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Mar 30, 2006

Has Jack Abramoff changed his hat for a reason?

Jack Abramoff was just convicted to 6 years in prison for fraud. When the story broke a little while back that he was under investigation and indicted, it made waves in the frum Jewish community. Everybody spoke about the great Chillul Hashem he caused. All the pictures of him going into and out of court showed him in a black hat (yeshiva style). People were upset that he is making us all look bad. He is giving the perception that it is ok to steal as long as he wears his black hat, etc...

In the latest news breaks, I noticed something interesting. In all the pictures I saw of Jack Abramoff after the sentencing, he was no longer wearing his black hat. This time around he was wearing a baseball cap. Did he change his hat on purpose, so as not to cause people to cast aspersions on people in black hats? So he would not look "frummer than thou"?

Did his community/Rabbi request of him to change his hat? I saw articles and emails that went out from members of his community asking people to write letters on his behalf to the judge, describing how helpful he is to the community and how family oriented he is, etc.. in order to sway the judge to lighten the sentence. Did they request of him in return to change is hat?

Mar 29, 2006

Hopefully a good outcome of the elections

If any one good thing has come out of the elections, it is that Rafi Eitan from the Pensioners Party succeeded in getting in. Not only did he get in, he was given a lot of power. None of the analysts yet understand how he got so many votes, but he did, and that is good.

Rafi Eitan has a rich history as a member and commander in the Mossad. He led the team that captured Adolph Eichmann yimach shemo v'zichro, and brought him back to Israel for trial. In addition to that and many other secret events that we do not know about, he was involved in another, more public, operation. Rafi Eitan was Jonathan Pollard's handler.

I will not go into the story and background of Jonathan Pollard and his incarceration. Everybody knows that and has there opinions on whether he should rot in jail, as he has until now, as a traitor to his employer, the United States of America, or whether he has served more than a fair amount of "time" in jail for a crime he comitted, when other spies caught for worse things have served much less than JP.

I used to be of the opinion that it was a stain on Jewish - America relations and he should rot in jail for the crime he comitted. Over the past few years I have thought much about the Pollard case and have changed my opinion. JP has served more than his fair amount of time for the crime he comitted.

Rafi Eitan, while this was not his party's platform, has said that he has worked for Pollard's release and has regretted never doing more or having more influence and effecting his release. he has said that if he gets in to Knesset, he will use his position as a platform to secure JP's release from incarceration.

If that is the one good thing that comes of yesterday's elections, dayeinu. Get to work Mr. Eitan. Get Pollard out of jail.

The people have spoken

It looks like the people have spoken. With an unprecedented low turnout of voters in the Israeli elections yesterday, those who did bother to go vote have had their say.

It looks more like people want a more social agenda than the free market with little government interference that we have had the past few years. People want more government assistance and influence on the economic sectors.

I would say that while Kadima has become the largets party in the crowded field, they were disappointed at the amount of seats they won. I think this is because their major platform was further disengagements. I think people are more interested in the economic issues and the social platform than they were in the future disengagements issue. That is why Labor did so well. That is why the Pensioners party pulled off the great surprising victory they did. An that is why the Likud crashed even harder than anybody expected.

What worried me now is not future disengagements. That might happen, but that is not what worries me. What really worries me is the achievements we have made in the past 3 years financially and economically will now be wiped out. With Labor pushing their agenda and the Pensioners pushing theirs, if they join the coalition and force Kadima to accept those positions, we might be turning the clock back three years. Bibi successfully revolutionized the economy and vastly improved the economic conditions Israel has been in for the past three years. I am worried we are headed back to the days of high unemployment and inflation.

Time will tell.

Mar 28, 2006

Exercise your democratic right

Go vote. I already did.

Bibi at the Kotel

Bibi yesterday finished his pre-election campaigning with a stop at the Kotel for some davening. Sure, it was a campaign ploy to attract religious voters. Maybe. But he is the only one who did it. None of the other candidates began or completed their campaigning at the Kotel or other Jewish place or symbol. None of the others even made a stop in the middle of the campaign. I commend Bibi for showing the importance of Jewish heritage and symbolism at this juncture.

Mar 27, 2006

A blessed opportunity

The Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz today appointed a new Chief Rabbi for the army. The new Rabbi is Rabbi Ronsky from the Yishuv of Itamar. While many on the left are condemning the appointment due to the location of his residence, I see this as a blessed opportunity.

How so? The yishuv of Itamar is located right next to Sh'chem. Sh'chem is a hotbed of terrorism. That being said, it is also the location of the kever of Yosef Hatzaddik. As we all know, during the intifada the Arabds destroyed the structure above kever Yosef and have burnt it numerous times. It is very difficult to get permission to go daven at the very special holy site, due to the great dangers involved. Whenever the army gives a group permission to go there, they must spend the day clearing the area of suspected terrorists and dealing with terror threats. This is done in coordination with the PA and, while difficult, can be accomplished. The vists to kever Yosef have gotten less and less frequent over time as the army has decided it is too dangerous.

With the appointment of Rabbi Ronsky as Chief Rabbi of the army, I see this as an opportunity for the army to renew the visits to Kever Yosef with the encouragement of the new Chief Rabbi.

I pray that we soon will get the opportunity to daven on the grave of Yosef Hatzaddik for the salvation of our forgotten and captive brothers held in foreign lands by foreign hands. I pray that our brethren in captivity will be released quickly, so we will not need to pray for them any longer, but until then at least we should be able to beseech Hashem with the zechus of Yosef Hatzaddik on behalf of our captive brothers.

I hope Marzel gets enough votes to get in

Baruch Marzel wrote this article. We need people like him speaking from the Knesset podium.

picture of mrs. Olmert and Abu Tir

I just received this picture. It is being used by Baruch Marzel's party in his posters and lfyers. It is a picture of Ehud Olmert's wife hanging out with her friend (Abu Tir) from Hamas. Mrs. Olmert is a well-known extreme left winger.
When you vote Kadima, be aware of with whom Ehud Olmert is getting into bed with every night and how she might be influencing his decisions.

Don't vote Kadima.

