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Apr 29, 2011

Acapella During Sefira

The common custom is that listening to music during [parts of] the sefiras ha'omer period is prohibited. There are raging debates what is considered music, and what is prohibited/permitted. There are raging debates regarding whether or not digitally recorded music is considered music or if the prohibition only includes live music.

I have no problem with anyone choosing to rely on the more lenient opinions and choosing to listen to music, if they so choose. I personally do not, though I don't make a big deal if I go somewhere and they are playing music.
If you choose to not listen to music, I think the modern day acapella style music should be just as prohibited as regular music. It is recorded at a very high quality, and sometimes they are so good that it sounds like there is music. I don't see why this should be defined as music any less than regular music.

Rav Mordechai Eliyau On Buying Bread After Pesach

Regarding the way people run after pesach for bread and pizza as if a week without bread was the worst possible thing that could happen, I heard the following story about Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l:

Every year on motzai Pesach the Rav would look from his window (he lived across the street from Angel's Bakery) and see the long lines of Jews lining up to buy bread and say to himself  "is this what's important to am yisrael, that they are willing to stand hours in line just to have bread after a week". 

Until one year he realized "mi keamcha Yisrael"- obviously these people love bread enough that they are willing to stand hours in line, but when the Torah forbids it, they willingly forego it for Pesach.

A modern day Berditchever...

Apr 28, 2011

Interesting Posts #261

1. Ruling in the Exception

2. Making Favorable Judgements

3. Vandals Destroy Charity Fundraising Banners

4. The Disappointment of Aish Hatorah

5. The Minhag To NOT say Askinu Seudasa

6. We have mivkveh ladies.. now we have mikveh guys?

7. Somebody writes to Dov Bear about his company not providing kosher food at corporate events

8. Syria Blames Shas for the Protests

9. The Human Sparkplug. An inspiring story of how JewishMom.com became frum with the help of jeff Seidel

Funny Incident In The Supermarket

This morning I was in the supermarket stocking up on chametz. As I was by the cashier getting my stuff rung up, the cashier offered me the option of buying from the store's sale items, based on the size of my purchase. One of the items on sale was diapers, and they were being sold 2-for-1. It was a great sale.

I told her no thanks. She was surprised, and asked if she can buy them since I am not, and I said sure, no problem. Then she asked again, just to confirm that i really don't want them. I said to her, I don't need them as I don't have children in diapers.

This cashier who is very nice, and I always try to frequent her table when she is available because she is pleasant and efficient and I have been buying from her for many years, suddenly felt bad thinking she had hurt my feelings. She said said, "Sorry, B'ezrat Hashem soon". I didn't know what to respond, as she had obviously misunderstood me...I figured it was better to just let it go..

We are all one big happy family in Israel.

Post-Pesach Pizza Delays (video)

the minhag of Jews after pesach is to go crazy over pizza. Surviving a week without chametz is difficult, but without pizza is almost unbearable.
Here is a video of one family that was waiting 2 hours for their pizza delivery. he calls the izza shop to find out where the delivery is, and the result is this hilarious video..

Quote Of The Day

They kill us because they do not want us here even in the 1967 borders. They say "it was irresponsible [of the breslavers to go in without security coordination], thereby pointing an accusatory finger at the victim, the murdered and those injured. No question of coordination or lack of coordination is a reasonable cause for murder.
They say everyone here that is causing problems are the rightists, the religious, the nationalists, this government, that Bibi - nu, stop. Enough. Let us live quietly with our "pieces of chocolate". We say, nobody has a monopoly on the desire for peace. You [leftists] are desperate people, and trying to cause desperation, but you are the minority.
The Palestinians refuse to sit with us in peace talks, but we are the ones who are guilty that there is no peace. They murderer people who are praying, but we are guilty because it was not coordinated. they murder a whole family including a baby while in their beds asleep, but "why were they even living in Itamar?"

  -- Minister Limor Livnat (aunt of the murdered)

Interesting Psak: Listening To Music In Car During Sefira

Rav Eliezer Melamed, the rav of Har Bracha and the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Bracha, has issued a psak that is making waves. It is only making waves, I think, because of our current societal culture that looks publicly for only chumros and rejects anything that might be taken as a leniency, at least in public psak.

The psak he is publishing says that during sefiras ha'omer normally there is a custom to prohibit the listening of music. Rav Melamed says that when a person is driving and needs something to help him stay awake at the wheel, he is allowed to listen to music to keep him alert.

Rav Melamed adds that this only applies in such situations, but outside of the car it is prohibited to listen to all music, be it live music or be it recorded music, while acapella music can be listened to.

The psak is not necessarily revolutionary, and is not even such a leniency. It makes sense as if one is tired while driving he should do whatever is necessary to keep himself awake and alert, and might be considered pikuach nefesh. There are far more lenient piskei halacha regarding listening to music during sefira, from digital recordings and the like, for a variety of reasons. The shulchan aruch does not even mention the prohibition of listening to music, though it does prohibit weddings and the commentaries talk about the simcha and dancing. The custom has become common to prohibit music even outside of weddings and parties, though the customs vary as to when and what types of music must be avoided.

Why Did The Goy Return the Chametz?

And the "gift of chametz to the goy" saga continues... first the story was publicized of the community who gave away their chametz and belongings to a non-Jew in order to improve upon the mechiras chametz that is normally done. The goy came and took all the stuff they gave him. Then the news reported that the goy called up at the end of Pesach and said he would be returning the stuff. Now the news has another story, that contradicts this, and, if true, really makes the whole thing into a sham.

The news is now reporting that at the end of Pesach the rav of the community called the goy and told him that the people never really expected him to take the stuff, and that the gift had only included the actual chametz and not containers or other items that might be holding the chametz. he said that the fact that he was taking it so seriously surprised them.

He did not tell him explicitly that they want it back, as that would create a halachic problem, but he let the non-Jew know with a very clear hint that they wanted their stuff back. He also did not grill the guy as to why he had taken it, so as not to insult him.

Ynet says that the goy realized how upset the community was and said he would bring the stuff back. Some he already returned and he said he would make sure the rest gets returned quickly. He did not want the community to be upset at him because the community knows him well. Perhaps they do business with him in other manners and issues as well. He did not want to burn his bridges, so he gave the stuff back.

