Monday, August 15, 2005

Shabbat B'Shabbato - Devarim: Review

I enjoy reading parsha sheets. When I was on shlichut for Bnei Akiva 10 years ago, my wife and I would write them. Now I read them (yes, probably at not the ideal times halachically) and what's even more interesting than the articles themselves, is what's between the lines.

In some parsha sheets, like the OU's Torah Tidbits, I like reading about the annoucements of events (even if I never go to them) and the meta-commentary about the sheet itself. I used to like reading Netivot Shalom's Shabbat Shalom, becasue even though I didn't always agree with it, it created controversy, and that made it interesting.

The flagship of parsha sheets in Israel is certainly Shabbat B'Shabbato. (I remember years ago when it was the only one out there. Now there are so many that I imagine we're reaching a level of saturation that at some point will cause the numbers of publications to drop.) SBS features a wide variety of writers with different outlooks (political and religious), different fields of expertise (I particularly enjoy the linguistics, history and geography coluns.) and different intended audiences (children, adults of various backgrounds, etc.)

This weeks SBS had a few items I'd like to comment on:

a) Rav Rozen's "Nekudat Mabat." Rav Rozen states that had Sharon at least managed a handshake on the White House lawn or a Nobel Prize, it would have been better. Is that really true? Somehow I imagine a negotiated deal with Abu Mazen (and certainly with Arafat) to give up Gaza being even more aggresively opposed than the current disengagement plan. Here at least the Palestinians aren't an active side, so their calls for issues like Jerusalem, refugees, etc, aren't being discussed as well. (Not to say perhaps they won't in the future.)

I'd seen the midrash he quotes about the four dukes a number of years ago, and always found it fascinating. He admits he doesn't entirely understand the significance of the story, and neither do I. Does anyone have a comprehensive explanation of this midrash?

b) Rav Gordin's "Bein Kodesh L'Chol". I've begun to really enjoy his columns. They're a breath of fresh air in the often dull chorus of other writers. This week he writes about how you can't make practical decisions based on a similar historical situation. I was at an interesting debate between Hanan Porat and Avram Stein around 15 years ago, and Avram brought up the same point. With the disengagement taking place in the Tisha B'Av period, people are constantly comparing it to Masada or Yavne. Well, it's not really either. And Rav Gordin explains also how it's not the meraglim or the ma'aplim.

One thing that appeared this week that I'm sure wasn't intended to provide a political message, was this unfortunately timed ad by Kupat Cholim Meuchedet: