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Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

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May 31, 2007

Adventures in Eretz Yisrael: Southern Hebron Hills:Adura: Hachnassat Sefer Torah

Adura is a small settlement in the Southern Hebron Hills... you can see it circled on the map below:

According to its Hebrew Wiki entry, it was established in 1982 by the Nahal Brigade of the army. The Nahal Brigade was originally set up as a unit to combine army service with establishing communities around Israel. In 2002 Adura was stricken with a terrorist attack in which 4 of its members were killed and seven more injured.

Adura began as a secular/traditional community and over the years has become a mixed community with a number of religious families moving in. There are about 60 families currently living in Adura.

Moshe Burt, the blogger behind The Sin of the Expulsion blog, also has an important organization called The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.

This organization acquires old and unused Torah Scrolls. He raises funds and has the Torahs fixed up by qualified and expert scribes. He then finds an appropriate community in need of a Torah and places it there. On his website he says he has placed 11 Torah Scrolls in the past 12 years in needy communities. Since I know Moshe he has placed four scrolls. He has placed the last four in communities such as Shvut Rachel, Shirat Ha'Yam, Kever Rachel, and now Adura.

In April 2002, Adura was attacked by terrorists.

The "brave Arab 'freedom fighters(sic)' " infiltrated Yishuv Adura on Shabbos disguised as IDF soldiers. They first began sniping on the neighborhood from a vacant home on a high point of the Yishuv. Then they stormed into Jewish homes killing the occupants. A group of men attempted to come in back of the terrorists to surprise them. When they reached a clearing, they got the shock of their lives; they spotted men who they assumed, by their attire, to be chayalim. They called out to the men that they thought were IDF soldiers telling them not to shoot, that they were not terrorists. But the terrorists were disguised as IDF soldiers and opened fire on the group killing a young man and wounding another.

(the above is a quote from the website of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network)

Two months prior to that, another resident of Adura was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

Moshe decided Adura would be the next location for the placement of a Torah, in memory of these five men. Today was the day.

We left Bet Shemesh at about 5:45 pm. We had about 2 busloads of people going from Bet Shemesh to join the residents of Adura and Moshe Burt in the celebrations. The buses used were reinforced (a.k.a. bullet proof) buses.

The reason for the need to be reinforced is because the Southern Hebron Hills is an area with many PA Arab settlements as well in very close proximity to the road. It is a common event to have stones thrown at passing cars, and even bullets shot. The road we travelled on is a road that was being prepared in one of the peace deals to be used for safe passage (i,e, so they could travel without having to go through checkpoints) for the Arab communities. Adura is right on the side of the road, putting it in a very precarious position.

Because the bus was a bulletproof one, the windows were very difficult to see out of. That means I was not able to see what we were passing...So the ride was about a half hour long. We get there about 6:15 and were taken to the community center which had refreshments waiting for us.

Adura is a beautiful little community. The view is phenomenal as it is completely surrounded by green hills. The climate is cooler than Bet Shemesh, as it is situated on a mountain at a higher level than bet Shemesh. As night fell, it was chilly in Adura, but when we got back to Bet Shemesh it was warm.

After davening mincha, the party began. There were three Torahs. One that was the new one being donated and another two that they already had. People came from some of the various settlements round, including some yeshiva students from the yeshiva in Telem, another settlement a few minutes away.

We danced with the Torahs through the community to an open area outside the shul. There we we entertained by a number of speeches from various people, including the Rabbi of Adura, the Rabbi of the shul in RBS, Moshe Burt, various council officials (from bet Shemesh and from the Hebron Regional Council, Secretary of Adura, relatives of the terror victims and Moshe Burt. These speeches (most of them were short) were interspersed with performances by the great choir Kol B'Rama of RBS who came along just to perform. There were also refreshments available. There were about 250 or so people there (my estimate). After all the speeches, we danced with the Torahs to the shul and placed the new Torah with the old Torahs in the Aron Kodesh.

Then it was back to RBS, just slightly late for my daf yomi shiur!

Lecha spoofs (videos)

Remember the original David Lavon music video of his and his Yeshiva buddies dancing to YBC music that tied up all the Internet bandwidth in February 2006? Well, now there is a spoof of his music video... It is pretty funny. I will post the spoof and under it the original for comparison...

and the original...

Government Ministers reading my blog....

I keep finding more and more people in government proposing things I proposed first. I guess they read my blog. Now Ministers Sheetrit and Eitan have proposed Israel shoot Israeli made Kassam rockets into Gaza... Exactly what I said two weeks ago...

(HatTip: bluke)

May 30, 2007

picture of the day (potd)

Peres with Speaker of the House Dalia Itzik after Peres formally announced his candidacy for President... Does Sonia know about them?

May 29, 2007

an open letter to the world (video)

picture of the day (potd)

Going through a security check for explosives in Iraq. They are very thorough.

Helping Sderot

The non-profit organization Standing Together has put together a program to help Sderot. They are collaborating with communities around Israel to order challah, rugelach and burekas for this coming shabbos from the bakery in Sderot.

Orders of challah, rugelach or burekas can be made and paid for in Beit Shemesh (02 999-2805), Ramat Beit Shemesh (02 999-0956), Neve Daniel (02 993 1149), Efrat (052-698-6119 or 02 993-2396) and Elazar (057-761-4246). To become a representative for the project or for more information, call David Landau at 050-5580822 or email standingtogether@gmail.com.

If you like the project, contact them to get your community added to the list.

various election tidbits

In Syria they held elections today. The incumbent president, Bashaar Assad, successfully garnered 97% of the vote and has been re-elected in a landslide victory to another term. The thing is, he was the only candidate running in the elections. So who did the remaining 3% of voters vote for?

At this point in time, the primaries in the Labor party are still too close to call. Barak and Ayalon seem to be running neck and neck. Neither may get the required 40%, but both seem to be close. They will likely face each other in a second round runoff, though there is still a chance one of them might break the 40% threshold to take it in the first round. Either way, it looks like Peretz will not be pulling off the surprise victory he pulled off last time against Peres. If he does, it will be a really big surprise.

In Presidential elections in Israel, Peres has been officially declared the candidate of the Kadima Party. Olmert today, when making the announcement, said he would do everythign in his power to help Peres win the presidency. At the same time, some other Kadima MKs and ministers stated that Peres could very well lose the elections. Haim Ramon from Kadima said that Peres only has a 50% chance of winning. I guess that is why it is called elections and not Syria, where the candidate has upwards of a 90% chance of success. Avigdor Yitzhaki said they should have considered other candidates...

In Egypt they are also preparing for upcoming elections. There, they arrested three of the candidates who were supposed to be running in the elections for Parliament. It seems they were members of an illegal party....

Speaking of illegal parties and elections, today the murderer (Khaled Shawish) of Binyamin Zev Kahane and his wife Talia was captured. He had been hiding out for the past few years in PA Chairman Abbas' Muqata (no relation to Jameel's Muqata, at least none that I know of).. Just a few days ago some unnamed sources announced the Kahane's party Kach, which had been banned from the Knesset under the banner of being racist, is running a public campaign to try to get reinstated.

May 28, 2007

is one hechsher better than the next?

