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Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

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Sep 29, 2010

Hallel in Hebron, Hoshana Raba 5771, Simcha Hochbaum, Zvi Sand, Sinai Tor (videos)

We went to Hebron this morning to daven Hoshana Raba Vasikin. We started off davening in the minyan led by Reb Simcha Hochbaum and Reb Zvi Sand, and then we moved outside to the sukka and joined the minyan led by Sinai Tor. These guys really get into it.

Hallel as led by Reb Zvi Sand and Reb Simcha Hochbaum, in Hebron, on Hoshana Raba of Sukkos 5771:

Hallel as led by Sinai Tor, in Hebron, on Hoshana Raba of Sukkos 5771 (part 1):

Hallel as led by Sinai Tor, in Hebron, on Hoshana Raba of Sukkos 5771 (part 2):

Hallel as led by Sinai Tor, in Hebron, on Hoshana Raba of Sukkos 5771 (part 3):

Touring Eretz Yisrael: Holy Bat Caves!

A nice and short day tiyul to the Bat Caves.

Me'arat HaTeomim, also known as The Bat Cave, is a nice and pleasant day tiyul, really even just a couple hours, and if it is really hot like it was yesterday it will wipe you out for the whole day!

The Cave is located on a path called Nahal Me'ara just outside of Bet Shemesh. It is accessed via Road 10, behind Bet Shemesh, just about opposite the entrance to Moshav Zanoach.

The hike, if you do the whole path, is about 7 kilometers of easy walking and is good for even little kids. There is no need though to do the whole hike. You can hike just to the Bat Cave and back.

My older son did the hike recently with his class, and he told me that it took them at a good speed about 20 minutes. Today with the little kids, the section to the cave took about an hour or so.

The path is nice and pleasant, mostly shaded, rocky at some points. It leads up to the cave on the left side of the path. The cave is pretty cool. It is pitch black inside the large cavernous cave, so make sure you bring a flashlight if you go on this tiyul. In the cave you will hear the squeals of the bats on the ceiling of the cave. You can go through the cave and experience the sounds and sights from different parts. I don't think there are any vampire bats in this cave, so no need to worry about that..

If you made it this far, you definitely don't want to miss the natural rock slide. After the cave, if you continue along the path literally another five minutes, you will get to a spot where the bedrock is completely smoothed out and you can sit down at the top of the formation and slide down smoothly and quickly. This is a lot of fun after the hiking and the kids and adults all loved it.

Then you turn around and hike back. Enjoy.

Sep 28, 2010

Did Daley and Emanuel plan Emanuel's succession?

With White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on the verge of making a decision about whether or not to leave the White House and make a run for the open mayoral position in Chicago, one has to wonder. One has to wonder if Emanuel knew something about the eventual Daley resignation a year in advance.

Rumors floated a year ago that Emanuel would be leaving the White House to run in the Chicago elections for mayor. At that time, Mayor Daley had not said anything to anybody about any plans to resign. He was mayor of Chicago, and it is unlikely anybody would have unseated him. And a fellow Democrat would never run against a sitting mayor fro the same party.

Yet rumors about Emanuel eventually running were taken seriously.

Now, everyone has come to terms with Mayor Daley's recent announcement that he will not be running for re-election, and after the initial scuffle of announcements of candidates, Emanuel is back in the news about to make his decision..Was this all planned in advance over a year ago, setting Rahm Emanuel up as Daley's eventual successor?

Flashmob Freeze for Construction Freeze (video)

Even though I disagree with the statement they are trying to make, I am impressed with the novelty of their form of protest, and their ability to stay motionless the way they do...

Sep 27, 2010

Wife of Neo-Nazi finds out she is Jewish (video)

That's it? They leave us hanging like that? What was his response? How did she eventually become orthodox?


I don't know. I was drunk for years..

--- Heavy Metal Rocker Ozzie Osbourne when asked why it has taken him so long to come to Israel for a concert

From Ragly to Kanfy (video)

Ragly, now re-named Kanfy, was a caterpillar that I found last Sunday walking on my shirt sleeve. I brought him home and put him in a box with my kids and hoped we would watch it turn into a butterfly.

Kanfy, the butterfly, came out of the cocoon yesterday, while we were out, and we released him from the box shortly after.

Here is the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, or from Ragly to Kanfy.

Ragly on his first day in our family

Ragly in his new box house

Ragly built went into his cocoon just one day later

And a week later, Kanfy came out of the cocoon

And here is the empty cocoon

Here is the video of our releasing him back into the world..

Latma: Shlomit's Sukka Destroyed Peace (video)

Sep 26, 2010

Chabad and Flat Stanley (video)

Chabad is frequently compared to Coca Cola.. while watching this video the thought suddenly came to me that Chabad is even more like Flat Stanley..

Interesting Psak: Construction Allowed

As the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria is about to end, people are still concerned that after a very short interlude in which construction will be allowed, Netanyahu is expected to soon re-implement the construction freeze, perhaps as soon as next week.

In light of these concerns, people living in the affected areas are going to be trying to get as much construction in in as short an amount of time as possible. They will be building 24 hours a day for as long as they can.

A group of avreichim from Modiin Ilit, a Haredi city affected by the freeze, went to Rav Wosner with a question of whether or not they can start construction immediately as the freeze ends, even though it is chol ha'moed, a time when normally any work that can be delayed is.

