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Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

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Oct 31, 2011

Divorcing A Witch in Beis Din

Here is a crazy story if I ever heard one. Divorce stories, sad as the situation might be, can get really crazy as each side accuses the other trying to get the upper hand in negotiations. The timing of this story is perfect for Halloween!

Mynet reported on a decision in divorce proceedings in Haifa. The woman was claiming from her husband the full value of her Ketuba, being 180,000 NIS, claiming that her husband had cheated on her with another woman prior to the divorce. The husband, on the other hand, claimed that she had been dealing in witchcraft and refused to stop despite his asking her to. He says he only had his relationship with the other woman after she had already requested the divorce.

The beis din sent the couple for a polygraph test. The lie detector test found that the woman had lied when she  denied that she had been performing witchcraft in her house and that she had refused to stop when her husband had asked. It also found that she had lied when she claimed she would cook for him a lot. The polygraph also found that the husband was telling the truth when he claimed he only had his relationship with the other woman after the divorce had been requested.

The beis din ruled that she should be paid only half the value of her Ketuba - 90,000 NIS. They said even though the husband might have had his sexual relationship with the other woman after the divorce request, but it is likely he was already beginning to stray towards other women prior and that might have made his wife angrier. His claim that she didn't cook enough for him is not a reason to make her lose her Ketuba.

The main issue obviously being the witchcraft she was supposedly involved in, the beis din had to research what halachic effect engaging in witchcraft can have in a divorce. They found that there is no rule about witchcraft being a cause for her losing her Ketuba.

What they did find on the issue is that Rebbe Nachman writes that a woman who deals in witchcraft causes her children (and husband) to die. They compared that to a different statement in the poskim that a woman who makes vows causes her children to die and then she can be divorced with no Ketuba payment. Comparing the two statements, they decided that they should implement a compromise and split the payment of the Ketuba.

I wonder.. if she is really a witch, does he really want to short her the payment and get on her bad side?

Talk about strange divorce cases!

A Rosa Parks Moment

The gender-segregation issue on public buses has hit the Wall Street Journal now, though they are discussing the recently discovered gender-segregated bus in new York and not the Israeli edition of gender-segregation.

To remind you, it was recently discovered that the B110 bus line from Williamsburg to Borough Park that holds a public tender to operate that specific line, is running the route with men sitting in front and women in back, despite the rules of the public tender requiring no discrimination. Since the recent discovery of the way the line is operating, this has been a hot topic in the United States as well. The US thought these days were 60 years behind it already, only to discover gender-segregation is still happening.

No Rosa Parks Moment from the Wall Street Journal:
It looks like little has changed on the B110 Williamsburg-to-Borough Park bus line, where self-segregation among the sexes remains as entrenched as ever.

It took less than a minute before a man questioned my presence on the front of the bus on Wednesday.

"Excuse me," said the gentleman, who appeared to be an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jew, as I squeezed in beside him. "Ladies in the back."

"Is there a rule?" I asked him, as the women sitting in the back half of the B110 bus peered curiously at me, the only non-Jewish person on board.

"Please, ladies in the back," he said, visibly uncomfortable.

The man switched to sit across from me.

"It's not a rule; it's a rule amongst us," snapped another man.

I identified myself as a reporter and was hoping to engage in a conversation with the men, all but one who appeared Hasidic, wearing traditional black hats, side curls and beards.

But there was no conversation. A woman boarding the bus at the next stop in South Williamsburg saw me and stopped. "The ladies are sitting in the back," she said, beckoning me.

"Is that a rule?" I asked again.

"Yes," she responded.

So much for a Rosa Parks moment. It was the back of the bus for me.

"Thank you, we appreciate it," said the woman smiling as I followed her to the back.

The B110 has generated a lot of controversy over the past week, sparked by a story in the New York World, a Columbia Journalism School publication. The story hit the blogosphere and reached the attention of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who declared that the practice was indisputably not kosher.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is conducting an investigation, and the city's Department of Transportation has instructed the operator to ensure that the practice ends.

The B110 is in an unusual situation. It caters almost exclusively to the Hasidic Jewish community, shuttling residents back and forth between South Williamsburg and Borough Park. Still, it's open to anyone who pays the $2.50 cash fare.

It's not subsidized by the city. Rather, the route is operated by a franchisee, Private Transportation Corp. The company is required to comply with all applicable laws, including prohibiting any type of discrimination, unless it has received an exception.

What's surprising about my experience on Wednesday is it came one day after Jacob Marmurstein of Private Transportation sent a letter to the city stating that the company "does not support, promote or condone any conduct that is discriminatory in nature."

Mr. Marmurstein went on to say that the company will confirm its policy of nondiscriminatory conduct with company personnel and will place signs on the buses to that effect.

Apparently, they haven't done such a good job with the communication part. When I asked the bus driver if there were a rule requiring women to sit in the back, he acted like he had no idea what I was talking about, saying only, "Oh, I don't know about that."

I also didn't see any signs.

A week earlier, the city informed Mr. Marmurstein in a letter that "allowing passengers to harass women who choose to ride in any part of the bus, is not permitted on franchised buses" and could lead to a termination of that agreement.

The bus driver didn't interfere in the conversation I had, but he most likely didn't hear it. And surprisingly none of the riders I spoke with were aware of the controversy generated by the bus.

Now, turning the discrimination argument on its head, it would seem to some in the Hasidic community that being forced to sit next to a woman discriminates against their religion, which follows a tradition of separation of the sexes.

That is the argument several women made to me as I sat in the back with them.

"It's really for religious reasons, we keep separate," said a woman who declined to give her name. "At weddings, parties, we're so used to it. It shouldn't bother anyone. It's just our religion."

The reasoning, she said, is their idea of modesty.

The women said if a rider who isn't familiar with their customs gets on and sits in the wrong section, they usually will ask nicely if they mind moving. They said they've never witnessed someone who didn't oblige.

"I don't know, they might think we're crazy," said the woman to a rider behind her. "They'll think it's we're like the Amish, like we're behind the times. But we're not."

"I've been taking this bus eight years and never a problem," said another woman, who also declined to give her name. "There's always a lot of respect. It's self-understood. This is how we grew up. It's the way we are."

As she said this, her husband slid into a seat that looked like the first seat in the women's section. No one was sitting next to him, so it appeared to be OK. "There's no women's part and there's no men's part," said Yiachneil Bichchei, a 20-year-old Williamsburg resident. 'There's a bus. Everybody is allowed to sit where they want."

Not all Hasidic Jews—by no means a monolithic community—agree or follow such strict self-segregation.

Chaya Chanin, a Crown Heights resident who owns the popular Frock Swap store, has never ridden the B110 but doesn't agree with the separation. "If I were some outsider, I would feel uncomfortable being pushed to the back," she said.

"It would bother me to a certain degree if I had to ride the bus every day," she added. "On the one hand, I don't need to be sitting next to the men, or have a desire to. But I wouldn't want to be squished in the back of the bus."

Ms. Chanin said she belongs to a different, less conservative Hasidic community.

On the bus ride back from Borough Park to Williamsburg, I again sat in the front. This time no one said a word to me, though I got a few peculiar looks. Only one man would sit next to me. Another man offered him his seat moments later, standing up instead.

I'm not sure why the difference. Before departing from Borough Park, a Hasidic man waved his hands in the air and yelled out "No More Segregation."

Could he be their Rosa Parks?