Yesterday I wrote about an interesting discussion written about in Mishpacha, a popular chareidi magazine/newspaper. There was a second article in this past weeks Mishpacha that was similarly enlightening.

The Mishpacha staff went to investigate the status of kosher and glatt kosher meat. They did this because of some recent problems that have come to light in the world of meat kashrut, including one recent event in Israel in which non-kosher meat was found being packaged with kosher meat.

They make some fascinating statements early in the report.

  1. They say that the reason the regular Rabbanut hechsher is looked upon as a "b'dieved" hechsher is not because of the quality of the hechsher, but because they maintain two different levels of hechsher under the name Rabbanut (not including mehadrin). They run a hechsher for regular, non-glatt meat, and they also certify meat under the hechsher "chalak" which certifies glatt meat under the authority of the Rabbanut. The fact that the same organization runs two levels of kashrut under the same name, leaves it open (in poeple's minds) to problems.

  2. They clearly state that the problems discussed in the article are just as likely to happen in any of the mehadrin and badat"z hechsherim. The only reason the article discusses solely the Rabbanut is because the Rabbanut is an organization with oversight. When problems arise, they are publicized. With the private hechshers, everything is kept as secret as possible and they do not publicize when they find problems. So the impression is created that they have fewer problems, if at all, which is not true. they just don't talk about their problems, while the Rabbanut does (or has to).

  3. The private hechshers (a.k.a. non-Rabbanut - meaning all the various badatz and mehadrin hechshers) refuse to talk about these things. They would not answer questions about why they consider themselves as better hechshers, nor about what differentiates them from other hechshers.

That is, I call them fascinating because I have never seen a chareidi publication, or heard from a chareidi rav, any such statement before.

Here is an article in a serious chareidi publication explaining the positions of the Rabbanut. Not only do they not make any claims that chareidi hechsher organizations are any better at the business, but they clearly say the "best" chareidi hechsherim are plagued by the exact same problems, with the additional feature of their ability to cover it all up and keep it secret.

Not only that, but the article goes into the various systems and methods the Rabbanut has put into place, and changes they will keep making in order to meet the demands and deal with the problems that will crop up in the future.

So why are we, the frum public, the chareidi public, the chardal public, the ultra dati leumi public, whatever other group you consider yourself part of, so beholden to the "better" hechsherim? Why do we only eat Badat"z or She'airis? Why do we only eat Rubin or Landau? Do we really know that these hechsherim are better than the Rabbanut?

The Rabbanut at least comes clean and tells us what the problems are and what they do to correct them. According to the article in Mishpacha, the "better" hechsherim refuse to respond to such queries. Are they really better or are we victims of manipulations and PR and good marketing? Do we really believe, with no basis, that they are better or is there something to it? Do we just not want to be caught eating from a "lesser" hechsher because it will ruin our childrens shidduchim and acceptance into certain schools and social groups?

I do not have the answers. I do not know that they are better or not. I do know that one of the most serious, and definitely the most popular, chareidi publication just published a serious article that pretty much forces one to ask these questions.

I understand if one wishes to be machmir on himself (an Ashkenazi - for a Sefardi Jew this is basic law, not a chumrah), and only eat glatt meat. It is also fine by me, and is perfectly kosher in my mind, if one (again, an Ashkenazi Jew) follows the Rama rather than the chumrah of the Mechaber, and chooses to eat non-glatt meat as well.

There were recently some very interesting posts by Am Kshe Oref and DovBear on the topic of how society has come to totally reject eating non-glatt meat and how difficult it is for someone who wants to eat non-glatt (to cut down on costs for example). At least in Israel one has the choice - the Rabbanut offers a hechsher that includes non-glatt meat. However in the US it seems it has become difficult to find non-glatt meat. The chumrah of glatt has been imposed on society to the exception of the Rama.

But let's say that is not you. Let's say you choose to be machmir and eat only glatt meat. Ask yourself this - how do you know the "better" hechsherim are really better? Why do you only rely on some and consider others b'dieved kosher at best?

I am sure there must be some differences, at least in the non-meat category. Maybe how often a mashgiach shows up. Maybe whether or not they use bug-free produce, sifting the flour and rice, maybe other things. I don't know, but at least regarding the meat situation the picture just got fuddled...

May 27, 2007

great new website

A friend of mine just told me about a website he has created. It is called - simpletoremember.com - Judaism Online. He has a great repository of articles on the site. It is worth checking out to read up on Judaism...

the real goal of mehadrin buses

In this week's Mishpacha newspaper (Hebrew edition - only the Hebrew edition has the newspaper section) there were a couple of interesting articles.

One of them was an interview with Rav Menachem Kenig - the Director of the Committee for Mehadrin in Eretz Yisrael. They deal with working out mehadrin bus lines and the like.

R' Kenig claims that when they started their work petitioning Egged to put in mehadrin bus lines, they had the support of the general Haredi public. He says over time they have lost much of that support. For that he blames the "kannoim" - the fanatics, extremists, zealots.

Sounds funny, doesn't it? You would think he is one of those, as his work is to separate the sexes on buses and we think of his goal as one of a kannai.

Yet, he says, his goal was to offer mehadrin buses to the religious/Haredi public. This would sort of shelter the average religious person from the general Israeli public. When the average haredi fellow rides a bus that is not mehadrin and goes through non-religious neighborhoods, his sensitivities are assaulted by decadence, immodesty and things this person would never see. The affect on such a person can be very detrimental to his spiritual growth.

Kenig says that his intentions in establishing mehadrin buses was to include family seating. The buses were never meant to be completely separate.

What then would make the buses "mehadrin" if there would not be separate seating? I would guess, as he does not say anything specifically addressing this point, that the general atmosphere would be more chareidi friendly with people dressed modestly, as the overwhelming majority of riders would be chareidim... Also, maybe there would be means seating in front and womens in back, for those traveling sans family.

The problem is when the kannaim get involved and say that is not good enough. Then they began forcing full separation of the sexes. That is when people stopped supporting the push for mehadrin buses. People do not want to sit separate like that. They want to sit with their families.
The most interesting part of it is that he says refraining from "family seating" is only a minhag chassidut (custom of extreme piety) and among many groups who are careful in every aspect of halacha that minhag is not kept and they are fine with family seating.

As an aside, I guess you can add "minhag chassidut" to my growing list of halachic terms that are ambiguous... I do not know what his source is that completely separate seating would be minhag chassidut.

Anyways, he also adds that, "We have no right to stand up and tell people what chumros (stringencies) to keep and which minhagei chassidut to keep. We simply want to fix a problematic situation for the chareidi public...."

Needless to say I was shocked when I read that. The perception is completely different. The perception, at least the one I have, is that they are trying to tell us what to keep. But it seems that that is not their goal, but the concept was hijacked by extremists who are ruining it for everyone, as they feel the moral validity to tell people what to do.

Maybe they need to change their methods to win back supprot of the chareidi public. If their goal is just to make it available and offer the "kosher" alternative to the public without being too imposing on people, that is something that could be successful and beneficial. But they need to find a way to keep the kannaim out of it. People get upset and reject things when they feel they are being told what to do. If R' Kenig realizes that and says he has no right to tell people what to do, he is already on the right path.

