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Published by outdash2

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Published by: outdash2 on Jun 27, 2013
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06/27/2013

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A Letter to a Moscow Terminal
Dear Mr. Snowden,Let me begin by saying that there are some concerns that we share. The pride of  place which individual privacy assumes in your values system is something that, to agreat extent, resonates with me. In last week’s Torah portion, the Aramean prophetBalaam volitionally blesses the Jewish people for maintaining high standards of modestyand respect for privacy, despite the inherent challenges which desert living obviously posed to these values. Our Sages assigned a portion from the prophets for the weeklyreading which concludes with celebration of the cardinal place which respect for personal privacy plays in Judaism, ‘and you should walk modestly with your God.’ As a matter of fact, the controlling issue in the opening chapter of Tractate Bava Batra deals preciselywith this issue,
hezek re’iyah
, literally, a tort which is caused by constructing one’s homein such a manner such as to enable observation of one’s neighbor.Reasonable and patriotic people will disagree as to both the tactical benefit aswell as the general prudence, when one weighs the security benefit against the FourthAmendment cost, of the National Security Agency program that you disclosed.Furthermore, even if one enthusiastically supports the program, one can still object to thesecrecy in which it has been shrouded from the general public. In any case, I admire, onsome level, your apparent zeal for the sanctity of the personal sphere.Many, including the Secretary of State, have noted the bitter irony raised by your flight to territory controlled by the so called People’s Republic of China, andsubsequently, to the Russian Federation. One who believes that those governments aredoing more to preserve the sanctity of the individual sphere is either profoundly biased or deeply delusional. Yet, it is not even the evident hypocrisy of your actions that bother memost, but what I perceive as a lack of integrity.In this week’s Torah portion, the Jewish people are counted for the second time inthe desert. The book of Numbers opens with a census of the Jewish people taken duringthe first year of the sojourn in the desert, and now, in the fortieth year, the next generationis counted. Our Sages explain that God entrusted Moshe as shepherd of His beloved people. When He turned the people over to Moses’ watch, he did so with a firm count, tothe last man, and Moses, who has only recently been informed that he is being replacedas the leader, wishes to hand the proverbial keys back to the Almighty with a firm count,through which he could account for every man.There is deep integrity here. If you think that you were a disgruntled employee,think about Moses. He was essentially being fired after a tireless and often thanklessfour-decade stretch, and yet he feels a deep sense of obligation to his position. He is notin the least happy with the Almighty’s chosen policy, but that does not stop him fromexecuting his position with a profound sense of integrity. Not only does he account for every person, but he issues a special prayer to the Almighty to appoint a capablereplacement, so that his beloved flock shall not be ‘as sheep without a shepherd.’When one assumes a position, and takes an oath for that position, as you did, thereis a sacred responsibility to your community that is engendered- no less sacred or cherished a value than the sanctity of the individual sphere which you privilege. Iconcede that every value has its limits; I know full well that the generals of the

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