Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shiktzeh! Imposing One's Beliefs & Morals – Joseph & Beit Shemesh

By Seth Frantzman, licensed for
non-commercial reuse under terms as per
A shocking example of seeking to impose religious standards on others was reported recently in Beit Shemesh, Israel. A seven year old girl who is afraid to go to school because of harassment by zealots has really brought this question home. (See video) With the qualification that media reports always only show part of the story, I think it is reasonable to assume there is a serious problem. Of course the behaviour we are seeing is absolutely wrong. 

My heart is with the demonstrators who asserted on Tuesday night that anyone who spits on a seven year old girl, spits on the beauty of Judaism and destroys its values[1]. They are right. This behaviour is not justified by the Torah “whose ways are pleasantness and all its paths are peace[2]”.  It would be wrong to blame whole communities for this and turn this into an anti-Haredi issue. Still, I think that before we can wash our hands of this, we need to consider the context out of which this outrage has come, as part of a strategy to prevent it in the future.    

This post explores whether the behaviour we are seeing is to be understood as an extreme manifestation of a broader rejection of pluralism. I think that because some traditional sources reflect anti-pluralist perspectives, work must be undertaken to establish and promote a compelling religious argument within a Torah perspective for greater tolerance of more practices[3] and beliefs that differ to ones own. Exhibit A. is the case of Joseph (Jacob’s son) and the degree to which his own beliefs influences his rule of a society who did not share his beliefs.

Ruling Egypt from a Jewish perspective – Mass Circumcision?
One surprising commentary about Joseph’s rule of Egypt is the suggestions that Joseph forced the Egyptians to circumcise themselves as a condition for being allowed to purchase food[4]. This baffling idea is offered as an explanation[5] for the odd wording with which Pharaoh responds to his people who cry out to him for food, “go to Joseph, whatever he tells you, you shall do[6]”. A simpler interpretation of this verse is that Pharaoh advised them to pay whatever price Joseph demands[7]. The idea that Joseph would impose his own religious practice on the people of Egypt is problematic on many levels[8]. While one commentator limits this idea to tribes related to Abraham that had previously undertaken the practice of circumcision[9], this is a bit of a stretch, with the simple meaning being that Joseph imposed this on Egypt as a whole. Why?

An Anti-Promiscuity Measure
One relatively recent view with echoes in the controversy in Beit Shemesh is that Joseph was concerned about the Egyptians who were steeped in promiscuity, so he introduced circumcision as a counter measure presumably to decrease desire[10].

Ironically, our sages never thought of as circumcision as a guarantee against sexual sin. This is the reason for the Yichud laws, which prohibit a Jewish man from being alone with a strange woman[11] with the door locked. In some there is significant segregation of the sexes in many aspects of life among the ultra-orthodox. While these varied measures have served the communities well and helped minimize if not prevent adultery and promiscuity, it’s imposition on others is wrong. Yet, this commentary can be taken to suggest otherwise. It also positions the other as promiscuous while viewing “us” as chaste. I am afraid there is too much in our tradition that the Beit Shemesh zealots can take further than reasonable people have in the past. 

Other views about Joseph’s “Virtue Policy”
One manuscript that softens this idea is that Joseph inspired Egyptians to want to circumcise themselves[12]. Another view is that as it was a time of hunger, it was important for the people to exercise restraint in terms of their eating and it was deemed useful to more generally initiate ‘character repair’ with the father of the fathers of this process being circumcision[13]. This links with the idea that a famine increases hunger so that people would eat three times as much[14] (if and when they can). The implications of these interpretations are still conducive to “us good and them not as good” thinking.

God doesn’t feed Heathens?
Another version of the circumcision story includes Joseph telling the Egyptians my God does not feed the uncircumcised, go and circumcise yourselves and I will give you[15]. The idea that God does not feed the uncircumcised, contradicts our belief that God feed all his creatures.

