Tag Archives: murder

#ShoutYourAbortion and the Devaluing of Children

shout banner
Image found at Kickstarter

I’m going to get into a lot of trouble, at least in certain circles, for writing this, but it’s been bothering me for a while now and, as my long-time readers know, I process my thoughts and feelings by writing.

Believe it or not, back in the day, I used to be an agnostic/atheist and a Democrat. It seemed to be the default setting for most of the people I hung out with after High School (a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away). I didn’t think much about my politics or social opinions for a long time, and certainly didn’t do anything to challenge them.

Then I got married, and several years later, my wife became pregnant. Yes, we were at a stage in our lives when we wanted to start a family, so it was quite intentional. Like I imagine most pregnant couples to be, we immediately started bonding with our unborn baby (it wasn’t until about halfway through the pregnancy that we found out my wife was having twins).

Anyway, my wife started taking prenatal vitamins and otherwise doing whatever she could to make sure our baby was born healthy. We dabbled at picking out baby names, and as her due date got closer, began buying high chairs, car seats, a crib, decorating our children’s room (by then we knew there’d be two). We were drawing ever closer to our two sons even before they were born.

That’s what expectant parents do, right?

One day, on my commute to work, I passed by an abortion clinic. Maybe it was Planned Parenthood, I don’t remember. I know it was an abortion clinic because I saw people carrying signs outside protesting abortions. On other similar occasions in the past, I was mentally critical of the protesters, since I supported pro-choice, just like my politics said I should. I knew women who had abortions and as far as I could tell, the net effect was pretty benign. That wasn’t my only experience, but I’ll get to the others in a minute.

But on the occasion of driving past the protest, I thought about my pregnant wife, and I thought about how we felt about our unborn children. That set me off on a trajectory that would eventually lead me to make some life-altering decisions affecting my political/social outlook.

However, nearly ten years before that, I had worked at a Suicide Prevention hotline in Berkeley. I was on staff, hired to cover the midnight to 8 a.m. shift (since it was rare for a volunteer to want to work that late). Of course, I received all kinds of calls from insomniacs and such, plus we had our “regulars” who would call in (not everyone who phoned was actively suicidal).

However, some of the most heart-wrenching calls I took were from young women who had just had an abortion. This was the late 1970s and into the early 80s and Roe vs. Wade made abortions legal starting in 1973. These were women who were sobbing into the telephone, talking to a stranger in the middle of the night, pouring out their anguish because they had just killed their baby. That’s how they expressed it. I’m not putting words in anyone’s mouth.

I put those experiences all together over the subsequent years, did my research, and came to a single devastating conclusion: The only difference at all between a fetus and an unborn baby human being is whether the child is wanted or not.

That’s it.

My wife and I didn’t wait until some critical period in the gestation of our sons to start emotionally bonding with them, we began the minute we found out she was pregnant. My wife didn’t wait until some critical period in gestation to start taking prenatal vitamins, stop drinking alcohol (she’s never been a big drinker anyway) and doing everything in her power to make sure our unborn sons would be as healthy as possible, she began right away.

I’ve heard it said that in order for an otherwise sane and moral human being to be able to kill a person, their “enemy” has to be dehumanized. In other words, if the person you plan to kill isn’t considered human, then it’s easier in war, for example, to pull the trigger. Check out a number of World War Two propaganda posters. They depict Germans and Japanese in the most ghastly lights, as vicious killers and monsters. That’s what made it okay for American civilians to hate them, for our government to intern Japanese people in camps, and for soldiers to kill them in battle.

So a fetus is a potential human, but while that potential is unrealized, it’s okay to kill them. That’s pro-choice. The potential mommy’s body, her life, her attitudes, are all more important than her child’s life.

I know what some people are going to say. What about cases where a girl or woman becomes pregnant due to incest or rape?

According to “The New York Times” in a 1989 article (yes, it’s old, so the statistic has changed slightly), only One percent of abortions are performed because the girl or woman was a victim of those crimes. Only one percent. According to a 2011 article by Christian media group Focus on the Family, that figure had risen to 1.5%. So as of about seven or eight years ago, only 1.5% of all abortions nationwide were performed because of incest or rape. So much for that straw man argument.

But what about other reasons? Why do women get abortions? Yes, because the pregnancy is unwanted, but what are the specifics?

According to a 2005 paper published by the Guttmacher Institute and cited in Table 2 of their paper, the primary reasons in descending order are:

  1. Having a baby would dramatically change my life interfering with education, job/career, other children/dependents
  2. Can’t afford a baby now due to being unmarried, unemployed, or for reasons of poverty
  3. Don’t want to be a single mother or am having relationship problems
  4. Have completed my childbearing and don’t want additional children

You can click the links I provided to read the entire table for the full list of reasons, but these are the major ones.

According to Very Well Health, the most common reason women have abortions has to do with finances. Specifically, 40% of women are financially unprepared to have a baby, and this includes conditions of poverty and being on public assistance.

Depending on your perspective, poverty/finances might be a valid reason to have an abortion should a woman unintentionally become pregnant. After all, what costs more, an abortion or raising a child from infancy to age eighteen? It’s a tough argument to counter. On the other hand, it sounds like there’s a justification of ending a human life just because that person is poor. It has some horrible implications if you start applying the principle to people who have already been born. No, it’s not that pro-choice people are actively promoting murder of a born person, even a newly born infant, but where do you draw the line between late-term abortion and killing a viable child?

That question deserves further consideration. Toward the end of my wife’s pregnancy with our sons, she developed pre-eclampsia and had to be hospitalized until she gave birth. This was at Long Beach (California) Memorial Hospital which, at the time at least, had one of the best neonatal ICUs in the nation. I saw prematurely born babies, some as young as 20 weeks gestation, all struggling to stay alive, their parents in horrible anguish and heartbreak.

I know that by most standards, 20 weeks gestation (though some authorities go as young as 16 weeks) is the cut off point for late-term abortions. There may be some pro-abortion pro-choice advocates who would be okay with aborting a baby at 21 weeks, 22, 25, or 30, but I’m not sure about that. All I know is what I witnessed was another reason I believe the only difference between a fetus (which you can abort) and an unborn baby (which you can’t because it would be unthinkable), is whether or not the child is wanted. That’s the ONLY reason based on my experiences.

