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.
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