With the news stories being so contradictory of each other, there is no way we can know what really happened. That being said, if this new story is at all accurate as to why the goy returned it, I don't see how this gift can have been valid, let alone more mehudar than the way we normally do the sale of chametz.

A KKK Leader who changed his life (video)

his story is humorous, and we can probably learn a lesson how to diffuse hate

Apr 27, 2011

Interesting Posts #260

1. Why Kosher Restaurants Fail

2. Free Temple Mount Prayer Note Service

3. Pesach is over, and the kitniyot issue has been discussed ad nauseum, but this is a worthy addition - Don't Go Nuts Over Peanuts

4. My Big Fat Greek Pesach

5. Subaru Ad Rocks PA

6. How Rav Akiva Eiger Got His Chassidishe Son-In-Law To Don Tefillin On Chol HaMoed

7. Now What? Treppenwitz discusses the poll of Egyptians who want to tear up the Egypt-Israel peace treaty

8. Low Cost Yeshiva Opening Up. Can It be the start of a new trend?

9. National Park: Ein Hemed Edition

10. Rabbi Lau to go one on one with Kareem

Quote Of The Day

Burning the Kever Yosef complex for the 8th time again proves the hypocrisy of all those who scream out about a burnt carpet in a mosque. If the government of Israel is not capable, or is not willing, to guard over the holy sites of Judaism, the time has come that it should transfer the responsibility to Jews who care about it.

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

PSA: Predator Attempting Abductions in RBS Warning

Magen has released the following warning. I will add that 3 weeks ago I published to the local email list a similar warning about this predator after two failed attempts to abduct young girls in RBS. He is still on the prowl, so please be alert.



It has come to our attention that there is a man driving around Ramat Bet Shemesh who has tried to abduct children, usually girls from the street.

He has seen to be driving an old white 1991 year Subaru type car (box like). He is darkish in complexion, has a beard (not short), and was wearing a velvet Kippa. The car seats had lines on them – in a crisscross pattern which creates a pattern of small ‘boxes’ or ‘squares’.

His modus operandi seems to be that he drives next to the child, stops and calls to them saying he has sweets/mamtakim, or that he is lost and needs directions on how to go out of the Rama. When the children
approached the car he tried to grab them and then attempted to molest them.

His last known attempts were on Nahal Arugot. This person may have been seen a few years ago doing similar activities – or at times sitting in a car doing activities not meant for the public domain.

Anyone who notices anything strange of this nature should take down a number plate and if possible take photos and certainly intervene if one sees a child being lured into such a car, in this manner. Please note any identifying information, such as location of incident, type of car, color of car, notable dents on the car, description of the person and what he is wearing, smells and any other details, even if they seem inconsequential at the time.

For victims, it’s essential that the police are informed so that they can investigate and arrest this person. Please contact the Police and Magen if you have any information or you need assistance in coping with this problem.

It's essential to know where our children are at all times and specifically they should be instructed NOT to speak to adults they don't know, and NEVER to get into the car with an adult they don't know, even if the adult offers them candy or says he's lost, and even if he looks frum.  It is a good idea to role-play these situations with your children, telling them to quickly walk away if someone they don't know tries to talk to them, and scream loudly if anyone (including people they do know) tries to touch them.


Important Information: How to Contact "Magen":

By Phone:

New Magen "Hotline" Service: 052-765.2929
Sunday thru Thursday - 9am-12am; 8-11pm
Fridays - 9am-12am
Motsei Shabbat - till Midnight

Less-Urgent Matters: 02-9997026; 050 8789001

By email: magenprotects@gmail.com

Please note: The Magen hotline service is manned by volunteers trained and supervised by ELI, Israel's Child Protection Organization; it is still experimental by nature.

Magen operates under Halachik guidance; with the brachos and eitzos of Gedolei Yisrael; and under Israel's Child Protection Legislation.

Intermingling Customs in Hebron

When I go to daven vasikin in Hebron at the Me'aras Hamachpela, I usually prefer to daven in the sefardi minyan. When I went this past holiday, for no particular reason I davened with the ashkenazi minyan.

I noticed something unusual, but it is very common in places like Hebron. Despite the fact that the minyanim were split between ashkenazim and sefardim, in our ashkenazi minyan one of the two torah scrolls used was a sefardic torah scroll. As well, some of the people davening in the ashkenazi minyan were sefardim and the sefardi calls one hears during sefardi davening were commonly called out even in the ashkenazi minyan.

When our minyan was finished, I went over to the sefardi minyan to see what they were up to (they were just about finished). I saw some ashkenazim davening with them. As well, the minyan was being led by someone dressed in yerushalmi garb. While I could not see his face and don't know if he himself was sefardi or ashkenazi, the uniqueness of the experience was not lost.

Despite the fact that groups formed and people split into sefardi and ashkenazi minyanim, the people were still mixed, davening together and accepting each other's customs intermingled into the "other" group. You don't see that in too many places.

New Noise Laws in Israel

Israel has a set of laws regarding noise pollution, though i don't think anybody really was aware of the laws beyond the general concept that from 11pm (23:00) until 7am, one is not allowed to cause a noisy disturbance.

Israel has recently passed a new, amended, set of noise laws, and the new law took effect this morning.

Some of the more interesting items are:

  • no noisy home renovations from 8pm (20:00)
  • no noisy gardening work from 7pm (19:00) until 7am.
  • no fireworks in residential areas. 1000 meters away from residential buildings fireworks are allowed, but not from 10pm (22:00) until 7am. Cities will get special allowances and leeway for special days such as Yom HaAtzmaut, Purim and Yom Yerushalayim.
  • starting 3 months from now, no new cars will be allowed to have a noisy alarm installed. Existing cars will have 6 years before they have to get their noisy alarms removed.
  • municipal services will not be allowed to use noisy leafblowers in their street cleaning routines. Some cities have already said they would ignore this rule, as they will not be able to clean the streets and cities according to this rule, as this is the only such equipment to do these jobs in Israel.
Police and city supervisors are authorized to enforce these new laws, and fines are expected to be in the 500-700 NIS range.

I want to know how late people can build their sukka. Can it still be done at 2am?

