Monday, March 31, 2008

Safety in Israel

Those guys at Mystical Paths churn out another great post.

Two Minute Pizza

It's that time of year again. On one hand we have to get rid of all of the Chametz before Passover. On the other hand, who has time to cook when there is so much work to be done?

Usually you need at least an hour to make pizza. Kneading the dough, cooking the sauce and baking the pizza is a time consuming and labor intensive endeavor. Do you want to eat pizza? Here's my recipe for making pizza in only two minutes!

First you start off with a healthy whole wheat pita. We don't have time to make dough, there is pesach cleaning to be done. Another advantage of using pita is that there is no doubt with regards to the bracha that is to recited: HaMotzi Lechem Min HaAretz.

We don't have time to make tomato sauce either. Instead we just pour some ketchup on the pita.

The next step is the za'atar. Don't forget that za'atar!

Finally, we top the whole thing off with a couple of slices of yellow cheese. A minute and 20 seconds of microwave radiation later we have the finished product.

Don't forget! This pizza needs netilat yadayim, hamotzi, and birkat hamazon. Take the time out to do the mitzvot properly even if you are in a rush to finish your pesach cleaning.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Study Finds: Over 40% of Headlines are 'Pure Speculation'

I've blogged quite a bit about the sad state of the about the MSM in general, and the Israeli MSM in particular. There has always been yellow journalism, but I can't help feeling that the profession has really gone down hill in the last thirty years.

Now my subjective feelings are backed up with empirical evidence:
A new media study shows that speculation in Israeli headlines has jumped by 250% in the past 20 years.

The research was carried out by Dr. Moti Zeiger of the School of Media in the Netanya College, who also serves as the Chairman of the Israel Association for Communications.

Zeiger researched 1,745 front-page headlines in the three leading Israeli newspapers since 1985, and came up with this tidbit: A third of the headlines relate to events that may never happen.

Most significant is the fact that the phenomenon is very much on the rise. Twenty years ago, only 17% of the headlines were speculative, while today, that number has risen to 41%.

The newspapers that were researched: Yediot Acharonot, Maariv, and Haaretz.

Dr. Zeiger has published research on various topics having to do with media and the press, including internet talkbacks, the media's role in shaping the structure and limits of public dialogue on disputed issues, journalists as representatives of the community and culture in which they operate, the clash between obligation to country and to their profession, reality shows, and more.
It just goes to show that we do live in a alma deshikra, a world of falsehood.

HH #160

See it at Life In Israel.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Parshat Parah: Holy Hyssop!

Every so often I am reminded how fortunate I am to have made my home here in Israel. I mentioned in a previous post that here the Torah comes to life. As I was walking through the Jerusalem forest my eyes spotted something that you just don't see in Monsey or Borough Park:

This is the shrub that is commonly known by its name in Arabic, za'atar. The Hebrew word for it is Eizov, and is usually translated to English as hyssop. Nowadays it is commonly used as a spice. The hyssop is mentioned in this week's special Torah reading, parshat parah. It is used to sprinkle the mixture of the ashes of the red heifer and water on whatever needs to be purified(Numbers Chapter 19):
And for the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the purification from sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel. And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave. And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him; and he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook zt"l used to point out that from the haftarah of parshat parah (Ezekiel Chapter 36) we learn that the Jewish Diaspora is a desecration of God's name:
And I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they came unto the nations, whither they came, they profaned My holy name; in that men said of them: These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of His land.

Rashi explains the diaspora is a desecration of God's name because in the eyes of the nations it is as if God lacks the ability to save His people and His land.

This desecration of the Divine Name cannot last forever:
But I had pity for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations, whither they came.

In contrast to the diaspora, kibbutz galuyot, the ingathering of the exiles, is a sanctification of God's name:
Therefore say unto the house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord GOD: I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name, which ye have profaned among the nations, whither ye came. And I will sanctify My great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.

But this is not all:
And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.

This prophecy reminds me of what King David prayed(Psalms Chapter 51):
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast crushed may rejoice.
Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

May we all merit to see the fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy. Shabbat Shalom.