Rav Wosner's responded immediately that it is allowed to build.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was also asked about whether or not it would be permitted to build during chol ha'moed. His response too was that it is allowed because the mitzva of yishuv Eretz Yisrael takes precedence over the rule of minimizing "work" during chol hamoed.

Sep 22, 2010

Chag Sameach

Chag Sameach to everyone!

Thank You RBS..

A Message from Lemaan Achai

I take this opportunity to say Thank You - Yeshar Kochachem!

You have responded *amazingly* to the Lema'an Achai Rosh Hashana/Yom
Kippur campaign!

Over ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE donated to this year's campaign, including
from all over RBS, Bet Shemesh, and from around Israel.

Note: Lema'an Achai are still 150,000 NIS short of our current needs.
Please do continue giving generously, such as for Simchat Hachag
(there is *no* simchat hachag, unless the poor have been fed too) or
for Yizkor (there is a tradition to give tzedaka in memory/zchus of
our departed parents and loved ones). Please also give regularly to
Lema'an Achai; for a horaat kevah form, please hit "reply". Tizku


I would like to particularly thank Lema'an Achai's Founder and Possek,
Rav Chayim Soloveichik. For ten years now, Rav Soloveichik has served
as Lema'an Achai's always-available-24/7-possek and our guiding light.

Special thanks also to Rav Yaakov Haber who has kindly volunteered his
time and tremendous expertise as Rabbinical Advisor; Rabbi Haber's new
book, The First Ten Days, jointly published for Lema'an Achai, was a
major factor in this year's great campaign.

On behalf of the community, I express our appreciation for the
tremendous work done in preparing this campaign, and the difficult
challenge of leading Lema'an Achai throughout the year, to Rav Avrohom
Leventhal and his team.

Of course, Lema'an Achai's in-house team of social workers and
counselors burn-the-midnight oil at this time of year - and throughout
the year, to give families in need the best & most effective help
possible, carefully balancing the limited resources, to obtain the
optimal results.

And a huge *Yeshar Koach* to Lema'an Achai's veritable army of
volunteers, helping with the campaign, and day-to-day, tirelessly
running all of Lema'an Achai's thirty different community programs.

I'll end by sharing an email one our team of expert counselors just
received (I've lightly edited it to conceal the sender's identity);
it's a tip-of-the-iceberg example of the many chasodim done each day
by this great organization:-

"Dear (name of Lema'an Achai's counselor withheld),
I saw you the other day at XXXX's office and realized I had forgot to
say THANK YOU and express how truly thankful I am for your assistance
in getting the job! I am so busy trying to "prove" myself and get my
skills up to scratch that I truly have thought of nothing else. You
and Lemaan Achai were so critical in re-training me, and in getting me
this job (because no employer likes to hire more staff unless its
absolutely necessary). Please keep doing this valuable chesed;! For
people like me who are so anxious to work but need that extra help,
Lemaan Achai makes a world of difference."

Yeshar koach to our whole wonderful community!!

Chag sameach!
Best Regards,

Sep 21, 2010

Interesting Posts #207

1. Yom Tov Sheini and the Chacham Tzvi

Three Synagogues in one space

There is an interesting article in the New Observer about how three synagogues, each of a different sect of Judaism, have moved in to one building and share the same space.

That is, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues are all cooperating with each other to keep the place going, and they are careful to work together as well as possible and not step on each others toes too much.
Defying denominational labels that often distinguish American houses of worship, three Jewish congregations - Reform, Conservative and Orthodox - have found a way to peacefully coexist on the corner of California and Sherwin avenues. They celebrate the High Holy Days together, yet in their own way, under one roof.

"I don't believe in Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. I believe in Jewish," said Rabbi Doug Zelden, the leader of Or Menorah, the Orthodox synagogue that shares the building. "The Torah ... says serve God with joy - joyous Judaism."

The rare union transcends differences that historically have divided American Jews. It also illustrates the power of friendship - an especially poignant example during the High Holidays, when many Jews have sought to heal broken relationships.

"That is the message of the High Holy Days: enjoy coming together," said Rabbi David Spitz, the part-time rabbi for the Reform congregation, Temple Menorah. "It's always been magic to me. No matter how far away we might be from our traditions when the High Holy Days come, together Jews assemble and pray and feel a camaraderie with each other. Now that we have our brothers and sisters right beside us, it basically heightens the feeling of one community."

Born out of necessity, the unconventional federation has paid off for everyone involved, especially Temple Menorah, a once-bustling Reform congregation founded in 1946, when many progressive Jews left the South Side and moved north. A similar northward migration to the suburbs caused the population to shift again in the 1980s. A westward migration of Orthodox Jews from the East Rogers Park neighborhood filled the void.

To make ends meet, the temple rented space to an all-girls Orthodox Lubavitch Hebrew day school.

Last year, Zelden went in search of space within walking distance of many Orthodox families' homes, because Orthodox Jews must walk on the Sabbath. Zelden, who had coached bar and bat mitzvah candidates at Temple Menorah, approached the Reform congregation's leaders about sharing space.

Zelden said he had no intention of transforming the temple into an Orthodox-only sanctuary. In fact, he welcomed a third branch of Judaism when the Ner Tamid Ezra Habonim Egalitarian Minyan, a Conservative Jewish group, began to rent rooms for its prayers.

