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Feb 28, 2013

Interesting Posts #463


1. an economic Iron Dome Israel is not using

2. the greatest Jewish generation

3. Friends I've never met

4. 12 good reasons why secular Israelis reject haredim

5. every Jew sees miracles

6. I will never be Orthodox, can i be part of the community?

7. in favor of selling chametz

8. has American society become insanely hypersensitive?

9. belief in impending arrival of mashiach up to 44%

10. Jerusalem Marathon 2013

11. Omri Casspi: Higher and higher

12. Preparing for a new Pope





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Picture of the Day




Rav Ovadiah with a grandson (or maybe great-grandson) on Purim... very cute, very cool

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Inflationary divorce settlement is appealed

A little while back, a beis din ruled on a divorce case in which the kesuba was not present and had been written 40 years or so earlier, in a currency that no longer exists. The sum of money promised in the kesuba was under dispute, and the beis din ruled the husband had to pay 500,000 NIS to the [ex-]wife.

The husband has now appealed the ruling of the beis din. He claims that the amount in the original kesuba was 2000 lira, but had been altered using white-out and changed to say 152,000 lira, a sum that was 8 times the value of their apartment at the time.

Relying on the photocopy to determine the sum stating they accept that the kesuba was lost, when the wife only claimed she had not brought it with her and had left it at home (RG: why didn't they send her home to bring it it? or, why didn't they rule against her for refusing to bring the kesuba when she wanted to claim the value wriiten within?), along with the fact that they never called the witnesses to attempt to verify the value of the kesuba (RG: why would they remember the value of a kesuba from 40 years earlier?), nor did they appoint any expert investigator to determine if the kesuba had been altered or not, along with some other arguments, makes the ruling unacceptable.

Furthermore, the husband's lawyer claims, the husband had worked and paid for the apartment in full, while the wife did not work at all. As well, all that he has now in his old age is this apartment that he worked very hard for, and has nothing else to live off, and she should not be able to take his apartment away from him.

The husband demands in his appeal that the original ruling should be completely voided, that he does not owe her any severance because she forged the amount in the kesuba, and the original sum should not be linked to inflation or any other linkage.

The one thing he is willing to offer is that instead of determining the original kesuba to be 2000 lira, as he says it is, he should be told to pay a maximum of  12,000 lira which is the amount required to live on for a year.  
(source: Bechadrei)

If he is using the current Turkish lira when he demands to be told to pay the kesuba in lira, then it is worth 24,705 NIS.
If he is referring to 12,000 of the original Israeli lira, then that is worth today 1,200 old Israeli shekel, which is worth today 1.2 NIS.

Even using the Turkish lira it is difficult to see that amount as enough to live on for a year, but maybe under certain conditions it is doable. Using the Israeli lira, it is not even enough for a stick of bubble gum.



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Time to revamp the Chevra Kadisha structure

Even the State admits that the chevra kadisha organizations, in large part, are out of control and listen to nobody but themselves, despite the fact that they are funded by the State.

I have heard many times that the chevra kadisha are like a mafia, making a lot of money, they keep the jobs for themselves, their relatives and friends, and they control what goes on at funerals with an iron fist. Obviously there are exceptions, and while I am not too familiar with the variety of organizations around the country, I can think of one or two of the ones I have encountered that are reasonable and flexible with special requests (to a certain point).

To that end, there has been a lot of controversy regarding the allowing of women to say a hesped, to eulogize, at a funeral, along with issues of gender-segregation. In general, the Religious Council has decided that women should be allowed to eulogize, should they want to, and the chevra kadisha should not deal with forcing men and women apart. It started with an incident in Kiryat Gat when the chevra kadisha did not allow the daughter to eulogize her father, and enforcing gender-segregation at the funeral.

Since then the issue has been raised in the Knesset and in its committee meetings a number of times. This week it was raised again in the Knesset when MK Aliza Lavi (Yesh Atid) raised the issue with Religious Affairs Minister Yaakov Margi, asking for a response to the complaints. Margi responded that his office has informed the chevra kadisha very definitively that signs informing of segregation should only be used as a recommendation, but segregation should not be enforced against the wishes of the family. However, Margi said, many chevra kadishas, along with many city and community rabbis, make their own rules and don't listen to anybody else, and basically he has not been able to control them. He says he is not giving an excuse, is not dismissing the issue, but explaining why the situation is what it is.. and he called on MK Lavi to use her influence and position, along with  his and everyone else's, to ensure that people do not get hurt and that there is no reason to keep women out of funeral ceremonies.
(source: INN)

With Minister Margi, from Shas, agreeing that there is no reason to ban women from participating in the ceremony  and agreeing that in a funeral there is no need for segregation (unlike in a shul during davening), the situation with the chevra kadishas should not be tolerated.

