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Jun 30, 2008

World Wrestling Entertainment in Israel!

I think the WWF - Word Wrestling Federation - the one with wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Randy Macho Man Savage, and all the other goofballs I grew up watching on Saturday nights after Saturday Night Live - must be on a world tour of some sort. (I see they have changed their name and they are now known as the WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment)

It seems they have come to Israel to strut their stuff....

Short stay on Death Row for Billiam the Turkey

A friend of mine calls me up the other day and says that Sunday or Monday they are going to get a turkey and take it for a walk on a leash in downtown Jerusalem (teenagers!). He asked if when they are done with their fun, if I would shecht it for them.

I said no problem and that he should call me Sunday or Monday and let me know when they are ready.

he called yesterday evening to say they had finished the "Turkey run" and could I shecht it that night. I was kind of busy and not really in the mood, so I said bring it by Monday evening. He was kind of nervous about having to take care of it for the day, but he said ok.

A little while later I called him back and told him to bring it over at 10:30pm when I get home from my shiur and I would shecht it then. I was nervous that they would not take care of it and it would be wasted.

I get home at 10:30 and the gang of 5 or 6 guys is there waiting with "Billiam", the now famous 21kg turkey.

So they finish taking their last pictures with their buddy while I make some final preparations.

I shechted Billiam, I cleaned him out and they took him home to kasher and cook (I gave them instructions for kashering - they did not want to leave it with me overnight despite my offering).

So Billiam was first arrested, and then I carried out the death penalty (no picture yet - if they send me any I will post it)...

Gishmak! corned beef and pastrami on rye with mustard!

What can be better than a good Corned Beef on Rye with mustard and a half sour pickle, and a tub of potato salad on the side?

We used to go to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play ball fairly regularly during the summers (yes, even my turncoat brother who is now a White Sox fan). We would stop off at the deli on the way to the game and pick up a slew of sandwiches to wolf down at the game. Corned Beef, Pastrami, (chicken) Drumettes, Potator Salad, Cole Slaw, Pickles, the works. We were walking heart attacks.

What can be more Jewish than a good corned beef on rye sandwich! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The Food Editor of the Jewish Chronicle decided to compare our eating habits of today to those of about 100 years ago. For two weeks he ate only "heimishe" food and see the affect on his health.
My challenge was to follow the diet of an Ashkenazi Jew of 100 years ago. In my mind’s eye, I imagined I was someone like my paternal grandfather, Harry Roundstein. He was born in the early 1890s in the East End of London and ultimately owned his own jeweller’s shop. He would therefore have been able to afford a decent variety of foods, and his diet would have been not dissimilar to the one I was to embark upon.

So what would I be eating? The staples of the diet were what Eastern European Jews would have had in the shtetl, formed from a fairly small range of ingredients, which would be as available in Britain as in Poland or Russia. Vegetables were largely limited to cabbage, potatoes, beetroot and carrots. There would be a chicken for Friday-night dinner and meat for the Shabbat cholent.

Otherwise, there was a profusion of meat in the form of sausages and salamis, as well as pickled products such as salt beef. Pulses such as lentils and beans would have been important, and there were plenty of heavy breads, often made with rye flour. Fruit was available in season but often eaten stewed rather than fresh. Fat was highly prized by a population for whom calories were friends rather than enemies. The average adult had a far more active lifestyle than we do today, and needed a good dollop of shmaltz to keep going.
That sounds like a great two week culinary experience.

And the results?

On the day the diet finishes, I present myself to Dr Garry Savin at the Preventicum clinic in west London, one of Europe’s most advanced centres of preventive medicine. I am weighed and measured, blood tests taken again and my body fat checked. Having previously assured me that I would not see many changes over such a short period, he is shocked by the results. My weight has increased from 69kg to 69.8kg, my waist has expanded by 2.5cms, and my body fat has increased from 20 to 21.8 per cent.

My cholesterol has increased from 6.2 to 6.9 mmol, which is alarming, especially as LDL or bad cholesterol accounts for all the increase. There has also been a rise in my triglyceride levels (a heart-disease indicator).

On the upside, my blood pressure has remained constant, despite the salty food, and my liver is coping magnificently. But from being in the top 16 per cent of the population two weeks a go, healthwise, I now barely make it into the top 25 per cent. Dr Savin recommends I change my diet back. “I won’t be going on it,” he assures me.

So what could a nutritionist extrapolate from my two weeks of haimishe stodge? I give a copy of my food diary to dietician Joan Wides to analyse. She is worried about several things — the high fat content of many of my meals, the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables and the amount of pickled and salted foods. If I were to stay on this diet, I would be at a higher risk of stomach and bowel cancers, as well as heart disease, she says. But she also points to a good level of fibre and plenty of oily fish, which could be the reason that many Jews from this era did not suffer high levels of heart disease.

So what happened to my grandfather, the model for the diet? His porridge and herring breakfast obviously stood him in good stead, as did the amount of energy he expended through walking everywhere. His weight was the same at 80 as it was at 20 and he was nearly 90 when he died. However, on this diet, I fear I may not make it to 50. Bring on the salad.

I am not convinced itis as bad as the doc says. As he said, his zeidy lived to 90.

Jun 29, 2008

Rav Ovadia Yosef's grandson: Excellent Soldier award (video)

Rav Ovadiah Yosef's son just won the "Excellent Soldier" award in his unit in the IDF. Here is the news clip about the ceremony and the family.

Haveil Havalim 171 is up

Haveil Havalim #171 is up and on the bima

buying MIAs in the Mahane Yehuda shuk

This whole thing of the possible exchange of prisoners for the MIAs held by Hezbollah is very disturbing to me.

I think the strategy employed by Hezbollah was brilliant, for their point of view. The negotiations were stuck. They wanted us to include freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as part of the deal and we refused. Palestinian prisoners had nothing to do with it and we would not release so many, etc.

At some point, Hezbollah came along and said fine, we will make an almost even exchange, trading Samir Kuntar, plus a few others, for the two Israelis.
Israel got all excited that the price had dropped so drastically. Suddenly the deal had to be done right away as it was practically a bargain. You can't get those kind of prices in Mahane Yehuda Shuk for tomatoes, let alone for two Israeli captives.

Just as Israeli public opinion, and the opinion of the government, had been swayed to support the deal, suddenly Hezbollah backtracks. They throw back in the insistence on including Palestinian prisoners. And the public pressure on the government to approve the deal is tremendous, and might even be impossible to fend off, even if the government decides the price is now too high.

So Hezbollah has successfully created a feeling among Israelis of the deal being a fait accompli and something that has to be done. Then they even change the terms of the deal, but Israelis do not care, because we have to do it. Even though the terms are back to the original terms that Israelis were overwhelmingly rejecting.

Another aspect that is distrubing is the fact that they refuse to give us information if the MIAs are dead or alive. How can we make a deal without knowing what we are getting? How can we say that the price is the same no matter what the product is? If you called up an appliance store and asked how much a refridgerator costs and they said 8000NIS. You would consider it. Then the salesman would add that the catch is the fridge might not work, and you will have no way to know it until it arrives at your door. There is a no refund, no exchange policy. Would you still consider buying the fridge? No way! Maybe if the price was 100NIS, but not 8000NIS.

No way would you pay the same price for a fridge that might very well not work as you would for one that works. So why should we pay the same price for dead MIAs that we would pay for live MIAs?