It was unclear if he was joking or serious.
You can't force women to sit in front if they don't want to, and you can't force men and women to sit mixed, if they don't want to. You can't force anyone to sit in any specific way. People need to be able to choose where they want to sit. As long as people are voluntarily sitting in front or back, that is fine. the problem is when it is coerced. Saying "we only ask nicely" does not take it out of the realm of coercion, at least I don't think so, because many women wouldn't refuse a direct request, and many women would be afraid to refuse a bunch of men "asking".

Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

[Rejecting the Partition Plan 1947] was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole.. But do they [the Israelis] punish us for this mistake 64 years?

it is difficult … to launch any kind of negotiations with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who takes a hawkish stand on territorial concessions. Mr Netanyahu wants to retain an Israeli military presence along the West Bank's eastern border with Jordan for 40 years, even after the establishment of a Palestinian state. I told him, I prefer occupation..

  ---Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in interview to israel TV

That's The Shul I Don't Daven In...

According to my friend on Twitter, Israeli Soldier, the fellow in the picture below is one of two religious Jews working for TSA. One of them works in La Guardia and the other in JFK. However, according to one of them, as per the conversation Israeli Soldier had with him, he is really the only one because the other one "isn't really religious"...

Seemed like an almost typical comment...it even reminds me of an article I read a few years ago about the two last Jews in Afghanistan. They couldn't get along and even refused to talk to each other. 

Israel TV Interview With Schijveschuurder Family (video)

Israel TV's Channel 10 ran this interview with the surviving Schijveschuurder family members about the release of Gilad Shalit and how it affected them, and mainly how they managed, and sometimes didn't manage, after the murder of their parents and siblings.

This video is so difficult to watch, but I don't know how you cannot watch it. And if you watch it, I don't know how you can not choke up or tear up, seeing their emotions, how they suffered, how they miss their parents.

(the video is in Hebrew with Hebrew subtitles)

Shalsheles- Generations (video)

Shalsheles- Generations

The Jewish Face, and Anti-Semitism, of Occupy Wall Street (video)

The Jewish Face, and Anti-Semitism, of Occupy Wall Street

Oct 30, 2011

Jewish Values Online

Welcome to new advertiser Jewish Values Online (see ad at top of sidebar).. they offer multi-Jewish perspectives on moral and ethical issues. As you can see in the scrolling banner some examples of the issues they discuss, you can be sure the variety of perspectives on the various issues is interesting.

Interesting Posts #315

Interesting Posts #315

1. Noah's Ark in Lakewood To Save The World - while his comparison of the top floor being the people who save the world compared to the offices of the Bais Horaah is fine by me, I am irked by his inferred comparison of the middle floor of offices being compared to the animals, and the bottom floor of restaurants compared to the garbage. Or maybe he didnt mean that and I am just reading too much into it.

2. Etrogim After Sukkot

3. The Kaiser Arrives and the Rabbis Turn Out

4. Another Israeli Story

5. World Series Game 6 And The Jewish People

6. No Role Models For My Daughters

7. The Ride of Hope

8. Haredi men Selling Their Wives

9. Is Gilad Shalit A Hero?

10. Another Humorous Look At Bet Shemesh - The Water Authority

11. TSA Issued A Lulav Alert This Sukkot

The Haredi Influence Increases Especially regarding Gender Separation (video)

The Haredi Influence Increases Especially regarding Gender Separation

Israel's Channel 2 news ran the following report on the increase in gender-separation, and the fight against it, even by people within the Haredi community.

There are certain aspects of this that bother me, like the way she goes looking for trouble handing out fliers on the bus and arguing with women who will never support her (at least not in public and not in that type of situation). I also doubt the veracity of the claim that they get a lot of phone calls from the same women who crumple up the fliers. The Haredi community is not one that complains to outsiders, and the only ones who would complain are the more modern or moderate haredim - not the ones she was talking to on the bus. That is fine, but it is not the moderate Haredim who set the tone of the Haredi community. It is the more extreme Haredim who set the tone. Perhaps one day that will change, but right now that is fact.

Rav Benny Lau makes a good point, and the woman explaining why it concerns her so much makes a good point (she does not care what they do but it trickles into other communities as well).

This topic has come up a lot, with increasing frequency. Rethinking it many times has recently made me wonder where the segregation is appropriate and where it is not. It is ok to expect gender-segregation at weddings but not on bus routes? It is ok in shul but not at the medical clinic? I know shul is different because of the religious environment and the requirements for prayer, but I mean once one is arguing against it, at what point does one stop and say segregation is acceptable here, here and there, but not there there and there. If we want to cancel all gender-segregation, based on the discrimination involved and using the law on our side, will we end up seeing the next fight take place in the shul - will we see some people trying to cancel the mehitza in shul and go to the Supreme Court with the anti-discrimination laws in hand to support it? If we accept it in shul and in other aspects of our lives (even in places we know it is not really necessary such as at the meal of a wedding), how do we reject it in other circumstances?

Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

A western intervention in Syria will lead to an earthquake that would burn the whole region. Such an intervention will cause another Afghanistan. Syria is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake.

-- Syrian President Bashir Al-Assad

Finally A Ban On Robes

As you can see, this is not the style of the classic pashkevil, so it is probably the work of one or a few individual people.

This pashkevil has been long overdue. It addresses the women who walk around outside in their robes (chaluk), taking their kids to the bus, going to the local shops, chatting with their friends outside, etc. They wear these robes, that are essentially their pajamas, outside, and they look frumpy and sometimes dirty (from kids spilling or spitting up food), and personally I think it is not tzanua for a woman to walk around in what is essentially her pajamas. It wouldn't bother me if she was just throwing out the garbage or getting the mail, or something similar, but they wear their robes as daily wear around the neighborhood. I always cringe when I see it, and I wonder how people who are so worried about the tiniest thing that might be not tzanua can walk around in their pajamas.

Don't get me wrong - I know there are robes that are fancy and elegant and stylish. Those also bother me but not as much so. It is easier to think of those more elegant robes as dresses and clothing than as pajamas.

The pashkevil claims to be in the name of the rabbonim, but no specific rabbonims names are listed except at the bottom it mentions one rav who died a number of years ago though he supposedly saw and helped write the text and encouraged it to be spread around. It calls on the women and girls not to walk around in the various types of house-robes - not while waiting for rides, not while taking kids to school, not when going to the makolet, not when going for a walk with friends, or any other time they might be walking outside.

The pashkevil says it is not tzanua and causes problems. Fathers are requested to raise the issue in their homes.

I think of all the cherems and bans and pashkevils this is the one that is the longest overdue. Of course the way they write it just sounds like the next pashkevil will say women should not go outside at all. It is not tzanua and causes great problems.

Making Money Off Organ Donation

This religious fellow who was arrested the other day in new York for being an organ broker is another example of the discrepency in the system.

Everybody is making money off of organ donations, and it is all legal and allowed, except for the person giving up the organ. The doctor makes money off it. His entire team makes money off it. The organizations that arrange organ donation make money off it (not directly but through fundraising in the name of organ donation). The hospitals make money off it. The insurance companies make money off it.

Everyone, every step of the way, is making money off the organ donation. Except for the person giving up the organ. That person is the only person in the chain that is not allowed to find a way to make money off it.

Something seems wrong with the system.