"We're not going to ask anyone to leave," Zelden said. "We want Temple Menorah to survive. We want the egalitarian minyan to survive. We want them to be here. It's part of our legacy."

But to make the federation work, each congregation must make accommodations and respect each other's varying positions on the spectrum of tradition and openly work to overcome differences before resentment builds.

Temple Menorah's former gift shop has been converted into a kosher kitchen to serve the egalitarian minyan, while the refrigerator in the synagogue's main kitchen has been divided between kosher and non-kosher. Orthodox members eat off paper plates to observe the strict separation of meat and dairy on the dishes.

On the Sabbath, the Reform congregation surreptitiously lights its candles after dark, behind closed doors and away from Orthodox children who are taught Sabbath candles should be lit at home before sundown. The Reform members also turn off the lights after the more observant Orthodox, who can't use electricity, have gone home on Friday nights.

In return, Or Menorah helps pay the bills and secure a future for the legacy of Temple Menorah, where the list of death anniversaries, or yahrzeits, recited every Friday night is longer than the list of living members.

"That's why it must be perpetuated," Zelden said. "It's a Jewish institution and landmark in the community."

Lisa Yondorf, a member of Temple Menorah for 26 years, said she is grateful to the leaders of all three congregations for being open to the arrangement.

"It demonstrates a certain amount of goodwill that people who don't exactly see eye to eye on how to practice, we all get along together," she said.
The building in question, Temple Menorah, is about 2 blocks from my family's house. The building has sat mostly empty for a long time. I remember passing Temple Menorah in the evening hours and seeing groups (usually various denominations of gentiles of different ethnicity and race) coming out of the building after having rented the halls for their events.

And while the phenomenon of different Jews cooperating with each other and finding a way to co-exist in a friendly way, rather than fighting with each other over who is more right and wrong, in Chicago at least it is nothing new. I don't know about other cities, but in Chicago many of the Conservative and Traditional shuls (I dont know about Reform) have had a "mechitza minyan" (Orthodox) elsewhere in the same building operating happily.

Rabbi Doug Zelden, the rabbi of the Orthodox minyan described in the article above, led one of these "mechitza minyanim" for many years downstairs in Ezras Israel (a Traditional shul) and is a real "stand up" guy and decent fellow.

The only thing really new about it is that there are three of these minyanim sharing the same space in this case, rather than just two.

Mea Shearim will be open to the public

There have been rumors about women being banned from mea Shearim this sukkos holiday. The idea is to avoid what they consider a horrible breech of tzniyus as the crowds of people come to watch and participate in the local simchas beis hashoevas in the various yerushalmi and hassidic courts such as Toldos Aharon, Toldos Avraham Yiztchak, Karlin Stolin, Breslav and others. The crowds get so big that it inevitably includes women who are dressed not to the standards of the locals, along with the crowds walking through the streets, men and women together along with groups of women and seminary girls, itself being a tzniyus issue.

So there were earlier announcements that Mea Shearim would be closed to the public.

In a meeting last night between various groups, including reps from the Eida, some sort of committee of purity of the camp, police, neighborhood groups and others, it was announced that all previous announcements of the neighborhood being closed to the public are all false and the neighborhood will be open as usual.

My only uncertainty is that the original announcements were made in the various haredi media, while this one canceling those has not yet been seen in the Haredi websites and is only running (as of right now) in the Dati Leumi website, Srugim. very strange and makes me wonder which announcement has more authority.

UPDATE: I now see a follow up on this (about the police paying for the new announcements) on Bechadrei

RBS Shuk Arba Minim

Here are some pictures I took yesterday when enjoying the atmosphere of the outdoor shuk arba minim in RBS...

Jackie Mason on the latest peace talks (video)

Jackie Mason On Mideast Peace Talks

Alan Dershowitz on Old Jews Telling Jokes (video)

Sep 20, 2010

Reform Chicago Women Carry Torah Scrolls To Protest

(photo from the Chicago Tribune)

Some Chicago women are protesting the recent arrest in Israel of Anat Hoffman for carrying a Torah in the area of the Kotel this past July.

They are protesting by taking pictures of themselves, in their synagogues in Chicago, hold sifrei torah.

According to The Chicago Tribune:
One by one, the women walked onto the sanctuary's stage, took hold of the Torah and smiled as the photographer captured them cradling the sacred scripture.

The women, members of Congregation Solel, a Reform temple in Highland Park, intend to send the portraits to the Israeli government, protesting the recent arrest of an Israeli woman. Authorities reportedly detained her July 12 for the forbidden act of carrying a Torah at the Western Wall.

Their demonstration highlights a difference of practice between Orthodox and progressive Jews that more often plays out behind the closed doors of a synagogue. Because women don't touch or read the Torah in the most traditional Orthodox Jewish settings, they also are forbidden from doing so at the Western Wall, the remnant of the wall that surrounded the sacred Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Many progressive Jews interpret the restriction as a violation of their right to worship in the Holy Land.

"It speaks to the divisiveness of the chief rabbinate in Israel and the unfortunate lack of pluralism allowed in the country," said Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet a Conservative synagogue in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. The chief rabbinate of Israel is charged with overseeing religious laws and supervising the Western Wall.

In Israel, when Judaism is observed, it is often done in a more traditional way.

"The non-Orthodox religious movement is growing in Israel, but is not as extensive as it is here," said Rabbi Michael Balinsky, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis.

