Feb 28, 2007
Many were against petitioning the US government to release Pollard. After all, they would say, he took the risk when he committed the crime, honorable as it may have been in our eyes, and was caught. The risk entails a certain price, which he now has to pay. We cannot ruffle any feathers by asking for him to be released. The government is so against releasing him, he must have done something very bad, even worse than what they are saying, etc.
Originally I was a member of the second group. I admit it. I did not want to hear about Pollard. he did the crime, he should pay the time (because he was caught). I remember someone from YU very involved in organizing groups to petition for Pollard came to our shul in Chicago and spoke on his behalf to gain support (and I guess funds). I do not know how well he was received by other people, but I know that I felt he was unconvincing and I did not want to hear any more about it.
Many years went by and I got older. Jonathan Pollard has still been in jail all this time. Over time I have changed my opinion on the Pollard affair.
The way I look at it now is that Pollard has served more than the fair amount of time.
I have read a lot of the info on it - from his side how he got shafted by the judicial system and government after making an agreement, and by the government opinion about how what he did was so reprehensible and definitely the most damaging spy situation in American history. It is clear that we do not know everything about the case and much of it is still kept under wraps.
Aside from the details of the case, what information he stole, what he gave over, how sensitive it was, etc., which we cannot know, the fact is he has sat in jail longer than any other spy in American history who spied for a friendly country. By leaps and bounds. And he has sat much of that time under terrible conditions, such as solitary confinement. The most amount of time any other spy spying for a friendly country sat was something like 7 years, according to a chart I recently saw. I am looking for a list of spies in general to see how long spies for hostile countries sat in jail and see where Pollard is in that list, but have not yet found it.
The point is, he has more than served his fair amount of time. It is time to release Pollard.
Rabbis Elyashiv and Steinman, the heads of the Haredi camp in Israel and of the gedolim, in an unusual move for them (as they generally do not get involved in political issues that have international ramifications) sent a letter this week to US President George Bush honorably requesting he pardon Pollard, after having served already more than 20 years in jail.
This comes on the heals of unusual support from the camps of Agudas Yisrael of America who also recently came out in support of releasing Jonathan Pollard.
Kol Hakavod to them all for coming forward and speaking on behalf of a Jew in trouble who has paid his dues.
May the increasing unity in the Jewish comunity on this issue be pleasantly received in the eyes of Hashem and be a catalyst to gain the release of Jonathan Pollard, Yehonatan ben Malka.
Below is the letter of apology from El Al to the Haredi public publicized in today's Haredi papers
Basically it says that El Al apologizes for the latest incident and it has every intention to continue keeping shabbos as agreed. This incident was an exception that was not in the hands of El Al and they apologize, blah blah blah
Feb 27, 2007
Esterina Tratman, a Member of Knesset from the Yisrael Beiteinu party, was recently selected to be the new Minister of Tourism. She is a controversial figure to begin with, considering her outspoken opinions on the Arab sector in Israel.
Yesterday it became apparent that Tratman filed a claim with the courts that due to a traffic accident she has memory problems along with a physical disability. By law she is not allowed to work more than 4 hours per day. People are up in arms over the fact that this has been revealed now, as she is being appointed to the very important post of Minister of Tourism.
The bigger issue that broke today is her level of education. She informed the press during an interview yesterday that she holds a bachelors degree in Economics and Marketing and a masters degree in Business Administration.
I guess she assumed the press would not check, but they did. They today announced that she has no degrees and was not a registered student in any of the universities she claimed she graduated from. She never went to college, despite her claims otherwise.
To be honest, her lack of education does not really bother me. True, I would hope our leaders would be educated, but we already have another minister (Science, Culture and Sport) with no formal education, and it would not be the end of the world if she too had no formal education. Maybe she is extremely talented and experienced and would function fine despite no education. She obviously is talented, as she is one of the leaders of one of the, recently, more successful political parties.
The fact that she lied to the press about it, claiming she has higher degrees when she doesn not and it is so easily verifiable, makes her look ridiculous and as someone with bad judgement. How is it that they could not find someone reasonably honest (as politicians go) to appoint?
update - it is getting even more confusing. It turns out now she has a BA but not an MBA, but it seems she also lied about some other filings.... What a crazy story!
Actually Sunday (7 Adar) was "officially" Har Habayit day for the Bet Shemesh group. Unfortunately, a few of us could not go up on Sunday, so we split the group this month. A few guys went on Sunday and a few went today.
Today there were four of us scheduled to go. One guy cancelled at the last minute, due to a scheduling conflict, so then we were three. We went to Har Habayit, I drove. When the time came, the police gave us the instructions (no prayer, etc,) and let us up.
It was very quiet. The head of the police unit that gaurds Temple Mount escorted us today (there is always a police escort for the Jewish groups that go up). This policeman is a very nice guy and knows us already because we are regulars. He told us they have more or less gotten the situation under control and it has really quieted down, though, he said, they had some really rough days recently because of the excavations. Basically, Har Habayit was practically empty. The weather was chilly with overcast skies and a slight drizzle that was starting and stopping all morning. This type of weather usually keeps people inside, so it is not surprising that it was quiet.
It was a bit surprising that no other Jewish groups were there. I had assumed we would meet up with whatever group was scheduled for today. Either today's group was planning on going later, or maybe nobody else could make it.
Anyway, the three of us enter Har Habayit. Because the guy who was going to lead us had cancelled, I decided to say a few words. All three of us had been there before, many times, so we did not need a tour. Usually, the person leading the group will try to say some words about the time period and the relevance to the mikdash. So, being that I volunteered to speak, I told over a bit of the relevance of Purim to the mikdash with the history (as much of it as I could remember) of the time period.
The events of Purim transpired near the end of the 70 years of Galus Bavel and that is what I spoke about. A few minutes into the walk, one of the guys had to back out. He had not brought any non-leather shoes, assuming the weather would be decent. With the chill in the air and the wet stone floor, the ground was like ice on his now wet socked feet. He felt like he was going to lose a few toes, so he gave up. Then we were two.
