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Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

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Apr 30, 2008

do you stand by the Yom Ha'Shoah siren? (video)

Yad Vashem videos on Youtube

Yad Vashem has joined Youtube and has been uploading videos - testimonies of Holocaust experiences, stories of survivors, lectures on the Holocaust, etc.

Tomorrow being Yom Ha'Shoah, you might find something there to watch to get you in the mood.

Bible Quiz participation

There is a discussion going on over at The Muqata about the Messianic girl who has qualified to participate in the annual Bible Quiz that takes place on Yom Ha'atzmaut (end of next week).

Yad L'Achim has protested her participation because of her Messianic beliefs. They are threatening to call for a ban on the Chidon, if she is allowed to continue as a contestant.

It seems like a no brainer. This is a quiz for religious kids, with a seat saved for a secular candidate (as they generally fail to qualify on knowledge, a seat is saved for them so they can be part of it). She is Messianic, and is a danger, and is part of a dangerous community, that try to use their knowledge to missionize among the Jews, and she should be thrown off the contest.

The problem is that the rules seem to have only one criteria mentioned for qualification in the chidon. That is that the contestant be Jewish. While many Messianics are not Jewish (some have converted but would not be considered Jewish by law or halacha), it just so happens to be that this girl trying to compete is Jewish. Her family just happens to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, even though they are really Jewish. So how do you disqualify her if she qualifies under the one rule for participation?

Yad L'Achim arranging a ban, while understandable on the face of it because of their great work against missionaries in Israel, is a questionable step. I see it as being problematic for 2 reasons:
  1. The Haredim generally completely ignore the Chidon Tanach. It is a Zionistic venture, in honor of Yom Ha'Atzmaut (a holiday most Haredim ignore). The Haredim generally ignore the whole thing. They do not send kids to participate in the contest, they do not report who won or anything about it. Heck, the Haredi press did not even write today about this whole issue that has arisen! So banning it, seems like it will be pretty ineffective. It will just give this organization (the Messianics) a lot of interviews and press time, with no real gain for Yad L'achim, even if they do successfully get her knocked off the contest.
  2. Disqualifying her from participating is problematic, since she qualifies under the rules. If we start saying that some Jews cannot participate because of their beliefs, that opens a whole can of worms. People will start appealing other candidates participation, based on what they claim to be (whether they are or are not would always be debatable) beliefs that are beyond the pale.
    If a Reform student wished to participate, would he be banned? If a Chabad Meshichist student wished to participate, would he be protested? I am not comparing beliefs and saying some people are better than others, who is within the pale and who is beyond the pale, but if we come along and start saying that about this one girl, who is to stop anyone from coming in the future and protesting other candidates, that might be more acceptable, but still questionable.
I can foresee, if this protest takes on legs and becomes a real fight, this destroying the whole chidon.
1. differentiating between beliefs
2. haredim ignore the chidon tanach anyway, and do not care if this brings down the whole thing.

Apr 29, 2008

Kever Yehoshua - more details

These signs went up today around RBS, with different details than the previous sign I posted...

Shmitta: Heter Mechira: bury it

I just heard this psak in the name of "the Rav". I suspect "the Rav" is Rabbi perlstein, based on who told it over, but I am not sure. I will try to find out.

They received some cans of corn that were labeled as being "Hetter Mechira" produce. Not knowing what to do with it, they went to "the Rav" to ask for a psak. He told them it is assur to eat, so they have to dig a hole in the ground, and pour out the contents of the cans into the hole, burying it.

I never heard that solution before.

OUCH! fastball to the head! (video)

interesting psak from Rav Elyashiv and Rav Steinman - Haredi newspapers

The following clipping is from a recent edition of the Yated Ne'eman. The question (which is partially cut off) posed to Rav Steinman was "How much should a husband fight to stop his wife from reading magazines the Rabbonim do not approve of?"

Rav Steinman's response is: "It is already a bad situation when an avreich has to fight a war over this. It is much worse when it is a graduate of a Bais Yaakov school, and even more so when she is a teacher in Bais Yaakov. The problems of our generation are great; such as the dangers of the Internet, that brings all the dirt from the street right into the house, and has already destroyed many homes. But also these forms of media, they give false ideas. It used to be that anybody who wanted to be exposed to all these bad things, would have to go out and look for them. Now, the Yetzer ha'Ra brings them right into our homes.

In earlier generations the women's work was very hard. The housework was much harder. Laundry was backbreaking work. Today, it is much easier, and it is all done by pushing a button. In those years, who had time to read a newspaper? Today, having too much time available makes the problem much worse.
It is true that today the dangers are even greater. But we have to know that it starts with something less dangerous, and then the situation spirals out of control. This is where the breach begins. It starts with A, but ends up all the way at Z! At first it is just a slight spiritual decline, but it gets much worse.

To bring these types of media into the house of an avreich, is the beginning of the decline. This is how you get into the path of decline. Even worse is that it causes educational damage to the kids. He must explain to her that she is poisoning her kids and harming their education. When she will wise up, it will already be too late. When the kids see these things by their parents, they will go one step further, and that is how it begins..."

So if the husband sees he cannot stop her, should she at least be told to do it in private?

Rav Steinman responds: "That could be even worse. If the kids see their parents reading papers in private that the Rabbonim do not approve of, they will just learn that bad things need to be done privately and hidden. they will not learn that they should not be done.
The solution is that parents should not do these things at all!"


This post was already to go up when I saw today's Yated Ne'eman. They had an article continuing the above discussion.

I had assumed the above article was referring to non-Haredi publications (maybe National Geographic, various womens magazines, etc..). In today's Yated, they had an article in which they said they approached Rav Elyashiv and asked about the same issue. Today the Yated mentioned that it is referring to Religious and Haredi papers that have this bad influence.

It says that during Chol HaMoed Pessach, some Rabbonim and Educators went to Rav Elyashiv and showed him examples from these papers that are imbuing its Haredi readers with bad values.

Rav Elyashiv said these papers should not be called Haredi, as their content is in contrast to the values of the Haredi papers the previous Gedolim had established. Instead of imbuing its readers with the Torah hashkafah, they bring machlokes, gossip, lashon ha'ra, all under the guise of "Haredi Media".

It further states that these papers do not claim to have any educational value, rather are just to pass the time, for entertainment. These papers are unusually liberal, they have articles that are full of content that is illusory,
and advertisements that give a stamp of approval to organizations that are passul 9such as Yeshiva High Schools, Academic centers, Universities for Haredim, etc.). All this in an attempt to create a new world called "the New Haredi".

Furthermore, these papers give a place for external ideas to be brought in. They give a base for people who are passul, they interview people - sometimes a national personality, sometimes a marbitz Torah which gives the impression that they are all kosher to be presented to the public, each with his own truth.

The article goes on with more of the above...

What surprises me is that it does not give the names of any specific newspapers to stay away from. How am I supposed to know which Haredi paper is considered kosher and which is passul if they do not tell us what Rav Elyashiv and Rav Steinman were referring to?

I suspect a bigger problem is that the Yated is worried about their losing a lot of subscribers and market position to some very successful papers that have come into the market in the past few years. They are too scared to list names of papers, because that would mean an all-out war, which they would lose because of their lesser quality newspaper.

Instead of improving their own content and layout, they choose to "assur" the competition.

Kever Yeshoshua

reminder, for anyone interested....

Burning Jerusalem (video)

I was in Yerushalayim last. As we were piling into the car to leave and go home, the garbage can in the building next door went up in flames... I called the fire station, and about 12 minutes later a truck finally showed up and put it out...
A neighbor walking by was pretty impressed - She said they usually don't send a truck when it is just a garbage can! (that means it happens often in this neighborhood).
My question was - what was somebody protesting??

