Friday, October 25, 2013

Kahane Memorial: 23 Years

It's hard to believe but it has been 23 years since Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered. Last night I had the privilege of attending the annual memorial. The place was packed! There were many young people there who were born long after the rabbi was murdered. Here are a few pics.

Adv. Itamar Ben-Gvir:

Baruch Marzel:

South Tel Aviv activist May Golan:

Recently elected Jerusalem City Councilman Arye King:

Dr. Michael Ben-Ari:

Among other things, Dr. Ben-Ari requested from Arye King that King George Street in Jerusalem be renamed Rabbi Meir Kahane Street. Let's see what happens.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jerusalem Municipal Election Thoughts

His prayers were answered:

Nir Barkat was reelected. It was a tough race. Arye Deri and Avigdor Lieberman banded together to unseat Barkat. They thought that they found the man for the job: Moshe Lion. The idea was that all of the ultra-Orthodox community will unite behind the kippah-clad Lion. Many in the national religious camp would vote for him too, as he is "one of them". All that was needed was to convince enough seculars to desert Barkat, and the election would be in the bag.

The plan almost worked. However, the ultra-Orthodox public did not unite 100% for Lion. Some large Hasidic courts did not endorse him. The Bnei Torah faction even ran a candidate of their own for mayor. The final result is five more years of Barkat. Personally, I think that he has been a decent mayor and I hope that he will continue to be fair to all of the different sectors in Jerusalem.

In the council, it is interesting to note that the "United Jerusalem" faction got more mandates (2) than the Jewish Home (1). I hope that Naftali Bennett is paying attention: his attempt to force his cronies on the national religious public here was unsuccessful. I also have a feeling that many voted against the Jewish Home to protest the covenant on the national level with "Yesh Atid".

Rabbi Shmuel Orbach's Bnei Torah faction got a seat in the council which is no small feat. The Tov party, which is just a reincarnation of Po'alei Agudat Yisrael, did not get a seat. Too bad, I was rooting for them even thought I did not vote for them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef Blesses His Son Rabbi Ya'akov

A week before Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef zt"l passed away, his father zt"l tearfully blesses him:

Rabinfest 2013: Martin Sherman Sets the Record Straight

A taste:
The perception of a positive Oslo-related Rabinesque “heritage” can only be maintained by pervasive distortion, deception and deceit. For the Oslo Accords were an act of moral turpitude that by any rational criterion of common sense and common decency should bring dishonor to anyone associated with it. It was an egregious, imbecilic blunder that precipitated all the tragedy its opponents warned of, and none of the benefits its proponents promised.

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef on Rabbi Kook: "He Was an Angel of the Lord of Hosts"

I saw an interesting video at Kikar HaShabbat. In the video Rabbi Yosef's grandson Rabbi Yaakov Sasson tells his grandfather about a book that disparages Rabbi Kook. Rabbi Sasson protested against what was written and wanted to know what his grandfather's opinion was. Here is what Rabbi Ovadiah said:
כן, בוודאי היה אדם גדול. אסור לדבר עליו. הוא היה צדיק יסוד עולם. חכם יהודה צדקה הלכתי אתו פעם למרכז הרב, היה עושה שמחה תודה, הוא היה רוקד. הוא אמר לי (על הריא"ה קוק. י-כ) 'מלאך ה' צבאות', מלאך ה' צבאות, חכם יהודה צדקה לא היה מהמזרחי
Certainly he (Rabbi Kook) was a great man. It is forbidden to speak (badly) about him. He was a righteous man, a foundation of the world, Hacham Yehudah Tzadka, I went with him once to Merkaz HaRav, it was Simchat Torah, he would dance. He told me that (Rabbi Kook) is "An angel of the Lord of Hosts". An angel of the Lord of Hosts. Hacham Yehudah was not from the Mizrachi .
Many people commented on the clip. Some of them mentioned that there is nothing new in the clip, as Rabbi Kook is mentioned in all eleven volumes of Yabi'a Omer (Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's responsa), where is is referred to as Mara D'Ar'a D'Yisrael, the master of the land of Israel.

Update: Here's the clip:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jerusalem Municipal Elections

It;s election time again. Next Tuesday Jerusalem residents will have the opportunity to vote for the mayor and city council.

Unlike the last time around, I'm not to emotionally involved in these elections. I am not excited about voting for or against somebody. Nir Barkat turned out to be a pretty good mayor. As far as I can tell, he has dealt fairly with the various different population sectors here in Jerusalem.

