Whose insurgency?


Jewish World Review June 9, 2005 / 2 Sivan, 5765

By Mark Goldblatt

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | According to the SITE Institute, a respected counter-terrorism organization, only 9 percent of suicide bombings sponsored in Iraq by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are conducted by native Iraqis.

Analyzing data from a "martyrs" list posted on a Zarqawi Web site, SITE found that 42 percent of the killers hailed from Saudi Arabia, 12 percent from Syria, 11 percent from Kuwait, with the rest from an assortment of Asian and European nations.

Why does it matter?

Because it gives lie to the suggestion, often heard on the left, that the struggle in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. The antiwar crowd insists that American soldiers are now engaged in a guerilla war with militant Iraqis — Michael Moore has compared them to the Minutemen of our own Revolutionary War. Except now it turns out that fully 91 percent of suicide bombers are foreigners crossing into Iraq with the purpose of killing civilians.

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In short, terrorists.

American soldiers are not fighting an Iraqi insurgency. They're fighting a terrorist insurgency. If not for jihadi nutcases pouring across its borders, Iraq would be well on its way to a stable and peaceful democracy.

It's high time that truth sunk in.

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© 2005, Mark Goldblatt

Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!

Will Canada's socialized medicine kill a hero?


Jewish World Review June 9, 2005 / 2 Sivan, 5765

By David HaLevi

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http://www.TransplantNow.org/ | Baruch Tegegne, the man credited with rescuing hundreds if not thousands of his fellow Ethiopian Jews from famine and death, is now in a fight for his own life.

In the second group of Ethiopian Jews brought to Israel in the 1950's by Israel's second president Yitzhak Ben-Tzvi and educated in AMIT religious schools, Baruch met a Canadian Jewish woman in Israel. They married and moved to Montreal 1979.

His dramatic escape by foot from Ethiopia in 1974 to get to Israel and his activism for rescue of Ethiopian Jews was featured in the 1983 documentary "Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews."

Among those supportive of Baruch's rescue efforts was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, considered by many to be the leading Orthodox rabbinic scholar of the last half of the 20th century.

Now 61, Baruch has advanced kidney disease caused by diabetes. He undergoes dialysis four times a week at the Jewish General Hospital. His health is rapidly deteriorating.

But his fight is against more than advanced kidney disease. It is against the state-controlled Canadian health system.

A group of his friends led by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici searched for a person willing to donate a kidney to a complete stranger.

They found one, Shree Dhar, through a website that connects live persons willing to donate an organ - without compensation - to strangers.

But Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital refuses to do the transplant for what it claims are "ethical" reasons.

Dr. Douglas Keith, head of the hospital's living donor transplant program, says the hospital could not be sure there is no "quid pro quo" agreement between Tegegne and Dhar. He also says the donation looks suspicious because the donor is from the Third World and contact was made on the Internet.

Dhar has repeatedly stated that his motives are pure, and that he is not looking for money or to immigrate to Canada.

He says he is motivated by religious conviction and is moved by Tegegne's story. Dhar also wants to honor his grandfather, an Indian army general who died of kidney disease.

"I believe G-d will be with me," he said.

Canada has no law prohibiting altruistic donations from unrelated persons.

Calls to American transplant centers confirmed that altruistic donations of this type are regularly accepted throughout the United States.

A leading opponent of altruistic transplants is leading Canadian bio-ethicist and professor of philosophy Dr. Arthur Shafer. Shafer's take on the Terri Schiavo case is telling - he was quoted as saying that Schiavo's brain stem had "turned to mush" and that Schiavo - who was starved to death by court order two months ago - was a "vegetable."

In Tegene's case, Canada's Doctor of Death is no less clear. While smirking on Canadian television Dr. Schafer asserted that if Tegegne's potential donor was "truly altruistic," he would donate his kidney to someone closer to home. Following that convoluted logic, no altruistic live-donor organ donation could ever take place.

Jacobovici accuses Royal Victoria Hospital of "arrogance, paranoia and racism" because, [like Dr. Schafer,] "it assumes that anyone donating kidney, especially if they are from the Third World, are doing it for the money and not for noble reasons.

"They're treating live donors as guilty until proven innocent and thousands of Canadians are left to die as a result."

Each year, 200 Canadians die waiting for transplants.

The Canadian healthcare system is often held up as a model for a proposed national healthcare plan in the United States like the one then-First Lady Hillary Clinton proposed in 1994.

Few Americans realize the corrosive effect the Canadian system has on the quality of healthcare provided - or not - to Canada's citizens. Inordinately long wait-times and rationing of services are the norm. Canadians wait months for coronary bypass surgery. Some die waiting. A needed MRI can require a six-month wait. And many cutting-edge procedures, drugs and treatments are simply not prescribed because they are not included in the basket of benefits Canadian's receive.

And under federal law, private clinics are not legally allowed to provide services covered by the Canada Health Act, so there is no competition - and nowhere else to turn for help.

Canada is also alleged to hold down drug prices by extorting American pharmaceutical companies: Sell Canada drugs below wholesale cost (and sometimes below actual cost) or Canada will buy so-called grey market knock-offs from China.

But in Baruch Tegegne's case, the Canadian system becomes even more bizarre.

A live donor, altruistic transplant with a donor found over the Internet has been done at Toronto General Hospital.

But Tegegne cannot simply fly to Toronto to save his life. Canadian national healthcare is not portable. Toronto is in the provence of Ontario. Montreal is in Quebec. Except for emergency, non-elective care, Toronto will not pay for a Montreal citizen's healthcare.

Even though Tegegne needs the transplant to save his life, the transplant is not considered emergency care, so the man who risked his life to save hundreds from certain death now waits quietly for his own.

Michael Bergman, a noted Montreal lawyer is providing pro bono representation for Tegegne.

But Tegegne's health makes a protracted legal battle impossible. He simply doesn't have the time.

So Jacobovici and friends have begun raising $200,000 to pay for a transplant outside of Canada. They launched a website, www.TransplantNow.org, and got to work.

An Israeli hospital agreed has agreed to do the transplant. It also cut $70,000 from its fee.

The Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel - the poorest of Israel's poor - raised $20,000 from its own members.

And donations have come in from those who have found Baruch's story on the Internet.

Still, $100,000 is still needed.

"We're at the crunch point now," Jacobovici notes. "We've got about a month to get this done."

Tegegne's story clearly demonstrates the danger of a state-controlled healthcare system. But it also provides the opportunity to send a message and demonstrate that protecting human life is the most important moral value, one that trumps socialized medicine and doctors of death every time.