Margi says they make their own rules, they don't answer to anybody. That is unacceptable. they are operating through the State, via the Ministry of Religious Affairs, they are funded by the State, they should follow the rules or be made to. If a request goes against halacha, they can oppose it, and there should be a process by which such a request is passed along through proper channels quickly and efficiently so the right people deal with such situations. But when a request is not against halacha, and is simply something the chevra kadisha does not like or prefer, for whatever reason, they should not have the power or authority to reject it. Perhaps the entire chevra kadisha system needs to be dismantled and reconstructed. If they are unionized it might be difficult, but clearly some reform is needed in the structure of the chevra kadisha organizations.





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Quote of the Day

I want to say your place is in Degel HaTorah

  -- MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ)

Gafni said this to MK Meirav Michaeli of the Labor party who had just given her inaugural speech in the Knesset chamber. Michaeli had spoken about how everyone is arguing about "sharing the burden", but the real burden is the unemployment, the bad terms for the weaker sectors, etc. and those burdens are not what anybody is demanding a portion of.

On a humorous note, I would add, that if Michaeli took Gafni up on his statement, that she belongs in Degel Hatorah, it would be deemed "her task is something else", and she would not be allowed to be an MK....

(you can see MK Michaeli's speech:


and MK Gafni's response:





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Jon Stewart: Crazy Stupid Dov and the War on Purim (video)





and this one is much funnier






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Prager University: The UN vs. Israel (video)







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antisemitism: Ted and Mark Wahlberg at Oscars 2013 (video)

is it humor and part of a routine or is it antisemitism cloaked in humor?





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Feb 27, 2013

Proposed Law: Leave work early and spend time with the kids

An interesting new law is being proposed that would affect the work week. No, not Sundays off, the long weekend idea that us American expats still hope will one day pass.

MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) announced that he is proposing a new law that will be called "The Law of quality family time". The law will allow the main breadwinner of the family, a family with children up until the age of 6, to leave work early one day a week, after having completed 8 hours of work for the day, in order to spend time with his/her children.

Cabel says that in recent years the average number of work hours has been dramatically increasing, and naturally that bites into the quality time a parent can spend with the kids. What generally happens, according to the statistics, is that one of the parents does the bulk of the parenting and the other parent becomes the main breadwinner and takes on the status of a "weekend parent". Obviously there is a great need for both parents to be able to spend quality time with their kids, with the benefits applying to both the kids and to the parents.

What happens in the current situation is that only after a divorce can each parent leave early from work to spend time with the kids. Changing the law to allow the main breadwinner in a married family to also leave early once a week to spend time with the kids will change the distribution of the household burden and will bring about great benefit to the children. Cabel says there is no need to wait until after a divorce in order to allow them time to spend with their kids.
(source: Forbes)

Great idea. It is not exactly a day off like a Sunday would be, but even the additional 30 minutes or even some hours could make a significant difference in the family life.

Should this be regulated by a law? I don't know. If people aren't contractually obligated to work those extra hours, perhaps they should already be doing this on their own. And if they prefer to work and advance their careers and work extra hours, why will this law change that - the parent could leave early, but he already can as well - he chooses not to. And if they are contractually obligated to work 9 or 10 hours a day, why should the law be written to hurt the employer when a contract was signed?



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Interesting Psak: Shut Down the tax Malshinon but call it while it is online

Last week Rav Shmuel Eliyahu paskened that people should not be calling the tax authority's malshinon - snitch line. He said the tax authority should do their work on their own, people should pay their taxes and the tax authority has the right to enforce that and search for those that do not, but people should not be snitching on others.

To continue that debate, an organization dealing with financial issues and halacha, Machon Keter l'Kalkala al pi Halacha, has published a paper disputing Rav Eliyahu's conclusion. The Machon's conclusion is that as long as the tax authority has the snitch line in operation, people are obligated to use it and report to it, albeit following certain guidelines.

Rav Shlomo Ishon, head of the Machon, differentiates between the need for citizens to report offenders and between the questions of whether it is right for the government to encourage citizens snitching on each other.

Regarding the social issue, it is wrong for the government to encourage citizens snitching on each other - it harms the stability of society as people will lose trust for one another. The government should not have opened a snitch line, the malshinon, but should find other ways to encourage people to pay their taxes and create an atmosphere of shame for those who do not.

However, with the malshinon in place, Rav Ishon says, people have the obligation to do what they can to prevent others from causing harm to other people. Not only are people allowed to call the malshinon and report tax evasion, but there is an obligation to do so.

Despite having such an obligation to call the malshinon, one should only do so under certain conditions:

  1. he knows the information firsthand, and is not just relying on information he heard form others.
  2. the activity he is reporting on must definitely be tax evasion, and not some activity that might have another explanation
  3. the report must be specific and accurate
  4. when reporting, one cannot give any commentary of his own or irrelevant details
  5. one cannot report out of a sense of revenge
  6. the person reporting must not be guilty himself of tax evasion


(source: Srugim)


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Quote of the Day

nothing to do with Israel or the Jews, but qotd worthy....

