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Sep 30, 2009

Interesting Posts #83

1. Kaplan's Korner has the Week 3 update on Jews and Pigskins.

2. Israel Fix is back after a long, very long, break with a tale of two lost wallets..

3. A Yeshivish Harry has an interesting post on someone in kiruv who doesn't know how to explain mitzvos. I would suggest that this person should possibly not be in kiruv. Just because you are frum does not mean you will be a successful kiruv professional. How are you going to get someone else to commit to changing their lifestyle to do mitzvos if you cannot even explain the concepts. Kiruv isn't for everybody, and if this guy grew up like the masses - just doing what we are told, perhaps he needs to look for another profession.

4. Rabbi Enkin details some of the halachos of making a Leisheiv Ba'Sukka..

5. Tzedek-Tzedek with a post from Rav Yosef Blau on the issue of Rabbis dealing with abuse...

Quote of the Day (qotd)

Importing the lulavim from Gaza is a mitzva via an aveira. I call upon the public "Do not bring Hamas into your houses." Pay a few more shekels for Jewish grown lulavs, and do not support the captors of Gilad Shalit.

---- MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union)

they flock together

A number of Hollywood bigwigs have come out in support of Roman Polanski, who has been arrested for the rape of a 13 year old girl many years ago.

I found it ironic that one of the prominent names in the list of supporters (at least the names mentioned int he newspaper this morning) was one Woody Allen.

Allen is no stranger to sexual misconduct himself - having been caught having an affair with his 21 yr old adopted step-daughter, having had allegations of sexual molestation from when she was 13 years old, etc.

Funny that his name should be so prominent on the list of Polanski supporters.

Shabbos Elevators or Elevators on Shabbos

A lot of bloggers and columnists have been writing about the recent psak of a number of rabbonim against using Shabbos elevators. Because so many have written about it, I saw no point in writing as well, just to say the same thing. But I now have a couple of points to make. I will keep it brief.

A couple of points:
  1. The psak forbidding shabbos elevators talks about new technological implements that are problematic. Assuming the psak is real and is to be followed (not a good assumption, but let's just make it anyway) people who are installing new elevators will be the ones having the problem, not people who already have the elevators installed from before the inclusion of the new "technological advancements". Everyone worried about people who already have and use elevators need not worry - just because elevator q is prohibited because of how it works, does not mean elevator n is also suddenly assur. if it was considered ok because of how it works, that "certification" remains in place.
  2. I saw in one article, I think it was in Yisrael Hayom, discussing the elevator issue a point I did not see made anywhere else, and I want to mention it. It was discussing the suggestion that Rav Elyashiv did not want to sign the psak, but was pressured to do so. I think the article was quoting Rav Rozen from Machon Tzomet, who said that Rav Elyashiv did not really want to sign on it, but was pressured to. That is why he very carefully included his own text in which he said "Elevators on shabbos" are prohibited, rather than saying "Shabbos elevators" are prohibited. A nuance, but for a rav who is careful with every word (as most are) and the wording of his psakim, it makes all the difference.

Calling all RBS locals

If you are able to volunteer to help out for a couple of hours with the Keren Lev Yisrael sale tonight, or any other distribution week, should call Danny on 050-415-4444.

They are in need of volunteers to help out. Especially tonight, but also in general.

introducing the Lulav Guidance System

In light of the recent increase in rocket attacks, we at LII are speeding up production of our Lulav Guidance System (TM) prototype to begin importing lulavs from Gaza immediately in time to have cheap lulavs for the holiday.

Here is the first image to be displayed in public...

How many guests can he invite?

[based on other pictures I saw] the sukka is built around a frame of metal soragim, so it is not quite as dangerous as it looks here. To me it looks pretty close to being the minimum size of a kosher sukka - 7 tefachim x 7 tefachim.

Calling their bluff

It is about time. Over the past few years, every time an Israeli politician, or former general, has wanted to go to many parts of Europe, England included, he has been threatened with lawsuits of human rights violations because of allegedly mistreating Palestinians.

Up until now, the politicians under threat, have always canceled their trips at the last moment after the UK Foreign ofice warns them that they might be arrested if they come to the country.

Finally, someone called their bluff. I don't normally like Ehud Barak too much, but today he made a good move. The Palestinians filed a lawsuit against Ehud Barak in England. The UK dudes warned Barak that he better hightail it out of there before they are forced to arrest him. Barak told them to take a hike - he is there for important meetings and he is not leaving.

Sure enough they didn't arrest him. The UK courts, put into this position by Barak's refusing to leave, finally had to deal with the situation rather than keep telling Israelis to stay out of the UK. And they decided they did not want to deal with the political ramifications of arresting Ehud Barak. So they said the case cannot be tried, as Barak has diplomatic immunity.

Barak 1 - Palestinians/UK 0

Sep 29, 2009

Interesting Posts #82

1. Some post-Yom Kippur thoughts from A Sensible Jew...

2. JoeSettler updates ont he progress of the new Israeli Buycott...

3. Lion of Zion found a rabbi who is against perverts... cute.

4. Rabbi Adlerstein doesn't trust the reports of the find of the coin bearing Joseph's image/name...

5. Yeranen Yaakov has some drashos and remazim regarding the new nuclear site Iran revealed - Qum.

6. Not Brisker Yeshivish reviews what looks to be a fascinating book about Minhagei Lita....

7. Muqata on the recent psak published in the name of Rav Elyashiv prohibiting the use of Shabbos elevators....

Last day for apologies to Stephen Colbert (video)

The last day for Stephen Colbert's Atone Phone, and he closes it out with a blow on the shofar..

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The Lulav Guidance System

Every year, the suppliers find some reason to create a [probably] fictitious shortage in the supply of Lulavs and/or Esrogs, causing threats, that are sometimes resolved in advance to a certain extent, of high prices. Sometimes it is infestations in the crop, sometimes it is weather related, sometimes mafia related, sometimes bureaucracy, etc. Always a reason, and we hear annually in the news reports about expected high prices, unless....

Often the crisis is at least partially averted by the government being pressured to grant permits to bring in crops from other places that were not previously approved. Perhaps the goal of the suppliers in creating these crises is to get these alternate sources approved quickly.If not, and it really is a problem that gets resolved every year for real, perhaps the suppliers have to change their real source of the crops (because they are having problems every year) and get the new source approved in advance..