Direct, secure online donations can be made through the Sha'arei Dayah Foundation: https://www.charitybox.com/sdf or www.BoutiqueTzedaka.org and are tax deductible in the United States. All funds received will go directly to Tegegne's transplant.

Checks should be mailed to:

The Sha'arei Dayah Foundation
2136 Ford Parkway #181
Saint Paul, MN 55116

(Please put "kidney" in the memo line of your check.)

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© 2005, http://www.TransplantNow.org/

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The gathering storm over China

Jewish World Review June 9, 2005/ 2 Sivan, 5765

Suzanne Fields


Jewish World Review June 9, 2005/ 2 Sivan, 5765

Suzanne Fields


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | You don't need a fortune cookie to learn that China isn't playing straight with the rest of the world. The men in Beijing may be taking some of their clues from the most important page of Mao's Little Red Book: "Every Communist must grasp the truth, 'Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'"

We've been lulled into thinking the Chinese brand of "free markets" will move that country toward democracy. Maybe someday, eventually, it will. But free markets must be accompanied by personal freedoms and representative government, and that isn't happening. In fact, there are disturbing signs of a military build-up and deception about it at the highest levels of the Chinese government today.

Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld has returned from Singapore where he delivered the keynote address to a conference of defense ministers and military analysts in Asia, and noted that China's military budget ranks behind only that of the United States and Russia. "Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder," he said. "Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?"

This was new from an administration that until now criticized, mildly, China's human rights violations while urging China to prod North Korea back to the six-party talks about what to do about its nuclear weapons program. But it's the Chinese armory that concerns the defense secretary. "I just look at the significant rollout of ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, and I have to ask the question: 'If everyone agrees the question of Taiwan is going to be settled in a peaceful way, why this increase in ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan?'" Newly purchased submarines, fighter jets, assault ships and missiles not only pose a threat to Taiwan, but to the United States if we honor our treaty commitments to go to the aid of our old friends there.

The Rumsfeld speech reflects the buzz of the China watchers in Washington, where the publication of a new book expands the latest thinking. "China: The Gathering Threat," by Constantine Menges, takes its title from Churchill's famous warning about the lessons of World War II: "There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action . . . but no one would listen. We surely must not let that happen again."


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Mr. Menges worked inside the White House and at the CIA for many years and was something like an Old Testament prophet, with prescient pronouncements of bad things to come. In 1977 he warned President Jimmy Carter that Iran was in imminent danger of being transformed from a friendly country to unfriendly Islamic state. The president didn't listen, and two years later that happened. Mr. Menges died last year, and the book, published posthumously, brought reporters, policy makers and friends (like myself) together at the Hudson Institute to consider the way China's rapid economic growth supports cynical military ambitions in a nation that describes the United States as its "main enemy."

The discussion by China watchers was chilling, taking its theme from the Constantine concern that we're naively allowing businessmen to dictate a China policy of "unconditional commercial relations." A pure business model is concerned only with how to make a buck, which is a legitimate concern, but political leaders who govern from a business plan are fools. Economic engagement is not a substitute for political engagement. He left the prescription to do more to promote democracy inside China, work with political reform groups (such as Solidarity, which we supported in Poland) and offer greater support to pro-democracy Chinese exiles in this country.

William Hawkins, who studies national security issues at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, argues that China has learned from Russia's mistakes, dumping Marxism, but merely moved from "communism to fascism," using the energy of capitalism to animate the ambitions of a tyranny.

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The heads of corporations and heads of state met last month in Beijing under the auspices of Fortune magazine's Global Forum to talk about the most pressing issues facing world business. They concluded that "China will overtake the U.S. to become the world's largest economy by mid-century."

The panelists at the Hudson Institute forum last week noted that China controls more than $200 billion of the U.S. national debt. Al Santoli, president of the Asia America Initiative, suggested that the Chinese have a master plan for the United States to become "a vassal state, as China buys up our debt."

Don Rumsfeld wants to visit China next year. If he does, he should take two books with him, Constantine Menges' "China: The Gathering Threat," and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book. Mao warned his followers not to wait "until problems pile up and cause a lot of trouble before trying to solve them." He didn't always follow his own advice, but we should if we know what's good for us.

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© 2005, Suzanne Fields, Creators Syndicate

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The War Against the Torture Masters


Jewish World Review June 9, 2005 / 2 Sivan, 5765

By Michael Ledeen

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The cheerless creatures who rule the Islamic republic of Iran have developed a particularly wicked use of torture. Not only do they use the full panoply of physical and psychological horrors on their captives, but they then send the victims back into their homes and neighborhoods for brief periods of "parole" or "medical leave," so that their friends and families can see with their own eyes the brutal effects of the torture. The clear intent of this practice is to intimidate the population at large, to break the will of would-be dissenters and opponents, and to maximize the effects of the victims themselves, for the brief respite from the pain of the prisons is mercilessly accompanied by the certainty that the agony will soon resume.

Thus, when a victim uses his time outside the torture chambers to call for the people of Iran to act against the regime, it warrants our attention. If the West had leaders willing to openly challenge the mullahs, or if the organizations who pretend to champion "human rights" were worthy of their own mission statements, we would know the names of these brave Iranians, and we would give them, and the Iranian people more broadly, the kind of support they deserve.

One of the most prominent dissenters and a distinguished journalist, Akbar Ganji, was given a week-long "medical leave" from Evin Prison in Tehran, and on Monday he gave an Internet interview that may well prove fatal. He called for a general boycott of the "make believe elections" for the presidency, scheduled for the 17th of the month, and urged the Iranian people to engage in large-scale civil disobedience.

"We are faced with a personal dictatorship, the dictatorship of (Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei," he said. "Khamenei has ruled for fifteen years and wants to rule for life. I oppose this and I say that this contradicts democracy." Ganji called for Khamenei himself to submit his dictatorial rule to a public ratification. "He must take part in a free election, should the people vote him in he can rule and should they reject him he must step aside."

Following the interview the head of the Evin Prison announced that Akbar Ganji had to return at once.

You will not have read about this brave man in your daily newspaper, or seen his face on your evening news broadcast, nor will you have heard about him from the Department of State — which has a considerable bureaucracy devoted to the advancement of human rights — nor from the White House, nor from the self-promoting entrepreneurs of the likes of Human Rights Watch or the intellectuals and elected representatives who call for President Bush to "talk to" the mullahs in order to "resolve our disagreements." Nor has anyone heard much about the public appeal from the Women's Movement of Iran for a demonstration at Tehran University this coming Sunday — a declaration signed by 27 organizations.