Update: I read in one of the parasha sheets that the hyssop is now a protected species in Israel, i.e. you are not allowed to pick it in the wild.

Tzvi Fishman also blogged Ezekiel 36, and ruffled a few feathers as usual.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Windows of Opportunity

Akiva has some food for thought.

The Torah Lives in the Land of Israel

The land of Israel is where the Torah comes to life. I was in the Jerusalem Forest the other day. Then I saw something that immediately brought the following verse to mind (Song of Songs 2:13):

הַתְּאֵנָה חָנְטָה פַגֶּיהָ, וְהַגְּפָנִים סְמָדַר נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ; קוּמִי לָךְ רַעְיָתִי יָפָתִי, וּלְכִי-לָךְ

"The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines in blossom give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Danger of Death!
The Talmudic Sages say: "Lashon Hara kills three - the speaker, the one who accepts it, and the one spoken about (as was in the case of Doeg who told Saul that the priests of Nob gave shelter and food to David, because Saul killed the priests, and later Saul was killed in retribution, as was Doeg [see Samuel I ch. 22]); and the one who accepts [the L"H] is worse than the speaker."

Sunday, March 23, 2008


דרשתי קרבתך בכל לבי דרשתיך

ובצאתי לקראתך לקראתי מצאתיך

ובפלאי גבורתך בקדש חזיתיך

נס פורים של צביה שריאל

The amazing events which led to Tzviya Sariel's release.

Haveil Haveilim #??????

Jack thinks that Purim is over. It ain't over here. LeChaim!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Swallowing the Bait: The Gullible Ortho-jblogger

Ocasionally I read posts on Ortho-jblogs from outside of Israel, particularly from the U.S.A., that cause me to shake my head with disbelief and ask myself: How can seemingly intelligent people be so gullible?

Now you, dear reader, are probably scratching your head and wondering what in the world is Cosmic X talking about. I'll describe a typical scenario:

Ortho-jblogger is a God fearing Jew that is interested in Israeli current events. Where does he get his news? He reads Ynetnews, Haaretz or Jpost. He comes across an item where religious Jews are described as doing or saying something outrageous. Ortho-jblogger immediately gets into a tizzy. How could religious Jews do such a thing? He starts blogging about the latest scandal. Sparks fly from his keyboard as he eloquently expresses his indignation. He is incensed at the desecration of the Divine Name! He is shocked by the insanity that has taken hold of his coreligionists! How could Rabbi Ploni do/say this or that? He publishes his post, feeling that he has done his duty in defending the honor of Torah and Judaism as he understands it. However, Ortho-jblogger does not realize that he has been had. He has swallowed the bait: hook, line and sinker.

Ortho-jblogger doesn't understand is that the sources that he gets his news from are not always accurate, and that's an understatement. Often the writers or the editors are promoting an anti-Torah agenda. They intentionally distort events and/or quote things out of context. Frequently their ignorance of Torah causes them to err. Sometimes a faulty translation of an article from Hebrew to English is at fault. In any case Ortho-jblogger is lacking the facts, an his rant is for naught. Not only that, but he will often disparage other Jews and even Torah scholars based on the erroneous information that he has received.

If Ortho-jblogger took his blogging more seriously, indeed, if he took his Judaism more seriously, he wouldn't hit the publish button so fast. He would consider the reliability of his news source. Do they have a particular agenda that may cause them to skew their reporting? Are they more interested in selling newspapers than in telling the truth? How would he rate their knowledge of Torah and Judaism on a scale from one to ten?

Ortho-jblogger would check out other news sources, such as Israel National News. True, INN has a right-wing religious agenda, and this influences their reporting. However, my experience is that they are for more accurate than any other source of news from Israel. Moreover, they are learned, God fearing Jews. When a rabbi says something or makes a halachic ruling they understand the issue. When INN errs they are not afraid to publish a correction.