After speaking for a few more minutes, we continued in silence. Sometimes the speaker leading us is so brilliant and interesting that it is difficult to daven (silently) because I am trying to listen to the interesting "shiur" being given. Since I was neither interesting nor brilliant, we basically had time and the ability to each concentrate on the things we wanted to daven for. There was a benefit to the group being small, it turns out.
We walked around. As we passed the makom hamizbeah - the spot where the mizbeah was located (not next to us, but at the point where it was visible along our path), the second guy shared with me how whenever he passes this spot he tries to imagine the smell of the korbanot being sacrificed. Shortly after that we did smell the odor of roasting meat wafting through the air. It was not because of our imagination, but was coming from the one of the nearby entrances to the Arab shuk.
We finished our walk and went down leaving through the old city. We passed more of the excavations. I took a couple of photos of the "controversial" excavations and will later post a few if any came out decent.
When learning the mesechet of Pesachim recently, it seemed to me that the way they ate the korbanot was very similar to a very common Middle-Eastern food called Shwarma. There is the cut up meat inside a laffa bread (Iraqi bread) with some spices and salads. For lunch today, in honor of Har Habayit, I decided to go get a shwarma. I must say, it was one of my more interesting excuses for eating a shwarma!
I read a bunch of blogs and I like them all. I am not really sure how to choose a favorite, as I like different blogs for different reasons.
So, I will select two blogs, that might or might not be my favorite. I am selecting two blogs that I enjoy reading and I am specifically choosing two blogs that I think are smaller and might not be as well known. They can benefit from the exposure, more than the larger blogs can (not that a link from my sire provides all that much exposure, but every little bit counts).
Also, I am an equal opportunity blogger, so I will take the lead of some other bloggers who did so and I will tag one guy blogger and one gal blogger.
DAG and I'm Haaretz
And here is the story of someone who tries to make sure the soldiers feel supported...
Feb 26, 2007
The NY Daily News has discovered via the research of some genealogists that Reverend Al Sharpton's great grand-daddy was a slave of the great grand-daddy of (the late) Senator Strom Thurmond.
Oh, the irony!
We were told about how a "settler woman" verbally abused a Palestinian and how no soldiers came to the aid and protection of the Palestinian. All the major news sites made a big deal of the story. Many of them even carried a video of the woman cursing at the Palestinian.
We were not given any background to the story. We were not told what happened that this woman suddenyl started cursing at the Palestinian. Maybe the Palestinian woman's kid threw rocks at a group of Jews. Maybe she knocked the Jewish woman's laundry off the clothesline. Maybe a dozen other scenarios that prompted the Jewish woman to curse at her. Maybe nothign happened and the Jewish woman was really just crazed and spontaneously cursed at the palestinian. Who knows? It did not really matter to the media, because they had the damning evidence of settler abuse against Arabs.
That horrendous story was played up in the press to amazing levels. Human rights groups protested at international levels. Committees of investigation were set up at the highest levels of government to probe settler abuse against Palestinians. The Prime Minister spoke about the incident condemning the settler community. Discussions were held about limiting the movement of the Hebron settlers, restricting them to certain areas.
All that brouhaha because some woman from Hebron cursed at somebody else with some choice four-letter words. The Palestinian woman was even heard in the video cursing at the Jewish woman, but the Palestinian woman was abused and the four-letter word incident was brought to levels of an international crisis.
Why do I write about this 6 weeks later?
Because last night a Jewish man was found dead. He died from multiple stab wounds. According to the news sources, the evidence points clearly to the source of the murder being terrorism and he must have been stabbed by a Palestinian.
How was this incident treated in the news and around the world?
Did the item make the headlines anywhere? Did any human rights group file protests at the United Nations asking for censure of the Palestinians? Did any government official announce the launch of an investigation into the matter of Palestinian abuse of Israelis? Did anybody from the PA condemn the violence? Did anybody from the Israeli government insist on some sort of clampdown on palestinian movement due to their terrorism?
The news online carried the incident as a headline. Other than that, the answer to the rest of the questions is no. The newspapers that I saw carried the news item, but not on the front page. There is no public outrage on the matter. No criticism from the government. No investigations launched. No international protest. No concern from human rights groups. Not too many people other than the victims family and friends showed too much concern over the matter.
So, is Jewish blood simply cheaper than that of other people? Or do four-letter words carry more serous weight nowadays than even multiple stab wounds?
If I am not mistaken, Chelm was supposedly in Poland (if it existed at all). Our esteemed Defense Minister hails from Morocco, not Poland. He sports a last name of Peretz.
According to Jew-Gen, a typical Polish name would be something like Berkowitz or Krakowski or the like. Peretz does not even qualify for citizenship in Chelm (it is not my intention to poke fun at Moroccans in general, just specifically this Moroccan. Some of my best friends are Moroccan!)
So what is it already? I saw the picture of this in the newspaper and on-line. Now, thanks to Jameel at The Muqata I have seen the video clip, and I am sharing it with you.
It is unbelievable that this is the Defense Minister. It does not even look like he realized...
Feb 25, 2007
I am up to bat next for my rookie hosting of HH, so you can submit your posts or great posts you read elsewhere. You can send them to me at israeli.jew at gmail dot com or use the HH widget lower down in my sidebar (and consider putting the widget on your site as well to show support for HH).
NOTE: Due to Purim falling out next Sunday, the common day for Haveil Havalim, there will not be a Haveil Havalim on March 4. The next edition will be the following week on March 11. I guess that means I have two weeks worth of submissions to work with...
The Mishpacha story was about someone who lost his tefillin two months ago. He lost it on a bus in Jerusalem. After searching for them as much as he could, he was directed to an organization that specializes in recovering lost tefillin. he contacted them and gave his information and for two months he did not have tefillin.
