And In Third Place…


And so the horse trading begins.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has gotten down to the nitty-gritty business of cobbling together a government coalition.  Particularly attractive stallions, thankfully, will be the religious parties, the Prime Minister’s “natural partners,” as he calls them, although, apparently unnaturally, he jettisoned them the last time around.  Their being in Bibi’s good graces (for now) is happy news.

What many may not see as happy news is the remarkable fact that, after Likud and the Zionist Union (Hamachaneh Hatzioni), the third largest winner of votes was… the “Joint List” (Hareshima Hameshutefet) – the new Arab party, comprised of four previous Arab parties.

No one is concerned that the Joint List’s 13 seats will make it an attractive partner to a Likud-dominated government – or, for that matter, any government.  Nor would the Joint List itself consider being part of either.  Its very essence is oppositional.

The genesis of the Joint List, though, holds some irony; and its success, perhaps, something positive.

The impetus for the joining together of the four Arab parties, representing utterly disparate, contradictory, ideologies – communism, feminism, Islamism, and Palestinian nationalism was legislation passed last year raising the electoral threshold from 2% to 3.25%, or at least four seats.  None of the Arab parties saw themselves as viable in that calculus.  So they decided on a sort of multiple-wives marriage of necessity.  And ended up with more seats than their combined catch in 2013.

The irony?  The law that brought them together was pushed through by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, scored only six seats this time around, less than half of the Joint List.

The head of the Joint List, lawyer Ayman Odeh, somehow managed to herd the cats that comprise the list. He also strikes a moderate, unflappable pose.  In a campaign ad, he appears at a Jewish family’s Shabbos table, after the mainstream party candidates have burst in and made their cases.  They leave when Mr. Odeh enters and, smiling, he says to the Jewish family, “We all live in the same building together and we all want the same thing: Equal rights, peace and quiet.”

And in a debate, when Mr. Lieberman told Mr. Odeh that he should better be in Ramallah or Gaza and that “You’re not wanted here,” the Arab, who was born in Haifa, calmly responded to the Russian-born foreign minister, “I am very wanted in my homeland,” and went on to emphasize what he characterized as his party’s universalist and democratic message.

To be sure, some of the cats in his herd are anything but universalist or democratic. Which is why the Joint List’s campaign slogan was the soothing but hollow “The Will of the People.”

So what possible role could the Joint List play in the Knesset?  It will surely use its votes to oppose measures it sees as expansionist or anti-Arab.  But beyond those things, which the liberal parties will oppose no less, are there any other causes such a confederacy of incoherence might embrace?

Practically speaking, the Joint List’s fractious felines can probably come together on the issue of Arab poverty, and Israel’s insufficient assistance to that sector of its citizenry.

Israel ranks high among developed nations in the percentage of its citizens living in poverty.  Economist Paul Krugman attributes that in part to “policy choices: Israel does less to lift people out of poverty than any other advanced country.”

According to a 2013 National Insurance Institute report, the poverty rate among Israel’s Arabs – some 20% of the population – was 47.4%.

The same report estimates the poverty rate at the time among Israeli chareidim (approximately 10% of the population) at 66%.  Both communities’ high poverty can be attributed, at least in part, to low earnings and government cutbacks in child allotments.

So it might not be outlandish to imagine that, however either impoverished sector may feel about each other, both will vote to bolster any legislation put before the Knesset designed to assist poor families.  Stranger unplanned but de facto alliances have taken place.

For Jews who perceive Israel in nationalistic or religious colors, the emergence of an Arab party with 13 seats in the Knesset may seem like a violation of the idea of the state.  Those of us, though, who see Israel as a wonderful democracy and haven for Jews but who are not flag wavers or Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebrators  might dare to hope that the Joint List, the abhorrent nature of some of its members notwithstanding, might end up actually helping advance the Israeli societal good.

© 2015 Hamodia


Persian Diversion


It was a tad early for “Purim Torah,” but on Taanis Esther, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zari responded to a question from an NBC correspondent by insisting that Iran cares deeply for and is entirely protective of its Jews.

Asked about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent assertion in his speech before the U.S. Congress that “Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazis were a Jewish problem,” Mr. Zarif bristled and changed the topic to the Israeli leader’s citation in his speech to Megillas Esther.