But the Iranian people know what is happening, and they are trying, once again, to call our attention to their plight. A "Food Hunger Strike Committee" has been formed in Tehran, calling for a boycott of the elections, and for the release of political prisoners. The committee has declared election day a fast day for the people of Iran.

Elsewhere, the country's largest student group, the Office of Student Unity, branded the elections "devoid of any significance," and called for the people to abstain.

The mullahs are greatly annoyed at the uppity behavior of the people, and have insisted that everyone vote. They badly want to be able to tell the world that they are a legitimate government (or better yet, in the infamous words of former Deputy of State Armitage, "a democracy"), and a low turnout would give the lie to that claim. A few days ago, the administrators of the Free Islamic College in Roudan (near the capital) offered free rice and kebabs to anyone who showed up for a rally for Hashemi Rafsanjani, the man who would be president again. But very few attended, and no students or professors came at all. The regime has intensified its jamming of foreign broadcasts, and the major cities are now blanketed with microwave transmissions the mullahs hope will prevent the people hearing calls from the diaspora to stay away from the voting booths on election day.

Meanwhile, six political prisoners in Karaj Prison have started their second week on hunger strikes, and eight others have joined them. Three other political prisoners — Taghi Rahmani, Mehdi Saber, and Reza-Ali Jani — smuggled a letter out of prison, addressed to outgoing "reformist" President Khatami, declaring that they have been savagely tortured. Rahmani said he had been held in solitary confinement for 134 days, and the others described humiliations I do not care to repeat here.

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We are now eight days from the sham elections, and still no Western leader has had the integrity to proclaim that the "elections" are a fraud, and they seem to have forgotten that the regime itself is the keystone of the terror network. Instead, our government maintains a pious silence on the matter, evidently more afraid of being accused of undermining the efforts of the French, German, and British governments to arrive at a satisfactory agreement with Iran on the matter of the mullahs' impending atomic bomb.

They do not wish to acknowledge that if Iran were free, we would not have to fear its weapons, because the Iranian people wish to live peacefully, in alliance with us.

Moreover, with the Iranian keystone destroyed, the terror war against us would be gravely weakened, and our currently stalled support for democratic revolution would receive a much needed infusion of credibility.

Continued silence and inaction on Iran are shameful and cowardly, unworthy of any serious nation, let alone the world's lone superpower. People are dying every day, above all in Iran and in Iraq, because we refuse to come to grips with Iran. Many of these are our own children.

Hello? Can we get this show on the road, please?

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Respect and disrespect

Jewish World Review June 8, 2005 / 1 Sivan 5765
 Paul Greenberg

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | What do these names have in common — Alice Walton, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Albert C. Barnes and Charles Robertson?

Each of these American philanthropists set out to make a difference — a distinctive, personal difference that would shape the future.

Alice Walton's striking vision, to be called Crystal Bridges, is to be built here in Arkansas. The plans for it have just been unveiled, but it's already clear that it'll be an American landmark. Miss Alice's splendid collection of American art will be housed in a work of art itself, designed by Moshe Safdie and set in a natural ravine surrounded by 120 acres of parkland and unspoiled countryside.

Call it a collaboration of man and Nature. Well, make that woman and nature.

Like every deed of trust, Alice Walton's gift is also an act of trust in those who will be its stewards. But will future generations be true to the crystal spirit of her gift? They say history is a guide to the future, so let's note how the legacies of those other far-seeing benefactors have fared.

First the success story: The Gardner Museum in Boston remains remarkably like the sight that greeted Isabella Stewart Gardner's guests the night she threw open the great doors — Jan. 1, 1903 — and revealed the dream she'd been working on for years behind its high gray walls. Inside there was a Venetian palace transported stone by stone to Brahmin Boston, and filled with her eclectic, still riveting collection of masterpieces.

Mrs. Gardner would will her home to the people of Boston with the most specific instructions: Nothing — nothing — was to be changed. Little has been in the old museum, although there has been disturbing talk of an elaborate modernization.

To this day, the Gardner remains one of the few museums in the country without an officious plaque by each work of art telling the viewer exactly what to think of it. The interior courtyard is still planted in flowers in their due season, affording guests a different perspective from each of the villa's three floors. The music of Bach, Mozart and Schumann may still be heard in the great hall.

To this day, to visit the Gardner is to be a guest in the lady's home. It remains a refuge from superficial, stylish fashionable modernity, an experience across time.

Albert C. Barnes was just as distinctive and idiosyncratic in his taste, and just as clear about what he wanted done with the superb collection of art he had acquired for his Main Line home in Merion, Pa., outside Philadelphia. He wanted it preserved as a place where "plain people, that is, men and women who make their livelihood by daily toil in shops, factories, schools, stores and similar places" might directly experience the art he'd collected.

Dr. Barnes also knew what he didn't want — a commercialized museum that would be used as a backdrop for "society functions commonly designated receptions, tea parties, dinners, banquets, dances, musicales or similar affairs . . . ."

But now that fate awaits his legacy. For the good doctor's will has been broken, and his exquisite assemblage of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings (181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 60 Matisses plus various Picassos and Monets and Van Goghs, among others) is to be moved to downtown Philadelphia, where it can become just another stop on museum row rather than the distinctive school of art appreciation he envisioned.

Soon enough Dr. Barnes' collection will be available for just the sort of high-society events he detested, many of them no doubt sponsored by the kind of arts establishment he abhorred.

It seems a court has dismissed the original intent of this donor as impractical and outmoded. Which is how an ignorant, arrogant present tends to think of an idealistic past.

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The last cautionary tale comes out of Princeton University, alma mater of Charles Robertson, who left it $35 million in 1961 with specific instructions:

The fund was to be used to "maintain and operate . . . as part of the Woodrow Wilson School, a Graduate School, where men and women dedicated to public service may prepare themselves for careers in government . . . with particular emphasis on . . . those areas of the federal government that are concerned with international relations . . . ."

Over the years, the foundation that Charles Robertson and his wife, Marie, established has given Princeton some $300 million, but to the dismay of the family, Princeton has been using much of the money for its own purposes — rather than to create a great school of foreign service.

For its part, the university claims that the Robertsons' bequest was far more general than its mere words would leave one to believe, and that Princeton should be able to go on spending those millions just as it has been.

However the courts decide this case, this much is already clear: Future donors beware. Your gift may prove someone else's bonanza.

