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Feb 26, 2009

Peres the Extremist - fascinating story

Ynet ran an article the other day about the overuse of the term "extremist" and how it is being thrown about by politicians accusing each other of extremism, yet nobody has any idea what is considered "normal", so nobody knows what is considered "extreme".

It is therefore very appropriate that today Ynet has run an article in which Rav Yisrael Ariel, the director of Machon Hamikdash in Jerusalem, tells a story about Shimon Peres that shows Peres is really the extremist...

That accusation against Peres, calling him an extremist is really tongue in cheek, but he says it while telling over a fascinating story from Israel's history.

Rav Ariel used to be the Rav of Yamit - the largest of the settlements in the Sinai desert, that was uprooted in the peace agreement with Egypt.

Rav Ariel relates that they wanted to establish a hesder yeshiva in Yamit. They held a meeting with Shimon Peres, then Minister of Defense, to discuss the idea.

Shimon Peres was against starting a yeshiva in Yamit. Peres surprised everyone and said he prefers to start the yeshiva at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where the Jews were given the Torah. Peres said there would be no problem starting such a yeshiva, and he would take care of all the procedural issues and arrangements.

When they asked Peres logistically how it would be possible - just as far as transportation - how would anyone get there to such an isolated place in the middle of the desert, Peres said he could work it out. Peres said he could have a helicopter take the boys home once a month for shabbos.

The idea suggested by peres was discussed in meetings between Peres and the yeshiva committees of Bnei Akiva. In the end it did not work out, and the yeshiva was eventually established in Yamit.

Stormy Shabbos

We are in for an exciting and stormy shabbos... in Jerusalem (and other places) they are even expecting some snow!

(image taken from Israel Weather)

Jack Lunzer and the first set of Talmud

I know I am late to the Valmadonna game, and I don't know if I have all the details correctly, but I just heard this story and found ti amazing. I heard it from someone who is sort of related to Jack Lunzer, the owner of the Valmaddona Collection, and he had heard it firsthand from Lunzer himself.

The story is about the set of Talmud that is part of the Valmadonna Collection being auctioned off at Sotheby's.

King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife. The problem is that he was Catholic, and Catholics do not allow divorce in their religion.
Someone told King Henry that in the Talmud there is a big discussion about this and the Jews allow divorce.
King Henry wanted to take this discussion to the pope and request he reconsider allowing him to divorce his wife. The king contacted the printer, Daniel Bomberg, to print and send to him a set of Talmud.

They did not have pdf files and email back then, nor did they have UPS, Fedex or overnight express, and it took a long time to print, organize, and ship. Bomberg printed what became the first full set of the Talmud. It took so long that by the time it was ready, King Henry had no use for it.

King Henry had lost patience, converted to Protestant (really not exactly Protestant but he formed what became known as the Church of England, or the Anglican Church), divorced hsi wife, and married his mistress.

Henry now had no use for the Talmud, so he dumped it in the archives of the Westminster Abbey. It laid there in the basement for hundreds of years collecting dust.

Lunzer, a collector of rare books, was int he Abbey and saw on display a volume of the Talmud. He was otld the story of the Talmud by the curator, and asked if they have any more volumes. The curator took Lunzer to the basement and showed him the rest of the set, with a thick layer of dust on top of the boxes.

Lunzer immediately offered to purchase the entire set. The curator refused, saying that this Talmud is part of the Westminster Abbey, and there is no way they would ever part with it.

Lunzer went on his way. Eventually he spotted an add in the newspaper with a notice for the sale of the original charter of Westminster Abbey. Lunzer jumped at the opportunity and immediately bought the charter.

Lunzer then brought the charter to the Abbey and showed it to them. The curator said to Lunzer that he knew Lunzer would be back one day and they would be hearing from him. They obviously wanted the charter, and Lunzer was only willing to part with it in exchange for the set of Talmud. The Abbey agreed and they exchanged the charter for the talmud.

This is the amazing story of how Jack Lunzer came into possession of the first full set of the Talmud.

Feb 25, 2009

Welcome Hamodia to the late 20th Century!

Hamodia has joined the late 20th century and now has a website!

Chaptzem is upset at Hamodia because of a perceived hypocrisy in the sense that Hamodia has, first of all, always been so anti, but more so because until now they have rejected advertisements that contained websites. And suddenly they are starting their own site!

(Thanks to Parshablog for pointing them out)

If you look at the comments there, it looks like people generally agree with those sentiments.

I disagree. I think we should praise Hamodia for finally having the courage to take the jump. So they used to be against it? Nobody changes their mind? Circumstances are different now. Maybe they see that they will not succeed without a website. Maybe they see the web is so prevalent, they already lost that battle.

About the ads, I am not sure what Chaptzem is talking about. Pick up the paper of any week (in English) and you will see ads with websites. They got rid of that policy (unofficially at least) a long time ago.

So, we condemn them when they oppose the internet, and now we condemn them when they accept the internet. What do we want from them exactly?

I think Hamodia made a good move starting a website. I hope it helps the marketing of their newspaper.

Quote of the Day (qotd)

David Rotem, MK from the Yisrael Beiteinu, gets the qotd award for his response to Ahmed Tibi.

Likud MK Ofir Akunis tried to propose cutting short the upcoming Knesset spring vacation and cause the MKs to work until Pesach, and only get vacation for the week of Pesach itself. He says it is inappropriate that we have such a long vacation, especially after we have only just begun working. Most MKs opposed the proposal (of course).

MK Ahmed Tibi attacked Akunis saying, "Every time there are new MKs, they attack the Knesset. They should wait a bit patiently. There is nothing wrong with the Knesset getting vacation. There are MKs like myself who did not rest the whole tenure (of the past Knesset term). Corresponding to that there are MKs whop spent all their time sitting in the coffee shops of Tel Aviv, were chosen on large party lists, and are suddenly surprised that we get a vacation."

David Rotem responded to Tibi, "I saw yesterday that you went on vacation when we sang HaTikvah in the Knesset plenum..".

Bidda-Boom, Bidda-Bang!

Turkish flight crashed

I wonder how many Israelis were on this Turkish Air flight that crashed, considering the recent "unofficial" ban on Turkey because of their attacks on us during and after the Gaza War.....

This Knesset season promises to be exciting

The new government looks like it is going to be exciting and stormy.
Bibi will constantly be trying to not be tied down by the right-wingers who brought him the premiership, while the right-wingers will make every effort to tie his hands unless he is willing to promote their agendas. They have a point - he is only prime minister because of them.

Yisrael Beiteinu is behaving for now, but what will be when they start clashing with Shas and UTJ over the civil marriage issue and over the budgets Shas and UTJ are sure to request? Also, YB is already threatening to not join the government, and trying to force new elections again. They are saying that if Bibi does not put together a unity government, they might refuse to join a narrow right-wing government and instead call for new elections. They clearly think they stand to gain even more seats by holding new elections immediately.

Just yesterday, right after the new Knesset was signed in, the new MKs already submitted 170 new bills to pass new laws, ranging from various forms of civil marriage, to changing the election method, to the issue of selecting judges and more.

We already had MKs get upset and walk out. When Miki Eitan, the temporary Chairman of the Knesset spoke about the need to pass a constitution, he upset some of the haredi MKs when he mentioned they should come to terms with the fact that a constitution for the State of Israel cannot be identical to the constitution of the Jewish people. A couple of MKs walked out because of that.

Dalia Itzik, the now former Knesset Speaker, gave one last sharp criticism of the Knesset members, along with approving for herself the doubling of the size of her office space. In addition, outgoing PM Olmert also submitted a request to increase the size of his allotted office space.

And coalition negotiations are just beginning...

It promises to be exciting...