“He even distorts his own scripture,” said the Iranian about the Israeli. “If – if you read the book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews.”  We needn’t engage Mr. Zarif on the finer points of the Purim story, but the question in the end, of course, isn’t what Achashverosh was or did, but what Iran is and does (and wants to do).

(Mr. Zarif, incidentally, also proudly cited Koresh, as having granted the Jews of his time permission to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash – apparently oblivious to the irony of the fact that the aforementioned edifice was to be built, and in time was built, in Yerushalayim.)

The Iranian foreign minister animatedly explained how “We have a history of tolerance and cooperation and living together in coexistence with our own Jewish people, and with – with Jews everywhere in the world.”  And he added, “If we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran” who presumably could provide a convenient first stage opportunity.  But, Mr. Zarif went on to proudly state, Jews “have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them, disproportionately to their number.”

A recent CNN article happily swallowed that sunny Iranian party line, describing the Iranian Jewish community of Esfahan in warm and delicate tones.  It characterized the community’s members as happy, and interviewed several.  Not one of them had anything negative to say about the current Iranian regime, clear proof of its benevolence (or, perhaps, of the very opposite).

Esfahan Jewish community leader Sion Mahgrefte, the article noted, while he “declined to comment directly on political matters, especially in the current heated environment,” did assert that the members of his community felt very much at home in Iran.”  Puts one in mind of James Baldwin’s line about home being “not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”

The NBC interviewer was, thankfully, less meek.  She presented Mr. Zarif with a statement made by Iran’s “supreme leader,” Sayyid Ali Khamenei, in which he declared: “This barbaric wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime [and which] has no cure but to be annihilated.”  “Can you understand,” the interviewer asked, “why Jews and others would take umbrage at that kind of language?”

He could not, of course, and insisted that “annihilating” a country of six million Jews (evocative number, that) is one thing; hating Jews elsewhere, something entirely another.  Slippery fish, that distinction between Jews and a country of Jews.

Iran’s Jews may not be overtly persecuted these days, but there are subtle sorts of repression too.  No Iranian Jew can dare speak up in defense of Israel in any way, for fear of his life.  And not long after the inception of the current “Islamic Republic,” the Jewish community’s leader at the time was arrested on charges of “corruption” and “friendship with the enemies of G-d” and executed.  Other Iranian Jews have likewise been executed over ensuing years for being “spies.”  (One wonders how thin the line is between being a Jew in Iran and a spy.)  Criticism of the Iranian policy of appointing Muslims to oversee Jewish schools, moreover, resulted in the shutting down of the last remaining Iranian Jewish newspaper, in 1991.

And so, Iran’s claim of love for its Jews, and some Iranian Jews’ claim to feel safe and protected, has to be taken with a grain, or perhaps a nuclear missile silo, worth of salt.  It is belied not only by Iran’s execution of Jews and its declared wish to annihilate a country with arguably more Jews than any other, but by the less guarded words of Iran’s allies and proxies.

Like Hassan Nasrallah, a leader of Hezbollah, the group conceived in 1982 by Iranian clerics and still funded by Iran.  “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel,” he said in 2002, “it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

Thank you, Hassan, for your candor.

© 2015 Hamodia





The Differences We Make


In Baltimore’s Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, in whose yeshivah gedolah I was fortunate to study in the 1970s, the custom was that each beis medrash bachur would learn during night seder with a high school-age boy.  I enjoyed the experience and it probably set me on a path to become a mechanech, in which role I was privileged to serve for nearly two decades.

At least one of my night-seder chavrusos, as it happened, followed me into the field of Jewish education, becoming, as I learned years later, the principal of a middle school in New England and then of a Bais Yaakov in Rockland County, the position he currently occupies.

I had only seen him once since our youths, when I was a rebbi and principal in Providence, Rhode Island, where he had brought a group of students from his school there for a Shabbos. That, though, was more than twenty-five years ago, and so it was a special pleasure to find myself at a meeting not long ago that, as it happened, took place in his home.  It was an even greater pleasure to hear what he told me when he took me aside before the meeting began.

“You should know,” he told me, “that something you said when I brought those kids changed the life of at least one of them.”  He went on to recount that a young woman among the group had discovered that, although she was raised as a Jew, she did not meet the halachic standard of Jewishness. At the time of the visit, she was deeply conflicted about whether she wanted to become a giyores or just accept her non-Jewish status and forge a life apart from the Orthodox Jewish world.

According to my former chavrusa, the young women he had brought from his school joined the Providence Bais Yaakov for Shabbos seudos, one of which my wife and I and our daughters were invited to attend.  He told me that I spoke to the group about the parasha and, although I had been oblivious to the presence of a potential giyores, had made some reference to illustrious geirim and descendants of geirim in Klal Yisrael.

“It made a tremendous impact on her,” my former chavrusa told me, and recounted how the girl underwent giyur shortly afterward and went on to get married and move to Eretz Yisrael, where she is the mother of a large and wonderful family.

The story, as might be imagined, warmed my heart.  The only problem was that I had no recollection of ever having spoken to the group, or of speaking about geirim to any group of visitors.  I strongly suspect that the orator at issue had been one of my wonderful colleagues in Providence at the time. Whatever.

But the story, whomever it concerned, was one worth pondering, and still is.

One can never know the effect of an offhand encouraging word or positive comment.  If we think about our own lives, most of us can readily remember something said by a teacher, parent, friend or even a stranger, that subtly (or not so subtly) put us on this road rather than that one.  Sometimes it may even, as the famous Robert Frost poem goes, have made all the difference.

Unfortunately, the same, it must be thought as well, is true about discouraging or negative comments; the difference they can make can be devastating.  Anyone who is thinking of entering the field of chinuch needs to realize that, while being a Jewish educator relieves one of many of the ethical challenges of other professions – doctors, lawyers and businessmen face all sorts of dilemmas – there are dangers in the seemingly idyllic vocation of teaching Torah too.  Like the possibility of inadvertently saying or doing something that might negatively affect a young person.

I might not remember saying many of the things that erstwhile students of mine have told me made a positive difference in their lives.  But I remember more than a thing or two I said in frustration or under pressure that certainly could have, chalilah, had the opposite effect.  And those students won’t likely call to let me know.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Shlomo Hamelech informs us (Mishlei 18:21).  And while that organ may be physically soft and feeble, it can have the effect of a protective fortress or a sharpened dagger.

An important realization for every mechanech.  Actually, no less important for us all.

© 2015 Hamodia


A Hint of What We Pray for Daily


A wedding took place last week.  The bride and groom weren’t members of Klal Yisrael, so it wasn’t a Jewish wedding.  And yet, at least in a way, it was.

It took place in a Muslim country that I won’t identify; the authorities there do not look favorably on Jews or on citizens who communicate with Jews, like the groom and his mother, who long ago decided that the Jewish mesorah is true.  Long ago, she abandoned the Christianity into which she was born, and has tried mightily, and with some success, to convince her husband, a Hindu, to forsake the idols and rites of his own upbringing and join her in her acceptance of Torah. Talk about a complicated family dynamic.

“Tehilla,” as I’ll call her, has not converted to Judaism.  She and her two adult sons are “Bnei Noach,” non-Jews who have accepted the Torah’s truth and who cherish Klal Yisrael.

There are similar non-Jews in Australia, Asia, Europe and here in the United States (a good number of them, for some reason, in the south).  Many confront formidable societal obstacles, although Tehilla, considering where she lives, likely faces more than most.

“Tehilla” is an appropriate alias for someone so filled with praise for the Jewish people.  Her studies of Judaism over years and her electronic interaction with various rabbis around the world have endeared the Jewish people and the Jewish religion to her – and her to her mentors.  Jews, to be sure, are enjoined from proselytizing to non-Jews, but Tehilla is self-motivated (an understatement); those, like me, who have corresponded with her are simply answering her queries – and are often inspired by her observations.

Tehilla’s empathy for Klal Yisrael, especially in Eretz Yisrael, is deep.  And it is accompanied by a clarity of vision that eludes so many, and so much of the media.  “With all the sufferings [the world has] inflicted on you all,” she once wrote, “I still cannot fathom how magnanimous you all are in being a light to all nations.”

“After meeting your people [by e-mail],” she once wrote, “I cannot understand how such a warm, compassionate and humane people can be so persecuted and so misunderstood.”