This year the announcement has been about a lulav shortage. We can expect high prices and fear of a cartel holding back supply, blah blah blah. Sure enough, the Defense Minsiter and Religious Affairs Minister have said they will permit importing lulavs from Gaza for the holiday to keep the prices low.

So, if you don't want to be supporting Hamas, you might want to be careful from where you buy your lulav....

An option I just thought of is to attach a lulav to each Kassam rocket being shot into israel. Cheap import method, avoiding any border guards collecting taxes, and it can even be used as a guidance system for the rocket to keep it straight (as long as the lulav is not curved).. being named the Lulav Guidance System (TM)... (image of prototype coming soon...)

The worst part of DST

The worst part of "changing the clock" and not using Daylight Savings Time any longer?

Coming home from work at a normal hour and still having the feeling that it is the middle of the night because it is so dark.

Stoning Ambulances is no longer a Haredi problem

Every year, after Yom Kippur, we get to hear all the statistics of injuries and other items from Yom Kippur. MDA always announces how many pregnant women they transported to the hospital, how many kids were injured on bikes, how many people fainted from the heat and/or fasting, etc.

Generally MDA throws into the notice a mention of how many ambulances were stoned by Haredim for driving during Yom Kippur.

This year, the notice was slightly different. MDA said "This year, in the cities of Haifa, Ashdod, Kiryat Shmona, Netanya and Kiryat Gat, there were incidents of children and teens, not haredi, causing disturbances to ambulances"

It is nice to see that some people are maturing and realizing that an ambulance driving to the hospital is doing so because of Pikuach Nefesh and not in order to violate the sanctity of the day, and that such an ambulance does nto need to be stoned....

Sinning Season? Not yet!!

Now that Yom Kippur is behind us, I love that the Mishna Brura says that it is still not sinning season until after Sukkot.

He says that because we are so busy with putting up the sukka, buying the Lulav and Esrog, and holiday preparations, nobody has time to sin until later.

Even though I never understood that - how long does it take to sin? - I love that statement that we have not yet had time to sin. There is something encouraging about it

Sep 25, 2009

Rocked up Hatikvah (video)

Here's a rendition of Hatikvah that you probably have never heard before

Jonatha Rosenblum responds and defends his article regarding RBS child abuse

Jonathan Rosenblum has written and posted a response, on the Tzedek-Tzedek blog, to the article written by Michael Lesher refuting Rosenblum's original article three months ago in the Jerusalem post regarding alleged child abuse cases in RBS.

Perhaps later I will write down some thoughts and comment on the article.

PM Netanyahu's speech at the UN General Assembly (video)

Sep 24, 2009

Interesting Posts #81

1. A Mother in Israel discusses a letter in the Yated about being careful of bugs in schach during the upcoming Sukkos holiday.

2. The Freakonomics blog considers whether he can predict accurately how long Rosh Hashana services take, simply by memory from previous years. Seems like an effort in futility to me.

3. The Bray has problems with Tefilla Zaqa..

4. hubscubs just finished his MBA. Mazel tov!

5. ParshaBlog comments, and disagrees with, a recent post at The Jewish Worker regarding people coming in late to shul. I tend to agree more with Parsha Blog on this. I came in a bit late on Rosh Hashana (before Barchu though), and people can have a multitude of reasons why they are late. Anywhere from not feeling well, to a kid being up all night sick, to trying to wake kids up for shul, to helping a spouse with getting kids dressed, to just not looking forward to 6 hours of davening to a million other reasons. It is difficult to just say "how can someone dare to come late on such an important day". Though of course, people should always try to be conscientious about shul and davening and come on time and daven with kavana.

6. Our Shiputzim finds a source of never-ending amusement.

Quote of the Day (qotd)

50% of the problems in the city: shalom bayis, educational issues, etc., the source for [the problems] is the internet. There is a hidden fire in the city. An atom bomb is waiting under the city. There are people who have in their houses explosive materials. This is the war of this generation.

----- Rav Tzvi Braverman, a rav in Beitar Ilit, regarding the reason he is formulating a plan to eradicate internet from all homes in Beitar Ilit.

Mayor Meier Rubinstein has sent a message to Rav Braverman that he would ensure that all computers used in City Hall would be connected to the Internet only through the "Kosher Internet" system.

Rav Amnon Yitzchak vs. Neturei Karta debate (video)

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Netanyahu: I`ll never drop demand Palestinians recognize Israel as Jewish

The Palestinians have been making such statements for years, that there are certain things they will not budge on - Jerusalem, settlements, return of refugees, whatever. Israel has never before announced anything as an issue that is not up for negotiation. It is about time we started. Is it enough? probably not, though Bibi also said Israel will not go back to 1967 borders. Even though he said it, he did not clarify how close to the borders Israel is or is not willing to go. But at least it is a start.
Instead of us always giving in to the inflexible Palestinians, it is about time we started having our own demands as well.

MBD - Kol Nidre (video)

To get you into the mood...

Picture of the Day (potd)

Returning the stone to its place....

your caption?

Sep 23, 2009

Updated Quote of the Day

An Israeli killed the murderer of Kennedy.

--- Libyan Pres. Moammar Qaddafi in his address to the United Nations a few minutes ago

Sorry, but this qotd is better than the previous one.

Interesting Posts #80

1. The Yeshiva Guy has all these great stories he writes about. The latest is a story of meeting a secular soldier on a plane...

2. Up The Beanstalk has an unusual story from a subway ride..

3. Shomer Shekalim has his recommendations as to how to get through the Sukkos holiday on a low budget...

4. Artzeinu Blog has an email from a new oleh after just 10 days of being in Israel, with updates of their new perspective..

5. Circus Tent considers the question we all ask each other after Rosh Hashana "So, when did you finish?"...

6. Guess Who is Coming to Dinner is disturbed by the plausibility of some Jewish music....

Quote of the Day (qotd)

I have looked throughout the Bible and I have never seen the term ‘West Bank’ written there even once, whether in direct reference or through interpretation.

---- MK Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz (National Union)

berating Netanyahu for using the term "West Bank" when discussing part of Israel...... As Ketzaleh says, "West Bank" would include all of Israel - Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, jerusalem, etc. Relative to Jordan, it is all the "West Bank", as "West Bank" refers to the land west of the Jordan River....

