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Feb 28, 2006

modern day Edom?

In today's daf in the daf yomi calendar, we were learning about wine from Edom. We ended up getting into a discussion of what is considered Edom nowadays. It obviously came to America, as that is commonly referred to a sa modern day Edom.

Somebody pointed out that USA read backwards reads out Esau (ASU). Just thought you might find it ironic..

the Amona probe and Kadima's protest

If Kadima (read: Ehud Olmert) has nothing to hide and everything was legal and on the up and up as they say it was, why are they so against the Amona investigation? They are refusing to participate in it. They are petitioning the High Court against it. They are trying to quash it.

With so much criticism levelled against them about Amona, you would think they would welcome an investigation that would prove to everyone that they are clean and the decision to dismantle Amona was clean and reasonable force was used. Or would it???

another David Lavon film

These yeshiva guys are crazy.. we were not like this when I was in yeshiva..



My head hurts just watching it..

trying to embed video

any ideas how I embed a google video into a post? this is my first time and it is not working..

Feb 27, 2006

History in the making

at McDonalds..

As reported in Ynet, McDonalds restaurant in a move that has only happened once before, has agreed to redesign their logo and sign.
The idea is that the kosher branches of McDonalds have had a difficult time getting hechshers, as certifying agencies (including Rabbi Lau as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv) have been reluctant to certify McDonalds out of fear that confusion would ensue. Someone who is not familiar with some being kosher and some not, would go into one, see the teuda and assume all McDonalds were kosher and would accidentaly eat in a non-kosher branch.

Now, the kosher branches will be able to get their hechshers in a timely fashion as they redesigned the signs, so as to avoid the confusion.

Here is a picture of the new sign: McKosher Photo: Shaul Golan



Anything that minimizes cinfusion and allows people who want to keep kosher to do so in an easier fashion is welcomed (even though I am against McDonalds being in Israel at all).

Temple Mount in Islam

Here is a bit of a history of the Temple Mount, mostly in relation to Islam. There are some interesting tales and a video clip of a tour guide with some explanation (in Hebrew).

ID for Har Habayit

Jewish Tourists get rejected from going up to Har Habayit due to lack of ID, while non-Jewish tourists walk right through without being asked for any..

We have been discriminated against at Har Habayit for too long. The restrictions and the frisking have only gotten worse over time, not better. Now that tourists see what happens, maybe they can make a ruckus about it and some bad PR for the situation, which could effect a change..

I doubt it though.

Check out HH#59's great links

Haveil Havalim #59 is up over by Daled Amos. He did a great job of linking to great articles.

I particularly enjoyed posts from Israel Perspectives and a very honest and provoking post from the PsychoToddler..

Feb 26, 2006

bloggers

Is there anyone left on the planet that does not have a blog (other than one of my brothers)? Now, even Chewy's got one.. Check it out.. pretty hilarious..

Feb 24, 2006

Mazel Tov!

Now for the second, more positive, post.

I went to the wedding tonight of a friend of mine. It was a beautiful wedding, as all weddings are. It was energetic and leibeidige and full of simha with a beautiful chassan and kalla.

Bu this wedding was different. This was a person who has suffered through untold tragedy. I am going to leave his name out, as some of you might recognize it and I do not want to use his name. if you figure it out, that's your business. He went through a horrific experience of losing almost his whole family a few years ago to terrorism. His parents and some siblings were killed. He went through emotional and psychological traumas.
There were still some sad things I found out at the wedding. It turns out the remaining children do not get along with the surviving grandparents. At the time of the tragedy, there was a dispute as to the future of the family and it became a full blown fight. I am not privy to the details and only know the little I heard tonight, so I will not go into it. Many people over the past few years have tried to make shalom between the kids and the grandparents to no avail. It was so bad that the grandparents were nto even at the wedding. Very sad, that after suffering so much, the grandparents have to fight and be so stubborn that the family has to be broken up even more.

Sorry for digressing. It was beautiful to see this young man get married with his friends and family around him supporting him. The simha was powerful, because people were not just dancing at a wedding, they were participating in an event that showed the victim has overcome and has continued his life and has moved forward. He did not succumb to his "wounds". Many people who suffer tragedies much less than what this young man suffered would spend the rest of their lives in a depression and on medications unable to function. this young man has taken control of his life and has succeeded in moving forward.

Kol Hakavod and mazel tov.

why are people so negative?

I am going to post now (before I go to sleep) about two events that happened to me tonight. One good and beautiful and the second something troublesome and disturbing.

