Mar 4, 2007

Torah teaches

I sent the following letter to the Worcester Telegram in response to a letter Friday March 2 from Rabbi Bernstein saying that he trusts Planned Parenthood and welcomes their move to Pleasant St. I did not include the specific references, but thought I should address the Rabbi from a Jewish point of view, to show him the error of endorsing Planned Parenthood.
Rabbi Seth Bernstein has misplaced his trust in Planned Parenthood (Letters, March 2). Maimonides (Rambam), the Mishnah, and other Jewish sources permit a “self defense” exemption to the commandment not to kill when an abortion is performed to save the mother's life. However an inference is drawn from this that if the mother's life is not threatened, abortion is not in self defense.

Planned Parenthood confuses this self defense by claiming an exemption for the mother's health, not just for her life. But according to Planned Parenthood's own data, 74% of all abortions performed in 2002 were because “having a baby would dramatically change my life” or “I can't afford a baby now.” The words spoken by every parent become justification for 74% of all abortions because Planned Parenthood has spun mother's life to mother's health to economic health.

Instead of creating a fence [sic] around Planned Parenthood, Rabbi Bernstein might consider that even if Rabbi Ishmael was extreme in demanding the death penalty for abortion (Sanhedrin57b), Rabbi Meir Simchah taught that abortion was punishable by “death at the hands of heaven” (Meshekh Chokhnash), and the Tosafot teaches that the majority of abortions are “a moral offense.” (Sanhedrin59a, Chullin 33a)

As the Zohar teaches in Shemat 3b, abortion “drives away the Shekhina (G_d's presence) from the world...For these abominations the Spirit of Holiness weeps.”


Paul Anthony Melanson said...

In the Hebrew language there are at least nine words which roughly mean "kill," and each has a slightly different shade of meaning. Muth and qatal are general terms for killing, and nakah is used in Numbers 35:15 for an accidental killing (what we might refer to as manslaughter today).

Terms such as harag (Exodus 32:27) and chalal are often used for killing in war. Still others like zahvagh, tabach, and shachat are commonly used for animal sacrifice.

However, the word used in Exodus 20:13 for "Thou shalt not kill" is ratsach, a very strong verb indicating an intentional and unjustified act of murder.

JayG said...

"There are three [persons] who drive away the Shekhina from the world, making it impossible for the Holy One, blessed be He, to fix His abode in the universe and causing prayer to be unaswered: . .
[The third is] he who causes the fetus to be destroyed in the womb, for he destroys the artifice of the Holy One, blessed be He, and Hs workmanship . . . For these abominations the Spirit of Holiness weeps . . ." (Zohar, Shemot 3b)

JayG said...

We call it the Pro-life Saturday edition, the lowest circulation day, and coincidentally the day when most Pro-life letters to the Editor are published.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Well done Jay. Well done. My last letter to the editor of the T&G was on the abortion issue was rejected some years back. I was told by an editor that my letter was "more appropriate" for The Catholic Free Press.

I wonder why the newspaper didn't want to publish my letter. It was (as always) civil in tone and respectful of persons.

The subject was the definition of personhood. I wonder what it was about my little letter that made it so unwelcome. After all, I am a little person, of no great importance in the grand scheme of things.

I wonder....

JayG said...

Thanks Paul. There's a bias against the Pro-Life position, much of it unconscious, that just bristles at the thought of an intellectual underpinning and framework for the Pro-Life position. Many of them can't even fathom that someone would hold a rigorous and consistent Pro-Life postion, so they dismiss it. It's part of the bigger problem of confusion in our country, which is also know as secondary and undergraduate education. So there are editors at the Telegram who have been conditioned by this situation.

Jerry said...

Are you folks familiar with the Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Jehuda Levin? He is most worthy of our admiration and even our prayers, as he stands for true Israelite moral values, and has become a leader among Orthodox Jews in that vein.

On January 2, he went to Rome as a representative of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, an organization of over 850 Orthodox rabbis, to meet with Vatican officials to discuss coordinated efforts to stop proposed homosexual civil union legislation in Italy. In anticipation of the meetings, the organization issued a statement which included these words:

"It is well known that we, as Orthodox Jews, are not permitted to engage in interreligious theological discussion. However, we must join together with the Vatican, and with all others who defend the family, lest we end up as Sodom and Gomorrah. We must join together an go on the offensive against those who seek to undermine the G-D given values that form the basis of our civilization - the Abortionists, the Internet Pornographers, and the Radical Homosexuals."

I believe Rabbi Levin has also met with Muslim leaders as well as other Catholics, in pursuit of these common goals.

You can go to this link to read more of Rabbi Levin and related pieces.

JayG said...

Thanks Jerry,
I've heard of Rabbi Levin, and quoted him once, but had not followed this story. I was not aware that Orthodox Jews are not supposed to engage in InterReligious dialog. I suppose since the battle lines are becoming more stark, we all need to choose a side and work together.

Emil said...

Orthodox Jews actually can participate in interfaith dialogue. Hasidic Jews, I believe, are the only group that does not,

JayG said...

Thanks Emil. I think there has been a change in the Orthodox position on Interreligious dialog, based on this from Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee:

"In order to appreciate the full significance of this we should note that Jewish involvement in interreligious relations in past decades has overwhelmingly come from the liberal streams of Judaism. Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Rabbis, were few and far between in this field. Indeed in the past, the very dominance of Reform Jewish leaders in this endeavor tended to intensify Jewish Orthodox disinterest if not alienation from it."

JayG said...

Supreme Court Rules Partial Birth Abortion is not a Constitutional Right