Trump rents his land to Khaddafi

After being turned away from hotels all around New York, Libyan President Moammar Khaddafi finally found a place to pitch his tent. It is being reported that he pitched his tent on land rented form Donald Trump.

I wonder what Trump's Jewess daughter Ivanka would think about her father renting land to Khaddafi (though he probably had no idea, as it was likely just rented out by a property manager through various middlemen keeping the identity secret)

Stephen Colbert on Rosh Hashana (video)

I always love it when Stephen Colbert blows the shofar..

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Jon Stewart calls the "atone phone" to apologize...

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PM Netanyahu interviews in New York (video)

2nd Temple Mikveh discovered

And the discoveries just keep on coming.

Now, archaeologists have discovered along the Kotel tunnels an ancient mikveh dating back to the Second Temple period.

Of course we don't need such discoveries to prove our history to ourselves, but archeaological finds from so far back are always interesting and fascinating....

It is assur to steal!

It is a shame that the Chief Rabbis have to bother themselves with putting out such statements, but, alas, such is the situation and state of affairs..

The Chief Rabbis of Israel put out a joint statement saying it is prohibited for people to steal and cut down sechach and aravos from trees that grow by the riverside around Israel. These are generally protected, and cutting the branches off is illegal, is theft, and damages the trees.

Also, one should refrain from buying aravos and sechach from merchants whom you suspect are selling merchandise from less than reputable sources...

Picture of the Day (potd)

the signs in the picture made this one the winner....

for more images from the protest by Satmar Hassidim while Netanyahu is in NY, see here...

Sep 22, 2009

Interesting Posts #79

1. Tzedek-Tzedek finally responds to the article a few months ago by Jonathan Rosenblum regarding the abuse cases in RBS.

2. Torat Yisrael has some interesting archaeological finds from the Temple period that have lulav motifs.

3. Do Jews talk too much? The continuation of the Maidels jury duty reflections...

4. Reb Akiva's car had a run-in with some urinating cows...

5. The Israeli Kitchen has a story of three hassidim, a bottle of wine, and olives.

6. The RCA Rabbis blog asks why we misrepresent our attitude toward non-Jews...

Haredim rejecting violence, dayeinu

According to this article on Kikar.net, a woman in bet Shemesh was "stoned" for being dressed immodestly.

The more interesting part of it is that:
  1. Pashkevilim were put up condemning the attackers.
  2. Rav Moshe Grylak of Mishpacha magazine condemned the violent action.
More and more, we are witnessing the normal haredi community finally stepping up and rejecting the way of the violent extremists. It used to be the crazies would do what they wanted in the name of haredim, and everyone else would mutter about it and complain how they make us look bad. And they would make excuses that it is only a few people, only bored kids, only people dressed like haredim but they don't listen to rabbonim, etc. But nobody ever actually spoke out against it.

The result of the silence, is that even though speaking up might not actually change anything on the ground, as these people will not listen to those condemning, but the normal average haredim who knew that this was not the way of the Torah, were becoming unsure and were feeling like they had to start justifying those actions. Look in the haredi forums any time these things happen and you will see plenty of people justifying (along with plenty condemning) it. The silence made people unsure - hey, maybe what they are doing has some merit to it. Maybe the end justifies the means.

Finally we are seeing more and more of the haredi public openly condemning such violent actions. I suspect it is a result of the recent violent protests in Jerusalem by the Eidah. Those reached such extreme levels of violence, that many factions within the haredi sector spoke out against it. Since then, we have heard more condemnations more regularly.

If this is the only good thing that came out of the violence, that the haredi community starts actively rejecting the ways of these violent thugs, dayeinu.

jewish Thriller (video)

This is pretty stupid, but the idea is funny

Sep 21, 2009

Interesting Posts #78

1. The Muqata with a weekend news roundup...

2. Mystical Paths on the Rosh Hashana rains in Israel..

3. A Mother in Israel with the latest tzniyus idiocy in Jerusalem....

4. While I was skipping Rosh Hashana postings, this one by Musings of a Maidel is fairly unique. She ended up having jury duty right before Rosh Hashana, giving her a unique perspective of Yom HaDin...

5. Muse is hosting Haveil Havalim #235

Quote of the Day (qotd)

Your stand is very important... It is impossible to trample the rights of Jews to live in Eretz Yisrael...... There should not be any expectations from the upcoming three-way summit in New York...

-----Minister Benny Begin (Likud)

Tzom Gedaliah - why?

Tzom Gedaliah is just one of those fasts that never really make sense to me. Like, what's the big deal that we have to fast?

Nebuchadnezzar banished most of the Jews from the Land of Israel. Gedaliah ben Achikam was appointed the governor of the remaining Jews. A Jew named Yishmael ben Natanya, who was a descendant of the royal family, took a group of Jews to kill Gedaliah. Gedaliah refused to accept the warnings, and fell victim to the sword of Yishmael. As a result of the ensuing upheaval, Nebuchadnezzar tossed the remaining Jews out of Israel.

A tragic story, no doubt. But why do we have to fast for it? We always hear that because a Jew killed another Jew. But look through Tana"ch and Jews killing Jews was more the standard than the exception. Maybe because as a result the rest of the Jews were exiled from the Land? there weren't that many left anyway, and it was basically a formality and a continuation of the expulsion, not anything so noteworthy in its own right.

So what's the big deal that we have to fast on this day?

I know some in recent years have tried to compare the murder of Yitzchak Rabin to that of Gedaliah ben Achikam and have tried to establish a fast day on the yahrtzeit of Rabin. The reason this never worked is because the people behind it don't fast on any Jewish fast day memorializing any of the other Jewish tragedies we memorialize by fasting, and only wanted to fast for Rabin. It was a plan doomed for failure.

Also, some want to suggest that blaming our fasting on the murder of Gedaliah is really just an excuse - they really just wanted to fast after two days of eating food at holiday levels, so as to lose a couple of the pounds packed in during the holiday...

But the question still remains, why do we fast for Gedaliah?

Original Protest

Love 'em or hate, you have to appreciate the originality used by Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir in their forms of protest.

Today, NRG is reporting, Marzel and Ben-Gvir showed up at the Prime Minister's Office with a package of diapers. They requested entry so they could give the gift of diapers to the PM because, as they said, "Netanyahu soils his pants when he meets with Obama".

