Thursday, December 30, 2010

Katzav Convicted of Rape and Molestation

The verdict is in. He may be guilty and he may not be. I do not have faith in the Israeli Judicial System:
A three-judge panel of the Tel Aviv District Court unanimously convicted this morning former President Moshe Katzav of all charges against him, except for that of harassing a witness. He was convicted on two counts of rape, one count of an indecent act, sexual harassment of three women, and an attempt to obstruct justice. It is not known when the sentence will be handed down.

The tensions had been high in anticipation of the reading of the ruling, but as soon as Court President George Kara began without declaring Katzav innocent, it was clear that he had been found guilty of at least one of the charges against him.

The judges declared that Katzav, a former Transportation Minister, should not have accused the media of "trying him publicly," because he himself "used the media to his advantage whenever he could."

The State Prosecution is now facing strong criticism for having offered a relatively moderate plea bargain offer to Katzav, while the women's groups have been empowered.

Public officials praised Israel's justice system. Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman said that the "commandment not to sway justice had been fulfilled," while Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch said that the ruling proves that all are equal before the law. The prosecutor in the case, Ronit Amiel, said that it shows the strength of Israel's democracy. A woman, known only by her first initial Aleph, accused Katzav over four years ago of attacking her more than once when she worked for him in the Transportation Ministry. Three other women also accused him of similar, though less serious, crimes. The charges by one accuser - another woman known as Aleph, who worked for Katzav in the President's office - were dropped over three years ago.

Katzav strongly denied the charges against him throughout the last four years. At one point, he even held an angry press conference, charging the media - and especially Channel Two - with waging a witch hunt against him.

The judges said that Katzav's testimony had been "replete with lies," and that he should have accepted the plea bargain that was offered him. He turned it down at the time, saying he would fight for his complete innocence.

Katzav's wife Gila was not in court. His son broke down in sobs when the ruling was read aloud, while Katzav himself remained stone-faced.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that Moshe Katzav is innocent. Katzav could have avoided this mess if he had kept the laws of yichud and negiah. With regards to negiah, apparently Moshe Katzav admits that he sometimes hugged female members of his staff. If he had acted in accordance to Jewish law with regards to these matters any attempt to slander him would have been immediately written off.

I know a God fearing doctor who will not perform bodily examinations on any of his patients unless a member of his staff is in the room with him. This is in order to avoid any claims of improper conduct on his part. Where I work, even the so-called secular Jews know that you don't hug or even shake hands with a religious member of the opposite sex.

I hope the case will lead to a strengthening of modesty in the workplace and in general.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Terrible Translation at

This is just too funny:

Who are these "female rabbis"? Are they graduates of the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College, the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary, or both? Here is what they wrote:
The letter states, "There are quite a few Arab workers who give themselves Hebrew names. Yusef turns into Yosef, Samir turns into Sami, and Awabad turns into Ami. They ask to be close to you, try to find favor with you, and give you all the attention in world, they are actually here knowing to act with courtesy, acting as if they really care for you, say a good word, but their behavior is only temporary. The moment you are in their hands, in their village, under their control, everything changes."

"Your life will never go back to the way it was, and the attention you so desired will turn into curses, beatings, and humiliations," the letter warns.
Say what? My gut feeling was that there is something is very wrong here. A quick check on the Arutz 7 web site determined that the letter was not composed by "female rabbis", but by the wives of regular Orthodox rabbis. Someone at jpost translated "rabbaniot" (in Yiddish "rebbetzins") as "female rabbis"! Among the signatories: Rebbetzin Esther Lior of Kiryat Arba (Rabbi Dov Lior's wife) and Rebbetzin Shlamit Melamed of Beit El(Rabbi Zalmen Melamed's wife).

This reminded me of an old Yiddish saying:"It's a lot easier to become a rebbetzin than to become a rabbi." However, at jpost it's the same thing!

Monday, December 27, 2010

80 ultra-Orthodox Jews Enlist Into IDF Intelligence

The times they are a changing:
Eighty hareidi-religious men joined the ranks of IDF intelligence this week, becoming the largest group to do so in the history of the “Bina B'Yarok” (Intelligence in Green) program to bring hareidim into the corps.

The new inductees represent a 25% increase in hareidi-religious presence in the Intelligence Corp.

They will begin work in a variety of positions, working with communications, computers, GIS systems, and in research. Most will work with computers or in communications.

Young men from a variety of streams within the hareidi-religious community enlisted with Bina B'Yarok. Some are from the chassidic Gur and Sanz groups, others are Sephardi, and still others are “Litvaks,” members of communities based in European Jewish traditions.

The recruits came from cities across the country, including hareidi-religious strongholds like Beitar Illit and Modiin Illit (Kiryat Sefer) where IDF enlistment is often discouraged.
So How did the IDF succeed in enlisting them?:
Commanding officer Major Yoram Dan explained that the Bina B'Yarok program is designed with the haredi soldiers' unique needs in mind. The soldiers serve exclusively with men, are provided with food that meets demanding kosher specifications, and are given time to pray each afternoon, he said.

“Our goal is to make more options available for hareidi recruits,” he added.
This is a simple solution that could have been implemented a long time ago: Create different frameworks within the army that do not contradict the Hareidi way of life i.e. do not force them to serve with women etc. BTW, I know that not all of the recruits are "Hareidi" in the "black hat" sense of the word. Some of them are youth from from the National Religious community that found the “Bina B'Yarok” program appealing.

Behatzlachah to the new recruits!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Translating Hebrew to Yeshivish

This poster, as well as various variations of it, were pasted up in Jerusalem's religious neighborhoods. On the right is the message in Hebrew and on the left is the translation into English Yeshivish(click on the pic for enlargement!):

I like the way they translated it:

Bat Yisrael = Bas Yisroel
Eshet Avrech = Kollel Youngerman "wife"
"al pi torah" and "Posek" are left in Hebrew letters as is
Peah = sheitel
Mitpachat = tichle

And so on.

BTW, I sympathize with the poster's message.

Jpix on the Banks of the Old Raritan

Go for it!

This Week's Edition of Haveil Havalim...

can be found here!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Former Attorney General Mukasey: Pardon Pollard

More voices for freeing Pollard:
Former US attorney-general Michael Mukasey sent a letter to US President Barack Obama calling for Jonathan Pollard's sentence to be commuted to the time he has already served - 25 years.

"[Pollard] has not been alleged by anyone to have had any motive to harm the United States," Mukasey wrote Obama in the letter that was released Wednesday. "In these circumstances, a life sentence can only be considered utterly disproportionate to the crime."

"I had occasion myself to consider life sentences, and indeed to impose them," Mukasey wrote. "In more than 18 years on the bench, I imposed such sentences on four defendants," he went on. "Two of these had committed double murders and the two others were convicted of terrorist acts. The accusations against Pollard are not even close in their severity to those kids of crimes."

Mukasey noted that Pollard had passed information to a friendly country without intention to harm the US. "I think it would be proper for you to use your power as the President if the United States to release the man who has already paid a price far beyond what the severity of his deeds required."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Netanyahu Decides to Ask Obama to Free Pollard

Let's hope this helps:
Israel will formally and publicly ask U.S. President Barack Obama to free Jonathan Pollard, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday.

The appeal will represent a major step to rescue Pollard from a life term in prison for passing to Israel classified documents when he worked for the Pentagon. The usual punishment for the offense is up to four years in jail.

Prime Minister Netanyahu acted after appeals by Pollard’s wife Esther and a string of events and reports the past few weeks that have weakened the American case for imposing a life sentence on Pollard. The Prime Minister’s office stated that the decision to appeal to President Obama “was made following a series of talks and contacts…in recent months with senior U.S. administration officials.”

One of those leading the free-Pollard movement is former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, who revealed that he has spoken with President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at least six times. He recently has said that Pollard was not dealt with fairly.