Out-olmerting Olmert

When Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert frequently provided a special service to him. That is, Olmert would float some crazy idea into the press. The public would react how the public reacted. Shortly thereafter Sharon would implement such policy. I would guess that it generally depended on the public reaction. If he saw things favorably he would implement and I am sure there were some ideas he shelved. But it happened often that Ehud Olmert would first float the idea in the press.

Now it looks like Haim Ramon has taken over the job job of idea floater. Olmert today gave an interview in which he said it is premature to discuss timeframes for future pullouts and disengagements, and inappropriate before elections. Shortly after he said that, Haim Ramon gave an interview on the radio in which he said that a kadima led government would give Hamas/PA 6 to 12 months to get their act together and if by then there is no agreement and compliance, Kadima would effect the next disengagement.

Know what you are getting into if you vote Kadima. Do not think that Ramon is just a loose cannon making unauthorized statements. He is letting us know what Olmert is planning, in a roundabout way.

Don't vote Kadima.

Three random thoughts on the upcoming elections

A few random thoughts scribbled together in one jumbled post:

I just took a couple of taxis through Tel Aviv and noticed a few things. Here we go.

1. The signage (I might have made up the word) confuses me. In every major intersection there are large signs for all the large parties. What is the point? Why waste all that money? None of those are going to sway anybody to vote for the specific party. All the parties have signs next to each other, so they effectively cancel each other out. They do not indicate any level of public support, because it is simply a matter of who ran to the intersection first and grabbed the first available spot. What's the point?

2. I saw almost no signs hanging from porches and windows. That means that people really do not care. I have been in Israel long enough that I have experienced a number of elections, so I have what to compare with. Normally election time, especially erev elections, the buildings are plastered with signs and there are flyers all over the streets and being handed out on street corners. Today, with elections looming less than 19 hours away, the streets are quiet and there are few signs hanging up from porches. People just do not care.
I assumed in Bet Shemesh it was quiet because it is a small city and most people know whom they are voting for and the parties more or less know how much support they have. no real need to get worked up. But in the big cities, there should be street battles looking for support. I was wrong. In the big cities it is also quiet. People really do not care.

3. I took two taxis on my venture through Tel Aviv. Both taxi drivers are voting Likud. One was an older Sephardic Jew and the second was a younger Ashkenazic Jew. They can clearly not be stereotyped into the same category of type of person who obviously votes Likud. Except for the same profession, I noticed no similarities between the two. Yet both are voting Likud.
One of them even (the younger one) even began to rant about how it is important to vote Likud as the rest are selling out the country and we need a strong Likud. It was refreshing to see that not everyone has been hoodwinked by Kadima. I might revise my predictions. I think when it comes down to actual voting, people may likely go back to their natural parties they have always supported and not vote kadima. It is easy to answer a pollster on the telephone and say the popular answer. When the vote counts, people are more idealistic and vote for ideology. Let's hope that is true.

Kadima: We have no ideology

Yes, the title is an actual quote. Meir Sheetrit, one of the Likud ministers who bolted for an opportune seat as a member of Kadima said last night in a pre-election rally that Kadima has no ideology. He was using this idea of no ideology as a strong point. He continued to say, "We do not have the baggage of the heritage of Jabotinsky or Katzenelson".

How can anyone vote for a party with no ideology. and claims that as a benefit?

Mar 26, 2006

Mazel tov to blogger IsraelMatzav

I just came back from the wedding of the daughter of Carl at Israel Matzav. I was invited from the chassan's side. I introduced myself to my fellow jblogger Carl, though bcause he has been doing this much longer than me and is much more respected than me in the jblogosphere, I obviously am using the term "fellow jblogger" very liberally.

Anyway it was a beautiful wedding and very leibedig. I wish the young couple much happiness together building a bayis neeman b'yisrael.

free entrance over Pesach to various locations around Israel

I received the following notice in my email today. I thought some of you might be interested in taking advantage of it.. enjoy!

בנק הפועלים מזמין את עם ישראל לבקר בפסח ללא תשלום
במגוון אתרים ומוזיאונים ברחבי הארץ

פועלים למען תרבות, יופי וטבע בישראל –
השנה פועלים פי 2 יותר

בנק הפועלים יוצא זו השנה השנייה ברציפות בפרוייקט מיוחד למען כל תושבי מדינת ישראל ובכמות כפולה של אתרים

כל אזרחי ישראל מוזמנים לבקר - ללא תשלום -
ב-37 אתרים ומוזיאונים במהלך חול המועד פסח,
לעומת 20 אתרים בשנה שעברה,
גידול של כ- 85% במספר האתרים הפתוחים לקהל הרחב

חסכון מוערך למשפחה: כ- 300 ₪

עלות השקעה בפתיחת הפארקים: כ- 5 מיליון ₪
לעומת כ- 4 מיליון ₪ בשנה שעברה, גידול של 25% בהשקעה

הפרויקט יתקיים ביום הראשון של חול המועד פסח - יום ו' ט"ז בניסן תשס"ו 14/4/06, ביום ראשון י"ח בניסן 16/4/06, ביום שני י"ט בניסן 17/4/06 וביום שלישי ערב חג שני כ' בניסן 18/4/06.

לפרטים על האתרים ולמועדי פתיחה – טלמסר: 85-25-33-1212

שלמה נחמה- יו"ר בנק בפועלים אמר: "החלטנו להפוך את ימי חג החירות לימים בהם קיימת החירות לכל האזרחים ולכל משפחה בישראל להתחבר אל הטבע, התרבות והמורשת של ארצנו היפה והמרתקת. אני קורא לכל עם ישראל ובמיוחד לאלה ביננו שבדרך כלל אין ידם משגת לטייל עם משפחותיהם באתרים המיוחדים והחשובים האלו ברחבי הארץ: נשמח אם תנצלו את ההזדמנות הזו ותבלו עם כל בני המשפחה באתרי טבע ובמוזיאונים בכל אזור ברחבי הארץ בו תשהו בפסח. אנחנו משפחת בנק הפועלים, מאחלים לכל אחת ואחד מכם חג שמח ומהנה בלב הטבע והתרבות הישראלית."