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

Some countries are "brown". Everything is desolate, the landscape is parched and little grows. Think Ethiopia, Sudan and countries like that. All the images we see from there are "brown" because of how little rain they get and how dry it is.

we are in the middle of one of the worst droughts that we have experienced in recent history. Yet,
Israel is far from "brown". It is "green" with trees and grass and flourishing with buildings, pools, ponds,, fountains, malls, etc. Water seemingly everywhere.

Which makes it unusual and interesting how excited we get at the slightest rainfall. It rained for a few minutes yesterday and we are all excited. The kids started screaming in excitement when the first drops fell and spent the next few minutes scampering in the rain.

You'd think from our reactions that we were living in a "brown" country, when we are living in a "green" one. I guess we all appreciate the water, as we have begun cutting back on our usage - shutting the water while brushing teeth, taking short showers, minimizing watering gardens, etc. plus the high prices were paying in water taxes now for going over the allotment, and even a few drops of rain so early in the winter season gives us optimism that it will be a rainy winter and we will be able to return to our normal wasteful lifestyles...

And on that note, I wonder if once they approved the high water prices, if it rains a lot and we get back to a situation where we have plenty of water, will they remove the taxes and put the prices back down to normal or will they leave them in place regardless??

Happy New Year from President Obama (video)

Sep 18, 2009



If you would rather NOT help over 1,000 people come through then out of their crisis.

That is, if you don't wish to give your tzedaka wisely.

We still want to be charitable although for many there is less to give. Can we in fact make a big impact if we have less to give? Lema'an Achai. Smart Chesed. Maximize your tzedaka by solving problems of Poverty. Rather than merely perpetuating it.

To date Lema'an Achai has assisted scores of families who came to us impoverished and left with the tools to become self sufficient with honor and dignity.

Lema'an Achai is your organziation. Your tzedaka helping Your neighbors in Your community.

Please donate by calling 9999933 24/6 or visit our website: www.smartchesed.org.

Thank you for your support. Warmest wishes for a Sweet New year.

Sep 17, 2009

Shana Tova

Shana Tova and Ksiva VaChasima Tova to all of you.

Interesting Posts #77

1. Rock of Galilee has a question about how fundraising works for writing a sefer Torah. It seems like if someone buys a word or a pasuk, they are paying for something that has already been sold to the donor of the perek, parsha, chumash, and torah, etc.

2. The Muqata asked Ron Dermer at the conference about bloggers getting press credentials. It looks like Dermer is actually working on the issue!

3. There won't be a fact finding mission about the recent IDF raid to rescue a kidnapped American...

4. Danny Hershtal responds to Prince Turki al-Faisal...

5. Photo of the Week at Israel the Beautiful...

Matching Donations at Hakshiva

Guest Post by Hakshiva

Our Rosh Hashanah campaign is in full swing. We have had tremendous support from many members of the community - thank you all!

When we help a child, there is often a positive and dramatic impact on the entire family. This year we are starting to work within schools, enabling us to help children who would otherwise fall through the net. We believe that the impact of our interventions with these children will have a positive effect on the entire class. This means that in the coming year, apart from the hundreds of children we will help directly, thousands will benefit indirectly. We continue working every day towards our goal of ensuring that each child in Ramat Beit Shemesh gets the services they need to succeed.

Special Matching Opportunity

Any donation you can make is appreciated. This year, until Yom Kippur, a few generous donors have offered to match anyone who will commit to $900 over the next year or $75 a month, so your donation will be worth $1800 - enough to cover one year of mentoring for one child. If you are interested in this opportunity please send an email to office@hakshiva.org

As our wonderful community grows, so does the need and demand for our services. Your partnership with Hakshiva has never been more crucial.

If you haven't yet contributed to this campaign, please make your pledge by sending an email to office@hakshiva.org . Please include a phone number on which we can contact you.
Alternatively, you can donate online by clicking here .

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: Gimmicks for fundraising

The newspaper Ba'Kehilla is quoting Rav Elyashiv as having said to the board of the Vaad HaRabonnim tzedakka fund that there is nothing wrong with using gimmicks and "stories of yeshuos" in their fundraising efforts.

(obviously this is only a quote from a newspaper article, and they probably were only told what he said and did not actually hear it from Rav Elyashiv himself, so whether he actually said this or not, as always, should be taken with a grain of salt)

I have previously heard from big rabbonim that for the purpose of teaching a lesson, giving mussar, etc. one can make up stories - in other words all those gedolim stories you hear, or stories of simple people who did something great, that get passed around to learn a lesson from, those stories might or might not have actually happened.

With tzedakka it might be different, because you are enticing someone to give you money using false pretenses. So the psak is a bit surprising, if true. I guess tzedakka trumps everything and aside actual deceit and theft, maybe there is room for leniency...


UPDATE: I just saw this article in Kikar.net that says the paper was pulled and reprinted. As soon as it was discovered that they ran this "quote" from Rav Elyashiv, representatives of the Vaad HaRabbonim (associated with Rav Elyashiv) contacted them immediately and told them to not allow such a false quote to be printed in Rav Elyashiv's name.

So, while it might be ok to make up stories for inspiration and mussar, it is still not ok to make up stories to deceive people into donating money.

The Papal Synagogue visit

I just saw news blurb that the Pope will be visiting a synagogue in Rome on Rosh Hashana.

He's already got the yarmulke and the white kittel, so his garb is pretty much taken care of... I wonder, though, if he bought tickets to get in. Did he pay membership to get the cheaper seats for the holidays?

Keren Lev Yisrael

This is a post I had meant to write a while back. For whatever reasons, I kept pushing it off, and then forgetting and only remembering at inconvenient times. But I wanted to get this post in before Rosh Hashana.

Keren Lev Yisrael is a local tzedaka organization. They are a sub-division of the Kupa shel RBSA. I don't know exactly what they do and what is in their realm rather than being done under the name of the Kupa, but it doesn't really make a difference..

Keren Lev Yisrael has arranged, over the past few months, large sales of vegetables at much lower prices than anything being sold in the local stores. The goal is to provide savings to the local residents, by buying in bulk and cutting out the middlemen and overhead of the supermarkets. The result is tremendous savings passed on to the residents.