Some weeks ago, I watched a video of conservative political commentator, writer, attorney, and Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro explaining why an unborn baby is not “a ball of goo.” You can watch it at LifeNews.com and read the accompanying article, but Ben’s argument is devastating.

Okay, so why am I writing this all right now (as opposed to last year, or next year, or never)? Because I read this today.

shout
Screenshot from twitter

Regardless of where you land on the abortion debate, what person in their right mind forces their own abortion experience on children? She even tells children that having an abortion is part of God’s plan, like going to the dentist.

When I was a kid, I knew women became pregnant and had babies, but in my wildest imagination, I had no clue those pregnancies could be (at that time, illegally) terminated. I’m pretty sure my children didn’t grow up with that knowledge, at least before Junior or Senior High. I don’t know what my almost ten-year-old grandson knows, and to a high degree of confidence, I’m absolutely sure my three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter doesn’t have a clue.

Amelia Bonow and several other activists created the #ShoutYourAbortion movement, hashtag included. I guess she thought the other abortion advocates didn’t take it far enough, so in addition to just having abortions be legal, she wants women to be proud of them. Heck infamous popular celebrity Lena Dunham has gone on record saying she wishes she had an abortion. Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren compares abortion to having your tonsils removed. I don’t know if she’s ever had an abortion, but I do know she has two (adult age) children.

And who the heck would actually produce a book for children on abortion? My son, the father of my grandchildren, has similar political and social attitudes to my own (he’s actually a lot more conservative) and I’m sure he’ll agree that it’s a book my grandkids will never read, not until they’re old enough to buy it themselves or check it out from the library.

For crying out loud, let children BE children. You really don’t have to drag them into some of the messiness that goes along with being an adult. Honest. Stop it!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about parenting and abortions. If you’ve never parented, maybe it’s easier to have an abortion, because you haven’t let yourself go through the experience of bonding with an unborn (and later born) child. But what if you’ve had children? You know what it feels like to grow close, to cherish, to nurture an unborn life. How can you simply turn around after having those profound experiences and have an abortion as if you were flipping off a light switch?

Oh, but there’s more.

You may or may not be aware of an eleven-year-old boy named Desmond Napoles, also known as Desmond is Amazing (and if you click that last link, yeah…that’s a boy).

NBC recently promoted Napoles, in part, because he was featured cross-dressing and performing at a Gay club, with adult men waving money at him as if he were a stripper. I don’t know about you, but I consider that outrageous, and I can’t imagine why his parents allow such insanity.

Supposedly, he’s starting a dating website for trans children as well as a drag club for children.

Yes, I know this is an extreme example of poor parenting decisions, and you’re probably wondering what this has to do with abortion.

It has to do with objectifying and hypersexualizing young children. I mean, if a child means so little to you in the womb that you not only abort that child, but #ShoutYourAbortion to the world, including to children as young as little Desmond, how much can kids in general really mean in today’s progressive society (okay, so there are probably tons of progressive parents who love and cherish their children, but to the degree that all this other stuff is happening, there’s a problem)?

I know the counter-argument is that some conservative and religious parents do harm to their children as well, and I’m sure that’s true, but it doesn’t make any of the points I’ve established in this blog post less valid.

desmond 8
Desmond Napoles at age 8 -whose dancing drew joyous applause from the crowd at Sunday’s New York City Pride March. (Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Something has changed in our world when women are told that having an abortion is not only a good thing, but a valid, right, and moral thing to achieve, no more harmful than going to the dentist or having your tonsils removed, and all part of God’s eternal plan for the salvation of the world. Something is horribly wrong when an eleven-year-old boy performs in drag in front of a bunch of men in a gay nightclub. Something is horribly wrong in our world, when that boy then performs on a major network (NBC) television show and is praised for being (in my opinion) sexually exploited, and millions of people in the audience think it’s okay.

It is not okay. How younger people are being programmed to believe ending a human life and sexually exploiting young boys is not okay.

Parents and grandparents and all the other caretakers of children out there, please protect your kids. Don’t let the culture corrupt and destroy them. If this is what morality looks like when progressives and atheists believe they are the highest moral and ethical force in the universe, I don’t think you have to look too far to figure out why I prefer that a perfect and Holy God is my moral compass.

Oh, for more, read the article The Problem With “The Kids Meet Someone Who Had An Abortion” Video.

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Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

BTW, considering the subject of the kingdom of heaven and the establishment of the physical messianic kingdom on earth in Israel, at present and during the past couple of hours a large area of southern Israel has been under heavy bombardment by missiles fired from Gaza. I’ve spent a portion of that time in my home’s concrete-reinforced shelter room. So far, all but a few of these missiles have been intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome defense system (Baruch HaShem!). The few that landed have not injured anyone or caused serious damage. They have reached, however, as far as the northern suburbs of Jerusalem, as well as to Tel-Aviv, and the alert sirens have blared from BeerSheva to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Hamas claims to have fired toward Haifa, but I have not yet seen any reports confirming that their missiles can actually reach that far. Nonetheless, this is a time for intensive prayer for the continued protection of Israeli citizens, and success for the IDF efforts to destroy Hamas’ capabilities to continue waging war against civilian populations in this or any manner.

-ProclaimLiberty
July 8, 2014 at 3:12 p.m.

It all seemed to start with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Jewish teenagers, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrah, perpetrated by Hamas terrorists. This horrible and tragic event brought Israeli Jews and Jews in the diaspora together in a way that hasn’t happened for a long time. While the IDF made a concerted effort to find the perpetrators, the military and public response was remarkably restrained. Believe me, as a father and grandfather, if one of mine were brutally murdered in what we call in the United States, “a hate crime,” I’d have wanted blood.

But I’m not as noble as the families of the victims.

