Voices from Russia

Friday, 24 April 2015

For Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Faith Was Life… and Life Was Act of Faith

00 Rosh Hashanah. Jewish New Year. 5774. 20013. 05.09.13

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Editor:

One thing that distresses me is the level of hate amongst some otherwise good Russian people. I despise and oppose bias of any sort… be it racism, be it anti-Semitism, be it White Supremacy, be it integral nationalism (the ideology behind Galician Uniate fascist nationalism), be it American Exceptionalism. ALL are evil (and not only these are demonic, I simply don’t have the space for a full listing). I stand with my Jewish colleagues in mourning Rav Lichtenstein… he was a force for good, and there’s damned little enough of that out there.

May HaShem’s countenance shine upon his family, his friends, and his students. May they follow his shining example.

BMD

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I remember Rav Aharon Lichtenstein often retelling the passage from the Talmud of Rav Yochanan ben Zakai’s death. The sage’s students surrounded him on his deathbed and asked for a blessing. Rav Yochanan’s odd response is this, “May you fear God as much as you fear man”. The students asked, “Shouldn’t we fear God much more?” Rav Yochanan replied, “If only that much. After all, God sees all sins; and yet a sinner’s first thought is, ‘I hope no man sees me’”.

Sometime in my time at Yeshivat Har Etzion, the yeshiva that Rav Aharon co-led from 1971 until his retirement in 2008, it dawned on me just how much this episode guided his life. For Rav Aharon, who died 20 April at the age of 81, a life of God was not a lofty journey to the unknown. It was, in a way, an act of much greater faith. It was perceiving God in our real world, and living a religious existence as real as your tangible one. Therefore, he demanded we pay as much heed to our religious duties as we would, later, to our employers. He spoke of the Days of Awe as stressful, as you would speak of a stressful job. When ultra-Orthodox circles viewed military duty as a spiritual degradation, Rav Lichtenstein viewed Israeli service military as something pragmatically spiritual… it’s a chesed, he wrote, the kindness of protecting your fellow Jew. Religious life is real, real life is religious.

This groundedness guided Rav Aharon’s religious humanity. After Jews decimated a mosque in an Arab village, Rav Lichtenstein joined a small delegation of rabbis delivering Korans to that Muslim community. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Rav Aharon called the mosque’s destruction “frightful… terrible both morally and religiously”. In a lengthy argument against rabbis forbidding the sale of Jewish homes to Arabs in Israel, as some prominent rabbis had called for, Rav Aharon wrote, “We… remain committed to our belief and desire ‘to proclaim that God is upright, my rock in whom there is no wrong’”. For Rav Aharon, to be religious started with being moral; to be Godlike was to bear deep respect for the others around you. He extended that respect to Jews as well. Rav Aharon disagreed sharply with Haredi circles on several fronts… to name a few, his belief in secular study as a religious opportunity (he held a PhD in English literature from Harvard); his belief that traditionally-observant soldiers should fight in the Israeli army; his firm belief that women should study Talmud at the same level of scholarship as men (Yeshiva Har Etzion’s sister institution, Migdal Oz, embodied that premise). Yet, Rav Aharon was quick to speak highly of the earnestness of the Haredi lifestyle and of the brilliant thinking that it produced.

In his straightforwardness, Rav Aharon saw obligations as obvious, as the default way of living life. When once asked how he had time to study with his own children, Rav Aharon (in his words) looked at the questioner as if the man had fallen from the moon. He told us, his students, that diaspora Jews should assume they’re emigrating to Israel, barring a compelling reason not to (for his part, he emigrated to Israel in 1971 when he assumed his role in Yeshivat Har Etzion). He asked us to assume we would go on to be Jewish educators, unless there was a compelling reason not to. That straightforwardness, I think, also coloured his renowned Talmudic genius. (A child prodigy, Rav Aharon studied under the towering Rav Yitzchok Hutner through his early teenage years, and then went on to become the chief disciple (and son-in-law) of HaRav Yosef Soloveitchik). Rav Aharon’s actual analysis of the Talmud, his innovation, was incredibly simple… he’d ask, over and over, how many ways we could view a single legal idea; then, he’d align hundreds of years of Jewish thought with one of these perspectives. From simplicity, an elegant wholeness.

With Rav Lichtenstein’s passing, we’ve lost one of the greatest models for bringing God on earth. That’s a tremendous loss. We’re Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai’s students, hoping for that blessing again.