Barkat's main rival in these elections is Moshe Leon. It has been said that politics makes strange bedfellows. Here in Israel, political arch-enemies Arye Deri and Avigdor Lieberman joined forces to run Moshe Leon against Barkat. Leon seems to be a decent guy, but he is an outsider (from Givatayim) who only recently moved here. It is hard for me to get excited about such a candidate, even if he wears a kippah on his head.

The elections for the council also leave very little to be excited about. The National Religious public is running under (at least) two parties. One party is the Bayit Yehudi. The other is the United Jerusalem list headed by Shmuel Shekedi and Arye King. United Torah Judaism has splintered into three different parties: UTJ, Bnei Torah and Tov. Shas remains united and I expect them to do well in the elections. Unity usually pays off.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rabinfest 2013: Yuval Rabin and His Father's Legacy

It's that time of year again! Today is the Yahrzeit of Yitzhak Rabin, according to the Jewish calendar. From last Saturday night and until the 4th of November (the day Rabin died according to the Gregorian calendar) , the Israeli Left and the Israeli MSM will be celebrating Rabinfest.

What would a festival be without a clown? Although I have not seen the Rabinfest organizers hiring professional clowns, there is always a leftist who is willing to beclown himself/herself for free. This year's festival has just begun, and it already has its first gratis clown, who is none other than the late Prime Minister's son, Yuval Rabin.

No, Yuval was not trying to be funny. He was absolutely serious. However, when one says ridiculous things with a straight face, it can be comical:

He then launched into criticism of those who link Oslo to terrorism. “To argue that terrorism happened because of Oslo is cynical and deliberately wicked,” he accused. “The escalation of terrorism is an ongoing process, and various factors did ‘contribute’ to it, but one thing is consistently clear – those who commit terrorism are against compromise.”
No good deed should go unrecognized, so I would like to thank Yuval Rabin for bringing a smile to my face. Who in the world are you trying to fool, Yuval Rabin? You cannot fool me, for I have been here in Israel long before the Oslo Accords. I remember Israel before the accords and after. Nobody claims or claimed that there was not terrorism before the Oslo Agreements. However, only a buffoon can claim they did not cause a sharp rise in terrorism. As the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted way back in 1998:
More Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terrorists in the 5 years since the first Oslo agreement was signed in September 1993 than in the 15 preceding years, the Government Press Office (GPO) has announced.

A total of 279 men, women and children have been killed in 92 lethal attacks by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accords. This does not include victims of attacks launched by Lebanese-based terror organizations or incidents along Israel's borders.

So who is Yuval Rabin trying to fool? He cannot fool God. He cannot fool me either! If he is trying to fool himself....well, never mind.

Yuval Rabin did not always make me smile. In fact, one time I was truly embarrassed for him. It happened during his father's funeral. I was sitting at my desk at work in downtown Jerusalem, listening to the funeral on the radio. It was time for the son to recite Kaddish. Yuval Rabin totally mangled it, apparently thinking that the Aramaic words in the prayer were in Hebrew. His stuttered rendition was even more garbled than that of a second generation American Jew in a Conservative Temple reading the transliteration from the Silverman siddur. Yes, the thought that the entire nation and Jews all over the world heard this made me cringe in my seat. The son of the slain Prime Minister, ostensibly an educated man, does not even know how to say Kaddish!

This was the true legacy of Yitzchak Rabin and so many other secular Zionists: children woefully ignorant of their own heritage. Thousands of years of Torah and ethics were traded in for a dry nationalism combined with socialism, army service and speaking Hebrew: an Israeli version of "bagels and lox" Judaism, which like its American cousin has gradually evolved into a bizarre combination of liberalism and crass materialisim. What a sad joke!

May God save us such clowns and their [self] deceptions.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Land For Peace and Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef zt"l

Since Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has passed away much has been written about his great legacy. Many have mentioned that Rav Ovadiah gave the halachic basis for the Oslo Accords when he ruled that it is permissible to surrender land for peace. They don't mention the rabbis who disagreed with him on this matter (for instance his friend and colleague Rav Avraham Shapira zt"l). What's worse is that they do not mention that Rabbi Ovadiah himself wrote that his psak does not apply to our current situation here in the land of Israel.

I have translated, to the best of my ability, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's letter on this matter. (You can see the original here). I hope that I have faithfully conveyed his message:


23 Shevat 5763 (26 January '03)

To our dear and honored brothers of the house of Israel, residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip,

May God be upon you and may you live, may your peace be grow eternally.