A “Muslim/Sufi story
Judaism has compelling ideas about the value of all people, yet for me in spite of almost 40 years of immersion in the world of Torah, what comes to mind is a Muslim story. “The Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) would not eat unless there was some guest at his table. Once,  Abraham went out in search of a guest and he found one very old man. He invited the old man to dine with him and the man agreed. When Abraham asked him to pray before eating the man refused, Abraham was angry and refused to feed him. When he did so he heard a voice from above: “Abraham, how old is that man? I tolerated him, (the old man) fed and sustained him for seventy years despite his disbelief and you could not tolerate him for seven minutes?! Abraham repented and took the old man home for dining[16].” I wish I had a ready Jewish response of equal strength, I believe we need to find one and ensure it is well known.

Egyptian law and custom rather vs. own faith? – The Property of the Priests 
We have another case, this time in the Torah itself. We are told that Joseph was entrusted with sweeping powers over Egypt; no man will raise arm or leg without your permission[17].  Despite these powers, when Joseph effectively nationalises all land in Egypt in exchange for food and seeds, he excludes the priests. Because it is a fixed settlement for the priests from Pharaoh and they ate their fixed portion that Pharaoh gave them, therefore they did not sell their fields… Joseph set this as law… only the land of the priests did not become the possession of the Pharaoh[18]. This suggests that Joseph’s set aside his personal religious views, because he was acting not as a private individual but on behalf of the Egyptian state and Pharaoh.

Alternative Explanations
Traditional commentaries offer other explanations, eg. Joseph returned a favour to the priests for speaking out in his favour when he was accused of attempted rape by the wife of Potiphar[19]. His master had sought to have him executed but because of the priests he was saved from execution[20]. A minority view goes so far as to suggest that we are not talking about priests at all but rather officials of war and the royal chariots[21], this is based on the multiple meanings of the Hebrew word כהנים (Cohanim is plural of Cohen, which can either mean priest or official). It seems that the idea of Joseph paying respect to the priests of idol worship is too offensive and implausible.

The light of Chanukah
The demonstration in Beit Shemesh happened on the last night of Chanukah, and was said to be bringing the light on the festival to the city[22]. Chanukah could be about affirming a live and let live approach. We could celebrate the triumph of religious freedom and the victory of the weak minority against those who sought to impose their way of life on them. Yet, for many it is not so much about the few resisting the many but more about the “the defiled being (given to defeat in) the hand of the pure[23]”.  

Limits of tolerance
It is necessary for communities to establish standards. I think it is right and proper for communities to decide how to deal with various challenges such as lust and assert their views. If religious Jewish men and women want to sit separately on a bus and cover up almost all their skin, that is their right. If people object to the imposition of standards on others, they have a right to make and enforce laws that prevent people being harassed for how they dress in public spaces or where they choose to sit on a bus. We need a robust tolerance that respects ourselves as well as the other.  

A choice between risks – shiktze vs. relativism  
Orthodox Judaism is committed to the idea that it has the absolute Truth. This is not going to be negotiated. In view of this, I can think of two significant options, one is to rely on teachings like “greet all people with a friendly face[24]” to counter the implications in sources such as those quoted above. The risk is the doubly offensive use of words like “Shiktzeh”. This is a yiddish version of a hebrew word being something disgusting that some people have used to refer to a non-Jewish woman. Thankfully, many orthodox Jews do not use this word. In situations like Beit Shemesh it has been unforgivably used interchangeably with words like promiscuous or slut.

The other option is to embrace an ethic that requires us to think about the other and their beliefs and practices as equal at least in the sense that we must treat their choices as we would like them to treat ours. A strong secular education that values the wisdom of all nations would be essential for the second option to succeed. This option carries the risk of slipping into relativism or at least weakening the degree to which Judaism is seen as a superior path. I am in favour of the second option.

