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Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

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Nov 30, 2008

is public transportation no longer worth it?

The Ministry of Transportation has announced that they have approved a price hike for public transportation (buses and trains) effective January 1. The increase will be at the unprecedented level of 8% (they were shooting for 12-14%, but have decided to start with 8%).

With the price of gasoline continuing to drop (13% last month, and another 9% tonight), will people stop using public transportation and go back to using the car?

Personally, without having made the full calculations, there are still the issues of auto maintenance (wear and tear, mileage, etc.) and sitting in what is almost always horrible traffic during rush hour that would deter me from taking the car instead of the train.

But perhaps others will find it worthwhile?

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Livni aides: Barak, Netanyahu apathetic to corruption


The "sources close to Livni" are criticizing Netanyahu (I won't comment on Barak) becuase of his failure to condemn Olmert and call for his resignation after the upcoming indictment was announced.

Tzipi Livni is a two-faced hypocrite. Netanyahu has been calling for his resignation for the past 2.5 years. (Barak is technically even the one responsible for the collapse of the government and the move to new elections). Netanyahu and the Likud are the only ones the past 2.5 years who have been condemning Olmert for his failures and for his corruption.

Tzipi Livni kept quiet the whole time, working high up in Olmert's government, because she was afraid she would lose her cushioned seat around the government table. Only now, after we are already in the election process, when Olmert no longer has any power over her as his career is over (for now at least0 is she suddenly willing to speak up.

Netanyahu has no reason to condemn Olmert. he has done so for long enough, and who cares if he holds on to his seat for another couple of months. We are already in the process of elections anyway, so what does Netanyahu get by calling on him to resign? Just to allow Livni the opportunity to call herself Prime minister for 2 months? Why does she deserve that?

Livni is a hypocrite condemning others for not talking up. She is the one who kept quiet when she should have spoken up.

Sign of the Day (sotd)

If you need me to explain, let me know in the comments, but first look at the sign, both the Hebrew and the English part. if you still don't get it, look at it a second time.

(HatTip: RW)

Haveil Havalim is not in a war zone this week..

Funnyman Benji at What War Zone is hosting this week's edition (#193) of Haveil Havalim - The Not Your Father's Edition..

Adventures in Eretz Yisrael: Shabbos in Hebron: Morris Abraham: Gunshots!

Sorry, no pictures. We got to Kiryat Arba/Hebron too close to shabbos to be able to get around and take pictures... maybe next time.

A friend living in Kiryat Arba went to the US for a few weeks, and said we could use his apartment while he is away. We took him up on the offer and went this shabbos (THANK YOU!!).. The opportunity to spend a shabbos in Kiryat Arba/Hebron does not come too frequently, so we had to jump when it did..

After we got ourselves set up in the apartment for shabbos, we headed out to Hebron to daven in the Me'aras Ha'Machpelah. We walked down the road, through the gate, across the road linking the two, and down through Hebron to the Me'arah. Davening in the Me'arah was great and invigorating. The kids all had a good time, and my little one even took a white kipa from the Me'arah that he became very attached to (we returned it Shabbos morning). My 5 year old daughter kept threatening him that if he would not behave, she would tell the aravim on him. I asked her what they would do if she told them about him, and she said they would take him and kill him.

At Maariv, I met Aharon Granovitz-Granot. Granot is a journalist for the Mishpacha magazine. He lives in Kiryat Arba.

Being in no rush, we took our time walking back, up through Simtat Erez, and back across the road to Kiryat Arba. We were making plans for Shabbos day. Plans that included a visit to Beit Ha'Shalom, a possible visit to the destroyed Federman Farm, possible visit with relatives we just found out about, a possible visit with some other friends spending shabbos in Kiryat Arba, and a visit to the Kasbah.

The Kasbah is the arab shuk in Hebron. It used to be open, but eventually became too dangerous, so the army closed it off to jews. They allow Jews in on a shabbos afternoon "tour". They used to not limit it, but now they limit it to something like 30 people. And then only sometimes - sometimes they say "no access". In our previous visits, we were not successful in getting in. This time we calle din advance to find out if it was going to be open to Jews, and the lady in charge gave us tips to get in, and we were all set to go.

Dinner and bed.

In the morning, I woke up a little too late to make it to the vasikin minyan I usually try to daven in when in Hebron, so we davened with the 8am minyan. My wife and the rest of the kids met us at the end of davening, and after hanging around a bit (I met Itamar Ben-Gvir during this time), we headed up to see Beit Hashalom, before we would head home for lunch.

This actually would have been the highlight of the day, if not for events that transpired later...

We head up to Beit Ha'Shalom. The building is a large apartment complex, 4 floors high. I don't know how many apartments it could hold, but it is a much larger building than my apartment building that has 15 apartments. This is much bigger (it is wide and long, even though it si only 4 floors).

Beit Hashalom overlooks a valley with a few Arab houses, and directly across on the other side of the valley is Kiryat Arba. As we get to Beit Hashalom, crowds are starting to form at the edges of the road. Soldiers are running down into the valley. Some Arab kids had thrown rocks at people walking on the path home to Kiryat Arba. That means excitement, so the crowds, many of them teenagers and younger kids, congregate, hoping to see some action and perhaps the soldiers will bash a few heads...
Nothing happened other than the soldiers chasing the Arab kids into the houses, so we went into Beit Hashalom.

As soon as we walked in, a nice lady greeted us on her way out and pointed us inwards. She then offered to give us a tour of the building, so we took her up on it. She did not live there, but was also visiting. She lives in Kiryat Arba, but visits Beit Hashalom often and was just a very nice person - she gave us, total strangers, a lot of her time, showing us around, explaining, etc.

Right then, Morris Abraham walked by. Abraham is the buyer of Beit Hashalom. She introduced us, and he is a very nice guy. 40 years old from NY. He told me his connection - how his greatgrandfather had lived in Hebron, how his mother and sister had nearly been killed in a terrorist attack in Hebron a few years ago, how often he comes to Hebron, how he came to buying the building, etc. He is a very nice guy, and very open and forthcoming.

We went into the Beis Midrash. Bnei Akiva was having a shabbat irgun, so they were setting up for a kiddush and a speech. As we were walking in, she introduced us to another person who had just come in - the newly elected mayor of Kiryat Arba (not really mayor, but Rosh Moatza - head of city council - it is the title for councils in smaller cities), Malachi Levinger (son of the famous Rabbi Moshe Levinger).

We went upstairs, and she took us into one of the apartments. This one was occupied by a family with 7 kids, and her parents were over for shabbos. She told us that her apartment is luxurious compared to the other apartments, because they have been there for a long time already. She told us they try when they can to put up more walls and add apartments so more people can move in, but they work with very strict restrictions by the government and army. She told us new people moving in, when places become available, is generally one room with no electricity (use a shared bathroom and kitchen), which eventually might expand to another room, etc.). her luxurious apartment was all of 3 room with electricity, so she had a fridge and running water in her apartment.

While we were talking with the lady of the house, a couple of women came in looking for a child that had wandered off. When they went on their way, one said to the other that that was Tzipi Livni's daughter. I was a bit shocked to hear that Tzipi Livni had a hard-core settler daughter that I had not heard of. I said "Tzipi Livni's daughter???". They laughed and said it is not that Tzipi Livni, but somebody from Kiryat Arba with the same name...

We continued touring the building, including seeing the view from the roof. From there we could see the activity outside with the Arab kids was still going on.

We went back down. On the way out we stopped in the Beit midrash again. I schmoozed some more with Morris Abraham. Then Rav Moshe Levinger came in and spoke to the kids from the Shabbat Irgun. I could not hear everything he said, as he is old, weak and frail, and spoke very quietly, but he was praising the return to Hebron and the buying of property.

then Morris asked to say a few words. He spoke briefly saying that while he bought the house, and it is his name on all the paperwork, the house really belongs to the people living in it, and to all of Israel. Whenhe finished, Malachi Levinger told the kids to sing a song, and they started singing "Ashreinu, Ashreinu, Ashreinu, she'yesh lanu Morris ka'zeh". It was clearly spontaneous, because Morris was surprised by it and laughed when he realized that they had replaced Rebbe Nachman's name with his name.

