A Tzadik In Our Midst

Dear Editor:

The Mishnah tells us in Avos 1:6 that one should acquire a chaver. I once heard Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld zt”l explain that when you learn Torah together with a chavrusa or go to shiurim with a chavrusa, you acquire a friend in a much more profound manner than someone you get together with for a weekly card game. When I think of my chavrusa and chaver b’dei’os for close to 30 years, Rabbi David Keehn z”l, Rabbi Schonfeld’s explanation becomes clear.

I first met Rabbi David Keehn z”l in the mid-1990s, when we both davened at Congregation Ahavas Yisrael. Following davening, we learned Minchas Chinuch on Shabbos morning with Rabbi Zev Maybruch. Our chaburah expanded to include Steve Weissman and moved to Thursday nights. R’ David was devoted to the chaburah. He always either was at the chaburah, even if at times he came late because of his chaplain responsibilities, or he would call in from the hospital, but he always contributed great explanations and comments to the chaburah that always clarified what we were learning.

Following the chaburah, I often drove him back to the hospital. On some Thursday nights, we stood on the corner of Jewel Avenue and Main Street. We would discuss a wide range of issues including Torah, politics, and sports. R’ David was so proud of and always shared updates with me about his children.

R’ David had tremendous hakaras ha’tov to his rebbeim, especially Rav Mordechai Willig of RIETS.

For many years, he would go to YU’s Beis Medrash for the wonderful tefilos there either on Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur.

In later years, he stayed home so he could daven with his son Avraham Tzvi. During the break, R’ David and I would learn from the sefer Har’rei Kedem.

The Gemara in Moed Katan 22b tells us that when a talmid chacham is niftar, the beis midrash in which he learned engages in aveilus. We should all mourn and reflect on our z’chus to have had Rabbi David Keehn z”l in our midst.

Steve Brizel

Dear Editor:

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said a review found that Unilever and its subsidiary “engaged in BDS activities.” (Jerusalem Post, 10/29/21).

New York now joins Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, and Florida in restricting its holdings in Unilever in response to Ben and Jerry’s de facto boycott of Israel (Israel’s anti-discrimination laws prevent discrimination based on geographical location in addition to race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) According to DiNapoli’s spokesman, the New York State Common Retirement Fund has a total Unilever equity of $111 million and is the third largest US public pension fund.

Please keep up the pressure on Unilever! Call Unilever at 800-298-5018 or 407-734-3032.

Silence is not an option. 

Lynne Bursky-Tammam and Nessim Tammam
Yom HaShoah Mobilization Committee

The End Of Vehicle
Modification Nears

Dear Editor:

I have some wonderful news to report. Many of our neighbors have complained of noise disturbances from the exhaust pipes of manipulated vehicles. Drag racers and other motorists who tamper with their vehicle mufflers and exhaust systems have taken over the streets and often wake up families in the early morning hours.

This past week, Governor Hochul signed the SLEEP (Stop Loud & Excessive Exhaust Pollution) Act. The SLEEP Act bans the sale of devices that make vehicles louder and increases the fine against motorists and repairs shops that modify these vehicles.

This is a perfect measure to combat the uptick in excessively loud vehicles disturbing our community, and this new law provides a way to stop these souped-up vehicles right in their tracks. This is a remarkable quality of life law protecting frightened and frustrated neighbors. The law institutes a suspension of an inspection station’s operating license upon a third or subsequent willful violation. The Act also increases the maximum fine for after-market modifications to vehicles and violations from $150 to $1,000.

Next, I urge legislators to fight reckless driving in parking lots. I have seen the extreme driving exhibitions in various parking lots in Fresh Meadows and Cunningham Park. I have been told similar issues persist in the Whitestone and College Point neighborhoods.

Shabsie Saphirstein


Vaccine Mandates and Businesses:
A Philosophical Perspective

Dear Editor:

There seems to be a growing division among conservatives with respect to vaccine mandates. Some of the leading voices within the conservative movement have been adamantly opposed to such mandates, while others have refrained from blocking them. If I had to choose at least two conservatives who have been at the forefront of both sides of the debate, I’d probably choose Governors Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) and Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota), since they are prominent and well-known conservatives – and their respective approaches to vaccine mandates could not be more different.

DeSantis argues that the rights of workers are being violated, since they would be essentially compelled to get the vaccine against their will. Noem argues that the rights of businesses are being violated, since they have the right to mandate vaccines for their workers, and the government should not be dictating to employers how to run their own business.

The question, therefore, presents itself: Whose position is correct? Whose rights are actually being violated? Is it the employees’ or the employers’? To answer this question, we need to understand the fundamentals of what constitutes a legitimate right and what does not.