... in today's multicultural world, the truly reliable path to coexistence, to peaceful coexistence and creative cooperation, must start from what is at the root of all cultures and what lies infinitely deeper in human hearts and minds than political opinion...It must be rooted in self-transcendence. Transcendence as a hand that reaches out to those close to us, to foreigners, to the human community, to all living creatures, to nature, to the universe; transcendence as a deeply and joyously experienced need to be in harmony even with what we ourselves are not...[25]"
Vaclav Havel

[2] Proverbs 3:17
[3] This tolerance does not need to be absolute. People of all persuasions find certain behaviours intolerable, eg. incest, theft, or indeed the behaviour of the zealots in Beit Shemesh. I would argue that the tolerance threshold needs to be higher and more open minded, with fewer behaviours being deemed intolerably offensive
[4] Midrash Beresheet Rabba, As mentioned elsewhere, the Midrash is not about what literally happened at the time but rather about teaching us something
[5] Rashi, Rabbenu Bchai
[6] Genesis 41:55, This implausible scenario is explained by Midrash Tanchuma by the sheer terror felt by the Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks the people why they did not store grain them selves? When they reply that they had stored grain but it rotted, Pharaoh is afraid that it is Joseph’s powers that caused the rot and that if the people disobey him, Joseph might decree that they should all die
[7] Chizkuni
[8] There is the ethical obligation of Joseph toward Pharaoh and the Egyptian people to carry out his duties in accordance with the purpose for which he was given his role, eg. to ensure that the Egyptians had what to eat. It is an obvious abuse of that trust and the office to use it for advancing some other agenda, regardless of how holy the thinks it is. There is also the concept in Judaism of 7 universal commandments that are applicable to all people which does not include circumcision.  
[9] Torah Shlaima, p. 1563 based on the view of the Rosh that the sons of Ishmael and Keturah were obligated to circumcise themselves
[10] Klei Yakar, in addition Klei Yakar explains that there was a direct causal link between Joseph’s stored wheat being persevered and the fact that he was circumcised.
[11] eg. A woman he is not married to, nor a direct relation such as sister, daughter, mother
[12] Torah Shlaima p. 1563
[13] Yefat Torah, cited in Torah Shlaima p. 1563
[14] Lekach Tov
[15] Midrash Tanchuma Miketz 6
[16] I heard this story from a religious Muslim, also
[17] Genesis 41:44
[18] Genesis 47:22 & 26 A careful reading of the verses could yield the explanation for Joseph not buying the priests land, being because the priests did not need to because they got food directly from Pharaoh, as mentioned in Bchor Shor. Yet, this royal stipend was presumably also administered by Joseph and he would have had the power to cancel it, this view is implied in the question of Sechel Tov, “Why did Joseph agree to give wheat to the priests?” and the interpretation of Yonatan Ben Uziel in the following paragraph
[19] Sechel Tov, cited in Torah Shlaima p. 1716
[20] Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel, They suggested Joseph’s garment be examined to see how it was torn when he got away from her. If it is torn from the front then her story was correct but if it was torn at the back then Joseph was obviously running away from her and she was chasing him. The tear was found at the back of the garment (Tur)
[21] This is the view found in a Manuscript of Moshav Zkainim cited in Torah Shlaima and Chizkuni, the view that we are discussing priests is found in Rashi, Sechel Tov, Midrash Hagadol, Unkelus, Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel, Bchor Shor and Radak  
[22] Tzviki Levin, as above
[23] Al Hanisim prayer recited during Chanukah
[24] Avot 1:15

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Boldness, Reticence and Respectability: Joseph, Tamar and Reuben

Photo By Yaniv G, Permission to use for non-commercial
purposes with attribution

I am thinking about boldness. I am feeling tired of timidly asking advice. I am wondering if I should show more courage to back myself in spite of having gotten it wrong sometimes, or is it wiser to prudently seek advice? There is a part of me that wants to assert myself, throw caution to the wind, just decide by myself and then do it. How does that gel with the need for Humility? Jews have thought of bashfulness as one of our three defining positive characteristics[i] yet, we are also called to boldness[ii] with three biblical figures all displaying this in some form in the reading Vayeshev.

