Volume 10 Number 69
                       Produced: Sun Dec 19  9:06:49 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An interesting thought on the Holocaust
         [David Charlap]
Censoring what our kids watch, read, hear, etc
         [Uri Meth]
         [Avi Laster]
Understanding the Holocaust
         [Frank Silbermann]


From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 93 14:04:18 -0500
Subject: Re: An interesting thought on the Holocaust

This letter typifies some of the problems that one can encounter
when discussing any topic relating to the Holocaust.  In particular,
my theory makes no attempt to explain why the genocide occurred, but
tries to explain why the Gedolim didn't tell everybody to get out.
Nevertheless, I have received a few similar letters that miss this
crucial point.

<btanenb@...> (Robert J. Tanenbaum) writes:
>I think your idea about the Holocaust has merit.
>I think all of the "reasons" for the Holocaust have merit.
>My problem is that I think that any attempt to find explanations for
>the Holocaust does three things:

As I stated above, I didn't attempt to find any reason.  I really
start to wonder if people actually read the full text of messages
when they're on controversial issues.

>That's why I prefer the formulation by Rabbi Eliezer Berkovitz (Z'Tz'L)
>in his book "Faith After The Holocaust" and his other books.  His thesis
>is that the Holocaust was the action of men dedicated to evil intent.
>The victims were no more nor less "deserving" of this action than any
>member of the Holy Jewish people - and others. G-d "permitted" this to
>happen because G-d wants a world where people -- even the most evil
>people -- have free will to make their own choices and carry them out
>even if innocent people suffer.

While this is a nice theory that serves many human needs, it seems to
be (IMO) counter to traditional Jewish thought.

Judaism teaches that God is One.  He is directly responsible for all
good and evil in the world.  God didn't simply allow the attrocities
of WWII to happen, he caused them, using the hands of men as his tools.
To believe otherwise is to create a duality that goes counter to
Judaism - believing that not everything is the hand of God.  Mind you,
this doesn't absolve the Germans of any guilt - this has never been a
valid excuse (cf: Nevuchadnezzar and Mitzrayim).

>My faith in G-d prompts me to simultaneously rage at Him for the
>injustice (because He is supposed to be Just) and to embrace Him with
>the knowledge that He loves us and is the source of all goodness.

But you should not also deny that He is the source of everything that
is not good as well.  He is the source of everything.  He is One.

>My faith says, despite all the hurt, I will go on and continue loving
>my G-d and serving Him to the best of my ability by seeking justice
>and tolerance and opposing injustice and bigotry.

Absolutely.  But this shouldn't depend on what you believe the cause
for the Holocaust is.


From: <umeth@...> (Uri Meth)
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 11:04:27 EST
Subject: Censoring what our kids watch, read, hear, etc

In v10n56, Meylech Viswanath was suprised that subscribers to m.j. would
try to censor what their children see and learn in reference to the
relegions that surround us, specifically christianity.  I disagree with
his reasoning and let me explain why.

I work with a community of Ba'alei Teshuva (returners to the faith).  In
my dealings with them I see how their thought processes have developed.
The way they sometimes perceive subject matter and approach it is very
much affected by the way they were brought up, in a christian world.  I
also have studied, somewhat limitted, in the field we call
"Anti-Missionary".  At the begining of every course that I took the
instructor always said, 'If anything I say in this course causes you to
have some questions which will bring in doubt your loyalty to Judaism,

It is very dangerous to expose a child to conflicting ideas.  It is our
responsibilty to protect our children and shield them from the
influences of the outside world, especially in reference to other
relegions.  (As in the case of Pinochio, religous ideas of other
religions come in all shapes and forms, and if we are not careful they
can have unrealized damaging effects.)  The purpose of this is not to 
hide it from them such that they will never know, but to mold the child 
into a true Torah Jew.  Children see everything that goes on around them 
are are very impressionable.  A child who is brought up in a religion and 
is also bombarded with ideas of other religions can become very confused and
lose his way.  This can be seen unfortuneatly in our time by children of
intermarrige who celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas and when they
grow up have very little religious identity becuase of the fusing of the
two religions into one by their parents.

Once a child is molded in Judaism and his faith is strong, only then
should will he be able to look at other religions around him and not get
confused by them.  My oppinion is that this age is somewhere near
Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and maybe not even then.  I have to thank my parents
for doing an excelent job of shielding me from outside influences until
that time.  This gave me a chance to build a solid foundation before I
was thrust into the world.

So please don't be surprised that those who subscribe to m.j would try
to censor items that children read and hear.  Are we any different from
parents in the Charaidi (hassidic) community who mold their children
they way they see fit.   We unfortunatly have a very sad history of 
those who have lost their faith because they were exposed too early 
to confilicting ideas which confused them.

I appoligize if this letter sort of rambles, but this is a subject
which is very close to my heart because it is something I deal with
on a daily basis.
Uri Meth                (215) 674-0200 (voice)
SEMCOR, Inc.            (215) 443-0474 (fax)
65 West Street Road     <umeth@...>
Suite C-100
Warminster, PA 18974


From: Avi Laster <laster@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 93 10:08:02 -0500
Subject: Censorship

Meylekh Viswanath writes in mj 10:56:

>Najman Kahana <NAJMAN%<HADASSAH@...> writes regarding
>imposing censorship on what our kids watch:

>>So,.... last Chanuka we bought our 8-year-old a Pinochio tape. What can
>>be bad abouth Pinochio !!!. The title "Pinochio and the vampires" seemed
>>rather innocuous.  After watching for a while, our daughter, who like most
>>Israeli kids is not familiar with the Xtian world, wanted us to explain to
>>her, why does the vampire cringe when Father Jepetto threatens him with a
>>crucifix and what does the "Whoooooo" music and radiant halo indicate?
>>So mutch for "safe" censorship.

