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Dec 31, 2009

Hezi Dayan is sitting in an ice cube (video)

Hezi Dayan, some Israeli magician, is sitting in an ice cube in Rabin Square right now trying to break a record set by David Blaine. More power to 'em!

Interesting Posts #119

1. Oy My Valve describes MK Daniel Hershkowitz as a sellout for his statement about this being the best possible government...

2. Mystical Paths had a stunning conversation with an unnamed Hassidic rebbe...

3. Parsha Blog on Rav Chaim Kanievsky and mezuza stories...

4. Pesky settler posts an article that has been making the rounds about "Israelification"..

5. Happy birthday to Sandy Koufax on his 74th birthday.. עד מאה ועשרים

6. west Bank Mama on parents from hell...

7. Tzedek-Tzedek on the latest financial scandal

Mayor Abutbol responds to the hafgana

In response to the hafganah the other day against the closing of the school, and against the "haredization" of Bet Shemesh, Mayor Abutbol has said, "It disturbs me that politicians have taken advantage of children and their parents, a cynical exploitation for political needs, and have tried to fan the flames and incite the parents.

the building that houses Bet Sefer L'Safot V'Tarbuyot, has 12 classrooms and a number fo other rooms. The building is designed for up to 480 students, yet only 170 students learn in this school, so most of the building is not being used.

the Ministry of Education has requested from the City of Bet Shemesh to combine Nationalist schools in the city, as other nationalist schools are also suffering from low capacity. 75% of the students in this school do not live in the neighborhood, which has a character of Dati-Haredi, an come to the school from other parts of Bet Shemesh, by buses funded by the City.

As mayor of the city I have a responsibility to all the children in the city, from all the sectors. While this building is not being used to capacity, and is in danger of being closed with other schools, haredi students are forced to learn in caravans, and there is no reason this should be so. We will not be deterred from taking the necessary steps to improve efficiency and to strengthen the educational system in Bet Shemesh.
(source: mynet)

Quote of the Day (qotd)

Because of international solidarity and your support, we have become stronger...The Palestinian nation will never give up its national aspirations or its right to Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine and the Islamic people.

---- Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh in speech to Palestinian and Israeli activists

Rush in Hawaii

Rush Limbaugh, while on vacation in Hawaii, was rushed last night to the hospital in critical condition with chest pains.

Even though I don't like him, I wish him well.

the best line I heard about his situation was on twitter from @judahe - he said "we both know it's a ploy to get into the hospital to look for the [Obama] birth certificate!"

That is a great line.

Are haredim at a disadvantage in the workforce?

Somebody asked me the following question, and I wanted to hear your thoughts...

Do you think "chareidi" looking people (mainly the kippa) are at a disadvantage when looking for a job? I know the answer probably differs for different industries and company size, i.e. technology, financial services, law, etc. And I'm sure the question can be posed to people in the workforce already (whether they feel they are at some competitive disadvantage), but my guess is that once you are "in", performance is the key factor.

I know statistics recently published say that it is a factor and haredim are hired less. It could be for a variety of reasons though (qualifications, lack of army, lack of education) and not necessarily due to appearance, so i am nto sure how accurate of a picture those statistics really paint.

Rabbi Riskin's official response

Being that Rabbi Riskin has been criticized, I believe he also has the right to have his response heard in the same venues... Rabbi Riskin issued the following response, an official statement, to the criticism over his video talking about Jesus and Christianity..

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

STATEMENT FROM RABBI SHLOMO RISKIN REGARDING YOUTUBE VIDEO DECEMBER 30, 2009

It has come to my attention that comments I made on the character of Jesus in a recent interview have been misunderstood. Allow me to clarify.


The filmed interview in question (given to a group of Christians) was edited carelessly and posted on YouTube by an organization that omitted a significant part of my message. The fundamental differences between Judaism and Christianity, which I always emphasize in my talks with Christian groups, were completely absent from the edited version. In the segment of the film that was spliced out I made specific reference to the fact that Jews can never accept Jesus as the Messiah – anyone who does so is ipso fact not a Jew - and that for us every human being is a child of G-d (and not any one specific individual); no one single person can ever claim that unique status, which G-d bestowed upon all of humanity created in His image.

I would certainly never praise the Christian representation in whose name Jews have been slaughtered and persecuted throughout the years. That was not my intention at all, and I regret putting myself in a position where my words could be manipulated. Indeed, my comments referred to Jesus the historical figure, the man who was not a “Christian,” who did not hate Jews but rather was himself a committed Jew. In order to emphasize this point to a Christian audience, I referred to him as “Rabbi” Jesus, the Jewish historical Jesus as many historians such as Professors Joseph Klausner and David Flusser have proven him to be. However, let me be clear: While I refer to Jesus poetically as “Rabbi” Jesus, he was not a rabbi in the classical sense of the term. It was used only to explain to a Christian audience the Jewish Jesus, and in hindsight, the term was an inappropriate one to use.

Tragically, innumerable horrors were inflicted upon the Jewish people in his name. I always emphasize this point to Christian audiences and they always respond with great empathy and sincere pain. For me, one of the true signs of the unique period in which we are living is that for the first time in 2000 years, the Christian world has held out a hand of peace to the Jewish world. Even more: leading Catholics (notably Pope John 23 and Pope John Paul II), important intellectual Protestants like Professor Jon D. Levenson and Prof. Petra Held and virtually the entire Evangelical community worldwide have asked for our forgiveness, have made serious revisions in their theological positions, and are standing squarely behind the Jewish people in the State of Israel.

As an Orthodox rabbi, I deeply believe that there is a need for mutually-respectful dialogue between the Jewish and Christian worlds. This dialogue must express our common commitment to a G-d of love, pluralism and peace, but must at the same time never gloss over the very different faith commitments of our individual respective religious communities. Dialogue between Jews and Christians is especially crucial now for the political future of the nation of Israel as well as for the security of the free world in the face of the rapidly spreading Islamic Fundamentalism which is terrorizing humanity. Only the G-d of love and peace which we share with the Christian world can overcome the false G-d of Jihad and terrorist bombers. From a Jewish perspective it is clear that such dialogue can only be conducted in accordance with the principals of our Torah philosophy and the faith commitments which are the foundation of our sacred traditions.



Shlomo Riskin

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: entering the Knesset building

Will the Degel representatives in Knesset be resigning in the coming days?

Bechadrei News is reporting that on Tuesday, during Rav Elyashiv's daily shiur, while discussing the topic of houses of idol worship and the issur for a Jew to enter such a place, Rav Elyashiv explained that it is only allowed to sometimes, in specific situations, to enter their courts to fight against their attacks against the Torah.

Someone present asked if then it is allowed because of that, for haredi representatives to be part of the Knesset, as the Knesset is a Beis Minnim where they fight against the Torah. Rav Elyashiv's response was that the hetter only applies to the courts, and nothing else. The fellow persisted and said that in the Knesset there are heretics who hate Torah and shomrei mitzvos, and the haredi MKs are there to fight against that. Rav Elyashiv flippantly asked if they have succeeded, to which he said they try.

Rav Elyashiv said "They should stay and sit at home.. and let them try from there"

Obviously the haredi MKs from Degel (not Aguda, as they have their own poskim) will have to go to Rav Elyashiv and get clarification from him whether the Knesset is really given the status of a Beis Minnim and if they should immediately resign.

It doesn't make sense that he really holds that, considering the Degel policy of relating to the government, and Rav Elyashiv has never before told them they should not be part of the government. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens in light of his statement..

The Eidah and the Pulsa D'Nura

The latest edition of the Eidah magazine is out. Here is the cover, below. The feature is the battle they are fighting against "The Empire", a.k.a. Intel.

What I find particularly interesting, and it might be worth buying the edition just for this article, is the article on the Pulsa D'Nura.

I marked it off on the cover artwork below. Anything and everything you ever wanted to know, or didn't want to know, about the Pulsa D'Nura.


Sevivon (video)

This version of Sevivon, by the US Army band, might be the best that I have ever heard....



