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Jun 28, 2006

Not so bad

We learned in daf yomi last night about a conversation between R’ Yehuda and Eliyahu Hanavi. The topic under discussion is that it was common to stay up all night chanting the Torah so as to keep the Kohen Gadol awake, and they would find other innovative methods as well to keep the Kohen awake. I do not remember the exact discussion, but R’ Yehuda said in Neharda’a (a town in Babylonia that was a bastion of Babylonian Jewry) they would also stay up all night learning Torah, despite the fact that as a result it would cause in inappropriate mix of guys and girls hanging out together which would lead to inappropriate sexual relations (no kidding, it really says that is what would happen!).

We like to harp on our generation (or our kids generation) about how bad things have gotten and how we have to make sure there is no contact between the sexes, no contact between people of different types, our kids can’t be in contact with kids from other schools even, because of the bad influence that might affect them and result in sin. We complain how things have gotten so much worse than they used to be.

“Olam K’Minhago Nohaig” – The world revolves on its axis. What goes around comes around. The world goes according to its customs. There is nothing new under the sun.

We are not that bad. People do things that are inappropriate, just like they always did and always will do. People are just human beings and nobody is infallible. That is the way of the world. But we are no worse than other previous generations. Look what they did – on Yom Kippur night they stayed up learning Torah all night, and it led to immoral sex. On Yom Kippur! Yet, they would not cancel the idea of staying up learning just because it led to such behavior.

Jun 27, 2006

Prayer for Gilad

Olah Chadasha came up with a great idea of a blogger prayer chain in which bloggers would compose a (brief) prayer (or copy prayers from other sources) to be said for the welfare of the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. The prayer does not need to be denominational necessarily and any reader who would be so inclined to say a brief prayer on his behalf would have the ability to do so, even if on their own they would not. I am going to keep my prayer Jewish themed, as I am Jewish and my readership is Jewish.

I will keep it brief and I hope you, the reader, will take the moment to either say your own prayer, however brief it might be, or use what I suggest if you cannot think of your own.

Yehi Ratzon, it should be your will God, that Gilad should have the strength to withstand the pains and opressions of captivity in the hands of the enemy and that he should be re-united with his family and nation speedily and with minimum pain.
Please - Gilad, along with all the hostages of Israel; Jonathan Pollard, Ron Arad, Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, Tzvi Feldman, and Guy Hever, should all be re-united with their families and peace should reign in the region and no more captives should be taken and no more pain should be caused. Amen.

Swimming lessons

We are sending our kids to swimming lessons again this summer. The place we send to requires every group of kids to have a parental escort in the group. The manager splits the various parents into a rotation and everybody has to go once. One of the side benefits of this is that the escorting parent gets to go swimming, at least for part of the time he is there.

Yesterday it was my turn to go with one of my boys. As well, one of my other boys was there with a different group finishing up when we got there. So I got to see how my kids have progressed in their swimming skills. While they are not yet Olympians, it was amazing to see how they are actually swimming now, whereas last year they would only swimming along the wall holding on. Now they are sitting under the water holding their breath and actually swimming..

Also, we had a lot of fun swimming together. I swam with one of them on my back and the other was showing off his new skills. It was a nice evening.

After my son finished his lesson there was a group of about 8 Chissidishe men about 20 years old (or so) who came in for their lessons. They were just beginners and were even afraid to put their faces under the water. It was interesting to watch for a few minutes. The kids were laughing that they are so big and afraid to go in the water. I told them that it is much harder for them because they were starting much later and older and kol hakavod that they are trying despite the extra effort it would require of them.

The kids have matured a lot from the last time I went with them (last year) and seemed to understand what I was saying. After that they were very impressed with these older guys trying to learn to swim..

Jun 26, 2006

A fashla by our ineffective government

I was waiting to post anything about the events that happened yesterday. I wanted to see how our government would react before I started throwing blame around. I wanted to give the government a chance to make good by its citizens and soldiers. After all, an incident can happen in any country in the world. The question and the test is how the government reacts and takes precautions against it happening again.

Now that I see how our government has reacted, at least initially, I have allowed myself the pleasure of venting further against this ineffective and unqualified government.