People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it's the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another. The reason is, that's freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be.

  -- US Secretary of State John Kerry

some might say that Americans have abused that right... :-)



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Learn for 5 days straight

On Shushan Purim this year, or Purim d'Mukafin as it is more commonly referred to in Israel (at least among the yeshivishe crowd), Rav Shteinman released a letter to the public regarding the "haredi draft" issue that is still hovering and threatening the haredi yeshiva world.


The letter is all good, except for one line that makes me wonder what they are telling him. The letter gives some words of encouragement to the yeshiva boys as to their role as being the future generation of leaders in Torah.. and then calls on the yeshiva boys to strengthen themselves in Torah and mitzvos - learn more, use the time better, be careful in the details of keeping Shabbos properly and that will bring about God's mercy. Also, Rav Shteinman calls upon the yeshiva bochurim to adopt the suggestion of the Ramcha"l and take upon themselves to learn for 5 days straight, in order to annul the decree. All good.

The part that makes me wonder is when he says the decree is to cancel all the yeshivas from Israel.

I think increasing learning is great, and if they see the potential of a draft as a threat, I can see them saying to cancel the decree of the draft that might weaken yeshivas or might stop some boys from learning for certain periods of time. But nothing in the "decree" is going to shut down yeshivas, nobody is looking to close any yeshivas, and nobody is stopping anybody from learning and performing mitzvos the way the Romans and Greeks did - for a certain period, boys will need to go to the army (if a law will be formulated and passed) - before that and after that, and maybe even along with that in a system such as civil or national service, people can learn as many or as few hours of the day as they want..

Rav Shteinman does not seem to me to be one for hyperbole, so I wonder if he is simply being told that the government, or at least some in it, want to shut down the yeshivot.


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Life Lessons at a Hamantaschen Eating Contest (video)







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Machon Lev graduates establish hi-tech company in Jerusalem (video)

much success to them!





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The Aveirah Song (video)

a Purim song, by bochurim from Yeshivas Lev Aryeh...





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2 Israeli Harlem Shakes (video)

In my opinion, the Harlem Shake is a lousy video meme, with no redeeming factors. These two are exceptions to that because the first is one that took place at the Kotel, and the second supposedly had 70,000 people participating (!) in tel Aviv:

Harlem Shaking at the Kotel:


70,000 Harlem Shaking in Tel Aviv:




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Feb 26, 2013

Headline of the Day

The Facebook page of the US Embassy in Israel was flooded with requests to free Pollard


 -- Maariv



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Crown Heights Jewish dad cuts 75,000 box top coupons to help rebuild neighborhood (video)

poor guy. he worked so hard, and the prize was not even going to be for himself, but for some schools. hopefully the ruling will come to allow his boxtops and award the prize...





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Bennet over the Elah Valley (video)

Naftali Bennet spent some time on Purim doing some hiking and touring with his family (in the Bet Shemesh area, as you can see from the video).. here is a dvar torah from Bennet with a leadership lesson....





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Haredi Pink Floyd Jam Session in Jerusalem (video)

these guys have appeared here before...





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Feb 25, 2013

Interesting Posts #462

1. minhag insanity in our time

2. how did Vashti grow a tail?

3. kever esther and mordechai

4. of meetings and moods

5. I don't CY (cholov yisroel)

6. secular talmud

7. the least sensitive Purim costumes...

8. the breach position - at the height of a scandal of sexual misconduct (at best, it seems) by a leading rav, a rabbinic organization puts out warnings of a breach in tzniyut by male photographers photographing women at weddings.. irony

9. I'm interested in coming for Shabbat





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Headline of the Day

In honor of Purim - Ramat Gan dressed up like Switzerland and filled up with snow


  -- Mako News
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the halacha of firecrackers and explosives on Purim

The Rabbanut sent out the following psak issued by the two Chief Rabbis of Israel a few days before Purim. 



The psak is regarding the unfortunately all-too common use of explosives (e.g. firecrackers and the various types of rockets) on Purim. The Chief Rabbis said that it is prohibited to use such explosives especially due to the physical dangers involved in using them, and also because it scares people nearby. They even mention the physical danger being so great that one must do whatever he can to get rid of them, and that someone who does use them is chayav b'dinei shomayim.

It is clear from what went on during Purim in my neighborhood that not too many people seemed to care about the physical danger involved nor about the halachic psak of the Chief Rabbis. While in recent years there was a serious decline (locally) in the usage of explosives on Purim, perhaps, at least in part, due to the annual campaign against them run by Ezrat Ahim and Iryat Bet Shemesh, this year I was surprised to hear and see so much explosives being used. I hope there were no injuries, but clearly this year the campaign failed (though I am sure we will hear how successful it was).