(hattip: Torat Yisrael)

Learning from El AL (video)

Dec 30, 2009

Voting for Person of the Decade

Haaretz is running a contest (with a prize!) asking you to vote for who you think the most influential person of the decade has been. They offer a large selection of public figures, and ask you to choose 5.

I don't understand why some of them are included in the list - a basketball player, for example. It was great that he made it to the NBA this year, but what does that have to do with being influential, let alone influential throughout the decade? there were also some other choices just as questionable for their inclusion...

The vote is for most influential people. Not most positive, most popular, etc.

Anyway, here are the 5 people I selected, and why I chose them:
  1. Ahmadinejad - he has held the headlines now for 5 years running, with his nuclear project, and the post-election recent turmoil.
  2. Ariel Sharon - despite his 4 years of coma, the first half of the decade was commanded mostly by Sharon. Taking the premiership, the disengagement, his leadership, his revamping his image, etc. His influence and his actions have extended well to the end of the decade despite his having been in a coma the past 4 years.
  3. Jon Stewart - the funny man probably shouldn't be in the list, but he has gone from being simply a comedian with a fake news show to being an extremely influential anchor. He hosts and interviews world leaders and puts their opinions to the test.
  4. Stanley Fischer - he has calmly navigated Israel through one of the worst global depressions ever, and has successfully minimized the depressions effects on Israel's economy.
  5. Bernie Madoff - A choice I was unsure of, but chose him over Nasrallah. His Ponzi scheme scandal and 150 year conviction have had and will continue to have ramifications and influence on the financial markets for a long time.
Those are my choices. Go check out the Haaretz site and submit your choices... Just don't take my prize.

Interesting Posts #118

1. Here is a blog that is unusual - the author is writing events as if from the perspective of Mashiach's Wife. Here is a post she writes about groveling before the goyim.

2. Going Home to Yerushalayim writes about the son of Dan, and the Abir tradition.

3. A Guest Post on Haemtza by Rabbi Ginzburg on the topic of daas torah and daas baalebatim

4. Kvetching Editor asks if a born Jew can be a "Jew by Choice".

5. A Jewish athlete, former NFL player and longtime wrestler, has been inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Didnt know we Jews were so good at these sports...

6. Muqata posts a strange story of a wedding that was saved by a shawarma.. and speaking of weddings and marriage, he also has a post about how aliyah is like marriage...

Rabbi Riskin responds to the storm

The Jewish Internet is agog with the recent video of Rabbi Riskin seemingly praising Jesus and Christianity, and comparing Christianity to Religious Judaism.

From the video it looked to me like Rabbi Riskin had lost his mind. Obviously he was talking to Christians and his message was designed for them and not for us, but his comparisons were way out of bounds.

After the storm had been unleashed with criticism flying from practically every blog and jewish content website on the internet (except mine - I had written a post and then canned it), Rabbi Riskin has offered his response to the criticism.

In an interview to the Kipa website, Rabbi Riskin says that his words were taken out of context.
Rabbi Riskin says as an Orthodox Rabbi who believes in dialogue between Jews and Christians, out of mutual respect, while being careful to stay faithful to the Jewish outlook, and faithful to the beliefs and concepts that have been the guiding principals of the Jewish nation and the Torah throughout all of history.

Rabbi Riskin claims to not have praised Jesus - he says, "I never praised the character or the personality of the person in whose name Jews were slaughtered throughout history. If that is how my words were understood, I am disturbed by that understanding and state that that was not my intention at all. I apologize if my words were taken improperly. I related to the historical persona of Jesus, who was not a Christian, did not hate Jews, but was a Jewish and religious person. unfortunately, his faith and his way caused much suffering to the Jewish people.

Out of concern for the political future of the Jewish nation, I think that dialogue between jews and Christians strengthens our positions with the fundamentalist world that is taking hold in the world. But of course any dialogue must be done from a Torah viewpoint that is grounded in the heritage of old.

I see a failure to explain his position. He gives some background and context to his words. but just because he believes in dialogue does not mean what he said is acceptable. His words still compared Judaism and Christianity in unacceptable ways. he did not explain the true meaning and intention, which he says what taken out of context, of his words.

@TheKotel's Presentation (video)

Alon nir is the mastermind behind what has become a massive project on Twitter. His name on Twitter is @thekotel, and he has been featured in press around the world.

Alon basically asks you to send your prayers to him in a tweet (or via his website) and he will put them in the Kotel for you.

Here is Alon's recent presentation at the #140 Conference in Tel Aviv.

Yated upset over haredi-secular website

Among the fallout of the ban on haredi websites was the management of the popular haredi forum website, Bechadrei Chareidim. While the site decided to stay open despite the ban, the haredi managers resigned and turned it over to management by a secular fellow.

There was a big write-up in Maariv about the secular guy who is running a popular forum for haredim. In yesterday's Yated Neeman they decry the fact that a chiloni is running a haredi site. They mention it as proof of sorts how necessary such a ban is -

This one really makes me scratch my head. Do they not realize that this situation of a chiloni running a website for haredim is their own fault? They pressured the haredi managers to resign, and now they are complaining that chilonim are filling the void?

My response to the Yated, despite the absurdity of the complaint considering they pushed for this to happen, is that it should no longer be considered a haredi website, but should be considered a "plain" or "secular" website that just happens to have a lot of haredi (among other) people browsing to it and participating in its forums. Stop kvetching about it, as it is no longer an issue relevant to the ban. You were successful - the haredi website Bechadrei no longer exists. In its place a secular Bechadrei was formed that happens to be popular with haredi internet surfers. That has nothing to do with you anymore, as it is no longer a haredi site.

Oh yeah, and one more thing. They are quick to point out the other businesses this secular guy is involved in. He has some other websites that, to say the least, are not befitting a haredi lifestyle, and they claim in the Yated article that how can such a person involved in such disreputable businesses be a manager of a haredi site.

While they are quick to attack him for his other businesses, I have yet to see them attack a certain haredi Rav, someone who claimed to be a close talmid of Rav Elyashiv, who had a main business involving the haredi public (he ran a yeshiva along with a haredi organization for geirus), yet also was exposed as having been running a secondary business that was, to say the least, one promoting things that are not befitting a haredi lifestyle.

Only chilonim can be called out for such things, and not haredim?

Manhigut Yehudit against amending the Chametz Law

In recent years, the courts have redefined what is considered a "public place" and have allowed businesses to sell chametz, claiming them to be private and not included in the law. Shas has been working to amend the law that prohibits the sale of chametz on Pesach in public areas to include any business.

Manhigut Yehudit has always repeated that they are not in favor of a halachic state, nor do they support "religious legislation".

In light of Shas' efforts to amend the chametz law, Manhigut Yehudit has released the following statement.

Feiglin Urges Choice as Knesset Examines Leavened Products Law

December 28, 2009...

After religiously observant Israeli Knesset Members proposed legislation to expand the enforcement of the law banning chametz (leavened products) during the Passover holiday in Israel, secularist lawmakers from the Labor party announced Thursday that they will bring legislation to cancel the National Chametz Law altogether. Moshe Feiglin is opposed to legislating religious issues, the chametz law included. Forcing people to comply with Torah law is more likely to encourage violation than willing adherence.

In most towns and villages in Israel, people are in favor of maintaining the Jewish atmosphere of their communities and do not sell or eat chametz in public on Passover as a matter of choice. Manhigut Yehudit is opposed to a coercive ban on chametz in the relatively few places in Israel where the communities prefer to publicly sell those products. Manhigut Yehudit is confident that a non-coercive environment in Israel will encourage non-observant Israelis to connect to their heritage in an open and positive manner.

Protest in Bet Shemesh in support of school (video)

Here is some video from the protest yesterday in Bet Shemesh in support of the school Bet Sefer L'Safot V'Tarbuyot:

MK Marina Solodkin:


MK Nitzan Horowitz:


Lenny Solomon singing Ani Yehudi:


Natan Shitreet:


Shmulik Greenberg from UTJ. Kol Hakavod to him for trying. this took guts:

Try, try again

Here is a guy who just doesn't give up.

This guy shows up to the Rabbanut beis din and applies for a get. After looking at the case and his history, they realize that this is already his 11th divorce!

