider potential casulaties-but if one is afraid of then one can’t exist in a dangerous area of the world. If one wants to minimize casualties sue for unconditional surrender on condition thatthe world take in all residents of Israel by the equivalent of green cards.

  25. “So long as Israel tells its soldiers is that we bring every soldier home…”
    I have read this many times. Does it not beg the obvious question of whether Israel should stop making that promise?

  26. Emma — It is part of the ethos of the people’s army (with a mandatory draft) and is highly unlikely to change. This is why 79% of Israelis polled were in favor of the deal (and only 14% opposed).

    In contrast, how many of us who live in the US are even cognizant of the number of our soldiers who continue to be killed in Afghanistan and Iraq (http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf). They are not our community’s children (e.g. the story about 300 NCSY benchers supplied to overseas US Soldiers) so we tend to think about this differently.

  27. “Everyone thinks the same”
    Everyone?

  28. Mycroft — clearly not every one, but 79% aye, 14% nay is a reasonable “everyone” in the context used.

  29. “IH on October 19, 2011 at 10:18 am
    Emma — It is part of the ethos of the people’s army (with a mandatory draft) and is highly unlikely to change. This is why 79% of Israelis polled were in favor of the deal (and only 14% opposed).

    “In contrast, how many of us who live in the US are even cognizant of the number of our soldiers who continue to be killed in Afghanistan and Iraq (http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf). ”

    Many people are very much cognizant-BTW GWBs genius/dishinesty/lack of morality-take your pick- was to minimize coverage of coffins being brought home and thus less TV coverage and less knowledge.

    “They are not our community’s children (e.g. the story about 300 NCSY benchers supplied to overseas US Soldiers) so we tend to think about this differently”
    Such thoughts are a reason why our “community” has to be very careful in its political action.

    The US did an almost equivalent disaster spending the over year totally fixated on the Iranian hostage crisis during the end of the Carter administration.

  30. Regardless of the popularity of the Shalit-Rotzchim swap, IMO, anyone who seriously thinks that the exchange was a “sacrifice for peace” or will bring “peace in our time” should look at the facts on the ground since Israel has been engaged in the peace process. One wonders why and who pressured the Israelis to give up the perpetrators of some of the worst acts of terror such as at Sbarro in Jerusalem, HU and Netanyah. I suspect that we will eventually see that the entire deal was brokered between Washington and President Peres, who both President Obama and the State/Defense Departments prefer as their type of Israeli leader, as opposed to PM Netanyahu, as well as Turkey, which brokered the deal for Hamas, and which has shifted into a pro Islamic stance and has all but totally downgraded relationships with Israel, but not IIRC, to the point of totally breaking diplomatic relations. The world awaits a Wikileak update on this affair.

  31. IH wrote:

    ““They are not our community’s children”

    At least one family in one shul where I daven in our neighborhood had a son on active duty in Irag.

  32. Steve — I assume you do not apply the same pessimism (10:43am) to viat hamashiach. The posted Indie editorial is a healthier approach, it seems to me…

  33. IH-I have no pessissim re Bias HaMoshiach. I do have pessimism as to the naviete of the West and some Israelis in how to fight Islamofascism and terror. On that regard, based on Anthony Julius’s masterpiece ” The Trials of the Diaspora”, I regard the UK media, and especially as the Guardian, BBC and many other British intellectuals as having opinions on Israel that can be considered not just anti Zionist but having long roots in the historically anti Semitic intellectual and cultural atmosphere of the UK.

  34. For a dissenting Israeli POV, as well as a critique of the Isareli media which acted in the same manner as the US media during the Iranian siege and ensuing captivity of Americans, see the annexed link. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/146336#.Tp6w7ZuQZJM

  35. Yep, Israelis are just lemmings who follow what “the medja” tell ’em.

  36. IH-for the most part, Israelis who read, rely and cite the LW media , and American media who routinely cite the same as authoritative, certainly are IMO lemmings. After all, Isarelis thought that between 1967 and 1973, that the IDF was invincible. The same media and intellectual milieu thinks that the key issue is achieving piece, as opposed to economic deregulation. For an excellent piece on how the Israeli academic left stifles debate, see the following link.http://www.jidaily.com/zC5U

  37. IH-I look forward to the Israeli “establishment” media and academia conduct in depth investigations and research into who was responsible for the deal, as well as why some of the worst ( and totally unrepentant) Rotzchim were released, with the same vigor that they use to “investigate, and defame both the RZ and Charedi worlds.

  38. “Steve Brizel on October 19, 2011 at 10:44 am
    IH wrote:

    ““They are not our community’s children”

    At least one family in one shul where I daven in our neighborhood had a son on active duty in Irag”

    And I know a family well for decades that had a child who served two tours in Iraq-exceptions in general “our children” don’t erve in the military. Compare numbers of physicians in “our community” and numbers of .those who serve in the military vs the general US community.

  39. “Regardless of the popularity of the Shalit-Rotzchim swap, IMO, anyone who seriously thinks that the exchange was a “sacrifice for peace” or will bring “peace in our time” should look at the facts on the ground since Israel has been engaged in the peace process.”
    Steve; Given the consistent poll results in favor of such swaps Israeli politicians are going to do this-it is a sad IMHO but it has nothingto do with peace in our time.

  40. Mycroft-I know of a former OU President who served as a combat surgeon in Vietnam.

  41. “IH-I look forward to the Israeli “establishment” media and academia conduct in depth investigations and research into who was responsible for the deal, as well as why some of the worst ( and totally unrepentant) Rotzchim were released”

    It is clearly popular in Israel-the terrorists know what they can get and won’t settle for less than they can get

    It is not just your establishment but Benny Begin far from a LW establishment type, said שצריך להצביע נגד כל הנימוקים ההגיוניים אומרים, אבל למרות זאת אני עדיין תומך בעסקה

  42. Mycroft wrote:

    “Steve; Given the consistent poll results in favor of such swaps Israeli politicians are going to do this-it is a sad IMHO but it has nothingto do with peace in our time.”

    Why? any student of history can tell you that similar foreign policy or security decisions which are not based in terms of a country’s best interests deserve to be critiqued as based on appeasement based logic and its horrific consequences-regardless of the poll numbers supporting such a decision. IIRC, Churchill was a voice in the wildnerness who critiqued the Nazi-Czecholslovakia deal as devoid of both an appreciation of the evil of Nazism and not destined to bring “peace in our time.”

    In our own day, the Democratic Party, which once led the nation in fighting Nazism, and in raising the banner of liberal anti Communism, now has as a president who acts in an appeasement like manner by openly denying the uniqueness of America’s role with the rest of the world, who thinks that we have achieved closure in a war against terror , and who would subjugate our own national interests to the EU and UN.

  43. “Steve Brizel on October 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm
    Mycroft-I know of a former OU President who served as a combat surgeon in Vietnam”

    Doctors and Chaplains not relevant for our discussion.

  44. “Steve Brizel on October 19, 2011 at 12:09 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “Steve; Given the consistent poll results in favor of such swaps Israeli politicians are going to do this-it is a sad IMHO but it has nothingto do with peace in our time.”

    Why? any student of history can tell you that similar foreign policy or security decisions which are not based in terms of a country’s best interests deserve to be critiqued as based on appeasement based logic and its horrific consequences-regardless of the poll numbers supporting such a decision. IIRC, Churchill was a voice in the wildnerness who critiqued the Nazi-Czecholslovakia deal as devoid of both an appreciation of the evil of Nazism and not destined to bring “peace in our time.”

    In our own day, the Democratic Party”

    Israel has done such deals under ShamirIn 1983, the Yitzhak Shamir government freed 66 terrorists and 4,500 detainees captured during the 1982 war in Lebanon in return for six soldiers
    See the follopwing from
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136583/alon-pinkas/the-conflicting-values-behind-the-shalit-deal?page=show
    “The Conflicting Values Behind The Shalit DealThe Conflicting Values Behind The Shalit DealWhy The Swap Will Harm Israel Alon Pinkas
    October 17, 2011
    Article Summary and Author Biography In striking a deal to bring Shalit home, Netanyahu dropped political realism in favor of emotional values. But the move will embolden Hamas, making realism more necessary than ever.