(BTW, as I am concluding the writing of this piece, I have decided to keep the other interesting article for a separate post - maybe tomorrow if I have time, as this one got longer than originally intended)

tit for tat

I recently wrote what was considered a fairly radical suggestion. In that piece I suggested that the residents of Sderot and the other communities bordering with Gaza should begin shooting their own "homemade" rockets or Kassams into Gaza. I think the government should finance it, but if they don't I am sure it would not be difficult to raise the money privately. Maybe even Gaydamak would be forthcoming...

Anyway, today I have another radical opinion. Over the past few days Hamas has been threatening and warning Israel. They say if we assassinate their leaders Gilad Shalit will be killed. They have said they are going to try to kidnap more Israelis. They said they will restart their suicide bomber program again.

I think it is time Israel fight fire with fire.

If Gilad Shalit is worth 4000 Arabs, as they must think so as that is what they requested in exchange for him, I think we should kidnap 4000 Arabs from Gaza.

I do not care what specifically we do with them, other than stick them in solitary confinement with no access to Red Cross reps. Other than that they can be put anywhere. In jails with horrible conditions, in 5-star hotels (with no telephone or internet access of course) or anything in between. Just kidnap a boatload of them.

In addition, I would cancel any access current prisoners have to the outside world. No red Cross connections. No visitors. No lawyers. Nothing. The other side is not giving any of that to Shalit. They have not even given us basic proof of whether or not he is alive.

Tit for Tat. Give us information as to Shalit's condition and we will give information of the condition of PA prisoners in Israel. Kidnap tens, or hundreds or thousands of PA Arabs and they can be traded for Shalit. Give Shalit contact with the outside world and we give PA prisoners in Israel contact with the outside world.

Nothing we have done has worked and it is time to play on the same court. Until now we have been playing a completely different game than the one being played by Hamas-led PA (not that Fatah with Abbas was any better, but they put a nicer face on it). It is time to play the same game.

Haveil Havalim #118

Esser Agaroth is hosting this weeks edition of Haveil Havalim... check it out

May 24, 2007

modern day "bivin"

We had the good fortune of being able to spend Shvuos in Jerusalem by my in-laws. This afforded me the opportunity to daven vasikin Shvuos morning by the Kotel, something I am not always able to do...

After a night of learning and trying to fight off the drowsiness, I started my walk to the Kotel. I was alone because my boys were not successful in staying up. They tried and one of them had said he might want to come with me to the kotel, but because they did not listen to me and take a nap before Shvuos, that did not work out.

When learning the gemara of eiruvin a while back there was an interesting concept we learned about. It was called "bivin". Bivin are wells or pits dug in the middle of the streets. The people of Jerusalem would dig wells and pits of water during the holiday season. They did this for the benefit of the multitudes of people who were travelling to Jerusalem for the holiday and aliyah l'regel. The discussion in the gemara centers around whether the area of these bivin are considered public domain or private domain and whether one would be able to carry within them.

It is a bit hard to imagine wells being dug in the middle of the street just for the holiday season. I mean, what would they do when the holiday was over - fill the well? leave it there? It might be dangerous to have an open well in the middle of a well travelled road all year round...

Well, on the way to the Kotel I think I understood that topic a little better. I have been to the kotel many times in previous years on Shvuos morning, though not much in recent years. I saw something that was completely new, at least to me (meaning, maybe they did it last year as well, but not a few years ago).

On the main road of Shmuel HaNavi st., with the tens of people turning into hundreds and then into thousands, as the side streets spill into the main road, walking towards the Kotel, different organizations put out hospitality tents in the middle of the road. These tents or drinking stations offered cold drinks, hot drinks, cakes, cookies, a place to sit and rest for a bit.

These are the modern day "bivin" displaying the generous hospitality of Jerusalemites.

The kotel was great. Shvuos is probably the one day a year that Jews can walk safely through Shaar Shchem - Damascus Gate (why is it called Damascus Gate and not Nablus Gate - Shchem is translated as Nablus, while Damascus is Damesek in Hebrew? Just somethign I have wondered about).

Shaar Shchem leads directly to the Kotel but through the Arab shuk (marketplace). And of the two main Arab shuks (shaar shchem and shaar yafo) Shaar Shchem is considered fairly dangerous for Jews. So usually Jews will not go there, aside from the few people who do, such as members of Ateret Kohanim and the like.

But on Shvuos morning with thousands and thousands of Jews puring through, we generally walk through Shaar Shchem instead of the longer way through Shaar Yafo. Jacob recently wrote about his memories of walking through Shaar Shchem and how kids and yeshiva guys would pick fights with the Arab locals. I have similar memories. I remember people overturning Arab pushcarts, breaking locks on the Arab stalls, singing loudly Jewish songs of taking over the city and building the Temple, etc.

I was expecting to see that, but it seems that either I missed it, or the kids have gotten tamer than in my day. I did not see any disturbances except for one. One 10 year old kid tried to jam a padlock on a stall. The soldiers stopped him fairly quickly and chased him away. No lous singing in the Arab shuk (there was some singing by a group of people near one of the gates to Temple Mount, but not in the shuk itself).

I davened in Rabbi Lau's minyan. Rabbi Lau is a former Chief Rabbi of Israel and currently Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv. He has a set minyan every year and the last few times I have gone to the kotel Shvuos morning, I have davened in this minyan. Generally the great chazzan and performer Dudu Fisher is the chazzan of this minyan. I was looking forward to hearing him again. Unfortunately Fisher is in America and could not make it back for Shvuos. For the first time in many years he did not lead the services in Rabbi Lau's minyan. They had a different chazzan who was ok. He was no Dudu Fisher, but he was ok.

On the walk back I passed the Mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lapoliansky who was also walking home from davening at the kotel.

jpix 8 - Eretz Yisrael edition

Spring is in the air. There were a number of posts with pictures showing the beauty of spring. I think the largest percentage of posts were on that topic, though I was too lazy to actually count it. I was going to call this the Spring Edition because of those posts. I then decided that the Eretz Yisrael posts win out, as Eretz Yisrael topics are always more important... so I called this the Eretz Yisrael edition.. enjoy the posts - all of them, the eretz yisrael posts, the spring posts and the rest of them....

Eretz Yisrael
Cosmic X's son went to Meron on Lag B'Omer and is making me hungry.

muse went walking instead of swimming.

muse then takes us on tour of Nachla'ot, Jerusalem in honor of Yom Yerushalayim.

ari kinsberg remembers his visit to Kever Yosef, from the time one could go without having to wait for a 2 am bus...

and tnspr569 tells us about his trip with me to the Shomron, trying to get into Kever Yosef.

Ben-Yehudah points out what he sees as the latest Nissan advertisement.

Jacob has 585 pictures (yes, 585. that was not a typo) of the Jerusalem Day Parade and the Jerusalem Flag March.

Cosmic X continues showing us the progress of the new Jerusalem Calatrava Bridge.

Evan took a hike Above Tsfat and then shows us Tsfatas well. He also shows us Yom Yerushalayim.

Sarah presents Big Signs from her last trip to the US. They are from Universal City Walk, which is always a fun place to go

frumhouse took a walk with her child and presents West Rogers Park in Bloom. Enjoy all the beautiful flowers!

Barbara presents a pictorial essay by her kids...called DID YOU KNOW? .