This guy has been married, and divorced (as of when this goes through) 11 times already (he has onyl 1 child despite the high number of marriages)!

he plans each marriage in advance. They write prenuptial agreements, they detail the whole separation procedure in advance in case they should get divorced, and any other details.

And the guy already told the beis din that as soon as the divorce is final, he plans to begin looking for a new wife!

At least he is fairly honest. he tells them straight out, and they plan it all together. he also explains why this happens - he told the beis din that he regrest not working his issues out with his first wife. he said that as soon as you get divorced once, you get caught in the trap of weddings and divorces, always trying again.

Here is a guy who doesn't give up! Strange - both him and all the women who are willing to marry someone with that history....

Dec 29, 2009

Interesting Posts #117

1. The Rebbetzins Husband lists some reasons, some very good ones (by good I mean the kind that are funny), why it is better to daven from a siddur than from memory...

2. Tzedek-Tzedek comments on Jonathan Rosenblum's recent article about Tiger Wood's indiscretions.

3. In a post that will interest bloggers more than readers, Jacob Da Jew muses about the death of the blogroll..

4. The Way to No-Thing has 2 interesting posts worth considering. One is about Gilad Shalit's status as a prisoner of war, and Hamas' treatment of him. The second is about the haredi protests against Intel, and how spitting has been used and how it should be countered.

5. Holy Exposures details the new travel restrictions and the absurdity of them.

6. Frum n Flipped shows there is surprising diversity even among haredi and Bais Yaakov girls...

7. Geshmack Torah has a nice vort on the parsha about looking at other peoples faults...

8. Tikun Olam is a foster mom. She posts about fostering, from the perspective of the kids.

9. For all those upset that there has not been any real criticism of Tropper and EJF, this one's for you. The Aguda blog, Cross-Currents has a piece by Rabbi Adlerstein in which he does just that. Well worth a read.

10. Hamavdil on the Pope's beatification of Pope Pius.

Fundamentalist Fashion Show (video)





(HatTip: Boker Tov Boulder)

What was he thinking?

This is really strange.

Somebody was riding a moped in Jerusalem with his 2 year old child. The kid had no helmet and was standing in the "floor" of the moped. I assume he was not driving fast.

A cop saw and stopped the guy. The guy pulls over his moped and takes off his helmet. He then took the kid off the moped and put him on the sidewalk, and before the cop could give him his ticket, he sped off on the moped.

the cop decided to stay with the kid rather than chase the moped. After a short amount of time, they identified the kid with the help of local residents who recognized him. The cop brought the kid home to his mother who refused to answer any of the cops questions about their identity, until the cop told her the story. Once she heard what happened, she helped out and gave the cop her husbands cellphone number.

They got hold of him on the phone and told him to come to the station. When they asked him what happened, he could not give an answer...

What was he thinking? When he put the kid down, did he think they would not identify him after he sped off? Was he going to just abandon the kid?

New law is really old

It is interesting to see how sometimes the secular State follows, intentionally or unintentionally, Jewish custom.

A new law has been proposed, in light of the most recent political scandal of an Israeli mayor being arrested for corruption and grant fixing, tender fixing, and the like. Supposedly much of his crime was in order to cover some massive debts he had accrued in his business from before he had run for mayor.

MK Ronit Tirosh of Kadima has proposed a law that would not allow anybody who is seiously in debt to run for mayor - if he or a company he owns owes more than 5 million NIS, he would not be allowed to run, according to the law if it will be approved.

Tirosh's theory in drafting this law is that the office of mayor holds a lot of power. The mayor should be able to run the city without having to be concerned about his own finances. Such concerns might make him abuse his power for his own benefit.

This concept has been a rule in Judaism for a long time. The Torah requires judges and leaders to be wealthy so as to minimize any possibility of them being "bribe-able".

Interesting.

As if the US is any better...

Here's a good one.

The United States State Department has issued travel warnings for those considering traveling to Israel.

The warning includes to be careful on the roads, as Israeli drivers are dangerous. Crime is a problem, as well as an increase in pickpocketing. Oh yeah, the last one, eople might have to undergo extensive security checks getting in and out of the country. During these security checks, cameras, computers, etc might be confiscated, though usually they are given back. (source: Ynet)

I would like to see the Israel Foreign ministry offer a recipractory travel warnign for israelis traveling to and within the United States. The Israeli warning would also mention crime as being a major issue. Dangerous driving would be mentioned for those going to certain places like New York (among other places as well). Oh yeah, and security checks when traveling. the US regulations do not make it easy getting onto an airplane. During these extensive security checks, all your belongings on your body might be confiscated - anything from a tweezers and a can of coke and a baby bottle, up to laptops and cameras.

Quote of the Day (qotd)

I differentiate between my haredi coalition partners, with whom we have developed very healthy relations, working with integrity, transparency and common understanding, and between those of the Eida Haredis. I wasn't familiar with the Eida until my election, and I have not gotten familiar with them since the election. So, when I say we work with transparency, my intention is referring to with those whom I work with and am in contact with on a daily basis... Part of the cause of the protesting is because they have not been part of the decision making process. There is no reason for that other than I have not gotten to know them enough.


--- Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Did I win or lose?

As mentioned previously, I no longer give donations to organizations via credit card over the telephone. The only exceptions will be for a couple specific organizations I am personally familiar with and have a relationship with.

Last night an organization called for a donation. Two, actually.

the first called and after going through her spiel, she asked how I could help them. I asked her to send me an envelope as donating over the phone is not possible for me. She graciously said thank you, took my details and hung up, despite knowing that most of the time asking for an envelope means they will not be getting much, if anything at all.

The second organization called shortly after. After going through her spiel, I told her she should send me an envelope, as I could not donate over the phone. She started arguing with me about it, how it is better if I donate over the phone. I didn't want to listen to her argue, and I did not see the point in arguing about how I should donate to an organization I have nothing to do with.

So I said to her "Ok, so don't send me an envelope. Up to you. Good bye." and I hung up the phone while she was still screaming at me. A minute later she called back and asked for my details to send me an envelope.

I am still not sure if I "won" or if I lost the argument.

violent protests, take two

Uh oh. Overnight the police arrested a Toldos Aharon askan for "his partixipation in the hafgana the other day. They arrested a number of people who they caught throwing stones, and while he claims to be innocent, they arrested him.

Of course he claims to be innocent, was just passing by and stopped out of curiosity. He did not throw any rocks or make any trouble during the short amount of time he was there.

We all know what happens when one of theirs gets arrested. Think back to the mother with the kid in the hospital (a.k.a the "Starving Mother"). Are we in for more violent protests? I hope not.

Dec 28, 2009

Interesting Posts #116

1. Haveil Havalim #249 is up at I'll Call Baila

2. Our Shiputzim had an interesting post about being a Religious Zionist, and a very commonly heard excuse for not making aliya..

3. Pictures and video from a protest about not being allowed up on Har HaBayit on Hannukah at Mateh Olami...

4. Al Tishali Oti has the story of an autistic kid who wandered off and where they found him...

5. Circus Tent explains why the recent Mishpacha article about Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Schachter upset some people...

Man of the Year: Ariel Attias

I am no big fan of Shas, though I think they have vastly improved their image the past 2 years with some good work in the government. One good point in Shas, if I had to point to only one, though I am sure you can find more, is Ariel Attias.

I have said it before as well. Ariel Attias is a bright spot in Shas. he is great - a productive minister, a formidable force. I said so when he was Minister of Communication in Ehud Olmert's government. The guy gets to work, and he works hard. he might be th hardest working minister in the government.

I don't have a specific opinion on the various reforms he implements or the policies he brings to his ministry. I don't always understand the benefits or problems or what he is trying to do, so I can't say I always think what he does is right. but that is beside the point. Attias works hard and he puts things into motion like nobody else.

In the Communications Ministry he worked hard and brought all sorts of reforms to the office, in the realm of internet, mobile phones, competition, etc. In the Housing Ministry he has been working hard and bringing changes, working on releasing land for construction all over the country, etc.

We hear a lot from a lot of ministers in the government about all sorts of issues - usually regarding the peace process, Palestinians, terror, Jerusalem, etc. Usually things not connected to their respective offices. With Attias, you will rarely hear him talk about anything not related to his ministry. He is focused and he works hard to get the job done.