And if Hezbollah insists on the formula that dead soldiers equals live soldiers and the price will not be different, than we should be able to work with the same formula. Dead prisoners equals live prisoners. As Lion of Zion suggests, the solution would be to execute Samir Kuntar and then make the deal. After all, Hezbollah believes dead people are worth just as much as live people...So let Samir Kuntar go home dead and the price tag remains the same.

Survey Shocker: Most important Israelis ever

The British Jewish newspaper "Totally Jewish" ran a survey to discover who people thought were the most important Israelis. Which Israelis have made the greatest impact on our lives.

The results are, for the most part, pretty basic and expected. there was one surprising placement in the top ten, that is probably impossible to understand.

The top ten of the list is filled with people one would expect to see in such a list. Statesmen, founders of Israel, Prime Ministers, great thinkers and the like. One might debate the specific positioning of each person, but for the most part very important people were included in the list.

David Ben-Gurion still is considered the most important, as he weighs in in first place. Second place is filled by Yitzchak Rabin.

Third place is the real shocker with it being filled by transvestite pop singer Dana International. While s/he won the Eurovision contest in 1998, I find it difficult to place her/him above people like Menachem Begin who signed a peace deal with Egypt or before Chaim Weizman who was President of Israel, or Golda Meir who was the first female PM (if you could call her female, as she was more of a man than most of Israel's prime ministers).

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: the Shabbes Plata

Plata. The plata is the electric hot plate. The plata is very popular in Israel for reheating food on Shabbos day, and for keeping food hot for Shabbos night, instead of leaving the oven on, or by leaving the gas on with a blech.

The classic way of relating to hot plates on Shabbos is to treat them as if halachically they do not cook food. There is generally no knob with settings on hot plates, and the standard use for them is to reheat food or to keep food warm, but not to cook food upon them.
Therefore the general practice is to allow the use of hot plates on Shabbos for heating up food.

Rav Elyashiv approached the subject in his shiur last week. He paskened that the electric hot plate is like an uncleaned or uncovered stove, upon which one is not allowed to re-place a pot of food upon it on Shabbos. The only way to re-place food upon it would be to add another layer on the hotplate, thus minimizing the heat level, and then upon that layer one could place the pot of food.

Rav Elyashiv added that he is aware that many poskim nowadays differ with this opinion and allow one to re-place a pot of food directly on the hot plate, but he himself holds there is no way to allow it.

He added further that he had thought he was alone in paskening this way, until he recently saw that the Chazon Ish had paskened like this as well, and he was excited to learn that he was in accordance with the opinion of the Chazon Ish.

Jun 26, 2008

why the Maar is necessary in RBS

There is an interesting discussion going on on the local neighborhood email list.

Someone posted that he runs a local business employing local people. They have expanded to about 12 employees, and possibly will expand more. The owner of the rental they were using as an office has sold his apartment and they have to look for a new place to relocate to.

They cannot afford to pay rents in the offices in the RBS "Business Center", as there is a shortage of space there and prices are too expensive. They cannot afford it, and would go out of business paying those rates (as some businesses already have).

They searched for an appropriate apartment they could convert into an office. They found one after the other, each time being told by the residents that they will not allow them to run a business in their building. The building is zoned as being residential and not for business, so they have the right to protest it.

If he does not find an apartment soon, one that the other residents let him use, he will have to shut his business, or grossly cut its size, thus putting his employees out of work.

This person has now realized, so he says in his post, that this was exactly the purpose of the Ma'ar, the business center, that Bet Shemesh had been planning to build at the edge of RBS. It was meant to provide local businesses with a place, offer local job opportunities, etc. He had previously been against the Maar (because that is what he was told to do by the askanim and Rabbonim - he was told how bad it would be).

Now that he sees the need, he sees the lack of infrastructure available to small businesses, he understands how important the Maar really is for the development of RBS. Unless we want to people to stay specifically poor and without work because of no employment possibilities locally, the Maar is crucial. there are no other adequate facilities locally.

Sure, maybe specific details of the Maar can afford to be changed. Things such as ensuring RBS does not become the Maar parking lot with everybody going to the Maar from outside needing to drive through RBS. Certain type of atmosphere, type of businesses and the like, not being in conflict with the neighborhood. And more issues I am sure. They could easily make changes, sit with local reps and figure out the concerns and the needs of the locals and adjust the plans accordingly where possible.

But by automatically rejecting the Maar for no good reason, just because they are evil and "will destroy our neighborhood and our youth" with absolutely no basis, is just harming the local residents rather than helping them.

Great new law from the Knesset!

Yesterday, the Knesset approved a bill in its first reading to allow people to bring their bicycles on the trains and on Egged. The goal is to be more environment friendly, encouraging people to bike t the train and from the train to work, rather than using cars.

Rakevet Yisrael, the Israel Train Authority, has been very against allowing people to bring bikes on the trains. They have not allowed it, which seemingly discourages people from biking to the train.

You can leave your bike at the station and lock it up there, but you still never know if it will be there when you get back or not.

This law, if it passes its final readings, will be very helpful to many people. There are already a number of people in Bet Shemesh (and I am sure in other cities as well) who ride their bikes to the train and take the risk of leaving the bike at the station. I am sure that if they are allowed to bring the bike with them on the train, even more people will ride their bikes.

I can't wait, though, to see the balagan caused by a bunch of bikes on the train on a busy day with people fighting to get on and have a place to stand.

Anyways, this law does not really affect me personally. Ever since someone local died of a heart attack while bike riding, I have decided biking is not healthy and good for you, and I have added it to my list of things to avoid (most of the items on the list include physical activity)... :-)

Commercializing the Disengagement

The following billboard recently went up over a major intersection near where I work.
(it is a little blurry because I took the picture from a distance with my cellphone camera)

The phrase is a play on words from a slogan used in the time leading up to and during the Disengagement.

The "Orange" protesters, or "Ktumim", plastered the country with signs saying "Jews do not expel Jews".

The sign says, in orange letters, "Jews DO expel Jews".

It is an advertisement for a website/company that deals with home rentals.

I am surprised it took this long to commercialize the disengagement like this. Heck, it has already been nearly three years!

Jun 25, 2008

Feiglin debates right wing politicians last night (video)

Last night Moshe Feiglin debated Effi Eitam (Achi) and other right wing politicians from the various right wing parties. Here is some video of the event...
(there was a technical glitch during the first 2 minutes, and the audio is choppy and sometimes does not work at all. Be patient until about the 2 minute mark. Then it gets good)

Webcast powered by Ustream.TV

They obviously did not use the CNN format for debates. The "moderator" asks a question and they go off on long speeches. A real political debate should be direct answers to questions, with each opponent getting a set amount of time. The format used in this debate was kind of open meaning they both speak of their objectives, but there is nothing really direct to compare on the various issues under debate.

Jun 24, 2008

reading Gilad Shalit's book (video)

Today marked two years since Gilad Shalit was taken captive. Here is a clip of children reading from the kids book Shalit wrote when he was 11.
The book is entitled "When the Shark and the Fish First Met".

Egged is assur...again

The following pashkevil was distributed around much of BS/RBS last night. It is an old flyer that has now been rehashed. I guess the issues never change, as they have all these old flyers they just keep re-using....

It is prohibited to use Egged bus services because we have, in BS, mehadrin buses [RG: aren't the mehadrin buses run by Egged?]. By using Egged, one is actively harming the kosher bus services. one who puts efforts and prayers towards the success of the kosher lines is mezake the rabbim, etc...
Signed by Ravs Kopshitz and Rottenberg

age discrimination in Kollel

Mishpacha magazine recently ran an article about the Kollel system and how their is a growing phenomenon of kollel's rejecting older students. Once someone hits middle age, usually around 40 or so, his spot in any given kollel is at risk.