Boldness vs. Timidity and Bashfulness
 A compelling argument is made by Sir Walter Murdoch that human misery is not caused “a gang of scoundrels so depraved that they really wish to keep us all poor… There are not enough scoundrels to go round... The persons we have to face are the dull, the stodgy, the unimaginative, the ancestor-worshippers, too timid to think for themselves…[iii] To put it another way, if we use both hands to cover our backsides, we have no hands to do anything with.

A young Indigenous young boy in the Northern Territory taught me something about holding back. I remember him as “Just Gamin”, because he gave me a false name before telling me in Territory slang that he was kidding, or “just gamin”. We played a game, in which he excelled by giving things away. His teacher praised him for this, but he immediately put his hand over his face. “Why are you doing that?” asked the teacher. “It’s shame”, he replied. An elder explained to me and to his teacher the next day that shame is a way her people show respect. Not standing out, instead deferring to the elders and the group. This has some similarity to the Jewish concept of מכיר מקומו recognising one’s place[iv]. We are taught that only a fool speaks before one who is greater than himself[v].

Joseph the Bold Dreamer 
As an ostracised younger sibling whose brothers disliked him so intensely they could not even speak to him[vi], Joseph would have been wise to “pull his head in”. His self appointment as monitor of his brothers’ behaviour, reporting all “sins” to their father[vii] alienated his siblings. Yet, Joseph does not lose confidence. Instead he dreams of ruling his brothers[viii]. Perhaps the fantasy was a response to the humiliation he suffered, a sentiment expressed as “the stone the builders scorned, ended up at the top of the corner[ix]”.

In Jewish tradition ‘our dreams at night reflect our thoughts during the day[x]’. This view of dreams suggests an element of choice and responsibility for our dreams and explains why Joseph’s brothers hated him even more on account of his dreams[xi].Remarkably; the hatred does not cause him to stop dreaming. He dreams again, an even more grandiose dream. In the second dream the sun and the moon and the stars are bowing to him. He insists on telling it to his brothers, even as they seek to ignore him, in his desire to make the dream real[xii]. In spite of his father secretly believing in the dream[xiii], he pretends to dismiss it. “What is this dream?!”  he asks, the implication is “how does your heart rise to dream this dream, this is nothing but arrogance and youthfulness[xiv]”.

Of course Joseph’s dreams come true. His leadership qualities keep surfacing. When his brothers sell him into slavery, he rises to become manager of his master’s house[xv]. When thrown into jail, he ends up running the place[xvi] and concerning himself with the needs of his fellow prisoners with sensitivity and awareness of their feelings[xvii]. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that thanks to the realisation of Joseph’s dreams, he eventually saves the family and the entire Egypt from famine. At the time, Joseph would have been described as confident to the point of recklessness. In spite of his brother’s hatred, he readily agrees to visit them in the field, and in the medium term he suffers the consequences.

Reuben, Boldness Lost?
In contrast with the bold Joseph, Reuben seems timid in his defence of his younger brother. Perhaps he had the stuffing knocked out of him when he acted impulsively on his anger[xviii] to defend his mother’s honour.  When Rachel was alive Jacob’s permanent bed was in her tent. When Rachel's died, instead of Jacob putting his bed in the tent of his first wife Leah, he moves it to his concubine Bilhah's tent[xix]. Reuben angrily declares “if my mother’s sister was a rival to my mother, should the maidservant of my mother’s sister now be a rival to my mother?![xx]” He moves his father’s bed from her tent and puts it in his mother's tent[xxi]. For years he carries guilt about the episode[xxii] with Bilhah, even running off to busy himself with fasting at a critical point in the drama of the sale of Joseph[xxiii].

