Friday, December 13, 2013

Dealing With the Snow

Today, the fast day of Asara BeTevet (the 10th of Tevet), a perhaps unprecedented amount of snow has fallen in Jerusalem. The web is full of beautiful pictures of the holy city covered with snow. Here is a different kind of Jerusalem snow picture:
So what is the story behind the picture?

My neighborhood was blacked out from about 12:30 AM last night. These snow storms have a way of causing blackouts! Many times the snow weighs down tree branches which eventually break and fall to the ground. On the way down, if there is a power line on the way, the branch takes it down with it.

It was great going to daven this morning and seeing all the tzadikim that in spite of the inclement weather made it to the synagogue. There too there was no power but with the help of the breaking dawn and a few candles we were able to daven.

After davening I saw this devoted worker from the Israeli Electric Company (the guy in yellow) on Najara Street. He came to fix whatever was wrong. God bless him! I asked him when the electricity would be back and he replied, "Soon".

And so it was.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MDA Blood Drive in the Knesset Cancelled After Ethiopian MK Discouraged From Donating

Not to long ago I donated blood and posted about it on this blog. I mentioned that giving blood is a big mitzvah. I also mentioned that Magen David Adom has very strict criteria with regards to who can give blood.

Well, today MDA and those criteria made the news:

An MDA blood donation stand was removed from the Knesset after volunteers told MK Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid), the Knesset's first female Ethiopian member, that her blood would not be used on Wednesday.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke to Tamano-Shata and expressed shock and displeasure at the incident.

"I thought this was behind us, but now it turns out I was wrong. This unacceptable phenomenon that has no place in the Knesset," Edelstein said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Tamano-Shato saying that the incident was unacceptable and that it demanded investigation, Israel Radio reported.

Several ministers and MKs called the Yesh Atid MK to express solidarity. Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat said that she hopes that something good will come out of the story and change the "racist and humiliating policy."

MDA's policy is not to take blood from people who were born or have lived for more than a year since 1977 in a country where HIV is prevalent, such as Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean Islands. They also do not take blood from people who lived in Great Britain for six consecutive months or more between 1980 and 1996.

Disgusting! That is to say, it is disgusting how the politicians are trying to get political mileage out of this incident. They seem to care more about getting a headline than the public's health.

The MDA website (in Hebrew) explains the policy:

הנהלים הקובעים את מדיניות התרמות הדם בישראל, לפיהם עובדים בשירותי הדם של מד"א, נקבעים ע"י משרד הבריאות, בהסתמך על המלצותיה של וועדת מומחים מקצועית בנושא רפואת עירויים. הם מבוססים על נהלים והנחיות הקיימים בארצות המפותחות בעולם, ושנקבעים שם ע"י גופים כמו ה-FDA והרשויות האירופאיות.

מטרתם לסייע למערכת הבריאות לעשות ככל שביכולתה כדי לצמצם סיכונים הנובעים משימוש במנות שעלולות לגרום לנזק בריאותי חמור למקבלי הדם.

גם הבדיקות המתקדמות ביותר שמבוצעות, בישראל ובעולם, לכל מנת דם במטרה לזהות מחלות שעלולות לעבור בעירוי (ובמיוחד דלקת כבד נגיפית ו-(HIV אינן מסוגלות לזהות תורם שנמצא ב"תקופת החלון", שהיא התקופה ממועד ההדבקה ועד לזיהוי קיום הנגיפים בדם. הסיכון שתיתרם מנה כזו גבוה יותר בקרב אוכלוסיות ופרטים שנמצאות בסיכון גבוה להידבקות, כאוכלוסיית הגברים המקיימים יחסי מין עם גברים.

היות ומכל מנת דם מכינים 3 מרכיבים, הניתנים ל-3 חולים שונים, הפוטנציאל לנזק הוא משמעותי ביותר. לא ניתן יהיה להצדיק, בשום פנים ואופן, כלפי החולים שנפגעו , את השימוש במנות דם נגועות אם יסתבר שהמערכת לא נקטה בכל אמצעי הזהירות המקובלים בעולם למניעת ההדבקה.

In translation:
Procedures that determine the blood donor policy in Israel , according to which the employees MDA blood services work, are set by the Ministry of Health , based on the recommendations of a committee of professional experts on the subject of medical transfusions. They are based on existing procedures and guidelines in the developed world , and determined there by bodies such as the FDA and European authorities .

Their purpose is to help the healthcare system to do its utmost to reduce risks arising from the use of (infected) units that may cause severe health damage to recipients of blood .

Even the most advanced tests carried out in Israel and around the world, to all the blood in order to identify diseases that may be transmitted through a transfusion (especially hepatitis and HIV) are not able to identify a donator who is in the "window period", which is the time from infection until the identification of the existence of viruses in the blood. Risk that such a unit will be donated is higher among populations and individuals who are at high risk of infection , such as the population of men who have sex with men.

Since all blood is made up of three components , which are given to 3 different patients , the potential for damage is significant. It can not be justified under any circumstances , to the affected patients ,the use of infected units of blood if it turns out that the (health) system has not taken all the accepted precautions to prevent infection.

MDA is right, and the politicians are wrong! Update: See what the Elder of Zion wrote on this.

Update: This may have been an intentional provocation by MK Pnina Tamano-Shata:

MK Tamano-Shata had approached the MDA's mobile unit, which came to the Knesset on a blood drive, and asked to donate blood.

She was allegedly told that she cannot donate blood because Health Ministry guidelines specify that blood should not be taken from people who were born in countries with a high incidence of HIV, or who spent more than one year in those countries. An MDA representative told her that donors from Britain and Ireland are also turned away, as are homosexuals.

Tamano-Shata told the MDA team that she has been in Israel since age 3 and served in the army. The MDA representative reportedly told her that if she insists that she wants to donate blood, it will be taken, but the blood might not be used. Tamano-Shata told the MDA representative that this was insulting.

The policy regarding blood donations by Ethiopian Jews was set many years ago, when it was determined that the immigrants have an especially high rate of HIV infection, compared to other Israelis. It is intended to protect blood donation recipients from infection with the dreaded disease.

Tamano-Shata may have known that she would be turned away: her entire conversation with the MDA representative was recorded with a cellphone camera, by a companion.

MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said following the incident that MK Tamano-Shata is a member of a committee that is currently discussing changing the criteria for blood donations, and therefore had to have known that she would be refused.

Monday, December 09, 2013

What Mandela's Legacy Can Teach Us About Zionism

This is certainly a thought provoking article. Here's a snippet but be sure to read the whole thing:
Whilst anti-Israel types fawn over Mandela's legacy and point towards his support for the PLO and his relative antipathy towards the Jewish state as proof of the righteousness of their cause, supporters of Israel seem to be divided. Whilst some scramble to salvage some "brownie points", by pointing out that "Madiba's" support for the PLO did not extend to negating Israel's right to exist (which is apparently how low the bar has sunk these days), others lazily write him off as an anti-Israel "Marxist", and end it at that.