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Gaddafi: Israel, not Sudan, to blame for crisis in Darfur


I was always intrigued by Moammar Ghadaffi and his eccentricity, but he really seems to be smoking some strong stuff nowadays!

Feb 24, 2009

the Case of the Body Snatchers

Wanna know what a chillul hashem is?

When stories like this happen, and, as they always will, get out to the general press, that is a chillul hashem.

Heck - they were worried that someone would steal the Rosh Yeshiva's body before the funeral, because they are fighting over who should be the next Rosh Yeshiva? Is there anything right about that?
I know the fighting has been going on for a while, with different camps pushing their rosh yeshiva as the real one. You can look at it as an issue of kavod, or you can look at it as an issue of kavod hatorah.

But to let it get to the point that you have to be concerned that someone is going to steal a body waiting for burial? How can that level of fighting be considered fighting for kavod hatorah?

Letting it get to that point is a classic example of chillul hashem.

Question for the Men: watching women's performances on video

The following question is directed toward the (religious) male audience:

If your wife or daughter were performing in a play for women, would you watch the video? If you would watch the video performance of the play, would you be interested in the play itself, thus watching other women perform and sing, or would you basically just be watching so you could see your wife or daughter spots with no interest in the rest of it?

I am not looking for a halachik discussion on the permissibility, or lack thereof, of watching such a video. I am just curious how you relate to it. Of course, you can comment anonymously (if you are going to say that you watch such videos) so nobody gets upset at you for watching videos of womens performances.. :-)

Feb 23, 2009

And here is a chumrah I never heard of....

The tiyulim board of Israel Channel 2 took a tour of Meah She'arim. Aside from the discussion of the history and the discussion of the mode of communication called "pashkevilim", they mention a chumrah they found in Meah She'arim.

The chumrah, and this is one I never heard of, is not hanging women's laundry to dry with men's laundry!

Personally, I think it is not a chumrah, but perhaps a convenience - either they wash them separately for convenience, and therefore hang them separately. Or perhaps it is an issue of washing different types of fabrics separately, and therefore hangining them separately.. Or some other "convenience" reason.

But they say they walked around for three hours and did not see a single instance of mens aundry haning to dry with women's laundry! That is a long time to look at laundry and not see a single instance, if it is just for convenience reasons...

I am surprised they even noticed that, and that the laundry became part of the tour...

(I don't call it "Chumrah of the Month" because I don't know if it is really done as a chumrah or just a convenience....)

Has anybody heard of such a thing? Or can you propose a reason for this, if in fact it is some sort of minhag or chumrah?

Finding Miriam's Well

This morning on the radio they were talking about an interesting topic that comes up every few years. Tradition tells us that when the Jews entered the Land of Israel, the Well of Miriam which accompanied us through our wandering in the desert and provided our water, went into the Kinerret.

I don't know if it is one of those legends like the Loch Ness monster and BigFoot, but every few years we hear a report about someone who claims to have discovered the location of Miriam's Well within the Kinerret.

So today on the radio they were talking about another study regarding the search for Miriam's Well. I did not really understand what they were talking about, but I found an article about the recent discovery....

Here is the article in Hebrew... It mentions some of the traditions held by locals as to the location, as well as some legends of how divers would try to enter the underground well they thought was it and they were not able to... very interesting stuff, but I don't know what finding the well does for us (other than just for the historical aspect of course)...

Three stories of gadlus

There is a book being published by Rabbi Shlomo Levenshtein, a renowned "maggid", and it is laced with anecdotes displaying the love and dedication, and mesirus nefesh, for Torah and mitzvos.

Mishpacha magazine printed some excerpts from the upcoming book. They selected a numer of stories. They were all good stories, but I found three in particular striking, and I want to share them with you.

1: Rav Shteinman said to one of his confidantes that on shabbos when bentching, one is required to add the paragraph of "r'tzeih". If one forgot to say it, he would have to repeat the bentching. If he is unsure of he said it or not, he would also be required to repeat the bentching, because we would assume that he said the most common bentching he is familiar with, which is the weekday version not including R'tzeih, meaning we would assume he skipped it and therefore he must repeat it.

Rav Shteinman continued, the question therefore is regarding me - I never eat bread during the week. So my regular bentching is one that includes r;tzeih. So if on shabbos I would bentch and be unsure whether or not I said r'tzeih, would the decision be any different?

Realizing that the question was not really relevant, one of the people present asked Rav Shteinman - how long has it been since the rav has not eaten bread during the week?

Rav Shteinman's answer: 70 years!

Similarly it is known that the rav only drinks hot water unflavored with tea, as drinking water flavored with tea is considered by him to be filling a desire. He would say "Why do I need to drink hot water that is colored brown?"

One time a doctor said to him that tea is good for his health, as it contains healthy nutrients. The doctor recommended he begin drinking tea. The rav agreed to drink a cup of tea. When he was about to drink the tea, he changed his mind and said,"For 90 years I have been fine without tea. Right now I have to start with new desires?".
And he did not drink the tea.

2: Rav Mordechai Reimer, the mashgiach of the Tchebin Yeshiva and a son in law of Rav Elyashiv, was in one of the concentration camps during the war. He was very weak and suffering from great hunger. Along with that he had contracted typhus. He knew that if he did not obtain some food to eat very soon, he was going to die.

He dragged himself outside, and all he saw was snow and ice. Suddenly he saw another prisoner holding four pieces of bread - a considerable treasure!

Rav Mordechai could tell that this prisoner had obtained the bread by stealing it from the kitchen, but he also knew this person would not share the bread with him.

Rav Mordechai gathered his strength and pushed the other prisoner down. When he slipped on the ice, he dropped the bread he was holding. Rav Mordechai grabbed one of the pieces and ran away.

He recovered from his disease, and he always knew that that piece of bread is what saved his life, and eventually he survived the holocaust.

Rav Mordechai eventually became a great talmid chacham, but he was always troubled by that incident of theft. He went into Rav Elyashiv once to ask about it, and split his question into three parts:
  1. Was he allowed to take the bread back then?
  2. Even if ti was ok, does he have to search out the prisoner and pay him back for the bread he took?
  3. If he should have to pay for it, how much? would he have to pay based on the value of bread today, or based on what a piece of bread was worth back then in the camps?
Rav Elyashiv answered:
  1. Because he had four pieces of bread, taking one of them did not put the other prisoner's life in danger, and therefore it was ok for him to take the bread to save his own life. A person is allowed to save his own life by causing damage to someone else's possessions.
  2. But, when one saves himself at the expense of someone else's property, he is obligated to pay for the damage he caused. Since he does not know the person from whom he stole and has no way of finding him, he should return the money by donating to public funds, with the hope that the person he stole from would get some sort of benefit from those public funds.
  3. Rav Chaim Kanievsky proved from the story of Avraham Avinu that he has to return the money based on the value of the bread in the camps. Because Avraham would give wayfarers food, and refuse payment. He would instead ask them to bentch and thank God. When they said they wanted to pay, Avraham would submit them with a ridiculous bill. The guest would complain saying the food was not worth that much, and Avraham would respond that maybe where they were from it was not worth that much, but out in the desert where he is living, it is worth those astronomical amounts. They agreed and instead would generally bless God. From that story Rav Kanievsky proved that the value is based on the location it was in.
I find it amazing that for so long he could be disturbed by the theft of a piece of bread that he stole in order to save his life. Not only was he bothered by it, but to the point where his question was how much to pay back.

3: A few years ago a woman in Bnei Brak died at the age of 97. Two years later, her sister in the US died at the age of 97.

These two women had been born in the town of Baranovich - the town famous for the great Rav Elchonon Wasserman.

They grew up during a very difficult time, and the students in the yeshiva had no food, and often did not even have bread to eat.