PSA: Kever Yehoshua Open Thursday Night

the Shechem 1 organization, that promotes and organizes approved entry into holy sites in the Shomron, sent me the following notice of an approved entry this Thursday night to the kvarim of Yehoshua bin Nun and Caleb ben Yefuneh, and Nun father of Yehoshua. They are buried in an Arab village called Kafr Harsa, known to us as Timnat Heres.
The village is right across the street from the entrance to Ariel. You can park at the entrance to Ariel, cross over and walk in or take shuttles from the entrance to the kvarim. It will be open from 10pm until 4am. Women are welcome as well.

בעזרת ה'
מועצה אזורית שומרון    -   מועצה דתית שומרון  
אגודת 'שכם-אחד' - המקומות הקדושים בשומרון
הילולת יהושע בן נון זיע"א
ביום ההילולא נעלה ונבוא למקום מנוחתו כבוד
 בתמנת חרס (מול אריאל) בשומרון
לעורר רחמים ולהתפלל אצל ציוני
 יהושע בן נון,נון אביו וכלב בן יפונה זתע"א
  אשר עמדו בנאמנותם לה' יתברך ולארץ חמדתו בקריאתם
"טובה הארץ מאוד מאוד"
"עלה נעלה וירשנו אותה כי יכול נוכל לה"
ביום חמישי בלילה
אור לכ"ה ניסן התשע"א
יתקיימו כניסות מצומת אריאל כל הלילה
 החל מ 22:00 ועד 04:00 לפנות בוקר
מידי כל  שעה עגולה אמירת תפילת "עלינו לשבח" ברוב עם.
הסעות יצאו בתאום עם רכזות הקהילה
לפרטים נוספים: 02-5482128

האירוע בתיאום ואבטחה  *   ניתן להגיע עד צומת אריאל ברכבים פרטיים
הכניסה רגלית או ברכבי הסעות מיוחדים *מקומות מוסדרים לתפילת נשים

"תלמידי החכמים מירושלים תובב"א הולכין אחר הפסח עם עולי הרגלים ולומדים על קבר יהושע בן נון את ספר הזוהר שנים ימים"  (מתוך הספר 'יחוסא דצדיקיא')

Apr 26, 2011

Haredim Increasingly Ascend Har Habayit (video)

It seems there is an increasing number of haredim ascending and circling Har HaBayit.. During Chol HaMoed there were unprecendented numbers of people in general, and haredim in particular, who ascended..

(note: Sefiras HaOmer warning of background music)

Rescinding the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

A poll was recently published that says 54% of Egyptians want the 1979 peace treaty with Israel canceled.

Polls, like statistics, are basically worthless, as they tend to be influenced by how the questioner worded and asked the question, which we, the readers, have no way of really knowing precisely what was stressed. Unfortunately, politicians tend to lend a lot of weight to the results of polls.

The joke surrounding this poll is that if they want the peace treaty canceled (actually, if the Egyptians decide to cancel the peace treaty because that is how a majority of those polled responded), we can expect to have the Sinai returned to us immediately in exchange for their ripping up the piece of paper and millions of dollars annually in trade and commerce and a quiet northern border.

I see it slightly differently.

They want to cancel the peace treaty because they see that it used to be to get Israel to give away land a hostile country had to sign a peace treaty, promise friendship and business, and normalize relations. Now they see that Israel gives away land to hostile entities for free, expecting nothing but empty promises in exchange, or even as goodwill measures.

So, they wish to cancel the peace treaty because now they realize that today Israel would probably give them the Sinai for free, expecting nothing in exchange, simply as a gesture of goodwill and hope for the future.

The Goy Returns The Chametz

In what was perhaps the most dramatic story of Pesach in Israel 2011 a community had decided to improve upon the general sale of chametz and give their belongings to a non-Jew as a gift, storing all the goods in a location offsite. The non-Jew came along right before the holiday began, in front of many of the people who had deposited their expensive belongings into the storage room in the hopes of fulfilling the mitzva in the most mehudar fashion, and emptied the entire contents of the storage room into his car and drove off with his newly acquired belongings. The bystanders were shocked, never having considered that the goy would actualize his end of the gift and actually take his stuff, thinking they would simply get it all back after the holiday.

Bechadrei is reporting that last night the non-Jew called the rabbi of the community and informed him, to everyone's relief, that he will be returning the goods in the morning.

Upon reflection, the rabbi probably told the non-Jew to do this whole thing, just to impress upon the people that their "gift" or "sale" is a real business transaction and change of ownership and not just a fictitious loophole.

Some questions remain:
  1. Will any of these people do this again, giving it as a gift rather than as a sale, now that they realize they can easily lose it all?
  2. Does their regret have any ramifications as to the efficacy of their gift, or even a general sale as their reactions might be indicative of how most people would react in a similar situation, or to how things will be done in the future?
  3. If there were utensils among the goods, will they need to be toiveled, as they have now been owned by a goy? If there were wines, are they going to be thrown out as yayin nesech? etc.

Apr 22, 2011

MK Michael ben-Ari On The Police (video)

I don't know the background of why the police confiscated the bicycles, or from whom, but MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's point is strong.

Jonathan Pollard Appeals To Obama To Commute his Sentence

It has now come to light that for the first time since Jonathan Pollard went to jail, he has written to a US president requesting a commutation of sentence.

Pollard wrote to Obama a letter that was hand-delivered by Israeli president Shimon Peres during his recent visit with Obama in Washington. In the letter Pollard expresses remorse and regret for what he did, and appeals to the president to commute his sentence to time served. he references those US officials, past and present, who support his release, his health, his wife's health, his regret, and US friendship and relationship with Israel. President Obama has yet to respond publicly to the request, or even to PM Benjamin Netanyahu's request a month ago.

From The Jerusalem Post:
“I hope that my own personal appeal may touch your heart and elicit a compassionate, humanitarian response to my heartfelt request to be sent home to Israel for Passover, the holiday of freedom,” Pollard wrote Obama.

“My release in time to celebrate Passover at home in Israel with my beloved wife would be a welcome gesture of friendship to the Israeli people, an act of solidarity with a staunch and long-time ally of the United States, and a deeply compassionate and humane gift of life to my wife and me.”

In the letter, Pollard unequivocally expressed remorse for his crime, as he has publicly and privately on numerous occasions and in various documents. He noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had also apologized on behalf of Israel.