Joseph’s life was in danger when his brothers consider murdering him. The Torah testifies that Reuben intended to save him[xxiv]. From Reuben’s words it is not so obvious. Reuben tells the brothers they should not kill him with their own hands, instead just throw him into a pit. It is suggested that Reuben initially suggested they should not sin at all with the boy. When they refused to listen, he changes his tune and partners with them[xxv]. He tries to make it seem that it is not out of love Joseph that he objects to the act of murder. He implies that his concern is about the difference in the severity of the punishment for outright murder in comparison to the less severe punishment for indirectly causing his death[xxvi]. A lesson from Reuben’s failure is that we must do things with a joyous or full heart, and that if Reuben had done so he would have lifted Joseph on his shoulder and carried him home to his father[xxvii].  On the other hand Reuben is credited for being a trailblazer, being the first person to repent[xxviii] on his own initiative.

Bold Beyond Respectability
Murdoch identifies “respectability” as “something (that) has worked so consistently against the healthy development of the race has been so consistently a clog on all progress towards the bettering of the world…  (it)has many virtues, but they are the meaner virtues, the timid virtues, caution, prudence, docility, tameness, discretion. All the brave, adventurous virtues are regarded by this dingy goddess as silly or dangerous, or both.

Respectability certainly does not constrain another bold character, the exceptionally beautiful[xxix] Tamar, daughter in law of a Judah[xxx]. She seduces her father in law after she sees herself being strung along[xxxi]. She had been promised Judah’s youngest son as a husband when he was old enough, but Judah was not keen as she had already married Judah’s two others sons who both died young. According to one view she had been so modest she would cover her face when she was in her father in-laws house[xxxii].  Yet, she overcame any reservations she had in order to achieve her goal of having a child from the family of Judah[xxxiii]. She times it for when Judah is doing his sheep sharing, “a time of happiness and great feasts and when a person is happy is desire overpowers him[xxxiv]. She succeeds and gives birth to twins, whose descendants include King David and his descendents.

David himself famously thumbs his nose at respectability when he jumps and dances before God’s holy ark. His aristocratic wife, Michal, disgustedly describes David in his uninhibited dancing as someone “who exposed himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as would expose himself one of the idlers.[xxxv]"  Yet, David himself also asserts that it is the broken and crushed heart that God will not despise[xxxvi]. This links well with the idea that the ambiguous origins of David’s family were meant to prevent the kings of Judah from arrogance “by remembering their origins they would be of lowly spirit and would conduct their kingship with humility[xxxvii]”.

It all depends on the situation. There are merits in both reticence and boldness. Even shame can be a force for good, just as it can be an unhelpful inhibiting factor. I might feel some shame because a standard had been violated or it might be that an unjustifiable line drawn by others has rightfully been crossed. To achieve anything we will often need to bold and take risks. When we mess up we need to own up and address it, and then try again almost as if we had never fallen.