The incident is clearly extremely serious. We cleared ourselves out of the Gaza strip about 10 months ago. There were many calls from bold and courageous individuals in the defense establishment at the time to call it off, or to reconsider, to slow it down, etc. Anything to re-work the details of the disengagement. Sharon had never explained to the public in detail his plan and his plan for the future. All he would say when responding to questions about the future post-disengagement safety of Southern Israel was that any incident coming out of Gaza would draw a swift and powerful response. His claim was that now that we would be out of the disputed area, we would always be able to claim the moral high ground and if anything should happen, we would have the right and clear conscience to strike back a powerful blow.

The sad fact is that we left the Gaza area and have suffered many attacks on our sovereign land. We have never responded with the swift and powerful blow that we threatened to use. We have hardly even responded with the weak and ineffective blows, such as shooting “pagazim” into empty fields. We have suffered hundreds of Kassam rocket attacks among other attacks. Now we have suffered a kidnapping and attack on our soldiers. Yet we have still not seen any response, let alone a swift and powerful blow.

In essence the latest attack is not really worse (in the sense of the level of attack against our country) than any of the Kassams we have been attacked with. They are both full attacks on Israeli sovereignty. Yet it is more horrific. The thought of Gilad being held captive by these animals, undergoing who knows what kinds of torture is frightening.

Clearly it is the result of the government policy of restraint in the face of attack. While the Arabs from Gaza have been intent on raising the level of escalation and conflict, Israel constantly refuses to respond. Our government is always worried about the reactions of the world, and never enough about the safety of its own citizens.

No matter what we do, we will always be condemned. Did anybody condemn the Palestinians when they rained all those rockets down on the heads of the residents of Sderot and the surrounding areas? We get condemned for what we do, yet get no credit for our restraint. We always hear that our restraint will give us more acceptance later. We have been showing much restraint for many years. We have refrained from reacting to suicide bombers, rockets, and various other attacks all to the tune of restraint. Yet whenever we might try to cash in on some of that moral high ground, we are condemned as if we never showed any of that good ol’ restraint.

Systematically the Arabs have put us into a situation where we would be vulnerable. We don’t control the arms flow into Gaza. We even supplied them with thousands of weapons. We showed our weakness in not being able to respond effectively, and now we responded with total confusion at the latest events. All we hear are the same threats we have been hearing for months and years. The government should have reacted right away and sent in troops when it was still fresh and confusion reigned.

But they did not. Instead, everybody is busy in the practice of CYA and trying to explain why the other guy was at fault for not predicting and being ready for such an incident. Shimon Peres just said last week, “Kassams, Shmassams” – he belittled the whole concept of our being attacked as something insignificant. Well, Shimon, those kassams shmassems led to this. And our inexperienced and ineffective government had no and has no idea how to respond. Their actions indicate they are waiting for someone else to come in and force them to apologize and give back Gilad, the captured soldier.

No matter what we do, we will always be condemned. Do the right thing, because in the eyes of the world we are evil and wrong no matter what we do. The ineffective and inexperienced politicians who allowed this to happen, and by lack of any meaningful response are setting the stages for future incidents with greater escalations, are at fault for this and should resign or be forced out.

Jun 22, 2006

Who really appointed Aharon

I do not normally do this. I have taken a post out of my Torah blog and posted it here as well. The readership on this blog is greater than on the Torah blog so I wanted to present this piece to a wider readership in my search for an answer.. The reason I did so is because this question is really bothering me and I do not have an adequate answer for it. It touches on issues of faith and basics of Judaism, so I felt comfortable including it here as well.