“After serving more than a quarter century in some of the harshest prisons in the American penal system, I have had a great deal of time to think and to regret,” Pollard wrote. “I am genuinely and sincerely sorry for the offense I committed in passing classified information to Israel. My actions were wrong and I deeply regret that I did not find a legal way to act upon my concerns for Israel.”

Pollard raised the legal arguments for his release about his sentence being disproportionate, deferring to the opinion of experts who have written the US president, such as former CIA director James Woolsey, former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, who were aware of the contents of the classified material Pollard passed to Israel.

The Israeli agent also issued a personal appeal for himself, noting his own deteriorating health and that of his wife, Esther, who has been fighting cancer.

“My devoted wife, Esther, whom I met and befriended as a teenager, has been faithfully doing everything she can to help me and to bring about my freedom,” he wrote. “When she married me in prison years ago, she never imagined that after more than two decades the honeymoon she dreamed of would still be delayed. Mr. President, as much for her sake as for my own, I beseech you to please send me home now, to the first happy holiday that the two of us will ever have.”

Pollard concluded the letter by writing that “in light of the above compelling health and family reasons, and with the principled support of so many senior American officials, I implore you to act expeditiously to commute the more than 25 years that I have already served in prison to time served.”

Esther Pollard expressed a deep sense of hurt and bewilderment on Wednesday at the lack of response by Obama to her husband’s letter and to the personal request by Peres to release her husband ahead of Pessah, the festival of freedom.

“Obama’s utter indifference to Peres’s request was very puzzling, but it has to be seen in context of the president’s indifference to all of the requests he has received to release Jonathan Pollard after 26 years in prison, not only from Peres and Netanyahu but also from ranking senior American officials,” she said.

“The president’s resounding silence in the face of all of these requests leaves no room for any doubt. Clearly it is nothing personal against Jonathan, but it is, without a doubt, a devastating slap in the face to Israel and Jews worldwide.”

Nobody Wants To Remain Anonymous, Even Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann must have known that if he would come out of hiding in Argentina he would surely be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. Could he really believe that he would be allowed to return to Germany at some point to be one of the leaders of the country?

Despite the obvious, Adolf Eichmann could not stand the life of anonymity. A letter Eichmann sent in 1956 to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was recently discovered, and in the letter Eichmann talks about his life of anonymity and his desire to come back to Germany and take his place in history, leading the people of Germany back out of their post-war guilt.

From Ynetnews:
Adolf Eichmann, a major organizer of the Nazi Holocaust, longed to leave hiding and return to Germany to get recognition for sending millions of Jews to their deaths, according to a new German book.

Tired of farming rabbits in anonymity in Argentina after World War II, Eichmann came forward in 1956 in a recently discovered letter, asking West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer if he could return so he could claim his place in history.

Document published by Der Spiegel reveals West Germany considered bribing justice in trial of Holocaust's 'chief organizer' to make sure Israel does not prosecute high-ranking Nazis
Full story
The letter, along with hundreds of other uncovered documents in German archives, forms the basis of author Bettina Stangneth's book "Eichmann vor Jerusalem" (Eichmann before Jerusalem), which will be released here on April 18.

Stangneth told Reuters she was stunned when she found the typed letter from Eichmann in a mis-identified state file.

"It's a tactical letter from Eichmann," Stangneth said. "He wanted his place in history. He always thought he could be the redeemer of the German people. He wanted to relieve them of their (post-war) guilt."

Eichmann was captured by Israeli agents near Buenos Aires in 1960. The book's release coincides with the 50th anniversary of his trial, which began in Jerusalem in April 1961. He was later convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged in 1962.

"It is time for me to step out of my anonymity and introduce myself," wrote a 50-year-old Eichmann, who lived in Argentina from 1950 to 1960 under the pseudonym Ricardo Klement. "Name: Adolf Otto Eichmann. Profession: former SS Lieutenant Colonel."

"How much longer fate will allow me to live, I don't know," Eichmann wrote in the remarkable letter addressed to Adenauer.

It is not known if Adenauer ever saw the letter or if it even reached his desk, Stangneth said. She added Eichmann and former Nazis in hiding abroad first wanted to have it published in a German-language newspaper in Argentina and in Germany.

But because of the content of the letter in which Eichmann acknowledged the Holocaust, the former Nazis decided not to publish the letter for fear of implicating themselves as war criminals.

"Eichmann lied about many things, but he never lied about the Holocaust," Stangneth said. "It surprised me that he was never content to start over with a new identity. He always wrote (in his letters) that being anonymous was awful."

German media reported in January – after Bild newspaper sued for access to classified documents – that West German intelligence was aware of Eichmann's whereabouts as early as 1952 but did nothing to apprehend him.

Stangneth said Eichmann was eager to get recognition for his role in the Nazi regime.

"He was so unspeakably proud of his name," she said. "He wanted his famous name back.
Nobody wants to be anonymous. Everyone wants some sort of recognition for their accomplishments.

Apr 21, 2011

Interesting Posts #259

1. Pesach and Gratitude

2. The "Do As You Want" Religion

3. Kobe Slurs and The Media Drops The Ball

4. Emunah and Proof

5. Hallel in Shul On Pesach Night

6. A Karaite Hagadda

7. Reflections on Good and Bad

8. Seeing Eliyahu HaNavi Multiple Times daily - a nice story of Rav Meir Abuchatzeira. can you imagine his response? a tradition to see Eliyahu only once a day? How many people are kept limited by this tradition?

Passover with David Rubinfeld (video)

Non-Jew Takes His Chametz, How Do the Jews Respond?

Back to the validity of the selling of Chametz, it is always interesting when people's true intentions are put to the test. The main defense of the institution, if it needs a defense at all, is that if the non-Jew who "bought" the chametz would show up and take his chametz, the Jewish sellers would be perfectly fine with that.

There are some people who do not accept the validity of selling chametz, and especially when selling it and keeping it in your own house closed up in a cabinet. They say, if any chametz is going to be sold, and not all types can and should be sold, then it must be off premises and in a completely separate location, with only the non-jew having access to it. Some therefore promote instead of selling chametz to give the chametz to the goy as a present, store the chametz in an off-site location, and after Pesach one can reacquire the chametz, assuming the goy did not stake his claim and take it during Pesach.

In Ramat Shlomo there is a community that does this. the rav says this is the preferred way to "sell" chametz rather than actually selling it the way most people do.