I will post in the order they occurred, so this one will be about the negative event. The next post will be the better one (and it will be nice to go to sleep after writing about something positive..)
Here goes:

I was on the way home tonight from work on the train. Every day when the train gets to a certain spot, a minyan forms for either Minha (during the summer days when 6:00 PM is still daylight) or Maariv (duing the winter evenings when 6:00 PM is night). I generally do not join in that minyan, as I take the opportunity to read/learn/sleep and I can catch the minyan at other convenient times (either work or at shul at night before my daf yomi shiur). Occassionally I do join in the minyan for various reasons, none of which are too important.

Anyway, tonight I joined the minyan for Maariv. It was an unusually large minyan, maybe 35 or so people. As people are congregating in the "minyan section" getting ready to begin, someone walks in to the group. He raises his voice and he asks loudly (in Hebrew), "Does anybody know if it is actually the time for Maariv?" Nobody responded, so I did. I said not to worry, this is a regular minyan and you can daven in it or not, but the timing is fine. So he says just because it is a regular minyan does not mean it is doing the correct thing.

Now, first of all, this was not a Haredi "fanatic", so do not even suggest that as a rationalization. He was a Dati Leumi regular guy. Second, he stayed and prayed with the minyan despite his objection never being clarified, so his intent was not to not daven and tell people it is wrong, otherwise he would have gone back to his seat, his concerns not being assuaged.

So here is what bothers me. This guy came in to throw a monkey wrench into the works and make people look and feel bad, as if he knows better and is more concerned about doing the right thing. From the halachic aspect itself, it was perfectly ok to daven maariv at that time. It was "choshech mitzrayim" outside. Even if it was not yet Tzais according to all opinions (and I do not know if it was or was not, it is clear in halacha that one can daven maariv from shkia (sunset) on, and under some conditions even from plag Ha'Mincha which is actually during the daytime (a prime example of this being the common early shabbos minyan). So, it is clear that it was a time permitted for davening maariv, at worst one would have to repeat Shema at a later time.

Why did he have to come in and say that and cause people to look down and start shuffling their feet as if to say don't look at me, it's not my fault we are davening now? Does he really think he is better? It is far better than davening shacharis in the morning before netz (sunrise) which he himself does at times (as I see him at times in the shacharis minyan I go to, which sometimes during the late netz days falls out before netz). I would dare say he was not really concerned, as he continued to daven with us.

Why do we have to assume the worst and accuse people of doing the wrong thing? If a group of people, many of whom have the appearance of being knowledgeable in halacha and Torah, have a regular custom to do something which is halachically fine (though maybe not the absolute best way), who is anybody to come in and say they are doing the wrong thing? You don't like, so go away and ignore it, but why attack?

Do we all do this, to certain degrees? Do we each think we are better than the next guy and know more and behave better?

Maybe we should sometimes (read: often) assume poeople know what they are doing and are doing the right thing, and our Jewish community will be far better off.

Feb 23, 2006

"People don't need to worry about security"

You would never guess who said that. Not in a million years. That's right - it was George Bush.

In response to the port security "scandal" plaguing America right now, George Bush's response is that people do not need to worry about security. This is after 5 years (since 9/11/2001) of running his government by the threat of terrorism and security. At every possible opportunity he blames 9/11 for his politics of illegal wiretapping to the Iraq war to everything in between. Suddenly he can sell the rights to secure America's ports to his buddies the Arabs and "people don't need to worry about security".

Will people buy this from him?

Just read a great book

This post has nothing to do with Israel (other than the fact that I read the book in Israel). I just finished reading the book On the Beach by Neville Shute. The book was a great read and very thought provoking.

The book, originally published in 1957, is about the rest of the world post-nuclear war. Civilization has been wiped out and the story revolves around one of the last remaining cities that the radioactive fallout had not yet reached. They know they are about to die, as the radiation is moving closer to them and they only have a couple of months left to live. We follow the characters as they progress with their lives despite the knowledge that they are about to succumb to the same fate as the rest of the world and there is nothing they can do about it. We see how they prepare, or don't, for their upcoming fate. We see a momentary glimmer of hope that gets wiped away. We see them making decisions as if they were going to continue living for years.

What would you do knowing the end was near? Would you live as if nothing was going to happen? Would you keep your job rather than spend the rest of your days with your family and friends? Would you plant your garden that you will not be around to see grow? Would you marry and have children knowing it is pointless? Would you live in denial or acceptance?

Chaza"l tell us we should look at every day as our last and therefore be urged to repent our ways, never knowing when we will no longer have that chance.