I don't know what a Dogwood is, but A Simple Jew presents Black & White Picture Of The Week - Dogwood In Bloom.

Irina notices she is Surrounded by Beauty and takes some time off of her routine to show us some of the beautiful images...

David from Temunot presents some cute pictures his daughters drew for Mother's Day.

Sarah gives us an interesting perspective of light in Still Life: Marvellous Marbles.

frumhouse at Little Frumhouse on the Prairie brings us a batch of Chick Pics.

SWFM shows us a whole bunch of loony pics and then a few of the sky.

Jacob DaJew went biking with a fellow blogger and posted some video at Frum Satire and Jacob Da Jew Meet!! Then he took his family on a trip to Drummer's Circle in Prospect Park

Baleboosteh shows us images of Life In A Non-Bustling Town...

Baleboosteh gives us two posts with pix of herchildren.

Cosmic X suggests what to do with A Moldy Pita.

A Simple Jew presents Black & White Picture Of The Week - Gerberra Daisy.

Yossi presents Yeshiva in prison.

PerezTime went to The Beach.

Mordechai presents his Picture of the Week.

Tamara talks aboutGriffith Park.

David from Temunot went Back in Time to Plymouth.

Yechiel (Jonny) Stein presents pictures of the Beitar Yerushalayim championship celebration at Gan Sacher.

May 23, 2007

Count the Omer!

This is a sticky reminder and will stay at the top until Shavuot or until I get sick of seeing it... Don't forget to count the Omer! And scroll down for newer posts...

May 22, 2007

Headline of the Day (hotd)

15:00 Hamas: Any harm to Haniyeh would mean change in rules of the game (Reuters)

background: Israel has been, in an attempt to scare Hamas leaders to stop or at least lessen the shooting of Kassam rockets into Israel, threatening that even Hamas leaders such as Haniyeh and Meshaal are included in the IDf targets.

I am not sure what game they are referring to. I was not aware we are involved in a game. Is that what they consider this whole thing - a game?

Nor am I quite sure what the existing rules are that any harm to Haniyeh would change those rules. Are they the rules that say that they can harm and kill Israelis but we cannot harm and kill them?
Have they not attempted to harm Israeli leaders? Just last week one Arab from Gaza was arrested and admitted to having been involved in an assassination attempt on Olmert. They can try to kill our leaders but we cannot do so to theirs?

MBD out of cherem

Since I wrote about MBD being in cherem, I now have received letters with the "other side of the story".

I do not know the progression of what happened, but after the first letter was published declaring MBD in contempt of Beis Din and in cherem, he went to Beis Din to clear it up. He declard his willingness to go to Beis Din for judgement. While it is not the same Beis Din as the one that published the original letter, and I do not know the details of who gets to choose which beis din, it seems the story is not so simple...

I received three different letters supporting MBD and will post one of them. They all say pretty much the same thing anyway, so one is enough. It is in Hebrew, but basically says he has fulfilled all his obligations as far as beis din is concerned and therefore the original cherem is null and void.

Looks like you can buy MBD cds again...

May 21, 2007

good sportsmanship

I think we have all heard the story of the young disabled boy named Shay, who wanted to join a game of baseball played by a bunch of kids. They let him play. Of course, the story turns out that Shay comes up to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and the winning run is on base. They do not replace Shay with a regular player, but let him bat. He hits the ball weakly and, in an amazing display of sportsmanship and sensitivity to Shay, the opposing team throws the ball around intentionally, allowing Shay to knock in the winning run as he completed his "grand slam".

The story is very inspiring...

Last night I was witness to a similar display of good sportsmanship (albeit not quite as emotional).

My softball team was playing the Dawgs last night. Our center fielder was stealing second base and somehow pulled a muscle as he pulled into second. He could hardly move, yet we could not replace him. We only had nine players. Taking him out of the game meant a forfeit (and this game was going to be a fairly easy win - we ended up winning something like 16-7).

He stayed in the game. We just figured he would be an easy out and on defense would move over to first base and I would move over to Center Field (and I had a great game in center with 4 catches).

So, he is on second and the next batter is on first. The next batter comes up to bat. He hits a long double. The crippled guy should easily have been able to score, but he could not move. He was limping around third base as the throw came in to the first baseman from the outfield.

He could have easily thrown the cripple out at home. But he held onto the ball and let him score.

That was a display of great sportsmanship.

The irony was that we had an opportunity to reciprocate.

Later on the game, the opposing first baseman hurt himself legging out a single. He stayed in the game thinking he could play. He got caught off first base on a long fly ball that was caught. We could have easily thrown him out while he hobbled back to first. We held onto the ball and let him hobble back. He then came out of the game and was replaced by somebody else, as they had an extra player.

assassination of a Hamasnik (video)

In the following video you can see the takedown of a Hamasnik in the recent Fatah - Hamas battles in Gaza.

Haveil Havalim #117

Jack is hosting Haveil Havalim #117 - go check it out..

May 19, 2007

story of greatness

This weeks Hebrew Mishpacha magazine had articles describing the lives of three great Torah scholars. Rav Elyashiv, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe and Rav Ovadia Yosef.

The articles are very interesting. I would guess the purpose of these articles is to inspire us before Shavuos, the holiday of Matan Torah, in regards to learning Torah.

I want to relate one story I just read in the article on Rav Ovadia Yosef.

The story is that Rav Ovadia Yosef was the wedding of one of the children of Rav BenTzion Abba Shaul. Also attending the wedding was Rav Chaim Kryzeworth from Belgium. While waiting for the chassan and kalla, there was a long delay.

Rav Kryzeworth suggested to Rav Yosef that they should talk in learning while waiting for the chosson to arrive. Rav Ovadia Yosef agreed.

Rav Kryzeworth then suggested that they should review the whole Talmud Bavli (by memory) together (!) while waiting, and as a token to the host of the waiting, they would point out every time the tanna Abba Shaul is mentioned in the gemara.

Rav Ovadia accepted this challenge and suggested that they take turns, Rav Kryzeworth pointing out the first time Abba Shaul was mentioned, and Rav Ovadia pointint out the second time, etc.

They began, each one taking his turn.

When Rav Ovadia Yosef mentioned the fourth time Abba Shaul was mentioned, Rav Kryzeworth interrupted him and said, "You missed one", and mentioned the reference that had been missed.

As he was quoting the missed reference, Rav Ovadia smiled and said, "If you look at the Maharsha on that gemara you will see that that reference to Abba Shaul is not the same Abba Shaul. We are referring top the tanna Abba Shaul, but that one is a different one named Abba Shaul ben Bitnis."

I just thought this was an interesting story that I wanted to share with you. It shows the great mind of Rav Ovadia Yosef, but I found another point. The whole article is about Rav Ovadia Yosef. In this story, I saw how Rav Kryzeworth had a great mastery of the material as well.

Soetimes we look at Rosh Yeshivas and Rabbonim and we think how smart they are but they really might not have control and mastery of everything they have learned at the tip of their tongue. Rav Ovadia Yosef is considered an exception in the sense that his mind is so great and he has so much knowledge at the tip of his tongue. I never heard this of Rav Kryzeworth, albeit he was always considered a great Rosh Yeshiva. But I never heard he had that level of mastery.