These two sisters, young ladies at the time, took it upon themselves to feed the yeshiva boys. They took a sack and went from house to house around the town asking each household to donate one piece of bread for the students of the yeshiva.

When they finished making the rounds, they brought the bread to Rav Elchonon Wasserman. They did this every day for a long period of time, thus the boys of the yeshiva ate and survived because of these two women. Rav Elchonon blessed them that they should merit long lives.

They both died exactly at the age of 97.

Feb 22, 2009

of Rabbis and "Men of Spirit"

Yair Lapid gets upset when he finds out that the speakers before him at an army base course were all rabbis. When he asks why only rabbis and no secular "men of spirit" (media, authors, poets, etc.) were invited, he is told they are all invited. The only ones who come are the rabbis - they agree right away. The secular "men of spirit" never accept the invitations.

Yair Lapid does not come to any conclusion as to why that is. I wonder why that difference exists.

I am thinking out loud here - maybe the difference between the rabbis and the secular "men of spirit" is that the rabbis see themselves as leaders of the people, with the need to give direction, impart of their wisdom to others, etc. While the secular "men of spirit" see themselves as above the people, better than the people.

Or maybe the rabbis see it as an opportunity to reach out to people who would otherwise not likely be exposed to a religious personality of influence, and they jump at the opportunity to have some level of influence. While the secular "men of spirit" don't see the opportunity to share thoughts and wisdom as one that is necessary or important.

Or perhaps the rabbis are just happy to go meet with the people and talk with them and share wisdom, while the secular men of spirit will only do so for a large speaking fee, and if they are not offered a large sum, don't consider it worth their time.

what do you think?

Eldan and the Golan

Treppenwitz realized that Eldan had already negotiated away the Golan Heights on behalf of Israel. In this great post, he describes his phone call to Eldan attempting to find out what we received in return....

Separate Stoning

A few people, between Thursday and Shabbos, have asked me what I thought about the mehadrin bus situation in Jerusalem that led to a protest in Meah She'arim and a bus stoning.

Some background: Egged has the sole license for bus routes in Jerusalem, along with most of Israel, giving them virtually a monopoly. The haredim want a certain line to the kotel to be run according to their guidelines for a mehadrin line - men in front, women in back, and some way to arrange payment, or at least bus card clickers, in the back for the women. Egged refused, so the haredi groups involved started their own line.

They started a free line to the kotel, hoping this would avoid their need to get a license. The financial backing for this is strange, as they have collected donations of $100 (per month?) from each of 1000 newly married young couples. Don't forget - these are people living on welfare and minimal kollel stipends. People are going door to door collecting for newlyweds in these communities because they have no money to live on. Yet they have money to donate so other people can ride the bus for free. But if that is what they want to spend their money on, I guess they have that right.

Egged protested to the Transportation Ministry who immediately forced the free line to stop running. The people did not like that - either provide us with our needs, or let us provide them for ourselves. They staged a protest rally in Meah She'arim that turned violent when an Egged bus showed up driving its route. They started stoning it, causing some damage, yada yada yada.

My feeling is that Egged should be considerate of its customers. If they have a community that wants, and considers it a need, mehadrin buses, they should provide it for that community. As long as they also provide regular buses for people who don't want the special line. They obviously don't have to, but good business would suggest that they should.

In the meantime, regardless of Egged's customer service, creating an alternate bus company is illegal. So like it or not, nobody can do it. While it can't hurt to try, Egged successfully got it canceled.

The thing is, whether or not Egged is right for not creating a new mehadrin line (whose legal status is still questionable at this point), whether or not they are wrong for not heeding the requests/demands of a community under their service provision, that does not justify violence. You want a new bus line, go ahead and try to convince Egged of the need, the financial viability, whatever. Work with them, persuade them etc. Throwing rocks at people and buses is not an acceptable method.

Aside from physical damage to buses that is going to cost somebody money to fix (who gave anybody a hetter to damage Egged property?), when rocks are thrown people can also get hurt. No desire, or justification, for a mehadrin line can justify that.

View from the Outside

It is very interesting to see how "outsiders" see us - it seems they see us even better than the way we often see ourselves....

(HatTip: DovBear)

A Charedi al-Jazeera?

An Anonymous Guest Post

Some troubling news is on the horizon, for all of the normal people in Bet Shemesh/Ramat Bet Shemesh.

At present, there are a number of news weeklies that are distributed for free in Bet Shemesh: Hed Bet Shemesh, Keren Or, Temura, Shopping Mekomi, and Chadash. The first four target the general population of Bet Shemesh, while Chadash aims at the charedi market.

About half a year ago, a number of moderate charedim in Ramat Bet Shemesh were not happy with the coverage in Chadash. Namely, that the paper did not give coverage to Ramat Bet Shemesh A and when it did, it covered the more extremist Rabbis and their communities (without naming names...).

So these people teamed up with a veteran publisher in Bet Shemesh, with the goal of producing a newspaper to compete with Chadash.

Unfortunately, the publisher chose an extreme Yerushalmi kanai, Dovid Shlesinger, to be the editor of the paper. Shlesinger puts forth a moderate image, but, in fact, he belongs to an extremist group and is friends with some very active hooligans. Kind of like a charedi al-jazeera. When I heard that this was the case, I asked one of the people pushing for the new paper, how was he going to keep Shlesinger in check. Shlesinger had previously written columns justifying the violence that has been plaguing Bet Shemesh. This person told me not to worry, that he would be able to keep Shlesinger at bay.

Now, however, it turns out that Shlesinger has hired two new writers. The first, is Bezalel Kahn. If you remember the disgusting smear campaign that was run against "Tov" during the November municipal elections, then you can get a sense about who Kahn is. He was responsible for the nasty propaganda that Degel Hatorah put out, against Elie Friedman and Tov.

The second written is perhaps more disturbing: Shmuel Chaim Pappenheim. Pappenheim is a yerushalmi. Like Shlesinger, he has more contact with the outside world and presents himself as a moderate. In fact, he is a rabid extremist. He was kicked out of the charedi newpaper, "Bakehilla," for writing articles that were too "kanaish" and extreme. In a recent column in a local newspaper, Pappenheim also justified the violence perpetrated on the part of the kanaim.

While this newspaper cannot be stopped -- and freedom of expression allows for all opinions, no matter how absurd, to be voiced -- it is also important to be aware of the extremist background of the editor and his writers. To quote the great Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, the best disinfectant is sunlight.

Feb 19, 2009

Headline of the Day (hotd)

16:16 Iraqi says he threw shoes at Bush to protest war (AP)

funny that he is protesting the war - the only reason he was able to get away with throwing a shoe at a world leader and not get himself shot by a firing squad as a result, is because George Bush went to war with the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and installed a democratic style of government.

I guess he prefers the days when he would have been shot for such an action.

Interesting Machlokes: Civil Marriage

I am not one to way in on this argument with an opinion, especially as I have never understood what the whole big issue with conversions are (the actual halacha is not nearly as machmir as we make it out to be nowadays on conversion - like on most things I guess), but I will say I find this very interesting.

The political situation with Yisrael Beiteinu coming to the table from a position of power and demanding a solution for civil marriage has brought to the forefront a situation that has long been swept under the rug and ignored. There are many people in Israel who want to get married but cannot. they cannot get married because they wish to marry people with whom they are not allowed to according to halacha, and the Rabbanut controls all marriages, conversions, and deaths in Israel.

They are not allowed to get married because they are non-Jews, or they might be Jews but marrying someone they are not allowed to (e.g. a kohein marrying a divorcee). The solution until now has been to either just live together and not get married, convert if that is relevant to your situation, or go to Cyprus and perform a civil marriage ceremony there and then come back to Israel married.