While at first it started out pretty ad hoc and a balagan, they have improved the system tremendously, and they have gone from just fruits and vegetables to also basic goods (disposable plates, baking pans, etc.) and even meats and chickens for the holidays. Now instead of showing up with pushing and shoving as it worked originally with a first come first served attitude, now you order in advance, you show up and pay and walk around and get handed your stuff as you pass the different stations.

The savings are tremendous and are a big help to everybody. The more people that buy, the better the pricing they can get. That helps different people - there is not a single person int he neighborhood who would not benefit form the cheaper prices, even if it is not crucial. If I am now spending 70NIS less per week at the supermarket, that can go towards other things. For the holidays, with the increased purchases, my savings are probably in the range of a couple hundred shekels per week. In addition, with my buying from them, those who are needy are also getting better pricing and the savings for them are even more important.

I know some people are against such sales, as it harms local businesses. I understand the point, but I disagree with it. I see no need for such loyalty to the stores. They are mostly not run by local people, and if local people can benefit from cheaper pricing, I prefer the local benefit rather than the loyalty to chain supermarkets that do everything they can to raise prices and take as much of our money as they can. The supermarkets never showed us loyalty, as they use every possible opportunity to raise their prices (nothing wrong with that, it is business), so I see no reason I have to show them such loyalty.

Also, I see nothing wrong with some competition. Since these sales started, the supermarkets have introduced "Shuk Day" where they lower the prices a couple says a week.

It might harm the local makolets a bit, but I see nothing wrong with some competition. And anyway, the local makolets are not basing their business on fruit and vegetable sales, which is the main part of these sales.

So before Rosh Hashana I want to say thank you to keren Lev Yisrael for the tremendous service they are providing to RBS residents in helping us out with significant savings on our grocery bills.

Quote of the Day (qotd)

The new police academy will greatly benefit Beit Shemesh.

---- Minister of Public Security Yitzchak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu)

oy vey. with all those police training in the area of Bet Shemesh, does that mean we will have to suffer more random police stops on the road for security checks, more tickets, etc.?

Headline of the Day (hotd)

National Police Academy to be built in Beit Shemesh

----- Jerusalem Post

I can't wait to see what the city looks like with Hightower and Mahoney patrolling the streets!

Avraham Fried singing Machnisei Rachamim (video)

מכניסי רחמים פריד from bhol on Vimeo.

Sep 16, 2009

Interesting Posts #76

1. Between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv has a tribute to Ilan and Asaf Ramon.

2. Fink or Swim found an ad on his car for an unusual business.

3. Mystical Paths comments on a new live broadcast of the High Holiday services.

4. Tzedek-Tzedek describes what makes Lemaan Achai different.

5. Zionism and the State of Israel describes a newly discovered artifact in digs at Tel Dor.

6. The Muqata has a post about the yeshiva boys who took pictures of the plane crash of Assaf Ramon. Lurker also posts on The Muqata about a haredi initiative to learn mishnayos in Assaf's memory.

Quote of the Day (qotd)

The [Goldstone] Report makes a joke of history. It does not differentiate between the attacker and the defender.

---- President Shimon Peres

(coming from the guy who often says that we remember too much and think too little - we should ignore history and work to a better future....)

Go back to Uganda

Yesterday there was a ridiculous hafgana. Orot is bulding a school on property designated for them by the [previous] Iryah.
The protesters, the "kannoim" of the area, want that property for themselves so they can build their institutions on it.
As the tractor got to work, the kannoim came down and chased him away. The police came and calmed everything down. See the Haredim website for details of what happened (I do not know how accurate those details are).

The argument is silly. They say they deserve the land and not the DL because it is in the heart of a haredi neighborhood and is just a provocation to put a DL school there.

The plot is adjacent to a haredi neighborhood (of 3 buildings), and it is also adjacent to a DL neighborhood. Any claim to it being "in the heart of" is simply a lie. You can drive down the road and see the plot right off the main street and see where it is and what it is next to.

A friend of mine told me last night that he went over there during the hafgana and was taking a few pictures. Some of the protesters screamed at him "Get out of here! Go back to Uganda!". I thought that was funny.

Growing up to be an Araviah

My 5-yr old daughter said yesterday that she "wants to learn from the new neighbor how to build houses (we have a neighbor renting office space in the machsanim who is an engineer). Then, when I grow up, I can be an Araviah, because the aravim build our land and I want to build our land also."

Sep 15, 2009

Interesting Posts #75

1. Chana argues with Rav Avigdor Miller's approach...

2. Tzedek-Tzedek points to similar reports of abuse in Lakewood and how the leaders deal with it.

3. The Kosher Kook had a bbq at 8500 feet! BBQ is always good no matter how high or low you are...

4. Kaplan's Korner has the Jewish football players for us, not that NFL season has begun.

5. Yeranen Yaakov talks about the simanim we eat on Rosh Hashana. And Rabbi Enkin discusses the custom of avoiding sour/bitter foods. Esser Agaroth also has some symbolic foods for Rosh Hashana.

6. Musings of a Meidel has 2 great posts - one on her tzniyus barometer, and how attitudes toward tzniyus change when girls get back from sem to the real life. The seocnd is a timely story she quotes from the Holocaust about Rabbi Meisels who risked his life in the camps to blow shofar.

7. This one is surprising. A post on Cross-Currents about the need, socially and halachically, to say the Prayer for the Governments (yes, including Israel).

I missed my shabbos meal

Here is an absolutely amazing story of a Jew in Belgium. I just read this story in last weeks Mishpacha newspaper.

The writer, David Daman, says he heard the story from the Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Shabsai Slovtitski (sp?).

One Sunday, the rabbis approached by a "secular" jew who had just recently accepted upon himself to start keeping the mitzvos (that being the case, I don't know why it calls him secular, but maybe he appeared so). The fellow says to Rabbi Slovtitzki that he needs to do teshuva.

"What happened? Teshuva for what?" The rabbi asks.. the strange answer is that he skipped the morning shabbos meal, and for that he has to do teshuva.

The fellow tells the rabbi how it came to be that he skipped the shabbos meal. He is the owner of a successful jewelry store located in the main strip of the jewelry section in Antwerp. Most customers come shopping in the area over the weekend, and Friday - Saturday were his biggest days for sales. As soon as he decided to start keeping shabbos, as he was becoming more religious, he knew he would be giving up the busiest day of the week for his business.