Uganda Torah Project (video)

Uganda Torah Project

From the Youtube description:
video compilation of the delivery af a sefer Torah to the Jewish community in the Putti village of Uganda

Oct 28, 2011

Eli Leshinsky Sings Boee Bshalom (video)

Eli Leshinsky Sings Boee Bshalom

From the Youtube description:
World renowned sound engineer Eli Leshinsky attempts to sing Yaakov Shwekeys "Boee B'Shalom" during the rehearsal and sound check of a Rosenblatt Productions wedding. Eli is well known for mixing and mastering many major Jewish albums, engineering the Hasc and Ohel concerts, as well as many Jewish wedding. Avraham Fried can be seen (only on camera for a moment) enjoying the spectacle.

Oct 27, 2011

Should We Open Mikvahs For Unmarried Women

The Religious Action Center is appealing to Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi that he should change the rules of all public mikvahs to allow all women, regardless of marital status, to immerse themselves.
The Ministry's response so far is that they will look into the issue.

Source: Ynetnews

On the surface it looks like the request is one to allow single women to immerse in the mikvah to remove nidda status, which would allow them to engage in pre-marital sex without any nidda issues. That would apply to divorced or widowed women as much as it would apply to never-married women. There are other situations as well, such as going up to har HaBayit requires immersion, and unmarried women who wish to go up currently have a problem that many mikvahs do not allow them to immerse. I am told there are other instances where women wish to immerse, for personal reasons to be pure, just as men have no need to immerse regularly but prefer to do so for various reasons such as "purity".

Should it be allowed? I don't know. Allowing it is almost like giving a blanket hetter for pre-marital sex - opening the gates and removing the obstacles. On the other hand, there are other issues, such as the ones I mentioned among others. As well, if a women is going to have pre-marital sex anyway, even if the mikvah would remain closed, why are we forcing her (and him) to do it b'issur when we can allow her to remove at least that issur?

I don't know what is better or worse. What do you think?

Bill Cosby's Noah (video)

Bill Cosby's Noah

This is Bill Cosby's classic piece on the story of Noah and the Ark. I posted it last year, but it is a classic and worth posting again for this year's edition of Parshat Noah.


Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

Kol HaKavod to the Gerrers. This is the only language that the sikrikim (thugs) understand. 
We are talking about people who for them violence is their way of life. And now, when they are hit they complain. Finally somebody is talking with them in their language.
Many are trying to "close accounts" with Gur and are hitchhiking on this incident to do so. In this situation, Gur is completely correct, and I back them up..

  --- Yehuda Meshi Zahav

A survey taker comes to a zealot building in Beit Shemesh (video)

A survey taker comes to a zealot building in Beit Shemesh

Talk about childish. And their protests are dwindling down to single digit attendance numbers..

Breitling Jet Team , Tel Aviv , Israel (video)

Breitling Jet Team , Tel Aviv , Israel

Oct 26, 2011

Interesting Posts #314

Interesting Posts #314

1. Pre-Conversion: Why We Are Probably Crazy After All

2. Arab and Leftist-Demanded Apartheid

3. A Letter From The Prime Minister

4. Rav Chaim Kanievsky Blesses Nachman Kletsky

5. Swedish Anarchists Deface Sukkah

6. Racial Tolerance In Israel

Nisuch HaMayim - Mayim Bialik Speaks About Working on Sukkos Yom Tov

Mayim Bialik, the actress with a PHD in Neuroscience who is a very Jewy person and is a self-declared "Conservadox", wrote a very honest and self-aware piece explaining why she went to work on the recent holiday of Sukkos - not Chol Hamoed, but on Yom Tov itself.

Bialik writes:
I work on “The Big Bang Theory” and I was required to work on the first two days of Sukkot. We had rehearsal and run-throughs of the script for producers, writers, and CBS; there was no filming involved. Normally, I would have been in synagogue, but this year, I wasn’t and it’s okay. This is my life right now, and here are 3 ways I made it work for me (in addition to making festive meals, drinking kiddush and lighting candles at home.)

1) I hired a car service to drive me to work. Sure, being in a car is halachically different than driving a car myself, but it’s not how i would choose to observe the holiday. That being said, it was relaxing and a nice change of pace to commemorate the holiday this way. And, no, my driver wasn’t Jewish, so I didn’t cause any Jew to break the holiday on my behalf. That would’ve been a bummer so close to Yom Kippur, because I totally just atoned for everything I have pretty much ever done, thought, or fantasized about. Gotta keep the slate clean.

2) I didn’t use my laptop or my phone from work. What a lovely break this was, and it made it really feel like a yontif (holiday)! I normally keep my laptop constantly running at work, and I respond to dozens of emails a day about meetings, publicity, my book being edited, etc., right when they come in. I am a real slave to technology, and for those 2 days, I really embraced the aspects of observance that force us to focus on ourselves, and not on the things we distract ourselves with.

3) I dressed fancy. I grew up with parents who were snazzy dressers, and who encouraged me to have special “shul” clothes. It always made holidays and Shabbat special, and I have carried this pattern into my own adult life, and have passed it on to my sons, who also love dressing fancy for shul, even though they call it dressing like “Maccabeats” (of Yeshiva University fame). Anyway, I dressed in shul clothes for work this year, and it felt really special. I don’t tend to wear sparkly dresses to work in general, or my hair in a French twist with pearl studs. I didn’t wear heels, since we work long days, but I put on proper make-up before the holiday started (it’s customary not to put it on during the holiday) and really felt like I had brought the holiday with me to work by dressing fancy.

One day, I hope to be in a position to set my taping schedule around the 8,000 Jewish holidays that I want to observe according to halacha, but for now, I remain a Jew in exile, a soul yearning for its way home, and a happily employed actress on “The Big Bang Theory.”

I wasn’t sure if I should be so public about me working on the holiday, but I have never claimed to be perfect in observance, and I hope that by sharing ways I make observance fit my life, I can give someone else the support to know that it’s it’s not all or nothing as we learn and grow, that while we are on any particular path, we can still enjoy it even if it’s not moving exactly where – or as fast as – we want it to.
Some people would criticize her for working on the holiday, and then again for justifying it and explaining it and publicizing it.

I say, first of all, jewy as she might be she is not Orthodox. She grew up Reform and while she has been increasing her level of observance over time she is still not Orthodox. Not justifying her choices, but just saying - what do you expect? You criticize her for not living an Orthodox lifestyle with orthodox choices, but she is not Orthodox.

Secondly, and more importantly, I am actually impressed with her explanations. Whether or not she actually did anything against halacha is debatable - while perhaps inappropriate to work on yom tov, it looks like she did a pretty good job of avoiding any actual melacha and transgressing prohibitions. I don't know if she completed her day perfectly with no transgressions, though she seems to have tried to do her best.

So, whether or not she transgressed is besides the point - that is between her and God. I am impressed and inspired by her honesty, her willingness to share, her attempts to do the right thing to the best of her ability, her  attempt and effort to make the best of a less than ideal situation.

Is that alright - impressed with someone working on the holiday? Wearing her yomtov clothes while she works? Perhaps that is like going into a [non-kosher] McDonalds and making a bracha on the cheeseburger? Perhaps. But nobody does what they do in a vacuum.

One cannot look at an isolated incident and judge the person based on that alone - in which direction is the person moving? Is she moving towards more observance, getting better along the way and while still not perfect, still needing to work on the holiday at times, it is still better than 2 years ago or 5 years ago when she might have worked without a second thought or without attempts to imbue the workplace with a yomtov atmosphere of sorts. Or, is she moving towards less observance.

