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Mar 31, 2009

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: Zimun at the Pesach Seder

Revach.net quoted an interesting psak by Rav Elyashiv:
In order to say Birchas HaMazon with a Mezuman the people in the Mezuman must eat together. Rav Elyashiv points out two cases on Pesach night where people eating together do not qualify for a Mezuman and must say Birchas HaMazon as individuals without a Mezuman.

The first is two people that eat the seder together but one uses only machine matza while the other only eats hand matza. Despite that this is only a Chumra and technically l’halacha each one is permitted to eat the other one’s matza, nevertheless they are not considered eating together for the sake of mezuman.

The second case is people who eat the seder together but each one eats their own food and have a minhag not to eat from anyone else’s food other than their own. Here also says Rav Elyashiv, they cannot make a mezuman together. (Kovetz Tel Talpiyos - Piskei Shmu’os Pesach)
I don't understand how this is applied, because pretty much anytime I am eating with other people, nobody is going to be eating from each others food. If I am at work, sitting at a lunch table eating my lunch that I brought from home (or even lunch that I bought), nobody else is going to eat from my food, and I am not going to eat from anybody else's food. If I am sitting with other people and we are talking to each other and eating together, should we not be making a zimun when we bentsch? According to the above psak it would seem that we should not.

Even at home I will only eat from my kids' plates, but if we have guests I would not eat from their plates. So perhaps even at home with guests we should not be making a zimun.. Maybe if the food is put out in serving dishes and everyone takes from the serving dish to their own plate, then maybe that would qualify for a zimun..

What is especially interesting is that these people, in the shailoh Rav Elyashiv is discussing, are sitting at a Pesach seder together. Not 2 random people sitting in a cafeteria just by chance at the same table. These are friends, relatives, host-guests - they are clearly eating together. yet one has a chumra/minhag the other does not. And still, despite the "kirva" and the definity of them eating together, they are still considered to be eating separately.

And one more point - it is clear from the discussion that just because one person has a chumra the other does not keep is not a reason to avoid eating together. The one guy in the story above could have said I cannot come to your seder because I only eat machine matza and hand matza is chametz to me, or vice versa. You have your chumra, and I have my chumra, but we should try to work it out and eat together...

(HatTip: Matzav.com, via the Wolf)

Lebron James and Jay Schottenstein

TIME magazine compiles a list every year of who they consider to be the top 100 most influential people in the world. They call the list the "TIME 100".

In addition to compiling their own list, they ask various people, past honorees and other important people, who they would put in the list.

LeBron James, aka King James, was asked for his nominee for this years TIME 100 list. James chose to mention Jay Schottenstein:

LeBron James
The NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist is a past TIME 100 honoree
Jay Schottenstein, an Ohio business leader and philanthropist, has supported the translation and elucidation of the Talmud Bavli into English, Hebrew and French. The Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud is now utilized by more than 2 million people worldwide.
I wonder why Lebron, one of the greatest basketball players to ever live and play the game, chose Schottenstein. Clearly Schottenstein deserves it, considering all he has done with his philanthropy. But James did not choose Schottenstein because of his sponsoring basketball arenas, sporting events, helping underprivileged children by building parks and basketball courts. he chose Schottenstein because of his work in translating the Talmud.

James grew up and plays ball in Ohio, so clearly he is familiar with Schottenstein. I am surprised though that he chose Schottenstein and gave the reason to be because of his Talmud translation. Why would that have a profound affect on Lebron James?

I can't figure it out. but clearly Jay Schottenstein is doing a tremendous kiddush hashem with his philanthropy. not that we need Lebron James to show us that, but if even Lebron James recognizes it, however that happened, clearly we must not overlook it.

(HatTip VIN via Yaak)

Interesting Tidbits in the News

1. The new government has not even yet been sworn in, and already a coalition partner is making trouble and threatening to bolt.
Lieberman, the new Foreign Minister, is concerned over rumors that should he be forced to resign due to the never-ending investigation against him the post would be transferred to the Likud (and maybe offered to Silvan Shalom). To counter the rumors, Lieberman issued the threat of pulling YB out of the coalition.
(source: Ynet)

2. Kadima is already feeling the depression of leaving high and important positions to the political desert of the Opposition. They are afraid of being forgotten and have therefore requested to delay the swearing in ceremony of the new government.
Basis: they say that there is already a tacit agreement for UTJ to join the coalition, and the signing of the agreement is being delayed simply so as not to cause a delay in the swearing-in ceremony.
(source: Ynet)

3. According to the calculations made by NRG, Netanyahu's new bloated government of way too many ministers and deputy ministers is going to cost 770 million NIS if it survives the full 4.5 year term.
Clearly this is a sign that a Chabadnik should be on staff to put tefillin on the ministers daily.. (volunteer of course, so as not to throw off the number..)
(source: NRG)

Joke of the Day (jotd)

A disappointed salesman of Coca Cola returned from his assignment in Israel.

A friend asked, "Why weren't you successful with the Israelis?" And the salesman explained, "When I arrived, I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch, but I had a problem; I didn't know how to speak Hebrew, so I planned to convey the message through these three posters:

First poster: A man lying in the hot desert sand, totally exhausted and fainting.
Second poster: The man is drinking our Cola.
Third poster: Our man is now totally refreshed.

"And then I pasted these posters all over the place."
"Well, then that should have worked." said the friend.

"The hell it should have!" said the salesman, "I didn't realize that they read from right to left in Israel!"

You should choke on a kneidlach (video)

background: 012 is a "communications" company - internet and cheap phone service.

Mar 30, 2009

Quote of the Day (qotd)

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, but we don't need to be the only "freyers" (suckers) in the Middle East...

--- Justice Minister Daniel Friedman in a discussion about the possibility of limiting Hamas prisoners rights as a way of pressuring Hamas in the Gilad Shalit situation.

Getting Engaged on a(non-mehadrin) Egged bus (video)

This never could have happened had the bus been a mehadrin bus....

Funny that they say "we're surprised you don't have to pee"... and that the policeman tries to stop them but then let's them continue when they explain....

Only in Israel!

(HT: Jameel)

Interesting Psak: no special hechsher on sweets

and once we are on the topic of hechshers and kashrut, Rav Yitzchak Yosef recently made an interesting statement on the issue.

According to News24, Rav Yitzchak Yosef, one of Rav Ovadia Yosef's sons, said in a recent shiur that while for meat and chicken the basic Rabbanut should not be relied upon, for sweets however everything is muttar and the regular Rabbanut is fine. there is no need for a "better" hechsher on sweets.