And Jewish Americans are beginning to feel the strain, reacting to events like the July arrest of activist Anat Hoffman. Shortly before her arrest, Hoffman held a series of events in Chicago synagogues to raise money for her organization, Israel Religious Action Center.

For Wendy Rhodes, president of Congregation Solel, Sunday's photo op was an important way to take a stand for religious plurality, she said.

"We hope it sends the message," Rhodes said of the two dozen photos she commissioned. Rhodes said the congregation seeks to make a dent in the much larger issue of religious equality.

"The challenge they face as members of a Reform congregation is wanting to assert a greater religious presence at a site like the Western Wall, (where) traditionally Orthodox exerts religious control," Balinsky said of efforts like Solel's.

For Modern Orthodox Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Lakeview's Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel, where women do touch the Torah, it's important to respect and honor rules set abroad.

"It's very tricky to get critical not living there," Lopatin said. "We have to give a lot of respect to those who are living there and those who are put in charge."

But it's not that simple for progressive Jews, who fear that the restrictive rules will push people away from the religion.

"This is a very serious issue that really threatens the unity of the people," Siegel said. "Throughout Jewish history, internal divisions … have proven to be as dangerous as external threats."

As Reform advocate Marlene Dodinval summed it up, "There's more than one way to be Jewish."

While it is nice to see the Reform movement of today fighting over being more and more Jewish and have more Jewish identity, rather than fighting to shed the Jewish identity and symbols as they used to, I would recommend they ramp up their fight by moving to Israel. Jewish life in America, life in America, is not the same as it is in Israel. Come to Israel, move here, live here with the rest of us, throw your fate in with the rest of us, and protest here.

If they think anyone in the Israeli government is going to care at all that in Chicago the women can carry Torah scrolls, they've got another think coming.

POTD: Pitom Insurance

In New York you can now buy Pitom Insurance for your esrog...

A Rav Chaim Kanievsky Miracle!

Bnei Braq doesn't use the regular water source most of Israel uses, the National Water Carrier, Mekorot. The reason is because of a takana established by Rav Kanievsky in which he said one cannot use Mekorot as a water source becuse they are mechalel shabbos in their activities to keep the water running. Instead, Bnei Braq gets their water from an alternate company named "Mei Baraq" who uses a special generator for shabbos connected to the water pumps.

The recent "3-day yom tov" of Rosh Hashana and Shabbos presented them with a problem - their system is designed to manage with 1 day's worth of water for the city on a normal basis, and they estimated that the generator would not survive the three day holiday and continue pumping out the water throughout.

They sent a representative to ask Rav Chaim Kanievsky what to do, in this exceptional case, and if as a one time incident if they could use Mekorot water.

Rav Kanievsky responded, according to the Kikar Shabbos report, that in now way can they use Mekorot, and Hashem will help, and sent them on their way with a bracha.

Shortly before Rosh Hashana, the people at Mei Baraq came up with an idea, so the story goes. There is a well on the edge of Bnei Braq, just at the edge of the Kiryat Herzog neighborhood. The well had been condemned by the Health Ministry because of the poor quality of the water, but Mei Baraq figured they would try - nothing ventured, nothing gained - and sent a request for a one-time allowance to use the water.

For an unknown reason, the Health Ministry allowed it.

For 3 days of the holiday (RH and Shabbos), Bnei Braq residents drank from what used to be contaminated water, and Rav Kanievsky's bracha seemingly cleaned it for those 3 days.

After the holiday, the Health Ministry tested the water and found it contaminated.

And in Bnei Braq they have declared the allowance issued by the Health Ministry to drink contaminated water for three days without first testing it as a miracle. Perhaps another aspect, though not mentioned in the article, of the miracle is that nobody got sick from drinking the contaminated water.

Pollard on Ice?

So the idea is being floated of trading a 3 month extension of the building freeze in exchange for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

While I would think such a deal should be agreeable, I don't believe it is going to happen. Perhaps in exchange for continuing the freeze for another year or so, but for only 3 months? I don't see Obama agreeing to such a small continuance for the price of a Pollard...

How To Pick The Four Species (video)

Here is a great guide with the basics of how to pick your Four Species set, what to look for, and what to avoid.. by Rabbi Dan Roth of Torah Live


lulav from Dan Roth on Vimeo.


Esrog from Dan Roth on Vimeo.


hadas from Dan Roth on Vimeo.


arava from Dan Roth on Vimeo.

(HatTip to Rabbi Green)

Falafel: Give Peas A Chance (video)

Sep 19, 2010

Interesting Posts #206

1. Baba Sali's Tomb

2. Different Minhagim for Kol Nidre. Read The Interesting Comments

Smoking is on the decline

I have clear proof that smoking is on the decline even in the Haredi community.

Today there was an accident between a city tractor removing flags from poles on the road and between a Paz gasoline tanker truck. The truck was pierced and 16,000 liters of benzine poured out onto the roads.

If Bruce Willis in Diehard is any indication, a single lit cigarette in the area being thrown to the ground would have blown Modiin Ilit to high heaven.

Thank God smoking is [obviously] down, and nothing happened. The road was blocked off, firemen came and sprayed foam and go everything cleaned up in a couple of hours...

Review: Shivtei Yeshurun Calendar 5771

NOTE: I was not paid to review this calendar. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book, magazine or calendar, or anything else, with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a copy of the publication.

Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun of RBS published a calendar for the new year 2010/2011 and 5771.

The first thing you notice about the calendar is that it is pleasant. Pleasant to look at, that is. The colors are soft and calm. Many calendars try to attack you with colors and bold words and fonts, so that you notice everything about them. This calendar is just pleasant and calm. Nice colors and soft fonts.

Then you open the calendar and you will be stunned. Stunned by the beauty accompanying each page.

Every page has the basics of every free calendar - the calendar itself, the artwork, and the advertisements. This calendar is laid out like that as well. Yet it is far more pleasant to look at than the average calendar. This calendar, again with the soft and pleasant colors and fonts, is not crowded with advertisements taking up every tiny available space, but is mostly calendar with some advertisements alongside.

The next thing you will notice is the stunning artwork. All the artists are local (RBS) artists, and their work is stunning. Whether it is the photography or the paintings, you can see that these are world class artists.

An interesting thing I noticed in the calendar is a line that says all zmanim are for Bet Shemesh only, and that candle lighting time is announced as being 20 minutes before shkia and tzais shabbos is according to the Chazon Ish (whatever that means).

I find that time rule to be different and refreshing. Most shuls, in RBS, that I am aware of, have gone the route of adopting minhag yerushalayim as the authority for all zmanim (among other things), even though Bet Shemesh has always had its own minhagim separate, and different, from Jerusalem. One good example of this is the candle lighting time for shabbos - the minhag of Bet Shemesh has always been 20 minutes, like it is in most places, and not 40 minutes like it is in Jerusalem.

I am not telling you what is right to keep - ask your own rabbi for such a decision. I just find it refreshing that they have published these times and are willing to be different from many of the shuls in RBS. I like diversity.

And best of all, this beautiful calendar is free (that being said, I am not sure what I gained by them giving me a copy to review). You can get your copy from a number of select local (RBS) locations - the Shul 2/1 Dolev, Bagels B'Ramah, Arthurs Pharmacy, Win Vino, Big Deal and the Gelt Center.

Pick up your copy, enjoy the beautiful artwork and the pleasant calendar. Support local businesses that advertise within. Check out the shul for davening or shiurim (they have a 3 nights a week night kollel led by Rabbi Haber, and a weekly Wednesday night shiur for women). You can buy artowrk form the local artists - their contact info is at the end of the calendar.

NOTE: I was not paid to review this calendar. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book, magazine or calendar, or anything else, with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a copy of the publication.

Tzniyus and Politics

At least this time someone explains the connection and doesn't just stam blame everything on tzniyus..

Rav Eleiezer Melamed, the rav of Har Bracha and rosh yeshiva of the local yeshiva, wrote in his article in BaSheva, that it is the tzniyus problems of religious women that is behind the weakness of Netanyahu to stand up to international pressure regarding the State of Israel.

Rav Melamed explained how the connection works. he described how the fashion industry creates the desire and the demand for the new styles of clothing, and then they start with limiting the supply when they finally produce it, they charge exorbitant prices, then they release some more to the market.

And then, Rav Melamed says, "In Eretz Yisrael the women then start complaining that the right clothes havent yet gotten to the Middle East. Then they can suddenly be had in Kikar HaMedinah, and then a bit later in other stores. At that point, the new religious women (Rafi G: I am not sure if he means baalos teshuva or if he is referring to "new religious" like more modern religious rather than old fashioned religious) come along, and out of total freedom come to their own original conclusions that these are the exact clothing that they always wanted to wear, and the only thing left is to close the gap creating a dilemma between religious outlook and aesthetic outlook.

Then they sit in the living room and ask why Mr. Netanyahu gives in to international pressure. Why he doesnt have the guts to say that we have full rights on Eretz Yisrael as it says in Tanach."


The peace talks will fail without the true representatives of the Palestinian nation...The American-Zionist attempt to harm the Iranian-Syrian, and other Arabic countries in the Middle East, relations, will not succeed, and those who are trying to bring change to the countries of the Middle East should know that they will not be a part of the region and will be wiped off the map in the near future.

--- Iranian President Ahmadinejad

I didn't go to shul this Yom Kippur

Here is my Yom Kippur round-up:

I decided I did not have to go to shul and daven this Yom Kippur.

Why not? Am I crazy? On Yom Kippur to skip shul?

Well, During Kol Nidre Rav Elyashiv daveed for me. During maariv the Vaad HaRabbonim davened for me. During Shacharis "Kupat Ha'Ir" davened for me. Mussaf was "HeeDabrut" davening for me. Mincha - Yad L'Achim davened for me. And Neilah had Rav Chaim Kanievsky davening for me.

That is the Yom Kippur joke going around... I really did go to shul this Yom Kippur.

And speaking of having donated to tzedakos, Kupat Ha'Ir put up a major advertising blitz before Yom Kippur saying that Rav Kanievsky promised that anyone who donates to Kupat Ha'Ir would merit to be victorious in din on Yom Kippur.

Obviously a promise like that will attract donors in the droves, because you just donate a reasonable amount of money and all the hard work is done.

Rav Ganot, a confidante of Rav Kanievsky, asked him, on Erev Yom Kippur, how he could say such a thing as we don't see such promises made anywhere in Chazal for giving tzedaka.