Apparently in revenge for the killings, a 16-year-old Palestinian named Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and found burned to death. Although there were early allegations that Abu Khdeir, supposedly gay, had been murdered by other Palestinians in an “honor killing” and then blame shifted to Jewish Israelis, the latest report is that six Jewish suspects were arrested. It is still highly disputed in some circles that the suspects are the actual killers and that police are covering up for Arab perpetrators, perhaps to stop or at least inhibit the Palestinian rioting that has broken out since Mohammed’s burnt body was discovered.

I heard that one of the mothers of the Jewish victims reached out to Mohammed’s mother, but I can’t find that story online just now (speaking of people more noble than I am), but I do know that Mohammed’s parents refused a visit by President Shimon Peres. In fact, unlike the mothers of the Jewish boys, Mohammed’s mother called for violent revenge against Jews.

Women from Mohammed Abu Khdeir's family hold pictures of the killed Palestinian teenager
Women from Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s family hold pictures of the killed Palestinian teenager

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know where my bias lies in all this, but I’m not writing my “meditation” to bash Palestinians, but rather, to try to put all of this together.

Rabbi Kalman Packouz was recently taken to task by one of the readers of his column at Aish.com for condemning the murders of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, but not Mohammed’s.

I received the following email from Judith R. in response to my recent Shabbat Shalom Weekly:
“And no word condemning the despicable murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and referring to him by his name??? What kind of Rabbi are you? Wasn’t he also created in God’s image?”

Of course she is right.

The juxtaposition of attitudes is startling.

But “attitudes” aren’t all people are worrying about in Israel just now.

Some 120 rockets from Gaza were fired at Israel on Tuesday, the first day of the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge.

IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner told the AFP news agency that 23 of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, with most of the rest exploding on open ground causing no damage or casualties.

Hamas upped the ante on Tuesday and extended the range of the rockets.

-Elad Benari
“120 Rockets Fired at Israel During Day 1 of Operation”
First published 7/9/2014, 1:15 a.m.
Arutz Sheva

Hamas has vowed revenge after an attempt to use Palestinian civilians as human shields resulted in several fatalities, as Israeli Air Force planes targeted the home of a Hamas commander.

Gazan emergency services claim Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 15 people on Tuesday and wounded 80 others, as the military began an aerial campaign against terrorists in the Strip and prepares for a potential ground offensive.

-Ari Soffer, Dalit Halevi, and AFP
“Hamas Vows Revenge After Use of Human Shields Goes Awry”
First published 7/8/2014, 5:29 p.m.
Arutz Sheva

Struggling to maintain the banner of ‘resistance’, the Gazan terror group is firing at Israel in the hope Ramallah and Cairo will hear its plea for help.

-Elhanan Miller
“Hamas decides to go for broke”
Published 7/8/2014, 4:02 p.m.
Times of Israel

Smoke rises from Gaza airport
Smoke rises from Gaza airport

And America’s response to all of this?

Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers, one of whom was a U.S. citizen.

These jihadist terrorists murdered kids. Yet, the reaction of the Obama Administration has been an absolute disgrace.

Remember, a U.S. citizen was just murdered (along two other Israeli teens) by Palestinian terrorists – known brutal terrorist who routinely fire rockets at Israeli civilians – and the Obama Administration responded by urging restraint.

In fact, President Obama actually urged “all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”

Destabilize? Hamas terrorists killed an American teen and all this Administration is concerned about is that things may destabilize?

-Matthew Clark
“President Obama Responds to Hamas Terrorists’ Murder of American Teen with “Strongest Possible” Meaningless Words”
July 1, 2014, 12:47 p.m.
ACLJ.org

OK, that last story is over a week old, but to the best of my information, America hasn’t become more involved diplomatically or in any other way since Hamas started firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians in an all out attempt to provoke other Arab forces to join the violence against Israel.

I do know that although the American press was exceptionally silent about the death of the three Jewish teens, it prominently posted stories regarding Mohammed:

Several Israeli Jewish suspects were arrested Sunday in connection with the killing of a Palestinian teen, Israeli police said.

“Investigation continuing, strong indication a nationalistic incident,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted about the death of Mohammed Abu Khedair.

Rosenfeld told CNN that those arrested were Israeli Jews.

-Kareem Khadder, Ben Wedeman, and Steve Almasy CNN
“Israel arrests several suspects in killing of Palestinian teen”
updated 11:21 a.m., Monday, 7/7/2014
CNN.com

New arrivals at Ben Gurion airport
New arrivals at Ben Gurion airport

If I can be said to have a bias in this situation, so can the American news media…and perhaps the American President.

Amazingly, even in the midst of a war zone, life goes on in Israel:

Making Aliyah is never an easy task, and leaving family, friends and memories behind is enough of a challenge for any new oleh.

But imagine making Aliyah under fire.

That is precisely what 26-year-old Becky Kupchan – one of the 64 new olim who arrived today from the USA – is doing. She is moving from Chicago straight to the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva, despite the fact that the city, like other Negev communities, is currently being rocked by waves of rocket-fire from Gaza.

-Ari Soffer
“Making Aliyah Under Fire”
First published 7/8/2014, 8:06 p.m.
Arutz Sheva

Where am I going with all this? By the time you read this tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, everything I’ve written will be old news. Things could get better or things could get worse. Or things could get much, much worse.

I think of my friends in Israel. I won’t embarrass anyone by naming names. But I’m not limited to my personal feelings for friends and acquaintances. If Israel is under attack, then so are all Jews everywhere. My wife is Jewish. So are my two sons and my daughter. At different times, my wife and my daughter have visited Israel. What if they were visiting there now?

But as I said, Jews are under attack all over the world. If Arab Muslims are firing rockets at Jews in Israel, they are at war with all Jews. The rest of the world, if they/we don’t stand up against terrorism and against this rabid series of rocket launches, are offering tacit approval of this war.

And what’s going to happen when Israel seriously strikes back as the operation continues? If this were happening in America, how long would even the person we have now in the White House stand by and let innocent people be endangered before firing back with all the might in our arsenals, eliminating the hostile forces and everything (everyone) else in the way?