What would you do?

creating new and strong Zionists


I went yesterday to a very special event that I had never experienced before. The Marva "graduation" ceremony.
Marva is a program in the Israeli army in which young adults from all over the world volunteer to serve in the Israeli army for 2 months (in the Marva program). They go through basic training and serve in the Israeli army (to a certain extent).
Marva is run through the educational department of the army, and they see this as integral part of raising a young generation of Zionists and supporters of Israel and the Israeli army, and potential olim.

My sister went on this program. She is in a Bnei Akiva program for the year that includes 2 months of Marva. Yesterday was the army ceremony of the completion of the Marva program. There were about 150 kids (18 or so year olds) finishing Marva and there were about 300 guests (family and friends) to watch and show support at the ceremony. Among the generals and army people (whom I did not recognize or know), one of the speakers was Zev Bielsky, head of the Jewish Agency.



The ceremony was fun and a lot less formal than other army ceremonies I had been to. It was held in Latrun (the armored corps meuseum and army base).

The kids clearly enjoyed the program and gained a lot from being in it. they gained a camraderie and met new friends from all over the world. Mostly, they gained an appreciation of Israel and experiences they will never forget. I overheard some talking about ther plans to do more army service in the future. Many of these kids may have come from Zionistic backgrounds, but many (or some at least) did not and fell into the program by chance and circumstance. This is a great program and really has developed a love of Israel and these kids.

Feb 22, 2006

A defense that can only be used in Israel

Absolutely amazing!! Who would have thought this claim could be used as part of a "defense" in a corruption and bribery scandal??

To what am I referring? In the past I have penned a number of posts criticizing Ehud Olmert and Kadima. I had decided to try to lessen my political comments, except when I felt I had something very pressing to say. I did not want to be just another blogger rehashing the political scene from my viewpoint. This, however, si something that could easily be overlooked and I could not resist pointing it out.

Ehud Olmert has been the subject of a number of investigations regarding bribery, illegal funding and other less than pure activities. A new one came up the other day. He is being investigated now for selling his house to a political donor of his for an unusually high selling price, adn then working out a deal to continue living in the house for an extremely low rental price. obviously the concern is that these were worked out as a way to give Olmert monies that could not be given any other way (a.k.a. money laundering to a certain extent, and subsequently any political avors would deem it as bribes as well).
Now, I do not know how it will play out and whether they will decide the sale price was too much above market value or not and whether the rental fee was too far below market value or not. It looks bad for Olmert (especially because the sale/rental had been conducted through a fictitious company the supporter had set up in the Virgin Islands and while possibly not required to, at the time he did not reveal who was behind it) and the chips may fall either way.

That is not what I want to comment on (do not get me wrong - I hope he crashes because of it). I want to talk about an idea that was raised in his defense.

Yaakov Ne'eman (former Justice Minister and Finance Minister) was the attorney who brokered the deal at the time. He has been asked for comment on the case and has gone on record saying that everything was on the up and up and done legally and the price was fair and blah blah blah. In addition to all that, he commented on why the buyer paid such a high price (within market value but at the extremely high end).
And I quote Ya'akov Ne'eman, "Everyone in the United States understands that a day will come that the Messiah will come, and apartment prices will rise greatly, and therefore it's worthwhile to invest in Jerusalem housing."

I find it absolutely amazing that this can be brought up as a defense to explain the high price paid (though it does not explain the low rental fee collected). Only in Israel could this work!
Even more that that though is another idea. No matter how disconnected these people are from Judaism and Judaism ideals and beliefs, the heart of a Jew still beats within them. Using the Messiah to rationalize a high price!! Wow!!

I had a neighbor when I lived in Jerusalem who was renting an apartment. This neighbor had a clause in his rental contract that stipulated that in the event that the Mashiach would come the rental agreement is null and void and he would have 60 days to move out and find another apartment.

Only in Israel!

Feb 19, 2006

Happy Birthday!!

It is a few days late, but I wish my big bro Shaya a Happy 35th birthday!!! and at the same time I will wish a happy anniversary (2 days early) to you and your wife L as well.

announcement of event at Kever Rachel

A friend of mine has a very worthwhile organization called the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He gets hold of old Sifrei Torah in disuse and usually in disrepair. He gets them fixed up by sofrim and then donates them to various yishuvim in Eretz Yisrael that do not have their own Sifrei Torah. I have participated in a few Hachnassot Sifrei Torah for Torah's that he has placed in places including Gush Katif settlements, Kever Rachel and others. They are very moving events and I urge people to support him in any way possible. His website for more information can be seen at The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. (Moshe also blogs at Sin of Expulsion - make sure to check it out. This is a person who is an Ohaiv Eretz Yisrael with every fiber in his body).

