Friday, February 03, 2006


You've probably read about the cartoons which are roiling up emotions in the Muslim world.
The issue is that to many Muslims any depiction of a prophet or of G-d is blasphemy.

Well, good - I can understand, if not entirely sympathize, with their point of view.

But as I understand it, one is always free to NOT buy the offending newspaper, NOT go to the offending art exhibit.

A certain amount of self-control, self-censorship over one's senses, is necessary to maintain sanity.

It says in Parshas Shoftim (note: the fifth of eleven sections of Sefer Dvarim (Deuteronomion), verses 16:18 thru 21:9), verse 16:18 "Shoftim ve shotrim titein leicha bechol shaareitcha asher Adonai Eloheicha nosein leicha ..." (Judges and guards shall you appoint in all gates which the Lord your G-d has given you..).

[Note: Shaar = Gate, but also contextually meaning settlement or city.]

The Sfas Emes (Rav Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger, 1847 - 1905, grandson of the Chiddushei HaRim), reading 'gates' as here also suggesting openings to the soul and doorways for the divine, shpers that we should guard our eyes, so that we do not see what we should not see, and guard our ears, so we do not hear what we should not hear.

In other words, it is wise to use judgement and common sense in our seeing and hearing.

Precisely this then is much missing from the world.

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