In short order, there are two types of rights or liberties: negative rights and positive rights. In his famous essay The Law, French philosopher and economist Frederic Bastiat describes negative rights as follows: “When law and force keep a person within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing but a mere negation. They oblige him only to abstain from harming others. They violate neither his [life], his liberty, nor his property. They safeguard all of these. They are defensive; they defend equally the rights of all.”

The rights outlined in the Bill of Rights, for example, are all negative. The right to free speech requires the other party to merely refrain from interfering with a person’s speech. The right to the free exercise of religion simply requires the other party to refrain from interfering with a person’s exercise of religion. The right to keep and bear arms requires the other party to merely refrain from interfering with a person’s right to self-defense. In all of these instances, all that is required is passivity and inaction. Nobody is compelled to take any action against his will, and nobody’s life, liberty, or property have been violated either.

Now contrast this with positive rights. Positive rights necessitate action and require an individual to provide certain goods and services to others, such as healthcare and medical services, jobs, wages, and so on. They basically provide the right holder with a claim against another person’s life, labor, or property. Declaring healthcare a “right,” for example, clearly violates the private property rights of doctors and nurses, essentially compelling them to provide goods and services without their consent. Declaring housing a “right” violates the private property rights of property owners, construction crews, engineers, plumbers, roofers, carpenters, and a host of other occupations whose labor is required to build a house. They are all being compelled to action, to provide their labor against their will.

As Bastiat further explains (ibid.), “But when the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or creed – then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people…[and] they lose their [life], their liberty, their property. Try to imagine a regulation of labor imposed by force that is not a violation of liberty, a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of property. If you cannot reconcile these contradictions, then you must conclude that the law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice.”

Now that we’ve outlined the fundamental differences between negative and positive rights, let us consider two scenarios with regard to vaccine mandates and determine whose rights are really being violated.

The government prevents a business from imposing vaccine mandates. In this scenario, the preventing of such a measure imposes “nothing but a mere negation.” It requires that the business simply abstain from compelling its workers to get vaccinated. It requires neither the business nor its employees to take any action whatsoever, and does not impose upon their life, liberty, or property. Far from violating the rights of businesses, it is the government that is protecting workers from being compelled by their employers to take a certain action without their consent. As such, this is a legitimate exercise of government authority, and the rights of workers have been protected.

The government allows a business to impose vaccine mandates. In this scenario, the law no longer acts negatively but positively upon its workers. It necessitates action on their part and compels them to get vaccinated against their will. It violates their very person, their very life – and their medical freedom. The imposition of vaccine mandates by employers, therefore, is a clear violation of the rights of its workers.

In light of the above, and taken all together, I believe that our opposition to vaccine mandates now has a solid philosophical and rational basis that can withstand the scrutiny and strong criticisms it will no doubt invite.

Rafi Metz


House Speaker Pelosi’s
$1.85 Trillion Build Back
America Act Bill

Dear Editor:

House Speaker Pelosi could learn much from the late Idaho Republican Senator James A. McClure. For 18 years, he read every word of every bill before voting on it. How many members of Congress have read all 1,684 pages contained in the $1.85 trillion plus legislation for funding the House Build Back America Bill. It was just released on Thursday, October 28. Millions of Americans take the time to read all the fine print before taking out a loan or mortgage. Shouldn’t members of Congress do the same? Why the rush to vote on the part of the President and Pelosi?

The result will end up increasing our national debt by hundreds of billions more, as many of the anticipated spending offsets and future revenue sources to pay for this bill may never come to fruition. Any spending provisions that sunset after several years versus the full authorization period will never happen. Have you ever heard of Congress not extending any entitlement program once enacted?

Larry Penner


Dear Editor:

I want to thank you and Goldy Krantz for her last few articles. How she told the guy who thought his friend violated “bro code” that he was out of line and selfish – I liked that she didn’t hold back. I had far more to say to him if it was me, but her answer was on the money.

How she was able to give chizuk and ideas to the girl that hasn’t gone out on a date in months. Goldy herself said that she went through that phase, too. So she spoke from experience.

And finally last week, how she advised the fiancée to “Stand By Her Man” and offer support. This isn’t a time to wonder where the go-getter and hustler you love went because you can’t stand the depressed and take-time-as-it-comes type of person he has become from his job loss. The fiancé’s professional world has come crashing down. His change of mood after a period of time not being able to find a job is understandable. The woman should know that you can’t be happy and upbeat all the time; life has ups and downs. Now is a down part for her fiancé, and she has to be there for him until he finds a job and his go-getter attitude returns.

Sara Goldberger