I applaud Ariel Attias and congratulate him on being chosen as The Marker's Man of the Year in the real estate market. if anybody works hard enough to deserve this, it is Ariel Attias.

The Rebbe's new shtreimel

Shearim brings us a picture of the Belzer Rebbe wearing his new shtreimel. The Rebbe changed his shtreimel, not just for a brand new shtreimel, but for a different type of shtreimel. Shearim posted a picture of the event, and quipped "as if a Shtreimel is that important"..

I would like to know why he made the switch. Is it a Belz minhag that at a certain time you switch? Is he starting somethign new? Was it based on the expense - maybe the new one is cheaper, so he is encouraging his followers to go with a cheaper brand? Is it to save an animal from extinction by switching to a different source of fur? I would like to know why. Rebbes usually don't do things with no reason..

Claiming to be Pinchas, but really acting like Zimri - Haredi internet sites

A number of haredi internet sites recently closed down as a result of the recent ban. The most prominent of the sites to close was "Haredim" - haredim.co.il - the site did not really close, it simply stopped updating.

I am not sure why they did not shut down the various sites completely. All the old articles can be accessed, just no new articles are being added. According to the ban they should have shut everything down completely. once they were complying, I don't see the point of leaving the old stuff online.

Regardless, I just want to point out the bluff involved. I feel bad doing it, especially if because of me they will be forced to shut down completely (I doubt this will spread so far as to cause that to happen, so I am not so concerned), but I hate hypocrisy. I hate when they make themselves look all holy and frum and secretly are not. That is why such scandals like the recent Tropper scandal are so heinous to most of us - because of the hypocrisy involved.

Anyway, if you go to the haredim site, you will see the top few articles lauding themselves for the mesirus nefesh to shut down, despite great financial loss, just because they felt the importance of listening to the gedolim.

What people do not know is that their WAP site, the site designed for access by mobile phone, the site that predates the actual website and really got them off the ground, that is still online and being updated.

So they shut down their operations because the gedolim told them to, but the site the gedolim don't see and don't know about, they have kept going. Not only is this problematic because they are avoiding the ban the so publicly accepted to adhere to, but they are doing so for regular phones, as they always have.

Regular phones? what are you talking about? The Haredi community has banned regular phones for a long time already. One who listens to these bans must carry only a "kosher phone". A kosher phone has no ability to access the internet or sms or basically any function other than making phone calls. That means that all along, even before they had a regular website, they were already breaking the rabbinic phone ban by having a website designed for unkosher mobile phones.

Now, they have shut down their main website, but they keep the WAP site still running and updated. So they are breaking the ban twofold:
  1. Running their news website (for WAP users)
  2. providing the service for regular phones, which encourages people to use the regular phones, and encourages them to access the Internet on those phones.
This, despite their claiming the glory of adhering to the ban.

Quote of the Day (qotd)

If somebody thinks, after the way Taep Erdoan spoke out, even though thre will be visits and smiles, that somebody will agree to Turkish mediation [in peace talks with Syria], he can forget about it. There will be no Turkish mediation as long as I am Foreign Minister and as long as Yisrael Beiteinu is in the government. the Syrians wants to talk? Only with direct negotiations...One time in Jerusalem and one time in Damascus - there is no other recipe....

[Regarding the Palestinians] we brought here a group of terrorists from Tunisia, we gave them weapons and control and we gave up our rights in Gush Katif. The current Palestinian leadership is not prepared and is not ripe to sign a peace agreement.... We think that if we give up more and more, everything will be ok and work out. To me it is clear that even if we return to the border of '67 and we divide Jerusalem, nothing will change and they will find another excuse to not progress to peaceful relations.

--- Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Wheelchair access to the Me'ara

I saw this notice on an email list I am a member of and felt it important enough to publicize:


In loving memory of Bradley Jacobs, z"l, the Jacobs & Lewin families proudly announce the Bradley Jacobs z’’l Machpelah Free Access Project in Hebron. Anyone in a wheelchair or who has difficulty with steps can now get into & out of the Machpelah using a special chair that climbs the steps! If you or someone you know need such a chair for access to the Machpelah, notify the Hebron Fund office in NY 718-677-6886. In Israel call 972-2-9965333. No cost.

Dec 27, 2009

Interesting Posts #115

1. Rav Shternbuch says Tropper is guilty. No issue of needing to be dan lkaf zchus..

2. Israeli by Day shows the difference over time as he has been an Israeli soldier..

3. JoeSettler@TheMuqata posts about the new travel regulations because of more air terror.

4. A Mother in israel responds to a recent post by Jameel about how email list moderators choose to reject even important messages.

5. West Bank Mama says checkpoints save lives.

Let the building begin!

the courts have rejected the petition submitted by the Bet Shemesh Opposition regarding the construction in RBS C. The only details publicized so far, and maybe that is all there is, is that the courts have decided the tenders should go on and the closing date was set as January 5, 2010. There can be no limitations and the whole area is open to everyone.

As mentioned many times in the past, this conclusion was pretty much the only one the courts could come to. Anything else, other than working out a compromise of course, would be illegal and racist (?), and that is something the courts could not do, especially based on plenty of previous court decisions allowing Arabs to buy land in jewish areas.

(source: Kikar.net)

Temple Altar recreated (video)

The Machon HaMikdash, or the Temple Institute, in the Old City of Jerusalem, has now built a model of the Mizbei'ach.

The challenge for creating a mizbeiach has always been the issue that the stones cannot come into contact with iron. They collected stones for the altar from the Dead Sea. Perhaps because they can find large tones there whose sides have been smoothed down by the water. I find it particularly interesting, as you can see in the video, they used a shovel that was plated with gold, so the sand they were going to be using as filler would not come into contact with the iron of the shovel.



Here you can see images of the final product.

differing perspectives

I always find it interesting how 2 different papers can report the same story completely different from each other.

NOTE: I have no idea which, if either, of the 2 reports I am about to describe were accurate. I don't know any more specific details other than what I read in the 2 papers.

During this past week, Bet Shemesh was graced by a visit from two ministers - Yisrael Katz and Eli Yishai. A large part of the agenda for the meeting was to discuss the issue of the highway being redesigned, along with the future of Bet Shemesh in general.

Motti Cohen is a city councilman who has become a very loud opposition to the mayor. he originally supported Abutbol, but because of the construction of RBS C issue, he felt betrayed and lied to, dropped out of the coalition and his party and joined the opposition and has basically led the fight against the construction. It seems he was very loud during the ministers' visit and kept telling them off, specifically Yishai as he runs the Shas parent party, about how Abutbol is ruining the city.

At some point they left the building and went to Yishai's car to talk further. In the car ended up Eli Yishai, Moshe Abutbol and Motti Cohen.

How that happened - depends on which paper you believe.

Every newspaper in the world has its own bias and slanted reporting. There is nothing objective about any newspaper. The same is true with the local papers in bet Shemesh.

One newspaper, a paper that is very slanted against the mayor and against the construction, reported that Yishai was very disturbed by all he was hearing from Cohen, he even told off Abutbol for it, and invited Abutbol and Cohen to the car to talk in quieter tones.

The second newspaper, a paper that is very slanted in favor of the mayor and construction, reported the story that Yishai invited the mayor to his car to talk and ride with him, and Cohen invaded - he just jumped right in, to their surprise, and didn't allow them any privacy to talk.

Which is true? Believe whichever you want. I just find it interesting how 2 papers can report the same exact story in 2 completely different ways.

Dec 24, 2009

Quote of the Day (qotd)

We spoke about the situation in Kadima. Indeed, Kadima is nearly at the point of breaking up.. i recommended to the Director of Kadima the process by which we can retain unity in Kadima. I hope she will listen, the first time, to other people ...

--- MK Shaul Mofaz

better late than never

Kadima seems to be in a panic, as Netanyahu has finally effected the process of Kadima's dismantlement that should have happened 4 years ago. Better late than never I guess.

All the big names in Kadima are in a panic, screaming about how Netanyahu's move is immoral, blah blah blah.