[i] Talmud Yevamot 79a
[ii] Pirkey Avot 5:20, quoted in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:3, be as bold as a leopard…
[iii] Sir Walter Murdoch, Collected Essays of Walter Murdoch – “On Dull People”
[iv] Yam shel Shlomo 8:58 (Polish rabbi, Shlomo Luria (c.1510-1573) states: "Because, for our sins, the ordained are many but the learned few, and the ignorant are growing numerous; not one of them knows his place and as soon as he is ordained he begins to act like a lord and collect students at great expense, as do the noble officials who hire servants to run ahead of them." Cited by Adam Teller Also found in Tanya 27
[v] Pirkey Avot 5:7
[vi] Genesis 37:4
[vii] Gensis 37:2
[viii] Genesis  37:5-9
[ix] Psalm 118:22
[x] Talmud Brachot 55b, discussed in Nehama Liebovitz, New Studies In Bereshit, p.431
[xi] Bchor Shor
[xii] Lekach Tov, a dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that has not been read
[xiii] Berasheet Rabba 84: “He took a pen and wrote down the date and time and place” of the dream, Rashi: he was waiting for it to come true,  Seforno: “he thought that the dream will come true and he desired and look forward to it being fulfilled, while Sefer Hayashar has Jacob kiss him and bless him when he hears it. Clearly his criticism of Joseph was a show for the brothers to defuse their jealousy
[xiv] Ramban
[xv] Genesis 39:4
[xvi] Genesis 39:22-23
[xvii] The Lubavitcher Rebbe as explained by R. Yosef Y Jacobson
[xviii] Rashi to Genesis 49:4
[xix] Talmud Shabbat 55
[xx] Rashi to Genesis 35:22
[xxii] The literal meaning of the text is “When his father lived in that land, Reuben went and slept with Bilhah, his father's concubine”. 
[xxiii] Beresheet Rabba 84
[xxiv] Genesis 37:22
[xxv] Bchor Shor
[xxvi] Ramban
[xxvii] Vayikra Rabba 34:9, this would have happened if Reuben realised that the Torah would right about his trying to save his brother
[xxviii] Beresheet Rabba 84
[xxix] Midrash Hagadol cited in Torah Shelaima, p. 1449
[xxx] a brother of both Joseph and Reuben
[xxxi] Genesis 38:6-16
[xxxii] Talmud Sotah 10b
[xxxiii] Rashi to Genesis 38:14
[xxxiv] Bchor Shor, interesting to compare this with the perspective given in Tanya that when a person is depressed he is most vulnerable to his evil inclination as his resistance is down
[xxxv] Samuel II, 6:14-20
[xxxvi] Psalm 51
[xxxvii] Radak

Friday, December 9, 2011


I hate confrontation.

I have no desire to argue with the airline that left my suitcase in Perth two days ago, now containing stinking spoiled Kosher hotdogs and “off” yoghurt that I bought for a Chabad Rabbi living in Adelaide. Or course, I should pluck up the courage and demand compensation for the damage caused by their incompetence.  It is surely problematic, in the grand scheme of things, to support the fight against the most evil but be too squeamish to fight ourselves[1]. I wonder what our tradition teaches us about appeasement vs. standing up and fighting. Some Jewish teachings for and against appeasement can be found in the case of Jacob’s humble or humiliating approach to his brother Esau[2], twenty years after having tricked their father to give him the blessings originally intended for Esau[3].

The Scene
Jacob had escaped to Haran when Easu’s thoughts turned to murdering him as soon as Isaac died[4]. Despite twenty years passing. Jacob was still afraid of Esau’s anger. He send messengers telling them exactly what to say to my master Esau. He is so keen to flatter Esau’s ego that he models subservience to his messengers[5], to be sure that the posture is absolutely clear to them[6]. By custom the first born was treated almost like a parent, when Jacob repeatedly refers to Esau as “my master” he implies that he completely relinquishes his claims to the right of the first born that Esau had sold him for a pot of lentils[7]. It brings to mind a snide comment about Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, “they accuse, we apologise”. My limited observations and experience of this dialogue is that it is about seeking to understand each others stories and experiences, yet the comment reflects the reluctance to give any ground in pursuit of positive relationships.

One View. “God: Jacob was wrong”
One classic source has God saying to Jacob “you lowered yourself by referring to Esau as my master eight times, by your life!, I will raise up 8 kings among the descendents of Esaue before your children will have any kings[8]. In another source[9]
 God is upset about Jacob’s submissiveness, because “I said the older will serve the younger”[10].  

Long Term Damage of Appeasement or Is that of Assertiveness?
A later commentary sees a sign of things to come in Jacobs’ deference to Esau for what would happen in subsequent generations. We began our own defeat by the Edom/Rome because of the Hasmonean kings seeking a pact with the Romans[11].