Ortho-jblogger might also want to consult with the Ortho-jbloggers that live in Israel before he flies off the handle. There are quite a few of us. He will be better informed. His blog will become a source of information instead of a disseminator of disinformation. In this way he could save himself and the rest of us a lot of grief.

Get Ready For Jerusalem's Triple Purim

I'm rehashing an old post that is relevant for today:

This year we'll be celbrating three days of Purim in Jerusalem. This is called "Purim Meshulash"(triple Purim).

Here's a link that briefly mentions the laws of Purim Meshulash. This link deals with Purim Meshulash in more detail.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tzviya Sariel is Acquitted

Another ridiculous chapter in the annals of the Israeli Judicial System comes to an end:
Judge Nava Bechor of the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court acquitted 18-year-old Tzviya Sariel this afternoon (Wednesday) on charges of having pushed an Arab man three and a half months ago. Tzviya has been in prison ever since the incident, apparently because she refused to cooperate with the legal system, sign papers, or accept legal defense.

Judge Bechor, who showed impatience with both the defendant and the prosecution during the course of the 3.5-month-long case, announced her verdict around 3 PM, explaining that it was based on "reasonable doubt."

In a session two weeks ago, the Arab complainant essentially withdrew his accusations against Tzviya - which he said he never knowingly signed in the first place. He did not identify Tzviya as the party who allegedly pushed him, and told the court, "We are not interested in the accused being incarcerated, because she is a young girl... I tell you, in the name of the Haj, we are willing to withdraw the complaint because we want peace..."

The complainant also testified that he had been duped by the police into signing the charges against Tzviya. He said he had been ordered to sign something he could barely read: "When the police wrote, I don't know what they wrote. I just signed. They told me to bring my identity card and to sign. The person who wrote my statement in Arabic spoke in Hebrew..."

Despite this, Justice Bechor ordered Tzviya held in jail until the next session, which she originally scheduled for a month later. Shmuel Medad of the Honenu legal rights organization, who has been following the case closely, told Arutz-7 at the time, "There is simply a plot and scheme to keep Tzviyah in jail, for no justified reason... Even the judge herself seemed ashamed to keep Tzviyah in jail for another month. It's either orders from above or I don't know what, but the judge ran out without announcing the decision - she had the stenographer do it for her - and did not seem to be happy or proud of her ruling."

Tzviya had become a heroine of sorts in many circles, saying repeatedly that she refused to have any part in what she saw as a "show." She further said that no non-Torah-based legal system has the right to void Jewish national rights over any parts of the Land of Israel.

She remained consistent up to the very end, refusing even to allow a representative to sign a paper that would have enabled her to be freed a day earlier. Professor Hillel Weiss, of the Professors for a Strong Israel, had agreed to post a 5,000-shekel bond and take personal responsibility that she would appear for future court dates - beginning with the reading of the verdict on April 3. However, Tzviya refused to allow him to sign for her, whereupon the judge - "owing to the special circumstances of this case," she announced - agreed to advance the verdict reading to today.

The girl's stubborness was not appreciated in some religious-Zionist circles, however. Some felt that her parents and teachers were to blame for not encouraging her to do the minimum necessary to get her out of prison.

Tzviya's friends, however, were very supportive throughout her ordeal. "What goes on in the courtroom and police stations is truly a farce," one school friend [name withheld at her request] told Arutz-7. "The police simply make up accusations, and the judge makes rulings that have nothing to do with justice. She refuses to identify herself, so she has to stay in prison with criminals for weeks and weeks? What does that have to do with justice?"


Medad told Arutz-7 after the decision, "This case was unjustified from beginning to end. It was aroused by Iyad Amar, a Druze deputy commander in the Civil Administration, who cajoled the Arabs to enter the town of Elon Moreh and pick olives - after 20 years of not being allowed to do so, because it was the exact spot where Arabs of that village killed a young boy named Rami Haba. But this time, Amar told them that if they don't come to pick olives, they will be betraying their people... And then, this past Friday, the Rabbinic Court for the Nation and the Land ordered her release, yet for some reason, this order was simply never implemented."