Apr 28, 2008

Haveil Havalim 163 is up

over at Tzipiyah...

keep their salaries low

The following is a clipping from a special holiday section that was in the Yated Ne'eman in honor of Pesach.

The paper interviewed Rav Kessler, the Rav of Modiin Ilit. The question came up about the city having the reputation as a "City with no Parnassah", and the phenomenon of the businesses that have opened up in the area that employ the wives of the avreichim in Modiin Ilit (such as Matrix, Citybook, etc.).

The clipping above gives Rav Kesslers explanation of the situation.

Rav Kessler says, "What we have here in Modiin Ilit, is a quality community with a calm atmosphere of people who moved here to have a different quality of life than that in the big cities. Even though the city has 40,000 residents, the atmosphere is not of a city, but of a village. A more quiet and calm lifestyle.

Our lifestyle that is lower than that of the big cities, is not just because there is no money. Rather, that is the ideal lifestyle of a community that makes do with the minimum ("mistapek b'muat"), and this is how it should be. When the business center for women was established, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz said that we should be careful not to allow the salaries to get too high.
There are two reason why the salaries should be controlled so as not to get too high:
  1. So the lifestyle will not get too high
  2. So the husband will remain the "maan d'amar" of the house (the man of the house, the one whose voice counts).
It seems to me to be a tremendous chutzpah that you create a society in which everyone is a beggar and eating off the public dime (this is not an attack on the kollel system, just on the forcing of the situation in a community), you force the women to work because the bills cannot be paid, and you then condition their employment on them making barely more than minimum wage so the bills still cannot be paid.

I learned from my Rebbeim and mentors, that the ideal of "pas b'melach tochal" - following the ideal set in the mishna of eating bread with salt and all the other specifics mentioned in the mishna that detail the ideal of living a life of making do with the bare minimum, that is an ideal for an individual person to strive for.

I, as a person who wants to grow and reach that level, can have the ideal and drive to attain the level of making do with the minimum.

It is not an ideal that was ever meant to be forced on other people or demanded of from other people.

You should try to live a life making do with "l'histapek b'muat" but you have no right to demand that of other people.

To create a situation in which women are practically forced out to go to work, and all the conditions are prepared to allow them to do so under terms that are acceptable for the community standards, just to have money for basic necessities, and then limit them because you want to impose upon them your ideal, is practically criminal.

And the second reason given - so that the husband will remain the man of the house! If he wants to be the man of the house, and the wife working is a threat to that, let him go do the job of the man of the house and provide for his family.

If they really respect the life of the husband learning Torah, why should her working detract from his being the man of the house? She should not lose respect for him just because she earns more than him - after all, they know that he is learning and that is the most important thing, so her salary should not effect his losing respect in her eyes. So that he can "be the man of the house, she has to leave her kids with babysitters, go to work in an environment that they have started off declaring as "b'dieved", and then they create the situation where financially it is hardly worth it for her to go to work!

The real result of this is, and I do not know how much it happens or not, is that many of these women will work in these companies for a bit of time. They will eventually get frustrated that they are out of the house so many hours, bringing home very little for their efforts, and they will take their experience and look for jobs elsewhere, in companies that are elsewhere. they will take jobs in these companies for more competitive salaries.
And then all these women who they wanted to keep from being exposed to the general public while providing the ability to provide for their families, will now have been forced, because of this policy, to be exposed to the secular society they were trying to avoid.

So, basically, the goal is to keep them uneducated (it is assur for them to get a higher education outside of Bais Yaakov after high school) and under-salaried.

Obama can shoot (video)

Let's make him president!

Don't kids just say the darndest things!!

I met my family this evening at the BIG mall at the entrance to Bet Shemesh. Earlier, there had been a large, unusual amount of soldiers passing through the mall, including Air Force (Cheyl Avir) soldiers.

My six year old son was excitedly telling me about the "cheyl avir" that had been there earlier, when he noticed approaching us an Air Force soldier. He pointed to them and said "Look - another Cheyl Avir".

A brief moment later, as the soldier got closer, he noticed that it was a female soldier. He then corrected himself and said, "A Chayelet Avira" (the correct term would be chayelet b'chel avir - a female soldier in the Air Force. Instead he changed the term Air Force to be in the female form).

Apr 27, 2008

Egyptian recordings of plagues

I am not a historian or much of a scholar on pretty much anything, but this is something I have wondered about for a very long time.

When I was in Yeshiva, many moons ago, there was this thing guys had about going to Discovery. Discovery was fairly new back then, just a few years old, and there was a buzz about it. It was exciting. Discovery is/was a program by Aish that was intense for a few days talking about how religion and Torah are correct. They were out to make people frum very quickly by giving them massive amounts of information that would effect them changing their lives.

Discovery was exciting for yeshiva guys, I think, for two reasons:
  1. Discovery seminars discussed many things that the average yeshiva guy never learns or hears about. It is very interesting material (when I was in Yeshiva I knew one of the main Discovery lecturers, and when I would go to his house for Shabbos he would sometimes be talking about it, so I had a taste of what it was).
  2. Discovery was off limits to Yeshiva guys. It was for not-frum people only. That meant it was a challenge for a yeshiva guy to get in. He had to try to dress and act not-frum and hope nobody noticed. The challenge made it enticing for guys to try and, more often than not, the guys who tried, got in. I think the Discovery people must have known and not really minded, as long as they did not look so obviously frum in the classroom.
Eventually, if I remember correctly, Discovery made a separate track for frum people who wanted to take the course. That accomplished two things:
  1. Discovery was able to make money off a whole new audience (they charged these guys entrance fees)
  2. it kept the frum guys out of the non-frum groups, which prevented the frum guys from disturbing the non-frum sessions with questions the non-frum would not understand.
So, there were all these yeshiva guys going to hear lectures at Discovery.

I personally never went. But I remember hearing, many times, that one of the major topics lectured on was the 10 plagues.
Discovery would talk about the 10 Plagues and describe how archaeologists found ancient Egyptian records that described the 10 plagues from the perspective of the Egyptians. It was eerily similar to what the Torah describes, with the twist of it being described from the other end.

I always thought that would be a really cool perspective to read, yet whenever I looked for more information on the subject, I never really found anything.

My wife once knew someone who had studied ancient Egyptian history in college and did her Masters degree in the field. I do not remember the name of the specific field she studied, but it was one that would have included the topic of the Ten plagues, it is existed in Ancient Egyptian history. This woman told my wife that the topic never came up, she had never seen anything in the books about such an archaeological find.

So, I don't know if Discovery made it up (I always wondered why the people at Discovery were the only ones to have found and be aware of this evidence), or if there really was such a discovery in the archaeological world, but I always wondered what the plagues were like from the Egyptians perspective and how they would have described them.

And I know, the lack of any such discovery does not mean it does not exist. Maybe they just "have not yet dug deep enough to find it".

Headline of the Day (hotd) and other tidbits

Hirschson to Investigators: Trust me, I hardly know how to read a bank account.

---printed in Yisrael HaYom newspaper about upcoming revelations in investigation into Hirschsons's alleged fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and more...

Do not forget, Hirschson was the Finance Minister in Olmert's government until he was indicted. if he can hardly read a bank account, how the heck did he function as Finance Minister?

Another headline that was nominated for HOTD was the following...

'The Security Guard that ran away': I prefer to be alive than to be a dead hero.

He has a point, but then why did he become a security guard? If security guards are not willing to take that risk, what's the point of the job?

Also in the news, some Arabic newspaper whose names I cannot pronounce are reporting that the small Arabic country of Bahrain is sending a new Ambassador to the US, and it is a woman. A Jewish woman. Huda Ezra Nunu is her name, and she is part of a small Jewish community in Bahrain. She is head of the Human Rights movement of Bahrain and is now going to be its Ambassador to the US. Will wonders never cease?