Both are wrong.

Was Mandela close to the PLO, a terrorist group sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel and which has been responsible for the cold-blooded murder of countless Israeli civilians? Yes, he was. It is indeed ironic that whereas Mandela fought for the rights of the indigenous people of South Africa, when it came to the Middle East he sided with one of the groups which has always stood at the forefront of the push for Arab colonization, the Arabization of other indigenous nations and the eradication or appropriation of the legacies of non-Arab peoples.

And if any more proof were needed of his moral failure when it came to the Middle East, there was his friendship with former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which he once defended by proclaiming that "those who feel irritated by our friendship with President Gaddafi can go jump in the pool."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arik Einstein z"l

In a country often marked by tension, Arik Einstein's soothing voice will be missed:

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Mitzvah of Donating Blood

Blood, blood, blood:
And Reuben said unto them: 'Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him'--that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colours that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit--and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread; and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery and balm and ladanum, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren: 'What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother, our flesh.' And his brethren hearkened unto him. And there passed by Midianites, merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they brought Joseph into Egypt. And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said: 'The child is not; and as for me, whither shall I go?' And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a he-goat, and dipped the coat in the blood;
And some more blood:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life.
There was a blood drive where I work recently. Magen David Adom came with all the necessary equipment and staff and set up a room at the office for people who want to donate blood.

I decided to give a liter of the red stuff.

Before you can donate blood, you have to fill out a questionnaire. Not everybody can give blood. The Magen David Adom has strict criteria, which can be downloaded here. Some of these criteria were surprising. Among the conditions which make the blood unit unacceptable for transfusion::

Living in England for a cumulative period of 6 months between the years 1980 -1996 or receiving a blood transfusion in England since 1980... Living in Ireland or Portugal for a cumulative period of at least 10 years since 1980.
Less surprising was the following:
The donor practices a life -style, that in any way may increase the risk for the blood recipient (intravenous drugs use/sniffing , receiving payment for sexual relationship, sexual relations between men after 1977, etc.).
As the red (actually purple) stuff was flowing out of me into a plastic bag, the MDA guy told me that I should donate often, as my blood type (O-) is very special. It can be given to anybody. He mentioned that when there is a terrorist attack, the ambulances arrive with O- blood which can be given to those wounded without having to check their blood type.

I felt a little bit guilty that I do not donate blood more often. I started to wonder what the Torah has to say about giving blood. With the help of the good old world wide web, I found the following (in Hebrew), a summary of the laws of giving blood. I recommend reading it.

B'li neder, I will donate blood more often.

Will Freeing Arab Murderers From Israeli Prisons Bring Peace?

Take a look at this and decide for yourself:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let's Not Grab That Dog by the Ears

This Shabbat we will read about how Ya'akov (Jacob) returns to the land of Israel. But before he returns to his homeland, he sends greetings to his brother:
And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the field of Edom. And he commanded them, saying: 'Thus shall ye say unto my lord Esau: Thus saith thy servant Jacob: I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now. And I have oxen, and asses and flocks, and men-servants and maid-servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favour in thy sight.'
The Midrash (Bereshit Rabbah 75:3) describes Ya'akov's act as one who grabs the ears of a dog as it is written in the book of Proverbs (26:17):
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife not his own, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
It is not a good idea to grab a dog by the ears. Dogs usually do not like people grabbing their ears, and they are quick to sink their teeth into the offending hand. Similarly, Ya'akov should not have aroused Esau, who at the time was busy with his own matters, with these greetings. As the adage says, "Let sleeping dogs lie!"

This verse about "grabbing the dog by the ears" came to mind recently as I read about the Weiss-Dodelson divorce case. I was disturbed to see people who were not directly involved in the case actively taking sides, ignoring King Solomon's wisdom:

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife not his own, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
This case is a tragedy for those directly involved. There is no need to widen the tragedy by meddling in this strife, by grabbing the dog by the ears. It will most likely result in being bitten.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kiddush Hashem

I heard about this here:

This brings to mind the story about Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach and the donkey:

There was a case in which the students of Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach, one of the greatest Tannaim of all time, tried to find him a new business because he was exceedingly poor. Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach was involved in Linen work. Obviously the linen work was not sufficient for him to make a living. His students urged him to leave this business and instead they would buy him a donkey. This way he would not have to work so hard and at the same time would be able to live comfortably.

They went ahead and bought a donkey from a non-Jew. According to the notes at the bottom of the Talmud Yerushalmi (and we do not know exactly who they are from), he was an Ishmaelite thief so the donkey was not really his to start with. This makes the story even more interesting because of what is about to come. The students discovered a pearl on the donkey and took it to Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach exclaiming that they struck it rich and that from now on he does not have to work anymore. But Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach asked the students: Did the owner of the donkey know that there was a pearl attached to it. They answered “NO”. Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach said to them: “Go give it back!”.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Shmuel Shkedi Suffers Stroke

Please pray for Shmuel Yirmiyahu ben Breyna:
Jerusalem city council member Shmuel Shkedi, who is in his 60s and heads the nationalist United Jerusalem faction, suffered a stroke on Thursday at his Jerusalem home.

He was taken by Magen David Adom paramedics to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, and from there was transferred to the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer where Srugim reports he underwent an intracranial catheterization.

Srugim further notes that Shkedi's condition is still defined as critical, and that at this stage it is still unknown if Shkedi will be able to return to his role on the city council.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It is Good to Give Thanks to the Lord

MK Avigdor Lieberman after his acquittal:


This sums up the situation:

Lieberman has been a target of investigation by the State Attorney's Office for about 17 years, causing many to see him as a victim of political persecution by the state's legal system. Suspicions against him have come and gone, he has been questioned by police, and so have his relatives – but nothing "stuck" until last year, when charges were finally filed in the matter of Ben Aryeh.

One of the witnesses who testified against Lieberman was his former deputy, Danny Ayalon. Ayalon told the court that Lieberman had expressed preference for Ben Aryeh when the tender for ambassador was issued. This alleged fact, combined with Ben Aryeh's admission that he had leaked information about another investigation to Lieberman, were enough for the State Attorney to charge Lieberman with criminal behavior.