And, from other communications:

“G-d will never allow you to fall, in the merit of your patriarchs and prophets… soon G-d is going to say ‘enough’ to your tears…

“All I can pray is when Hashem decides it’s time for all your sufferings to be over, He will show us Gentiles the compassion we failed to show you all.

And she looks forward to Moshiach’s arrival with eagerness: “The greatest blessing for believing Gentiles like us is to be able to live where we can study … without fear and acknowledge Hashem as the supreme G-d and you all as His chosen.

Tehilla has always worried about how her sons, who share her dedication to truth, will find wives who will likewise eschew their religious upbringings and accept emes.  She was overjoyed when her older son found precisely such a young woman.  Their marriage is the one that recently took place.

Tehilla was pained by the possibility that the bride’s family, Hindus, would insist on a ceremony that might include idolatrous rituals.  In the end, the young couple’s insistence on only a civil ceremony and one presided over by an Orthodox rabbi in another country, carried the day – with the full support of Tehilla’s husband, and reluctant acceptance by the bride’s parents.  (And you thought your chasunos had challenges!

Tehilla is overwhelmed with gratitude toward her distant Jewish friends, whose tefillos on her behalf she credits with her good fortune.  Of course, those Jewish friends credit her fortitude and perseverance in a religiously hostile environment

It’s an image worth conjuring, and pondering.  A family without any natural connection to Jews or Judaism that has embraced both.  A wedding of two non-Jews who believe that Moshe emes v’Torahso emes, and who will raise their family accordingly.  A Bas Noach mother and traditional Hindu father looking on proudly.

I don’t know how many others there are in the wide world who have thought deeply about life and history and come to the same conclusion as Tehilla and her sons have.  But it’s intriguing to imagine that there may be many who are entirely “off the radar.”  And heartening to imagine that one day, their lives will come more publicly into view.  And then go, as they say, viral.

Our hope for precisely that, after all, is what we express three times a day in the second paragraph of Aleinu.


Faithless Ferocity


Last month, a newly-married couple and the wife’s sister, upstanding citizens and model university students, were murdered by a neighbor of the couple’s in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

A heinous crime, to be sure, and it reverberated particularly loudly across the country and around the world.  Because the victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, were Muslims with Middle-Eastern roots; and the alleged murderer, Craig Stephen Hicks, a middle-aged white man.

The suspected killer turned himself in to authorities and was duly indicted.  And while authorities said that their preliminary investigation indicated that a dispute over a parking space in the apartment complex where the victims and the alleged killer lived was the proximate cause of the murders, a multitude of Muslim voices wasted no time seizing on the tragedy as an anti-Muslim hate crime.

Members of the victims’ family were the first to make the charge.  One tweeted, “My cousin, his wife and sister in law were murdered for being muslim [sic]. Someone tell me racism/hate crimes don’t exist. #MuslimLivesMatter.”

Personal grief can cloud judgment, and it’s understandable that a relative of the murdered young people might assume religious prejudice motivated their murderer.  But a slew of Muslim groups – including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) – similarly rushed to imply that the murders were a hate crime, and called for a federal investigation

The idea of a “hate crime” as a distinct category is an odd one.  Most violent crimes, after all, are the product of one or another sort of hatred.  (And the emotionless hit man is arguably a worse criminal.)  But our society, in a laudable attempt to place opprobrium on racial and religious bias, has seen fit to create such a criminal category and endow it with special penalties.  Doing so has in fact had a positive educational effect.  And in the end, the F.B.I., federal prosecutors and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice announced they would indeed look into the motivation for the killings.

The widespread contention in the Muslim world that the victims were targeted because of their religion struck many as nothing more than a gambit to create a new narrative of Muslims being hunted down by bigots. Murders, after all, involving Muslims in this country – from the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge shooting to Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon – have usually seen the Muslim in the perpetrator’s, not victim’s, role

For her part, the alleged murderer’s wife insisted that her husband supported liberal causes.  In fact, Hicks had apparently been vocally critical of opponents to the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.

“I can say with absolute belief,” she stated, “that this incident had nothing to do with… the victims’ faith, but… was related to a longstanding parking dispute that my husband had with the neighbors.”

There is, however, evidence that the recent slaying of the three innocents may in fact have been the product of religious bias – although not toward Muslims per se.