He could not afford to purchase a new set, so he had to make do with borrowing from others and gmachim. After two months, he went out and bought himself a new bag for tefillin. He then said to Hashem, "Hashem, I have done all I can do. I bought a new bag but I cannot afford new tefillin. I have done my hishtadlus, now it is up to You."
The story as reported is that the very same day a representative from Eged's Lost and Found division brought in a pair of tefillin to the organization who identified them based on simanim as belonging to the above fellow.
They contacted him and the very same day he had his tefillin back and placed in his new bag.
The second story was from the local rag, Hadash.
The story goes that a mehadrin bus (not belonging to Egged) was on its way from bet Shemesh to Jerusalem. When approaching the Castel, the driver of the bus fainted and lost control of the bus. On the decline of the highway, the bus got out of control and was weaving.
A passenger laid under the seat of the driver and slowly manually depressed on the brakes. The bus came to a stop just before crossing over the median and bursting into the opposite side of the highway into oncoming traffic.
Nobody was injured and the driver was taken to the hospital to be examined.
The passengers declared that in the merit of having been careful about travelling in a mehadrin bus, they merited the miracle of being saved from a terrible accident.
These are both interesting stories. In the first story though, why did the guy not check Egged Lost and Found? Maybe he did and on the day he checked they had possibly not yet been turned in? He could have checked back with them once a week during the two months... I am not really sure. However, they were returned to him on the same day he went out and purchased his bag. It is clearly a function of his emuna. Maybe only at that point was his level of emuna clear....
The second story - if the merit of riding a mehadrin bus saved them, why was the merit not enough to completely avoid the accident? Why was the driver, who was driving a mehadrin bus, not protected from fainting?
An El Al flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv had to make an unscheduled landing due to technical difficulties. The flight landed in London. After some delay, El Al decided to continue the flight to Israel. Upon realizing that the flight would have to land on shabbos due to the timing, they transferred the flight to its subsidiary Sun Dor and put the religious customers up in a local hotel for the duration of shabbos.
According to the recent agreement between the Haredim under the authority of the Organization for the Guarding the Holiness of Shabbos and El Al, El Al has agreed and committed to not flying under the El Al name on shabbos. The Haredim agreed that under any non-El Al name the chilul shabbos can continue, just not under the name El Al because of the symbolism of it being a state company (even though it is not a state company).
Now the Haredim and the above mentioned organization are up in arms over the "fast-one" pulled by El Al to get around the problem of flying in shabbos. El Al has now come up with a great solution - they can fly all their customers on shabbos when ever they feel the need, simply by transferring the plane to the subsidiary Sun Dor. All this chillul shabbos now has the hechsher from the Organization for Guarding the Holiness of Shabbos with all the gedolim signed on it.
Looks like someone is eating crow right now.
Supposedly the Haredi groups are meeting to discuss what they can do about it, inclusing the possibility of re-opening the boycott. I suspect that they will end up issuing a "stern warning" to El Al and threaten them not to do this again, but will not actually proceed with re-opening the boycott of El Al. They must realize that to a certain extent this is their fault and is technically kosher according to the agreement (even if not in the spirit of the agreement) and they will look even worse now if they show everyone how they messed up the last negotiations.
There is qord that some Haredi leaders have personally cancelled their flights on El Al, but there is not yet a call for people in the wider public to do so, other than the Gerrer Rebbe. He has, supposedly, called on people to fly other airlines until this is resolved. If I am not mistaken, he was against the original agreement with El Al and only signed on begrudgingly after Rav Elyashiv said to.
Feb 22, 2007
It said that for 7 Adar which falls out on Sunday, a group is being organized to pray at the grave of Rav Haim Vital. The 7th of Adar is a day that is mesugal for davening for parnassah. The group will be led by Rav Bing, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hamekubalim (I do not remember which yeshiva it was - but I remember it was not Shaar Ha'Shamayim). To join the group, call [phone number].
The group was only open to members of a certain "moadon".
I did not know that the 7th of Adar was a day special for parnassah. You learn something new every day.
Feb 21, 2007
If Edwards even thought he had a chance against the stars of the Democrats, Obama and Clinton, and if he thought his previous association with Lurch (a.k.a. John Kerry) did not hurt his chances this time around, he now nailed his own coffin.
Edwards says Israel's potential attack on Iran's nuclear reactor is the greatest threat to the world. Note that he did not say a hostile Iran or North Korea with nuclear weapons is the greatest threat. He said Israel potentially attacking iran's nuclear reactor after being threatened with armageddon on many occassions by Iran's president is the greatest threat.
he will be hard pressed to find any supporters now. He can kiss the rest of his campaign good-bye.
(HatTip to Dag )
Let's hope the situation remains calm and the Israeli government will not find the need to capitulate further...
Even if you believe Jews should not be going up on the Mount for halachic reasons, you still should not want the Mount to be controlled by goyim who desecrate our holy site, and our history beneath it, on a regular basis.
Feb 20, 2007
Across the street was an all-girls seminary waiting for buses to head out on a tiyul. I do not know for how long the tiyul is - one day or a sleepover two-three day tiyul. The girls looked pretty heavily laden, so it struck me as being for longer than one day, but maybe not.
That is besides the point anyway. The head of the seminary was there. He is an acquiantance of mine, so I knew who it was. With him were some other adults, I assume various teachers and madrichim, both male and female. They were all waiting for the bus to go on the tiyul.
I find it highly inappropriate that men are running all-girls schools. My friend running this school is a wonderful person and I would trust him with my life. he has complete integrity and I would never suspect him of anything.
We in the orthodox world are so concerned with separation of the sexes, rightly or wrongly, that it seems a bit hypocritical to have male principals and teachers of an all-girls seminary/school.
Are there not enough qualified and educated women who can run these schools? Must we have men running womens institutions? When climbing up a mountain, will all the girls stay perfectly tzanua that the male principal will not be put in a situation of compromising his standards of tznius. That could then lead to improper thoughts at other times, which could lead to any myriad of "michsholim" that would be inappropriate.
