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.
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