So while one might feel her observance is lacking and she should not be applauded, I point out that she is in the process of taking on more observance and faith, and not the other way around.

One might even call this, appropriately for Sukkos, the Nisuch HaMayim - the pouring of the water - the pouring out of Mayim, the expression of Mayim.

The Rebbe's Dollar Works Its Powers For Shalit 20 Years Later

There is a nice, albeit silly, story going around. The story goes, in brief, that a Chabad couple, the Cantermans,  became very close with Noam and Aviva Shalit during the time they spent in their protest tent in Jerusalem. Many people volunteered to help the Shalit's in different ways, and the Cantermans would take a weekly turn cooking meals for the Shalit family. They would bring the food to the tent and hang out and talk with them. Over time they became close.

Before last Pesach they gave Aviva Shalit a dollar they had received 20 years earlier from the Lubavitcher Rebbe and explained to her that these dollars have a special power. From here the story changes a bit, though not significantly, and I heard 3 different versions of the rest of the story. However it exactly happened, Aviva told them that Gilad had been released, and when she had looked at the dollar she saw the date written on it - Tuesday 20 Tishrei.

Not knowing why the date was written on it, she asked the Cantermans what it meant. they explained that 20 years earlier the rebbe gave them the dollar bill. They, as many do, wrote on the bill the date they received it from the rebbe - a Tuesday on the 20th of Tishrei.

Gilad Shalit was released from captivity on a Tuesday, the 20th of Tishrei.

I am not sure what the point of the story is, though of course we believe nothing is coincidental. At first I liked the story. It's a bit of a "feel good" story - clearly the dollar from the rebbe brought them the salvation, and it was all meant to work out.

Then I was a bit ashamed that this silliness is what excites us so much.

Why didn't the bill protect Gilad in the first place? Simply because his mother had not yet held it? Why didn't it get him out from Pesach when it was given to her? Why not while in the hands of the Cantermans during the previous 5 years or so? Maybe had they given it as tzedaka, which is what I always thought was supposed to be done with the dollar from the rebbe, one could say they made a zchus through the rebbe's dollar, and the good deed of charity gave them merit for salvation, but just because she put it in her wallet?

Maybe I am missing the point of the story. Maybe there is no point.

Tehillim Ring for Jonathan Pollard

Cholim List has a Tehillim Ring on behalf of Jonathan Pollard.

You can sign up for a perek and help the entire book of tehillim be said regularly  at http://www.cholimlist.org/jonathan_pollard_worldwide_tehillim_project

Gei-Valt! At Orot (video)

Gei-Valt! At Orot

If you thought the OROT situation calmed down, it was only so because of vacation. Now that school is back in session, the hafganot of the kannoim are as well.

This video is actually not all that interesting, but there is one aspect of it that provided me with some comic relief. That was listening to the responsive calls of "Gei-Valt". It reminded me of some old zombie movie or something like that, the way they listlessly call out "Geivalt!" in unison.. Maybe they are also getting bored of their own hafganot...

This Israel (video)

This Israel

This Isreal from Matthew Brown on Vimeo.

From the description of the video on Vimeo:
A road trip straight through Israel. Had no idea what the complexities and diversity of the cultures were, but I got deeper and deeper, seeing all walks of life living together in this amazing land. The conglomerate of things happening in that tiny, but EPIC country (it's smaller than New Jersey!) packed a punch like a bustling beehive. I was overwhelmed and totally let Israel envelope me. I bonded with every flavor of person there... they were all Israeli. They were all beautiful people. (By the way, the title isn't spelled wrong, lol...read it again ;)

Oct 25, 2011

Is Gender-Segregation An Indication of Disrespect To Women?

I read an interesting editorial in the Yated Ne'eman today. They are rarely interesting, and at best they are occasionally worth reading for entertainment value alone to see who they are in the mood to attack. This one was not really that interesting either, but a specific point the writer made was interesting.

The column was attacking the people who opened a case with the Supreme Court against the gender-segregation on the streets of Mea She'arim over Sukkot in the area where the main Simchat Beit Ha'Shoeva's are concentrated. Of course it could not just criticize the attack and deal with the issue, but had to lower itself to talking about how these people come in the names of equality, respect and morality but they themselves live completely immoral lives and are bad people, etc.

Regardless of that,  it made an interesting point. The writer was saying that this segregation is done there because of the tens of thousands of people flocking down the narrow streets, and it needs to be done so as to avoid inappropriate contact. I am against gender-segregation in public areas, but I understand their point of the necessity in this specific situation.

He went on to prove, with another incident that happened over Sukkos that they hadn't had a chance to write about because they were on vacation, the respect the frum world has for women, and that segregation is not about disrespect. he pointed out that Rebbetzin Kanievsky passed away on Sukkos with little notice and her funeral drew tens of thousands of people, men mostly, who came to pay their respects and accompany her. If religion, if men, had total disrespect for women, and that is what the segregation is all about, why would the men show such respect and accord such honor to a woman?

Interesting point.

Rav Nir Ben Artzi Adds To His Predictions

Rav Nir Ben Artzi's recent predictions for an earthquake in Turkey, among other predictions, are looking pretty authentic. Not resting on his laurels, Rav Nir Ben Artzi has added to his recent set of predictions.

Regarding the recent earthquake in Turkey, he said this was only round 1, and more is on its way. Turkey, according to Rav Nir Ben Artzi, has internal strife coming, along with more earthquakes. He added that any country that will speak and act against the Jewish nation and the Holy Land will immediately be hurt.

He also said Japan has another tsunami coming. I don't know what Japan did against Israel, but maybe its troubles are not following the same rules as Turkey's troubles.

As well, he said the USA will also continue to be hit with the strong forces of nature at their full power. In Egypt, the internal strife is so far only the beginning, and the recent uprisings will flare up again and strengthen.

He repeated from previous speeches that the recently released terrorists will not return to terror. They will fight among themselves and won't find the time to act against Israel. While Gilad Shalit, without even knowing it himself, has caused a great tikkun for Am Yisrael.

Source: Kikar

I don't know how, or if, these predictions work and happen, or if these are just warnings for us to improve our ways and the "natural" results of doing so, but I find his speeches to be interesting and intriguing.

An Employer and a Pilot Step Up

I just read two articles that were both touching and encouraging. Touching in the empathy shown and encouraging in the sense of what people are capable of doing for others.

1. Iscar, the employer of Noam Shalit, has been silent throughout the 5.5 years that Gilad was in captivity and Noam was fighting for his release. nobody knew about what Iscar was doing for Noam and Gilad. Now that the ordeal is over, they have spoken up. Not only is what they did so good, but their belief in others is encouraging - they believe they did nothing special, but any employer would have done the same.

Iscar, owned by the Wertheimer brothers, continued paying Noam Shalit's salary the entire time he was fighting for his son's release, without Noam showing up for work. And they had no idea how long it would take, but they had committed to do so regardless of how long it would take. And they believe they did nothign special, and any employer would do the same.

Besides for the salary, they made an apartment in Jerusalem available to the Shalit's for whenever they would need it, along with paying for many of the expenses along the way.

Would any other employer have done the same? Perhaps. I don't know. I would like to believe so. I would at least like to believe that any employer would do as much as he could for as long as he could, though it is obvious that not every employer has such resources available to actually do so for an unlimited amount of time.
Source: Ynetnews

2. The plot that flew Gilad Shalit home after his release had specifically requested to be the pilot for that flight. Why? Because his father had been the pilot on the flight from which Ron Arad disappeared 25 years ago.