Anyways, I am taking the opportunity to make an announcement on his behalf. He will be holding an event for a recently placed Torah. The details follow.. I urge anyone who can, to attend..

On Wednesday, 1 March, 2006; On the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar, there will be a Special Leyning at 10:00 AM from the Sefer Torah placed in Beit B'nai Rachel House in July, 2005 by the Sefer Torah Recycling Network and dedicated by Dr. Lee Caplan in memory of his Dad. This event is to promote Kever Rachel as a Holy Place against government/military efforts to encage the Kever. Any questions; speak with Moshe Burt 02-999-6496.

Transportation: via Autobus #163 which leaves the Jerusalem Central Bus Station at 9:10 AM (also stops on Malchei Yisrael and Shiftei Yisrael and shuttle bus from the Machsom 9 - 9:45 AM), arriving at the Kever Rachel complex at 10:00 AM. Many thanks.
Tizke L'Mitvot!!
Regards,
Moshe Burt

Feb 16, 2006

Why can't they just admit the mistake?

I saw this story posted. Briefly it is about someone who noticed a charge from Bezeq International for a charge for internet services the person claims she never ordered. She claims that she simply called one time to ask for information about the advertised Internet deal. She never signed up.
She looked back on a years worth of bills and found the charge monthly. She called to complain and after being given the run around and involving consumer advocacy groups, BezeqInt finally agreed to return her money.
When they returned her money, they did not say it was a mistake or a misunderstanding of some sort. They did not say we are sorry we took your money without your agreement to purchase. they said (after being threatened) that since she never actually used the service and was unhappy they would therefore refund her in full.

The article goes on to teach us a lesson from the story that we should be diligent in checking our credit card bills and make sure everything you are charged for was actually purchased by you. It is a good lesson and I have found mistakes on bills and it happens every now and again. We are all human and people make mistakes. If you do not check, you are throwing away money.

I see a different idea in this story. Why did BezeqInt have to insist on not returning the money, after having been confronted. They knew the money was not being taken properly. Maybe it was initially a mistake or misunderstanding (maybe she called for info and the saleperson thought she agreed to the purchase), but they knew after she confronted them.

The reason they agreed in the end to return the money was because they were confronted by a powerful group with the knowledge that purchasing such an agreement generally entails filling out forms and credit card info and the like and if they insist she agreed to the purchase, they should show the forms. They knew they were caught, so they had to agree.

Why can't they be honest? Barring that (if that is asking too much from a service provider), once caught in the act, why not apologize for the mistake? Why insist that you were right but will be generous and return the money?
Honesty and forthrightness would make them look all that much better. Just say, "We are sorry for the misunderstanding. the salesperson made a mistake thinking you had purchased the plan. We realize you did not and will refund your money." That's it. No need to look righteous.

Simple honesty would do better.

Feb 14, 2006

no blogging time

For those of you wondering, I have had almost no time or energy for blogging this week. Between a family simcha and a very full week at work, I have had little time and energy for blogging. Despite having had much to write about (and by now I do not remember most of what I wanted to write)..

a new, very interesting, Israeli company..

Want to see what makeup looks best on you? This new company has developed a method of photographing you and then applying the makeup to your image so you can decide exactly what shade and color looks best on you..

Hatzlacha to them!!

Omri gets prison time..

A light sentence of 9 months, when it could have been up to 5 years, but it is prison nonetheless..

Feb 12, 2006

Check out HH by AbbaGav

AbbaGav did a great job on HH this week. Go check it out and spend the rest of your day reading the articles he linked to!

Yerushalayim on the upswing..

I spent shabbos with my wife in downtown Yerushalayim at a hotel celebrating my cousins aufruf. We took a walk on shabbos before the meal and walked through a large park. We were amazed at what we saw.
No, I am not referring to the two Arabs we saw "making out" in one corner of the park.

The park was teeming with Jews. Jews of all flavors and all levels of religious belief. There were Jews walking around post-tefilla. There were Jews playing basketball and soccer with their children. Kids rollerblading. Some were just sitting in the sun relaxing or playing or picnicking. Some were jogging through. There was a group of young men and women walking home from shul. I overhead a few sentences of their conversation - they were affiliated with USY. They were walking home in their kippot and tzitzit carrying their tallit bags talking about their future with their affiliation to USY.
I am not condoning or legitimizing anybodies level of observance, or lack thereof. It is not my place to, nor in my interests to.
I am just saying it was beautiful to see Yerushalayim filled with Yidden. It was wonderful to see Jews who are proud to be Jews with excitement and energy and interest.
It was wonderful to see Yerushalayim Be'Vinyana.