One shabbos, after just a few weeks of keeping shabbos, he had an idea that he would go down to see his store after davening. not open it and do business, chas v'shalom - just to go look and see what is happening.

When he got to his store, he saw the store to the right was doing a brisk business, and the store to the left was also full. He started to feel regret for all the business he is missing out on. He is making calculations in his head how much he is losing by not opening his store.

This Jew, who had just started keeping shabbos, is debating in his mind what to do. Open or not open the store? go or don't go? He then realized that staying there another moment and he will likely give in and open the store, he turned around and ran away as fast as he could. He got home, he didn't see anything - not his wife, kids the meal waiting for him, nothing other than the long line of customers he was missing out on. All those customers who only would be there today and would not return tomorrow.

The fellow continues relating his story to the rabbi.. He says he didn't know what to do. He had this debate raging in his head, and he knew that at any moment he could lose and decide to go back and open his store. He says he had no choice but to take the following action: he opened his cabinet, took out a bottle of strong vodka, drank the whole bottle, and collapsed in bed. When he woke up, Shabbos was already over.

Rabbi, he cried, I need to do teshuva because I missed the shabbos meal.

Rabbi Slovtitsky said, when relating the story to Daman, that he did not know what to say to the man. He cried as he realized that he did not know who really needed to do teshuva. The simple fellow who is a tzaddik or us? What is more important in heaven? My shabbos meal with song and divrei torah or the drunken sleep of that man.

Roger Federer's amazing shot at the US Open (video)

I am not a big fan of tennis, but I do appreciate "a great play" in any sport. This is absolutely amazing.

Guy stealing on ebay compared to Bernie Madoff

A frum guy in New Haven scammed customers on eBay out of hundreds of thousands of dollars selling equipment he never had any intention of actually delivering.

In a sentencing memo, she argued that his unusual background made him unequipped for the business world. Levitansky was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in the Beaver Hills neighborhood. His parents put him through years of religious day camps, summer camps, then a Talmudical seminary in California, all in hopes that he would become a rabbi. Following his parents’ wishes after high school, he volunteered alongside a rabbi doing community outreach in Florida, then attended another Talmudic seminary in New York run by the Chabad movement.

The young man didn’t take to the line of work, however.

“Mr. Levitansky did not want to become a rabbi,” wrote Merriam. At age 18, he withdrew from the seminary. In 2007, he started his own business, Bluetooth Kings LLC.

He didn’t start out intending to scam anyone, Merriam argued: Levitansky just got in over his head. By May 2008, the orders were rolling in with such volume that the young man couldn’t handle it.

“Things quickly got out of hand, and Mr. Levitansky became completely overwhelmed,” Merriam wrote. “As a young man who had been raised with the idea that he would one day become a rabbi, Yochi Levitansky was ill-prepared for the challenges of running a business on his own.”

In his sentencing, the judge, based on the prosecutions arguments, said that the crime was not just against his customers, and he did not do damage just to ebay, but he damaged the whole internet as actions like his undermine the faith people have in making transactions over the internet.

The case was about much more than money, he argued — it’s about the foundation of the Internet marketplace.

As more people turn to the Internet to buy goods, they need to be able to have faith that anonymous sellers won’t rip them off, Chang argued. Though the customers Levitansky swindled have mostly been repaid by eBay, he said, “they will have the memory of being defrauded.”

They even compared him to Bernie Madoff:

Dorsey said while a longer prison sentence wasn’t necessary, Levitansky does need some prison time to teach him respect for the law and to deter him from repeating the crime.

“That’s a lot of money,” the judge said of the swindled $237,257. He called the defendant “well short of Bernie Madoff, but somewhat tracking in that same direction.”

A comparison to Madoff seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, in my opinion... This was purely criminal as he took people's money and never delivered the product he was selling them. What does this have to do with fraud and Ponzi schemes to the tunes of $50 billion, or whatever the final numbers were?

At least he is trying to make good on the money he stole:

In defense of her client, Merriam said the case was “solely about money.” She said the case was really a civil matter, and that the debt owed to eBay was a drop in the bucket compared to the company’s profits. She argued that the behavior was extremely out-of-the-ordinary for the young man, who has no prior criminal record and comes from a supportive, educated family.

Merriam said her client intends to fully pay the company back — he already got a job as a maintenance worker, fixing sinks to dig out of debt. Levitansky can pay it back quicker if he can stay employed instead of going to prison, she argued. She urged the judge for probation instead of prison, arguing that the quarter-million dollar restitution would be sufficient punishment.

Sep 14, 2009

Interesting Posts #74

1. Benjo Lovitt has finally made the sequel to his hilarious Tu B'Av video. He is back now with a new video for the New Year. Watch it, it's hilarious..

2. Parshablog discusses gedolim who mispredict the keitz...

3. The Yeshiva Guy is a good writer with an interesting style. Here he writes about the candy man and the march of progress...

4. The 2nd Jbloggers conference was yesterday. It was fun, some of the speeches were great, some were boring, etc. I am not writing about it, but will link to a couple others who did. Akiva didn't like the attitude of the Israeli PR people toward what they expect of bloggers. I agree with him, but unfortunately he left early and I think he would have liked Ron Dermer's speech which was vastly different form the others.
Batya was not satisfied either with various aspects. I would not have expected them to promote twoozer just because it is a jewish version of twitter. if twoozer wanted the promotion, they could have been sponsors of the conference. Anyway, nobody was promoting tweeter either - they were simply giving a panel on how to use a popular social network medium - twoozer's use is the same...
I agree with Batya about the first panel. I didn't enjoy it either. but at a conference it is common that not every speaker will be great, interesting or even to the point. So the first panel wasn't that good. The rest of it was very good to great.

RivkA was there too and offers her thoughts. She would go simpler if she were arranging it..

5. Artzeinu Blog considers, and talks to Rav Leff, whether we should be encouraging mass aliyah..

Headline of the Day (hotd)

Outrage and disgust from MK Amsalem's call to ease up on the conversion conditions of the olim who have served in the IDF

--- Yated Ne'eman

this is in reaction to MK Amsalem's (Shas) surprising call to ease the conditions and consider their army service equivalent to keeping mitzvos. Amsalem recently upset many in his own Shas party as he called out the leadership on the carpet for sending their kids to Ashkenazy schools and being racists and hypocrites as they look down on the sfardim but use the racist card to increase their power....

