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Aug 30, 2007

get your shoes off the table

I was on the train last night going home from work. 2 brothers were sitting in the set of seats across from me. They had their shoes off and their feet up on the seats.

On the train when you have your feet on the seats, the ushers who walk up and down the length of the train tell you to put your feet down. If you do not have your shoes on they do not bother you.

These 2 guys (in their late teens I think) had their socked feet on the seats and they had placed their (clean) shoes up on the table.

The usher walked by and told them to take their shoes off the table. They did so immediately and began chatting with the usher about him telling them to do so.

The usher explained that a) they would not do that at home so why would they think it is ok to do so on the train and b) a table is like a mizbeiach (altar) and is inappropriate to treat in that fashion.

NOTE: the usher was a secular/traditional Israeli, not wearing a kippa and he unabashedly gave a very Jewish explanation to two secular teenage kids who were doing something wrong..

Aug 29, 2007

the wealthiest dog in the world

Leona Helmsley, who died last week, has left $12 million to her dog, Trouble.

She left $5 million to each of two grandchildren on condition they visit their fathers grave once a year. To her two other grandchildren she left nothing (for reasons known to them).

That dog, Trouble, must have been a pretty good friend to her. I wonder what a dog will do with so much money... hmmmmm

(this qualifies for this blog because Leona Helmsley was Jewish)

The Floods? (video)

(HatTip: The Muqata)

innovative solution to save the IBA

Channel 1 of the Israel Broadcasting Authority has been in trouble for a long time. They have been having financial issues and have barely stayed alive. There is constantly talk about cancelling the station.

Anybody who owns a television in Israel is obligated to pay a television tax. This tax is meant to be funding the government controlled Station 1.

I just saw this notice in the newspaper regarding the station:

For the first time since the establishment of Channel 1, there will be a Hachnassat Sefer Torah at the shul of the station in Tel Aviv. The ceremony will be attended by the CEO of the station, along with Rav Yitzchak Batzri - son of the famed mystic Rav David Batzri.

One of the employees said, "This is a segulah to try to save the station." "Only a week and a half ago the employees went up to at graves of righteous for parnassah. Immediately afterwards we all received our salaries. I hope this time as well it will bring good fortune."

Ever wonder where the money you pay for the TV Tax goes? You thought it went towards broadcasting and developing good programming? Now you know it goes to segulahs and sifrei torah.

If anything can save them, it is the sefer Torah. But somehow I doubt the sefer torah is going to save a television station.

And you can even look at this as an "Only in Israel" story... even the employees of Station 1, which is known to be fairly left wing and not favorable to the religious, look for segulahs and resort to Jewish solutions to solve their problems...

Aug 28, 2007

Rav Ovadia Yosef's speech (video)

Here is the drasha that caused the stir. Rav Ovadia Yosef has an accent that is very hard to understand, but I can follow a lot of it. The "controversial" starts at around minute 51 in the video (it is altogether an hour and 13 minutes long), and he talks about it for a couple of minutes.

BTW, for those who are explaining his words to be referring back to biblical times (i.e. soldiers then who were irreligious would die, not nowadays) are wrong because he is clearly talking about nowadays, and he even sighs and makes it clear how it disturbs him that that is the situation and how he wishes everyone would do tshuva and pray and keep mitzvos, etc (in the 53rd minute)...

Some are talking about his hatred for the secular, and the like. I do not hear that in his speech. He is not talking fire and brimstone and giving rebuke. I hear how it disturbs him and he wishes it to be a better situation. I just do not understand what he is saying because of the questions I have that I posted yesterday.

officer got lost in Jenin (video)

Yesterday we heard about the IDF officer who got lost and ended up in Jenin in front of a mob . The PA police prevented the mob from killing him and they got him out safely. Here is a video of part of the incident...

Rabbis are pro cellphone jamming

A number of Rabbonim from England approached Rav Wosner to ask for a signed letter prohibiting the use of a cellphone in shul. They were looking to take it up a step, rather than just leave it as a recommendation against or just a bad concept. They wanted to make it assur.

During the discussion someone suggested that they put cellphone jammers in the shuls. The idea caught on and was brought before a number of other gedolim in order to obtain a consensus to have permission to place such devices in shuls. Rabbis Wosner, Shteinman and Lefkowitz signed the "kol kore" decree urging gabbaim in shuls around the world to install such jammers in their shuls to prevent the use of cellphones during services.

I think it is a great idea, as we are all aware of the disturbance caused by people talkign on cellphones during services. Even if they do not talk, someone inadvertently forgets to turn his off or on silent mode and it rings during services. Even if he does not answer it and turns it off then, it has made the disturbance.

I am not sure as to the legal ramifications. I know in Israel it is illegal to have such a device. Maybe a shul will be able to get special permission (through political connections) from the Defense Ministry to install such jammers.

a kinky segulah

I have heard a lot of segulahs, but this one is new to me.

There is a famous segulah attributed to Rav Chaim Kanievsky that goes like this: if a baby is breech (at a late stage in pregnancy), one should look through the seforim in the house and see if any are placed upside down. If there are some, turn them upside right and the baby will flip over as well.

That one I have heard before. I only mention it here because it was told to me today at the same time as the one I am about to tell you.

This one is wild. It has been attributed to Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fisher zt"l. He was known for recommending segulahs of all types, along with many other great qualities he was known for. He (supposedly) said regarding a breech baby: the husband and wife have to stroll down to Lifta (a natural spring at the entrance to Jerusalem) or Moza (the site of another natural spring, just outside Jerusalem) -

Note: I assume this means any natural spring would work, but he mentioned those two. Or maybe he was specific to these two, so do not hold me responsible if you try it elsewhere and it does not work.

the husband then have to get some spring water into your mouth and put it directly into the wife's mouth.. 3 times! I think she has to drink the water, but the person telling me was not clear on that..

according to R' Fisher - if that doesn't work the baby wasn't meant to turn... and it is dangerous for it to turn.. (hmmm...that means it is not the segulah not working, but it was not meant to be. so you never know if the segulah really works or not.)