Israeli governments have said they have made quiet efforts to free Pollard, and Prime Minister Netanyahu warned them that his appeal to President Obama may not succeed, if not backfire. Esther Pollard, citing her husband’s deteriorating health, said that “this might be my last chance to beg you to change your tactics. There is a greater risk in doing nothing.”

American sentiment never has been strongly behind Pollard, who is widely regarded as a spy although he was not convicted of passing on classified information and not for spying on the United States. In contrast, in Israel and in many Zionist communities in the Diaspora, Pollard’s name is cited as a captive and his name is mentioned in prayers for the return of missing Israel soldiers.

During Prime Minister Netanyahu’s previous term in office, he recognized Pollard as an Israeli agent and granted him Israeli citizenship.

"I intend to continue acting with determination for Pollard's release, both because of the State of Israel's moral obligation to him and also so that he might live with his family and be restoredf to health after his prolonged incarceration,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday.

Voices Against Assimilation

This is great to see:
Hundreds of people demonstrated in Bat Yam's Yoseftal Street on Monday evening. The demonstration, entitled "We Want a Jewish Bat Yam", was initiated by the city's residents and the Lehava organization. They were backed by activists from all over Israel who came out to protest what was termed "the Arab takeover of mixed cities."
Posters that accompanied the protest called to "keep Bat Yam Jewish," proclaimed "Jewish girls are for the Jewish people" and stated "Jews - let's win!". According to the posters, Arabs have been buying and renting apartments from Jews in Bat Yam, and taking Jewish girlfriends.

In recent years, thousands of Jewish girls have married Arab men who take them to their villages where they are then usually abused, activists claimed.

One demonstrator said that when Jews organized and acted, they recently succeeded in stopping a similar trend in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Ze'ev.
Read the rest and see the video...

With regards to this, I would like to emphasize something which I mentioned in my previous post:
In fact, a Jewish women that has sexual relations with a gentile is considered a zonah, and has disqualified herself from being able to marry a Cohen (Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Relations, Ch. 18).

In addition, please read Rabbi Eliezer Melamed's article "A Courageous Rabbinate":
Question: Can we, the Jewish people, who lived in the Diaspora for generations and suffered from harsh discrimination, possibly agree with a position that discriminates the Arabs? How can rabbis have written not to rent apartments to Arabs? Is that how we would have wanted to be treated while living in the Diaspora? Aren't we commanded in the Torah: "When a proselyte comes to live in your land, do not hurt his feelings. The foreigner who becomes a proselyte must be exactly like one who is native born among you. You shall love him as [you love] yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am G-d your Lord" (Leviticus 19:33-34)?

Answer: There is no similarity between the situation of the Jews in the Diaspora and that of the Arabs living in Israel. First of all, for most of the time spent in the Diaspora, Jews insisted on living in the framework of independent, Jewish communities which were isolated from the non-Jews amongst whom they lived. Secondly, the Jews living in the Diaspora never threatened the nation amongst whom they lived. They never made territorial or political claims or supported the enemies of the country they lived in. On the contrary, they greatly appreciated their host country, prayed for its welfare and scrupulously obeyed its laws, according to the halacha of 'dina d'malchuta dina' (the law of the land is the binding law). Thirdly, the Jews never demanded that their host countries grant them funds for living, education, and health. If the Jews weren't doubly taxed, they praised and applauded their government for its great kindness, for indeed, many times the Jews had to pay twice as much in taxes. Fourthly, in every land in which they lived, the Jews made a tremendous contribution to the prosperity of their host country. They invested their energies and talents in the development of the economy, agriculture, science, and culture. They did all this because of an ethical approach to life which encourages one to work for the betterment of the world.
Read the rest!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Einat Wilf: The Plague of Intermarriage Hits the Knesset

Those of you that follow this blog know that the subject of intermarriage has been on my mind lately. Last Friday, during the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, I came across an article in BeSheva that made a sad day even sadder. It mentioned that MK Einat Wilf from the Labor party gave birth to her first son at the age of 40. I know what you are thinking: What's so sad about that? It is sad because the father is a gentile, German journalist Richard Gutjahr! A Jewish MK is "married" to a gentile! I put "married" in quotes because Jewish Law does not recognize such a marriage. In fact, a Jewish women that has sexual relations with a gentile is considered a zonah, and has disqualified herself from being able to marry a Cohen (Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Relations, Ch. 18). This is sad indeed.

I did a bit of Googling and the story gets "better". This lady who married out "'worked as a Senior Fellow with the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute". What kind of policy were they planning over there? The "Final Solution"?

But wait, it gets "even better". She fancies herself as an expert on education. She even wrote a book, "Back to Basics: The Road to Saving Israel's Education (at no extra cost)." If she is really an expert she certainly knows that an educator, first and foremost, must set a good example. Marrying a gentile is not a good example, Ms. Wilf! And that is an understatement!

An additional note: Haddasah Magazine interviewed this lady. Could it be that they were not aware of her problematic personal life?. In any case here's a quote from the interview that tells us a lot about the Jewish lady who sleeps with a German:
Q. What is modern Zionism’s greatest challenge?

A. The cutting-edge issue is that Zionism has not realized the full extent of its revolutionary ideals. Zionism was about remaking Judaism for the modern age. It was not about subcontracting family law to a version of medieval Judaism. The fact that we took on the duties of a state while keeping in place the rabbinical structures that were developed for a communal life without a state was not the right path. I believe the Knesset is the new Sanhedrin of the Jewish people in Israel. As such, it has the right to remake Jewish law.
It is amazing that somebody with a doctorate can say such incredibly stupid things!

Haveil Havalim #296

Wow, we're closing in on 300! Here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ezra the Scribe: Valiant Warrior Against Intermarriage

On the Tenth of Tevet we fast, among other things, because of the death of one of our greatest leaders: Ezra the Scribe. Rabbi Berl Wein tells us about this great man:
The ninth day of Tevet is held to be the day of the death of Ezra the Scribe. This great Jew is comparable even to Moses in the eyes of the Talmud. "If the Torah had not been granted through Moses, it could have been granted to Israel through Ezra." Ezra led the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from their Babylonian exile. It was under his direction and inspiration, together with the help of the court Jew, Nechemiah, that the Second Temple was built, albeit originally in a much more modest scale and style than the grandeur of Solomon's Temple.

Ezra also renewed the covenant of Moses between Israel and God, staunched the flow of intermarriage that afflicted the Jews returning to Jerusalem, strengthened public and private Sabbath observance, and created the necessary schools and intellectual tools for the furtherance of the knowledge and development of the Oral Law of Sinai within the Jewish people.

A man of incorruptible character, great compassion, deep vision and erudition and inspirational charisma, Ezra the Scribe is responsible for the survival of Judaism and the Jews till this very day. It is no wonder therefore that Jews marked the day of his death as a sad day on the Jewish calendar. Since fasting on the eighth, ninth and 10th days of Tevet consecutively would be unreasonable, the events of the eighth and ninth were subsumed into the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet.

