Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Chanukah And Prayer At Sunrise

King David said, "Awake up, my glory; awake, lyre and harp; I will rouse the dawn (Psalms 57:9). Rashi explains: "I rouse the dawn and the dawn doesn't rouse me." This was something that distinguished King David from the other kings of his day who would wake up later (see Berachot 4A and Rashi there).

I can't claim to be a student of King David in this respect. More often than not, the rays of the morning sun shining thrugh my bedroom window wake me up. This is really a shame because those early morning hours are perhaps the most beautiful time of day. Back in the days when I still did reserve duty I remember being stationed on the border with Jordan. There, facing East, I would spend the night watch waiting for the morning to come because then my shift would end and another soldier would come to replace me. It was spectacular to see how the sky, ever so slowly, changes from the black of night into the light blue of day, and how the sun rises majestically on the eastern horizon. Only after army service did I understand what is written in Psalms (130:6): "My soul waiteth for the L-rd more then they that watch for the morning..."

I already mentioned that I'm not one who usually rises early. However, the "Chanukah season" is the time of year when sunrise is at its latest (around 6:35), so the prayers start at about 6:10. That means getting up at 5:40, and even Cosmic X can handle that! At this hour most of Jerusalem is still asleep. As I make my way to the synagogue, through the semi-darkness, I see someone else who is on his way to pray. On the other side of the street is a Chassid with a towel draped over his shoulder on the way to the mikve. These are typical early morning scenes in Jerusalem that only early risers witness.

Inside the synagogue I see "the regulars". These are people who are really serious about their worship, and every time that I come to say the prayers at sunrise, they are here. The only things that concern them are "Torah and Tefilah." While many are occupied with thoughts about how they can buy a larger car or get a promotion at work, these men are only concerned with how they can serve G-d better. The Menorah spreads light on the southern side of the synagogue, reminding us of the miracles that the L-rd wrought for the Jewish people. The prayers are said with devotion, with the silent "shemonah esrei" prayer recited just after sunrise. Hallel. The Torah reading. Through the windows of the synagogue I see that the semi-darkness has turned to light. A new day has started, with a new hope for a better world. Perhaps the Mashiach will come today.

As the days get longer, and sunrise becomes earlier and earlier, Cosmic X will not have the strength or determination to say the prayers at sunrise like "vatikin". But these guys, "the regulars", as true students of King David, will continue to "wake up the dawn."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Man Of Conscience

See this from Jerusalem Is The Place To Be:
I am a former Israeli Police Officer who quit my job once I saw that the Disengagement was going to really happen and I would be forced to displace my fellow Jews from their homes. I have since found a job in a field that allows me to help make the world (and future) a better place for us and our children.
If there were more Israelis like him, all of those settlements would not have been destroyed and all of those people would not be homeless and/or jobless.

More Matisyahu Chords

The song "Close My Eyes" has three chords. Sometimes they are played like this:

Gm | | | F | | | Cm7 | | | | | | |

and sometimes like this:

Gm | | | F | | | Cm7 | | | F | | |

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Prime Minister's Stroke And My Father's Stroke

The Prime Minister had a mild stroke yesterday. May he have a speedy recovery, and may he live to be 120, as a private citizen and not as the Prime Minister of Israel, speedily and in our days, Amen.

Sharon, being that he is the Prime Minister, received all of the tests that he needed immediately. The average Israeli does not get such special treatment.

A few years ago, my father, may he live to be 120, was in Israel and suffered a mild stroke. After taking him to the Bikur Holim hospital in downtown Jerusalem, the doctor gave us a series of tests to do (a CT and a lot of other tests whose names I have forgotten). We were told that for some of the tests we would have to wait for as long as two weeks before they could give us and appointment. We were quite upset about having to wait so long to have the tests done. We came home and I told my wife. She said she heard about a macher from Bayit VeGan called Z. that may be able to help us. My wife called Z., and he said that he would come to us tomorrow morning in a taxi and that he would be going to the Hadassah Ein Karem hospital.

The next morning a cab stopped by our apartment and inside was Z., dressed from head to toe in black Hasidic garb (actually, his socks may have been white). He was a jovial guy and told my father a joke in Yiddish which my father enjoyed. When we got tho the hospital we saw that all of the staff there knew Z. and treated him with great honor. We came to the place were there was a line of about 15 people waiting to do a CT scan. Z. entered a door that said "staff only." Two minutes later we heard our name called and my father had the CT scan done, ahead of everyone else who was waiting on line. We spent the entire morning doing tests as Z. guided us through the hospital corridors. In one morning we completed all of the tests! I do not know how Z. was able to arrange all of this. To this day the matter is a total mystery to me. Afterwards we took a cab back home, dropping Z. off at the Kollel he learns at in Bayit VeGan. May G-d bless him.

BTW, my father is doing just fine. He recovered most of the functions he lost because of the stroke, as his brain learned reroute its messages to bypass the affected area.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rain, Blessed Rain!

It started Friday morning as I was buying food for Shabbat and actually for the entire upcoming week. I was at the checkout counter when the cashier noticed that it was raining outside. After putting all the food in bags and back into the shopping cart, I payed (with a check dated for sometime in February 2006), headed to the car and unloaded the groceries in the car, getting thoroughly wet in the process. I got in the car and called home from the cellphone, in order to tell my wife to take in any laundry in that may be hanging on the clotheslines. There was no answer, because my wife was already busy doing just that.

The rain continued to fall on and off Friday and Shabbat. On the Sabbath day in Jerusalem almost all of the businesses are closed , and there is very little traffic. All of these things combined gave us some nice clean mountain air to breathe this Shabbat. As Naomi Shemer wrote, "Avir Harim Tzalul KaYayin, Vereiach Oranim." (Mountain air clear as wine, and the scent of pines.)

There are some places in the world where rain is thought of as a nuisance. A song of the Beatles comes to mind:
When the rain comes,
They run and hide their heads,
They might as well be dead,
When the rain comes.
What may be true for Liverpool, is certainly not true in Jerusalem. As I mentioned in another post, we are highly dependent here on the winter rains and are very happy when they fall. G-d, please bring us some more!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nir Barkat At Machon Meir

Nir Barkat, the head of the opposition in the Jerusalem Municipal Council, visited Machon Meir in the Kiryat Moshe section of Jerusalem today. He received the VIP treatment as the Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir, Rabbi Dov Begon, took him on a tour of the Yeshiva. Barkat showed genuine interest as he chatted with Rav Begon and met students from all over the world that came to Jerusalem in order to learn at Machon Meir. Little did Rabbi Begon and Councilman Barkat know that the blogger Cosmic X was watching them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sharon Advisor Says PM Will Partition Jerusalem

Sharon already has a chazaka (supposition) of being a liar. Whoever votes for Sharon is voting for corruption and a divided Jerusalem.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Good Hardware Store

After 15 years of being opened and closed, the lock on the door to our bathroom needed replacing. The lock was a standard one that most of the contractors put in the apartments that they build. It wasn't totally shot, but sometimes you could lock the door and then have a hard time openning it up again.

I had no idea how how to change the lock. I wasn't born with two left hands, mind you. I guess there are other things that just interest me more. The troublesome lock remained in place, much to the chagrin of those who would find themselves temporarily locked in the bathroom.

Another unrelated problem that I had was copying keys to the apartment. It happened more than once that the keys that I had copied at a hardware store did not work when I came home to try them out. The people at the hardware store did not know how to copy keys well, or they just didn't care to do the work properly.

Both of my problems were solved when I found a fantastic hardware store in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem. The store is called "HaKol LaBayit" (Everything For The Home), and is run by American immigrants. I had some keys copied there and when I returned home they actually worked. The next time I was in the area, I entered the store and told them about my problem with the bathroom door. They showed me the part I needed to buy, and told me how to put it in. When I came home, I tried unsuccessfully to take the old lock out. I called "HaKol LaBayit" on the phone, and the lady (!) there explained to me how to take the lock out. (You have to remove the door handles first. In order to remove the handles there is a little pin holding the handles in place that has to be pulled up and out. Afterwards, after removing two screws, the mechanism can be removed.)

An old Jewish joke says that a man should have three things: A good doctor, a good lawyer, and good children...but that he shouldn't need any of them. I add to the list "a good hardware store".

Where Is The Rain?

For those of you who do not know, it usually doesn't rain in Israel during the summer. We are totally dependent on the rain that falls in the winter for the water that use. If rain does not fall during the winter, we are in trouble!

This winter has been very dry so far. Ironically rain did fall during the holiday of Sukkot, which is not considered a good sign. It is compared to a servant bring a drink to his master, only to have the master spill it on the servant's face!