The judges found "problems" with Ayalon's testimony, which was given after Lieberman fired him as deputy minister.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Amazing Story of Ovadia and Aliza Baruch

The story of how the holocaust affected Greek Jewry is seldom told. Here is the amazing "love story" of Ovadia and Aliza Baruch:

Aliza describes the "experiments" she went through in block 10:

You can read more about Ovadia and Aliza here.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Baruch Kopold's Story

The Yad Vashem channel on YouTube has many excellent films. Here is the story of Baruch Kopold, a partisan fighter and holocaust survivor:

Friday, November 01, 2013

Leading Religious Zionist Rabbis Declare That MK El'azar Stern is an Epikoros

Rabbi Uri Cohen, Rabbi David Chai HaCohen, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, Rabbi Arye Koren, and Rabbi Yosef Badichi are among the rabbis that have declared that MK Stern is an epikoros.

What is an epikoros?

"AN EPIKOROS. Rab and R. Hanina both taught that this means one who disrespects a Talmid Chacham [erudite Torah scholar]. R. Johanan and R. Joshua b. Levi maintained that it is one who disrespects his neighbour in the presence of a Talmid Chacham. "

—B. Talmud, Seder Nezikin, tractate Sanhedrin, 99b

I already mentioned that a lack of respect for Torah scholars is a sign of a lack of yir'at shamayim.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kahane Memorial: 23 Years

It's hard to believe but it has been 23 years since Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered. Last night I had the privilege of attending the annual memorial. The place was packed! There were many young people there who were born long after the rabbi was murdered. Here are a few pics.

Adv. Itamar Ben-Gvir:

Baruch Marzel:

South Tel Aviv activist May Golan:

Recently elected Jerusalem City Councilman Arye King:

Dr. Michael Ben-Ari:

Among other things, Dr. Ben-Ari requested from Arye King that King George Street in Jerusalem be renamed Rabbi Meir Kahane Street. Let's see what happens.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jerusalem Municipal Election Thoughts

His prayers were answered:

Nir Barkat was reelected. It was a tough race. Arye Deri and Avigdor Lieberman banded together to unseat Barkat. They thought that they found the man for the job: Moshe Lion. The idea was that all of the ultra-Orthodox community will unite behind the kippah-clad Lion. Many in the national religious camp would vote for him too, as he is "one of them". All that was needed was to convince enough seculars to desert Barkat, and the election would be in the bag.

The plan almost worked. However, the ultra-Orthodox public did not unite 100% for Lion. Some large Hasidic courts did not endorse him. The Bnei Torah faction even ran a candidate of their own for mayor. The final result is five more years of Barkat. Personally, I think that he has been a decent mayor and I hope that he will continue to be fair to all of the different sectors in Jerusalem.

In the council, it is interesting to note that the "United Jerusalem" faction got more mandates (2) than the Jewish Home (1). I hope that Naftali Bennett is paying attention: his attempt to force his cronies on the national religious public here was unsuccessful. I also have a feeling that many voted against the Jewish Home to protest the covenant on the national level with "Yesh Atid".

Rabbi Shmuel Orbach's Bnei Torah faction got a seat in the council which is no small feat. The Tov party, which is just a reincarnation of Po'alei Agudat Yisrael, did not get a seat. Too bad, I was rooting for them even thought I did not vote for them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef Blesses His Son Rabbi Ya'akov

A week before Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef zt"l passed away, his father zt"l tearfully blesses him:

Rabinfest 2013: Martin Sherman Sets the Record Straight

A taste:
The perception of a positive Oslo-related Rabinesque “heritage” can only be maintained by pervasive distortion, deception and deceit. For the Oslo Accords were an act of moral turpitude that by any rational criterion of common sense and common decency should bring dishonor to anyone associated with it. It was an egregious, imbecilic blunder that precipitated all the tragedy its opponents warned of, and none of the benefits its proponents promised.

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef on Rabbi Kook: "He Was an Angel of the Lord of Hosts"

I saw an interesting video at Kikar HaShabbat. In the video Rabbi Yosef's grandson Rabbi Yaakov Sasson tells his grandfather about a book that disparages Rabbi Kook. Rabbi Sasson protested against what was written and wanted to know what his grandfather's opinion was. Here is what Rabbi Ovadiah said:
כן, בוודאי היה אדם גדול. אסור לדבר עליו. הוא היה צדיק יסוד עולם. חכם יהודה צדקה הלכתי אתו פעם למרכז הרב, היה עושה שמחה תודה, הוא היה רוקד. הוא אמר לי (על הריא"ה קוק. י-כ) 'מלאך ה' צבאות', מלאך ה' צבאות, חכם יהודה צדקה לא היה מהמזרחי
Certainly he (Rabbi Kook) was a great man. It is forbidden to speak (badly) about him. He was a righteous man, a foundation of the world, Hacham Yehudah Tzadka, I went with him once to Merkaz HaRav, it was Simchat Torah, he would dance. He told me that (Rabbi Kook) is "An angel of the Lord of Hosts". An angel of the Lord of Hosts. Hacham Yehudah was not from the Mizrachi .
Many people commented on the clip. Some of them mentioned that there is nothing new in the clip, as Rabbi Kook is mentioned in all eleven volumes of Yabi'a Omer (Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's responsa), where is is referred to as Mara D'Ar'a D'Yisrael, the master of the land of Israel.

Update: Here's the clip:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jerusalem Municipal Elections

It;s election time again. Next Tuesday Jerusalem residents will have the opportunity to vote for the mayor and city council.

Unlike the last time around, I'm not to emotionally involved in these elections. I am not excited about voting for or against somebody. Nir Barkat turned out to be a pretty good mayor. As far as I can tell, he has dealt fairly with the various different population sectors here in Jerusalem.

Barkat's main rival in these elections is Moshe Leon. It has been said that politics makes strange bedfellows. Here in Israel, political arch-enemies Arye Deri and Avigdor Lieberman joined forces to run Moshe Leon against Barkat. Leon seems to be a decent guy, but he is an outsider (from Givatayim) who only recently moved here. It is hard for me to get excited about such a candidate, even if he wears a kippah on his head.

The elections for the council also leave very little to be excited about. The National Religious public is running under (at least) two parties. One party is the Bayit Yehudi. The other is the United Jerusalem list headed by Shmuel Shekedi and Arye King. United Torah Judaism has splintered into three different parties: UTJ, Bnei Torah and Tov. Shas remains united and I expect them to do well in the elections. Unity usually pays off.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rabinfest 2013: Yuval Rabin and His Father's Legacy

It's that time of year again! Today is the Yahrzeit of Yitzhak Rabin, according to the Jewish calendar. From last Saturday night and until the 4th of November (the day Rabin died according to the Gregorian calendar) , the Israeli Left and the Israeli MSM will be celebrating Rabinfest.