Happy to have a way to sell chametz with a special hiddur instead of just the way everyone else does it (with all its faults), many people joined in and deposited their valuable chametz that they didn't want to destroy in the room designated for the goy. According to Kikar (and originally it was reported on the WAP Haredim site), there was a lot of whiskey worth many thousands of shekels, along with many other things.

Unfortunately for them, the goy put them to the test. He showed up right before the holiday began and cleared out the room, loading up his car with all the stuff. Thousands of shekels worth of expensive whiskeys, a new and expensive baby carriage that had not been cleaned for Pesach but was placed in the room (sorry, but that is just laziness), and other stuff. And there was nothing they could do about it, besides to stand there shocked watching him take all this stuff. After all, they had given it to him as a gift.

The goy went on his way, leaving the room empty for the rest of the holiday. And all they could do was regret, and be upset about, the way they chose to be mehader in getting rid of their chametz.

If it was a sale, perhaps their regret would show it was not valid. Or maybe if the sale had been done they would not have regretted it because at least they would have been paid, while here it was a gift so they lost their stuff and did not get paid for it.

Obviously this whole process is performed with absolutely no expectation of the goy actually showing up and taking his stuff. the fact that they could not do anything about it when it happened doesn't mean anything, as they were upset and in dismay when they saw it happen. It was just too late to do anything about it. Nobody expects the goy to show up. Even if they say they would be perfectly happy if the goy showed up and paid for it (in the case of a sale rather than a gift), at the end of the day it is done with no expectation of the goy showing up.

3 Men, 1 Boy, 2 Kids And 5 Boxes

The title sounds like a modern day version of the Chad Gadya song we sing at the end of the seder.

On Monday, erev pesach, 3 men and 1 kid, not the goat edition of "kid" were walking in the Old City, near the gates to Har Habayit, with 2 kids, the goat edition this time, and 5 empty cardboard boxes. The police arrested them all, including Noam Federman, including the goats and the boxes, suspecting them of being on their way to try to bring a korban pesach on Har HaBayit. A short time later they were all released from custody.

During the day, the police stopped a number of people who were walking in the area with cardboard boxes that had airholes, thinking they were possibly being used to carry a small goat. All the boxes were found to be empty. I guess people were using them as decoys for Federman who would later show up with an actual goat, or perhaps just to keep the police on their toes and possibly to frustrate them by making them chase people with empty boxes.

MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari said in response "The police and security services harassment right-wing activists who wish to bring the korban pesach on the Har is political persecution and injurious to Judaism. I would expect the police and Shaba"k to deal with terror and incitement on Har HaBayit instead of wasting their time and efforts fighting against Jews carrying empty boxes."

Rebuilding Road 10

Good news for Bet Shemesh residents, and for residents of the surrounding areas. The National Roads Company has finally issued the tender for building Road 10. After many years of futility, of the road being left incomplete, dangerous and unkempt, there is finally a ray of light.

The road will be rebuilt from scratch, and not just renovated or completed. The project will take an expected 2 years to complete, and will start in about 4 months time.

Thanks to the mayor and anyone else responsible for getting this stagnant project finally moving.

(HatTip: dafneighbor)

Kadesh U'Rchatz (video)

Apr 20, 2011

Glenn Beck Discusses president Obama's Passover Message (video)

1. I thought Glenn Beck was no longer working at Fox News?
2. I like his seder plate and gefilte fish on the table in front of him
3. I think he is reading too much into the message Obama released, but how can i criticize him when he is speaking up for Israel??!!

Quote Of The Day

390 years ago a small boat went from England to the USA that was called the Mayflower. This was the boat that brought the first citizens that founded America. 390 years later, ask anyone in the streets of New York how many people were on the boat? Who was the captain? When did they leave England and when did they arrive on the shores of America? What did they eat while on transit? Nobody will know the answers to these questions. 
By us, our national memory is part of us. 3500 years have passed and we still remember very well when we left Egypt, who was our captain, the date, and the menu that they ate. this shows you that we are a nation that is grateful to its God that took us out of slavery into freedom. Whoever does not want to eat matza is not included among those of our nation that are grateful through history. He is an ungrateful person to our national history.

  -- Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger

Today's 10 Plagues of Israel

Here is a fabulous article, witty and pretty accurate, from Yair Lapid about the 10 plagues plaguing Israeli society today.

The following is an excerpt.. For the full article, click on the link above..
1. Jealousy
“There’s one significant difference between America’s business culture and Israel’s business culture,” I told a group of American businesspeople I was asked to address. “Around here, we don’t have what you call a win-win situation.”

The Americans stared at me with confusion, yet the Israelis in the room started to nod, as smiles spread across their faces.

Holiday Lesson
A tale of 2 stories / Donniel Hartman
Op-ed: Passover story has two sides, up to us to choose between pride, arrogance
Full story
The win-win situation is the basis for America’s entire business world. Instead of wasting our time attempting to defeat each other, let’s find a way that will make both of us gain and go home satisfied. In Israel it doesn’t work, because the only meaning of victory is seeing your rival’s body lying trampled on the floor. We may have learned this in the army, or maybe it’s part of the Jewish character, but victory isn’t worth much for us unless we had a chance to truly pulverize someone.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a small society like Israel’s, competitiveness is necessary. The problem is that with the passage of them it produces another phenomenon, which is much more worrisome: We hate winners.

When the Americans see someone like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, who made billions thanks to their talent and determination, the first thing they say to themselves is “I want to be like him.” This, in many ways, is the engine that drives Western society: The desire to make it like the winners. Why? Because the basic premise is that they made it big because they’re talented.

On the other hand, when Israelis see someone successful, the first thing that crosses their mind is “I hope he loses it all.” I wish to see this schmuck falling on his face. I hope his business gets closed down, his too-pretty wife leaves him, the police probe him and he ends up in jail. Why? Our basic assumption is that they succeeded because they stole something from us when we weren’t paying attention.

Succeeding in life is a difficult business – you need to work 16 hours a day, face failures along the way, remember that nobody owes you a thing, and take risks. It’s much easier to sit home and say “it’s impossible to succeed in Israel without favoritism.”