Parshat Korach

Korach had a dispute with Moshe as to who should lead the Jewish nation. He specifically was claiming the right to be Kohen Gadol for himself. We are told by Rashi and the Midrashim that his claim was based on what he felt was a personal slight.
Korach felt that he was skipped over for the Nesius (president or governor perhaps) position of the Kehas tribe in the Levite tribe. How so? Kehas had 4 sons. The eldest was Amram and his two sons took the first two positions, Moshe the leader and Aharon the Kohen Gadol. Next was Yitzhar and his children should have been appointed to the next positions in the food chain of power – the nesius of Kehas. That should then have gone to, so Korach felt, Korach, him being the eldest of Yitzhar’s children. Yet he was not appointed to the position. He was passed over and the job was given to Elitzafan the son of Uziel who was the youngest son of the 4 brothers. He came to claim the Nesius, and once he was making a claim, he changed it to the Kehuna, so he was basically questioning the validity of Moshe’s appointments, based on what he recognized as a bad appointment.
The argument between them proceeds as we all know and the rest of the story is history. In 16:15 after Moshe comes up and presents the terms of the challenge to find out who would be the Kohen, he is then angered by Dasan and Aviram who refuse to come before him for a conciliatory meeting. He turns to God and says a short prayer. He says do not accept their minchot – do not accept the korban they will bring.
I do not understand the purpose of this prayer. Assuming what we believe is true, that Moshe made all his appointments based on the command of Hashem, and nothing involved was personal, what was he davening for? He knew his appointments had been directed by God and by definition Hashem would only accept Aharon’s korban, and would not accept Dasan, Avirams or any of the other 250 people involved in the dispute! Hashem could not because they would have been bringing the korban inappropriately and would have to be killed like Nadav and Avihu had been killed. I understand why the people went ahead with it. They doubted Moshe and were challenging him. I do not understand Moshe – just by the very nature of his position and actions, he should have been confident of his victory over this uprising. Why would he feel the need to offer a special prayer for his victory?
Yes, I know Rashi says he was referring to other korbanos – not to accept any of the korbanos presented by these people, but that is hard to swallow as an answer – Moshe knew they were all about to be killed and would not be offering any more korbanot. It could be Rashi was bothered by the same question and felt the need to explain it referring to other korbanot, but I think that is an insufficient answer to my question.
If you have any suggestions and possible answers, please post it in the comments, or email me at Israeli.jew@gmail.com – this question has been disturbing me for a few days now and I have not thought of a satisfactory answer.

Will the dog take the stand?

Itamar Ben-Gvir is considered a well known right wing activist. He has been in prison numerous times for various illegal activities, generally associated with incitement against the government. Some say he is really a shabak plant meant to infiltrate extreme right wing organizations and get close to extremists and pass that info on to the Shabak.

Ben-Gvir filed a lawsuit against two policemen for allegedly threatening his dog at gunpoint with a loaded weapon after the dog barked at them..

Check out the story here, but briefly, Ben-Gvir won the lawsuit. He plans to treat his dog to some nice doggy treats. He is also planning to appeal the decision. He feels the 1000 NIS he was awarded is not enough and feels he can win more upon appeal..

Jun 21, 2006

Kadima and the Conservative movement

Yesterday, Kadima signed an agreement with the Conservative movement to create a joint faction in the World Zionist Organization. I have no problem with that. That is what politics is all about. Power and money. They have joined forces to create the largest faction in WZO. That means they will control votes (power) and budgets (money). Kadima, led by Olmert, has shown itself to be a very savvy and powerful party. They know how to pull the strings and make people go along with them. I think Olmert will be stronger as a PM than Sharon was and would have continued to be. True, Olmert is not as popular as Sharon and lost much popular support that Sharon had, but I think Olmert is savvy enough and has shown that he knows everybody’s price and how to get them to tow his line.

I have two issues with the event. First of all, Ehud Olmert called the Conservative movement, in a letter sent to the factions last week, “the middle path that Maimonides praised, the 'golden path' of tradition that distances itself from extremism and all of its characteristics and prefers the path that is unified with tradition, belief and Jewish heritage." If Olmert has reasons to like the Conservative movement, beyond political expediency, I have no problem with that. He can affiliate himself with whomever he feels comfortable or with whoever provides him the best opportunity.

However, saying the path of the Conservative movement is the golden path of tradition and associating it with the Maimonides method, is wrong. Praise it for its pluralistic style, if you so please. Don’t call it what it is not. The Rambam must be rolling in his grave over that phrase. The Rambam was ultra-Orthodox (there was nothing else at the time – reform and Conservative are relatively new on the scene, back then there was (what we call now) orthodox and not religious, along with various small sects such as Shomronim and others who were always negligible) and unwavering in his stance in mitzva observance.

Olmert’s description of the Maimonides being the middle path and the “golden path” of tradition is clearly a bastardization of what the Rambam writes in his works entitled, “The Eight Chapters” (Shmone Prakim La’Rambam) and in other philosophical works. He writes that in all character traits, it is the middle path that is the golden path, and a person should always strive to be in the middle. He discusses with this the various traits, such as anger, humility, charity, etc. and explains how to achieve the middle path and to avoid being extreme.