>I remember other postings where attempts were made to keep children from
>knowledge about christianity.  I was surprised then, and I am surprised
>now, that this should be considered desirable among m.j. readers.  The

I think there is a difference between limiting knowledge about Christianity
and limiting exposure to the manifestations of Christianity that permeate our
lives here in the diaspora. In a rudimentary way I can explain enough of the
basics of Christianity to my children to allow them to civilly interact with
their non-Jewish neighbors.  However, I don't have to take them on a trip to
New York City to view the X-mas tree in Rockafeller Center and to Lincoln
Center to view "The Nutcracker" in order to give them this knowledge.

>existence of christianity and christians in the world in which we live
>is undeniable; it permeates literature, music, and other disciplines,

Just because the world is full of it, doesn't mean that I have to invite
it into my home.

>such as e.g. history.  How could it be desirable to keep children
>ignorant of these things?  Rather, I would think it is better to inform

I'm sure there are those people out there who could provide you with
Halachic precedent showing the undesirability of Jewish people indulging
in secular cultural activities and information.

>and _explain_ to our kids what these things are; that they are not
>shayekh [relevent - Mod.] to us.  Just as you might explain the theory
>of evolution (if you thought it went contrary to Judaism), or that there
>are bad people in the world.  Of course, if you planned on keeping your
>children away from all kinds of literature, music, writings, people etc.
>that were touched by christianity, you would be on safe ground.  But I

Assuming exposure to the secular cultural disciplines you mention is
permissible/desirable it certainly can be accomplished with some careful
research and selectivity.  One can provide children, or oneself, with
exposure to examples of all of the above which are not inundated with
Christian content.

>can't see m.j. readers with such constricting attitudes.

One of the things that makes m.j. such an interesting and informative
forum is the diversity it's readers.  Also, one person's constricting
attitudes can be another person's refined discretion.

>or perhaps I have misunderstood/failed to understand other reasons for
>such behavior.

My wife and I proudly censor what our children read and watch, and not
just for Christian content.  Most decent parents practice censorship of
some sort, it's a large part of parenting.  As orthodox Jews our guidelines
are just a little tighter than those of the average parent.  Yet, with
all our evil censorship our children read constantly, have been to the
ballet, museums, and movies (no T.V., it's garbage).

As a final example, I think it's vital to a young child's literary
development to be exposed to Dr. Seuss.  Though "The Grinch Stole
Christmas" is one of Dr. Seuss's finest works I managed to give my
children a broad exposure to the Seussian literary style with  "The
Cat in the Hat" and "Yurtle the Turtle".

Michael Lipkin


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 93 17:51:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Understanding the Holocaust

I have a few comments about Anthony Fiorino's post In Vol. 10 #35 about
the Holocaust.

To say that it was G-d's will that 6 million be slaughtered is trivially
true, in the sense that everything that happens must be G-d's will.  I
agree that this fact offers no explanation, understanding, or solice wrt
how it could have been G-d's will.

>	Given the fact that G-d can simply will the universe
>	out of existence if He so desires, how can I understand
>	G-d's inaction during the Holocaust?

It is said that G-d cannot do a logical impossibility (e.g. to create a
stone so heavy that G-d could not lift it).  Maybe stopping the
Holocaust would have been inconsistent with the continued existence of
the universe.  Who can imagine what might have been at stake?

>	R. Eliezer Berkovits (_Faith After the Holocaust_) has developed
>	the thesis that G-d restains Himself from interfering in the world
>	to allow for free will.  But if G-d could intervene at mitzrayim,
>	and other crucial junctures of Jewish history, then why not at
>	churban bayit?  Why not at the Holocaust?

It does _seem_ inconsistent, but who knows what other factors are
involved?  Perhaps we would have to enroll in Universe Engineering 101
to understand the issues.  :-)

>	On the other hand, I find it unthinkable, an obscenity,
>	to state in a more specific sense that it was G-d's will
>	for these 6 million particular individuals to meet a cruel
>	and inhumane end ...

I vaguely remember reading this quote about the Holocaust, "Only those
without faith ask why; the true believer asks no questions."  At the
time, I found this statement obnoxious, but there is something to it.

A true believer in atheism need not ask why -- the obvious answer is
"Why not?  What does it matter if all the Jews die?"

For one who accepts Jewish theology without any doubts it is trivial to
"balance the books" of reward and punishment --- all we have to assume
is that each victim of the Holocaust enjoys a special portion in HaOlam
HaBa that makes up for the suffering and loss on earth.  Some religions
use this very basis to teach us not to let the suffering of others
disturb our tranquility.

Judaism, however, seems to assume that we should be disturbed by
injustice in the world, and we should feel a drive to right it.  A
remember a story in which a rabbi told his pupils that everything on
earth was created by G-d for a purpose.  One youth asked "Did G-d create
religious doubt and atheism?  If so, to what purpose?"  The rabbi
answered, "G-d created religious doubt so we will not trust too heavily
in the world-to-come, but will hasten to relieve the poor and suffering
in this world."

We want to believe in a moral order, but we are reluctant to put all our
trust in reward after death.  Hence our pain.

But, perhaps this is as it should be.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


End of Volume 10 Issue 69