The article described how Rosh Kollel's consider these men to be difficult to hold for a number of reasons. The main issue was sphere of influence. Rosh Kollels want to have influence on the guys learning in their kollels, and that is more possible with younger guys than older guys. Also older guys stick to the kollel schedule less. And older guys want more flexibility to learn their preferred material rather than that mandated by the kollel. Also there is the sense that if the guy is sitting in kollel for so long, he must not be successful - otherwise he would have started his own kollel or yeshiva.

A more thorough review of the article was written by bluke.

In light of the article, Wolf wrote a post asking what the point of kollel is. If it is to produce gedolim, than kollel should be scaled down and only be for the elite and top learners, and not for the masses like it is. And if it is just to have lots of people, as many as possible, sitting and learning Torah, no matter at what level, than why should a Rosh Kollel care how old the fellow is?

Kollel is clearly not for the the purpose of creating gedolim. Some specific kollels might have that goal, and some might have the goal of creating teachers and Rosh yeshivas.

In general though, kollel is for the purpose of learning Torah. The more kollels there are, the more people are able to learn Torah.

That does not mean every kollel is appropriate for every avreich. Just like not every yeshiva is appropriate for every yeshiva student. Some will learn better in a larger yeshiva, some in a smaller yeshiva. Some will want one that studies in a certain style, some in another style.

It is true of any institution of learning. Some will select one medical , and others will select a different one. And so on and so forth.

The same is with Kollel. One Kollel is good for this person and a different one is good for someone else. The Rosh Kollel has to be discerning with whom he accepts, and not just open his doors to the masses.

Another issue is that the Rosh Kollel puts in a lot of effort to maintaining a kollel. Every Rosh Kollel has levels and styles he wants to adhere to. A certain type of learning. Specific materials studied. Studying at a certain level of depth. etc.

The Rosh Kollel goes out fund raising to maintain the kollel. He deals with the government issues and the army issues. He deals with logistics. He prepares shiurim and directs them in their learning. All so his group of guys he has put together can sit and learn.

The Rosh Kollel puts all that effort into his kollel and his avreichim because he wants it to run a certain way - the way that he sees best.

If someone is not appropriate for this kollel, he can find a kollel that is more appropriate. For this Rosh Kollel, such a person is baggage using up resources that he works hard to obtain.

So if a Rosh Kollel decides, and the article says this is becoming common, that the older avreich is not appropriate for his kollel, I understand that.

Age discrimination is illegal in the workplace. But kollel is not, and has never been, compared to the general workforce. While I feel bad for these older guys with the problem, I understand the Rosh Kollel's point of view.

What would really be interesting to see is if someone would sue a kollel for age discrimination. I wonder how the courts, or even a beis din, would relate to kollels. Would they consider kollel equal to the workforce and be obligated under the general labor laws and therefore not be allowed to discriminate, or would they say it is a place of learning and not a work place and therefore allow the Rosh Kollel to be more discerning (i.e. discriminating).

is the cease fire over?

And in other news, it has been fairly quiet since the fragile cease fire went into effect this past week.

That is, until a few minutes ago. According to the news sources, a mortar was just shot from gaza into the Western Negev communities.

Remember what the government said when they announced the cease fire/truce? What would happen if they shot even a single rocket or mortar at us?

Think the government will keep to its threats and warnings?

It didn't after leaving Gaza or after leaving Lebanon..so why would it now?

Will Olmert resign this week? Leading or being led?

What started off as a fairly slow news week suddenly looks like it is going to turn into a really interesting week.

Tomorrow is the vote in Knesset whether to dissolve or not. Olmert is worried he has not been successful in threatening and bribing enough people to support him. People from his office have said tonight that if the vote goes for dissolving the Knesset, even though it is only going to be the first reading of the bill and he would have a chance to avert it at a later stage, Olmert is planning on resigning.

Instead of resigning on his own terms when he saw what kind of trouble he was in, Olmert chose to not be a leader, but to be led by others. Instead of leading, he is reacting. Typical of his whole tenure.

The method of his resignation has not been announced, or decided, yet, according to the sources. It makes a difference for whether we go to new elections right away or if their is a caretaker government or somebody else is given the chance to hobble together a coalition.

We can expect a dramatic day today, and if Barak and Shas do not buckle to Olmert's pressure, an even more dramatic day tomorrow.

Gilad Shalit and Facebook

Today marks 2 years since Gilad Shalit was taken captive by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza from along the Gaza-Israel border.

In an effort to raise awareness, somebody came up with the idea of urging people to set their Facebook status to say they "have been waiting for 2 years for Gilad Shalit to come home".

I changed my status. If you have a Facebook account, change yours, just for today.

Jun 23, 2008

ballgirl makes an amazing catch (video)

If this is reall (and Snopes does not mention it), this is amazing...

Ball Girl Makes Incredible Catch - Watch more free videos

starting a new life

A little while back there was an article, and it made a lot of noise in the media, about how Israelis leave Israel, and it discussed Australia as one of the leading places for Israel to move to.

I probably should not link to this, but if anybody wants to start a new life in Australia, there is some guy there selling his whole life on eBay. That's right. His whole life. he will walk out with the clothes on his back, his wallet and his passport. The buyer gets everything else.

Olmert sinks to new levels

It is amazing the levels a person will stoop to when he is in trouble. It is the 11th hour for Ehud Olmert. Tomorrow is the big vote on whether to dissolve the Knesset or not because of Olmert's corruption.

Olmert's threats have not (visibly) had any affect on Ehud Barak, and he still insists that he will support, at least in the first reading, the bill to dissolve the Knesset.

Olmert has now resorted to more political bribery, but of the lowest kind. He has announced that any Labor member who splits ranks and votes to not dissolve the Knesset will immediately be accepted in Kadima and will be made a minister. He is directly meddling in internal affairs of a different party which is generally considered taboo in Israeli politics.

He is now, after many months of telling Shas that he will not bring back the child allowances that had been cancelled a number of years ago, is telling Shas that he might be willing to do so for their support against the bill to dissolve the Knesset.

Olmert is playing with our money, taxpayer money, to extend his own job for some more time.

There has never been a prime minister, and possibly never even a criminal, as corrupt as Olmert.

Buffalo gang up on lions (video)

This is an absolutely amazing video of the buffalo ganging up on the lions and chasing them off...

Jun 22, 2008

Haveil Havalim 170

Haveil Havalim #170 is up and being hosted by Soccer Dad

intimidating Ehud

It is fascinating the way Ehud Olmert has been threatening and taunting Labor and Ehud Barak over the upcoming vote against dissolving the Knesset.

I know that if I was Ehud barak I would take it as an affront and say I am goign to show him that he can't threaten me. He talks about firing me? In a week he won't have a job.

It seems Olmert feels he can actually intimidate Barak... we'll see in a couple of days how Barak will respond...

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Olmert: Israel can't keep taking handouts from Diaspora Jews

-------- Haaretz

While what he meant did not include envelopes of cash from donors such as Talansky, the headline is ironic considering the trouble Olmert is in because of his taking handouts from Diaspora jews

Shalom Lerner for Mayor of Bet Shemesh!


A group of people spanning all of the neighborhoods of the Beit Shemesh municipality including Givat Savion, Sheinfeld, Nofei Aviv, Migdal HaMayim, and RBS Aleph have launched a movement to catapult Shalom Lerner to the position of Mayor in the upcoming election.