Because of the political situation, the civil marriage issue has been brought up. An interesting machlokes has arisen from it. Rav Elyashiv is against allowing civil marriages, while Rav Bakshi Doron (form Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel) is in favor of a civil marriage solution.

Rav Doron, and Rav Amar, have gone on record in the past supporting a solution. The reasoning is that when the Rabbanut disallows such people from getting married, the pressure on the conversion system is extremely great as people try to convert so they can get married. Then there are conversions that are done improperly, leading to even greater issues. That along with problems of the marriage itself, not adhering to the "holiness of the family" which can lead to issues of mamzerus and eishes ish. Since intermarriage happens anyway, as anybody who wants to can go elsewhere to get married, or convert in a fake conversion, we might as well solve the problem for many more. So according to these rabbonim, a secular marriage solution is desirable and worthy for our society.

Rav Elyashiv rejects such a solution. According to Rav Elyashiv, the Rabbanu has to continue controlling all marriages. The benefit of this is that as long as everyone has to get married halachically, anybody with a problem (specifically immigrants from Russia) works hard to prove that they are Jewish. This minimizes any future problems, as they have already proven their Jewishness, and anybody who can't is rejected. only they will remain with a marriage problem, but in the meantime we caused many people to prove their Jewishness. Rav Elyashiv reasons that if we allow civil marriage, all those people will have no reason to work to prove their Jewishness, since they are not interested in judaism anyway, just do it so they can get married - once it is not necessary, they will not bother. So while a civil marriage solution might technically be possible, Rav Elyashiv reasons that it creates a greater problem by causing possible Jews to vie for that solution as well.

I find the reasoning behind these opinions to be truly fascinating, as the machlokes really is not on the halacha itself. they both seem to agree that technically a civil marriage solution would be acceptable. the machlokes is on the psychology of people - will people take advantage of it or not?

(source: Ynet)

Feb 18, 2009

Email of the Day (eotd)

I sometimes like to post emails that get sent out to the local community email list that I get a kick out of... This one was sent yesterday to the local list... and I get a kick out of it...

To the Ladies of RBS from Shmiras Einayim
Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:36 pm (PST)

During these weeks of Shovavim over one hundred men have committed to
knowing more aboutthe Halachas of keeping Kosher Eyes and improving our
habits by enrolling in the Shmiras Einayim Program and going to shiurim.

Obviously none of us were born in RBS and all have been in many other
neighborhoods to compare. We realize that women of RBS have chosen a
higher standard of modesty than other communities and have made RBS far
superior than virtually every other community we have lived in with
this regard

We all express sincere gratitude for women in RBS being extra careful
in dressing and acting in a modest way. Each of us express greater
pride and appreciation for our own wife.
Thanks so much for each women in the communty taking extra effort to
make RBS grow to even greater heights in Ruchniyus. Yasher Koach
What do you think about it?

The following email response was just sent to the list. I have no idea if it is sarcastic or honest. I think it sounds like the author is being honest, but maybe I am wrong.

I would like to say a public Kol Hakavod to the writers and supporters of this post. Such a positive, appreciative, acknowledging, respectful and grateful letter written to half of the public of RBS.

Clearly the authors of this post acknowledge the efforts and individual choice made each morning by women to dress in a certain way and instead of derision, choose appreciation as their mode to encourage such choices. I personally applaud your efforts and your acknowledgement of others.

This morning I asked my husband why he thought Hashem was sending the rains- what have we done differently to deserve them all of a sudden? I am sure that attitudes of ahavat yisroel such as these are the reasons for the Gishmai Bracha we have been receiving.

Is Hetter Mechira a legal fiction?

The haredi press this week, both Yated and Mishpacha as you can see above, have written articles about a recent court decision.

The Israel Lands Authority sued 3 farmers from Moshav Batzra for improper use of the land without prior approval. They were using the land for carpentry, juice production, and magazine distribution, instead of for farming.

The defendants claimed that they could not be sued because they had sold the land under the hetter mechira arrangement. Thus, the land was not theirs at the time and the claim against them is invalid.

The courts did not accept the argument and said that "the sale of the land [via hetter mechira] does not remove any other rights [and obligations] from the owner. The sale is purely for the purpose of the mitzva of shmitta, but does not allow them to treat the land as if they have nobody to answer to, and have no obligations... The seller knows that the sale is being done purely for the purpose of the mitzva, and he is trusted to not apply the sale for anything else aside from the mitzva."

The court is basically saying, and they are basing it on the wording of the Rabbinic Council's wording of the hetter mechira, that the hetter mechira is a legal fiction and cannot be really applied in any way other than to "claim" the land is sold so vegetables can be grown. regarding anything else, the sale is irrelevant.

Is there anybody who knows more about hetter mechira than me that can comment on this? Does the court have a right to say such a thing? If I sold my land, what right do they have to say the sale is irrelevant? Is it true? In the meantime, such a statement by the court validates the opposition to the use of the hetter mechira arrangement.

I think the farmers should appeal this to the Supreme Court claiming that they sold the land, and who are the courts to decide that it was for only one purpose but not all encompassing....

Great use of Technology: Lending Money

P2P generally makes you think about [perhaps] illegal downloading of music, videos and software.

P2P is now taking on a new meaning. Taking advantage of the Peer 2 Peer concept, Acceder.com has created a P2P loan system. Basically it is an online money lending gmach.

Acceder allows you to lend as little as $25 dollars to people in the Jewish community who are in dire need of help and are unable to qualify through normal financial resources.

By lending you are alleviating poverty and making people’s dreams and future’s come true. Each person on our website is a real case. By being self sufficient through obtaining one of our loans, the confidence and pride of each person is lifted enormously and they know they have made great strides towards economic independence and have improved life for themselves, their family, and their community .

Acceder provides each donor with an update of the applicant’s situation, showing exactly how and where they used their loan. In each case we meet each individual and film and take pictures of their story from start to finish so you can see how you have changed a life. Just log on to our Blog and see our blissful success stories.

Acceder’s mission was created to accomplish our dream of equal opportunity. As the world continuously changes lives sometimes change too and unfortunately for the worst. It is our pleasure to give each individual the opportunity to access an interest FREE loan so they don’t have to live in unacceptable situations ever again.

Tzedekah means charity but the origin of this word is actually justice. We have the religious responsibility to give and to engage in philanthropic ventures. This beautifully rewarding act applies to everyone, evena poor person can help another. Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher established 8 principles of Tzedekah, the highest is:

"The greatest level, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand until he need no longer be dependent upon others."

They've got lots of info as to how the system works.

You can read more about how Person to Person Lending works on the Wiki page.

I don't know if this will revolutionize the system we have of lending and borrowing money, but it looks like an interesting method, and if it is reliable and people actually pay back the loans, I can see it as a blessing.

Bar Rafaeli: The Shabbat Queen

Yishai Fleisher posted a very interesting article on the recent success of Bar Rafaeli winning the top spot as the cover girl of this years SI Swimsuit Edition.

I still follow sports, but not nearly as much as I used to. So maybe there is hope for me still...

(HatTip: Yaak)

Feb 17, 2009

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Unemployment Services is going on Strike: Unemployment is too High

-------- NRG

That is a sad situation. Unemployment is so high, that the unemployment services are going on strike. They need more manpower to help deal with all the unemployment cases.
(They can solve some of the unemployment by hiring for their offices...)

The Coca Cola Jews

Rabbi Horowitz just posted a new article. This one he calls "Charedi Classic".

Rabbi Horowitz compares the success and failure of the current generation raising frum jews to the previous generation that raised frum Jews. He also compares us to Coca Cola...

