Remembering the Great Rabbi and Psychiatrist Abraham Twerski

Feb. 15 2021

Among those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus since the year began was Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, the scion of a major ḥasidic dynasty, the author of some 80 books, and a psychiatrist who ran a world-famous addiction clinic. Twerski, who died in Jerusalem at the age of ninety, developed a particular worldview that drew on impressive knowledge of the Jewish tradition, the practical wisdom of the twelve-step program, and the simple life lessons of the comic strip Peanuts. But Twerski’s path was not an easy or foreordained one, note Edward Reichman and Menachem Butler, pointing to his correspondence with the renowned Israeli halakhic authority Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, in which he sought advice about whether to pursue a career as a physician. In 1959, Twerski’s graduation from medical school was the subject of a short profile in Time magazine, which Reichman and Butler have uncovered:

Twerski is a Jewish rabbi like his father, two uncles, father-in-law, two older brothers, and (when they finish their studies) two younger twin brothers. And to keep the Torah as an Orthodox Jew for six years of studies in Milwaukee’s Roman Catholic Marquette University was something like running a sack race, an egg race, and an army obstacle course at the same time.

First there was the problem of keeping his religion from growing rusty: he rose each day at 5:30am, put in an hour’s study of the Talmud before [the] early service at Milwaukee’s Beth Jehuda Synagogue, where he is assistant rabbi. Medical-school classes began at 8am, and here real complications set in. His full black beard was a sanitary problem in surgery, requiring special snood-like surgical masks. His tallit katan, a small prayer shawl worn by many Orthodox Jews under their shirts, had to be made of cotton instead of wool—which might set off a static spark and ignite the anesthetic in an operating room. Religious holidays sometimes required months of advance planning.

In the midst of his studies, Twerski found himself unable to keep up with tuition payments, when administrators at Marquette mentioned his case to the Catholic comedian Danny Thomas—then at the height of his television career. Thomas put forward $4,000 to cover Twerski’s tuition.

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Read more at Seforim

More about: Addiction, Coronavirus, Judaism, Medicine

 

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank