May 28, 2020

KipaLive: Saleinu al Ketafeinu (video)







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May 27, 2020

2 day yomtov? Katan Aleinu!

People are excited, for good or for bad, about the rare-ish "2 day yomtov" here in Israel starting tomorrow night with Shvuos and ending Saturday night at the conclusion of Shabbos.

The truth is, a 2 day yomtov seems like no big deal right now, as since Corona began it has been something practically like a 75 day yomtov

2 day yomtov? Katan Aleinu!

Chag Sameach!




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Headlines Podcast: 5/30/20 - Show 274 - What should a person focus on in his learning, Shavous Torah from Reb Dovid Lichtenstein (audio)







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Interesting Psak: Do not buy imported cheeses, no matter the hechsher

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu was asked a question about buying imported cheeses that bear a hechsher and also says "mehadrin" along with the stamp of approval from the Chief Rabbinate.

The specific product is not mentioned, nor is the specific hechsher on the product mentioned, so presumably it makes no difference and the question asked is regarding all foreign hechshers, not the specific hechsher on the specific cheese this fellow saw in the store.

I do not know why such a general question was asked. If the hechsher is one the buyer normally relies on, why would he ask now? And if the buyer was unfamiliar with this hechsher, why did he not just ask about the specific hechsher? I suspect that either the question is fabricated to get to the point in the answer, which is fine and not uncommon.

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and member of the kashrut committee for imports,  responded with a psak that one should not purchase imported cheeses. Rav Eliyahu stressed that it does not matter which hechsher is on the cheese nor if it claims to be mehadrin and cholov yisrael, and even if it bears the logo of multiple hechsher companies, and even with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate, or whatever else it might be - do NOT buy imported cheeses.

Rav Eliyahu quotes his father, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l, to explain that the level of kashrut in Israel is far superior to the kashrut levels abroad. he says the best hechshers in chutz laaretz don't come to 1000th of the level of the basic hechsher level in Israel.
source: Kipa

Presumably cheese is only mentioned because of Shvuos right around the corner, but his approach is surely on all imported goods - the quote from his father makes no mention of cheese, just the levels of kashrut in Israel and abroad.

There are kashrut awareness organizations in Israel that believe the same and promote the same approach. A particular organization I am familiar with rejects the kashrut of imported products, no matter the hechsher on them with the same explanation of the best of kashrut abroad using too many kulas, leniencies, and being a far lower level than kashrut here. I myself have tested this by asking about products bearing the most widely acceptable of hechsherim and have been told not to rely on them.


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The Rift Between American Jews and Israel

A Guest Post by Dr Harold Goldmeier


The Rift Between American Jews and Israel

Dr. Harold Goldmeier is the manager of an investment fund, university teacher, business consultant, speaker and writer who can be reached at Harold.goldmeier@gmail.com


Countless articles and books address the vexing rift between American Jews and Israel. They are short on solutions and long on confirmation bias. Daniel Gordis adds another tome to the pile with We Stand Divided, The Rift Between American Jews and Israel, HarperCollins Publishers, 2019. He, too, is short on solutions.

Nevertheless, his 14th book is receiving plaudits and endorsements from big-name pundits and politicians. Yet, I find little in the book that adds to my general knowledge of the subject or a solution to his desperate plea opening the Introduction, “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

He ought to know the answer by now after years officiating at the Shalem College in Jerusalem, speaking on the college-synagogue-Jewish lobby circuit crisscrossing Israel and America, making a mint, debating doubters like Peter Beinart and fellow-travelers of J Street. Yet, Gordis doesn’t off the reader outstanding, why didn’t I think of that, answers to heal the rift.  There is nothing explosive if that’s what a book buyer is expecting.

“My goal is to put the big ideas about the relationship into the public sphere, so that we can all engage in a rethinking of why the relationship between the two communities is fraught, deepen the conversation that many in the Jewish world are having about the rift, and even begin to muse on some possible directions for healing the break.” We are way past musing. Just ask my foreign students and my children living overseas.  



Moreover, the new government of Israel has multiple ministries addressing the rift spending billions of shekels. There are thousands of overpaid NGO officials with inflated memberships soliciting tons of money and little to show but glittering generalities claiming at lavish fundraising dinners to have the answers.


