Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
This is what Shakespeare wrote - but it is not in accord with Jewish tradition. We see this in connection with the Pharaoh of the Exodus from Egypt.
[For those interested in ancient Egyptian history, this Pharaoh was thought to be Merneptah (or Meremptah). He was the 13th son of Ramses II, the Pharaoh who began the policy of oppression against the Jews and even commanded genocide of all Jewish boys born in Egypt. Merneptah continued the policy of his father and as a consequence had to bear the brunt of the ten plagues and witness the Exodus from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea.]
Pharaoh Merneptah’s criminal actions against the Jewish people are well known. Yet this Pharaoh did a good act by according the Jews honour when they left Egypt. For this good act, he merited the inclusion in the Torah of the commandment: “You shall not abhor an Egyptian.” Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman, who was one of the leading teachers of Jewish ethics in the early part of the 20th century, learned from this that the Torah teaches us that even “the minutest fraction of good in a person is never lost, even amid infinitely more and greater portions of absolute evil.”
I have related the above, since the good acts - and there are a countless number - of Baruch Goldstein’s are today only mentioned by his friends. Even if it were to be determined that Baruch Goldstein was guilty of a massacre, according to Jewish tradition his good acts performed during his lifetime are never eradicated.
It is however very unfortunate that many people want to associate the name of Baruch Goldstein solely with evil and cast his good deeds from off the face of the earth.
The religious and lay leaders of Kiryat Arba were so fully aware of his numerous good deeds, that on Purim 1994 - the day he died - a letter, on official Local Council note-paper, signed by Rabbi Dov Lior - Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Tzvi Katzover - Mayor of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Eliezer Waldman - Dean of Kiryat Arba Yeshivah, and Rabbi Moshe Levinger - Founder of Kiryat Arba-Hebron Settlement, was distributed to all the houses in Kiryat Arba. The letter recalled how Baruch Goldstein had devoted his life to the saving of other lives, particularly during the last few months when there had been numerous terror attacks.
He was so modest in his activities that even I, his neighbour, did not know of most of these good deeds until after his death. I shall mention just a few of them as examples.
His devotion to duty as a medical doctor was phenomenal. His walkie-talkie would be beside him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even when he was in the Synagogue the walkie-talkie was on the table next to him. I remember one year during the service on Yom Kippur, he was suddenly called on his walkie-talkie for an emergency in Hebron. He was rushed to the place and after administering the medical treatment walked back up to the Synagogue - walked, since the emergency had by then passed and it was forbidden for him to ride. At night he would sleep in sweatpants to save time in dressing in case he was called for an emergency.
The medical treatment administered by Baruch Goldstein was discussed during the sessions of the Shamgar Commission. On the basis of a rumour which some of the members of the Commission had obviously heard, several of the witnesses were asked whether it was true that Dr. Goldstein refused to give medical treatment to a wounded Arab. Not one of the witnesses could confirm such a statement, (although some had also heard such a rumour). On the contrary, many witnesses said that he would give medical treatment to Jews and Arabs alike. Moshe Givati, the former Brigade Commander in Hebron, told the Commission how Dr. Goldstein together with his medical team would give medical treatment to wounded Arabs, and to Arabs injured in traffic accidents, and that he himself had personally witnessed this on a number of occasions.
Evidence of his treating Jew and Arab alike was also given by Colonel Dr. Aryeh Eldad, Medical Officer of Central Command, by Major Nachman Ash, Medical Officer of Judea and Samaria Division and by Moti Unger, the night Security Officer of the Kiryat Arba Local Council.
One should mention here that in the “Baruch Ha-Gever” trial (described later), Ben-Chorin wanted to bring as a witness Dr. Aryeh Eldad to testify that Baruch Goldstein administered medical treatment to Arabs but the judge refused to allow this witness to testify. However, another witness at this trial, Akiva London, who had held many public positions since 1980 in settlements south of Hebron, did testify to this fact in the course of his evidence.
The witness Superintendent Uri Weisskop, acting Commander of the Hebron Police Station, pointed out to the Shamgar Commission that he had not come across a case of Dr. Goldstein refusing to give medical treatment to a wounded Arab. Furthermore, his Certificate of Discharge after his compulsory military service describes him as “devoted, efficient, diligent, enterprising, thorough, disciplined, and expert in his profession,” without the slightest hint of his withholding medical treatment from anyone!
When however the Shamgar Commission came to write its Report, they quoted an unconfirmed newspaper article which mentioned his refusal, whilst serving in the army, to give treatment to an Arab terrorist, yet, with only one exception, completely ignored all the occasions when he gave medical treatment to Arabs.
In recognition of his very highly dedicated medical work, Dr. Baruch Goldstein received two citations from the army in the autumn of 1993. In January 1994, Major Dr. Yitzhak Ashkenazi, the Local Medical Officer of the District of Judea and Samaria, recommended him for promotion to the rank of Major on the following Independence Day. Included in this letter of recommendation was that Dr. Goldstein administers First Aid “with dedication, without monetary award, worthy of the highest of praise... If there is an officer in the District of Judea and Samaria worthy of promotion in rank, it is without doubt Dr. Baruch Goldstein.”
An army spokesman categorically denied that there was such a recommendation. Very strange indeed! I myself have a photocopy of it in my possession. [At a later date it was brought as an Exhibit before the Shamgar Commission. ]
Baruch Goldstein’s good deeds were not limited to his medical treatment. As an example I shall quote the case of Nahum Frith of Kiryat Arba who was born brain damaged. Baruch Goldstein, despite his heavy schedule, would sit with him once or even twice a week and teach him Torah using simple pictures.
The final example I will give from my own personal experience. On Rosh Hashanah, Baruch Goldstein would blow the Shofar in the Synagogue and I would, as is customary, call out the notes to be blown on the Shofar. I have, over the course of the years, called out the notes for a number of Shofar blowers. Only in one case has the Shofar blower come to me and said that I should not be embarrassed to let him know if there was something not in order with his blowing. The exceptional Shofar blower was Baruch Goldstein.
On another occasion he had difficulties with the blowing. After the service I assured him that every Shofar blower sometimes has difficulties. I do not remember the exact words of his answer but the content was that these situations are good for a person since they lower his pride!
In conclusion let me quote from a letter to the “Jerusalem Post” dated 28 February 1995 by Moshe Nulman from Ra’anana. After condemning and deploring “the killing of innocents,” Nulman concluded his letter: “I suggest that we remember Dr. Goldstein for the man he was prior to Purim of 1994 instead of distracting the public by dehumanizing Baruch Goldstein.”