The group's feeling is as follows. While we don't really have the power to change the terrible situation in the national government, here at home in Beit Shemesh, we can indeed make a huge difference! We can retake this city back from politicians who aren't really interested in making this city great. We have had the same Mayor for the last 15 years and during this time growth and progress was stunted. Beit Shemesh has the potential to be such an amazing city, a place that will attract businesses and olim and Israelis from other cities, a city that can be a showcase for growth and leadership.

We have thought the issue through and have come to the conclusion that the solution for this city at this time is Shalom Lerner for Mayor and we are looking to generate a groundswell of support for Shalom.

We believe that Shalom is the best candidate for Mayor because:
a) he cares about and takes pride in our city
b) he exhibits honesty and integrity
c) he has experience within the iriyah
d) he has dreams and a vision for the future of Beit Shemesh
e) he has been the recent address for assistance for all our community matters and individual needs.

These attributes are positives on their own and neither of the other candidates bring ALL of these qualities to the job. The only other candidates in this race are the current Mayor, Dani Vaknin and the Shas candidate, Moshe Abutbol.

It is important to emphasize that our push is for Shalom to be elected as Mayor. Every voter is given two votes - one is for city council and one is for Mayor. So, for example, a person could vote for CHEN or TOV for the city council but still vote for Shalom Lerner for Mayor. While it would certainly be very helpful for the list which Shalom will head to gain many seats in the city council, our efforts are focused on making sure that Shalom is elected as Mayor.

To this end, we are asking people to support Shalom's candidacy and perhaps get more involved in any of the following ways: (a) volunteer to assist with the campaign, (b) hang a sign for Shalom from your home, (c) host or attend a chug bayit, (d) act as a "captain" for your block to shore up your neighbors' support, (e) donate or help solicit funds, or (f) go around the neighborhood with a form for filling out information helpful to the campaign.

The group is asking that anyone who plans to support Shalom should please e-mail Dov Lipman at
ddlipman@aol.com Please also indicate if you would like to help out in any of the ways enumerated above.

Jun 20, 2008

Yeshiva student builds Kassam rocket and shoots it off...in Yitzhar

There is now a new risk for those participating in the Breslav "Suicide Runs". The "suicide run" is when a few Breslavers sneak into Shchem to daven at Kever Yosef without permission from the army.

It seems a Yeshiva student from Yitzhar built his own "kassam style" rocket, based on information he found on the internet, and shot it towards Shchem.

The incident happened two weeks ago. It landed in a field outside of the Arab village by Shchem and exploded. The rocket landed and exploded a few meters away from a Breslaver who was there sneaking into Shchem davening. He was lucky to escape unharmed.

Jun 19, 2008

Play Ball! The IBL is back!

Lots of people ask me if I know anythign about the Israel Baseball League and whether they will have a second season. I do not know why people always ask me, but they do.

I had heard rumors that the second season, this year, was dead in the water and they were really working to reform the league in time for next season.

it turns out fans of the IBL have found their fortune. The IBL just announced that they will play this season as well.

The season will start at the end of July, with four teams, and have a shortened schedule of 20 games. They are mostly working toward next year, but they felt that the consistency of playing this year was important enough to put it together, even though it is in a smaller format.

Play Ball! and Go Bet Shemesh Blue Sox and win us another championship!


Yitzhar is an interesting place. one could say here is no settlement in all of Israel that is located in a more dangerous location than Yitzhar, and while that statement might be debatable, there is something to it. Yitzhar sits right outside Shchem.
Yitzhar is interesting because they refuse to erect a security fence around the Yishuv. they patrol the area, but refuse a fence, because they do not want to be locked in., We own the land, and putting up a fence impies weakness.
Yitzhar is a settlement of 600 or so families. They are strong willed. they do not allow soldiers in, ever since the disengagement. They tell them they do not want to be protected by soldiers of the expulsion.

There were scuffles today in Yitzhar as the state sent the army in to remove an illegal caravan. Yitzhar residents would never take such a move sitting down, and a bunch of people and a bunch of soldiers/police have come out injured.

the people of Yitzhar out out a statement that they are not like othe rplaces, and not like Gush Katif. If even one thorn from their ground is touched to be removed, the country will burn. We will spill blod over every grain of sand. This land is ours and we have nowhere else to go.

Haredim try to chase family out of building... for wearing kipa sruga

There seems to be a double standard held by some people.

An incident just happened in RBS. A family made aliya from France. This family is a Baal Teshuva family, and there process somehow led them to choose the frummer side of the Dati Leumi lifestyle. The fellow was wearing a black knitted kipa and sends his children to the local mamad school (like a religious public school), but he sets time for learning, he does not have a television, and he has become respected as a fine person and his family as a fine family.

They were recently intending to move to a new apartment. they found an available apartment on Nahal Micha in RBS. When they went to move in, they found a sign hanging on their door saying that this is a Haredi building and their presence is not desired. If they do not leave immediately they should prepare for trouble and the owner will be sued (what for, I am not sure), etc.

The letter was signed by some sort of Vaad for something Crazy in the Neighborhood under the guidance of Rabbi Goldstein.

So, if you thought when they chased the divorced woman and her kids from Nahal Uriah out of town that they were justified because she was a detriment to the area because of her lifestyle, it does not end there.

So what is the double standard?

RBS was originially planned as a secular neighborhopod. It ended up mixed and many Haredim bought in RBS. Eventually the Haredi community became the dominant community in RBS.

So it was ok for Haredim to buy in a secular community, even to the point of taking over. When anybody tried to stop the phenomenon, the haredim screamed "anti-haredi" "democracy" etc.

The area of Bet Shemesh of Ben Yehuda street is outside of the Kirya Haredit. The residents of the Kirya Haredit are feeling a shortage of housing and high prices. they have come to realize that they can expand outwards by purchasing places, at much lower prices, in the adjacent neighborhood on ben Yehuda street. When anybody from that area protests the Haredi takeover, they are immediately silenced as being anti-haredi and the like.

So Haredim can move into non-Haredi areas, and it is legitimate, and nobody can say boo. But when a non-Haredi moves into a Haredi area he is immediately threatened and told to move out.

It is ok to block a highway protesting taxes

A short while ago, the taxi drivers and truck drivers have started there protest against the high taxes the government collects on diesel fuel. They have blocked the Ayalon Highway.

unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera today. I can see it from my office and it is very cool seeing the trucks block the highway.

I am curious if the police will move in and crack heads and arrest people like they do when the settlers protest and try to block roads. Or are ideological protests the only type that are banned by police but protests over money are legitimate?

