THE JEWISH NEWS
Incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with iaaue of July 20. 1951
Member American Associaton of Engish-Jewish Newspapers, Michigan Press Association. National Editorial Association
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17515 W. Nine Mile. Suite 865. Southfield. Mich. 48075.
Subscription S8 a year. Foreign Sg.
CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
Editor and Publisher
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the 24th day of Tishre, 5731, the following scriptural selections
will be read in our synagogues:
Pentatechal portion. Gen. 1:1-6:S. Prophetical portion. Isaiah 42:5-43:10.
Candle lighting, Friday, Oct. 23, 5.20 p.m.
October 23, 1970
VOL. LVIII. No. 6
Simhat Torah and USSR Jewry
This title may sound irrelevant. It isn't.
It calls attention to Jewry's rejoicing in the
Law and the loyalties to traditions in all
climes, under many circumstances, by Jews
of many views in many lands.
On Simhat Torah, the Festival of the Re-
joicing in the Law, for a number of years,
young Russian Jews have congregated in the
few remaining synagogues in the Soviet
Union. They crowd the courtyards surround-
ing the synagogues and their masses over-
flow into the nearby streets—in a dem-
onstration of solidarity with their people. It
has been a form of involvement that defies
opposition to their inherited traditions from
their governmetit. It represents a demand
for restoration of their right to align them-
selves with their people, to honor their faith,
to study the language of their fathers.
Many of these young people are untutored
in Jewish lore. They have had no Jewish
education because provisions for such train-
ing have been denied to Russian Jewry. Many
may. not have undergone circumcision because
that, too, has been viewed in Russia as .a
religious rite to be shunned. But they defy
these restrictions. They have learned about
Israel. They take pride in the rebirth of Jew-
ish nationhood and the end to Jewish home-
lessness—for those who had the opportunity
to get out of lands of persecution—and they
demand equal rights to exist for themselves.
Simhat Torah thus becomes more closely
linked with an oppressed minority than with
any other group in Jewry — because that
minority is so adamant in its observance of a
festival of joy linked with tradition.
When, therefore, young Jews everywhere.
together with their elders, are demonstrating
in defense of Russian Jewry, they do it with
the realization that those in whose behalf they
are pleading for justice welcome the demon-
strations and accede to the appeals that the
restrictions imposed upon Russian Jewry, the
shutting of Russia's doors to those who wish
to settle in Israel, the state of terror that has
been instigated out of Russia's aims to harni
Israel, should terminate.
The expressions of solidarity with Russian
Jewry are strong indications that their kins-
men are not forgetting them. Wherever there
are Jews there is concern for our brethren
in the USSR. On many campuses Jewish stu-
dents are expressing their kinship with the
Jews of Russia. What they and their elders
in their home towns do is conduct a cam- Rashi's Pentateuch Commentary
paign not against Russia but against the
tactics of a regime that is oppressing human in New Jewish Heritage Classic
beings, is depriving them of their cultural
and religious rights, is denying them their
In association with the Bnai Brith Commission on Adult Jewish
choice of residence and of the ability to leave Education, W. W. Norton and Co. continues to publish the Bnai Brith
their homeland when conditions there become Jewish Heritage Classics Series. Among the new works published in
this series is "Rashi—Commentaries on the Pentateuch," selected and
translated by Rabbi Chaim Pearl of New York, dean of the Academy
It is tragic enough to be compelled to of Religion.
shout for just rights for human beings and to
Selected with a view of presenting the most familiar pentateuchal
condemn indignities. It is more tragic when portions, the reader is introduced to the most significant of the Bible
an important festival becomes a symbol of the commentators, the famous 12th Century scholar whose interpretive
expressed desire of the oppressed to affirm comments have guided generations in their scriptural studies.
their loyalties to an historic heritage. No
The excellence of the translations and the choice of Rashi commen-
occasion, however, is to be missed when there taries make the Pearl work stand out as a valuable addition to Jewish
is an opportunity to speak out against in- scholarly efforts encouraged by the Bnai Brith education department.
tolerance. We are used to intermingling joy
Not only does this volume serve as an excellent textbook for
with a measure of sorrow, exaltation over a Bible students: the scholarly introduction serves additionally in
great event with a demand for acquisition of evaluating Rashi and his times and in presenting a new view on the
justice so that the glories we acclaim should attitude of Christians who encouraged fraternization with the Jews
be genuine. And we certainly aspire for and who took an interest in Jewish creative labors and scholarly
dignity for all Jewry and all mankind, with attainments.
the Simhat Torah theme as a significant oc-
Rabbi Pearl's 18-page introduction serves that need of reviewing
casion for such adherence to faith and to a the relationships that existed and of indicating that European Jewish
I history was not always tragic, that there were "periods of tolerance
desire for perpetuated honor in faith.
Terrorism Leads to Rightist Threat
"Hostage-taking is a great multiplier," the
American Jewish Committee warns in a state-
ment that points out that it is conceivable that
hijacking tactics, which were used in the
Middle East and are now practiced in Canada
and elsewhere, can be applied even aboard a
Greyhound bus in the United States.
Now we also have the bomb threat, and the
extremists in our land have adopted methods
that had not been known for a long time.
The worst in terrorism, something akin to
Russian nihilism, endangers the lives of inno-
cent people everywhere.
The Torch Drive
Our 22nd annual Torch Drive of the
United Foundation again serves as a signal to
all elements in our community to welcome
the unifying force that makes us a single
community in striving for social improve-
There can never be unanimity in support
of a single cause that acts in behalf of all
faiths and races. There is always the possi-
bility of dissent.
Yet there must be general acclaim for
an effort that gets Catholics, Jews and Prot-
estants, whites and blacks, to work together
in support of community centers, social serv-
ice agencies and recreational activities for the
The Jewish community has been a part
of this effort since the inception of the com-
bined drives. It is a task that deserves gen-
erous support and should always invite the
participation of all civic - minded citizens.
Is there enough of law and order, of a
desire to enforce peace in our communities,
to overcome the new threats? The lack of
respect for police and for public officials, the
glorification of a new revolutionary form that
rejects our legal system, the domination of
fear—these combine to undermine the social
structures that have been built through the
While there is recognition of the need to
emend what has been accepted as absolute
truth, there is a state of terror in the methods
pursued by a few who have cowed the many.
The major danger in such procedures is
that those who seek an extreme left inter-
pretation of our present political and social
customs and attitudes and who would impose
the extreme leftist applications in their future
usage, can drive our and other nations into
the extremes of fascism. There is a rightwing
trend already in evidence, and the danger is
as great as that of a possible emergence of a
Communist influence upon our society.
during which the Jews made steady and uninterrupted progress against
a background of official protection and support." As great travelers
Jews established links with their fellow Jews in many communities.
The story of RASHI—from the initials of his name Rabbi Shlomo
Itzhaki—and his time is told to indicate how the great commentator
lived in harmony with his Christian neighbors. His writings are defined,
and the editor of this volume explains how the commentator kept
revising his works to achieve perfection.
Rabbi Pearl points out that: "The modern Hebrew poet Hayim
Nahman Bialik cnce remarked that Rashi's literary style was an
influence and an inspiration in the renaissance of Hebrew writing."
Rashi's utilization of both the Peshat—the plain and simple mean-
ing of Scripture—and the Derash—the homiletic meaning—are thor-
oughly explained by Rabbi Pearl. We have this definitive comment by
Peshat was Rashi's chief goal, and in the simple exposition he
is superb. Nothing escapes him. Every difficult word, phrase, or
superfluous expression is given a clear meaning.. He has an acute
and unfailing perception. Thus in Genesis 22:12, the angel charges:
"Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do any thing to him!"
The second phrase seems superfluous, but Rashi gives it a meaning
at once simple and beautifully clear. Again, in Numbers 27:2, Rashi
notes the addition of a single preposition which threatens to give the
text an awkward meaning. He therefore discusses it in the light of
rabbinic commentary. This is Peshat at its best and it was Rashi's
The principle of stressing Peshat and offering an additional,
called-for explanation by means of Derash is repeatedly illustrated
in Rashi. Rashi introduces Genesis 22, which tells the famous story
of the binding of Isaac, with two curious legends. They are not in-
cluded arbitrarily, but flow naturally from the opening verse of the
chapter: "And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove
Abraham." The Hebrew for "things" also means "words," which
suggests that there was some conversation before the story begins
and provides Rashi with a proper - authority for introducing the
The initial verse of Genesis 24 contains the phrase: "And the
Lord had blessed Abraham in all things." Says Rashi, the numerical
value (gematria) for "in all things," in Hebrew (bakol), is the same
as for "son" (ben). Tbus Abraham's natural concern to get Isaac
It is the rightist threat that should awaken
our citizenry to stand firm in defense of the
democratic ideals which grant the right to
self expression to all — a right that has
emerged into a spirit of violence which is re-
sponsible for the hijacking, the bomb throw-
ing, the violence and the destruction. It is
good that we have the democratic spirit that married. The chapter flows out from that opening verse, and the
becomes clear when Rashi introduces his Derash.
permits people to speak their minds. That connection
There were scholars who differed with Rashi's interpretations and
freedom must teach us to be on guard lest his application of the Peshat and the Derash. These are indicated to
the rightist threat should lead to the imposi- assure complete understanding of the Rashi role.
tion of a fascist dictatorship out of which we
The texts and commentaries that fill the Pearl volunte assure for
may not be able to emerge for generations its acceptance as a valuable guide to a major subject in Jewish
to ,come., ...