I’m not going to list the religious, political, and nationalist causes Gordis identifies for the rift. They are commonly known to people familiar with the subject. The book is interesting because Gordis provides a great deal of novel history and recordations of lesser-known interactions between Israel/Diaspora advocates and contrarians.

Suffice to say he spends more than 200 pages and nearly 250 footnotes on the history of the Jewish people and the rift. This is an excellent primer for students new to the subject of Israel and aliyah. But you cannot fix the rift with intellectual “truths” about history, or detailing the threats to Jewish survival in Diaspora. Gordis is more  truthful and a realist than many observers when he offers readers this ominous portent: “If anything, what is surprising is not that the relationship is wounded, but that it has survived intact for as long as it has.” Furthermore, unless we find the right answers, darkness may descend on the two Jewish nations of Israel and Diaspora.


So, Gordis takes a stab at answering the ultimate question, “What anyone should actually do?” He offers six points for healing the rift but I cannot imagine how they will save the Jewish people.

There is a bit of sunshine on the horizon. Diaspora support for Israel is regularly reported on tenterhooks in poll after poll of young Jews. A new poll suggests there is a sea change in their views about Israel for the positive, as Diaspora Jews age into their late 30s and 40s. This is when Americans trend away from youthful progressive ideas and hook onto more conservative ones. Having been a teacher of international gap year students in Israel, I list as the number one-rift healer bringing Diaspora Jewish youth and young people of other backgrounds to Israel to see for themselves. COVID-19 hit these programs hard. Masa high school and college study abroad, yeshiva and seminary programs,  Birthright, student exchange programs, are critical in healing the rift.  Spend money bringing them two and three times to get to know life in Israel.

Gordis writes a four-page advocacy statement in the book for these programs. In my experiences, these programs are the most educational and lasting means of building a positive image and attachment to Israel. They are the means to realize the dream of Gordis, i.e., “The light simply must be ushered in.” The young people bring the light in their eyes home with them whether they make Aliyah or live overseas. Bring them to Israel and make her a light unto the Jews of their nations.









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Paying Twice For Your Chicken

Honestly, this is not anything new, and similar is done in many countries around the world - the government pays farmers to burn crops or to destroy eggs or chicks or to leave the land fallow (why not do this for shmitta?)... but it is still upsetting when you see it in action, when you see the government approval rather than just "knowing" subconsciously that it is happening.

The Chicken Coop Council, based on approval from the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Economics with subsidies, is paying its member farmers to not raise additional chickens, in order to prevent the price of chickens from dropping for the consumer.



Additionally, the Minister of Agriculture has decided, at least for now, to keep the egg quotas exactly the same as last year - no additional eggs allowed. Remember the egg shortage around Pesach time this past year? Despite the growing population, the local egg growers are only allowed to grow the same amount as last year, ensuring that at some point we will suffer another shortage - unless other ministers open up the market for imports. That is besides for keeping the price of eggs from dropping, and probably actually causing them to increase.

So, at least with the chickens (I dont think the egg people are getting paid extra for not growing more eggs), we get to pay twice. First we are paying taxes that are being given to the chicken farmers to not raise chickens, and then we are paying artificially high prices for chicken in the supermarket and at the butcher because of all the chickens that are not being sold.


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Thanks Mr President

I just received a letter from President of the United States of America Donald Trump.

I would say it is almost as valuable to me as the letters I received from Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, but this one from Trump is actually more valuable to me because with it he gave me money. Reagan and Clinton just sent good wishes, but no money. Money talks.

Plus President Trump sent it in Spanish as well.

Thanks Mr President. You can send me money anytime.






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Book Review: #IsraeliJudaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: #IsraeliJudaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution, by Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs


I myself have noticed and written about a phenomenon I have called the Israelification of the Haredi community, as more and more Haredim of the younger generation see themselves as Israelis, are patriotic in some sense, speak overwhelmingly Hebrew nowadays instead of Yiddish (even among the Hassidic communities), travel the country, watch Israeli soccer (aka football) tournaments, root for Israelis in international competitions in sports, sciences and whatnot, get upset about BDS, and more.

There are aspects about this that I have never understood, as some things are almost self-contradictory. For example, on the one hand the country seems to be getting more religious, on the other hand there is more public chilul shabbos than ever before. I just watched it as the phenomenon of a young country growing and developing and the various sectors and sub-communities within are adjusting as the years and generations go by.

#IsraeliJudaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution deals with a lot of what I threw into the description above without thinking too much about it and without analyzing it too deeply. Reading #IsraeliJudaism I felt this book was practically written for me. #IsraeliJudaism looks at and identifies changes in Israeli society and explores a new culture being formed in Israel that combines Judaism and Israelism.

Camil Fuchs is one of Israel's top statisticians. Combine the statistics of Fuchs with the thinking and analysis of Shmuel Rosner, a fellow at The Jewish people Policy Institute, and you are going to pick up and identify new trends and directions in whatever the topic might be.

The premise of #IsraeliJudaism seems to be that life in Israel over the past several decades has developed a new culture that combines aspects of being Israeli and aspects of being Jewish and has forged a new culture out of that combination. The statistics are vast, but they don't overwhelm the reader with their presentation. The most thorough statistical study of Israeli and Jewish culture ever compiled is used to analyze the trends of society and to point to a different culture among the Jews in Israel in Israel than among the Jews of the Diaspora. They call this new Israeli culture IsraeliJudaism. it is sort of the Venn Diagram of where the majority of Israelis feel both Israeli and Jewish. These trends are pointed out and analyzed over several chapters with topics such as Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Hazikaron broached, along with Shabbos observance, Lag B'Omer, fasting on Yom Kippur, riding bikes on Yom Kippur, hosting or participating in a Pesach Seder, and looking at differing trends of importance among different sectors of society, and how they overlap.

The book, #IsraeliJudaism, is far from a book of statistics. As I mentioned, the authors do not overwhelm the reader with numbers and percentages, but they are peppered throughout the book, mostly at the end of chapters, but also interspersed through the text when relevant. More than the statistics is the analysis, as I described above. Along the way though there is a lot of history, Israeli history, presented.  Customs of Israeli behavior are not just mentioned and looked at to see how common they are, but the history of how they began and spread is discussed as well. I learned a lot about some of the things we just do in Israel and never before knew why. Just like I like to know and discover how different customs in Judaism began and spread, I enjoyed learning how some Israeli customs began and spread, and was even surprised with some of the discoveries.

A reader interested in the history of Israel, the future of Israel and the Jewish People, and in the cultures of Israel will find the analysis in #IsraeliJudaism compelling and even fascinating.


You can buy #IsraeliJudaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution on Amazon

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.


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Quote of the Day

There is clear discrimination against the Haredi sector. For example, they today approved the reopening of restaurants, but if you would try to make a wedding with 50 people you would get fined. Why? What is different about that from restaurants?

  -- MK Yisrael Eichler

sure, because every time I go to dinner in a restaurant we suddenly break out in 45 minutes of dancing. And people pick each other up on their shoulders for more excitement. And at weddings people sit shoulder to shoulder with people from other families rather than with their own spouse.

But besides for that, even if there were no differences, why is continuing to ban weddings discriminatory against haredim? Do non-Haredim not get married? Are only Haredim banned form holding weddings of 50 people, while non-Haredim could have large weddings? Are only non-Haredi restaurants allowed to open while Haredi restaurants are not allowed to? I need more clarity on how Haredim are being discriminated against.

I am not saying that wedding halls should not be opened. I just don't think there is any discrimination involved in the decision making on this issue.




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The 1,088 Passenger Busiest Flight Ever (video)







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Ashley Blaker on Keeping The Sabbath (video)







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Synagogues of Israel Part 28 Nahariya (video)








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Gad Elbaz - OH JERUSALEM (video)







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May 26, 2020

finders keepers, finders weepers

the other day I told over the story that had been reported of someone who found a bag of 40,000nis in cash (plus some checks). the fellow seeked out the owner, discovered him as an Arab and returned the money to make a kiddush hashem by acting beyond the letter of the law.

Here is a story that is exactly the opposite.

A fellow from Kiryat Gat found a satchel of money. The bag contained 240,000nis in cash.

the finder decided to do a good deed with some of the money in order to celebrate his miracle, so he went out and ordered crates of food - sandwiches, pastries and drinks - and served it all up to a unit of Golani soldiers serving in the area. He also gave out some cash to the soldiers. After his little celebration he went back to his area and gave out some more money to needy people in the area.