Eventually we got on our way, after spending about 1.5 hours in beit Ha'Shalom. The lady who gave us the tour walked with us to Kiryat Arba. On the way Itamar Ben-Gvir passed us by walking home to a different neighborhood in Hebron a bit further up, and he passed a few words with us.

After lunch we rested for a bit. When we got going to head out back to Hebron for our expected tour of the kasbah and visit with relatives, we found some excitement. We walked down to the road to go to Hebron, and found crowds of people congregating by the fence. The fighting with the Arabs had increased during the afternoon, with more rocks thrown and a few people injured.

Some kids were throwing rocks back, but mostly just into the bushes, as we were too far away for anyone near us to throw anything to the place of the conflict in the valley below. The soldiers also let out a couple of warning shots to scare the Arabs back into their houses. (Haaretz says 4 injured - 2 settler kids and 2 Palestinian kids, while Ynet says 11 injured). Rocks thrown and guns shot clearly make the highlight of the day. Especially for the kids (who now want to move there).

After a while spent watching, we decided to try to go down. They had locked the gate, and blocked of the road to Hebron, because they considered it too dangerous..

So we missed the kasbah tour (if it even happened - with the high tensions, it might have been canceled at the last minute), and missed the visit to the relatives.

I went to a local shul for minchah, and my family went to a park. the shul I went to is a chabad shul. What is unique about it is that it is a shul in the house of Rabbi Baruch Nachshon - the artist/painter.

Nachshon has a lot of his original paintings hanging in his living room, along with much other funky artistic stuff hanging all over the place, making it a very unusual living room.

After shaleshudos, I went back to Nachshon's house for maariv, and Aharon Granot was there as well. He had brought somebody along whom he wanted to introduce to Nachshon and show the artwork to. Unfortunately, Nachson himself was away for shabbos, so he, nor I, got to meet him.

Then we had to pack up and leave, ending our exciting Shabbos in Kiryat Arba/Hebron...

Nov 27, 2008

Quote of the Day (qotd) with a runner-up..

Ayoub Kara. Kara is a former MK of the Likud. He is a Druze. I remember Ayoub Kara speaking at a rally against the disengagement. Ayoub Kara displayed more courage and more faithfulness to the jewish right to the Land of Israel than most Jewish MKs, including other MKs who were protesting the disengagement.

Kara was steadfast and firm in his opposition to anything that would harm jewish control over all the Land of Israel.

Ayoub Kara spoke at the Moshe Feiglin (Likud) for Knesset rally in Jerusalem.

Ayoub Kara gets the Quote of the Day, but I will also post a runner-up qotd, which will go to Moshe Feiglin...

(By the way, the text (in Hebrew) of all the speeches at the rally can be found here...)

So here goes....

I swear to be faithfully by the side of Moshe Feiglin, as Yisro was by the side of Moshe Rabeinu.... From Moshe to Moshe, there has arisen nobody like Moshe!

------- former MK Ayoub Kara

The runner-up qotd will go to Moshe Feiglin...

I was asked what i think about the threats made against other MKs from participating in the rally.. I said I am afraid of nobody except for God, and a little of my wife.

--------- Moshe Feiglin

Chabad shliach is still missing

The Chabad shliach of Mumbai and his family are still missing, and their fate is unknown.

This would be a perfect time to add their names to the cholimlist.org website and have thousands of people say tehillim for them.

If you want to say tehillim and want to know their names, anonymous in the comments of the previous post has posted them: Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma• Rivkah bas Yehudis• Moshe Tzvi Ben Rivkah at the CHABAD house in Mumbai, India.

Nov 26, 2008

A Bush snafu

This is so typical of President George Bush... He sent out cards inviting recipients to a Hannuka party at the White House. The problem is that instead of the menora that was supposed to go on the invitation, they sent it out with a Christmas tree and Christmas scene...

cholimlist.org has new features

Do you get annoyed when someone sends you an email with a name for tehillim? Ok, that's not so annoying. You add the name to your list.

Slowly but surely, you list grows from a couple names of people you know to a list of many names, most of whom you have no idea who they are, no recollection who asked you to daven for them, are they still sick, do they still need your prayers...

Cholimlist.org is a website that allows you to easily manage tehillim lists. The site has been under development for a long time, but the site owner (a relative of mine) told me that he just recently released a lot of new features that help you manage your tehillim lists much more efficiently..

Features such as:
  • Tracks cholim and requires an update between 30-60 days (automated weekly email alert sent). So you don't have to put someone on your Tehillim list and no know when to take them off.
  • There is a text area for details if the owner of the record wishes to share info. There is also a private text area - only for the owner.
  • Lists - not only your own private list under the My Cholim menu selection but there is also the ability to keep a Shul list that everyone could see. It could be set up to let people add to it on their own or people could email the admin to add it. But the users that entered the choleh would get the monthly email to update/remove the choleh and the list would reflect the change automatically. So the List owner doesn't have to track every choleh and you don't have to automatically throw out the list every 30 days to stop it from growing forever.
    For example, you can create a list called "Hamispalel b-ad chaveroh hu ne-ene t-chilah - cancer patients <example>". It should be self explanatory what this list is for.
    It is common for shuls to either not make a mishebeirach or just say a generic one not listing the names because the list grows to big. This could keep it manageable and you could name only members, for example.
  • A TehillimRing for emergency situations. Tehillim is divided up into sections not bigger than 15 p'sukim. It comes out to 239 sections. If you send out an email request to help complete all Tehillim for a choleh, this page lists all the sections and provides a link to Tehillim online with English translation.
    As the siteowner says, "The hope is that if I can get 250+ users to sign up to receive a TehillimRing request (I'm guessing that there are thousands of people at their desk most of the day and willing to get at least one automated email a day for emergency Tehillim). So this could get all Tehillim said for an emergency situation in minutes. Meanwhile, since I don't have nearly that many people registered, the person that started the TehillimRing will get an email that they could send out."
Basically, Cholimlist.org is a site that facilitates management of your tehillim lists in an easy and manageable method, with constant tracking, and more.

Check it out, and maybe your list taped in your siddur will actually be more meaningful...

spam no more!

I am assuming that this anti-spam law only refers to spam originating in Israel.

Being that Israel does not appear in this recent list of top ten countries from which spam originates, I doubt this law will have much affect on my Inbox...

Oh well, it would have been nice for a law like this to actually help...

(Hattip: Yitz)

Defending drug dealers

(Will be cross-posted at Dov Bear soon)

Should Israel Help them? Eitan Haber writes in Ynet about the phenomenon of Israelis demanding Israel rescue their relatives in danger in other countries.

There is something beautiful about the fact that we feel the need to protect Jews around the world. I have written about it before. We hear about backpackers in Chile or Peru that fall off a cliff and Israel sends a search team. We hear about various calamities around the world in which an Israeli gets himself caught in the middle of trouble, and Israel sends some sort of extraction team.

Jameel wrote about this being a symptom of the "Magia lee" attitude.

I want to know wher the Foreign Ministry, or any other government office, was when Pollard was caught and sent to rot in jail. Where were they when Gilad Shalit was taken hostage and sent to rot somewhere in Gaza. Where were they when Arad, Baumel, Katz and Feldman were taken captive and sent to rot in some cell in Iran or Kebanon.

Do we only defend drug dealers? Jerks like these two idiots and like Elchonon Tenenbaum (who got himself kidnapped in Lebanon during a drug deal), are the people we "go to the end of the world" to free. People who sacrificed themselves for Israel are let to rot while we expend ourselves around the world for stupid backpackers who can't stay on a trail, and for drug dealers.

Another thing, and this I left in the commenst by Jameel - why do they deserve our help in Thailand? Because they were given the death penalty? And what in essence were they giving to the people who were going to be buying their product? they were giving them the death penalty, as many of them would end up dropping dead from drug overdose, suicide, gang and turf wars that are drug related, and the like.

So why should we defend them and save them from the death penalty, when they were going to be giving the death penalty to many more people. And those people we would have let die without batting an eye. We would have said, just another druggie... but the dealers we have to protect.

Yated, interest rates, and headlines..