What would a festival be without a clown? Although I have not seen the Rabinfest organizers hiring professional clowns, there is always a leftist who is willing to beclown himself/herself for free. This year's festival has just begun, and it already has its first gratis clown, who is none other than the late Prime Minister's son, Yuval Rabin.

No, Yuval was not trying to be funny. He was absolutely serious. However, when one says ridiculous things with a straight face, it can be comical:

He then launched into criticism of those who link Oslo to terrorism. “To argue that terrorism happened because of Oslo is cynical and deliberately wicked,” he accused. “The escalation of terrorism is an ongoing process, and various factors did ‘contribute’ to it, but one thing is consistently clear – those who commit terrorism are against compromise.”
No good deed should go unrecognized, so I would like to thank Yuval Rabin for bringing a smile to my face. Who in the world are you trying to fool, Yuval Rabin? You cannot fool me, for I have been here in Israel long before the Oslo Accords. I remember Israel before the accords and after. Nobody claims or claimed that there was not terrorism before the Oslo Agreements. However, only a buffoon can claim they did not cause a sharp rise in terrorism. As the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted way back in 1998:
More Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terrorists in the 5 years since the first Oslo agreement was signed in September 1993 than in the 15 preceding years, the Government Press Office (GPO) has announced.

A total of 279 men, women and children have been killed in 92 lethal attacks by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accords. This does not include victims of attacks launched by Lebanese-based terror organizations or incidents along Israel's borders.

So who is Yuval Rabin trying to fool? He cannot fool God. He cannot fool me either! If he is trying to fool himself....well, never mind.

Yuval Rabin did not always make me smile. In fact, one time I was truly embarrassed for him. It happened during his father's funeral. I was sitting at my desk at work in downtown Jerusalem, listening to the funeral on the radio. It was time for the son to recite Kaddish. Yuval Rabin totally mangled it, apparently thinking that the Aramaic words in the prayer were in Hebrew. His stuttered rendition was even more garbled than that of a second generation American Jew in a Conservative Temple reading the transliteration from the Silverman siddur. Yes, the thought that the entire nation and Jews all over the world heard this made me cringe in my seat. The son of the slain Prime Minister, ostensibly an educated man, does not even know how to say Kaddish!

This was the true legacy of Yitzchak Rabin and so many other secular Zionists: children woefully ignorant of their own heritage. Thousands of years of Torah and ethics were traded in for a dry nationalism combined with socialism, army service and speaking Hebrew: an Israeli version of "bagels and lox" Judaism, which like its American cousin has gradually evolved into a bizarre combination of liberalism and crass materialisim. What a sad joke!

May God save us such clowns and their [self] deceptions.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Land For Peace and Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef zt"l

Since Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has passed away much has been written about his great legacy. Many have mentioned that Rav Ovadiah gave the halachic basis for the Oslo Accords when he ruled that it is permissible to surrender land for peace. They don't mention the rabbis who disagreed with him on this matter (for instance his friend and colleague Rav Avraham Shapira zt"l). What's worse is that they do not mention that Rabbi Ovadiah himself wrote that his psak does not apply to our current situation here in the land of Israel.

I have translated, to the best of my ability, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's letter on this matter. (You can see the original here). I hope that I have faithfully conveyed his message:


23 Shevat 5763 (26 January '03)

To our dear and honored brothers of the house of Israel, residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip,

May God be upon you and may you live, may your peace be grow eternally.

It is my desire to make clear my positon with regards to Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

I have already explained on more than one occasion that the legal decision that I rendered regarding "territory for peace" is not at all valid regarding the current situation. I had intended only ( a situation of ) true peace, where Jerusalem and its environs dwell in safety, peace and tranquility. However, now, our eyes see and are disappointed that to the contrary, the handing over of territory from our holy land causes danger to life. This is not the peace than we hoped for and this is not the child that we prayed for. Therefore the Oslo Agreements are null and void. I am all peace; but when I speak, they are for war. And we have nobody to rely upon except our Father in heaven.

I hereby bless you with all of my heart and soul, Hashem, should make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as He hath promised you! Hashem should guard your going and coming for good life and peace from now until eternity, in your days and in our days may Yehudah be delivered and may Israel dwell in safety. And Jacob shall again be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.

With great love,

Requesting your peace and benefit with heart and soul,

Ovadiah Yosef

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Yosef Family Mourning Tent in Har Nof

I have made a lot of shiva calls, but I have never seen anything like this:

In the end I was not able to comfort the mourners. In fact, I did not even see them. It was just too crowded. However,it is as if I comforted them for
מחשבה טובה הקב"ה מצרפה למעשה
The Holy One Blessed Be He considers a good thought as if you actually carried it out (Kiddushin 40A).

45 Kablan Street will never be the same:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Pics From Rav Ovadiah's Funeral

I know...the MSM has much better pictures...but anyway:

The Funeral of Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt"l

Yesterday I took part in the biggest funeral in the history of the State of Israel. I do not know how many people were there. Some say 700,000. Same say 1,000,000. But there is no question that more people participated in this funeral than in any previous one.

Unity! When was the last time that we witnessed so many different people from so many different sectors and walks in life sectors coming together for a united purpose? Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Hasidim, National Religious, tradtional and even secular Jews all devoted their precious time for the privilege to escort this great Torah scholar and leader on his final journey in This World.

It is important to understand that Rabbi Ovadiah's halachic influence was felt well beyond the world of Mizrahi Jews, most of whom accept his judgements as binding. His books are considered important to the entire Torah world. For example, I remember one of my rabbis saying, "If you want to know what the halacha is, see what Rabba Ovadiah has to say." What he meant was that sometimes there are stringencies in Jewish law which are the result of local customs, kabalah, or the desire to fulfil the law even according to a minority opinion. This is all good and fine. However, there are situations where you need to know what the Torah requires of us, period, without added chumrot. Rabbi Ovadiah was known as having that ability to define the letter of the law.

His dedication to learning Torah and teaching Torah are legendary. Who can count the number of Torah lessons he gave in syangogues all over Jerusalem and all over the country? Who can gauge the influence of all of those lessons that were broadcasted over the radio? A rabbi that I met during the levaya said that when he was growing the Sabbath preparations in his house were made while listening to Rabbi Ovadiah's lessons on the radio. And yes, he is an Ashkenazi.

Back to the levaya: I left my home at about 20 minutes to 6 stocked with a bottle of juice, some chocolate and a digital camera, all stuffed into the pockets of a double sided fleece jacket. This jacket was a pain at the start, much too hot. By the end of the night I was very thankful that I had brought it. Winter is here and it gets cold at night.

