The great question of why God permits evil is usually treated in Judaism less as a “why” question than as a “what” question: Given the evil in the world, what do we do about it?
We can wonder about God’s role, but it is ultimately inscrutable. We cannot know. Imagine how little a 2-year-old understands an adult. He cannot even understand what he does not know. The Jewish tradition conceives of the gap between humans and God as far greater than that between an adult and an infant. So how, ultimately, can we understand?
Your article regarding the recent Rabbinical Council of America report on brain stem death and organ donations (Dec. 3) quoted RCA President Moshe Kletenick as saying that the report took no position and was designed to serve as an educational tool to assist local rabbis in studying the issue.
Although I am not Jewish, I met with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in 1976 to discuss brain death and organ donation with him (“RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death For Transplants,” Dec. 3). He told me that brain death was death according to the Talmud, and I reported his opinion in an article I wrote that was published on Oct. 10, 1977 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It is a pity the RCA’s document omitted mentioning my testimony that appears in video form on the website of the Halachic Organ Donor Society (www.hods.org).
While I think that the halacha accepts brain death as death, and there is a halachic demand to donate organs, I respect those who disagree with me (“RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death For Transplants,” Dec. 3).
But I find it impossible and halachically untenable for the Rabbinical Council of America rabbis to conclude that one can reject brain death and organ donation yet benefit from them. If it’s prohibited, then the RCA should announce that people should die and not try to save their life by taking someone else’s.
Having taught and directed a program in Israel-Arab studies for the last five years whose major focus is on presenting “both sides,” I can say that the approach works (“New Consensus Emerging On Israel Education,” Dec. 10).
Unlike pure “advocacy” approaches, we emphasize activism through empathy, which translates into having a thorough and complete understanding of the Palestinian Arab viewpoint.
I heartily agree with the comment in Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Why I Don’t Share Beinart’s Pessimism” (Dec. 10) that our schools have neglected to transmit the narrative of the miraculous modern -day triumph “to be a free people in our land.”
Both Michele Chabin’s article, “Focus Turns To Blame After Tragic Wildfire” (Dec. 10), along with Jeffrey Goldberg’s ivory tower argument that only Israel’s government should correct the situation (“Debate Over ‘Schnorring’ For Fire Trucks”), fall well-short in their perspectives, past and future.
I feel that the headline, “Debate Over ‘Schnorring’ For Fire Trucks” (Dec. 10), and the article, were an insult to your readers. In answer to the question posed as to “why Jews in the Diaspora should absorb the firefighting costs...” the answer is in one word — tzedakah. Jews help Jews in time of need.