While seeking the favour of the Romans might have started our defeat. It was in fact the reckless, extremist, pedantic standing up to
Rome that sealer our fate. One case related to the custom that when a boy was born they would plant a cedar tree and when a girl was born to plant a pine tree, and when they married, the tree was cut down and a canopy made of the branches. One day the daughter of the Emperor was passing when the shaft of her litter broke, so they lopped some branches off a cedar tree and brought it to her. The Jews thereupon fell upon them and beat them[12]. In another case, a sacrifice offering from the emperor was rejected on a technicality. In the end when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem the guidance of the sage Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai was ignored, instead a desperate and futile battle was fought by tiny Judea against Rome[13].  

Alternative View
The same source that  brings us critical views of Jacob also offers an opposite perspective[14]. Rabbi Judah the President[15], said to his secretary Rabbi Efes, “write a letter from me to the master, the King Antoninus (Pius?[16]). So Efes wrote a letter and signed it from Judah the President to the Master King Antoninus. Rabbi Judah took the letter, read it and tore it up. “Write to the master, King Antoninus from Judah your servant”. Effes replied ,but Rabbi, why are you degrading your honour. Rabbi Judah told him, “how am I better than my grandfather (Jacob) who said so shall you say to my master Esau. Another source also praised Jacob’s humility[17].

The Argument continues in the Aftermath of a Bloodbath
The merits of assertiveness and even aggression vs. appeasement plays out even more dramatically after Jacob’s sons kill the whole city of Shchem in revenge for the rape of their sister Dina. Jacob is concerned about the repercussions of this violence, but his sons assert, “Should they make our sister into a prostitute?![18]  Jacob is silent in the face of this emotive, battle cry retort. What was he supposed to say, “yes, I think it doesn’t matter that my daughter and your sister was raped”. Only years later at the end of Jacobs life does he curse their anger and show disapproval again about this episode[19].

The wisdom of the ages tells us that there are pitfalls with appeasement, yet there is also great wisdom in it. Neville Chamberlain’s portrait can hang on the walls of all war enthusiasts because of his role in discrediting appeasement. Yet, I would argue that not every trigger happy, evil, despotic nut-job is a Hitler. I guess, I should fight with the airline for my money, but more broadly, careful consideration of the pros and cons of each choice is needed.

“Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven… A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build… a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing... a time to keep and a time to cast away… a time to be silent and a time to speak…A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace[20].

[1] Judah L Magnes, a leading Pacifist during WWI. Wrote to Ghandi in 1939, “ I know I would pray with all my heart for the defeat of the Hitler inhumanity; and am I then to stand aside and let others do the fighting? During the last war I prayed for a peace without defeat or victory. The answer given by Romain Rolland in his little book Par la revolution la paix (1935), seems to be, that while he himself as an individual continues to refuse to bear arms, he will do everything he can to help his side (in this case, Russia) to win the war. That is hardly a satisfying answer.” from Judah L. Magnes to Gandhi, February 26, 1939
[2] Genesis 32:4-33:15
[3] Genesis 27
[4] Genesis 27:41, Esau either delayed his plan to kill Jacob out of his respect for his father, or perhaps did not want to repeat the mistake of Cain, who still had to split his inheritance despite the murder of Abel because their father had another son Seth. (Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel)
[5] Ramban
[6] Ibn Ezra
[7] Ramban
[8] Beresheet Rabba 75:2
[9] Daat Zekainim Mebaalei Hatosafot
[10] Genesis 25:23
[11] Ramban
[12] Talmud Gittin 57a
[14] Beresheet Rabba 75
[15] often referred to as Rabbi Judah the prince, in Hebrew it is Rabbi Judah Hanasi, probably better translated as president than prince.
[16]A. Mischcon, Abodah Zara, p.10a Soncino, 1988. Mischcon cites various sources, "SJ Rappaport... is of opinion that our Antoninus is Antoninus Pius." Other opinions cited suggest "Antoninus" was CaracallaLucius Verus or Alexander Severus”. See
[17] Mishnat Rabbi Eliezer parsha 10, 182
[18] Genesis 34
[19] Genesis 49:5
[20] Ecclesiastes 3:1-8