Again, I do not suspect this fellow in the slightest. I am using this as an example because seeing it this morning made me think about the issue a bit.
People are human. If we are really so concerned about separation of the sexes so that no hanky panky should occur, there is no reason to assume that principals and teachers are any better and above such concerns. They are human and can fall to the same urges as anybody else. This is especially true when the teachers and principal are young, as is common in today's seminary world. When older, the concern might exist, but I would think it would be less. With young teachers and principals as is fairly common, the age of the teacher might be just a few years older than the young women he is teaching. There is no reason to create such a combustible situation. there are fine women who are educated and qualified to run the schools and teach in them and they should be the ones doing so.
And if not, and if we are not concerned about teachers and principals being in these situations, than we should not be so paranoid about separation of the sexes among us regular people either.
Feb 19, 2007
Orthomom is an anonymous blogger who dedicates her blog to writing about (mostly) issues relevant to the Five Towns (somewhere in NY, excuse my ignorance). She is the subject of a lawsuit filed by one Pamela Greenbaum against Google attempting to force them to reveal Orthomom's identity.
The basic background is that an anonymous commenter on Orthomom's site said some not so nice things about Ms. Greenbaum (the commenter called her a bigot and an anti-semite). Ms. Greenbaum is on the board pf something over there - the school or the comunity or whatever and has been involved in some decisions that, it looks like, others disagree with.
Does that make her an anti-semite? I doubt it (I am not sure what the decisions were, nor does it interest me all that much). Anybody in a public position makes decisions that some people will be against. The commenter was probably wrong for slandering Ms. Greenbaum in the way he did. He also has no courage as he slandered her anonymously. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, if you really feel the need to oppose people and stand up for your position, please consider putting your name behind your words. Anonymous comments are meaningless and are not taken seriously.
Now that got the criticism of the cowardly anonymous commenter out of the way. Ms. Greenbaum's lawsuit is surely destined to be thrown out of court. Other cases similar, and more serious, to this one have been thrown out on the grounds of free speech and lack of seriousness.
Ms. Greenbaum thinks she can censor the Internet to an extent. She is going to find out that she is wrong. Aside from bringing more attention to the issue under discussion and the comments made in her direction than would otherwise have been ignored and not noticed, she has shown herself to be not one who can take a punch. She should have recognized this as a lost cause and simply ignored the anonymous comment.
From her point of view, I understand, I think. She was hurt by the hurtful words. Granted, people should be careful with what they say and act responsibly, even on the Internet. The Internet, with its ability to remain anonymous, allows people much more liberties than they ever had before. One must use those liberties responsibly. However, she is involved in politics (be it school, communal or whatever), and this is what happens when one is in the public eye. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Her attempts at solving it via the courts only makes it worse for her.
She made the news again the other day with her new haircut - a completely shaved head.
I guess she has the right to style her hair whatever way she wants, and plenty of people shave their heads nowadays (most of them men, but what's the difference anyway?), so no big deal. No skin off my back, as they say.
When this was the breaking news on every news site the other day, I commented to my wife how unusual it is. The site we were reading (I think CNN) had a couple of pictures of her, one with her long hair and one with the shaven head. My wife suggested that maybe she donated her hair to a cancer organization or something like that. We were fairly impressed that we could be "melamed zechut" (find a meritous way of explaining the situation), even though she has a reputation of being a bit hasty and freaky.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, I said that could not be. These celebrities live for PR. There is no way she cut her hair and donated it to charity. If she had, that would be the most prominent part of the article.
We joked about maybe she did it anonymously to fulfill the preference of charity being anonymous. Maybe, being the kabbalist that she is or at least used to be, that was important to her and she donated anonymously. We still doubted it though.
A Bisele Babke's post on the topic prompted me to write about this here. Babke links to an eBay auction in which Britney's hair is being auctioned off for about $100,000,000. There goes the theory that she might have donated her hair for a good cause.
I clicked on the link and found that the auction had been removed. It might indicate the whole auction was a fraud/prank, or maybe the owner pulled it for other reasons.
Again, the theory of the hair donation is back on the table.
But now I see this in the news - it is really true. Britney is selling her hair for $1,000,000. Captialism at its best. Or maybe she thinks her talent has limited earning potential now that she is a single mother of two and perceived as an unstable person, so she has begun to sell body parts in order to generate income.
What's next? Will her kidney go up for sale on eBay?
Feb 18, 2007
As its name indicates, it will be dedicated to my thoughts, chiddushim, and lessons extrapolated regarding the various Jewish holidays.
With Purim on its way, along with daf yomi currently and conveniently learning masechet megilla, the first holiday to be discussed will be Purim and Megillat Esther, with pesach coming right on its heels!
Check it out and feel free to keep coming back for more if you enjoy it...
Scottie Pippen, though, seems to be having one.
This might not interest many of you, but being a Chicago sports fan, I could not pass this up... Scottie Pippen has announced at the NBA All-Star festivities that he is in great shape and thinks he can make a comeback and play for a team.
Pippen is 41 years old. If he can get the energy up to play with 21 year olds and not get a)a heart attack b) embarrassed c) injured d) all of the above e) all of the above + much worse than I say more power to him. let him ride this mid-life crisis out.
He was a great ball player and obviously has a few loose screws if he thinks he can really do this. If a team is willing to take the chance, and if the league insurance is willing to take the chance with him, than maybe let Pip lace up!!
It is kind of funny but he even took the time to "dis" Jordan, as he claimed he was better than Jordan, or at least more desirable as a team player for coaches and teammates.
Goodman is probably the first Orthodox guy to play basketball professionally in Israel. He has served in the Israeli army after he became a citizen. he was featured once in Sports Illustrated, which made him fairly famous and he hit the scene with a splash.