They all forget that this is no different, if not better, than what they did when they formed Kadima. The current MKs leaving Kadima are doing so because they are right wing politicians, mostly from the Likud originally, who now find themselves in a left-wing party. Kadima under Olmert and Livni has turned out to not be a centrist party, as they professed to be, but to be mostly a left wing party.
So much so, that Yossi Beilin has been calling, for a long time already but now he has renewed those calls, for Kadima to form an alliance with Meretz and some potential dropouts from Labor.

Good riddance, Kadima. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for you.

peaceful co-existence modeled after Syria

This past weeks Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew edition) had a fascinating article on the remaining Jews still living in Syria. Truly fascinating about how they live, their relations with the government, how they keep yiddishkeit, life in the Jewish ghetto, how people get them Judaic necessities such as kosher meat, lulav and esrog, etc.

The main source of the article was the head of the community, a man who had been appointed by the government. A fellow named Albert Kamao.

One thing he said I found startling. He was asked his opinion on the peace process between Syria and Israel, and whether Israel should give the Golan Heights to the Syrians.

Albert Kamao's response was, "the only benefit of war is attaining land, nothing more. You cannot bring all the fallen soldiers back to life, from both sides of the war. We must search out all ways possible to come to a peace agreement. It is possible to live in Eretz Yisrael [peacefully] with the Arabs precisely the way we live with them here in Syria." (my bold, for emphasis)

I found that one statement startling. Here is a fascinating article, mostly na interview with Kamao, in which a once-thriving community is depicted as nearly non-existent. they are down to about 80-100 people in the community - in all of Syria, as this is the last remaining jewish community in the country. they live in a ghetto, are mostly not allowed to get educated and have professions unless an exception is made and they are given specific permission, they hardly have access to Jewish necessities and any access they do have is due to the efforts of people from outside their community. Basically their jewish existence in Syria has been a failure over the past 70 years.

Sure, they are no longer persecuted by the government, for the most part, but one could hardly call their existence a successful experience of co-existence. So for him to use that reality as an example of how everyone should be able to co-exist - I think I will take a pass. I prefer Jewish life in Israel continue to thrive, rather than dwindle.

Dec 23, 2009

Haredi hours at the Kotel

The Women fo the Wall should feel fairly safe now when they go to daven at the Kotel. That is, as long as they go in the middle of the day - not early morning and not during the night.


Why is that?

The Yated Neeman ran a notice for the Rabbinic Committee for Transportation with an update on the proper way to travel to the Kotel. The notice says that the #1 bus line from the Central Bus Station is full of prutzot, so that is out. Even the #2 bus line that runs through the haredi neighborhoods is a problem, as it is not mehadrin and women are only allowed to get on at the front, causing tzniyus problems.

The only mehadrin solution is the #3 bus line, but that only operates in the haredi northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. if you are going from any of those neighborhoods, you should use that line.

The notice then goes on to call upon the public to treat the #2 bus as much as possible like a mehadrin line and have then sit in front and women in back, and create facts on the ground as much as possible.

Organizations, yeshivas, and schools should only travel to the Kotel via private transport and not use the public system [because of the problems noted above].

The notice concludes with a warning regarding the Kotel Plaza, stating that because the plaza area is busy at all times of the day with people of all types from all around the country, making it difficult to control the tzniyus situation in the plaza area, and it is practically impossible to pass through the plaza area without transgressing a prohibition (Lo Sasuru), all God-fearing people should be careful and try to only go to the Kotel during the early morning hours or the late evening hours.

Is that an acceptable solution? Divide the Kotel. They take the Kotel during early morning and late evening, and everyone else gets it for the bulk of the day.. It might solve the problem of the fightng with the Women of the Wall. They just need to go to the Kotel a little bit later and there should be nobody around to fight with them. that is, if anybody listens to this committee.

Dybbuk Vision

I was in the middle of writing this post, when I decided to change it. I was writing about the dybbuk that had recently entered a Brazilian man. There was a whoel story that people went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky on his behalf. After initial investigation he declared it is a real dybbuk and gave them a bracha saying he has no expertise in such things and can do no more than give a bracha. He passed them on to Rav Shteinman, who sent them to Rav Batzri as being the expert in Dybbuk removal.

The problem being the fellow is in Brazil, and they could not figure out how to get him to Israel, Rav Batzri decided to try an innovative method of exorcism. They connected via Skype, allowing Rav Batzri to see the fellow and try to banish the dybbuk.

It seems that it did not work, because now they are going to bring this guy to Israel to see Rav Batzri live, in person, for the removal.

So I was in the middle of writing about how it didn't make sense, as they had made the whole exorcism into a spectacle, in my opinion, and it did not seem that such a public, demeaning method was one that was being conducted with integrity and properly. It was written about when it originally happened, and Ladaat had a video of the attempt via Skype.

Then I saw this post by G6, and that got me thinking in a different direction. Obviously the exorcism did not work via Skype, because of the gedolim's ban on the Internet. What they should have done is used the new Shidduch Vision technology to arrange the meeting. This way they could meet without using the Internet, and not transgress the ban of the gedolim. We could even dub the adjusted application Dybbuk Vision (name courtesy of G6)!

Picture of the Day (potd)


and zoomed in on the soldier receiving his beret...











To explain the picture, I will point you to the Jonathan Pollard website:

David Siegal of Yakir enclosed the attached photo in a letter he sent to Jonathan Pollard: a picture of his soldier son, Levy, receiving his purple Beret. "Look closely at his kipa," David wrote to Jonathan.

Jonathan looked at the photo and was amazed to his own "reg number" (inmate prison number) embroidered in large bold numbers on Levy's kipa: #09185-016:

David, explained in his letter to Jonathan that both he and Levi wear Jonathan's reg number on their kipas in solidarity. He wrote that the reg number arouses curiosity and when people ask, it gives them the opportunity to educate others and to generate prayer and concern for Jonathan.

Jonathan was deeply touched by this gesture. He asked his wife to contact David and see if she could obtain a copy of the photo of his reg number on Levi Siegal's Kipa. As you can see, David gladly obliged.


Ahmed Tibi vs. David Rotem on Zionist laws (video)

Roadside Minyan, lehavdil (video)

ever see people stop on the side of the highway and get out to daven mincha quickly as sunset approaches?

This brings that to a whole new level...

Dec 22, 2009

Taking it out on the kid is wrong

There is a story that has ben simmering in Bet Shemesh for a few weeks now. A couple of weeks ago it even made the national scene with a half hour radio talk show dedicated to this situation - racism in the school, using the Bet Shemesh case as its main point of discussion. The local papers have also written about it a couple of times.

Basically a number of families tried to get their daughters into a certain Bais Yaakov school. The school refused, ostensibly because they are sfardi and this school is ashkenazy.

5 girls were left out of school while their parents fought.

4 of the girls ended up getting into a school, as the parents filed a complaint and the Ministry of Education forced the school to take them, as per the law. the fifth girl was out of luck as there was not a place for her, physically. Her fight continued.

the local school - in her neighborhood - being private could not be forced to accept her, so they went to another school and tried.
They then fought to get in to another Chinuch Atzmai school in another neighborhood, and ended up getting the support of Rav Shteinman who told the school to accept this families daughter, along with the law forcing the school to accept the girl.

