Tonight, the 26th day of Tammuz in the Hebrew year 5771, is my father’s ninth yahrzeit. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think mournfully of all the questions I would like to ask him and all the conversations I would like to have, remembering so much of what I learned from him and yet thinking that it was pitifully little, considering the genius and great-heartedness of that extraordinary man, R’ Nachman Bulman, of blessed memory. He is to this day so longed-for and so deeply missed by so many people, as I well know from many of his students and former congregants.
I have not written here in a long time, for various reasons. But tonight, in my father’s honor, my heart urges me to talk about some of the beliefs that my father held most dear. My father believed passionately in Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE), the very ancient Torah understanding that was given more modern and eloquent expression in the 19th century writings of Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch. TIDE refers to Torah together with civilization or Torah together with secular pursuits or Torah together with courtesy and humanity. It is hard to define exactly in a short essay but let me talk about one aspect of TIDE.
We who believe in TIDE believe that one of the reasons that Hashem scattered us among the nations, in addition to the obvious fact that this is a punishment for our sins (foretold in the Torah), is that we are meant to be an ohr lagoyim, a Light to the Nations. We are also a blessing to the nations, also foretold in multiple places in the Torah. It was we Jews who introduced monotheism and morality to the world and we have indeed blessed the nations among whom we live in ways too numerous even to begin to detail.
Now, there is another school of thought within Orthodoxy which rejects TIDE and which holds that we have no responsibility towards the nations, other than to be basically law-abiding citizens, and that we should have as little to do with them as possible.
In Poland and Russia over the last few centuries, the goyim were mostly drunken, ignorant peasants who regularly slaughtered and robbed Jews. The Jews in those countries were so far above the goyim in every respect that it is no wonder they developed a contempt for the peasants around them. In addition, there was a fundamental lawlessness, with laws purposely designed to destroy Jewish lives and livelihoods and with authorities turning a blind eye to pogroms and depredations conducted by the gentiles against Jews. In such societies, it was inevitable that Jews would learn to live by their wits and would find every possible way around, under, and despite the laws (which were an anti-Semitic farce), simply to survive.
Unfortunately, when the Russian and Polish (and Ukrainian and Romanian, etc) Jews came to America, many transplanted here an attitude of contempt and disdain towards the non-Jews around them, along with an attitude that one has to work the system in any way possible in order to survive.
By contrast, 19th century Germany, where Hirsch lived and wrote, was a highly civilized country in which Jews had gone a long way towards legal and political emancipation and in which most of the surrounding goyim were educated and refined people. Of course we know how that played out, and thus we internalized another lesson: as long as we live as a small minority in foreign lands, we always have to watch our backs.
Nevertheless, there are many righteous gentiles and we owe them our friendship and gratitude. And when we live in such a malchus shel chessed as America is—such a benevolent country—we owe the gentiles around us a great deal. It behooves us to bring blessing to them and not curses, chas vesholom, to the best of our ability. This is the more true because this is a country in which we have the legal right to vote, to speak and to write, to make our voices heard. Continue reading → Jews and Civilization
About twenty years ago, I publicly debated a rabbi associated with the circles around Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center, on the topic “Vengeance – Divine or Human?” As the debate went on, I found myself increasingly shocked by his willingness to rely on quotations pulled from the aggadata sections of the Torah to reach legal conclusions, which, if implemented, would have immense implications for Jews around the world, and his confidence that we live in an era in which Jews can say and do whatever they want in the Land of Israel without fear of how those words and actions will be received by the gentile world.
I have not read Torat Hamelech, and cannot comment on its contents. But Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, the most prominent living halachic decisor, has condemned the work on for reasons similar to those that shocked me in that long ago debate – it places Jews around the world in danger. And Rabbi Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg, the son-in-law of the late halachic giant Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, withdrew his letter of approbation from the book because of “certain conclusions that are not halachically correct” and others that defy … Read More >>
The question of why the Haredi community tends to avoid or minimize IDF service is one with multiple facets, one of which is the ongoing hostility of the IDF towards Jewish religious practice. A yeshiva student, in particular, is supposed to take himself away from doing something which, he believes, protects every Jew in every place, and instead place himself into a situation where he is told that all of that is valueless, and his rules, primitive.