The Siyata D'Shmaya of the bus breaking down

The following is an email I received from the organizer of the trip I went on in which the bus broke down... I changed nothing except for removing the names...

I hope you had as much fun as my family did on the tiyul. The sense of appreciation I got from everyone made it all worth it for me. I know I mentioned that we had a lot of siyata d’shmaya on the trip and thought you would all enjoying the tremendous bracha we had with the entire bus incident. As we were leaving Beit Shean my wife told me to watch the driver because he was (understandably) very tired. We had an experience with an Egged bus driver who was literally falling asleep on the way back from Yerushalayim so I was a bit nervous but I kept my eye on him. I myself couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and I dozed off. A few minutes later, my son woke me and said, “Look at the driver – he’s falling asleep”. Sure enough his head was bouncing every half a minute or so. I knew he wasn’t bobbing for apples because there weren’t any and it wasn’t even Halloween J. I moved up to the front seat to have a conversation with him and keep him up. We talked for a few minutes and I still saw his eyes closing a bit. My assessment was that I have to do something more to keep him up – but Hashem knew that there was no way this guy could drive a bus full of people. Then the radiator light started flashing. I thought this would be good to wake him up a bit but Hashem said “wait”. We emptied all the water in the radiator that was overheating and poured a big jerry can inside of cooler water. We started driving again and saw that the car was still overheating. That’s when he pulled over and called the car, which happened to be the two owners of the bus company, to come and help. What we found out was that it wasn’t the radiator at all but rather a belt broke. This was a belt that was changed ONE MONTH AGO! Anyone who has owned a car knows that belts are meant to last much more than a month. Fixing the radiator – if that was really the problem – would only have been a temporary solution to our sleeping problem. Now what were these two guys still doing in the area after they fixed the headlights (which was where our story began)? THEY WERE FIXING ANOTHER BUS THAT BROKE DOWN – but not a bus that you would think would have problems – they were fixing their new 2008 VOLVO BUS! They were able to change the belt with the supplies they carry around and we were on our way WITH A NEW DRIVER! And a car following from behind. I couldn’t help see the Yad Hashem in the whole event – all the little things Hashem did to make sure we got home safe! One of the owners that came to fix the car said “We never had a night like this”. Of course not – he never had such a special group on his busses at one time! Like we say three times a day “We shall thank you and relate your praise …. For Your miracles that are with us every day …” Please share this with your families and may we all merit a year full of Bitachon and Emunah that will lead to simcha in our lives until we experience the ultimate simcha of the binyan Beis HaMikdash – speedily in our days. Looking forward to the next tiyul – with Hashems help.

Apr 25, 2008

changing the moment of silence

(This post was cross posted at DB)

We are less than a mere week away from Holocaust Day, or Yom HaShoah. It falls out this year on May 1, the 26th of Nissan.

The adopted custom in Israel for commemorating the Holocaust is a moment of silence. Everybody stands still when the siren blares, from people working in offices to people driving down the highway. Everything comes to a standstill for that minute. Just as the siren wails and cries out to us to pause from our daily routine and think back to the atrocities people are capable of, and to the great suffering and tragedies we have experienced, the silence and the sight of all of Israel stopping to stand still during that moment also is a shock to the system called routine and beckons us to consider how we are all one - we all rejoice together and we all suffer together.

While the concept of "A Moment of Silence" is not a Jewish one, and perhaps that moment could be better used by forming some sort of Jewish method of commemorating the Holocaust (be it in prayer as is the common recommendation, or be it some other Jewish sourced method), that is the method currently in place. Until that will be changed, in the great debate (in the religious community) of whether people should stand still or not stand still, I am in favor of standing still.

Al Tifrosh Min Ha'Tzibbur. Do not separate yourself from the community. When all of Israel stands still, it appears to be a desecration to the memory of the Holocaust, and a desecration to the religious community, and subsequently a desecration of Hashem's name, when religious people are seen protesting the moment of silence by refusing to stand still.

Is your time so valuable and accounted for that that one minute of wasted time is your only bittul torah of the day? I know I waste plenty of minutes over the course of the day, so this one minute is not my biggest problem of bittul torah. In addition, the amount of time wasted protesting the moment of silence causes bittul torah to a far greater degree in total minutes wasted, than if the protester would just choose to "waste" that one moment standing in silence.

And, of course, who says that minute has to be wasted? One can recite a chapter of tehillim to himself in that moment. One can review a mishna in memory of the dead in that moment. One can find a way personally to utilize that moment in a more Jewish method of commemoration, while still standing still and avoiding the creation of a Chillul Hashem.

That leads me to this: The Council Rabbi of Rosh Ha'ayin, Rabbi Hanania Tsfar, has called for a change in the system of memorializing the Holocaust for the implementation of a more Jewish method, including the recital of tehillim along with the lighting of candles. And no more wreaths to be placed upon the graves and memorials.

Tsfar is coming under criticism for his lack of sensitivity to the secular public, and "religious coercion".

But I agree with Tzfar. We do not need to use non-Jewish methods of commemoration. We can and should commemorate the Holocaust using Jewish methods. This is a Jewish country and should use Jewish methods and symbols in its ceremonies and events.

That being said, I am aware that, while Tsfar has raised the discussion in the public forum, nothing is going to be changed in the near future. Maybe in the long term he will successfully find a way to implement change, but for now we will continue with the moment of silence.

I see no reason to criticize Tsfar for his raising of the topic. I see no reason to criticize Tsfar for his suggestion and recommendation. Nowhere in the article did I see him call for people to not stand in silence while the rest of the country is. It seems to me that he is calling for a change in the system, which is something that is worthy of being discussed. Is it wrong, in a democracy, to question whether a system in place is really the best system and maybe a better one could be used?

I support considering a change in the system. But in the meantime, as long as the system is the moment of silence, I will be standing still when the siren wails.

Apr 24, 2008

Touring Eretz Yisrael: Chol Hamoed: Day 3

For Day 3 of Chol Hamoed, we decided to do something different. We joined a group of a bunch of families doing a tiyul together. This was a "big" trip, meaning we did not just do stuff in the areas surrounding Bet Shemesh/Jerusalem. We went up north. On a group bus.

So the day began with a noon departure. The drive up to Bet She'an was a little more than 2 hours long. At Bet She'an, we stopped at the National Park, where we ate lunch. In addition, some people went on a tour of the archaeological site of the Roman Amphitheater. I chose not to, even though I have not been there in many years. My decision was simple - the walk down was long, it was about 41 degrees Celsius (in the shade), which is about 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and I had a bunch of kids who would not have been interested (and I probably would have had to carry some of them).

So I stayed up at the top. We took the kids to a park while others did the tour. We just hung out and waited out the heat.
After that, we went to look in the area for a fairly quiet Nahal to hike in. It is pretty impossible, considering it being Chol Ha'Moed and very hot, pretty much every inch of Nahal in the country is packed with people, but we actually found one that was reasonable. It had areas that were crowded, but along the length of the Nahal we found some spots that were quiet and appropriate for our group.

Everybody went in and swam. We cooled off and enjoyed the respite from the heat in a Nahal called Nahal Ha'Kibbutzim which is in the area of Kibbutz Nir David. The Nahal was clean and at its deep spot was about (my) chest high. After swimming a but, most people went out, but (most of) my family decided to hike from where we were to the end of the Nahal, in the water. It was a lot of fun and the kids loved it.

From there we headed to some community center/country club in Bet She'an. The group had arranged to rent the pool for some late nighttime swim. We got there and had a bbq dinner. At about 8pm we had the pool for the women, who went for a nice swim. They came back raving about the pool. At about 9:45 the men had the pool until about 11:15. The pool was really beautiful, along with a shvitz (sauna) and great Jacuzzi. I was surpised Bet She'an would have such a nice pool...