Rav Kanievsky's answer was that he never made such a promise. He says he only said that whoever donates, it will surely help him be zoche in din. But he says he never promised that if you donate you will be zoche in din.

So now the question remains why he, or his askanim, allows them to continuously say things in his name that he never said. This isn't the first time he was asked about something he was quoted as having said for Kuopat Ha'Ir that he later denied, so why does he a) allow it to continue happening and b)continue to let them use his name and image at all?

And if they collected tzedaka under false pretenses and using a promise that was never made, why do they not have to give back the money collected under that campaign?

And why do the people who release such stories and statements only do so after the fact, when it is too late to put a stop to the insanity?

We've Got A Strong Desire (video)

Sep 16, 2010

Teaching A Man To Fish - Lemaan Achai (video)

Interesting Posts #205

1. The Ten Martyrs

AMBD Michael Oren: Why Israelis Care About Peace

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has written, what I think is, a great response to the analysis of Time Magazine that has created such an uproar.

Oren writes, in a piece entitled "Why Israelis Care About Peace":
Imagine that you’re a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s. Imagine that you have fought in several wars, as have your parents and even your grandparents, that you’ve seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks. Picture all of that and you’ll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you’ll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.
Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.

Given our experience of disappointment and trauma, it’s astonishing that Israelis still support the peace process at all. Yet we do, and by an overwhelming majority. According to the prestigious Peace Index conducted by the Tamal Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and released in July, more than 70% of Israelis back negotiations with the Palestinians, and nearly that number endorse the two-state solution. These percentages exist even though multiple Palestinian polls show much less enthusiasm for living side by side in peace with Israel, or that most Israelis believe that international criticism of the Jewish state will continue even if peace is achieved.
It’s true that Israel is a success story. The country has six world-class universities, more scientific papers and Nobel Prizes per capita than any other nation and the most advanced high-tech sector outside of Silicon Valley. The economy is flourishing, tourism is at an all-time high and our citizen army selflessly protects our borders. In the face of unrelenting pressures, we have preserved a democratic system in which both Jews and Arabs can serve in our parliament and sit on our Supreme Court. We have accomplished this without knowing a nanosecond of peace.

We shouldn’t have to apologize for our achievements. Nor should outside observers conclude that the great improvements in our society in any way lessen our deep desire for peace. That yearning was expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the recent White House ceremony for the start of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Addressing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “my partner in peace,” Netanyahu called for “a peace that will last for generations — our generation, our children’s generation and the next.”

For Israelis who don’t have to imagine what it’s like to live in a perpetual war zone, that vision of peace is our lifeline.


If the Palestinians are sincere in there intentions for peace, it should be requested of them that they also freeze all construction in Judea and Samaria for the duration of the negotiations... it is not logical that while we are not building in order to help the negotiations move forward, they at the the same time are taking control over the land...

--- Rav Baruch Avraham Rakovsky, one of the last remaining students of Rav Kook still alive today, about 96 years old.

Rav Rakovsky said this yesterday during a shiur he gives weekly in Ramat Aviv.

Kupat Ha'Ir vs Vaad HaRabbonim

There are two big tzedaka funds in Israel, among the multitudes of tzedaka funds, that do real heavy duty advertising replete with gedolim and segulas. It almost seems, at times, like they are in competition with each other as to which can come up with the newest and craziest segula connected to tzedaka, and who can get which and how many of the gedolim to support it.

They would be Kupat Ha'Ir of Bnei Braq, and Vaad HaRabbonim of Jerusalem. The celebrity face for Kupat Ha'Ir, among the various other names used, is Rav Chaim Kanievsky. For Vaad HaRabbonim it is Rav Elyashiv. In my opinion, Kupat Ha'Ir wins the competition with the craziest segulas (I have no idea which collects more funds) and most gedolim listed backing them.

Strangely enough, the most recent advertisements of the Vaad HaRabbonim include the image and words of Rav Kanievsky. That would mean he is no longer exclusively backing Kupat ha'Ir. Strange, considering they always quote him as saying that their tzedaka is the best and only one people should give to...

Not to worry, though. Kupat Ha'Ir came up with an ad that was more than double the size of the Vaad advertisement, in the same edition of the Yated this week.

I split the advertisement into two sections.

In the first section of the ad, they have Rav Kanievsky promising to daven for all the donors to the Kupa by name each day of Asseres Ymei Teshuva. As you can see, they divide up the way they create the imagery of his words as if it is the Ten Commandments. Rav Kanievsky has already said every donors name during the first five days, and he will say it during the next five days as well.

In the second section of the Kupat ad, you can see some segula, they dont mention a source or what it means, they say that 100,000 seconds of straight uninterrupted davening on Yom Kippur (that is more than 27 hours, which is a pretty big commitment for their representatives to daven on Yom Kippur for nobody, not even for their own judgement, but for the donors to Kupat Ha'Ir).

Not only that, but they also say, again without explanation or sources, that their prayer reps will mention the name and request of each donor 12 times, that's right - an amazing 12 times! -

Not Paying Taxes

(This post originally started out as a simple "quote of the day" but it kept getting bigger so it's format had to be changed)

With the Supreme Court regularly coming out with rulings that are against the Haredi community, declaring funding illegal, budgets as discriminatory, and the like, MK Moshe Gafni has had enough.

