For the previous Parts of a Bridge to Somewhere click here.

-- 100 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: March 24, 2008

Dear Dr. Grinberg,

Thank you for your email.

Regarding your comments about my article on Fundamentalist Pluralism, when I use the word "truths" I mean anything that someone feels is true. When I express an idea to you that I feel is true and that you disagree with, you may respond either by showing me why I am mistaken, or why I cannot be sure about my assumption or that you simply don't care to comment.... But to answer that "everyone has a right to his or her opinion and therefore what I say is not absolutely true", is, in my opinion, an abuse of the concept of Pluralism. To say that we all have a right to express an opinion is not the same as saying that we are all right... I prefer that someone tell me that he doesn't care to argue rather than saying that there is nothing to argue about...

The reasons why this bothers me are: 1) from a purely intellectual and academic point of view I find it to be extremely nerve wracking when either party does not have the chance to either prove the validity of an idea or to be shown why it is mistaken; 2) from the point of view of social responsibility, not allowing one to show why one thinks he is right or to be corrected if he is wrong,, affects not only the personal life of the particular individual that is making the mistake but the wellbeing of all of us, because as members of the same People, we are all interconnected and what anyone does right or wrong affects all of us.

I can accept someone not wanting things imposed on him when it goes against his personal preferences. But if someone claims to be so open-minded and freethinking, why would he not want to hear ideas with which he does not agree? This leads me to suspect that his "pluralism" is not a result of his open-mindedness as he would like to believe, but rather it is a shield behind which he hides his own personal or intellectual laziness.

Again, my intention is not to judge or condemn the actors (because I believe that most of them are not even aware of the implications of their attitudes...), but the acts and attitudes themselves...

Regards,

Eliezer


-- 101 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: March 31, 2008

Dear Eliezer:

Yesterday I met with Rabbi Silberstein who gave me regards from you, for which I thank you.

Regarding your last mail, all I can say is that you are mean when you get angry… :) You defend your beliefs very passionately.

In any case, I think that it is valid and valuable to express what one believes to be true. Now, as far as religion is concerned, I think that it is extremely difficult to establish a universal truth. Don't forget that even the Orthodox and Conservative versions of the very same Jewish religion have yet to come to terms (something that, were it to happen, would be, I believe, extremely positive for the Jewish people).

So, if it is so difficult to accomplish within Judaism, what can we expect regarding other religions? Can the Truth of the Torah be established as superior to that of Christianity, for example? Or Buddhism or Islam, etc.? Can someone who believes in Christianity or in Allah, be convinced that the Torah is the Truth?

Of course everything is possible, but... For example: Islam claims to be the universal truth; those who do not believe in Allah or Mohammed are infidels (and they are even ready to "convince" everyone through force and terrorism).

Changing the subject, when I accompanied my daughter and son-in-law during the sheva brochos, a conversation regarding the suffering of the Jewish People came up that I wanted to share with you. When I asked why the Jewish People has suffered so, (the question was directed to an individual who dedicates his time to Torah study) in Egypt, the Inquisition, Pogroms, the Holocaust, Iran and now perhaps Chavez, etc., he replied that it was like a "spanking that a father gives his child in order to make sure that he follow the correct path". I answered him that these weren't mere "spankings"; they were severe beatings that He has been giving us all throughout history, and that it represented much pain, death and suffering... He stared at me and said, "The truth is that I do not know G‑d's motives." In other words, we reach a point where there is no explanation: neither for the one who has studied the Torah nor for me, who doesn't even know much about it.

In fact, when I put on Tefillin—I try to do it not merely as a mechanical act. I think about some of the things we have discussed, and sometimes these questions and doubts arise… I don't know if I am doing the right thing...

Regards,

Mario


-- 102 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: April 1, 2008

Dear Eliezer:

Yesterday I met with Rabbi Silberstein who gave me regards from you, for which I thank you.

--- I admire him very much.

Regarding your last mail, all I can say is that you are mean when you get angry… :) You defend your beliefs very passionately.

--- What makes you say that?

In any case, I think that it is valid and valuable to express what one believes to be true. Now, as far as religion is concerned, I think that it is extremely difficult to establish a universal truth. Don't forget that even the Orthodox and Conservative versions of the very same Jewish religion have yet to come to terms (something that, were it to happen, would be, I believe, extremely positive for the Jewish people).