    ALON PINKAS is an Israeli diplomat, who most recently served as
    Why Netanyahu Made the Prisoner Swap Deal with Hamas
    Daniel Gordis
    The deal Jerusalem made for Gilad Shalit’s freedom represents a return to Israel’s core values — especially its pledge never to leave a soldier behind. As the country’s enemies multiply and its social fabric decays, such a principle could rescue the country, too.

    .The prisoner exchange deal that Israel struck with Hamas last week does not make sense in terms of the country’s foreign and defense policy goals. A country that has been a victim of terrorism for decades — and that maintains that nations should never negotiate with terrorist organizations — has done exactly that, exchanging 1,027 convicted terrorists (550 of whom were directly involved in multiple murders) for one soldier, Gilad Shalit.

    Although the government initially considered military action to recover Shalit, who was abducted on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip in 2006, it was never a feasible option. Gaza’s dense and hostile population would have made any rescue mission messy and dangerous. Moreover, Israeli intelligence had never determined his precise whereabouts. Over time — and under immense public pressure — the Israeli government began to entertain the notion of a political deal, the basic contours of which were drawn as early as 2007. (Israel would free roughly 550 Hamas prisoners, Hamas would free Shalit, and then Israel would free another 450.) At the time — and when it resurfaced in 2009 — the administration of then-Prime Minster Ehud Olmert rejected the deal because the price was too high. Yet two and a half years later, both parties agreed to strikingly similar terms.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that he accepted the deal now for two reasons. First, he argues that he inherited the basic outlines of the swap from his predecessor, Olmert, and could not change them, certainly not with public opinion so strongly in favor of bringing Shalit home. And according to Netanyahu, regional developments made the agreement a now-or-never decision. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which hosts Hamas’ political arm, is failing, and Hamas has been trying to find new accommodations; its options include post-Mubarak Egypt and Iran. Israel feared that Shalit could be transferred to Iran, which would have sealed his fate.

    But there are other reasons that Netanyahu acted now. In 2009 and 2010, when Israel also seriously considered striking a deal, several powerful figures in government opposed it. Meir Dagan, who was then the head of the Mossad, and Yuval Diskin, then the head of the General Security Service, argued that the terms of the deal patently rewarded terrorism and abductions, emboldened Hamas by giving it a clear advantage over the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority, and projected Israeli weakness. The Netanyahu government could not form a consensus to override their objections so the deal died. By this fall, however, both men had been replaced by officials more supportive of a swap — Dagan by Tamir Pardo and Diskin by Yoram Cohen. Their support provided the administration the legitimacy among the security organs that it coveted.

    Israel can withstand the release of those prisoners and terrorists it frees today, but it has shattered whatever pretense it had to a coherent counterterrorism policy and whatever ability it had to deter terrorism. Moreover, although the exchange deal runs contrary to Israel’s stated counterterrorism policies, it should not have been surprising. At its roots, it was the product of a uniquely Israeli clash of two irreconcilable sets of values.

    The first is the belief in military camaraderie and solidarity, and particularly the Israel Defense Forces tenet of “no soldier left behind.” This is complemented by the ancient Jewish tradition of the redemption of prisoners, which has led to a general feeling that saving one live soldier is worth any price. This is typically Israeli; the country as a mother, making decisions based on parental instinct rather than cold cost-benefit calculations. This is the sentiment behind years of deliberations and indirect negotiations and a massive public campaign to bring Shalit home, no matter the cost.

    The second set of values central to Israel’s identity have to do with political realism, hardened by a lifetime of experience in the Middle East. These are the values that inform Israel’s stated (but rarely followed) policy of not negotiating with terrorists. A country in Israel’s geopolitical position must at all times exude confidence and strength. Any appearance of vacillation or equivocation could be interpreted as strategic impotence.

    For years, the first value won out. In 1983, the Yitzhak Shamir government freed 66 terrorists and 4,500 detainees captured during the 1982 war in Lebanon in return for six soldiers. In 1985, as part of the Gibril deal, the Shimon Peres government released 1,150 prisoners in exchange for eight Israeli soldiers. The 2004 Tannenbaum deal saw the Ariel Sharon government release 436 detainees in exchange for one Israeli reserve officer who was kidnapped by Hezbollah after being lured into a business deal. And in 2008, Israel exchanged scores of Lebanese and Palestinian detainees and prisoners for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured during a 2006 Hezbollah ambush on the Israeli-Lebanon border and who died shortly thereafter.