The Public Committee for Tzviya, headed by former Gush Katif resident Datia Yitzchaki, announced that it is looking, together with Honenu, into the possibility of suing the Civil Administration offices who "arranged the provocation in the first place," as well as people in the State Prosecution and Prison Service who "abused and harassed" Tzviya.

Women in Green announced: "Tzviya represents the wonderful youth that is loyal to the Land of Israel and that fears neither the internal enemy nor the external enemy, and that with G-d's help will soon activate the Jewish revolution that we are all anticipating in order to attain the turnabout in which, as we will read in the Book of Esther on Purim [this week], 'the Jews will rule over their enemies.'"

Homesh First announced, "It has been proven once again that the State Prosecution is the enemy of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, and runs a campaign of persecution against them while selectively enforcing the law."

בבא בלוגרא

Don't miss this!

Some Food for Thought on The Fast of Esther

Eating is usually a pretty selfish act. It does not have to be that way. One can eat with the intention that the food will give him strength to serve God(bechol derachecha da'ehu). It is known that certain righteous individuals eat with very high kabbalistic intentions (leyached yichudim, leha'alot nitzotzot, etc.). They eat in order to say the blessing before eating, and not the other way around. Most people are not on that level. The stomach searches in vain for food to digest and lets us know that we are hungry. It demands our attention. We eat something, and our stomach is satisfied. Sometimes we are not even hungry. We see some tasty food, and we devour it because we enjoy its savor. This is just one manifestation of the trait of selfishness that dwells within us.

The fast enables us to free ourselves from our selfishness. Our self-serving instinct to satisfy our hunger and thirst is put on hold. The mind is now open to consider things that we may not have the time to think of when we are busy fulfilling our bodily desires. We remember that there are people that are hungry on a regular basis. What have we done to help them? We remember the terrible decree that Haman devised to wipe out the Jewish people, and how this decree helped us to become unified and to return to God. What have we done lately in terms of our relation to God? Are we getting closer, or are we distancing ourselves from Him? Where are we in relation to the Jewish people? Are we divisive rabble rousers, or have we encouraged unity? Are we sensitive to the suffering of others, or are we indifferent to problems as long as they do not occur in our own backyard?

These are just a few of the things that we can consider while our head aches and our empty stomach growls.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

HH #158


Zachor in Merkaz HaRav

I usually do not daven in Merkaz HaRav. However, I have for many years been accustomed to go there for the reading of parshat Zachor. The custom was that the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Avraham Shapira zt"l, would read "zachor et asher asa lecha Amalek...", remember what Amalek did to you. Rav Shapira would read the parasha in the traditional Ashkenazic pronunciation (Zochoir es asher oso lecho amoleik...). Afterwards the parasha was read a few more times from different students, each one reading with a different pronunciation and/or tune. We would hear modern Israeli version, a Sefardic Yerushalmi version, a Yemenite version, a Morrocan version, and even a Hasidic version (zuchoir asher usu lechu amuleik).

Last Shabbat I went to Merkaz HaRav for the first time since the massacre to hear parshat Zachor. I imagine that after the cowardly massacre of yeshiva students by a lowly Arab terrorist, an act that was so similar to that of biblical Amalek, hearing parshat zachor was a little bit different this year for the rabbis and the students. I know that it was for me. Rav Yaakov Shapira shlita was called up to read the parasha as his father had before him. A few students read the parasha after him more or less as I described above. Even after such a tragedy the Jewish people continue to stride forward. Torah, mitzvot and tefilah, and more torah, mitzvot and tefilah. Temidim kesidram umusafim kehilchatam.

After the tefilah everybody ( a couple of hundred worshippers) lines up to wish Rav Yaakov Shabbat Shalom.