Gafni last night, after the latest decision that it would be illegal for the council of Emannuel to provide funding for the new Slonim private school, called the Supreme Court justices "shouk merchants", and said that if they don't reign themselves in and keep deciding against the haredim, "we will stop paying taxes".

Gafni compared the Supreme Court to the Russian Czar who would decide whatever he wanted based on any whim and has to answer to nobody..

Gafni was then asked what about the recent decision that any school that does not implement the core curriculum would lose its funding. His response was, again, that we will stop paying taxes. he said, "We will stop paying taxes. What will they do - throw us all into jail?..."

Gafni concluded the interview by saying that he knows he will be called in for a disciplinary hearing by the Court for what he called them. But if Justice Cheishin can say in the media that I am talking like a shouk merchant, "then it is allowed for me to speak about them like that as well."

My thoughts:
1. It seems like Gafni follows the agenda set by the Yated Neeman, considering they recommended that "we stop paying taxes" just a few days ago. Unless they got it from him as a way of floating the idea to the public.

2. What will they do if the community stops paying taxes? What they do when anyone stops paying taxes - put liens on bank accounts, confiscate household items via Hotzaah LaPoel, and make life extremely difficult.

3. How do you "not pay taxes"? Most people are salaried employees, and taxes are done and withheld automatically. the employee has no ability to withhold taxes. Only self-employed people can withhold taxes.

4. A cynic would say, "withhold taxes? what taxes do you pay anyway? Most haredim don't work!"

Protest in Geula (video)

This is video from a random protest started yesterday in Geula.. The guy was stupid to get out of his car and go into a mob that is known to get violent, and he was lucky to get out unharmed..

Ayn Yiush BaOlam (video)

The tone of this music is far calmer and nicer than most Breslav/Uman music...

Sep 15, 2010

Virgins adjusted for inflation

The math for calculating how many virgins a Muslim martyr will be granted upon entering heaven is being updated. I assume to take inflation into account.

No longer will a martyr receive a paltry 72 virgins. From now on, 2.5 million virgins is the number of virgins at the martyr's disposal. It is a good thing he will have eternity with which to avail himself of their services, as 2.5 million virgins sounds like it might take more than a few days..
Most Muslim preachers and politicians have used the expression "72 virgins” to encourage Arab youth to be ready to die in anti-Israeli terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. Bahr’s new arithmetic reasons, "In the Garden of Eden, there is a palace... with 500 gates. At every gate, there are 5,000 black-eyed virgins. Brothers, 500 multiplied by 5,000 is 2.5 million."

He said in his speech, aired on Hamas television, that men “should be praying for a son who would wage Jihad for the sake of Allah... As long as we continue on this path, nobody on Earth will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahedeen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom."

Interesting Posts #204

1. Now Maps Are Assur too

Har Habayit in the shadow of the murder of Yitzchak Imes, hy"d

Today's visit to Har Habayit, being 7 Tishrei and the day of the monthly visit by the Bet Shemesh group, happened in the shadow of the recent murder of Yitzchak and Talia Imes from Beit Haggai.

I didn't realize before, when he was murdered, but I had met him previously. Imes was a regular visitor on Har Habayit, leading groups there at least twice a week. I have in the past been up on Har Habayit with him.

We had a small group, but we met up with a few other groups, mostly people from Kiryat Arba and Chevron area communities who were regulars with Yitzchak Imes hy"d, along with a group of Russians who were also regulars with Yitzchak Imes.

Imes had spent much of his energies with the Russian community, and with the general community, and with bringing people to Har Habayit. In today's group we had an unusually large number of people - 35!

While it might just be temporary (hopefully not), the police have relaxed some of their restrictions, such as the size of the group allowed up, in recent weeks. Also, the checks we go through are not as thorough and invasive. They also let us daven silently though obviously, just no public and loud prayer and nothing demonstrative.

It was a special opportunity to be able to go up and daven during the Aseres Ymei Teshuva, and in such a large group. May we be zoche for the restrictions to continue to be relaxed even further and more and more Jews continue to go up and daven in greater and greater numbers, until we are zoche to the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash.

This woman donates a lot of money to Machon Hamikdash. She is 7th generation Israeli, from Hebron, was celebrating her birthday today and asked us to daven for her son who is caught up in a cult, and her daughter who is having a difficult time getting pregnant. He rprayers should be answered.

From the Northern side

The spot of the mizbei'ach is now surrounded by a fence. It seems they already put up the sukka for the upcoming holiday. zerizin makdimim..


Genghis Khan facing crack cocaine charges

--- Burlington Free Press

Talk About An Inflated Water Bill!!! (video)

This fellow in Chatzor Glilit got a water bill for 1,5000,843.50 and at the Iryah they tell him to pay and then complain and get a refund..

Storming The Gates of the Mosque

As you read this ridiculous description of Jews going up to Har Habayit, I should have just stormed the gates of the Mosque's courtyard.. more updates later, perhaps with pictures (if any come out decent)
30 Jewish extremists stormed into the Aqsa Mosque Monday morning from the Maghareba Gate, accompanied by reinforced Israeli forces, local sources said.

Five groups entered through the gate, each group led by a head rabbi, one security guard reported.

The Mosque’s guards monitored the Jews from afar for fear of being arrested as they toured the Mosque’s courtyards and halls.

Israeli soldiers raided the Aqsa Mosque late Saturday night and arrested a group of Palestinians inside the Mosque.