In the newest example, the outgoing Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, Avi Zamir, asserted that requiring female soldiers and officers to dress modestly around their observant comrades was harmful to their dignity. He said that to require women not to sing in their presence was a “pathetic demand.”
What happens if a soldier leaves a room in which a woman is singing, when commanded by his superiors to be in that room? It’s not at all the same as shopping at Walmart, where it’s a matter of personal preference whether or not to tolerate whatever they happen to play in the background. In the IDF, if you don’t overlook assaults on Jewish law, a soldier can be thrown in jail.
As a boy growing up in the 1960s, I became intrigued with handwriting analysis. It’s an intriguing notion, an almost obvious one: our character traits are subtly expressed in our handwriting. Every person is unique, after all, and so is every person’s handwriting. Our brains are the physical organs that mediate our “selves” and ultimately produce our writing. It seems reasonable that our handwriting unconsciously reveals things about our personal characteristics. The revelations will be subtle, to be sure, but with enough research, studies, and testing, it should be possible, the reasoning goes, to establish rules to allow for the accurate analysis of personality from handwriting.
And, indeed, the claim that such rules are available and can be practically applied, at least by experienced initiates, is the fundamental principle underlying the discipline of graphology, or handwriting analysis.
I read whatever material on the topic I could find. In the end, though, I concluded that if graphology were in fact a science, it was too inexact and fuzzy to be of any use. And so I lost interest and moved on to model rocketry.
But graphology, to understate things, went on quite well without me. Today, there are scores of books on the topic; companies specialize in analyzing handwriting; individual graphologists offer their services for a fee; people use graphological analyses of their strengths and weaknesses to make life decisions; and employers routinely evaluate applicants at least partly on graphologists’ judgments of handwriting. (The use of graphological profiles as an employment tool is particularly popular, for reasons not clear, in Western Europe and Israel.)
Continue reading → Handwriting Analysis: Science or Snow Job?
“Just as ordinary, pig-headed and unreasonable as anybody else” was the eminent twentieth century psychologist H.J. Eysenck’s judgment of scientists. “And their unusually high intelligence,” he added, “only makes their prejudices all the more dangerous.”
A recent example of scientific unreason stands out, both for the renown of the scientist involved and the irony of where his bias led him.
The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who died in 2002, was one of the most celebrated, influential and widely-read scientists of his time. In his 1981 book “The Mismeasure of Man,” about the measurement of intelligence, he presented the work of 19th-century physical anthropologist Samuel George Morton as Exhibit A for how racial preconceptions can prejudice scientific research.
Morton, seeking evidence that the Supreme Being had created human races separately, used mustard seeds (at first, then buckshot) to meticulously calibrate the volumes of hundreds of skulls of Caucasians, Asians, American Indians and Africans. He indeed found a pattern of size differentials in the brain cavities of the various groups. Reanalyzing the data anew, however, Gould concluded that the earlier scientist had misrepresented his findings, and accused Morton of believing that the groups with the smaller cranial cavities were intellectually … Read More >>
Recently, I rejoined a morning shiur that I had attended for many years. The primary attraction was that the shiur had just started Mesillas Yesharim [Path of the Just] for the mussar [ethics] segment. Though I have learned Mesillas Yesharim (or at least the opening chapters) many times, the chance to learn it with this particular maggid shiur was irresistible, for he is a walking Mesillas Yesharim.
I have not been disappointed. His inferences from a close reading of every word (after all, the Vilna Gaon famously said that there is not an extra word in the first eleven chapters), his palpable excitement in sharing the insights of the Ramchal, and the model that he provides of what a Torah Jew can aspire to be leave me feeling genuinely uplifted at the beginning of each day.
The shiur got me thinking. I am nearly sixty years old. I was privileged to spend many years in yeshivah and kollel, and through my biographies and other work I have spent much time with great Torah scholars, both living and no longer living. And yet this twenty minutes of mussar every morning with a rebbi who has perfected his middos to an … Read More >>
Richard Stallman can rightly be described as the father of the open-source movement. He created the GNU Project, which aimed to create a free Unix-compatible operating system (finally completed when Linus Torvalds used GNU development tools to create his Linux kernel) and founded the Free Software Foundation.