I am not now defending Orthodoxy and saying they are the middle path. Nor am I criticizing Conservative saying they are evil. That is not my point. My point is to call a spade a spade. The Conservative movement is not what the Rambam meant to as a middle ground. By middle ground he did not mean, what is in between Reform and Orthodox. He meant within the realm of mitzva observance the character traits of a person should be developed in the middle and not to the extreme.

My second issue with the agreement, and maybe it deserves a separate post, rather than included here, but I don’t feel like separating it and it is my blog so I can do what I want, is peripheral. Nothing to do with the agreement itself, I am going to take the opportunity to extend the debate to the Orthodox parties in government.

Shas is part of the coalition led by Olmert. UTJ is desperately doing everything it can to negotiate for itself a way into the government coalition. Shas ignored issues it used in the campaign and joined anyway to get funding for its school system. Olmert had insisted that any coalition partner agree in advance to support his future disengagements. Shas negotiated for itself from a position of strength (because Olmert could not have had a majority without them) to not necessarily be agreeing to disengagements. They had used their previous votes against the disengagement in their campaign as a way of attracting right wing voters who were disillusioned with Likud and Mafdal for their support of the disengagement (Mafdal only pulled out very late in the game and allowed Sharon’s government to survive when it might have fallen in early stages of planning the disengagement). Shas gives the excuse that in no way is the future disengagement definite, etc. Yet Olmert is spending all his time and energy drumming up support for it and despite the promises that he will try to negotiate first and only disengage if he sees he has no partner, he is not trying in any way to negotiate or to create a situation in which negotiations will happen in good faith.

So it is clear Olmert is hell bent on disengaging (or whatever he is calling it today) and Shas is turning a blind eye to the reality of what Olmert is trying to accomplish. Olmert has even been quoted as saying that the disengagement is happening and there is no way to stop it. True, maybe it could be voted down when it comes to a vote, but by allowing Olmert the platform to push it, in the media and around the world to foreign governments, Shas is complicit in creating the atmosphere that will allow the disengagement to happen. If Shas was a disengagement supporter I would have no problem with that. My problem is that Shas claimed to be against the disengagement and still claim to be against it, yet allow the disengagement train to continue rumbling on so they can collect some extra funding. Now they are abandoning another “belief” and ideology to continue sitting in government.

Shas and UTJ representatives have refused to sit with Conservative and Reform rabbis in all forums of government until now. They always claim the moral high ground saying that if they sit with them it gives them legitimacy. Yet Shas is now sitting in government with Kadima, who is essentially aligning himself with the Conservative movement. UTJ is trying to sit in government with them. All for a little money (it is not even that much when you look at the details of the agreements).

Where are the ideals these parties claim to represent? Where are the ideals these parties have always stood for in the past? True, Kadima said in the elections that they are a party with no ideology, but did somehow that force the religious parties to devolve themselves of their ideologies as well? These parties should immediately announce that they will not sit in government with representatives of the Conservative movement, and stay true to their constituents and ideologies. If you think that is a wrong ideology, don’t vote UTJ or Shas, but their constituents do believe in that, and they should stay true to their ideologies.

Jun 19, 2006

Lowering the V.A.T. Tax

PM Olmert and FM Hirschson have decided to sign off on lowering the V.A.T. Tax from 16.5% to 15.5% right away. No need for haggling with other ministers and no need for voting. They just did it.

I am all for doing anything that lowers my bill at the supermarket. I will now save money when I buy anything, right? I hope so, but I am not optimistic. I am waiting to actually see the prices go down before I get too excited. Stores and service providers have the uncanny ability to raise prices when necessary, yet we rarely see them lowering prices.

For example, in my city of Bet Shemesh there is a very useful road that had been opened connecting RBS to Gush Etzion and the other side to the main entrance to the city through the Industrial Zone. The road was beneficial to RBS residents in that we no longer had to use the circuitous main highway #38 with all its traffic jams, but could drive on a nice, new, wide road and get to the entrance to the city faster, along with the train station and other locations on that side of town. A taxi to RBS from the train station cost 20 NIS. Lo and Behold the city had to close the road for reasons unknown for an undisclosed amount of time. The taxi companies got together and raised the price of a ride to RBS. It is now 25 NIS. They claim it is necessary because they have a longer drive now because they have to take the 38 road. OK, I guess that is reasonable. Sure enough, eventually the new road was re-opened for traffic. Yet the price of the taxi ride remains at 25 NIS. When confronted the taxi drivers are very blunt and straightforward that prices never come down so fast.

