Monday, December 27, 2021

Judaism and Other Religions-Why don't we missionize? Ruminations about Dec 25


Judaism and Other Religions-Why don't we missionize?

 Ruminations about Dec 25


Here is the link to the Dec 25 Shabbat Service. Discussion starts at 1:36 into the video

Dec 25- 

I started the discussion with an aside on how many Christmas songs were written by Jews. Here is a short video clip ( which I could not put up  at the time) which summarizes it:

We take note that we are a minority in a Christian civilization, just as we have been a minority in Muslim civilizations. When things go well, we are happy with our neighbors of all faiths.

 In Europe, it would have been unthinkable for a Jew to set foot in a church, other than to convert, and I am sure that in the Islamic world, that too would have been unthinkable. That is one element of the Western enlightenment that told strong roots here, for sure.


 As I said, through most of history, that wasn’t the case.Too often though, things don’t go well. 



My father’s comment on what to answer when Christian’s ask him what Jews think of Jesus. His answer- why ask? We Jews live among many religions? Do we need to answer what we think of Mohammed, or what we think of Buddha. It’s not a Jewish issue!

So- maybe turn the tables- what do we think of our neighbors, of other religions.

Or, since we have the original word of God, certainly as we saw it, why did we not do as our two cognate religions do:

Constantine- In Hoc Signo, Vinca -In this sign, you call conquer( The vision of a sword in heaven, shaped like the Christian cross)


In Islam, the division of the world into Dar Al Islam-the world of Peace( inside Islam)- or “ Dar al Harb” the World of the Sword ( those refusing to accept Islam).




We, too, had a period of militant missionizing- but very short lived- shortly after the time of the Maccabees- John Hyrcanus a) destroyed capital of the Samaritans b) conquered Idumea and forcibly converted them. There was a presumption that perhaps also the pagan populations of Galilee were forcibly converted, which gave rise to anti-Semitic claims that Jesus was never born a Jew. However, that seems to be inaccurate and Galileans were, to the most part, transplanted Judeans.

Very short lived, indeed. And restricted to lands that were historically part of ancient Israel. Some other later exceptions-when pagan kingdoms converted to Judaism  and then engaged in expansionist wars-like the early Jewish kingdom of Yemen a century before Mohammed.


However, we were, during the Greek & Roman periods, active missionizers-

So, the Christian Scripture has, in the words of Jesus, this condemnation:


23:15 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves! ( Matthew)


Jewish population in Roman Empire estimated 10%, about 7 million- some by birth, but many by conversion.


Growth stopped by 1) 2 disastrous wars against Rome 2) Intensive restrictions and repression of Jews after Constantine, as expressed in Justinian code .


Nevertheless, we weren’t fully committed to making the whole world Jewish- although some one did write a song and a movie ” When your in Love, the Whole World is Jewish”. Maybe that’s why we didn’t need to.


We eventually went beyond not actively seeking, to actively pushing away:


Keep in mind, under both Christianity and Islam, to convert to Judaism was essentially, to welcome suicide. The convert would have to escape to be protected from execution and the community that helped him convert would be in trouble.


Jewish reluctance to accept Christian converts to Judaism was grounded in Christian laws that prohibited apostasy; such laws punished apostates and those who converted them with death. Rabbi Mosheh Isserles noted in one of his glosses in the Shulḥan ‘arukh that “in these lands [Poland] . . . it is forbidden to convert non-Jews” (Yoreh de‘ah 267:4). The Magdeburg law, which served as the legal framework of Polish cities, and, after 1658, legislation enacted by the Sejm both demanded death penalties for apostasy from Catholicism.

Still operative in many Moslem countries till today. In Pakistan,for instance.

 Non-Muslims are forbidden to convert Muslims to another religion, a crime punishable by law. [Pakistan: Struggle for Human Rights, (Hong Kong/Singapore: Christian Conference of Asia - International Affairs, 1986),

p. 105.] For Muslims themselves, conversion is reportedly dangerous and may be punished under section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code which imposes up to two years imprisonment for outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizen. [Rights of Religious and Other Minorities (Pakistan), (Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 1987), p. 9.]