2. Superficiality
Every time someone laments the death of Israel’s leftist camp, I tell them to read rightist blogs and websites. Why? Because rightist publications are the last place where the Left still rules the country. When you read them, you discover that leftists control the army, the courts, the government (that is, the Lieberman-Bibi government!), the media, and US Jewry. If it wasn’t so dangerous and crazy, it would be funny.

On the other hand, don’t the leftists do the exact same thing? After all, any religious Jew in this country has at least three stories about the time he was treated like a combination of Yigal Amir and Rabbi Levinger just because he goes to synagogue on Shabbat.

We expect intelligent people to be able to distinguish between “they” and “him.” Not all Jews are thieves, only Bernie Madoff is, not all Israelis are suicide terrorists, only Baruch Goldstein was, not all army veterans are disgusting thugs, but rather, only those who trashed their Cyprus hotel room.

People like to invent enemies. It spares us the need to address complex worldviews. Anyone who thinks differently becomes a murky, malicious element threatening our lives. Every such element has a name. “The seculars,” for example, are people who have sex with virgins at night club bathrooms, do drugs, and lack any values. “The haredim” are a bunch of parasites who produce children all the time, don’t join the army, and have no interest in working. “The religious” are delusional settlers who only care about the occupation, “the leftists” are all bleeding hearts,” and “the rightists” are not too bright.

The strange thing is that the very same people who resort to such generalizations are deeply offended when such generalizations are applied to them. They are convinced that if only we listen to them, they’ll surprise us. For some reason, they are unwilling to pay the natural price for this privilege: Listening to others as well.

3. Self-righteousness
Does the Itamar massacre shock you? Are you sure it shocks you? How much does it shock you? Are you shocked enough? If the massacre happened in Tel Aviv, would you be more shocked or less shocked?

Are you interested in speaking at a women’s rights panel? If it was a panel on billiards or poker, would you have time? What’s so important that you have no time for such important panel? What can we conclude about your attitude to women then?

Do you know how many Gaza children were killed in Operation Cast Lead? Don’t you see this as a stain on your conscience? Don’t you think that people who keep silent are no less guilty? Are you in favor of peace? If you’re in favor of peace but do nothing about it, does it mean you’re against peace?

Are you in favor of securing Gilad Shalit’s release? What do you mean when you say “of course”? Did you attend the rally in support of his release? How many such rallies did you attend? How can you talk about the “details of the swap” when he’s imprisoned there – don’t you have a heart?

4. Victimization
In English it’s called “Shit happens.” In French they say “C’est la vie.” In Spanish it’s “Asi es la vida.”

There’s almost no language that doesn’t includes an expression that means, simply, that bad things sometimes happen. Life is a dirty, sad business, and sometimes the earth shakes, a flood hits, fire erupts, and accidents happen. It’s terrible, but that’s how it is and nobody is at fault.

Only in Hebrew there is no such expression, and that’s not a coincidence.

Around here, when something bad happens, we want someone to be at fault. If we’re hurting, we want someone else to hurt even more. If a disaster befalls us, someone must pay the price. If he’s not a criminal, then he’s an offender; or at least negligent. In any case, he should quit. If he doesn’t quit, it means he refuses to take responsibility, this scumbag, so let’s get a lawyer and sue him.

Those who saw the calm, noble manner in which the Japanese addressed the tsunami and earthquake should keep in mind the following fact: Japan, a country of 126 million citizens, has fewer lawyers than Israel. Perhaps that’s the reason why they are focusing on rehabilitation rather than on accusations or lawsuits – because the Japanese too know how to say “shit happens.”

Around here, the demand for a commission of inquiry to look into the Carmel blaze was voiced while the fire was still burning. Bring us someone’s head, we demanded, doesn’t matter who, as long as it’s clear that someone’s at fault for what happened to us.

There’s one thing you must know about commissions of inquiry: They always find something. After all, it’s impossible for committee to hire investigators, question witnesses, uncover documents, discuss the issues for long months, and then one day convene a press conference and say: “Good evening - following an intensive, lengthy investigation we are forced to declare that we found nothing. Thank you and good night.”

Can you imagine what would happen then? Precisely. Someone will establish a commission of inquiry to look into what went wrong.

5. Our system of government
Everyone thinks that the State of Israel has no minister of health, but they’re wrong. The state of Israel has a talented health minister called Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu is our 12th health minister in the past 15 years. Can we manage a healthcare system that way? Obviously not. Can we manage any other system that way? Obviously not.

6. Taking God’s name in vain
There’s nothing wrong with our God, the problem is all those people among us who claim that they are the only ones holding the right user manual.

Indeed, God has become everyone’s favorite excuse including the most delusional people. You drive through the streets of Beit Shemesh and see a “Taliban woman” draped in black, walking slowly with her children behind her. If the men in white robes arrive, she will explain to them, with deep self-conviction, that God spoke to her, personally, and told her she must wear a tent.

However, it’s not only the modesty discourse that has gone mad (“Modesty, Hanna, modesty,” I heard a haredi father yelling at his five-year-old girl. Five-year-old, for God’s sake!). God has become everyone’s excuse, including the worst people here.

Those who don’t want to join the army, and those who don’t wish to work, those who don’t want to teach their children math and English, those who beat up an old Arab under his olive tree, those who slash an IDF commander’s tires, those who march in Umm al-Fahm, those who murder someone and enter court with a black kippah on their head, those who dance around an empty chair and claim that their rabbi is the messiah, those burning garbage dumpsters in Meah Shearim, and those who use their rabbinical authority to declare that former President Katsav is not guilty.

As Bob Dylan said many years ago, this is why many good people quit religion and go back to God.

Pesach Night = Yom Ha'Atzmaut

The overwhelming custom in Eretz Yisrael seems to be to say hallel in shul on the night of pesach after maariv, before going home for the seder. Even by people who used to not say it before moving to Eretz Yisrael. As far as I can remember, in the USA it was mostly a chassidishe minhag to say hallel. Here it is difficult to find a shul that does not say it.

I had this thought while saying hallel on Pesach night - this, saying hallel in shul on Pesach night, even with a bracha, is the perfect response to anybody who has halachic problems with saying hallel on Yom Ha'Atzmaut.

Anybody who says hallel, or at least has no problem with people saying hallel, on Pesach night, with a bracha as well, should not have a problem with saying, or with those who say, hallel on Yom Ha'Atzmaut.

