September 02, 2010
Collective responsibility. One of the most accomplished Jewish terrorists of our time, Baruch Goldstein, came from the Jewish universe in which I was raised. When he committed his crime, there were a few former and present citizens of that universe, a revered rabbi of mine among them, who demanded a stringent communal introspection; but the critics were denounced as slanderers who tarred all of religious Zionism, or all of “Modern Orthodox” Judaism, or all of Judaism, with the same treasonous brush.
I've Touched A Raw Spot Among My Jewish Readers, And That's Exactly What I Intended To Do
August 31, 2010
It happened when I wrote about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as a paradigmatic instance of moral and intellectual backwardness in the ultra-ultra-orthodox communities of Israel. On the day that I wrote I'd noted a headline and article in the Jerusalem Post: "'Sinner' singer given 39 lashed by rabbis." I have no idea whether the rabbis involved were in the circle of "Ovadia", as the grand rabbi is called by his faithful who are many, or not. But the sin for which the singer, Erez Yechiel, was sentenced and, in fact, punished was to have performed in front of a "mixed audience" of men and women.
March 17, 2010
Recently I was rummaging through the living mess of papers in my office--my nachlass, however hard-driven, will not be a hard drive--when I discovered a fading sheet I had not seen in decades. It was a copy of a letter that was given to me by a little man in the municipal hall in Hebron in 1980. I had traveled to Hebron to look into an incident that occurred a few days earlier on Purim, a triumphalist holiday on which Jews are enjoined to revel in inversions and to drink themselves out of their capacity to distinguish between good and evil.
Nidal Malik Hasan And Baruch Goldstein...Plus Definitive Post-Script
November 09, 2009
On February 25, 1994 Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a physician in the Israel Defense Forces living in the historically contested ancient city of Hebron, walked into the Ibrahimi Mosque, located in the Cave of the Patriarchs, and with his machine gun murdered 29 Muslim men at prayer. The tremor that ran through Israelis and Jews around the world was two-fold. The first tremor was that here was a massacre of innocents attributable to a madman. But this attribution could not stand by itself for long.
Now He Tells Us
March 28, 1994
More than any other Jewish thinker, Maimonides, who lived in the twelfth century, still has sway over the modern mind and not just the modern mind of Jews. He was also a physician, and wrote widely on medicine. Among his voluminous writings--on drugs, asthma, sex, poisons, almost everything but managed competition--is this short prayer: "Supreme God in Heaven: Give me the merit to regard every suffering person ... as a human being, without any distinction between rich and poor, friend and foe, good person and bad.
March 21, 1994
Clean Hands. In the course of many centuries, there were many crimes that Jews did not commit, but this was not least because they lacked the power to commit them. I remember the day that I discovered the obscure figure of Yusuf Asar. He appeared in a remarkable volume of Syriac Christian hagiographies, called Holy Women of the Syrian Orient. Yusuf Asar lived in the South Arabian kingdom of Himyar in the early sixth century. He was a Jew (or, according to the editors of the volume, "a Jewish upstart").