Then we headed back to Bet Shemesh, leaving just after midnight.

On our way out of Bet She'an (12:15am or so), we passed by a branch of Shefa Shuk. I must say the [threat of] cherem by the Haredim of Shefa is working 100% in Bet She'an. The store was completely empty of customers.

You think it is over. At about 1:15 the bus broke down. I am not sure where we were, as I had been sleeping and not paying attention to the road, but I could tell it was on the highway next to an Arab village. I thought it was Um el Fahim, but was not sure. It seemd the bus had overheated. After workign on it for a bit, the driver got us going again and we drove for a few more minutes, and pulled over again at the top entrance to Kvish 6. I suspect he did this only so that we would not have to sit next to an Arab village.

He could not get the bus working and we had to wait for some mechanics to be sent out. They arrived at about 2:30 or so and worked on the bus for a while. In the meantime I had gotten stuffy sitting n the hot bus so I went with the baby I was holding and laid out on the side of the road enjoying the fresh air. Everybody seemed to think that was strange, as I think I was the most photographed item of the day. Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of myself, but am waiting for someone to send me what they took and then I will add them to the post. In the meantime, I was enjoying the good cool fresh air while they were all sitting in a stuffy hot bus.

They finally got it working and we were off to bet Shemesh. I heard afterwards that a belt had broken and that was causing the engine to overheat. The mechanic replaced the belt and then it was fine.

We arrived home at about 4:15 am, just in time to head out to Hebron for Vaskin.... just kidding.

Apr 23, 2008

Touring Eretz Yisrael: Chol Hamoed: Day 2

The day started out, once again, at 4:15am with an early departure for the Vasikin minyan at Hebron in the Me'arat Ha'Machpela.

The Me'ara upon arrival at 5:20am

During Pesach, Ulam Yizchak - the cavernous room containing the memorial stones for Yitzchak and Rivka, is open to jews. The minyan davened in Ulam Yitzchak. It has been many years since I was last in Ulam Yitzchak, so this was a special treat.

A few moments after we arrived, I realized I was likely being followed. Rav Yitzchak Levi, again the Rosh Yeshiva not the MK, walked in for davening. I had just spent the morning before with him at Har Habayit.

The Me'Ara upo departure at 7:45am

Later in the day we went to Shiloh. I wanted to see the Tel Shiloh - the place where the Mishkan has sat for about 400 years when the Jews arrived into Israel after having left Egypt.

After we got there, we first went up to meet Batya/muse. That was very nice and she was very hospitable and friendly. Batya gave us an overview of Shiloh, and some bananas, and it was great to be able to meet her. Unfortunately, her husband was not there at the time...

So then we went down to the Tel, where the Mishkan sat. It was a nice little hike and the guide described the various aspects of the area.

The section there walled off with stones is the area where the Mishkan was likely located.

This is a funny pic. It looks like my daughter is very tall and sticking high up out of the baby carrier. In truth, the baby is in the carrier and my other daughter is on my shoulders.
On our way out Shiloh, we stopped to see the main shul of Shiloh. It was constructed as a model of the Mishkan.

The shul is beautiful inside. Some aspects of it are designed to fashion items from the Mishkan. The bima is in the shape of the mizbeiach. They have an outer mizbeiach as well with a ramp. The ceiling is covered to look like the curtains of the mishkan. They have a washing basin for kohanim like the basin of the mishkan. Below you can see the Aron Kodesh styled similarly to the Aron Kodesh of the Mishkan (and Batei Mikdash)

hmmm... which way should we go?
and we decided....
At the entrance to Bet El is an army base. They were doing some target practice in a range right off the side of the main road.

So in 2 days, I got to visit the Kotel, Temple Mount, the site of the Mishkan, Me'arat Ha'Machpela, and Bet El (Bet el is where the ladder was in Yaakovs dream, but we were only there to visit some relatives).

Apr 22, 2008

Clueless Leaders

The following article was written by Rav Bar Hayyim, made famous by his quest last year to show people how the ban on Kitniyot is not relevant in Eretz Yisrael (his students who read this will protest this sentence pointing to his greatness in various fields, issues and topics. i do not doubt that or deny that. But his kitniyot discussion is what put him on the map to more than those within his organization, in my opinion).

It is not politically correct (which is why it gets top rating here at LII) and he holds no punches, while providing much food for thought...

Caveat: I am not a student of Rav Bar Hayyim, and I did not speak with him about the issues presented here.

Clueless Leaders

Israel is lost and directionless. Its political leaders lack vision and aspire to nothing.

Judaism is lost and directionless. It rabbinical leaders lack vision and aspire to nothing.

Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky once illustrated his criticism of mainstream Zionism with the following analogy: “I see a man limping down the street, using only one leg, even though it is apparent that nothing is wrong with the other one. I turn to him and ask: ‘Why don’t you walk on both legs?’ He replies: ‘Is there something the matter with the one that I am using?’”

Jabotinsky referred of course to the policy of “one more dunam, one more goat”, whereby the Zionist Establishment focused on building up the land piecemeal, living from day to day, all the while refusing to enunciate its vision, the goal for which it was ostensibly striving: a sovereign state for the Jewish people in their historical homeland within clearly defined borders. Thus the most fundamental issues – what kind of state were the Jewish people demanding, where would its borders be, and within what time frame? – remained unaddressed. Jabotinsky’s insight was that the leadership preferred it that way, like a man who opts to use only one of his legs.

The result of this (lack of) policy was that the typical Zionist spoke fervently of the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel but could not explain, even to himself, where the borders of his beloved homeland lay or on what basis he defined that territory. In the end, observed Shabtai Ben-Dov, it was the acceptance of the armistice lines of 1948 that “clarified” for most Zionists where the Land of Israel for which they had fought actually was. It was only “logical”, therefore, for one time Education Minister Shulamit Aloni to refer to Hebron as “Hutz Laaretz” (overseas), and for the post-Six-Day-War Left to view a return to the very heart of our homeland as an “occupation”.

I once came face to face with the results of just such a Zionist education. The year was 1993 and I was doing reserve duty on the Jordanian border. Four of us were in a command car patrolling the border, and the discussion turned to then Prime Minister Rabin’s stated willingness to negotiate with the Syrians about relinquishing the Golan Heights. The driver announced that he supported handing over the Golan for peace, at which point I asked him: “Tell me, all other considerations aside, to whom does the Golan belong, us or them?” He thought for a moment and replied truthfully “I have no idea.” Why would he? Was he, a product of the State school system established by Ben-Gurion, ever taught what territory the Jewish people claimed and why?

Israel’s political leaders are just like that driver: they truly don’t know where we belong or why, nor where we are supposed to be headed. Everything is negotiable, nothing is clear, the future is a black hole.

Israel lost its way not in 1967 but in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, before there was an Israel, by thinking small, by refusing to see the big picture, by denying the Jewish nation’s destiny. By choosing mediocrity over greatness.

Israel and Torah Judaism: Missing in Action

The same can be said for Judaism. Have you ever noticed how some religious Jews refer to themselves as “Lithuanians”? Or that there is a Jerusalem suburb named “Poland Heights”? Treat the reality of over 5 million Jews living as a sovereign nation in their homeland for the first time in 2000 years as a continuation of Dvinsk, Minsk or Pinsk; insist that Jews in the Land of Israel must all behave, in terms of their customs and Halachic practice, as if they were still in Warsaw, Sanna or Marakesh; preach that the divisions of the Diaspora must be maintained today and for all time, thus perpetuating a seriously flawed Galuth mentality indefinitely; convince yourself that the Judaism of the Galuth is the real McCoy, that there is nowhere to go from here – and that’s precisely where you’ll go. Nowhere. No greater purpose. Nothing.