Indeed, Ezra's successful war against intermarriage is described in the Bible:
1 Now while Ezra prayed, and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there was gathered together unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children; for the people wept very sore. {S} 2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra: 'We have broken faith with our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of the LORD, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise; for the matter belongeth unto thee, and we are with thee; be of good courage, and do it.' {P}

5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they would do according to this word. So they swore. 6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water; for he mourned because of the faithlessness of them of the captivity. {S} 7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; 8 and that whosoever came not within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of the captivity. {S} 9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the broad place before the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. {P}

10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them: 'Ye have broken faith, and have married foreign women, to increase the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do His pleasure; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the foreign women.' 12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice: 'As thou hast said, so it is for us to do. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two; for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let now our princes of all the congregation stand, and let all them that are in our cities that have married foreign women come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, as touching this matter.' {P}

As we fast tomorrow, let's remember Ezra and his great deeds. In particular we should remember his uncompromising stand against intermarriage.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner Explains Why Not To Sell Israeli Real Estate to Arabs

Rabbi Aviner writes:
Why did I add my humble signature to the Rabbinic petition against selling houses and apartments, lands and fields, to the Arabs?
The answer is so simple. The vision of the Jewish state. We have returned here after 2000 years of exile, in order to establish a Jewish state.
True, it is permissible for non-Jews to live there, and one has to treat the non-Jew who lives in the land with integrity and respect. Yet strengthening the foothold of the Arabs in the Land demonstrates a lack of national responsibility, for they are presently 25% of the entire population, and a large scale Jewish majority has to be preserved.
It is no secret that the Arabs want to annex our country for themselves and banish us from our Land, and they are doing this in every possible way: 1. By way of bloody wars which result in our country being full of widows and orphans and bereaved parents. 2. Unrelenting terror which likewise exacts from us a price in blood. 3. Recently, since the Carmel tragedy, a call has gone forth from the Arabs to commit a lot of arson in Israel, and indeed, there have been 15 attempts at arson since then. 4. Unrelenting land purchases by the Arabs throughout our country on a gigantic scale, in Yafo, Haifa, Acco, the Galil, and recently, an attempt to buy the Nof Tzion neighborhood in Jerusalem. In our world there are enormously wealthy Arabs who are ready to budget millions towards this end, and indeed, the Jews, lacking national responsibility, who are tempted by the money.
Read the rest!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kalmen Libskind's Latest Blog Post

Kalmen Libskind writes about the Israeli MSM's coverage of the Carmel fire, and enlightens us:

1) Last week, dozens of acts of arson were committed in forests all over Israel, apparently by Israeli Arabs. These acts of arson were not reported by the Israeli MSM.

[Update: Arutz 7 also saw the blog:
Israel's police, fire brigades and press intentionally hushed up an Arab arson offensive that took place while fires raged on the Carmel last week, a reporter for Ma'ariv Hebrew daily claimes.

According to Kalman Libeskind, sources in the Police and within the Fire Commission said - in briefings that were not for attribution - that they decided not to spread the information about the arson "so as not to wake into action more potential terrorists." The press became "willing accompices" in this hush-up effort.

Libeskind lists the locations of about 25 arson attacks that the fire brigades fought in the course of last week]

2) Libskind is astounded (as I was) by the press' unfair treatment of Interior Minister Eli Yishai. He gives examples and attributes this to Yishai's uncompromising stance on the need to deport illegal immigrants.

3) Kalmen Libskind also mentioned that the Israeli MSM is also responsible for the disaster in the Carmel. (Do you think he reads this blog?)

4) Finally he makes a great point. There were those that glibly claimed that the money used to support Torah learning should have been used to buy fire engines. Kalmen mentions that the same thing can be said about the 70 million shekels budgeting to the various theaters in Israel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Book That Counters the Claims of "Torat HaMelech"

Srugim reports that Ariel Finkelstain (that's how his name is spelled in the book), a graduate of the hesder yeshiva in Netivot, has wrote a book that counters the claims of the book "Torat HaMelech". The name of Finkelstain's book is "Derech Ha'Melech (The Path of the King), Racism and Discrimination of Gentiles In Halachah, A Halachik and Meta-Halachik Alternative to the book Torat Ha'Melech'"

Finkelstain's book is graced with the approbation of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan.

In my review of Torat HaMelech I wrote:
It is no secret that the book caused an uproar among the ignorant and among the learned as well. Personally, I could not care less what the ignoramuses have to say. They lack the tools to understand such a work. What's more, their desire to promote their warped version of reality often compromises any intellectual integrity they might have had. On the other hand, I am very interested in what the Rabbis have to say about the book. The gauntlet has been thrown down! Any Torah Scholar that does not agree with the book will have to pick up the gauntlet and show where the authors are mistaken, using Torah sources. Blanket condemnations that are not backed up with appropriate references to Rabbinic literature will not be accepted!
Congratulations to Ariel Finkelstain for picking up the gauntlet. The book can be downloaded at the web site of The"Ahavat Yisrael" "Hesder" Yeshiva in Netivot.

I hope to read and review it in the near future.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Geulah Film

Yaak made this film. You have to appreciate the scholarship needed to create something like this!

HH #295 — And…It’s Tevet

That's he name of this week's edition of Haveil Havalim. Go for it!

In Defense of the Rabbis' Ruling

Hillel Fendel has wrote an interesting piece on the latest controversy. This excerpt is to get you started. Be sure to read the whole thing:
The Rabbis’ Letter forbidding Jews from selling homes in Israel to Arabs has become the latest controversy in Israel. It was placed on hold for a few days while the Carmel fire raged wildly around it, but is now comfortably back on the media’s “hot seat” – and the rabbis are indeed feeling the heat.

Some 300 rabbis have expressed support for the ruling, while several mainstream rabbis have come out prominently against it. What is a bystander to think?

Here’s one opinion: The question is not so much one of technical Jewish Law, but rather this: May Jews help Israel remain Jewish, or not?

It appears that the rabbis who signed on the ruling take very seriously accusations leveled at them in the past of “standing idly by,” “not being proactive,” and “ignoring dangers.” In fulfillment of the Mishnaic teaching, “Where there is no man, try to be a man,” they took bold and seemingly unpopular action to try to stem a tide that threatens to engulf all of us – reporters, modern rabbis, Jews in the Diaspora, and certainly the Jews of Tzfat, Lod, Ramle, the Galilee, Haifa, Arad, Tel Aviv, and all of Israel.

In a word, Israel faces a gerrymandering demographic threat, if you will. Instead of the slowly growing Arab minority to which we have essentially grown accustomed and which basically remains within specific areas, Arabs have now begun moving into specific Jewish areas, rendering many of the areas no longer Jewish.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dov Shilansky z"l

Baruch Dayan HaEmet:
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said, "Dov Shilansky's death marks the end of a generation of politicians with integrity who do not zig-zag ideologically according to narrow interests and passing popular whims. He was a believer in the Greater Land of Israel who until his dying day did not forgive the Germans and their supporters. May his memory be blessed."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Do Gafni and Yishai Read Cosmic X?

A couple of days ago, I took to task two of the journalists that were calling for Eli Yishai's resignation because of Israel's sub par firefighting ability. I mentioned that these journalists probably did not do anything to help solve the problem, even though it was well known for many years:
I imagine that journalists Verter and Fishman, who are supposed to knowledgeable about current events, know about the Ginosar Commission and its recommendations. How many articles did they write warning about the lack Israel's firefighting capabilities? Chances are that unlike Eli Yishai, they don't even have a "mound of paper" to hide behind!
It is interesting to note that MKs Moshe Gafin and Eli Yishai made the same point today:
Referring to the question he was asked during the fire disaster on why he worked on other issues like the children of foreign workers and yeshiva student stipends, he said: "I dealt with a variety of issues. A minister should never only engage in one issue that the media is interested in."

Knesset Member Moshe Gafni also referred to the media attention issue and said that several discussions were held on the fire services issue during his stint as chairman of the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee.

"Warnings of a national disaster were heard in these discussions," he said. "The media devoted about a line and a half to these discussions and warnings. Not one minute of air time was given to the matter on TV."

The Fire on the Carmel: The Rabbis Say...

When a tragedy of this scale occurs two different kinds of investigation take place: One to investigate the immediate cause (was the fire arson or the result of carelessness?) and the other to seek the deeper spiritual reasons for the blaze.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef attributes the disaster to Sabbath desecration:
Hagaon Chacham Ovadia Yosef Shlita said on Motzei Shabbos that the devastating Carmel fire was a result of insufficient Shmiras Shabbos in the area.

“Fires only happen in a place where Shabbos is desecrated,” he quoted from the Gemara in his weekly Shiur. “Homes were ruined,” he continued, “entire neighborhoods wiped out, and it is not arbitrary. It is all divine providence.”