The connection sends shivers up my spine.
source: Ynetnews

8th Day Sing Yalili With Lipa (video)

8th Day Sing Yalili With Lipa

Im Eshkakech Yerushalayim - Yaakov Shwekey and Shira Chadasha (video)

Im Eshkakech Yerushalayim - Yaakov Shwekey and Shira Chadasha

Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

My one request of Israel now that I have been released is to be allowed to finish the university degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which I began while in prison. 
They [future terrorists] have a great experience and greater power, and their fighting spirit is greater than ours, we are proud to have created a generation that will continue with the battle and go further, and Allah willing they will achieve victory.

  --- Mohammed Sharatha, one of recently released terrorists, in interview to Channel 10 News

Oct 24, 2011

Interesting Posts #313

Interesting Posts #313

1. Angry Female IDF Soldiers Walk Out of Segregated Torah Dancing

2. The Assassin's Brother

3. Separate Sex Sidewalks

4. Rosh Hanikra

5. First Stamps From Eretz Yisrael

6. Longing For The Dawn

Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

I am jealous of your people that respect life and are willing to release 1027 murderers to free one soldier.

 ---Musaab Hassan Yousef, the "Green Prince", son of one of the leaders of Hamas in Gaza said to Assistant Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a pro-Israel conference in Germany

Raising The Price of Gilad Shalit

I don't really get it. It was difficult enough to come to terms with the deal to release 1,027 Palestinian terrorists, some of whom were responsible for extremely grisly murders of Israelis, and now we are considering releasing more?

Mahmoud Abbas announced the other day that he expects Israel to now release several hundred, up to 2000, more Palestinian prisoners, from the Fatah organization, being held in Israeli jails. he claims that former prime minister Ehud Olmert had agreed to such a release that would be coordinated after the release of Gilad Shalit, though it was, so he claims, specifically requested to be kept secret at the time, so as "not to harm negotiations" for Shalit's release.

And Israel is actually considering agreeing to this demand as a goodwill gesture. I am not sure what kind of goodwill we are trying to engender, as Abbas has been refusing to sit with us and negotiate ever since Netanyahu took office, despite construction freezes and other goodwill gestures. What will another goodwill gesture get us?

All we are doing is raising the price of Gilad Shalit from 1027 to 1527 or 2027 or whatever the final number will be. For no real point or gain. "Strengthen Abbas", "Strengthen Fatah", "Strengthen the PA", yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah - we have heard it all already, we have tried it all already, and none of it has ever advanced us to anything closer to peace. At least, for now, most of the cabinet is opposed to the idea.

Israel and Hamas

A Guest Post by Dr. Harold Goldmeier

Hamas and the Israel decided it is time to settle terms for the release of Gilad Shalit. Why now after years of negotiations and countless negotiators? What happened to push the deal forward?

The Israeli soldier was kidnapped five years ago. Hamas fighters either sneaked across the border from Gaza or tunneled underground to the Israeli side of the border and captured Shalit. He was held in a dungeon with little exposure to other people, to sunlight, and had no contact with Red Cross representatives or Shalit’s family. Occasionally, Hamas paraded him before cameras to demonstrate that Israel is not an all powerful a foe, and that Hamas was keeping him alive. That is important, because Shalit is the first captive publicly returned alive. The Israelis feared Shalit’s days were numbered, as negotiations dragged on year after year, and his appearance upon release prove their fears to be well founded.

Hamas held strong to its peremptory demands for the release of thousands of prisoners from Israeli jails, especially all the women, regardless of their complicity in the murder of Israeli civilians. Palestinian prisoners get regular visits from Red Cross officials, sports and exercise, many have cell phones, and family visits. Israel refused to free terrorists with civilians’ blood on their hands or easing the blockade of Gaza, while Shalit remained in captivity. Israel demanded Hamas crackdown on rockets firing from Gaza into Israeli cities. There were reports over the years that third parties like the U.S. might release Jonathan Pollard, or some Arab and European countries might release some of their prisoners to expedite a swap. Negotiations kept failing.

Complicating matters, it was rumored that Egypt’s former leader Mubarak and the Palestinian Authority’s Abbas steadfastly opposed Israeli concessions that would aggrandize Hamas’ power and prestige in the Arab streets. Friends and relatives of Israel’s victims oppose this and all previous deals for Shalit’s release wanting justice and fearing freed terrorists will kill Israelis again.

The agony of a kidnapped Jew wore on the people of Israel and Jews around the world. Every day, media reported on his captivity and of his parents’ struggles to keep pressuring the government to bring Gilad home. Eventually, two-thirds of Israelis came to favor a prisoner release for his freedom. The Israel Defense Forces ethos is to never leave a soldier behind. Finally, and not be given short shrift, is the faith of the Jewish people who prayed daily for Gilad’s release. There is a religious obligation of every Jew to pray, pay ransom, and do whatever else possible to ensure the safe return of a Jew still alive, being held captive: twice each week they beg God from the entire family of Israel, for those who are delivered into distress and captivity, whether they are on sea or dry land for mercy on them to be removed from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now speedily and soon.

These are some of the reasons and conditions that readied a deal to be made now. Politically, Israel foresees the election of a Muslim Brotherhood dominated government in Egypt that might eviscerate the cold peace Israel and Egypt have enjoyed for over three decades. Europe is preoccupied with the looming economic collapse of so many economies on their continent that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are just too hoary and distracting. Israeli leaders believe that President Obama played his strongest hand threatening a U.S. veto at the U.N. in the face of Arab anger for Palestinian statehood effectively diminishing its influence to force the Palestinians to do anything. Israel and Hamas awoke to an opportunity handed them by the Palestinian Authority when Abbas refused to hearken to the pleas of Hamas, Israel, U. S., and European leaders, not to request statehood at the U.N. for Palestine.

Hamas leaders were furious at Abbas for institutionalizing the two-state solution through U.N. legitimacy, thereby legitimizing the State of Israel as a Jewish state. President Abbas came to stand center stage with a tough speech at the U.N. podium; he was hailed as a founding father, a hero to his intellectual sympathizers, a leader with vision and guts. He returned home to his picture on banners, throngs of joyous Palestinians singing his praises from Ramallah to Detroit. Palestinian journalist Bassem Barhoum effusively predicted Abbas had nudged Arafat’s legacy to the side establishing his own legacy in Palestinian history books.

Abbas stuck it to them all, especially Hamas, at a time when Kristen Chick, writing in The Christian Science Monitor, reported that the popularity of Hamas “has fallen to a new low due because of its opposition to a bid for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.” Its fundamentalist Muslim ideology is not popular at home. Hamas’ high taxes on its people are oppressive. Gazans endure poverty, because Hamas holds out for the destruction of Israel rather than coexisting with her. West Bank Palestinians enjoy economic benefits and a high standard of living. Hamas, reports Chick, is down in the dumps of political respectability, and “is steadily losing support among Gaza's 1.6 million residents after winning elections in 2006 and violently ousting its secular rival, Fatah, the following year.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his anger at President Abbas for his mendacity in taking his case to what Netanyahu called the House of Liars. Israel has few friends in the U.N., because of what Harry Truman called that dirty three letter word—oil. At the U. N., Abbas refused again to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or negotiate without preconditions. Netanyahu took it all that personally, and in his speech following that of Abbas, the Prime Minister observed that Abbas comes before the U.N. “armed only with (Palestinian’s) hopes and dreams.” Then his anger and cynicism were revealed: “Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.”