So, will the prices in the supermarket come down now that taxes have been lowered or will the supermarkets owners (and all other stores and service providers) pocket the extra 1% as additional profit? We will soon see. It goes into effect July 1.

The Israel Experience

I brought my baby sister to the airport last night to see her off. She has completed her year in Israel and is now on her way back to the USA to start college and whatever else she will be doing.

She had a good year in Israel. I am a bit envious of her. She went on a program with none of her friends from back home. Her friends who came to Israel went to the standard seminary and yeshivot programs. While they experienced Israel to a certain extent and probably grew in their textual learning of Judaism and Tanach and other Judaic studies, they could have done the same back home in seminary in Chicago or New York or wherever they come from. Many of them hardly experience Israel. They are in school in a protected environment. For understandable reasons they are often not let out on their own. They only go away for shabbos occasionally to anybody other than immediate relatives. Often they are set up in pre-selected places that only allow them a very specific and limiting view of religious Judaism. When they go away as a group, they go to specific places that allow them to see a very limited view of Israel and Judaism. Basically they gain little from actually being in Israel.

True, I would not tell them not to come. Some do develop the love for Israel on their own. Some do go out on there own and see and experience Israel, and not just what the seminary wants them to see. Some grow not just in the book sense that can be done anywhere in the world, but also in the life experience sense. They are more adventurous and figure out how to get around and go back to America with a heightened sense of self and their position in the Jewish world and how to relate to Israel. However, the majority of the young men and women who come to study for the year in the yeshiva/seminary system do not experience this. The vast majority spend the year as I described above. A lot of classes that could be taken in a classroom anywhere in the world and limited and controlled experiences exposing them to a very select set of views.

My sister had the good fortune of ending up in an unusual program. It was not her first choice and I do not think she even knew about it originally, but that is where she ended up. The program was run by Bnei Akiva. Despite the fact that Bnei Akiva programs have been losing popularity among the American students and some of their programs have not been run well in recent years, this program, ,which was really more geared for Europeans, was very successful. The kids spent time on a religious kibbutz working. They worked in a development town with underprivileged kids. They spent time in the army and in Magen David Adom. They spent time traveling around the country on tiyulim. They spent shabbos in Mea Shearim for a different viewpoint. They experienced Israel in a way that most kids from America do not. They developed themselves as adults and people, not just as students in a rigid system.

I am envious because she experienced Israel in a way I never got to. Yes, I was one of those more adventurous types. I volunteered in Mishmar Ezrachi when I was in yeshiva and I traveled the country on tiyulim. Yes, I went around the country to people for shabbos and made my own arrangements. Yes, I worked on a kibbutz for part of one of my vacations from yeshiva. Yet, I see from my sister that doing all of that in an organized way can really enhance your experience. It is a shame that more programs like that do not exist and it is a shame that American students come to Israel for the year and do not really experience Israel.

Jun 18, 2006

Ha'Makom Yenachem...

I do not know if the traditional phrase to comfort nourners is appropriate in this situation.. Remember last year some crazy millionaire from London married a dolphin in Eilat? Well, Ynet reports that the dolphin just died of old age..
I wonder if she married him for the inheritance...

Jun 15, 2006

it couldn't happen to me

Tonight in daf yomi we learned about the Kohanim Gedolim of the Bet Hamikdash. The Lishkat HaPalhedrin was so named because each new Kohein redesigned the chamber to suit his needs, and every year was a new Kohein. That is, because they were Reshoim, evil people, for the most part, they were unworthy of being Kohanim Gedolim and purchased from the Roman Authorities the rights to the High Priest-hood every year. Many would de on Yom Kippur from entering the Holy of Holies in an unworthy status.

I asked what were they thinking? Did this years kohein not realize that the 10, 20, 50 kohanim before him all died because they were unworthy? Did he not realize he was the same and would also die? Why would anybody bid for such a position, where they knew chances were high they would not complete the year??!!

We discussed it and decided that by nature people always think it won't happen to them. That guy last year died- sure, he was a real jerk. He did not deserve the kehuna! He cheated on his taxes, stole, ate treif food, whatever. I am fine. I have reasons for what I do and I am a man with integrity. Everybody thinks he is better and deserves to live rather than die.
We all think we are better and mroe deserving than the other guy.
Only on Yom Kippur would he actually find out that he was not.

