To the Editor:

At the end of "The Shylock Within" (Arts, May 30), William Triplett quotes an irresponsible and false statement by Hal Holbrook, and then seems to endorse it with the words "Implacably so," playing on a comment of Holbrook quoted earlier in the article.

Delighting in Shylock's fierce resolve to oppose injustice, Holbrook states, "He is sinning, and he will never be forgiven. Because in the Jewish religion there is no forgiveness! So this sweet little speech about 'the quality of mercy' is pure hypocrisy as far as he's concerned! There is no mercy! There is only retribution." Without comment, The Post thus repeats one of the oldest canards about Judaism: that it is a religion of strict and harsh justice while Christianity reaches out to the sinner with mercy and forgiveness. Both the Israelite religion of the Hebrew Bible and the Judaism that emerged from it are, indeed, suffused with profoundly developed concepts of justice and mercy. Suffice it to note that the Jewish liturgy identifies God three times daily as "the one who welcomes repentance," and that 25 hours of Yom Kippur are predicated on an abundantly merciful God.

Historically, much animosity toward Jews and Judaism has resulted from precisely the misperception presented by Holbrook, and Triplett's handling of it invites your readers to accept falsehood as fact.

NATAN M. MEIR

Washington

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