Stallman was programming before companies thought about restricting access to their code, and has stated throughout his career that free and open access is crucial to software use, growth and development. To some extent, his motivation was personal: after modifying the source code of the MIT AI Lab’s Xerox printer to notify users when their job had printed, and to notify everyone waiting when the printer jammed, he was denied access to the code when they bought a newer model. He has made the free sharing of information for the benefit of all his life’s work.
His vision has been realized to an incredible extent: much of the Internet runs on software licensed under the GNU General Public License, which grants every user freedom to access and improve software, and then redistribute the changes. Linux, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL, PHP, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal… If you recognize these names, you recognize the … Read More >>
After a recent speech on chinuch banim (child-rearing) in Lawrence, someone approached me and asked, “Your children are all matzliach, all in learning?” I suppose I could have let slide the implied assumption of the question – success is exclusively determined by whether, and how long, one stays in learning. But I decided not to.
“Yes, Baruch Hashem, my children are successful,” I told him. “But I do not view my son who learns in kollel in the morning and repairs major appliances afternoons and evenings as any less successful.” My response probably took my questioner aback a moment, but I was still not done: “True, this son will probably not be as big a talmid chacham as his brothers. But I do not see him as less of an eved Hashem – not in the way he davens or his dikduk in mitzvos. And I can always count on him to say a dvar Torah at the Shabbos table.”
I was still not done enumerating the reasons I’m so proud of this particular son. Chief among them is the way he took responsibility when it became clear that the money was simply not there to put food on … Read More >>
I think that now, weeks since the mortal remains of this generation’s most reviled mass-murderer were offered to fish and crustaceans, it’s safe to bring up an important Jewish thought that should have occurred to us all in the wake of the operation at Abbottabad.
No, nothing to do with its ethical merit or legality; formal procedures and qualms have no place when it comes to removing a clearly dangerous object, animal, or person from the world. Nor is it with regard to the jubilation seen in some places following Bin Laden’s killing; there are moral grounds for celebrating the demise of evil.
What may not have received sufficient contemplation was something else: the helicopter left behind.
Two Black Hawks were reportedly employed in the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. One experienced some sort of trouble and made a hard, damaging, landing. The commandos tried to destroy the damaged chopper before leaving the compound on the other helicopter, apparently concerned that the Pakistanis might learn some secrets from the cutting-edge technology of the now-abandoned aircraft.
But there is something valuable in the wreckage from which we might all learn—or, at least, be reminded of: Things can … Read More >>
Carl Schramm’s graduation speech to Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business was pretty much what one would expect from one of America’s leading students of entrepreneurship: a paean to American freedom of the individual and the economic freedom on which it is grounded. In the middle of Schramm’s celebration of American capitalism, there appeared a sentence that caught my attention: “The per capita rate of business formation in the U.S. is higher than in any industrialized society except Israel.”
That chance reference to Israel together with the United States set me thinking about one of the nearly open miracles of Israel’s history: The only country in the world in which popular support for Israel is consistently high also happens to be the richest and most powerful nation in history, the one indispensable ally.
American support for Israel has little to do with the wealth or influence of the Jewish community. Many of Israel’s staunchest political supporters in the United States represent states or districts with few Jewish voters. (The same pattern exists in Canada, whose prime minister, Stephen Harper, is by far the most forceful advocate for Israel among current world leaders. The traditional base of Harper’s Conservative Party … Read More >>
Given all the attention focused on Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines (known colloquially and erroneously as the 1967 borders), one would never know how irrelevant they are to Israeli withdrawal from land captured in 1967. From his first day in office, President Obama seized on the settlements as the crucial issue in Palestinian-Israel peace process, as a means of signaling to the larger Muslim world that they have a friend in the White House. In so doing, he only succeeded in hardening Palestinian positions and convincing them that there was no need to negotiate with Israel because the United States will pressure Israel into withdrawal to the “1967 borders” with minor adjustments.
For many American Jews too, the settlements have taken on a role far out of proportion to any actual impact on peace. The settlements allow American Jews to indulge their Jewish guilt over the failure to achieve peace and to engage in a particularly Jewish form of hubris – the feeling that everything depends on us and that if were only better, more magnanimous, peace would be at hand.
