The news has moved on to other matters and the recent tragic loss of the four rabbis in Israel doesn’t seem to be on the minds of so many; I think we’ve all become calloused and numb from so much killing. The three boys, the attack in a synagogue, terrorism all over Israel, Europe and America,those killed and maimed in all the bombing, ISIS beheadings, and the list goes on. I, personally, am still shaking over the fact that there was such a slaughter in a synagogue in our day and time that has the look and feeling of the way I’ve always thought about the time of pogroms and Nazi murders. I’ve been struggling to find something constructive to do about it and feel feeble to find anything that would avenge their deaths and perhaps provide some meaning for the future. Could you possibly offer some insight?
I recently sat shiva for my father, may he rest in peace, and was reading the laws of mourning. One thing that struck me was the instruction to refrain from wearing leather shoes. It offered no explanation, so I did it just because it says so, but it’s been bothering me ever since. What do leather shoes have to do with mourning? Why are other leather garments such as belts and jackets permitted?
I just got up from sitting shiva for my mother, with whom I was very close. It was very difficult to stop sitting shiva; it felt like a connection. Now that the connection is gone, I feel very empty, and would like to know how I can find some connection and fulfillment.
One of the most beloved ideals we uphold is the utmost value that we place on human life. What do we do when we have to choose between two innocent lives?
Let me set out an example: Someone is driving along a narrow cliff road. That person is coming around a bend at a reasonable speed. At the same moment a cyclist is rounding the same bend on his bicycle from the opposite direction. Then, at the worst possible time, the cyclist loses control and heads straight into the path of the car. The driver’s only two options are:
attempt to brake (but will still hit the cycler with deadly force), or
navigate the car off the cliff (which will cause certain death).
Although there is fault on both sides (the driver should have slowed down more and the cyclist not lost control), neither party meant to harm the other. Whose life should the driver choose?
I’ve enjoyed reading your column over the years in the TJP. One question came to mind that perhaps you can answer. There’s been a lot of discussion over the past few years regarding the importance of Living Wills for various reasons. Does Judaism have a clear position on whether or not this is a good thing to do?