It does not mean you have to say it (on either day/night), and it does not mean you should say it. At least it should mean that you could say it, and nobody should be able to think you are going against halacha.

President Obama Celebrates Kosher-Style Passover

According to news reports, President Obama once again celebrated with his Jewish friends by hosting a Passover seder.

President Obama being served
a steaming bowl of matza ball soup
The menu though was only kosher style, and not actually kosher for Passover. The menu included: Chicken soup with matzoh balls, braised beef brisket, potato kugel, carrot soufflé, and matzoh chocolate cake.

A fuller review of the event, with the guest list,can be found at the Obama Food blog.

I particularly enjoyed the title of a different report of the event that called it "Obama Celebrates the Deaths of Egyptians by hosting Passover seder at White House"

President Obama also released a Passover holiday message:
My family and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating the sacred festival of Passover.
On Monday evening, Jewish families and their friends in America, Israel, and around the world will gather around the Seder table and retell the story of the Exodus, one of the most powerful stories of suffering and redemption in history.

The story of Passover - which recalls the passage of the children of Israel from bondage and repression to freedom and liberty - inspires hope that those oppressed and enslaved can become free. The Seder, with its rich traditions and rituals, instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails.

This year, that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa. Against the backdrop of change, we continue to pray for peace between Israel and her neighbors, while reaffirming our enduring commitment to Israel's security.

As Jewish families gather for this joyous celebration of freedom, let us all be thankful for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us, and let us work to alleviate the suffering, poverty, injustice, and hunger of those who are not yet free. Chag Sameach.

Apr 18, 2011

Ha Lachma Anya (video)

Quote Of The Day

I am prepared to be the one to take a knife in my hand and slaughter these bastards on a live broadcast in front of the eyes of the whole world...They can say Ben-Ari did this, they should learn this is the judgement of the wicked. This is how we will avenge them.

  -- MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari (Ichud Leumi)

A Passover Song (video)

Apr 17, 2011

Helfgot and Razel Sing V'Hee She'Amda (video)

Even the Cows Are Kosher L'Pesach (video)

Korban Pesach Schedule

So that you can plan your busy Erev Pesach schedule tomorrow properly, I am posting the following schedule of activities for the korban pesach. Figure out where you need to be when, and plan accordingly..

Interesting Posts #258

1. The Exodus According to Google Earth

2. Passover Seder in the Israeli Army

3. Cleaning the Belzer Shul for Pesach

4. Lemaan Achai Went to Bnei Brak Gedolim for Four Brachos

5. Minhagim Read About but Never Seen - I would posit that most people, or most frum people, spend almsot all Pesach seders in their own homes, or in the homes of immediate family (parents, etc) and rarely venture out to  people who come from places with other minhagim, and therefore despite reading about other minhagim, one rarely actually sees them in practice. Simply because one usually stays within his own confines of minhagim.

6. Doing A Lot But Accomplishing Nothing

7. Making Aliyah - the variety of jobs that people do after making aliyah

8. Identities of the Murderers of the Fogel Family

Apocalypse! Stores Are Running Low On Non-Kitniyot Mayonnaise!

It is amazing how people are so fraught with worry that they might have to go a week without mayonnaise.

Over the past 2 weeks, the local email lists have had numerous postings daily:

  • asking where one can buy locally Kosher for Pesach non-kitniyot mayonnaise
  • informing the public which store has non-kitniyot mayonnaise
  • updates on how much/little of such mayo is still on the shelves at said stores
  • more begging for info on where it can be bought because said store has sold out.
I have nothing specific to say about it other than that I am surprised to see how central mayonnaise is to the Jewish cook's menu. You'd think the world was coming to an end because it is difficult to find mass-produced non-kitniyot mayonnaise..

And to this I add what I have found to be the Email of the Day from the local email lists:
As I read all the articles of the past several days, it has become amazing clear as to how many requests/concerns about acquiring mayonnaise have been submitted!  
Alevai, our desire to know how we can earnestly acquire Moshiach and beg him to come before the end of Pesach should be as strong. Ladies just make your own. I did it last night, it came out fluffy silky consistency; you have the tools, just get the daring and the confidence and just do it. If you have a good blender, eggs,oil (I use hazelnut oil), lemons,sugar,salt and a few minutes, no need to worry. 
The trick is while your eggs are whipping up at a very fast speed in the blender, slowly and I mean slowly, let oil trickle in; (if you have one egg you will need 1 cup oil, 2 eggs 2 cups oils-don't cut back on the oil, (yes we know it is a cardiac nightmare, but it is just for one week); It should whip up to a frothy,creamy consistency add sugar, lemon juice and salt to taste. Always store in the frigerator when not using I posted the recipe a few days ago; do a search its all written there in detail. 
And if it comes out well, you can serve potato salad with a bit of the mayo at Moshiach's seudat towards the end of Shevi shel Pesach; with the left over matzohs,wine and a little potato salad,it will be greatly appreciated and maybe just maybe that will give him a little more impetus to come much SOONER. one never knows what will be the "ticket" to hasten his coming NOW! (between us women, it is usually good food,right?) Freilicen kosher pesach!

Why I Don't Eat Kitniyot On Pesach

Why don't I eat kitniyot on Pesach?

Good question.

The truth is that the logic employed by Rav Davvid Bar-Hayyim (or however he spells it) makes sense to me. Jews have come back to Eretz Yisrael, and we should be adopting the minagim of Eretz Yisrael, which were always predominantly sephardic in origin, except for a small period of time where some communities have imported the customs from the students of the GRA.

It has always bothered me why, for the most part, our minhagim are stuck in Poland/Germany/Morocco/Iraq/Yemen/Hungary of 100 and 200 years ago. Why does the Jewish community of New York not have its own minhagim that when people moved there they should have adopted into a uniform minhag? Why only in the communities of Europe did everyone keep 1 uniform minhag?

mmm, can't live a week without it!
I know the answers of mobility, and that the people in Europe stayed put for hundreds of years, often in little towns, while cities in the western world were suddenly populated by Jews from all over, etc. None of them are very satisfactory. A city like New York (one example, but applies to all cities) should have had a local minhag, and anyone joining the community should have adopted the local minhagim (communal minhagim at least, if not personal as well).