I think that you and your generation followed that sage advice when you passed on the Torah values of your parents and grandparents to us. You kept things simple. In fact, I could probably fit all the instructions you gave us on the back of an index card. Be a mentch. Learn and master our Torah. “Farbreng nisht der tzeit -- make the best use of every minute of every day. Make a kiddush Hashem wherever you go – don’t ever forget that you are wearing a yarmulke. Get an education, be self-sufficient, and give something back to the community. Yet these simple themes encapsulated all the major components of our tradition.

It is humbling and difficult to come to terms with, let alone say this publicly, but I think that your generation had a far better recipe than ours, though both generations have their successes and failures. You prepared us for secular culture whereas we shelter our children from it. You played offense; we play defense. You celebrated the enrollment of each and every Jewish child to a Mesivta or Bais Yaakov; we send rejection letters. You raised children; we tried to raise gedolim.

Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly felt that the most effective way of reversing the exploding number of kids and adults abandoning Yiddishkeit is to revert to the old-fashioned “Charedi Classic” education my generation was fortunate to receive from yours; and pass on those core values to our children and grandchildren.

I just wish we knew how to do that....

Go read the whole article...

15% increase by bridging gaps

Here is a good point of comparison:

The Rabbanut of Tel Aviv has announced that there has been a 15% increase in restaurants in Tel Aviv requesting kashrut certification from the rabbanut over the previous year.
Rabbi Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, is pleased with this and sees this as "the success of the attempts to bridge the gaps between the different parts of the nation".

Compare that with the method of bans, protests and extremism as way of getting people to comply or follow suit and behave a certain way. Have they seen a 15% increase in people keeping kosher as a direct result of their methods? Are 15% more people keeping shabbos?

Shahar Peer loses without even playing

Shahar Peer is the top Israeli tennis player. Numero Uno. She is ranked #48 in the world.

I am no tennis maven, but I was never overly impressed with Peer as a tennis player. She must be good to make it to 48 in the world, but I never liked her style of play. I always thought she had a weak serve and not enough strength to ever make it into the really top level. I had a friend who was a big fan of hers, and he used to tell me how great she is, which led me to watch her play a bit and take the other side. I began by "tcheppering" him how she will never really be great, and I guess that formed my opinion.

Anyways, Peer is being left out of a tournament now. The ay before she was meant to leave for Dubai for a tournament, they told her she cannot come because they are rejecting her visa.

Dubai has an official policy of not allowing Israelis in to the country. It is a load of crock, because I know plenty of Israelis who go there all the time for business, and they tell me that the place is crawling with Israelis. As long as it is quiet and not public, Dubai turns a blind eye. I guess an international tennis tournament is too public, so they have to reject her visa.

I think the other tennis players, and the tournament organizers, should cancel the whole thing and leave Dubai with an embarrassing situation and a hefty fine. I don't think it is right that they are letting Peer be left out while they continue to play.

Yes, a few players and officials spoke up about how wrong it is, but that is purely lip service. They should all ban the tourney until Dubai allows her in.

That being said, I think that if they do let her in, she will probably lose her first match and that will be the end of it. Aside from her not being all that good (as "not all that good" as #48 could be), she is having a lousy year, losing match after match and not seriously contending in anything yet. Dubai would even possibly be smart letting her in and letting her play poor performance, thus embarrassing Israel in the process...

Feb 16, 2009

interview with a former male model (video)

This is a fascinating interview (in Hebrew)... It is with a guy who grew up religious (national religious), became not religious, became a successful male model, went to an elite combat unit in the IDF, had a successul career as a model, and is now religious again (haredi - chassidic this time)...

Looking for Love...Has she found it?

The Sunday Times wrote a long piece on Tzppi Livni and her service as a Mossad agent.

This is a story that was brought up during the Kadima primaries, and was then squashed again. No details could come out, and people started to talk about how Livni was basically just a secretary at the time and did nothing important. The thought was she leaked it to show she had some security credentials, but then squashed it because it wasn't helping.

For some reason, the story is back.

Some quotes:

“A romantic relationship requires honesty between a couple,” she told her interviewer. “I couldn’t, of course, develop such a relationship with anyone, but a short relationship does no harm, if you keep to the rules.

“It’s a bit like forcing yourself not to get drunk in order to keep control of your mouth.
That basically means she is saying she slept around a lot.
Livni said she had been unable to reveal to even her closest family that she was a spy. When her father visited her in Paris, he could not understand why a woman who had been a brilliant law student “was wasting her time in Europe doing nothing”
As Jameel says, this points to her modesty...
Working for Mossad was like “living constantly in two worlds”, she said. “On the one hand, I did things of which I was very proud, and I felt I was part of a special force, contributing to the security of Israel. On the other hand, I had to keep my mouth shut and not to tell anyone about it.”
Until now of course....

Esser Agoroth also writes about the White Bird and her future as an author....

haredim ban celebrations in Tel Aviv

The Committee for Shabbos [Observance?] is now banning the upcoming celebrations in honor of Tel Aviv's 100th birthday.


Because one of the sponsors is AM:PM supermarkets. AM:PM is a supermarket chain popular in Tel Aviv that is open on shabbos.

Not only are they sponsors, but one of the events is a prayer service on shabbos in the Great Synagogue, and right across the street is an AM:PM that will be open on shabbos. So while the religious residents are participating in a shabbos service as part of the ceremony, AM:PM will be selling cigarettes and corn chips - flaunting it in the face of the religious residents.

I wonder if one of two things happen, would things be differemt:
  1. If they get AM:PM removed form the sponsorship - either voluntarily, or have the municpal office reject the sponsorship.
  2. If they get AM:PM to close that store during the prayer service.
If either of those things happened to solve the problem - I wonder if the haredim would then participate in the ceremonies?

If they are not going to participate anyways, then what right do they have to protest this?

(source:YNET, Hebrew and English)

Avraham Fried - Rak Tefilla (video)

Listening to Avraham Fried sing is always a pleasure - it is even better when it is something historical, like a remake of an old Israeli classic...

Feb 15, 2009

The Internet Gmach

LaDaat.net is reporting on a new gmach. An "Internet Gmach".

"Internet Gmach" makes me think of someone installing a wireless router, and leaving it unsecured, thus enabling other people within range to piggyback off his internet access for free.

"Internet Gmach" in the haredi world means something else. It means you are not allowed to use the internet, but you really need to - to pay bills, buy things for cheaper, look up information, whatever.

"Internet Gmach" therefore means that they will have somebody surfing the internet for you.

You submit your requests for what you need on the internet, even anonymously (obviously, otherwise your kids will never get a decent shidduch, or will not get into the top yeshivas), someone will surf the net for you, take care of what you need taken care of, and send you your information to either a fax number or a kosher email address (whatever that is).

The goal of this gmach is to minimize unkosher surfing. "They" have found that people sometimes need internet access, but don't have their own computer and internet access, as they are not supposed to, so they go to their friend, to surf just for a few minutes (like when you double park to run into the store "just for a minute". Needless to say, the minute becomes hours very quickly.

The gmach's goal is to lessen the number of people surfing the internet - because now they can get their needs taken care of by proxy - and being exposed to unkosher web sites.

I wonder how much they pay for the person with the job surfing the internet.. I would like that job. I also wonder if there are restrictions what you can request they search for. That would be fun playing with them like that....

And how do they find the guy who will be surfing the internet for the gmach? Is he the yeshiva dropout - let him use the internet since he is messed up anyway? Or do they only choose tzadikkim - but they would prefer to spend their time learning?

(thanks to Jameel for sending me the link)

Picture of the Day (potd)

Looks to me like Tzippi is adjusting her sheitel. Is this like Bibi's "b'ezrat Hashem" he keeps throwing into speeches recently? Will the religious parties be tricked into thinking these candidates are baalei teshuva and therefore prefer to sit with them respectively?

setting the tone

I don't get it.