The school and parents committee rallied against the girl, insisting she not be allowed in. The local Rav who is involved in the school called in the parents and accused them of being mosrim, as they had gone to the secular authorities and ratted them out, and that if they would be forced to take in their girl, they would have the girls excommunicate this daughter and make her life miserable.
The courts then forced the school to accept her, and the girls were forced to strike and refuse to go to class (I saw a blurb yesterday in Haaretz that the Court said the strike has to end and the girls have to go back to class).
  1. I don't know for sure the issue is racism against sfardim, though it might be. It also might be that this school is not the right place for this girl. Maybe she is not at the same level - educationally or socially/spiritually, and therefore they oppose taking her. Just because the fight has been branded as racism doesn't make it so (but it might be).
  2. I still don't understand why sfardim insist on going to ashkenazy schools. In a perfect world it should not make a difference. All the girls are the same anyway, and it really doesn't matter if one is sfardi and one is ashkenazy, and they should be accepted based on real criteria and not based on whether their grandparents came from Morocco or Poland. But the fact is the school put up a fight, for whatever reason. So why fight and insist on going there? Why not go to a different school? perhaps a sfardi school? Or find a different ashkenazy school that will be more accepting? I am not justifying the schools possibly racist discrimination, but why should the girl have to suffer just because the parents want to feel better about themselves as if they are ashkenazy (though I dont know why that makes a sfardi feel better). There are plenty of other schools, and this one is already not in their neighborhood, so I don't know why they did not just go find a different school.
  3. Once again we see that the gedolim are only listened to when convenient, and again it is by the most religious of groups in the area (not the more "modernishe" that always get accused of not listening to the gedolim). Rav Shteinman said to resolve the case and accept the girl, yet they still refused to do so.
  4. The response of the school, parents and rav seems inappropriate. if forced by the courts to accept the girl, just do it graciously. Why threaten? Why strike against the girl? Even if the family was wrong, and I am not saying they were nor am I saying the schools refusal was wrong, still, the girl did not do anything wrong to be deserving of excommunication and isolation. She did nothing wrong to deserve being shamed by the girls protesting against her (obviously they only did it because their parents told them to, and they were told by the rav and parents committee). Find a way to punish the parents if necessary, but to destroy the girl like that seems totally inappropriate and wrong.
I will also point out that while Bais Yaakov's and other haredi schools are notorious for using race as a factor in acceptance or refusal into their schools, they are not alone in this. Many schools do it - recently a Dati Leumi school in Petach Tikva made the national news in their refusal to accept some Ethiopian kids, for example.

The old people who found the Auschwitz sign

I saw something amazing in the paper today. I don't know how much of it is exaggerated or assumed and how much is true, but if true it is amazing.

The famous sign at the entrance to Auschwitz, saying Arbit Macht Frei, was stolen a few days ago. The Polish authorities conducted an intensive search looking for it, and offered a reward.

A couple days ago, an organization of holocaust survivors announced that 4 of the survivors in the organization were going to go to Poland help look for the sign, even though they have never been back since the Holocaust and it would be very difficult for them emotionally. They simply felt shocked by the theft and had to do what they could to help get the sign back.

Today in the paper, after the sign has been found, was an article saying how they located the sign in northern Poland, cut into 3 parts. These 4 Holocaust survivors from Israel had arrived and hired a private detective and they got on the case. While the police were looking for it, they and the detective followed their own leads and actually located the thieves and the sign. they gave the police their info, and the police then swooped in and made the arrests, recovering the sign.

I don't know how much influence on the search they actually had - maybe the police already had that info, maybe not, maybe they cracked the whole case, maybe not.

I just want to say Kol Hakavod to them. They felt the need to go do something - and they did it. And they were effective.

At first, when I saw they were planning to go I snickered and said what are these old people going to be able to find out that the police cannot on their own. Why do they think they can be of any help. Turns out they could, and they were. Don't disbelieve in the power of determination.

Regular people fail such tests

The Spinka Rebbe was sentenced yesterday to 2 years of jail time fir crimes of fraud and tax evasion.

This begs the question how frum people can do such things. Don't we strive to be better? Don't we presume to be better?

The truth is that frum people are just people too. We are human and we all have desires and inclinations.. We each have our own tests, which we sometimes pass and sometimes fail (hopefully we pass more often than we fail). We all have frailties and influences.

This can easily explain satisfactorily when a religious guy gets thrown in jail for a crime. But a Rebbe? or a guy like Tropper who is at (or at least near) the top? Isnt he already supposed to have been beyond all that and be at the supreme level of honesty and straightness? Obviously they would have their tests too, but to fail the same tests that regular people fail? It doesn't make sense.
Unless it doesn't take much to be a Rebbe anymore, or to be a religious leader. If all it takes is to be a regular person with a longer beard, than they too can fail the same tests as us regular people.

Dec 21, 2009

Kannoim in RBS B taking more power..

the Kannoim in RBS B have established a "Shomrim" (civilian patrol) organization with the permission of the police. It is run by the kannoim, as you can tell by the names at the bottom of the distributed flyers (see below).

I don't know if they did this because they are simply bored and this gets them involved in the action, or if it is purely to stop the rash of break-ins that have been happening int he neighborhood...

Perhaps it is good, for the residents at least, that they will be directing their energies towards catching, or at least stopping, the Arabs who have been brekaing into houses, rather than targeting the locals who don't follow their rules.

Avraham Fisher is the head of the organization and has sat in jail a number of times for his violence around the neighborhood.

What is frightening is that they are now setting themselves up to be running the neighborhood - they run the local security as of now and people will be "indebted" to them in a sense, along with their having the ability to be visibly patrolling the streets. Will they abuse their newly claimed power? Only time will tell....


Facebook and Insurance

Aside from the stupidity of publicizing your travel plans and future personal life on public forums and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, among others, it now might have legal ramifications.

The paper today reported that a couple flew to Turkey (I think) and had posted on their profile in Facebook that they were to be flying to a certain wedding. They came back and found their house had been ransacked in their absence.

Aside from being stupid, as they told the world that they were going to be away from their home traveling abroad, the insurance company, when they filed the claim, refused to pay. The insurance said that it is like leaving a wide open hole inviting the thieves. Publicizing your travel plans on Facebook disqualifies you from making a claim because it is like inviting the thief into your house.

I don't know if the decision will be appealed and overturned, but in the meantime, if you will be traveling, don't post your travel plans on Facebook.

Rav Shteinman and Chabad

There was a pashkevil that was distributed around all haredi areas last week during Hannukah. I did not keep a copy, so i cannot scan it for you. sorry.

the pashkevil was a compilation of quotes from various gedolim, of today and of previous generations, against Chabad and the Lubavitcher Rebbe because of the meshichist tendencies.

The reason for the pashkevil was a recent meeting between Rav Shteinman and the "Chozer" - a Chabbad rabbi, Rav Yoel cohen, in which Rav Cohen presented Rav Shteinman with a sefer and they discussed some "Chabad Torah".

Those who put out the pashkevil are upset that Rav Shteinman held such a meeting, claiming it to be the first time a gadol held such a meeting with Chabadniks, and they put out the pashkevil to show how the gedolim have always rejected Chabad.

In my opinion, the pashkevil was not against Chabad, despite the bad things it said about Chabad. The pashkevil was against Rav Shteinman, even though it did not say so directly. By saying how bad Chabad is, they were really calling into question his decision to meet with rav Cohen.

I don't get it - either he is a gadol or he isn't. Who are you, who normally follow the words of the gedolim, including Rav Shteinman, to question his decision? Suddenly it is ok to say he was wrong in deciding to do something? If it was me or someone else who criticized a decision by a gadol we would have our kids thrown out of school, be banished, be taken apart, etc.

I am not talking about following a decision - people have to follow and act in a way that is right for them. That does not always include acting in accordance with every statement by every gadol (which are sometimes contradictory among different gedolim). I am talking about respecting the right of the gadol to make such a decision.

These people don't have to become Chabad, not that that was called for. They don't even need to accept Chabad, nor to have a relationship with any Chabadniks. But where is the respect for Rav Shteinman? Why does he not have the right to make such a decision to meet? Isn't he a gadol? Don't the gedolim know better than everyone else (that is what we all know and they always tell us when they want us to follow anything specific the gedolim say) or do the gedolim suddenly not know what they are doing?

Life and Death

Seven people are sitting and making a "Life and Death" decision. I am happy that this decision, with such a great level of responsibilty - to the Shalit family and Gilad, and to the State and its citizens, is not mine to make.

Haredi internet sites shut down...for now

Since the ban on haredi websites, a number of leading sites have shut their portals. They claim to have done so despite great financial loss, simply to adhere to the words of the gedolim.

Very nice of them.

Unfortunately (for them and the gedolim), the Internet is here to stay. It is not like the fight against television back in the day, which was largely successful in much of the heimishe community. Television was purely entertainment. Even though some programs can be described as educational, but they are far overwhelmed by the entertainment factor of most television. Entertainment can be put aside with the claim that it is inappropriate for various reasons - find different entertainment.