Hava Nagila (video)

Hava Nagila, played by Andre Riuo, master violinist, at the Royal Albert Hall..

(HT: somebody on areivim)

Aug 27, 2007

yesterday's shchita

I was going to write a post describing yesterday's shchita with more pictures, but I have written such posts in the past, and how different can it be anyway, unless something goes wrong.

If you want me to put up some gory pictures and a description, write so in the comments...


I could just put up the old pictures from previous shchitas, and you guys would never know. the pics look pretty similar to the old ones. A cow with its head hanging off looks the same in August as it did in March (or whenever the previous one was). But you asked for it, you got it.

My 10 year old son accompanied me this time and took most of the pictures....

this weeks outrageous statement by ROY

This weeks Saturday night drasha by Rav Ovadia Yosef is creating quite a stir...as happens fairly frequently.

Rav Ovadia is a fairly "charif" (spicy) rav and he often says sharp things in his weekly drasha. The media is always there waiting to here some spicy quote. Sometimes they take it out of context, but they often share with the rest of us who were not there what he had to say that week.

This week, Rav Ovadia said that the soldiers of the IDF die because "they do not keep the Torah, they do not keep mitzvos, they do not keep shabbos, they do not daven daily, they do not put on tefillin, so is it a surprise that they die? If they repent they will all live good peaceful lives."

Rav Yosef also compared the army to the armies of Israel of old and said that "the armies of yore were armies of tzaddikim and God-fearing men. Anybody who was not such a person was sent home from the army.."

He concluded that "when soldiers are believers and daven, Hashem helps them in battle. They do not get killed. One needs to be clean (spiritually I guess) to go to war."

I am not nearly as close to God's ear as Rav Ovadia Yosef is, so he probably has more of a right to speak in God's name than I do. However, I do find the statement problematic.

First of all, what about religious soldiers who die? How does he explain their deaths based on his theory? Many parents of religious soldiers are outraged by Rav Yosef's statements. One parent said, "I invite Rav Yosef to light a memorial candle on my son's, Yoni's, grave. Yoni was an alumnus of a yeshiva, donned tefillin, kept shabbos, davened daily, kept mitzvos."

Second, what about all the deaths (not army related) in the religious world? Recently we had the summer vacation and there were numerous deaths of yeshiva students on tiyulim or in car accidents. The chareidi newspapers eulogized all those young men with descriptions of how they were the best boys in yeshiva and were righteous and dedicated to the Torah, etc. Were the papers not telling the true story? Were these students really heathens? maybe in public they lived the lives of tzaddikkim but in private they transgressed everything? I would not want to cast doubt on the lives of the poor souls who died, but how would Rav Yosef explain their deaths?

Third, if the Jewish army is best prepared for battle when the soldiers are religious and God fearing and righteous, etc., then what right do the religious parties have to push for deferments/exemptions from the army for the yeshiva students? They should be forcing them to go to the army because they are the only ones who can protect Israel!

Fourth, the deferments the chareidi world get from the army are based on the idea that "by our learning Torah we are protecting the soldiers and all of Israel, better than if we would be in the IDF." What happened to the protection from the yeshiva boys? If these soldiers are dieing because of their not being religious enough, shouldn't the yeshiva boys Torah study be protecting them?

While it might not be my place to criticize Rav Ovadia Yosef, I would like some clarification as to the points above as to how that fits in to his theories...

Baby, say Amen! (video)

Today's cultural post...

Aug 23, 2007

seeing the real person

The Maggid has a great story for this weeks parsha. Enjoy...

taxis and shabbos

Rabbi Lazer Brody has an amazing Only in Israel story. Check it out!

Leviev, Coke and Chabad

You know the old saying, "Wherever there is Coca Cola there is Chabad"?

That now needs to be adjusted.

Lev Leviev, the owner and manager of Africa-Israel, has been spreading his wings around the globe. He is now entering the Central American markets. he has begun buying up real estate in Panama City, and he says he plans to expand further in Central and South America.

So, as the saying goes, "Wherever there is Coca Cola there is Chabad and Lev Leviev."

Way to go! Hatzlacha!

beautiful women

I was hesitant to put this in the Torah Thoughts blog, so here it is.

Parshat Ki Seitzei

In this weeks parsha we have the Torah allowing us in battle to take the "captive woman" as a wife. The Torah gives some of the technical details of how he has to make her spend a month looking decrepit, such as letting her nails grow, shaving her head, crying over her family in the entrance of the house, etc.

Rashi says She should look ugly with all this crying so that he will look at her and compare her to the Jewish girl and see how the Jewish women make themselves beautiful and "made up" and this man will then likely abandon the captive woman and marry a Jewish woman.

We see from this Rashi that Jewish women are supposed to beautify themselves so Jewish men will be attracted to them and not be swayed by foreign beauty.

In many frum communities, we have developed the style that girls/women should not dress attractively. They think that by doing so it is not tzniusdig and is therefore inappropriate. So they dress bland and frumpy and shlubby.

Yet the Torah here tells us that Jewish women are meant to be beautiful and to appear beautiful. By doing so, they keep the Jewish men attracted to them rather than to others.

The Diet Song (video)

Lipa singing the Diet song.

Aug 22, 2007

the secret to a long life

This week a man named Avraham Gershkowitz passed away in Ramat Gan. He died at the ripe old age of 105 years old.