This week, the Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fisher lowered interest rates to an unprecedented low of 2.5%.

I happened to see the Yated Ne'eman yesterday and their article on the matter stood out. Instea of using the usual terminology in the headline, they worded it differently.

The common word used when discussing interest rates is "Ribbis".

The Yated chose not to use the word "ribbis", but used the words "Sha'ar Ha'Ashrai" - the rate of credit.

Just as accurate, but it does not use the word that the Torah says is prohibited from transacting in...

Being that hetter iskas are in place, it seems interest is permissible, so I am not sure why there is a need to avoid the word... but I guess they have a certain sensitivity to using names of things that are prohibited...

and this months Chumrah of the Month winner is....

I just heard one of the greatest chumrah shticks of all time. Hands down winner of Chumrah of the Month club.

A very qualified woman applied for a job as kindergarten teacher (in Hebrew: gannenet) in a chain of local kindergartens. She comes with degrees and certifications from the best of seminaries and organizations she previously worked for.

They rejected her application.

The Husband contacted the administrator of the kindergartens and asked why she was rejected.

The response was because "your wife wears a blond sheitel. It is impossible to hire a blond gannenet to teach the children of avreichim, as it can cause them to falter..."

I am just not sure if the winner of Chumrah of the Month is either:
  1. Not to hire blond kindergarten teachers
  2. only hire ugly kindergarten teachers (by definition the response was saying only blondes can be pretty enough to be machshil the avreich, but a brunette could not possibly be pretty enough).
Either way, it is the hands down winner.

If she really needs to job, a solution would be for her to wear a dark sheitel to work. Or maybe it would not be allowed because that would be g'neivas da'as. But then again, maybe she is not really a blond and only wears blond sheitels because she thinks it makes her prettier....

Nov 25, 2008

Rabbi Horowitz on the CBS report

Rabbi Horowitz has now written about the CBS report on cheating and infidelity in the Hassidic community...

Should Likud take back former Likudniks from Kadima?

When Ariel Sharon split the Likud and formed Kadima, taking many Likud members with him, he upset a lot of people who stayed with the Likud. He put the Likud through some very difficult times.
A lot of people, myself included, thought when the day would come that Kadima would fall and all those former Likudniks would come crawling back, we should not accept them. Make them pay for what they did. perhaps it was immature, but what they did really destroyed the Likud, and that was the general feeling. I felt it, and I heard it from a lot of people in the Likud.

Now that day has come. Kadima is coming apart. Aside from the natural level of support declining, we have started to see members of Kadima leaving, and now try returning to the Likud. MK Zev Elkin is the first, but now that he has, it is likely some others will as well.

I now remember something I heard from Benjamin Netanyahu a few months ago. I was at a meeting at which he was speaking. Someone asked him about Kadima people being allowed back into the Likud.

his response was form a different perspective. We were looking at it with a tinge of revenge and retribution, thinking their careers should be ruined for what they did. he portrayed it differently. he said, and I don't remember hsi exact words so i am not quoting him, that we want kadima to fail and we want to attract them back. how else can we get all those supporters back?

So, yes, the Likud has regrown without them. Yes, Bibi has done a fantastic job of rehabilitating the Likud, bringing in new people and supercharging the level of support to numbers nearly as high as they have ever been.

But still, Bibi's response rings with a touch of truth to it. Every Kadima member (at least the ones with some level of integrity) who leaves and comes back to Likud, while he is still an opportunist (like all politicians), should be welcomed because it increases the growth of the Likud, and speeds up the demise of Kadima.

Tefilla at Beit Ha'Shalom

The following message was sent out to my Shul email list, and I felt it important enough to post here. If you are from Bet Shemesh/RBS, this applies to you...Please consider joining if you are able to.

In response to the Rav's urging that we take meaningful, definitive action to help the Jews living in Bet HaShalom, we are organizing a special

תפילת יום כפור קטן

at Bet HaShalom

this Thursday

(Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev).

· A bus will leave the Shul at 2:45 PM and return by 6:00 PM, אי"ה*.

· Men, women, and children are invited.

· 40 NIS per person, payable on the bus. All profits will be given to the cause.

· Bring a Siddur that has the Yom Kippur Kattan tefillos.

This action is a synthesis of the concepts of expressing solidarity with the residents, protest against the planned iniquity, and, of course, a fervent plea to the Supreme Maker of decisions.

This opportunity is open to everyone.

Please spread the word.

Reservations are a MUST to Tzvi Gherman at tgherman@outsidecounsel.net or 991-0210. Unreserved seats will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

* Due to time restrictions, there are no armored busses available. The Rav has approved this. The bus will pick up at Netzach Menashe at 2:35, so tell your friends in Bet Shemesh, too.

Wedding of the century (video)

The wedding of the century - literally! Marrying off a great great grandson. We should all live so long!

Mazel tov!

(HatTip: Gruntig via Modiin)

Why they ban Internet use

This article is clearly a depiction of the reason why the Haredi rabbonim have been so vociferous in banning Internet use.

While clearly the Internet makes it "easier" for people so inclined to "stray" to do so as they can covertly breach the ghetto walls without breaking out noisily until they are ready, these kind of things, the cheating, the straying, the abandoning religion, etc, have always happened, even before Internet. Internet is not the cause, but it does make it easier for it to happen...

Internet or not, no family is immune, and no community is immune. No matter how high and thick of a wall they put up.

marching to beit Ha'Shalom

If I could join the march to Beit Ha'Shalom I would. If you can, you should.

Nov 24, 2008

A Broken House

They just opened and they are already squabbling and in trouble.

Ha'Bayit Ha'Yehudi opened up to replace the former NRP as the single unified home for the various parties that over the years have splintered to form small parties. They are already seeing, in their first days of existence, a prominent MK abandoning the joint party.

The fight is over the form of the primaries. He wants them, and someone else does not. Anyone who does not want primaries, in any party, it is because he is afraid of something. Generally he is afraidf the people will not choose him, but sometimes he could be afraid that someone specific will get chosen (like Bibi is trying to manipulate the Likud primaries to avoid Moshe Feiglin from getting in).

In this case, Zevulun Orlev is worried he will not get in, so the board of the new party decided not to have primaries for the various positions of members, but only for the chairmanship.

What's the point of primaries if you have no real desire to ask the people what they want, and are not interested in their opinion...

If they are already starting out with argument and break offs when they were supposed to unify all the right-wing zionists, it can't be good....

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Want to make it to 120? Then get to shul once a week

------ JPost

Is it healthier to go once a week then 7 days a week? Perhaps going too much is dangerous and bad for your health, just like going too little???

Just joking. Thought it was funny...

Actually, the article itself reminds me of the joke:

  • 20% of all fatal accidents occur in automobiles.
  • 17% of all accidents occur in the home.
  • 14% of all accidents involve pedestrians.
  • 16% of all accidents involve travel by air, rail, or water.
  • 32% of all deaths occur in hospitals.

Happily, however, only .001% of all deaths occur during synagogue services, and these are usually related to previous physical conditions.

Logically, therefore, the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is in synagogue!

the Yiddishe Mamme

I had to go to the post office to take care of a couple things, including paying a bill.

I told the clerk what I needed to do. She thought for a minute, and then said why do that? If you do it like this...(and she goes on to describe a slightly different process), you will save 3 Shekels!

Unfortunately I could not do what she suggested, as I did not have what I needed to do it with me. When I told her that, she said ok, go get it and come back. I laughed and said just to do it for the extra 3 shekels, as today is the last day I could do this specific transaction without a penalty, and could not do the alternative method until tomorrow...

Unsolicited advice how to save a couple of shekels... only from a Yiddishe Mamme...

star-studded list

The list of stars joining and re-joining the Likud keeps growing, as Netanyahu runs from press conference to press conference announcing each new one. Yesterday was Zeev Jabotinsky, the grandson of, they say there are still more to come - perhaps the son of Yitzchak Shamir (a rumor) - in the next few days...

Speaking of Jabotinsky... does anybody know what he has been doing until yesterday? I did not see any profile of him in any of the articles I saw announcing his joining the LIkud list running for a spot in the primaries. All the articles described him as is the grandson of Jabotinsky, but I have no idea of he has been a businessman, a professor, doctor, or what... Anybody know? I am curious what his own credentials are..