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Will Barak Obama ascend Temple Mount during visit to region?


I don't know what President of the US Barak Obama is planning to do while on his trip to Israel, or what will be on his agenda... but I do not expect him to pay a visit to Har HaBayit. It is too sensitive of an issue for him to want to appear as influencing it one way or the other, and it is a very short trip - I am sure his itinerary is full with mostly meetings, and very little "sightseeing".

But, if he should wish to pay a visit to the holiest spot on Earth, while I would like for him to be taken up by Israeli leaders through the Mugrabim Gate that Jews use to ascend the Mount, the Palestinians have other plans in mind.

According to this Channel 2 report, the PA has called upon Barak Obama to coordinate with it a visit to the Temple Mount (though they don't call it Temple Mount). Sheikh Akram Sabri, former Mufti of Jerusalem, said that Obama, as any guest, would be welcome to Al Aqsa, but he would have to enter via the Lions Gate and not the Mugrabim Gate, so as not to harm the authority of the Muslim control over Temple Mount.

If the choices are to not visit at all, or to visit in a way that will  strengthen PA control of the area, I would prefer he not visit the site at all...



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Facebook Status of the Day

Ayelet Shaked gets today's FSOTD..



Translation: Never before have so many Israelis been so happy about not winning in the Oscars. This morning I was in the studio of Channel 10 along with a reserve duty soldier who has served in Bilin and plans to sue the producer of the movie "Five Broken Cameras" for libel. What a straight and heroic person. The entire studio was filled with pride when he spoke. The truth wins even if there are those who try to distort it.


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pizza delivery.. during the mitzva tance! (video)

according to the description, this was a prank on the chosson arranged by his friends.... coordinated by the father... when the pizza was delivered, they told the chosson that he should know that his wife won't always be able to cook him dinner...





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Kid Rabbi (video)







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Israel's "Master Chef" - Kosher Opens New Horizons & Challenges (video)







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For all single malt drinkers - Important Information (video)

in the spirit of Purim...





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Purim parade (Adeloyada) in Tel Aviv, 1932 (video)







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Bein' Frum (video)







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Feb 22, 2013

Yerachmiel - Marbim B'Simcha (video)







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Sara Chana Discusses Natural Hangover Remedies on CBS New York (video)

Purim is coming.. prepare for getting over your hangover!





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Feb 21, 2013

Lemaan Achai: Why we are so quiet

As the carnival atmosphere warms up in Ramat Beit Shemesh - you may not have noticed Lema'an Achai's low profile campaign.

Lema'an Achai's modest marketing budget pays for a few banners, posters and tee shirts. 

We use plenty of imagination and energy - and you'll surely enjoy this year's TzedakaThon theme for Purim. 

But, frankly, Lema'an Achai are not at our best talking ourselves up.  

We're better - much better - at helping local families in distress.

Like Mrs Z.

Mrs Z came to Lema'an Achai because she had received an arnona bill of 16,000 NIS. 

She is a young widow with kids, and had no way of being able to pay that kind of money.

However, in discussion with Lema'an Achai's team, the rest of Mrs Z's story emerged. 

Her late husband, "Moshe", had a sucessful professional career, brought in a nice salary, and had personal wealth and assets.

But Moshe had one problem. 

Moshe liked to gamble.  

Not only did Moshe's salary go to pay gambling debts, but his business and assets were sold off piece-meal to pay the creditors.

Even that wasn't enough.

Chased by mafiosi creditors, Moshe fled abroad and Mrs Z reluctantly went with him with their kids. 

As she saw the same self-destructive behavior playing out there also, Mrs Z separated from Moshe, and brought her children back to Israel.

Moshe died suddenly abroad in tragic circumstances.

So, here was Mrs Z at Lema'an Achai, with her Arnona bill, whose late husband Moshe had accumulated an astounding 15,000,000 NIS in gambling debts, much in Mrs Z's name. 

As a side-note, Bituach Leumi didn't recognise Mrs Z as a widow and so refused to pay her family benefits. 

Furthermore, aside from the financial and legal chaos, Mrs Z and her children suffered deep emotional scars from their bitter experiences. 

I will cut the the long story short - and skip to today.

As a result of Lema'an Achai's intensive intervention, Mrs Z today receives almost 5000 NIS/month in benefits, while paying just 100 NIS in debt repayments. 

Mrs Z has completed a professional retraining course, and is now bringing in a salary which pays her family's bills.

Mrs Z and her kids have responded well to therapy, and have a healthy and positive outlook.  

As for the arnona bill - we got this slashed from 16,000 NIS, to just 5000 NIS, payable in three instalments. 

Today, Mrs Z came in to Lema'an Achai with her donation for Matanot Le'evionim.