This morning the shaliach tzibur in the minyan that I davenned at added a special prayer for rain in the "shma koleinu" blessing. May we soon be blessed with rain.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Public Service From Cosmic X: The 2800 Number

Now this is cool! If you send and SMS in Hebrew to the Egged Bus Cooperative (2800), and write, for example, "from Beit El to Jerusalem (in Hebrew), within two seconds you get an SMS in return with a schedule of the busses from Beit El to Jerusalem.

Shabbat In Bet El

Shavua Tov everybody!

The X family spent last Shabbat outside of Jerusalem for a change. Mrs. X was tired of cooking and needed a change of scenery. We went to the community of Beit El, which is situated near Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.

About 20 years ago, I used to learn in the Yeshiva in Beit El. Back then, the place was smaller and much less developed. Today there are thousands of people living in Beit El. Many of the places that were desolate in my time are now built up with houses and learning institutions.

It used to be very easy to get to Beit El. I used to drive my own automobile directly north from Jerusalem, pass through Ramallah/El Bireh and arrive at Beit El. The worst thing that could happen is that someone would throw a stone at the car as you passed by the Kalandia refugee camp. Stones can be deadly weapons, and people were injured and MVAs were caused by these stones. But this is nothing to compare to what can happen to Israelis if they enter Ramallah today, after we made "peace" with Arafat. The only Israeli civilians that enter Ramallah nowadays are journalists and "useful idiots" sympathetic to the Arab cause.

Getting to Beit El today isn't so simple. Instead of traveling due north, one has to bypass Ramallah by traveling through Pisgat Ze'ev. After the Hizmeh road block there is a special bypass road that passes by Sha'ar Binyamin, and Kochav Yaakov. After an hour on the road in a special bullet-proof Egged bus we finally made it to Beit El. In our Orwellian world bullet-proof buses + bypass roads = Nobel Peace Prize.

The people of Beit El are very gracious and excel in hospitality. We stayed at the apartment of a local family that had left Beit El for the Sabbath. They did not know us, yet they permitted us to stay at their apartment. They even prepared hot water for us so we could drink tea during the Sabbath. We spent the Shabbat meals with friends and we had a great time.

It turns out that there were a lot of guests in Beit El for Shabbat. The reason was that this week's Torah portion, VaYetze, mentions Beit El.

I could not help but feel the heavy shadow of the destruction of Gush Katif upon me during the Shabbat. Last summer we saw how the wicked Israeli government destroyed flourishing settlements in the Gaza Strip in return for nothing. The evil of the government is also reflected in the treatment of those who were expelled from their houses and farms. Many if not most of these people are still homeless and unemployed. As I gazed upon the beautiful community of Beit El I could not help but wonder if a similar fate awaits them. Please G-d, have mercy upon your land and people!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Matisyahu Live And Kiddush Hashem

I've been debating with myself if I should shell out the 130 shekels and go see Matisyahu at the Ma'abada. I really do like his music, but I decided that it would not be appropriate for someone like myself to go to the performance. I fear that the atmosphere at the concert will not be entirely "frum". It is not the kind of example that I want to set for my children. Matisyahu is a great Kiddush Hashem, and I'm sure that many have become interested in Yiddishkeit through his music. However, I think that it would probably be a Chillul Hashem for me to show up at such an event. I'll continue to enjoy his music from my mp3 player.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Latest Addition To The Kadima Party

Matisyahu Chords

Someone arrived here looking for "Matisyahu Chords". I'm posting the chords to "King Without A Crown" (as far as my ears can tell) so that if he visits again he won't be disappointed.


Fm | | | Eb | | | Bb | | | Cm | | |
(Repeat 4 times.)


Ab | Cm | Bb | | | Ab | Cm | Fm | | | (Repeat over and over again. Sometime the guitarist plays G and slides up to Ab)

Instrumental and Bridge: Same as Intro

Israel's Judicial Dictatorship Strikes Again

The Israeli High Court of Justice used to be a respected institution in Israel. Unfortunately, Chief Justice Aharon Barak's judicial activism has eroded the image of the High Court. The court, under Barak's leadership, began to intervene in political issues which the court had previously avoided. Today the another nail was pounded into the coffin of the credibility of this institution. Professor Ruth Gavison will probably not be selected to join the court.

This morning I heard Kol Yisrael legal commentator Moshe Negbi, known for his ultra left-wing views, commenting on this. Negbi, who is great supporter of Barak's judicial activism, was also upset. He expressed concern that since it is now clear to the public that the appointments to the High Court are not based on legal prowess but rather on issues of Weltanschauung, the decision of who to appoint and who to not appoint will be taken away from the lawyers (who now enjoy a majority on the committee to appoint justices) and will be given over entirely to politicians.

Update: Just came across this interesting post from Judge and Jewry: Above the Din.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Charles Krauthammer's Bizarre Essay

As one who lives in Israel, and knows not only what the media reports but also a lot of things that are not reported, I can say with a clear conscience that Charles Krauthammer is totally clueless as to what is really going on here. Boker Tov, Boulder gets a hat tip on this one. Power Line's Scott Johnson also noticed:
I find this an amazingly poor performance from one of America's most clear-eyed commentators on the Middle East. The evidence of the day seems to me rather powerfully to undercut his thesis.
Krauthammer is not the only neocon commentator that has disappointed me lately. Other neocon commentators, such as blogger Captain Ed, have overlooked Sharon's crimes against the Israeli electorate which voted overwhelmingly against one-sided withdrawals. They overlooked Sharon's acting against two different inner-Likud votes on the matter. They overlooked the Sharon's use of the army against Israel's own citizens. If an American politician acted similarly would they continue to praise him, even if the politician's policies were in line with what they would like to see done? I doubt it.

Update: Here is an article by Sarah Honig that Charles and Ed should read.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Arab Terrorism In Netanya

So far five dead and forty wounded. The Middle East is a tough neighborhood. The Prime Minister is a wimp.

This Morning After Shacharit

The gabai announced:"R' Moshe invites everyone to drink L'Chaim in honor of the miracle that was wrought for him."

I walked over to R' Moshe and asked him what happened. He told me that Arabs shot at his car near (or in) the Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill and that he escaped uninjured.

I don't think that this made the news.

The Expulsion Academies

This letter appeared in last week's issue of BeSheva. I've translated it into English for your reading pleasure:

Subject: The Mitzvah Of Expelling Jews

In a symposium that was held this week at Bar Ilan University the research of Elisheva Rosman was revealed. The research showed that girls from the Ein HaNetziv and the Lindenbaum Academies that were in the military enlistment program took part in the front line of the expulsion, in the Neve Dekalim synagogue and in Chomesh. Girls from this program in the Yerocham Academy were also enlisted for this campaign, although in the end they did not take part in it.

The girls were interviewed after the execution of the expulsion. They noted that they identified shared the pain of the families, but that they do not regret taking an active part in the expulsion. They explained their position in that refusing to carry out an order means undermining the strength of the army. The conclusion - expulsion and uprooting are a contribution to the State's security.

Is this the message that is taught in the above mentioned religious academies? Is it really true that following orders, even the most immoral ones, is a supreme value? Will these girls also follow orders to evacuate strikers by the army?

These academies must do some deep soul searching in the face of the results of this research, both in regards to education and in regards to the enlistment of girls in the IDF.

Edvah Naveh

Shaarei Tikva

Haveil Havalim #47 At Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad was all over the place! Check out his collection of links from all over the jblogosphere.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Arabs From Gaza Continuing To Work In Israel After "Disengagement"

The rockets are flying in from the Gaza Strip, terrorists are crossing into the Strip from Egypt and the icing on the cake:
In the meanwhile, the army continued to relax restrictions on Gaza Arabs, allowing another 2,000 workers to cross from Gaza into Israel. Another 1,000 merchants are also being permitted to cross, bringing the total to 2,000. Though Israel "disengaged" from Gaza in order to separate between Jews and Arabs, the current total of Gaza Arabs allowed to enter Israel daily thus now stands at 10,000.
I told you so!

Matisyahu In Jerusalem This Week

He will perform at HaMaabada on Thursday night and after Shabbat. If you check the link to HaMaabada you'll see that they spell his name with a "samekh" instead of a "sav". LOL!

The local press has also heard of Matisyahu:


The Jerusalem Post


I would really like to see him but somehow I don't think that it will happen. (BTW, he will also be in Tel Aviv at The Barbi Club.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cosmic X In Tel Aviv

I was in Tel Aviv today for a convention that was held at one of Tel Aviv's fancier hotels (My workplace payed for it. I'm on a low budget and you would never find me in such a place.) Tel Aviv for a Jerusalemite is a different world. In Jerusalem I kind of fit in with the surroundings but in Tel Aviv I'm "different". Talit finges sticking out are not a common sight in the coastal city. What's more, there were not too many people walking around with an orange strip of cloth attached to their briefcase.