    Then the pendulum swung in the other direction. The two most recent Israeli governments — those of Ehud Olmert and initially Netanyahu — favored the second value. They insisted on conducting no negotiations with terrorist organizations whose ostensible policy is the destruction of Israel. But Netanyahu gradually succumbed to the public and media campaign to conclude a deal with Hamas. He also came to understand that rescuing Shalit through a military operation was impossible. This was not so much a shift of policy, which remained rhetorically tough, but a recognition of the importance of Israel’s first set of values.

    In comparison to previous prisoner exchanges, the 1,027 prisoners freed for Shalit is asymmetrical but not unusually unbalanced. Even so, Netanyahu would have been wise to remember Dagan and Diskin’s original objections. With no renewed peace process in sight, Israel has effectively sent the Palestinians a message that diplomacy and the political processes the Palestinian Authority advocates are futile but that terrorism and kidnapping pay. Now, as Abbas continues to busy himself with diplomatic maneuvers at the UN (which have so far yielded no tangible achievements), Hamas will be able to consolidate its power base in Gaza and its reputation in the West Bank — this at a time when Iran’s isolation and Syria’s fragility should have weakened the group.

    For their part, Israelis generally recognize the contradiction in their values; “I’m happy that Shalit is coming back, but I oppose the deal” is a constant and understandable refrain. And to be sure, Israel can withstand the release of the prisoners and terrorists it frees today. But this deal might be a bridge too far. The country has shattered whatever pretense it had to a coherent counterterrorism policy and whatever ability it had to deter terrorism. In other words, a bit of cognitive dissonance is fine for Israeli individuals, but not for a government. For now, the Netanyahu administration has chosen to be happy that Shalit is coming home, but it may come to regret that it was not more wary of the deal that brought him back.

  45. A reminder of the Israeli ethos:

  46. Everyone is happy for Gilad and his family. But from day one, Israel took the wrong or no action, and the Shalit family proposed only one solution. There was another, short of invasion (which eventually happened and they still did not find him).

    Gaza’s electric and water supply come from Israel. The proverbial flick of the switch would have thrust the Strip into a backwater mess that would have forced the hand of Harm-us. Yeah, the world would have kvetched (when do they not?) but they could also have helped push for the simple solution- trade the kid for water and power.

    If there is a next time, chas v’shalom, let us not worry about “collective punishment”. Those people on the streets of Gaza yesterday, supposedly innocent, were all shouting for “another Gilad” to kidnap. Make them all pay the price.

  47. MiMedinat HaYam

    why isnt a front line doctor and / or chaplain (granted; chaplains arent usually front line) count? (answer — cause most of us here dont approve of his actions in the o-u.)

    anyway, my shul has a two time iraq, one time afghanistan veteran.

    but he knew very well he might not return, etc.

    2. which begs the question of the little publicized order to tzahal op’s to shoot to kill if they see a (tzahal) hostage being taken. would this be halachically warranted?

    chag sameach — (prob wont get an answer cause of yom tov coming)

  48. “”mycroft on October 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm
    “Steve Brizel on October 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm
    Mycroft-I know of a former OU President who served as a combat surgeon in Vietnam”

    Doctors and Chaplains not relevant for our discussion””
    I should have stated the reason that there was a special “Doctor Draft” that drafted doctors after one year of internship into the military as General Medical Officers.

  49. “MiMedinat HaYam on October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm
    why isnt a front line doctor and / or chaplain (granted; chaplains arent usually front line) count? (answer — cause most of us here dont approve of his actions in the o-u.)”

    That is not the reason-it is simply lack of choice if one wanted to be a physician during that time period there was a doctor draft and they couldn’t claim studying for theological traning at MTI etc.
    Chaplains at least Jewish ones then faced an internal theological draft whereby one had to serve if one was picked by your Yeshiva-if one didn’t you’d have snctions as to getting a job. Jobs were much more tightly controlled back then.

  50. “which begs the question of the little publicized order to tzahal op’s to shoot to kill if they see a (tzahal) hostage being taken. would this be halachically warranted?”