I am not sure why such a blanket statement can be made. Candies and sweets could have gelatins that a person does not want to rely on (even if some accept it) or oils or other issues. Maybe a candy is made in the same factory as something else that is problematic.

Perhaps Rav Yosef holds those are not issues - technically the gelatin is allowed even if it is not accepted by any hechsher in the US or by any hechsher in Israel other than Rabbanut.

Either way it is an interesting psak.

Kosher Restaurants serving non-kosher

A recent blog post on a Hebrew blog is making some noise.

Maariv recently ran an important article on the issue of the fake "Badatzim" and how serious the problem is (rough English translation can be found here).

With that in the open, Dvorit Sargal, wrote in her blog about her memories of when she was a waitress.

She describes how she worked in a restaurant with Rabbanut kashrut along with "a wall full of kashrut certificates". The mashgiach would come in regularly, and check what he checks, he would eat his meal, sit down and take a snooze, and the chef would continue doing as he pleased. The steak was cooked in butter. the pareve soup was anything but. Milky items were cooked in fleishige pots. etc.

And, she says, nobody knew any better. The diners, religious, would sit there and eat their delicious meals without realizing they were eating anything but kosher food.

Sargal says the restaurant she worked in was not the exception, but the papers ont he wall are worthless. Any restaurant where the owner is not religious or somehow connected to religion cannot be relied upon to keep kosher, no matter how many kashrut certificates are on the wall.

Sargal concludes with two damning statements:
  1. Anybody who wants to keep kosher should eat at home. Only.
  2. If any newspaper would send a few steaks from random kosher restaurants to a laboratory for analysis of what is in them, the results would make the ground tremble.
Sargal does not say what restaurant she worked in, and we have no way of knowing what hechsher was on the walls. She is very vague in that regard. if she has testimony of fraud, she should be presenting it to the police. It is possible all that she writes is an exaggeration, though it would also be wrong to stick one's head in the sand and ignore her allegations.

Make sure you eat in a restaurant with a good and reliable hechser.

Or you can always shecht, and cook, your own meat..

Mar 29, 2009

Cleaning the Kotel for Pesach

The Kotel also needs to be cleaned for Pesach. The difference is that the Kotel is being cleaned not from soup nuts and cheerios stuck in the crevices, but from the abundance of notes stuffed into its cracks.

Gotta make room for the new notes coming in.

Today began the biannual cleaning of the Kotel from its notes. Rabbi Rabinovich, overseeing the cleaning, said that it is performed with the utmost of care and respect for the holiness of the place. They remove the notes using wooden sticks, and not metal sticks - just like metal could not be used on the mizbeiach (altar) so they are not used on the stones of the kotel - and the laborers immerse in the mikva before sticking their fingers in the crevices.

It is all good by me, except for how compares the stones of the kotel to the מזבח. A little respect please. Whether you say the kotel was simply a retaining wall for the structure of the Temple, or it was actually part of the walls themselves, it is still not the מזבח.

(source: Ynet)

RBS is a wonderful place

After a number of posts, over time, that might make an uninitiated and unfamiliar reader think that RBS (BS really) is a crazy place and "why would anyone want to live there", I try to remember to post something nice about RBS.

RBS (BS really) is really overall a wonderful place. The location is phenomenal, situated in one of the greenest parts of Israel; the people are wonderful (except for the minority of crazies - and you find crazies in every city), the shuls are diverse and wonderful.

Today I was on the train to work. I was a bit late due to the chalake-less chalake...so there was enough space for people to spread out. I was sitting across the aisle from a secular Jew, and we are each minding our own business. He was reading a newspaper, and I was catching up with some magazine reading I was behind in...

Two women, secular as well, sit down in the set of seats across the aisle, near the secular fellow. I was doing my own thing, not paying them much attention.

Suddenly I noticed that they were all talking. What caught my ears is they were asking him where he lived and he said he lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh. They asked to clarify "BS or RBS?". He said he lives in RBS. To their next question about how he likes it, he responded that it is a wonderful place. He is in RBS A where it is religious mostly but not like RBS B. the people are friendly and there are a lot of secular people living there...

They continued talking and I got off the train, so I do not know how the conversation turned after that. But it is nice to know that secular Jews still feel comfortable in RBS and can make a life there.
Sometimes you get caught up and think you know exactly what is going on around you. I would have thought there are surely still some secular, but not that many, and they are probably waiting for the opportunity to sell and move away. It turns out that is not true. They like the neighborhood as well.

Hebron gets a train station!

Hebron gets a train station!

errr... Hebron, Texas that is...

On Friday, the Denton County Transit Authority (DCTA) broke ground on the Hebron Station of the A-Train rail line through Denton County.

The A-train project, a central element of DCTA’s service plan, includes single-phase construction of 21 miles of regional rail, five rail stations, a bicycle/pedestrian trail, and a regional rail operations and maintenance facility. The immediate objective of the project is to have full service between Denton and Carrollton to interface with Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) light rail system by December 2010. The timing will coincide with DART’s opening of the northern section of its Green Line and will complete a 50-mile segment of regional passenger rail that is detailed in the Mobility 2030 plan.

"Train travel was a big part of Lewisville’s deep historical roots, and through the DCTA, train travel will be a big part of Lewisville’s bright future. This is an exciting day for DCTA, the entire Lewisville community and for me personally as we watch a far-reaching vision start becoming a reality that we all can enjoy,” said Lewisville Mayor Gene Carey.

(HatTip: DafNeighbor)

This is not a pig

Daniel Gordis is a great writer. You really should subscribe to his "dispatches"...

In this week's Jerusalem Post column, Gordis starts talking about a trip to the zoo. he notices outside of the animal cages on the bottom of every sign describing animals that it says in Yiddish "This is not a pig."


He writes a great article, and what is most amazing is that he gets all that from "This is not a pig"...

It means, clearly, that there is a population of Israelis, sufficient in size to merit its own sign, that does not speak Hebrew, English or Arabic, but rather knows only Yiddish. And that population, were it to think that this was a pig, would be very upset. To ensure that no untoward reactions were elicited by this new non-pig, the zoo has assured the haredi population, which visits the zoo in large numbers, that in keeping with Jewish tradition, there are no pigs in this pen.

Am I over-interpreting this? Is the notion that the zoo might be worried what some (yes, only some) of these people would do if they thought a pig were in the zoo far-fetched? I don't think so. Ask the residents of the Anglo community who live in and near Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, many of them newly-arrived immigrants, about their aliya experience. Listen long enough, and you will hear of a small but extreme group of anti-Zionist, extremist haredim in that community who are literally terrorizing them.