When the Beth HaWa’adh beth din (Jewish court) of Machon Shilo announced last year that all Jews in Israel may consume kitniyoth (rice, corn, legumes etc.) during Pesah, some thought that it was all about doing whatever is convenient. Not so. It’s about getting Torah Judaism back on track.

At the core of any authentic conception of Torah Judaism is its Halachic system. Halacha is the practical implementation and realization of those values and concepts that the Torah teaches and that the Jewish nation holds dear. An Halachic system always reflects the philosophy and vision that a particular ideology aspires to actualize in the real world. Halacha is never neutral; it is either a help or a hindrance. It either drives the Jewish people upwards and onwards, or it weighs it down and holds it back.

One who refrains from eating rice, or soy beans, or corn starch on Pesah is not a better Jew than one who does. Halachically there is no question that it is permissible. On the other hand, one is not required to consume these items on Pesah, or at any time during the year. So what’s the problem? It focuses the mind on a non-issue. And the more meaningless Pesah stringencies are promoted, the more meaningless Judaism becomes.

Galuth Mode or Geulah Mode?

Human beings are limited. We cannot be different people at one and the same time. A Jew can function in either Galuth mode or Geulah mode; you can’t have both. If we concern ourselves with maintaining our Galuth-based identities, we have no time or inclination to wonder how it is that each Pesah we beseech Hashem that next year we might participate in the Pesah sacrifice and yet do nothing whatever to actualize this deep-seated aspiration in the real world. We have to make a choice: authentic, full-flavoured Torah, or a pale, watered-down substitute.

Judaism’s rabbinical leaders are just like that reserve duty driver: they truly do not know who and where we are or where we are supposed to be headed. They have no clue how to move on to the next stage. They are unsure of themselves, vague and uncertain about everything, preferring the familiar, downtrodden Galuth version of the Torah for the majestic, vibrant and uplifting Torah of the Land of Israel, the Judaism of Abraham, Moses, David and the Maccabees. Little wonder that when Jews once again controlled the Temple Mount in 1967, the rabbinical establishment had nothing to say other than to forbid all Jews from going there. If the truth be told, they breathed a sigh of relief when it was tossed back to the Moslems like an unwanted bone.

Judaism lost its way not in 1967 but 2500 years ago when the Jewish nation declined to take up the offer of the Persian emperor Cyrus to return to its homeland. By thinking small, by refusing to see the big picture, by denying the Jewish nation’s destiny. By choosing mediocrity over greatness, Galuth over Geulah. From that day to this, as R. Yehuda HaLevi wrote in his masterpiece The Kuzari (2:24), “our prayers for redemption are like the mindless cawings of rooks and ravens”.

If we think small, we shall indeed be so, particularly in the eyes of our enemies.

If we think big, we shall indeed be great – in the eyes of Hashem, in our own eyes, and in the eyes of the whole world.

A few news tidbits you might have missed

I know that because of the holiday you might not be following the news as much as usual. I know I am not. So here are a few of today's news items you might have missed.
  1. Some guy, seemingly Haredi, went to a store (Tiv Taam) that was selling Chametz under the new understanding of the courts that a store is not considered a public place and therefore is not included in the law banning the sale of chametz in public places, and stripped himself naked (he covered his privates with his sock).
    His logic is difficult to argue with, considering the courts recent decision. He argued that he could not be prosecuted for an indecent act in public, as a store is no longer considered a public place.
    Needless to say, they arrested him anyway.
    Surprisingly enough, this did not even happen in Jerusalem.
  2. Jimmy Carter, the Kitniyot man (as peanuts are his favorite food and peanuts are Kitniyot), is busy on a one-man, self appointed mission to bring peace to the Middle East. I commend his efforts. We can rest assured knowing that whatever Olmert does not give away to the Arabs, Carter already has.
    Today Carter announced he has come to an understanding with Hamas that Hamas will live in peace with Israel (for about 10 years) if Israel goes back to the 1967 border. And if the Palestinian people approve. I wonder what happens when the 10 years will be over. What will we have to give Hamas to continue the hudna? Or will we then just accept their right to attack us regularly, but as equals at the state level? Thank you, Mr. Carter.
  3. Speaking of Jimmy Carter, I noticed an interesting thing. Last year pesach time, the discussion of whether we should cancel the halachic decree against eating Kitniyot was all the rage. The supporters of the cancellation, mostly the followers of Machon Shilo, had articles published in mainstream media, issues were discussed in yeshivas and in the public forums, etc.
    This year, I do not recall the Kitniyot issue being discussed much. I guess people figured they can live without their Hummous for a week and it is not such a big deal. Unless you are some guy in the Shomron... This topic leads in to an article that was recently published and sent to me. Maybe I will post it tomorrow. It is fairly "controversial", and provides some food (chametz free, of course, but possibly not kitniyot free) for thought.. Keep your eyes peeled for the article.

Touring in Eretz Yisrael: Chol Ha'Moed: Day 1

We started off the day with a decision to daven vasikin at the Kotel. With sunrise being at 6:03 AM, that meant getting up at 4:15 am to have enough time to get to the Old City, find parking and get down to the Kotel in time for davening which would start at 5:30am. Being a holiday, the Kotel was pretty busy. There were a few hundred people there for the early morning shift.

After davening, a couple of us decided to go to Har HaBayit. We figured we would go to the mikva in the Old City and then be the first on the Mount which would allow us to go around quickly. Little did we know there was a large group planned for the first shift at 7:30am. So we joined the group, which was scheduled to be led by Rav Yitzchak Levi, the Rosh Yeshiva of Alon Shvut (not to be confused with Rav Yitzchak Levi the MK).

During the holiday everything seems to be busier than njormal. So it took a very long time to process our group, which consisted of over 50 people. While we were waiting, a number of tour groups (mostly Germans it seemed) passed through being allowed to go right up with no impediments or security checks. I suggested we sue the State, the Police, and the Waqf for racial profiling and discrimination, as only religious Jews are stopped and checked and escorted by police and Waqf officials. Anybody else can walk freely unescorted.

While we were waiting to be processed and allowed up, Tuvia Sagiv joined our group. I was up once with Sagiv. He is an interesting fellow. He is an engineer who has made his hobby and life interest studying the Temple Mount and trying to find what really is up there and where things really were. He is the author of an alternate explanation of where the Temple really stood. He claims it was further south than the opinion held by most people. He is really an expert on the material and sources, and makes for an interesting group companion raising issues and questions.

Sagiv introduced himself to Rav Levi and asked, very politely, that even though he knows Rav Levi does not ascribe to his opinions and views, if he would respect his work and not walk on the Southern Side of the Mount. The issue is really that the police generally do not allow groups to break up, as each person who would be breaking off would need his own escort. If Rav Levi would insist on walking on the southern side, it would present a difficulty for Sagiv who holds the actual Temple stood in a spot on the southern side rendering it not passable. The only solution for Sagiv is to walk along the west, north and east, and then retrace his steps, which he would not be able to do alone separated from the group.

Rav Levi agreed, meaning the whole group would walk along the west, north and east and then retrace the route backwards, thus avoiding the southern side.

The whole time, both while we were waiting and while we were on the Mount itself, Rav Levi and Sagiv were discussing the various opinions. Rav Levi asking how Sagiv deals with certain issues; topographically, archaeologically, sources, etc, Sagiv explaining, Sagiv asking, Rav Levi explaining. Often, while explaining something on the Mount, Rav Levi would then ask Sagiv if he wanted to add anything according to his understanding.

