In Denmark, Animals Come Before People

National Secular Society – Denmark bans religious slaughter.

Denmark has now added itself to the growing list of countries who have decided to restrict the practices of observant Judaism. What is most telling is this particular quote from the Danish agricultural and food minister, Dan Jørgensen:

However, defending the governments decision, Mr. Jorgensen told Denmark’s TV2 television that “animal rights come before religion.”

In other words, in Denmark, animals come before people. Better that every Jew and Muslim family be forced to leave Denmark than have one single animal be slaughtered according to the ancient laws of Kashrut and Halal.

It is increasingly apparent that Europe was never about freedom of religion. One can only wonder how long it will be before the country outlaws circumcision and distinctive religious apparel.

As to the practice of Kashrut, let me say only this: if science has proven that the current practice of shochet slaughter is not as compassionate as Talmud calls us to be, this is an occasion for us as Jews to consider submitting the question to our greatest Torah scholars: is it time for a change in Halachic practice?

Kerry Threatens the Wrong People

John Kerry Threatens Israel With Boycotts if Talks Fail.

While I am sure the Secretary of State is having a difficult time understanding why Israel’s government is taking such a hard line, he would do well to take a more balanced line. Implicit in the price for peace is a unified government that speaks for all factions of the Palestinian people, and that affirms for the world Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Sadly, the Palestinians are not masters of their own fates. They are beholden to leaders elsewhere in the world who seek to see Israel wiped off the map, and every Jew in the country either dead or in headlong flight, and to them, the lives of a few million Palestinians is a small price to pay.

If the Palestinians could be truly independent, an independent state would come to them naturally.

Perhaps Kerry should be using what is left of American power and prestige in the region to make that happen. But he won’t, because it is easier (and more fashionable) to beat up on Israel.

Woody Allen and Moral Relativism

If you are like me, you have been following the entire matter of Woody Allen and the accusations levied against him by Dylan Farrow with growing discomfort. On the one hand, Mr. Allen is, by birth, a Jew, and I am hesitant to disparage him publicly. He also deserves to have his case heard outside the realm of innuendo, particularly when there have been cases of memory implanted by suggestion. At the same time, we have to use great care because of the nature of the accusations.

But what I find most compelling about this case is the way secular society, particularly that part that tend to be Woody fans, is wrestling with it the matter of Mr. Allen’s domestic life. In a recent online discussion, a friend of mine noted:

It’s telling that Robert Weide’s defense of Allen I linked to posits that the relationship with Soon-Yi was personally offensive to Mia Farrow, but the writer seems unwilling to entertain it was morally offensive too — “it’s none of our business.” This is how people compartmentalize, I guess.

Indeed. This is where we encounter the problem with moral relativism. In a world with an unlimited number of moral codes that are deemed equally valid, we are denied any common basis (other than a court of law) to determine what a man should be allowed to do. A society that has discarded the idea of a moral code that is higher than man and that has granted equity to multiple incompatible moral codes is incapable of discerning moral offense.

Torah lays clear guidelines around what relationships are permissible and under what circumstances. G-d did not expect the entire world to live by Torah, so I certainly don’t. But it is not hard to imagine how society can be so perplexed by a case such as Mr. Allen’s when it has cut its mooring lines to a moral code that transcends humanity, allowing itself to be blown by the fickle winds of moral relativism.

One cannot help but wonder: if society had possessed the moral framework to question Mr. Allen’s home life – or, indeed, had Mr. Allen possessed that framework, how might his marriages, his domestic relationships, and his children have been different?

In the meantime, may Hashem in His wisdom extend His hand and give comfort to the innocent, and see the guilty punished as befits their transgressions. And may He grant us all the wisdom to act and speak rightly in this case.

Loving Israel ≠ Loving Bi Bi

It bears noting that there is a difference between supporting Israel’s right to exist as a viable state, and supporting everything that the government of Israel does without criticism.

I have issues with many of Israel’s policies and actions, but I hope and work for a better way. At the same time, I will not engage in a discussion with someone who either questions Israel’s right to exist or who supports those who do.

Israel has the responsibility to bear criticism for its actions, but it has the right to expect from all of us explicit recognition of the nation’s right to exist.