דני דנקנר- יו"ר פועלים בקהילה אמר: "בנק הפועלים רואה חשיבות עליונה בקירוב העם למורשתו ולתרבותו, ובמסגרת זו החליט לאפשר להורים ולילדיהם בכל הארץ לטייל בפסח וליהנות ממגוון של מוזיאונים ואתרים הפרוסים ברחבי המדינה, מבלי שביקורים אלה יטילו עול כספי כבד על שכמן של המשפחות.

בבנק מאמינים כי הפרויקט יסייע להעשרת הידע של הילדים וההורים על מורשת ותרבות ישראל, ויהווה מקור להנאה ולבילוי בלתי-נשכחים בחג הפסח."

צבי זיו- מנכ"ל בנק הפועלים אמר: "בתקופת חג הפסח יוצאים המוני בית ישראל לטיולים ברחבי הארץ. לפיכך החליטה הנהלת בנק הפועלים לחזור ולצאת בפרויקט מיוחד, "פועלים למען תרבות, יופי וטבע בישראל", במסגרתו מוזמנים כל תושבי המדינה לביקור – ללא תשלום – ב-37 אתרים ומוזיאונים ברחבי ישראל במהלך חול המועד פסח. הבנק השקיע בפרויקט כ- 5 מיליון ₪".

במטרה להבטיח כי מספר מכסימלי של משפחות ייהנו מהפרויקט, יפרסם הבנק את המבצע בכל אמצעי התקשורת האלקטרונית הכתובה והאינטרנט.

היכן ניתן לבקר :
1) מוזיאון ארץ ישראל
2) שביל התפוזים
3) מוזיאון ישראל ירושלים
4) גן גורו
5) יער האיילים
6) מוזיאון עין חרוד
7) מוזיאון ר"ג לאומנות ישראלית
8) מוזיאון ת"א לאומנות ישראלית
9) מוזיאון חיל האוויר חצרים
10) מוזיאון הרצליה
11) מוזיאון בית התפוצות
12) מוזיאון הימי הלאומי חיפה
13) מוזיאון חיפה לאומנות ישראלית
14) מרכבות לטרון
15) בית ראובן
16) מוזיאון נחום גוטמן נווה צדק
17) מוזיאון גו אלון בנגב תרבות הבדואים
18) מוזיאון המדע על שם בלומפילד ים
19) גן החיות בחיפה
20) יער הקופים בידפת-גוש שגב
21) מוזיאון לאמנות אום אל פחם
22) מוזיאון יד ושם
23) יד מרדכי – בית הדבש והדבורה
24) סינמטק ת"א– סרטים עד 02:00 לפנות בוקר
25) מוזיאון עין הוד- ינקו דאדא
26) חי בר יטבתה
27) מרכז מבקרים חי רמון
28) גן לאומי עבדת
29) גן לאומי כוכב הירדן
30) שמורת טבע עינות צוקים
31) גן לאומי ציפורי
32) גן לאומי בית שאן
33) יד לשריון - לטרון
34) מוזיאון העלייה הראשונה ע"ש שרה ומשה אריזון
35) המוזיאון הלאומי למדע, טכנולוגיה וחלל חיפה
36) מוזיאון לוחמי הגטאות
37) המוזיאון לאומנות פ"ת

My election predictions

WestBankMama over at the WestBankBlog has thrown down the gauntlet and offered her predictions as to the results of the upcoming elections, and then asked for other blogger's predictions.

Instead of posting in the comments there, I decided to make this a full-blown post.
Now, I am not sure if these are "predictions" or what I hope will happen or some sort of combination of the two, and these "predictions" are based on nothing concrete, other than my own armchair analysis of the continuing polls, talking to people, watching the trends and trying to keep my finger on the pulse of the nation... My stocks do not do too well, so I would guess that my prediction capabilities are kind of weak, so do not use these if you are going to be betting on election results (and yes, there are betting sites taking bets on elections results, and no I will not link to them)

Here we go:

Kadima 26
Likud 19
Labor 18
Yisrael Beiteinu 12
Shas 10
Arab parties 7
Meretz 6
Aleh Yarok 3
Marzel 2
Shinui 2

This is a full prediction that totals 120 Knesset seats. I hope I am wrong in the sense that Kadima gets less than what I predicted (thereby increasing more seats in the right wing parties) but this is my prediction.

I hope Marzel gets in. Despite the fact that I would expect him to be ineffective in Knesset, as everyone else will automatically discount anything he says based on who he is, it will be refreshing watching someone who only says what he believes and will fight for Jewish values like no other party. Also, if he gets in, watch the petitions to the Supreme Court start right away to disqualify him due to racism.

oy, elections

A very poignant article by Naomi Ragen summing up the dillema of these elections.

Only Jewish, Zionist parties can join

Ha'Aretz is quoting (extracted from an interview with Israel Radio) Acting PM Olmert as saying, "Any Zionist, Jewish party is potential coalition partner".

Does that mean the Arab parties will not be brought into the coalition? Does that mean UTJ will not be brought in, as they officially do not accept Zionism? What about parties that decry Zionism as the cause of the problems, but have not necessarily denounced it, such as Meretz?

HH #63 is up!!

Reb Chaim HaQoton: הבל הבלים #ס"ג

Reb Chaim did a great roundup. I am linked to a few times.. I particularly enjoyed this one

Mar 25, 2006

Matisyahu on CNN!

I do not know how to link to it, so I will tell you how to get it. If you go to cnn.com and scroll down to the Entertainmen section, there is a video of a short interview with Matisyahu. Enjoy.

Mar 23, 2006

The Kadima bluff

I overheard a conversation this morning between 2 people I know. It went like this: Reuven* asked Shimon* who he is planning to vote for. Shimon answered he is voting for kadima. Why? Shimon explained because I am merkaz (center, not right wing or left wing) and Kadima is merkaz, so it is the right vote for me.