No Israeli government will ever be able to evacuate a quarter of a million Jews from … Read More >>
Arab reporter interviews a 92-year-old Hebron resident. He wants to talk about the “Nakhba” — she wants to talk about murdering innocent Jews, the same way her father murdered the students of the Hebron Yeshiva in 1929.
Besides her bloodlust, the other telling thing about her comments is that she flatly contradicts the reporter when he says that she has lived through all 63 years since the Nakhba. She says, “92 years. I remember the British…” — in other words, there never was such a thing as a Palestinian state, and the Palestinian “Nakhba” [disaster] is primarily that they failed in their plans to carry out another massacre.
In recent weeks, we have been contemplating the pressure and intimidation experienced by Jewish students on university campuses in North America from anti-Israel propaganda. In Part I, we discussed the diverse nature of the intimidation – anti-apartheid weeks, departments of Middle East studies funded by Arab petrodollars – and the potential impact on the Jewish identity of students put in the cross-hairs of political correctness by virtue of their identification with Israel. In Part II, we discussed how poorly served Jewish students have been by precisely those Jewish “defense” organizations from which support might have been expected, and the ways in which the cowed behavior of students in the face of attacks on Israel increasingly mirrors that of mainstream Jewish organizations.
Compounding the tragedy is the fact that the case for Israel is today clearer and easier to make than ever before. Arab Spring, for instance, has exploded one of the central myths advanced by the so-called “realists,” like Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer — i.e., that the Arab-Israeli conflict lies at the center of all the deformities of the Middle East. The turmoil currently roiling the entire Middle East has focused attention on the freedom deficit in Arab … Read More >>
At the beginning of Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert speculates on the essential difference between human beings and animals. He conclusion: Only humans plan for the future. No animal ever delayed gratification in anticipation of some future benefit.
Gilbert’s insight was preceded by our Sages. At the beginning of parashas Tazria, the Midrash quotes a verse from Tehillim: Achor ve’kedem tzartani. . . (Tehillim139:5). Reish Lakish interprets achor to refer to the last day – yom acharon – ve’kedem to refer to the first day. Even the animals have a first day, but only human beings have a yom acharon, a future to which they are striving.
Everything that an animal will ever be is included in its initial genetic material, whereas a human being has the potential to change his nature according to his capacity to reflect on the purpose of his life.
ALL HUMAN BEINGS have this capacity to set future goals and strive towards them. But the Jewish people have a unique future orientation, despite possessing the richest past of any people. Our Sages divide human history into three parts. The first period is referred to as the two thousand years of tohu ve’vohu … Read More >>
Several months ago, Rav Matisyahu Solomon shlit”a, mashgiach of Lakewood’s famed Beis Medrash Gavoha, denounced the advertising of Kupat Ha’ir as theft — convincing those in desperate situations that all they need to do is donate to Kupat Ha’ir and they will certainly see a positive result. Rav Yitzchok Adlerstein described the dialogue between Rav Solomon and Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a, contrasting both Rav Kanievsky’s letters of endorsement and the actual good done by the organization with the “horrific copy” written by the marketing mavens in the United States.
The most recent advertising supplement from Kupat Ha’ir, a 24 page, full-color glossy appendage to Mishpacha, claims that Rav Kanievsky “endorses the publicity.” It also, to the discerning reader, verifies both Rav Solomon’s critique and Rav Adlerstein’s carefully articulated line between the operators of the Kupah in Bnei Brak and the English-language marketing engine.
The first thing we notice is that Rav Kanievsky’s letter of “six concise, moving lines” is so incredible, so truly mind-boggling, “a thousand witnesses to the awesome merit of every Jew who is a partner” — that the marketing geniuses couldn’t be bothered to translate the vast majority of it. That is perhaps because the … Read More >>
The Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762–1839) probably never saw a black person. There weren’t likely very many in 19th century central Europe. But he certainly knew they existed. After all, they are mentioned in a verse, the one that opens the haftarah of the Torah portion Kedoshim, which will be read this year on the first Shabbat after Pesach. There, Kushites—Kush is generally identified as a kingdom in central Africa—are a simile for the Jewish People.
“Behold, you are like the children of Kush to Me,” the prophetAmos (9:7) quotes the Creator addressing His nation.
“Just as a Kushite differs [from others] in [the color of] his skin,” comments the Talmud (Moed Katan, 16b), “so are the Jewish people different in their actions.”
