Civil Libertarians’ Double Standard Against Trump Endangers Rule of Law By Alan M. Dershowitz and Judaism without God? God forbid, says South Africa’s chief RABBI WARREN GOLDSTEIN and Fire destroys building at Grossinger’s Catskills resort, the inspiration for ‘Dirty Dancing and Unique Sites of Israel: Biblical House of the Shunamite womanBy Nosson Shulman -
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
The Three are Rabbi Yehuda Glick, famous temple mount activist, and former Israel Mk, and then Robert Weinger, the world's greatest shofar blower and seller of Shofars, and myself after we had gone to the 12 gates of the Temple Mount in 2020 to blow the shofar to ask G-d to heal the world from the Pandemic. It was a highlight to my experience in living in Israel and I put it on my blog each day to remember.
The articles that I include each day are those that I find interesting, so I feel you will find them interesting as well. I don't always agree with all the points of each article but found them interesting or important to share with you, my readers, and friends. It is cathartic for me to share my thoughts and frustrations with you about life in general and in Israel. As a Rabbi, I try to teach and share the Torah of the G-d of Israel as a modern Orthodox Rabbi. I never intend to offend anyone but sometimes people are offended and I apologize in advance for any mistakes. The most important psychological principle I have learned is that once someone's mind is made up, they don't want to be bothered with the facts, so, like Rabbi Akiva, I drip water (Torah is compared to water) on their made-up minds and hope that some of what I have share sinks in. Love Rabbi Yehuda Lave.
Civil Libertarians' Double Standard Against Trump Endangers Rule of Law By Alan M. Dershowitz
Civil liberties require a single standard without regard to party, ideology or person.
The right of Nazis to their despicable free speech must be protected with the same vigor as the right of Salman Rushdie. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in particular, and good civil libertarians in general, used to live by that creed.
That is what makes them different from special pleaders who limit their advocacy to those who agree or identify with them. This great tradition — that led John Adams to defend the hated British soldiers who were accused of the Boston massacre and led the old ACLU to defend the right of Nazis to march through Skokie, Illinois — has not been evident when it comes to the treatment of Donald Trump. A double standard has been manifested in a number of ways.
The most serious alleged crime cited in the Trump search warrant is under the Espionage Act of 1917. In the past, many leftist civil libertarians have railed against the breadth and scope of this law, calling it repressive and unconstitutionally vague. Among the people who were prosecuted, indicted or investigated under the Espionage Act are progressive icons such as socialists Eugene V. Debs and Charles Schenk, antiwar activists Daniel Ellsberg and Dr. Benjamin Spock, whistleblowers Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, as well as many others who made unpopular speeches, engaged in protests or took other actions deemed unpatriotic by the government.
But now that the shoe is on the other foot — now that the same law is being deployed against a possible presidential candidate they deplore — many of these same leftists are demanding that this accordion-like law be expanded to fit Trump's alleged mishandling of classified material. The ACLU, which has repeatedly challenged the constitutionality and applicability of the Espionage Act to anti-government activities by left-wing radicals, is strangely silent when the same overbroad law is deployed against a political figure whose politics they deplore.
The same double standard seems to be at work regarding the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago. Many civil libertarians have complained about the overuse of search warrants in situations where a "less intrusive" and narrower subpoena would suffice. Even U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland acknowledged that the policy of the Justice Department is to use measures less intrusive than a full-blown search whenever possible. Yet he did not explain why a day-long search of Trump's home was necessary, especially since a subpoena had been issued and could have been judicially enforced if the government was dissatisfied with the progress of negotiations. Again, silence from the ACLU and other left-wing civil libertarians.
Then there is the manner by which Trump loyalists have been treated when they were indicted. Several have been arrested, handcuffed, and shackled, despite not having been charged with crimes of violence and despite the absence of evidence that they were planning to flee. In my long experience, most other comparable defendants are simply notified of the charges and ordered to appear in court. Yet despite this apparent double standard, the left has been silent.
Garland commendably stated that the Justice Department is dedicated to the "evenhanded application of the law." But recent applications of the law suggest otherwise. "Due process for me but not for thee" seems to have replaced the equal protection of the law as the guiding principle.
Perhaps the most glaring manifestation of the double standard currently at work is the different approach taken to the alleged mishandling of classified material by Trump, on the one hand, and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on the other hand. No wide-ranging search warrants were sought for Clinton's home, where private servers were apparently kept and subpoenaed material even possibly destroyed.
Then FBI director James Comey announced that no criminal prosecution has ever been taken for comparable mishandling of classified material. The same was true of former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger's deliberate hiding of such material in his socks. Berger was administratively fined but not criminally prosecuted for willfully violating the law concerning secret documents. Yet the Espionage Act was not invoked against him.
Equal justice for Democrats and Republicans must not only be done; it must be seen to be done. There must be one law, and one application of law, for all comparable acts and persons. There must also be one standard of civil liberties — and complaints about their violation — by principled civil libertarians. The salutary goal seems to be missing from recent attempts to "get" Trump and his loyalists regardless of the principle of equal justice for friend and foe alike.
To the contrary, those of us who — despite our opposition to Trump politically — insist that the same standards of civil liberties must be applied to him as to those we support politically, have lost friends, been defamed by the media, and been canceled. This unacceptable double standard is so widespread that it endangers the rule of law and the historic role of neutral, non-partisan civil liberties that protect it from partisan weaponization.
The resort, which closed in 1986 after 70 years of operation, was demolished in 2018. It was one of the largest and best-known destinations in the "Borscht Belt," the Catskill Mountains region that was a popular Jewish vacation destination well into the 1960s.
Under the leadership of Jennie Grossinger, the resort operated 36 buildings, a ski slope, golf course and swimming pool, along with two kosher kitchens. It could accommodate nearly 1,500 guests. Located near Liberty and abut a two-hour drive north of New York City, Grossinger's also had a small post office and airfield, which is no longer operating.
The resort is often cited as the inspiration for Kellerman's Mountain House resort in "Dirty Dancing," the 1987 period rom-com starring Jennifer Grey. Screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein vacationed at Grossinger's as a child.The cause of the fire, which occurred Tuesday night, is under investigation, though police received reports of a teenager running into nearby woods, the Mid Hudson News reported.
Judaism without God? God forbid, says South Africa's chief rabbi
"It's just what we Jews do," Hershovitz explains. "[I]t keeps me connected to a community I value."
For fictionalists, God is a useful fiction, and Jewish practice has value only in its pragmatic utility. As Hershovitz puts it: "When it feels like the world is falling apart, I seek refuge in religious rituals — but not because I believe my prayers will be answered."
This trend requires a well-thought-out, clear response because of the serious problems it presents.
Firstly, denial of God's existence or the truth of the Torah's narrative is utterly incompatible with Judaism itself.
Take, for example, the Passover seder. According to fictionalism, the Haggadah that parents read to their children is the equivalent of a collection of the writings of Hans Christian Andersen. "We were slaves to Pharaoah in Egypt, until the Almighty, the Holy one blessed is He, took us out." Welcome to Hansel and Gretel: "Once upon a time …"
When we read the about the Exodus — when we tell our children that our ancestors were slaves in Egypt and that God liberated us with miracles — that is a fraud, according to the fictionalist.
This approach drives a dagger through the heart of Passover and places Jewish parents in an invidious position. When do you tell your children that the story of the Exodus is one of the greatest frauds of history, perpetuated by generations of Jewish parents and grandparents? Should the seder night begin with a disclaimer: none of what you are about to hear is true?
The point is, if you remove God from Judaism it ceases to be recognizable as such. When we say "may the Omnipresent comfort you" at a funeral , or "God who blessed bride and groom" at a wedding, or "God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh" during Kiddush, or "God is one" every morning and evening, and on our deathbed — these are all just fictions? If so, Judaism is meaningless; it becomes a system based on falsehoods.
Strip away the psychobabble, and these aren't just "useful fictions" or "principled self-deceptions" — they are, simply, falsehoods. And, who wants to live a lie?
This brings us to the second major problem with the fictionalist approach to Judaism — it is a formula for the self-implosion of the Jewish people. If Judaism is a fairytale, then we must not be surprised when our children discard it along with the Tooth Fairy when they grow up, dismissing it as just another tale to make their childhood more charming. Why should they live a delusion? Why should they pay any more attention to their heritage than the "Magic Faraway Tree"?
A new generation of Jews is being born into a world overflowing with real, compelling and competing ways of thinking and living. Fed a Judaism that is a quaint cultural relic, a fairytale of false claims, they have quite naturally concluded that it can be jettisoned at a whim. That is why we are hemorrhaging young Jews, who are exiting our people in droves, raising questions of who and what will be left.