Rav Levi and Tuvia Sagiv in discussion

Police riot gear at the entrance to the Mount. They are prepared for anything.

After leaving the Mount and Kotel area, traffic was a mess with roads being opened and closed and rerouted because of the expected holiday traffic. We ended up driving by the site of a new hotel being built that was just announced in the news. The Waldorf-Astoria group is building a luxury hotel in Jerusalem and is expected to be completed by 2010. Here is a picture I got of the site and sign as I drove by it...

My family and I then went to visit relatives and spend the afternoon in Park Ra'anana, in, you guessed it, Ra'anana.

The park was pretty busy. It is a popular spot because it is a great park with lots of grassy areas, lots of play options, other activities (some for pay), and a small "zoo" with a few animals. I must say some of the "animals" were on the wrong side of the cages... as people were giving all sorts of food to the animals...one person gave his lit cigarette to a monkey who, in turn, burned himself as he touched it to his body.

They had a peacock who chose to give us a treat and opened his tail while we were there. he was not actually opening it for us, but for the female. Let's just say his wiles did not work and he was left disappointed.

Apr 17, 2008

Kever Yehoshua in two weeks

Wednesday April 30th at night.. open from 11:00pm until 5:00am (and then davening at 5:30am)..

For those of you who wanted to go but never seem to find out in advance....now you know in advance...

(HatTip: My Right Word)

Chag Sameach

Last calls for Kimcha D'Pischa and Chametz for Chessed

* 'CHAMETZ': Today, Thursday (10am till 8pm only) please also drop
off your Non-Perishable, Closed, Pre-Expiration Date 'chametz'.

This year we have a Consolidated Drop-Off List - people drop off
their chametz AND give cash at the same places (just no chametz to
Arthur, please!)! (see list of drop off points below)

(my note: the above is for a unique program Lemaan Achai runs called "Chametz for Chessed" in which they encourage people who are not selling their chametz items to donate it to the needy instead of throwing it out. Lemaan Achai will hold it through Pesach, having sold it to a non-Jew in the Mechiras Chametz, and then after Pesach will transfer it to the needy.)


* MONEY: Please bring your generous Kimche Depischa/Maos Chitim
donation, so that NO family will go hungry on Pessach - ONE HUNDRED &
EIGHTY-THREE IMPOVERISHED FAMILIES are getting what they need for

TO the following Lema'an Achai Drop-Off Points, for your convenience:-

** Ramat Bet Shemesh **

Lema'an Achai Office - 40/7 Lachish, 999-1553
Arthur's RBS Pharmacy - Dolev, 999-9777 - cash/cheque donations only
- NO CHAMETZ please!
Palmer - 6/8 Lachish, 999-5015
Shenker - 18/9 Lachish, 999-4645
Rosenfelder - 16/6 Shimshon, 077-931-0139
Braun - 12/3 Shimshon, 999-7956
Greenspan - 21/9 Ayalon, 995-1485
Fass - 20/20 Tzeilim, Ramat Shilo, 9995333
Freudman - 19/5 Maor, 991-1619
Rubin - 4/5 Hayarkon, 999-9910
Soloveichik - 38/3 Hayarkon, 999-4628
Markovitz - 14/9 Katlav,999-4245
Green - 3/2 Gichon, 999-9717
Leventhal - 53/5 Dolev, 991-5317
Sonnenberg - 8/4 Luz, 991-7334
Morris - 15/5 Refaim, 999-7107
Bar Shai - 2a/1 Nachshon, 999-4791
Gold - 1/13 Uriya, 992-0998

Donate by phone 24/6: 99999.33
Secure on-line: https://www.lemaanachai.org/donate/index.asp - NOTE:
We have had server problems over the past few days, so this online
service may not be available.
USA, UK and Canadian Tax Deductible: http://www.lemaanachai.org/donate.asp

For your convenience, Lema'an Achai is planning to have a stand
outside the Dil VeZol Makolet from around 4pm this afternoon, and
also most of tomorrow morning (Friday). Bring your Cash, Credit Cards, Checks!

Tizku Lemitzvot & Chag Kasher Vesameach!


David Morris, Chairman
Lema'an Achai - It's All About Caring


Direct Tel: 02 9997107
Office: 02 9991553
Fax: 02 9992398

40/7 Nahal Lachish
Ramat Beit Shemesh,
99093 Israel.

Segulah for Erev pesach

In the current age where the trend is to look for segulahs for salvation, the following segulah was advertised in the Haredi paper "Yom Chadash" (A New Day)..

The segulah is to read some letter written by a Hassidishe Rebbe Reb Shimon of Austropoli. At the end of the letter it is written that whoever reads this on Erev Pesach will be assured that he will be saved (protected might be a better word) the whole year (!) from stumbling and from unusual death, from any tragedy, and whatever he tries his hand at he will succeed.

He also wrote in his Siddur Bracha U'Tehilla that he saw with his own eyes many people in 1944 in the concentration camps in Hungary, that all those who read that letter were saved.

Apr 16, 2008

Levaya of Rav Henoch Lebowitz, zt"l

I just received this by email.....

We regret to inform you of the petira of

Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim

The Levaya is scheduled to take place today, Wednesday, April 16th, at 1:30PM at

Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim
76-01 147th Street
Kew Gardens Hills, NY 11367

The Kevura will be at Mount Judah Cemetery on the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

There is both phone and video hookup for the Levaya:

HOOKUP INFO: Dial-in #: (712) 432-1001 Access code: 431238585# (Courtesy of www.duvys.com).

LIVE VIDEO HOOKUP: The Yeshiva has also been able to set up a live video feed of the Levaya which you can access from your personal computer. Connect to http://pointers.audiovideoweb.com/asxfiles-live/1c2winlive6951.asx There are no limits to the number of people who can access this video feed, and it is accessible from anywhere in the world.

new composer of Jewish music

Chaim interviews a new Jewish music composer.... very interesting material...

Nach Nach politics

2 items that I found interesting today...
  1. The price of bread, regulated by the government, which in the past year has risen a few times, rose again today another 4%. The approval is kind of cloudy. The Union of Bakers requested a price increase 30 days ago. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (led by Minister Eli Yishai from Shas) never responded to the request (either to approve or to reject) and therefore after 30 days it is automatically approved. It seems Yishai felt the need to approve the price increase, but did not want his name on the official paper, so instead he just never responded, thus allowing it to happen without his name getting on it. He clearly thinks people are stupid and nobody will know he allowed it to happen (which he did by not rejecting the request).
    To remind you, when the price of bread was in the news earlier in the year and Yishai was "forced" to allow the price increase, he also decided then to deregulate the price of bread. He later backed out of that and kept it regulated, but now has allowed the price to rise for a third time this year. The main blow is to the weaker sectors who rely more on bread, and specifically the basic bread which is regulated, than other sectors, and rely more on the assistance of the political parties that claim to be looking out for the lower class. Such as Shas.
  2. Rumor has it that Breslav is working to form its own political party. The Various groups in Breslav have never really felt represented by any of the other political parties, and either kind of freelanced with Shas, UTJ, Likud and others, or just did not bother voting. With Breslav being one of the largest and fastest growing groups, most of Baalei Teshuva in Israel are somehow associated with Breslav, along with the general affinity people have for Breslav, along with the amazing exposure they already have (because of all the Nach Nachs that dance in the streets and in any public place possible), this can be a ticket ready for success.
    I am pretty sure they will take the combination of letters that spell Nach, or נח, and take advantage of their call sign already being all over the country in ways that no political party can compete with.

Apr 15, 2008

2 posts

2 posts that you will definitely find interesting..
  1. G posted at Serandez about a shidduch question asked of Rav B, in which he turned the tables on the questioner.
  2. Rabbi Horowitz has another thought provoking piece in which he asks questions for people to think about. I thought this was particularly relevant here after a recent thread in the comments section.

