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2018-02-09 digital edition
TODAY in the Jewish World:

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February 9, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Respect needs to be earned

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Rabbi Josh Hearshen (Rabbinically Speaking, Jan. 12) asks that we not merely “tolerate” members of the Jewish denominations, heterosexuals and homosexuals, Muslims, Christians, “or any other religion.” (He doesn’t say how he feels about agnostics and atheists.) Rather, we should “respect” them.

But respect is something we can give only to individuals, and it is something that has to be earned. I respect people because of their accomplishments or the way they treat others.

We shouldn’t denigrate toleration. The world could use a great deal more of it, particularly college and university students and their professors.

I wish Rabbi Hearshen would tell us why we should automatically respect someone merely because he or she believes in a religion whose founder murdered around 600 Jews for refusing to give up their religion. The massacre of the (Jewish) Banu Qurayza tribe in Arabia raises a question about the limits of toleration. Should we tolerate those who are unwilling to tolerate others?

Substituting respect for tolerance gives a carte blanche to groups, or to their spokespersons, to define respectable behavior. Their definition may not be compatible with our rights to freedom of expression.

Jeff Lipkes
Wesley Chapel

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