TOV is getting ready for the upcoming Bet Shemesh elections

A Guest Post by a TOV supporter

A group of thirty or so Ramat/Bet Shemesh residents gathered in the Shul Mevakshe Hashem, on Nachal Katlav, a meeting which, hopefully, will represent a turning point in the history of Ramat/Bet Shemesh.
In the past number of years, the residents of Ramat/Bet Shemesh have been witnesses to very disturbing trends: threats, intimidation, violence, personal attacks, children being denied an education. Just this past week, a family on Nachal Micha was told to move because the father, a European Oleh, wears a knitted black yarmulka. This is just one story from hundreds.
Elie Friedman, who is the driving force behind Tov, spoke about the goals of the new party and plans for the upcoming elections.
A number of English speakers attended the evening. More than anyone, Anglo-olim have suffered at the hand of extremists. The Anglos had plenty stories to tell about discrimination and quality of life problems. And the Degel Hatorah representatives not only have not cared, but have actively participated in discriminating against Anglo olim. Elie Friedman related an interesting story, that shows how "out of it" Degel Hatorah is.
Degel called in Elie Friedman to the party headquarters, to try to prevent him from starting Tov. Friedman refused any offer of a seat on the Degel list, pointing out that Degel has consistently refused to help the majority of RBS residents. "What do you mean?" said the Degel hack. "We have a Degel person in EVERY shul in RBS!"
"Really," responded Friedman, "How about Beis Tefila? It's the largest Anglo shul in RBS and has a very choshuv Rav." The hack calls Degels iriya representative, Shmuel Greenberg. Greenberg tells the hack and Friedman with confidence, "Of course we have a Degel liaison in Beis Tefila -- EC".
Friedman nearly fell on the floor laughing -- EC has his own shul, a small caravan 1/4 mile away from Beis Tefila. You can count on one hand how many times EC has stepped into Beis Tefila. As an aside, EC has openned up a Degel Hatorah front organization called "ABA". In case you had any doubts that ABA is affiliated with Degel .....
As much as Anglo Olim don't like politics and factionalism, we have to deal with the reality in Israel. If we are going to build a community that is liveable -- even thriving -- we will have to have city representatives that listen to us. That are from us. That speak our language.
Elie Friedman stated unambiguously: the second place on the Tov list is reserved for an Anglo.
The time has come for change.

Picture of the Day (potd)

This image ran in the Yated Neeman. It is of George Bush walking with British PM Gordon Brown. If you look at the description of the picture, the Yated translated the British PM's name from Brown to "Chum" as if it was the color and not a name...


PA kids want to blow themselves up (video)

After watching the previous Hamas video of the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, SBW sent me the following video of kids talking about their desire to be martyrs and blow themselves up. Now guys, I can understand. they have 72 virgins up there waiting for them. But why would girls want to blow themselves up? Unless they are lesbians of course...

Hamas: How to kidnap an Israeli soldier (video)

While Youtube has a policy in which they remove any video considered slightly offensive to Islam, no matter how true it is, they have no problem allowing videos such as the one below to run...

Hamas TV, AKA Palestinian Media Watch, ran a training video on their station the other day. It was entitled "How to Kidnap an Israeli Soldier" and demonstrates such an incident.

Two on the spies

The sin of the spies...
  1. My thoughts on the real reason why Moshe was not allowed to enter the Land of Israel..
  2. Consider my question on what the people really did that was so bad that they deserved to die int he desert... I don't have a good answer, so tell me yours...

Jun 18, 2008

The Na Nach Swipe tutorial (video)

How can you not love this guy???

(HatTip: Eliyahu)

a new country is born

Remember about a year ago, a group of right wing activists responded to the Annapolis Conference by declaring they would secede from Israel and form their own state in the West Bank?

At the time, everybody laughed it off calling it another ridiculous idea by a bunch of crazy settlers who have no connection to the people of Israel.

Now the people of the Western Negev communities have come up with a similar plan. They are calling their protest the "Western Negev State". They are refusing to pay taxes to Israel, will issue their own ID cards, publishing its own newspaper, and stage rallies and protests across Israel to generate support for their cause. They are not really seceding from Israel, but protesting policy. They say that Israel has instigated this by disengaging from them with its inability to make decisions.

Japanese jails are now equal to concentration camps

The story on the left was an advertisement run in the Yated Neeman by the Kupat Ha'Ir of Bnei Brak. It describes an elderly woman who donated 19,260NIS for the fund for the 3 boys in jail in Japan.

How'd she come up with that number? She explained that this is the number that the Nazis tatooed on her arm. She was imprisoned in the concentration camps. Everything that was written abotu what the boys in Japan are going through, is exactly what she experienced in the concentration camp, and how the Japanese are treating these three boys, that is how the Germans treated them.

She continued with tears that she now feels she has exacted her revenge on the Nazis, by giving this amount to help save Jews from those who were partners with the Nazis, the Japanese. What these boys are going through reminded me of the troubles I went through under the Nazis, and maybe now this money will help free them.

The ad concludes by saying, "This is the check. 19260NIS of revenge. For these forlorn boys, captured by the Japanese, the nation who were partners with the the most horrific of tragedies. Whomever was not there, in the concentration camps, will never understand. Will these boys merit ever returning from there? The answer to that depends, as well, with you."

So now they are playing the Nazi and Holocaust cards to get us to donate. I think it might be exaggerating a bit, no matter how bad the Japanese jail is, for them to have described the Japanese jails in terms that made this woman think that they are going through exactly what she went through in the Holocaust...

Do they have no busha?

Summer must be coming...

Summer is coming and that means a new committee has been formed to protect us from the dangers of the world...

The following clipping was run on the front page of the Yated Neeman.

It describes how when people go to hotels, even under Haredi ownership and with mehudar kashrus, there are tamei appliances (TV and Internet) and other stumbling blocks that can very quickly bring parents, and for sure kids, to fall spiritually, and many already have, and then they wonder why one of their kids went off the derech. blah blah blah,

We have therefore formed a new vaad - the Committee for Gaurding the Charachter of the Jewish Nation and thank the avreichim who have agreed to be on this committee. They will approach the various hotels to fix these problems. As well, they will approach the various organizations that arrange groups that they should agree to only go to places that accept upon themselves our rules of tznius. blah blah blah, signed by Rabbis Elyashiv and Wosner.

They should just assur going away at all for vacations. It will be much easier, and as many people will listen, as doing this....

Jun 17, 2008

don't investigate the PM while sitting in office

The magazine Firm (Hebrew) interviewed the director of the Kadima Party, Adi Steinberg. Steinberg supports passing a law that would not allow any investigation into a sitting prime minister. If there are claims or suspicions against him, the authorities would have to wait until after his term is over in order to investigate him. Only in an exceptional case would he be "investigate-able" while sitting as PM.

When asked if allegedly taking envelopes of cash would be considered an exceptional situation, he responded, "It is determined in the eye of the beholder".

So it seems, even according to his definition, the law is pretty pointless because "exceptional" is vary vague.

But aside from that, he supports this law because of what he sees happening with Olmert. He says Olmert cannot run the country properly while dealing with his investigation. Ergo, we have to disallow such investigations while the PM is serving his term.

Another option is, of course, to force his resignation. When he is under investigation, for what is invariably a serious crime, allegedly bribery, fraud, tax evasion and more, perhaps instead of saying he can't run the country so stop the investigation we should say stop trying to run the country and go deal with your investigation. Let someone else run the country.

The latest trend in "schnorring"

It used to be that people collecting tzedaka, either for themselves or for someone they know or for an organization, would knock on the door and ask for a donation.

I would give them a token donation, but I save my real donations mostly for local tzedakas and local organizations (shuls, schools, etc.), and for the couple of organizations/people I have given regularly to over the years.

It seems the various organizations have figured out a new way to market themselves so they can get me (and you) to give more than just a few shekels at the door.

Let me preface this by saying all these organizations probably do amazing work and are wonderful and help the needy, help the sick, help whomever they are trying to help. This is in no way saying that these organizations are not worthy of support. They probably are.

It has happened a few times recently. The phone rings and I pick it up. That is actually my first mistake. I hardly ever answer the phone - mostly because it is almost never for me, but also because I do not like talking on the phone. I will only rarely walk across the house, or even the room, to pick up the handset. I will usually only answer the phone when it is right next to me.

So back to the story, I pick up the ringing phone. It is 8pm and someone is calling while I am trying to get my kids to brush their teeth and go to bed.