Most unusual thing seen for Pesach

The funniest thing I noticed so far when shopping for Pesach was on an item I purchased last night.

I bought a bottle of Palmolive dishwashing soap last night. Along with the hechsher and the stamp that it is kosher for Pesach, I noticed it also said it is Pareve. So i can eat it with both my meat and my dairy meals!

What is the most unusual thing you have seen?

an adulterer among us

I was torn whether to post this or not. I decided to, but as a compromise I blacked out the name of the affected party from the published letter below. I did not really need to. This letter was sent out to all the homes in RBS, far more than the number of people who read this blog, so his name and the claim is far more public than I can possibly make it. But I still felt uncomfortable publicizing it, especially because I do not know if ti is true and what the background is..

On to the post - A letter was distributed in the mailboxes around RBS yesterday. The envelope was addressed to me and had a stamp on it that said "For Parents only". That was intriguing raising my curiosity level.

To be honest, I probably normally would not have even looked at the letter. I would have opened it up, seen the form letter, assumed it was some charity I was not interested in giving money to and would have thrown it right into the garbage without even a further glance. But somebody emailed me and told me he had received this strange letter, so I was looking for it.

The letter says, "This letter is being distributed after much indecision. On the one hand, publicizing it and raising the issue in the public forum can bring unnecessary awareness to the issue. But after consulting with Rabbonim and Educators, we came to the conclusion that we cannot ignore this. The Rabbonim requested that we, who were directly affected by this, should be the representatives on the matter.

As well, evil claims have been spread, that our neighborhood, supposedly "modern" because residents work for their livelihood, is the cause of this shameful story. Obviously that is not true and should be denied strongly.

The situation, as many already know, Is a local resident, Mr. K. from Nahal Uriah street. As previously publicized inappropriately, has committed actions that should not have been done and is suspected of adultery with married women of the neighborhood.

After it was publicized, many parties understood the problem of having contact with him. Immediately, Mr. K lost his employment at the Yated Ne'eman and as the Communications Advisor to the Mayor of Beitar.

According to the instruction of Rabbonim and Educators, everybody should be careful to warn their family members, those married and unmarried, not to get near this person. Not to deal with him in work related matters, not to come into close proximity of him, especially in public places such as offices, stores, medical clinics, public transportation 9which he sometimes uses even though he has his own car), etc.

After much clarification with the Rabbonim, it is clear he did not do his actions out of wickedness or out of contempt for the Torah. Rather because of an uncontrollable urge (mental illness). Therefore, despite what was previously publicized, nobody should harm him directly, and his family who did no wrong should not be harmed by anybody, in addition to the difficult period they are going through since the story was first revealed.

It should be His will that this is being done with pure intentions
The Representatives

nb. There were different opinions whether to publicize this or not, even after experts heard about the possibility of his family coming to harm. We, whose daughters were directly harmed, have felt obligated to warn others, men and women, and we have what to rely upon."

I do not know the background of this story. I live on the other side of the neighborhood, so I guess the signs and flyers that went up when it broke were under my radar. I heard about his resignation, both from the Beitar office and from the Yated, but the information that was publicized then was the he resigned to open his own business (a PR firm). Not that he was forced out because of this scandal.

Further, I posted to a local Hebrew forum asking for some background to the letter, and the moderator deleted my message (I suspected he would because this kind of stuff is too hot).

What bothers me about the letter is that the letter is written anonymously, and while he says he consulted with Rabbonim and they decided he should write the letter, he does not say which Rabbonim. I understand why he is anonymous. he wants to protect his daughter/wife (if it is true) and his family reputation. But why should the Rabbonim remain anonymous. if they are taking a stand on a local issue that is possibly dangerous to the community, they should stand behind their words. they should let us know to take them seriously.

As of right now this is an anonymous letter quoting anonymous Rabbis and educators defaming a person who might or might not have done what they claim.

This actually reminds me of two similar stories that happened not too long ago.
The third link in the previous sentence was a story that happened on the same street where this fellow lives. That must have been a happening place!

Again, I do not know the background to the story (if any of you do know it, feel free to write it in the comments (but no rumors please - only if you know the story) or email it to me) and am hesitant to believe an anonymous letter quoting anonymous Rabbis in an attempt to hurt someone. If you want me to believe you, use your name of the name of someone who can back up the story.

L'shana Ha'ba'ah B'Yerushalayim

------------------referral ad----------------------
In just a couple more days, we will be sitting down to the pesach seder. the climax of the evening is when we say "L'shana Ha'ba'ah B'Yerushalayim" - Next year in Jerusalem.

it might be time to plan in advance and instead of just saying it, try to actually move there. But I have heard real estate prices are very high in Jerusalem. And maybe the hustle and bustle of a big city is just not for you. Too much congestion and pollution (I love the big city and I love Jerusalem, so those problems would not be mine. Just the affordable housing).

A reasonable alternative is the many communities in the outlaying areas surrounding Jerusalem. Efrat is one of those communities. Efrat is just about 10 minutes from Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion area. It is a large community, so you get the small town feel but a large version of it. And the housing is more affordable.

Nofei HaPark, or Park View, is a new project of homes in Efrat offering you that close proximity to Jerusalem, while still living in the small town atmosphere...

Check it out. Maybe head on over during Pesach vacation to see what it is like. They even have sample building plans on the site...

-----------------end referral---------------------

Where in the world is Jameel?

Jameel seems to have disappeared again. This time he gave us some advance notice and told us he was going to be on Miluim (army reserve duty). Many of us are suspicious that that is just a cover for some additional secret waffle-making activities.

I finally stumbled into some top secret video surveillance that has discovered exactly what Jameel is doing...The game is up Jameel. We caught you!

The 5 minute Pesach seder

I got this by email and thought it was pretty funny... so enjoy the 5 minute Seder.

For those of you who don't have the patience to sit through a full Seder: The Two-Minute Haggadah - A Passover service for the impatient.

Opening prayers:
Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)
Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)
Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we're free. That's why we're doing this.
Four questions:
1. What's up with the matzoh?
2. What's the deal with horseradish?
3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What's this whole slouching at the table business?
1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It's called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.
A funny story:
Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. (Heat soup now.)
The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child-explain Passover.
Simple child-explain Passover slowly.
Silent child-explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child-brow beat in front of the relatives.
Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover:
It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through. The Egyptians aren't so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)
The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice-you name it.
The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough. If He'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would've been enough. If He'd parted the Red Sea (remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.) etc.

Eat matzoh. Drink more wine. Slouch.
Thanks again, God, for everything.
Say Grace. Drink more wine. Sing some more songs. Try to stay awake.
Who knows one? Who knows two through thirteen?
Dad bought a goat for two zuzim. Everyone beats up every one until God steps in.
Go to sleep.
Do it again another night.

Pesach in Hebron

If you are looking for something to do over Pesach, take a look at the ad below. Hebron is opening their doors, as they do every year. They are having a concert with various singers, guided tours through the city, and more. Ulam Yitzchak is going to be open.. Check it out..

more on the Rosenblum article

Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz wrote a thought provoking response to the same Jonathan Rosenblum article..

Apr 14, 2008

The Biggest Threat to Judaism today...

(this post was originally posted as a guest post on DovBear)

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote an interesting piece in this past week's Mishpacha magazine. I read the article in Hebrew, but the English version can be found on the Jewish Media Resources website.

In the article, Rosenblum went on to describe a conversation he had with an unnamed Rav in Los Angeles. The Rav told him what he considered the biggest threat to Judaism today. This item surprised Rosenblum, surprised me, and I am sure will surprise you.