It seems that even if we do not know about it, even if we are not aware of it, the great Rabbonim do have that mastery of the sources. Sometimes it is hidden behind their other activities or covered by other things that are at the forefront of any specific Rav's personality, but we should never underestimate the greatness of the Torah leaders. They really do know it all, even if ArtScroll did not put out a book saying so.

May 17, 2007

Halachic ambiguity

I have a list of halachic terms that disturb me by their vagueness and ambiguity, and lack of clear definitions. They are sometimes liberally applied, and sometimes not applied when it looks like they should be.

I added a term to the list last night...I actually never compiled a formal list, but when I stumble across such a term I think about it.

The newest word to make it to my list is "Yohara". This term is used in halacha in the sense that there might be a certain action or opinion that when followed, one would be accused of acting with "yohara" meaning haughtiness.

The context it was used in last night was in regards to tzitzis. The Mishna Berura quotes a Beis Yosef that says that one who makes two holes in the corner of his garment is guilty of yohara. Ostensibly, this would be because he is trying to fulfill even the opinion of a minority view when it is not necessary. But nowadays we do that all the time (try to fulfill all opinions, even thos eof minority viewpoints), so why is that a big deal or why are we not guilty of yohara all the time?

Another time this term is used is when covering the head with a tallis for davening. If I remember correctly, the shulchan aruch says that talmidei chachomim cover their heads with the tallis during tefilla. Others who do so are guilty of yohara. Yet nowadays almost everybody in religious circles (and for sure in chareidi circles) does so. Are they not all guilty of yohara because they consider themselves talmidei chachomim when that is not necessarily the case?

When do we apply this? when do we not? why is this ever an issue?

this can be added to another term: "tircha d'tzibbura"

I know I have more, but off the top of my head I cannot think of any...

What halachic terms do you know of that bother you like this?

call for pictures

I am hosting the upcoming edition of the jpix carnival (#8). It will be posted this coming Sunday.
If you have any posts with pictures that you want to share with others, make sure you submit them. You can either email me at israeli.jew at gmail dot com or submit via the handy carnival submission form.

Get a move on it and submit your links... before time runs out!!

May 16, 2007

wipe em out, but not today..and hitting back

The residents of Sderot have been under continuous attack from Gaza, but the intensity has increased, with 21 rockets falling yesterday in the area, and more today.

Akiva was IM'ing a friend of his yesterday when a barrage of rockets hits. He posted a transcript of the conversation and included some video footage as well..

A lot of people are criticizing the government for their lack of response to the Kassam rockets. Many even blame the recent Winograd Report for "sandaling" (Hebrew slang for tying their hands) the government. They claim that ever since the Winograd Report was released, the government is afraid to make any moves, let alone a move that would include shooting at our enemy and putting soldiers in harms way. They are afraid they will be subject to another investigation and report condemning them.

I reject such claims. The rockets have been falling on Sderot for years and have increase din intensity for the past year and a half. That is well before the Winograd Report came out and well before the Winograd Commission was ever formed or began asking questions of the politicians. The reason Olmert and Peretz are not defending the State of Israel is because they are incapable of doing so. Not because they are afraid of a new commission of inquiry.

And on that note I will add, that while something clearly needs to be done and Israel is obligated to defend itself, and I think we should wipe Gaza off the map, if need be, I think right now the timing is wrong (it would not have been wrong a year ago or even a week ago, but today it is).

Why do I say that? What about the poor residents of Sderot under attack?

I am not saying it is too dangerous and Israel should not do it. The residents of Sderot deserve our full support and we need to defend them. I just think tactically today is a bad time.


Because right now the Arabs of Gaza are killing each other. Yesterday they killed something like 15 of each other, and so far today another 5. They are, once again, on the brink of civil war. I do not think anyone even knows why they are killing each other. But if we go in now and attack because of the Kassam attacks, we will stop them from killing each other. We will be the source of their unity as they join hands to return to killing Jews. I prefer we give them a few days to kill each other before we send a mass response. A small response (maybe targeted killings or whatnot) might still be in order, but not a large scale response.

Not to worry, as no large scale response is planned anyway.

I also thought of an idea I would like to suggest for the residents fo Sderot (and surrounding areas).

I think it is high time, considering the lack of protection provided by the State, that you took matters into your own hands. It is time for you to get together and acquire some sort of missile or rocket.

Maybe Arkady Gaidamak can be approached to help with the funding. Maybe a fundraising drive among the general Israeli public (I would chip in to it).

You Sderot residents should be buying rockets. Maybe even building your own. I mean, if the third world Arabs in sewage-ridden Gaza City can figure it out, a bunch of smart Jews should be able to, right? It's not exactly rocket science, is it? (actually it is, but that was a joke).

Anyways, once you get a reasonable supply of rockets and missiles, you should start shooting them in the direction of Gaza.

I cannot wait to see the Arabs in shock at your response. I cannot wait to see Terje Larson and Javier Solana in a fit condemning Israel for such rocket attacks on poor PA civilians, after they have ignored the attacks on Israel for so long. And I cannot wait and see the look on the faces of Olmert and Peretz as they have to try to stop you from protecting yourselves.

Heck, I might even come down for a day to help shoot rockets at them.

If the government won't protect you (and us by extension), it is time you did something different.

Final round of JIBs voting has begun!

Voting in the final round of the JIBs has begun. Check it out and go vote for your favorite blogs.

I am a finalist in two categories. Go vote for me in Best Slice of Life in Israel category and
Best Small Blog category

This post will be sticky (under the Omer post). So make sure you continue to scroll down for newer posts. The Omer is still more important than the JIBs, so it keeps the top spot.

MBD over the top (videos)

So MBD has done it again. Based on the following video, you can clearly see that MBD's song, Daddy Dear, is a rip-off straight from some old black and white film. The tune is exact and the rythm and rhyme are close.

This is not the first time he has done so. His hit song Yidden was exposed as being a straight ripoff from a German group called Ghenghis Khan who sang the original in the Eurovision in 1979. You can see the original here:

compare that with MBD's yidden:

My friend Chaim from LOR even contacted them when the original video was located. He asked them if MBD had ever requested permission to use their song and music and if he had bought it from them. They answered that he had not, but they were not disturbed by it as they were happy people were enjoying their music.

The thing is, that in the recent lawsuit/cherem, MBD is suing Gal Paz. Gal Paz took a bunch of MBD songs and compiled them into a series of albums. MBD is claiming they have no rights to that music and therefore they owe him damages to the tune of 5 million dollars. So, in other words, it is ok for him to steal other people's music and make money off it, but not ok for other people to steal his music (though they claim they have the rights to the music and have not stolen it).

Furthermore, as can be seen by the following video which was a clip on MBD's latest album, MBD has made himself into the "spokesperson" for the frum music world in attacking the public for copying albums and downloading illegaly.

NOTE: I am not supporting illegal or anti-halacha copying of albums. But it is hypocritical for MBD to be making it into a big deal when he himself is guilty of copying people's music, and not giving them credit for it, let alone paying for it.

(HatTip: Gruntig and LOR )

May 15, 2007

capturing Jerusalem! (video)

In honor of Yom Yerushalayim this week, I found this short clip for you to enjoy. It is a clip from the news in 1967 with images of the IDF recapturing Yerushalayim, specifically the Kotel and Har Habayit..

I figured it out!

The police have been studying the cause of the traffic accidents in Israel, and have not been able to come to a conclusion.

I think I have figured out the cause of the great number of traffic accidents in Israel.

I received a delivery today of something I ordered from a company. The delivery was sent by a taxi driver.

I get stuff from him fairly frequently, so when I saw him last week sitting in the passenger seat of his taxi and someone else driving, I was curious what was going on. I asked him if he is training someone, maybe his son, to get into the business. He told me that he is not, rather his license had been suspended three months for something (which he would not specify) and he had to have a driver drive him around.

So, today I get another delivery from him. As we are dealing with the paperwork, a driver drives by with his hand holding down the horn. We looked up and did not see what they guy had been honking at. The taxi driver muttered, "These crazy drivers. They are the problem."

Here is a guy with a suspended license kvetching that someone honked at some sort of obstruction. He is the type of driver that is the source of the traffic accident problem in Israel

pickled brisket, a.k.a. corned beef

I made my own corned beef for this past shabbos. muse send me an email today that the 18th edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is coming up, so I figured I will let you know how to make great corned beef, a.k.a. pickled brisket.

Here is my recipe.

Caveat: My recipes are not exact. I do not follow them to a "t". They are just guidelines. I usually add much more of each ingredient than called for, so caveat emptor. I will add, that it came out amazing.

The only other time I have put up a recipe on this blog, and submitted to KCC, can be seen here. That was my "meat and hummous" recipe. People found it pretty amusing.

So here goes:
  • 1 cow/bull
  • slaughtering knife/chalaf
  • (at least) 1 bag koshering salt
  • lots of water
  • slotted board/table
  • butchering knives
  • ziploc bag
  • 2 cups koshering salt (in addition to bags above)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pickling spices
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 10 cloves
  • 1tbs whole peppercorn
  • 1tbs whole Allspice
  • a bunch of garlic cloves
  • 1 tspn of ground mustard
  1. slaughter cow/bull
  2. butcher and kasher cow/bull meat or at minimum the brisket (cut from the chest of the cow)
  3. take 5 pounds of brisket (or more of you want more corned beef) and trim some of fat
  4. take ziploc bag and throw in the pickling ingredients, including, 2c kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorn, allspice, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, mustard and pickling spices.
  5. Mix it up well
  6. put brisket into ziploc bag, rubbing the spice mix all over the brisket.
  7. squeeze air out of bag and seal
  8. store in cool place (back of fridge works for me), preferably with something heavy (like a brick) on top.
  9. Store for 1.5 - 2 weeks.
  10. every 4 days or so, open bag rotate meat rubbing spices over meat, squeeze out air and reseal.
Mazel tov! You now have a pickled brisket (corned beef) that is completely inedible.
To make it edible: Boil brisket in water on low flame for about 1.5 hours. Repeat this three times, changing water each time.
You now have an edible corned beef.
For extra flavor, mix in separate pot: 2 spoons ketchup, 1 spoon mustard, some vinegar, 1 cup brown sugar. Bring to low boil.
Take a bunch more cloves. Stick them into the meat in various places.
Pour mixture over brisket. Stick brisket in oven and bake for 10 minutes covered and ten minutes uncovered at a normal temperature (whatever temp you normally bake things at - I have no idea what temp that is).
Remove cloves stuck into meat.
Dig in!

May 14, 2007

Adventures in Eretz Yisrael: Central Shomron: Kever Yosef

I am calling last nights events an adventure, rather than a tour/tiyul. The reason is because it was hardly a tour but very much an adventure.

During the day I found out that the trip to Kever Yosef, located in Shchem, a.k.a. Nablus, was going to be happening (thanks R'CZM).

According to the info, it was going to be happening with or without army permission. The army has not given permission to enter Joseph's Tomb in Nablus in a few years.

This day is considered special and uniquely associated with Yosef. The 41st day of the Omer is called Y'Sod She'b'ysod and somehow that relates to Yosef. Also, the date of his death is unknown but historically has been associated with the 41st day of the Omer. There has always been pilgrimages to pray at his gravesite on this day and until about 3 years ago the army would give permission to go in during the night and pray on this special day. I have been to Joseph's Tomb about 6 or 7 times in the past. I do not know what changed, but about 3 years ago the army stopped giving permission for this trip.

The people, and some politicians, were putting a lot of pressure on the army to give the ishurim for the trip. There were well over a thousand people who registered for the trip which was only announced a number of hours prior to the trip and spread by word of mouth. A thousand registered. Even more came at the last minute, when they heard about it but it was too late to register. As of 8 pm, there was still no final announcement of any ishur and people were making plans how to sneak in.
I have one friend who was planning to go with me who told me he will only go if there was no ishur. If there is an ishur it will be a waste of time, as they will limit it and we will not be able to do anything, but if there is no ishur it would be historic and he would not miss it.

Anyway, so after hearing about it and trying to get as much information as I could, Jameel and I spoke a number of times sharing info and trying to coordinate our plans.

After some miscalculations and delays in my schedule, I finally got to leave home towards Shchem at about 12:30 am. At that point I almost did not go because I had been delayed so much I figured there was no chance I would get in. Jameel told me (from on location outside of Shchem) that they were announcing more buses for 1:30 am or so. So I decided to take the chance and head out.

I went and picked up tnspr569 who had never been there and wanted to try going. We head out and go in the direction of the Shomron. I have never travelled much through the Shomron and not much recently. So there we are, on the dark road, with only less than a quarter tank of gas (I was in a rush when I left so I figured I would fill up later, after kever Yosef), in an area I am not too familiar with, in an area that is considered relatively dangerous.

So we are heading towards Tzomet Tapuach. That was the devlared meeting spot where the buses would pick people up and go into Shchem. Sometimes the trips have been from Itamar which is one of the closest Jewish yishuvim to Nablus, sometimes from Yitzhar, and sometimes from Tzomet Tapuach. This time it started out near Yitzhar at Tzomet Bat Shalosh (that is where Jameel got stuck after his run in with the police at Ariel), but then the staging point was moved back to Tzomet Tapuach.

So we finally make it at about 1:35 am. There were about 500 or so people in the parking lot at Tzomet Tapuach. Nobody knew what was going on and there was nobody in charge. Everyone is waiting to find a way in to Shchem. the sodiers and police were not being nice but were physically pushing people around. Even just to take two steps back for no particular reason. Nobody had anywhere to go, as it was all blocked off, but they would decide everyone had to stand only in a certain area and they would start shoving people around. Then they would let people wander around and then they would do it again.

Finally, after about twenty minutes of our standing there waiting, two buses show up. Right away they get mobbed as everyone swarms around them hoping to be among the select few to get a spot on the buses. Don't forget there are about 500 people and enough seats for 100 (if the buses would even be going into Shchem, at that point noboy knew).

The buses are being mobbed by people, and they have not even opened their doors! They drive around a bit making the people crazy (I wonder if the drivers were just trying to have a good time) as they followed the buses around, not wanting to miss the moment the doors would open to let them on.

Eventually one of the buses opened its doors. The people went crazy. There was fighting and pushing and shoving to get onto the bus. The police and soldiers had 3 or 4 reps on the bus at the door letting the next survivor of the mob on. They were also participating in the mob and they were shoving people off and pushing and hitting people. At one point we even saw a policeman grab somebody by the neck, choke him holding him like that for a minute or so while the guy's face tururned red, and then he threw the guy off the bus. tnspr569 was in terrible shock when he saw that! I have been by protests and rallies before where I witnessed police brutality, but I think that was the first time for tnspr569.

We decided not to fight the mob, and after the bus filled up, it drove about 10 feet and stopped. People were still mobbing it, trying to get on. The second bus was still dark and not moving.

After about 15 minutes of watching that bus just sit there and not move, we were pretty confident that our chances of getting into Shchem were dipping well into the negative numbers, so we decided to go home.

I got home about 3:30 am, pretty sure I was driving on fumes most of the way. There are very few gas stations open at that time of night. I found an open gas station near Bet Shemesh, and consider it a miracle that I made it that far. I was sure I would be spending the night on the side of the highway. I filled up the tank with 62 liters of gasoline, for a 65 liter tank! Man that was close!

At least we tried! According to the news, over the course of the night 10 buses were let in. That would be about 700 or so people. A friend of mine told me his brother got in. 700 got in, but probably double that tried to get n but could not.

Ari's trivia question

Ari has a trivia question about Hatzala.. and some old ones as well.

May 13, 2007

exciting event tonight!

I've got a big event planned tonight. Hopefully it will work out and you will have something exciting to read tomorrow. This will be a doozy, if it works out.

I have spent a lot of my free time today trying to figure out the details. It includes some collaboration with my Arab buddy Jameel - his services might be needed to help infiltrate into an Arab area...

keep your eyes peeled to this page to see what transpired....

HH #116

Haveil Havalim 116 The Derezzing is up at Yehuda. It is in 5 parts plus an epilogue. enjoy.

MBD in cherem?

I don't know what this is about, but according to the letter from the Beis Din, Mordechai Ben-David (Werdyger) (yes, him. The popular Hassidic singer) is in trouble with Beis Din.

According to the minimal details in the letter (for those of you who do not understand the Hebrew), he has sued in secular court and not in Beis Din, as the halacha requires, and failed to obtain the necessary permission to go to the secular courts.

The letter goes on and says he was called to Beis Din 3 times and has refused to appear before them. He is therefore in cherem and is a rasha and should not be allowed to participate in any holy activity, until he recants and appears before Beis Din and resolves the issues according to halacha.

I do not know what this is about. Any of you readers know?

grave of Chana located based on dream

It seems that there was a divinely inspired finding of an old grave recently.

No, I am not referring to the grave site of King Herod that was recently found.

I am referring to the grave of Chana, the mother of Nabi Samuel, a.k.a Shmuel Ha'Navi.

The only witnesses to the story are a group of men who witnessed the last half of the story. The first half remains uncorroborated and is only based on the two women involved in the story. You can be skeptical or you can accept it.

Two separate women, unknown to each other at the time, each had a dream. In the dream a woman appeared and claimed to be Chana, the mother of Shmuel Ha'Navi. She told these women, each in her dream, that she is also buried in the same grave site as her son, Shmuel. She then gave the women signs of exactly where in the grave site she is buried, indicating certain stones.

The two women, each on her own, each still not knowing about the other, went to the grave site of Shmuel Ha'Navi. They met at the grave as they were searching for the stones from the dream. They met up with each other and were shocked to find that they both had the same exact dream.

There is a group of avreichim who learn in the complex of the grave site who witnessed this meeting of the women. They decided to help search for the grave of Chana looking for the stones indicated in the dreams.

The story goes that they found the exact stones described in the dream, and assume that Chana is buried beneath them.

The women said that Chana, in the dream, said that women who have not been blessed with children should come to daven at her grave and she would (as an intermediary to Hashem) bring them salvation.

May 12, 2007

Touring Eretz Yisrael Part I: Southern Judean Desert

Today I am going to take you on a tour of Eretz Yisrael. We will take today's trip into the Lahav Forests and the southern part of the Judean Desert.

We will begin our day with the Lahav Forests. Lahav Forests is a forest reserve a bit north of Beer Sheva. It is outside of a kibbutz called, you guessed correctly, Kibbutz Lahav. Even more significant (not sure why) is that it is just a past a town called Lahavim, which (at least from the road) looks like an absolutely beautiful village.

We arrive at the rendezvous point in the forest and meet up with the rest of the group joining us.

The group is split into 4 groups of about 25 or so people in each. They are split among various stations set up in the area, each with a different activity. We will follow Group 1's activities.

This is a fairly popular exercise on tiyulim. It consists of having groups do activities that require teamwork, trust development, and the like.

Group 1 will begin at the station with an "individual" (rather than team) activity. Each person has to put on a harness on his body and walk on some ropes connected between some trees, about 25 feet above the ground. The activity concludes with a zip line going down to the ground.

We will now move on to the next station. Here we have some faith and teamwork building activities, such as falling backwards off a ladder and the rest of the group catches the faller. Another is to let 2 people throw you back and forth while you release control of your body. Another is to make a group circle with crossed arms and figure out how to have one half the circle change positions with the second half, while uncrossing the arms.

This will be a lot of fun trying to figure out the solutions, and an interesting experience, giving up control of your body while learning to rely on your friends.

The next station we move on to will be an Omega line. This is where you sit in a harness attached to a rope connected to a very high tree. Other members of the group pull the rope to raise you to the top of the rope and ten you zip down the rope to the bottom. This should be a bit of a thrill (though not as much as bungee jumping, I hear!).

The last station we will do today consists of some more teamwork activities. The activities include going through different levels of rope, crossing certain areas together as a group, walking on a rope with the team helping you not fall, and more.

Now that we have completed the teamwork portion of the day, we will move on to the more serious part of the tiyul.

We will now travel to Kfar HaNokdim. This is a village just outside of Arad, in the southern part of the Judean Desert. We will get there and eat lunch in a semi-authentic Bedouin tent. I only say semi-authentic because it is owned by Jews as a tourist attraction. The tent, though, is run by Bedouin and everything in the tent is according to Bedouin custom, more or less. The Bedouin are making fresh pitas and lafa bread to eat with hummus and cheeses.

After resting a bit, we will now go out on a jeep tour in the Judean Desert.

Ok, everybody, pile into the jeeps.

We drive out into the vast expanse of brown desert. The vegetation is already dried up, almost completely, despite it being early in the summer season. We drive up to a water cistern dug into the ground. There are similar cisterns all over the area, some fairly new and some dating back thousands of years. These cisterns are how the people living in the area used to store there water from the rainy season to last through the summer.

What is interesting about this cistern is that it gives you a very clear explanation of the story in the Torah of how Yaakov removed the stone from the water cistern for Rachel to water her flock. The cistern we are looking at is basically a hole in the ground. The custom was that the hole would be covered by a large boulder. This boulder could only be moved by two people at a time.

This was done for two reasons. One was so that nobody could just take water without anybody else knowing. The second was to ensure that the pit was taken care of. If one person could remove the stone, maybe he would not clean up after himself, maybe he would not return the boulder to its place, etc. By requiring a second person to be there, everybody took care of it properly, because somebody always knew who else accessed the cistern.

