When I shall go to the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, when the gates of Heaven are wide open, enabling us to communicate directly with the Almighty, I shall ask G-d one question and then leave, "Where were you during the Holocaust?"
It has become customary for all officers graduating in the Israeli Defence Forces to be taken to the fortress of Massada and made to swear an oath there that Massada shall not fall again.
That is a reference to the besiege of Massada in the year 70 by the Roman army who were unable for two years to take that hide-out of some 200 Jewish fighters. When in the end they occupied the fortress they found all the people there had committed suicide, rather than be tortured by their Roman enemies.
This has become known as the Massada option. But why should this be a model for the Israeli army? I prefer the Samson option when the hero of ancient Israel managed to bring the Palestinian Temple down and thus kill with himself thousands of the enemy.
Today, Israel is one of the strongest military powers in the world and should try to flex her muscle when dealing with her neighbours.
Barak or Mu-Barak? The Arabs have found Prime Minister Ehud Barak tougher than Netanyahu, knowing Israel's nuclear potential and military superiority, Mubarak has been calling for a nuclear-free Middle East hoping to achieve by a little hot air equality with Israel. But according to an Arabic proverb "You cannot fry eggs with hot air".
The Jews have a capacity for creating problems for themselves, and Jacob was no exception. One night, while sleeping in the open, he felt a slight cramp in his thigh. As he was in the middle of an important dream, the reality got mixed up with the dream, as often happens, and he thought the angel had touched his thigh. Sure enough, he had a temporary limp when he woke up, and he came to believe that the Angel had touched his thigh. Thus it became a tradition that Jews remove (porge) the leg sinew of animals before cooking. It was not a commandment but merely a tradition. (A simple cure for cramps is to drink Indian tonic water).
Since the war, however, porging became unreliable and it was decided to discard the whole hindquarter of the carcass by selling it to non-Jews who could thus enjoy at reduced prices the best cuts of the meat - steak, kidney, etc., while driving kosher meat prices higher.
So far so good. But there has been a movement in Europe to ban Jewish methods of animal slaughter altogether, as inhumane because it did permit pre-stunning of the animal. The ban started in Nazi Germany; while forbidding the Jewish Shechita, wicked Germans, at the same time, slaughtered six million Jews. They proved themselves to be lower than animals.
Repeated attempts in the British Parliament to ban Jewish Shechita failed because it could not be proved that this method was not humane, but also because of the 2 million Moslems who could also be affected. So now the Anti-Shechita lobby want to try a new tactic. They wish to require Kosher and Halal meat to bear a label stating its method of slaughter. This will only affect Kosher meat because it would make it impossible to dispose of the hindquarters in the general food chain.
Jewish communal authorities are considering going to the Court of Europe on the grounds of discrimination. This approach is certain to fail: the Court cannot oblige anyone to buy the rejected parts of Kosher meat. What are the alternatives?
1. To sell the hindquarters to our Moslem brethren who would enjoy excellent shish-kebab at even lower prices.
2. To consider taking a rabbinic decision that Jacob's vision concerning the thigh sinew was just a bad dream and that all parts of kosher animal can be eaten.
If the European Court has any sympathy on us let it remove the total ban on shechita that is now in force in many European countries.
Much has been written about the Golden Rule, namely, "Love thy neighbour as thyself". But this is a tall order, as no-one can love a neighbour, less so a stranger, as oneself. Moreover, this is not what the Bible says. The words are - VE AHAVTA LE REAKHA KAMOKHA, and not ETHREAKHA. In other words, the true meaning of the Golden Rule is to wish for your neighbour or even for a stranger as you wish for yourself.
It appears that the true meaning got lost in the translation from Hebrew to Greek and from Greek to other languages. But the Koran got it spot-on; it says,
(a Moslem has to desire for his brother as he desires for himself).
It is interesting to note that this Arabic dictum is one of the versions of the Golden Rule inscribed on the walls in the Religion Section of the Millennium Dome.
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