Regardless of what you consider right wing, left wing or center, I do not understand what he said and what he thinks. He is voting kadima because kadima is in the center of the political map of ideas and ideaologies. And this guy is an intelligent fellow. What about Kadima is merkaz? That they want to give land to the Palestinians unilaterally? That makes them center? That is more left than even Labor is willing to agree to! What about Kadima makes them a party in the Center? Can someone please explain this to me? Why do people think Kadima is center of the road?

Kadima has been playing the biggest bluff ever (even greater than Ariel Sharon's bluff). They have so many people hoodwinked as to what they are. Amazing. the only consolation is that in the polls they are still slipping. Hopefully they will not end up the largest party and eventually its members will have a power struggle and they will eventually slip away into oblivion. If they do win the elections, at least they should be smaller than expected and wield less power than they thought they would have..

Mar 22, 2006

UTJ website

Take a look. You can see their videos if you click on the Jingles link..

What a Joke!!!!

Hilarious!! I can't stop laughing!!

Israel has said it will help the Palestinians deal with the latest outbreak of the deadly bird flu in the PA areas.

Hilarious!! Israel can hardly deal with its own problems of bird flu. Today they found the flu has spread to even more areas, such as the Jordan Valley, Kiryat Gat and maybe some kibbutzim in the center of the country. The Agriculture Ministry has announced that they are undermanned and have not been dealing with it properly. Yet we are going to help other countries deal with their problems!

Get your own house in order before you help others.

Is he religious or secular?

Last night in my daf yomi shiur, we somehow ended up in an interesting discussion. Somebody mentioned a story they had just heard on the radio. The story was about a secular (a.k.a. chiloni) jew about 15 years ago. This fellow wakes up one day in the middle of Pesach realizing he never had sold his chametz from his makolet. It was a result of miscommunication and confusion. Each of 2 different Rabbonim had thought it was taken care of by the other and somehow he fell through the cracks and his chametz never got sold. After looking for possible ways out unsuccessfully, including bittul which he had not done, they decided that there was no solution and all that chametz was assur and he would have to burn it. He said on the radio the value of the chametz was roughly 15,000 NIS (15 years ago).

A beautiful story of faith and dedication by a person we quickly call chiloni/secular, just because he does nto wear a yarmulke or perform mitzvos the way we do. The discussion turned to the idea that someone like that should not be called chiloni. I mentioned that had it been a religious jew with the problem, they would either have found a heter or he probably would have sold it to a goy or some other quiet way of getting rid of the problem.
I probably should not have said it and it was likely motzei shem ra on the dedication of religious jews. However, I still think that that is what would have happened. Obviously some people would do the right thing and burn it or whatever the Rabbi says he is supposed to do despite the great financial loss. However, most people would have whitewashed it, I think.

This turned into a debate between everyone in the shiur. Most agreed, but some did not. The main example used to argue against my point was the sheitel controversy. The scandal broke and everybody stopped wearing sheitels until things would get cleared up. The arguer said and look how everybody ran to burn their sheitels because the Rav said to.

My response was that only a number of people actually went and burned their sheitels. Most people waited and eventually heterim were found and most sheitels ended up on the list of ok sheitels and it was never really a real problem to begin with. No store owner went out and burned all his inventory of sheitels. My point, exactly. When it came to the religious public they found heterim and people ignored the initial statements and waited until things calmed down and cooler heads prevailed.
I do not mean this to be a condemnation of everybody religious. I am not really sure what I am trying to say, but some people have the emuna and the commitment to do the right thing, even if they are not "as religious" as we are. There is more to it than just wearing or not wearing a yarmulke, or eating mehadrin or regular rabbanut.

Mar 21, 2006

UTJ hypocricy - Internet ban

Below is the text of an email that went out today on my community email list (for privacy purposes I have xxx'ed out the names, phone numbers and email addresses):

Dear concerned members of our community שיחיו
We are appealing to you on behalf of Agudath Yisroel regarding the upcoming elections. Several parlor meetings, which will be graced by the attendance of AgudahKnesset Members, will be hosted in the Bet Shemesh area.
For more information please contact:
English: Xxxxx Xxxxx 9999999 xxxxxx@enativ.com
Hebrew: xxxxxxxx 0573xxxxxx, Menahel Agudat Yisrael in xxxxxx ,xxxxxxx @walla.co.il

With the blessings of the Gedolei Yisroel for health, nachas, wealth, vecholtuv.

This shows a hypocricy within the ranks of UTJ. They are behind the "Internet ban" the gedolim have pushed. Even if you think they are not exactly behind it, as it is other askanim pushing it, they should at least be the first people to be beholden to the takkanos of the gedolim. Their representatives are clearly using email for comunication purposes, and likely internet as well.

While personally I bless their initiative of using email and possibly internet, as it will bring them closer to their constituents and provide easy and fast methods of communication, it does present a problem. These are the people representing the proponents of the Internet ban. If they themselves do not adhere to the ban they push on others, why should the rest of the people adhere to the ban.

All in all, the fact that they are using it shows how ridiculous the ban is.

Mar 20, 2006

Don't vote for my party!!

The funniest political statement I have seen in a while: MK Ran Cohen from Meretz today said not to vote for any of the small parties.

The funny thing is , by all accounts Meretz is a small party! No poll puts Meretz larger than 5 seats. He obviously meant don't vote for smaller parties than Meretz. Nonetheless, it is still funny.

Oh yeah, and don't vote kadima!!

Government not dealing with bird Flu efficiently - don't vote Kadima

Obviously these guys are upset because they are losing all the flocks of chickens and turkeys they raised. Maybe their opinion should be discounted. I do not know.

Ynet is reporting that the farmers and heads of the affected moshavim are blaming the government for working inefficiently and allowing the spread of the virus. Obviously nobody, including Ehud Olmert or anybody else in Kadima, want this flu to spread or birds to get infected. The question is just whether the people running the government are competent and capable of dealing with the situation. If they cannot deal with it, they should resign. At least, nobody should vote for them.

The fowl industry in Israel has been destroyed by this. It has spread quickly unabated. Millions of shekels down the drain, and it happens right before the busiest season - Pesach. There will be an unprecented shortage of fowl for the holiday with skyrocketing prices (this is if anybody will be willing to eat chicken anyway). People will have to buy beef and/or lamb for the holidays, which normally is more expensive, so many people will not be able to afford it for the holiday. In addition, meat prices have been going up because of a supposed shortage of beef due to hoof and mouth disease in Argentina.