What do you think?

Jun 14, 2006

striking a balance

I went to the dentist this evening. I have a tooth I have had some trouble with and was told I need to get some more treatment. When I went, the dentist ended up saying he did not think I needed the treatment at this point and we would wait for a later time to do it, if it should become necessary.
During the discussion, he checked m teeth on the other side. He said he wants to check because when people have a tooth problem, often they will compensate for their pain (even if it is only subconscious) and use ther other side of the mouth more. They will eat their food on one side of the mouth and wear down those teeth if they over-compensate.

I asked if people can really hurt their teeth by over-compensating like that. He told me something very true, and something that applies not just to the teeth. He said, "Everything needs a balance". If you overuse your teeth, they will deteriorate. They are meant to be used equally and if you use them in an ineaqual fashion, you can damage them.

That is true of every aspect of life. Things need balance. Good food needs to be eaten, but in moderation. If one only eats brussel sprouts, he will get sick, as he needs protein as well. Entertainment is good, but in moderation. Work is good but in moderation. Etc.

We need to balance our lives and our actions, not just our teeth.

Jun 12, 2006

Great post on making aliyah

Check out this new blog by someone making aliyah in July. He has two posts there so far. the first is why he is making aliyah - a must read. the second is the email he sent out to his co-workers. head on over to the Lyons of Judah and check it out.

Hat tip: Yeranen Yaakov

Even funerals can now be attended online!

Ynet is reporting that the Chevra Kadisha of Tel Aviv is offering a new service. A person being buried can have his funeral broadcast via the Internet. That will allow people who are unable to attend to still watch and sort of participate in the funeral.

Now nobody has to see you cry at the funeral. You can sit at home and cry in the privacy of your computer room!

Posting from Word!!

I apologize to all my readers. I tried to post a number of times yesterday, but every time I did, Blogger crashed and I lost the post.

I am trying something new right now. I am posting from Word 2007 Beta edition. Microsoft put a new feature into Word and that is you can publish to a blog directly from Word. It could be a great feature, if it works well. Blogger has been very unreliable the past week and I have lost a number of posts. At least with Word, even if Blogger does not take the post and crashes, I can continue to save the post in Word and re-publish it at a later time when Blogger is ok.

Here goes. My first attempt at posting from Word!!

Jun 8, 2006

Matisyahu in a musical on Broadway?

Rumor has it that you read the title of the post correctly. Rumor has it that discussions are underway to turn the highly successful Israeli film "Ushpizin" into a musical Broadway show. The same rumors are reporting that Matisyahu might be the star of the show.

While Matisyahu denies any knowledge of it, he does admit to having watched the film and crying after beign touched by it.

Jun 7, 2006

A faulty system

I was on my way home last night from a softball game (we slaughter-ruled a Division A team 15-0) and was listening to Radio Kol Chai (a religious radio station). They have some interesting talk shows and I tuned in to the end of one.

A woman called in to the show. She is complaining about a problem. Her son is an avreich in a Kollel in Netivot. He has learned in Kollel since he got married and now has 8 children. The kollel check has not been enough and he has not been able to afford paying for his childrens schooling. He has not paid tuition (despite it being very minimal in Israel) for about 6 months, so the school has dismissed the children and is not allowing them back. He can't get them into other schools for the same reason.
The father has decided he must get a job so he can pay for their schooling. He goes out looking for a job as a Rebbi in a yeshiva ketana or cheder. Unfortunately, nobody will hire him.

This is a classic problem of the yeshiva/kollel system. Here is a person who has gone the whole yard and is then rejected by the system. How do they expect kollel yungerleit to pay tuition for 8 kids on a 700 shekel a month "salary"? Schools need money to survive, but they are training people to stay in yeshiva and not make any money and not be able to afford schools and other things. What is a person in this situation to do?
This guy has now spent 10 -15 years in Kollel and can't get a job. He can't get a job in the general market, because he has no training or skills. He can't get a job in education because the schoosl are flooded with teachers and applicants. He also has not training in education. (I do not understand why kollel men think they can automatically go into education just because they spent so many years learning. Almost none of them go for training. Maybe that is part of the cause of poor education in the schools. Some people are naturally talented and do well, despite no training, but they are rare).

The system should be changed, but until then it should at least be more forgiving for those that have given their lives for it and have "played along" faithfully.