    It would prevent hundreds of being killed which is the cost of a living hostage-that is versus the one killed while hostage is being taken.

  51. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — right. not necessarily arguing the piont.

    but its also a political decision by politicians, as opposed to a military decision by miltary officers.

    2. [edited] but he (supposedly) was a front line doctor in vietnam, and so is relevant to thediscuission.

  52. MiMedinat HaYam

    the brooklyn bus line was prevoously discussed here — its a “public accomodation” subject to civil rights act. however, if they incorporate as a private club / shul (like the bp to 47st bus line) and restrict ticket sales to “members”, they would be allowed to discriminate. provided the franchise authority (nyc dot) gives them a license (which they prob cannot deny a license / franchise.)

    2. the religious zealots article sounds word for word from jpost or similar source. just cause its reuters, dont they have to attribute?

  53. MiMedinat HaYam on October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    2″. [edited] but he (supposedly) was a front line doctor in vietnam, and so is relevant to thediscuission”

    I do not want to discuss individuals-I am simply stating that a person who wanted to become a physicain duringthat time period could notdo what he can today -pay for medical school and then pick his own route immediately-back then Uncle Sam had the right and did routinely force physicians into the military. BTW in genral front line hospitals are notthe same risk as worrying about VC boobytraps-but this si a side discussion.

  54. Understood. But as someone who until recently worked at the OU I was puzzled by your totally incorrect evaluation, which regardless should not have been publicly stated. I personally dealt with him extensively.

  55. ” they would be allowed to discriminate. provided the franchise authority (nyc dot) gives them a license (which they prob cannot deny a license / franchise.)”

    I am not an expert-but interstate and intrastate rules are entirely different-thuis years ago when NYC franchise was restrivtive on licenses for buses -suburban buses loved to go interstate even if it is the mile or so section of 684? through Ct-Greenwich-which has no exit in Ct-but then NYC franchise could not prevent licensing. Of course, then were under Fed supervision interstate.

  56. “Hirhurim on October 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm
    Understood. But as someone who until recently worked at the OU I was puzzled by your totally incorrect evaluation, which regardless should not have been publicly stated. I personally dealt with him extensively”

    I was not referring to any specific individual-I simply replied to some blogger who brought an individual into play who I do not personally know-I responded as to why VIetnam era physicians in general did not have any choice if they wishe dto become physicians-it is certainly relevant. I suggest that specific individuals be kept out of discussions and certainly as anecdotal proof for something.
    Bringing specific individuals as proof opens the door to the real reasons-. One could have argued that one knew a VIetnam era frum physician who served in Vietnam wo getting into specific personalities.

  57. “Those things are in the DNA of the culture,” he said of the religious teachings about ransoming captives. “It’s a sentiment that can’t be measured in exact legal or judicial terms. It plays a role in those moments of perplexity. You fall back on your basic identity. As a Jew, as an Israeli, what do I do?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/us/pidyon-shvuyim-validated-the-price-of-shalits-release.html

  58. “IH on October 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm
    “Those things are in the DNA of the culture,” he said of the religious teachings about ransoming captives. “It’s a sentiment that can’t be measured in exact legal or judicial terms. It plays a role in those moments of perplexity. You fall back on your basic identity. As a Jew, as an Israeli, what do I do?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/us/pidyon-shvuyim-validated-the-price-of-shalits-release.html

    the whole article IMHO is fair and balanced

  59. Administrivia: I have noticed that on my iPad, the “Switch to Regular Theme” doesn’t work reliably. Each time I delete cookies, it takes some indeteriminate number of attempts across multiple days before it finally settles back into non-Mobile mode.

    To test, Settings | Safari | Clear Cookies and Data; then start Safari, visit Hirhurim and try to “Switch to Regular Theme”.

  60. Curiously, it did work this time after a few attempts. Never mind.

  61. In the pastfew days there was an article in NYT discssing the Boro Park Williamsburg separated by sex bus line.

  62. Given the recent discussions with R. Berman, I’m wondering if anyone knows of any “kosher” analysis of the possible non-Jewish mythological parallels to B’reishit 6:4?

  63. For those interested on technology and education, see this link.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?_r=1&hp. Anyone willing to discuss the use or views re using the same in yeshivas, especially on the elementary and high school level in the US?