But- even before these codes and elgal restrictions, we were also of a split in opinion:


Common Rabbinic dictum:

כספחת קשין גרים לישראל

Based on Nidah 13b

Converts are as painful for Israel as scabs…

1)    They don’t learn enough and don’t live up to their commitments to mitzvot or

This would have been elicited by the sense that , under the Roman prosecutions, those who had converted in good times, ran away when things got tough. Furthermore, many of the half-way Jews, or pagans influenced by Jews, fell in to the Christian camp as it expanded.


 On the other hand- always an other hand--

2)    On that same quote, about scabs:The opposite, they are so devoted, it makes those born Jews look bad in comparison.


This would have been supported by the realization that  major teachers of Judaism were Ben Bag Bag and Ben Hehe as well as the author of  Aramaic Targum Onkelos, also identified as Aquila, author of a Greek translation. All converts.

Sanhedrin 96b

תנו רבנן נעמן גר תושב היה נבוזר אדן גר צדק היה מבני בניו של סיסרא למדו תורה בירושלים מבני בניו של סנחריב לימדו תורה ברבים ומאן נינהו שמעיה ואבטליון

מבני בניו של המן למדו תורה בבני ברק ואף מבני בניו של אותו רשע

The descendants of the great enemies of Israel became students and teachers of Torah- Sisera,Nebuzaradan, Haman, and even Nebuchadnezzar. Sancherib was the ancestor of the two great teachers, Shamayah and Avtalyon.Rabbi Akiba also reported to be descendant of a convert.


Not an unusual thought- the Jewish Museum of Berlin has in its archives, a folder, of some 300 cases of Germans who converted to Judaism after the Holocaust. My father was the officiating Rabbi.This was sent to me just this week!


But we did not take an active role in outreach- yad mekarev veyad docheh- One hand pulls in, and one hand pushes  out.


Story of the pagan who comes to Hillel and Shammai:

Al regel achat- on one leg( regel-leg-regulus-Latin-rule) Shabbat 31 a

שׁוּב מַעֲשֶׂה בְּגוֹי אֶחָד שֶׁבָּא לִפְנֵי שַׁמַּאי. אָמַר לוֹ: גַּיְּירֵנִי עַל מְנָת שֶׁתְּלַמְּדֵנִי כׇּל הַתּוֹרָה כּוּלָּהּ כְּשֶׁאֲנִי עוֹמֵד עַל רֶגֶל אַחַת! דְּחָפוֹ בְּאַמַּת הַבִּנְיָן שֶׁבְּיָדוֹ. בָּא לִפְנֵי הִלֵּל, גַּיְירֵיהּ. אָמַר לוֹ: דַּעֲלָךְ סְנֵי לְחַבְרָךְ לָא תַּעֲבֵיד — זוֹ הִיא כׇּל הַתּוֹרָה כּוּלָּהּ, וְאִידַּךְ פֵּירוּשַׁהּ הוּא, זִיל גְּמוֹר.

This is, of course, a variation of the Golden Rule, something in use in Jewish sources well before the time of Jesus.

The strictness of Shammai drove him away, the patience of Hillel brought him close.

Still we ask the question- do we actively go out and push for proselytes?


My cousin’s daughter, you may recall, spoke to us on a recorded interview, on Yom Kippur, on the need to bring in more people.

But again. If we do bring in people from the outside, it is by social influence or connection or acquaintance, and not through coercion, whether political or through application of pressure. Even now, in US, where anyine can switch to any or no religion, we don’t push our way in, knocking on doors, leaving pamphlets, like Jehovahs Witnesses, or Mormons, or The American Board of Missions to the Jews  or Jews for Jesus.


Instead, we get Chabadniks knocking ONLY on Jewish doors.


Why our reluctance.

After all, we were the first recorded group in history to see a common source of humanity. It is the bible that traces all to one common ancestry-Adam. Concept of 7 Naochide laws

-        A universal moral and spiritual code, - Tzadikei umot haolam yesh lahem helek bolam haba-

-        The righteous of all nations have a place in the world to come.