You know how whenever they find a real old person they ask him/her what the secret of their longevity is? You know how these old people always give answers like a glass of milk a day, or no smoking, or eating broccoli or no alcohol or boring stuff like that that make you unsure of whether it is actually worth living that long if you have to give up all those bad things?

You know what I'm talking about, right?

Well, they asked (before he died) Gershkowitz what the secret to his longevity is.

He did not say going to shul every day (as the study that recently came out suggests). He did not say a glass of milk or veggies or brussel sprouts (but those are veggies). He did not say to stay away from shady tattoo parlors with unsterilized needles, nor did he say to avoid hard liquors.

Fatty red meat. A glass of beer. The secret to a long life. He said eating fatty red meat and drinking beer was the secret to his long life. Someone who lives well, will live long.

Who woulda thunk it?

Israeli coffee shop in Arab country?

At a hospital in Jeddah, they ran out of paper cups. They got a new package from the supply room. To their dismay, the cups had Hebrew lettering on it.

They did not know it, but those Hebrew letters spell "Aroma" which is a very popular coffee shop chain in Israel.

"“We were shocked and angry,” said an employee. “How can Israeli products be allowed and how did they enter this hospital?” he asked."

wanna earn $3000????

Do you live in Israel? Do you have any use for $3000?

Nefesh B'Nefesh is the organization that has promoted aliya to Jews in America. They have facilitated the aliya of thousands. They do great work and are always looking for new marketing projects to seel aliya.

Nefesh B'Nefesh is now running a contest. The prize to the winner is $3000. The contest is to make a one minute video showing what is unique about living in Israel. The best submission will be the winner of the $3000 booty.

See NBN for details.

Facebook reveals all

I joined Facebook a little while back. A number of friends had urged me too and I finally acquiesced.

For a couple of weeks I had no idea what the point of it was or what I was supposed to do with it. Now, I pretty much find it to be just another method of sending friends messages and stuff.

Yesterday (August 21) was my birthday. The only people who found out, were those registered as my friends on Facebook. That is because Facebook has this nifty (yes, I just used the word nifty) feature that it tells all your friends when your birthday is coming. That way, you get flooded with messages wishing you a happy birthday. (thank you all for your kind wishes)

The thing is, yesterday was my English birthday. I celebrate my Hebrew birthday, which falls out this Shabbos. I do so despite the fact that I still think of the English one first.

The only thing is Facebook only has English dates, and no Hebrew dates, so I am registered there with my birthday being August 21 instead of 11 Elul.

That's all fine.

I do wonder though when the day will come when that will change.

Until very recently (like, last week I think), I could not verify my Facebook account. I did not really care, but it was a slight inconvenience. Every time I wanted to send someone a message on Facebook, I had to type in some word verification code that was nearly impossible to read. I could not verify my account to get rid of those codes, because I live outside of the United States.

Lo and behold, last week I get a message from Facebook that they can now do international account verification.

The day will soon come, I am sure, where they will work with other calendars and dating systems as well.

tidbits from the news


1. The holocaust survivors funding issue: I do not understand what this is all about. Why should they get special funding? Do they have special needs?
I do not mean to sound cruel, but this seems to be a wholly emotional issue. They want money and the government feels bad saying no to them because they survived the holocaust. The general public supports the survivors because we feel bad for them.

But on what basis do they deserve or require this money? Many get funding from other sources anyway. Why should they be different from any old person who has no source of income and needs funding? Maybe they should be talking about increasing the pensioners funding and old age stipends. Why do they deserve special funding? Do they have special needs? therapies or medicines that they still need that regular elderly people do not need?

I see no reason, unless someone can explain it to me, why these survivors deserve this extra special funding.

2. For the first time, a member of Olmert's coalition government went too visit the ruins of Homesh and visit with the "squatters" (for lack of a better word) who have settled themselves in the ruins with the intent of eventually rebuilding the village.

MK Amaslem, a member of the Shas party, went with MK Uri Ariel (from the National Union party), to visit Homesh. Amaslem said at the site that he says in these people dedication and persistence and that will lead to positive results [of rebuilding Homesh].

I can't wait to see how upset Olmert gets at Shas for this event.

3. Major General Yitzchak Gershon, head of Pikud Ha'Oref (Home Front Command) today said that there is no total solution for protection from Kassam rockets.

Hey, Gershon, how about at least a partial solution? So far no building have been fortified, despite the promises of the Prime Minister. It was just announced that schools will open despite their not having been fortified, contrary to the promises of Ehud Olmert. Hospitals have not yet been fortified. etc.

Today a day care center was hit by a Kassam (it was empty at the time).

How about a partial solution? After that we can worry about a total solution.

4. Still no word on any progress on the retrieval of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit (or any of the older MIA's). Actually, now that I think of it, we have not heard anything about any of them for a while. Hopefully quiet contacts, and progress, are being made. But I doubt it.

5. The investigation into Olmert's corruption is going to break soon. It is back in the news, with various involved people making statements about how serious the case really is. They say there will be announcements in the near future as to how to proceed, regarding formally opening an investigation into Olmert or not. If they do it spells trouble for Olmert, because that means that they will have found out incriminating evidence against him. Once they open a formal investigation, there is no going back.

Aug 21, 2007

Do you agree?

In this past weeks Torah Tidbits, they wrote,

"Been thinking of different ways to present the following or possibly not even presenting it. let's do it straight.

I was greatly upset to see the falafel stores on King George corner Agrippas open on Tisha b'Av. Including Leil Tisha b'Av! (One of the two; both were open during the day.) My challenge to them was met with "talk to the Baal HaBayit". I went a step higher - I called the hashgacha people who give them their mehadrin supervision. Thought they might not have known. They knew. They even gave their permission, with the following reason: People who eat on Tisha B'Av would probably eat in less kosher or non-kosher places if these places wouldn't be available.

