Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Rabbi Manis Friedman Responds

The following is a response by Rabbi Manis Friedman published today in Moment Magazine.

First of all, the opinions published in my name are solely my own, and do not represent the official policy of any Jewish movement or organization.

Additionally, my answer, as published, is misleading. For it is, in truth, an answer to a different question.

It is obvious, I thought, that any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion. Fundamental to the Jewish faith is the concept that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and our sages instruct us to support the non-Jewish poor along with the poor of our own brethren.

The question my statement addresses is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields. I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!)—when one’s own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places! (I look forward to further clarifying my brief words, too, in a future issue.)

I apologize for any misunderstanding the words printed in my name created.

I would only add - saying that he does not speak for any movement is an unsatisfacory response whether it is true or not. He sould have said so immediately. Without that clarification he should have known that his answer would be seen as reflecting the movement to which he belongs. The reader would assume that he was speaking for all of Orthodoxy or at least for Chabad.