Loyalty cuts both ways. Citizens, to be sure, can be expected to show a modicum of loyalty to the democratic state in which they live. The olim of Ramat Beit Shemesh gave up everything to come here, and now many live in fear. There are enemies of Israel who are terrorizing some of Zionism's best. That's what the Yiddish sign at the zoo hints at, and what the Ramat Beit Shemesh stories make abundantly clear. And the state is not protecting them.

The "Chalake-less Chalaka"

The "chalake" is basically the first haircut a young lad gets when he turns age 3. They make it into a big ceremony. The kid goes to the rebbe wrapped in a tallis. The tallis is meant to cover his face so that he should not see anything impure on the way. The rebbe cuts the first lock of hair, and then begins the aleph beis with the boy. They read the aleph-beis together, sing a little bit, read some psukim, including the first pasuk of Vayikra and Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe... and pass out some honey cake.

In our family we have two problems with the above:
  1. We are not hassidic, modern-day litvishe (who have taken many sfardi and hassidic customs - many minhagim that are based in kabala) or sfardi, so we do not wait until the kid is age 3 to cut the kids hair.
  2. Even if we did wait, it can easily be a stretch for a kid in our family to have enough hair for a chalake...
My little boys 3rd birthday is coming up a couple days before Pesach. That falls out when the kids are already on vacation. The teacher offered to either push off the chalake until afetr Pesach or do push it up to before Pesach (i.e. today). My wife chose for logistical reasons to push it up to today.

Considering the above, my son was about to have a "chalake-less chalake". We brought him to school with honey and a honey cake. The rebbe from the kindergarten came into the nurdery for the event. He sat with him, and did not cut his hair.... They did the aleph-beis together, the honey cake, the psukim and all the rest.

in case he was not feeling enough pressure to perform, Big Brothers pour it on...

Mar 26, 2009

ideas of special chumros for Pesach

My daughter came home from school yesterday with an unusual homework project. She has to write down a special chumra we do for Pesach.

I am kind of at a loss of what to tell her...

my choices are:
  1. cleaning for pesach the way we do is a big enough chumra
  2. machmir on bein adam l'chaveiro and treating others respectfully in tense times.
  3. we are (at least I am) makpid to not measure our matzos and maror, so that our mitvos are not measured and limited.
  4. Make something up, like only holding matza in plastic bags to eat from and not in hands, because our hands might have sweat on them or other moisture that would make the matza into chametz.
That was all I could think of. Any better ideas? I actually like #4, but I know my daughter would never be willing to take that in as her homework....

Kashering your computer for Pesach

This Pesach ad was spotted....

it says chametz might have gotten in cavity of the mouse, or between the keys of the keyboard, so you should kasher your computer for Pesach (obviously by buying new accessories..)

Hey - who doesn't eat by their computer!!???

Mar 25, 2009

called up to the Big Leagues...

Can you imagine a player on a Minor League team rejecting the call up to the Big Leagues? He has been playing for years, working, training, all for the day he would get that call saying we think you are ready for the Big Leagues. He finally gets the call - how often do you think it happens that he says "No thank you"?

Well, it happened in Israel. A religious footballer, Shahar Moshe, in the "minor leagues" - the A League - playing for HaShikma Ramat Chen (HaShikma means Sycamore) got the call up to try out for HaPoel Tel Aviv in the premier football league.

While Ramat Chen plays their games on Fridays, the jump to the big leagues means playing on shabbos. Shahar Moshe asked his Rosh Yeshiva of the yeshiva he learns in what to do. Rav Eliyahu Malka recommended he stay and play for the Sycamores in Ramat Chen and not be mechalel shabbos.

And so he chose to do.

Shahar Moshe:
The Torah is more important to me than football. If that is what my rav told me to do, that is holy in my eyes. Shabbos is the source of all blessings.
A great kiddush hashem for doing the right thing, and making what must have been a difficult choice.

(source: Mynet)

buying a shul name on eBay

Every shul, pretty much, wants to "sell the name". Shuls put out beautiful brochures and have campaigns to try to locate the person who might just do it...

One shul in Israel has taken a new approach and is trying to "sell the name" on eBay! For a starting bid of only $600,000 you can sponsor a shul in Givat Shmuel, Israel. It seems that not too many people are interested, as he still has 0 bids... hatzlacha to them.

If you want to go cheaper, there is a shul in Montreal selling its name on eBay and the "Buy it Now" price is only $25,000... hatzlacha to them too...

Tehillim together for Gilad Shalit

Tomorrow at 11am...

From our mouths to God's ears...

dead bodies on display

One of the latest issues in the news the past few days is the fight over an exhibit in a museum.

The science museum in Haifa is bringing in an exhibit of the human body. 2 cadavers will be on display.

The haredi rabbonim, and the Chief Rabbi of Israel, have called for the religious to boycott the museum and not go to the display. They are upset about "kavod hameis" - dignity/respect for the dead.

I am not really sure how that works. The cadavers donated themselves (during life) to science for the purpose of research. Once could make a case to say that kavod hameis would be to allow their benefit of the learning from these bodies that their display will offer. Also, these bodies are not those of Jews, so there should be no issue of insistence of burial and kavod due to being Jewish (not to say goyim deserve less kavod, but when the non-Jew requested his body be on display, I am not sure the same usage of the term "kavod" applies).

But I can accept it.

I do just want to mention that growing up in Chicago we had one of the best science museums in the world - the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago). The place is amazing. We always enjoyed two exhibits the best - the Coal Mine exhibit where you go down in a cable car into a "real" coal mine. That is way cool. Even as an adult I enjoyed that.

The second exhibit, the one that is my favorite, is one they have had on display called "Body Slices". Body Slices is a display in a glass case of the human body. The bodies were sliced up at different parts to pieces 1/2 inch thick, so you see the different parts of the body from the angle of a slice of meat - with all the bone and other matter in place. So you see exactly what constructs each part of the body, no imagination required.

I was always fascinated by "Body Slices", and for some reason the gore of it never bothered me (even though I normally cannot look at human gore).

So, while I guess it is not kavod hameis for the museum to display this new exhibit, it is a shame because such exhibits can really be fascinating and educational.

Mar 24, 2009

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Kadima: Barak giving political opportunism a bad name

------ Ynet

From the party that brought the term "political opportunism" to the ultimate level...