The timing of a deal was just right. Israel got Shalit back alive making Netanyahu a leader standing tall to Israelis and world Jewry. Hamas took the wind out of Abbas’ sails; the green and white flags of Hamas dominated the streets in Gaza and West Bank cities; the President of the P.A. did not even appear when over a thousand Palestinian prisoners returned to Gaza and West Bank cities, and most of those released were Hamas members with few Fatah loyalists having been released. Hamas will never miss an opportunity to outshine the P.A. What better way than to boost the prestige of the enemy of my enemy?

Hamas is celebrating, but they accomplished what the P.A. failed to do. Netanyahu persuaded his recalcitrant Cabinet to exchange a thousand for one. Israel welcomed Shalit home with warmth and thankfulness. The most joy, however, permeates the government offices of Hamas and the Knesset. Mr. Abbas and his supporters might now understand the popular American expression: revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold.

Dr. Harold Goldmeier Chicago, Ill. hgoldmeier@aol.com Dr. Goldmeier was a
teacher, a Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University earning a Doctorate in Education, and taught as an Assistant Professor at Tufts Medical School. He worked in government for three Governors, the U. S. Surgeon General, and in children and youth advocacy for nearly two decades. He is a writer and is president of a marketing firm.

Comparison Of Prisoners Post-Release

Haaretz ran some pictures of Gilad and Noam Shalit spending some time on the beach this past Shabbos. They came under criticism for having invaded their privacy. I don't see it as such a big deal. For 5.5 years Gilad was, rightfully so, turned into a ben bayit of every single house in Israel and by many Jews around the world. Our interest in him is not going to disappear the moment he gets released. Personally I am happy he is recuperating, and don't really feel the need to see images of him all the time, but I can understand why it interests the general Israeli community.

Anyway, when I saw the pictures, I thought that it is interesting comparing other images I saw of some of the released terrorists, and how they are getting back into some sort of normal life patterns. So here is the comparison.

Gilad Shalit with is father Noam on the beach. 

Hamed Ja'Idi receiving Islamic Jihad uniform and weapons.
Make of it what you will.

VZakeni - Baruch Levine and Shira Chadasha Boys Choir (video)

VZakeni - Baruch Levine and Shira Chadasha Boys Choir

Song for Gilad's release - Welcome home from Yonatan Razel (video)

Song for Gilad's release - Welcome home from Yonatan Razel

Oct 23, 2011

Interesting Posts #312

Interesting Posts #312

1. What's under The Me'Arat HaMachpela, Part 1.

2. An unusual Tiyul, and Praying For Rain

3. Bat Yam Promenade

4. Man Claiming To Be Mashiach Interrupts Rav Ovadiah

5. How Long Should Hakafos be? - I was thinking about writing about this as well. My kids davened in a vasikin minyan and said there were about 200 people there. i davened in a shul other than my regular one to avoid the legnthy shlepped out hakafos (and leining). I was told about another local shul that a friend stopped in by at about 9:30 pm to see what they were doing as he heard them singing as he walked by - they were still doing the hakafos but only about 15 people were dancing while 85% of the shul had either left early or [mostly] were waiting along the sides. One could say that one day a year people can show some extra patience and respect, but I think there is an issue of tircha d'tzibura, and people just don't want such long hakafot. Is it any less respectful to want hakafor that last 5 minutes each, or 10 minutes each than wanting hakafot that last 15 or 20 minutes each, or longer?

6. Do Politicians Really Believe What they Say?

7. Baseball and the Jews

8. Bein Hazmanim Advice to Kollel Yungerleit

9. He Learned To Love Chazzanut

10. Keshet Cave

11. The Kotel HaKattan

Earthquake in Turkey, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi Predicted It

The innocent civilians of Turkey are not at fault for the idiocy of the government, and specifically of their prime minister Erdogan. Of course, they voted him in, and re-elected him again, so in a sense they do bear a certain responsibility, knowing and obviously approving of his policies and his attacks on Israel.

Still, I don't wish upon the people trouble and distress, though I wish upon the government all the trouble it can possibly encounter. Today's earthquake is an example of that - a 7.2 on the Richter scale that hit in Eastern Turkey. I feel for the people, and I expect Israel will offer assistance as they always do, but my empathy is tempered because of the way the government has recently been acting, turnign us into enemies.

And the supporters of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi are saying that his predictions are right once again, as he recently predicted such tzurres in Turkey (along with many other calamities in the coming year). I want to know who he thinks will win the Super Bowl. He might be better than Paul the Octopus!

Interesting Psak: Don't Watch Srugim

I have heard rabbis say that one cannot, or should not, watch television, for a variety of reasons. I have heard rabbis say television is ok as long as the shows watched are educational, sports, news, modest, etc. I don't remember ever hearing a rabbi discuss one specific show and issue a ruling regarding that one show.

Srugim is a well-acclaimed Israeli television show depicting the singles scene in the Dati Leumi community of Jerusalem, centered in what is known as the beetzah, or the swamp, in the Katamonim neighborhood. The show focuses on a group of friends and follow them through their dating, marriage and social interactions.

Srugim just entered its third season airing on television, and has been a very popular show.

Someone asked Rav Baruch Efrati whether it is ok to watch or not. The questioner says that she and her friends were all addicted to Srugim, and have watched the entire series in its previous seasons. She writes that they connect to the personalities portrayed by the show. However, not being secular, they want to know if it is allowed to watch the show or not. She says they are in 10th grade, and some of their teachers also watch the show, while others do not, so they do not know if it is really ok or not.

Definitely an interesting question. Though, she does not write what she bases her question on - she does not say it is immodest, or inappropriate or whatever else she might suspect is a problem. If it is ok to watch television, which I presume she believes it is allowed, then I don't see why she is asking about this specific television show. Unless, that is, she asks about every show she watches.

Rav Baruch Efrati responded with a very long letter about the show. I'll be brief, though you can see the entire response on Moreshet. He says that he opposes the show from both a halachic perspective and from a cultural perspective.

Rav Efrati says he watched a number of episodes and was impressed with how likeable and facinating the show was, along with professional from a theatrical perspective. He also liked the way the shows portrays the community as normal people, and considers that important for the general public to see.

From a halachic perspective, one cannot watch a guy and a girl touching in a prohibited atmosphere, as it causes erotic thoughts. More so, there is a problem with giving the appearance that these are the norms in the Religious Zionist community. Unfortunately, it happens, but to make it into the norm, where people who are tempted will now say it is ok as I saw it happen on Srugim - that is no good.

He writes that we know the temptations, and those who succumb to them, exist, but we do not need to turn it into a television drama where we see details of touching nida and homosexuality There is a great temptation and attraction to watch the show... but one must be strong and not watch it, as most likely in the new season there will also be images that are not allowed halachically to be watched. Only if in this season the halacha will be kept and will not cause a decrease in yirat shamayim both on a personal and communal level will there be no problem watching it.

The show causes encouragement of a culture of treating tzniyut and building a normal and healthy family unit with little importance. It causes an atmosphere that is forbidden - one of confusion and allowance, that even if it happens sometimes, it need not be encouraged.... The creators of the show, some of whom are religious, tried to stay within Torani standards, and to refrain from creating problematic scenes, but they chose not to. We too should choose to not watch it.

So, be strong and do not watch the show. Even if it is difficult.

A very interesting halachic analysis of a show about religious people.