The only form of Jewish identity that has proven itself capable of surviving more than a few generations is one rooted in the complete embrace acceptance of the truth of all the factual claims made by Judaism, including belief in God and His authorship of the Torah. Throughout our long history no Jewish community has ever survived without a belief in the foundations of our faith. A pretend Judaism won't cut it. Only the real thing is worthy of us and our children — and a guarantee for a bright Jewish future.
So where does this leave us? As a first step, we need to acknowledge the problem: that the fictionalist approach is both incompatible with Judaism, and unsustainable. This means that we cannot accept with equanimity the trend of fictionalism, and become comfortable with this as the new normal.
We need to formulate an appropriate response. There are many proud Jews with genuine doubts about their heritage, and genuine crises of faith. The answer is not for us to reject those who harbor those doubts. Neither should those doubters give up hope in faith, or shape their doubts into a new philosophy which celebrates the falseness of Judaism. The only way forward is to engage directly and honestly and fearlessly with doubt, embracing the struggle to find faith, and make that the goal. There are many who have grappled with these issues — and have discovered their faith through intellectual inquiry and rational argument, rather than discarded it.
Judaism makes specific truth claims about the world and the nature of reality, and these claims are supported by rational inquiry. We must discover the compelling evidence, and the powerful philosophical, scientific and historical proofs for the authenticity of the Torah, and its claims about the existence of God, and all He did: the creation of the universe, the Exodus from Egypt and the giving the Torah to the Jewish people at Sinai with the mission to observe its mitzvahs forever. For thousands of years, up until around 150 years ago, the vast majority of Jews did not dispute these historical truths.
Rabbis need to address matters of faith head on. This has been my experience both as a synagogue rabbi as well as from the almost 18 years that I have served as the chief rabbi to the South African Jewish community. People are searching for truth. We need to articulate with absolute clarity that belief in God and the authenticity of the Torah are indispensable to Judaism. We need to present all of the many rational and scientific arguments to uphold these claims. We need to be fearless and unapologetic about the fact that God exists and that He gave the Jewish people the Torah at Sinai, and how these claims are substantiated with compelling arguments and evidence. But we need to do this with love and kindness — not anger and aggression.
And we need to teach Torah to as many Jews as possible as often as possible. A path to rich, authentic faith lies in learning Torah. Our sages (Midrash Eichah, Petichta 2 based on Jeremiah 16:11) tell us that when we feel distant from God — even to the point of losing faith — learning Torah, with dedication and depth, offers us a way back, a means of knowing God and locating our values and identity, and connection to Him.
And there is hope. The very fact that those who have adopted fictionalism are so drawn to the mitzvah experiences of the Torah despite not believing shows how even they find the system so attractive. It is remarkable that the Torah's way of life is so compelling thousand of years after it was introduced to the world that even people who think it is based on false claims cannot let go of it.
The Passover seder as the model of generational transfer of values and narrative; Yom Kippur as an immersive, cathartic experience of personal growth and accountability; Shabbat with its laws that create the space to rediscover and reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. How did these and all our other mitzvahs survive with us for thousands of years, and yet still feel as relevant as they were thousands of years ago? This inexplicable phenomenon gives us a glimpse of the Divine author of it all. And it is the bridge waiting for the fictionalists to make the journey over to a world of faith.
Unique Sites of Israel: Biblical House of the Shunamite woman
"Elisha went as far as Shunem, and there was a prominent woman who prevailed upon him to eat a meal…whenever he would pass, he would stop there to eat a meal. She said to her husband, "Behold… a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Let us make a small walled upper chamber, and place there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp; and it will be that when he comes to us, he will turn into there (2 Kings 4: 8-10)"
Today, we will be visiting a holy site where miracles occur regularly even today! This site is so off the beaten track, that most tour guides and Israeli geographical experts are not aware of it and there is very little information found online. With that being said, let's explore this wonderous location together!
The "House of the Shunamite Woman" is located in today's northern Arab-Israeli village of Sulam.
The town (historically called Shunem) has a long history, going back to the Canaanite times. It is mentioned in ancient Egyptian documents as one of the towns overtaken by Pharoah Thutmose III (circa 1450 BCE) when he conquered Canaan. He successfully took over Israel, and the Egyptians ruled the land for several centuries (he allowed the 31 Canaanite city-state kings to retain their rulership, so long as they pledged loyalty to their Egyptian overlords).