The outcome of Robertson v. Princeton will tell us something else: how much this generation respects the past — or disrespects it. Respect and disrespect for the past are really a kind of gratitude or ingratitude for those who have come before us. And a society that shows no regard for its past may not have much of a future, either.

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Shavuos: A view from the mountain


Jewish World Review

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's not difficult to sympathize with the skeptics who questioned the ability of Avrohom Mordechai Altar, then still a teenager, to succeed his father as leader of the Gerrer Chassidim, possibly the most influential Torah community in Poland at the end of the 19th century. But the young scholar, who would grow up to become a great rebbe and author of the Imrei Emes, answered his critics with the following parable.

A small town in an isolated land rested at the foot of a great mountain, a peak so high and steep that all reasonable people considered it unconquerable. From time to time, however, some impetuous youth would set out to climb the mountain. Some of these returned admitting defeat. The rest were never heard from again.

Despite the warnings and prophesies of doom, a certain young man decided to challenge the mountain. Many times he nearly turned back, and many times he nearly met his end, but through sheer persistence he finally reached the mountain top.

But he was utterly unprepared for what he found there.

An thriving city of people lived upon a great plateau at the mountain's summit. There were houses and farms -- an entire community living where everyone believed that no one had ever set foot. The inhabitants of the mountain top laughed at him when he expressed his astonishment. "Do you think you're the first one to climb the mountain?" they chided. "We also reached the top and, having done so, chose to build this town and make our lives here."

Not yet recovered from his dismay, the young man noticed a small boy, only six or seven years old. This was more than he could believe. "Did you climb all the way up here, too?" the young man exclaimed.

"No," replied the boy. "I was born here."

And so, the young rebbe explained to his followers, he was indeed young. But he had been born into a dynasty of great Torah leaders, raised by and taught by the greatest sages of his generation who had in turn been taught and raised by the greatest sages of their generation. True, he was young; but he had been born on a mountain, and from his place atop the shoulders of the spiritual giants who preceded him he would build upon their greatness. In this way would he succeed as a leader his people.

And so he did.

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On the sixth day of the Jewish month of Sivan, Jews around the world will celebrate the revelation at Sinai, 3,317 years ago, when the Almighty gave us the Torah. It was the Torah that provided the moral and legal foundation that has enabled the Jewish people to build a nation devoted to spiritual ideals, a nation that endured for nearly 1,500 years in its land and nearly two thousand years scattered across the globe. It was the Torah that introduced the concepts of peace, of charity, of justice, and of collective responsibility to a world that knew no value other than "might makes right." It was the Torah that formed the basis of Christianity and Islam, spreading monotheism throughout the world and fashioning the attitudes of modern progressivism.

It all began on that mountain called Sinai, and from that point on the Jewish people have labored to climb the mountain of morality and virtue, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, sometimes wondering whether our efforts are worthwhile, but always persevering in our mission to attain the summit of spiritual and moral perfection
It all began on that mountain called Sinai, and from that point on the Jewish people have labored to climb the mountain of morality and virtue, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, sometimes wondering whether our efforts are worthwhile, but always persevering in our mission to attain the summit of spiritual and moral perfection.

Had our mission demanded completion within a single generation we would never have held out hope of success. But every generation climbs a little higher, building on the accomplishments of their fathers and grandfathers, fighting for every handhold, struggling for every foothold, occasionally slipping back but never surrendering.

The mission that defines us as a people began 33 centuries ago, it continues today as we recommit ourselves to the study and observance of Torah, and we celebrate it this year as every year on the holiday of Shavuos.

Two weeks after this Shavuos, I will celebrate yet again in a way that happens only once in a lifetime, with the bar mitzvah of my eldest son. In his first thirteen years of life I have done all I could and all I have known how to do to teach him that he was born on the mountain, that he has the accomplishments of generations beneath his feet to support him, and that future generations will depend upon him for their support just as he depends on those who went before.

And so it is with every Jewish child. Each has his own contribution to make in the eternal mission of our eternal people. It is the Torah that defines us, the Torah that guides us, the Torah that sustains us, and the Torah that will ultimately bring us to the fulfillment of the spiritual goals for which the Almighty created us.

Climb, my son. Climb and keep climbing toward the top of the mountain.

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© 2005, Rabbi Yonason Goldson

The Redheaded Stepchild: Does EMS Belong in the Fire Service?


EMS Magazine, June 2005

By David W. Powers, NREMT-P, BCETS, AHS

Welcome to my third installment in a series of guest editorials. My goal for these articles is to shake up and change the EMS establishment for the better. To do this, I need your help. Here's one way you can participate: Drop me a line and let me know how you would change EMS as a career field. No area is sacred and all your ideas and opinions count. You can reach me at Docbeaker@aol.com. Put "Solutions for the Future" in the subject line.

The topic of fire-based EMS may very well be the civil war of the EMS industry. Those with opinions on the matter are usually highly charged in one direction or the other. To avoid any misunderstandings, I'll state mine right off the bat: I don't believe EMS belongs in the fire service. Now that you're either mad or happy, depending on your point of view, read on to see why you'll love me or hate me.

EMS Is a Healthcare Career, Not a Fire Department Career
      In case someone forgot the "M" in EMS, it stands for medical. EMTs and paramedics are technically classified as allied health professionals, which is a whole different field of endeavor than firefighting. Our true brethren are respiratory therapists, nurses, physicians' assistants and the like. This means we operate in conjunction with other healthcare agencies, be they doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals or health departments.
      The fire department is not a healthcare agency. It is a protection agency, no more dedicated to actual healthcare than a police department. Just because we work with fire departments on a daily basis in no way establishes ownership of EMS by fire or changes their job to healthcare.
      Since we are part of the healthcare team, and patient care and transportation are our primary objectives, why be stationed at firehouses? Ambulances should be stationed near hospitals or medical offices in order to maximize downtime and resources. Why not go one step further and station some ambulances at wellness centers or health departments in order to help provide public healthcare programs such as immunizations?
      The end result of taking EMS away from the healthcare team is that patient care suffers.