Haredi Against Their Will - Take Responsibility

As a sort of follow-up article to the article that AMI Magazine ran a while back regarding the "Orthoprax" issue, Sam Sokol has investigated the issue of how common the "Ultra-Orthodox who behind closed doors don't believe" issue really is.

I don't know if it is as common as he concludes in his JPost article, or if more common than that or less common. He also does not do any real scientific study, though the anecdotal eveidence he gleans from the people he spoke to is very interesting, and from a sociological standpoint this would probably make a very interesting study. I can accept all his findings without flinching. The only issue I have is the title he uses - "Haredi Against Their Will".

Just because someone chooses to continue living a Haredi lifestyle despite not believing in it does not make it against his will. Nobody has forced them to make that choice, at least not in many of the cases. They can just as easily choose to live according to their beliefs and choose a different lifestyle, whether it is within another stream of Judaism or of it is completely non-religious, atheist, agnostic or whatever.

That someone chooses to live a lifestyle they don't believe in does not automatically make it against their will. They chose to do so, because they decided the benefits of staying outwardly Haredi outweigh the detriments of switching to an outwardly different lifestyle.

People need to take responsibility for their lives. If a person wants to be not-religious, I have no problem with that. Don't blame everyone else for your choosing to hide and not live by what you believe. Take responsibility. You want to be Haredi, for whatever reason, be so. You want to be something else, do it.

Source: Haredi Against Their Will 

Exploring For Diamonds Based on Faith

I saw this news report the other day and was a combination of impressed and amazed by the background.

The report was about a diamond mining company, called Shefa Yamim, being merged with another company. They themselves have unsuccessfully tried to go public in the past.

The background mentioned in the newspaper is that Shefa Yamim was established by a Chabadnik  based completely on the fact that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had said, and they quote "In Haifa there is a sea. People should not be concerned that it is deep - that is the uniqueness of Haifa - that it has a sea and that it has depth and in that depth there are very valuable stones. Hashem did an amazing thing: He hid them there, in the depths underground, deep in the river."

The company, Shefa Yamim, believes the rebbe's words to mean the presence of diamonds in the area of Nahal Kishon, which is actually south-east of Haifa close to Afula.

I am both amazed and impressed by this. Amazed and impressed that they would invest all that money to explore for diamonds and other fancy stones based only on the word of the rebbe. I hope they find it and their emunas chachomim is validated.

Tour Har HaBayit With Me, From My Visit on Hoshanna Rabba 5772 (video)

Tour Har HaBayit With Me, From My Visit on Hoshanna Rabba 5772

I went up to Har HaBayit on Hoshanna Rabba afternoon. I video'ed most of the walk around, in addition to the Kotel before going up. You can now take a virtual tour of Har HaBayit, joining me on my Hoshanna Rabba aliyah!

Highlights of the video, besides for Har HaBayit itself, are a lulav that is about 3 meters tall (I wonder how he got that in the bus or car!), and the fellow at the end who got arrested for waving an arava. It's not on video, but I got to do hishtachavaya twice, near the end of the eastern path, despite being closely guarded most of the time by the police and Waqf official.

If you are only viting Har HaBayit virtually, maybe you can offer a virtual prayer. But be careful - if you get caught openly praying you might get virtually arrested!

Now You Are Here - (subtitles) Arik Einstein and Guy Bocati (video)

Now You Are Here - (subtitles) Arik Einstein and Guy Bocati

The great Israeli singer Arik Einstein wrote this song in honor of Gilad Shalit's release..

Oct 19, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Quote Of The Day

In many cases, it doesn’t need to reach a court. Soldiers could simply shoot to kill instead of doing their utmost to bring terrorists in alive, without giving the matter too much publicity. It happened in the past.

  -- Former Chief Rabbi of IDF Avichai Ronsky

Pictures Of The Day

Pictures Of The Day

It was just too difficult to chose one out of the many, so here are a few monumental pictures of the day's events..

Some Video Of Gilad Shalit Release (video)

Some Video Of Gilad Shalit Release

8th Day Yalili (video)

8th Day Yalili

This is a live performance of Yalili by 8th Day. What can i say - it is just not the same without the dancing fish...

Oct 18, 2011

Gilad Shalit Saga Is Over

This blog will soon be back to its regular programming. Today I simply did not have the energy to blog, after the emotions of watching Gilad Shalit being returned home.

Israel stood at a standstill today. Nothing else happened in Israel, and nothing else that happened anywhere else in the world mattered - Gilad was being released.

Gilad is now back with us. the saga is over - at least the public aspect of it is. For Gilad and his family there is still going to be a long process of recuperation and recovery. I hope the future holds only good things in store for all of Israel and for the Shalit family and Gilad. I was impressed by Gilad's maturity and self-discipline. At a time when he probably just wanted everyone to leave him alone so he could be with his family, he dealt with the ceremonies, the interviews, the emotions and the people with grace and dignity. I trust he is well-equipped to deal with whatever the future has in store for him.

Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

Walking through the narrow pathways of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Arab Shuk yesterday among the crowds helped me imagine what it must have been like in the times when the masses of Jews would be oleh l'regel...

Oct 17, 2011

Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi on The Shalit Deal

Yesterday I saw Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi's parsha sheet for Shabbat Hol HaMoed. The article was focused on his predictions for the coming year, though he did not really say anything specific. Rabbi Ben Artzi did say that the coming year would bring tragedies and natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes and others, that would be much harsher than those of previous years. Of course he also spoke about the safety of being in Eretz Yisrael, and the threat of war which would not amount to anything.

Kikar reported that he also weighed in on the "Shalit Deal" - the agreement to release Gilad Shalit. Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi said:
With God's help no harm will come to the deal and he will be released on Tuesday and will arrive in Eretz Yisrael.  Some like it, and some don't like it and ask "Why?", but Hashem is the one who did this. Not the prime minister and not anyone else in the world - they didn't bring him to Eretz Yisrael.
Why did Gilad Shalit not come back three years ago? It is the same plan. Rather, the world was not ready for it back then. If these thousand would have been released then, wherever they would have been put - they would have caused great destruction, so Hashem decided only now to do this. If the deal had happened three years ago, they would have organized themselves and made a balagan 100 times worse than they can now.
Now they will destroy themselves, they will fight with each other, they will fight over who will rule. They will come to Gaza and will receive great honor, the honor of kings. In the end they will fight and consume each other - this is the plan of Hashem. Everyone can calm down - this is what Hashem has decided.
Am Yisrael should accept it with great love, that this should be successful. Now it is very fitting that there should be bracha and hatzlacha. Those thousand that are being released - their sword will come to their hearts and they will each consume the other.

Toronto Rabbi Arrested For Fraud Turns Out To Be a...

A rabbi in Toronto, Avraham David, was just arrested for fraud. Turns out the fraud, to the tune of 25,000 immigration applications at a few of $30,000 each, does not even include the fact that he was not actually a rabbi or even Jewish! Rabbi Avraham David's real name is Earl Seth David and for years ran a law firm in Manhattan through which he committed his immigration fraud. David had taken the identity of a religious Jew named Avraham David  who had moved away from new York, and adopted th identity.