So, if it is so difficult to accomplish within Judaism, what can we expect regarding other religions? Can the Truth of the Torah be established as superior to that of Christianity, for example? Or Buddhism or Islam, etc.? Can someone who believes in Christianity or in Allah, be convinced that the Torah is the Truth?

--- Slowly but surely it is being accomplished. Moshiach will be the one to succeed in bringing the whole world to the recognition that the Torah is the Truth.

Of course everything is possible, but... For example: Islam claims to be the universal truth; those who do not believe in Allah or Mohammed are infidels (and they are even ready to "convince" through force and terrorism).

--- I think that when one believes in a wrong "truth", one is much closer to finding the real truth than the one who doesn't believe that the Truth exists at all.... One who has a mistaken passion can channel it for good; one who has no passion for anything has nothing to channel towards any direction...

Changing the subject, when I accompanied my daughter and son-in-law during the sheva brochos, a conversation regarding the suffering of the Jewish People came up that I wanted to share with you. When I asked why the Jewish People has suffered so, (the question was directed to an individual who dedicates his time to Torah study) in Egypt, Inquisition, Pogroms, Holocaust, Iran and now perhaps Chavez, etc., he replied that it was like a "spanking that a father gives his child in order to make sure that he follows the correct path". I answered him that these weren't mere "spankings"; they were severe beatings that He has been giving us all throughout history, and that it represented much pain, death and suffering... He stared at me and said, "The truth is that I do not know G‑d's motives." In other words, we reach a point where there is no explanation: neither for the one who has studied the Torah nor for me, who doesn't even know much about it.

--- It is true that we cannot fathom G‑d's ways. Nevertheless, I think that although one may consider the lack of an answer as a fault, it may also be considered a virtue—namely, recognizing the limits of the human intellect as an acceptance of a truth.

In fact, when I put on Tefillin—I try to do it not merely as a mechanical act. I think about some of the things we have discussed, and sometimes these questions and doubts arise… I don't know if I am doing the right thing...

--- That's perfectly alright. The underlying concept of Tefillin is to connect one's thoughts and feelings to G‑d. In order to do so, one must first explore and define what those thoughts and feelings are...

Regards,

--- Ditto. :)


-- 103 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: April 9, 2008

Dear Eliezer:

How've you been?

I would like to tell you that I loaned the book Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her? to a couple that has a son who has been dating a non-Jewish girl for the past three years. I thought it important to have the parents read the book first and then decide if it would be a good idea to show it to their son. Personally, I feel that it would have been very useful for me had I read it before my children married.

By the way, can the book be purchased in Argentina?

Did you publish your article on Fundamentalist Pluralism? Any reactions?

Best regards, Eliezer.

Mario


-- 104 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: April 9, 2008

Kicking off the BBQ with a kosher steak.
Kicking off the BBQ with a kosher steak.

Dear Eliezer:

How've you been?

--- Thank G‑d. Extremely busy.

This coming Sunday, Uruguay will be organizing the Biggest BBQ in the World which will hopefully make it to the Guinness Book of World Records.

We will be there, G‑d willing, with Kosher meat…

I would like to tell you that I loaned the book Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her? to a couple that has a son who has been dating a non-Jewish girl for the past three years. I thought it important to have the parents read the book first and then decide if it would be a good idea to show it to their son. Personally, I feel that it would have been very useful for me had I read it before my children married.

--- "Should have", "would have", "could have" are all speculations… If things are the way they are it's because that's the way G‑d wants them to be… The challenge now is what to do with the reality G‑d gave us…

By the way, can the book be purchased in Argentina?

--- Yes. At Editorial Kehot. www.kehot .com

Did you publish your article on Fundamentalist Pluralism? Any reactions?

--- I haven't published it yet… Getting there…

Best regards, Eliezer

--- Ditto. What are your plans for the upcoming Seders?

Mario.


-- 105 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: April 14, 2008

Dear Eliezer,

Thank you for your reply.

How did the BBQ turn out? Did you make it into Guinness? Who organized it?

We will celebrate the first Seder with my cousin Chaim (you met him at my daughter's wedding) and the second will be celebrated at home.