Now that he had done his good deed to clear his conscience, he went out to buy stuff he and his family needed.


After all was said and done, he put away 132,000nis cash in his kids diaper bag for safekeeping.

Little did he know that the satchel of money had fallen off of a transport by armored vehicle (eg Brinks, etc). They were not too happy about the lost bag of money and used surveillance cameras to track it down. They got the police involved and Mr Finder was discovered relatively quickly and brought down to the station for questioning. In the meantime, officers found the rest of the money in his hiding place.

Poor shnook has 10 kids and was going to tell his wife and kids that he won some winnings in the lottery.
source: Actualic

Way to go. I wonder had he just kept it quiet and not gone out and spent so much if he would have gone undiscovered. I also wonder how he did not realize it would be looked for - don't these armored vehicles that transport money put the sacks of money into labeled bags, so he would have seen the name Brinks or the name of whatever company was being used? Regarding the halacha, as far as I know, loose cash is hefker when found, but if the cash is in a special bag or piled or packed in a  unique way, that is considered a siman of ownership and must be returned. So while the first guy had the halachic right to keep the money, he returned it, the second probably had a halachic oblogation to return it but kept it.




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in Bahush, if you snitched on the minyan, you are now banned from it

The Bahush beis medrash in Bnei Braq suffered during Corona from people, neighbors, reporting them to the police for holding illegal minyanim and for continuing to operate the mikva.

While I am sure nobody had it out for Bahush and simply reported them out of concern regarding the CoronaVirus, Bahush feels it is now time for payback, rather than a time for the mending of fences.

The Bahush administration put up a sign in their shul announcing that anyone who had a hand in the reporting of their minyanim and open mikva to the police, even if they did so based on some hetter, are now banned, with all the force of a full din torah, from benefiting in any way from any of the Bahush institutions. This includes using the beis medrash, the mikva, the coffee room, the social hall for events, the free loan gemach and from receiving kimcha dpischa funds.
source: Kikar

I guess it is their right to do so, but personally I would want nothing to do with them anyway. Besides for their flaunting of the rules in such an open and negligent way, they were willing to play with people's lives and put everyone around their shul at risk. I expect they won't ask for donations from those people either.





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Bet Shemesh excitement

A couple of crazy Bet Shemesh stories happened over the past couple of days.

Some excitement happened in Bet Shemesh itself, as a professional hit was averted. Undercover detectives put a stop to a hit after 4 young men in their 20s attached an explosive device to someone's car. Kikar does not say it, but other news sources mentioned that he was a former "well known" football player (ie soccer).

I guess they really hold a grudge for that time he missed the goal...

In other news, that happened outside the city but with a resident of Bet Shemesh, an extremist from RBS B who had been arrested during the violent protests against the closure placed on RBS B a few weeks back because of the CoronaVirus spreading freely, had to be chained to his bed in jail.

Binyamin Friedman has been in jail since the protest on Pesach. During the protest he allegedly attacked a female police officer and spit at her. Friedman denies the allegations.

This past week Friedman was transferred to the Maasiyahu prison and it seems he did not want to go into his new cell because there was a television in it. The police refused to remove the television (saying they cannot do that, there is no such thing) and they also denied his request to be incarcerated in the "torani" wing of the prison.

Friedman threatened to commit suicide if they would lock him up wit the television. As soon as he threatened suicide they chained him down to his bed as a precaution. He says they didn't even let him bring a siddur in, and it is a miracle he had already davened mincha. Big miracle. Then he says his kipa fell off and he couldnt even pick it up because he was chained down. He eventually managed to figure out a way, somehow using his teeth. He says it took him four hours. I don't know how he picked it up, put it back on his head, and tied it to his head using the strap of a corona mask, all with just his teeth, as he says, but I guess when there's a will there's a way.

The Prison Services response is that he threatened suicide and self-harm and did so time and again even after protective measures were taken. Such threats are taken very seriously.

It seems much easier to solve the problem by removing the television form the cell, but maybe making him watch Yuval Hamevulbal and general Israeli tv shows (besides for the good ones) is a much harsher punishment!

Bet Shemesh hasn't been so exciting in a long time!



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