Anyway, with all these stars on the Likud list, it looks to me like Bibi is headed for trouble. It looks like he is going to walk away with these elections, and that could be trouble. I think they would call it the "trouble of the wealthy" - who is he going to give positions to?

First of all, he has to form a government with other parties, and the other parties will want people in certain positions. Of course this is only a problem if the Likud does not get 60 seats on its own, but nobody is predicting that!

So Likud will have to give some of it ministerial positions away to other parties.

Then, all these starts re/joining the Likud - these guys are not doing it in order to be regular members of Knesset. Most of them want the higher level of influence of a minister. There are not enough ministerial positions to give out to all of them! Even if one acts like Olmert and Sharon and creates a bunch of fictitious positions, it will be very difficult to create enough to include all these stars.

And also many of their specialties overlap, so stars will be disappointed they were not given a certain ministerial position, when it went to an alternate star. Such as Defense Minister. There are 3 of Likud's new stars who see themselves as appropriate for the DM position. Only one of them can get it, even if Likud does not give it away to another party (as part of the unity government Bibi has mentioned, for example)..

So, while it is "the tzurress of the wealthy", it will be interesting to see what happens, and what the stars' expectations really were, and what was promised to each of them (even though now they all say no promises or understandings have been made)..

Nov 23, 2008

Tzipi Livni and the Haredim

Small parties have seen some success in the past running on an anti-Haredi platform. The greatest of them all was the Shinui party led by Tommy Lapid. They had the greatest of the temporary successes on that platform, but they eventually folded. Some other parties had more limited success, gaining a couple of seats using the haredim as their bashing board, but they all disappeared.

People do not see the Haredim as the threat against the country. You can use the Haredim to scare voters only so much. People are more concerned about other things. The economy and security are clearly greater concerns.

When a candidate has nothing to sell, nothing to offer, they use the haredim as their fallback platform, because it always brings in good press. Tzipi Livni is posturing with a lot of recent anti-haredi chatter. She won't give them this, she won't give them that.

That is all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, the voters are not going to be inspired and come out to vote on an anti-haredi platform. Those days are behind us, and there are much more pressing concerns today. Does anybody really care that the haredim are not working, when companies are laying employees off right and left and jobs are scarce? When someody sees his pension funds disappearing, and his job possibly as well, does he really think the greatest threat is the haredi who does not serve in the army? When he looks at the growing threat of Iran, does he really think dealing with the haredim will solve anything?

All the recent statements by Tzipi Livni simply attest to the fact that she is a failure and has nothing to offer. She has turned to the last resort of "anti-haredi" rhetoric. She fails to motivate her supporters. Surprisingly the polls are still giving Kadima high returns with mandates in the upper-twenties. Either the polls are wrong, and they will get much less, or I fail to understand why she is using such rhetoric when there are much more pressing issues. Anti-haredi rhetoric can only sustain a party for so long, as people see that a) nothing will change, no matter what the candidate said, and b) they have much greater concerns that are not being dealt with.

Anyway - how ill she avoid giving Shas what they want? According to the pols and analysts, the left wing parties, even with the Arab parties, will only acheive a minority of seats. Meaning even if Livni and Kadima surprise us and pull off a victory over Bibi (it is more likely for Bibi to crash than for Livni to rise), she still will not likely be able to form a government without Shas.

So as Tzipi increases her anti-haredi ranting, you know she is getting more and more frustrated and desperate...

Interesting Psak: Not to participate in a census

Rav Yaakov Yosef, son of Rav Ovadia Yosef, has issued a psak regarding the upcoming census scheduled to begin next month.

Rav Yosef has declared that one should not cooperate with the clerks of the Census Bureau and should not agree to be counted. Rav Yosef said, "If God forbid somebody counts people, it can effect ayin ha'ra taking control over them. There are those who are lenient nowadays saying it is a computer counting the people, and not a person. We do not protest against those who are lenient. Better that one should not be counted"

As we know, we generally refrain from counting people. We generally use psukim to count when we need to, such as for a minyan, and other times, at least as kids, we always found innovative ways around it by counting items, such as shirts, or kipas (would not work for the general public obviously).

Avoiding the census is definitely an interesting twist on that. Especially in light of the fact that in the chumash it takes a census a number of times (it was not a person counting them though). Rav Yosef compared it to when King David told Yoav to count the people and he did rather than refuse, and it caused a plague to break out.

Haveil Havalim #192 by Ima

Ima on the Bima is hosting Haveil Havalim #192 - the Thanks and Giving Edition.

why we are always fighting for what is ours

This weeks parsha, Chayei Sara, was very frustrating for me as I was reviewing it.

Here we have, clearly detailed in the Torah, which nobody denies (i.e. the other main religions believe in the Torah, at least the basics of it, as the precursor to theirs), that Avraham bought The Cave in Hebron and the area around it. He paid good money for it when he could have taken it for free, as it had been offered to him.

Yet despite that, nowadays we still have trouble there with the Arabs claiming it as theirs, and even worsen the Jewish government stopping Jews from living there even in places where there should be no problem.

Hebron was divided up a bunch of years ago, and the Jews were given something like 15% of Hebron in which we could populate, the other 85% went to the PA. Yet even in our 15% they do not let us live freely. The Beit Hashalom, which was a house purchased legally, the buyers paying full price and more for it. yet they don't let us live there, and are threatening to violently evict the residents.
A few years ago there were the houses in the market that Jews moved into. Those had also been originally owned by Jews, taken over by Arabs in 1929, and then have been sitting empty for a long time. When Jews moved in, the government called it a provocation and threw them out. And this is in the Jewish neighborhood!
I can understand that if the residents try to take over homes in the Arab section that the government would call it a danger and a provocation (though I would not agree with throwing them out), but in the Jewish neighborhood? And since they threw them out, they have not moved Arabs in! So what provocation is it? What does it help the world for those apartments to sit empty? What does it help anybody for Beit HaShalom.Beit HaMeriva to sit empty? These are homes in the Jewish neighborhood, that Jews paid full price for, just like Avraham paid full price for the Cave, yet we are always fighting the Arabs for ownership.

It makes me crazy.

At the end of the parsha , right before Avraham does, he divides up his inheritance. He gives presents to the children of Ketura and sends them east. We never hear from them again.
He gives Yitzchak everything else.
He seems to give Yishmael nothing. I don't know why he gives Yishmael nothing, but perhaps that is why Yishmael, the Aravs, are always fighting with us about our ownership over the land. Perhaps because he got nothing, it is like a contested will. Like in the books and movies when one kid is slighted by the elderly father and left out of the will or given substantially less. He then contests the will, fighting with his siblings, and never really lets anyone else enjoy the portion of inheritance that they received.

Perhaps had Avraham given Yishmael a portion of inheritance, maybe he would have left us alone, but because he did not, Yishmael is kind of "contesting the will" and always claiming what is ours to be rightfully his.

Nov 20, 2008

Uh Oh. The Gedolim said so. Now what?

The sign above has been spread around frum neighborhoods around Israel... It seems that some people think that every utterance out of Rav Elyashiv's mouth has to be heeded to by the masses. Forget the fact that we often find rabbonim arguing on each others' psakim, including with the gedolim, and people are generally instructed to follow the psak of their own rav...

That is even if the pasuk of "ועשית ככל אשר יורוך" even applies, but that is another topic. I think it is being misused - they are only allowed to use that demand for voting in elections, not for actual halachik issues!

Anyway, if you read the sign above, you will see that Rav Elyashiv came out very harshly against women wearing sheitels nowadays. He states clearly that the discussion of sheitels being permitted does not apply today - todays sheitels are completely prohibited. Only sheitels from a hundred years ago, and perhaps even a bit nicer ones, can possibly be permitted...

The consolation is that Rav Elyashiv says the husband does not need to divorce his wife if she wears a sheitel, just that he needs to tell her she is not allowed to wear it!

I wonder if all those who demanded voting UTJ in the elections because the gedolim said so, if they are goign to demand that their wives stop wearing sheitels.....