Why are the top people in the Labor Party letting a failed Amir Peretz set the tone and the agenda for the future of the party, and put himself in as the front-runner for party leadership? Peretz was a dismal failure.

Where is Avishai Braverman? Yitzchak Herzog? Even guys like Eitan Cabel or Ofer Pines-Paz (his name would go over real well around the world as Israel's leader) should be trying to set the tone for the party.

Where are all the other Labor guys that could be stepping in and showing themselves as leaders? Labor has some good guys who are capable as future leaders of the party. Why do they let Peretz take over like this?

The Mehadrin Kashrut Guide 2009 to Hadassah Ein Kerem

I am writing this post specifically for anybody who might need to stay in Hadassah Ein Kerem, especially over the course for a shabbos, and is wondering what to do about eating. I found very little helpful information before I went in this past week, and while I was there, I found all this out by word of mouth - other patients told me "oh, go down there and then.." or they will bring food at this time... etc... So if you find this post while doing a search to see what is available because you have to go in, this is for you.

This is specifically for people who want to eat mehadrin, but it will also be of interest for people who eat regular Rabbanut, because only a patient gets hospital food, not their guest or escort. So, even if your kid who is the patient gets food he can eat, you still are wondering what you are going to eat for three days (or however long your stay is going to be) as you bring your kid for his medical care.

The hospital is under the hasgacha of the Rabbanut. if you eat that hechsher, then chow down, if you are the patient. Even if you do not normally eat regular Rabbanut, if you are a patient you might be allowed to, depending on your medical situation. Speak to your rabbi about that.

I found the hospital very accommodating. This is all by word-of-mouth, there are no signs or anything letting you know this is available, but you are able to request mehadrin meals. When I was in the hospital, someone told me about this option. When the lady came in the morning to deliver the breakfast to my son, I asked if I could request mehadrin food for him. She said yes, wrote his name down, and his lunch was a mehadrin meal, which he surprisingly even ate and liked. I had been told you have to order separately every day, but I only ordered once, and my son has gotten mehadrin meals every day (I asked the second day and she told me he is already on the list).

Breakfast and dinner is not really an issue, as most of the items on the food tray are packaged - yoghurt/pudding, gvina levana, hard boiled egg, a triangle cheese, etc with the hechsher noted on it, and the hechsher was always, as far as I could tell, a badatz. The veggies are probably rabbanut, but if you want to eat them you could always separate your own truma and maaser if you are concerned.

So the patient is pretty well taken care of. Either he can eat what he is given, or you can order mehadrin for him.

But you are a guest. The hospital does not give you any food. So, what are you going to eat.

Well, for one thing, you can eat the items from the food tray that your kid doesn't like!

Second, there are tremendous chessed organizations that go around about 4 or 5 times a day delivering food packages all around the hospital. We were given breakfast sandwiches, a sandwich for lunch, a krembo, a danish, sweet drinks, sandwich for dinner, each time by a different organization. They offered us as much as we wanted.

This is great to get you by, but the truth is how many cheese and olive sandwiches can you eat? and the sandwich is not really filling. But they come and give it to you, and it is good enough to hold you over. I cannot say I felt like I ate a meal, but at least I wasn't starving. These organizations are really great and it is a big chessed they are doing.

Another option you have is bringing food from home. The hospital has a "parents room" (in the kids ward that is what they call it) at the end of the hall. The room has a couple of refrigerators so parents can store food in it. if you are willing to put food in there, and hope nobody else takes it, or touches it, gei gezunt as they say. There are also microwaves in the room, but they have signs on them saying they are not kosher. Maybe you can kasher them before you use them, but the sign says they are really not kosher... (there are plenty fo non-religious Jews and arabs who are int he hospital, so who knows what they zap in the microwave...).

Another option is buying food. You can go to the hospital cafetaria and buy packaged food, generally with a mehadrin hechsher. Or, you can go into the mall and buy food. There are a number of coffee shops and restaurants in the mall. The only mehadrin place I saw was a bakery where I bought pizza bagels and burekas one night. There is a burger place that has a sign claiming it is mehadrin, but the actual kashrut certificate did not say the word "mehadrin" anywhere on it.

And then there is shabbos. What do you do for shabbos? Even if you are the patient, and you have your meal delivered to your bed, and you eat Rabbanut, or you ordered mehadrin, it is a far cry from a shabbos meal. Also, it does not come with wine or challah.

So the first, basic option, is having food and waiting until someone goes around to the different wards and floors and makes kiddush in each department.

But you can do much better.

If you go down to the shul, either the beautiful Chagall shul with the famous Chagall windows, or the other shul, after davening the rabbi running the minyan will announce what tiem the meal is.

This rabbi is unaffiliated with the hospital (I asked him). he comes for shabbos, with his team of assistants (yeshiva boys), runs the minyan, and provides a shabbos meal for whoever wants one. He uses the "Bris Hall", and sets up 3 long tables on the mens side, and another 3 on the womens side. And he provides shabbos meals, for free, as chessed, to anyone who wants.

I tried asking him, and his assistants, some questions, but they were very reluctant to answer. They shy away from praise, and are simply doing chessed to help people who are in a difficult situation.

Allow me to describe what they do...

There are two types of people in the hospital:
  1. People who are stuck to their bed - patient who cannot get up, escort who cannot leave a bedside, etc.
  2. People who can get around easily.
People who can get around easily can come to the Bris Hall, sit down and have a full meal. It was amazing - they had the tables fully stocked - just like a meal at home. Everything was there, from drinks, to gefilte fish, a variety of salads, matzo ball soup, chicken, rice, kugels, potatoes, dessert. Everything you could want to eat in a shabbos meal. We sang shabbos zemiros, one or two people said divrei torah (one person told us his story how he became a baal teshuva after being declared clinically dead during an operation in Lebanon as part of an elite combat unit 17 years ago), and we ate until we could eat no more.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who have to eat in the hospital room, you, or someone you send, can take food from the Bris hall to your room. People come and take packages of food. Everything that is on the table is packaged up into packages and distributed. Sometimes they also go around and bring the food to you if they know there is someone who cannot come down to get food. But people came and took these big bags of packaged portions, with everything, and went to their rooms to eat.

Shabbos day, after davening there was a kiddush with cake and kugels and herring.

Later there was a lunch in the Briss Hall. same setup. Tables stocked with food. After the first course, they brought out the cholent, and side dishes, then dessert. divrei torah and singing, and we went back to our rooms completely stuffed.

After mincha is shaleshudas. Again, people take food to their rooms, and the tables are set. Salads, herring, drinks, kugel, etc.

Then is maariv and havdalah.

The people who run this are amazing. They smile the whole shabbos, greet people with pleasant words, shy away from any praise and try to minimize thanks and praise. The guys name is Rabbi Peretz, and he pretty much refused to answer any questions about his great work, such as how he does it, why he does it, etc. I asked if he does this every week, and he shrugged and said "according to my energy" with a smile. Others told em he does this every week - providing meals for something like 200-300 people every shabbos, 3 meals plus kiddush. All volunteer, on his own initiative.

Also, after the meals, they put out piles of all the religious newspapers so people could take things to read, whichever papers you prefer. You want Yated, you got it. Hamodia. Hamodia Enlgish. etc.

So, if you are going to have to be in the hospital for shabbos, you now know that you do not have to worry about food for shabbos.

I hope this guide helps you, in case you need it.

RamatCa"l Gaby Ashkenazy at the Kotel

Hamodia ran an article, with a picture, about how Gaby Ashkenazy - the IDF Chief of Staff - went to the kotel this week. He went to daven and say thanks to Hashem for the miracles they experienced during the recent Gaza War, and for the success. He also held a se'udas Hoayah with the Rabbi of the kotel, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.