I personally have not heard updates from him in a while and this interview with him was interesting. He mentions God a lot, as he speaks humbly.
Feb 16, 2007
Hmmm. Let's see how successful it was.
Olmert went there stating that his goal is to convince the Turks to help get Syria to release Eli Cohen's body from captivity.
Olmert then said he will be trying to muster support against Iran.
Those were his two stated goals in going to Turkey.
And what did he come home with? Eli Cohen's body? A strong multi-national coalition including Turkey against Iran?
Olmert came home with Turkish inspectors to supervise an engineering and archaeological dig that we have every right to perform with no need to ask anybody's permission. He has sold us out to foreign supervisors. We now have to get the approval of the government of Turkey before we do anything? Is that the position Olmert has now put us in? Has he sold us down the river again?
Feb 15, 2007
It is now being revealed base don documentation that Anne Franke (her father really) had petitioned the United States to be let in as a refugee. They were refused entry visas.
This story seems to be making the waves in the news sites and various blogs. It is big because it makes the US look bad, as it ignored the situation of Anne Franke.
The latest revelations in the Anne Franke legacy fail to impress me. I have letters of correspondence (I have actually given them to Yad Vashem so they are not in my possession any longer) between my grandfather and the United States government. he was trying to get visas for his parents who were stuck in Germany. The US refused on a number of occassions. His parents went up in smoke with much of European Jewry.
Am I supposed to be more touched by Anne Franke's story just becasue she became a celebrity? It is horrible what happened to her and how she was clearly refused entry when she could easily have been saved. However, in perspective, the United States was keeping in line with their general policy.
They did not let Anne Franke in. They did not let my great grandparents in. And they did not let in thousands of other Jews who tried to get in.
I even know some of them from the softball league..
Here is a short clip of them singing with him at a bar mitzva.. you only see the Hebrews, not Ohad, and it is a short clip.. enjoy.
Rav Elyashiv yesterday released a new ruling.
This is the latest in a series of rulings that generate a rash of blog postings and newspaper articles criticising the Haredi world.
For example, we recently heard about his ruling that anybody in possession of an unapproved, "non-kosher" cellphone cannot be allowed to have his kids in the Haredi school system (talmud torahs/heder).
Prior to that we heard about his ban on higher learning for Haredi women. This despite the fact that the higher learning referred to was in the Bais Yaakov school system and was for the purpose of teachers having higher degrees to a) be better teachers and b) so they could earn more money with which to support their husbands in kollel.
Prior to that was temporarily banning El Al, no matter what the enormous cost was to travellers who had to cancel tickets and buy new tickets on other mechalel shabbos airlines.
Prior to that was [name your item of interest here - from wigs to Zebu meat to Slifkin to Kaminetzky to who can remember what else].
The latest, which I bring to you here, was announced yesterday in the Yated Ne'eman (Hebrew edition).
There is an organization called "U'K'Tavtem". This organization finds a nice way to provide a little extra cash to kollel yingerleit. They provide examinations for the avreichim and those with qualifying grades on the exams receive a stipend. Sounds great. What kollel guy does not need every extra shekel he can get. Add that to the benefits of testing which causes one to study harder and generally increases one's retention of the material studied and it sounds great.
Yesterday Rav Elyashiv announced that any avreich in possession of a "non-kosher", unapproved cellphone will not be allowed to receive a stipend from these exams and therefore his exams will not be reviewed.
Here is the clipping:
Just the latest in the list of choke holds applied by the Haredi leadership over their own followers.
After much consideration and thought, he finally made the leap and announced his candidacy.
He was great on Saturday Night Live. He is a hilarious comedian. He is an insightful and inspired person. He has written some great books. He has been running Air America to combat the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
And he's a Jew, so help out a brother.
If you are from Minnesota, consider voting for Al. If I was, I would. We need more colorful politicians anyway.
Feb 14, 2007
Another disgruntled teenager (this one 18 years old) shoots up a bunch of random people.
Good think an off-duty cop was in the mall having dinner with his wife. He confronts the guy then teams up with another police office and they put an end to the kids miserable life.
CNN brings us the story of the cop who was off-duty but still carrying his gun who got involved.
"But Hammond said he hopes he saved lives, and believes "we were
there for a reason. I had my gun on me for a reason. We decided to eat dessert
-- which we normally don't do -- for a reason, she decided to take a break --
everything happened for a reason."
The funny thing is, when I hear stories like this, such as reading them in the Hamodia hashgacha pratis article, I tend to roll my eyes, nod/shake my head, or mouth a cynical 'wow'. Yet when CNN prints a similar story by a non-Jew, the cynicism is gone and, at least my initial reaction, I am impressed.
Why am I, or why are we (if you do the same), more cynical about these things when it comes to frum Jews? Or am I just an aberration?
If you are not a blogger but are curious or follow it, you too can head over to the Muqata. Just make sure you are wearing your bullet-proof vest...
Feb 13, 2007
I doubt it, but there are such theories.
Hamodia ran a piece last week about Abraham Lincoln possibly being Jewish. They raised all sorts of circumstantial evidence which, they say, indicate his affiliation to the Jewish people.
Such evidence includes letters of correspondence between him and people of the Hebrew faith, assistance he provided as President to issues of concern to people of the Hebrew faith, the lack of any clear religion in his background, and a town in England named Lincoln that at some point had a sizable Jewish population.
They offered no real proofs to the suggestion.
They did not claim that Abraham Lincoln hailed from Lincoln, England. They simply mentioned the town in England with some of its Jewish history.
They did not show that Lincoln assisted and tried to solve requests by Jews any more than requests by other people. They simply showed examples of Jews having made requests of Lincoln and his responding positively.
They did not show that Lincoln corresponded more with Jews than with people of other faiths. They simply mentioned that he corresponded with Jews, and brought some examples of such correspondence. I will assume (rightly or wrongly) that he also corresponded with people of other faiths. If he corresponded with a Mormon would that prove (or even indicate) that he was a Mormon? Would correspondence with Muslims make him a Muslim? etc.