Birkas HaChama in the most appropriate location

This promises to be an interesting venue for the upcoming Birkas Ha'Chama.... Har HaBayis!organized by a group from Hebron... I have a hard time believing the police will give permission for this, but hten again maybe it is going to happen without permission... The bracha is only a few words, so it can easily be said without being caught....

Starbucks, Queen Esther and the Muslims

A couple of weeks ago, some Egyptian cleric called for a Muslim boycott of Starbucks. He claimed that the Starbucks logo, which according to wiki is a twin-tailed siren, is really the image of Queen Esther. He protests the image of Queen Esther waving in all the various Muslim countries.

I don't know how he came up with Queen Esther as being the source for the image, rather than the Queen of England or any other female ruler in history, but so he did.

Anyways, here is the video, courtesy of Memri...

The Star of David - Dimitry Salita

The Star of David. That is Dimitry Slaita's nickname. Salita, the Jewish, orthodox, boxer, has been a rising star for about 6 years... He has yet to get a shot at the title in his class, despite his 27-0 record.

Sports Illustrated has an article about him...

On the one hand, it is hard to feel too bad for Salita. Some in the sport consider him to be only a slightly above-average talent, whose sterling record has been paved on the backs of subpar opponents like Munoz. Yet, as MMA steals boxing's thunder, and HBO hands us one forgettable (and often recycled) schlub after another, the question I have is this: Why not give the guy a chance?

If Salita is turned into matzo farfel by a Kotelnik or Ricky Hatton or Willy Blain, well, he slinks off into the sunset and pursues his next goal of earning a law degree. "They give me a title shot and I get killed," said Salita, "and I promise HBO, I will never bother them again."

But what if Salita, the "Chosen One," wins? What if the kid with the funny name, the quick fists and the phylacteries steps up and gives boxing its first Jewish junior welterweight champion since Barney Ross more than 70 years ago?

matzo farfel? do people make that on Pesach?

I say they should give him a shot at the title. Go Salita! Make us proud. Orthodox jews can be athletes!

The awkward clap

What is the appropriate response by the public at the end of a speech? A great speech let's say. Oftentimes the crowd will clap.

Somehow, somewhy, that never feels right at a frum event. And I think most people feel it as well, but don't know what else to do.

How many times have you gone to a bar mitzva or a wedding or some other frum event - at the end of a speech, the crowd hesitates, and there is a smattering of clapping, most of it out of sync as people clap without knowing that that is what they should be doing but don't know what else to do. Kind of an awkward clap.

Really all you want to do, all that feels right perhaps, is to scream out "shkoyach!" and maybe knock down another l'chayim or two...

Why does it feel so wrong to clap as a response at a frum event/speech? What do you think is the right crowd reaction?

Am I just out of my mind?

Mar 23, 2009

What do you protest when you have already protested everything?

Ever hear the conundrum of what to get the person who has everything?

This is taken from the Neturei Karta's most recent newsletter....

The above conundrum can now be revised to say "What do you protest when you have already protested everything?"

Looks like all that is left now is the moon. Next month we will be protesting that nobody should say kiddush levana anywhere that has permission from the Zionists... stay tuned for details. We are making arrangements to fly to Iran for the ceremony...

Chelsea and Rabbi Shmuley (video)

Chelsea Lately sits down for a funny shabbat dinner with Rabbi Shmuley and other guests...

woman in sleeveless shirt warning... watch at your own risk...

The overkill of Birkat HaChama

Are you wondering about how big a deal everyone is making about the upcoming Birkat HaChama? A Simple Jew asked me for my thoughts on it...

I think Rabbis need to play more basketball... (video)

Mar 22, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu on the Palestinian issue at age 28 (video)

While I still don't really "get" the purpose of Twitter beyond other forms of social networking, I must say it does provide some very good links...

Here is something I got off of Twitter today.... that would be Benjamin Netanyahu at age 28...

Rabbinic Committees and Marrying off Kids..

The problem of the finances of marrying off children, specifically in Israel among the yeshiva crowd, is well known. The "custom" has been that aside from paying for the wedding, the parents also often have to buy the children an apartment. Generally that obligation has been of the parents of the bride, but even in the best of situations it is split 50-50.

Recently, in the past few years, the issue has come to a head. The problem with the scenario is that few can afford it. Those that can, fine. But overall, the social group that is using that method is the one that is among the lowest socio-economic levels in the country. It has been widely discussed in the haredi press, and many attempts have been made in the last few years to try to alleviate the problem and remove the pressure, even if just a bit.

The problem really is that because most cannot afford it, they travel the world trying to raise money as they go collecting for "hachnassas kallah". It takes a toll on their lives, on the health, on the family. They go into serious debt to marry off the kids and provide them with a home.

BHOL is reporting on a new attempt to alleviate the problem. A group of avreichim from Ponevezh who are in the stages of marrying off children have realized that what they made their own parents do is just not possible anymore. Maybe their parents were working people and could take out another mortgage or dip into savings to buy them apartments (I have no idea why people think that just because you have a job you are able to afford extra apartments - maybe a different post). But they learn in kollel and barely make it to the end of the month and that is with just the bare minimum of basics. There is no way they will be able to buy their kids apartments.

So these avreichim have gotten together and decided they would agree among themselves to spend no more than $60,000 on their kids weddings. What that includes I don't know - the wedding itself? Also part of the price of an apartment? Gifts? I don't know - the article does not go into detail on that, but I will be staying tuned looking for more info on this.

As well, they are going to be going around the country trying to sign up 10,000 avreichim to agree to the same commitment.

Where they will get $60,000 is another problem, but it is better than a parent having to dish out $150,000 he does not have. So it relieves some of the pressure. And by signing up a large number of people, it lessens the social pressure that forces parents to take on all that debt - if others are not doing it, I will not feel obligated to do it. If they are only doing so much, I will only have to do so much.

The group went to Rav Shteinman to get his haskama that what they are doing is ok. Rav Shteinman agreed, and decided to set up a rabbinic committee to head the initiative.

I think the idea is great, and hopefully this is just the beginning of working solutions being found. What I find funny is that people want to spend less money, go less into debt, make weddings that cost less, buy cheaper apartments, buy apartments in cheaper neighborhoods, etc, and they feel they need the haskamah of a rav to do so. And we all know what happens once rabbinic committees get involved. You had a great idea - just follow through and spend less money. Why get others involved?

Maybe Livni has the moral right to form the unity government and not Bibi...

PM-elect Benjamin Netanyahu has requested, and been granted, another 14 days to try to form a government coalition. He needs the extra time because he spent a lot of time trying to woo Labor and Kadima into a quasi unity government, and he wants to have some more time to continue trying.