So, we have a universalizing core—that core gave both Christianity and Islam its dynamic. If we possess what we consider to be true to all, we have an obligation to preach that truth. If I believe I have a vaccine for a pandemic- do I not have an obligation to vaccinate you? Even by force? To do less is to be immoral, in that perspective.

This is true not just of religion, but of all universal ethics- it drove Alexander to his great conquests, as a student of Aristotle. It drove Marxists to spread the faith, by the sword.

Unfortunately, universalist ideologues too often become universal destroyers.

Eric Hoffer on the True Believer:

All mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ.( He meant Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, not the Bible or Koran).


Yes, we have a militant religion- especially at the start-

We are to enter the land of Canaan and take it by force. We are to cleanse it of its pagan inhabitants. But, except for the short , short period in which the Kingdom under David expanded deep into Syria, that land was restricted, very much to what is now the State of Israel with the West Bank-and not Gaza!

There was no imperative to take any other territory, and Milchemet Mitzvah was restricted to those wars essential to defend the land of Israel. We have no sense of “wakf” as in historic Islam, to say that whatever was once an Islamic land, remains forever Islamic, and must be regained by force.


Rather, the people of Israel are defined  in the Torah “ mamlechet kohanim” a kingdom of priests, not of conquerors.  Repeatedly, we are told that we were chosen, not because we were the mighty power, but precisely because we were the smallest of the peoples on earth.Deut 7:7-8

כִּ֣י עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּךָ֞ בָּחַ֣ר׀ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לִהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה מִכֹּל֙ הָֽעַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃

לֹ֣א מֵֽרֻבְּכֶ֞ם מִכׇּל־הָֽעַמִּ֗ים חָשַׁ֧ק יְהֹוָ֛ה בָּכֶ֖ם וַיִּבְחַ֣ר בָּכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־אַתֶּ֥ם הַמְעַ֖ט מִכׇּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃

כִּי֩ מֵאַֽהֲבַ֨ת יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶתְכֶ֗ם וּמִשׇּׁמְר֤וֹ אֶת־הַשְּׁבֻעָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּע֙ לַאֲבֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם הוֹצִ֧יא יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֑ה וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית עֲבָדִ֔ים מִיַּ֖ד פַּרְעֹ֥ה מֶֽלֶךְ־מִצְרָֽיִם׃

To what purpose this elevation:The Romans believed it was to” divda et impera.” Dive and conquer.

The European colonialist believed it was their obligation of “mission civilisatrice”, for the Japanese Imperialists, it was the “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.”


That was never seen as the Jewish mission. Rather, in the words of the Prophet Micah, there would be a grand reconciliation of all nations, gathering in the Holy Mount of Jerusalem:


.In the days to come,

And the many nations shall go and shall say:
Let us go up to the Mount of the L
To the House of the God of Jacob;
That He may instruct us in His ways,
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For instruction shall come forth from Zion,
The word of the L
ORD from Jerusalem.

Thus He will judge among the many peoples,
And arbitrate for the multitude of nations,
However distant;
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not take up
Sword against nation;
They shall never again know war

But every man shall sit
Under his grapevine or fig tree
With no one to disturb him.
For it was the L
ORD of Hosts who spoke.

Though all the peoples walk
Each in the names of its gods,
We will walk
In the name of the L
ORD our God
Forever and ever.

Micah 4 1-5


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

SCOTUS, Abortion, and the Jewish Stance


What is Life before Birth? 


This is the video of the discussion on Dec 15.

The right and wrong of life itself is fast becoming the crucial moral and legal issue of our society. When does life itself begin, and when does it end? May I prevent a life, may I hasten its end? May I tamper with the way in which we begin life? Can I change my genes, so that my descendants will all have blond hair and blue eyes and be six-feet tall?


          Abortion has come to the fore as an issue again, as state legislatures weigh in on the topic of late term abortion.Now Texas has opened the possibility of civil suits by angered citizens, Mississippi is seeking to overturn Roe v Wade and the SCOTUS is about to opine on this topic. Maybe this is the ” Bloody Kansas” of our century that could split us up.