My opinion: Restaurants should not be open on Tisha b'Av. Hashgachot should be removed from places that flaunt this rule. (And I think people who want falafel in that area of town should buy at MAOZ on King George, who stays closed on Tisha b'Av.) --Phil (personal)

What say you?"

I do not know if restaurants should be open or not on Tisha b'Av. I have a feeling they should not be, but there is no actual issur and at worst it is d'rabbanan to eat on tisha b'av.

What I do not understand is this - every year coime tisha b'av we hear complaints from the frum, be it the politicians or the askanim or the rabbonim or the frum media, about all the coffee shops open in Tel Aviv and the people who go out to eat and ignore the fact that it is Tisha b'Av.

And it is sad that people do not recognize the seriousness of the day, even if just on a cultural and historical level if not on a halachic level.

Yet, we hear all these complaints from the frum community. We hear from the politicians how they are going to enforce this law or that law about the restaurants being closed and we get shown pictures in the frum papers of people sitting in the coffee shops of Sheinkin Street or Dizengoff Square.

Phil's letter tells us that the frum community allows this to happen. How can we complain about what is going on when we are assisting them? I would be hesitant to call it mesayeia l'dvar aveira, but it can't be too far off from that.

How can we complain that the secular are so insensitive to Jewish history as they sit eating their steaks or drinking their espressos, while we then offer them mehadrin hechsherim for their restaurants?

Is it all just money - we complain about them but since they do it anyway we will be happy to take their money?

And what does that mean, "People who eat on Tisha B'Av would probably eat in less kosher or non-kosher places if these places wouldn't be available."? Does that really justify it? What about giving hechsherim to restaurants open on shabbos - they would be eating anyways, so maybe we should make sure they are at least eating kosher and even mehadrin!! (oh yeah, shabbos is assur d'oraisa, but we can get around that by having payment by credit and a goy cooking and all sorts of solutions to make it only d'rabbonon).

Should we really be concerned about them eating mehadrin when they are doing so on Tisha b'Av? What can possibly be mehadrin about food eaten on tisha b'av anyway?

If a restaurant wants to be open on tisha b'av, that is sad but that is part of life. Not everybody is religious and not everybody follows the rules of tisha b'av. But do we have to help them by giving them mehadrin hechsherim?

What say you?

Double your Mitzva

Shirat HaYam was a beautiful seaside village in the Gish Katif area. It was a central part of the disengagement as anti-disengagement protesters gathered there by the hundreds to stage a standoff. Eventually Shirat HaYam was evacuated like the rest of the Gush.

The people of Shirat HaYam have been promised a permanent home. A community is supposed to be built for them in the Jordan Valley. Until that actually happens, they have moved around a number of times.

Where they are living now they have no synagogue. Innovative as they are, they have come up with an interesting fundraising program, called "Double Your Mitzva".

Basically the idea is that as you now renew your synagogue annual membership and/or purchase seats for the High Holidays/Yamim Noraim, you can have your synagogue double the donation and they will get the proceeds, which will help them build their synagogue, giving them a place to pray during the upcoming holidays.

Read up on it for more info...

Aug 20, 2007

We win! We Win! We Win!

Baseball. In Israel. The Championship game.

A guy from Chicago at a championship baseball game!!

I finally broke down and went to a game of the Israel Baseball League. And it was not just any game. It was the Championship game.

The championship game was between the top 2 teams - the Modiin Miracle and the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox. Not only were these the top two teams in the league, but they were also the most popular. The fans in these respective cities really adopted their teams and came to the games in droves to cheer them on. It must have helped because these are the two teams that came out on top, with the Blue Sox in first place the entire season.

It was a very exciting atmosphere. They estimated 4000 in attendance. The place was packed. It was noisy. It was a beautiful evening for baseball. The two teams were well matched, each with ace pitchers taking the mound.

I do not remember the names, and I do not feel like looking them up right now, but Modiin's pitcher was a Dominican fireballer who throws 97 mph.

The teams warmed up before the game to the cheers of their fans.
Here you can see the great Art Chomsky from the 1969 Mets, pre-game, preparing for the game as coach of the Modiin Miracle. I did not get a good picture of Ron Blomberg, former World Series NY Yankee coaching the Blue Sox, here is also one of the IBL Commissioner Dan Kurtzer.

Here is my friend Jeff Mor from the Blue Sox signing autographs before the game. He told me that 4 of the guys on his team have tryouts this summer with the NY Yankees, because of their great play this summer in the IBL.The game was fabulous. The pitchers were both great, the Blue Sox were able to scrape out three runs over 9 innings. Generally games are 7 innings but the Championship game was 9 innings. The pitcher for the Blue Sox threw a complete game shutout wining the game 3-0. There were some great plays in the game, a few nice hits, some diving catches, great pitching, exciting fans, and an electric atmosphere.

2 rows behind me was sitting the great Lenny Solomon, of Shlock Rock fame. He wanted to do the play by play, for himself, so he brought his own recorder, as you can see a Fisher Price model and spent much of the game recording his version of the Play by Play commentary.

Here is a great costume of a fan that was sitting next to me. It is a baseball mask with blue sox hanging from it.

And after the game there was a celebration for the team. The fans dfid not break out into the field. There was an on field ceremony after a lot of cheering. Awards were given out. After the ceremony the teams thanked the fans for their support during the season. Then a number of the players came to the fence and threw over various items for the fans to grab. they threw things ranging from balls to batting gloves to shoes to pants to shirts, etc.