Internet is far more than entertainment. Businesses run on internet. Banks. Bills are paid. Necessary information can be located far easier and quicker on the internet than in libraries (that are assur to go to) or by calling companies or going down to offices. the Internet is functional, along withthe entertainment factor.

The Internet is not going away - just the opposite, as it will encompass more and more of our lives.

So the few internet sites that shut down - sorry to see you go. I actually enjoyed some of them. Give it a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, plenty more will open to fill the void these created. That is if these specific ones don't reopen on their own (claiming they have received a hetter and exception).

the question is why other haredi sites did not shut down. You know, the sites that profess to tell us to listen to the gedolim - to the exact word, and only specific ones. Sites such as Hamodia's site, Yated Neeman's site, Yeshiva World and others similar.

there are far more haredi sites that remain open than the 3 or 4 that shut down.

they claim exception, saying there is nothing wrong with their sites, and the ban is only on forums. But the statement of the ban says it is on all sites, even the ones who claim to not have such problems.

Why do they not listen?

It doesn't really bother me, because I think the ban is silly and was instigated for personal, vengeful reasons - somebody must have gotten hurt by something and encouraged the ban claiming rampant Lashon ha'Ra. I think the haredi sites in general do a good job and there is a place for them. They can be a good voice for the haredi community, along with a quick and effective way of disseminating information to, and about, the community. I actually commend those that stayed open,, while also commending those with the integrity to claim adherence to the words of the gedolim and when push comes to shove they actually listened.

The fact that they are the extreme minority just proves my long standing opinion that everybody does what is good for them, no matter what the gedolim say. if the gedolim back me, then I am great. If they don't then I am the exception to their words. Either it works out well with my beliefs, or I make excuses. Either way, I do what i want. Listening to the gedolim is secondary.

Golda Meir and Naomi Shemer peering out of your wallet

There is a debate going on right now about changing the look of the currency in Israel. The committee wants to changes the faces that appear on the bills and use the faces of the heroes of the State. People like Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, and others (though Begin's family said they do not want his face to appear on a bill).

The discussion has raised a bit of a ruckus, as not a single woman's name was considered to be used for the face on a bill.

I have read four articles on the debate and I have noticed an interesting thing. not a single article said that the reason for not including women was because the haredi parties protested having the face of a woman on the bills. No actual reason was given, but when I read the first article I was sure it was going to say that the reason was because the haredim insisted on it. And that reason was not given. Not in that paper, not in the next, the next or the last one I read.

Yet the general Israeli public, the leaders of the public, neglected, and have so far refused to recant that position, to include the face of a woman. (another statistic thrown out in the debate is that 93% of streets in Israel named after people are named for men, and only 7% of such streets are named for women).

Had it mentioned that, you can be sure of the public outcry about the backward haredim and their religious coercion. I am sure I would have written something about it as well, as would many others. Yet here we see that general Israeli society is just as backwards, and biased against women.

Let's hear the outcry. Let's see if anyone cares enough to support the group promoting to get a woman's face on one of the soon-to-be minted bills.

Quotes of the Day (qotd)

A series of quotes regarding the vote for the Shalit swap deal:

We cannot allow the enemy to think that we are willing to pay any price...
--- Yossi Beilin

We must immediately implement the procedure of Hannibal and end imediately any attempt to abduct soldiers (i.e. by killing the soldier)
---- Former DM Moshe Arens

We understand the dilemma, but we are looking forward to encouraging news.
--- Aviva Shalit

A heavenly sent snow storm

There was a nude, or perhaps scantily clad, protest scheduled to happen in Williamsburg on Friday night - bikers were protesting the removal of a bike lane.

The bikers think that it was removed by the mayor after pressure, and a political deal, from the Satmar hassidim, so that women in untzniyus biking gear would not ride through their neighborhood. the satmar defend their opposition to the bike lane by saying it was a safety issue - something about kids, trucks, school zones, bike lanes being crossed, etc.

The protest did not happen, at least not in the nude, because of a heavy snowstorm and below freezing temperatures, that made it impossible. Way too cold to let it all hang out, even in protest of something important.

So, was the storm heavenly sent, divinely inspired, to protect the hassidim form the nude protesters?

Obviously it can be rescheduled for a warmer day, but in the meantime, was the message heavenly sent?

Dec 20, 2009

Saudi Feminists and Polyandry

The funniest article I have read recently was one in Ynetnews about a Saudi who wrote an article suggesting that just as men in Saudi Arabia are allowed to have multiple wives - up to four, specifically, so too Saudi women should be allowed to have multiple husbands.

Her call for polyandry was in the name of equality.
A Saudi female journalist stirred a row in Egypt after publishing an article in favor of polyandry for women.

The piece, published in the al-Masri al-Yaum newspaper, promotes the notion that women should be allowed to marry several partners, similarly to the right enjoyed by Muslim men. According to Islamic law, a man is allowed to be married to four different women at any given time, as long as he treats them equally.

However, journalist Nadin al-Badir suggested that polyandry be permitted to both women and men. The female writer also proposed that Muslim men be banned from marrying more women merely because they are bored with their current partners.

According to a BBC report Friday, a parliament member already filed a lawsuit against the newspaper for publishing the provocative item. s could be expected, the article also elicited angry responses among Muslim clerics, who argued that the ideas presented in it are anti-Islamic and that the journalist had no right to attack tradition.

And of course it concludes with the explanation that:
However, one cleric defended the article, claiming that it did not constitute an attempt to promote polyandry among women, but rather, it aimed to expose readers to the suffering of women as result of their husbands' conduct.
tha Talkbacks were also pretty funny, specifically #3 who said
Muslim Feminism: We also want to be backward and stupid like our husbands!" Why are they such morons?

Litzman and Breast Enlargement

I thought this was pretty funny.

When reading the newspaper this morning, there was an article about the debate regarding Yaakov Litzmans plan to include dental coverage for children, at the expense of other medicines in the "medicine basket". The article included a large picture of Litzman heading a discussion on the issue.

Right next to the article and image was a large ad for a center for plastic surgery offering all types of plastic surgeries, and the image was of a woman trying to decide whether to have a breast enlargement procedure.

It was one right next to the other - Litzman next to this woman trying to decide about breast enlargement, and I cracked up at the irony. It is even funnier because Litzman is not just a haredi MK and Deputy health minister, but he is a Gerrer Hassid - and they are among the most strict on tzniyus issues. I am sure he could not have been happy about the placement of his face next to that woman checking out her chest-size in the mirror...

Religious Reasons?

There is a lot of talk of a mumps outbreak in New York among some Hassidic communities. Some infected were among those already vaccinated, as there is a certain percentage of people who will get it anyway despite being vaccinated, but it originated from groups of people who refused to vaccinate their children.

I can understand people refusing vaccinations because they say they don't trust the reports, or they don't trust the doctors. I can understand people saying they are into homeopathy or alternative medicine and don't believe in the vaccinations. I can understand people saying they don't believe in giving a live vaccine as it might cause problems. i can understand people saying they are worried about the side effects even if they are a rare occurrence.

There can be lots of reasons why someone might be against [certain?] vaccinations. But the reason given, according to the original article in the NY Times, and in all the follow-up articles on YWN and VIN and others, is that they refused the vaccinations for "religious reasons".

I don't understand what religious reasons there can possibly be for refusing a vaccination. Tell me a lack of trust in doctors or the medical aspects and i can accept it. But "religious reasons"? What religious reasons can there be for refusing a vaccination?

misused insults - Women of the Wall

On Friday morning the Women of the Wall (WOW) held another prayer service somewhere in the area of the Kotel (I think they do it in the plaza area), as they do every Rosh Chodesh.

It had a big crowd this month, I think the reports said 200 women participated, probably because of the fighting it caused last month.

One of the great things about Twitter is you get to meet and talk with people whose paths you would not normally cross.

On Friday afternoon a woman, a female Rabbi if I remember correctly, tweeted that she had been part of the prayer service and had been called a Nazi by Haredi protesters.