Most of you reading this blog post have never been under fire unless you have served in the military or in law enforcement. How would you like to hear a siren in the middle of the night and have fifteen seconds to get to shelter because after that, it becomes distinctly possible you could be killed in a missile explosion?

Such things don’t happen in America, in Canada, in most or all western nations. They are happening right now in Israel.

pray for the idfIt started (this time) with an act of terrorism and cold-blooded murder that took the lives of three innocent Jewish teenage boys. It escalated with what appears to be a completely misguided revenge killing of another innocent teenager, a Palestinian. And then all hell broke loose.

I can only record how this began, I can’t tell you how it will end. Well, I can tell you that it will end, ultimately end.

“A song of ascents. Of David. Had it not been for Hashem Who was with us, let Israel declare now. Had it not been for Hashem Who was with us when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us raw when their anger was kindled against us. Then the waters would have washed us away; illness would have passed over our soul. Then the wicked waters would have passed over our soul. Blessed is Hashem, Who did not give us as prey for their teeth. Our soul escaped like a bird from the hunters’ snare; the snare broke, and we escaped. Our help is in the name of Hashem, Who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 124

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee.

Psalm 122:6

The Morality of Israel…Yes, You Can Depend On It.

Balak: What Do We Do When Israel Is Cursed?

Balak, the king of Moav, wanted to hire Bilaam to curse the Jewish people for a fortune of money. It is interesting that Balak believed in God and the power of invoking a curse from God, yet thought that God would change His mind about His Chosen People.

-Rabbi Kalman Packouz
from “Shabbat Shalom Weekly”
Commentary on Torah Portion Balak
Aish.com

In this week’s Torah portion, the King of Moab, very fearful of the armies of Israel camped practically at his doorstep and knowing he couldn’t defeat them in a military operation, chose to hire the greatest known Gentile prophet, Bilaam, to curse the Israelite nation. It is said that “I will bless those who bless you and he who curses you, I will curse” (Genesis 12:3) but that hasn’t stopped an endless stream of individuals and nations from trying, sometimes (seemingly) very successfully, to curse the Jewish people. Even a casual glance at Jewish history over the past several thousands of years reveals this.

I suppose then, I shouldn’t be surprised at the latest atrocity I’ve discovered aimed at the Jews and their nation Israel. No, in this case, I’m not taking about the tragic murders of the three teenage boys Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrah, though certainly they are always on my mind. I’m talking about something my wife sent me via email a yesterday.

The debate over the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer” raises serious questions about the functioning of American Jewish leadership.

Leon Klinghoffer was a 69-year-old wheelchair- bound American Jew who, in 1985, with his wife and 11 friends, celebrated his 36th wedding anniversary on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, that was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Klinghoffer was taken aside, shot and dumped overboard in his wheelchair.

The opera based on these events was composed by John Adams and the librettist was Alice Goodman, a convert from Judaism who is now a priest in the Anglican Church.

The opera was intentionally titled the “death” – not murder – of Klinghoffer, and purported to present “both sides of the equation.” The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said that Adams sought “to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in the victims” and enable the “audience to wrestle with the almost unanswerable questions that arise from this seemingly endless conflict and pattern of abhorrent violent acts.” In other words: present the murderers and their victims as morally equivalent.

The opening scene honors terrorists. With a backdrop of graffiti on a wall proclaiming “Warsaw 1943, Bethlehem 2005,” Jews wearing kippot and headscarves enter the stage and plant trees on what is conveyed to the audience as plundered Arab territory.

The Palestinian chorus sings, “My father’s house was razed in 1948 when the Israelis passed over our street.” The Palestinians sing, “We are soldiers fighting a war. We are not criminals and we are not vandals but men of ideals.”

-Isi Leibler
“Candidly Speaking: The ‘Klinghoffer’ opera and the American Jewish establishment”
The Jerusalem Post, June 30, 2014

What is stunning is that the opera premiered in Brussels in 1991, as well as in various locations in the U.S., and is still going. It was cancelled in Boston after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but in 2014, the New York Metropolitan Opera scheduled a major global performance as well as a launch in over 70 U.S. theaters with a plan to simulcast the production to 2,000 theaters in 66 countries — an audience of millions of people.

terroristThis is crazy. You’re talking about a worldwide effort to glorify and praise terrorism and to somehow justify the murder, not just of Jewish people in general, but a 69-year-old wheelchair bound American Jew. You may remember the Achille Lauro incident. I certainly do. Time should never erase the stench of injustice and unavenged wrongs.

The fact that the opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” praises murderers and terrorists whilst justifying the killings of innocent Jewish people, including the infirm and disabled, is nauseating. That this story should appear so closely to the recent deaths of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal is the emotional and moral equivalent of soaking their parents in gasoline and then lighting them on fire. It’s like defiling the graves of these recently buried young Jewish men.

Not only should this opera never have seen the inside of a performing hall, but it should have been cancelled the instant Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal were discovered to be murdered. Why is it still going on? Worse, why is no one (besides me and various Jewish news reporters and commentators) complaining about it?

Over the past 40 years one of the most positive features of American Jewish leadership has been its uninhibited self-confidence, assertiveness and willingness to raise its voice with courage and dignity on behalf of Israel and Jewish causes. American Jewish leaders prided themselves on having rejected shtadlanut – reliance on silent diplomacy in lieu of public action. Alas, there are now grounds for concern that this is changing, maybe as a consequence of the adverse pressures emanating from the Obama administration.

How else can one ascribe the pitifully subdued response to the Met’s decision to perform an opera that not merely incorporates vicious anti-Israeli diatribes but which is blatantly anti-Semitic and seeks to romanticize and provide rationalization for the cold-blooded murder of a disabled person solely because he was Jewish. And this is an institution that is disproportionately funded by Jews, in the city with the greatest concentration of Jews in the Diaspora.

This opera is an abomination and an offense not only to Jews but to all Americans and all decent people who oppose terrorism and racism. It has no bearing on the rights or wrongs of the Arab-Israeli conflict or alleged grievances of Palestinians, which can be debated in other venues.