Anyway, the convention was alright and the hotel food was good, i.e. it was kosher, delicious, and did not cause indigestion. I even had some time after lunch to sit outside in the sun and listen to the three Matisyahu tunes that I have on my DISK-ON-KEY or whatever it is called. I must have listened to them a million times. Each time they get better.

Shabbat Shalom everybody.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


The jblogosphere has been full with talk about Matisyahu. I downloaded some Matisyahu songs from his website out of curiosity. I was pretty sure that I would hear some pretty mediocre music that passes as good since its "Hasidic". After listening to the songs, I must admit that I was wrong. This guy is really talented, and he is accompanied by three other talented musicians (Aaron Dugan - GUITAR, Josh Werner - BASS, Jonah David - DRUMS). I don't know if the other musicians are partners with Matisyahu on his spiritual trip. They are certainly partners with him on his musical journey, and the four make up a very tight combo.

I was particularly taken in with the song "King Without A Crown", played live. It starts very softly, switches to a reggae rhythm with the Dugan playing chords on the offbeat. Matisyahu sings/raps some real tongue twisting lyrics about his love for Hashem. The chorus has a kind of Mediterranean beat while the guitar plays counterpoint to Matisyahu. After a few screams of "Yuh" (I guess that's Matisyahu's version of "yeah"), the band switches into a solid rock beat. Werner plays eighth notes from all over the neck to give the underpinning to Dugan's searing guitar solo. The song ends with some nonsensical reggae words like "zee-why-oh" and a final "yuh". (If you think about it "ai yai yai" isn't any better than "zee-why-oh".)

In my opinion, these guys are good by any standard. Matisyahu sings from the bottom of his heart, and as our sages said, "Words that come out from the heart enter the heart."

I also give a lot of credit to Matisyahu's rabbi for not stifling Matisyahu's desire to play and perform this kind of music.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Kfar Darom Evacuees And The High-Rise In Ashkelon

Here is a great lesson in how the Israeli MSM sells the government spin on things. Ido Efrati of Ynet reports the following:
State purchases apartment building on former settlers’ request; now, evacuees change their mind, refuse to move into new homes
The settlers sound quite unreasonable don't they? In the 11th(!) paragraph of the article, the settlers side of the story is finally reported although in a very vague manner. The whole matter seems entirely illogical. The Arutz 7 report of the same story seems far more credible:
The 58 families of the former Jewish Gaza community of Kfar Darom, for instance, have been told time and again that their move to a high-rise building in Ashkelon was just a matter of time, and that they could expect to move within a short time. In fact, after several delays and postponements, some families actually began moving their belongings this week into what they thought would be their home for the coming 2-3 years.

But then came the last straw. The homeless citizens were told that the company that would be taking responsibility for the apartments - Amigur, a public housing provider - had a new series of demands, and that a new delay was forthcoming.
Read both accounts in full. It reveals a lot about how the Israeli MSM distorts the news.

Mirty In The City Of Sin

Mirty has a really good post about her visit in city to Las Vegas. It is truly unfortunate that this modern day Sodom exists. Thousands of years may have passed, technology may have progressed, but too many of us are still enslaved to our most primitive impulses. It is so sad to read about the exploiters and the exploited in the "Sad City of Lost Souls":
Further down the block, a man was handing out coupons so I took one of those. When I looked at it, I saw a naked woman in an inelegant position. Under her picture was the name “Miko” and a phone number. The fact that she had the same name as one my dogs was disturbing in its own right, but I really had no interest in this Miko and tried to hand back the coupon.
The good news is that all of the debauchery and general debasement of humanity did not interest Mirty's family, as Mirty quotes:
But I was very relieved to hear my kids announce that “this place sucks."
Way back when, I posted on a somewhat similar experience that I had in Atlantic City.

Haveil Havalim #46 At Israel Perspectives

Many thanks to Ze'ev for staying up late last night for this Thanksgiving edition of Haveil Havalim.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Disturbing Statistics From The Arabian Peninsula

Check out this visitor from Dubai, who joins a fellow animal lover from Saudi Arabia:

Shatuf Zima

They used to say, "I'd walk a mile for a camel," but these guys apparently have a totally different interpretation.

They Shall Still Bring Forth Fruit In Old Age

We just finished the tractate "Shabbat" in my daf-yomi class. This is a long tractate, having 157 pages, and at a rate of a page per day it took over five months to complete.

After the class an old Jew with a long white beard limped into the beit midrash. He's the kind of guy that if you tell him what page you are learning, anywhere in the Talmud, he can tell you what subjects are discussed on that page. We told him that we just completed learning the tractate "Shabbat" and he immediately replied:

That's appropriate for this week's Torah portion as we read:

ואברהם זקן בא בימים

And Abraham was old, well stricken in age...(Genesis 24:1)

"Zaken", the word for "old", has the numerical value 157, the same as the number of pages in the tractate Shabbat. What's more, there are 24 chapters in Shabbat, equal to numerical value of "Kad" (pitcher), which is a central word in this weeks portion (see Genesis 24).

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Sharon is calling his new party "Kadima" which means forward in Hebrew. This is quite astonishing. After all, after pulling out of the Gaza Strip, and with the rumors about further retreats, shouldn't Sharon call his new party "Achora" (backwards)?

A Public Service Anouncement From Cosmic X

Starting January 1, 2006 Israelis will be required to have a reflective vest in their automobiles.

I bought one the other day for 20 shekels (about $4.50). The idea is that if you have to stop on the road at night, you put the vest on so that other drivers can see you. If it saves even one life, it is worth it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Braving The Lebanese Rocket Attack On Northern Israel

Read this great post from Galilee This. An excerpt:
No rockets hit Maalot and we had a nice bbq dinner. I made a mean spicy honey mustard sauce for the wings, and we broiled them instead of using the bbq (cause it is outside). The children slept in our room, so that we would all die together if it came down to that.

Does AIPAC Hold The Keys To Pollard's Prison Cell?

Yitzchak Oren, who was the Israeli liaison to the U.S. Congress in 1997, seems to think so:
Oren explained that the long-time efforts by Pollard supporters to pressure the American President were in vain:
"Only Congress can force the release. The president [Clinton] tried, and we saw how it ended with [Clinton and Netanyahu] at Wye Plantation - the intelligence community forced the president to change his mind, with [CIA head George] Tenet threatening to resign. But with Congress, it's the opposite. The intelligence establishment receives funding from Congress, and Congress is its supervising body. One word by AIPAC would free up a giant and powerful lobby in this direction. I tell you with full responsibility that if AIPAC would just nod or hint, it would happen. The CIA would give in. That's how the American network works."

Even A "Godol Hador" Needs A Rav

Godol Hador has posted a very revealing post which IMHO is worth reading. At the end of the post he tells us what's really bothering him:
I guess it’s more a question of existential angst. Here are some of the thoughts that consume my mind:

Just who is G-d? Is He really there, by my side, at every second, listening to my every inner thought, observing my every action? That’s a pretty frightening thought, if you really think about it. In fact, if I really really thought about it, wouldn’t I be completely paralyzed by fear?

Perhaps more importantly, what does G-d really want from us? When I read Tenach, am I literally reading the word of G-d, or has it been affected by Human imprint? Can I be medayek every word, or just hope to learn some broad lessons? When a Rishon (or Acharon) gives peshat in a posuk, can I take that as a mesorah from Sinai, again the word of G-d, or just the result of a serious scholar’s ruminations?
He goes on and on. Read the post.

I do not think that Godol Hador will find his answers in the jblogosphere or anywhere else online. Godol Hador needs a good rabbi, a rabbi who is not only well versed in Jewish law, but is also well versed in Jewish philosophy and science. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner comes to mind as the kind of rabbi the Godol needs to learn from.

All this just comes to show that even a Godol Hador needs a Rav.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Open Thread For Tuesday

I know that this is a pompous thing to do. So what, it was fun last week. Say what's on your mind, or just let me know that you were here. Thanks.

Pollard Suing To Force Spy Swap

I have a feeling that this is not going to work, but I can't blame him for trying:
Imprisoned Israeli agent, Jonathan Pollard, has instructed his attorneys to file suit in Israel's High Court of Justice, today November 21, 1985, the 20th anniversary of his arrest.

Pollard's petition asks the Supreme Court to compel the Government of Israel to arrest Angie Kilciensky --- a self-confessed Israeli traitor who spied for the United States and exposed Pollard -- to interrogate him, and then initiate a spy swap to return Kielcynski to the US and Pollard to Israel.

Angie Kielcynski, (aka Yosef Barak) an Israeli Likud party activist (not an MK) was appointed by Arik Sharon to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in 1985. He took advantage of his appointment to this Knesset Committee and his access to classified information to spy for the U.S.
Be sure to read the rest of the press release.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shevet Achim Gam Yachdav

I had the great pleasure of meeting my friend Barry Freedman, who was in Jerusalem yesterday. He enlightened me with some Torah of Rabbi Nachman, and we reminisced about the good old days. Hinei Mah Tov Umah Na'im!