The term "Nazi" does not seem appropriate, and I have no idea why it would be used in this case. Nazis tried to kill Jews. They shipped them out to Concentration Camps. They put Jews in work camps. They shot Jews indiscriminately in synagogues. They mass murdered them.

They did not promote women praying, in or without prayer shawls.

I think anybody who throws around the term "Nazi" in cases like this, or even at the police during protests, is pretty ignorant.

The woman who I had a brief conversation with suggested that perhaps the term had been used because they are trying to destroy the Jewish people, by holding womens prayers at the Kotel, similarly to the Nazis who tried to destroy the Jewish people.

I am unsure if an insult that is misused and misapplied is one that the insultee need get insulted by. It is still inappropriate for people to be throwing around the term Nazi as if it is a krembo. It is demeaning to holocaust survivors that the term Nazi is being used for women daveners and policeman in Israel. It is demeaning to anybody to be called a Nazi - animals who shot babies, women, elderly, gassed anybody they saw no use for, etc. no need for me to describe what the Nazis did. But using it as an insult like really just shows the ignorance, and stupidity, of the insulter.

That is irregardless of the fact that I do not support the Women of the Wall and their mission. I still do not support calling them Nazis.

Dec 18, 2009

Previously unseen video from 6 Day War (video)

This is a video clip that was recorded on 8mm film during the Six Day War. It was recently discovered in a closet and converted to a modern day format.

Warning for those interested: Background singer is female

Dec 17, 2009

Dmitriy Salita interviews on his recent trip to Israel (video)

Eida branch connects at municipal level

Is the Eida Haredis moving away from its extreme, anti-State positions, or is the local Bet Shemesh branch an anomaly? Or does everyone, including Eida people, just pretty much do what they feel like doing, what is right for them, despite ideology?

The local Bet Shemesh branch of the Eida Haredis hosted a sheva brachos last Thursday for the son of the mayor, Moshe Abutbol. The sheva brachos was held in the home of the Eida dayan's son. They tried to keep this under wraps, but a chatty neighbor supposedly aid a little too much and word got out. This threw the Eida for a loop, as they are unsure of how to react.

Rav Kopshitz was always a bit of a maverick, and that is why his appointment as dayan in the Eida had been delayed for so long and only recently went through. But it was silly of him to think he could do this and keep it quiet - there was no obligation for him to host the party, and even if he is friends with Abutbol and it was not just politics he would have had a good enough excuse - his involvement with the Eida - to not host it.

But perhaps it is not really scandalous but a sign of the Eida's coming closer to general society, or to the general haredi society at least...

Jew Walking (video)

Dec 16, 2009

Quote of the Day (qotd)

I don't understand why bnei torah from Eidut HaMizrach have to degrade themselves constantly and beg to be accepted in ashkenazic institutions...I have accepted upon myself, bli neder, to no longer assist anyone who approaches me for help in getting accepted to [ashkenazy] institutions. We have no need for this... We need to stand tall and know that we have the best institutions for girls and for boys...if we do not degrade ourselves and we know to be proud of our heritage and our institutions, they will also look at us and relate to us [with respect].

----- Aryeh Deri

funny coming from someone who has spent all his life in Ashkenazy institutions. It is alway7s the leaders in Shas, all of whom spent their years in ashkenazy yeshivas and have sent their kids to ashkenazy yeshivas, who have called upon the people to only send to the sfardi yeshivas... (I happen to agree with the above quote though and think that Sfardim have nothing to be ashamed of and their education in the yeshiva system is of equal footing with the ashkenazy)

New campaign supporting ascending Har HaBayit

Rav Yitzchak Brand was the moving force behind what was a short-lived haredi version of building illegal settlements. A group of avreichim had set out from Kiryat Sefer, under the direction of Rav Brand, and established a unit on top of some nearby hill to protest the lack of construction. It was only short lived as after a few days the government sent in a few poliemen to remove them and tear down the structure.

Rav Brand is now part of another campaign, perhaps at odds with the rest of the haredi community again. Or perhaps I should say he is setting himself up at the forefront of a movement in which haredim are more involved with the country and less isolated.

Now. his people are behind a new campaign to convince people, specifically targeted within the haredi community, to go up to Har HaBayit. Rav Brand himself already ascends the Temple Mount, which is unusual for a haredi rabbi. He says the reason the haredi rabbonim have not until now is two-fold:
  1. haredi rabbonim do not like getting involved in anything new
  2. their preference to not antagonize the Nations.
Rav Brand considers that hypocrisy as, he says, they consider ok to antagonize the nations when they need to so they can live in the settlements (such as in Beitar and Modiin Ilit), so using that as an excuse is just hypocrisy.

You can watch the new campaign video on the Haredim website..

The next frontier: Running barefoot

I have been having a lot of pain recently on long runs. As I am running, I can feel it building up in my arch (left foot) and ankles. Eventually, after 18km or so, it becomes almost unbearable and I have to stop running for breaks or to walk a bit.

As I keep running, which I can do with taking breaks, I begin to feel pain in my hamstring and knees. Probably this is from compensating to minimize the original pain.

Because of this, I dropped out of the marathon training for this year. I just could not handle the long runs and saw no purpose in running in pain for 42km for no real gain.

I did run the Israel Half Marathon in Bet She'an last week, and ran it slower than last year. Between the 18km and 21km markers I had to stop twice because of the pain. I finished in a time equivalent to last years full marathon, but slower than last years half marathon. I was not disappointed because I had not really focused on training, especially after I had decided I was dropping out of the marathon training.

But because of my recent experiences, and because of the amazing book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall that I am reading, I have decided to research barefoot running. From everything I have been reading, it looks like it really might be the way to go to run without pain, to run farther without problems, and to run faster.

I am going to continue reading about it, but I am already pretty sure that that is the direction I plan on moving in. If I do, this blog will see a new rebirth, as I will likely document my experiences with barefoot running.

The first decision to make is what type of shoe to go with. It seems funny to talk about buying shoes to run barefoot, but running barefoot worries me about destroying my feet - running pebbles, glass, screws and nails, etc. Vibram makes a shoe called the FiveFinger, and Nike makes one called the Nike Free. They both look good, and are pretty close to be considered barefoot, mostly just protecting the feet from being torn up.

I like the reviews of the Vibram better than those of the Nike, so will probably go with those, assuming I decide to actually do this.

I will keep you posted...

Dec 15, 2009

circular dreidels

Why do all the stores sell various types of spinning tops with Hannukah themes around Hannukah time?

These tops have nothing to do with the dreidel. You cannot play dreidel with a circular top that has no sides to land on, nor can you play dreidel with a top that has no letters.

So how did playing dreidel on Hannukah become a marketing position for selling random tops that look nothing like dreidels?

In the US I can understand, where you have lots of people who have nothing to do with Hannukah specifically (Jews and non-Jews) who might play with such tops rather than a dreidel. But in Israel, where even the non-religious Jews celebrate Hannukah (for the most part at least) , what is up with these tops?

Swingin Dreidel (video)

Tzipi Livni actually did something I guess

Even though I don't like Tzipi Livni, I am against the possibility of the UK putting out a warrant for her, or any other Israeli official, arrest due to war crimes.

What is ironic is that we say that she did nothing and was basically a figurehead in the government at the time, while the Palestinian groups, and the UK seems to support that, consider her possibly guilty of war crimes. Maybe just by being Foreign Minister at the time, even if she did absolutely nothing, is enough to include her in that.

Israel's response is also funny - we have threatened the UK that if they continue issuing arrest warrants against Israeli officials they will end up being excluded from the loop of influence in the peace process. After all, if Israelis cannot travel to the UK for such meetings, the UK can hardly expect to have influence.

This is funny to me, because if I was the UK I would look at this as an opportunity to wash my hands of any responsibility. Those crazies in the Middle East will never have peace anyway. what do I need this for! They have given us enough of a headache all these years. Finally a way out!

Truth is I don't see why England has a right to get involved in trying anybody from other countries for war crimes. Not just because of England's long history with war and conquering other nations, but just because what does England have to do with it? Who are they to try anyone for this? Maybe the UN, or the World Court, but why any particular country such as England? Just because they give themselves that right? Can I give myself the right to arrest anybody in particular and put them on trial?

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