As President of the United States of America, and preceding that as an aspiring to the presidency, it is likely there were plenty of people of all faiths who sent letters to him. Many of these letters would have contained requests of assistance on various matters of concern. Like any politician he would have tried to help when he could.
To use such baseless evidence as possible proof of Lincoln's Jewishness is a disgrace and an embarrassment. The Hamodia newspaper is treating its readers as morons and people lacking intelligence.
A supplier called me up a short while ago. This supplier asked me why I have not called them in a while for quotes and equipment.
I did not really have an answer other than to say I have not really needed anything recently. It has been pretty quiet.
My supplier responds with a sigh and says, "by you too?". I say "What do you mean? is it quiet in general? Your other customers are also quiet now?" Suppliers sighs again and says yes.
I ask what is going on? why is it quiet by everybody? What's happening in the marketplace?
The answer surprised me a bit. Supplier says, "If we had a normal country with a normal prime minister who knew what he was doing, the market would be better. But we have a screwed up prime minister who just causes trouble so the market is bad. People can't do business because they don't know what is happening."
And this is from someone who is (at least) not a right wing or left wing fanatic. I am not familiar with this persons exact politics, but he is a secular, albeit traditional, Jew and probably votes somewhere in the middl3e of the political landscape, possibly even for Kadima in the last elections.
It is not just the people on the extremes of the left and right who are disenfranchised with what is happening, between all the corruption and failed leadership. The folks in the center feel the same way.
Feb 11, 2007
During the recent crisis between El Al and the Haredi public, with the Haredim nearing a boycott of El Al, we heard an interesting statement in the name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, which was then supported by other gedolim. I do not remember now the exact wording (and am too lazy right now to go look for the quote) so I will paraphrase. He basically said that now that El Al does not have the shabbos protecting it, as El Al flew on shabbos, anybody who flies El Al would be putting himself in danger. When the crisis was resolved, word went out that now it is again safe to fly El Al since they have committed to keeping shabbos, so they will have the protection of shabbos.
Shortly after Rav Kanievsky made the initial statement questioning the safety of El Al, there was an incident in which a plane had some sort of emergency and had to make an emergency landing. The frum world went into hysteria about how Rav Kanievsky was right and El Al is not safe to fly, look what happened right after he said what he said, blah blah blah.
So now, just a few weeks after the crisis is over and El Al has committed to keeping shabbos, we see a number of incidents in which an El Al flight experienced similar levels of danger and emergency. So what happened? Isn't the shabbos protecting El Al now? Didn't El Al commit to keeping shabbos? According to what Rav Kanievsky said, these latest incidents should not have happened!!
Or maybe the earlier incident was not out of the ordinary and every airline has a certain number of incidents of this nature and statistically there is nothing to do about it.
Yet another indication that the whole crisis was an exercise in muscle-flexing and they had to manipulate the public in order to get them to go along with it...
Feb 9, 2007
As you can from the screenshot I attached below, I just noticed that Gmail is now open for everybody and anybody to sign up for. No longer do you need to look for people to send you invitations.
http://www.gmail.com - go knock yourself out!
I avoided all the pictures with people in them, to protect their privacy... but enjoy these pictures of our siyum...
Feb 8, 2007
And this is after Israel has already given tacit permission to the Arabs to add a new minaret on the Mount while rejecting the Jews requests to build a synogague. They won't even let us do badly needed renovations and historical excavations.
Litani says, "We don't have to demonstrate our sovereignty over every inch of united Jerusalem in every case. At this time, which isn't easy for Israel and features immediate dangers, ranging from Hizbullah in Lebanon to the Iranian nuclear threat, we don't need this confrontation, which will give the Palestinians a reason to end their own bloody clashes and unite against Israel."
He might be right. There are possible scenarios in which it might just not be worth our "provoking" the peace loving Arabs to violence. After all, while sad that innocents are getting killed, it is better that they are killing each other in Gaza City rather than killing Jews or forcing us to kill them. A provocation by Israel could change all that. It could unite the various factions among the PA Arabs and get them to stop fighting with each other and start fighting with us again. Nobody wants that.
He might be right. But not when it comes to the Temple Mount. It is bad enough that the Arabs have acting control over the Mount and we Jews have to be debased and humiliated any time we want to go to visit the Mount with body searches for religious material and not being allowed to pray on the Mount.
They use our democratic society against us. We democratically have to give them control over anything they claim they are sensitive to. We democratically have to give them rights and freedoms in the name of peace and justice. Yet when they are in control of something they show us no liberties and offer us no rights and freedoms.
We have given them practical control over the Temple Mount. Do they let us have our religious freedoms and pray there, in the sight that is holiest to Judaism? No. Despite the fact that it is sovereign Israeli territory, we allow the Arabs enough control that they disallow jews to pray there. Freedom and liberty seems to only run one way when it comes to the Arabs.
Now Litani says we should not even demonstrate the slight amount of control we do have? If we let them hold the Mount hostage in this ridiculous baseless fashion and give in to their threats of violence, what would he say we should demonstrate our sovereignity over? only when they come looking for Lod and Ramle? Tel Aviv? Haifa? When will it be ok to demonstrate our sovereignity?
This is similar to the schoolyard bully who beats up the nerdy kid for his lunch money. He keeps on doing it for more and more power and money, until the kid realizes he has to stand up for himself. When he finally gets the courage to fight back, that is when the bully leaves him alone.
My three year old daught got a new book recently. It is a book about a kid who has low self esteem and is picked on by the other kids. A new kid moves into the neighborhood and the kid oozes with self esteem and immediately has all the other kids respect. The low self esteem kid asks him how he can be "strong" like him. His response is not to let them pick on you. When they tell you to do something, if you do not want to do it say no. Stand up for yourself. He says they will leave you alone if you just say no. It is not muscles that make you strong, rather the confidence and will to stand up for yourself.
