The Dear Rabbi Column, “ ...based on timeless Talmudic wisdom” (May 3), writes the following about the Kaddish: “Yet this prayer is especially apropos for a mourner because we believe that it is the Aramaic praise that the angels recite in God’s presence in the heavens.”
1.The Talmud (Shabbos 12 A) states that the angels do not understand and certainly do not communicate in Aramaic.
2.The prophets, Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 3, inform us of the praises that the angels recite to God, verses that are incorporated in the daily prayers as the Kedusha, not the Kaddish.
3.The rabbis have explained that the unique quality of the Kaddish, which elevates it even beyond the Kedusha ( Berachos 21 B), derives from the fact that it is the result of human initiative.
Dear Rabbi, aka Rabbi Dr. Tzvee Zahavy, replies:
I thank Mr. Polak for his letter. My column targets the issues of people, not of angels. Since I have not yet been to heaven, I can only speculate on the language skills of angels and their activities based on the assertions of our traditions. The Talmud passage Mr. Polak refers to cites the individual view of one rabbi regarding the language skills of angels. Other authoritative rabbis in the Talmud and later times argue that some angels do know Aramaic or that the question is moot, because angels know what you are thinking. Putting the language and angel issues aside, I do agree, as I proposed in my column, that the Kaddish is a powerful prayer of praise, a “human initiative” that mourners recite here on earth to act as if they are intercessors to gain heavenly immortality for the soul of a departed loved one.
Last week, my wife and I were the subjects of a cover page article in the Jewish Standard (“Art and marriage,” May 3.) The many compliments we received from our friends and others invariably mentioned the “excellent article,” not simply its subject. The writer’s judgment, apparently correct, was that a focus entirely on us was the most interesting approach. But I feel the need to comment.
We have found that our intense interest in art into our later years has made life more meaningful.
But others have equal passions. Some study religious content (our weekly women’s learning group); some perform acts of kindness (the volunteers in our food bank); some deal with medical emergencies; some are the family and social leaders on whom others depend, and of course there are the workers in our shuls and institutions.
Anyone can add themselves to the list.
Our idea is that the interests you develop in your early years give your later years more meaning.
Kudos to the Jewish Standard for reporting information that is factual, interesting, and emanating from a reliable source — Evan Sohn, Moriah’s president (“Faculty layoffs at Moriah,” April 19). The article highlights the rationale of inevitable changes that were made over time to benefit its student population. In contrast, a recent article in a NYC Jewish newspaper reported erroneous facts and left readers with a negative impression.
Moriah opened more than 50 years ago. It was one of the first yeshivot in Bergen County catering to the needs of a nascent modern Orthodox community. As a grandmother with four beautiful granddaughters in Moriah, I can attest to the school’s high educational standards in both secular and Judaic studies. With Dr. Prager at the helm, the school continues to flourish with warmth, stature, Yiddishkeit, and educational excellence. With a strong focus on secular and Judaic studies under the tutelage of a caring staff of wonderful qualified teachers, the positive and indelible impact the yeshivah leaves on its students is unmistakable. They are always proud to be Moriah graduates.
The parent body continues to be a very involved, creative and charitable group of energetic, enthusiastic people who are totally dedicated to upholding the values and traditions of their school. Moriah is truly a paradigm yeshivah in Bergen County.
Many people allude to a letter, sent out years ago, saying that Englewood residents took priority over Teaneck residents. Then, a lack of educational options led to overcrowding. The over-enrollment had to be addressed. It had a positive, far-reaching effect — the opening of a variety of yeshivot to serve various niches in a fast-growing community. Members of the Englewood community always have been supportive of other yeshivot emerging in their midst.
It is important to note that like all other yeshivot, Moriah is committed to making tuition affordable and sustainable for all. It is working diligently and collaboratively with Jewish Education for Future Generations to meet that goal.
While change is both inevitable and welcome, Moriah continues to boast a student population hovering around the 800 mark, with early childhood enrollment up 15 percenty for next year.
Isn’t Bergen County fortunate to have such quality educational institutions and programs in our midst?
The Jewish Standard continues to meet its goal, publishing news that’s fit to print, with the overriding commitment to benefit and enhance k’lal Yisrael.
I wonder how many readers advised you that the “Red Sea” south of Kadesh Barnea is really the Persian Gulf? (Cover, April 26.)
THE EDITOR REPLIES: Thank you so much, Mr. Eisen, but the map is correct. The map on last week’s cover shows two arms of the Red Sea; the Persian Gulf is farther east. We also thank you for allowing us to fix an error that we did make.
The map we used came from “The Picture-Book History of the Jews” by Howard and Bette Fast, published by the Hebrew Publishing Company on 79 Delancey Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1942. The labeling error was the Fasts’; the lack of acknowledgement of the art source last week was ours, and for that we apologize.