This Purim - enjoy the carnival atmosphere.

And remember, while the Purim celebrations are noisy in the streets, Lema'an Achai is quietly working in people's homes, saving families like the Z's - as only Lema'an Achai can do.

Please remember to give your Matanot Le'evionim generously to Lema'an Achai. 

The quiet guys. 

--
Purim Sameach!
David & Avrohom

Donations by Phone 24/6 - 02-99999.33
Donations in Cash - Via Your Shul Lema'an Achai Gabbai 




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Interesting Posts #461

1. Goodbye, shul candyman! - don't worry, this is Purim parody... or is it?

2. Where danger is

3. keep the cardinal out - I agree but I also add another reason. the shul is not the place for the cardinal. rent a hall if you want to invite him to speak in front of the community. The sul is not an appropriate place because of what the cardinal represents, what the church has done, what the motives and intentions of the cardinal might be..

4. Gershon Veroba on the YESS legacy

5. the soap opera of Buddha and Israel

6. a brief electric vehicle geek-out and a customer-service case-study from Better Place

7. Mahatzit Hashekel this year

8. lifepatch scammers convicted

9. the point of davening

10. 10 ideas for Purim

11. 10 images that will change the way you look at tefillin

12. myths and facts about the IDF and religious soldiers

13. why did the chicken cross the road?

14. A modest proposal for draft exemptions

15. Rationalist Tzedakah



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Feiglin's protest if Obama doesn't bring Pollard home

MK Moshe Feiglin has come up with an interesting idea regarding Jonathan Pollard.

A petition had been passed around for signing that called upon US President Barak Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard and bring him home on the upcoming trip to Israel. As of right now the petition has accumulated just over 50,000 signatures.

Nobody knows what will happen, but people are concerned that this request will be ignored, the same way previous requests were ignored. Some people are therefore trying to find ways in advance to increase the pressure on Obama in a way that might urge him to come through this time.

MK Moshe Feiglin today said that he has realized today that we have reached the red line that beyond it we will lose Jonathan Pollard . He then says that when Obama will release Jonathan Pollard, he will be happy to greet the president and listen to his speech in the Knesset. In the meantime, if chalila Obama will not release Pollard, he calls upon the Members of Knesset in joining him in a ban against Obama's Knesset speech - to leave the chamber and abandon Obama to an empty Knesset.

Even if a few MKs join Feiglin's protest, there is no way the entire Knesset will. There is no way Obama will be speaking to an empty Knesset chamber. It just won't happen. I like Feiglin's creative protest, but I don't expect too much will come of it.





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Quote of the Day

With us, the ashkenazi haredim, they have not spoken in two weeks. The only offer they have offered to us so far is a cup of water... I know double what Netanyahu knows about what will be and what the final scenario of the coalition will be - Bibi knows nothing, and I know doubly nothing.

  -- Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman


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Chief Rabbi says not to send so much candy in mishloach manot


Way too much candy ends up in mishloach manot. Today there is an increased awareness to eating healthy, and many people minimize the unhealthy foods used in mishloach manot preparation. Despite that, just walk into any supermarket in the week leading up to Purim and you will see that many many people still use a lot of junk food in their mishloach manot.

I am not sure this will help much, but Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger publicized a call to people to minimize the inclusion of such foods in mishloach manot and to include more healthy foods instead.
(source: Srugim and Mako)

Rav Metzger said:
Unfortunately in recent years the phenomenon has spread of stressing the beauty and externality of the mishloach manot. This is the opposite of what it should be. Because of that, it is common in many shops, especially in the time of Purim, to find all sorts of sweets that are based on artifical ingredients, containing chemicals, food colorings, things that can cause damage to the body, and especially to children whose body's are not yet strong enough.
Experts in this field have enlightened me that in not so few countries marketing these products has been prohibited, due to their bad influence. These products are sold, usually, at cheap prices, due to low manufacturing costs that do not require a lot of resources. And, there are those who buy them so the package will externally look beautiful and impressive.
The truth of the matter is that we should take care to be concerned that the mishloach manot will not include any such items at all, to pay attention to the ingredients with which the sweets are manufactured, and during Purim when a lot of mishloach manot come into the house the small children could get out of hand eating these sweets and thereby cause damage to their bodies, upon which we have been commanded to protect.
I call with endearment to all our brethren to pay attention to the ingredients of the sweets that are sold in the stores and minimize the mishloach manot that include health damaging products, and by doing this we will merit to fulfill the mitzva of mishloach manot in an elegant way that also has a benefit to the recipient, and will thereby prevent any damage to the health of the recipient and his household.
So, if you have not yet come to this conclusion yourself that you should not be including so much candy and artificial stuff in your mishloach manot, now you have rabbinic counsel informing you of the problem!