A beautiful chulent!! Mi K'Amcha Yisrael!!

I spent Shabbos with my wife in a nice hotel in Yerushalayim yesterday to participate in a cousins aufruf (aliyah latorah on the shabbos prior to getting married).

While the chulent at the meal was good, that is not what the title refers to. The title refers to the davening. We davened in the hotel shul for the various services. The Rabbi was a jew of Yemenite descent. Some of the participants in the minyan were of Sephardic origin and most were of Ashkenazic origin. I do not know what happens on a normal shabbos, if they decide which nussach of Tefilla to use based on the majority or how else they decide, but this shabbos they davened Ashkenaz (maybe they always do or maybe it was because of the simcha, or maybe because of a majority of the mispallelim, I do not know).

We davened Ashkenaz. A Sephardic Torah Scroll was used for the Torah reading. The Yemenite Rabbi read from the Sephardic Torah using the Ashkenazic cantillations (trop). Aside from the chazzan who davened Ashkenaz, the Yemenite Rabbi led some of the services using the Ashkenazic text and tunes.

What a beautiful chulent!! Mi K'Amcha Yisrael!!

Feb 9, 2006

Newest Israeli religious rock sensation

Gad Elbaz has become a religious rock sensation in Israel selling out concerts and selling out albums..
The young crowd is really into him and his music. I found out about him from a 15 year old cousin..

Here is one music video for you to watch..Enjoy - it is one of his biggest hits..

Feb 8, 2006

10 Lost Tribes?

They found some area in Indonesia never before explored. A couple of scientists checked it out and found species of animals not found anywhere else in the world. They only went in a couple of miles, so there is still a lot of land to explore.
I want to know: when they eventually find a tribe of people there, will they be (one of) the 10 Lost Tribes?

Why is it that whenever discussing the 10 Lost Tribes, people always take it as impossible because there is no area of the Planet earth that is not accessible, especially because of the advent of air travel and satellite imaging? Looks like we are still finding parts of the world never before noticed...

response to DB's cynical post on Parshas ha'Man

Dov Bear had a very cynical post regarding the notices and posts yesterday about the segullah of reading Parshas Ha'Man. He questions how people could believe that if they say the specific prayer all of the sudden they will get rich.

On the issue of suddenly getting rich because you read Parshas Ha'Man, he is mistaken. It is not brought down that Parshas Ha'Man is a segullah for wealth (osher) or for money. It is brought down as a segullah for parnassa (for lack of a better definition I will say it means "support"). It could be that you get the raise you asked for in your current job, because you said Parshas Ha'Man. Or maybe you will find a better job, or maybe you have been unemployed and now you have interbiews to go to. Nobody promises instant wealth by saying a segullah.

On the idea of reading Parshas Ha'Man to effect successful parnassah, I would venture to say that the way it works is because of what Parshas Ha'Man is about. Parshas Ha'Man is the story of how the Jews travelled through the desert and had nothing to eat. God decided to support them by providing them with their daily fill of food, via the manna. It was a miraculous event. By reading this story, it causes one to remember that Hashem is our provider and he does it through our efforts.
When a person has a good job and is successful, he can easily fall into a rut thinking he is very accomplished and talented. he thinks he got promoted or given that big fat bonus because he is such a smart guy and so talented, or he performed very admirably in a certain project, etc.. A person can easily forget that it is God who sustains all of us, albeit through seemingly natural systems. By reading Parshas Ha'Man, it gives us an opportunity to focus on what is really happening. It gives us an opportunity to rethink our positions in this world and realize that it is Hashem who is providing us with our daily bread, via the CEO of whatever company he works for.
That is the segullah of reading Parshas Ha'Man (I do not know why specifically on the 9th of Sh'Vat). By focusing on these ideas and realizing Hashem's assistance given to us, we focus our prayers and our actions differently to reflect that. Then we are more deserving of Hashem's assistance.

It is a similar idea to the one behind various mitzvot we perform regularly: to tithing one's produce, not working the fields in the shmittah year, not working on shabbos, etc.. among others. They cause us to remember that Hashem is the real Provider, behind the scenes.

On the issue of segullahs in general and how they work, I spoke to a (very intelligent and knowledgeable) Rav not too long ago about the idea of segullahs. He explained to me that segullahs do work. However, they should be used with caution. He explained to me the way segullahs work is like a tablecloth, for example. let's say your tablecloth is just slightly too short for your table and does not reach your end of the table. You can pull the tablecloth towards you and it will reach your end. However, you must realize that by doing that you have pulled it off the other end.
Segullahs are like that. They do work and by performing the segullah you will (sometimes/often) achieve the subject of the segullah (e.g. parnassah, shidduch, wealth, long life, children, whatever), however you must realize God is giving it to you by taking it off the other end. Meaning, if this is something you may not have had coming to you, God might say ok fine you can have it, but He will deduct it from something else that you were supposed to have.

