Sep 30, 2020

Quote of the Day

The exit strategy [of this lockdown] will be slow this time and could be spread out over half a year or maybe even a year.

  -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

looks like the enter strategy is like that too. Go outside. there is hardly a lockdown in place. People are everywhere, and anyone who wants in excuse to be out and go somewhere basically can find one.  





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fines or no fines

The news is reporting daily how many fines were dished out by the police to people breaking the CoronaVirus lockdown guidelines - not wearing mask, being further than 1km form the house, violating quarantine, etc. 

It has gotten so futile the CoronaVirus Czar Roni Gamzu is reportedly recommending to the Corona Cabinet right now that they increase the fines to be more of a deterrent - 1000nis for not wearing a mask, 10,000 for a business not following the rules, 50,000 for an educational institution opening up against the rules...

Yet at the same time as all this as happening and the government is having a difficult time enforcing the lockdown, let alone the basic rules, President Ruvi Rivlin and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkrn have announced that they are putting together a plan for amnesty, or pardons, for people who have received fines. The pardons would apply to those who have gotten into bad financial situations because of Corona. 

They insist that this will not be applied to parking tickets or to fines levied for breaking Corona rules, as there is a need to curb the spread, but people can request other fines be pardoned. Also, anyone convicted of a crime within the past 5 years will not be considered for pardon.

It seems somewhat complicated as to who will qualify for these pardons and for what types of fines. For details, if relevant to you, see the Calclist article linked just above.

So they won't get rid of their Corona fines, but they can get rid of most/many of the rest of their fines for other violations and misdeeds. I dont want to say I wish I had received many fines over the past few years to get wiped away, but I feel somewhat of a freier for not being able to take advantage of this... us good law-abiding citizens rarely get any significant prizes.....



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don't invite ushpizin

The news is reporting that Epidemiologist Professor Itamar Gruto has warned that in sukkas as well you can only be with families and the regular rules apply,. he added that the sukka is considered a closed structure rather than an open one and one should not invite Ushpizin to the sukka..

If you think I am joking, as many have joked about this already, listen to the news report as recorded in the Tweet below.



Either Gruto was joking and they picked it up as being serious not realizing, or else it is just ignorance of what the Ushpizin is. It is also possible that Gruto used the word "ushpizin" to mean not to invite any guests, as the word just means guests, even if traditionally it is used to refer to the sukkos ushpizin.

Anyways, if the ushpizin come they will need 14 days quarantine, so it isn't practical.



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the different approach of the Chassidim to wearing masks

Haredim10 is reporting on something said by the Vizshnitzer Rebbe, after the police went to the Vizshnitz beis medrash at the end of Yom Kippur and broke up a mass Corona party, of sorts - they had basically broken all the rules with no distancing, thousands of people beyond what the rules allowed, and no masks at the post Yom Kippur tish and the police broke it up. 

On Tuesday the Rebbe went to the mikva and found it locked, as per Corona lockdown regulations. He immediately contacted the person in charge of the mikva and instructed him to open it immediately. He said that he wants to see the mikva open, one full water cistern, and the opening should only be form the side and not the front so they can make it look like it is closed, and the bochurim should all be able to toivel. The Rebbe said he will not allow the closure of the mikvas, batei medrash or schools, and he will turn it into a war if necessary.

Today, in a phone call between the Prime Minister and the Rebbe, the Rebbe says he told the PM that these 3 are essential for them and cannot be closed, and that if the PM would ensure that the entire country keep Shabbos, at least publicly, he would guarantee Corona would disappear from the world.

To that end, Yehuda Shlezinger is reporting in Israel Hayom that the Vizshnitzer Rebbe, along with some other Admorim and chassidic groups, have decided to take a different approach. Shlezinger adds that it makes no sense so far into Corona they still don't get it and need more hasbara about the importance of masks and distancing, etc so he went and spoke to Vizshnitz chassidim, among others, along with people close to some Admorim, and what people don't know is that they have decided to take the approach of obtaining herd immunity - they are trying to get everyone sick and then be immune.

Part of their approach is that people in high risk groups and the elderly should protect themselves and stay home but everyone else should live their normal lives, catch the disease and effect herd immunity.

He says this approach started with Belz a while back, during the first wave, and has now been taken on by a number of other chassiduyot, including Vizshnitz.