Voting Kadima is assisting in bringing disaster on Israel, in every facet of government. Don't vote Kadima! They represent inefficient and corrupt government!

Israel culling over 1 million birds - I culled 2 ducks

I hope the Bird Flu does not spread, because I have not culled my goose. Last night I shechted and disposed of my neighbors 2 ducks. They were not infected, but the neighbors were nervous and wanted to get rid of them. At this point in time, we did not want them (we have taken ducks and chickens from people in the past), as we have enough to worry about with our goose.

So, I shechted them and tossed them in the garbage for the cats to eat. B'Teavon.

Mar 19, 2006

Bird flu and my goose

I don't know what to do with my goose. The deadly Bird Flu has hit Israel. In case you did not notice the headlines, after thousands of birds have died, they are pretty certain it is the bird flu H5N1 or something like that. It is either that or Bird AIDS.

That leaves me in a dillema. What to do with my goose. On the one hand, we are not in an area where the infection has been found, so the goose is fine. On the other hand, I do not want to be exposed to it, nor to expose my family and neighbors to it, should it spread.
So, I can shecht it now while it is healthy, rather than deal with it after it gets infected. Or I can do nothing and hope it stays healthy and the virus does not spread to our area.

In addition, somebody nearby with 2 pet ducks dropped them off today for me to shecht tonight, because his family wanted him to get rid of them before the virus hits our area. I guess he took the overly pessimistic yet overly cautious route.

What should we do with our goose? It is a shame to kill him just for the chance that it might catch it. The vet said in the meantime there is nothing to do and no reason to kill it. They have the virus contained to certain areas and if you are not in those areas you are not being instructed to kill your birds.
But they thought they had it contained before it got to Israel too, and it sort of just snuck in..

Oh, what to do?

Inflammatory headlines

TheMarker has an article with some ideas for the country to save money, with examples of where it can cut some excess wages. There are four examples in the article. The last example is to have only 1 Chief Rabbi.

I am not (at this time) going to debate whether we should have 1 or 2 Chief Rabbis. My issue is not with that part of the article. The article is entitled, "Reduce poverty? Take one chief rabbi". They chose the title in an inflammatory fashion to push their agenda of budget cuts.

The Chief Rabbi example is one of four they chose to write about. They detailed that example in the least possible fashion possible. The other three examples were detailed and explained as to how much they cost the public (in general terms) with comparisons. The example of the Chief Rabbi was bare bones. There were no comparisons, no information, no details as to the costs and/or savings. The previous examples all show how we would save the country buckets of money by canceling whatever it was. This just says get rid of one Chief Rabbi with no explanation. Yet the title was chosen pointing to that example.

Sometimes an article is worth reading for the information contained therein. Sometimes the author has nothing to say or has not put enough research into the article, and for lack of quality writing has to come up with a headline that will draw people in. Here TheMarker has chosen a headline purely for its inflammatory capabilities, as the article could have been researched and written much more thoroughly.

Mar 15, 2006

Purim joke

I just heard this joke --

There was a costume contest yesterday in the Knesset. Shimon Peres dressed up like winner #1. In the end he came out in second place.

Purim recap in brief

I am not going to write too much about Purim. I am sorry, but there is simply too much to write and not enough time. Now it is time to move forward.

I will just write that Purim was very nice. It was a fairly calm day with beautiful weather. We got everything done in a timely fashion and had our seuda with friends. I did not get quite as drunk as I usually get. I got almost there, but stopped drinking before I went over the top this time.

Now it is time to start preparing for Pesach.

Mar 13, 2006

take the train and rent a moped instead of a taxi

That day will soon be here..

HH#61 is up - definitely on steroids!!

HH #61 (with no asterik, mind you) is up. It is so beefed up, it has got to be on steroids this week. I hear there is a book coming out that claims, despite Jack's denials, that this edition of HH has taken many varieties of steroids in preparation for the big day..


I particularly enjoyed this post by Oleh Chadasha and Ger Tzeddek's question about minhagim. A really great post by westbankblog about a shift of guard duty on Purim night .

Mar 9, 2006

the Zionification of the Haredim

I have noticed a process of what I call the Zionification" of the Haredi public. By this I mean the Haredi public was always viewed as being pretty radical, and has openly been opposed to the State of Israel. In truth, the general haredi public is not against the State, it is just a small, radical element within the haredi public that is against the State. The general haredi public might be against some aspects of the State, but they are not against the State per se. This is clear, as the majority of the Haredi public is represented in Knesset by such Haredi parties as Degel, Aguda (who together form UTJ), Shas, etc. The Haredim participate in the activities and in the goverance of the State.

Aside from this very general position stated above, there is still a certain amount of opposition to the State and its policies. Haredi shuls do not say the Tefilla for the Medina or Tzahal. Haredi men do not (generally) join the army (there are many exceptions, but usually on an individual basis), there is a certain hostility to the ideas of the State, etc. etc.

However, I see a certain process in place. As time goes on, the Haredi public becomes more and more involved in affairs of the State. There is more and more acceptance of the State by the Haredi public and less hostility. More men join the army than ever before (Nahal Haredi is one example of this). The Haredi parties in the past refused to take any position in the government and preferred to just be members of knesset. They said they could not be ministers in irreligious governments. Now, every election we see the Haredi parties getting more and more involved. First they allow themselves to become deputy ministers, then assistants, and finally we are now seeing them become actual ministers. The level of participation has grown.

I have noticed during the current election campaign an interesting phenomenon. The advertising campaign is geared to the general public, for probably the first time. They are taking for granted that Haredim (even though many are disillusioned with UTJ because of their performance and support for Sharon despite the disengagement) will support them, so they have geared their ads to attract a certain percentage of people from the general public that they feel are supportive of a platform based on Jewish values, such as Shabbat observance and Jewish education rather than national issues.