          Clearly, the most vocal answers, the ones that get in the press, are either the complete “pro-life” anti-abortionists, for whom all abortion, no matter the reason, is murder, or the very abstract “pro-choice” for whom, it seems , is very simply, a matter of a woman’s choice.


This is not just a matter of religious faith:

 I.                 A bitter reminder from modern history-

On race- abortion was part of a plank by progressives at start of 20th century- based on the “ science” of their day.

Restrict the growth of what they considered inferior people= such as blacks, Jews, Italians. It went hand in  hand with the original IQ tests, which were designed to prove the mental inferiority of the new immigrants coming to this country. Went together with eugenics, that we could breed a better  kind of humanity. Birth control, enforced sterilization of undesirables- Even in recent years, noted economists have paired the decline in crime since the late 20th century with the increase in access of abortion. Fewer births among the poor-fewer teenagers and young adults on the streets who get in trouble.

We can go a step further:

  “after-birth abortion” is a term invented by two philosophers, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. In the Journal of Medical Ethics, they propose:

[W]hen circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. … [W]e propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus … rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.


 Another factor muddling the issue, especially the last century- the ability to support an embryo out of the womb at earlier stages of pregnancy, and the ability to see live action through ultra-sound at even earlier stages. A noted neo-natologist whom I know well told me that he was appalled at abortion as he saw the embryo as a full human being from the perspective of his work.

Note that these are secular, not religious perspectives.


II.               For other ancient  perspectives

           For the Catholic Church, as for many evangelical Protestant groups, abortion is a grave sin, and for many, it is seen as murder.

           In classic Christian doctrine, and borrowed from Greek thought, from the moment the infant is conceived, the soul, the eternal, individual soul, enters the egg, and from that moment on, we have a full fledged human , with all rights and safeguards.

 .For example:

Aristotle believed a fetus in early gestation has the

 "soul of a vegetable, then of an animal, and only later became "animated" with a human soul by "ensoulment". For him, ensoulment occurred 40 days after conception for male fetuses and 90 days after conception for female fetuses [Aristotle, like other Greeks, had no sympathy for women!],[5][6] the stage at which, it was held, movement is first felt within the womb and pregnancy was certain.[7][8]

[But note for geometry students: -if you like your right angle hypotenuse, you like Pythagoras.]

Pythagoreans also considered ensoulment to occur at conception

 . III,  Jewish teachings on protecting children once born.

  Jews were very well known in antiquity for an exceptional trait: we did not abandon deformed infants.  You well know the Spartan practice of abandoning deformed babies to the wolves. Only fully healthy children could serve as warriors; therefore, any infant less than properly formed was doomed.

 Here is the law as it was recorded in The Twelve Tables of Roman Law: "Deformed infants shall be killed" (De Legibus 3.8)

. It was clear in Roman law that any baby less than fully desirable could be disposed of freely , and that applied, very often to baby girls who could be exposed to the beasts. Roman law gave the father “ius paterfamilias”, absolute power of `authority over life and death of any of his children.

Jewish concern for the newborn was abhorrent to the Romans. Thus, the Roman historian, Tacitus condemned Jews for their opposition to infanticide. It was another proof of the  "sinister and revolting practices" of the Jews.( Histories 5.5.)

 IV So, what is our stance? What are our sources?


The Covenant with Noah-which is considered binding on all, Jew and gentile-Noachide laws-

שֹׁפֵךְ֙ דַּ֣ם הָֽאָדָ֔ם בָּֽאָדָ֖ם דָּמ֣וֹ יִשָּׁפֵ֑ךְ כִּ֚י בְּצֶ֣לֶם אֱלֹהִ֔ים עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הָאָדָֽם׃

Whoever sheds the blood of man,
By man shall his blood be shed;
For in His image
Did God make man.

Is that what the text means?” Dam HaAdam , baadam damo yishafech.”In other words, there is a comma break between the two forms of Adam, so to say,as the translation- or,there is no comma until after the 2nd “ Adam”, so thatit measn the blood of the man inside the man.”In other words, the per R Ishmael-(Sanhedrin 57b) from the wording of Genesis 9:6.