Segulahs should be used and performed with extreme care and caution. Not frivolously.

Feb 5, 2006

Policeman's eye was saved

Soldier'e eye improving after injury incurred during Amonah dismantlement.

This should never have happened. Thank God he will recover from his injuries and be able to see again.

Watch out - you never know where you can be seen!

The CEO of a hi-tech company was caught red handed when someone saw his pictures on the internet.
Intriguing? Here's the story.. This guy loves to go jeeping. Problem is he does not have a jeep. All he's got is a company leased Mazda 6. Does that stop him? No way. He's no friar! he goes jeeping in his Mazda 6!! What does he do when he gets stuck in terrain that the Mazda can't handle? Simple solution - he has his buddies in jeeps tow him over the specific terrain.
Now, get this. These guys all post the pictures of their trips on a website for jeep aficionados. Someone in the car leasing company saw the pictures. The license plate on the car had been blurred out, but there was a sticker with the company name on the car. they easily identified who was abusing their car. Not only did they cancel the guy's policy, now they are suing him for abusing the car and the policy!!

Rav Kaduri's possible replacement

Reports are that after the shiva (seven day mourning period) for Rav Kaduri zt"l finished, the leading Rabbanim in the kabbalist community met in order to appoint a successor.
I would venture to say that the stature Rav Kaduri had is something that is earned by the person's greatness and qualities, and not something that can be appointed to a person. Rather, they were meeting to appoint a new Rosh Hayehiva for the Yeshivat Hamekubalim and to bestow upon the appointee the title of "Zekan Hamekubalim" (elder kabbalist).

The meeting included Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Shlomo Amar, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Bakshi Doron, Rav Metzger, Rav Reuven Elbaz, Rav Dovid Kaduri and others. The nominees were Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Dovid Kaduri and Rav Benayahu Shmueli.
Rav David Kaduri had support, as he is the son of the late Rav Kaduri. It was decided not to appoint him to the status of Zekan Hamekubalim due to his young age. He will take the position of Rosh Hayeshiva though.
It looks as though Rav Mordechai Eliyahu will be appointed to the status of Zekan Hamekubalim, due to his stature and the great esteem in which he is held by all. He is known to have grown up in the presence of Rav Kaduri and Rav Kaduri was a student of Rav Eliyahu's father. Rav Eliyahu is considered an experienced "writer of segulot" and a man of great knowledge in the secrets of Torah.

The decision has not been made final, but it seems to be leaning in that direction.

Feb 4, 2006

looking out for yourself

A few days ago there was a letter to the editor in a religious newspaper. The writer complains about his daughter being in her last year of seminary. She has recently married and has to devote time to making her new home. On the other hand, he writes, she has mountains of schoolwork to keep up with. He goes on to complain about her schedule and the amount of assignements she has to complete and tests to prepare for. The writer asks, "Is this how a wife should spend the first months of her married life?"

Why do people think that their personal scheduling conflicts require a change in the system? What does this fellow want - that the school should give less assignements because his daughter got married? If they do not give assignements and exams, they will not retain the academic level they desire. His daughter chose the school because it met her needs and had the academic level and reputation she desired to be associated with for her future job prospects. if they change that, she will be losing out on the education and the potential she so desired.

I ask why did she get married then, knowing that she had so much schoolwork? She thought she could handle it? Great, so stick it out and finish your degree. If you think that marriage is a greater priority than school, drop out of school if you cannot handle both. Find a program that is less intense. What right do you have to request that the school lessen their expectations of you as a student just because you chose to get married?! Maybe she should have waited to get married until after she finished her schooling!!
What will this woman do when she finishes her degree and goes out to look for a job? Will she complain that she can't handle a job and the housework and then complain that her employer is not considerate to the needs of married women?

Why are people so selfish that they think everybody and everything else has to change, rather than recognizing that they have a specific problem they have to deal with?

Get the facts straight!

I am finding that Jews (and al achat kama v'kama the goyim) in Chutz Laaretz have no idea as to the facts of what happened in Amona last week. I have received email from a number of friends and relatives decrying the extremists for forcing the police to get violent. They place the blame solely on the plate of the "settlers".
This was my response:
I don't get to say this often but you are wrong. But you are wrong because you are misinformed and not aware of what happened. You are entitled to any opinion you want as to whether the whole event should have taken place or not, but you should only form that opinion after being aware of the facts.
Separate from the issue of whether those houses should have been destroyed or not, the police were not provoked into the violence. Do not just read the headlines. Read the details and the stories from people who were there. Look at the pictures. Speak to people who were there. Find out more than what the CNN headlines offer you as information, who are always supportive of Jews giving up land.