EMS Is the Medical Leg of Public Safety
      No matter what unions, national groups or fire service lobbyists say, public safety is made up of three legs, not two. The triad of public safety consists of police, fire and guess what: EMS. In recent years, mergers, takeovers and acquisitions of EMS services by fire departments have blurred the lines. Many areas only have police and fire. Some only have a single public safety department.
      Usually when EMS agencies are absorbed, they simply disappear. Police are left untouched. Fire is untouched. But suddenly paramedics must become firefighter-paramedics and EMS is relegated to a necessary evil by many career firefighters. Many agencies no longer employ strictly full-time paramedics.
      In many agencies, paramedicine is often seen only as a notch in the advancement of a career firefighter. Think about it, readers: How many administrative or white-collar personnel do you know who made it in a fire-EMS system without requisite fire training? I don't know of any, but I can tell you that a paramedic patch sure looks good on the chief's uniform. If any readers know of fire personnel who manage the EMS sections, but aren't paramedics, please write in and let me know.
      When EMS disappears from the public safety triad, the job role of a career paramedic disappears. In a fire system, there is simply no room for a veteran paramedic to advance in pay or promotion, unless he chooses to be a firefighter as well. How does that help patients?
      By removing EMS from the public safety triad, patient care suffers.

EMS Is a Science and an Art
      Ever heard the old saying, "jack of all trades and master of none"? Back when I was in paramedic school, a preceptor once advised me that I should concentrate on my primary job, prehospital medicine, and never more than one or two specialties. At that time I was interested in everything—rope rescue, search and rescue, hazmat—you name it, I wanted to join the team. While there are some da Vincis out there who are masters at everything, most people can never master one job, let alone several.
      Very few people ever truly master the sciences of fire or EMS in the course of an entire career. Being a master firefighter takes years of experience and also years of education. It's the same with being a paramedic. Both services need to develop their masters. I believe that even in joint fire-EMS agencies, we can and should still have a separation of jobs. We should allow the best firefighters to become master firefighters and not force them into EMT school if they don't want that. By the same token, we should allow the best medics to achieve mastery as medics, rather than forcing them into firefighting.
      When EMS becomes an added duty instead of its own art and science, patient care suffers.

EMS Is Not the Exclusive Property of the Fire Department
      It's not hard to see why all this is happening. Due to the resounding success of their fire-prevention efforts, fire departments are handling fewer and fewer fire calls. Fewer calls means the normal budget will shrink, because the money isn't needed. Meanwhile, EMS calls are increasing and so are their budgets. In order to grow their budgets, fire departments have started running medical calls with an engine, a ladder and two quick response vehicles. This justifies a little more money, but the FD has an even larger goal in mind.
      On top of the standing budget of EMS, ambulances are somewhat self-supporting. We bill for transport and therefore provide some of our own money in addition to our outside funding. More money for the fire department.
      Fire departments then portray EMS as a system in poor straits, with no leadership, poor response times and shoddy care. Then, the fire department can step in to save the day and absorb EMS, budget and all.
      In order to support their idea that only fire can save EMS, many fire agencies claim natural ownership. The truth is that while some EMS services were born from fire agencies, the fire service was not the originator of prehospital medicine. We can credit the military with that. Tradition holds that the first ambulance belonged to Napoleon's army.
      In modern history, most of the first units were operated out of funeral homes or hospitals, while the military was operating field ambulances, medevac choppers and field medics—all without the help of the fire department. While I'm not suggesting that EMS should belong to the military, it's important to establish that it does not belong to fire either. Present-day EMS has clearly evolved from both systems, but we are at a point now where we need to be on our own to continue that evolution.
      As long as EMS is treated as second-class, patient care will suffer.

The Fire Department Needs a Medical Component
      Don't get me wrong, firefighters do a great job fulfilling their primary missions: preventing and extinguishing fires. They already help protect lives and property. They do not need to own EMS to do this job.
      Fire departments do need medical support, however, to enable them to do their jobs more effectively. Besides their own risk for injury, they frequently encounter sick or injured people prior to EMS arrival. It behooves them, then, to have some of their personnel trained to the basic EMT level. By carrying a first responder bag and an AED, an EMT can hold down the fort until ambulances arrive with advanced life support.
      By fire departments providing basic medical care until EMS can take over, patient care will get better.

      Firefighters have a job to do. So do paramedics. The jobs are not the same and efforts to force them together will not only affect patient care but also deepen the acrimony between the two career fields.
      For patient care and public safety to be a success, the best system is a public safety triad in which police, fire and EMS work and even train together, but have careers specific to their professions. I'm sure there are a few fire-based EMS systems that work well, but we need to consider the bigger picture. From a paramedic's perspective, that means increasing the professionalism of EMS, increasing career options within EMS, and most of all, increasing the chances my patients will live another day. Helping firefighters get promoted or pad their department budgets is not part of it. For EMS to advance and progress, we need to step away from the shadow of groups or agencies that would freeload off our budgets and impede our progress.
      If you're an EMT or paramedic in a fire-based system that respects EMS, I'd love to hear about it. Drop me a line or better yet, invite me on a ride-along where I can speak with other medics. Maybe you'll change my mind about the fire service.

David W. Powers, NREMT-P, BCETS, AHS, lives in a county where EMS is run by the fire department. He owns the Emergency Response Corps and several other businesses in Surfside Beach, SC, and serves as the assistant chief of administration at the Surfside Beach Rescue Squad. He is the author of several books and writes frequently for EMS Magazine. David can be reached at Docbeaker@aol.com.

Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!

Ditch NHTSA, Task Force Says, and Move EMS Under DHS


      "The time is ripe for EMS to move to a more suitable federal agency."
      That's the conclusion of a recently released report that supports the idea—recently broached and seemingly increasingly popular—of moving federal oversight of emergency medical services from under the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to a new home in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
      The notion, already being promoted by one high-profile national task force (www.projectusemsa.org), received another boost in May with the release of a report compiled by a task force of the Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) at George Washington University. The publication, Back to the Future: An Agenda for Federal Leadership of Emergency Medical Services, cites EMS as a "missing piece of the preparedness puzzle" that needs reevaluation at the federal level.
      The authors' conclusion: "While DOT might have been the appropriate home for EMS in the federal government during the early years of EMS, when its focus was on transporting automobile accident victims, EMS has long outgrown such vestigial ties."
      Like the Project USEMSA group, the HSPI group calls for the creation of a U.S. EMS Administration under DHS. Such an administration, it says, would lead national EMS policy; be the providers' voice in the federal government; examine responder safety issues; collect and disseminate data; serve as a central clearinghouse for information, funding and standards; manage national training programs; and conduct research.
      The task force behind the report brought together numerous top EMS leaders. It was cochaired by HSPI Director Frank Cilluffo, Deputy Director Daniel Kaniewski and Paul Maniscalco, an assistant professor at GWU and a veteran of the landmark Gilmore Commission. Other representatives included field providers, educators and chief officers from a range of agencies and institutions.
      While creating an EMS Administration under DHS has its promoters, support for the idea is not universal. In response to the HSPI report, Advocates for EMS issued a statement supporting an EMS office under DHS, with a strengthened FICEMS (the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS) serving to coordinate the EMS activities of various federal agencies and offices.
      NHTSA, notes Advocates, "has a productive history as a lead federal EMS coordinating agency since the late 1960s." The Advocates opinion represented the National Association of State EMS Directors, the National Association of EMS Physicians and the National Association of EMS Educators.
      For the full HSPI report, see http://homelandsecurity.gwu.edu/newsroom.htm.
      For the Advocates response, see www.advocatesforems.org/Library/upload/GW_Report_Response.pdf.
      For more on the issue of where EMS best belongs in the post-9/11 era, watch future issues of EMS Magazine.
      —John Erich, Associate Editor