It is time we stopped giving in to every threat the Arabs throw at us. It is time we stood up to them and told them we will not take it from them anymore. Let them show us how civilized they can be.
Even Judge Cheshin said yesterday (referring to the new Justice Minister who advocates changing the judicial system), "This is my house and I will cut off the hand of anybody who threatens it."
Feb 7, 2007
The drive is being sponsored by Zichron Menachem , Gift of Life , Hadassa Hospital, and Amutat Am Yisrael Hai in an attempt to find a donor for these women. They have introduced a new testing method, imported from the US, which takes just a few minutes with a couple of swabs of saliva from the cheeks, rather than the previous method of testing the blood.
I went down and got myself tested.
We often hear about the great amount of hessed the Haredi community does. And they do a lot of hessed. But let me tell you, other people do hessed too.
There were all types of people in that room being tested; Haredim, secular, dati leumi, etc.. Everybody cares and everybody wants to help. Kol hakavod.
We learned in the gemara the other day in daf yomi in Taanis 28a an interesting idea. The gemara, discussing the idea of donating wood for the Beis Hamikdash, mentioned that the pestle-smugglers, the fig harvesters and the ladder-people acted righteously.
The Greek authorities had decreed disallowing the Jews to bring wood for the Beis Hamikdash, nor the Korban of the Bikkurim. The pestle-smugglers and the fig harvesters got around the decree against the Bikkurim by covering the Bikkurim with figs and smuggling it through the guards.
The ladder-people would bring ladders through the guards claiming they were using the ladders for maintenance. Once inside, they would dismantle the ladders and use them as wood for the korbanos.
The gemara declares that "Regarding such people the passuk says זכר צדיק לברכה - The Tzadik is remembered for blessing".
I am reprinting (with the author's permission) the contents of an email someone sent out about this gemara:
Acc. to Marsha, this is how to understand the gemara.
During Beis Shenie, When the Greeks started to take power, They had no control over the Beis Hamekdash, and were unable to prevent Korbanot.
So they set up guards on the roads, and area where they did have control.
They only prevented two Korbanot, the Wood ( only to each family that had a holiday from their ancestors of bringing on that day - in the beginning -- Holiday for them ),
and Bikkurim. These two Korbanot were related to Simcha. They wanted to prevent Jews from Bringing Korbanot that would bring the Simcha.
They only prevented these Korbanot, all others were okay, and that is why, when they looked at the Korbanot, there was always fire, but they could not tell which Korbanot were being offered.
The Gemara tells us Stories of families that would LIE, and sneak past the Guards to bring Korbanot Besimcha.
These are the people , and the Gemara points out, people WITH SIMILAR ACTIONS, are Zecher Tzadik LeVracha.
I don't know if this phrase, zt"l, is used anywhere else, for people learning torah ( except that you can say, they are Moser Nefesh to learn Besimcha ).
But what impacts me the most is the LIE, to achieve this grate goal.
I can only reflect and compare this to people who go up to Har Habayit, to daven Besimcha.
I personally do not go, nor can I say it is permitted.
But only time will tell, regarding these people, who do it BESIMCHA, where they will be remembered the same way, as the families in our Gemara,
Zecher Tzadik LeVracha.
I do not know when else the term "Zecher Tzadik LeVracha" is officially used. Nowadays we commonly use the term to refer to talmidei hachamim and people who have done great hessed (and sometimes not so great people) who died.
Going up to Har Habayit today is fairly controversial. Some rabbonim are in favor, some are against for a variety of reasons.
One of the major reasons against going up to Har Habayit is "Lo L'hitgarot B'goyim" - not to "tchepper" with the goyim. Not to provoke them.
To this claim I say that Har Habayit is only their latest claim of our provocation against them. They do not want us here in Israel at all. If we would accept that claim, we would all have to leave Israel, and most other countries, so as not to upset the goyim.
I imagine that back then, along with at any point in history in which a significant portion of the populace disagreed with the ruling evil parties (for this post I will only be referring to those governments Jewish history considered wicked and evil, leading the Jews astray from following Torah and mitzvos), we would hear similar complaints.
There would be groups of people who would insist on going to the Beis Hamikdash to bring korbanos, despite the decrees against and despite the social pressures against. I imagine them in shul talking to their friends about their plans to go to the beis Hamikdash next week.
The friend would show concern and say something like, "You do that? Isn't it dangerous? What will be if the Greeks find out? What will be if Yerovom finds out? You know they have guards to keep people away? You know they have snitches and others who keep their eyes out for anybody involved in these things and they can make your life hell? They will get your kids thrown out of school, you will not find shidduchim for your kids, your kids will be thrown out of yeshiva, etc.". And these people were good people, they were religious, even possibly Haredi, if the type existed back then. They were against people going up to the Beis Hamikdash because they were afraid of the repercussions.
Yet the people who continued to go to the Beis Hamikdash, probably small in number, would press on and say this is what needs to be done. They would insist "We cannot follow them in their evil ways and give in to their dictates". They would risk everything to do what was right.
And the Gemara says these are the people who it is written about Zecher Tzadik LeVracha.
It is comforting to think about this, as someone who does go up against the general consensus, that according to Jewish history we (those of us who go up) are in good company of people who our Torah considers Tzaddikim just because they were willing to risk everything in order to continue the relationship with Hashem and the Beis Hamikdash.
Feb 6, 2007
No, there have been no roadworks going on.
The cause of the road closures are a series of violent protests going on through the neighborhood of RBS B.
The exact source of the problem is a bit unclear. You will get different details from each person you ask. But the general story is that about 10 days ago a woman from RBS B was found dead. She was in the middle of divorce proceedings and her husband had had a restraining order keeping him away from her house. The restraining order had just expired and he had come by "to see the kids". The next thing anybody knows is that she turns up dead in the street near her place of employment (she worked in a mikva).