I wish you and your family a happy Passover.

Regards.

Mario


-- 106 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Uruguay beats the Guinness World Record today for the biggest BBQ in the world, with a grill measuring 1.5 kilometers long

12,000 kilograms of meat were roasted by 1,200 chefs on a grill that measured 1.5 kilometers built in the form of a star. The meat was consumed by 20,000 participants at the event that overflowed the Rural del Prado park of Montevideo

The goal of the event was to promote the quality of Uruguayan meat. Uruguay is one of the world's most important meat exporters, and the National Meat Institute saw this event as a means to draw world attention to its meat industry.

What does this have to do with Chabad?

To begin with, Uruguay is also one of the biggest exporters of kosher meat. According to official statistics, in 2007 Uruguay exported more than 157,000 kilograms of kosher meat to the USA and some 10,800,000 kilograms.of kosher meat to Israel. It has also exported kosher meat to China and Russia.

Being that Uruguay provides so much meat to the kosher market, it was more than obvious that kosher meat would be present at the event.

The idea was suggested to Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov, director of Chabad of Uruguay, who saw this as a golden opportunity to promote and popularize Kashrut.

How do you roast kosher meat on a 1.5 kilometer non-kosher grill? Very simple: You use the grill before it becomes non-kosher. The brand new grill was built especially for the event and had never been used. Rabbi Shemtov, accompanied by Israeli Ambassador to Uruguay, His Excellency Mr. Yoel Barnea, and Rabbi Avraham Hager, one of the chief Rabbinical inspectors of kosher meat for the Israeli Rabbinate, placed the first kosher steak on the grill and they removed it shortly before the 12,000 kilograms of non-kosher meat were placed on the grill.

So, as a matter of fact, the whole event was actually kicked off by a kosher steak.

Beit Chabad was also given a stand at the fair in which Moshe Isakovitz managed a special, separate kosher grill during the entire event. Thousands of explanatory brochures were distributed to those who approached the stand for more information about the difference between kosher and non-kosher meat, and for a taste of kosher steak.

Many national and municipal authorities came by to visit the stand and were able to learn about kosher meat and have a taste of Uruguayan kosher steak, joining thereby the hundreds of thousands of families all over the world that will be enjoying Uruguayan kosher meat during the upcoming Passover celebrations.

Photo 1: Kicking off the BBQ with a kosher steak.

Photo 2: The Mayor of Montevideo, Mr. Ricardo Ehrlich, speaking with Rabbi Shemtov while enjoying kosher meat at Chabad's stand.

Photo 3. Moshe Isakovitz of Chuy managing the Kosher BBQ.


-- 107 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: April 15, 2008

Dear Eliezer:

Thank you for sending me the article and the pictures.

I congratulate you. It is a great way to publicize Kashrut and to explain what it means.

I understand that many non-Jewish families consume kosher meat because they consider it to be healthier and the sanitary controls more trustworthy.

You continue to surprise me. Besides, the Chef's hat looks very good on you. ;)

May you and your family a happy Passover.

Regards,

Mario


-- 108 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: April 15, 2008

:)

Ditto

Eliezer


-- 109 --

From: Dr. Mario Grinberg
To: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
Date: May 2, 2008

Dear Eliezer:

How are you and your family?

I watched the video clip you are preparing about the Holocaust. I think it is excellent.

It is a different and original perspective of the Shoah, where you commemorate the past but propose a way of strengthening the future in order to prevent the repetition of similar barbaric acts. The Mitzvot that you suggest as concrete actions that will help perpetuate and strengthen Judaism seem to be easy to do (I already do some of them—seems like I am not such a lost case, after all... :)

I wish you success with this project. I am sure you will succeed.

I don't think I fully understand your distinction between "discriminating between" and "discriminating against". I would like to understand what it is that you are trying to say.

I would like to share with you an exchange that I had recently at a Shabbat meal. A religious woman from Chabad told us about a relative of hers who was very ill, underwent a very complicated operation and was completely cured. "It was a miracle from G‑d," she said. Smiling, I suggested that the doctors should also get some of the credit, to which she replied: "Doctors are merely G‑d's instruments." I then said: "Fine. But what happens when things turn out badly and the patient doesn't make it, is the responsibility only the doctor's?" It was a relief to know that according to this view we could not be sued for malpractice... A very heated debate ensued amongst the guests. I limited myself to listening....What do you think?