We will now move on. We drive through the dry desert. We pass sheperds with their flock of sheep. If you look out to your right now, you will see a dead camel being eaten by vultures. Very cool.

We will now be passing a mountain with a very sharp peak. This mountain is called Har Ha'Kanaim, or Mount of the Zealots. The reason for the name is that the zealots used to live n this area. We are in the same area as Massada, in which the Jews refused to give themselves up to the Roman conquerers, rather preferred to commit mass suicide. There were many battles between the zealots and the Romans in the area, and that is how this mountain got the name Mount of the Zealots.

Sometimes eagles and falcon can be seen in the area, but it seems like we will not be seeing any.

After driving through the desert, we will head back to the rendezvous point at Kfar HaNokdim. We will change oer to a nother tiul now. We can choose between an actual hike into the desert or a camel/donkey ride into the desert.

We will choose the camel/donkey ride, because we have to wait for the other groups to come back to start the walkign hike, while the camel group is departing right now.

Everybody, hop onto your donkeys and climb onto your camels.

We are now riding through desert on donkey back/camel back. I am not sure how this poor donkey carrys my weight. It is definitely not what he signed up for when he took this job. A number of times it feels like he is collpasing, particularly on declines.
At the midway point of the trip, we swicth between donkeys and camels, so I will now be on a camel. This is like riding an SUV compared to riding the donkey. You are much higher off the ground. The camel behind me has been acting up a bit and is getting some people nervous....

I notice that among the three Arabs leading our group through the desert, two are wearing sandals and one is wearing Crocs. Who would have thought that they would have made inroads even into this market, deep in the desert!! The Arab tells me, that the Crocs have the benefit of being so light you hardly feel them. But in general, he says, sandals are better. With the Crocs, every rock and thorn goes right through them into the foot. The sandals are more durable and hardy.

We head back to the village. On a steep incline, the crazy camel behnid me loses his footing and falls down on his front legs (actually arms). The rider gets pretty nervous. After some promptig from the Arabs, the camel gets back up and continues on his way.

We get back to the village and it is time for drinks and rest until dinner. There is an archery station to pass the time, along with backgammon boards for playing and matresses to lay down on.

It seems like I am not very good at archery. I would blame the lopsided set of arrows and partially broken bows, but some other people seem to be shooting pretty well, so my poor aim is probably my fault.

Mincha services are followed by dinner in the Bedouin tent. Dinner is catered by a caterer brought down from Beer Sheva. Dinner begins with a detauiled description of Bedoouin life by the head Bedouin of the Bedouin Tent. The Bedouin life seems very interesting. I especially like sitting at the low table on a low couch.

We will now head back to home. To save some time we will drive back through the Southern Hebron Hills. I would describe them for you but it is already dark outside so i cannot see anything out the window... and I am falling asleep...zzzzzzzzz

Thanks for joining me no this edition of Touring Eretz Yisrael. Hopefully I will be able to take you on more tours of other parts of Eretz Yisrael...

May 10, 2007

4 more amos in Eretz Yisrael

Today was company tiyul day. That is why I was n ot able to post at all. I just got home (very late).

Post to follow, probably tomorrow when I can keep my eyes open....

May 9, 2007

fouled up sign of the day

I was in shul tonight and saw this sign hanging on the wall...

Half Price
Custom European
Sheitel Sale
Tonight 9:30
call 123-4567
if interested.
Normally $2000
for $500.
Somebody selling wigs needs to double check his math....

things that make you go hmmmmm

This blurb is on the Breaking News of Haaretz:
Peretz: Incident of soldiers beating left-wing activists will be investigated (Haaretz)

It seems some left-wing protestors were trying to block roads near Hebron and disturb checkpoints. The soldiers tried to break things up and clear the area and things got violent, as they often do in these situations. Some left-wingers must have gotten their heads busted.

So Amir Peretz announces he has to investigate the incident.

Funny, but I do not remember him, or any other minister, saying any such thing such as a need for an investigation any of the multiple times right wing activists or settlers get beaten by soldiers or police. I do not remember hearing any such statement from either Peretz or Dichter (Minister of Internal Security) when the students got (and are still getting) their heads beaten in during their protests this past week.

Only left-wing protests cause an uproar when they get violent? What is different about left-wing protests than right-wing protests?

Things that make you go "hmmmmm...."

Bush reminds the Queen of rebellion (video)

President Bush has been host to Queen Elizabeth of England the past couple of days. It seems yesterday he had foot in mouth disease and reminded the queen of the colonial rebellion against the UK that led to statehood for the US in 1776, even saying she was there. It is pretty funny. Hail to the Chief!!

a new lease on life

I saw this article (more or less) in the newspaper this morning on the way to work. The article I saw actually said the guy was suing, while the link says he is considering suing.

Anyway, the story goes that this guy in England was diagnosed with serious pancreatic cancer. It was decided that he was terminal and he was told he would not live out the year.

The guy decided to live his life as if every day would be his last, as he had good reason to believe it would be. He dipped into and spent all his savings, figuring he would not need them for much longer anyway. As he spent his last pennies, he realized he has already outlived expectations. Turns out he does not have cancer after all and the "tumor" was just an inflammation.

Oops. Sorry, sir. We misdiagnosed you. You will live after all.

What would you do? A sigh of relief would probably be in order. Maybe even a whoop of joy.

This guy, John, decided to sue the hospital if he cannot come to an agreement first.

Considering he spent all his money and has nothing to live with based on their error and misdiagnosis, he figures they should be responsible for the fact that he spent all his money, and they should cough up some dough.

He probably does not deserve anything. How he chooses to live out his days and spend his kids inheritance is his own problem. Maybe he should have been more responsible. Maybe look for treatment by other methods or other doctors. It is nothing new that doctors are sometimes wrong. Maybe he should have considered saving some just in case.

The doctors should settle with him and offer to kill him since that is what he was hoping for anyway... :-) He seems kind of upset and disappointed that he is going to live.

I have since seen this discussed by A Bisele Babka and DaBoysof905.

My car keeps shabbos!!

My car keeps shabbos! That is the new way I can describe my car.

"New?" you ask. What is the old?

The old description is "my car was drafted to the army". But that is for another post.

So what is this new thing about my car keeping shabbos?

Shas MK Yehuda Margi is proposing a new law that would require car owners to not use their car one day of each week and let it sit idle. The car owner would choose which day of the week the car would sit idle. The owner would register his car for the specific day, would stick a registration sticker on his windshield stating which day is his car's "day of rest" and life goes on.

Of course that means on that day the driver would not be allowed to drive his car. He would get a hefty fine if caught driving on his chosen day.

The idea of it is to cut down on energy waste, traffic accidents and air pollution.

The precedent for this is after the Yom Kippur war a similar system was instituted to save on fuel consumption, due to the energy crisis at the time.

So, if I had to choose a day, I would choose shabbos, Saturday, and then I could officially say, "My car keeps shabbos".

If they really want to give incentive for people to stop driving one day a week, he should give some sort of reduction in the car taxes. We find this commonly among insurance providers who offer a discount for people who do not drive on shabbos, because the car is off the road one day a week. We find it on cellphone deals, and in other service providing fields as well. A deduction in the taxes and registration fees would be a nice addition to this law.

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