“We must repent, keep Shabbos appropriately. When the People of Israel repent, God safeguards them with a wall of fire,” but not of the incinerating type, the Chacham added.
Rabbi Dov Lior writes that the fire was Divine punishment for giving away parts of the land of Israel to terrorists.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu calls for soul searching on the individual and national level.

Rabbi Uri Sherki says that the fire was "yissurim shel ahava", and that it was in place of a potentially greater disaster.

One may wonder: If Rabbi Yosef is correct, then Rabbi Lior is wrong. Likewise, if Rabbi Lior's reasoning is correct, then Rabbi Yosef is mistaken! The same with all the other rabbis mentioned. The answer is that, "eilu ve'eilu dirvrei elokim chayim". They are all correct!

A related item: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini takes to task the rabbis that claimed that the current drought does not justify declaring a public fast (See echoes of that in the comment section of this post).

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Jewish Child on Xmas

One of the crazy results of being dispersed among the nations:
Something was suddenly very plain, and I didn't want to see it. To be a Jewish child singing Christmas carols was to a fool. A misfit. I was making a fool of myself in my own eyes. All this longing to belong... to partake of someone else's joy. No matter how radiant, glorious, magical, and enchanting matter how deeply I was stirred by these baffling words on my own lips...something craven and pitiful was going on. Something had been hidden, or I was hiding from something. And the whole thing had spawned something like... contempt. For what?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Is Eli Yishai Responsible For Israel's Weak Firefighting Ability?

Journalist Alex Fishman seems to think so:
Yet this failure has an address. This person disappeared from the public eye Thursday, and this was no coincidence. He is intimately familiar with the firefighting force's grim state. His name is Eli Yishai and he is the interior minister, who holds the ministerial responsibility for the failure. Had Yishai shown the same kind of care for Shas' schools and its yeshiva students, Rabbi Ovadia would have fired him a while ago.
Fellow journalist Yossi Verter apparently feels the same way (from his article "Interior Minister must take responsibility for Carmel fire"):
When it came to squeezing out NIS 110 million for yeshiva students, in defiance of High Court rulings, he invested many hours of feverish discussion in back rooms. On the other hand, when it comes to matters that do not make the blood rush through his veins, he is satisfied to issue warnings, write letters and save these documents for a rainy day.

When it came to the needs of Israel's fire and rescues service, he was hardly going to precipitate a government crisis - he issued no threats, nor did he race over to the home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to pressure him into issuing a ruling of religious law.

Over the weekend, Yishai's spokesman drowned the media in impressive warning letters formulated by Yishai over the past year. The Prime Minister's Office replied with letters of its own. File clerks in government offices were kept very busy during the 18 months of the second Bibi government. But other than the drafting and filing of letters, very little got done. Yishai can run, but he can't hide between a mound of paper. On the contrary, the letters will merely complicate his situation when he faces a state commission of inquiry, which is sure to be established. For his part, Netanyahu is not guilty, but he is responsible.
However, this is quite unfair, considering the following from jpost:
In 1998, the Ginosar Commission recommended that the government establish a national firefighting authority. It took 10 years for the government to vote to establish such an authority – which it did in 2008; but over the next two years, labor disputes between firefighters’ representatives in the Histadrut Labor Federation and the Treasury deadlocked the process.
If Yossi Verter did not have an anti-Shas axe to grind, he would have found this article from The Marker (a publication that is affiliated with his newspaper, Ha'aretz) that was published only a couple of weeks ago:
Besides the state comptroller, there have been at least three public committees - in 1976, 1995 and 1998 - that addressed the state of the country's firefighting personnel, and all came to similar conclusions. The government hasn't been quick to respond, but in 2008 it decided to adopt the reform recommendations of the Ginosar Committee from 1998. Don't hold your breath, because that reform hasn't budged even an inch since them, and no one is expecting it to go anywhere, either, due to the objections of the firefighters' organization and the Histadrut labor federation over its terms.

That is to say, past governments, as well as the Treasury, the firefighters' organization and the Histadrut Labor Federation bear much of the blame.

Here is a list of Interior Ministers, their political affiliation, and the dates that they served in that function since the Ginosar Commission:
Eli Suissa, Shas, 18/6/1996 - 6/7/1999
Natan Sharansky, Yisrael BaAliyah, 6/7/1999 - 11/7/2000
Haim Ramon, One Israel, 11/7/2000 - 7/3/2001
Eli Yishai, Shas, 7/3/2001 - 23/5/2002
Ariel Sharon, Likud, 23/5/2002 - 3/6/2002
Eli Yishai, Shas, 3/6/2002 - 28/2/2003
Avraham Poraz, Shinui, 28/2/2003 - 4/12/2004
Ophir Pines-Paz, Labor Party, 10/1/2005 - 23/11/2005
Ariel Sharon, Kadima, 23/11/2005 - 4/5/06
Roni Bar-On, Kadima, 4/5/06 - 4/7/07
Meir Sheetrit, Kadima, 4/7/07 - 31/3/09
Eli Yishai Shas 32 31/3/09 - present
Is it fair to say that only Eli Yishai is to blame?

I imagine that journalists Verter and Fishman, who are supposed to knowledgeable about current events, know about the Ginosar Commission and its recommendations. How many articles did they write warning about the lack Israel's firefighting capabilities? Chances are that unlike Eli Yishai, they don't even have a "mound of paper" to hide behind!

Lots of Links and Lots of Latkes


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Yesterday's Cellcom Tsunami: Some Geeky Details

I don't think that there was anyone in Israel who wasn't affected by this in one way or another:
It's a black Chanukah for Cellcom: an estimated three million clients of Israel's largest cellular phone company have been unable to send or receive calls and text messages since early Wednesday afternoon. The company said the problem was caused by a fault in the company's core program.

Cellcom Director Amos Shapira said in a press conference that the company is not ruling out the possibility that its software was intentionally sabotaged.

Speaking on Army Radio in the afternoon, Shapira said: “I will not go back [home] to light [Chanukah] candles until the problem is taken care of. I estimate it will happen in a matter of hours.”

"These are very complex systems, so fixing them takes many hours,” he explained. “This is the most serious malfunction the company has known since it was founded.”

He said dozens of engineers and programmers were hard at work fixing the malfunction but could not say for sure that the system would not be down for days.

Clients affected by the failure who attempt to dial out receive a message saying that their phone has no reception. People calling the affected clients receive messages saying the network is busy.
All the geeks in Israel were wondering what exactly happened. What computer system fell and how? Was it sabotage or espionage? I found an article (in Hebrew) that explains a little bit about Cellcom's tsunami. Read it geeks!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Hanukkah or Chanukah or However You Spell It

Sorry, but I didn't write anything new in honor of the holiday. Click here for some old stuff!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Visit From the Department Of Homeland Security

This blog, being a part of the Global Village, has had visitors from all over the place. Recently we had a visit from the Department Of Homeland Security in Centreville, Virginia:

The visitor was apparently searching for images of former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and he found the wonderful graphic we posted here.

I wonder what the visitor did afterwards. Did he print out the graphic and hang it on the wall in his office? Perhaps he decided that it would be a nice background for the "desktop" of his computer. Maybe he is thinking of cloning a pack of "McKinney attack dogs" to protect the White House.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jbloggers on WikiLeaks

The jblogosphere is just abuzz about the leaks.

Yaak suggests that these leaks are a Divine punishment for the unjust imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard:
Now, BeDavka in the middle of Parshat Miketz, the U.S., who has incarcerated Jonathan Pollard for 25 years for revealing secrets to a friendly nation, is getting what it deserves by having its state secrets revealed to any and every nation in the world, says the article.
Also see what he wrote about the graveness of revealing secrets.

The Muqata has a continually updated Israel WikiWatch.

Israelycool has a summary of the leaks based on what The Guardian reported.

Israelity has a positive take on the matter.

Backspin notices that Iran used ambulances to smuggle arms.