Not only that, but the ads are designed more Zionistically as well. The colors of the ads are blue and white (used to be more black) in the shadesand hues that are generally used by the more Zionistic parties. As well, the wording on the ads are very much connected to Zionism. They state things such as a play on words that says, "Ohavim Israel Yehudi" (loving a Jewish Israel), and a play on words of the national anthem saying we have not lost our hope for shabbat observance, etc.. (od lo avda tikvateinu..).

It is a very stark change from their ways and styles in previous years, and I think it indicates what I call the Zionification of the Haredi public. As time goes on, the haredi public becomes more and more attached to Zionism.

I read an article not too long ago about how someone had appraoched one of the leading gedolim of the Haredi public. he was upset that yeshiva boys "waste" so much time during vacations travelling and hiking around the country. He was looking to persuade the Rabbi to publish a ban on such tiyulim and possibly shorten the length of the vacation times. The Rabbi's response to the request was that it is only natural that the yeshiva boys wish to travel the country. They feel more connected than ever before, because we are now in the third generation. The older generation came over with certain hostilities after facing so much troubles and having to fight hard for certain religious observances. Their children inherited that from them to a certain extent. The young generation of today has already been born here and has forgotten about all those earlier times. They have been born into a new reality. They speak Hebrew naturally and most do not even know Yiddish. This is their country and they feel connected to it in a way that no previous haredi generation ever felt.

UTJ electioneering advertisements

I happened to open up a Yated Ne'Eman today (something I almost never do). This was the Hebrew edition, which is slightly better than the English (though not much).
As I am flipping through it glancing at last weeks news, I see a large ad for United Torah Judaism.

Some background for the uninformed readers: Yated Ne'Eman is the flagship "party" newspaper for Degel Hatorah. Degel is one of the major parties in the join UTJ party for Knesset. The other main party is Agudas Yisrael whose "party" newspaper is HaModia. UTJ also has other smaller groups contained within, but those are the main two groups.

So, I am flipping through the paper and see this ad. What does the ad say? It reads (translated by me from hebrew), " The Oslo Accords passed by one vote. One more mandate for UTJ can make a tremendous difference."

Now, it could be they mean something else by this reference to Oslo. Maybe they just want to show how important one extra seat is, but they do not say therefore give us the extra seat to improve Jewish education or to raise the level of awareness in judaism, or whatever. The ad just stops there.
To me that sounds like they are saying if UTJ has even one extra seat in Knesset, it will be that much stronger to thwart issues like Oslo.

I am not going to debate now the idea of peace agreements, or oslo, or the disengagement and whether they are good or not. What does disturb me is when UTJ makes such a reference. UTJ knows that most Haredim (the natural voters and supporters of UTJ) are generally right wing and for the most part were against Oslo, the disengagement and the evacuation of Amona. The ad, making such a reference, is clearly playing on those emotions and saying that a more powerful UTJ can have the ability to thwart such moves by the government.

My problem with this is that it is misleading. UTJ has always said they do not want to take part in national issues and have actually refrained from being the deciding factor in such issues. However, in the last government UTJ supported the government at a time when they were evacuating Gush Katif, even though most of its constituents were against the disengagement. Granted, UTJ was not a deciding factor in any of the votes, and they only joined after they knew the government, but they still joined which gave the government some more comfort room and breathing space. They joined because they were offered 290 milion shekels of support.

And now they are advertising for votes as if they are so right wing and would thwart any such moves by the future government.

If you are really against taking sides in national issues and prefer to stay to issues that deal with jewish awareness and observance, keep it that way in your advertising as well.

unsolicited email list recommendation

I have been recommended to join an email list called The Weekly Haftorah. The email is sent once weekly and it explains the weekly haftorah. It gives some historical background into who the author of the haftorah was and what the context of the haftorah was. It then explains the haftorah and explains the connection between the haftorah and the weekly parsha. It also then gives over some lesson learned from the haftorah.
The email also has images of artistic renderings related to the haftorah's story.

You can subscribe to receive the email by emailing Reuven Ebrahimoff at haftorahman@haftorahman.com

You can also read the sheet online at: The Haftorahman , though it does not include the images.

Since I started getting these weekly emails, I have actually listened to and enjoyed the haftorah in shul, rather than either falling asleep or looking for other things to read, as I used to do.

Check it out.

Mar 5, 2006

calling on Nefesh B'Nefesh

Take a look here.
You have the opportunity to bring the highest profile Oleh yet!!
I never watched geraldo much, but I did watch his expose on the safe of Al Capone. What a riot!! He is just what we need to spice up Israeli politics.

Head on over to read the interview..

Take a look at Life of Rubins newest project interviewing J-Bloggers. He has posted the first interview with Mobius..very interesting.. great idea.

Interviews With a J-Blogger: An Interview With .... Dan 'Mobius' Sieradski.

Mar 4, 2006

Nobel Prize winner speaks on behalf of local charity

Tonight me and my wife had been invited to a special melave malka. It was being sponsored by one of the local charities in recognition of its main donors and volunteers (that was kind of unclear).

I generally would have passed on the evening, as it would have taken too much away from my blogging time!! Just joking. I would have passed because these things bore me and are usually a waste of time. When I got the invite a week ago, I changed my mind. The keynote speaker was schedulled to be Professor Aumann (sp?) who became famous a few months ago when he was selected as the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences award for his work in Gaming Theory. When he went to Norway for the reception, he made a kiddush hashem by his actions, in refusing to wear the standard tux, because it had shatnez, insisting on kosher food and not participating in certain events that were taking place on shabbos. You can do your own search on Google for information on him, as I am too tired right now to do it for you.
Anyways, when I saw he would be the speaker, I decided to go. After all, how often does one get the opportunity to be in the audience of a Nobel prize winner!!

The melave malka was really beautiful and put together nicely. It was nice to get out and see people that we rarely see, despite living in the same neighborhood. I am going to cut to the chase, as Aumann was the highlight of the evening and the most interesting part.

Professor Aumann is an outspoken critic of the disengagement from Gaza. He has spoken from some very public forums against what he has called the National Disgrace (I will explain the term soon). There was great anticipation waiting for him to address the crowd, waiting to see what he would say with shock value.

