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January 03, 1986 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-01-03

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Friday, January 3, 1986 '





Oesterreicher Versus Hertzberg

Continued from Page 2

History Of Mishnah
Definitively Elaborated

Chaim Weizmann

Arthur Hertzberg

include the conversation between
Benedict XV and Nahum
Sokolov, a Zionist leader of those
days? The Pope found "the re-
establishment of Judea through
the labor of the Jewish people
very meaningful." He even
acknowledged that the Zionist
movement. was "providential."
"God wills it," he assured his vis-
itor. When asked for his moral
support, Benedict XV. replied:
"Yes, indeed! I believe we will be
good neighbors."
Had Rabbi jlertzberg men-
tioned statements like these, he
would have been unable to
suggest that in the eyes of the
Roman authorities "Israel's exis-
tence is questionable on theologi-
- cal grounds" or that papal con-
sent to the return of Jews to the
land of their origin is "condi-
tional on their conversion." In his
1984 Easter message, Pope John i t'
Paul II clearly affirmed Israel's
right to exist.
Rabbi 'Hertzberg ought to
know why the Vatican has not
exchanged ambassadors with Is-
rael. According to the Roman
view, diplomatic recognition of
Israel' ought to follow, not an-
tecede peace in the Near East.
Rabbi Hertzberg may dislike this
perspective, but he may not mis-
state it. No doubt, the Roman
road is the harder one; it looks
not for ephemeral achievements
but for a lasting order of things.
Instead, of clamoring for Rome's
diplomatic recognition of Israel,
all lovers of Zion ought to seek
ways to bring understanding and
reconciliation to Israel and its
neighbor& •
Israel's situation today is
most precarious: the economy 'is
sick; the people, are deeply di-
vided; terrorists threaten the
lives of its inhabitants, to .men-
tion but a few of its ailments.
Diplomatic relations with the
Holy See would be no more than
a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.
They would neither balance the
budget nor transform Israel's
enemies into friends. They would
not alleviate the tensions bet-
ween Ashkenazim and Sephar-
dim, between observant and
;PPP91 )serYaS stkvfa• slOs fact,. CRP -,

lomatic ties to the Holy See
would solve none of the grave
problems that beset Israel. Let us
not accuse one another; let us
rather pursue with utmost ear-
nestness and imagination peace
with justice for all who dwell in
that land or next to it. .
How admirable of Monsignor Oes-
terreicher to offer advice! His good-will
gesture is commendable. But what do his
analyses have to do with the Vatican?
Why "beat around the bush" with issues
unrelated when the Vatican on Israel .
and Jerusalem is so vital and is often
elevated to dispute when Israel can be
There are many definitions of "Ad-
vice." In the Talmud, which Monsignor
Oesterreicher respects, Akiva is quoted:
"Beware of unsolicited advice." Going to
a other extreme, it is not out of line to
quote Benjamin Disraeli (in Lo hair,
1870): "Advice. is not a popular thing to
This Commentator recalls the many
sessions he shared with Chaim Weiz-
mann at public rallies in the Bronx and
Brooklyn, in the 1930s, when Weizmann
was soliciting funds for the Keren
Hayesod, the Palestine Foundation
Fund. That's when every Weizmann ad-
viser would approach him with advice on
how to build a Jewish state. Weizmann
used to say about the many dinners that
chicken was creeping from his throat;
the soft drinks —
(1., then more popular
than cocktails — ere running out of his
ears. And as the dvisers kept bombard-
ing him he turned to me and said: "I
can't live on eitzes — I can't live on ad-
Take note, Monsignor John Oester-

Talmudic studies now have their
limi tions. The era when mere children
in-th shtetl cheder studied the Gemarah
and e Mishnah is now of the nearly-
forgotten past.
In the traditionally obligatory scho-
larly ranks the Mishnah can not be rele-
gated to oblivion, and scholarship related
to the Talmud must remain effective.
The limitations have, however, also
affected publishing of Midrashic texts,
but with the revival of interest in Mis-
hnah and Talmud, a-publishing interest
is thus aroused. It introduces respect for
learning and enriches Jewish knowledge.
A truly impressive task of providing
most scholarly definitions and interpre-
tations of the Mishnah is already impor-
tantly to the credit of Mesorah Publida-
tions. Its ArtScroll Mishnah Series is
emerging as most valuable for students
who have an interest in the great Jewish
ethical-literary heritage.
A second volume of the study of the
Nashini portion of the Talmud has just
been issued as an enriching contribution
to the Jewish traditional literary trea-
In the new addition to the series,
Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitch is the
translator who anthologizes the commen-
tary. Rabbi Yehezkel Danziger is the
editor of this volume and the entire
There is something especially valu-
able in the Mesorah Publishers'
explanatory annotation about the Mis-
hnah and its historic importance. It is on
the book's flap and while such an anno-
tation is usually judged as literary com-
mercialism, the definitiveness of this one
is so important that •it must be treated
with respect. Its text is:

When Moses descended from
Sinai, he held the Tablets in his
hands and the Oral Law in his -
mind. The words of the Law
would be contained in the Writ-
ten Torah, but their meaning and
application would be 'transmitted
from teacher to student in an et-
ernal chain of generations. That
tradition is the key to Jewish
existence for it is the very es-
sence of the Torah. Only after
waves of oppression and suffer-
ing had caused a weakening of
the scholarly tradition did R'
Judah the Prince — Rabbeinu
HaKadosh, our Holy Teacher —
make the painful' but necessary
decision that was responsible for
saving Israel as the nation of To-
rah. '

Rabbeinu HaKadosh called to-
gether all the Sages of his gener-
ation and compiled the age 'old
Oral teachings that stretched
from Sinai. He distilled them into
writing. His product was the
From the Mishnah. emerged
the Talmud, the commentaries,
codes, responsa — the entire vol-
uminous literature that embodies
Jewish genius in the form of the
Divinely transmitted Oral Law.
But the basis of this entire writ-
ten body of knowledge is the

The new Mesorah Mishnah is a
splended gift to Jewish scholarship. The
task it represents is a well deserved tri-
bute to Mesorah Publications.

A Christmas Yarn

In these post-Christmas days a
Christmas yarn, herewith reported in
the Personal Journalist fashion, stems
from the Grandson's attitude.
Occasionally asked by his non-
Jewish friends, "What will you do on
Christmas?" His reply was, also in the
form of a question:
"What did YOU do on Chanukah?"
In the manner of mutual self-
respect, this is surely genuine good will
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1A A-,

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