Pamela Geller places the responsibility for the leaks on the shoulders of President Obama.

Daled Amos notices that the Arabs agree with Israel with regards to the Iranian threat.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fasting and Praying For Rain

Tomorrow, I will, (without making a vow), fast for the first time on a day that I am not absolutely required to fast on. The drought here in Israel is very serious, and the Chief Rabbis have called for prayer and repentance:
In light of the continuing drought in Israel, Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger have declared Monday as a second day of prayer and repentance, in which Israelis will be asked to fast and hold special prayers for rain. The Chief Rabbis called on everyone who is able to fast on Monday. Individuals who plan to fast should accept the fast upon themselves when praying Mincha on Sunday. The fast will begin at dawn Monday, and end at sunset.

The Chief Rabbis will participate in special prayers at the Kotel on Monday afternoon at 3:30 PM, and they called on those unable to get to the Kotel to hold prayers of repentance in their local synagogues. A similar day of fasting and prayer was held several weeks ago.
Secular Jews are also joining in:
The Head of the Regional Council Center, Shmulik Rifman, a member of secular-socialist kibbutz Revivim, called upon residents of all regional authorities to take part in the prayers and ask for rain.
May God answer our prayers with a lot of the wet stuff!

What's A Nice Cosmo Girl Like You Doing With An Orthodox Husband?

Wow, this article was written ten years ago, but I discovered it just a few days ago. Andrea Kahn presents us with an exceptionally well written and concise description of her spiritual journey. (I wish I knew how to write like this!) Here's a taste:
My husband and I met in New York, through a mutual teacher who knew us well. I'd spent plenty of time engaged in the rites of Los Angeles-style dating. This was a whole different ritual. In venturing into this shiddich -- which, loosely translated, means "date" -- we had agreed to an express purpose. We were to decide if we were a match -- and with far less dillydallying than in most modern courtships.

Aaron and I spent hours together eating Chinese food, playing miniature golf and pinball, ice-skating, boating in Central Park. I came to respect his integrity, his strength and his constant striving to do and be better. (And he's cute!) Four months after we met, we began a 10-week engagement. (My mother, who had spent a year planning my sister's nuptials, was aghast.) We never touched, but got to know each other, unclouded by the bond of physical intimacy, which so often super-glues the wrong people together.
Now read the rest!

HH #293

Here it is!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Translation is Not a Simple Matter

Jpost has an article about the Shas letter that I blogged about yesterday. Translating Hebrew into English is not an easy matter, especially when one is dealing with flowery language, imagery and idioms. I think that jpost really messed this one up:
"He cooked this dish in public in order to find favor in the eyes of those who hate Torah," it continues. "He, as a teacher, is kicking his rabbis. He is added to our troubles - peasants and haters of Torah sages - and caused a desecration of God's name."
It should read, in my humble opinion:
"He burned his dish in public in order to find favor in the eyes of those who hate Torah," it continues. "He is like a student who has rejected his rabbis. He is added to our enemies - ignoramuses and haters of Torah sages - and caused a desecration of God's name."

Some More Intermarriage Statistics

Not to long ago I blogged about Intermarriage Statistics and Torah, a post that contained some grim intermarriage statistics. Now I found some more statistics that should be considered:
But the effects on the marriages themselves can be tragic -- it is an open secret among academics that tsk-tsking grandmothers may be right. According to calculations based on the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001, people who had been in mixed-religion marriages were three times more likely to be divorced or separated than those who were in same-religion marriages.

In a paper published in 1993, Evelyn Lehrer, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that if members of two mainline Christian denominations marry, they have a one in five chance of being divorced in five years. A Catholic and a member of an evangelical denomination have a one in three chance. And a Jew and a Christian who marry have a greater than 40 percent chance of being divorced in five years.
What's the moral of the story?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rabbi Chaim Amsalem's Political Future

It's official: Rabbi Chaim Amsalem has been disowned by Shas. You can see the letter at Kikar Shabbat, written and signed by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He is referred to in the letter as Mr. Chaim Amsalem sans the title "Rabbi". What's more, Rabbi Amsalem's mentor Rabbi Meir Mazuz added his signature saying, "We have already revealed our opinion that we have no portion and inheritance with him". It must be quite painful for Rabbi Amsalem to see such a letter!

Shas has requested that Rabbi Amsalem resign and return his mandate to Shas, which he is required to do according to a written agreement that all of Shas's candidates had to sign. Rabbi Amsalem refuses to do so.

Where will he go from here? As long as the present Knesset does not dissolve itself, his career as a politician is not over. Does he have enough support to form his own political party, one that can pass the threshold of votes to make it to the Knesset? I doubt it. All of the sympathetic talkbacks he is getting on Israeli web sites won't help him on election day. His only hope is to join another party that will be willing to guarantee him a high place on its list to the next Knesset.

His views on the proper relationship between learning Torah and supporting oneself seem to jive with those of the Jewish Home (formerly National Religious) Party. However, I think that Rabbi Amsalem has greater ambitions than joining a small party and sitting in the shadow of Zevulun Orlev. He would be a fool to join the critically ill Labor Party. That leaves the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu or Kadima. My guess is that he will opt for the Likud. Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Calatrava Bridge Update

I've got nothing to say but it's okay. Just to say I posted something, here's another view of the Jerusalem Calatrava Bridge:

The trains look like a couple of unemployed caterpillars. When will they start moving?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Every Jew Has a Jewish Background

Here's an interesting excerpt from an article about intermarriage:
A story was told by Mr. George Rohr, an American philanthropist, at a convention for the Lubavitcher Rebbe's emissaries in 1996. Mr Rohr related how he had the privilege to meet the Rebbe on one occasion just after Rosh Hashanah. Mr. Rohr thought it appropriate to present the Rebbe with a "spiritual" gift. A short time before, he had set up a beginners service at his shul in Manhattan, and on Rosh Hashanah 120 Jews attended this new service. Mr. Rohr decided to announce this to the Rebbe and was sure the Rebbe would receive much nachas from this good news. When his turn arrived, he confidently strode up to the Rebbe and said, "Thank G–d, this Rosh Hashanah we set up a beginners service in our shul and had 120 Jews with no Jewish background participate!"

Until that point the Rebbe had a broad smile on his face, but when Mr. Rohr told him the news the Rebbe's face dropped, and Mr. Rohr searched his words for anything he may have said that had upset the Rebbe.

"What?!" said the Rebbe.

Mr. Rohr repeated, "… 120 Jews with no Jewish background."

"No Jewish background?" asked the Rebbe. "Go and tell those Jews that they are all children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Now Mr. Rohr understood. The Rebbe objected to these Jews being described as having no Jewish background. Every Jew has a very illustrious background – they are all sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

Soccer Dad Retiring From Blogging?

That's what they say. I have in the past called Soccer Dad "one of the founding fathers of the jblogosphere". He will be missed. I have a feeling that he may just be taking some time off. Time will tell.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Movement to Free Pollard is Gaining Momentum

Just saw this:
United States President Barack Obama is under increasing pressure to free Jonathan Pollard with 39 Members of Congress submitting a letter calling for his release. The petition was initiated by four Democrats in Congress.

It was signed by some considered close allies of the president, including Representatives Barney Frank and Henry Waxman.

The petition notes that Pollard has been punished more severely for his actions than have others. “We believe there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served – or not served at all – by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us,” the letter states.

Let's hope that Jonathan Pollard will be free soon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Potpourri: Persecuting Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu,Tithing Wine, Censorship, Latest New Israel Fund Scandal, Etc.