Shlezinger explains that they have accepted the fact that they cannot avoid Corona, and the price to be paid in trying is too high - they cannot close their mikvas and yeshivas and shuls - the price of so much destruction among the Haredi yeshiva world because of Corona is not worth it. Many boys are stuck at home with little to keep them busy, and many are leaving the fold or going through some sort of spiritual death with no connection to shul and yeshiva.

So, when people complain about those chassidim who don't follow the rules, it seems they have chosen intentionally not to follow the rules because they are takign a different approach.

The problem is that they do not live in a closed ghetto. They go mingle with other people, in other shuls, in stores, on buses, and wherever else they go. They get sick and go to the doctor with other people in the waiting room. And all this time they are all getting themselves infected, they may very well be infecting others.

Further, this is the definition of the mishna in Pirkei Avos, Ethics of our Fathers, that warns people to pray for the government, for without it there would be chaos with each person doing whatever he wants and each consuming the other. I am not sure one group of a sub0sect of society, or even a few groups, has the right to take such a vastly different approach, no matter how much sense it makes (and I don't know if it is a good approach or not, but even if theoretically it were, they are doing it on their own against the greater society).

And lastly, this is really the result of the semi-autonomy the State of Israel has always given to the Haredi community. In so many aspects of life the Haredi community does not feel beholden to the local rules and that they can do what they want and nobody can tell them otherwise. Why should this be any different? They can do what they want. Netanyahu spoke with him today - did he say we won't tolerate this - You are endangering the rest of us? There is no report of this. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but we basically continue to see these groups doing what they want and basically getting away with it (with maybe a few fines passed out to some individuals)... 




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found a boxload of cash... did he keep it or return it?

Behadrei has the story of a Satmar chossid, Avraham Rottman, who owns a couple of makolets in Bet Shemesh and Mea Shearim, who found money in his warehouse among the cartons of yahrtzeit candles.

His employee, also a Satmar chossid, was pulling out the boxes of yahrtzeit candles and when he opened one of the boxes he found more than half a million shekels in cash! 500,000NIS instead of yahrtzeit candles!

Mr Rottman asked his rabbi what to do with the money. The rabbi paskened that it is likely the owner had already given up hope on ever getting his money back, so Rottman could keep the money he found. Despite that he decided to try to find the owner and return the money. Somehow he found the owner and returned the money. The owner, a Dati leumi fellow, cried from emotion and praised the Satmar chassidim.

It does not tell us who the owner was - someone from the manufacturing plant or in charge of the deliveries, or some other person? Nor does it tell us how he found the owner. Both would be interesting parts of the story. Additionally, I wonder how this story will go down legally - we all know the government is phasing out cash. Reading a story like this in the news and seeing a stockpile of that much cash is sure to raise some eyebrows and get an investigation started.

Regardless of that, kol hakavod to Mr Rottman and his employee, either could have taken the money and not reported it further and not looked for the original owner. Starting off the year with a kiddush hashem like that will surely stand in their merit.




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Headlines Podcast: 9/26/20 - Show 290 - Chalav Stam today; Rav Moshe’s Heter (video)








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Chef Shalom on Chopped 2020 S47E03 - Soup and Sandwich Savvy - Food Network Chopped 9/22/20 (video)







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PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly







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Nissim Black: BLACKOUT | Episode 2: Black America (video)







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Mendy Jarufi and Nemouel Harosh: Ki Rega B'Apo (video)








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Sep 29, 2020

Kachol Lavan under pressure for protests

The news is reporting that the Knesset is prepping to vote on the issue of limiting protests during the lockdown. it seems Kachol Lavan is in a bind. They wan tot vote in favor of limiting protests, but are under heavy pressure form the protesters and their supporters to oppose any limitations. They are trying to find a way to bow out, generally by an arrangement to not show up and have others on the opposing team also agree to not show up, but are having difficulty working this out.

I would suggest Kachol Lavan ignore them. Those pushing them to vote against any limitations are mostly hard leftists and are not supporters of Kachol Lavan. They also will not vote  Kachol Lavan in the future. There is no need for Kachol Lavan to feel pressure by these people. If Kachol Lavan strongly opposes the vote, that is a different story, but that does not seem to be the case. It seems they are only seeking to oppose because of the pressure from the protesters. 

If that is the case, ignore them - they aren't people you will ever get votes form anyway. They will be voters for Lapid and for Meretz and maybe some United Arab List protest voters (not that they are the same, but they have strong anti-Bibi voters among them).