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In defense of Bill Cosby


Star Parker (archive)

June 6, 2005 | printer friendly version Print | email to a friend Send

If we gave ratings to books like we give to films, I would urge that Michael Eric Dyson's new book, Is Bill Cosby Right?Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? be given triple X. Parents, particularly black parents, should read this material with the greatest caution.

Dyson wrote this book to take on Bill Cosby and his campaign to talk about personal responsibility in the black community. The book is wrong about everything. But in addition to being uniformly wrong, it is uniformly dangerous. Any degree to which blacks buy into Dyson's message will translate directly into exacerbating and perpetuating the well known social and economic problems in our community that prompted Cosby's campaign.

Several hundred pages of whining, excuses, and personal attacks on Bill Cosby really just boil down to the following: "Cosby's overemphasis on personal responsibility, not structural features, wrongly locates the source of poor black suffering .... Cosby's insistence on self-help lets society off the hook."

For the last 40 years blacks have heard nothing from their leaders except blaming an unjust and racist America for our problems and prescribing political action and government spending programs as the only way to solve them. The result has been the creation of what is fast becoming a permanent black underclass, devoid of the very attitudes and values that are critical for anyone of any background or color to make it in this world.

Cosby emerges and suggests that if there is going to be hope and a future for this black community, it can only come by forgetting the blame game and accepting that, regardless of what was, every black tomorrow will directly reflect the personal responsibility that every African American takes for his or her life today. For Dyson, this is an "overemphasis on personal responsibility."

Dyson's pretense at insight is to point out that the world is complicated. Is it reasonable, as Cosby is doing, to tell a single black mother, who herself may well be the product of a broken home, and arguably lives in a society that still reeks of racism, that she should assume personal responsibility for her life? Dyson says no. I say yes.

Not only must we transmit this message, but to not do it is to shirk our own personal responsibility. Perhaps the difference between me and Michael Eric Dyson is that I believe that at the end of the day life has rules and values that are absolutely true. I believe these rules and values sustain life itself. What I call perversion, Dyson will call an alternative life style. What I call dysfunctional behavior, Dyson will call personal or cultural expression crucial for self-esteem.

I, of course, cannot speak for Bill Cosby. But it is certainly clear to me that to point out that poor African Americans need to take personal responsibility does not imply that others have no responsibility in trying to help. The difference in opinion between what Cosby is saying and what Dyson claims is not whether to help but how.

Cosby, after all, is trying to help. He is saying "Here is what you need to know. Here are the rules. Take them and live by them." Dyson, from all I have heard from him, rejects traditional rules and values. He thinks he's helping by educating young blacks to remember that where they are is not their fault and where they will be depends on our ability to get government programs to get them there.

In contrast to Dyson's book, a new book that is actually interesting is Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century . Friedman chronicles how technology is shrinking our world and the intense competitive pressures this is placing on an America around which the welfare state has already wrapped its tentacles.

Friedman points out that good parenting and good education is crucial if Americans are going to be ready to take on this new world. Instead of asking "Is Bill Cosby Right?", Dyson might ask "Is David Baltimore Right?." Here is what Baltimore, the Nobel prize-winning president of Caltech, conveyed to Friedman:

"I look at the kids who come to Caltech, and they grew up n families that encouraged them to work hard and to put off a little bit of gratification for the future and to understand that they have to hone their skills to play an important role in the world .... Their parents nurtured them to make sure they realize their potential. I think we need a revolution in this country when it comes to parenting around education."

Sure, blacks can listen to Michael Eric Dyson and make a million excuses why this isn't possible for them. And while they're doing it, they can watch their communities fall farther and farther behind.

Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education and author of the newly released book ' Uncle Sam's Plantation.'

©2005 Star Parker

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Contact Star Parker | Read Parker's biography

Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!

Another story from the same newspaper..

Here's another story about the defibrillator death incident with some more detail.


EMT faces charge in death of co-worker
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BY SAMANTHA SIEBER. LEBANON, Va. – An emergency medical technician faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of a co ...

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In regards to the first story, defibrillators are not toys! I'll be watching this story to see if we can find out what really happened.


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The Book of Ruth: A Mystery Unraveled

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The She was a Moabite princess who converted to Judaism in the 10th century BCE, but what does her story have to do with the events at Mount Sinai more than 300 years earlier?

Why is it that we read the Book of Ruth -- the story of a Moabite woman who converted to Judaism and who eventually married a judge of Israel, Boaz -- on Shavuot, the holiday when we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai?

Torah commentators offer two major theses to explain the custom:

  • that Ruth was the model of Torah acceptance, and
  • that without her Jewish history could not continue.

Both are puzzling as we shall see, and we shall explore them one by one.

The first one seems quite straightforward, at least at first glance: Shavuot commemorates the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish people, and the Book of Ruth describes the acceptance of the Torah by a single individual through an act of conversion.

Inasmuch as we were all converts at Mt. Sinai, her experience is a reminder to us that we are all Jews only thanks to our own act of Torah acceptance. Judaism is not a racial trait and is not automatic for anyone; at bottom it is based on conversion and Torah acceptance even for the children of Abraham.

Ruth was no ordinary convert. Her name gives us a clue to her essence. In Hebrew, Ruth's name is comprised of the letters reish, vav, tav, which add up to a numerical value of 606. As all human beings have an obligation to observe the seven Noachide commandments -- so called because they were given after the flood -- as did Ruth upon her birth as a Moabite. Add those seven commandments to the value of her name and you get 613, the number of commandments in the Torah.

The essence of Ruth, her driving life force was the discovery and acceptance of the 606 commandments she was missing. Thus Ruth is a Torah seeker par excellence who is held up to the rest of us as the shining model of proper Torah acceptance. If we could learn to emulate Ruth in our own act of Torah acceptance, the act of Divine service that is the essence of Shavuot, we would succeed in absorbing the entire spiritual input offered by God on the Shavuot holiday. (See the commentary of the Gaon of Vilna on the Book of Ruth.)