Because Mr. Hicks, the alleged murderer, seems to have harbored a deep dislike of… religion – all religion.  He had prominently posted his feeling that “I want religion to go away. I don’t deny your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out it’s ignorant and dangerous…”  He also posted a photo of a supplicant with hands clasped, with the comment “Praying is pointless, useless, narcissistic, arrogant and lazy; just like the imaginary god [sic] you pray to.”

University of California sociologist Reza Aslan notes that, among the population that calls itself “atheist,” there exists a subset of “anti-theists,” people – like authors Richard Dawkins (of whom Hicks, incidentally, was a fan) and Sam Harris – who actively deride belief and believers, who exhibit “a sometimes virulent opposition to the very concept of belief.”  And a subset of those anti-theists are militant, even violent.

Not long ago, President Obama dared to remind an audience that it’s not only Islam that has been invoked by evil people as justification for violence, but Christianity as well.  He referenced the Crusades, but could just as easily have made mention of Christian terrorism in India or Central Africa (or “Christian militias” in the United States).

The Chapel Hill murders should open our eyes further still, to the fact that there are evil, violent people not only in the Muslim and Christian (and Hindu and Buddhist) communities these days who invoke their faiths to justify murder and mayhem, but among the faithless as well.

© 2015 Hamodia


Dear Alyssa


Dear Alyssa,

Congratulations on winning the Oratory Contest of the Jewish youth movement BBYO.  The topic was: “If you could modify any of the Ten Commandments, which would you choose and what would your modification be?”

You chose the fourth, the Sabbath, since “as a Reform Jew” you “do not observe the Sabbath in a traditional way.”  Your suggested replacement, in consonance with your belief that “Judaism means something different to everyone,” is: “Be the Jew You Want to Be.

You explained how “No one likes to be commanded to do anything, and especially not teens,” and that you therefore “practice Judaism in the way that works for” you.

“Judaism,” you wrote, “means something different to everyone. I believe that we should not let the kind of Jew we think we should be get in the way of the kind of Jew we want to be.”

What kind of Jews, though, should we want to be?

I don’t know if your family celebrates Passover.  But most affiliated Jewish families, including those belonging to Reform congregations, do mark the holiday, which, you likely know, will arrive in mere weeks.  If you have a Seder, it might have a contemporary theme, which is common in non-Orthodox circles.  You might be focusing on the economic enslavement of workers in many places today, or on human trafficking, or on the environment or on civil rights

All, of course, are worthy subjects for focus.  But Passover, or Pesach, has a history that goes back long before all those concerns.  Your great-grandparents, if not your grandparents, likely conducted a traditional Seder, as surely did their grandparents, and theirs before them, and theirs before them, all the way back to the event such a Seder commemorates: the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt.

It happened, Alyssa.  The Jewish people’s historical tradition has been meticulously transmitted from parents to children over thousands of years, and its most central events were the exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai shortly thereafter

The exodus from Egypt was not, as some people think, a rejection of servitude and embrace of freedom.  It was, rather, the rejection of servitude to a mortal king and an embrace of servitude to the ultimate King.  If you read the Torah carefully, you’ll see that fact clearly.  “Send out My nation,” G-d commands, through Moses, “so that they may serve Me.”

And so, while you’re right that people, and especially teens, generally don’t like to be commanded, from the perspective of your religious heritage, being commanded by the Creator, and thus being a light unto the nations in that acceptance of His will, is the greatest privilege imaginable.

In fact, it is the essence of Jewish life.

The end of the exodus story is the revelation of G-d to our ancestors at Mt. Sinai.  There, in an unparalleled historical event, the Creator spoke directly to hundreds of thousands of people.  No one could fabricate such a claim – and no other religion or group ever has.

And at that singular happening, the Torah was entrusted to our ancestors, along with the rules for understanding it and developing the system of laws that we have come to call Halacha.

You are correct that the Reform movement decided at its inception, in nineteenth century Germany, to reject what Judaism stood for over the previous thousands of years.  But there are still Jews – very many of us – who strive to maintain the integrity of the “original” Judaism.

As a thinking, caring young person, you owe it to yourself (and to your people) to not be satisfied with the conclusion you have currently reached, but rather to continue to investigate Jewish history and Jewish texts, and to keep an open mind.  You may be surprised to discover not only the historical veracity of classical Judaism, but the richness of living a “commanded” Jewish life.

I wish you well in that most important quest.