Do not forget: this is a replacement government, replacing a caretaker government leading up to elections. While technically he legally has all the powers of a Prime Minister, it is completely unethical for him to have made such a drastic move like this at this time. This neither needed to be done now (he could have waited two months until after elections), nor in this fashion.
Olmert, even if for some reason he felt it had to be done now, could have reached a compromise (as compromises had been offered, similar to the compromise reached in the Hebron market 2 weeks prior). The police went in looking for violence and they provoked it. Even the left wing parties in Israel have called for an investigation into how the police got so violent, because they really were out of hand.

Are you aware that they did not dismantle the settlement of Amona? The settlement still stands with the original caravan houses. Are you aware that this was not an "evacuation" or "disengagement" ala Gush Katif? The settlement of Amona still stands and Amona is a legal and government approved settlement. This was a destruction of 9 houses that were built without building permits. That is why this event did not have to go through various committees and government votes to pass, and that is why the police force was used rather than the army.

Are you aware that there are over 37,000 Tzavei Harisa (orders of dismantlement) on buildings all over Israel? Are you aware that there are over 8500 of these orders on houses owned by Arabs? They have not lifted a finger against any other outstanding illegaly built building, yet they claim that this was simply the police cracking down on people breaking the law by building houses with no permits. Where is equality in law? Why are they not going into Lod or Tul Karm or Beer Sheva or towns in the Galilee or Umm Al Fahm or Ramat Bet Shemesh with 8000 policemen with bulldozers to knock down illegal houses?

Are you aware that the land the settlement of Amona sits on, was legally purchased privately by Jews from Arabs? This was not a situation of Jews stealing Arab land. The government picked on easy prey in Amona because it would be an opportunity to portray the settlers in a bad light prior to elections, thus generating a lot more support for Ehud Olmert and Kadima, as he comes out of this looking like someone who is strong and will stand up to the settlers.

Again, you are entitled to your opinion that the land should be given to the Arabs as part of a peace deal or even unilaterally, if need be, but do not say that the settlers provoked the violence and the extremists forced the police to act like brutes because they took the law into their own hands. That is not what happened. That is simply how the media and the government want to portray it.

Rafi

Feb 3, 2006

The current Torah portions are playing out before our own eyes!!

We have all witnessed a lot of Makot (Hebrew for beatings) the other day in Amona.

Dam - blood: is obviously clear as hundreds were beaten by Jewish police and blood was flying everywhere out of cracked skulls.
Arov - Wild Beasts: occurred when the feared yasamnikim showed up. They act like wild beasts, but this could also refer to the mounted police as the horses trampled people and instilled fear in the protesters .
Barad - Hail: Nothing to do with Amona, but it hailed yesterday in Israel.
Choshech - Darkness: These are dark days for the nation when Jewish police are sent by a Jewish government to remove (and beat) Jews from land they purchased.
Makat Bechorot: we are praying it does not happen, but a young protester is still fighting for his life after being beaten by the police.

Ehud Olmert is similar to Par'oh. A leader bent on attaining the subservience of the Jews and uses the police forces to beat them. When offered deals to avert confrontation, he refused them preferring to proceed as planned. God must have hardened his heart, as he was formerly a supporter of the settlement cause and a political friend of the Jews, and therefore he ignores rational and reasonable compromise.

News flash just in!! Egyptians drown in Yam Suf (Red Sea)!!

Feb 2, 2006

more Kassams raining on Israel!!

3 more Kassam rockets were launched at israel today from the Gaza Strip. One landed in Southern Ashkelon and 2 in the areas of Sderot and Erez. The early warning systems in place failed to sound the alarm.
Notice the lack of any response by the Israeli government.

Feb 1, 2006

clarification of the situation in Amona

I now understand better what the Amona situation is. The settlement of Amona is not being dismantled and evacuated. The settlement of Amona remains standing and is a legal settlement with permits. There were 9 buildings built without proper permits in the settlement and the government decided to destroy those 9 buildings.

I heard an interview on the news with the head of police discussing the violence and he said that the police came to deal with people breaking the law. No more, no less. That entails an approach of more violence than it does when dealing with a political situation of evacuation, as was the situation in Gush katif this past summer. That explains why the police were trained and instructed to use more violence than what we saw in Gush Katif.