No more holding your nose and voting Gimmel

There is an earthquake rumbling at UTJ headquarters. The infighting is ripping them apart, threatening to destroy them. They have not stopped the vicious fighting since the elections, and it could have a detrimental effect on the upcoming national elections, if they don't get their act together quickly.

Everybody else right now hates the Gerrer Chassidim, because of what they did to Porush. Evryone hates Porush and his buddies. Many are disenfranchised with Degel. And everyone is cursing the other out.

It has gotten to the point that top Haredi journalist Dudu Zilbershlag has even said that if ti continues to go this way, UTJ might not even pass the minimum threshold in the upcoming elections. People will just not vote Gimmel if the fighting continues.

I think that is an exaggeration. They have a strong base of people who believe in UTJ as being the only option for a haredi ashkenazy person. But they will take a big hit. Unless they get it together and make some sort of working peace between the various groups.

The real problem is that the leadership is divorced from the people. that was ok until recently. The people were led by the sheperds, and the sheep followed without saying boo. Nobody was really interested, and those that were, were not rebellious enough to revolt. They would famously "vote Gimmel while holding my nose".

The guys running the party are mostly older, have been there a long time, and think that the young flock of today are the same as the flock of 20 or 30 years ago. They have no selection process for bringing in new young leadership - people more connected with todays Gimmel voters. There are no primaries - just each MK or person brings in the guy who worked for him, who he knows, his nephew or son or some other relative, and sticks them somewhere down the list.

MK Ravitz is the stndard for this problem. He gave an interview in which he declared that he is staying in his position. He was asked about the phenomenon of TOV in which former natural voters of UTJ are disenfranchised and have formed their own party and perhaps it will spread. His answer, while very calm (in contrast with the reaction of many others in Degel) was basically that they should stay in Degel, and if he had time to convince them of that he would be able to.

Basically, he is saying everyone should just trust me that we are doing the right thing and nobody else has the right to say otherwise. Just trust me.

The flock are tired of that. They want new leadership.

UTJ will survive the fighting. They have strong enough base of voters to ensure that. But they will suffer a serious decline if they do not get their act together and open themselves up to those who are disenfranchised with them. Those people are going to stop "holding their nose and vote UTJ", and will start voting for other parties, whether it be Shas as an alternative, or new parties, just join the large secular parties.

Nov 19, 2008

Quote of the Day (qotd)

"Its about the Jewish tradition, it's about Jewish history. - But we need to keep the nature, the character of the state of Israel as a Jewish state because this is - excuse me for using French - the raison d'etre of the state of Israel"

-----FM Tzipi Livni

"Excuse me for using French"? This is what she says to a conference of Jews from around the world? As if they would have no idea what the words "raison d'etre" mean because they are French?

Pardon my French, or Excuse my French, is usually a phrase reserved for excusing yourself for using a curse word or other profanity. Not for actually saying something in French.

Happy Birthday - ZoneAlarm

It is Zone Alarm's birthday today. 15 years.

To celebrate, they are offering ZoneAlarm Pro firewall for free! You only have one day to take advantage of this! So go get your free copy!

It is time to free Pollard (video)

I have written about Pollard before. i admitted that I was never a big supporter of the "Free Pollard" campaign. I always believed that while what he did was great and noble, it entailed risks that he took. he broke the law, he was caught, and he has to pay the price. Just because he broke the law for us, does not mean he should get off.

That was then. A few years ago I changed my mind, and decided that even if all that was true, and he deserved his jail time, without getting involved in the difficult and confusing details of the case, he had served enough of a punishment and he deserves his freedom. Whether you think he always deserved his freedom, or whether you think he deserved to sit in jail, he has now paid the price, far greater than any other spy in the history of the United States. Jonathan Pollard deserves his freedom.

Now is the time to call upon President Bush to free Jonathan Pollard Call: 202-456 -1111 or 202-456-1414 (Monday to Friday 9AM to 5PM - Eastern DST).
Every phone call is important. Everyone is encouraged to start calling the White House and to call daily, repeatedly.

On Thursday Nov 27th the American people will celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday - a holiday traditionally associated with Presidential clemency. Presidential clemencies are traditionally signed precisely at this time and prisoners are freed in advance of the holiday to go home to their families for Thanksgiving.

Hours for Israeli Calls: White House telephone lines are manned from 4 PM Israel time to Midnight, from Monday to Friday. [To ensure a faster response, follow the instructions for "Rotary" telephones regardless!]

Bush has declared himself to be Israel's greatest friend. Olmert and Bush have developed a very close relationship. This is the best chance Pollard has had in a long time. Lev M'lachim b'yad Hashem, but we have to do our effort to try to convince Bush to free him, and to convince Olmert to try to persuade Bush to free him.

Heading for a fight

As the government and the Supreme Court continue headstrong into their upcoming pre-election anti-right wing, anti-settler positions, they are heading into a serious clash in Hebron.

Why this is so important to be done now, can only be answered with one word - elections. The left wing government, and the Supreme Court, need to retain their control of the country. They see the populace turning more and more to the right, and that means they are losing control, and their agenda will lose its momentum. The only plan they have to thwart that is by engendering hatred for the "violent settlers who are anti-state".

How do you get people who send their kids to the elite army units, people who are involved in every aspect of the state, people who are involved in settling the land, to appear as anti-state?

The easiest way seems to be by riling them up by knocking down their homes, destroying their villages, and ruining their lives. They never really turn anti-state, as we saw after the Disengagement. They continued to send their kids to the most elite combat units, they continued serving faithfully despite threats and concerns that they would not. But at least for a few days if they can be upset, and shown in the media as being violent, and get some salient anti-government quotes said in the heat of the conflict, then they can easily be branded and portrayed as being anti-state and violent.

So the Supreme Court decides it is time to throw out a bunch of people who paid for their house, with video proof and full documentation. The government says they are going to do it. The residents and their supporters (of which I count myself) start getting upset and defending their position and themselves as being persecuted, and we are heading for a violent clash.

The leaders of the families at Beit HaShalom are warning that the upcoming fights will make Amona look like it was a cakewalk.

And you know what? I hope they break some heads.

The government is very selectively enforcing the law. Their is tremendous illegal construction going on all over the country, some by jews, and most of it by Arabs and Bedouin. As a matter of fact, there is a report by a comittee appointed by Interior Minister Meir Shitreet recommending today that tens of thousands od dunams of land stonlen by Bedouins in southern Israel and illegaly built upon be formally and retroactively approved, even though nobody went through any process of apllying for permits and making it legal. Just wave your hand and make all that illegal construction, and land theft, legal.

Yet here a few people go and pay full price for a house in a city, and nobody has argued that what they did was invalid or illegal, and the governemt is going out of its way to evict them.

If they think this will be a cakewalk, they are wrong.

The problem is that the residents of Beit HaShalom are playing into the hands of the government. The government is trying to get images of violent settlers into the media right before elections. That is the only way to get the left wingers, and even more centrist people, to hate the right wing, call them violent, condemn them and the like right before elections.

But what else can the residents do? Just walk away peacefully? They cannot. If they do that, then there will be more razings, evictions and disengagements around Yehuda V'Shomron.

They need to fight back. They have to defend themselves against the governments selective enforcement and the governments redifa of the settlers. If I had any courage myself, I would go down there and move in with the residents of Beit HaShalom (Kol Hakavod to MK Nissim Zeev for doing just that the other day), and fight alongside them.

More strenght to the residents of Beit HaShalom. Do not stand down. Do not be intimidated. We support you!

Yippy-Yai-Yo-Chai (video)

It's a bit early for Hannukah, but this is far too entertaining to have to wait for...

Nov 18, 2008

UTJ back up 20%

I can't imagine how hard it can be to count little pieces of paper that say the name of a party on it, but it seems to be fairly difficult for the people of Bet Shemesh. They found some more mistakes, and now have corrected the final numbers returning the fifth mandate to UTJ. I guess that means Labor is back down to one...
An official statement will be announced later today..

the mistake was in a certain ballot box (#25). The person in charge registered the numbers incorrectly. UTJ had 371 votes there, and Mafdal had 1 vote, but they got registered the opposite. Because of that, Labor got the extra seat yesterday, as they had the heskem odafim with Mafdal. Today they found the error and corrected it, so Labor is back down to 1 seat, and UTJ is back up to 5 seats.

does he deserve the benefits?