23 April 2015

Abe Mezrich

Jewish Daily Forward

http://forward.com/opinion/israel/306733/for-rav-aharon-lichtenstein-faith-was-life-and-living-was-act-of-faith

Editor:

My attitude to Orthodox Christianity is much the same as Rav Lichenstein’s attitude to Orthodox Judaism. That is, we embrace modernity in the context of Tradition… we don’t embrace Tradition in the context of modernity. The Tradition lives as it always lived (as it shall live, as my observation of the younger generation shows me)… it itself is changeless, yet, its cultural and material context is in constant flux. You can’t “freeze” time as some Hasidic Jews and “Traditional” Orthodox Christians attempt to do. Life IS motion… that’s its very nature. Whether you drive an oxcart, an automobile, or a Lunar Rover, the principles behind it all remain the same. Yes, I’m for “Modern Orthodoxy”… if it refuses to attend to reality, it isn’t Orthodox… if it refuses to attend to the Tradition, we won’t see the reality aright. There is always tension in genuineness… if there isn’t any, we’re living a lie, and that’s that.

BMD

24 April 2015. An Ode to the Death of a Nonexistent People (Elegy by Fauré)… God Have Mercy on the Suffering Peoples of Novorossiya, Malorossiya, Galicia, Podkarpatskaya, and Bukovina

00 Quo vadis. ukraina. kiev. 21.03.15

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There never was any such thing as “the Ukraine”… its death throes are ugly and made twice as painful by American meddling. There never was a “Ukraine”… there IS Malorossiya, Novorossiya, Galicia, Bukovina, and Podkarpatskaya. There NEVER was unity or a nation… it was a Western construct… a false fairy-tale confection. The West tried to seize parts of Holy Rus in a new Drang nach Osten… the present battles in Novorossiya are a new Battle on the Ice… a new Kulikovo Polye… a new Smuta… a new Poltava… a new Stalingrad. The Red Army planted the Red Banner of Victory on the Reichstag… Tsar Pyotr Veliki raised up the cup of triumph over King Karl… Minin and Pozharsky threw the impudent Poles out of the Kremlin… St Dmitri Donskoi held up the standard of freedom over slavery… St Aleksandr Nevsky conquered the impious Teutonic Knights. The Defence of Novorossiya has been a new 1812… a podvig of the Russian people.

America can’t win… no one else has… neither shall they. Say a prayer for the suffering peoples of the notional “Ukraine”… they don’t deserve this. Remember well who caused it… the Anglo Americans. They’re exceptional all right… exceptional bastards and brutes. I need to walk away from this… it’s too much of a muchness. May God cut the suffering short and end the nationalist nightmare called “the Ukraine” as quickly as possible. No human being deserves this…

BMD

DNR Government Reduced Unit Cost of Subsidised Bread by Increasing its Weight 200 Grammes

00 russian bread. 24.04.15

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Today, DNR Minister of Economic Development DNR Yevgeniya Samokhina told a media briefing that the DNR government is lowering the price of reduced-cost subsidised bread by increasing its weight by 200 grammes (7 ounces). She said, “Previously, the weight of a loaf of subsidised bread was 550 grammes (19.5 ounces/1 pound 3.5 ounces). We decided to reduce its cost by increasing its size. Now, a loaf of subsidised bread weighs 750 grammes (26.5 ounces/1 pound 10.5 ounces), which reduces its cost per unit by 1.40 Grivnya (3.20 Roubles. 0.40 Renminbi. 4 INR. 0.07 USD. 0.08 CAD. 0.08 AUD. 0.06 Euros. 0.04 UK Pounds). We now have 67 places where one can buy subsidised bread. The Republic can fully provide its needs in bakery products; we have enough to do this using our own resources”.

24 April 2015

DAN Donetsk News Agency

http://dan-news.info/gumanitary/vlasti-dnr-snizili-stoimost-socialnogo-xleba-za-schet-uvelicheniya-ego-massy-na-200-gramm.html

Editor:

Food is disappearing from the shelves in Banderstan… prices are sharply increasing. Well, in the Republics, there’s enough food and they can drop prices per unit. Now, which one would you call healthy and which one would you call sick? Do you really have to be Einstein to figure this one out?

The full price of a 750-gramme loaf of reduced-cost subsidised bread is 5.25 Grivnya (12 Roubles. 1.50 Renminbi. 15 INR. 0.24 USD. 0.29 CAD. 0.31 AUD. 0.22 Euros. 0.16 UK Pounds).

BMD

Zakharchenko Ordered Establishment of DNR Digital Broadcasting Channels Beaming to the Ukraine

00 digital braodcast gear. 24.04.15

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Today, at the founding congress of the DNR Union of Journalists, Chairman of the DNR Government A V Zakharchenko stated, “I’m ordering you to create digital broadcasting channels beaming to the occupied territory of the Ukraine and beyond. People zombified by Western propaganda have to know the truth about the Donbass. Creating a digital broadcasting apparat should be a priority task of the DNR Union of Journalists”.

23 April 2015

DAN Donetsk News Agency

http://dan-news.info/politics/zaxarchenko-rasporyadilsya-organizovat-cifrovoe-veshhanie-telekanalov-dnr-na-ukrainu.html

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