While quite obvious at first glance, this theme does present a major difficulty on closer examination.

Anyone reading the story of Ruth is immediately struck by the strength of her dedication to her mother in law, Naomi. The famous passage from which the Talmud derives many of the laws of conversion (Yevomot 47b) portrays Ruth's stubborn refusal to part from Naomi in the strongest possible terms.

But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may God do to me, and so may He do more, if anything but death separates me from you . (Ruth 1:16-17)

Such love and commitment to the welfare of another person are extremely admirable qualities, but are unrelated to belief in God and in His Torah. Shouldn't someone who is held up to us as a shining example to emulate in our own acceptance of Torah be portrayed as being driven by faith and idealism rather than by her attachment to a particular person, or indeed, to the entire Jewish people for that matter?


Let us explore this point through an examination of a difficult passage of Talmud:

Rabbi Elazar said: "People who have no Torah knowledge will not experience the revival of the dead, as it is written, (in Isaiah 26): The dead shall not live. You might think this refers to all the dead, that's why it is followed up by: Those requiring a cure will not rise. Only those whose hold on the words of Torah is shaky and weak will not rise."

Rabbi Yochanan responded: "You have brought no pleasure to their Maker by making this statement about the ignorant in Torah."

Rabbi Elazar saw that his words caused Rabbi Yochanan anguish. He said, "My Rebbe, I have found a cure for them in the Torah. It is written, But you who cleave to YHVH your God, you are all alive today (Deut 4:4). But how is it possible for a human being to be attached to the Divine Presence when it is written For YHVH your God, He is a consuming fire (Ibid 24). Can a person attach himself to fire? To teach you, that whoever marries his daughter to a Torah scholar, or helps the Torah scholar in business or shares his property with a scholar, is looked upon by God as attached to Himself ... (Talmud, Kesubot, 111b)

Why should the resurrection be related to one's level of scholarship, and how can we relate to the idea that attachment to the Torah scholar is the equivalent of attachment to God?

One of the 613 commandments is the commandment to love God. This seems like an impossible commandment to fulfill. How can you love somebody who you do not know? Furthermore, God is infinite and we are not, we have no comprehension of how He thinks, what His interests are, or His hobbies or anything about Him.

Without knowing some of these details at least about another person it would be impossible for us to honestly say we loved him. We might think he is a very important person, we might even admire him, but to feel love and attachment to somebody, we must be somewhat familiar with the object of our affections.

Of course, this is also true about our love of God. We can only feel love for God to the extent that we develop a knowledge of Him and familiarity with Him.

But how can we do this?

The obvious solution is through our knowledge of Torah. God gave us a lot of information about Himself in His Torah. He told us about His sense of justice and fairness, about His priorities and feelings, about His hopes and dreams for our future.

There are two aspects to Torah knowledge and scholarship:

  1. All Jews must amass sufficient Torah knowledge to know how to carry out the commandments properly, as the performance of the commandments is an obligation.
  2. The second aspect is unrelated to the performance of the commandments. The Talmud Chacham studies the Torah to become familiar with God, and learn His culture.

The first word of the Ten Commandments is Anochi. The Talmud says this is an acrostic that stands for ano nafshi kasvis yahavis, literally "I have written myself into this book that I am giving you." (Talmud Shabos, 105a). The Talmud Chacham who spends his life immersed in Torah study, is imbibing the very soul of God along with the words of Torah that he is learning.

Our aim is familiarity with God as a personality that we can have a relationship with. We want to love God and have Him love us in return, and we want to be aware of the feelings on both sides. For this we need the Talmud Chacham.

It is only through him that we obtain the knowledge of God that is a prerequisite to any possible relationship with Him. Just as in the case of human love, knowledge precedes feelings, so it is with the love of God. Without the Torah scholar this knowledge, and therefore this love, would be absent from the world.

It is one of the many wonders of Judaism that often the Tzaddik who immerses himself in the service of God, such as prayer and good works, feels a greater love for God than the Torah scholar, who spends his life in intellectual pursuit. But without the knowledge of God generated by the Torah scholar, the Tzaddik would not have known how to get started in his pursuit of the emotional attachment to God.

Love of God thus radiates outward from the Torah. The Tzaddik attaches himself to the Torah scholar and is the first to feel this love, and those who attach themselves to the Tzaddik detect its radiant warmth and energy through him. But the ultimate source of this love is the Torah and our access to the Torah must necessarily depend on the amount of Torah knowledge in our possession thanks to the efforts and hard work of the Torah scholar.


Ruth the Moabite was looking for the missing 606 commandments not simply because she was looking for the truth and the right way to live, although no doubt these impulses were also a part of her drive to conversion. But chiefly, she wanted to attach herself to God to cleave to Him, to connect herself to the source of all life and being.

The only way to do this was to attach herself to a person who was already attached in this way to God. Thus she followed Naomi the person, rather than the abstract truth.

We read her story on Shavuot to teach us that this is the type of Torah acceptance we are seeking. We are not after God's laws. We are seeking to attach ourselves to God Himself.

The second major thesis offered by the commentators for reading the Book of Ruth on Shavuot is also hinted to in her name. She is named Ruth because her great grandson, King David showered God with his songs and praises. (Yalkut, Tehilim, 247) The word rave in Hebrew, a play on the letters of Ruth's name means "to shower," and David authored the book of Psalms, the basic hymnbook to God of the majority of mankind. According to tradition, Shavuot is David's birthday as well as the day on which he passed away, and his full genealogy is recited at the conclusion of the Book of Ruth.


The appreciation of this thesis requires some more background:

God said to Moses: 'You shall not distress Moab, and you shall not provoke war with them.' (Deut. 2:9) Why would it have occurred to Moses to wage war with Moab without God's permission? Moses reasoned thus: If the Midionites who only came to assist Moab (in the war Moab waged with Israel described in Parshat Balak) the Torah commanded, Harass the Midionites and smite them; for they harassed you through their conspiracy that they conspired against you ... (Numbers 25:17-18). Surely the same policy should be applied against the Moabites who were the instigators. But God told Moses, 'I think differently! I still have a wonderful treasure to pull out, Ruth the Moabite.'(Talmud, Baba Kama 38a)

Not only was Ruth David's great grandmother. It was specifically she that was required to be able to bring David into the world. The need for her was so great that the entire Moabite nation was sustained for several hundred years in her merit while the world waited for Ruth to be born. Can we find any sources to uncover why Ruth the Moabite specifically was needed to bring the line of David from whom would descend the Messiah into the world?

