Letters to the editor: May 27


More Torah-based opinions

Regarding Rabbi Yaakov Menken’s opinion article, I feel compelled to congratulate him for presenting a clear and unabashed Torah perspective on the current hot issue of abortion “rights” (“The Torah is unequivocally pro-life,” May 13). I also am quite amazed that the JT actually printed the op-ed, as I’m sure that it ruffled more than a few liberal feathers.

That being said, I would love to see more Torah-based opinions. Some subjects I would like to see addressed are the ideas of tolerance, diversity and all the gender issues that seem to pervade, if not invade, everything that is happening in our country today. As far as I know, based on a yeshiva education, there is not a single example in the Torah of tolerance for actions that are prohibited, such as homosexuality and intermarriage. It is only the more liberal (read non-Torah) thinkers and their leaders who deem it OK to accept every twisted version of true Torah values, turning our very foundation on its head. I suspect this eagerness to avoid making waves stems from a post-Holocaust mentality of a fear of everything that can seem “too Jewish” by the gentiles.

On the contrary, we are only respected and protected by Hashem when we are “too Jewish”!

When will we learn the real lessons of our historic tragedies, that assimilation and ignoring our laws and customs as well as tolerating the intolerable are the cause as well as the effect?

I very much look forward to reading more opinions like Menken’s in future issues of the JT.

Michael Caplan


On Torah and abortion

I agree with Rabbi Yaakov Menken that the Torah is “unequivocally pro-life” (May 13), but his application of this principle to the issue of abortion is decidedly one-sided. First, his survey of Torah quotations omits one directly relevant to abortion that is frequently cited: Shemos (Exodus) 21:22-23. This passage describes the death of a fetus caused by two men fighting near a pregnant woman. The fetus’ death is not considered murder, while if the woman died, that would be murder. Menken also ignores extensive Talmudic and rabbinic literature holding that the fetus is not an independent person (i.e., not deserving of Mourner’s Kaddish) until it starts to emerge from the womb and that abortion is appropriate to save the life or health of the mother. These halachic positions are very different from the Christian position that independent personhood begins at conception, which is driving much current opposition to any abortion in the U.S. One could argue that many proposed anti-abortion laws contradict Jewish values, in that they would criminalize the Jewish approach to saving the life and health of the mother.

David Gorelick


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