Remember the awesome interview? Now the left wants to hit Rabbi Eliyahu in the pocket:
Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman on Wednesday called on Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman to immediately suspend Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for his ruling banning the renting or sale of Jewish-owned apartments to Arabs in the northern city, Radio Israel reported.
Rabbi Eliyahu has abused his position to engage in a racist campaign against Arabs in contradiction of the peaceful spirit of Judaism, Braveman told Ne'eman in a letter he wrote. He added, the incitement against Arabs harms the social fabric in the Galilee region and Arab-Jewish relations in the area and does not advance the state interests that a municipal rabbi should serve.
LOL!!! Braverman thinks that he knows more about Judaism than Rabbi Eliyahu! How do you spell "hubris"?!
Rabbi Eliyahu replied to Minorities Affairs Minister by pointing out Braverman's hypocrisy:
Responding to Braverman’s letter – which had been in the works but was released after a front-page interview with Eliyahu on the subject was published Wednesday in one of the Hebrew dailies – Eliyahu slammed the minister, saying that as a member of the government, Braverman endorsed the same values, as far as land ownership.

“The Labor Party founded the State of Israel bearing two banners, redemption of the lands and Jewish labor,” Eliyahu wrote. “Braverman is putting the legacy of the party, whose depleted remains he represents, to shame.”

Eliyahu contended that “the
Jewish National Fund (JNF), which deals in redeeming lands for the Jewish state, wouldn’t have existed, either, if the Labor party had endorsed Braverman’s ways.

“Braverman should be reminded that he, too, is bound to the government’s decision, which with the justice minister’s approval endorsed the JNF’s regulations that prohibit selling lands or homes to a non- Jew,” he went on.

“Braverman should further be reminded that as a minister in the government he is bound to its decisions, including that of ‘Judaizing the Galilee,’ a resolution aimed at preserving the Jewish character of that region, as required from the Declaration of Independence of the ‘democratic Jewish’ state,” he said.

“If I ought to be fired, thousands of other rabbis who ruled in the same manner should be fired as well,” declared Eliyahu. “If I should be fired for issuing a ruling to prohibit selling apartments to non-Jews – all the government’s ministers should be fired for being signatories to the exact same ruling. Enough of this hypocrisy!”
And now for something completely different: has pictures of the separations of tithes at the Hebron Winery. You can really see the happiness in the faces of the people performing this special mitzvah. Definitely worth seeing!

Next up:

The "Yad LeAchim" organization created a community service announcement that warns Israelis about missionary activity that takes place at various festivals. Israel Army Radio and the Voice of Israel refused to broadcast it. You can hear it here.

We'll finish this post with the latest scandal involving the nefarious New Israel Fund.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter is Buried in Israel

Arutz 7 reports that the grave of Harry Potter in Ramle has become a tourist attraction:
Private Potter was born near the town of Birmingham, England and came to serve in the Holy Land in 1938 shortly after signing up with the British military.

A member of the Worcestershire Regiment, Potter was killed in action on 22 July 1939 while battling armed gunmen in Hevron. A post on his regiment’s website states that he was 18 at the time. On his tombstone, however, it lists his age as 19, due to his having lied in order to enlist.

Thousands of tourists flock to Ramle’s British military cemetery each year to snap photos alongside the gravestone, which has proved to be a great tourist attraction for the working class town.

Tour guides have begun to make the grave site a regular stop on their routes, and the city has listed it on the municipality’s tourism website.

British soldiers who fell in Israel during World Wars I and II, and in the period in between, are buried in the military cemetery, which is located in the industrial zone on the road from Ramle. It was built after World War I, when Ramle was under the control of the Australian Brigade of Light Cavalry. Also buried in Ramle’s British military cemetery is the grandson of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.

How long will it take until the Arabs claim that Harry Potter was a Muslim/Arab/Palestinian?

Intermarriage Statistics and Torah

Food for thought:

Today, Jewish intermarriage is common. According to the National Jewish Population Study of 2000-01, the intermarriage rate for Jews who married
  • before 1970 was 13%
  • between 1970-1979 was 28%
  • between 1980-1984 was 38%
  • between 1985-90 was 43%
  • between 1991-95 was 43%
  • between 1996-2001 was 47%
The reasons for intermarriage today differ from those in the past. Intermarriage today is primarily the result of 1) American Jews living in an open society in which they are more likely to meet non-Jews, 2) American Jews being less educated about and thus attached to Judaism and their Jewish heritage.

The vast majority of American Jews receive no Jewish education after age 13. Thus, their knowledge of Judaism is elementary, and they are not exposed to the more advanced theological, philosophical, and ethical teachings of Judaism. Since they are not knowledgeable about their heritage in the first place, intermarriage today, in contrast to intermarriage in the past, is not a deliberate rejection of Judaism.

Further on this note, it has been found that the more intensive the Jewish schooling, the lower the rate of intermarriage. The intermarriage rate among Jews who did not receive Jewish education is 43 percent and among those who received some kind of Jewish schooling is 25 percent. Intermarriage is rare among those who attended a Jewish day school or yeshiva. It follows that intermarriage is far lower among orthodox Jews, who are much more likely to give their children intensive Jewish schooling, than among Jews of other denominations.
Interesting and sad: when I grew up in the 1960s, the rate of intermarriage among American Jews was around 10%. Today, it is about 50%!

The Jews that came to America at the beginning of the previous century were not always careful in mitzvah observance, but they were culturally Jewish. Their mother tongue was Yiddish and they would not even imagine marrying out. The next generation was also culturally Jewish, but Yiddish was a second language for them to be used when speaking to Bubbie and Zaide.

The third generation, that is to say mine, did not speak Yiddish. We were American through and through! Why shouldn't I marry a gentile? She eats bacon and we eat bacon. What's the big deal?

I have on many occasions hosted kids from "Birthright" at my Shabbat table. Many of these kids are the products of my peers that intermarried. The mother is Jewish and the father is not, or the other way around. They are very confused about their identity. How many of them will return, and how many will leave the Jewish nation forever?

The point of the story is that we really are a nation only through our Torah.

Update: I just saw this:
The Knesset's Information and Research Center has revealed that intermarriage has skyrocketed 200% in the past 50 years in Diaspora Jewish communities

In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union 65% of Jews marry non-Jews. This is followed by the United States where 55% of all Jews intermarry. Rates of 35%-45% were recorded in France, Britain and most of Latin America. Meanwhile in Australia, Canada and Turkey the rate is “only” 25%-30%.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Centrality of the Land of Israel in Judaism

Akiva of Mystical Paths posted this at Beyond BT:
But regardless of one’s political position there’s two things that can’t be denied. Judaism and Jewishness is directly tied to the Land of Israel. One cannot deny this without denying the Torah, the Mishnah, the Gemora, the Mishneh Torah and the Shulchan Aruch.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Artist Morris Katz Passes Away

From Vos iz Neias:

New York - Eccentric artist Morris Katz, in a career spanning six decades, used toilet paper to create instant art - and a lasting legacy.

The Polish-born Katz, hailed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest and most prolific painter, died Friday after reportedly suffering a stroke. He was 78.

Katz’s motto, as detailed in a book and his worldwide appearances, was simple: “Paint it good, paint it fast and sell it cheap.”

Katz moved to New York with his family in 1949 and launched his unique approach seven years later - using only a palette knife and wads of toilet paper to produce his paintings.

The rolls of bathroom tissue were used to clean the knife or create shadings and shapes.

The artist was cited by the Guinness book after completing one painting - a child in the snow - in a mere 38 seconds. Katz sold more than 225,000 pieces of art in his career, setting another record.

I'm happy to say that one of the 225,000 pieces is property of the X family. About twenty years ago the X family was vacationing at Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim and Morris Katz was there. We saw how Mr. Katz created very nice paintings in no time, while keeping the crowd entertained with his gab and jokes. My wife wanted one, so we bought it.

Yehi zichro baruch!

Jblogosphere News

1) Robin has the latest edition of jpix .

2) HH #291 is at The Rebbitzen's Husband.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen published the following in this week's issue of the popular parsha sheet, Shabat BeShabato:

To: The Honorable President of the United States, Barack Obama:

I assume that this is a moment for self reckoning after the significant losses of the Democratic Party in the United States Congress, in relation to the opposing Republican Party. It can be assumed that you are surrounded now on all sides by strategic advisors, perhaps trying to draw you into various aspects of the discussion about "What happened?" – And all this in an effort to improve your situation and your status, and perhaps also your image.