They start their sales pitch telling me about their organization. Again, the organization is clearly important and does great work (assuming what the person on the phone says is true). Then they say that somebody from the organization will be on my street tomorrow (or whenever) and "can he stop in to collect a donation"? Sometimes they will even request a specific amount, and they will insist on the donation (once they think they have you committed already) being no less than "xyz" otherwise it is not worth his coming by.

That makes me feel guilty, and I am harried because of the kids at the same time. So I have generally said ok, and when he comes in I give him a reasonable donation. Much larger than I would have had he just knocked on my door. After all, they made the effort to find me and call and give me a spiel.

Last night I received a call from what sounds like a great organization. While she was talking, I kind of tuned out, because in the past 2 weeks I must have gotten 6 or 7 of these already. And, again, while they are all great organizations, I prefer to give locally (and to some others I support), and the more I give not locally means the less I give locally. So I tuned out and was thinking to myself, why should I give them more just because they called me? If they had just knocked on my door, I would not give them the amount she is asking for, so why should I do it just because she called?

So at the end of the spiel, she asks if the guy can come by tomorrow and pick up a donation. This time I said sure, and I will give him something. She asked for a certain amount and I said no - I will give him a few shekels. So she said "but not less than xyz, right"? I said I will give him a small donation and I do not commit to how much. If he thinks it is not worth it, he does not have to come. Then she starts her spiel again, "but it is for kids with this disease and that is important and we need your donations, etc. etc etc". SO irepeated that i would give a small, as of yet undetermined, donation, and

Maybe I was wrong, but I am frustrated. Why do I have to give more just because this organization bought a list of names and bothers people at night? Yes, your organization does important work. I am no longer going to give you more just because you call me.

Jun 16, 2008

The askanim of tomorrow

Guest post on Dov Bear about our future askanim

Interesting Psak from Rav Ovadia Yosef: washing a soldiers uniform on Shabbos

Rav Ovadia Yosef gives a weekly shiur on motzei shabbos. This past week he spoke about the topic of starting a melacha on Friday afternoon and having it be finished (via an automatic process) on Shabbos itself.

The topic is an interesting one and entails various issues. one is the issue itself of starting a melacha before shabbos and finishing it on shabbos. Another issue involved is one's keilim doing melacha on shabbos. Another issue is the noise involved in such a melacha being done.

The last issue is the most interesting to me. We have learned about this a number of times involving different issues and the topic is one that has a very wide range of opinions as to how to deal with this, and specifically what kind of noise is problematic.

One is not supposed to disturb the serenity and dignity of Shabbos with noisemaking. I can think of applying this to some people talking, kids screaming, Rabbis giving speeches in shul, etc., but it seems to only apply to machinery working and making noise, such as washing machines and dryers running, and the like.

When discussing this in our shiur, we found that some pasken that one cannot even preset a VCR to record a TV show on Shabbos because the click and whir of the tape being loaded and the recording process beginning is enough to be a problem under this category. While others say even more noise is ok.

So the range is great. This always seemed a bit "out of hand" to me, as often the noise can hardly be heard. Even when it can be heard, it can hardly be heard over the normal household noises. And even when it can, it often cannot be heard outside of the house.

And despite all that, almost nobody says one cannot use an air-conditioner because of the noise it makes, and that makes more noise than the click of a VCR or the spin cycle of the washing machine.

So in this week's shiur, Rav Ovadia discussed the topic and gave a very interesting psak. He said, and you can watch/listen to the shiur, though as always, Rav Ovadia is not the easiest to understand. He begins discussing the ramifications at about 10:30 into the shiur.

Rav Ovadia mentioned that army soldiers who come home for shabbos and have to go back after shabbos have a problem when to launder their uniform. They have no time, because they cannot launder it on shabbos, but they have to leave after shabbos. So he paskened they can begin the laundry on Friday afternoon and let it complete itself on Shabbos. Because everything is automatic, all he has to do is press a button and it washes itself, he is allowed to do so on Friday when it will be finished on Shabbos itself.

Regarding the noise created by the washing machine/dryer, Rav Ovadia waved it off (around the 16:00 marker) and said that even though the washing machine makes a zmmmmm noise, it is ok. He is not disturbed by that noise and does not consider it making noise on Shabbos. Rav Ovadia goes through the sources and various opinions explainign why they hold the way they do, and why some are machmir, but says the Bet Yosef paskens it is muttar, and he says (at 20:35) he does not care that it makes that zmmmm noise. That is insignificant. And everybody knows, it is no secret, that the washing machine is automatic and nobody would suspect him of having turned it on on Shabbos just because of the noise.

So this poor soldier who needs to get back to his base, would be allowed, according to Rav Ovadia Yosef, to begin his laundry on Friday afternoon and have it be automatically completed on Shabbos itself.

(NOTE: this post should not be used to pasken halacha. one should learn the subject matter and consult with a competent halachic authority)

how much bigger can the flag get?

Soon they will cover the whole country with one big flag...

In 2007 we had the largest flag in Masada. Then a couple of months ago we had the largest flag near Latrun. Now, we have the largest flag up in the Golan near the Syrian border.

I wonder where all these flags are stored once they are folded up and put into storage...

Yesterday, residents of the Golan, and specifically of Moshav Hispin, unfurled what is now the largest flag in the world. They stuck the new Israeli flag right under the nose of the Syrians in a classic move of diplomacy.

The Syrians claim they are working on an even larger Syrian flag. Wow. Where will they put it - on land we claim they took from us?

deal seems imminent for release of the monster

The news media is saying that a deal is imminent for the return of the two captive soldiers from the northern border (that ignited the Second Lebanon War), Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser. They would be returned in exchange for the release of the monster terrorist from Lebanon named Samir Kuntar who killed a four year old girl with his bare hands smashing her head into the rocks.

I do not know what the halacha is in this case, if this is considered too high a price or not (he was being held supposedly as another card for information on Ron Arad's whereabouts).

If Regev and Goldwasser are alive, I would support this exchange. Even though Kuntar says he will go right back to terrorism. If they are alive, this is probably a reasonable deal to get them back.

They just better be alive.

I hope the Israeli negotiators have demanded some sort of gaurantee on the matter, even though they are telling us Hizbollah has not given any such assurance.

Haveil Havalim #169 is huge and live

Writes Like She Talks is hosting HH #169 and it got so big she had to break it up into two parts. So clear some time in your calendar and take a look.

Jun 15, 2008

always angry

Something I noticed... both Condoleeza Rice and soccer/football coach Avram Grant always look angry and upset.

HTOD - no more bongs!

But bongs are such an old Middle-Eastern tradition!

NY Hassidic Jew arrested for impersonating OB/GYN

This news item is freaky...

Zalman Silber, a Hassidic Jew of Monsey, NY (though originally from Boro Park), was just arrested for impersonating (allegedly of course) a gynecologist and examining women who thought they were patients.

Silber previously operated the Empire State Building Skyride. His motto then, in an interview with Inc. Magazine was, "Take advantage of other people's toil. That's really what everything is about"

the lifestyle of Haredi leadership (video)

Avishai Ben-Chaim, an Israeli journalist, was on Israeli Channel 2 the other day explaining the modesty of Haredi leaders. He described how they live simple lifestyles when they have the opportunity to live in comfort and even luxury if they would so desire. The modesty and simplicity of the Haredi Rabbonim and (most of their) leaders can be compared with the lifestyles of the general public's leaders. Ben-Chaim briefly details as examples the various recent prime ministers and the money they have taken from supporters to support extravagant lifestyles.

defending Jerusalem - on Al Jazeera (video)

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a professor in Bar Ilan University, appeared on Al Jazeera TV and debated the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank with the show host.