One might assume that the intention of that explanation is simply that, while most people often act thoughtlessly or selfishly, Jews, if they live as they should, do otherwise, planning their every action, concerned about their obligations to the Creator, and to others.
But the Chasam Sofer’s interpretation of the Talmudic comment (he apparently had “the righteous” in place of “the Jewish people”) goes in a different direction, and makes a point as … Read More >>
The failure of the mainstream Jewish organizations with respect to Jewish students on campus is twofold. First is the failure to aggressively defend students from physical and verbal intimidation, especially when they identify with Israel. Second is the failure to provide them with the information they need to defend Israel and to fend off a type of Stockholm Syndrome.
Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser draw an interesting parallel to an incident that took place at the University of California-San Diego in 2009. A noose – presumably a symbol of lynching – was found on campus and students occupied the chancellor’s office in response. Everyone from the governor on down condemned the incident, and the university quickly established a task force on minority hiring and a commission to address declining black admissions. (The noose, it turned out, had been placed by a minority student.)
Yet, write Jacobs and Goldwasser, when Jewish students and Jewish buildings are attacked and defaced, “Jewish leaders sit on their hands. No one calls for sensitivity training for Muslim and leftist students about the history of blood libels. . . .”
Students who fight back aggressively usually do so independently or with the assistance of little … Read More >>
It wasn’t reported as a stand-alone piece in The New York Times or Washington Post for some reason, but on March 19 Hamas security agents raided the Gaza offices of Reuters, seized reporters’ cameras, beat an employee with a metal bar, and announced their intention to throw another (employee, that is, not metal bar) out a window. What brought about the theft, assault, and threatened defenestration was the fact that a reporter in the building had filmed a demonstration taking place on the street below.
A demonstration, it should be noted, in favor of reuniting Hamas, which is pledged to Israel’s destruction, with its current rival Fatah, which administers the West Bank and is, at least in principle, at peace with Israel.
Mere days later, the atmosphere had clouded—maybe cleared would be a better description. First, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that his boss considered unity with Hamas so important that even the withdrawal of American aid to the Palestinian Authority—currently hundreds of millions of dollars annually—would not derail a planned re-alliance of the two Palestinian parties.
Then a prominent Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, visiting Egypt for the first time since its former President Hosni Mubarak’s … Read More >>
A friend of mine received a call the other night for a telephone survey of senior citizens. The interviewer wanted to know about his physical and emotional health – “Do you have any trouble picking up objects off the floor?”; “Do you suffer from depression?”; “Do you find yourself frequently bored?” The last question asked him to categorize himself according to religious observance.
Instead of answering, my friend asked the interviewer to guess. Until that point there had been nothing in the interview relating directly to religion. The survey focused exclusively on questions about the interviewee’s general state of heath. And my friend had not peppered his answers with “Baruch Hashem”. Nevertheless, the interviewer guessed correctly that he was religiously observant.
My friend asked the interviewer how he had known. “Well, you seem like a pretty optimistic fellow,” the interviewer said. “And I find religious people are generally more optimistic.” The interviewer’s response turns out to be based on solid empirical evidence. A recent Gallup-Healthways survey of 372,000 people found that American Jews ranked highest of any religious group on the well-being index, based on such factors as health, happiness, and access to basic needs. And among American Jews, … Read More >>
Jewish college students find themselves increasingly under attack on campuses around the world. The seventh annual Israel Apartheid Week just took place on 55 campuses world-wide. Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney rightly described such events seeking to “promote Palestinian human rights” as “accompanied by anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and bullying.” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper lamented that the “anti-Israel mob” is frequently “allowed to prevail.” And opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff described the anti-Israel events as a “cocktail of ignorance and intolerance.” At Ottawa’s Carlton University, a non-Jewish supporter of Israel and his Israeli roommate were surrounded and then chased by an Arabic-speaking mob, one of whose members swung a machete that missed the head of the non-Jew by inches.