As I approached the Porat Yosef Yeshiva the crowd got bigger. At a certain point I saw a friend walking in the opposite direction. He warned me that it was too crowded near the Yeshiva. So I walked down to Yirmiyahu Street with many others, hoping to be able to catch the levaya (=funeral procession)there and accompanying Rav Ovadia zt"l at least for dalet amot (=4 cubits, about 2 meters or 6 feet). I had no intention of going all the way down to Sanhedria, where I anticipated that the crowding would be unbearable.

I found a window ledge where I could sit and wait. I could not hear the eulogies from where I was and I had no idea what was happening over at Porat Yosef. A young man with a knitted kipah sat down next to me. He had an mp3 player which was also a radio. In an "only in Israel" moment, he offered, without me asking, to let me listen to the eulogies through one of his earphones.

I had brought something to eat and drink but there were many others who did not. The stores all along the funeral route did some very good business that night.

It was getting late. As time went by and the car with Rabbi Ovadiah zt"l nowhere in sight I decided that I might as well walk further up Yirmiyahu Street and catch the levaya there. I saw a group of young men davening ma'ariv, and I realized that I had forgotten to do so myself. I found another group that had just started saying the evening prayers and joined them.

When I made it to the Beit Midrash of Gur I noticed that the people in the street were looking up in the direction of the Beit Midrash. The Rebbe was there, not in the Beit Midrash but seated behind a fence above the street. This was the first time that I had seen him in person.

A few minutes later, it finally happened. The car with Rav Ovadiah arrived and stopped in front of the Beit Midrash. The Hassidim tried to create a path for the Rebbe to come down and approach the car. However, this was an impossible task. The hundreds of thousands of people marching down Yirmiyahu Street continued to push forward. Shema Yisrael! If someone had fallen down at this point they might have been trampled to death, God forbid.

The car continued down Yirmiyahu Street and I finally got my wish. I was now an integral part of the procession, one in 700,000. I did my dalet amot and then some. Now the name of the game keeping my balance and finding a way to get out of this human tidal wave. I had been in this situation before. To make a long story short, I made it home in one piece, along with my camera and eyeglasses. Others were not so fortunate:

Over 70 people received treatment for injuries during overcrowding at the procession to the funeral of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef .

Of these, eight had to be evacuated by ambulances and mobile intensive care units to Jerusalem hospitals, including one woman who went into labor.

Among the medical problems of the people, all of whom were in good condition, were fainting, bruises and weakness.

Jerusalem after Rav Ovadiah zt"l is not the same place. He will sorely be missed.

Monday, October 07, 2013

HaRav Ovadiah Yosef zt"l

It is with great pain that I post this:
Cardiologist Professor Dan Gilon, has said Rabbi Haim Ovadia Yosef has died after he suffered a further serious deterioration in recent hours.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sukkot Revisited

What's the point of writing something about Sukkot now that it is already Marcheshvan? That's exactly the point: we have to carry the memories of Sukkot all year round.

I like to walk around the older neighborhoods of Jerusalem. These pics were taken in the Batei Neitin neighborhood, if I am not mistaken.Sukkot everywhere!

I love the way that the stairways are built upon arches:

Decked in white for Hoshanna Rabba:
The Temple Mount:
I am able to get a close-up with my zoom. [sigh]

עַל-זֶה, הָיָה דָוֶה לִבֵּנוּ--עַל-אֵלֶּה, חָשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ. עַל הַר-צִיּוֹן שֶׁשָּׁמֵם, שׁוּעָלִים הִלְּכוּ-בוֹ

At the Kotel its the last day to use your lulav!
These Japanese (?) tourists may have thought that it was exotic to photograph the Jews praying at the wall. I thought that it was exotic to photograph the Japanese tourists taking pictures of the Jews.
The typical "Jews at the Wall" picture:
I hope that we have a nice rainy winter.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Deconstructing the "Arab Jew"

Check out this very interesting blog post by Point of No Return: Ella Shohat: misguided antonym queen. Among other things, the post reminds us that there were Jewish communitees in places like Iraq and Egypt long before the Arab conquest of those lands.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Pew Survey of US Jews

I cannot say that the findings as reported by JTA were unexpected:
The proportion of Jews who say they have no religion and are Jewish only on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture is growing rapidly, and two-thirds of them are not raising their children Jewish at all.

Overall, the intermarriage rate is at 58 percent, up from 43 percent in 1990 and 17 percent in 1970. Among non-Orthodox Jews, the intermarriage rate is 71 percent.

The JTA also points out:
* Overall, 22 percent of U.S. Jews describe themselves as having no religion, and the survey finds they are much less connected to Jewish organizations and much less likely to be raising their children Jewish. Broken down by age, 32 percent of Jews born after 1980 — the so-called millennial generation — identify as Jews of no religion, compared to 19 percent of baby boomers and just 7 percent of Jews born before 1927.

* Emotional attachment to Israel has held steady over the last decade, with 69 percent of respondents saying they feel attached or very attached to Israel. Forty-three percent of respondents said they had been to Israel.

* Far more respondents said having a good sense of humor was essential to their Jewish identity than observing Jewish law — 42 percent compared to 19 percent.

* Approximately one-quarter of Jews said religion is very important in their lives, compared to 56 percent among Americans generally.

* Less than one-third of American Jews say they belong to a synagogue. Twenty-three percent of U.S. Jews say they attend synagogue at least once or twice a month, compared with 62 percent of U.S. Christians.

The New York Times brings us the following from the survey:
Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.
Excuse me while I puke!

You can read the full survey here.

I found the reaction of this non-Jew to the survey fascinating:

Though I, obviously, am not Jewish, I find this deeply troubling, though sadly predictable. Apart from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there is no way to hold onto Jewishness across the generations. Modernity is a harsh solvent; only the Orthodox Jews, who are committed to living religiously, and as a sign of contradiction to the modern world, are holding the line. The lesson here is that if you are only passively Jewish, your grandchildren will probably not be Jewish at all.
He understands what so many "Jewish leaders" simply fail to grasp.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hakafot Shniyot: MiShebeirach For Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at Rav Kook's House

IMHO this took place at "Beit HaRav", Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook's house and the former site of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, and not at the current Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva. The "MiShebeirach" starts at 2:15:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Huma Abedin's Next Step

Now that Anthony Weiner's political comeback bid has failed miserably, many are wondering what Huma Abedin's next step will be: will she continue to stand by her man. or will she throw him out like a rotten tomato?

The question is not new. I raised it two years ago when Weiner resigned from Congress on the heels of "Weinergate":

The truth is, according to Jewish law, Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin are not married. A Jew cannot marry a non-Jew. Period. According to the Torah, their current lifestyle is a simple case of promiscuity, to put things mildly as possible.