The Tsarnaev brothers were apparently good boys with no psychiatric or known criminal history and no personal connections to terrorist groups, but they saw innocent suffering of multitudes of people with whom they identified. Tamerlan said he did not feel that he fit in America. That is, after living here for a decade, he felt like an outsider, another suffering Muslim. He and his younger brother were fighters, one a boxer and the other a wrestler. They discovered they could make bombs. It was an instant solution to bring attention to their outrage. They devotedly and thoughtlessly did it for Mom. Tamerlan’s last words were to tell his mother that he loved her. Like the pet cat who brings home the dead mouse to its master, the brothers were misguided in their attempt to please their mother.
Two young brothers who together risked their lives for a cause bigger than themselves, because they could no longer idly stand by as they thought the more mature members of their community were doing. Like kids with a new chemistry set, and without much more thought than that, they pulled off an internationally headline-grabbing heinous prank. Their family and friends had no clue to their sudden act of insanity. Their uncle said it best when he pleaded with Dzhokhar to turn himself in, and denounced him for shaming all of their people. They committed unspeakable crimes. Tamerlan has paid the price for that, and Dzhokhar should, too.
But as Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley said at the Muslim-initiated interfaith service for the bombing and shooting victims, “we must … promote … a profound respect for each and every human being made in the image and likeness of God.” We must continue to cultivate the inclusion of all, as is the American tradition, rather than cultivating the hatred of the outcast. We should advise such potential terrorists that they will do their people more harm than good. And online terrorist groups give terrible advice. As the Bible says, there should be one law for the citizen and the stranger alike. Then we will be as one with all our brethren.
It was Muslims in Canada who tipped off the Canadian authorities to a plot by some of their own to derail a train to New York, and it was street vendors in Time Square who alerted police to a smoking abandoned car, which contained a lit car bomb. The perpetrator was a recently naturalized citizen, which means he had lived here for at least five years. One of those vendors was a Senegalese immigrant. Ninety-four percent of Senegalese are Muslim. We have had other mad bombers, serial killers, and mass shooters before. We are now cultivating new homegrown terrorists. They will be hard to spot without the help of all of the public. People like the man in Watertown, who, without a weapon, went into his own backyard and discovered Dzhokhar. A house divided cannot stand. Let’s seek peace rather that another round of revenge.
I usually sit in the comfort and safety of my home in Paramus and listen to the heinous terrorist acts occurring in Israel. But last week I was sitting in the comfort and safety of a rented apartment in Modiin, Israel, listening to the horror of senseless, brutal terrorism going on in Boston, Mass. We listened to the reports every day until the capture of the wounded terrorist.
On Friday, I read a wonderful editorial in the Jerusalem Post, “Responding to terror,” ending with the sentence: “But terrorists fail to see that it is precisely this [love of] freedom which makes America — and Israel — so great and so resilient to the threat of terrorism.” We arrived home Sunday and I read the articles in the Jewish Standard about the Boston tragedy.
My reaction to these vile acts of terrorism is not revenge, not punishment, not understanding the mind of the terrorist. My priority is prevention. I am pleased that the second terrorist was captured alive. Hopefully, his interrogation will help the authorities prevent other acts of terrorism and the capture of co-conspirators. Israeli security on my flight to and from Israel used profiling to prevent hijacking of airliners. The profiling was very polite and friendly. Perhaps some form of profiling should be considered to improve America’s method of terrorism prevention. I believe that the older brother was investigated and cleared of suspicious behavior. The authorities must review their procedures to further improve the prevention of terrorist acts. Obviously, the use of video cameras helped in the apprehension of the brothers but not in the prevention of the act.
Americans and Israelis are resilient people. I would rather not have to display our resiliency. After 9/11, we improved our methods of preventing acts of terrorism. We must do so again.
The 45 senators (including four Democrats) who voted against requiring background checks for gun purchases are cowards and disgraceful. They showed no compassion for the parents of the slain children in Newtown who appeared before them.
These senators kowtow to the gun lobby instead of protecting our children and families.
We need to send a message to let the 45 senators know what we think of them. Ninety percent of Americans supported the bill, and yet the senators could not vote to support a basic common-sense safety measure. They are supposed to work for the American people not the special interests. They should be voted out of office.
Have they no decency?
Naomi Steinberger’s April 19 letter that “questions global warming” ignores the fact that about 97 percent of climate experts and all science academies worldwide believe that climate change is happening, is largely caused by human activities, and poses a severe threat to humanity. Virtually all published articles that consider the issue in respected refereed scientific journals agree with this conclusion.
Ms. Steinberg’s statement that temperatures recently have been flat ignores that 2012 was the warmest year in the continental U.S. and that the 11 warmest years worldwide since temperature records have been kept in 1880 have occurred since 1998.
At a time when polar ice caps and glaciers all over the world are rapidly melting, when there has been an increase in the number and severity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods, and when climate scientists are warning that we may reach a tipping point when climate changes spin out of control, Ms. Steinberg’s letter has the potential of continuing the apathy, denial, and misinformation that can prevent the necessary actions that can help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.