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Pharisees

In response to:

Dishonorably Discharged from the October 27, 1983 issue

To the Editors:

I want to commend you and Murray Kempton for an excellent review of The Rosenberg File by Radosh and Milton [NYR, October 27]. It seems that finally we have a book that goes straight to the heart of many of the controversial issues surrounding the trial.

There is, however, one disturbing element of Mr. Kempton’s review. In his use of the term “Pharisee,” he seems to be more influenced by the anti-Jewish use of the term in the Christian New Testament than by its actual meaning. While the Gospels use the term as a reproach, in actuality the term describes that group of Jews to whom modern Judaism owes virtually its entire existence. Virtually all of the humanitarian, ethical and moral values of modern Judaism were either originated or developed by the Pharisees, the majority element in Israel at the time of Jesus. Indeed, many highly respected scholars believe that Jesus himself was a Pharisee of one inclination or another. In any event, it would behoove a writer of Mr. Kempton’s stature, as well as a magazine of yours, to be more exact and less derogatory in their use of terms.

Rabbi Richard J. Shapiro

Congregation Emanuel

Denver, Colorado

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