Tidbits from around Jerusalem

Here are a couple of Jewish news tidbits I don't really want to write about, but you don't really want to miss.... so I am just going to point them out...

  1. The guys who fight for tzniyus in Mea She'arim have developed a new weapon in their arsenal. They are pouring petel, or bug juice syrup, on the benches so people cannot sit down and congregate, boys and girls, groups of girls, etc. I guess it is better than throwing bleach in people's faces...
  2. 18 Belzer Hassidim got stuck in the elevator before shabbos in Belz... yeah, it sounds like the opening line of a joke, and the imagery produced does elicit a chuckle... The comments are pretty good even though there are just a few...
  3. It seems like there is some haredi takeover going on in bet Hakerem as well. I am not really sure what is going on, but this article says that haredim have started going around the neighborhood trying to get women to dress more modestly. I found particularly interesting where it says that one woman answered the door, knowing that the haredim were doing this, in her underwear. She says they ran off when she opened the door... The article ends off with a quote from a local saying they already know that within a few years there will be only a few secular families left in the area..

The Ivrita Ima.

What used to be coined The Yiddishe Momma, is now being recoined (yeah, by me) as the Ivrita Momma, as Israel is becoming the dominant Jewish community in the world, with Hebrew becoming the dominant Jewish language. heck, even the Neturei Karta is using less Yiddish nowadays and more Hebrew..

Here is a modern day example of The Ivrita Momma. Wait - maybe that should be The Ivrita Ima.
Malul, formerly a commander in the Kfir Brigade, is accused of hitting a Palestinian Authority Arab in September 2008 while pursuing two terrorists who had recently fired on Jewish civilians in Samaria. Malul and subordinates who were present say the blows were necessary in order to complete the operation
Malul's mother Ruti was present at the trial as well. Following Shamni's testimony, Ruti Malul slammed the Major-General. “This is a disgrace. This Major-General is completely out of touch with reality.”

Malul deserves better treatment after his long and dangerous army service, Ruti Malul told reporters at the trial. “He gave five years of his life, and to who? And is this what I deserve as a mother? For five years I haven't slept, three times he was almost killed in combat, why do I deserve this?”

Ruti Malul has written to ministers and members of Knesset asking them to intervene on her son's behalf. In the letter, Malul criticized the IDF for putting her son in jail for months based on testimony from a single soldier. She also slammed Shamni for “blatantly interfering” with Malul's trial by reprimanding Virov.

"I ask you to speak out as national leaders... to cancel the indictment against my son, and to bring the situation he faced up for discussion in the government, in the Knesset, in the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, to discuss the implications for the present and the future,” she concluded.

This is The Ivrita Ima

Quote of the Day (qotd)

The American govt requested that Israel stop all construction completely. We made it clear that we will build 2500 units whose construction has already begun.
We will energize the political peace process, while at the same time concerning ourselves with allowing normal continuation of life for the residents of Judea and Samaria.... Jerusalem is not a settlement, and construction there will continue unabated...
The minimizing of construction in Judea and Samaria is only a temporary delay for a limited time period. As of now there is still no agreement with the Americans for how long the freeze will continue.

----- PM Bibi Netanyahu

I hope he is not fooling himself, or worse, us..


Uchh. Who wants to write anything after the tragedy yesterday of Asaf Ramon's fatal plane crash?

And the pregnant mother of 10 who died yesterday of swine flu...

I'll get back in the mood soon (the previous post with the video was posted and scheduled already yesterday before I found out about the accident)...

How they speak Yiddish in Williamsburg (video)

Sep 13, 2009

Interesting Posts #73

1. David of The Reform Chuckle is the host of Haveil Havalim #234..

2. Torat Yisrael interviewed the members of Chalamish who have founded the first Haredi "illegal outpost".

3. Frumn Flippin's driving teacher is praying for her at Uman this Rosh Hashana...

4. Kaplans Korner has the scoop on the Jewish Jordan calling it quits.

5. The Rebbetzin Rocks had some experience with schnorrers at her door!

6. Danny Hershtal explains why E1 really makes no difference at all.

the holy uniform

Here is an unusual story I would like your thoughts on.

In brief, a haredi guy, Reuven, with 12 children, got a job with Egged as a bus driver. When he first started out he took the job and came to an agreement with the recruiting agent that he would be able to daven with a minyan 3 times daily, and that he would be able to continue dressing as he was used, like a yeshiva guy - white shirt, tzitzis hanging out, etc.
For two years he drove, and was praised for his work, without switching to the Egged uniform, and his branch manager allowed him to not wear the Egged uniform of a blue shirt. He had an ishur, and he was allowed to continue in his ways.

Eventually, he was at a conference of drivers, and someone higher up noticed he was dressed differently than the others. He was then told that if he does not switch to the Egged uniform he will no longer be able to drive for Egged. He refused and was fired.

1. I always like how the haredi websites report and overblow all such stories, and they do in this case as well, that haredim are involved in as "a shocking incident" as if everything is anti-haredi racism (it might be, but I don't believe it always is, as they report it).

2. I don't know why he considered it such a big deal that he had to change his shirt, that he was even willing to give up his job for it. There is no mitzva to wear only a white shirt. Plenty of companies and offices have dress codes and/or uniforms that all employees must wear. Requirign employees to adhere to the dress code is not racism or anti-anything, just simply enforcing uniformity and company policy.

Schools also have uniforms and dress codes. If a kid entered his kids class and said he did not want to wear the school uniform but to continue dressing as he did before, do you think his school would allow that? Do you think he would like having such a kid in his childrens' school? of course not!

There is nothing wrong with a person changing his shirt for the office uniform, and then when he goes home, or before that in the Egged locker-room (if there is one), changing back into his kollel clothes.

To treat the white shirt as sacrosanct to the point of giving up a job when you need to support 12 kids is ridiculous.

The only thing in his favor is that he has their previous approval. The problem with that is that whoever approved it might not have been authorized to give such approval. So he got away with it for a while, but eventually he was noticed. Also, a company generally has the right to change uniforms, dress codes, and policy in the middle of employment. they offered him the option of wearing the uniform, and I assume they followed the law in firing him for a change in policy (it doesn't say otherwise so I assume it was all legal - they gave him proper reparations after he refused the terms).