Jun 6, 2006

Boys will be boys

"Well Dick, boys will be boys!"

----(former) President Ronald Reagan upon learning that Israel had destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor

Jerusalem Cop embedded a Google video of a documentary that recently ran in America about the raid on the reactor. Absolutely amazing. If you have 45 minutes to watch it, it is a must see. Absolutely incredible.
Head on over to Jerusalem Cop ..

If you want the actual Google link, I found it here

Jun 5, 2006

are sheitels ok to wear? prove it

Reports are abounding about a new challenge in the Torah world. I saw forums about it in HydePark and now see it posted in Ynet.

The challenge was presented by an older Yerushalmi fellow who believes that sheitels are not permitted to be worn (by women) as a head covering. He claims those allowances in the gemarra and halacha are only referring to older types of wigs which no longer exist, but todays modern sheitels are all prohibited and do not fall under the same category as those allowed.
He has therefore presented a challenge that anyone who can prove that sheitels are muttar can win a prize of between $18000 and $36000 (depends exactly how you prove it - I was a bit unclear on the difference)..

Anybody up the the challenge?

Jun 4, 2006

Matisyahu coming to town!

As has been widely reported previously, Matisyahu will be coming to town this week for one performance. He will be opening the show for Sting.

I did not even know Sting was still performing, let alone going on world tours and road shows!

Anyway, I decided not to go to this performance. Even ithough I went to Matisyahu's performance in Jerusalem last year and thought it was great, this is different. He is opening for Sting, so it is a full-blown concert. It is probably not an appropriate venue for a nice frum boy and his veiber. Then again, last years performance probably was not either....

Whomever is going - enjoy! I have a friend who is going (he missed last years and really wanted to go so he is going this time). If he tells me how it went early enough with interesting stories, maybe I will post some info..

A Rabbi and a parrot walked into a bar..

and the Rabbi said, "ouch".

Just joking. What does a Rabbi have to do with a parrot? Well, it seems that somebody got himself a parrot. When he found out the parrot uses foul (or would that be "fowl"?) language and curses a lot, he did not know what to do with it? He asked a Rabbi who told him to kill the bird as it sins and causes others to sin. He decided to kill the bird.

So how is this newsworthy? After all, I kill birds all the time (though not because they swear at me, though they might be cursing if they would know what I was about to do to them!!)!!

It seems an animal rights activist found out about it and offered to adopt it. The guy refused thinking he had been ordered by the Rabbi to kill it and if he does not kill it he will be excommunicated.. The activist went to court and filed for a restraining order. The court issued the injunction and ow the Rabbi has caused a person to have a restraining order against a parrot.


why only Neturei Karta

I have noticed, and been part of, something that I now realize to be very troubling. We are sometimes afflicted by having pictures in the media of fellow Jews standing up for what they call to be in the name of the Jewish people to defend the rights of other people, specifically Arabs, generally the Palestinians. When these people are part of the group of Neturei Karta, we speak up and reject them and complain how they can make such a chillul hashem and revile them, etc. Basically we talk for days about how their actions are so heinous in befriending murderers and we pass emails around with the pictures to show how bad they are and how low they have sunk.

However, there are other times that we read a similar story in the press and see similar pictures, but, while we might not agree with them, we generally ignore the story, turn to the comics in the newspaper and move on. No email protest. The message boards on the forums around the internet are quiet on the story. Nobody seems to care. In fact some, while still not neessarily agreeing with them, might actually find it honorable that these people are standing up for an opressed people.

What am I talking about? YNET, Ha'Aretz and Jport all carried the story of a "mass" (between 500 to 2000 people showed up depending which reports you read) protest by ultra-left wing protest groups in Tel Aviv calling for Israel to return lands stolen from Arabs and calling for rights for the Palestinians and that Israel should talk to Hamas, etc..

Why do we reject completely with absolute disgust the Neturei Karta but not the ultra-left wing, who are acting in a similar fashion? Is it just because the Neturei Karta wear the garb of religious Jews and therefore it touches closer to home? They profess to speak in the name of Torah Judaism, so we religious Jews are made to feel uncomfortable and therefore must vociferously reject them? When the protesters are not religious it is easier to ignore because they do not look like us and we can disassociate from them with a clear conscience?

The actions are the same, the hillul Hashem is the same, the disgust should be the same and we should reject both equally.

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