Fighting The Yellow Plague In Jerusalem

Here is some good news from ynet:
Almost all Jerusalemites know those spots well: They are all over the center of town, out of sight, but well within nose's range. That's the reason passersby who find it hard to hold it in just urinate in public.

The most illustrious public "toilets" are next to Zion Square, at the nearby picturesque pedestrian mall of Nahalat Shiva, next to the Italian synagogue and the cross streets. You can't miss these sites; the heavy stench is unbearable.
City Hall is taking a two-pronged approach to the problem:
Those who ignore the warning will receive a NIS 430 (approximately USD 90) fine. In addition, the city will offer a public tender for the construction of public restrooms in the area.

Sharon's Retirement March

Read this interesting analysis by my friend Patrick, although I disagree with him.

My feeling is that Sharon's new party is going to flop for a number of reasons:

1) The burden of corruption is hanging from the neck of the Sharon family with the conviction of his son Omri.

2) Many Israelis tend to be loyal to the parties that they traditionally vote for as one who is loyal to the brand of the toothpaste that he uses. These kind of people, that received "Likud" with their mother's milk, will continue to vote Likud. The same holds true for the ever aging constituancy that votes Labor.

3) As the lies that were behind the "disengagement" become clear to more and more Israelis, Sharon and those who join him will receive less and less support. Those who support Sharon will come from the left side of the Israeli political map. Most of the support for his new party will come from Labor and Meretz, and not from the traditional Likud constituency.

My guess is that the next Prime Minister of Israel will be the head of the Likud party, and that Ariel Sharon will have a lot of time to spend with his grandchildren. Time will tell if I am correct.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Haveil Havalim #45 At Mirty's Place

Mirty does a great job as usual!

Stonewalling At Ha'aretz

Read about it here. (Hat tip: Solomonia)

Rally For Jonathan Pollard

20 years in jail is an unjust sentence for the crime he committed. The time has come to release him.

Why are the American Jews silent? Why are the American jbloggers silent?

Update: Amechad agrees.

Update: Ze'ev's perspective.

What Is "Cosmic X"?

Why in the world would a Jew from Jerusalem call his blog "Cosmic X"? Usually blogs of this kind have a name that has to do with something Israeli or Jewish, often utilizing words in Hebrew, Yiddish, or Aramaic. I could have called this blog "Kadur Felafel", "Pintele Yid", "Ipcha Mistabra" or "Little Jewboy in Altneuland". So why did I call this blog "Cosmic X"?

"Cosmic X" was a nickname that I had in high school. So if anyone reading this remembers a Cosmic X that they knew from high school, it is probably yours truly. I know that it is a pretty stupid name for a blog, but what is done is done.

How I got the nickname is another story. Hashfanatic, it's not what you think.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jonathan Pollard - Still In Prison

Dry Bones has a great cartoon on this subject. This is what I think about the matter.

Elections Coming Up In Israel [yawn]

I can't say that I am excited about the upcoming elections. Experience has taught me that Israeli politicians, once elected, often execute a policy that is opposed to what they promised their voters. We need to look no further than the current Prime Minister and what he did to the Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip to be reminded of this painful fact. Add to this the presence of the judicial dictatorship (see previous post), and you have a recipe for voter apathy.

In the past disenchanted and/or apathetic citizens would spend election day at the beach or at a picnic. This time the elections will be in the winter. Hmmm, it's been a while since I've been to Eilat.

Aharon Barak's Agenda

Another excellent article from Evelyn Gordon in The Jerusalem Post. An excerpt (the emphasis is mine):
Indeed, traditional democratic theory sides with Gavison: It holds that major issues are supposed to be decided by the people, via their elected representatives, rather than by an unelected court. By usurping the legislature's role in making such decisions, the court has made normal democratic politics - which centers on trying to elect people who share your views - largely irrelevant. It has thereby gutted our political culture, increased alienation and undermined belief in the value of democracy. And ultimately, it is liable to undermine the court itself - because the court, like any other dictator, will increasingly become the focus of popular resentment.

Is Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice An Ignoramus?

Yes, unfortunately.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Staring Reality In The Face

The other day I was in downtown Jerusalem and felt that my stomach was growling. "A hot slice of pizza will solve that problem," I thought to myself. I went into "Big Apple Pizza" on Jaffa Street, ordered a slice of pizza and sat down to eat. There were was some technopop music playing in the background. It kind of reminded me of the disco music of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the taste of the pizza, perhaps it was the music. Slowly my mind drifted away from Jerusalem, and headed back to suburban New Jersey 30 years ago. All sorts of images passed through my mind: High School, shopping malls, friends, parties, etc. I was totally oblivious to the other people at the pizzeria as well as those passing by on Jaffa Street. Suddenly I looked up and saw a middle aged guy with a grey beard staring at me. It was my own reflection. The wall in front of me was covered with a long mirror. I quickly returned to reality.

I Wish I Had Blogged That!

The Forgotten Yitzchak's: Who will remember them?

A Tale of Two Taxis - in Jerusalem...


A Prayer of Thanks - HaGomel LeChayavim Tovot

The Mount Zion Scandal

A government that destroyed flourishing settlements, made thousands of Israelis homeless and jobless, and uprooted graves is capable of anything, if the price is right. Why doesn't President Katzav's denial of the matter calm me? Is it because that I'm used to the fact that the politicians here lie through their teeth?

Let's hope that President Katzav is telling the truth.

The Political Situation In Israel

Let's see: The Prime Minister's son is a criminal whose crimes financed the election of his father. The Labor Party elects a new chairman who has been called an "economic terrorist" and a "Socialist-Marxist" by my fellow bloggers. The Israeli government again endangers its citizens by giving in to the demands of our friend(?) Dhimmi Condi.

I'm optimistic.

Update: Some related links:

Dry Bones, LGF, Power Line, Zion Report

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

I know that I don't get thousands of hits every day like LGF. So for this to work, everyone who visits my blog today has to comment here. That means even if you arrived here by searching for "Sultan Knish homophobia", even if you stumbled upon this blog searching for zoophilia, even if you are here because you clicked on Blogger's "next blog" button, please leave a comment. It can be something simple like "Kilroy was here" or a or anything else that crosses your mind. Just keep it clean in the spirit of this blog.


Update: This thread is now closed. (After all, it's Wednesday already!) Thanks to everybody who participated.

Jacob Richman's Bible Quiz

I received an email from Jacob Richman. I do not know him personally, but I don't think that there is a native English speaking web surfer in Israel that hasn't made use of his fantastic web site. Here's the email:
Hi !

This week I launched a new website called:
The Bible Quiz

The, free, online Bible Quiz contains more than 3,000
multiple choice questions about the 5 books of Moses.
Choose a chapter and timer setting, then the fun begins.
The quiz, randomly, selects questions from its database,
thus no two quizes are alike. There is, also, a database
browser for reviewing and printing the Questions with the
correct Answers. Adults, as well as children will find the
quiz entertaining and very educational.

Feedback is welcome.

Please consider informing your readers of this new
educational site.

Thanks for the consideration.
Have a good day,
Hope this gets you a few hits, Jacob.

In appreciation,

Cosmic X

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pluralism and Floralism

My son Moshe was reading a history textbook the other day. He encountered a word that he has heard often, but did not know its meaning. "Dad, what does floralism mean?", he asked.

I immediately understood that he was talking about pluralism, and explained to him, that in the context of what he was reading it means:
A condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.
I then went on to say that the word is "pluralism" and not "floralism." (When the word is spelled in Hebrew letters, one who is not familiar with the word could vocalize it as Moshe and many other Israelis do.) When you say "floralism", I continued to explain to him, it sounds like you are talking about flowers.

"Thanks for the explanation Dad. Now I know what floralism is."

"Pluralism, not floralism!", I said, raising my voice in frustration.

"Dad, everybody says floralism," replied Moshe.

I gave up.

Haveil Havalim #44

This week you can find it at View From A Height. Rocky Mountain high, Colorado...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rabinfest 2005: "Shalom Chaver" Clinton Returns

Bli Neder, my last Rabinfest 2005 post.

Last night was the annual rally, this year featuring former U.S. President Bill Clinton:
Clinton ended his speech by saying "Shalom Haver," Hebrew for "Goodbye friend," the same words he famously used to bid farewell to Rabin at the Israeli leader's funeral.
Orthomom remembers what she felt ten years ago when she heard Clinton say "Shalom chaver":
I cried hardest during those awful dark days while watching the funeral, and cried hardest during the funeral when I heard Bill Clinton say those famous words "Shalom, chaver". I still don't know why his words resonated so with me. I didn't feel a particular connection with Clinton before then, but all I know is hearing those words, that day, from that man, made me sob and sob.
Here's a link from someone who feels differently.