I don’t know how else to say it. What the **** is wrong with people?

They were already dead before we even knew they were abducted? Before prayers throughout the world stormed heaven for their safe return? Before Jews of every religious and political stripe united in a way we have not seen in years? Before the three mothers appeared at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva pleading for support? Before 15,000 Israeli soldiers, not much older than the boys themselves, spent two weeks without sleep or showers combing every basement and tunnel beneath the terrorist stronghold of Hebron? They were already butchered, their young bodies lying in a shallow grave miles north of the search area.

And in the ocean of our mourning, a question rises up like a sea monster: Were our prayers and our good deeds and our unity in vain?

-Sara Yoheved Rigler
“Were Our Prayers in Vain?”
Aish.com

Tisha b'Av at the Kotel 2007Rigler started her article with the words, “Tisha B’Av came early this year.” Sadly, I have to agree. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if year by year, Tisha B’Av ever really ends.

It’s not the fact that terrible things continue to happen to the Jewish people. Unfortunately, the world has been trying to exterminate Jews ever since Jewish people have existed. What makes me so angry is that the effort to destroy Israel and the Jewish people is escalating and yet no one is crying out for justice. Quite the opposite in fact. Every time Israel attempts to defend herself through arms, the rest of the world accuses Israel of brutality, while every time a Jew is slain by a terrorist, the murder is celebrated in Gaza and Ramallah and I suspect in most of the rest of the world.

I would love to see churches all over the world this Sunday offer up prayers for the families of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal. I would love for Pastors to lead their congregations in prayers for Israel and for the protection of the Jewish people. I call on Christians everywhere to stand up and cry out to God for justice. But we must also make our voices heard among the people of the world, that Israel will not go quietly into the night, she will not vanish without a fight, she is going to live on! She is going to survive!

And not only that, but God will fight for His people and His nation. He will not let them be extinguished. In fact, not only will Israel survive, but she will thrive. She will be the head of all the nations while we will be the tail. She will lead the world into an era of unprecedented peace and tranquility. And Israel’s King, who will rule the Holy Land and the rest of the world, will punish all the countries who went up against Israel.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Yeshua (Jesus).

Revelation 22:20

But here’s the problem:

While Israel was staying at Shittim, the people profaned themselves by whoring with the Moabite women, who invited the people to the sacrifices for their god. The people partook of them and worshiped that god. Thus Israel attached itself to Baal-peor, and the Lord was incensed with Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the ringleaders and have them publicly impaled before the Lord, so that the Lord’s wrath may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s officials, “Each of you slay those of his men who attached themselves to Baal-peor.”

Just then one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite woman over to his companions, in the sight of Moses and of the whole Israelite community who were weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he left the assembly and, taking a spear in his hand, he followed the Israelite into the chamber and stabbed both of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. Then the plague against the Israelites was checked. Those who died of the plague numbered twenty-four thousand.

Numbers 25:1-9 (JPS Tanakh)

If cursing fails, people can be victimized in any number of other ways, sometimes by being their (our) own worst enemies.

grievingAs Isi Leibler commented, the Jewish leadership in the U.S. needs to be the first to speak up about “The Death of Klinghoffer” and its ghastly implications, but American churches and indeed, all American people who love justice and hate cruelty need to speak out as well. You are not going to save lives through “stealth protesting”. Simply “waiting on the Lord” to do something may be waiting in vain, for who is to say that God isn’t waiting on us to do something. Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal are waiting on us. What are we waiting for?

God has always used people to accomplish justice in our world and I have no reason to believe He’s stopped now. Heavens armies will come one day to wage war against Israel’s enemies but in the meantime, we need to become Heavens armies, if not with guns and cannons, with words, letters, petitions, demonstrations, protests.

Even if you just send the link to this blog post via email to one other person, post it on your Facebook page, tweet it on twitter, that’s something. But do something. Don’t just sit there staring at the screen of your computer or smartphone.

The blood of the murdered cries out from the ground where it was spilled, and the killers are laughing.

Leibler ends his opinion piece thus:

If Jewish leaders feel inhibited about raising their voices on such issues, they are betraying their mandate and moving backward to the “trembling Israelite” role that American Jews assumed in the 1930s.

Rigler’s last words in her commentary are:

And we, the families of the boys, their friends, their neighbors, and all of us, are left to suffer their loss, to mourn the tragedy of their young lives cut short. Our Bible tells us that there is, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Tisha B’Av came early this year. It is a time to weep and a time to mourn. But if we can only hold onto the unity we achieved in these 18 days, then in its merit the Redemption will come, and it will finally, finally, be a time to dance.

I know Rigler’s trying to be comforting, for after all, sometimes that’s all you can do, but I agree with Leibler, and not just in terms of Jewish leaders. We cannot allow ourselves to feel inhibited in raising our voices. If we do not stand up for justice now, how many more Jewish victims will go to their graves before Israel is redeemed by her King, and the God of Justice stands up against us?

A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.

-Gandhi

Asking for Help in the Aftermath of Death

joseph-and-pharaohIn this week’s reading, the time for Yosef’s redemption finally arrives. Pharoah has dreams, his sommelier (wine butler) suddenly remembers Yosef, and Yosef is hastily pulled from jail, given a haircut, and sent to interpret the dreams of Pharoah.

Two weeks ago, I spoke about the need to make our own efforts, while knowing that in the end it is G-d who determines the results. But I closed with a question: what was wrong with Joseph’s efforts? Why was he punished for asking the sommelier to remember him?

It’s clear that is what happened. Last week’s reading concludes with the verse, “and the sommelier did not remember Yosef, and he forgot him.” Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki explains that he did not remember him that day, and forgot him afterwards — because Yosef had placed his trust in the sommelier rather than G-d. That is a startling indictment of the only one of Yaakov’s sons who was the forefather of two tribes. For someone of his exalted standard, we are told, what Yosef did was wrong. But why — what was wrong with trying?

-Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Commentary on Chanukah and Torah Portion Mikeitz
Director, Project Genesis

2 dead after shooting at Las Vegas hotel Gunman Wounds 3 at Ala. Hospital 28 Dead, Including 20 Children, After Sandy Hook School Shooting

Brent Spiner on twitter

I am angry/disgusted. Amazing that some think the solution is more guns. Madness. Even NRA members want more control. LLAP

Leonard Nimoy on twitter

Late Friday I said a prayer for the victims of the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On the same day, 22 school children were attacked by a man with a knife in China but thank God, none of them were killed. As Actor Brent Spiner’s “tweet” on the micro-blogging site twitter indicates, there have been other tragedies in the world as well. Actor Leonard Nimoy laments the response to these events among some elements of our society to take control, in this case by replying to gun violence with gun violence.

And according to midrash, Joseph condemned himself to additional prison time by desiring to take control of his situation (asking the “chancellor of cups” to remember him to Pharaoh, King of Egypt) rather than relying solely upon the King of the Universe.

But as Rabbi Menken asked above, what’s wrong with trying to take control of a situation with our own efforts, especially when the situation, the world we live in, seems to be totally out of control? Rabbi Menken’s commentary continues.

I saw an interesting explanation attributed to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a world-renowned religious leader who passed away barely 25 years ago. He said that Yosef’s high standard was very much part of the issue. Yosef, being who he was, should have recognized immediately that the peculiar circumstance of his being imprisoned together with Pharoah’s personal sommelier and baker, and them having dreams, and him knowing exactly what to tell them — all of that was clearly not coincidence. It should have been obvious to him that G-d’s Plan was already in motion. As we see this week, he was rushed from prison to tell Pharoah that fat cows mean times of plenty, and starving cows mean times of starvation, and was instantly appointed second in command over the whole country. With “20/20 hindsight” it’s obvious that this was all planned out — and enough signs were there that Yosef should have seen it coming.

But we, alas, are not Yosef. Very rarely could we be confident that we are in a situation where our efforts aren’t needed, before the gift of hindsight. We always have to do our best. When should we be idle? When we have done everything humanly possible.

reading-torahWe can read last week’s Torah portion and as we review each word, we know in advance what’s going to happen, because we’ve read and studied these pages many, many times over the years. The story of Joseph’s redemption and rise to Messiah-like authority and position is like an old friend to me. But while Joseph, at his exalted spiritual level (according to midrash), should have known better than to forget to rely on God alone, as Rabbi Menken wisely points out, that is hardly ever the case for you and me.

We are faced with an insurmountable problem, a terrible tragedy, children have been injured and murdered, and what are we going to do about it? The blood of the victims cries out to us, demanding that we respond. Should we ban private ownership of all firearms in this nation? Should we pour more tax dollars into mental health research and treatment? What can we do to prevent this from ever happening again? What could we have done to prevent the deaths of those 20 small lives in Newtown, Connecticut?

Experts of every type, from political pundits, to psychologists, to the clergy are all weighing in with their opinions. Some people feel that the strict separation of church and state in our nation, which “bans God from our schools” is to blame, but for others, that response seems cheap, shallow, and hurtful. Other people and groups want to arm school officials with firearms so that, should such a situation happen again, teachers and school counselors could fire back, protecting the children.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t the faintest idea what to do. I don’t know if these sorts of attacks are happening more frequently or if we just react as if they are every time something like this happens.

Joseph’s situation and Rabbi Menken’s commentary on it doesn’t seem to help, but then again, neither one was facing what we are facing right now as a nation…as a world. It is said that everything is in the hands of Heaven except fear of Heaven. Christians are fond of saying that God is in control. Tell that to the parents of the 20 dead children in Newtown and see how they answer you…if you dare.

No one knows what the right thing to do is but everybody has an opinion about what they think the solution should be. We people of faith rely on God but it is a bitter thing to lose a child and if I were the father of one or more of the dead children, I would be asking where God was when they died. Rabbi Menken reminds us that faith is not blind, but while that makes for interesting intellectual discussion, how does it help when a parent’s heart is being torn to shreds as they cry bitterly over the loss of a son or daughter?

Don’t look for my opinion or my answer to this disastrous mess. I don’t have one to give. I’m still too angry and too sad and too miserable to render one, and even when I manage to tame my emotional response, my intellect and wisdom will still fail me here. Like Joseph, I want to take control. I want to do something. I want to prevent even one more child from dying. I don’t have the power to even begin to make such and effort and as I’ve already said, I wouldn’t know what to do if that power were mine.

school_shooting_in_connJoseph rose to a position where he had power to save a starving world. His authority was second only to the greatest King who ruled over the most civilized and prosperous nation of his day. Joseph saved Egypt, and he saved Canaan, and he saved everyone who came to him, and he saved his family. He finally reunites with them, provides for them, takes care of them, and sees his aging father before he dies.

And yet, Joseph died just like all men must.

And none of us is like Joseph…or like Jesus…or like God.

God is in control but He rules over a broken world. We broke it. Only God can fix it. But as I’ve mentioned numerous times over the years, according to Jewish thought, human beings are partners with God in tikkun olam, repairing the world. That may mean our human desire to want to act when disaster strikes is built into us by God and part of who we are as His “partners.”

God, what can we do to help? What can any of us do in the face of such an unimaginable pain? I don’t know. All I know how to do is ask for help. Help us. I’m not the only one asking for help.

Please.

Death in Toulouse

Rabbi Sandler of Kiryat Yovel in Jerusalem and his sons Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel, 3.5, were murdered in Toulouse Monday morning, as was 8 year-old Miriam Monsonegro, daughter of the director of Ozar HaTorah Toulouse, Yaacov Monsonego.

Binyamin Toati, Head of the France Desk of Bnei Akiva, told Arutz Sheva before the names were published that there are reports that the man who was killed is a rabbi who served as an Israel shaliach (emissary) at the school and that two of his children were killed with him.

French press reported that two children were among at least three people killed in a shooting outside a Jewish school. Two other children are reported fighting for their lives. The French news reports said the dead are a teacher and two children, and that two other children were badly wounded.