Afterwards, at my son's request, we went down to see the site of the massacre, the yeshiva's library. This was an eery feeling, to see this place, full of holy books, which had become a killing field. The bullet holes were all over the place. There were bullet holes in the floor, caused by point blank shots fired by anti-Jew to make sure that those lying wounded would never get up again. Here, between the shelves laden with sacred tomes, absolute evil came to confront holiness and purity with the purpose of wiping it out. I sat down with my son at one of the tables in the yeshiva library to learn Mishnah, joining others that were already learning. The wicked one succedeed in cutting down the lives of eight pure and holy souls, but he failed in his task. Merkaz HaRav carries on with more resolve than ever.

The Hamans, Hadrians and Hitlers of the world make a lot of noise, cause a lot of destruction and misery, but they eventually die an eternal death. Our Arab neighbors are following the same path, which led them in the past to a Nakba. I have a feeling that another Nakba is on the way for them.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Among the sacrifices described in this week's Torah reading we find the following:
13. And if the entire community of Israel errs because a matter was hidden from the eyes of the congregation, and they commit one of all of all the commandments of the Lord, which may not be committed, incurring guilt; 14. When the sin which they had committed becomes known, the congregation shall bring a young bull as a sin offering. They shall bring it before the Tent of Meeting. 15. The elders of the community shall lean their hands [forcefully] upon the bull's head, before the Lord, and one shall slaughter the bull before the Lord. 16. The anointed kohen shall bring some of the bull's blood into the Tent of Meeting,
17. and the kohen shall dip his finger from the blood, and sprinkle [it] seven times before the Lord, before the dividing curtain.
18. And he shall then place some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting. And then he shall pour all the blood onto the base of the altar [used] for burnt offerings, which is at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
19. And he shall separate all its fat from it and cause it to [go up in] smoke on the altar.
20. He shall do to the bull just as he did to the bull of the sin offering thus he shall do to it. Thus the kohen shall make atonement for them [the community], and they will be forgiven. 21. And he shall take the bull outside the camp and burn it, just as he burned the first bull. It is a sin offering for the congregation. (Leviticus 4:13-21)
Rashi explains that we are dealing with a case that the Sanhedrin issued an erroneous decision regarding any matter in the Torah that incurs the penalty of excision, by declaring that matter permissible, and the community acted upon their instruction. Because of this erroneous decision, a special sacrifice is brought, which is known as the par he'elem davar.

It is interesting to note that the Torah itself takes into account the possibility that the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Israel's greatest rabbis, could make a mistake. Even the most outstanding Torah scholars are human. They are not infallible. We see also in the Talmud that the rabbis were not afraid to say that they were mistaken(Shabbat 63B, Eruvin 16B, 104A):

דברים שאמרתי לפניכם טעות הן בידי

If this is so for these men of great wisdom and piety, how much more so should the average man on the street be ready to admit his mistakes. A person should seek the truth without letting his personal honor get in the way.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Up From Shiva

I wasn't at Merkaz HaRav tonight. However I heard some of the eulogies on Radio Qol Hai. Once again, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef came to Merkaz HaRav. I was very moved by the way he strengthened and encouraged the students and the families. You can read a summary of the eulogies here.

Update: INN now has an English article up.

Shiva Calls

Photo Feature: Two Families Mourn in Strength

Menahem Avellim

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

שבר בת עמי

Here is What Ynetnews Won't Show You

Ynetnews recently published an article about a "gilui daat" poster. The article is a "work of art", a masterpiece of taking quotes out of context in order to make a media spin. Ynetnews did not provide the full text of the poster or even a high quality image that can be read.

Here is what Ynetnews wants to hide from you. Click on the photo below to see an enlargement that is readable. For those of you that do not understand Hebrew, I am sorry but I just do not have the time to translate this:

Here is my translation of the poster. Additions for the sake of style and understanding are included in square brackets:

With the assistance of Heaven

A Revelation of the Opinion of Torah
after the murder of eight holy young men in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem

The terrible situation of "For, behold, Your enemies are in an uproar, and they that hate You have lifted up the head"[Psalms Chapter 83] is a direct result of the lack of a fit government.

A fit Jewish government needs to act according to the fundamental rule that is that is adjudicated in the Jewish Code of Law (OC 329) that it is forbidden to compromise with gentiles that are coming to harm Jews or Jewish property, since every [act of] weakness invites additional violence and murderousness, as the Lubavitcher Rabbi vehemently warned.