Rachel Imeinu's Yahrzeit

Today is Rachel Imeinu's yahrzeit (Wow! Three different languages in one sentence!). To my great dismay, it's been years since I've visited Rachel's tomb. Click here for a virtual visit.

Update: Pinchas was there and has pictures!

The Torah Comes First

From Arutz 7:
Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan is demanding that the hesder (joint Torah study and military service) yeshiva in the Shomron town of Elon Moreh be dismantled due to the head rabbi's views on refusal. The reason for Halutz’s demand is that the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, called upon his students to refuse orders to take part in the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria.
And what is Rabbi Levanon's reaction?
Rabbi Levanon is not phased by the prospect of losing hesder status and says he would always choose expressing his honest view of the word of Torah over subjecting his Torah study academy to the whims of the political system. “We will wait for other times, because there will always be a different Chief of Staff and different decisions – all subject to change. The yeshiva and the Torah, however, are not subject to change and they will stand. The Torah truth will continue to make its own way.”
Rabbi Levanon, I salute you!

Rabbi Menachem Liebman zt"l

A great Torah scholar and righteous man, Rabbi Menachem Liebman, passed away last Friday just before the Sabbath after a long illness and great affliction. He was 60 years old. After the Sabbath ended a large crowd gathered at the "Merkaz HaRav" Yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem to pay last respects to this great man. Among those who eulogized Rabbi Liebman were Rabbi Shmuel Tal, Rabbi Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi David Dudkevitch, and Rabbi Liebman's son Yehuda. After the eulogies, several busses full of mourners made their way eastward to the Mount of Olives where Rabbi Liebman was buried next to his father.

I knew Rabbi Liebman personally, and was a guest at his home with my family for Sabbath meals and even once for the Passover Seder. His home was a quintessential home of Torah. My condolences go out to his wife Rachel, a true Eshet Chayil, and to their children, grandchildren, and to Rabbi Menachem's siblings. May they know no further sorrow, and may they be comforted with the building of Zion.

Update: Read more about Rabbi Liebman here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Is Shimon Peres A Loser?

Everybody is having a good time calling Shimon Peres a loser. I hate to be a party-pooper, but let's remember few things:

1) He may lose elections, but unfortunately, in the end, his policies get carried out by others (Rabin, Sharon).

2) He's raked in a lot of dough in the past 80 years or so. I wonder how many millions he is worth.

If he is a loser, it is in the fact that he never understood that our mission is to be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" and not the Hebrew speaking branch of the Socialist International.

Disengaged From Reality

Here is an interesting sociological document: Israel National Radio's Eli Stutz & Yishai Fleisher interviewing Labor MK Colette Avital. It is interesting because it demonstrates the total disengagement from reality and the inability to carry on a rational discussion that characterizes many Israeli leftists. Colette, read my lips: The Oslo Agreements were an act of insanity and stupidity, and you and your friends are responsible for it.

In the meantime, Israel is not alone. America also has those who refuse to accept reality.

Memorial Services for Rabbi Meir Kahane

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Dead End Of Jewish Culture

Here is something worth reading. An excerpt:
American Jews have been occupied for four decades in a desperate attempt to stay the tide of assimilation and intermarriage (not to even speak of their more hideous confrere: conversion). I remember as a teenager in the early 1960s sitting through sermons where our rabbi pontificated on the various solutions to The Problem. Yet exactly what is the Jewish leadership trying to perpetuate? Jewish genes? Jewish culture? A fondness for kreplach and klezmer and Isaac Bashevis Singer?

Oh Dear, The Jews Want To Build Houses In Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post wants to create a "controversy":
A controversial east Jerusalem construction project, which is being backed by an American Jewish millionaire and an Israeli right-wing organization, has moved a step closer to fruition after a city committee approved the demolition of a century-old hotel at the site.
Oh dear, it's those "ultra-nationalists" again!:
The project, which still needs multiple city committee approvals, would be the latest outpost by Israeli ultra-nationalists in the predominantly Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
The property is owned by American businessman Irwin Moskowitz. Now he wants to build there:
The compound where the hotel is located originally belonged to Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini (CX: al-Husseini was a murderer and ally of Hitler) , and then served as a hotel from 1945 until the 1967 Six Day War. It was later transferred to the Custodian General, and was subsequently acquired by Moskowitz in the 1980's. Most recently, the site was rented to the Jerusalem border police as a base.
How dare he?

The Mesorah Bug Strikes

This bug was started by Joe Settler, passed on to Jameel, who passed it on to Ze'ev, who passed it on the me. The idea is to comment on the following which was published by Ha'aretz:
The Jewish public's pessimism can apparently be ascribed to the state of affairs today, which leads an overwhelming majority of 74 percent to expect that even if Israel withdraws from all the territories beyond the Green Line and the occupation ends, Palestinian violence will not stop and may even intensify.
I am reminded of Adir Zik's play on words: seqer (a survey), sheqer (a lie). I do not have a lot of faith in polls, and I don't get excited when the Israeli MSM publishes one. This particular poll was conducted by The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, seems to be an organization with leftist orientation (check out their links), which may have influenced the results of the survey.

I'll attack this from a different angle: What about the remaining 26 percent? Are there really that many naive (I'm trying to be nice) people in Israel? I find that hard to believe.

I'm passing this bug north to Shiloh Musings.

Update: Shiloh Musing's post

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

7 Marcheshvan

In the land of Israel:

Ashkenazim - ותן טל ומטר

Sephardim - ברך עלינו

Don't forget!


Never mind.

Islam Spam

Yesterday I was surprised to see a trackback ping from a blog called Opinionated Voice, whose owner describes himself as "A Muslim twentysomething, with a dislike for injustice and oppression." See the second trackback ping:

In fact, Opinionated Voice is a blog filled with Taqiyya and laced with the bizarre fantasies that inhabit the brain cells of many Muslims. I checked the post that I was "trackbacked from", and lo and behold, no mention of Cosmic X. I left Opinionated Voice a message saying:

I came here from a trackback ping that was put at

However, I do not see that you refer to my post.

Just puzzled.

Comment by Cosmic X — November 7, 2005 @ 4:10 pm
As of yet Jamal has not responded. This is what I call Islam Spam.

Needless to say, I have deleted the trackback ping. BTW, if you don't know what taqiyya is, click here.

The Current Of Life

Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Talmud Torah II paragraph 31:
'It is true, there was a need to write the things(the Oral Torah), but the Gemara is not a regular book, it is a living book, full of vitality. Someone who deals with "the science of literature" claimed: "Why are talented youth wearying themselves, sitting and learning the Gemara which is a labyrinth, a maze?" At first glance he is correct, the Gemara appears to be unorganized in comparsion to book "Mishneh Torah" by the Rambam which is organized. But the Gemara is the continuation of the current of life of arguments and noise, Halacha and Agadah. Can the current of life be quiet? Also within ourselves it isn't quiet, rather there is uninterrupted activity in the brain, in the heart, and in the blood's racing. Thus also the Gemara is a labyrinth of the current of life that flows profusively upon our Rabbis and their students, a current of faith, a current of inquiry of law and justice. The more that you are connected and caught up in this current of life, the more that you are filled with the vitality of the Oral Torah, the more you will perfect yourself and be healthy in your Judaism. "Happy is the man that...his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalms 1:1-2).'

Monday, November 07, 2005

Don't Forget Versailles

That is to say, the Versailles Wedding Hall in Jerusalem. From Arutz 7: Two Versailles Wedding Hall Owners Sentenced to 2.5 Years

This was a tragic event etched in the memories of most Israelis:
A crowded wedding reception hall collapsed Thursday night in Jerusalem, killing at least 25 people and injuring 250, police said.
I was in reserve duty at the time, guarding the gate of a small army base. I heard a lot of commotion from soldiers watching television in the dining room of the base. After I finished my shift, I went to see what the commotion was about. Horror! Some time afterwards the video of the wedding photographer was shown on television. I remember seeing the people dancing to some rowdy music, and then, all of a sudden, the floor collapses under them.


When I came home from reserve duty the mourning notices were pasted up all over Jerusalem.

The Answer To My Riddle

The riddle:
"With a kamatz he is one of three, with a cholam it is one of eight."
The answer (drumroll): The Hebrew letters Chet and Mem, when vocalized with a kamatz, make up the word Cham, one of Noach's three sons. When the vocalized with a cholam, these letters are Chom, heat, one of the eight things that will not cease:
"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."(Genesis 8:22)

Two Versions Of Rabin's Last Speech

Version 1: Jerusalem Post

Version 2: WZO

The differences? There are slight, benign variations in the translation to English. But I'm posting this because the Jpost version omits the following:
"There are enemies of peace who are trying to hurt us, in order to torpedo the peace process.

I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has ceased to engage in terrorism. Without partners for peace, there can be no peace.

We will demand that they do their part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and emotionally charged aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
An innocent omission?

The Murder of Earl Krugel

MentalBlog has an important post about this.

Off The Derech

Why do some baalei teshuva go "off the derech"? There are of course many answers to this question.

One reason is the desire to jump into mitzvah observance too quickly, before a solid base of faith is built. Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l used to say that faith is something that must be learned, just like one learns Chumash or Gemara. That is why the students in Merkaz HaRav and its related instutions spend time learning books like the Kuzari and the writings of the Maharal.

The rush to observe mitzvot before developing a solid faith stands in contradiction to the Mishnah (Berachot 2:2): "Why does "Shma" precede "Vehaya Im Shamoa"? In order that one should take upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven first, and afterwards take upon himself the yoke of mitzvot.

Without a strong faith, it is easy to go "off the derech."

For more on this see Torat Eretz Yisrael by Rabbi David Samson pages 15 - 17.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Haveil Havalim #43

I've been boring myself and my readers lately with my rantings about Rabinfest 2005, and I did not think I had anything worthy to submit to Haveil Havalim. Therefore I was surprised to see that I was mentioned this week's edition. Thanks Jack! Check it out at Random thoughts.

Intifada in France

Don't miss this post at the Dry Bones Blog. Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen reveals to us a little about the creative process that goes into making a cartoon. He also seems to upset some people (Read the comments).

A Riddle For Parshat Noach

My younger daughter asked me this riddle at the Shabbos meal:
"With a kamatz he is one of three, with a cholam he's one of eight."
Do you know the answer?

Update: I just realized that my word for word translation from Hebrew to English is misleading. Here it goes again:
"With a kamatz he is one of three, with a cholam it is one of eight."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Rabinfest 2005: The Left's War Against Religious Zionism

Caroline Glick writes in the Jerusalem Post:
The Left has been waging its culture war against religious Zionism at least since Menachem Begin's ascension to power in 1977. Since the enactment of the Oslo process with the PLO in 1993, that war has become the main objective of the Left. It is an objective that eclipses the importance of attaining either security for the state or peace with the Arabs.

This war is nowhere more apparent than in the commemoration of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin 10 years ago today. Indeed, as the years have gone by, in the service of the culture war against religious Zionists, Rabin himself - who he actually was and what he stood for - has been all but forgotten.
Orit Shohat proves Carline Glick's point:
Rabin's assassination was a consolidating event for the hard core of the secular left, those who had loathed the religious right all along. This hard core sought a probing clarification, a creative hatred, a civil war over the future path of Zionism, and had no patience with explanations, justifications and movements for reconciliation like Tzav Piyus.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rabinfest 2005 At The Jerusalem Post

Rabinfest 2005 has started in earnest at The Jerusalem Post.

One article, by Jonathan S. Tobin, is actually pretty good:
IN THE mythology of the Jewish Left, it was Rabin's murder that cut short the peace process. According to that narrative, had Rabin lived, he would have been able to lead Israel's people to accept peace and his strength would have ensured that the Palestinians did the right thing too.
Another article, by Yossi Beilin, attempts to promote the leftist mythology that Tobin warns us about:
His solution involved an effort to reach a settlement with all the Arab countries by the end of the 1990s. He supported the Oslo process, and if he had lived and remained in power, he would have obtained a final status settlement by May 1999, the date agreed upon with the Arab states, in the spirit of the Clinton plan and our own Geneva Initiative.
Yet another article, by Yoram Peri, is also full of typical leftist dribble. The Jerusalem Post informs us that Yoram Peri "is head of the Chaim Herzog Institute for Media, Politics and Society at Tel Aviv University." But they don't tell us that he was a spokesperson for the Israel Labor Party, a political advisor to Rabin, and president of the New Israel Fund!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A New Type Of French Fries?

Click here.

Joe Settler gives the French a piece of his mind.

More on this: C&R, LGF.

Four Years Since Rehavam Ze'evi Was Murdered

As the Israeli MSM celbrates Rabinfest 2005, few recall the anniversary of another murder.

Rabinfest 2005: Rabbi Yisrael Rosen Takes On The Rabin Cult

Rabinfest 2005: Uzi Benziman

Uzi Benziman of Ha'aretz wants to inundate the public with leftist mantras:
Instead of dealing with Rabin's "heritage," the public debate must be inundated with examinations and interpretations of the causes leading to the tragic ending of his public mission. The annual commemoration days must be used as catalysts to teach insights on the dangerous implications of incitement. Among other things it must focus on the limits of public controversy, the duty to obey the law, the proper rules of the game for making national decisions, the precedent threatening democratic society's ability to continue functioning after the political assassination of its leader, the built-in contradiction between the halakha edict, or the intention of the rabbis interpreting it, and an order by the authorized government.
Sorry Uzi, I'm tired of being inundated with leftist nonsense. Instead, I will inundate myself with Torah!

Keep It Clean: A Thought For Parshat Noach

"Of the clean beasts, and of beasts that are not pure, and of fowls, and of everything that creepeth upon the earth." (Genesis 7:8)

Why does the Torah speak at length and say "and of beasts that are not pure" when the Torah could have been brief and say "and of impure beasts"? Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi learned from the wordiness of this verse a very important lesson: That one should choose his words wisely, and not say things that are indecent (see Pesachim 3A).

This applies not only to the spoken word, but to the written word as well. In this blog I often deal with heated issues, and sometimes I wonder if I have passed the bounds of what the Torah permits to say/write. It is not hard to do so, especially when blogging as I do under an alias.

In short, let's keep it clean.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Has The "Cidor" Gone Sour?

Peggy Cidor has written a real tear-jerker about how the Hareidi School System discriminates against Sephardic girls:
But Rahel still hasn't begun the school year because she hasn't been accepted into any educational institution within the haredi system.

She is convinced that she has been rejected from four of the most prestigious schools, despite her high grades and commendable behavior, for one reason only: because she is Sephardi and the schools are Ashkenazi.
Only at the end of the five page article is the truth revealed:
Still at home, Rahel says that is discouraged and fears that her reputation has been ruined. She is ready to "give in," she says, and attend a less-prestigious school.
In other words, she was or could be accepted to a "seminar", but not one of the prestigious ones. [Sniffle]

A Google search on "Peggy Cidor" brought me to the following:
Ms Cidor is a member of Women of the Wall, an organisation launched 14 years ago to challenge centuries of tradition that permits only men to wear shawls and speak prayers from the Torah at the wall. But the organisation's broader aim is to break the grip of men over Orthodox religious practices that, among other things, exclude women from becoming rabbis.
Do you think the lady has an axe to grind?

Rabinfest 2005: M.J. Rosenberg

Here's an excerpt from a ridiculous article by M.J. Rosenberg in jpost:
Rabin hoped that, within five years, he could have achieved peace with the Palestinians and thereby removed Iran's pretext for an attack on Tel Aviv.

It didn't happen. Rabin was assassinated, and with him went the chance of achieving a final status agreement on schedule. But the chance to achieve Rabin's goal remains. In fact, the withdrawal from Gaza makes it even more likely.
What is this guy smoking?

Rabinfest 2005: Mofaz Gets Into The Act

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz spouts a Rabin Cult mantra: The lesson from Rabin's murder has apparently not been learned:
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday that "Unfortunately, the lesson from (former Prime Minister Yitzhak) Rabin's murder has apparently not been learned. The evil spirit of violence, violation of the law, and defiance of the State's authority, up to physically assaulting soldiers and officers on duty and threatening leaders and state functionaries, still persists and is perhaps even getting stronger."
All this from a man who acted contrary to two democratic decisions of his own party against the "disengagement." Ya'ani democrat.

David Hatuel is Engaged

Last night Arab terror victim and former Gush Katif resident David Hatuel got engaged. He and his fiancee Limor held an engagement party at Machon Meir in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem. Cosmic X happened to be there at the beginning of the party. Among the notables present was MK Effie Etam. When David and Limor arrived, a local journalist requested to interview Limor but she politely refused. Later on, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu also arrived. Read more from Arutz 7.

Update: ynet(Hebrew) ynet(English).

Monday, October 31, 2005

Rabin Murder Questions

Whether or not any of the Rabin murder conspiracy theories are correct, the murder itself and the behavior of the establishment in Israel raises a lot of questions. Here is a Hebrew web site that comes to a questionable conclusion (that Shimon Peres is responsible for the murder), but raises interesting questions, with supporting documentation, that cannot be ignored.

BTW, the owner of the site, David Rotshtein, is suing Shimon Peres for slander.

Update: Amir's prosecutor also has questions.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pass The Mustard Please

I just discovered a new blog called Chardal (mustard). Actually, Chardal is an acronym for Charedi Leumi(National ultra-Orthodox). In his(her?) own words:
While on a societal level, it is true that most communities fall into one of these categories, a third option is gaining strength in Eretz Israel. Torah communities that uphold the ideology of Maran HaRav Kook Zt"l have been established in Israel during the past few decades. Communities that uphold the standards of Torah learning and observance while still feeling a responsibility towards those mitzvahs that apply on a national level.
I can identify with that!