So, in essence, I am open to the concept of people moving to Eretz Yisrael and adopting the local minhag. The problem with it is that it is only in concept. in practice it is not done, and there is no longer any uniform local minhag. For anything. Every community has sub-communities, where each keeps its own minhag from way back when, and in each sub-community there is plenty of diversity as well.

So it is kind of difficult to say that we suddenly adopt the local minhag by kitniyot, when we do not do so for just about anything else. I mean, those who eat kitniyot, do they daven nusach sefard (some daven "nusach eretz yisrael" which Rav Bar Hayyim has reprinted)? Do they put on tefillin like safrdim? do they do anything else like sefardim? It seems to me that to just pick kitniyot as the issue that you will use to adopt local customs with is disingenuous.

That being said, I have no problem with Rav Bar Hayyim paskening that way, or with his talmidim following his psak. It seems to me to be wrong that suddenly many people choose to follow a rav they follow on nothing else, and probably have no idea about anything else he says. But that is their choice, and I say that for me to adopt such a custom, to eat kitniyot against my minhag, against the original takana that was accepted among those from where my minhagim originate, would be wrong.

And to me, I see no reason to go against the takanas chachomim for one week of eating rice and chumus. I can refrain for a week.

To take the discussion a bit further, I have said I have no problem with Rav Bar Hayyim (or other rabbonim who have followed suit recently) and his students coming to this conclusion and eating kitniyot. Everyone can do what is good for them.

What does irk me, a bit, is that instead of publishing his psak in halachic and Torah journals, where he would generate discussion among rabbonim and communities, he publishes his psak in newspapers such as Yediot Acharonot and Haaretz.

So, instead of having the world of rabbinics and halacha debate the issue, he publishes his psak in secular newspapers where people who don't know much, who don't keep much (and some who do), will like what they read from him because it is getting rid of an old restriction and follow suit, even though they barely keep anything else, and definitely have no idea who he is or what else he talks about. He is encouraging people who have no ability to debate the merits of his case to go against their commonly held custom. At least those who don't eat matza on pesach keep it to themselves and don't promote it among the general public.

Furthermore, he so holds he is right that he even invalidates rabbonim from being able to pasken otherwise by saying their appointment as community rav is invalid. So anybody who argues with him can be ignored, because they have no right to pasken otherwise.

Again, I have no problem with him paskening to eat kitniyot, and I have no problem with those who follow him eating kitniyot. The logic makes sense to me, but there are too many conflicting issues that make me personally uncomfortable with it. And I see no reason to go against the takana with all that on the plate. My problem is with the way he encourages other people to go against their psak, or to adopt a new (for them) minhag they know nothing about.

Maybe one day he will generate debate among halachic scholars, and a consensus will be arrived at that says the original takana is no longer relevant, either due to our presence in Eretz Yisrael, or for other reasons, and then I will eat kitniyot as well. Until then, I see no need.

Pollard Is The Key To Obama 2012

Accordign to Rav Metzger, the way for President Barak Obama to win the upcoming US elections for president in 2012 is by releasing Jonathan Pollard from prison.

In his Shabbos HaGadol drasha, Rav Metzger reportedly said, "if President Obama wants to win another term, he should immediately release Jonathan Pollard. This is not a prophecy, rather it is a feeling that stems from the fact that many Jews who supported him have been disappointed by his indifference to the many calls of the many people who have turned to him in this matter, among them leaders of the government from the time when Pollard had been imprisoned, who today admit that there is no longer a reason to hold him in jail any longer.
Before President Obama forces upon us diplomatic processes, he should prove his mutual responsibility and friendship that he talks about, by releasing Pollard."

I don't know why that would be the one factor that would determine his re-election, but if Rabbi Metzger thinks so, and if President Obama would be concerned enough to trust such an opinion, it sounds good to me.. From his mouth to God's ears..

Tawil and Friends Celebrate Passover (video)

from latma:

Yaakov Shwekey and Yonatan Razel Singing V'Hee She'Amda (video)

It's that time of the year again... the great V'Hee She'Amda with it's timeless message..

Apr 15, 2011

Birkat Kohanim Schedule On Chol HaMoed Pesach

As reported on INN:
At the Kotel Plaza, preparations are underway for taking in multitudes during the Pesach holiday.
This year, the Kotel Heritage Fund has decided to place an electric mobility scooter next to the bus station, to make it easier for the elderly and disabled to reach the Plaza.
Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich reached an agreement with the Israel Police that will make it easier for Jews whose permanent home is in the Diaspora to visit the Kotel without running into religious problems. The problem arises on the Second Yom Tov (Sabbath-like holiday) that Diaspora Jews observe after the first and last days of Pesach. During Chol Hamoed and Isru Chag, the entrance gates do not operate in Sabbath mode, and security checks include electronic devices, thus causing a problem for the Diaspora Jews.
According to the arrangement, people who mark the the second Yom Tov of Pesach will have the right to request a manual security check.
The Old City will be closed off to private vehicles during the holiday and visitors to the Kotel are asked to use public transport.

The traditional mass Priestly blessing, or Birkat Kohanim, is scheduled for Thursday, the second day of Chol Hamoed, April 21. Shacharit prayer will be at 8:45, Birkat Kohanim at 9:30, Musaf at 10:00 and Birkat Kohanim of Musaf at 10:15.
The Chief Rabbis, Rav Yonah Metzger and Rav Shlomo Amar, will then hold a reception for the pilgrims.
So you can now plan your Chol HaMoed schedule...

Pesach Candy (video)

I remember selling Barton's Candy for Pesach. I specifically remember the chocolate lollipops..

The Minhag To NOT eat Matza On Pesach (video)

Can you imagine this? someone has a minhag too NOT eat matza on Pesach, because of a concern of finding it not baked properly rendering ti chametz. Sounds crazy to me, but someone called the Liska Rebbe has this minhag, that he got from some rabbis of the previous generation...

Here is a video f him talking about the minhag, though I gave up after a few moments as it is in Yiddish..

VIN has the details of the story on this...

Personally, no matter how great the original founders of this minhag might have been, it seems pretty backwards to devise a minhag that tells you not to do something in the Torah.. Can I say my minhag is, for example, not to put on tefillin, because they might not be 100% kosher (rounded corner, cracked letter, paint flecked off somewhere, etc) and it might be a bracha levatala?

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