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IDF Seeks Religious Jewish Female Soldiers (video)







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Interview With Israeli Singer Yonatan Razel (English) (video)







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PM and Mrs. Netanyahui visit children with cancer for Purim (video)




(he should have brought them ice cream! - :-)  )


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Does Your Korban Pesach Lose It's Flavor Tied to the Bedpost Overnight? (video)







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Feb 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

The historical fact is that the Christian Jesus walked around jerusalem, and he did not see in it anywhere any church, the first was built 150 years after him, and he did not see anywhere in jerusalem a mosque, the first was built only 600 years after him. Jesus saw in Jerusalem only the final days of the second Temple of the Jews

  -- MK Mordechai Yogav (Habayit Hayehudi) in his inaugural speech




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Learning from, and respecting, other communities

I like this response to a letter of inquiry - it is critical and praiseworthy of all parties involved, and points to where everybody involved can and should improve.

Rav Yosef Zeini, a rav in Ashdod, was asked why great talmidei chachomim from the "redeemed torah" (referring to rabbonim of the Zionist streams) had to bother to go to the Admors who wanted to speak with them, and not the other way around.

The letter-writer was clearly upset and considered it a sign of disrespect to the rabbonim of the Dati Leumi that they were called in to the haredi rabbonim = perhaps if the haredi rabbonim wanted to chat with them about politics and use their influence, maybe the haredi rabbonim should have gone to the Zionist rabbonim.

Rav Zeini's long response was, and I translate:
First of all, because the way of the world - see how Rabbi Akiva Eiger instructed his sons how to specify the names and titles of people who would receive responses. If so why be different. Second, some of these Rebbes are much older. And with all the sorrow, not for the travel of talmidei chachomim to Rebbes, but that the secular Zionism has not yet merited to have someone educate her on the necessity of Torah in Israel other than the ultra-Orthodox world - because of its political strength, not it torani position, we must give some respect to the ultra-Orthodox, for without them, today, secularism would be raging more.
It is true that their style of influence often does not look successful to us, because they do not delve into in-depth study of faith, along with some shocking side effects, but in the meantime this vision of the political reality has some things.
And if via the topic of drafting yeshiva students we and all of Israel are obligated to clarify the nature of the Torah and its study, although this is spiritual coercion like a tub over our small heads, despite all that, we must bless, despite the bittenress of the matter. Do the "srugim" populations understand what is a talmid chochom? What is devotion to the Torah? Besides for admiration of any military campaign images depicting soldiers wearing tallit and tefillinin the battlefield, on which to declare "See that although they are religious and keep mitzvos they are also serving in the IDF." As it used to be the "secular" were surprised to find people on the benches of the University and the Technion wearing a yarmulke.
We all respect, value and appreciate the army and its achievements, and bless it every minute for its continued successes. But we must not forget that beyond that there is a world of Torah for which in its merit the entire country is becoming more sophisticated. True, that must be explained at length, and not in the way that is being heard right now, but we cannot teach the entire Path of Torah of the Maharal on one leg.
What must be mentioned is, as the Rambam said, at every opportunity, the source of our life is Mount Sinai , And that there is an Israeli timelessness that is not dependant on technological advancements. This is the source of our faith and our very existence.
And an important achievement has already been recorded due to these meetings, and that is that some Rebbes was not aware at all that there are large Zionist yeshivot where hundreds of students learn day and night. One of our rabbis was in shock by the fact that for years he was in contact with the Haredi public but only now noticed that they thought he and his students were all religious farmers growing bug-free lettuce, and nothing more than that.
And if so, we must ask why all the books of our rabbis are not sold in Haredi neighborhoods. Maybe we have a little bit of fault in this, and if so we must fix it before dealing with issues of honor at rabbinic visits with each other..
And do not forget that the purpose of our teacher Rabbi Kook when he founded the Chief Rabbinate of Israel was his desire to bring together all the gedolei yisroel to a conference once or twice a year in Jerusalem, convening scholars lshem shamayim, even if they would not release halachic decisions from the conference, but to accustom the sages of Israel to sit together. Because this is a condition to bringing back the semicha in the future, that all the scholars must agree on one person that he is worthy to be given semicha, and then we will be able to progress with the spiritual redemption.
"Torah scholars increase peace in the world" - are only they are told that? Rav Tzvi Yehuda would ask, dont  we every day mention the Gemara that says that every person must engage in bringing peace between people? but real scholars know to increase peace between scholars and lucky are we that these are our rabbis.
(source: Srugim)

I like it. Everybody bears some blame, everybody can learn a lesson, everybody can improve. they have learned that we do learn torah and have serious rabbonim and yeshiva students, and we can learn from their dedication to Torah and their focus on Torah as to what is really important for the Jewish people.