What do you think about this? Should he have the right to dress how he likes and ignore the dress uniform? Is this simply anti-haredism?

Gilad Shalit = Palestinian prisoners

According to Haaretz, the Shalit supporters areplanning a joint rally with the families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

I understand them, to a certain extent. They have to do everything they can to raise publicity, keep Gilad Shalit's name in the daily news and in the public awareness. They will try everything and any type of event to get his name in the news. I get it.

But a joint rally with the families of Palestinian prisoners? Holding such a rally is suggesting that their situations are similar. The only similarity of their situations is that they are each being held by people they do not want to be held by.

The Palestnian prisoners in Israel have basic human rights tended to. They have family visits (or they at least did until the Shalit abduction), they have Israeli prison terms, visits by the Red Cross, etc.

Shalit is sitting in conditions that nobody knows about. He doesn't get visits by the Red Cross, no contact with his family or friends, etc. That is not even including the dissimilarity of the way they were each taken captive.

Holding a joint rally suggests you are putting Gilad Shalit on equal footing with Ahmed Whoever.

That is not something I can support.

Michael Jordan Hall of Fame speech (video)

Sep 11, 2009

having your cake and eating it too

There is a local public school run in the Chabad style, designed for Chabad families, that opened the school year with a strike. The parents are upset that the Ministry of Education appointed a principal that is not Chabad. They demand a Chabad principal and will not allow the school to open until they get one. the Ministry of Education has certain rules how it appoints principals and administrators, via tender and qualifications, and this guy won.

At first, this story didn't interest me. Their own school should be run the way the student body wants it - if it is Chabad, the principal should be Chabad. But I didn't really care - what does it have to do with me? they are fighting for a little more control of their own piece of the pie, and it is more or less not connected to anybody else.

And in humor I told people that it is not so bad that Chabad kids stay a home a few extra days while they work this out. All it means is a few days less of inculcating in these kids that the rebbe is mashiach. So no big deal that they are on strike.

Nothing really changed, and they are still on strike, and the story is still not that interesting, but now I started wondering about how this works.

This is a public school. Why do they get to run a public school as if it is private? They get the benefits of public school (free and whatever else), and still control it as if it were private.

That does not make sense. Why can't the school I send my kids to become a public school and still be run by the combination of the adminstrative staff and the parent body? Then we can have our private school with the benefits of being officially listed as public school.

if the Chabad people want to run the school and make their own decisions, and not be restricted to the rules and methods of the Ministry of Education, let them open a private schoollike everyone else.

Perhaps the MoE should have as part of its criteria in choosing administrators the consideration of worldview of the families that attend the school and look for someone within the same sector of society. It makes sense to me. But in the meantime, with the school being public and under the authority of the MoE, I see no reason why they should have the right to run it like a private school.

You want private education, open a private school like everyone else in the world does.

Sep 10, 2009

Israeli Flag - Out; Christian Cross - In

Kanaim around the world fail to surprise us with their inconsistencies or shock us with their hypocrisy. We are already used to characters like Yisroel Dovid Weiss joining up with left-wing extremists and anarchists to protest Israel.

But we rarely see ironic convergences (Neturei Karta Noam Chomsky) among the "mainstream" extremist factions: Satmar and its friends.

This week was different.

At a protest in Montreal, Quebec, protesters held up signs, in English and French, attacking Israel for its recent crackdown on the hoodlums of the Edah Hacharedis. The signs stated that Israel does not represent the Jewish people and that the state should stop running over charedim (yes, the sign does say that!).

All of this is fine and well -- except that our Satmerer brethren help up the Quebec flag, which also happens to be a "Tzeilem", a cross (see pictures below). According to Wikipedia, the Quebec flag has even more Christian symbolism:

The Fleurdelisé takes its white cross from the ancient royal flags of France and its white fleurs-de-lis and blue field from a banner honouring the Virgin Mary reputedly carried by French-Canadian militia at General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm's victory at Carillon (now Ticonderoga, New York). Contrary to popular belief, the fleurs-de-lis are not taken from the banner of the kings of France, who used golden fleurs-de-lis. The white fleurs-de-lis on Quebec's flag are symbols of purity, which originally represented the Virgin Mary.

Obviously, the history and symbolism of the flag is lost on these Satmarers.

Also lost on them is the irony that they are holding up a symbol of real avodah zara, while attacking the state of Israel, which they think is avodah zara.

Interesting Posts #72

1. If you remember the story of the woman who threw out her mothers mattress only to discover her mother had hidden away her lifes savings within, The Muqata has a new story, though with amounts of money much smaller, and gas masks. B'kitzur, it seems like if you are going to hide money somewhere, someone close should be told. or else keep it in the bank...

2. Torat Yisrael has the New Israel Fund's response to the Jonathan Rosenblum article about them from the other day. Interesting that they do not even try to refute the claims.

3. Tzedek-Tzedek says to always presume risk, and not bother with judging guilt or innocence..

4. Artzeinu posts about hitchhiking in Israel..

5. Rabbi Fink compares Judaism to Law School on ethics...

Where was Bibi Top Ten

With all the speculation and secrecy surrounding Bibi's disappearance the other day, a reader suggested doing a Top Ten List of where Bibi might have been, ala David Letterman.

These are the Top Ten Places Bibi Disappeared to, as per the list prepared by the reader with the idea, mixed with mine.

Come up with your own list and put it in the comments.
  1. In Iran buying nuclear materials. Dimona was running low on supplies.
  2. In Gaza, looking for Gilad Shalit.
  3. In Russian learning how to make Vodka, and learning how to ride a horse - Putin gave him the lesson.
  4. In Saudi Arabia learning about the effect of polygamy on the Middle East Peace Process.
  5. In Iceland to find out why El Al jets keep stopping there.
  6. In New York to learn how to protect shuls on Rosh Hashanah.
  7. In China trying to get some good Chinese food--he's Jewish you know.
  8. Just needed the day off. Spent the day watching highlights of football games, filling out his details for the fantasy league, and drinking beer.
  9. In England getting an autographed copy of Harry Potter.
  10. Really, he only had ten hours so he had to decide between going to Los Angeles and lighting candles with Madonna at the Kabbalah Center or going to Washington D.C. trying to get Jonathan Pollard out of jail. Sorry Jonathan.

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