Whoever says the Israeli army is purely "kochi v'otzem yadi" and therefore bad, does not know what they are talking about.

UPDATE: Searching for a link, I found this article with the same picture on Arutz 7 Hebrew...

Feb 12, 2009

They did not get their glatt food, and she fainted..

An interesting lawsuit - a rav and his wife flew from Israel to the US and back on Israir Airlines. They ordered the "special kosher" glatt meal for their trip On the return trip, they were told that their names were not on the glatt meal list and therefore there were no meals for them.

When they got off the plane, the rebbetzin fainted, fell backwards hurting herself in the process, her sheitel fell off, and her dress became disheveled in a way that revealed her immodestly.

For their pain, embarrassment and discomfort, they sued the airline for 17,800 NIS.

Israirs defense was that they are under no obligation to provide glatt meals, along with the fact that the couple could have eaten the regular kosher and not fast for the duration of the flight. As well, her falling down and hurting herself happened after the flight while not on their plane, so they are not responsible for it. And they said the amount claimed is ridiculous being nearly double the price of a round trip ticket.

The courts rejected the defense saying that they have no right to change a persons meal in the middle of the flight, so they cannot claim that they should have eaten the regular kosher. Israir had no right to put them in the dilemma of choosing to eat something they do not approve of. Also, the agreement to provide glatt meals seems to be a contractual agreement entered upon the purchase of the ticket with the glatt meal requested. Israir did not show that they have no such obligationto provide the requested meal. And even though the injury came from a fall after the flight, it is clear it was a direct result of the flight itself, and therefore Israir is liable.

They were only awarded 3000NIS plus court costs, and not the full some requested.

It is good to see the courts defend the religious rights of the passengers, and not let Israir get away with it. It is a ridiculous claim that they were not obligated to provide the requested meal - if they agreed to it as part of the flight, they have to provide it, and that they should have eaten the other food. if they do not eat it for religious reasons, that is their right to choose, and Israir has no right to say otherwise.

Usually, people bring food along knowing you cannot rely on the airline. Anyways often the food is not very good, so you need to have other food available. It is good to see that they would not let the airline get away with it. Maybe now the airline will take it more seriously.

(source: Ynet)

wireless internet in the darndest of places

I am spending the day, and possibly shabbos, in Hadassah Hospital in jerusalem.

I had an opportunity to see the famous mall at the entrance to the hospital. I must say, it really makes getting into the hospital inconvenient, but it itself is not such a big deal. It is really just a glorified gift shop. It is not like actually walking through a mall, but more like a bunch of stores along the path into the hospital. It is not a mall like Malha Mall in jerusalem. Maybe more similar to cutting through a small part of the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.

It makes it inconvenient because parking is always a nightmare at Hadassah, and now you have to go around through the mall entrance to get in which makes the walk from the distant lot that much further, and then go through the hospital entrance. Maybe if I have some time and patience, I'll go snap some pictures. At least from the lot there is a shuttle, so it is not so bad...

In the past most of our hospital experiences have been at Shaarei Tzedek. Hadassah is much nicer, if being in a hospital can be nice. We have a big room in the emergency room, and are waiting to be transferred to a ward. In the meantime, I figured I would try to see if I can pick up any wireless internet. Lo and behold I was able to! I don't think they have that at Shaarei Tzedek!
break. we are being transferred to the ward finally.

Well, we still have wireless internet, but the room is not nearly as nice. My sons roommate is a baby with machinery that blares every so often And the kids mother makes a lot of noise on the phone and with other stuff, toys I guess. I am sure the kid will be up all night screaming, and his mother will be on the phone talking (in Arabic no less).

Israel, the African tribe

Something about this news item bothers me..

US President Barack Obama called President Shimon Peres Wednesday night and congratulated him on a "successful democratic elections."

----YnetNews, but it was also on other news sites..

I am not sure what Barack Obama thinks of Israel, but you don't have presidents calling Obama and wishing him congratulations on a successful democratic election. They called to wish him success and congrats for his victory and inauguration.

It sounds like he considers us an African tribe or a Middle East Islamic regime just trying out democracy and going through our first elections. Yet we have been doing this for 60 years, encompassing 18 democratic election experiences. We are an established and successful democracy.

UTJ and the Arabs also don't go together...

I was checking out the Likud website, and saw the front page has a chart of results from the elections...

for some reason, they do not have UTJ listed in the chart... along with two of the Arab parties (they list one of them)... I wonder why...

Feb 11, 2009

The Hotovili clap

Here is a picture from the end of Bibi's speech. You can see Tzippi Hotovili in front of the MKs holding raised hands... I took the picture from the Likud website..

and here is video...but the video cuts out at the end of the speech and does not show the cheering and hands raised..


A particularly ironic moment I enjoyed last night while watching Tzippi Livni's speech was when she was describing the formation of Kadima and its more or less "raison d'etre".

Livni was talking about clean government, getting rid of the corruption, and bringing in a new way to Israeli politics.

While she was talking about this, the camera was panning around on the faces of the happy Kadima MKs sitting at the podium behind her. While she was saying this we saw the faces of Tzachi Hanegbi, Roni Bar-On, Ruama Avraham-Balila, Eli Aflalo, and Haim Ramon, all MKs who have either been convicted or are under investigation for various crimes of moral turpitude.

Just a moment of irony I picked up on...

Why did Shas shrink?

It is time to move on to other topics, and leave the elections behind us. I know I am tired of elections, and I am sure you are too. As governments are being established and rejected I am sure I will have what to say, but now it is time to get back to other things.

One last "election thought" I want to say is regarding Shas.

Shas was in a position to improve on their 12 seats. The ashkenazy haredi party was fighting with themselves and many voters were bolting and voting Shas out of frustration. Shas should have picked up another seat or two while working to keep their own voters home. Yet they lost a seat, despite the additional ashkenazy voters. Some will blame the war, but I don't think that was it. Eli Yishai talked as tough as any othe rpolitician, and he made a point of spending a lot of time and being on video down south under rocket fire. Shas should not have been perceived in the eye of the voter as being any weaker on security than anybody else.

Yet they lost a mandate. Why?

I suspect the reason is because they are being perceived more and mroe as being a haredi party, rather than as being a sfardi party. It used to be the core voters of Shas were mostly traditional sfardim, and then add to that the sfardi haredim. Int he past few years, the party has been perceived more and mroe haredi and less connected to the traditional sfardim. Most of the fights Shas has fought in the last government were fights for the yeshivas, budgets for haredi families (be it in the form of child allowances or other), and not general traditional values with social issues the traditional sfardim are interested in.

I think the core masorati sfardi voter has been moving away from Shas - either back to Likud or to Yisrael Beiteinu - due to the increased haredization of Shas. If that is the case, Shas might have hit its limit for a long time - there is a limit how high a haredi party can go, considering the size of the haredi population in Israel. If Shas is now a haredi party, we might continue seeing the dwnward trend. They would do themselves a favor and head back to the traditional voter they used to appeal to, and not only dabble in the haredi aspect of their party... if they want to get big again.

We'll see what direction Shas goes from here...

And the winner is...

Tzippi Livni, for now.

It is time to send Bibi Netanyahu packing. Back to the political pasture. This was an election Bibi could not lose, and he lost.

Yes, he did tremendous, bringing the Likud back from 12 mandates to a respectable 27. But he was in an unstoppable position - a failed government, a corrupt government, a government weak on security, a bad economy - everything in fields which supposedly he is king. And he still lost. Tzippi Livni had a chance to form a government with no elections, and when she could not, this should have been in his pocket. Yet he still came out behind Livni.

True, the numbers are still not final, and anything can happen. As well, the bloc of the Right is greater, so he still might get the chance to form the government. But it should not have been this close.