Most of the time, we take all the credit for ourselves, justify our approach, and blame the other for problems and deride the others way of life. This is a new approach


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Facebook Status of the Day



When I was asked about Livni joining the forming coalition, I said the issue is not Tzippi Livni but the way of the Likud. Netanyahu has the mandate to include whichever partner he wants and create a broad and stable coalition. Along with that, the members of the Likud are watching that the way of the Likud will be what leads the government, and that the precedent of Barak will not return. Briefly, I hope the Likud will also be in the coalition..

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Snitching to the tax authority

The Israeli tax authority recently devised a public campaign to encourage people, general citizens, to call in and report about people who are not paying their taxes - working black. The snitch line has come to be known as the "malshinon" though the official name is "Kav Tzedek" - the line of justice.

The person calling in and reporting someone else does not get anything for his efforts - no payment per name or per x money collected as a result of the phone call. The tax authority's campaign to the public has focused on the idea that those people who do not pay their taxes are sponging off the rest of us, getting all the benefits of society, benefits that cost money to supply, while not paying in their share. Calling in will help the "snitch" by getting those people off the backs of everyone else, they will pay their fair share, and maybe we will all end up paying less if more people are paying in (my addition).

Surprisingly, in the first four days of the malshinon program being active 3000 people have called in to snitch on people not paying taxes. Some callers were complaining about government policy or large corporations that don't pay enough taxes or get their tax levels lowered in forms of assistance, but the overwhelming majority were actually "snitches" informing on others. 80% of the callers were anonymous. The tax authority says they had not expected such an overwhelming response.
(source: Globes)

Interestingly, the people snitched on the most include: landlords renting apartments but not reporting the income, shiputznikim (small renovations contractors), and taxi drivers.
(source: Nana News)

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, was asked on the radio if halachically one is allowed to call in to the malshinon and report someone. Rav Eliyahu's response was that we are not allowed to snitch. Let the tax authority do their own work, and that is fine, but we do not snitch.

Rav Eliyahu compared it to the story of Achan who took spoils from Jericho despite the ban - Yehoshua asked God who had violated the ban and taken the spoils. Hashem's response was he would not tell him, but if Yehoshua wants to investigate, he can do so. Rav Eliyahu said this story teaches us that snitching is not appropriate behavior.
(source: Srugim)

I dont know if Rav Eliyahu's opinion applies also to someone who stands to benefit directly, though I cannot think of an example of someone who would benefit directly by snitching, rather than just snitching for either revenge, retribution or for no apparent reason.


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Disguise (video)






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the fathers of the murdered Fogels are looking forward (video)







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The Riddle: The story of Moshe Feiglin (video)







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Shlomo Katz - Eliyahu Hanavi (video)






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Feb 19, 2013

Charging your iphone is theft in the Mir Yeshiva

There has been a lot of halachic discussion, or declaration perhaps, around the issue of using iPhones and other smartphones with Internet access. Is the bearer of an iPhone kosher to witness a wedding?

Another perspective of the halachic issue surrounding the usage of an iPhone was brought to the public realm in the Mir Yeshiva.

Considering that iPhones are forbidden to be used, as well as laptops that are not blocked from access to the Internet, someone asked, and anonymously publicized, the rosh yeshiva if students are allowed to plug in and charge such devices using the yeshiva electricity. The rosh yeshiva said no, such devices cannot be plugged in to yeshiva electricity. So would it be considered theft if someone did so anyway? the rosh yeshiva said it would be theft.
(source: Kikar)

The notice publicizing this discussion was hung anonymously in the yeshiva. And it was not just a simple handwritten or typed sign - it was a fancily designed notice:









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Violence in the name of the Torah in Beitar

I don't know the details of what is going on over in Beitar, but there is some serious investigation into the possibility of a municipal-controlled and funded modesty squad - vaad hatzniyut - that used violence to enforce its rules.

I have no comment on the issue in general at this point, except for on one point.

According to Bechadrei, when the mayor of Beitar Meir Rubinshtein along with Nissim Hadad, the person appointed by City Hall to deal with the local youth, was called in for questioning, after the police confiscated computers and servers from City Hall, Rubinstein said "How fortunate are we that we were caught on the words of the Torah".

Now, besides for that sounding like an admission of guilt - we were caught - I dispute that running a vaad hatzniyut to beat up kids who don't follow the rules is "caught on the words of the Torah". The Torah does not say to beat up kids for not dressing appropriately or for hanging out, even if they would be getting into trouble and frightening others, and using violence to bully them instead of either educating them and creating programs to interest them, or calling the police to deal with them if they are making trouble, is not Torah mandated.





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new Beit Medrash in the Knesset


What do you think of this?

MK Rabbi Shai Peron (Yesh Atid) and MK Dr. Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid), along with MKs Yoni Chetboun (HaBayit HaYehudi) and MK Elazar Stern (HaTnua), are planning on establishing a Beit Medrash program in the Knesset.