[The angels urged Lot, saying,] 'Take your wife and your two daughters who are present.' (Genesis 19:15) The Hebrew word nimzoas ["who are present"] in this verse is a reference to two important discoveries: Ruth the Moabite and Na'amah the Amonite. It is written I found my servant David. Where did God find him? In Sodom (Yalkut, Lech lecho, 70).

When God destroyed Sodom he saved Lot because of his two daughters. The daughters, believed that they and their father were the only people left on earth, engaged in acts of incest with him. As a result one gave birth to the progenitor of Moab, and the other to the progenitor of Amon. It would thus seem that Ruth was needed because she was a descendant of Lot? And who was Lot?

Now these are the chronicles of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran begot Lot ... And Abram and Nahor took themselves wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife was Milka, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milka and the father of Iscah . (Genesis 11:27-28)

Close examination of this passage reveals an astounding piece of information. It turns out that Haran, Abram's brother, was the grandfather of all of the most important Jewish women in history. The rabbis teach that Iscah was Sara (see Rashi Ibid), Rebecca was Milka's grand-daughter, and all of Jacob's wives were her great grand daughters. Lot was Haran's son and therefore Ruth was also a grand-daughter.

Can this be a coincidence? Let us attempt to uncover the significance of all this.


Electricity was known and understood for many years by the time Edison was born. Graham Bell uncovered nothing new about the nature of sound waves. Yet without these two geniuses the knowledge of electricity and sound waves would not have benefited the world. There is a special genius involved in the exploitation of ideas, just as there is a genius in their discovery. In Hebrew this genius is known as binah, often translated as "understanding," and it is the special property of women.

In the prelude to Sinai, we read:

So shall you say to the House of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel (Exodus 18:3)

Rashi explains why the seeming redundancy "House of Jacob," and "Children of Israel." The House of Jacob refers to Jewish women -- Jewish women are the Jewish house.

The ideas of Judaism come to life in the Jewish home and are translated into reality by the guidance of the Jewish woman.

The Jewish man carries the obligation of learning the Torah, but it is the Jewish woman who translates its ideas into the realities of everyday living. Abraham was the genius who brought the knowledge of God into the world, but it was his brother Haran who carried the seeds of the genius required to translate the knowledge that Abraham discovered into everyday life. Thus the greatest Jewish women were Haran's descendants.

The Jewish Kingdom is a reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven carries in it a great power. This power is to redeem and regenerate and ensure that no part of what is noble and precious about humanity is ever lost.

Thus an act of heaven was required when Lot, Haran's son, left Abraham and became lost in Sodom. The powers of holiness and greatness that were buried in him seemed forever lost to the service of God. But because God is the absolute King and controls history even as man is free to do what he wants, He has the capacity to ensure the recovery of this lost greatness. This is the true significance of the Kingdom of Heaven.

To ensure that nothing good is ever lost and is ultimately recovered requires eternal vigilance. The conversion of Ruth made possible the recovery of the lost power of Haran required to bring about the birth of the Jewish kingdom, reflective of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. She carried the binah necessary to translate it into every day life.


To emphasize the aspect of redemption involved in the establishment of the Jewish Kingdom, the marriage of Ruth to Boaz -- which ultimately resulted in the birth of David -- was a "levirated" marriage. This type of marriage is specifically mandated by the Torah as a means of recovering the soul that left the world without managing to produce any issue. Thus the entire purpose of Ruth's marriage was to ensure that the soul of her first husband Machlon who died -- and the spiritual power and greatness that was latent in it -- would not be lost to the world or to Israel.

The recovery of all this lost potential happened through the correction of Lot's error by his great-great-granddaughter Ruth.

Lot left Abraham over worldly possessions. After all, he was a believer himself, he knew the truth, he had learned how to serve God on his own, and he thought he did not need Abraham. As it was better for him in Sodom materially, and as he didn't perceive any spiritual necessity to remain with Abraham, he left. His error was that to serve God it is not enough to be aware of the absolute truth. You have to be attached to Him. The attachment to God comes about through the attachment to the Talmud Chacham. He should have stayed with Abraham.

The Gaon of Vilna shows how Ruth corrected this mistake: by a steadfast yearning for an attachment to God.

One of the laws of conversion that we learn from the story of Ruth is the need to discourage the potential convert. Thus Naomi talked her daughter in law Orpa out of conversion, and she attempted to dissuade Ruth as well. At a certain point Naomi stopped.

The Gaon asks: How did Naomi know exactly when to stop? He explains: at the point she stopped, it says, When she saw that she strained to go with her, she stopped arguing with her. (Ruth 1:18) Naomi was much older than Ruth and Ruth should have had no trouble at all keeping up with Naomi; yet Naomi saw that it was a strain on Ruth to keep pace with her. From this she realized that Ruth was torn; there was a part of her that was reluctant to take the step of conversion.

Ruth was a Moabite princess according to tradition. She was used to the best things in life. She was also a beautiful young woman in the prime of life. The step she was taking would introduce her to a life of poverty; her mother-in-law had lost everything she had through her misfortunes and was returning home entirely destitute. So, in going with Naomi, Ruth was leaving a life of high status to become a lowly convert of questionable status. It was not even clear if a Jew would even be permitted to marry her. A large part of her said, "Why go to Israel? You can serve God wherever you are. After all these years of living in a Jewish house, you know all the laws and can observe all the commandments right where you are. There is no need for this great self sacrifice."

Ruth was torn. But what she wanted was closeness to God, she wanted attachment. Staying in Moab observing the commandments would not give her that; only attachment to the Talmud Chacham would. She decided to go with Naomi to join the Jewish people no matter what, but the strain of her inner conflict made it difficult for her to keep up. This is when Naomi stopped discouraging her. Naomi understood Ruth and saw that she was after an attachment to God. She had absorbed the true message of Judaism.

This article can also be read at: http://www.aish.com/shavuotthemes/shavuotthemesdefault/The_Book_of_Ruth_A_Mystery_Unraveled.asp

Author Biography:

While studying at the famed yeshivas of Chaim Berlin, Lakewood and the Mir in Jerusalem, Rabbi Noson Weisz also received a degree in Microbiology from the University of Toronto, MA in Political Science at the New School for Social Research and his LLB from the University of Toronto. Rabbi Weisz is currently a senior lecturer at Yeshiva Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem.

Listen to a class by Rabbi Noson Weisz

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