The current ruling establishment in the land of Israel is walking on a path of increasing compromise to the Arab enemy, to those inside [the land of Israel] and to those outside, and in this way it is nourishing and inflating in their midst the illusion that they will be able to destroy the existence of Jews in the Holy Land, God forbid. Moreover, not only are they acting in weakness and compromise with regards to the Arab enemy, they also say that he [the enemy] is right, and thus give him more substantive power to harm us, God forbid. And what is most severe from all [of the above], they even supply weapons to the enemy that is directed towards the spilling the blood of Jews.

True Jewish leadership knows how to send the nation to war with the recognition of the justice of a war against the enemies of Israel, that they are the enemies of God that are coming to harm "Israel, my first born"[Exodus 4:22] and to steal the inheritance of God.

When going to war ,the Priest Anointed for War [see Deuteronomy Chapter 20] turns to the nation and infuses every soldier with the awareness that he is going to fight against enemies and not brothers. Therefore it is forbidden to have mercy or pity on the other side. Rather one must act out of the "holy strengths" of hating evil. Everyone is required to describe to himself what the enemy devises to do to us and to apply [this] to him "measure for measure". "Don't have mercy on them for they will not have mercy on you."

And in practice: First and foremost it is incumbent upon all of us to devote ourselves to the main and fundamental repair and to act for the establishment of a fit Jewish leadership. This in addition to blessed local actions, and in addition to the necessary repair that starts in everyone's private home: to cease to employ and to provide for the Arab enemies and to switch over to "Hebrew labor" and trade with Jews.

And may we merit to "the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities... to lay hand on such as sought their hurt"[Esther Chapter 9]. In those days at this time.

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef
Rabbi Daniel Stavsky
Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira
Rabbi David Drukman
Rabbi Ido Alba
Rabbi Gadi Ben-Zimra
Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv
Rabbi Uzi Sharbaf
Rabbi Yigal Shendorfi
Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer

The public is invited to hear how fit Jewish leadership speaks

in a gathering with Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburg
in honor of 6 Adar the Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabeinu may peace be upon him

that will take place on 6 Adar Beit (after the seven days of mourning) at 20:00 in Heftzadi Hall (21 Yirmiyahu St.) Romema Jerusalem

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Couple Of More Pics From The Funeral

The funeral for the eight Yeshiva students took place on an unusually hot day. Someone had chessed on his mind. He filled empty soft drink bottles with water and put them in a wheelbarrow along with some plastic cups. The sign says "Water, feel free to take a bottle."

This is one of the entrances to the Merkaz High Yeshiva High School. The sign mentions the Talmudic statement (Shabbat 88A) that the Jews re-accepted the Torah on Purim:

Friday, March 07, 2008


Lately I've been trying to post some words of Torah dealing with the weekly Torah reading. Unfortunately, I don't have time for that today. Instead I'll post a few links:

Pekudei in English with Rashi

Rabbi Kook on Parshat Shekalim: All For One

Aish HaTorah

Shabbat Shalom veChodesh Tov!

דרכי ציון אבלות

I just came back from the funeral at Merkaz HaRav. This article from INN describes the scene:
The eight Jewish martyr students who were slaughtered Thursday night in a terror attack on the Merkaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva are:

Doron Mehereta, 26, of Ashdod
Ro'i Rote, 18, of Elkanah in Samaria (Shomron)
Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld, 19, of Kokhav HaShachar (Shomron)
Yochai Lipshitz, 18, of the Old City of Jerusalem
Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, 16, of Shilo (Shomron)
Neriah Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem
Segev Pniel Avichayil, 15, of N'vei Daniel in Gush Etzion
Avraham David Moses, 16, of Efrat, Gush Etzion

Doron, Yonadav and Ro'i were students in Merkaz HaRav; the others were students in the LeTze'irim Yeshiva High School of Merkaz HaRav in the adjacent building.