Netanyahu explained his continued attempts to form a unity government, "It is not just what the nation want, it is what the nation needs."

What eludes me is that immediately after the elections, Livni claimed victory based on the fact that Kadima won the largest number of seats of any party. Netanyahu, on the other hand, claimed victory based on the fact that the right wing won the largest bloc of seats and want him to lead the right wing bloc.

So, Netanyahu's whole claim to victory is based on the majority of the nation being right wing (or at least voting for right wing parties) and wanting him, yet he says the nation wants and needs unity and not right wing politics.

If the nation needs, and wants, unity, perhaps it is only right to allow Livni the first chance to form a unity coalition - Netanyahu is the morally correct choice to form a right wing coalition.

(Disclaimer: This rant has nothing to do with the fact that all the right wing parties, and I mean all of them with no exception, have been acting irresponsibly and have been horse trading for positions well beyond what they each deserve, and in Netanyahu's desperation to satisfy them all and have them sign on, he has been extremely forthcoming)

demonizing King David

Interesting link:

Rah discusses how the History Channel ended up demonizing King David

Gmail Undo - the solution for someone with a quick click

Gmail comes through again with another new feature that is very useful.


They now give you 5 seconds to realize you changed your mind and did not really want to send that email. What used to be a built in delay of 5 seconds before gmail actually delivered your email, is now turned into a feature that allows you to change your mind within those 5 seconds. All you have to do is click the "Undo" link where it says it is sending your message.

You have to enable this feature in Google Labs, but I see it as totally useful .You just have to be quick - you have to realize right away that you did not mean to send that email just yet, and also be quick to click the link.

5 seconds might just not be enough, but any longer than that and users would be complaining that email delivery is slow. Think about it - you obviously cant undo a sent message after it gets delivered. If it would take more than a few seconds to deliver an email, allowing you more time to undo, you would complain how long they take to deliver your message.

One future adjustment to this feature that I can see as adding to it and making it even better is allowing you to set in the settings of your mailbox how much time to wait - how many seconds - before delivering your email. You would be able to set 10 seconds, 30 seconds, whatever you think is reasonable for your demands on email usage. That would allow you to decide how much time to have for your undo.

One more thing, I found out that if you have "Offline Gmail" enabled, this will not work. I tried testing it and could not figure out why I was not getting the undo link. Then I disabled "Offline Gmail", and the "Undo" suddenly started working..

Way to go Google.

Mar 19, 2009

Headline of the Day (hotd)

It is great to be living in a country like Israel. Here I can talk openly, even non-anonymously, against the government and its policies, against the prime minister and his cronies and their corruption, against whatever I feel like, and I do not have to fear going to jail and dying in prison.


I apologize for the lack of regular posting this week. I have had an extremely busy week - both at work and at home..

Hopefully we'll get back on track quickly.

Mar 18, 2009

Rav Bar Hayyim responds to Rav Ovadiah Yosef on the kitniyot issue

I was sent the following response, in Hebrew, written by Rav Bar Hayyim of Machon Shilo to Rav Ovadiah Yosef. The response in a response to ROY's recent declaration that ashkenazim must remain with the issur of kitniyot...

הרב דוד חנוך יצחק בר-חיים

בית הועד שליד מכון שילה, רח' הרב ישראל נג'ארה 34, ירושלים, יושלם בנינה במהרה

בשם השם א-ל עולם

יום שלישי כ"א אדר תשס"ט


תגובת הרב דוד בר-חיים, ראש מכון שילה, לדבריו של הרב עובדיה יוסף שאין להתיר לאשכנזים לצרוך קטניות בפסח:

"דבר יודע ומפורסם כי הרב עובדיה יוסף סבור שכאשר האשכנזים החלו עולים לארץ ישראל לפני כ-220 שנה, היו צריכים לקבל על עצמם את מנהגי הספרדים שהיוו את כל היישוב היהודי בארץ ישראל באותה תקופה. בעבר נהג הרב יוסף לתת פומבי לדעתו זו. מסיבות של תקינות פוליטית – כלומר כדי לא לפתוח במלחמת עולם עם הממסד הרבני האשכנזי – החליט הרב יוסף להפסיק להשמיע דעתו זו.

לעצם הענין: גם פוסקים אשכנזיים רבים התנגדו למנהג אי-אכילת קטניות. כך כתב רבינו יעקב בן הרא"ש בעל הטורים: "ויש אוסרין לאכול אורז וכל מיני קטניות בתבשיל לפי שמיני חטין מתערבין בהן. וחומרא יתירא היא זו ולא נהגו כן" (או"ח תנ"ג).

הרב יוסף, כידוע, דוגל בפסקיו של השלחן ערוך. על דברי הטור הנ"ל הביא מחבר השלחן ערוך הרב יוסף קארו את הדברים הבאים: "גם רבינו ירוחם כתב אותם שנהגו שלא לאכול אורז ומיני קטניות מבושל בפסח מנהג שטות הוא, זולתי אם הם עושים להחמיר על עצמם. ולא ידעתי למה"(או"ח תנ"ג).

ועל כך הוסיף הגאון האשכנזי היעב"ץ: "וכמה פוסקים חושבים אותה לשטות ומנהג טעות שאין צריך אפילו חרטה והתרה...." (שם).

ידוע גם שבעקבות מלחמת יום הכיפורים, הרב יוסף ישב על המדוכה של התרת עגונות רבות, גם במקרים לא פשוטים להיתר. כשהרב יוסף רוצה, הוא יודע להתיר. אם אינו נוהג כן במנהג שטות כמו קטניות, אין זה משום שאינו יכול, אלא שאיננו רוצה. חוסר הרצון הזה נובע לדעתי לא מסיבות הלכתיות אלא מסיבות השקפתיות-פוליטיות".

טל: 02 651 7822 פקס: 02 653 5417 נייד: 0544 667 557 דוא"ל: harav@machonshilo.org

In English.... he basically says that even many ashkenazy poskim through the generations have called the minhag of not eating kitniyot to be a minhag shtus, and have rejected it. He brings specific examples, such as the Tur and the Yaavetz among others.

Rav Bar Hayyim says that Rav Yosef is famous for working hard to find hetterim to be mattir agunos after the Yom Kippur War. Rav Ovadiah knows how to find hetterim. If he does not do so in this case, which is a minhag shtut, it is not because he cannot find a hetter, but because he does not want to. This lack of will [to find a hetter], is not for halachic reasons but for hashkafic-political reasons.