(HatTip: a reader)

new Rebbe Nachman blog

My friend Eliyahu started a new blog called "My Fire Shall Burn until the Coming of Mashiach"... in which he will post teachings from Rabbi Nachman. His latest plost includes avideo shiur from rabbi Shani-Dor.

Jun 14, 2008

the funniest article

This has got to be the funniest article (not including humor columns) I can remember reading in a semi-serious paper in a long time....

Jun 12, 2008

Interesting Psak by Rav Sherlo: working in pornography

Rav Yuval Sherlo was asked a shailo by the webmaster of a website if he is allowed to continue working there if his work entails uploading immodest material and programs that are not in line with halacha.

Rav Sherlo's response was, as per the posting on the website of his Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikva, that the situation is a complicated one. "
It involves issues such as; placing a stumbling block before someone, assisting someone in doing an aveira, parnassah, and more.

Rav Sherlo says that he compares uploading material to the Internet is similar to walking in the street, while there is a difference between walking in the street and going to a mixed beach. The comparison is not pure as there is a difference between walking in the street and between uploading inappropriate material to the Internet..

Even though the street is filled with things inappropriate to be looked at, we are not told to not walk in the street. But going to a mixed beach is not allowed. In other words, there is a fine line, a lie that is difficult to delineate, but that line says what is normal behavior for people even if it is not completely approriate, and will hopefully change, but we are part of that, bdieved, and this is what the gemara categorizes as "There is no other way". [Rafi G.: In other words, one cannot avoid walkign in the streets, so it is ok, whereas mixed beaches are not something that is crucial to every day normal behavior and therefore that is something that can be prohibited].

Therefore, if the questioners situation involves uploading pronographic materials to the website, it is definitely prohibited, and the webmaster should resign. But if the situation is only things that are normal, even if not appropriate, then because of his need for parnassah it will be permitted for him to upload the materials and continue working there.

This is similar to responsa previously given regarding people selling women's clothing that might not be appropriate and modest."

When I was still in college, I did an internship with a venture capital company. One of the employees who was training me told me about a similar halachic question he had had. He was a frum guy and was in a position where he was to be investing in a company that dealt, so I understood at the time but he was a bit vague, in pornographic material. He told me when the situation arose, he was uncomfortable with it and he did not know what to do. He asked his rav and was told that he was allowed to proceed with the investment. I do not remember the details of why (maybe he did not tell me).

That does not fit with Rav Sherlo's answer, as he says actual pornography would not be allowed - only things that are considered normal daily activities (perhaps that rav considered it more normal of an activity than does Rav Sherlo? :-) ). This provides some insight into the predicaments some people get in and the halachic complications surrounding them.

Stephen Colbert on the Hoopoe, kosher Giraffe and Manischevitz (video)

Jun 11, 2008

future US elections on Saturday?

Roland Martin wants to change the election day in the US from the first Tuesday of November to the first Saturday of November.

Being that Saturday is a day off for most people, his claim is that the voting percentage would go up. Many people do not vote because they are at work and by the time they get to the polling station the lines are too long, and whatnot. Voting on Saturday would include mroe people in the process.

Obviously voting on Saturday would be bad for religious Jews who cannot vote on Saturday due to it being shabbos. Theoretically, if it is better for 300 million people, should that be sacrificed because of 200,000 who cannot vote (I made that number up. I have no idea how many religious Jews there are) on that day?

What do you think?

(this has nothing to do with the fact that his suggestion clearly will not pass, both because of the Jews and because of the strong aversion to changing things. This is just for the debate)

too forgiving of an atmosphere

As previously posted, R' Moshe Grylk, editor of Mishpacha Magazine, had written an editorial blasting the 3 boys in Japan, calling the rodfim, asking where are the Rabbonim who seem to allow case after case of young men getting caught carrying suitcases for people while busy banning everything else, etc. saying how he does not forgive them for the position they have put every other travelling frum Jew in.

It seems that Grylk touched a raw nerve with that editorial. he got a lot of mail from readers rebuking him for it. they wrote that he should not have published such a commentary, even if he is right, at this time. Right now is that time to help them, and such an editorial can only hurt. People will say why should I help them, considering the editorial. The Rabbonim have come out calling for people to donate to a fund for them, to do what people can, etc. and this can only harm people's resolve to help.

This past week's edition, Grylk wrote a follow up editorial.

Grylk says he understands the concern, but he doubts it to be true. he says people know how to differentiate. He says it is clear that the criticism should in no way disturb the assistance offered to these young men, and it is so obvious that there is no need to declare it publicly.

These boys are in trouble, they are in a very difficult system, the Rabbonim have called for assistance, and despite the criticism, people should help and people should daven for them.

Grylk says he does not retract any of the criticism, despite clarifying the fact that people should help the young men. Grylk explained why he felt it necessary to discuss this now. he said that he has encountered an attitude that people feel very forgiving towards people who take these suitcases when they are in essence smuggling drugs (unwittingly). People say, "Big deal, so some goy is going to use some drugs. they would have anyway." "Soa few more goyim would die from drugs, big deal." or "chillul hashem? It is not a chillul hashem just because some goy in some corner of the world gets upset at the Jews. Anyway he would have gotten upset about something. Esau hates Yaakov is a rule set in stone."

Of course nobody is saying to smuggle drugs, but when they do and get caught, peopl eare forgiving and quick to write it off as being not important.

With this atmosphere, it is no wonder that these naive young men keep falling in this trap and take suitcases for people and end up getting arrested. They see nothign wrong with taking a chance, because nobody considers what they are doing to be so bad anyway.

Grylk lays the blame for the situation on the forgiving community, and that attitude needs to be changed.

Overall, I agree with Grylk about the attitude.

But I am not sure why he thinks people will differentiate. I know I did not. I might be considered simple minded, and not the average person, so maybe that explains me.
In general, when you take someone to task for their actions, when you call them a rodeif, when you discuss how bad the action they did really was, why should I then say, Oh but I should really donate $100 to their cause to get them out of jail? If they are rodfim, why should I help them? Maybe some people need to pay the price in order to effect the change in the community's attitude that Grylk insists is the cause of the problem.

One cannot speak up the way Grylk did, and then differentiate between the issue and the response.

she doesn't hold a candle to our Burqa babe

Danish TV held a "Miss Raala" (or "Miss Headscarf") contest.

The winner was a young woman of Iraqi descent named Huda Falah.

She only won because the women from Bet Shemesh did not participate in the contest (she was not available)...

Rav Elyashiv does have a sense of humor!

Rav Elyashiv had stopped giving his daily shiur due to his weakness. He had been admitted to the hospital and had to cancel his shiur.

After about a month of not giving his shiur, he finally resumed the shiur routine last week.

One of the students in his shiur asked him if he should/could say the bracha of shehechyanu (due to his joy upon the resumption of the shiur).

Rav Elyashiv smiled and said, you can say shehechyanu only if you eat a new fruit right afterwards.

And who said Rav Elyashiv does not have a sense of humor??!!

(source: Mishpacha newspaper)

Jun 5, 2008

suing the Waqf update

A while back I registered to be part fo a lawsuit against the Waqf for the wanton destruction they have been causing on temple Mount.