Is it clear? Or not?

B What other guide do we have? A hypothetical “ If then” in the Torah.

Our key text is from Exodus, the portion of Mishpatim, Chapter 21, in the context of assault and battery and accidental and intentional murder. It is the context of the famous “ eye for eye.”



וְכִֽי־יִנָּצ֣וּ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְנָ֨גְפ֜וּ אִשָּׁ֤ה הָרָה֙ וְיָצְא֣וּ יְלָדֶ֔יהָ וְלֹ֥א יִהְיֶ֖ה אָס֑וֹן עָנ֣וֹשׁ יֵעָנֵ֗שׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָשִׁ֤ית עָלָיו֙ בַּ֣עַל הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וְנָתַ֖ן בִּפְלִלִֽים׃

 When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning.


וְאִם־אָס֖וֹן יִהְיֶ֑ה וְנָתַתָּ֥ה נֶ֖פֶשׁ תַּ֥חַת נָֽפֶשׁ׃

But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life,


עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן שֵׁ֖ן תַּ֣חַת שֵׁ֑ן יָ֚ד תַּ֣חַת יָ֔ד רֶ֖גֶל תַּ֥חַת רָֽגֶל׃

eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,


כְּוִיָּה֙ תַּ֣חַת כְּוִיָּ֔ה פֶּ֖צַע תַּ֣חַת פָּ֑צַע חַבּוּרָ֕ה תַּ֖חַת חַבּוּרָֽה׃ (ס)

burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

Mishpatim ( Exodus 21:22)

 The controlling phrase:

וְיָצְא֣וּ יְלָדֶ֔יהָ וְלֹ֥א יִהְיֶ֖ה אָס֑וֹן

“ her children have gone out”- a clear term for miscarriage.

“but there is no “ason”, tragedy. In other words, she does not die as a result of the strike. Then there is only a compensation, set by the court.

However, if there is “ ason”, a tragedy, then there is penalty depending on the degree of injury to the mother, hence, the lex taliones to give guide lines on compensation for physical injury-nefesh tachat nefesh- life for life- of the mother. eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

 We read it one way, Catholics read it another way:

 They have a different text of the Torah- they have the Septuagint

 The Catholic Church based its position on the Greek translation , Septuagint, which they claim is the closer to the original Hebrew than our text. That text seems to deal of death to the fetus, but this does not appear to be our text.   The Greek renders ason  as form, yielding something like: "If [there be] form, then shalt thou give life for life." The "life for life" clause is thus applied to fetus.

           Our text of The Torah speaks only of a miscarriage, caused in a fight. If the fetus is killed, the aggressor pays only a penalty. He has not committed murder, nor has he caused an accidental death. By implication, in Jewish law, the fetus is not yet a living independent human being. As for the penalty for hitting the pregnant woman, the Talmud Bava Kama 40a makes it clear that what is involved in this fight is a valuation of the fetus in terms of material damages, not in terms of taking a life.

 Note- this account of a woman caught in a fight which causes a miscarriage is found in many ancient law codes in the middle east, all of which  make just the same case, of monetary penalty- except for the law codes of the Assyrians—probably because they were a military society, and the loss of an infant was the loss of a future warrior!

 C.We go to our next source, the Mishnah :

 Mishnah Oholot 7:6

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהִיא מַקְשָׁה לֵילֵד, מְחַתְּכִין אֶת הַוָּלָד בְּמֵעֶיהָ וּמוֹצִיאִין אוֹתוֹ אֵבָרִים אֵבָרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחַיֶּיהָ קוֹדְמִין לְחַיָּיו. יָצָא רֻבּוֹ, אֵין נוֹגְעִין בּוֹ, שֶׁאֵין דּוֹחִין נֶפֶשׁ מִפְּנֵי נָפֶשׁ:

If a woman is in hard travail, one cuts up the offspring in her womb and brings it forth member by member, because her life comes before the life of her foetus.

But if the greater part has proceeded forth, one may not set aside one person for the sake of saving another.