I would really like to see Rav Ovadiah Yosef respond to this, but he will probably just ignore it.

Rabbi Horowitz stands up against the violence

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz hits another home run in his latest article. Rabbi Horowitz, writing in response to the recent conviction of Elchonon Buzaglo to four years in prison, goes further than ever before.

Buzaglo, in case the name means nothing to you, was the guy working for the Mishmeret Tzniyus who attacked a woman in Maalot Dafna because he considered her behavior inappropriate.

Rabbi Horowitz writes,"

The time has come for us to speak out, telling our children and students in unequivocal terms, “These people are criminals and sinners – and do not represent us!” Our publications should begin reporting these incidents in the news sections of our papers, condemn them in our editorials, and call upon the police to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

We should stop using politically correct terms like “misguided youths” to describe cowards who beat women for sitting in the “wrong” sections of buses and physically assault peaceful citizens who do not dress according to their standards – observant or otherwise. “Misguided youth” implies that they engaged in a prank, like a water fight, or that they went overboard in pursuit on a noble goal. There is nothing noble about these acts – or the terrorist mentality that glorifies them.

The violent members of these self-appointed modesty patrols are, in fact, a modern-day version of the Sadducee sect (Tzedokim) – having long ago veered off the path of our Torah and formed their own cult. They kneel to the idol of intolerance and bring the blood and bruised bodies of their victims on the altar of hatred. They only lack the intellectual honestly to declare themselves a new, non-religious movement divorced of any rabbinic teaching and tradition.

But violence corrupts not only the souls of the perpetrators, but also those of the silent majority of decent people who sit by silently and allow it to take place. And in this era of the 24-hour news cycle and worldwide digital communication, like it or not, admit it or not, these thugs have replaced our venerable sages as ambassadors of our charedi community to the world at large (a Google search of the words charedi and violence generates 26,200 hits) To our great shame, we have allowed these evil people to represent us before the world media instead of our noble sages from whom we receive inspiration and guidance. The Chafetz Chaim and Rabbi Aryeh Levine of blessed memory have been replaced by Yasir Arafat and Hassan Nasrallah. Burning garbage cans and hurled stones have supplanted Torah learning and acts of kindness.

We must clearly and unequivocally condemn the violence each time it happens in the strongest language. Halachic (Judaic law) rulings ought to be issued, that those who commit violence against innocent people are rodfim (individuals who present a real and present danger to others) and one is obligated by our Torah to defend the victim and report the criminals to the police.

The full article has been posted and published by the Jerusalem Post, along with Rabbi Horowitz on his own site.

Rabbi Horowitz has gone a step further. He has decided to make his article into a quasi petition against such behavior. Please post your real name, city where you live and your email addresses on the thread on his website if you support what he wrote.

If enough Torah-observant individuals stand up, distance ourselves from these criminals, and demand action from our elected officials, we might affect changes which will restore honor to G-d’s name and end these acts of terror that plague us.
If we can get hundreds of people to sign this mini-petition. that would be a huge kiddush hashem, showing the frum public rejects that type of behavior.

Please forward this article to your friends and email lists if you are as fed up as we are with the animals speaking for us -- and that now we finally have an opportunity to stand up and be counted.

Mar 17, 2009

Jackie Mason defends his use fo "shvartze" (video)

Good 'ol Jackie Mason...

Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em

Sometimes you just have to accept that you are not in control.

I had a meeting scheduled for Sunday. An important meeting.

Saturday night the guy calls me and says he can't come Sunday, something came up. We rescheduled for Tuesday. The problem with Tuesday is that he could only meet in the afternoon - at 1pm. I knew this would be a long meeting, and I hate doing these in the afternoon, because they always tend to get out of hand and go longer than necessary just because of off the topic discussion.

I am a yekke about my schedule and I hate having to adjust it for a reason that is not absolutely necessary or very important.

I knew when he called that this would get out of hand and mess up my schedule. But he assured me he would meet me at 1 and it would not take too long. Everything would be fine.

1pm comes and goes, and he does not show. Now this guy is very responsible, and very talented. he did not not come just because he was late - something must have happened. I call him up and ask what the story is.

he sends me a message saying he is stuck by a client dealing with a problem. OK, no problem. A short while later he sends me a message that they are coming at 3:30. I groaned knowing that that would definitely mess me up, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was an important meeting and I just had to suck it up and bear it.

Sure enough they get to the meeting and we talk. There is enough wasted time to frustrate me, but that is part of life. I see the clock creeping toward the time I needed to leave to make my regular train. There was still a chance. Grrrr.

Sure enough, we finished the meeting 3 minutes after the time I would have had to leave to make my train on time at the last possible moment.

Everything that could possibly have happened to cause me a delay, happened. Sometimes you just have to accept that you are not in control.

Headline of the Day (hotd)

the drugs would be really potent if I hid them in my socks!

Kids are sponges

Yesterday, while driving in the car, my 5 year old daughter suddenly said, "There is a marathon".

We're like "what are you talking about? what do you see"

It took a few moments, but eventually we understood that she saw somebody running down the street. he was not in running clothes, and was clearly not running for exercise, but more like running for the bus.

She repeated it a couple of times in different variations - he is a marathon. There is a marathon. etc.

I would never have expected her to pick up the association... (she did not go to Tiberias to see my marathon.).

Kids are sponges.

Mar 16, 2009

3 boys in Japan and the mafia (video)

Israel's Channel 10 did an analysis of what happened and how the 3 yeshiva boys got arrested in Japan for smuggling, unwittingly, drugs for someone else. The following video is the Channel 10 show that also uncovers the possibility of mafia connections...

10 from shay cohen on Vimeo.

Will Rome again conquer Temple Mount?

Not really, but I am all for sensationalist titles...

It seems the security forces are gearing up for the Pope's planned visit to the Holy Land (aka Israel) in May. They are considering shutting the area of the kotel to the general public during the time the Pope plans to make his aliyah la'regel to the Kotel.

Rav Shmuel Rabinovitz, the rav of the Kotel, is opposed to shutting the kotel doors to the public.
“The Kotel must be open during the entire visit for every person who wants to pray,” Rabbi Rabinowitz said. “Jews have been praying at the Kotel for almost 42 years. There is no preference of one person over another.”
Don't let the Temple area fall to the hands of the Romans. Even symbolically. Never Again!

(source: INN)

Sesame Street on madoff (video)

I have a hard time believing that Sesame Street would really run a skit with Ernie shooting Cookie Monster, so I doubt this clip is authentic Sesame Street, but it's funny anyway...