It is my desire to make clear my positon with regards to Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

I have already explained on more than one occasion that the legal decision that I rendered regarding "territory for peace" is not at all valid regarding the current situation. I had intended only ( a situation of ) true peace, where Jerusalem and its environs dwell in safety, peace and tranquility. However, now, our eyes see and are disappointed that to the contrary, the handing over of territory from our holy land causes danger to life. This is not the peace than we hoped for and this is not the child that we prayed for. Therefore the Oslo Agreements are null and void. I am all peace; but when I speak, they are for war. And we have nobody to rely upon except our Father in heaven.

I hereby bless you with all of my heart and soul, Hashem, should make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as He hath promised you! Hashem should guard your going and coming for good life and peace from now until eternity, in your days and in our days may Yehudah be delivered and may Israel dwell in safety. And Jacob shall again be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.

With great love,

Requesting your peace and benefit with heart and soul,

Ovadiah Yosef

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Yosef Family Mourning Tent in Har Nof

I have made a lot of shiva calls, but I have never seen anything like this:

In the end I was not able to comfort the mourners. In fact, I did not even see them. It was just too crowded. However,it is as if I comforted them for
מחשבה טובה הקב"ה מצרפה למעשה
The Holy One Blessed Be He considers a good thought as if you actually carried it out (Kiddushin 40A).

45 Kablan Street will never be the same:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Pics From Rav Ovadiah's Funeral

I know...the MSM has much better pictures...but anyway:

The Funeral of Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt"l

Yesterday I took part in the biggest funeral in the history of the State of Israel. I do not know how many people were there. Some say 700,000. Same say 1,000,000. But there is no question that more people participated in this funeral than in any previous one.

Unity! When was the last time that we witnessed so many different people from so many different sectors and walks in life sectors coming together for a united purpose? Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Hasidim, National Religious, tradtional and even secular Jews all devoted their precious time for the privilege to escort this great Torah scholar and leader on his final journey in This World.

It is important to understand that Rabbi Ovadiah's halachic influence was felt well beyond the world of Mizrahi Jews, most of whom accept his judgements as binding. His books are considered important to the entire Torah world. For example, I remember one of my rabbis saying, "If you want to know what the halacha is, see what Rabba Ovadiah has to say." What he meant was that sometimes there are stringencies in Jewish law which are the result of local customs, kabalah, or the desire to fulfil the law even according to a minority opinion. This is all good and fine. However, there are situations where you need to know what the Torah requires of us, period, without added chumrot. Rabbi Ovadiah was known as having that ability to define the letter of the law.

His dedication to learning Torah and teaching Torah are legendary. Who can count the number of Torah lessons he gave in syangogues all over Jerusalem and all over the country? Who can gauge the influence of all of those lessons that were broadcasted over the radio? A rabbi that I met during the levaya said that when he was growing the Sabbath preparations in his house were made while listening to Rabbi Ovadiah's lessons on the radio. And yes, he is an Ashkenazi.

Back to the levaya: I left my home at about 20 minutes to 6 stocked with a bottle of juice, some chocolate and a digital camera, all stuffed into the pockets of a double sided fleece jacket. This jacket was a pain at the start, much too hot. By the end of the night I was very thankful that I had brought it. Winter is here and it gets cold at night.

As I approached the Porat Yosef Yeshiva the crowd got bigger. At a certain point I saw a friend walking in the opposite direction. He warned me that it was too crowded near the Yeshiva. So I walked down to Yirmiyahu Street with many others, hoping to be able to catch the levaya (=funeral procession)there and accompanying Rav Ovadia zt"l at least for dalet amot (=4 cubits, about 2 meters or 6 feet). I had no intention of going all the way down to Sanhedria, where I anticipated that the crowding would be unbearable.

I found a window ledge where I could sit and wait. I could not hear the eulogies from where I was and I had no idea what was happening over at Porat Yosef. A young man with a knitted kipah sat down next to me. He had an mp3 player which was also a radio. In an "only in Israel" moment, he offered, without me asking, to let me listen to the eulogies through one of his earphones.

I had brought something to eat and drink but there were many others who did not. The stores all along the funeral route did some very good business that night.

It was getting late. As time went by and the car with Rabbi Ovadiah zt"l nowhere in sight I decided that I might as well walk further up Yirmiyahu Street and catch the levaya there. I saw a group of young men davening ma'ariv, and I realized that I had forgotten to do so myself. I found another group that had just started saying the evening prayers and joined them.

When I made it to the Beit Midrash of Gur I noticed that the people in the street were looking up in the direction of the Beit Midrash. The Rebbe was there, not in the Beit Midrash but seated behind a fence above the street. This was the first time that I had seen him in person.