The classic Catholic teaching was and is, that the mother has already gained life, eternal, through her faith, but the infant must be saved in order for that soul to gain eternal life. We want life in this world, the Catholic, in the next.

For that reason, in the past, at catholic hospitals, the infants life took precedent over the mother’s life. A Jewish woman would not  want to have complications at birth in a Catholic country.

D.          In later Jewish law, also, in the Mishnah and the Talmud, the embryo is not yet a living entity. The fetus has no legal rights; it can not inherit property, nor can any purchase be made in its name, for one can make no legal transactions on behalf of someone who does not yet exist.

 In Jewish law, the fetus is ubar yerech emo--the fetus is a part of the mother, just as her thigh is, or any other organ, stomach, heart, bones.

          The Talmud explicitly calls for abortion, up to the moment of birth, for the sake of the mother's life, because clearly, as Rashi explains, before physical birth, it is not considered alive. Only after birth is it alive.

 Clearly, terminating a pregnancy is not in and of itself an act of murder.

          From this perspective, Rabbis required abortion in the case of physical danger to the mother, or even mental danger to the mother even up to the moment of birth. The Rabbis actually considered the fetus to be the equivalent of a “ rodef”, a very harsh term, a word used to indicate one intent upon killing another—the fetus, in this case is the “hunter”. There is a very clear dictum that , in the case of “ rodef”, one must  kill the hunter to save the hunted. Other rabbis used it to indicate “ rodef min hashamayim” as, even though Heaven itself is pursuing the mother, as if to kill her, we must perform an abortion.

However- although abortion is not murder, so not neither mother nor abortion provider are liable for the death penalty, does that make it permitted under other circumstances?

 There are those Rabbis who justified fear of pain, or mental anguish or shame as legitimate grounds for abortion in earlier stages. In all cases, the operative concept is that the active ( mother) takes precedent over the  potential ( fetus). However, the moment, a large part of the fetus emerges, whether naturally or by Caesarian, it is at that moment, considered a full human being who must now be brought to full birth.

    Great sages authorized abortion in cases which involved, not only the life, but also the mental and emotional health of the mother. The great philosopher, Ramban, himself performed an abortion for a gentile woman in order protect her form future sterility. They were, clearly, more lenient at the earlier phases of pregnancy, before the fetus began to take recognizable shape.

 As an example of modern application, in the State of Israel, abortion is allowed with the approval of a termination committee if the woman is unmarried, because of age (if the woman is under the age of 17 - the legal marriage age in Israel - or over the age 40), the pregnancy was conceived under illegal circumstances (rape, statutory rape, etc.) or an incestuous relationship, birth defects, risk of health to the mother, and life of the mother

          Abortion at will or personal choice?

Can we say “  It’s my body and I can do as I see fit?” This is a faulty premise and Justice Ginsburg saw the flaw in the Roe v Wade decision based on an implicit right to privacy. She wanted the case decided on the basis of equal opportunity, on the basis that the risk involved falls on the women, not on the man. But in itself , it is a faulty premise. not just on abortion, but on every aspect of human life- our existence as social beings, not lone wolves, means that society has the moral authority to make demands of our bodies-both of males and females. Males are expected, in time of a major war, as World War II, to offer their bodies for the greater good.

Perhaps instead there needs to be a greater general principal between the extreme ends.

         Abortion is not murder, nor is the unborn fetus yet a full human being, yet on the other hand we also are concerned, lest we lose our sensitivity to the potential of life in each pregnancy. We are we get closer and closer to full gestation, the fetus shows more and more signs of viability outside of the womb. It further clouds the issue.

          As Jews, we recognize that we must confront moral responsibility from both ends of the equation, never form an abstract absolute. It used to be accepted that, in Bill Clinton’s words: Abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare.

That was 30 years ago. Today, the lines have been hardened.

For the democrats, the word “ rare” is forbidden, and for Republicans, the word “legal” is forbidden.

Both women and infants are caught up in our cultural wars.

          In our tradition, every child born is a special event. May we make every effort possible, so that, when life begins, at birth, that life is a blessing, a joy, and a comfort for all. Amen.