This explanation also raises the implications of Olmerts stance on the matter. True these people were breaking the law by building a permanent structure with no permits. Why the unnecessary provocation and violence when there are thousands of such buildings all around Israel with no permits? The newscasters gave examples that almost half of the city of Lod was built with no permits, as are many areas in the Negev and in the Galilee and in many Arab towns and villages. In Arab towns alone there are over 8000 outstanding Tzavei Harisa.

Why did Olmert choose to crack down on these 9 buildings right now rather than on the thousands of Arab buildings with similar legal status, or thousands of jewish homes across Israel with similar legal status? because he wanted to cause a provocation with the settlers that would create an image around Israel and the world of himbeing strong against the settlers. He is simply looking to garner more mandates for Kadima. That is an abuse of power.

Checkpoint shares tumble

Checkpoint, one of the leading tech companies in Israel, shares tumbled yesterday as they missed earning expectations. Revenue growth was much slower than last year and less than expected.

Jerusalem was smoking yesterday!

I happened to be in Jerusalem yesterday with a few minutes to spare. It does not happen often, as on the occassions that am usually in Herusalem are for specific purposes takign place within very limited time constraints. Yesterday I arrived a little early to where I had to be and had time to walk through the neighborhood to my location at a leisurely pace.

The first thing I noticed was the firetrucks. Everywhere I looked there were firetrucks roaring by. Then I saw some streets had been blocked off. I did not know what had happened, but I remembered hearing there were protests about something that I had not paid attention to. I crossed a busy intersection to see the charred remains still smokign in the middle of the intersection - remnants of the protests earlier in the day. Later last night I was driving through other parts of Jerusalem and the smoke was fairly thick in many other areas, with firetrucks and ambulances still racing from place to place.

It turns out the protest was over an autopsy. Now, I do not know the halacha regarding autopsies. I do know that frum Jews are generally against autopsies as they are against halacha, though some say that in mitigating circumstances, there are situations where they are allowed. I have no idea if that is true or not.

I do know that there is a general mistrust in Professor Hiss, the director of Abu Kabir, Israels pathology center. Professor Hiss has been invloved in the past in many scandals. he was investigated for being involved in the sale of body organs. he was investigated in the scandal of missing organs. he wa sinvestigated int he case where they found wrong body parts in wrong graves. He was investigated many times for many wrongdoings in the autopsy procedures and falsifying evidence for specific purposes. Do a google search on him and see for yourself.

With such a sensitive issue in the religious public as treatment of the dead body for burial, it is understandable how this turned into riots. The police requested a warrant from the courts to do an autopsy because they suspected foul play in the death of an elderly woman (who was Haredi). the courts granted to warrant and the police whisked off the body to Abu Kabir. Generally, as has happened many times in the past in similar circumstances, some organization will appeal the courts warrant and the case will be looked at by other justices and decided again. Sometimes they uphold the warrant and sometimes they overturn it (like in the recent case of a stabbing of a yeshiva bochur from England by Arabs in the Old City - Zaka appealed to the Supreme Court who overturned the warrant for autopsy based on the fact that everybody knew that he had been stabbed by an Arab and there was no real need for autopsy). In this case, the police moved so fast and Abu kabir did the autopsy so fast, that it allowed no time for appeals. This infuriated the Haredi public and ensued in riots all over Israel (not just in Jerusalem).

The Haredi public felt, aside from the fact that they feel invaded by the autopsy, their rights were trampled and in such a sensitive subject (the subject of autopsies has been a debate throughout the history of the State of Israel between the authorities and the religious public) they should have been given time to appeal.

This did not have to happen like this!!

There is alot of violence on the parts of the residents and on the part of the soldiers.
Regardless of what you think about Amona itself and whther it should be evacuated or not, there is no reason it had to be done like this or right now. The residents were willing to compromise and commit to destroying it themselves. A deal could have been worked out to do this peacefully.
They have been there for years. There is no reason this could not wait a couple more moths until after the elections. Ehud Olmert was not elected PM. he wa sonly placed 33rd on the Likud list. Now that he is given power, he obviously feels he has to use it against the residents in the West Bank, to garner support for himself in the upcoming elections. This is totally inappropriate and an abuse of power.

Just yesterday there were 4 kassam rockets shot into Southern Israel. Did Ehud Olmert use force to quell the unlawful people shooting rockets at Israel? Did Ehud Olmert use force against the thousands of illegaly built homes by Arabs in Israel (or in the West bank)? Not only force, but did he take any steps (even non-forceful) against the above non-law-abiding people? Is it only against the "settlers" he must enforce the law with all force necessary right before elections?

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