My guess is that Huma and Tony are going to be parting ways in the near future. Huma thought that she married an up and coming Congressman who was on the way to becoming the Mayor of New York City. Now her "husband" has become a walking joke! Such an embarrassing situation is no doubt unbearable. Huma has little use for such a disgraced has-been. He's not President Bill Clinton. She will show him the door quicker than most people think.

Chances are that they would have broken up in a few years time anyway. As is well known, intermarriages are recipes for domestic strife and confused children. The Weiner-Abedin union is no exception. I wonder what baby Weiner will think when he/she hears the imam say that his/her father is "a descendant of apes and pigs"?

Well, two years have passed and my prediciton that Anthony and Huma would be "parting ways in the near future" was wrong.

At the beginning of the above snippet I mentioned that according to Jewish law Weiner and Abedin are not married. From the Torah point of view the two are involved in an illicit relationship, a relationship which is much worse that Carlos Danger's online escapades.

I wonder how Huma Abedin's family looks upon the couple. I remember back in the days when I still did reserve duty, I was on a border patrol together with a Bedouin scout. To my great dismay I had heard of Muslims marrying Jewish girls here in Israel. I had never heard of a case where a Muslim girl marries a Jew. I asked him out of curiousity if there is any chance that a Bedouin girl would marry a Jew. My Bedouin comrade-in-arms gave me a "perish the thought" kind of look and said that such a thing was absolutely forbidden.

A little bit of research confirms what he said. It turns out that according to Islam, a Muslim man can take a Jewish or Christian wife, as long as the children are brought up as Muslims:

Muslim men are permitted by Islamic Law to marry up to four non-Muslim women who belong to other two Abrahamic religions i.e. Christians and Jews, provided that all of the children are ensured to be brought up as Muslims. The conversion of the wives to Islam is encouraged, but not obligatory, as their children will legally be Muslim regardless.
However, for Muslim women, things are different:
Islamic scholars generally forbid Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men.
So by Islamic standards, the Weiner marriage is not valid. It seems that this union falls under the Islamic category of Zina, adultery or fornication, which is punishable by lashes. If Huma were to travel to Saudi Arabia without a diplomatic passport, she would probably come back with more stripes than a zebra.

So Huma Abedin, who professes to be a practicing Muslim, is living in a state of cognitive dissonance. Or is she?

Some people think that Anthony Weiner may have secretly converted to Islam:

Certainly the most likely scenario is that Weiner did convert to Islam, as Abedin’s mother, a professor in Saudi Arabia, would almost certainly have insisted that he do so. Weiner has made no public statement of this conversion, but since it would almost certainly have cost him politically if he had announced it, this silence is not any indication that he didn’t actually convert.
Others think that Huma Abedin was given special dispensation from Islamic clerics to marry the kafir Weiner in order to infiltrate the highest levels of the United States government:
Few Westerners are familiar with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood revival of the doctrine of muruna, which literally means “stealth” or “flexibility.” It is far worse than taqiyya, since it sanctions all prohibitions that block Muslim interests, even blasphemous ones. . . . Consider the example of Huma Abedin, a practicing Muslim who married Jewish former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Qaradawi has used muruna to sanction such marriages.

What was once forbidden by Shariah — from major crimes like Muslims killing Muslims, to issues of interest banking that include alliances with infidels — was made “temporarily” kosher by muruna.

While I cannot prove that these theories are false, I would like to present another option. Huma Abedin merely does what she wants. It is that simple. She has subjugated her Saudi submission to her Philadelphia freedom. She is willing to fast during Ramadan but not to wear a hijab. She preferred marrying an American Jew to a Muslim from anywhere else on the planet. It's not a conspiracy nor a secret, just an issue of personal preference. As far as she is concerned, if the Qadi doen't like it, he can go drink water from the Indian Ocean, or should I say the Great Salt Lake. Whatever.

In any case the question remains: What will be Huma Abedin's next step? According to my theory, she will do whatever she perceives as being good for her. Is she better off being a single mother or sticking it out with a man who has brought her so much embarrassment, and who just happens to be the father of her son? Is Anthony Weiner an asset or a liability to her own political and/or career ambitions? Does she think that at 37 years old plus a child she can find somebody better? Who knows? Huma knows.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Anthony Weiner vs. Saul Kessler: Hakoras HaTov

It's hard to believe, but this is my third post about the famous "argument in the kosher bakery". But then again, I mentioned that there is a lot to learn from the clip. This time I want to write about what happens towards the end of their dispute. Here it is again for you viewing pleasure:

Now here is something that you should know: When two Jews have an argument in a kosher bakery, there are a lot of subtleties that may go unnoticed by the general public. At about 2:00 into the clip, Anthony Weiner says the following:

"By the way I fought very hard for this community and delivered more than you will ever in your entire life."
Kessler responds:
"You never delivered deliver for yourself."
It could be that Kessler was hinting to the what the Talmud says in Avodah Zarah 2B with regard to certain nations of the world. Subtle! In any case, at this point Weiner says something that I think probably went under the radar of most of the people who viewed the clip:
"You don't understand Hakoras HaTov."
Hakoras HaTov (or Hakarat HaTov according to the Sephardi pronunciation) is a very important concept in Jewish thought. Once upon a time, I wrote an entire post about it:
Jews like to ask questions. Some say that Jews like to answer a question with another question. This is a strange thing to do.

Every Sabbath we end the morning prayers with a question, which is a verse from Tehillim, Psalms 106:

"Who can express the mighty acts of the L-RD, or make all His praise to be heard?"

This is also a strange thing to do, to finish the prayers with a question! Of course, this is a rhetorical question that is not meant to be answered. Nobody can express the mighty acts of the L-RD! It just cannot be done!

The verse itself seems to be redundant. The second part of the verse seems to repeat the first part of the verse. "Making all His praise to be heard" seems to be the same as "expressing the mighty acts of the L-RD."

The Maharal from Prague wrote a book about the Exodus, "Gevurot Hashem". In chapter 1 of Gevurot Hashem the Maharal explains that the verse is telling us two different ideas. The first part of the verse deals with quality, while the second part is talking about quality. "Who can express the mighty acts of the L-RD" in terms of the quality of his acts,” or make ALL His praise to be heard" in terms of quantity. Whether in terms of quality or in terms of quantity G-d's praises cannot be expressed!

Since this is so, the Maharal questions why we bother making a seder Passover night. While eating chicken soup with kneidlach is certainly a worthy pastime, the real purpose of the seder is to speak of the great miracles that G-d did for us as we left Egypt. But this is an impossible task! Who can express the mighty acts of the LORD, or make all His praise to be heard?

The Maharal answers that while we cannot possibly say all of G-d’s praises, we dare not be silent. This is called "Hakarat Hatov", recognizing and appreciating the good that someone has done for you. Gratitude. This is considered an important character trait that one should foster, and G-d forbid not to be a "Kefui Tovah", an ingrate. We say G-d's praises in order to show our appreciation and gratitude, even thought we know that our words cannot encompass all of the things that G-d is to be praised for.

