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(Photo from Flash90)

Time to extend the hand of conciliation
Commentary that has been printed on this page in recent months has revealed a divide in our community about which presidential candidate best represents our honorable faith and its values. Many individuals of intellect and stature chose Donald Trump to the consternation of Biden supporters and vice versa.

As we recognize the election of a new president, it is a time for jubilation for about half of the American people, while the other half are despondent, if not angry. I believe that the just and righteous choice has been made in the choice of President-elect Biden.

I respond with gratification to the election of an experienced and knowledgeable leader: a civilized human being, a man with abundant compassion, empathy, and basic dignity to be the leader of the free world.

I am not sure how much can be accomplished by a Democratic president with what is likely to be a Republican-controlled Senate which may stonewall the appointment of any judges, but I will find great relief in knowing that our people will not be plunged into chaos and civil war each day, no longer to be pitted against each other, and that we can return to be proud to identify as Americans.

This is not a time to gloat or to rub salt into wounds, rather it is a time to extend the hand of conciliation — to reach out to all with the hope that we may truly become a more united United States of America. May we begin working toward no longer being a house that is so bitterly divided.

God bless President-elect Joe Biden Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and their families. Mazal tov to them and to our country. I must have faith that a brighter day is ahead.

Oren Spiegler
Peters Township

Nov. 6 Torah column had ‘unusual twist’
In his novel exegesis concerning the episode in last week’s Torah portion involving Abraham and Sarah, and their encounter with Abimelech, King of the Philistines, Rabbi Ron Symons mercilessly condemns Abraham as being patriarchal, misogynistic and deserving of being called out by the #MeToo movement. He blasts Abraham and Sarah as behaving in a despicable manner for sharing “fake news” and boldly declares that G-d was outright wrong as he appeared in Abimelech’s dream.

Yet, somehow, in Rabbi Symons’ view, Abimelech, who initiated the entire incident by having Sarah abducted and brought against her will to his palace, was the victim. As we all know by now, or should know, one who achieves the status of “victimhood” can do no wrong and his alleged “oppressors” can do no right. Thus, in Rabbi Symons’ portrayal, Abimelech is both the battered victim and righteous hero, while G-d, Abraham and Sarah become prime candidates for the basket of deplorables. An unusual twist indeed.

Rabbi Symons rightfully maintains that it is critical to be able to see the other side’s position with an open and honest understanding of all the facts. Sometimes that open and honest understanding, however, can be subconsciously tainted by an ideologically driven mindset, in which inconvenient facts are minimized or ignored. “My side” has all the truth and the “other side” is “outright wrong” and “despicable.” Alleged victims become impervious to any challenge or criticism. Their wrongdoing is justified or ignored. They are victims after all. You can’t expect any better. Not only is this a condescending approach. It is not particularly helpful to the “victim.”

At the end of the narrative, Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham. Abraham blessed Abimelech. Abimelech gave Abraham abundant gifts and Abraham and Abimelech signed a peace treaty (presumably with full normalization). Everyone seemed to be able to let go and forgive. A lesson for all of us.

Reuven Hoch
Pittsburgh

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