Everyone is up in arms that former President Moshe Katzav has rented, on the government and taxpayer dime, offices in the most lucrative of office buildings, and a luxury car. All this while he is under investigation for sexual misconduct and possibly rape.

The truth is that the whole thing is wholly insensitive of Katzav. Considering the free fall the economy is heading into, the way it is in the world economy and the increasing amount of people being laid off and pension funds disappearing and the like, he perhaps could have been more sensitive to the financial standing of the country and rented more modest offices, and hired a more modest car.

but I understand him. He was attacked, and I am sure he thinks he is innocent. He was already declared guilty in the media, and therefore he is lambasted for fighting for his innocence. he probably feels he has been given a raw deal, and therefore he wants to squeeze out every penny, or shall I say agura, that the law says is coming to him.

But the greater issue, the one more upsetting to people, is not the high price tag of his rentals, but the fact that the State has to pay for an office for him at all.

And to that I say too bad. It is coming to him. He is a former president of Israel. No matter what he did, nothing has been proven yet, and from the way it has been dragging on, it looks like nothing there is going to be easy to prove. He lost his job because of the suspicion, but former presidents are, by law, entitled to certain benefits. He deserves those benefits just like any other former president does.

Are those benefits too high? I think so. And I think the law should be changed to lessen the benefits to former presidents, to former MKs and all those others who eat off the public dime. But as long as the law says this is what they get, I see nothing wrong with Moshe Katzav taking what is coming to him.

Nov 17, 2008

UTJ just lost 20%


I just found out that the Elections Overseer has adjusted the results of the elections, as the soldiers votes have been counted and "heskemei odafim" have been recalculated.

UTJ just lost 20% of their seats - they were taken down from 5 seats to four seats, and Labor picked up the extra seat...

fear in Tel Aviv

The biggest fear in Tel Aviv right now is to be sitting in a restaurant when one of the local mafia dons walks in and sits down to eat. Be it the Alperons, the Abutbols, the Rosensteins, the Abergils...

You could be minding your own business, eating your shwarma, when your life is turned over completely. In walks a mafia guy, and the next thing you know, you could be a witness to, if not an innocent bystandar fatality, a mafia revenge hit or something..

The mafia keep getting bolder and bolder, and innocent bystanders are paying the price...

Will they learn from the Haredim? Probably not

Another couple of interesting observations from the recent municipal elections...

1. The difference between the Haredi party and the Hiloni parties is this - The Haredi parties band together and run under one general party. Thus, all the haredim vote for one party instead of three or four parties. The one party becomes big, 5 seats in this case, and acquires an unusual amount of power. If each group would run their own party, we would have 3 or 4 haredi parties with 1 or 2 seats each.

The hiloni parties, on the other hand, each group runs their own party, as if there are such great differences between them. Does anybody know the difference between Labor and Likud and Kadima on a local municipal level? What about Mishpacha Achat and Dor Acheir? If they would band together and run together in one or two parties, they would be large parties, 4 or 5 seats each, and have tremendous strength. Instead, each one runs separately and we have 5 or so hiloni parties with 1 or 2 seats each.

So it turns out that even though the hiloni parties cumulatively have more seats than UTJ in City Hall, UTJ has the most power because the seats are unified into one party.

If the hiloni leaders had any brains, they would get together and unify the various parties into one or two parties and run together.

2. Someone pointed out to me the following: It is true that UTJ acquired great strength in these elections, pulling in 5 seats, becoming the largest single party, and holding the greatest cards for Abutbol's upcoming coalition.
However, their claim of being the overwhelming majority of RBS, and thereby taking control of RBS, is false. An analysis of the polling stations shows that despite the great battle UTJ put up against TOV and how they fought for every single vote they received, they still only took 33% of the votes in RBS. So in the neighborhood, they are still far from being the majority they claim to be.

I do not have the paper with the breakdown in front of me, so I cannot confirm right now that they only took 33% of RBS, but I trust the person who told me because he did the analysis.

Barak Obama: before and after

Prior to the US elections, the frum leadership took an active role in, while not officially endorsing John McCain, making it clear that Barak Obama would be dangerous to Israel and to frum Jews.

I understand that liberal policy is one that is often at odds with frum ideology. That is why in the past 15 years or so the frum community has moved to voting mostly republican rather than the historical trend of Jews to vote Democrat previously (and still overwhelmingly, but no longer in the frum community). I have no problem with that.

This is not going to be saying Obama yes or Obama no, he is good or he is bad or whatever. It is nothing specific about Obama. I also understand that now that he won, the reality is different - perhaps even call it b'dieved in the sense that those who opposed him now have to figure out how to accept him or work with him or whatever.

Yet still, from the frum community and leadership, all we heard about Obama, from the frum perspective, was how bad he would be and how much of anti-semite he is.

Suddenly, post-election, we have an interview in the Hamodia with Rav Kalish, the director of Agudas Yisrael of the Midwest based on Chicago.

This week's Hamodia had this really great interview in which Rabbi Kalish praised Obama and said he expects to have a good working relationship with him. He said over many good things about Obama, describing how friendly he was and had great working relationships with the Orthodox community. He described him as a friend, a hard worker, intelligent, and more.

How come we did not hear these descriptions of him prior to the elections? Then he was an anti-semite and suddenly now he has spent his years in office helping the general Jewish and the specifically Orthodox community with no problems, despite sometimes disagreeing...

Are we on the brink of Armageddon and Mashiach?

A verified story from Rav Chaim Kanievsky seems to say we might very well be....

Nov 16, 2008

Gaza or Hebron? eh. Hebron.

Instead of sending our young men to die in Gaza, from which we disengaged so we would no longer have to send our young men there to die, our politicos have realized that they can score more points by sending our young men to fight against the settlers in Hebron.

The courts have now given them three days to be out of the "Peace House", that pretty much everybody agrees about was purchased fair and square. After that, the court has said, they will be evacuated by force.

While Sderot and Ashqelon burn and the government waffles on blowing Gaza to Timbuktu, they are quick to fight with Jews...whose only crime is having purchased a home...

the best of Mama Rochel...

WestBankMama is hosting the Mama Rochel Edition of Haveil Havalim... #191 for those counting..

Some post-election thoughts

I know some people want the "rayd" on all the exciting stuff that happened on election day. All the double voting in RBS B, the kannoim who voted for Abutbol even though they normally do not vote, fraud, whatever.

The truth is that I heard about some of that stuff going on. But it makes no difference. The numbers Abutbol received make it all moot. So let's say there were a hundred people who double voted. Let's say there was cheating of another type for another 100 votes, or even 500 votes. Does it change anything? Abutbol won with such a great par over his competition that none of that matters. Nobody has even appealed the results based on fraud or anything else (though there were some rumors that Vaknin applied some form of appeal early on election night, I think he pulled it). Discussing it only makes us sore losers. And I am not a sore loser. Both because I see no point, and because I think Abutbol will do a fine job and am willing to give him that chance.

About the parties, the big surprise is TOV. Both good and bad. They surprised everyone and won a seat. Despite the tremendous onslaught against them from Degel. Many people were scared away and were afraid to vote for them. Yet they still pulled it out of the hat, with a large majority of their votes coming from RBS A families.

On the other hand, I really expected, and plenty of other people did as well, two seats for TOV. Because it seemed with Chabad and Rav Alon on their side they already had one seat locked up. I don't know how the chabadniks voted generally, but it seems Rav Alon is no longer worth the 400-500 votes he claimed to bring with him. I would bet 80% of his people probably voted Shas instead of TOV.

When people are discussing the great success of UTJ garnering 5 seats, they often mention that it is really six seats when you add TOV to that, as TOV is mortly former UTJ voters. I find this claim to be a tremendous chutzpa. After they completely rejected TOV during the elections, to then claim TOV as being "shayach" to them is chutzpa.

