Jewish date: 16 Marḥeshwan 5770 (Parashath Wayyera’).
Worthy causes of the day: “Tell Obama: No pesticide lobbyist nominees” and “Demand the Public Option! - The Petition Site”.
Topic 1: Chapter 13 of The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman. A lot of the “good” characters have formed a war council and are sharing information. Lord Asriel’s extensive preparations for his war against the Authority (God) are related. There is also complaining by the witches about the horrible things done by the Church/Magisterium in the name of the Authority, followed by an amazing inference: that the Authority is Himself a horrible being. This is not justified. It is true that in real life that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches have done some truly horrible things, such as the Spanish Inquisition. However, it would be unjustified to assume that everything the Churches have done is actually justified by Christianity. For Christians, the model for behavior is Jesus of Nazareth as depicted in the Gospels. For all Jesus’s bluster about how everyone who did not follow him were going to pay for it, Jesus was not an advocate of violence or cruelty. He advocated extreme pacifism, this whole business of turning the other cheek, and he lived it. He could have easily escaped being crucified, but instead he practically walked into the Romans’ hands and let them torture and kill him. Pinning the sins of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches on Jesus would make no sense whatsoever. Likewise, pinning the sins of the Magisterium on the Authority, without even bothering to ask what the Authority’s moral views are, is illogical and unjustified.
Topic 2: “Terror Arrests and the 'Misunderstood' Religion”. This article complains about efforts to whitewash Islam and dissociate it from everything and anything bad, such as terrorism. The mistake is akin to that in the previous topic: just as it makes no sense to judge God based on crimes he never espoused, it makes no sense to judge Muslims by a version of Islam that does not exist. The difference between the two is that it is atheists who are trying to create the illusion of Divine criminality where it does not exist, while it is Muslims trying to create the illusion of a version of Islam which does not exist.
Topic 3: “Government Funding is the only Future for Jewish Day Schools”. On a different note from the previous two topics: Rav Boteach notes the economically perilous state of Jewish education in the USA today. It is so expensive that even Rav Boteach, a public figure with many bestselling books and a TV show, someone who presumably is raking in money, is barely paying for it for his children. If he finds it hard, how much more so the less financially gifted! Even if one does not accept his argument that the government should pay for the secular part of education at private schools, he notes that (at least in New Jersey, where he lives) educating students in public schools costs more than in private school. As such, giving parents the option to send their children to a private school could save the state money.