Friday, May 24, 1985
THE DETROIT JEWISH NIEWS_,
THE JEWISH NEWS
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1985 by The Detroit Jewish News (US PS 275-520)
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CANDLELIGHTING AT 8:35 P.M.
VOL. LXXXVII, NO. 13
The highest mitzvah in Judaism is that of Pidyan Sh'vueem, the
redemption of captives. But the reality, and the often painful moral decisions
surrounding such a mitzvah, were brought home this week when Israel freed
1,150 Palestinians and other prisoners — a number of them convicted of
terrorist murders — in exchange for three Israeli prisoners of war.
Jerusalem paid the high price because it puts a premium on human life.
Its long-standing policy has been to never let Israeli soldiers languish in Arab
prisons, no matter what the exchange rate. But another Israeli policy has
been to never negotiate with terrorists. Added to that is the fact that many of
the Arabs released are terrorists, hundreds of them are returning to their
homes in Israeli territory, and some 27 Jews are in Israeli jails on charges of
How will Israelis tolerate seeing Arab murderers go free, while their
Jewish peers remain in jail? Yet Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who
was criticized for negotiating the exchange, asked every Israeli to consider:
"If your son was being held captive, how would you expect me to behave?"
Far more clear is the case for doing all we can to help rescue the 8,000
Jews left behind in Ethiopia, too young or too old to escape. An activist noted
this week that the Jewish community must press the Ethiopian government
to allow the reunification of families so that these 8,000 Jews now in danger of
starvation can leave Ethiopia and join their loved ones in Israel. We can and
should take pride in the rescue of thousands of Ethiopian Jews this winter,
but our obligation to ransom captives goes on. That mitzvah demands that we
not rest until all of our brethren are safe and secure.
It's a sad state in human relations when it becomes necessary to resort to
law enforcement and police actions to prevent the spread of venom. It is
because so many sick minds have begun to operate not only in their
endorsements and adherence to the worst of crimes but also in denying that
the inhumanities in the Holocaust era were even instituted by the insane
Nazis. This has led the European br4nch of the World Jewish Congress to
urge their respective governments to legislate against the elements that
would deny the horrors of the Holocaust.
At an observance of the 40th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis,
conducted by the European branch of the World Jewish Congress,
representing Jewish communities of 22 countries in Western and Eastern
Europe with the exception of the Soviet Union and Albania, warnings were
issued to civilized communities not to be misled by false propaganda, not to
permit the denials of the horrors by a newly-arising bigotry.
The hatemongering that has developed, with evidence assembled in
England, Canada and the United States, in a campaign conducted by a
Northwestern University professor in the United States, at the recent trial in
Toronto where a Nazi propagandist was convicted, are the accumulating
indications of the spreading bigotries.
The World Jewish Congress assigns an important responsibility to
decent peoples everywhere not to permit the spreading of the lies, the
suppression of truth, all leading to a revivalism of Hitlerite hatreds and the
strengthening of neo-Nazism.
Jewish Soul, Jewish Law
And 'Who Is A Jew?'
BY THE COUNCIL OF ORTHODOX RABBIS
Special to The Jewish News
The subject of "Who is a Jew?" has different. The parameters for a con-
recently been uppermost in the Jewish version are very precisely defined in
consciousness. We would like to ad- the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish
dress some of the issues of "Who is a Law) which is the final arbiter of
Jewish Law. If one wishes to reject the
Jew?" or better yet, "Who is a Con-
Shulchan Aruch that is his option, but
this work has been accepted through-
According to traditional Jewish
theology, a Jew has a neshama, a out the ages by observant Jews as the
codification of the word of God.
different fabric of spirituality, than a
Whereas an organ transplant is a med-
non-Jew, and for this reason a differ-
ent mission in this world. It is not a
question of better or worse — only
different. In the area of humanitarian In the eyes of Halachah
concerns, Jews and non-Jews have
parallel responsibilities; it is in the
the procedure for
area of the ritualistically defined rela-
tionship of a Jew with God, such as the conversion is not open for
Shabbat, keeping kosher, or family
purity, that our missions differ
dramatically. When a non-Jew keeps
kosher or dons tefillin, he has not af-
ical procedure, a conversion is a
fected himself or his surroundings in
spiritual procedure and thus governed
any spiritual way. On the other hand,
when one who has a neshama performs by Torah law. In the eyes of Halachah
the procedure for conversion is not
one of these mitzvot, he is fulfilling a
open for discussion.
Divine mission, thus enhancing his
spirituality and that of the world
In the section of Shulchan Aruch
known as Yoreh Deah, Chapter 268,
article 2, the rabbinical court is in-
This neshama is found in every
person — bar none — who is born of a structed to inform the potential con-
vert of the stringencies of Jewish Law.
Jewish mother. However, according to
- Jewish law, it is also possible for a For example, the Shulchan Aruch
specifically instructs the court to • in-
non-Jew to acquire such a neshama
through a halachic conversion. This form the convert that the violation of
the Sabbath is a capital offense. Arti-
procedure is nothing less than a
"neshama transplant," which alters cle 3 of this chapter states that non-
acceptance of these laws and princi-
the very essence of the convert. The
ples render the applicant unacceptable
Talmud refers to the convert as a new-
for conversion, and any conversion
born child who now has the same mis-
sion and obligations as any other born process invalid.
Similarly, it is stated in the Tal-
Jew. His identification with the
mud, Bechoroth 20b, that if a convert
Jewish people is now so complete that
is willing to accept the entire Torah,
halachically he retains no relationship
with the exception of even one item, we
to his previous family members.
may not accept him into our ranks.
Any organ transplant must be
It is no secret that the overwhelm-
performed under meticulously-
ing majority of conversions performed
controlled conditions and by qualified
in the United States do not conform to
experts. A "neshama transplant" is no