Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 307

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Ask the Rabbi

March 17, 2001 / 22 Adar 5761; Issue #307



Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

As a Jew and IBM employee, I feel very uncomfortable about the recent revelations about IBM's involvement in supplying computer equipment to the Nazi regime. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about it. What are your views on this? Thanks.

(If you publish this, please do not use my name.)

Dear Name@Withheld,

I think this is more a matter of feeling and sensitivity than a matter of Halacha. I can't tell you how to feel; I can only tell you how I feel.

I personally do not find the idea of working for IBM to be reprehensible. If you scratch the surface of a myriad of different companies that were in business during the Second World War, I have no doubt you will find many that had connections to the Nazi regime. Also, even if you were to leave IBM and go work for Microsoft, for example, established years after the war, the company itself is based on IBM technological know-how. Where do you draw the line?

I feel the same approach applies to buying German goods. Some wonder, "After the holocaust, how can a Jew buy German goods?" I understand this sentiment, but if so, we shouldn't buy Spanish goods either, or goods from any country where anti-Semitic atrocities were public policy. (That doesn't leave too many countries!)

I took my family to Disneyland a few years ago and we had a wonderful time, even though Walt Disney himself was an avowed anti-Semite and did not hire Jews or blacks. Today, of course this is not the case, and even the CEO of Disney is Jewish.

Wuzzy Jewish?

Joe Mezrahi wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

In your Purim e-mail you indicated that Esther "brought Darius up to be favorable to the Jews." Wasn't he in fact Jewish himself, being that his mother was Jewish? Isn't it fair to assume that Esther brought him up as a Jew, taught him the mitzvot, gave him a brit milah, etc?

Dear Joe Mezrahi,

Yes, if Esther was his mother, then that would make Darius Jewish. Certainly, too, we can assume that Esther would have done all she could to raise him as a Jew.

But I imagine that King Achashverosh had a great deal to say about the upbringing of his beloved son, the future heir to his throne. Esther may not have been allowed to apply her influence.

And let's not forget one of the great principles of Judaism: People have free will. Even Yitzchak had a wicked son, Esav. Esav, despite his exceptional upbringing at the hands of two of the world's greatest tzaddikim, was the worst of the worst. Why? Because he chose to be so. So too, perhaps Darius, despite whatever Esther may have taught him, fell prey to the lures and difficult temptations of being the world's emperor.

The Public Domain
Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.


Re: JEWISH LITE (Ask the Rabbi #300):

Your answer to the young man who asked if his partial observance of Judaism had any merit was the most beautiful, sensitive, positive response I have ever seen to this issue. I wish that all Jews would be able to read this letter, as it epitomizes the positive attitude and inclusive, welcoming approach we should have towards all Jews.

I get so much out of your column -- with the hundreds of emails we get every day, yours is one of the few things I actually read when it comes in, and it's always rewarding.

Adina Sherer

Re: TWO HAFTAROT IN A ROW (Ask the Rabbi #306):

A recent Yiddle Riddle cited a case of the same haftara read two weeks in a row. There is another instance: When Acharei Mot and Kedoshim are separate and neither is a special Shabbat, the custom of some old time Jerusalem synagogues is to read the same haftara (Amos 9) on both weeks.

Tzvi Goldman

Re: THE LOST MEGILLAH (Ask the Rabbi #306):

In response to my recent appeal for help locating the owners of the lost "megillah," replies from all over the world helped get the megillah back to David B.'s family in time for Purim. They were very appreciative to get back this family heirloom. Who is like the Jewish People! That total strangers take time out of their busy schedules for the mitzvah of returning a lost object...what a merit for you all.

Rachael Shields

Written by various Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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