The biggest threat to Judaism today, according to this unnamed Rav in LA, is Pesach in hotels. Not the trend of looking for every chumroh in the book and many not in the book, not Rabbis who molest, not parents who abuse and molest, not intermarriage, not Reform Judaism, not poor education, not high tuitions that make jewish education prohibitive to many. Pesach in hotels is the biggest threat to Judaism.

Granted, I agree that the whole "Pesach in hotel" situation is fairly ridiculous and not conducive to a spiritual and uplifting holiday (for most people). How can you run a seder with your kids when everybody is going at their own pace, singing their own tunes, having their own conversations, kids running all over the place, all by the tables right next to yours? It is impossible. I have gone to hotels once or twice for Shabbos and find the atmosphere very disturbing and not conducive to a family shabbos tabel. How much worse the Pesach seder must be!

People, in general, do not go to a hotel for Pesach so they can grow spiritually and have a meaningful, traditional experience with their family. They go for a vacation. They go to relax. They go to get away. Some, for whatever reason, cannot make Pesach in their own home (for valid reasons even). They go for the luxury. Whatever reason they go for, it is generally not for the spiritual aspect.

I do not begrudge anybody their hard earned money. People can spend their money in whatever way they want. They can live their whole lives in hotels and flying all over the world and taking vacations every other week, it does not bother me,. They earned it, they can spend it how they like.

But as far as Pesach is concerned, they are missing out on the whole point of the Pesach experience.

That is a shame, and the kids will have missed out, and the parents will have missed out, the various opportunities provided in a home setting.

But is that really the biggest threat to Judaism today?

Bibi in concert

(will this concert be banned?? :-))

The Likud held their "Haramat Kosit" or "toast" in honor of Pesach last night. In this short clip, you get a fleeting glimpse of the illustrious mayor of Bet Shemesh Danny Vaknin sitting in the row behind Bibi. Moshe Feiglin can be spotted enjoying himself, also sitting in the row behind Bibi just a bit further down the row.

Bibi is not going to win any awards for his singing abilities. Definitely he will not qualify as a contestant on American Idol or Kochav Nolad.

Bibi took the opportunity to talk a bit about the finance and economic situation. He also used the podium to call upon Shas to leave the government.

Kol HaKavod to Keren lev Yisrael

Kol Hakavod to Keren lev Yisrael (I think they are a subdivision of the Kupa shel Tzedaka RBS A) in RBS.

With the great expense Pesach has become, especially in these days of a faltering economy, Keren Lev Yisrael stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. They sold basic food items, from matza to meat to eggs to veggies to paper goods and more, at prices that were much cheaper than the stores. This allowed families to save a lot of money in their Pesach purchases.

Aside from that, they also had a subsidized plan for people who are in a very bad financial situation. I do not know what you had to do to qualify for the extra subsidy, but the prices were even cheaper for them.

I did not see any numbers how many people bought products through them and how much money overall was saved, but I am sure it was a bundle. There were hundreds of people, of all types, taking advantage of the program that Keren lev Yisrael offered.

Kol Hakavod.

Apr 13, 2008

The Committee Against Concerts and Anything Fun

This whole "banning concerts" thing is not going away as fast as some people thought it would.

After Lipa's big concert was recently banned, and he caved in and canceled the performance, many people thought it was a one time event, specifically targeting Lipa because of his style.

I did not think so at the time, as experience has shown that when "they" get their way, "they" become emboldened and demand more. It is never a one time thing for these committees and organizations that fight for Purity of the Camp in whatever field they might specialize in (be it music, cellphones, internet, shabbos, tznius, whatever).

Chabad has scheduled their annual concert for tonight in Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv (I was at last years concert, but the couple we went with then did not invite us this year, so either they are going with other people or they are afraid of the ban and are not going - he is a reader so I will take this opportunity to call him a scaredy cat). The stars of the show are MBD and Shweckey.

Chabad has generally stayed out of the various bans and cherems. They run their own system and are usually oblivious to what these various vaads say. After all, the various vaads all ban Chabad anyway because of their own issues, so why should they care what the vaads say about Chabad functions?

Yet this year, the Committee Guarding Sanctity and Education has come out swinging. They decided to ban the Chabad concert and pressure Shweckey and MBD into canceling their participation. The concert is fully separated between men and women.

So why the ban? I doubt anybody really knows. In the end it is because the guy running the vaad does not like something. He says what happens outside the stadium is horrible - the guys and girls meet there. He says he has pictures from previous concerts of haredi guys and girls doing dreadful things. At this rate, he should ban hotels, houses, cars, parks and anything and everything else because dreadful things are sometimes done there. Is that the reason - I don't know. That is an excuse he uses as a claim. He also says these concerts are not the way of the frum world - if you want simcha, come to an event at Yeshivas Chevron or the Yeshiva of Vishnitz and you will see real simcha. These concerts are not real simcha. So he is against concerts.

The other day, Yaakov Shweckey responded to the threats during an interview with Menachem Toker (the scheduled emcee for tonight's event, and a popular Radio show host that deals with the Jewish Music world). The interview is not yet online - on menachem Tokers website it says the interview with Shweckey will hopefully be online today, but as of a few minutes ago it still has not been uploaded.

Shweckey said he has a letter from rav Ovadiah Yosef, his Rebbi, allowing him to participate in the concert (the letter from Rav Ovadiah can be see below). He claims, "These people will never be happy. After Rav Ovadiah, they want all the other Rabbonim to sign and then their Sanhedrin will approve. It is all shtuyot."
"If somebody can find a psul in the concert of me and MBD, either he has a problem, or somebody is deceiving him. Nothing will move me from my decision to participate [in tonight's concert], just like nothing stopped me from participating in the concert at Teddy Stadium, after Chacham Ovadia has permitted me to."

When Toker asked Shweckey that maybe the Vaad members are doing this with pure intentions following instructions from their own rebbeim, Shweckey responded, "They are not activists of the public. They are "simcha stoppers". They do not have the concept of "l'shem shamayim". Maybe they did not like my last album (entitled "Lshem Shamayim")." "They are unsuccessful in getting involved in Avraham Fried concerts and others, so they try me next."

Somebody involved in the music industry in Israel confirmed Shweckeys claim. He said that since the last concert of MBD in Israel was canceled, there were attempts at having other concerts, even only for men, with MBD. Even after the Gerrer Rebbe approved of it, these askanim opposed it to the point that the financiers of the concert backed out. He says they will never approve a concert, so the only way to deal with it is the way MBD did for many years - ignore them. He suspects Lipa will never seriously perform again. He will put out albums and perform at weddings and small events, but never will he do a serious concert. This is because he gave in to them once already.

Mordechai Blau, the head of the Committee against all Concerts and Anything Fun (not the official name of the committee), responded sharply to Shweckey's claims.

Blau is not backing down and he is starting now with threats. He says anybody who shows up to tonights concert will be photographed. His picture will be passed on to the relevant parties, be it Rosh Yeshiva, Seminary head, etc.

Blau is very upset at MBD, claiming they had a silent agreement and now MBD is openly breaking it. Blau has been meeting intensely with MBD's mentors and rebbeim and is hoping to see results immediately. Blau threatened MBD directly saying if he does not cancel his participation, they will forbid the music stores from selling his albums, they will ban his concerts and any personal appearances before Rabbonim, they will teach children in schools about the horrible stumbling block he took part in.

When asked about Rav Ovadiah Yosef's letter supporting Shweckey's participation, Blau said he doubts Rav Ovadiah even saw the letter. he brought the letter to Rav Wosner who said this is a concert like any other and he doubts Rav Ovadiah signed such a letter.

Rav Ovadiah Yosef's letter can be seen here:

So for any of you who thought the ban was a one time thing, this is only the beginning. This is what happens when these askanim get some power.

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