Opening day for the 2008 is scheduled for June 29, 2008. be there.

Serving his Jewish Country

Read the interesting story and emotions of parents (mine) of a volunteer IDF soldier (my brother), as printed in the Chicago Jewish News.

There are some minor inaccuracies in the article, but overall it is well-written. The inaccuracies do not really change anything in the story....

Aug 19, 2007

Adventures in Eretz Yisrael: Kfar Maimon

Kfar Maimon.

A little village south of Sderot very close to the Gaza border.

The location of the three day protest 2 years ago. The big one. The one with 50,000 people camping out in every available spot in Kfar Maimon waiting to make the move into Gaza to thwart the disengagement.

I went back to Kfar Maimon this past Friday. Not for anythign so dramatic as the protest that took place 2 years ago. A friend of mine was sitting shiva in Kfar Maimon. He grew up there and his parents still lived there. His father died and he was sitting shiva. I went Friday morning to pay a shiva call.

I was joking around with people, and I told my friend, that I would have to leave extra early to get there (it is about an hour and a quarter drive from where I live) because I only know the way cutting through the fields.

2 years ago, the Yesha Council called for a protest against the disengagement. They decided to make a big one and they made a three day protest that was meant to culminate in a mass move on the Gaza border.

The government tried to limit the numbers of people who could go and participate in the protest. So they declared the whole area a closed military zone. They only partially enforced it though. They did not let anybody openly go to Kfar Maimon or anywhere near the border with Gaza. However, they mostly turned a blind eye to people going when they went via alternative routes. By alternative routes I mean driving or hiking through the surrounding fields.

I went with a group of guys down for the third of the three day protest. We had a fearless driver with a "company car". After being turned away on a number of routes, we drove through a number of fields until we finally made it to Kfar Maimon.

What happened happened and what did not happen did not happen. That is history.

So my joke was that the only way I know to get to Kfar Maimon is via the fields and not via the roads, so I would need some extra time to get there...

Going there on Friday was a totally different experience.

2 years ago the place was a wreck. People were covering every inch of the little settlement. Local residents gave up everything of themselves and their lives for three days to spearhead the protest against the disengagement. The aesthetics of the yishuv had been destroyed by the masses of people sleeping everywhere and hanging out and eating, etc. The authorities had limited the entry of basic necessities, so there had been no garbage collection for a number of days. You can imagine the havoc an additional 50,000 people would cause to a sleepy town of 200 or so people.

Now it is just a sleepy, quiet village with working people. They work in the fields and as educators. It is a simple place with simple, salt of the earth people. The place is quiet and clean.

It must have taken them a long time to clean the place up when it was all over and get back to living their lives again normally.

Kfar Maimon placed a marker stone at the entrance to the settlement to commemorate the historic event. The marker tells, briefly, of the events of 2 years ago.

Aug 17, 2007

JPIX #14

Before I begin let me start off with saying thanks to Mr. Bagel who is the founder and manager of the J pix carnival.

And now, after the brief word for our sponsor, on to the carnival.

me-ander stays home for her vacations. Take a look and see why she has no need to go anywhere...

me-ander takes us on a tour of the Machane Yehuda shuk - it is more than just fruits and veggies!!

David from Temunot also went to Machane Yehuda and shows us some trays of really delectable looking goodies!

David also took advantage of his being in Israel to visit the Beit Hamikdash. I must have missed some big new stories while I was on vacation!!!

Dave Bender gives us a pic of Jerusalem at night in time for Elul..

David is really seeing all the sights! He went to Chevron and saw the memorial for Shalhevet Pass, the baby who was murdered in her baby carriage by an Arab terrorist.

A Simple Jew presents his black and white picture of the week...of Dogwood in July.

me-ander went to New York!! I thought she only stays on Shiloh... hmmmmmm

Simply Jews caught this cool looking critter on his camera...

Batya went to the Museum of Jewish Heritage while she was in NY and she also went to Manhattan...

A Simple Jew has another b&w pic of the week...

Streets of Jerusalem brings us images of concerts in Sultan's Pools and then shows us a wonderland tucked in between some streets in Rechavia

and last but not least, muse went to a wedding dressed differently than everyon else....

Aug 16, 2007

we live in a backwards world

The head of Human Resources in the IDF, major general Elazar Stern, has been working towards finding a solution for the situation with the yeshiva boys and kollel members who currently have their army service deferred, but then they cannot go to work (even if they want to leave kollel and begin working) until they fulfill their army obligations, which because of societal pressures (and other reasons) is difficult for them to do.

Stern has been working towards a solution in which he would exempt completely any and every yeshiva student. Any yeshiva student or kollel member who wants to study in yeshiva would receive a full exemption from the army. That's right - an exemption - not a deferment. And if one day student x or y decides he does not want to continue in kollel but wants to go join the workforce, he would be able to do so without having to be concerned about any obligations to the army.

I am not sure how such a solution would work, as how would they justify exempting yeshiva boys and not others who want to do other things and not go to the army. And how would they ensure only those deserving would get the exemption rather than those who just ride along for the exemption and right away abuse it?

Regardless of my questions, I guess they would need to work out the details. In general, that is a solution Stern has been working on.

Stern approached the Minister of Communications Ariel Attias who is a member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party in an effort to get his and his parties support for his efforts.

One would think that the haredi parties would jump at such an offer. This is what they have always been looking for - a blanket exemption for their students from army service.

Surprisingly, Attias said he would recommend against supporting the proposal. Attias' reasoning was that the army is only looking to exempt these boys from the army in order to allow them to go out to work unhindered and unburdened by obligations to the army.