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Jews Praying in a Synagogue, with or without women

There is a famous painting, a piece of Jewish art, entitled "Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur".

You surely must have seen it at some point. it is often used in many references to Yom Kippur services. Here is an image of the painting:



There is a lot of story behind this. The artist was a Polish Jew named Maurycio Gottleib in 1878. The painting is supposedly a scene of the shul from his memory after he davened in a shul in Vienna and then decided to immortalize the scene in a painting due to an antisemitic attack. Gottleib painted himself into the scene a few times, plus one of the women is his fiancée (who broke up with him) depicted twice. The Torah scroll is embroidered with a memoriam to himself, depicting himself further after death. There is a lot more and you are welcome to research different explanations of the art.

Another interesting aspect of this painting is the edited version of it, which is also popularly used. I suspect many are not even aware they are not looking at the original. The edited version of the painting has removed the women, or blurred them, surprise surprise, from the balcony. "The Jewish Encyclopedia" posted the following edited image on their page explaining Yom Kippur:





I guess everyone can write the history as they want it, so here is the explanation from Kikar, specifically about the edited version. I found the assumptions entertaining.

First of all, Gottleib was not frum, not God fearing, so he painted women, rachmana litzlan, into the painting! GEVALT! Not only that but he depicted the seen with the women in the ezrat nashim being visible with no curtain blocking the mens view of them.

According to Kikar, this being a hassidic "kloiz" in Galicia it makes no sense and Gottleib must have painted the curtain a couple of meters back form where it actually was so that he could include women in the depiction. 

Michlol is something of an attempt at being a frum version of Jewish Wikipedia for frum people who don't want to use Wikipedia (for tzniyus and apikorsus reasons, ostensibly).

There you have the story




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Facebook Status of the Day







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Interesting Psak: Sukka Like a House

Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein called this evening for increased fines for those breaking the Corona rules. he also spoke about the lockdown and how they are dealing with it and where they are outing their efforts along with the plan to come out of it carefully and not give in to various sectors demands to ease up quicker...

Along the way, Minister Edelstein, NOT to be confused with Rav Gershon Edelstein, issued a psak regarding sukkos saying that a sukka constructed properly according to halacha is considered a closed space (rather than an open space). He added that we will nto send police into every sukka or house to check, but just like it is prohibited to host guests in your house, it is also prohibited to host guests in your sukka. 

There you have it. Your sukka is supposed to be your home for the week, and it gets the legal status of your home as well!



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Yaakov "I'll be back" Litzman

The news is reporting that MK Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) is working on making his way to back to the government, once again as a Deputy Minister. Same job, slightly less responsibility, mostly in name since he always takes these Deputy Minister jobs with all the authority as a minister...

It is slightly more difficult this time. In the past Netanyahu himself would take the position fo Minister above Litzman and give Litzman full authority over the ministry as Deputy Minister. This time Netanyahu cannot. When he was indicted for his alleged crimes the law forced him to give up all hsi ministerial positions (except for the Prime Minister position), so now Netanyahu cannot take the title of Housing Minister back, even if just in name. So he has to find another minister who is willing to add the title but also give Litzman all the authority. Technically, this minister is at risk for being blamed by history for whatever happens within the ministry, as he will always bear the title Minister of Housing, even though it will be Litzman making all the decisions and wielding all the power. This might be an impediment, but I expect it won't be too difficult to resolve.

I thought for a moment that this time he was serious. I now take back what I said about respecting him for putting his money where his mouth is. This is what we call a "combina" in Hebrew. He resigned to make a big deal then sneaks back in through the back door in a way that he can take all the credit and none of the blame for what he doesn't like. if he really had principles and if he really were serious, he would have left the government and stayed out, or else he could have saved us all this drama.... 

And he recently made such a dramatic statement of you will never hear the name Minister Litzman being called again - haha, so he is Deputy Minister Litzman instead. And even that is probably just temporary... We are going to rename him after Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in The Terminator series of movies who would say "I'll be back" ominously... Deputy Minister Yaakov I'll Be Back Litzman




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Quote of the Day

The lockdown will definitely continue beyond the two weeks. If we ease things up or not in various ways - that will be decided later... this time going out of the lockdown will be done gradually and responsibly. There will be no giving in to pressures...

  Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein

haha.. the entire form of the lockdown was set by giving in to pressure, with all the exceptions.. not sure  he's earned the ability to say this and be believed, but let's see what happens...



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