The town is mentioned several times in the Bible. When the Philistines waged war against King Saul at Mt. Gilboa, they encamped at Shunem (see 1 Samuel 28: 4). The Philistines were victorious in this battle and King Saul was slain (for more on this fateful battle at Mt. Gilboa, click here. For the aftermath, click here).
In King David's final years, he had a beautiful female companion named Abishag who came from Shunem (see 1 Kings 1:3). The predominant story here of course, occurred during the days of Elisha the Prophet, a student of Elijah (see 2 Kings 4). He would travel through the land teaching people and encouraging them to repent. On these journeys he would often pass by Shunem, which was close to an important crossroads junction (the nearby city of Afula is still a major crossroads junction). In the town lived a wealthy, pious woman who was married but childless for many years. Whenever Elisha passed through the town, they would invite him for a meal. One day she told her husband that since he was a man of G-d, they should set up a place for him in the house where he could sleep while in the area (according to Jewish sources, her husband actually built a very strong stone structure so that he would have maximum privacy).
The next time he was in town, he took her up on her offer to stay over (according to Jewish sources, it was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year). As he lay down to sleep, he said to his attendant Gehazi (who usually traveled with him) to ask the woman if there was anything he could do for her in order to show his gratitude for her kind hospitality. Being a pious woman, she asked for nothing, implying that she was content with everything G-d had already given her (she wasn't hosting Elisha for any ulterior motives or to receive a reward). Elisha still wanted to reward her and asked Gehazi if he had any ideas on what he thought she could use. As the couple were an older, childless couple (according to Jewish sources, she was past childbearing age), Gehazi suggested a blessing for them to have a child. The prophet then called in the woman and told the overjoyed, soon to be mother that she would have a child in one year (according to Jewish sources, that child was none other than the future Prophet Habakkuk whose prophesies were recorded in the Bible).
The child grew, and one day was helping his father in the fields when he complained of head pains. He was brought home and died in his mother's lap.
She brought her son to the room she had built for the prophet and laid his lifeless body on the bed. She then saddled her donkey to head off to Mount Carmel to find Elijah the prophet (for more on this Biblical mountain, click here).
When she arrived at Mount Carmel and saw Elisha, she ran to him and grasped his legs and told him about her son, saying that she would not leave unless Elisha came with her. When they arrived back at her house in Shunem, the prophet went to his room and saw the body. He shut the door behind him, prayed to G-d and went on top of the boy, "Placing his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his palms upon his palms (2 Kings 4:33)". He then got up and paced back in forth, deep in heavy prayer. He then laid on top of him again and suddenly the boy sneezed 7 times and opened his eyes! The prophet then summoned the Shunamite Woman, who was overjoyed to see that her son was miraculously alive again!
In 2 Kings 8, the bible relates another story involving the Shunamite Woman. Elisha (who was staying at her house) warned that a 7-year famine was coming to Israel. As result, she went to the land of the Philistines. When she came back, she found she had been robbed of her property and her house occupied by strangers. She went to the King to ask for the return of her property. When she arrived to the palace, the King was in conversation with Gehazi (Elisha's attendant) about the miracle Elisha performed for her (according to Jewish sources, it was divine providence that this discussion was taking place the moment she arrived). The King then asked her to verify the story, after which he ordered that everything be returned to her (including payment for the crops the squatters had illegally grown on her property for seven years).
Today, all that exists of the house is a wall marking the spot where the entrance once stood. Although little information exists about this site online and few have even heard of it, it is well known to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, one of the leading Torah sages of our generation. His father, the Steipler Gaon (a major Torah sage of the previous generation), had told him that due to the miracles that took place here, the site was still very much infused with holiness and was an opportune place to pray for children. Subsequently, Rabbi Kanievsky led a delegation of childless couples (all of whom doctors had said there was no hope for them to have children) to the site for intense prayers. Within a short time, almost all of them women who were there became pregnant. Since then, he encourages all childless couples to make the effort to pray at this amazing site. As well, a Yeshiva (academy of advanced Torah and Talmudic studies) was established nearby.
If you are looking for something off the beaten track on your next trip to Israel, I highly recommend you visit here!