I am impressed that Anthony Weiner was familiar with the concept. May we all merit to recognize the good,

G'mar Chatimah Tovah!

Update: Perhaps Weiner learned the term from his meeting with these rabbis.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yom Kippur War - Israel fights for her life and wins

40 years have passed since the Yom Kippur War. We are here with God's help and the great bravery of our soldiers:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Anthony Weiner's Day of Judgment

I mentioned in my previous post that there was much to learn from "The Weiner Incident in the Kosher Bakery". I showed how the incident was an example of how not to reprove somebody. But there is so much more.

That video clip depicted a sad spectacle. Yes, it was a sad spectacle indeed to see the man who has separated himself from God and His Torah walking into a kosher bakery just before the Jewish New Year, desparately trying to drum up votes among the very people who he has abandoned. Being Jewish is a lot more than shoving some honey cake into your mouth and saying, "Have a sweet year". Nobody at the bakery mentioned this. Who would dare? It's not polite. It's not politically correct. Then came Kessler.

Saul Kessler's confrontation with Anthony Weiner was a "clash of civilizations" within the Jewish community. In the United States of America there are two different kinds of Jews: those whose progeny will be Jews and those whose progeny will not. Kessler, as far as I can tell without knowing him personally, belongs to the first. Weiner, to our great dismay, at least at this point of time, belongs to the second.

Weiner, by "marrying" a non-Jew, has knowingly cut off his seed from the covenant of Sinai and the ways of Abraham:

"For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'"
Weiner's uncontrolled passions caused him to leave the path of Abraham and follow the path of "Carlos Danger".

Yesterday was Weiner's Day of Judgment: 19 out of 20 Democrats who took part in the primaries voted for someone else. Anthony Weiner objected to Saul Kessler judging him. Now the public has judged him, and he has no choice but to accept the verdict.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Weiner Incident in the Kosher Bakery

This incident is at once tragic and yet fascinating. There is so much to learn from it:
Beleaguered New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner got into a war of words Wednesday with a man who lashed out at him for being “married to an Arab,” in addition to chastising the former congressman about his well-documented sexting scandal.

The incident began inside a bakery in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, where the man yelled out to Weiner, who had just bought cookies and an iced coffee, “You’re a real (expletive deleted).”

Weiner offered a quick retort, then said to no one in particular, “Very nice, that’s a charming guy right there.” It’s then that the man, later identified as Saul Kessler, responded: “Married to an Arab.”

The comment is an apparent reference to Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who works for Hillary Clinton. Abedin’s late father was an Islamic scholar from India and her mother, a sociologist, is from Pakistan. Weiner is Jewish, as were most of those inside the Brooklyn bakery.

The Democratic candidate responded with, “Very nice, in front of children… That is charming.” Kessler didn’t stop talking, even as Weiner was leaving the bakery, saying, “You are disgusting, disgusting.

“It takes one to know one, (expletive deleted),” Weiner replied.

The two then went face-to-face, with Kessler accusing Weiner — who resigned in disgrace after 12 years in Congress representing part of New York City after admitting to sending sexually suggestive images and carrying on inappropriate relationships with women over the Internet — of doing “disgusting things, and you have the nerve to even walk around in public.”

A visibly agitated Weiner responded,”And you’re a perfect person? You’re my judge? What rabbi taught you that?”

At one point, Kessler implored Weiner to “think about your wife, how could you take the person you’re most closest to … and betray her?

The mayoral hopeful then accused Kessler of acting like he is superior, even though he doesn’t “have the moral authority to judge me.”

The back-and-forth went on for about a minute longer before Weiner left the bakery. He seemed to quickly brush off the confrontation, saying, “He has every right to (challenge me). It’s America.”

Personally, I am disappointed in Anthony Weiner. I thought that he had the potential to be the next Teshuvah poster boy. So far, that has not happened. Instead, he has fulfilled the verse, "As a dog that returneth to his vomit, so is a fool that repeateth his folly."

The incident in the bakery brings to mind what Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah said, "I wonder if there is anyone in this generation who knows how to reprove(Arachin 16B)." Many mistakes were made here by Mr, Kessler, as one can see by learning what the Rambam writes:

It is a mitzvah for a person who sees that his fellow Jew has sinned or is following an improper path [to attempt] to correct his behavior and to inform him that he is causing himself a loss by his evil deeds as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "You shall surely admonish your colleague."

A person who rebukes a colleague - whether because of a [wrong committed] against him or because of a matter between his colleague and God - should rebuke him privately. He should speak to him patiently and gently, informing him that he is only making these statements for his colleague's own welfare, to allow him to merit the life of the world to come.

If he accepts [the rebuke], it is good; if not, he should rebuke him a second and third time. Indeed, one is obligated to rebuke a colleague who does wrong until the latter strikes him and tells him: "I will not listen."

Whoever has the possibility of rebuking [sinners] and fails to do so is considered responsible for that sin, for he had the opportunity to rebuke the [sinners].

At first, a person who admonishes a colleague should not speak to him harshly until he becomes embarrassed as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him." This is what our Sages said: Should you rebuke him to the point that his face changes [color]? The Torah states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him."

From this, [we learn that] it is forbidden for a person to embarrass a [fellow] Jew. How much more so [is it forbidden to embarrass him] in public. Even though a person who embarrasses a colleague is not [liable for] lashes on account of him, it is a great sin. Our Sages said: "A person who embarrasses a colleague in public does not have a share in the world to come."

Therefore, a person should be careful not to embarrass a colleague - whether of great or lesser stature - in public, and not to call him a name which embarrasses him or to relate a matter that brings him shame in his presence.

When does the above apply? In regard to matters between one man and another. However, in regard to spiritual matters, if [a transgressor] does not repent [after being admonished] in private, he may be put to shame in public and his sin may be publicized. He may be subjected to abuse, scorn, and curses until he repents, as was the practice of all the prophets of Israel.

Obviously, in order to properly reprove somebody according to what our rabbis taught us, you don't start by calling him a, uh, you know, what he said.