Attias said to Stern, "your concern is not really for the yeshiva boys. It is for the general workforce. This is really an attempt to allow more people into the workforce and weaken the ranks of those studying Torah (by making it easy for them to leave yeshiva, not just making it easy to stay in yeshiva). Of course the decision will be made by the gedolei yisrael, however we the representatives will recommend against this precedent to remove yeshiva boys from the world of Torah."

Stern said, so at least let's agree on the married avreichim, if not all yeshiva boys? For them it is more necessary as they have the burden of supporting a family and this will ease the transition of those who so wish to do so...

Attias' response was that someone who wants/needs to leave yeshiva and work to support his family, already finds a way to do so. This is not an attempt to help these men, but an attempt to weaken the ranks of those who study Torah.

One would think they would jump at such an offer, even if it really is being made with other intentions. They have always wanted exemptions from the army, and they always have to fight for deferments. I know plenty of people who have gotten exemptions by faking mental illnesses or whatnot, just so they do not need to be bothered with renewing deferments every year and with studying specifically in registered yeshivas and the like.

Aug 15, 2007

Feiglin's failure

Moshe Feiglin is the head of Manhigut Yehudit, which is a faction within the Likud party.

Moshe Feiglin pulled in an impressive 23% or so of the vote for leadership of the Likud. His percentage has gone up each in primary he has participated in. Last time he pulled down about 13% and this time he is up to 23%. Feiglin knows the road is a long one and he will not overturn the Likud in just a few years. As long as he keeps improving his support base, eventually he will reach the point where he will be victorius.

Feiglin's acheivment of 23% of the vote equals about 9000 votes. Some people, especially the hard core Feiglin supporters, are declaring this to be a serious achievement and even a victory of sorts.

This is how I see it. I am not someone who can crunch numbers like an accountant, but this is what I think. Manhigut Yehudit claims to have 9000 members, the overwhelming majority of which it brought into the Likud from outside.

The 23% he achieved is equal to about 9000 votes.

Clearly not everyone who is a member of Manhigut voted for Feiglin. Sure, MY voters are very disciplined and come out to vote in high numbers. I did not see any, official or unofficial, numbers posted as to internal Manhigut numbers, but I think we can safely assume that they had a turnout much greater than the general Likud turnout of 40%. Sure some people are abroad, some could not vote for personal reasons, etc. so not all 9000 members actually voted.

I will be generous and assume 80% of Manhigut members turned out and voted Feiglin. That is very generous. Also, there are plenty of people even in the Likud, who just do not like Bibi Netanyahu and would not vote for him no matter what. These might be supporters of Silvan Shalom or just general Likudniks who do not like Bibi. Those people probably voted Feiglin, even if just as a protest vote against Bibi.

Alll this means that sure Feiglin pulled in 23%, which in percentages alone is a great achievement. However, I think the percentage is so high just because the general turnout was so low. Feiglin really only pulled in his own members plus a few more.

This election shows that Feiglin's time has not yet come. He is not being successful at pulling in support from the general public. Here and there he might find a sympathetic person or someone who supports him, but overall he is not getting any support from outside his own people.

Unless he finds a way to change that, he will never be successful in his goals.

It might simply be PR. He is painted as an extremist. He is not necessarily clear enough when he talks about teaching Jewish values and tradition rather than establishing a "Halachic state" (people have told me they heard him say many times his goal is to teach Jewish values, tradition, culture, history, etc. but not create a halachic state, yet they do not understand how he differentiates). He might just need to find a better way of getting out his message.

I know Feiglin goes to lots of meetings. As a matter of fact he has said he will never turn down a community meeting in which he is asked to speak and present his views. As far as I can tell, when he goes to these meetings, he is likely "preaching to the choir". It is a crowd made up mostly of his supporters, who want a chance to meet him and ask questions.

So sure he goes out to meet the people, but maybe he is only meeting his own people in different settings. Maybe he is not really meeting the general public.

Feiglin has succeeded in one thing. That is, he has brought the issues of Jewish values and education to the forefront of the discussion. He gets interviewed in mainstream media and writes articles in newspapers and these issues he raises get discussed. But that is not enough. If he really has the goal of winning this thing eventually, he has to look for more general support, and not just the people he brings in from the outside from other fringe parties.

As of right now, Moshe Feiglin, in my opinion, is not even close to achieving his goals. He is not even on the right path. This primaries was the outing of Moshe Feiglin's failure.

Olmert is against having another disengagement

or is he?

As a result of the recent bankruptcy of a major construction company, Heftziba, many people who bought apartments in projects being built by Heftziba have moved into their partially built apartments as a form of squatting in an attempt to lay claim to their apartments and possibly have preference in the courts over other debtors.

Without discussing the whole Heftziba issue right now, I just want to get into one aspect of it.

The problem with these residents squatting is in many Heftziba projects, including Beitar Illit, Bet Shemesh, and Modiin Ilit. The Heftziba project of of Modiin Ilit has a unique problem though.

The project of Modiin Ilit is being built upon "disputed land". Peace Now petitioned the High Court to force Heftziba to stop building there becase, they claimed, the land being built upon is owned by Palestinians and the whole neighborhood is illegal.

After the bankruptcy broke and the squatters entered the apartments, the courts were asked to allow evacuation of the squatters. The courts decided there was no need to force an immediate evacuation and they preferred to wait it out and see how the bankruptcy proceeds. A decision will be made at a later time about the squatters, and about the squatters in all the various projects.

The State does not really want to get involved in evicting these squatters. On Monday the court ruled, due to a petition, that the State is allowed remove the squatters (of the Modiin Ilit project only). The State petitioned the court asking whether it is obligated to or whether they are allowed to.

It seems that State is against having another disengagement. They must have decided after Amona, Gush Katif, Homesh, Hebron's house, and others, that this is not the way to go.