The purpose of the program will be for MKs and Knesset employees to learn some Torah once a week, on Tuesdays, and to have discussions about Judaism.

Every week a different MK will take a turn leading the discussion, teaching a talmudic topic.

According to Kipa, the haredi parties have not yet decided whether to participate or not.

Looks to me to be a good idea...

it brings new meaning to the phrase Ki Mi'Tzion Teitzei Torah - From Zion will come forth Torah. This would be the heart of Zion and specifically Zionism that would be teaching Torah...





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Interesting Psak: Opening the Refrigerator on Shabbos

This psak made me laugh and cringe at the same time, so I share it with you....

Rav Ofir Malka, a Sefardi rav in Modiin Ilit, was asked how one could open the refridgerator on Shabbos if they forgot to disable the light bulb.

The psak given by Rav Malka is interesting in its own right - it is one that I have not heard in practical application - one could ask a non-Jew, directly, to open the fridge. Even though the light will turn on, it is allowed because the non-Jew wants to open the fridge, not turn on the light. It is a psik reisha, but that is allowed when telling a non-Jew to do something.

 Rav Malka continues and says some poskim today don't approve of that because the light turning on is an integral part of , so it is better to not tell the non-Jew directly but only to hint to it.

And, Rav Malka continues, and this is the funny/cringe part, if no non-Jew is available one can call over an Asheknazi child and tell him to open it up, on condition that he does not know the light will turn on and as long you give him something to eat from the fridge..
No further comment necessary...





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Quote of the Day

In Israel there is no equal sharing of the burden. It is a false expression. Arabs dont get drafted because of nationality reasons, girls dont get drafted because of religious reasons, there are pacifists who dont get drafted at all, Nahal soldiers serve for two years,  hesder students for a year and a half - this entire discussion is about something that doesn't exist. Why do we get upset at the haredim? it's fine that they don't serve, but then they also live off of us.
A large portion of the yeshiva students, the IDF does not need or want... First of all, go to work, this way you will integrate more than if you'd go to the army, and it will be better for you and for society. It will change the financial situation of Israel and of the haredi community. That is the real solution.

   --- former MK Chaim Ramon

Ramon's idea of working to get the haredi community integrated into the workforce rather than the army is something I have been saying for a long time, so I agree with this statement. Recent surveys (published in the newspapers this past week) also showed that the highest percentage of respondents also believe in this concept.




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Rav Lau meets woman who helped him survive the Holocaust (video)

An elderly woman was reading Rav Lau's book on his growing up and experience surviving the Holocaust, when her daughter saw (Miriam herself is blind) a picture of her. She remembered him because in Buchenwald there were no children, except for little Lulik Lau. She wrote him a letter, and a meeting was set up in her home in Haifa. 68 years earlier she had helped this young child survive.. she never knew what had happened to him and did not even realize it when he had been the Chief Rabbi.


הרב לאו from bhol on Vimeo.

Obviously you will have noticed, as an aside, that he had said when he came in that he cannot give her his hands, but he gives her his heart, but then when she tries to stand and reaches out, Rav Lau takes her hand and helps her...

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Israeli Knesset member gives up US citizenship (video)

MK Rabbi Dov Lipman on Fox News talking about having renounced his US citizenship


http://video.foxnews.com/v/2172119029001/israeli-knesset-member-gives-up-us-citizenship/
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Israeli Flag on the Moon? It's Getting Closer.... (video)







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Im Eshkachech - אם אשכחך ירושלים - Benny Elbaz (video)







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Feb 18, 2013

TzedakaThon

and here is the final poster in the series... turns out it is not a new running group training for a marathon, but it is Lemaan Achai's Tzedakathon for Purim!



you can of course donate online, via the website in the poster (www.smartchesed.org), or you can drop off money at any of the various LA drop-off points, of which I will be one as well.

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Interesting Posts #460

1. the PM wants you to help choose the logo for the upcoming visit of Barak Obama.. I voted for the logo that least meshes the two flags...

2. Sometimes I want to scream - haredi newspapers are the subject of this post

3. The Kotel is way better than the Giving Tree - I am impressed the kollel running this has a website/blog!!

4. The fire of Judaism

5. Spreading the message of hope and faith - reprinted a rare music review from the Yated Neeman about the great song Yesh Tikva by Benny Friedman

6. TalisBan Spins off YireiBan™ and Sells it to Askanim, Inc (Satire)

7. I guess I am a racist

8. remember R' Leib Tropper? yeah, the guy from the scandal... he is now an educator at RJJ elemntary school

9. New vs Old Politics

10. Only in Israel: Bezeq upgrading ADSL customers to 15 MB/s for free!  - almost makes me feel like a freier for paying for 15mbps for the past couple of years... I guess technically this is "only in Israel", as Bezeq only provides Internet infrastructure in Israel, but it is not really an "only in Israel" story... then again, most of them are not..






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