How is your article about Fundamentalist Pluralism doing? Any developments?

Best regards,

Mario


-- 110 --

From: Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov
To: Dr. Mario Grinberg
Date: May 2, 2008

Dear Eliezer:

How are you and your family?

I watched the video clip you are preparing about the Holocaust. I think it is excellent.

---- Thanks.

It is a different and original perspective of the Shoah, where you commemorate the past but propose a way of strengthening the future in order to prevent the repetition of similar barbaric acts. The Mitzvot that you suggest as concrete actions that will help perpetuate and strengthen Judaism seem to be easy to do (I already do some of them... seems like I am not such a lost case, after all... :)

--- :)

I wish you success with this project. I am sure you will succeed.

I don't think I fully understand your distinction between "discriminating between" and "discriminating against". I would like to understand what it is that you are trying to say.

--- People are against "discrimination". But it is not the same to discriminate against as to discriminate between. When I discriminate (distinguish) between day and night that does not mean to say that I am discriminating against either one of them.

Moreover, those that do not know how to discriminate between end up discriminating against. For example: If I were to give milk to all of my children without discrimination and without realizing that one of them suffers from lactose intolerance, I would be discriminating against him or her.

The subject is obviously related to intermarriage. Distinguishing between a Jew and a non-Jew does not imply discrimination against either one of them, just understanding and respecting their individual needs.

I would like to share with you an exchange that I had at a Shabbat meal. A religious woman from Chabad told us about a relative of hers who was very ill, underwent a very complicated operation and was completely cured. "It was a miracle from G‑d," she said. Smiling, I suggested that the doctors should also get some of the credit, to which she replied: "Doctors are merely G‑d's instruments." I then said: "Fine. But what happens when things turn out badly and the patient doesn't make it, is the responsibility only the doctor's?" It was relief to know that according to this view we could not be sued for malpractice... A very heated debate ensued amongst the guests. I limited myself to listening....What do you think?

--- That you were smart to just listen...

:)

Seriously speaking, though, it is a very interesting subject…. After Shabbat I will try to answer you…

How is your article about Fundamentalist Pluralism doing? Any developments?

--- It was published in our magazine, Kesher.

http://www.jabad.org.uy/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/542219/jewish/Revista-KESHER.htm

There hasn't been much reaction, so far.

Best regards,

Mario

--- Ditto. Shabbat Shalom

Eliezer


-- 111 --

Date: May 30, 2008

CHAT

Mario: hi, Eliezer

Eliezer: hi!!!!

Long time, no speak!!

Mario: The truth is that I am not doing too well; somewhat depressed. A niece of mine had a miscarriage.

Eliezer: What month was she in?

Mario: 8 weeks.

Mario: Interesting how you experience things differently when it hits close to home.

Eliezer: True....

As a gynecologist you've been exposed to such losses more often than the rest of us.

Mario: I have had many patients in such circumstances, and they were later able to have children without any complications....

Eliezer: G‑d willing that will be true for your niece as well. For now, at least she knows she can conceive… It is a source of comfort within the pain.

Mario: It's true, but....

One must transcend the negative feelings, thinking that perhaps the pregnancy wasn't the way it should be.....

Eliezer: Of course...

Mario: And how are you?

Eliezer: Thank G‑d...

You can see a bit of how I am doing here:

www.amoresimposibles.org

Mario: Seems like the controversy you caused continues unabated. No?

Eliezer: Yes. Take a look at that page.

Mario: Do you realize the power that your convictions and opinions have?

Eliezer: What do you mean?

Mario: Obviously, if you generated such a storm it is because the subject is very important and your opinion is taken seriously, both by those who agree with it as well as those who don't. I already told you that I think it is a very positive occurrence.

I will check out your blog and then send you my comments.

Eliezer: okay

We'll be in touch

I hope that you will be able to overcome your pain...

Mario: greetings from one "genuine" Jew* to another..... :)

Eliezer: :)

*) Allusion to comments made by Argentinian community leader regarding "genuine" Jews.