However, it must be noted that even if Kessler was not particularly adept at reproof, his heart is in the right place. He obviously detests intermarriage, and he is not afraid to say it. Mr. Kessler has not been spoiled by the prevailing political correctness spouted by "liberal" Jews with regards to this subject. What's more, Weiner's personal behavior does matter. If the man is a habitual liar who cheats on his live-in-partner (I refuse to call Huma Abedin his wife since Jewish law does not recognize such a union), he is unfit to serve the public.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Bad Translation of the Day

The nice folks at ynet have turned the Day of Judgment into doomsday. Here is the original:
לי אין ספק שבמשפטו של עולם יש לי הרבה חובות והמשפט הארצי הקלוקל הזה רק מזכה אותי בדין של יום הדין
Ynet translated this as:
I have no doubt that this flawed trial is giving me a lot of points in doomsday court
They should have translated something like this: I have no doubt that in the (heavenly) tribunal (of my deeds in this) world I have many bad deeds and that this substandard earthly trial will be to my credit on the day of judgment ( Rosh HaShannah ).

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Rabbi Zalman Retires From Beit El Rabbinate

Rabbi Melamed shocked those that came to hear his "Shabbat Shuva" lecture by announcing his retirement. He will however continue to head the yeshiva in Beit El.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Crisis of Conscience: Anti-Semite Learns He's a Jew

And thou shalt return and hearken to the voice of the LORD, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day. (Deuteronomy 30:8)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kalandia Rioter Previously Released in Shalit Deal

From INN:
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that one of the three terrorists killed in the early hours of this morning had been released in 2011, as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit.

Another one of the casualties was also a known terrorist, according to the Israeli security service, Shin Bet.

Yunis Jahjouh, 22, was killed along with Rubeen Abed Fares and Jihad Aslan. He was 19 at the time of the "Shalit Deal," which saw more than 1,000 terrorists released from Israeli prisons.

Border Police had entered Kalandia to an individual for suspected terrorist activities. Over a thousand Palestinian Arabs started rioting, and throwing rocks and stones at the Israeli personnel.

The IDF force that was providing security for the arresting squad took action to extricate it, and when the forces felt actual danger to their lives, they opened fire at the attackers. The wanted man was arrested and taken to interrogation.
You can see a video of the Arabs rioting here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Teshuvah = Health

From Orot HaTeshuvah, chapter 5:
התשובה היא ההרגשה היותר בריאה של הנפש
Teshuvah is the most healthy feeling of the soul.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Under the Vine

These pics were taken somewhere in Giv'at Shaul:

I could not help but think of this:
1 But in the end of days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall go and say: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths'; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide concerning mighty nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken. 5 For let all the peoples walk each one in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
May it happen speedily, in our time, Amen.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pollard Speaks Out

It is a painful read. Especially since it seems to me that he is correct:
• Israel is the only country in the world ever to voluntarily expel its own citizens from chunks of its homeland in order to hand over the land to its enemies.

• It is the only country in the world ever to voluntarily destroy the homes and businesses of its own citizens, leaving them with shattered lives and broken promises.

• Israel is the only country in the world ever to voluntarily dig up and transport the graves of its dead so that the land could be turned over to its enemies.

The State of Israel also holds unenviable world records for betraying those who serve the state, including the following:

• Israel is the only country in the world to restrain its military from rescuing a wounded soldier, for fear of provoking the enemy and risking its approval ratings with the world. The soldier, injured by enemy gunfire at a Jewish holy site, slowly bled to death needlessly while the IDF stood by and watched.

• Israel also remains the only country in the world ever to voluntarily cooperate in the prosecution of its own intelligence agent, refusing him sanctuary, turning over the documents to incriminate him, denying that the state knew him, and then allowing him to rot in a foreign prison for decades on end, cravenly forgoing its right to simple justice for the nation and for the agent.

• Additionally, Israel is still the only country in the world ever to violate its own system of justice by repeatedly releasing dangerous, unrepentant murderers and terrorists back into the civilian population with impunity. No other country in the world has ever done this! In summary, Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world so befuddled by moral ambiguity that it is willing to dishonor its dead, betray its bereaved, and disgrace its citizens for the sake of political expediency.

Read the entire article!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Sea of Galilee

I was at the Sea of Galilee, or the Kinneret in Hebrew:

The picture (click on it to enlarge) here is of the Kinar Beach, on the northeastern side of the Kinneret. Kinar Beach is actually two different beaches, one for men and one for women. The trees in the water took root there when the water level was low.

The waves were surprisingly high when I was there, almost as if I was in the Mediterranean Sea.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

טומאת קרי

Sometimes current events are so maddening that...I just do not know what to say. Is there any point in writing a blog post on why it is wrong to release murderers from prison in order to have the privilege of talking to Abu Mazen?

Two things are clear. One is that the present government is morally weak. On days like this I am embarrassed to be an Israeli. I am doubly embarrassed to be an American citizen.

The second thing is that the United States of America, under Obama and Kerry, is not a friend of Israel.

It is interesting to note that the name Kerry, in Hebrew, means "nocturnal emission", a source of impurity. Need I say any more?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Post 9th of Av Post

1) This web site is a must! Go ahead click on the link.

Here's a news report about the web site:

2) Here is another sign of Europe's moral decay.

3) Eight years have gone by since the destruction of Gush Katif.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Devarim: Words of Rebuke

This week's Parasha starts out:
These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on that side of the Jordan in the desert, in the plain opposite the Red Sea, between Paran and Tofel and Lavan and Hazeroth and Di Zahav.
Rashi explains:
Since these are words of rebuke and he [Moses] enumerates here all the places where they angered the Omnipresent, therefore it makes no explicit mention of the incidents [in which they transgressed], but rather merely alludes to them, [by mentioning the names of the places] out of respect for Israel (cf. Sifrei).
Rebuke is not an easy matter. Not everybody knows how to rebuke his fellowman in a way that what he says will make a positive impression. Rabbi Akiva said, "I am in doubt if there is anyone in this generation who knows how to give reproof." (Arachin 16B). Rebuking someone by hanging a sign from your balcony seems to me to be a good method. The person is not being attacked personally and he may take the words to heart. Here are some words of rebuke that I have seen recently (click on the pics to enlarge):

The sign on the left says, "No entrance to owners of iPhones (or similar devices) or unfiltered internet." The second sign says," O merciful nation of Israel! Pray that my father will get rid of the iPhone and the internet and not break up our family." I agree with the signs that iPhones, internet etc. can be dangerous. If you don't believe me, ask Anthony Weiner.

More of the same:

This sign warns in the name of Rabbi Kanievsky that those who have iPhones bring trouble into their homes:

This really does not fit in but I'm including it anyway. The red sign in the middle says, "To the Nations of the world: (from their ambassadors in the land who are closely following the struggle against Judaism in Israel) Jewish Education under Foreign Rule is preferable to Foreign Education under Jewish Rule".

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. I just noticed that one of the signs announces that Zahava Golda Levin, the wife of Rabbi Simchah Shlomo Levin shlita, has passed away. (Rabbi Simchah Shlomo Levin is the son of the famed Tzaddik of Jerusalem Rabbi Aryeh Levin zt"l).

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