“Toulouse: Rabbi Yonatan Sandler and his Children among the Dead”
-by Gil Ronen
First Published 3/19/2012, 10:18 a.m.
Arutz Sheva News

I’m sure you’ve heard this tragic news by now. I’m sure you’ve heard that a Rabbi, his two children, and a third child were all murdered in cold blood outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France yesterday. The story has been covered by virtually every news agency on the planet. Sixty-seven years after the end of World War II and the end of the Holocaust, Jews are still being murdered just because they’re Jews.

I guess I’m taking it personally.

No, I’m not Jewish, but my wife and children are. That means the killer who cut down Rabbi Sandler and three innocent children just because they were Jewish is quite capable and willing to kill anyone who is Jewish, including my family. Yeah, I’m taking it personally, so forgive me if what comes out in this blog isn’t exactly “rational”.

I took a walk by the greenbelt on the Boise river over my lunch hour. It’s the first day of spring and it’s snowing and windy outside. It’s the perfect day to reflect on horror and terror and sadness in the world. It’s the first day of spring, when new life is beginning to trickle back into the trees and grass and flowers are soon to bloom.

And it’s snowing and windy and bitterly cold outside. It fits.

And four Jewish people were murdered yesterday in Toulouse, France for no other reason than just because they were Jewish.

I’m not trying to be insensitive. I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this is just one more harsh thing to happen in a world of harsh things. Many people, including children, are hurt and killed all over the world every day. Just point your web browser to CNN.com and you’ll see all of the headlines. Syria’s maimed children cry out, Slave master becomes abolitionist, 7.4 earthquake hit Mexico, and the beat goes on.

I’m not just upset because kids were murdered, although that upsets me. I’m not just upset because Jews were murdered just because they were Jews, although that upsets me. I’m upset because some people think it’s OK for Jews to be murdered just because they are Jews. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t think it’s an exaggeration to accuse the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, of saying that three Jewish children being murdered in cold blood is exactly the same thing as the children being killed in Gaza because the IDF is retaliating against the Palestinian terrorists who are firing an endless stream of missiles into Israel.

She spoke of remembering “young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances — the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives,” she said, according to a transcript of the speech distributed by the European Union.

Ms. Ashton’s spokesman issued a statement of clarification on Tuesday, following the criticism, saying that her words had been “grossly distorted” and that she had not intended to draw any parallel.

“Israel Criticizes E.U. Official for Comments on French School Attack”
-by Isabel Kershner
Published March 20, 2012
The New York Times

To detail Netanyahu’s statement a little better according to the Times:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

The New York Times viewpoint on the “defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military includes:

During the four days of fighting, 26 Palestinians were killed, according to the Israeli military. Most were militants, but four of the dead were civilians. A 12-year-old boy was among those killed in Israeli air strikes; another boy, 14, was killed by explosives in disputed circumstances. During the same period, Palestinian militants fired more than 150 rockets into southern Israel.

Notice the Times uses the term “militants” instead of “terrorists”. A subtle difference? Perhaps.

I just keep thinking that it’s been less than 70 years since the end of the Holocaust, and Jews are still not safe. They’re not safe in France and they’re certainly not safe in Israel. They’re also not safe in the world of public opinion or the news media. We’re supposed to live in a modern, civilized, enlightened world, but that’s what made it so difficult for Germany’s Jews to understand the danger they were in when the Holocaust began. They just couldn’t believe that a nation as civilized, as educated, and as enlightened as Germany was in the early 20th century could be capable of such evil. That’s what made it so difficult for the rest of the world to understand, too. That’s why some people didn’t believe it was happening. But is that an excuse for not believing it’s still happening today?

What do you do when you want to kill someone? That’s not a random question. For most of us, it would be almost unthinkable to actually kill someone, even in self defense. We have to weave all sorts of extreme and violent mental scenarios to even imagine ourselves pointing a gun at another person and pulling the trigger. Even if the killing were justified, such as defending your family from violent home intruders, the aftermath; actually living with the memory of having killed someone, would be horrendous.

So unless you are inherently violent or violently insane, it would be extremely difficult to point a gun at someone and to pull the trigger, knowing that they’d be dead in the next few seconds.

So how to you kill someone? How do you train soldiers to kill someone? How do you train a populace that it’s completely acceptable to send an army to another country to kill a lot of people? Today in the United States, the Government doesn’t do a very good job of training the citizens to accept war and so most people don’t accept war. During World War II, we had a fabulous propaganda machine that depicted the Germans and Japanese as non-human, murderous monsters. That made it possible for normally non-violent young men to go overseas and to shoot, bomb, and gas a bunch of other human beings who were trying to shoot, bomb, and gas them. That’s what made it possible for the average U.S. citizen to completely support sending an army to different countries around the globe to shoot, bomb, and gas non-human murderous monsters, who would certainly shoot, bomb, and gas us if they got half a chance.

Ironically, what the United States fails to do in terms of war, it does all too effectively in terms of abortion. What do you have to do to kill an unborn human baby? (I know…you didn’t see that one coming) You make them an “embryo” or a “fetus” but you never, ever make them a human being. It’s the same thing that let U.S. soldiers kill the enemy. It’s the same thing that let U.S. citizens approve of U.S. soldiers killing the enemy. It’s the same thing that let Nazi soldiers and the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) round up, torture, starve, shoot, and gas Jewish men, women, and children during the Holocaust.

It’s what let one (reportedly) neo-Nazi killer shoot and kill one Jewish adult and three Jewish children yesterday in France.

To France’s credit, they are (literally) up in arms over these deaths and are diligently searching for the shooter. According to news reports, the shooter has killed prior to this incident and there’s every reason to believe he’ll kill again. I want him caught too, and swiftly. I want him taken off the streets and put in prison.

But he’s only one man.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s only one man. He’s an extremist. He may be mentally ill. He is an aberration. If he’s stopped, things will become safe again.

Will they? I’m sure that the Jews living in Germany in the mid-1930s felt something similar. They couldn’t imagine any irrational hatred of Jews being anything but an aberration; something extremely unlikely to occur, and only involving one or two extreme individuals.