  64. “Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in a statement to the Post that there were three other entrances to the plaza which were not separated along gender lines, and that the current set-up has been in place for a number of years”

    I just don’t see the issue either way-there is mixing of sexes all the way to area near the Kotel. Most of the time I have gone through mixed entrances but will go through separate entrances also-whatever is closer. Of course, 200 years ago there was no mechitza anywhere near the Kotel but that is a different issue.

  65. The volleying between Israel and the US on Charedi sex segregation demands is interesting. I am curious to see if the NYC Williamsburg bus franchise issue resolution will impact the Israeli situation.

    The article to which mycroft refers is: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/nyregion/bus-segregation-of-jewish-women-prompts-review.html

  66. “Steve Brizel on October 23, 2011 at 10:04 am
    For those interested on technology and education, see this link.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?_r=1&hp. Anyone willing to discuss the use or views re using the same in yeshivas, especially on the elementary and high school level in the US?”

    We’d be better off in total if there were no computers used in instruction at the elementary and HS level-maybe a one semester course in the Smicha program on various research methods and computers would be appropriate.

  67. Re hakafot shniyot and Joel Rich’s link-wonder wouldn’t we be better off if there were parties after Yom Tov in the US and stop the frequent disgusting behavior-including often complete Musaf Shemoneh Esreh being a complete joke-with even approval of Lakewood trained Rabbis-its not only an MO problem.

  68. mycroft,

    There was no mechitza at the Western Wall; there was also no right to blow shofar and the like. Actions like that tended to spark murderous riots in the Mandatory period. I doubt anyone wants a return to those days.

    IH,

    “Given the recent discussions with R. Berman, I’m wondering if anyone knows of any “kosher” analysis of the possible non-Jewish mythological parallels to B’reishit 6:4?”

    Could you elaborate? Off the cuff, I wouldn’t see a problem with re-interpreting existing stories within the Jewish framework; cf the Flood Narrative and the Enuma Elish. Quite the contrary, it can be a source of Jewish pride (ie our God punishes for valid, not capricious, reasons).

  69. How do I subscribe to comments on any particular post?

  70. IH: Cassutto ad loc. Gordon Wenham (p.138) says similarly but not as clearly. In short, this is a polemic against those who ascribe divinity to such legendary giants. The Torah is demoting them to non-importance. Wenham’s key sentence: “Yet the description of their activity is so brief, and they and their offspring are so subordinated to the judgment of Yahweh, that the old tradition has been effectively demythologized.”

  71. Gil
    Cassuto’s answer is still not “frum”. According to him the Torah still assumes that there were and are giants in the world who are the offspring of angels and human women. How do you explain that?

  72. Gil — thanks for the Wenham quotation. I have seen similar in non-O Jewish sources and that is why I thought there might be some “kosher” analysis that: a) admitted the correlation; and, then, b) articulated why it was included (also tackling the later occurance in the Meraglim story).

    It seems to me another case of where it is better to tackle a complex pshat issue directly, rather than leave it to individual discovery given modern awareness of ancient mythology. And was rather hoping it has already been done and I could crowd source the reference. [Hope that also answers your request for elaboration, aiwac].

  73. I should add that my interest in asking may also have been sparked by my visits in August to the Korazim and Bet She’arim National Parks in the Galil which each have evidence of Greek mythology in an overtly Jewish context (although obviously at a much later time period).

  74. “mycroft,

    There was no mechitza at the Western Wall; there was also no right to blow shofar and the like. Actions like that tended to spark murderous riots in the Mandatory period. I doubt anyone wants a return to those days”

    I am referring to pre-mandatory days-look at old engravings of the site-there is no mechitza-reason of course, it was never a schul so no mechitza required.

  75. Moshe: There are midrashim that understand it that way, certainly about the Bnei Elokim. But you don’t have to go there. The language choice can be understood as that polemic, serving as a double entendre for early generations — and now for us.

  76. What is the message for our day?

  77. Joel, one wonders whether Haaretz’s writers talk to their photo editors. The photo in the article contradicts the whole piece. See http://muqata.blogspot.com/2011/10/haaretz-angry-female-idf-soldiers-walk.html

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