Let me tell you, Professor Aumann seems to be a very simple person. he does what he does for a living and is a religious Jew and is a very straightforward scientist, with no tricks and deceptions up his sleeve. He spoke very frankly and to the point. He adresses the Gaza issue. He explained his position on it, calling it a National Disgrace. While he was against the disengagement from a professional standpoint, as he considers it a bad move while in the process of negotiations and conflict, that was not the subject of his criticism. That is politics, and while he disagrees with it, maybe there are other reasons to consider it and effect it.
The subject of his criticsm was the evacuees/refugees. The National Disgrace was how the government has treated the evacuees. If it had to be done, is debatable. but once it had to be done, the evacuees should not have been treated as they were. They have been disgraced and shamed to their cores. They still have not received the monies promised them. They have been moved from place to place and many have been staying in hotels, which is not an easy situation to run a normal life in and all the promises the government had made to them have not been kept. The national disgrace is how the government has treated the Gush Katif evacuees.

Anyways, to make a long story short, he said something very interesting (aside from everything else he said that was interesting). Someone asked him to descibe what he felt as a religious Jew being the recipient of a Nobel Prize, with the Kiddush Hashem that he performed at the time. His response was very simple. He said, "I did nto do anything special. I did what I had to do. I am a Jew. That means I cannot eat treif, I have to keep shabbos and I cannot wear shatnez. What would you want me to do. All I did was the minimum."

Now, I do not know what I would have done, had I been in his situation. I hope I would have performed with the same integrity he did, but I have no idea. Here is a man who made a tremendous Kiddush Hashem, and he boils it down to saying I did the minimum I could have done as a Jew. I kept Kosher and di not wear shatnez. I am a Jew and even if it makes those goyim uncomfortable, that is too bad. God's commandments come first.

The local organization is called Lemaan Achain and you can find info on it here. If you want to donate to them because you like what you see, you can do so from the website. It is a very worthy organization that does tremendous work and is a worthwhile place for you to doinate your money for Aniyei Eretz Yisrael (Israel's poor people). Even more so, their goal is to set an example, and thereby assist in setting up similar organizations around Israel, so the successful style here in Bet Shemesh can be duplicated elsewhere.

softball in Israel

Softball's main season has started!! For some general details, you can read here and here. I play on the Bet Shemesh team, now called Shimshon Hi-Tech (thanks to our new sponsor).

Friday we played our first game, which was also the first overall game of the league's new season. We had a fun game, and even won in the process, always an accomplishment for us.. :-). Mind you, we are a bunch of aging guys with families and pot-bellies and not in anything you can call tip-top form, especially for the first game of the season.

The season looks promising, especially because we have added a few new guys to our roster, some of whom are fresh off the boats from America (Nefesh B'Nefesh planes actually). It is a fun and exciting experience playing in the Israel Softball Association's fastpitch league, and you even get your name written up in the newpaper's reviews occassionally!

By the way, I usually play infield, usually at first base. This game, due to some poor excuses of injuries by other players, I was platooned in left field. Thank God only a couple balls were hit in my general direction, and most had no plays on them, so I did not mess up out there (there is a lot of ground to cover out there in left field!). I even made one great catch - a guy hit a foul ball fairly shallow but high and I made a (very) long run from where I was positioned and made the catch just before it dropped...

In the process I met a new teammate who happens to be a fellow blogger. Check out his blog at Balloon Twister Aliya Saga

Mar 3, 2006

the elusive sheep was finally brought to his knees..


Here's the story. I have been trying to shecht my second sheep for the past few weeks. The sheep has been elusive and the event kept getting cancelled at the last minute. I heard all sorts of excuses for the "supplier" - it is not sheep season (sheep in winter are smaller and not fully grown yet) now, the sheep did not show up, the supplier disappeared with his phone off. That is aside from the other people involved who had to cancel a few times because of scheduling conflicts. It was getting frustrating.

Tonight the sheep were arranged (there were 2 of them). I was even willing to pick them up in my car (Mazda MPV) for the sake of ensuring they got to where they needed to go. So, I drive all the way out to a little goat farm just outside of Nokdim (just beyond Tekoa) in Gush Etzion. I took my two older sons for the exciting event. It is dark and the roads are not lit. Eventually, after missing our turn a number of times because it is pitch black outside, we finally find it.

We go in and the supplier gets 2 sheep and weighs them. We load them into the car and off we go to Yerushalayim. I had to be careful (I do not know how), Meier (the supplier) warns me, because technically I need an permit to transport livestock, so if the police stop me I could be in trouble. Great. He also did not want to tie their feet together to keep them docile, because the 45 minute ride is too long for them to be tied down like that.

So I had to worry about the police and about the possibility of 2 sheep jumping around in my car, breaking a leg or a window, and leaving their excrement all over the place. Off we go to Yerushalayim. The sheep were pretty well behaved, though a little noisy. They did not jump around, though I did have to clean out some excrement droppings when I got out of the car.

We finally get there. Now get this - we were shechting in some guys house (actually his porch). Don't ask!! We have done this many times, usually with chickens and turkeys. Doing sheep back there is wild. We shlep the sheep out of the car, half carrying them, half pushing them into the house and out to the porch. We find a bunch of people already there shechting turkeys and chickens. Exciting. That means we have to wait with the sheep until they are done.

Finally the time comes. We get the first sheep on the table (I was only shechting one, someone else would be shechting the second). A couple guys hold it down and we tie the feet up so it will not kick anybody. I position myself and check the location of the trachea and esophagus with my hand on his neck. I make the bracha and slice away. It is over pretty fast. The blood spurts out, all over me and some other people. The internal heat of the sheep causes steam to come out of the body, in the cool Jerusalem air. Just like that, in the time it takes to snap a finger, a life can be taken. A mitzva can be done. Excitement is in the air, as everyone wants to see what happened and did the knife cut enough, is the animal kosher, is it glatt, etc? Meanwhile the place look slike a scene out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There is blood everywhere and dead chickens on the floor waiting to be disposed of (the non-kosher ones) or kashered. The scene is surreal.