The troops took down a Palestinian flag and banners congratulating Palestinians over the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holidays.

Leonard Cohen: Who By Fire (video)

I was just going to post one of the regular versions of Leonard Cohen's "Who by Fire", which is a High Holiday appropriate song coming out of the piyut B'Rosh Hashana, such as this fantastic one:

when I stumbled across Blog in DM's post pointing me to this absolutely amazing one in which he is accompanied by Sonny Rollins:

Sep 14, 2010

Lemaan Achai (video)

terrorists in Mea Shearim

The other day Mk Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz went to Mea Shearim to daven in a shul that had been built by his grandfather. While there he was attacked by the thugs of Mea Shearim who call themselves "Sikrikim".

Yaakov Katz has now said that he will not take it sitting down, like others have such as Moshe Gafni, Uri Maklev, and Eli Yishai, but is committed to working to get this group and anybody associated with them listed as a terror organization.

I don't know how he will define who they are and who is included in the group - as far as I know they have no official affiliation as a group, the way Hamas does. Either way, he says he is committed to getting this accomplished by Pesach time. I wish him luck.

Ketzaleh said,"The community is afraid because the police are not there. The police are also afraid of them, for some reason.... this is a group that doesn't keep Torah and mitzvos, but are a group of thugs. They have peyos and beards, but everyone knows they don't keep the mitzvos...I have filed a complaint with the police. I am not Maklev or Gafni. I took this job upon myself, that until Pesach the "Sikrikim" will be declared a terror organization and any contact with members will be considered cooperating with a terror organization..Maklev and Gafni were also attacked, but they are cowards and didn't go to complain, but I won't rest until they are declared a terror organization. We will deal with them all, in a legal manner."

Jerusalem 1918 (video)


This is from a recent protest held by PETA supporters in Crown Heights against the using of chickens for kapparos..

Crazy Development in Rav Amnon Fight

This is a crazy development in the conflict between Rav Amnon Yitzchak and the religious singers.
On Monday, the police arrested Shlomo Saklersky, a 40-year-old resident of Bnei Brak, on suspicions of extortion.

Saklersky is suspected of having shown nude pictures of the attorney associated with Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak in order to coerce him to withdraw his opposition to concerts before concerts with both men and women in attendance.

Saklersky allegedly sent the lawyer nude pictures of him and threatened to spread them should he not capitulate to his demand to cease pressuring haredi artists not to perform for mixed audiences. Saklersky denied the allegations, but admitted to speaking with a third suspect in the affair who was also arrested on Monday.

Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court extended Saklersky's remand by two days.

Saklersky has an existing criminal record that includes violent offenses. He said during his investigation that he was merely trying to mediate between the two sides because of his previous acquaintance with Rabbi Yitzhak.

Though the lawyer only recently filed a complaint with the police, the alleged incident occurred a number of weeks ago.

The investigation material reveals that Saklersky arrived at the offices of the Shofar organization headed by Rabbi Yitzhak where he presented the compromising photographs while noting that the rabbi is associated with people who are not mindful of modesty standards.
It's so crazy, I just had to share it with you..

The Golan battles in the 1973 Yom Kippur War (video)

Yom Kippur, Yom HaDin, is also the anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Sep 13, 2010

Interesting Posts #203

1. 10 Points From Rosh Hashana

Interesting piskei halacha

Here are a few interesting piskei halacha I just saw...

Usual disclaimers apply: I am writing these mostly from memory and any mistakes and inaccuracies should be assumed to be mine, translations and paraphrasing lend to inaccuracies, never follow piskei halacha quoted on the internet or on posters - only follow piskei halacha heard directly from the source or from someone you consider reliable and competent.

1. I saw written in the name of Rav Elyashiv that while it is common to accept chumras and hakpadas during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, any such hakpados accepted by you are treated like at any other time and are not assumed to be only for the short term. That means that unless you specify a condition upon acceptance that it is only for the 10 days, you would have to do hataras nedarim afterwards to stop the hakpada.

2. Rav Neuwirth, author of Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchoso, has issued a psak regarding the Rosh Hashan 3 day yom tov. he said that it is common among some avreichim to wear a frock for yom tov, and not for shabbos. In the situation of the 3 day yom tov, it would turn out that he would wear the frock on yom tov and remove it for shabbos, which might be viewed as being disrespectful of the shabbos, as if treating it with less respect. Therefore, he said, in this situation, the frock-wearer should continue wearing the frock throughout the Shabbos as well.

3. Also in the name of Rav Elyashiv I saw written that if one was accustomed to rely on a certain kula, or a psak l'hakeil, and has now decided to follow the more stringent opinion, he need not do teshuva on his previous reliance on the more lenient opinion.

4. A group of avreichim in Bnei Braq have decided to move to another shul, because their shul was too crowded. They found a nearby shul that is Dati Leumi and have been davening there, as over the years its members have moved away so there is plenty of space available.

As the High Holidays approach, they have come into a dilemma. They are nervous that it is inappropriate to be davening there on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, as the shul says the Prayer for the State of Israel.

They went to Rav Shteinman before Rosh Hashana to ask if it is ok, if they should protest, if they should leave the shul, or what to do.

Rav Shteinman's response was that there is absolutely no problem and they can continue to daven there. Rav Shteinman said, "If that is how they daven, it should not disturb you."

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