This blog looks promissing. Pass the mustard please.

Rabinfest 2005 Is Underway!

Yes, it's that time of year. For the next couple of weeks, we will be bombarded by the Israeli MSM with lies, half-truths, distortions, and plain idiocy with regards to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

To start the ball rolling, read this article at Ha'aretz. The inept Carmi Gillon still has something to say.

If you like to vomit, read this piece of nonsense by Rabin lackey Eitan Haber.

The good news is that comic relief is available. Pay your respects at The Church of Rabin And Peace.

Update: Ze'ev has something to say to Carmi Gillon.

Update: More Gillon saliva at ynet.

Make It Vibrate!

The cellphone is a great invention, no question about it. Unfortunately, just like many other great inventions, its potential for abuse is great.

One of the darker sides of the cellphone is when it starts ringing when you are in the synagogue. Many synagogues in Israel have a sign at the entrance reminding worshippers to turn off their cellphones before entering. Unfortunately, many people do not heed the warning and the prayers are sometimes marred by the sound of the various cellphone rings/melodies. Here I confess my sins as I too was once guilty of this. My wife had chosen to call me in the middle of Mincha, and the strains of Fur Elise filled the synagogue. I don't think that Beethoven would have been proud.

Since then my cellphone is always set to vibrate, and not to ring. Sometimes I miss calls because I don't fell the "good vibrations". However, this is the price I pay for not having my cellphone "go off" at the "wrong" time.

Why am I writing all this? Recently I was at a funeral. A large crowd with tears in their eyes gathered to pay last respects to the deceased. A rabbi was in the middle of his eulogy. All of a sudden, somebody's cellphone rings with a nice cheery melody! How do you spell inappropriate?

So my advice to all is to keep the cellphone set on vibrating mode, and of course not to waste time on needless conversations.

Haveil Havalim #42

Batya has done a great job as usual. You can read it at Shiloh Musings or at Me-ander.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Whither American Orthodox Jewry?

As one who has not been in the States for a l o n g time, I have to rely on others to know what is going on the Jewish community. Not too long ago I posted this, and today I read the following criticism of American Orthodox Jewry by Orit:
But Torah is not about doing what's right anymore, is it? It's about making enough money to send kids to Jewish day schools, so that one day, they could also have a big house and two cars in the same neighborhood and send their kids to the same school and shul, and so on and so forth, forever.
Is Orit correct in her assessment of America's Orthodox Jewish community? Is this what we are praying for?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Results of Appeasement

I imagine that the media spin will be that this act of wanton murder was retaliation for the killing of terrorist Luis Saadi. But the truth is that Israeli policy since the Oslo Agreements, including the expulsion of Jews from the Gaza Strip, has taught the Arabs that terrorism works. And it is the regular Israelis, the people that buy their vegetables in the Shuk and ride on the busses, are the ones who pay the price. The politicians, riding in their Volvos and surrounded by their bodyguards will continue to make "good will gestures" and "painful concessions." But it is the man on the street who feels the pain of the bomb shrapnel and the pain of mourning the loss of loved ones.

Update: This just in from Ha'aretz:
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack soon after the blast, saying the bombing was retaliation for the death of its military leader, Luay Sa'adi, in an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank several days ago.
How predictable.

Update: Ha'aretz article updated to include the following:
Military sources, however, were quick to point out that a bomb attack of this magnitude took longer than three days to plan.

The Meme Seven

Mr. Zman Biur has infected me with "The Meme 7". Without further ado:

7 Things I Can Do:
- Tie my shoes.
- Speak Hebrew fluently with a pathetic American accent
- Bang out chords on my guitar long enough to drive my wife crazy
- Bang out chords on our piano long enough to drive my wife crazy (usually much quicker than the guitar)
- Sleep during the daytime, even when the kids are razing a ruckuss
- Build a Sukkah
- Write this blog

7 Things I Can't Do:
- Count the number of grey hairs in my beard
- Count the numbers of wrinkles on my face (maybe I could. I just don't want to.)
- Slam dunk
- Read Ha'aretz without finding something ridiculous
- Get rid of the fungus on my feet
- Dance
- Listen to Kol Yisrael radio for more than five minutes without getting aggravated.

7 Things I Hope To Do In My Life:
- Get over my mid-life crisis
- Daven vatikin every morning
- Win the lottery (well, I should probably try buying a ticket first)
- Learn full time
- Learn to speak Arabic
- Meet the Messiah
- See the Temple rebuilt

I hereby infect:

Sultan Knish

Update: I was also infected by Ze'ev.

What's Happening?

I've been more or less disengaged from the MSM and the blogosphere since the start of Sukkot, just like I was last Pesach. Has anything interesting happened? Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Haveil Havalim #41 At Biur Chametz

But you all probably knew that already! I was too busy before the holiday to be online. As usual, we worked up to the last minute. We made the "rings" and bound the lulavim at the last minute. Alright, enough excuses.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

'Tis The Season To Be Exhausted

I'm totally wiped out. Preparing for Yom Kippur, fasting, praying, building a Sukkah, etc. has taken its toll on me. In addtition to this, my son is selling the "four species" this year. This means that his father (that is to say, yours truly) has to wake up early in the morning to drive him and his merchandise to the place where the sale takes place. Zzzzzz...some more caffeine, please.

There is one mitzvah I'm really looking forward to observing this year, and I plan to fulfill it to the utmost: sleeping in the Sukkah.

It is interesting to note that Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) is a holday that has special significance for non-Jews. You can read about that here.

May it be His will that we witness the day when Jews as well as gentiles will come to the Holy Temple to celebrate Sukkot together.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Different Kind Of Yom Kippur

My wife had given birth to our second child a month and a half earlier, and was nursing her. Our oldest was two years old. According to halacha, my wife had to fast. I wondered, should I spend all day in the synagogue as usual on Yom Kippur, or should I take care of the two year old at least part of the day so that my wife's fast would be easier?

I called Rabbi Shlomo Min-HaHar zt"l. He was incredulous that I even asked the question, and replied that of course I should help my wife take care of the children.

So that Yom Kippur, while everyone was in the synagogue praying Minchah and Ne'ilah, I was wheeling my first born around the neighborhood in his stroller.

Here's a link that deals with some special situations on Yom Kippur.

Gmar Chatima Tova!

Selichot At The Speed Of Light

This was bound to happen to me after what I posted about selichot yesterday. The shaliach tzibur this morning was on the way to entering the Guinness Book Of World Recordings for the fastest selichot ever. I think that he was hydroplaning over a lot of the verses that connect the selichot together. I was pretty miserable, and so was my 9 year old son who came with me to pray this morning. Then of course, when the time comes to say Shema Koleinu, he slows down and really hams it up, losing his chance to enter Guinness' book.

Oh well, worse things have happened to the Jews.

Two Prophets Speaking In The Same Style?

Joe Settler asks "Has America Jewry Disengaged?":
For some reason, the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes hasn’t rocked their lives or shifted their foundations. I would not be far off to say that it affected their lives almost indifferently. For many, it seems that Katrina, while an undeniably awful event, completely displaced something that should be much closer to their hearts.
Meanwhile Ze'ev observes that "Money Talks & American Jewry Has Spoken...":
A little over a month ago, the OU (Orthodox Union) launched two fundraising campaigns, one was to assist those who were expelled from their homes as part of the "Disengagement" plan, and the 2nd was to help those who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Well, the results are in. Here is how much money American Jewry contributed to each fund:

Drum roll please...

Gush Katif Fund: $170,000

Hurricane Katrina Fund: $600,000+
Amazing, isn't it? Actually, we have two bloggers blogging in very different styles but reaching the same conclusion. The question is, are they correct?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Why The Lulav Crisis?

There seems to be two different versions as to why there may be a shortage of lulavim this year. Ha'aretz:
The ban had been the result of an Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture decision to forbid the cutting of fronds from date trees at el-Arish in the Sinai in order to protect them from damage.
This seems pretty ridiculous. Removing many branches from a palm tree may be detrimental, but removing one or two fronds should not harm the tree. We've been celebrating this holiday for thousands of years and I don't remember hearing such claims. Yated Ne'eman as quoted by Arutz 7 gives a different reason:
The Israeli market demands some 500,000 kosher lulavim a year for the Sukkot holiday, and the vast majority of this number are imported from Egypt. This year, however, one importer - Avi Balali of Segulah, north of Kiryat Gat - has managed to convince Egypt to drastically reduce the amount of lulavim it exports, and to allow him exclusive rights on that limited amount.