From my miniscule position, as a Jew born in Israel who lives not far from Jerusalem, I am allowing myself to presume to write you with typical Israeli "chutzpah" and in a straight manner to give you a small piece of advice. Perhaps this will not help your situation, your status, or your image, but it stems from a basic point of truth, both humanitarian and moral, and in my opinion it also corresponds to the democratic principles which you so proudly uphold.

My advice is this: Do what you can to give a pardon to Jonathan Pollard and to set him free! This month marks a full twenty-five years that he has been kept in prison (starting in November, 1985)!

I can imagine your reply to this request. Such a move will not add to your political credits on a global scale, and certainly not within the Middle East. Granting a pardon might even force you to give up a "card" in the hand which you are using to pressure Israel into making various political moves. I am aware of the advice that your predecessor Bill Clinton received from his Jewish advisor Dennis Ross - to keep the "card" Jonathan Pollard close to home and take advantage of having him under your control, making use of this factor in very small doses. Anybody familiar with Jewish history realizes that in giving this advice Ross was acting in the role of those "little Jews" who gave advice to their Gentile governments which was against the best interests of the Jews, evidently in order to avoid being accused of collaborating with their own people. Such people have been objects of total disgrace within the Jewish nation, which has a very long memory, for good and bad.

In any case, you are a man who rose to the presidency on a platform promising to improve the lot of the weaker people in society, to uphold human rights, and to be fair and open, all based on a deep religious faith (perhaps you should consult the compassionate preacher from the Trinity United Church who has had such an influence on you in the past). As far as I am concerned the time has come for you to make what is a very small move on your part, but one that is very significant in practical terms. I read your autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," and I was quite impressed by the humanitarian approach that you demonstrated in the book. You managed to convince your readers that among everything else you are a man with humanitarian values. This feeling instills in me some hope that you might not just throw this letter of mine away.

For the record, here are some relevant details, which I assume you already know: Twenty-five years ago Jonathan Pollard was put in prison for the crime of spying for a friendly country, the State of Israel, without any intention on his part to cause harm to the United States. In his trial (twenty-three years ago), no claim was made that he gave any indirect help to the Soviet Union, through Israel, although as years have gone by this was one of the suggestions that appeared in various speculations by the press. A secret declaration by the Secretary of Defense at the time, Caspar Weinberger, which was seen only by the judges and not by Pollard's defense lawyers, seems to have been the main reason for the punishment meted out to him – life imprisonment, with no chance of parole or a reduced sentence. Your great nation has never given such a harsh sentence to any person who spied for a friendly country. Just last month those who ask for leniency for Pollard were joined by Lawrence J. Korb, the deputy of Secretary of Defense Weinberger, who gave this important declaration to the court. Korb stated that Caspar Weinberger himself felt that the case and the punishment have been blown out of all proportion.

Even if you feel that Pollard's motives were as low as possible (in the interests pf financial gain and for the "adventure" involved), and that the security interests of the United States were harmed, take into account the spy-prisoner exchange that took place this year between the United States and Russia. Remember too how many murderous terrorists Israel had set free as a result of pressure by the United States, in return for dead bodies. Where is the proportionate character of justice?

Mr. President, I will end on the same note that I started this letter: In a moment of reckoning, it is good to rack up a few merits in the eyes of the Almighty and of humanity.

Sincerely yours,

Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Alon Shevut, Israel 90433.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mazal Tov! Margalit Har-Shefi Engaged

Okay, I am a few days late on reporting this. But I just heard about it today! From INN:
Margalit Har-Shefi of Beit El is engaged to marry a man from Be'er Sheva, a member of the Chabad chassidic movement. The engagement party was held Sunday in Jerusalem.

Fifteen years ago, when she was a 19-year-old law student, Har-Shefi was publicly blamed of being complicit in the murder of Prime Miniter Yitzchak Rabin. She had known assassin Yigal Amir, and was convicted of not taking seriously and therefore not reporting, remarks he made about murdering Rabin which she said she considered mere rhetoric. She was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Even attempts by Emunah, the Religious Zionist Women's Organization, to let her be at home for the Passover Seder were denied and she was only allowed to conduct the seder with a Chabad volunteer so as not to spend it in the company of criminals.

In recent years, many public figures have come forth to fight to retroactively exonerate Har-Shefi. In 2007, former Israel Security Agency (Shabak) head Ami Ayalon announced that Har-Shefi was falsely convicted. “Har-Shefi did not know that Yigal Amir wanted to murder the Prime Minister. I know this from intelligence, I was head of the intelligence agency,” he declared.

This year, MKs and rabbis advocated on Har-Shefi's behalf, calling on State Prosecutor Moshe Lador to vindicate her retroactively. The request was rejected.

In 2001, as she began her jail term, Har-Shefi said, "I am being sent to prison today for one reason only: They had to find someone to blame, to cover up for an entire network that fell asleep on the job - as if I, a 19-year-old girl at the time, was the one who could have saved the country from this terrible trauma."

She admitted after the Rabin assassination that she – like many others – had heard Yigal Amir say that he wanted to kill the prime minister. However, she has argued from the beginning that his threats sounded “imaginary,” and that if she had known that Amir actually planned to commit murder, she would have done everything in her power to stop him.

Politicians and activists on the political Left opposed the move to vindicate Har-Shefi, although their arguments were largely philosophical, and did not mention the specifics of the case, such as Ayalon's declaration that Har-Shefi was innocent. MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said, “We must not pardon or relieve the burden of anyone who was involved in Rabin's murder,” and added that anyone who does so is “no less than a collaborator.”

The far-Left Peace Now organization accused those speaking up for Har-Shefi of running “a cynical campaign whose aim is to cover up the murder and pardon Yigal Amir in the future.”

Once out of prison, Har-Shefi' was hounded by the left and then-Education Minister Yossi Sarid refused to allow her to engage in education, even as a teaching assistant.

I can only say Mazal Tov. She yizku livnot bayit ne'eman beyisrael!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For a Good Laugh....

go to the Muqata!

The Old "Shaking Hands With a Woman" Controversy

Here is an old controversy that has come up once again. You are a Jewish guy. If a woman extends her hand, are you allowed to shake it?

Rabbi Yuval Sherlo has recently answered in the affirmative. He says that embarrassing the woman by not taking her hand is a greater sin:

לכן, במקרה שבחורה מושיטה לבחור יד ללחיצת שלום (וכן להפך), איסור לחיצת היד אשר נובע מההחמרה היתירה בקרבה לעריות, נדחה מפני כבוד הבריות והלבנת פנים. מובן שעל לחיצת היד להיות רשמית בלבד, ואין לגלות בה גילויי חיבה יתרים

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner disagrees, and tells an appropriate story about Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l:

פעם נערכה לו קבלת פנים אצל מלכת אנגליה, והיא הושיטה לו ידה, אך הוא נאלם דום והצמיד ידיו לצדדיו לעיני כל בית המלוכה והטלויזיה. בערב התקבלה התנצלות מבית המלוכה על כך שהביכו אותו, ובדקו בספר הפרוטוקולים, וכתוב שאין למלכה להושיט יד לרב יהודי

Once there was a reception with the Queen of England, and she offered him her hand. However he stood silent and placed his hands at his sides in front of the Royal House and television. In the evening an apology was received from the Royal House on that they had embarrassed him. They checked the book of protocols, and there it is written that the Queen should not extend her hand to a Jewish Rabbi.

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh has also expressed his opinion on the matter. He is against shaking hands, and has called on the National Religious public to "stop searching for hard-pressed leniencies and to cease justifying ourselves".

I remember my Chabad Rabbi in New Jersey who, when offered a lady's hand, would raise his hand up to his forehead and say, "I salute you".