Sense and Centrifuges


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress is:

  1. A bald political move to shore up support for his candidacy in imminent Israeli elections.
  2. A misguided attempt to meddle in American partisan politics and embarrass President Obama
  3. A straightforward effort to express sincere concerns about the Iranian danger, and the conviction that any negotiations with Iran are inherently misguided.

My guess? A bit of “all of the above.”

There’s no doubt that Mr. Netanyahu’s presenting himself as a prophet before the legislature of the superpower ally of Israel (if not as leader of the Jewish People itself, a mantel he’s been donning of late) will help him in his reelection bid.  Or that he has often seized opportunities to express his dislike of Mr. Obama. (Yes, it’s mutual; kamayim hapanim lapanim…  “As water reflects a face, so the heart of a man to a man.” – Mishlei, 27:19.)

But only a hardened cynic would assume that Mr. Netanyahu’s concern about Iran is a guise, that his disdain for negotiations isn’t sincere.  It surely is.

But is it right?

For those who insist on seeing Mr. Obama as, at best, insufficiently concerned with Jews or Israel, the answer is clear.  Those would be the people who condemn Mr. Obama’s reluctance to use the word “Islam” when referring to Islamist terrorism, and reject his reasoning that doing so would alienate 1.5 billion Muslims.  And who seized on the president’s abysmal choice of adverb in a long interview, when he referred to “vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

Whether the president meant to say “wanton” or just didn’t realize what he was saying (which happens to many a speaker), a president has no excuse for imprecision.  The pouncing critics, though, ignored the fact that, in the wake of the attack, the White House called it a “violent assault on the Jewish community” and “the latest in a series of troubling incidents in Europe and around the world that reflect a rising tide of anti-Semitism.”  Those intractable critics of Mr. Obama surely reject, as a matter of principle, his strategy regarding Iran.

No one doubts that Iran’s leaders are evil men, and cannot be trusted.  How, though, to thwart their nuclear intentions?  Mr. Netanyahu insists that Iran must shut down all its centrifuges, the machines at the core of the uranium-enrichment process, something no one believes Iran will ever do.  The U.S. has chosen the path of negotiation (with, of course, verification, and likely some Stuxnet-style “alternate strategies” – one example of which was unfortunately uncovered by  the Russian firm Kaspersky Lab last week), carrying the big stick of sanctions, which is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

If there were a practical option of just bombing Iranian nuclear sites to Islamic heaven, that would be the clear course of action.  Unfortunately, no such option exists, and such an attempt would inflame not only Iran but its proxies and its friends like Russia and China, likely ushering in World War III.

Mr. Netanyahu has been bristling at reports that the current state of negotiations will leave a large number of centrifuges operational.  But anyone who researches the subject will quickly learn that there are a number of factors, like how the machines are configured and what will happen to fuel produced by them, that render the number of centrifuges less than crucial.

Mr. Netanyahu is the face of Israel.  But he isn’t a nuclear expert.  (Recall his 2012 speech before the UN, where he held up a cartoon bomb and implied that by the following spring Iran would have nuclear weapons.)  Someone who is, though, is the retired head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, Uzi Eilam.  And Mr. Eilam favors the negotiations approach, and asserts that “Netanyahu and other politicians have instilled a terrible and unnecessary fear in the Israeli public.

Are he and Obama right?  Or is Bibi? I don’t know, but neither do the posse of pundits who wouldn’t know a centrifuge from a centipede but loudly declare that Obama can’t be trusted and that Bibi is, if not melech Yisrael, at least the wisest of men.

The negotiations may well fail, which will trigger even harsher sanctions against Iran.  To some, that will be a good thing.  To others, an unrestricted Iran is cause for the deepest concern.

None of us can know whether or not to root for the negotiations’ success.  What we all can do, though, is be mispallel that this Adar will bring about a modern-day Purim miracle in the land of the original one, complete with gallows, these, hosting malevolent mullahs.

© 2015 Hamodia


Is Metzitza Bipeh In Fact Dangerous?


A tentative agreement was reached yesterday between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and an association of mohelim and Orthodox representatives with regard to the practice of metzitza bipeh.

An article of mine that appeared in Haaretz yesterday on the ostensible tie between the rite and the cold sore virus (which can be dangerous to babies) can be read here.