Bet Shemesh & Tel Aviv

January 3, 2012

No doubt many of you, like me have been hearing about the goings on in Bet Shemesh which seem to have knocked the goings-on in Tel Aviv off the front pages of all the newspapers for over a week.

I travel twice a week by public transport to the centre of Tel Aviv and I have just made four trips over seven days to Bet Shemesh recently looking for a house.

Both towns have much to recommended them. Tel Aviv is busy and has the wonderful beach, sea and port. Bet Shemesh is much smaller and quieter but the weather is cooler and the surrounding countryside much greener, with forests and stunning views.

In the Torah we read about three types of Kedushah ( holiness). In Genesis we read about the holiness of the Land  of Israel – the holiness of a physical place. We also learn of the sanctity of time – the Holy Sabbath and in the book of Exodus the Festivals. In Leviticus we learn of the holiness of the Jew as a person. Of course all life has sanctity and is sacred. Abortion is forbidden to all humanity early on in Genesis.

Which holiness is superior, you are asking. The sanctity of the Land, Time or the Person?
We learn that the Sabbath may not be set aside to build the Temple ( the holiest spot in the Land). Therefore the sanctity of time is superior to the sanctity of space.
However the Sabbath may be set aside to save human life. Therefore it is obvious that the highest sanctity is the sanctity of the human being. Yes. That includes you and me and even people who are inappropriately dressed!

To spit on an 8 year old girl is disgusting and against everything for which the Torah stands. Anyone who does so should be locked up and fed on bread and water until he repents!

In the book “Ish Zaddik Hayah” A Zaddik in Our Time about Reb Aryeh Levin zatzal it is recounted that when he first arrived in Eretz Israel early in the 20th century he carried pockets full of handkerchiefs as he couldn’t bring himself to spit on the Land of Israel!

In my opinion any who throws rubbish in the street here is desecrating the Palace of the King!

Having said that, we need to keep things in proportion. There are a few lunatics in one small street in the old part of bet Shemesh. Maybe a minyan. I’m sure there is a minyan of lunatics in most towns in Israel if not the whole world!

Meanwhile whilst Bet Shemesh dominates the headlines about the spitting incident  all is not well in Tel Aviv believe it or not.

There are 10,000 prostitutes in Tel Aviv; 1,000 imported from Eastern Europe annually. The number of brothels rose from 14 in 1991 to 111 in 1994 with the huge Russian immigration.

In 2003 there were 3,952 abortions in Tel Aviv which constitutes 16.1% of the live births – taking top place in Israel.

The estimate is that since the founding of the State in 1948 there have been half a million abortions. A tiny minority of which were for health reasons.

I understand that the chilonim are frightened of the increase of the charedim even more than they are of the Arabs. But they could have had 500,000 native born Israelis instead of wasting billlions on promoting aliya!

I don’t have current figures on murders in Tel Aviv but Wizo tells me that in 2009 there were 15 murders of spouses in domestic violence incidents. In 2010 there were 20. This has risen to 24 in 2011. Not going in the right direction is it?

Where are the headlines? What have Maariv and Yediot got to say?

In the same week as the spitting incident Dr Eli Lazuz, a 70 year old retired French chemistry expert was brutally murdered in his Tel Aviv apartment after which it was set ablaze  in an attempt to destroy the evidence. His poor mother is still alive!

It got a small mention on  page 3 in my newspaper.

(Did you even hear about it outside Israel?)

Of course I am a naive rabbi who doesn’t understand the ways of journalists at all. But shouldn’t Hilary Clinton be worried about domestic violence, prostitution and abortion as well as where women sit on buses and to whom they sing in the Army?

Meanwhile, I trust and pray that the girl in Bet Shemesh will get the help she needs to get over that nasty spitting  incident.

The same cannot be said for the murder victims or aborted babies of Tel Aviv.

Shabbat Shalom

Meir Wise
Ramat Gan


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