Here is the most recent update emailed to the group:

Dear Friends,

As you will no doubt recall, on 10/1107 Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center filed a private civil criminal action against the Islamic Waqf on behalf of more than 150 Israeli citizens, indicting the Waqf members for the illegal bulldozing and destruction of Jewish artifacts being carried out under their auspices on the Temple Mount. The Waqf seeks to eradicate all evidence of Israel's ancient connection to this holy site and re-write Jerusalem's history. It is nothing less than a religious, cultural and archaeological crime against the world Jewish community. We are seeking to imprison the Waqf's leaders.

In the past month, we were notified by the State Attorney General that he is halting our private prosecution on the grounds that an issue with such broad public implications and interest cannot be prosecuted by private citizens. In essence the Attorney General refuses, out of fear of the international response, to prosecute these Islamic extremists and he wants to obstruct Shurat HaDin from undertaking the litigation ourselves.

Prior to his decision to obstruct the litigation, we at Shurat HaDin argued that the Attorney General's motives in this case were not of a pure legal nature and, thus, his office should step aside completely and not involve itself in the process. Now, after we have received the official decision in which he has formally asserted his determination to block our private prosecution, Shurat HaDin has decided to turn to the High Court of Justice (Bagatz) with a petition that the Attorney General be compelled by the High Court to either prosecute the case himself or step aside and allow us to continue with our legal case as provided for by the law.

We contend that the Attorney General is not coming to the table with "clean hands," but rather, while concerned with narrow political interests. We allege that the Attorney General has a political agenda and political considerations, rather than purely legal ones. The Attorney General is simply too afraid of the Arab states, the European Union, the UN and United States State Department to legally defend Jerusalem.

If the Attorney General's office does not have the courage to take criminal action against the Waqf itself, then it must stand aside and permit others to pursue this just case.

The brief was filed in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim, Monday June 2, 2008.

If you have any additional questions you can email me directly.

Best wishes for continued success,

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

davening at the Kotel for 40 consecutive days

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I do not know what the source for this is, but 40 has become a very popular number among segulah people.

On our local email list one can find regular postings looking for 40 women to "take challah" in someone's merit. Or 40 women to say Tehillim for someone sick.

There are advertisements for doing all sorts of things in groups or batches of 40 and they are declared to be segulahs for salvation and the like.

The one I have heard about the most, and I have no source for this either, but I think this is the original (at least I remember this one as being very accepted and old), going to daven 40 days straight at the Kotel.

There were always stories about someone looking to get married, after many unsuccessful years in the shidduch scene, would go 40 days to the Kotel to daven (not an easy task, even if you live in the Old City, let alone if you live anywhere else), and miraculously find his/her match right after. Or people who were davening for a child. Or for a sick person.

Now, if you want to go to the Kotel for 40 days straight to daven, but find it very difficult, as it is very difficult to keep up with, there are people who will do it for you. You can contact Western Wall Prayers and they will send someone to the kotel for 40 days to daven for what you need.

I particularly like about Western Wall Prayers that they try to explain what this is all about. They say straight out that this is not a rabbit's foot or a talisman of sorts. You too need to do work and prayer on your side and not just rely on their person. In the "How this Works" section, they explain the benefits of prayer, but I could not find the source for why 40 days... And, of course, they say they cannot offer any gaurantees, as they do not play God...

So they seem to be very straight.

If you go to their website, they have a section of success stories that is pretty interesting....And they even have some of their shlichim listed with pictures and bios...thought they say you cannot select any particular shliach, because it all depends on availability...

They seem to be very straight and thorough, so if you are looking for someone to go 40 days for you to the Kotel to daven, consider Western Wall Prayers....

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Jon Stewart on the Hillary concession (video)

Watch this hilarious clip from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show about Hillary's possible concession... wait until about 2:35 for the jewish aspect 9aside from Stewart himself)

Three rodfim in Japan

R' Moshe Grylk, the editor of the Mishpacha Magazine, wrote a knockout editorial in last week's edition.

The editorial was on the topic of the three yeshiva boys who were arrested in Japan for smuggling (hard drugs supposedly).

The past few weeks, there have been many calls for assistance for these young men who were enticed into carrying a suitcase to Japan. They did not know what was inside, but whatever it was they were offered as compensation must have convinced them not to ask any questions.

So they took a risk, now they are sitting in a jail in Japan possibly facing 12 years for their crime. The conditions in Japanese jails are extremely harsh, as a way of deterring crime (I think the Western world is wrong for not making their jails just as harsh, but they make it like summer camp behind bars, giving prisoners all sorts of rights) and the boys are suffering under very harsh conditions.

As I have said once before, I am kind of ambivalent to their plight, as they committed a crime and got caught. Why is that Pidyon Shvuyim? but while I am ambivalent, others are more attuned to the chessed wavelengths and want to help despite the fact that these boys are guilty of a crime.

So, we have seen flyers calling for monetary donations to help them get legal assistance and political influence. the flyers talk about how they were duped, they had no idea, how great the mitzva of redeeming captives is, etc.

So R' Grylk wrote an editorial. While he did not touch on the topic of pidyon Shvuyim and whether he thinks this categorization does or does not apply in this case, and whether we should or should not be helping them, he did write about the situation.

R' Grylk blasted these boys for putting all Jews at risk just so they could make some money for carrying a suitcase. Because of them, and a number of other recent similar incidents in other places, frum jews are being spotted and stopped at customs stations in ariports around the world, as they are considered highly suspect as possible smugglers.

As R' Grylk said, these boys, these people who smuggle, they share with us the ramifications of being caught, but they were not willing to share with us the ramifications of not being caught.

In other words, had they slipped through and not been caught, they would have deposited in their bank accounts a nice sum of money. They wiould not have shared that with me or with you. now that they were caught, you and I both have to suffer the ramifications of his smuggling, as they gave a bad name to frum jews all over.

Grylk asks where are the askanim getting Rabbonim to sign declarations saying it is prohibited to smuggle or to carry suitcases for other people? They sign papers on so many issues banning things and warning us of various possible spiritual stumbling blocks, why can they not do so to stop this phenomenon of people carrying suitcases for others, and getting caught?

While Grylk does not come out and say that this is not pidyon shvuyim and that they should just be allowed to sit out their crime in jail, he does say he does not forgive them for their crime, for the chillul Hahsem they caused or for the problems they have caused for frum jews all over the world, and he does not forgive the smugglers who not get caught either. They have no right to put the rest of us in any danger. Grylk calls them rodfim against the rest of us.

way too much free time in yeshivas

so think the Rosh Yeshivas at least....

Mishpacha newspaper reported this past week that some of the major Rosh Yeshivas, including RYs from the Mir, Ponevez, Kaminetz, and some of the other major yeshivas in Israel have called upon the Yeshivas and Rosh Yeshivas to not allow nearly 30% of the week to go to waste.

They announced that, "Friday and Shabbos are days in which the halls of Torah are noticeably weakened. Even though this issue has been raised many times, Torah always needs strengthening, regarding making use of this time that spans nealry a third of the week. Therefore, every ben torah should know that his diligence in Torah during these days (i.e. Fridays and Saturdays) is necessary for the continuity of one's learning. It is brought down in the seforim that mitzvos done on Shabbos - their reward is many times greater and it sustains the world at a time when there is an overall weakening of Torah study. And more so in the summer when the days are long, every person should be diligent to strengthen himself. In this merit, they will merit the reward of "taking the reward for others"".

When I was in yeshiva, during the summer zmanim when the days were longer, we had a learning seder for much of Friday - the whole morning and part of the early afternoon - and then again on Shabbos afternoon.

Do Yeshivas no longer have sedorim on Friday and Shabbos?

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