Remembering Rabbi Yehuda Amital, who helped found Meimad party and challenged religious Zionist orthodoxy.
Rabbi Yosef Blau
Special To The Jewish Week
Rabbi Yehuda Amital, who died last Friday in Jerusalem at 85 after a long illness, was a unique blend of Talmud scholar and political activist who balanced his love of Israel with his advocacy for territorial concession to save lives.
Q: You are out for a walk one night and you see a man running towards you. He looks terrified, stressed and panicked. He comes up to you with tears in his eyes and says, “I am going to hide right here. I can’t run anymore. I didn’t do anything wrong. Please, promise me you won’t tell them where I am!”
So you promise the man, he hides behind a bush and you keep walking.
The Talmud — and everybody else — ponders the puzzling discrepancy between the two formulations in the Chumash with respect to the Sabbath. One iteration of the Ten Commandments (or “Articles”) in the Chumash uses the word shamor (“keep, guard”), while another uses zachor (“remember”) to describe the broad Sabbath requirement. These two locutions have been midrashically interpreted in different ways, in the broad range of halachic details that the Torah places under rubric of Shabbat.
The Talmud has some advice: “A disciple of the wise may not live in a city which lacks one of the following ten things: a court, a charity-treasury with two collectors and three distributors, a synagogue, a public bathhouse, sanitary services, a physician, an artisan, a barber, a butcher, and a teacher of the young” (Sanhedrin 17b).
Shmuel Mermelstein found the time during a vacation in Anatalia, Turkey. Jay Radin took a meaningful pause outside the elephant cage of the Bronx Zoo.
Abraham Biederman often indulged his spiritual pursuit at City Hall, when he was the city’s commissioner of finance in the 1980s.