Or is it only because the residents in question are haredim living in a haredi neighborhood that the State does not want to remove them from these houses built on Palestinian land? Because they don't want to start up with the Haredi parties that are much more organized and committed than the settler parties?


silly fundraising letter

I recently gave a small donation to a local charity for which I just received a thank you note. The charity in question is a sub-division of a larger charity in which I donate to fairly regularly.

I remember the specific donation. I had made a donation to the parent charity and the next day (I assume by chance - I think they were just going around the neighborhood) someone showed up at my door for this new charity. They explained to me it is specifically for dealing with giving clothing to the needy and they are a sub-division of local charity x.

I said I just gave them a donation yesterday so I will only give you something small. I had 20 shekel in my pocket and gave it to him.

I just received a very nice letter and I would never have expected it for a small 20 shekel donation, let alone one that I gave in cash.

What's funny about it though is not the fact that I got a letter thanking me for a 20 shekel donation. What is funny is the text of the letter.

"Dear Mr. Rafi G shlita,

On behalf of the hundreds of families who merited to benefit from your donation and received vouchers for basic clothing towards the yomim tovim and the summer.

Please accept our heartfelt thanks for your kind contribution of 20 shekels.

The donation was distributed 100% to the needy. etc. etc. etc.

(The letter was sponsored by company y)"

If my measly 20 nis donation helped hundreds of families buy basic clothing, they must have bought about a quarter of a sock, if that much, for each family. They really spread out the donations!!!

jpix 14 is coming up...

I will be hosting this week's edition of jpix #14... send in your submissions either to me by email - israeli.jew at gmail dot com or via the blogcarnival submission page....

Aug 14, 2007

the train is keeping shmitta l'chumroh

intriguing title, isn't it?

It does not refer to the various "flower gardens" in front of the train stations that need to be watered, though I hope it includes that as well.

It was reported in the Mishpacha newspaper that officials from Rakevet Yisrael (the train authority) have agreed to coordinate their work and activities with Rabbonim and Poskei Halacha. Specifically the work being done on the light rail system in Jerusalem. Some people were concerned that the construction of the light rail system includes landscaping and digging of land. The concern is that this work be done in a way that violates the rules of shmitta.

They arranged a meeting between the heads of the train authority, the mayor and a group of Rabbonim led by Rav Efrati, one of the men considered THE expert on mitzvos of the land (in which shmitta is included).

They met and came to an agreement that all landscaping and digging would be done in coordination and consultation with this group of Rabbis who will bring all problematic issues for decision to rav Elyashiv.

So the train is now keeping shmitta la'mehadrin!

Sharon regularly avoided regular government procedure

The courts have decided that the State of Israel owes millionaire Nissim Gaon hundreds of thousands of shekels for a breach of "contract" by former Minister of Housing Ariel Sharon.

In 1991 Ariel Sharon, as Housing Minister (before he became Prime Minister), promised his friend Nissim Gaon that they would be approving development of housing in an area in the Negev. They agreed that Gaon would build 3000 housing units for the State. They never signed a contract, but Sharon made it clear that Gaon would be given the contract and the work would be approved.

Gaon, based on Sharon's promises, went out and hired staff and equipment and made plans. The construction never received the necessary approval of the Finance Ministry and the plans were killed.

Gaon sued the State based on the promises of a minister for the losses he incurred. He claimed, and the courts found in his favor, that the promise of a government minister is as good as a contract, and therefore there was a breach of contract.

Justice Drori decided that the testimony finds that Sharon gave a "clear message to Gaon that he should begin working immediately and not wait for formalities such as signed contracts."

It was also found that Sharon commonly would simply not sign contracts for work he ordered on behalf of the ministry. That was his modus operandi. "Sharon would open his window and say to the contractor (in negotiations) "Why do I not hear the sounds of your tractors and bulldozers - we agreed you would build so what are you waiting for?!"

Another witness, who was a functionary in the Housing Ministry at the time, testified that Sharon would commonly stop working with contractors who did not begin working immediately but waited for contracts.

I wonder if the State of Israel can sue the estate of Sharon for acting in such a negligent and undisciplined manner. How is it acceptable for a minister to hire contractors without a tender and promise them work in a manner that obligates the State even when the job is not approved? The normal method in goverance is a minister proposes a new project and the cabinet/government votes on whether to approve it or not. The courts are saying that Sharons promise was basically at the level that it was more important than actual government approval. I do not know why Sharon, or any minister, has a right to promise work that is really dependent on government approval.

Aug 13, 2007

Likud Primaries: supporting Feiglin

Tomorrow is the big day for the Likud. Tomorrow the Likud holds its primaries for leadership of the party. The candidates are front runner Bibi Netanyahu, Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon.

I am supporting Moshe Feiglin for leadership of the Likud.

Why am I supporting Feiglin? Many of you might think of Moshe Feiglin as an extremist, a Kahanist, a right wing fanatic, someone who wants to impose religion in the State of Israel, a supporter of a halachic state, etc. You will say I am supporting extremism and right wing fanaticism.

That is not true. The above descriptions are given to him by a media that rejects, and wants the public to reject, Moshe Feiglin's legitimacy.

Moshe Feiglin has no intentions for creating a halachic state. He has no desire to impose Jewish religion upon the secular citizens of Israel. He is not an extremist. He might be more right wing than some people like, but that does not disqualify him from anything, any more or less than someone more left-wing on the political spectrum.

Moshe Feiglin's desire and goal is to make Israel into a Jewish State based on Jewish goals and Jewish tradition. Most issues have nothing to do with that, such as his plan to pen the media to free broadcasting, in other words, anybody who wants a license to operate a radio station will get it. Not just the state controlled stations and left-wing stations (right now only one religious/semi right wing station is operating with a license) as has been the case until now.