I am also disappointed in Moshe Feiglin. If he really believes in his way and considers himself a realistic future leader for the Likud and sees the Likud as his home, then he should have worked harder for the Likud. He is the head of a large camp within the Likud, and had he publicly worked for the Likuds success, perhaps they would have gotten a few more seats. I understand maybe he was upset about what happened with him being moved back to 36. I thought that was wrong of Bibi (one of his obvious mistakes), but at the end of the day, how can Feiglin expect to lead the Likud if he could not get past that to help bring the Likud to success? We hardly heard his voice the past month. I also know that he told people, for internal Likud political purposes, that in the major cities it was unimportant to vote Likud, and they could vote for other parties if they wanted to - in certain areas it was more important and there he encouraged people to vote Likud. He should have been working for everyone to vote Likud wherever they are.

So what will be? I don't know. The coming days and weeks will tell us.. Numbers might change, but even if not, I see no reason Livni should not be given the first chance to form a government. It is not out of her reach. She could offer Bibi an attractive offer for unity, Lieberman a nice position, Shas some money (they went down a bit so their price tag should also go down), and other parties even less. I see no reason the parties on the right should automatically reject her offers. Bibi spent the last 3 months saying he would not form a government with the right wing parties, but would go to Kadima for a unity government - so I see no reason they should be more loyal to him than he was to them.

But Bibi should be sent home. The Likud needs to find a new leader.

Tzippi Hotovili does it again

I was just watching Bibi Netanyahu's speech.

Once again I am very impressed with Tzippi Hotovili. At the end of the speech, Bibi started raising hands of the various MKs linked together. Hotovili stayed in her place in front, did not move into the line, remained clapping, but as she believes, she did not hold and raise hands with the rest of the MKs.

Yes, she could do it if she wanted. But she believes in not, and she finds a way to achieve an important position like MK, high in the Likud list, and stay true to her values.

Tzippi Hotovili continues making a kiddush hashem... I am sure she is in for a big future.

Feb 10, 2009

Exit Polls - No Comment

The exit polls have predicted that Kadima has surpassed the Likud and won more votes. That would likely give Tzippi Livni the first opportunity to build a coalition and allow her to become prime minister.

A number of people have emailed me asking what I thought about that.

My response is that I am ignoring it. These are only results based on exit polls. In Israel the exit polls are notorious for being inaccurate, usually by a significant amount of mandates. That means in a prediction of such a close race (they are saying the difference between Kadima and Likud is only a difference of two seats), by the time they count the votes any result is reasonable.

This is also why I never commented on the regular stream of polls that were published during the election campaign. The pollsters are wrong all the time, and are known to have their own agendas. I consider them unreliable and not worthy of coment. The same with exit polls.

So, I will go to sleep, and wake up in the morning and check the news. By then they will have actually counted the votes and will declare a winner. Be it Bibi or Tippi, I will only comment after the votes are counted.

Vote Likud..or get Kadima (video)

Kadima and the Arabs (video)

which breakfast will you eat? (video)

Here is a cute ad for the elections..


Interesting Psak: the Gedolim: voting during shiva

If anybody was skeptical about Rav Aviner's recent psak that even a person in mourning, sitting shiva, needs to get up to go vote on election day, and I know people who were skeptical about the psak saying it was just because he is such a politically involved rav who believes int he medina and considers it a mitzva to be involved, it seems like not only was he right, but there is not even a machlokes on the matter.

According to Yeshiva World, The haredi gedolim have come out with the same psak saying the mourners need to get uo during shiva to go vote. Rav Ovadia Yosef even added that voting for Shas will be an aliyah for the neshama...

a quiet vote

I just came back from voting. It looked pretty quiet. No booths, though when we finished and were leaving a couple booths were being set up, no big crowds, no signs, stickers and flyers, etc.

A little bonus was the I got to see my daughter's classroom, as my polling station was in her school. She took me in and showed me around....

The Shas booth was giving out mincha-maariv siddurs with a picture of Rav Ovadia Yosef on it. I decided not to vote for Shas because they only had Nusach Edut Mizrach siddurim and no ashkenaz ones... :-)


Go Vote!

Google has a special logo today for election day..


Feb 9, 2009

solving the drought.. (video)

Maybe we need to do something like this to solve our drought, at least short term...

Arabs for UTJ

So now UTJ supports equality...

UTJ is courting the Arab vote, claiming they will fight against Lieberman's racism.

UTJ MK Moshe Gafni says:
we are against racism and for the Torah, and the Torah clearly says 'Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt,'" (Exodus 23:9).
I, too, am against racism, and believe that all citizens have rights, but for Gafni to corrupt the Torah like that, simply so he can try to get some more votes to make up for the upset haredim who won't vote for him, is reprehensible. The torah is referring to a ger toshav - one who keeps the 7 Noahide laws. One who accepts jewish rule.

The Arabs of Israel do not qualify under either of those rules.

Court the Arab vote. Don't corrupt the Torah while doing it. Don't be a moiser - or is it ok to be a moiser when it is against a secular Jew, just not against a frum Jew.. and don't make a hillul hashem. You want to fight for the protection of minorities, go ahead. It is a worthy value, but there is a way to do it, and protecting people who call for our death and downfall, while condemning those who call for layoalty, is not the way.

If you were looking for a reason to not vote UTJ... you might have just found one... unless you are an Arab of course.

(source: Ynet)

11 year old rule

My friends wife and 17 year old daughter went to a dentist in the Kiryah Haredi neighborhood in Bet Shemesh the other day. They finished and caught a #11 to return to RBS-A. The Superbus #11 route is a "mehadrin" line (As far as I know it is unofficial, because it is illegal, but it is recommended behavior for that community that benefits most from the 11, because they wish it to be so). So it is a "mehadrin" bus by custom.

As they entered through the front door and tried to pay the driver (and they were not the only women doing so), an 11 year old boy stood up and started screaming at them to get to the back of the bus.

This continued every few stops as females got on the bus. Finally after a while the bus driver told him to shut up, which didn't help.

So here is the result of being makpid on mehadrin buses - separate seating on buses. A chumra whose validity is questionable at best:
We have 11 year old boys telling 40 year old women what to do, just because they are male.

However, there is a revenge from the women against Superbus. Both my friends wife and daughter said that of the women who entered through the rear, most did not pay. Some who had an older male child with them did, as they sent their child with the money or card to the driver. Whether due to worries of, G-d forbid, entering the "men's" section, just the hassle of going up front, or an intentional response to being in the back, my friend's wife and daughter said that over 50% didn't pay. Add in the children with them and the numbers are much higher.

So not only do we have an unofficial mehadrin line where 11 year olds rule over the women, but the bus company gets to absorb the cost of 40% of their passengers riding for free.

Egged has a similar situation, but they deal with it differently - they were not going to allow 40%-50% of passengers not pay.... On the 418 line, another mehadrin line by custom, after the bus has left the charedi neighborhoods the driver sometimes pulls off to the side of the road, parks the bus, then goes to the back of the bus with his puncher and change machine and processed payment for all the women and their children in the back. On other occasions one of the men in the front volunteer to do the same, then take the driver's punch and change and go do so (why is he allowed to do this on a mehadrin bus??). Clearly this wouldn't work on a local bus - perhaps Superbus should simply run a mens-only and womens-only #11 buses for communities that want mehadrin, but in a mixed community I cannot see that working.

Regarding the 11 year old, if any of us finds ourselves on a bus with such a situation, we are obligated to stand up to it and stop it. Otherwise this is only going to get worse.

Some people are just pious idiots who would teach children to not respect elders - an aveira in the Torah - a d'oraisa- in the name of a chumra on top of a chumra.

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