VIOLENCE AND RELIGION
Q. How can it be right to perpetrate violence in the name of religion?
A. Violence, no new invention, is the scourge of our generation, a monster which, once unleashed, knows no master. But there are two types of violence, destructive and constructive. In the first, violence is an end in itself, and this was never condoned by Judaism.
The second is sometimes legitimate in order to promote an end which is unattainable otherwise. Thus instances of violence are attributed to G[-]d, aiming at preventing or controlling a greater evil.
Violence in the form of war is allowed in certain circumstances, particularly in defence of lives or ideals. Since one is not permitted to remain silent in the face of evil, taking up arms is reluctantly conceded if peaceful means have totally failed. But even for a morally desirable end it must be used sparingly.
Summary justice is disapproved of. Even capital punishment, which the Bible explicitly sanctions, is almost legislated out of existence by the rabbis.
In one’s personal life, anger and violence are almost as sinful as idolatry, though unlike Christianity, Judaism does not turn the other cheek.
Violence is at best an interim ethic; non-violence is higher. We must learn to control violence and work towards eliminating it altogether. The ideal is that "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3).
This ideal requires effort on every level, not least in the microcosm of our personal lives. Avoid anger and violence in small things and it will become easier to eradicate it on the national and international level.
COMING TO SHULE FOR A YAHRZEIT
Q. My rabbi gets upset when people come to Synagogue for Yahrzeits but are never seen at other times. Is he right?
A. I don’t think so.
I went through something similar as a young rabbi when a shule member who never came on Shabbat because his business was open that day still came every morning to say Kaddish when one of his parents died.
With youthful wisdom I decided it wasn’t right to let him conduct the service; now with the greater wisdom of an old-timer I have decided I was wrong.
Honouring your parents is one of the Ten Commandments and if a person comes to shule for this purpose who am I to deny him or her the opportunity to do a mitzvah?
A person has to make a beginning somewhere, and why not with Yahrzeit?
49 OR 50 DAYS OF THE OMER?
Q. The Torah says that the counting of the Omer is for 50 days (Lev. 23:16), so why do we in actual fact only count 49 days?
A. The technical explanation is that the 49 days bring us to Shavu’ot, and that is the 50th day.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, however, adds another dimension. He says that though the 49 days of counting bring us closer and closer to ultimate spirituality, the final goal eludes us.
We elevate ourselves further and further every day of the Omer, but the experience of complete revelation and understanding will always be beyond us.
That realisation must nevertheless not prevent us from trying the experience of elevation. We might not get there, but only if we make the effort do we give ourselves the chance of succeeding.
Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple
The Jewish Observer,
21-27 Iyar, 5781 May 3-9, 2021 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--649th Web Ed.
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GAVIN NEWSOM: CALIFORNIA'S GOVERNOR FACES
Opponents of California's governor have enough valid signatures to trigger a state-wide vote on his leadership. California's secretary of state said that 1.6 million valid signatures had been verified, some 100,000 more than were needed.
Gavin Newsom, a first-term Democrat, was up for re-election in 2022, but the recall means he will now probably face a vote this autumn. Should the recall election go ahead, it would only be the second such vote in California, and the fourth nationwide, in US history.
Voters would be asked if they want Mr Newsom to stay or another candidate to take over. In a tweet, Mr Newsom said the recall "threatens our values and seeks to undo the important progress we've made".
This Republican recall threatens our values and seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made -- from fighting COVID, to helping struggling families, protecting our environment, and passing commonsense gun violence solutions.
Ousting Mr Newsom may prove an uphill battle in the heavily Democratic state, where he was elected in 2018 with support from more than 60% of voters. The last Republican governor of the state was actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was elected in 2003 following a celebrity-studded recall vote.
Ms Jenner, a former Olympic athlete and a transgender celebrity, will be hoping for a similar result when she contests the next election as a Republican in the state.
Why is Governor Newsom facing a recall vote?
A campaign to recall Mr Newsom was launched by a conservative political group called the California Patriot Coalition in February 2020. Opposed to Mr Newsom's policies, the group started collecting signatures for a recall vote in June 2020.
The recall campaign gathered pace over Mr Newsom's handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state. As infections started to fall, he came under criticism from business owners for still enforcing restrictions. That criticism intensified in November 2020, when Mr Newsom was caught dining at a fancy restaurant for his political advisor's birthday, despite urging residents to stay at home. The campaign to remove Mr Newsom has come into sharp focus in recent months as critics have expressed frustration at the state's Covid-19 vaccine rollout, among other matters.
The state has not yet formally approved the recall or set a date for an election. But unless a significant number of valid signatures are withdrawn within the next 30 days, the vote will take place.
Under California law, the number of signatures calling for a recall vote must equal 12% of the number of votes cast in the previous election for that office. In 2003, Democratic Governor Gray Davis was subject to a recall election, which he lost to Mr Schwarzenegger.
In his tweet, Mr Newsom said his achievements on fighting Covid-19, helping struggling families, protecting the environment, and passing gun-violence solutions were at stake. His campaign echoed his views, framing the recall as a power grab by Republicans whose chance of winning the office is slim, given their modest support in the state.
"This recall attempt is a far-right partisan power grab and a waste of money," Mr Newsom's Stop the Republican Recall campaign said. To Republicans, the recall was a cause for celebration. –BBCi