Quote of the Day

According to the data, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was the only parliamentarian to spend no funds whatsoever on voter relations.


Perhaps that is why nobody liked Olmert since he became Prime Minister.....

Yesterday was the day it was publicized how the various MKs used the funds allocated for "Connectiion to the Public". There are some very interesting purchases and expenses made under this title, and it is worth your reading the article.....

(source: YNET)

Mar 15, 2009

Canceling Kitniyot

I did not feel like breaking my head and listening to the whole shiur, as I usually do in order to confirm quotes from Rav Ovadia Yosef in the secular press. I find his accent difficult to understand (for me) and it takes a lot of effort to listen and understand. Being that they usualyl quote him reasonably accurately, if not out of context at times, I am just going with the quotes here, and not any firsthand kniowledge of the shiur.

Every year, in the past few years, as Pesach comes around the corner, the debate of eating kitniyot heats up. For some reason, the past few years have seen the issue adressed publicly more and more each year. I have some friends who have begun eating kitniyot on Pesach, based on rulings of their rabbonim.

Rav Ovadiah Yosef, who has normally been in faor of cancelling all Ashkenazy customs (perhaps an exagerration) and making one unified custom of Israel based on the "Maran"'s rulings (Rav Yosef Karo - the Beit Yosef) - the forebearer of Sefardic custom, claiming that the sfardic custom is the prevailing cutom in the Land of Israel, has backtracked a bit. If you call any one specific psak backtracking on a general topic..

The only reason I say backtracking is because in his shiur last night Rav Ovadiah Yosef said that the sfardim have minhagim and the ashkenazim have minhagim and they go back hundreds of years and should not be revoked. However, a sfardi should not try to be machmir on issues of kitniyot as each person needs to follow according tot he cutoms of his "eidah".

Rav Yosef says that f an ashkenazy person would ask a sfardi rav, the rav should pasken that it is assur to eat kitniyot. It is no longer a "chumrah", but is actual "din".

Again, the only reason I am surprised by what sounds like such a strong opposition is because in the past Rav Ovadiah has been in favor of making the sfardi minhag the prevailing one in Eretz Yisrael. In this shiur, Rav Ovadiah says clearly that each "eidah" has its own customs that need to be followed.

One other point quoted in the article is that Rav Ovadia said regarding sugar. He said that if it does not say the words "Kosher for Passover" on the bag of sugar, you can write them yourself. It is sugar and there is no problem with it. Sugar is kosher l'mehadrin.

(source: Ynet)

I have no problem with the ban on kitniyot continuing. This despite the fact that I understand completely the logic behind cancelling it, and I even think it makes sense. I just am wary of canceling customs that have been in effect for hundreds of years. What does bother me is the way we add to the kitniyot ban nowadays. Items that never before were considered kitniyot, specifically derivatives of kitniyot, are now considered kitniyot.

The IDF solves a problem for the women!

This might be in poor taste, and I apologize if you think it is, but I feel like posting it anyway, as I got a kick out of it.

The newspaper reported today that the IDF will soon be giving out the P-Mate to female inductees as part of a package distributed by Agudah Lemaan HaChayal.

The P-Mate, aka the She-Pee, for those of you unaware (as I was until this morning) that such a thing even existed, is a device that allows a woman to urinate standing up.

The goal is to get women to stop "holding it in" because they are either in the field, or the available toilets are disgusting and not hygenic. This way they can pee like a man by any available tree and no longer have to hold it in! "Holding it in" for too long can be damaging to the bladder...

I would like to say this is an Israeli invention, but alas it is not. It is a Dutch invention.
Feel free to have a good time with this in the comments. It made me laugh (even though it is really a serious problem of people being forced to hold it in and get sick...)

Keeping up, or not

For a multitude of reasons, since I ran the marathon, my running has been very sporadic. I have run no more than once per week, and have gone a number of weeks in a row without running at all. Even when I did run, most of the runs were in the range of 12km.

It makes sense to me. I never considered myself a real "runner". I ran because I had a goal. I achieved my goal, and then my motivation to continue running tanked. So I let all sorts of schedule conflicts get in the way and stop me from running on my scheduled running days.

The truth is that even though I am not a real runner, and have not really developed a "love" of the sport, it has a lot of benefits that make me want to continue, for now, at least on some level. Playing baseball and basketball for the past 10 years never helped me lose as much weight as I lost running for four months.

So I am trying to make the time to run, when I can.

I went running this past Friday. I ran with a friend, and we ran 12.6km at a reasonable pace - much slower than what my average was during marathon training.

I must say that I was completely wiped by the end of the run (though I still played in my regular Friday basketball game a couple hours later). Not only that, but two days later and I am still sore from the run.

That is pathetic. 2 months ago, 12km runs were my bread and butter. They were the basic staple of my week. They were the short runs. I could run then 18km - 21km without blinking an eye - no soreness, no feeling wiped out, etc. Only if I ran above 24km or so did I start to feel like I was really working (unless the run included a lot of uphill running).

Clearly, the drop off is much quicker than I anticipated.

Thinking about that made me also think about the drop off in other aspects of life - if you don't keep up with something, you lose it.

That is true in every aspect of your life. In your studies - if you do not review what you have learned, you will forget it. If you do not keep up with your relationships, they will move on and your friendship and love will wither and disappear. If you do not keep up with your skills, they will disappear.

Mar 12, 2009

Sanity prevails in the Haredi - El Al fight

The haredi ban on flying El Al is coming back.

In January it was announced that there would be special flights that would be considered mehadrin - no movies, separate seating, etc. for the haredi community. At the time many said it is not a big deal - those flights will simply be chartered flights. On a chartered flight, let them do what they want.

I agree. On a chartered flight, let them do what they want.

But now, the haredim are reintroducing the ban on El Al. Goldknopf and his Committee of Pure Travel are upset that the mehadrin flights have not yet been put into motion. As Pesach approaches, many yeshiva students, and haredim in general, will be flying and they could easily fill such planes.

because El Al has not yet developed the mehadrin airplane, Goldknopf is saying people should avoid flying El Al and pick other airlines that show films of scenery and not debauchary.

El Al's response - they were open to developing it. They say a travel agent tried to make such arrangements, but he was not able to fill a flight. They will do it if a group fills a plane.

In other words, if you would charter a flight, and fill the plane, they will agree to your request to not show movies and seat men in the seats and women in cargo. It turns out though that they are not trying to charter flights, but to turn regular commecial flights into mehadrin lines. And that is something El Al says that they cannot do.