The demonization of Israel to which young Jews are exposed begins long before university studies; the campuses are merely the venue for the most intense exposure. British journalist Melanie Phillips described on Israel TV this week the “demonization, dehumanization, and delegitimization” of Israeli Jews that has become the daily fare of the mainstream British media, and which she documents in nauseating detail in her new book The World Turned Upside Down. Channel Four recently broadcast the four-part historical fiction, The Promise, … Read More >>
by Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) recently released a draft of a strategic plan that speaks to the ongoing challenge facing non-Orthodox Jews in this country. The release was accompanied by data showing that the Conservative movement has lost 14 percent of its affiliated families since 2001, and twice that percentage in the northeast. This plan came on the heels of the Union of Reform Judaism’s announcement of an 18-month think tank session, to include all the major arms of the Reform Movement. While some of Reform’s need for reassessment emerged from the broader economic downturn, it was mainly driven by the loss of membership in the movement’s congregations. In a similar vein, Reconstructionist rabbis were recently challenged to “rethink the rabbinate” in light of the shrinking market of non-Orthodox Jews and the lack of congregational job opportunities. Much of the blame for dwindling numbers and general disconnect has been laid at the doorstep of the non-Orthodox synagogue. It is claimed that these houses of worship have become increasingly irrelevant. (Perhaps the only Jewish institution that suffers greater criticism is the synagogue’s stepchild, the congregational religious school.) For that reason, many Jewish funders are … Read More >>
Mama Jean, I realized, had sensed what the rabbis of the Talmud teach: that a person’s true character is evident in “his cup”—in how he acts when intoxicated. She had perceived Klal Yisrael. … Read More >>
March 14, 2010
STATEMENT OF AGUDATH ISRAEL OF AMERICA REGARDING THE BRUTAL MURDERS IN ITAMAR
Every person with a Jewish heart—in fact every person with an unsullied human heart—feels only sorrow, anguish and outrage over what befell the Fogel family in Itamar this past Shabbos night.
There comes a point when words cannot convey the depth of evil. No phrase in any language can truly describe the depravity of people who are capable of creeping into a peaceful home in the middle of the night and stab to death an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, a baby girl three months of age and their parents.
And so we are left with only the heartbreak and tears, and the pools of innocent Jewish blood that the perpetrators of these despicable acts left behind in their evil wake.
May the world be left with something too: a better appreciation of why Israelis might be reluctant to trust the intentions of people who hate them so viscerally, and of authorities whose media and school textbooks feed demonization of “Zionists” to their violence-prone culture.
May the blood of these precious innocents be avenged soon and fully by the Av Harachamim.
A middle-aged British husband and wife recently lost their battle over their right to become foster parents because of their traditional beliefs about marriage and morality.
Owen and Eunice Johns, 65 and 62 respectively, were turned down as candidates by the Derby city council because its members considered their religiously-informed views on moral behavior to constitute intolerance, expressing concern that a child entrusted to them might be influenced by the couple’s beliefs.
Mr. and Mrs. Johns, who have been married for almost 40 years, present an unlikely portrait of prejudice. Middle-class blacks, they have over the years offered their home to 15 foster children aged 5-10 and insist that they have nothing against anyone, no matter his or her beliefs or actions. They simply subscribe to a traditional Christian approach to moral behavior.
But a law passed not long ago by the British Parliament expanded on the definition of improper discrimination, landing the Johnses, for their religious beliefs, on the wrong side of the legal line, at least as regards their eligibility to care for foster children. A social worker expressed concern that the couple might communicate their beliefs to a child entrusted to their care and Mr. … Read More >>
This old saying, which is a clever rhyme in the original Yiddish, comes to mind when considering the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan. “Many are the thoughts in the heart of man, but it is G-d’s counsel that will stand.” [Proverbs 19:21]
Ever since humanity was introduced to nuclear energy in 1945, also in Japan, we have found it both fascinating and terrifying. It is incredibly useful, incredibly powerful, and incredibly deadly. Furthermore, radiation is a mysterious, hidden killer: without testing, one cannot distinguish a person who just received a lethal dose. The Three Mile Island accident had little or no actual impact on human health, yet the public’s fears were heightened to the point that few new reactors have been built in the United States, and indeed in much of the world, ever since.
When disaster struck in Chernobyl in 1986, it was an immense tragedy, but we could shrug our shoulders at the Soviet Union’s lack of attention to safety precautions routinely used in truly first-world, capitalist and Democratic countries. I recall once learning that inexpensive flights to Israel were available on the national airline of a country that was then just emerging from the Soviet bloc. … Read More >>