Some of the local zealots assumed the police would attempt to take the body for an autopsy. They repeated an act that they did a few months ago in Ashdod and stole the body away under the watchful eye of the police. This time, though, they had to use violence to run off with the body. They got a group of people to help them and they beat up the few police who had been keeping watch over the body.
Eventually the situation was cleared up. They agreed there would be no autopsy, just an external examination. the body was returned, the funeral was held and all was ok.
Then the police came and arrested a number of people. This is where it gets unclear. It is unclear whether they arrested the people involved in stealing the body, involved in beating the police, involved in planning and running the incident, or just innocent bystanders who were "watching" at one of the original protests.
Since the police arrested those people, many people from that neighborhood have been holding protests in the streets on a daily and nightly basis. They throw rocks at buses. They shove garbage bins into the street. They hurl debris at people, buses, cars and police. I understand that the police have removed all the garbage bins from the area, so now the people are going out themselves and blocking the roads.
Last night I went to a wedding. I got a ride with a friend. For some reason on the way back he decided to drive through RBS B to get to our neighborhood. This is at about 11:00 PM. We get to a certain intersection to find the rest of the road blocked off by the police due to protests taking place further up the road. We turned around and went another way.
I, personally, no longer drive through RBS B. If I need to get somewhere that requires my crossing through B, I take alternate routes using either the back road or the main highway #38. Even though those routes are longer than crossing through RBS B, one never knows if he will make it through B or encounter a road block, or worse possibly encounter a rock to the windshield. The only time I go through RBS is if I need to go to the Post Office, which is located in RBS B. I stopped using the stores in B. I no longer travel that route.
The situation there has gotten way out of hand and it seems like the police can hardly control it. I am tired of hearing the excuse that it is just a few people and they act on nobody's authority and do not listen to the local Rabbonim who tell them to stop. I no longer believe it.
Aside from the damage they cause to our cars and buses, aside from tying up police resources, aside from causing many people an inconvenience, aside from anything else, they are holding their own neighbors hostage to their stupidity. If the neighbors and Rabbonim of the area did not agree, they would have found ways of stopping it by now, even if that meant throwing them out of the neighborhood. They find ways of chasing out other people who they do not want living among them, they can find ways of getting rid of these people as well.
Even if you justify their having stolen the dead body on religious grounds that autopsies are prohibited and they were right in their zealotry, that in no way justifies what is happening. Part of being a zealot is the idea that you are doing something you fiercely believe in despite the threat of consequences.
If they fiercely believed in the necessity of stealing the body and can thereby justify the theft and subsequent violence on those religious grounds, then they should have done so with accepting any possible consequences, including their arrests. To increase violence because they were arrested for their actions is hypocritical. They should be proud of being arrested for the honor of defending the Torah and should leave the rest of us alone.
And the police need to do their job. If it means beating a few of them over the head with nightsticks, so be it. Open those roads, protect the people driving through from flying objects, and let us live our lives like normal people.
Feb 5, 2007
I figured if the Bears lost and played so poorly, I at least have to come up with something profound to take away from the game. Some sort of lesson to make staying up all night worthwhile.
The game started off with an absolutely amazing play by Chicago Bear Devin Hester. He ran the first kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown. The first play of the game. If you blinked you would have missed it. After that they played pretty poorly and ended up losing the game.
Sometimes we think that we need some big event, something extremely inspiring, to get us moving. The big play is the important one.
It is not true. It is not the case. The big play is great. It can inspire and motivate. But it is not the most important. The most important is the daily grind. Making the normal plays with consistency (which the Bears did not so last night). Being diligent in the normal routines. That is what brings a person to success.
The Bears made a great play right away. Very inspiring. But they did not cash in. They did not make the regular routine plays. You cannot win without succeeding in the routine plays.
We have to be more diligent in completing our normal, daily routines and activities and not be so worried about the big splashy public things we do. Those are what will bring us our success.
Feb 4, 2007
There have been a number of recent incidents in which the relationship between the two has been strained due to conflict.
The latest is the decision regarding the purchase of a new missile defense system. Amir Peretz made his evaluation and decided to go with one of the options. His decision is irrelevant to me. I am not going to praise it or criticize it, as I have no way of knowing which of the four options were better or worse. I will assume (rightly or wrongly) that Peretz did his due diligence and made his recommendation based on professional factors.
Peretz announced his conclusions, selecting a system developed by the RAFAEL corporation. Immediately after his announcement, Olmert announced that Peretz has no right to make a decision on this matter and he would have the final say.
Of course, after all the back and forth between the spokespeople of each respective office, they each say their is no conflict or tension between the two.
This came after a scuffle over who has the right to recommend the new IDF Chief of Staff.
I do not understand Olmert's position. He says the Defense Minister has no right to make any of these decisions.
If the Defense Minister cannot select the Chief of Staff, or even make a recommendation on the matter, and cannot decide or even recommend a missile defense system, what exactly is his job description? What can he do as Defense Minister? Where do his responsibilities end and Olmert's begin?
If Olmert is not allowing the Defense Minister to make defense related decisions because he feels the DM is not qualified to do so, then he should fire him and appoint a DM who is qualified. If he thinks the DM is not qualified then what makes him think he is any more qualified to make such decisions? His military background is no more qualifying than Peretz's record.
Is it really not the Defense Minister's responsibility to make such decisions or recommendations? If not, what is his job description? What are his responsibilities?
I will predict a Bears victory by a score of 27-21. I made up that score. I have no idea how to predict a score and just assume everybody else also make up the scores they predict.
My stats: I always predict the Bears to win. That means, the Bears went 13-3 in the regular season and are now 2-0 in the playoffs, making them 17-3 so far for the season. That means I have been wrong three times and right 17 times.
That is a much higher percentage than the experts who have predicted the Bears to lose nearly every game this season. So, if you are betting on the game tonight, your chances are better betting in line with me than with the experts. But I take no responibility for your bet (just like they don't).
Feb 1, 2007