So it seems like the haredi public, or the majority of it at least, realizes Goldknopf's stupidities are just that. Most people are not interested in his made up chumras.

Whew. There is still some sanity floating around.

Persian or Hebrew?

Taking DovBear's lead, I have decided to post this question... I heard the same vort DB heard, and responded with the same response (at least one of his responses).

Someone at a Purim seuda told me a vort that "Why does the Megillah first say Bigsan V'Seresh when Mordechai first hears their plot to kill the king, but then later when Achashverosh remembers the good deed, it says Bigsana V'Seresh?"

I assumed it is just a variartion of the spelling, as we find often in the Torah (more often by name sof cities, but it happens by people's names as well).

The answer he gave me was that it was a miracle - Really Mordechai heard, and told over to the king, the plot being planned by Bigsan V'Seresh. They wrote it down as "Bigsan o Seresh". The reason they did so, as per Haman's supposed insistence, is to make it look like Mordechai did not really do all that much. He did not save the king. He did not even know what he heard.

The miracle happened when the king opened the books that night and saw it said "Bigsana V' Seresh". The angel had moved the letters a bit, but fixed it so it said "and" instead of "or".

My response to this was that it works like that in Hebrew, the language the megilla is read in. However they lived their lives in persian, not Hebrew. Ostensibly, it is highly unlikely that the kings scribes and advisers wrote the memo in the kings book in hebrew, and unless he can be sure that the same "miracle" works in the Persian form of the words, it does not make sense.

The response was the perhaps the advisers/scribes were Jewish and wrote it in Hebrew (they were "Yodei Das Va'Din, so he said they were Jewish). Also we find in history that even the non-Jews wrote much of medical texts in Hebrew rather than the more obvious Latin, so perhaps in Persia as well the scribe wrote in hebrew.

So, I turn to you and ask what you think about this vort. Could it be?

Mar 11, 2009

Colbert: Iran to deny the existence of... (video)

funny clip, and the best part (or at least one of) is about 2:40 in...

Wipe out Amalek

In Israel, John Demjanjuk from Ohio was acquitted of charges that he was a guard named Ivan Demjanjuk, aka Ivan the Terrible in a Nazi death camp.

Germany has just brought charges against Demjanjuk and is seeking extradition from the US.

"ושם רשעים ירקב"

Very appropriate for this to happen Purim time.

"תמחה את זכר עמלק"

Al Capone's Vault and Abe Lincoln's Watch

I am from Chicago. That means I grew up with tv that consisted of such greats like Jerry Springer and Geraldo Rivera (both of whom happen to be Jewish) with all their theatrics such as full blown brawls (including chair throwing on Springer, and I remember once Geraldo got his nose broken on tv) on the set.

I remember Geraldo had this big scoop on Al Capone. They located his safe underground. Rivera was going to open the safe, on live tv, and expose what Capone had hidden. He expected it to contain all the evidence the cops and feds had always been looking for proving the various crimes Capone had been involved in. Either that or bodies or hidden money and gold.

It turned out, after an excruciatingly long program, they eventually got to the safe and opened it. The end is famous, as the safe held nothing but debris and some old cans.

In what could have been a similar fiasco, but on a much smaller scale, the curators of the Smithsonian opened and inspected Abe Lincoln's pocketwatch.

Legend had it that there was an inscription inside the watch, but it had never been opened and nobody had ever seen it except for the watchmaker who spoke about it.
So they opened it up and inspected it, on video but only being watched by meuseum workers.

Some excerpts:

"The moment of truth has come. Is there or is there not an inscription?" Thomas said, teasing the audience, which gasped when he confirmed it was there. He called Stiles up to read his ancestor's words, drawing smiles and a few sighs of relief.

"Like Pearl Harbor or 9/11, this was the reaction he had (to the Civil War,)" Stiles said of the inscription.

Later, Stiles said he felt closer to the 16th president.

"My gosh, that was Lincoln's watch," he said, "and my ancestor put graffiti on it!"

"Jonathan Dillon April 13 - 1861," part of the inscription reads, "Fort Sumpter (sic) was attacked by the rebels on the above date." Another part reads, "Thank God we have a government."

Dillon had a fuzzy recollection of what he had engraved. He told the newspaper he had written: "The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a president who at least will try."


Sooo 1999

A Windfall! I found a long lost uncle to leave me an inheritance!

This is the email I just received from my soon to be long lost uncle...

I am Mr Suleman bank manager of BOA Bank in Burkina faso.
I will like you to stand as next of kin of $5.8M Dollars
so that my bank will transfer the money into your account
then i will come over to your country so that we share the money,

Mr Suleman
Wahoo! I am rich!

These types of emails are soooo 1999

Jon Stewart rips on Obama (video)

partying Jerusalem style

Purim in Bet Shemesh over the years has taken on a very similar flavor to that of Purim in Jerusalem. The place is hopping.
There are Purim parties all over the place. Loud Purim music blaring into the streets. People dancing in the streets. Groups of boys from different Yeshiva going around the neighborhood singing and dancing raising funds for the yeshivas. Drunk revelers stumbling through the streets. Parties spilling out into the streets. etc.

We had the opportunity to be for a short time yesterday in Beiter Ilit. The "City of Torah and Hassidus in the Judean Hills".

We entered Beitar - another city I would think would have a similar flavor to Jerusalem (usually cities with a large number of Jerusalem expatriates take on a similar flavor) - and all was quiet. The roads were empty. People were out and about delivering shalachmanos, and whatever, but no serious reveling outside of the houses.

Our friends in Beitar who we visited (a few families) all told us that the city of Beitar has had some serious trouble in the past with "ארחי פרחי" - Archeeee Parcheee - troubled teenagers, usually of sfardic persuasion (not that ashkenazy teens are not troubled, but in Beitar it seems most of the archee are sfardim) who fight, steal, vandalize and make a lot of trouble. So these kids congregate, harass people, light heavy firecrackers in dangerous places including in crowded shuls, etc.

So they told us that the police cracked down on them this year. They sent a bunch of police cars last night and cleared the streets. They warned everybody that if they were caught hanging around outside they would be arrested. I am told they even arrested a whole bunch. Clearting the treets though also means other people would not really be reveling in the streets (otherwise it is difficult to keep the problem kids out).

So basically it meant the city was kept clean and quiet.

And while it was quiet in Beitar, in Bet Shemesh we party, Jerusalem style! Way to go Bet Shemesh!

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