I hope TOV stays on UTJs case, and keeps them clean in government. I hope TOV does not get seduced by offers to merge or "work together" and eventually swallowed up by UTJ. The voters of TOV are people who would not vote UTJ. If they did not bolt from TOV and vote UTJ after the violent campaign against TOV, that shows that they really felt displaced and not connected to UTJ. They probably would not have voted UTJ anyway. But these people need a party to support, and a party that represents their needs. TOV filled that void. Intentionally. That was the whole point of TOV. If TOV merges with UTJ or disappears as part of a "working agreement" with UTJ, that would be a shame..

One more thing on TOV, looking at the polling booth breakdown in the Friday papers, I noticed that TOV had a great accomplishment. They garnered votes in every single ballot box around the city. Even UTJ that had 5 times as many votes did not get votes from every ballot box. That is a tremendous accomplishment, in my eyes. They were able to connect to people all over the city.

Unfortunately CHEN did not make it in. They were close. Very close. But too many people were nervous because they "might not make it in" and did not vote for them. Had you voted your conscience, they would have been in. And all those who said there is no chance because Rav Alon left and he was a big percentage of their voters - were wrong. They were very close. Despite Rav Alon leaving. Rav Alon is not worth the 400-500 votes he claims. And Chen not being in government will be a shame, because they really did great things, and I do not see any of the othe parties filling the void created by CHEN not being there. So next time around, vote your conscience and don't make so many cheshbonos.

Nov 13, 2008

Conundrum of the Day... (cotd)

This image was cropped out of the Haaretz website... these news items ran one after the other....

So, is he Jewish or is he Bedouin Arab?

And I find it amazing that everyone is very excited to claim him as one of theirs... if we give him some time in office, I hope people will still want to claim him as one of theirs... rather than wishing he was one of someone else's....

unusual funeral minhagim

Going to a funeral in Jerusalem is always an experience. Especially when it is on Har Hazeisim. Granted, there are places most people would rather be than a funeral, but once you have to go to one, it is an experience.

Minhag Yerushalayim. The chevra kadishas of Jerusalem follow minhagim that people don't do in most other places.

I just went the other day to a funeral on Har HaZeisim. The chevra kadisha was the chevra kadisha of k'hal hachassidim. So they use minhag Yerushalayim, but they also do some other stuff.

They did some stuff there that I had never seen before. Allow me to describe it,to the best of my abilities...

We brought the body of the niftar to the grave. They placed the body on the floor, next to the grave, and asked the women to stay back and not come past a certain point until they would finish what they have to do. After saying some psukim, the members of the chevra kadisha surrounded the body (still laying on the ground), connected in a circle holding hands completely surrounding the body. Then they started encircling the body while saying some psukim. Each time they completed a circle, they would all stop, and the head guy would say some psukim, take a small piece of metal (I don't know what it was) out of his pocket, put it on the body for a moment and then throw it far away.

They would then encircle the body again, and go through the same thing. They did this 4 or 5 times....

Another minhag I had never seen was when we finished the burial. After the grave was filled in, they surrounded the grave completely with a border of stones. They were makpid that each stone had to be touching the one beside it.

I thought these minhagim were very strange and I have never before seen them.

Has anybody seen that before? Do you know what it means and the explanation for what they were doing?

Nov 12, 2008

impolite or disdain at the Rabinfest?

At the annual Rabinfest, a soldier was tired. The soldier yawned, perhaps even making some nois ein the process. Seemingly he did not cover his mouth during the yawn.

The commander noticed and stopped the ceremony immediately. he had the soldier carted off and locked up in jail for 21 days. All for a yawn. He considered it as if the soldier was scornign the memory of Rabin.

The family is appealing saying they are followers of Rabin and his tradition, and the yawn, while perhaps impolite, did not indicate any disdain for the memory of Rabin.

21 days in jail for a yawn? This Rabinfest has really gotten out of hand...

(source: NRG)

Kabbala Water for the kiddies

The newspaper this morning had an article about the ongoing divorce of Madonna and Guy Ritchie.
It seems there is a battle going on about how often, if at all, and when he will get to see the kids. Madonna submitted to him a list of conditions for him to adhere to for him to be able to see the kids...

I thought the third item in the list was absolutely hilarious. It took me a few moments to stop laughing when I saw it...
For those of you who might have trouble with the Hebrew, the condition is that the kids can only drink holy kabbala water that had been sanctified by the mekubal rabbis.

MOI requested that I translate the rest...instead, I found it on an English website... here it is...

Final Numbers

Supposedly these are the official final numbers. Someone sent this to me, and I do not know what the source of it is, but this seems to be what the makeup of our City Council will be....

UPDATE: the numbers in the graphs below seem to be inaccurate, not that it makes much of a difference... the real numbers, which I now received from the campaign office of Shalom Lerner are as follows:
For Mayor:
Abutbol - 46.7
Lerner - 28.4
Vaknin - 24.9

For City Council:
UTJ - 5
B'Yachad - 3
Shas - 3
Dor Acher (Balayish) - 2
Likud - 2
Mishpacha Acat (Russians) - 2
Labor - 1
Tov - 1
Chen - 0

How important is Bet Shemesh?

We in Bet Shemesh think we are living in an important city. It is a large city on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It has grown tremendously over the past 10 years. the real estate has been hot. According to the former mayor Danny Vaknin he had been the head of various forums of mayors, and director of various organizations involved in goverance.

I always thought that while we were living in a quiet rural town, it had acheived some level of importance.

Last night I learned that we are all fooling ourselves. I was listenign to the news, checking various websites, and while all the talk was elections, bet Shemesh never even got mentioned. Theyw ere talking about incumbent mayors fighting for re-election, they were talking about incumbents being replaced. they were going through the various regions of Israel talking about the avrious cities and updating what was happening. And no mention of Bet Shemesh.

With a mayor so well connected, with 15 years of incumbency, with a city so "important", I would have thought there would be an election update from bet Shemesh...

I guess Bet Shemesh is really pretty insignificant overall. It is important to us because it is our home, but nationally, we are still small potatoes, and our (former) mayor must not be as influential and important as he claimed to be...

Finally over

Whew. That was a hairy election season. Thank God it is finally over. Now it is time to get ready for the upcoming fights for the national elections!

Moshe Abutbol won!

Clearly he had the upper hand because he was the only candidate with a real jingle...

I have not yet heard any official numbers, but I did hear that Moshe Abutbol won the mayoral race.
As far as parties go, I also did not hear official numbers, but TOV people are saying they got 1 seat. I also heard Gimmel got 5 seats which makes them the largest party in Bet Shemesh by far, if the number is correct. For the rest of the parties successes and failures, we will have to wait a bit longer..

I wish Moshe Abutbol hatzlacha in running the city. I am confident he will be a good mayor. The consolation prize for those who did not vote Abutbol is that next week construction is starting on the new hospital, the womens convalescence center, and the new train tracks to Ramat Bet Shemesh, and we all stand to gain from that... (just joking, not being cynical you can all read that again, this time with a smile on your face)..

Nov 11, 2008

is Rav Steinman against TOV?

The Degel people brought Rav Steinman yesterday, under great fanfare to speak out against TOV.
If you read the text below, he speaks out against people who are not completely shomer torah and mitzvos, and don't listen to the rabbonim. If you read the text below, the transcript of what he said yesterday, you will see nowhere any mention of TOV itself.

If he was so upset about TOV that he felt he had to come to Bet Shemesh to dispel any rumors that he is ok with them, and dissuade people from supporting them, why did he leave everything only implied? Why did he not mention them explicitly?

Another thing that disturbs me is the way he implies that there is only one way to do things. Whatever happened to minhag? Whatever happened to machlokes poskim and people following their ravs psak? An example is that he discusses the use of Mayim Achronim. Rav Steinman says that shulchan aruch paskens you have to do mayim achronim, so anybody who does not is making a chillul hashem, even though perhaps it is not such a serious thing.

I don't do mayim achronim because of my minhag. So does that mean I am making a chillul hashem and straying from the path every time I bentch?

Anyway, if you read the text you will see Rav Steinman says that you have to vote for someone who does the mitzvos without leniency, and for sure not for a secular Jew. Only vote for those who do things according to the Torah.

One can even look at this as an endorsement of TOV!