Israel was founded with the purpose of being a Jewish State. Not just a democratic country in the Middle East open to anybody who wants using no specific culture. The country should be run with Jewish tradition and Jewish values at the forefront of all its decisions.

That does not mean he will force people to keep shabbos. Au contraire - Feiglin is against the shabbat laws. People, individuals, have the right to decide for themselves such things. But as a state, Jewish tradition and values must be at the forefront. Jewish values and history should be taught in all the schools.

If Jewish values are not the basis for Israel, than for what do we need Israel? It would just be another microcosm of America. We can have a better life in the real thing and pack up and go to the real USA. Forget Israel.

Israel should be based on Judaism. Moshe Feiglin is the only candidate who wants Judaism in Israel.

So why not support a religious party? Isn't that what they want? Feiglin has no chance anyways!

The religious parties never have had it in their agenda to lead the country. They are all sectoral. They all look at for their own small slice of life in Israel and worry about getting budgets for their constituents. That is important for those groups, but that does not put the Judaism and the faith back into Israel. We have even seen that to be the cause of much increased animosity towards the religious and religion.

Only Moshe Feiglin wants to put the Judaism back into Israel. Only Moshe Feiglin wants to lead and not just look out for his own neighborhood.

It is time we had a faith based leadership. We have tried all the rest. They are all drek. Each one is worse than the previous leader. One is more corrupt than the next. Without faith, without Judaism, they have all been leading us to the society of corruption, despair, defeat, failure that we see today. It is time for a faith based, and a Jewish based, leadership.

That is what Moshe Feiglin offers us. That is why I support Moshe Feiglin for leadership of the Likud. It is time for change.

When Ariel Sharon formed the Kadima party, he did so with great fanfare. Eventually he had his stroke and the Kadima party was taken over by Ehud Olmert. He led Kadima into the elections. I asked some friends why they were supporting Kadima, at the time.

They each responded that the old way clearly did not work and it was time to try something new. It was time for change. Kadima promised them change. Kadima promised them a new way.

Kadima was just another party being run by the same politicians who left other parties. Were they really offering something new or just the same old stuff packaged in a new logo? Clearly, in hindsight, they were offering nothing new.

If you want something new, packaging the old in a new wrapper is not the answer. It is time for something new. it is time for change. The old has been proven to not work. It is time for new, and Moshe Feiglin offers something new.

attack in the Old City on Friday (video)

On Friday there was a shooting attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. An Arab man attacked and grabbed the gun of a security gaurd. The security guard fought back and another security gaurd shot the terrorist.

At first the family of the terrorist claimed he was not involved and it was a mistake - ghe was not grabbing the gun, rather asking for a cigarette. The security gaurd attacked him for no reason. The police decided to release the video from security cameras. They clearly show the terrorist followuing the gaurds and attacking them. It was premeditated and clearly an attack. Now the family is claiming the videos are doctored to frame their kid and he had nothing to do with it.

Here is the video:

Aug 12, 2007

Minesweeper the movie (video)

Were you ever addicted to playing minesweeper during your bored moments in computer class? Than you will really enjoy Minesweeper..The Movie... see trailer below..

another interesting blog

Another interesting blog is "The Maggid of Bergenfield". He's always got interesting stories and somehow finds ways to connect them to the parsha....

interesting blog

If you are interested in the look and feel of modern day Jerusalem, check out this great blog called "Streets of Jerusalem" . He takes you on tours of different streets and neighborhoods of Jerusalem pointing out landmark buildings and the like. Worth taking a look.

Aug 11, 2007

getting back

We will be back up and running as normal any day now. I have a number of posts I am in the middle of. Some might be on events that you have already read about elsewhere - events that happened within the two weeks I was away, and then I will be back to current...

Be patient though, it might take a few days to gte back to normal - I have to get settled at work and home and get things back to schedule..

Aug 9, 2007

Vacation mode

This blog is now going into vacation mode. I will post, but possibly not as consistently as usual. It will depend on availability of computer, internet and time... check back for new posts below this..

Aug 5, 2007

don't kiss that mezuza

According to this article on Ynet, Conservative Rabbi Simcha Roth recommends against kissing mezuzas in public places (especially in hospitals). He deems it a danger (of contracting iruses and germs left by other people. I guess the rule of "sakanta chamira m'issura" - danger is worse than prohibition - would apply in such a case, according to Rabbi Roth.

Kissing a mezuza is only a tradition, not a mitzva, and therefore he recommends against it.

Another one bites the dust..

Aug 2, 2007

Bestiality in the knesset

Yeah, it is kind of an inappropriate title.

Today, the members of government showed, once again, how classy they truly are.

There has been an ongoing crisis with the holocaust survivors. They want funding and the government has been offering pathetic solutions (no comment on that issue right now..). Recently PM Olmert came up with a new solution which would allow him to double the stipend per survivor.

The catch is that to do so he had to cut out half of the survivors from the funding. He is doing so (proposing it at least) by splitting survivors into different categories. Those who actually were in concentration camps and survived, and those who survived outside of camps.

According to Olmert's proposal, only survivors of actual camps would be eligible for the funding, while general survivors would not be.

MK Opher Pines-Paz said regarding that proposal, that had Anne Frank survived, she would not qualify for funding as a survivor under Olmert's proposal.

He was clearly trying to shock the system by suggesting that Olmert is not calling the second category survivors, as they did not spend their time in concentration camps.

In response to Pines-Paz's shocking statement, PM Olmert accused Pines-Paz of bestial behavior.

In response to that, Pines-Paz said Olmert is the beast.

Wow. What an argument. They sound like my children.

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