A few minutes later, it finally happened. The car with Rav Ovadiah arrived and stopped in front of the Beit Midrash. The Hassidim tried to create a path for the Rebbe to come down and approach the car. However, this was an impossible task. The hundreds of thousands of people marching down Yirmiyahu Street continued to push forward. Shema Yisrael! If someone had fallen down at this point they might have been trampled to death, God forbid.

The car continued down Yirmiyahu Street and I finally got my wish. I was now an integral part of the procession, one in 700,000. I did my dalet amot and then some. Now the name of the game keeping my balance and finding a way to get out of this human tidal wave. I had been in this situation before. To make a long story short, I made it home in one piece, along with my camera and eyeglasses. Others were not so fortunate:

Over 70 people received treatment for injuries during overcrowding at the procession to the funeral of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef .

Of these, eight had to be evacuated by ambulances and mobile intensive care units to Jerusalem hospitals, including one woman who went into labor.

Among the medical problems of the people, all of whom were in good condition, were fainting, bruises and weakness.

Jerusalem after Rav Ovadiah zt"l is not the same place. He will sorely be missed.

Monday, October 07, 2013

HaRav Ovadiah Yosef zt"l

It is with great pain that I post this:
Cardiologist Professor Dan Gilon, has said Rabbi Haim Ovadia Yosef has died after he suffered a further serious deterioration in recent hours.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sukkot Revisited

What's the point of writing something about Sukkot now that it is already Marcheshvan? That's exactly the point: we have to carry the memories of Sukkot all year round.

I like to walk around the older neighborhoods of Jerusalem. These pics were taken in the Batei Neitin neighborhood, if I am not mistaken.Sukkot everywhere!

I love the way that the stairways are built upon arches:

Decked in white for Hoshanna Rabba:
The Temple Mount:
I am able to get a close-up with my zoom. [sigh]

עַל-זֶה, הָיָה דָוֶה לִבֵּנוּ--עַל-אֵלֶּה, חָשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ. עַל הַר-צִיּוֹן שֶׁשָּׁמֵם, שׁוּעָלִים הִלְּכוּ-בוֹ

At the Kotel its the last day to use your lulav!
These Japanese (?) tourists may have thought that it was exotic to photograph the Jews praying at the wall. I thought that it was exotic to photograph the Japanese tourists taking pictures of the Jews.
The typical "Jews at the Wall" picture:
I hope that we have a nice rainy winter.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Deconstructing the "Arab Jew"

Check out this very interesting blog post by Point of No Return: Ella Shohat: misguided antonym queen. Among other things, the post reminds us that there were Jewish communitees in places like Iraq and Egypt long before the Arab conquest of those lands.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Pew Survey of US Jews

I cannot say that the findings as reported by JTA were unexpected:
The proportion of Jews who say they have no religion and are Jewish only on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture is growing rapidly, and two-thirds of them are not raising their children Jewish at all.

Overall, the intermarriage rate is at 58 percent, up from 43 percent in 1990 and 17 percent in 1970. Among non-Orthodox Jews, the intermarriage rate is 71 percent.

The JTA also points out:
* Overall, 22 percent of U.S. Jews describe themselves as having no religion, and the survey finds they are much less connected to Jewish organizations and much less likely to be raising their children Jewish. Broken down by age, 32 percent of Jews born after 1980 — the so-called millennial generation — identify as Jews of no religion, compared to 19 percent of baby boomers and just 7 percent of Jews born before 1927.

* Emotional attachment to Israel has held steady over the last decade, with 69 percent of respondents saying they feel attached or very attached to Israel. Forty-three percent of respondents said they had been to Israel.

* Far more respondents said having a good sense of humor was essential to their Jewish identity than observing Jewish law — 42 percent compared to 19 percent.

* Approximately one-quarter of Jews said religion is very important in their lives, compared to 56 percent among Americans generally.

* Less than one-third of American Jews say they belong to a synagogue. Twenty-three percent of U.S. Jews say they attend synagogue at least once or twice a month, compared with 62 percent of U.S. Christians.

The New York Times brings us the following from the survey:
Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.
Excuse me while I puke!

You can read the full survey here.

I found the reaction of this non-Jew to the survey fascinating:

Though I, obviously, am not Jewish, I find this deeply troubling, though sadly predictable. Apart from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there is no way to hold onto Jewishness across the generations. Modernity is a harsh solvent; only the Orthodox Jews, who are committed to living religiously, and as a sign of contradiction to the modern world, are holding the line. The lesson here is that if you are only passively Jewish, your grandchildren will probably not be Jewish at all.
He understands what so many "Jewish leaders" simply fail to grasp.
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