Letters to the editor
An inhumane Jew
Regarding "In the dustbin of history," Haaretz Magazine, August 28
In his column Ariel Hirschfeld wrote that Rabbi Yehezkel Mark knew that Judaism should not be separated from humanity, and that this was reflected in the fact that he even had books in his library that were not sacred texts but rather books of general knowledge. I wish to remark on a fundamental error in these words. Judaism is the diametrical opposite of humanity, because the essence of Torah is that it was given from heaven by the leader of the world. Anyone who does not agree with this principle has already rejected the essence of Judaism.
Of course, in many places the Torah commands things that are humane, but the reason for observing them is not due to the humanity they contain but because the one who commanded them is the leader of the world. A simple example of this is the difference between Jews and non-Jews when it comes to Torah laws - for example, the laws of charity - and the issue here is that the Torah reveals there is a difference between the soul of a Jew and a non-Jew, something that only a divinely given Torah can reveal, and when it comes to humanity this is of course inconceivable.
Although Judaism also includes compassion for others and even for animals, the observant Jew does not observe these laws because it is humane to do so. On the contrary, he is humane because he observes the Torah, which commands us to do humane acts, and when the Torah commands us not to be humane the Torah observer will become inhumane.
Of course, anyone who does not believe in a divinely given Torah will find it difficult to accept these things.
Regarding "Paralyzed by fear," Haaretz Magazine, August 28
I wish to add: The damage in polio occurs in the spine (and not in the brain cells), as Landsteiner and Popper demonstrated already in 1908. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in his doctors' opinion suffered from polio and remained paralyzed in both legs as a result, together with his wife gave a tremendous push to the establishment of rehabilitative medicine in the U.S. and throughout the world.
The director of the children's ward in Pardes Katz (and later at Tel Hashomer) was Prof. Yaakov (not Avraham) Rotem, my doctor and teacher. I once interviewed the fathers of orthopedic surgery in Israel: In effect, they did what medicine offered or believed at the time. With hindsight, some of them really did blame themselves and admitted to mistakes in their decisions to operate on the children. The intention was good. Wisdom is something we have only in hindsight.
Prof. Avi UriSavyon
With great love
I read the article about the polio epidemic with great interest. I would like to add that one of the institutions where children with polio were treated, with great love, was the Feinston House in Ramot Hashavim, and mention should be made of its founder, Dr. Ludwig Ginsburg, and Marlene Shafir, who treated the children with physiotherapy in accordance with the knowledge that was available then. They were the founding group that later established the Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center, in Ra'anana.
Prof. Pablo SolesiTel Aviv