Except they were wrong. It involved thousands who committed horrible atrocities against human beings and millions who condoned it by the actions or their silence. Over the past 70 years tens or hundreds of millions of people have chosen to ignore or to deny the Holocaust, which murdered not only Jews but many other “undesirables” including the physically and mentally handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, and anyone else who didn’t fit the “Aryan ideal”. All you have to do to kill them is to believe they aren’t human; to believe they aren’t like you, that they’re inferior, that they’re “less,” that they’re “monsters” or “things.”

Because if they’re humans just like you are, then you know that they want to live, just like you do. You know they have feelings, just like you do. You know that they can be scared and hurt, just like you can be scared and hurt. And if you have empathy for someone, you can’t hurt or kill them unless they’re doing something that’s very scary and threatening to you. One Jewish Rabbi and three Jewish children are very unlikely to be doing anything to scare or threaten anyone. They just died because they were Jews.

If we, who represent the rest of the world, don’t speak up and speak out and say “Stop!” to the rest of the world, then our silence is tacit acceptance that it’s permissible to kill a Jew for being Jewish, or to kill a person for being mentally ill, or gay, or for the color of their skin, or for the language they speak, or for being an inconvenient pregnancy.

If we believe that it’s acceptable to kill Jewish children for being Jewish, then we’re saying some people aren’t human and that’s OK with us. We like to think we’re civilized and enlightened, but if we are silent and do not protest injustice, then we are accepting injustice. We live in a world that still generally does not condone the murder of Jews, or African-Americans, or Gays, but we do condone the murder of millions of unborn baby boys and girls every year all over the world (and we’ve got a terrific propaganda machine in operation in America that justifies the whole damn thing and makes it sound enlightened and reasonable). Some people still believe it’s OK to kill Jews. A bunch of them live on land that used to be within the borders of Israel until other enlightened nations made Israel surrender that land to people who like shooting missiles at Jews. It’s a crazy world.

I told you I was taking this personally and that I wouldn’t be rational. But murder isn’t rational either. I figure you have a couple of choices. You can stand up and protect the defenseless and the victims from their murderers, or someday you’ll become either one of the murderers or one of the victims.

What? You don’t believe me? Neither did the German Jews in 1930…and neither did their German Gentile neighbors.

 

The Embarrassing Murder

On today’s amud we find a decree was instituted to avoid publicly embarrassing a fellow Jew.

Many are unaware that Rav Chaim Kaplan, zt”l, was the son-in-law of the famous mashgiach, Rav Yeruchem Levovitz, zt”l. As can well be imagined, Rav Kaplan was a baal mussar in the full sense of the word.

One time, Rav Kaplan’s student, Rav Waxman, saw him crying his eyes out, obviously absolutely devastated. This was a very shocking sight since it was a regular day in the beis medrash and the young man had not heard that any tragedy had occurred. The student approached Rav Kaplan and asked him what was bothering him, but the latter was so heartbroken that it was a while before he could answer. When the student inquired a second time, the rav tearfully asked him to bring a gemara Bava Metzia.

When the young man brought it from the shelf, the rav opened to the sugya in Hazahav that discusses the seriousness of embarrassing a fellow Jew in public. He concluded with the statement on daf 59 that one should throw himself into fiery furnace instead of publicly embarrassing another, which we learn from Tamar.

“We see from here that embarrassing another is compared to murder,” Rav Kaplan said sadly. “Imagine you were here in this beis midrash in the middle of seder when one young man pulled out a gun in front of everyone and shot his fellow student in the heart. Surely, anyone with a drop of human feeling would be unable to hold back from crying bitter tears after witnessing such a tragedy! After I witness one young man approach a fellow student and publicly shame him, is it any wonder that I cry? It is a wonder how a person could fail to cry!?”

Mishna Berura Yomi Digest
Stories to Share
“A Tragedy in the Beis Medrash”
Siman 139, Seif 1-3

I periodically receive a little criticism for suggesting that the Talmud and various Rabbinic commentaries are appropriate lenses by which to view the teachings of Christ and my faith in Jesus. For example, we see above that for one Jew to embarrass another in public is compared with the act of murder. In this tale’s rather dramatic telling, Rav Kaplan is seen to be crying uncontrollably, as if he had witnessed a horrible act of violence, after seeing one student in the beis midrash publicly shame another. Whether this event actually took place or not, can we really say that embarrassing someone in public is the same as pulling out a gun and shooting them? Can we find anything that Jesus taught that can even approach this?

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the congregation. And if he refuses to listen even to the congregation, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector. –Matthew 18:15-17

You’ve probably heard this before, but the reason you have to go through such a lengthy set of steps in confronting the brother who has sinned against you, is to avoid embarrassing him. You approach him alone first, so the nature of his sin and the confrontation is just between the two of you. If he repents, then no one else is the wiser and no one has to be embarrassed. If that’s not effective, then you next approach your brother with just two or three witnesses. Again, the information is contained and only a few people have to become aware of the incident. Only if the sinner doesn’t repent are you compelled to bring the matter before the entire congregation, thus causing your brother embarrassment which, at this point, is probably unavoidable.

While Jesus doesn’t say embarrassing your fellow is like killing him, he obviously felt that embarrassing someone was a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Jesus also said this:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. –Matthew 5:27-29

Now is looking at a woman and having lustful thoughts about her really the exact same thing as actually having sexual relations with her? After all, the former is not a physical act, it’s just a thought and perhaps a feeling. Maybe you fantasize about what it would be like to have “relations”, but nothing actually happens. The latter requires that you arrange to enter into a relationship with her, at least enough of one to be able to get together with her alone and have actual, physical sex.

And yet Jesus said they were the same. So can’t publicly embarrassing someone be the same as actually killing the person, in the eyes of God?

I don’t have God’s point of view, so I can’t say that He equates embarrassment to death (although many human beings have felt so embarrassed that they wanted to crawl under a rock and die, euphemistically speaking), but if we take Christ’s teaching to heart and reflect back upon the tale of Rav Kaplan, perhaps we should act as if it’s that important a matter.

Could it hurt?