Seven of the ten wounded students remain hospitalized. The public is asked to pray for the recovery of: Naftali ben [son of] Gila from Sderot, Yonatan ben Avital, Shimon ben Tirza, Nadav ben Hadas, Reuven ben Naomi and Elchanan ben Zehava.

The funerals began at near the main entrance to the capital, at Merkaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva, considered to be the heart of the national religious movement. The ambulances carrying the victims arrived around 10:30, making their way with difficulty through the large crowd of mourners and arousing new waves of sobbing and wailing with each arrival. Rabbi Benny Eisner, a veteran Merkaz HaRav student and teacher in the high school, led the mourners in the recital of Psalms.

The first eulogy was delivered by Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, who succeeded his late father, Rabbi Avraham Elkanah Kahana Shapira, at the helm of the yeshiva when the latter passed away just a few months ago. Rabbi Shapira spoke sobbingly of the "eight sons that we have lost in one day," and called for a "better and more believing leadership... This slaughter is a continuation of the slaughterous pogrom of 1929 in Hevron [when Arabs murdered with axes 67 Jews in their homes and synagogues]... The Land of Israel, which these eight loved so much and were so devoted for - we have to stop playing with it! We have to stop dividing it!.. Please pray for us, and for the yeshiva, that it should continue to grow and have influence..."

Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, head of the Merkaz high school, spoke next, in a voice breaking with emotion and tears: "G-d is just, and His ways are just... We have questions; but the questions are so difficult, so difficult... How is it possible to eulogize one Torah scholar on Rosh Chodesh Adar? But two? and three, and four, and five...?? Your ways are so hidden, Master of the Universe! ... In Adar, we increase joy - look how much joy You gathered to Heaven! They were in the midst of studying Torah, such joy, such purity... We have been left with such a hole... I just want to tell You, Master of the Universe, what great people You took: Yehonadav - he gave [nadav, in Hebrew] so much; what purity and simplicity... You took Yochai from us - he lives [chai] in G-d, what Torah study he did; even while they were setting up for the Purim party, he came to learn Torah... You took Segev Pniel of the Avichayil family - what a family, and what valour [chayil] in Torah! ... You took Yehonatan [meaning "G-d gave"] - what prayer, what Torah, what beauty... You took our dear Avraham David - just two days ago I had a long talk with him in his room - what knowledge he had, what integrity, what music he gave us with his Torah reading... and the youngest, Neriah - the candle of G-d, his light will be missing from us..."

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel and one who has been very close to the Yeshiva and its students for decades, was unable to attend because of ill health, but his assistant Rabbi Shmuel Zaafrani read aloud his message of eulogy.

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Rishon LeTzion, quoted verses speaking of enemies defiling G-d's holies, and asked, "How much longer, O G-d?... Whoever could have thought that the evil would have come to the gates of the yeshiva, with such cruelty... This is a tragedy of all of Am [Nation] Yisrael; we are all crying, we are all mourning... Let us arouse to distance ourselves from all hatred and disunity, and let us increase love, brotherhood and Torah study..."

Following the concluding eulogy by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, the eight families of mourners tore their shirts and recited aloud the Kaddish prayer.

At the conclusion of the eulogies and prayers, eight separate funeral processions set out for the various communities where the boys are to be buried. Yochai and Neriah will be buried in the Mt. of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. Announcements were made regarding each funeral - where the ambulance carrying the body would be stationed and from where the bus setting out for the burial was leaving.

National Union MK Effie Eitam noted Friday morning that “whoever chose the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva as a terrorist target knew it was the heart of national Zionism.” Virtually every religious-Zionist yeshiva in the country was founded and/or staffed by former students of the yeshiva.

Eitam, who learned at the yeshiva 30 years ago after living in the secular Ein Gev kibbutz, called the institution “the mother of all Zionist yeshivas” whose graduates serve in the IDF and have been at the forefront of development in Judea and Samaria. “The victims were murdered,” he declared, “but their hope and faith cannot be killed.”

Among the thousands of mourners at the funeral could be seen rabbis from around the country, as well as Minister Meshulam Nahari of Shas, MKs Nissan Slomiansky, Nissim Ze'ev, Ruby Rivlin, and Zevulun Orlev, and former MK Ehud Yatom. Benches were set up at the entrance to the yeshiva for the families of the victims, surrounded by the large crowd of mourners.
Here are some pics that I took. A mourning notice with the names of the victims:

The bodies were placed in the plaza in front of the Yeshiva on benches that came from the lecture hall. The name of each victim was placed on a shtender in front of his body:

The mourners:

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Arab Terrorists Attack Jerusalem's Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva: 8 Dead

Two Arab terrorists infiltrated Jerusalem's Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva at around 8:30 Thursday night and murdered eight Jews. At least 10 people have been wounded; three are in critical condition, a fourth victim was wounded moderately and six others, lightly.

The attackers entered from two separate entrances to the yeshiva and opened fire on the students before one of them was gunned down himself by an armed civilian. Witnesses say that the attack began in the seminary's library with the terrorists spraying bullets in every direction.

The yeshiva student who killed the terrorist, 40-year-old Yitzchak Dadon, said that he shot the attacker in the head with his personal weapon, after which another armed civilian "finished him off." Asked by a Channel 2 TV reporter what weapon the terrorist had, Dadon said, "A Kalachnikov," and turning to the camera, he added, "The Kalachnikov that you gave him, President Peres...."

The second terrorist hid in the yeshiva building, with subsequent reports indicating that the attacker was killed by responding security forces. Police are deployed in the surrounding neighborhood, and scoured the yeshiva and connected buildings. Most students in the building were evacuated after taking cover in the yeshiva's bomb shelter, according to police spokesmen.

Fifty ambulances responded to the scene, which emergency responders have called "a major incident." The wounded were evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital.

In Gaza City, Arab residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in the air in celebration of the attack against the Jews of Jerusalem.

Police forces are on heightened alert throughout the country.

The Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva is located near the entrance to Jerusalem, in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood. The yeshiva, founded by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, is at the heart of the national-religious movement in Israel.

I had just finished davenning Arvit when my cell phone started vibrating. My wife told me about the terror attack at Merkaz HaRav. She then said I should go bring my twelve year old son home. He was at a swimming lesson at an indoor pool that is a two minute walk away from the Yeshiva.

I went to the pool. The swimming lesson was over and and I found my son in the locker room getting dressed. The staff at the swimming pool would not let us leave the building for the police feared that another terrorist was at large. We waited for over half an hour before heading home.

On the way home we passed the Yeshiva. There must have been about twenty ambulances in front of the building. There were also police, journalists, and ZAKA. I told my son that the land of Israel is acquired through affliction. This isn't the first time that I've been close to an Arab terrorist attack.

I thought to myself about the dead. Young men at the prime of their lives, who had been sitting learning Torah, when animals disguised as humans cut their lives short. I thought about the wounded, some of whom may never really heal from this attack. I thought about the mourning notices that will be pasted up all over the city tomorrow, each one with a list of the grieving families. May the sick be healed and may the mourners be comforted with the building of Jerusalem.

I thought of the politicians that gave our enemies guns. May they rot in hell May they repent from their folly.

Update: I just read in the book HaHar HaTov HaZeh how Rabbi Min HaHar rebuked his daughter for cursing a chicken. Therefore I changed the end of this post, which was written at a time when my emotions overwhelmed me.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Book About Rabbi Shlomo Min-HaHar

Rabbanit Puah Shteiner has published a book (in Hebrew) about her father Rabbi Shlomo Min-HaHar, zt"l. I am currently reading it and it is really very good. You can read more about the book here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The New Badatzim

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed published an important article in lasts week's issue of BeSheva. Rabbi Melamed writes that one should be very wary of eating in a restaurant that has only "regular" kashrut and is not kasher lemehadrin. With regards to certain new badatzim that have sprung up lately, well Rabbi Melamed pretty much disses them.

Let the diner beware!
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