A report in the Hebrew weekly Yated Ne'eman alleges that Balali, a non-observant Jew, bribed Egyptian officials to this end.
If this report is not true, Yated owes Mr. Balali an apology. If it is true, unscrupulous is too kind a word for this man.

The Selichot Experience In The Eyes Of A Ba'al Teshuvah

I believe that the first time that I said selichot I was at 770 Eastern Parkway on a Saturday night with "the Rebbe". Someone gave me the selichot booklet with old yellowed pages. I could not follow what was going on. At the end the Chasidim started singing something, I think it was some of the Aramaic that we say at the end of the selichot. I understood nothing, and I couldn't even hum along with them since I did not know the tune. I had this embarrassed kind of feeling that one gets when you are the only one in the room that does not know what is going on. But this wasn't a normal room. This was 770, with hundreds of black-frocked Chasidim singing and dancing while poor Cosmic X stared confused. (That weird, embarrassed and confused feeling was my lot quite often during the first year of Teshuvah.)

The rest of the selichot that year were not any better. It meant waking up earlier than usual to pray in the local synagogue. These guys had been saying the selichot since they were little kids, and they knew how to finish them off with blinding speed. (I'm not sure how many of them understood what they were saying.) All this was of course was a prelude to the Shacharit Indianapolis 500, which would be over in 25-30 minutes.

Later on when I moved to Israel my Hebrew vocabulary expanded, and my understanding of the selichot improved accordingly. The more I learned Torah, the more I understood what the authors of the Piyutim were alluding to. The composers of the selichot were great rabbis, who knew how to weave their incredible knowledge of Torah, Talmud, Midrashim and the Hebrew language into amazingly creative poetry. I also purchased an excellent book a few years ago that explains all of the selichot in depth, and I've really come to appreciate them. They are a true delicacy!

The bottom line of this post is that you get out of the selichot what you put into them. Take the time to learn the selichot, and find a minyan that prays at a speed that you feel comfortable with. If you are a beginner, don't get discouraged. Selichot can and should be a meaningful experience.

Haveil Havalim #40

Ze'ev at Israel Perspectives has done an incredible job. Check it out!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Women And Fasting On Tzom Gedaliah

My daughter told me that some girls in her Beis Yaakov Seminar did not fast on the Fast Of Gedaliah. I told her that as far as I know they are required to fast, unless they are pregnant or nursing. Of course, nobody in her 10th grade class fits that description. She wanted proof so I showed her the appropriate chapter in the Shulchan Aruch.

Is there anyone out there that can explain why some women do not fast?

Before The Zionist Period

Check out Emet m'Tsiyon's latest post. An excerpt:
It is clear from this post and other sources from that period of history, that the Arab Muslims in Israel saw themselves as superior to the non-Muslims and as having the duty to defend the Empire and its social system which kept the dhimmis in thrall. NeoPhytos and other 19th century authors quoted on this blog make it clear that the Jews in Israel at that time were the low man on the totem pole, more oppressed and humiliated than even the Christian subjects of Sultan. In other words, contrary to currently widespread conventional views of the pre-Zionist period in Israel, views promulgated by Arabs, by Leftists, and by Western journalists, diplomats, and statesmen, Muslims lorded it over non-Muslims, exploiting them economically, extorting money and valuables from them, often keeping them in a state of fear, and habitually humiliating them.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

As The Stomach Growls

Cosmic X and Jews all over the world are fasting today. This is not because that we are trying to lose all of the weight that we put on after two days of holiday meals! Today is the Fast of Gedaliah:
"Tzom Gedaliah (Fast of Gedaliah) is an annual fast day instituted by the Jewish Sages to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah Ben Achikam, the Governor of Israel during the days of Nebuchadnetzar King of Babylonia. As a result of Gedaliah's death the final vestiges of Judean autonomy after the Babylonian conquest were destroyed, many thousands of Jews were slain, and the remaining Jews were driven into final exile."
Read more about the Fast of Gedaliah here, here, and here.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Last Post Before Rosh HaShannah?

This will probably be the last post before Rosh HaShannah. Best wishes to all for a good, sweet New Year.

Some links for Rosh HaShannah:




R' Moishe Passed Away

Last Friday R' Moishe passed away in the hospital. Friends and family took part in the funeral of this wonderful man who left this world with a good name. Tears flowed for the man who had not an enemy. He returned his soul to his Creator, while his body rests in the holy soil of the land of Israel. May his memory be a blessing and may his family be comforted with the rebuilding of Zion.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Still Orange In Jerusalem

It's amazing how many cars are still sporting the orange strips of cloth in protest of the "disengagement." The Jewish communities in Gush Katif and Northern Shomron were destroyed over a month ago by the Israeli government. The government knowingly trampled on our Torah, the Torah that states unequivocally that we are obligated to settle these places: "...for I have given you the land to possess it."(Numbers 33:53) More than a month has gone by since these areas have been ethnically cleansed of Jews by other Jews, to the great applause of the "civilized" nations of the world. In spite of the time that has passed, the orange can still be seen on the backpacks of many as well as on numerous automobiles.

Are the people sporting the orange strips just too lazy to remove them? Are they living in denial of the tragedy that has befallen the nation? Do these people believe that displaying orange will spare the communities have been bulldozed into a pile of rubble by the IDF or salvage the synagogues that have already been torched by Islamofascist beasts?

I can only speak for myself. The orange symbolizes my solidarity with those who were unjustly driven from their homes and deprived of their livelihoods. It is my way of showing to them and to the whole world that I was not part of this despicable act, and that I actively protested against it. It is my way of showing the criminals that took part in the expulsion that I have not forgotten what they have done. "The day after" that they spoke about is here, but their reprehensible acts have not been forgotten. They will not be swept so quickly under the rug. The wound is open, it is festering, and it will not heal until the settlers are returned to their homes and livelihoods, and those that ravaged the democratic process and defiled the IDF are held responsible for their deeds.

So if you see Cosmic X walking or driving through Jerusalem, still sporting anti-expulsion-orange, you'll know why.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What Is Jerusalem?

After lacking inspiration to write anything today, I finally got some after reading this humorous post by David at Treppenwitz. Read the post. It really is funny.

I detest shopping malls. For me they represent something that I totally despise: crass materialism. The last time that I was in the mall at Malcha, I remember the feeling of not being able to wait to get out of there. The place makes me ill. Cosmic X and shopping malls don't mix.

For me Jerusalem is not the shopping mall in Malcha. Jerusalem for me is the neighborhoods that are full of Batei Midrash and steeped with piety. Jerusalem is the men who get up before dawn to say selichot and to pray shacharit before heading off to work. Jerusalem is the boys and girls that fill the streets and busses in the morning on the way to their respective places of learning. Jerusalem is the soldiers on Sunday morning at the Central Bus Station on their way back to their units after spending the Sabbath at home. Jerusalem is the shuk in Machane Yehuda. Jerusalem is the City of David, the Old City, and the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is the yearning for the redemption of Israel and of the entire world.

That's Cosmic X's Jerusalem folks. I left the shopping malls behind in New Jersey.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Somebody Needs To Know The Time Glad That I'm Here

The title of the post is from the lyrics of a Beatles tune. I think John Lennon was trying to describe the life of a boring guy and his boring life. But what does this have to do with Cosmic X in Jerusalem?

About a week ago I was walking down Jaffa Street and somebody asked me where the Central Bus Station was. I pointed him in the right direction, quite pleased that I was able to help a total stranger who was unfamiliar with the territory. All of a sudden I thought about that lyric, "Somebody needs to know the time, glad that I'm here." Well, I thought to myself, that's me, isn't it?

The fact is that I lead a very hectic and interesting life, and it is really too bad that I have only 24 hours a day. Is it ridiculous to be happy that you were able to help somebody? Is it a sign of being bored and/or boring?

I saw this today at Mystical Paths:
Sometimes one has an opportunity to do a favor, a kindness, for another. It may seem like a small thing, even insignificant in fact. However, to the recipient, it may be a life saver. And if so, one may have saved a life! Or a family! An impact that could literally, if we had such vision, be counted for generations!

Being kind to another, helping each other out, goes beyond the obvious impact of the event. Don't hesitate when the moment arrives, help your fellow!
I think that says it all. I'd be happy to give you the time of day.

Havel Havelim #38 At Kesher Talk

Judith at Kesher Talk has put together a nice collection of links from all over the jblogosphere. The links are oraganized by subject: Yamim Noraim and Everything else. Enjoy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Biur Chametz On Israeli Road Deaths

Biur Chametz has posted the second post in his series analyzing road deaths in Israel. Instead of the usual hype that accompanies this subject in the Israeli MSM, Zman Biur gives us data, graphs, and a thoughtful analysis. Thanks ZB!

The City Of Faith

Here is a must see photo-essay about the "City of Faith" that was set up by those who were expelled from Atzmona by our evil government. (Hat tip: IsraelReporter)
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