We then flay the sheep, and open him up to check the internal organs for treifos. The sheep has beautiful lungs and organs. Glatt Kosher!! It takes some time, but we cut him up and check the various organs and fats (for learning purposes - normally one does not need to check for most things as they are uncommon, but we wanted to understand what is what). We bag him up and head for home.

It was a late night. The kids had a great time and I had a great time. I did a mitzva that most people do not do themselves anymore and got some great fresh meat in the process! I just finshed kashering all the meat now and have to go to sleep. I have another big day tomorrow, which I will post about then if I have the time..

Good night..

Mar 1, 2006

Israeli news "roundup"

I am going to make this post about a few interesting events that happened in Israel today, rather than a separate post for each..

(in no particular order)
1. Ehud Olmert cleared from bribery charges in relation to the price he sold his apartment for and the amount of rent he paid.
2. Bibi Netanayahu is victorious in his bid to wrench the power to elect Knesset reps from the hands of the Likud Central Committee.
3. Kadima slip in the polls continues.

Now to my rants on the above issues:

1. Ehud was cleared of the charges in relation to how much he paid in rent and how much he received for the sale of his apartment. The Comptroller clearly said that he did not investigate, nor clear Olmert of any other related charges in the matter, just the issue of the actual price. He said that despite the fact that Olmert paid rent at 60% of the apartments market value, it is considered within a reasonable range of pricing. I wonder how much of a discount is unreasonable?

2. Bibi wrenches control out of the hands of the Central Committee: This was clearly a good move all around. The Central Committee of the Likud already has developed a horrible reputation for itself. In the past, they have been involved in voting corruption and selling voting blocks to potential MKs. It is amazing that they would agree to vote to have the power taken out of their own hands, but that is exactly what they did. They still have power in other spheres of influence within the likud, such as determining functionaries and leadership over Likud organizations. The primaries, though, was one of the most powerful cards Central Committee members held, and they just gave it up to the people. It was a good move, and hopefully it will clean up the internal Likud politics a bit. Likud is expecting a nice jump in support after this turn of events.

3. Kadima slipping in the polls: While I am not one who believes in polls, especially so far away from the actual elections, they are interesting, and do provide a certain amount of an indication and barometer as to where things are heading.. In the latest polls, Kadima has continued slipping, at a slightly more accelerated pace, down to 37 seats. Don't forget, this is off a hig of as many as 45 seats with some polls having predicted up to 49-50 seats!). It seems the allure of Ariel Sharon is wearing off and Ehud Olmert does not have the same mojo that Sharon had. People are seeing through Olmert and realizing he does not actually have a plan, but is trying to react to events, and is doing so in conflicting manners. This is not the way of the strong leadership they had expected from Kadima and Sharon. Now they are seeing that Sharon's shoes were too big for Olmert to fill, and people are starting to leave for parties with real platforms and representatives, not just a conglomerate of MKs getting together hoping to attract everyone possible.

Oh yeah, one more thing. A stock I sold a few days ago (to cut my losses on it) just went up about 35% today..

a jblogger simcha

Today I received in the mail a wedding invitation. The wedding is of 2 young adults, one of which is the child of a popular jblogger. It happens to be that I am invited from the chosson's side, though I know some of the kallah's family as well...
I am debating whether to let him know and introduce myself as a fellow blogger or not..

would you?

a great story by Rebbele..

Rebbele posted a great story that recently happened with Rav Chaim Kanievsky...
Go check it out.

A lesson from my friend's burst pipe

A friend of mine at work was looking extremely disturbed and distressed today. I saw him a number of times in a corner of the office talking quietly on his cellphone.
I asked him if everything is ok. He tells me that everything is fine, but all of the sudden a lot of things have been happening. Not bad things, but a lot of them.

What, for example? He tells me a pipe burst under his living room floor and they had to rip up the whole floor to fix it. Then one of his air-conditioning units blew. When he went to the electrical box to reset it, the second one blew. He has to fix both now. Then something happened to his fridge he had to repair (he did not specify what).

He goes on to tell me that all these things happened at the same time so he has a lot of expenses now. But they are good things, not bad things. What do you mean? He says think of it like this. If you commit a serious crime and have to go to court. The judge says to you, I will give you a choice between two punishments: either jail time or a hefty fine to pay. What would you choose? You would choose the fine and thank the judge for letting you off like that.

So, he says, it is the same thing. I must have been deserving of some punishment for something. Hashem made me pay a lot of money in repairs as a punishment, when He could have punished me much harsher - sickness, injuries, etc.. As it is, he says, I got off with just paying some money and nothing more serious than that. Thank God for His kindness in judging me like that. And he said it all with a smile.

This is just an average guy. Not a rav or a talmid chacham. A regular guy. His level of emunah and bitachon is astounding. He is going through it right now and he can clearly see how Hashem is being kind to him, despite it all.

Mi K'amcha Yisrael - that he can have all this hardship, yet have the strength to see through it and declare Gods greatness!!

Muqata's new project..

sounds like a lot of fun..

Joke of the Day

I got this in my email today. I thought it was funny and felt like sharing it with you..

In a slalom race, the skier must pass through about 20 "gates" in the fastest time. Well, it happened that a very Orthodox yeshiva in Montreal had an exceptional skier among its students. So fast, that in practice, with tzitzis streaming out behind, he had beaten the world record several times.

After first checking to make sure none of the men's slalom races would be on the Sabbath, he tried out for and made the Canadian Winter Olympic team. With his times in the trial heats, he was the favorite for an Olympic gold medal. Came the day of the final, the crowd waited in anticipation. The French champion sped down the course in 38 seconds, the Swiss in 38.7 seconds, the German in 37.8 seconds, the Italian in 38.1 seconds. Then came the turn of the Canadian yeshiva "bocher."

The crowd waited, and waited........Finally, after a full five minutes, he crossed the finish line."What happened to you?" screamed his coach when the skier finally arrived. "What happened to you?" screamed his coach when the skier finally arrived.

Breathing hard, the exhausted yeshiva student replied, "All right, who's the wise guy who put a mezuzah on every gate?"

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