David as a rabbi seemed to be involved in Torah codes. According to The Globe and Mail (the other articles I read deal more with the fraud and little about David's background as a rabbi):
At his home in a largely Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in North York, Rabbi Avraham David lived the life of a scholar, writing treatises on the Torah and indulging his passion for numerology. He said a code within the holy texts contained everything from predictions on current events to a recipe for an oil that could cure male pattern baldness. Mr. David had written a book on the topic and, for a small fee, would also interpret people’s dreams.
In online postings, Mr. David said he was the scion of a dynasty of Hassidic Jewish leaders. Among his ancestors, he wrote, were Moshe Langner and Solomon Langner, a prominent Orthodox rabbi in Toronto during the mid-20th century at the Kiever Shul in Kensington Market.
From Toronto, Mr. David continued to sell his 2003 Torah book, Code of the Heart, gave interviews on numerology and penned missives on the hidden meanings within weekly Torah portions. He kept a pet parrot and became involved with a small Orthodox congregation downtown.

Online, he commented on current affairs, writing that last year’s earthquake in Haiti was a sign that Israel should “take heed and be fearful” and criticizing a Jewish blogger for writing about crimes committed by Jews.

Just three months ago, Mr. David bought a half-million-dollar house near Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue on a street of well-appointed, detached brick homes. The property is registered to him and Salome Fernandez Palomo. A woman who answered the phone at the home Wednesday evening hung up immediately.
Any of you Torontonians know him or more about this?

Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner
Ivanka Trump and hubby Jared Kushner walking with the baby, carrying the lulav and esrog...

Shakin' the Lulav (video)

Shakin' the Lulav

Sorry for sharing again, but I get a kick out of this video each time I see it...

"Peace through strength AND clarity" Herman Cain on Israel, foreign policy and strategy towards Iran (video)

"Peace through strength AND clarity" Herman Cain on Israel, foreign policy and strategy towards Iran

Jewish NYC: Matisyahu Exclusive (video)

Jewish NYC: Matisyahu Exclusive

Oct 16, 2011

Sukkot and Gilad Shalit

I have had very mixed emotions over the past couple of days, ever since the deal to free Gilad Shalit was announced, and especially since Friday.

While wanting, and expecting, our government to do everything in its power to free Gilad Shalit, releasing over a thousand terrorists, many of whom were directly involved in numerous murders of Israelis, was, for me, considered too high a price to pay. 1 for 1000? murderers? Putting so many other Israelis at risk? Make a better deal. I did not support it until now.

On the other hand, we have a human life, Gilad Shalit, that can be immediately saved, while the risk is a future, and only a risk - not the definite murder of Israelis.

I think everyone grappled with the same struggles and what to support throughout the ordeal. I decided the pressure should be directed toward the international community, the Red Cross, Hamas, The Palestinian Authority, the supporters of Hamas and/or PA, etc. rather than towards the Israeli government. That is why I personally did not join in protest marches and other events along the way - they were directing the pressure at the Israeli government to be more flexible, i.e. to release more terrorists.

However, now that the deal has been signed, and it seems to pass all the legal issues, unless by a miracle the opponents get their petition to the court accepted, it is time, I think, to accept it, and welcome Gilad Shalit home, despite the price. It is not his fault, and he nor his family should be treated with any disrespect. They did what they had to do. Just the opposite - Gilad Shalit will, and so he should, be welcomed with open arms and will be given a hero's welcome.

Yet it still worries me as to what the future holds as a result of this deal. The government and IDF must be responsible, must prevent future kidnappings, increase security and do whatever is necessary.

On Friday my friend was arrested for vandalizing the Rabin memorial at Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv./ He did so out of great anger and frustration, as the terrorist who helped kill his parents and siblings in the Sbarro bombing is being released as part of this deal. That increased my emotional turbulence. I cannot even imagine what he is, or what any of the bereaved families are, going through, as they see the murderers of their relatives go free. What to think now? I don't know. My heart goes out to them, but I don't know what can be done. It is very difficult.

Last night I laid in the sukkah going to sleep, looking up at the sky through the schach and internalizing the lessons I keep reading and hearing about sukkot. the flimsiness of the hut we are temporarily living in to teach us the frailty of life, the temporariness of worldly possessions and the fact that everything is given and taken by God in Heaven. Only He can protect us or let us fall prey to our enemy. The government and the army are but tools in His hands, and while not necessarily understanding how he chooses to do this or that, everything is fleeting and it is Hashem we must beseech for clarity and security.

Picture Of The Day

Picture of The Day

Rav Chaim Kanievsky at the funeral last night of Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky a"h

Andy Statman: My Hollywood Girls (from Old Brooklyn) (video)

Andy Statman: My Hollywood Girls (from Old Brooklyn)

Shakin The Lulav (video)

Shakin The Lulav

Another great holiday video from David Bar Cohen and Rebbetzin Tap...

Oct 14, 2011

PSA: Bus From Bet Shemesh To Kever Yosef

From the local email list...

Bezrat HaShem there will be an IDF authorized and escorted bus going from Beit Shemesh to Kever Yosef HaTzadik on Monday night, the19th of Tishrei (17/10/2011).

The bus will leave from BMTL (Asher corner of Reuven) at 23:00 and will return at approximately 3:45 am.
The cost is 60 shekels per seat and seats are available on a first come first served basis.
To order please contactdan at dan@zomet.org or 0524-295-294

PM Netanyahu's Speech At Opening Of Special Cabinet Meeting To Vote on Releasing Gilad Shalit (video)

PM Netanyahu's Speech At Opening Of Special Cabinet Meeting To Vote on Releasing Gilad Shalit

This is a momentous speech. Especially interesting is from about 7 minutes up until the end..

Chaim Dovid Sarachik - Shivas Ha'Ro'im - the Ushpizin Song (video)

Chaim Dovid Sarachik - Shivas Ha'Ro'im - the Ushpizin Song

A Beautiful Song In Honor Of Gilad Shalit Coming Home (video)

A Beautiful Song In Honor Of Gilad Shalit Coming Home

Oct 12, 2011

"Shake Well" - A Sukkot Surprise (video)

"Shake Well" - A Sukkot Surprise

The Elephant and the Sukka on Yarkon Street (video)

The Elephant and the Sukka on Yarkon Street

Did The Iryah of Bet Shemesh Really Remove Tzedaka Boxes?

I decided to write a follow-up to the post a couple days ago about the Iryah removing tzedaka boxes from the bus stops.

The next day I was at a bus stop and one could clearly see that the tzedaka boxes had been removed. First of all, they were no longer there. Second of all, you could see the damage done to the bus stop due to the shaving off of the box.

count 5 tzedaka boxes

Yesterday in the evening I was at a different bus stop, and there were 5, that's right - 5, tzedaka boxes attached to various parts of the bus stop. I wondered if maybe the Iryah had missed this bus stop or if perhaps after they were all removed, the organizations simply drove around and put them back up. I decided against option number 2, as if there were one or two local boxes that might make sense, but 5 different organizations got their act together that quickly and immediately drove around to various bus stops and put them back? That was too much to believe.

As the bus made its way around the neighborhood, I paid partial attention to the bus stops on the route. While there were a few with no boxes, most had 4 or 5 boxes welded on.

So, I do not know quite what the Iryah actually did, and I don't know what Chadash and the tzedaka organizations were making such a big deal out of. Maybe in one specific neighborhood they were removed, or maybe from certain bus stops. I don't know. But for the most part in RBS they are still there.

As an aside, there was one tzedaka box, and I noticed it at many of the bus stops I looked at, that does not even have any name on it. No contact number, no name of organization, nothing. Is it even tzedaka? Maybe some enterprising person just put it up to collect his own private money.

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