I am in no position to say who is correct according to Jewish Law. Practically speaking, I think that it is best not to take the lady's hand. One time it may be a little bit unpleasant, but after that people know that you are just that kind of guy and they won't put you in that situation again. One who gives his hand once, will have to give it again and again.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Awesome Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu Interview - in English!

I already blogged about this interview, which fellow blogger Yaak described as "awesome". I agree with Yaak, and I searched in vain for an English translation of the interview. I was unwilling to accept the fact that those that haven't mastered Hebrew would miss this gem. So the Cosmic X translation team, which includes me, myself and I, have worked hard to bring the interview that was the talk of Israel to the English speaking public. Here it is:

Interview of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu in an Arab-Israeli Newspaper

Q: To respect a neighbor and nation, and others is considered a biblical commandment. How does that fit in with your declarations against the Arabs?

A: It is certainly a commandment to respect every person that was created in God's image, be it Arab or Jew. Certainly it is a mitzvah to respect a neighbor and nation. But there is no commandment to respect those that wage warfare against us. If the Arabs of Israel identify with Hezbollah and Hamas, who have inscribed on their flag (the goal of) destroying us - they are no longer in the category of a close neighbor.

Apart from that there are other biblical commandments that God has written. The main one among them is that God swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the land of Israel will belong to the nation of Israel. We respect God's will. I think that the Muslims must also respect it especially since Muhammad himself wrote in the Koran in the name of Allah that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews:

In Sura 5 verse 21-22 is written in the words of Moses to the nation of Israel: "O my people, enter the holy land that God has decreed for you, and do not rebel, lest you become losers." In Sura 7 line 137, the words of Allah: "We let the oppressed people inherit the land, east and west, and we blessed it. The blessed commands of your Lord were thus fulfilled for the Children of Israel." Even regarding these very days Muhammad says that the people of Israel will return to the land of Israel. In Sura 17 which deals with the end of days it is written in verse 104: "And we said to the Children of Israel afterwards, "Go live into this land. When the final prophecy comes to pass, we will summon you all in one group."

We are now in the age where the prophecies regarding the ingathering of the nation of Israel that was dispersed all over the world are being fulfilled - how can a true Muslim that believes in the word of God go against God? How can one fight against the return of the nation of Israel to the land that was promised to it by God?

Q: There are Arabs in the hospitals and the clinics and there are construction workers...why did you come out with these proclamations specifically now?

A: This is not something that I made up. I mentioned this law twenty years ago when I became Rabbi (of Tzefat). This law was mentioned by rabbis 500 years ago and 1000 years ago. That is the law and it is the word of God. It is not something that we made up. We do not have permission to change the words of God. For if we change them they will not be the words of God but the words of man.

Q: One can understand from your proclamations that you are in favor of and call for deporting the Arabs. And in your opinion we cannot live together in coexistence?

A: God gave the Arabs twenty-two states and gave the nation of Israel one. This is the state of the nation of Israel, the Chosen People. Even according to Mohammad in the Koran this nation is the Chosen People and one must respect them because of that. It is true that the nation of Israel sinned and was expelled from the Land but since then many years have gone by and God has brought us back to the Land of Israel just as He promised.

According to Jewish law if there is an Arab who recognizes this fact and he comes here as a guest of the Israeli nation - he is welcome. If he comes to undermine God's promise and imagines taking the Land for himself, if he thinks that the Arabs should have twenty-three states and that the nation of Israel shouldn't have a state at all - we must expel him from the Land of Israel immediately.

Q: You have declared that you wish to guard the Jewish character of Tzefat. Are you also in favor of guarding the Arab character of Akko?

A: Akko, Yafo, Tzefat, and Jerusalem should be Jewish cities. Even if Arab families are living there now - these cities are part of the Land of Israel that was promised by God to the nation of Israel. And therefore if the Arabs in Akko will respect Israeli rule in the land of Israel they can in the future enter the category of "ger toshav" (resident alien) who according to God's Torah can live in the land of Israel. In any case the character of Akko and every city in the Land of Israel will be, in the end, Jewish.

He who thinks differently does not believe in the word of God. It's a shame for a man to fights God's words. In the end he will lose.

Q: You claimed that Arabs are sexually harassing Jewish females...on what are you basing yourself after all this is a matter for the police?

A: According to Jewish Law one must love his wife as he loves himself and honor her more than he honors himself. Not all Jews are behaving in this manner however that is the goal and objective of their lives and they are continually progressing towards it.

To my dismay, in Arab society women are not being properly respected. I do not want to interfere in your lives; however it is a mistake to degrade women. Apart from that, if an Arab man would harass an Arab woman like they harass the Jewish ones - they would stone them in the streets in the manner that you do when family honor is desecrated. I personally witnessed married Arab men harassing young Jewish women on the streets of Tzefat. Have you no shame? Where is your faithfulness to your wives?

I think that the harassment of Jewish women is not just our problem, it is yours as well. Also according to the Koran it is forbidden for an Arab to marry a Jewish woman. This is unfaithfulness and adultery.

To sum things up: in the end we are all humans and we must know that the word of God is above all. If we fulfill them - we will be able to exist in this world. If we go against it - we shall be obliterated. It's a shame to go against God and against his promises and oaths which he swore that the land of Israel will be the place of the nation of Israel.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Arutz 7 - Soon in Arabic

"Srugim" reports that Arutz Sheva is setting up an Arabic language web site. The new web site will contain articles from the Arutz Sheva web site and from the BeSheva magazine (translated into Arabic, of course) as well as writings from moderate Arabs from Israel and around the world. The site will also serve as a vehicle for Arab journalists whose works are censored in their native countries to tell the world what they really think.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Arabs Dressed as Hareidim Nabbed in Jerusalem Neighborhood

This happened not to far away from my home:
Residents of the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem were reeling Friday night after an attempt by Arabs to break into Jewish homes in the neighborhood – dressed as Hareidi Jews.

The two “Hareidim” were seen walking around the neighborhood Friday night by residents, and at about 9:30 PM, a resident named Eliran saw the pair attempting to break into an apartment near the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the neighborhood. He called police, who came within minutes. The Arabs began to run, and Eliran joined police in chasing them. He nabbed one of the Arabs himself, while police chased down and tackled the second one.

The two were quickly questioned, and they told police that a third member of their gang was awaiting them at the nearby Har Hamenuchot cemetery. Police converged on the site, and he, too was arrested. Residents praised police, and especially Eliran, for his quick thinking and quick action.

HH #290

Be sure to check out this week's edition.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Some Blogging Notes

1) It turns out that in opposition to a previous post, Bloglines is not going to disappear.

2) You can now follow Cosmic X in Jerusalem on Facebook. To do so you can click here or on the "like button" on the below. Who will be the brave soul to hit the "like button" first?

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu - Like Father Like Son

This is amazing! You may remember the story I told not too long ago about Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l: how he explained that Arabs, when told the truth, appreciate it.

Here his son, Rabbi Shmuel, the Chief Rabbi of Tzefat, writing in an Arab newspaper, tells the Arabs the truth and nothing but the truth! In the meantime the article is available only in Hebrew .

Friday, November 05, 2010

We are not Slaves

From an interview with MK Michael Ben-Ari:
Ben-Ari said Kahane should be remembered as a different kind of leader, one who, unlike those who saw Israel as a shelter, believed Israel existed to spread the message that God rules the world and that Jews must reiterate that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

“This impacts everything we do,” Ben-Ari said. “For example, the letter to the UN secretary-general.

Some say, how can we fight the US when it’s so big? Kahane said God is great and America is nothing. I don’t mean to mock or harm the US, but we aren’t the slave of any empire.”
Compare this to what President Peres says:
President Shimon Peres said that Israel cannot survive without the help of the United States, at a Jerusalem conference of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute on Thursday.

Peres said that, "for our existence, we need the friendship of the United States of America."
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