Add to this the following audio recording of a meeting the heads of TOV had with Rav Steinman last week. They went to Rav Steinman because they knew he was against them because he had been told they do not listen to rabbonnim. They went and told him they do listen to rabbonim, and he said then that it is ok.

So it is really a matter of who tells him what. if the Degel people tell him that they do not listen, so he says if they dont listen you cannot vote for them. If TOV people tell him they do listen, then he says it is ok...

Who wants my vote?

I have not yet voted, even though the polls opened at 7am. I will vote when I get home from work, IYH.
I have decided to sell my vote. I really have just a couple of issues that are important to me, and I heard the candidates talk about many of issues, but none of them spoke about these two issues.

So whoever will write back to me and promise me to resolve the following two issues, gets my vote:
  1. Why does my daughter get a day off of school? They have taken over the schools to be used as polling booths. That means the kids in the schools being used get a day off. What are we supposed to do with our kids? I do not get a day off of work to take care of them. I see no reason that they cannot find other locations to be used for voting. Let the kids be in school today. there is no reason for them to have a day off.
  2. My second issue is parking and traffic in the area of the train station and BIG. That is a tremendous mess that wastes a lot of time for me regularly.
Whoever promises to resolve those messes, gets my vote.

Why I do not feel obligated to vote UTJ

In the comments of a recent post, I was asked the following question:

Now I can understand the people out there who take absolutely no heed of the Rabbanim or Gedolim on any issues, why should they start now by the elections? But I know both of you guys to be G-d fearing jews. Doesn't HaRav Steinman even move you by 1%??? So many Rabbanim and Gedolim have instructed to vote for Abutbul. And you yourself aren't that against it either. You just prefer Lerner. Why wouldn't you want to make a Kiddush Hashem and be mekayem a mitzva of listening to the Gedolim to boot?
(Don't answer that RCM supports them all cos we all know his approach is closer to abstaining than to endorsing everyone!)
I am not writing to try to recruit votes for Abutbul. I am just genuinely baffled.

The following is my answer:

I am not a talmid of Rav Steinman, and to me he is just as much a gadol as the Gerrer Rebbe who says to vote Lerner.
I am following Rav Malinowitz's opinion, that if I was a talmid of Rav Steinman I would be obligated to listen to him. Since I am not, as a matter of fact he has never said two words to me nor I to him, I am not obligated to listen. Rav Malinowitz's "psak" was for his kehilla that we are intelligent enough to make our own decision.

Being that I can make my own decision, you ask why I do not conduct myself like Rav Steinman says to? I say why choose him? Why not choose the Gerrer Rebbe?

I did not make my decision based on the Gerrer Rebbe's opinion, but I see no reason to choose Rav Steinman's opinion over his.

So I ask you, and I do not know who you are and maybe you are a talmid of Rav Steinman, but assuming you are not, why do you choose to follow him?

Another point I would make is that UTJ MK Moshe Gafni has said numerous times that his goal is to protect and fight for the yeshivas. Once a person leaves yeshiva, there are others he can turn to (he said it at least once in response to a question why he did not support a bill that would have helped haredi baalei batim with lower taxes - though I do not remember the details of the bill, and I heard him say it in regards to other things as well - another example had to do with post-yeshiva Haredim in the army) for that help. Degel's job is to help the yeshivas, that's it. Once you leave yeshiva, you are lower priority for Degel.

That is perfectly legitimate in my opinion. They want to prioritize their work for one specific sector.

No problem. But don't expect me to automatically vote for you. I am not in yeshiva anymore. Unfortunately perhaps, but that is the reality. I find supporting yeshivas to be a very great endeavor. But I am not in yeshiva. I work for a living and have a [large] family, and I have personal concerns, and communal concerns that for me take priority over yeshivas.

So if Gafni says he does not need to work for me, then I have no need to follow him, and vote according to his wishes..

Oh yeah, one more thing - did you know that Greenberg is Gafni's parliamentary assistant? Did you know that Montag is his nephew? Do you really think the gedolim choose (as if they were actually involved in the process) the best reps for the haredi public or perhaps they just choose those that are the best connected?
Not that they are bad reps. Perhaps they have become great reps.

another thing, look at Beitar as an example.
the degel branch there recently had internal voting to decide who would be higher up on the list and get the Deputy Mayor position. The two candidates were a guy named Yossi Shitreet, and a guy named Yitzchak Ravitz. Yes, Ravitz is the son of the Degel MK.

Turns out Ravitz surprisingly lost to Shitreet, and MK Ravitz is fighting to get Shitreet thrown otu because Degel is an Ashkenazy party and a sfardi shold not be there. He should be in Shas.

So as long as he was just a voter, and a shlepper, it was ok for him to be in Degel. As soon as he beat out the "son of" for the paying job in city hall, then all of the sudden there is no room for him.

I dont know if Ravitz won, or will win, his fight or not, but even if he loses it, he will just move his son to another city where he can put him at the head of Degel there.

Degel HaTorah is a family business. I am not family, so I do not feel beholden to them.

I have no problem with Degel being a family business. I just feel no obligation to vote for them. If I do vote for them, it is because they earned it. And because it is a family business, I do not consider it a mitzva of any sort to vote for them or for their recommendation for mayor.

If I feel like voting for them because I like certain things they do, I will vote for them. If not, not. If I wish to follow their recommendation for mayor, I will. If not, not. I am open to them just as I am open to every other party, as per my needs and concerns.

If I need to buy something, and there are two stores that sell it. For whatever reason I ask my rav which store I should go to. He tells me one of them. I find out that his wife or son-in-law own that store. So is it a mitzva to shop there now. I think because the store is owned by his relative, it is no longer a mitzva, and the psak is tainted with conflict of interest. I might still choose to buy the item there, because perhaps they give better service, or maybe they sell it with a bigger smile, or they'll give me a discount or whatever other reason there might be. But it will not be a mitzva. This is how I look at the relationship between Degel and the rabbonim.

Another thing - Do you know how many stories I have heard of Haredi baalei Batim who can't get their kids into schools? Do Gimmel people help? no. often, and I am aware of cases, where it is the gimmel askanim who were the cause for them being rejected, claiming they are not frum enough.

Now those same askanim have the chutzpah to call these people and demand that they vote gimmel.

So again - if I want to vote Gimmel because I admire their work and think they do important stuff, more so than other parties, I will vote for them. If not, not. I will not vote for them just because of social obligations, or because I am bullied into it. if I vote for them it is because I want to.
And the same goes for mayor. i will choose for whom I want to vote. I feel beholden to nobody, and I have no need to listen to anybody else's opinion on who I should vote for. Nobody has a right to demand my vote. Tell me your guy's qualities and platform, and maybe I will be convinced. But nobody has a right to demand my vote.

Nov 10, 2008

Get out and vote!

A Final Pre-Election Message from TOV

This Tuesday, from 7AM until 10PM, you will have the opportunity to have your say in what the face and character of Bet Shemesh will look like for the next five years.
As you can probably tell from all the speechs, papers, fliers, ads, booklets, other "stuff" in the street, passions are high and people feel that this election cycle is very important.
Everyone has their strong opinion about the Mayoral candidates and everyone has a passionate opinion about which party to vote for.

The most important thing is TO GET OUT AND VOTE.
Do not sit home. PLEASE.

Find your voting station, bring your Teudat Zehut and go vote.
If you are not sure where to vote, or if you need transportation, please call the TOV headquarters at 077-300-9641 and we will be happy to help.

Its your right and your z'chut to have a say.

observations on Har Hazeisim

I was on Har Hazeisim today. I had a levaya to attend. While waiting for the levaya to begin, we met at the parking lot of the Intercontinental Hotel.

I realized I am in the wrong business. I am working too hard, for too little. Out of this car came an Arab fellow selling these posters for a few shekels each. There were not a lot of people in the area - just a few. If that business of selling these posters for pennies can earn him enough to buy a nice car like that, I must be in the wrong business.

While waiting, I saw the following election sign on a poll. It is a sign for a Shas candidate, in Arabic. I asked an Arab guy there if he was going to be voting for that guy. He said yes. I asked why? Isn't there an Arab candidate to vote for? He said they don't care who any of them are - whoever helps them, they will vote for him.

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