Monday, January 31, 2011

Shimon the Holy Horse

The Shabbat Pamphlet "Yesha Shelanu" (יש"ע שלנו) managed to amuse everyone. They have a weekly feature where they tell the story of some Rabbi and their special connection to some location in Israel. This week they wrote about Rabbi Avraham Ashkenazi - and about how he worked hard to secure the purchase of the cave of "Shimon Hatzadik" in Jerusalem. So where is the problem? have a very close look at the tombstone on the picture. Under the line "Shimon Hatzadik" it says "His commitment in work lead us on our way". Slightly weird inscription for a rabbi. Turns out this isn't the right tombstone. This is the joke burial site for a horse at a horse farm near the kinneret. The editors of the pamphlet, clearly just googled "Shimon Ha'tzadik" and posted the first picture that came up..

Via: Rotter.

Reading History

Over the weekend in the Shabbat shul pamphlet "Olam Katan" (sorry no link) one of their writers was speculating about the upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt. His basic premise was "History has proven that all evil empires are doomed to fall" he even called it "A law of history".

One problem. All empires fall. No empire has yet survived – regardless of whether they have been good or bad. Angelic or demonic they all seem to fall in the end. Searching for a moral reading of history is plainly not viable.

Jews are encouraged to try and see master plans in history. Our own uniqueness in history compels us to try and see a global meta history – or to read history as a collection of moral rules. This is undeniably the emphasis of some of the later books of the bible – and a regular Jewish theological topic. Searching for God in history is hard wired into our collective subconscious. However I've found that when you enter the realm of the micro in history, you simply can't create a meta narrative that will stand up to scrutiny.

I'll add to this, that finding God's plan in history is a hobby best pursued with some distance to unfolding events. It is way too early for anyone to speculate on the outcome of the unrest in Tunisia and in Egypt. We may yet find that we will look back on Mubarak's Egypt with great longing. The same is probably true of Tunisia as well.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Golden Rules While Dealing With "Miracle Workers".

A relative of mine told me a story of a simpleton in their shul, who has become a professional "Miracle Worker" or in other words - takes money to bless people. This is a topic that really irks me. It seems that the Dati-Leumi public has recently started to produce its own scammers "holy men" - or men who claim to have powers. These people have a few shared characteristics - but one of them stands out:

They are people who were not famous for their learning before they started taking money for blessings.

And so I will state the Golden Rules:

1. Real holy men don't ask for money. It is that simple. If they are asking you for money, you are paying too much for their blessings. I assure you, god will not honor any blessing you had to pay for.

2. There are no "Powers" devoid of Holiness and some minimal torah knowledge. Frankly I'm a skeptic of all claims of powers. However for the sake of minimal consideration, I'm certain that an ignoramus in Torah is not going to be a miracle worker. 

These two rules are time tested and true. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can you be seriously delusional on only one topic?

From Goldberg:

It turns out that "Palestine expert" on the UN Human Rights Council, the law professor Richard Falk, is something of a 9/11 Truther (sorry, Troofer). Here is what Falk had to say about 9/11 on his blog:
The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin (and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or cooption, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government. The forms persist, but the content is missing." 

And so Falk is getting into serious heat, not for being delusional about Israel, but rather for being delusional about America and 9/11. It seems that bias and conspiracy theories about Israel are acceptable, but about America they are probably a few years too early to be socially acceptable.

 I'm not really complaining - I'm happy to get rid of  Falk in any way we can. I'm actually kind of glad. I'm always bothered by the lingering question of "How are such intelligent people, willing to believe the craziest things about Israel?". Are we really to believe that they are all brain washed zombies, led by the leftist Anti-Semitic Anti-Zionist media? Well that can work for me on about 99% of the people. However at least 1% of humanity must have some intelligence. Intellectual honesty at least should make you really doubt your own beliefs.
It is comforting every so often to get an "easy" case like Falk. The man's delusions are across the board.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Would Rather Have a Fly In My Soup!

Just got this in Email today..

If you still didn't get the joke, you should look closely on the third line from the end "Without fear of Shmita and foreskin".

Disgusting. Puke in your grape(s) juice stuff. After reading that I'm terriefied I might just discover some grape juice that isn't "foreskin" safe. What's even funnier is that the little box on the far right corner says "Your smart purchase".

Friday, January 21, 2011

On the death of Israeli Democracy

Just to make it clear - I don't actually think that any major "Death of Democracy" event took place this week. I've yet to figure out what great crime Barak is meant to have committed against democracy, or why this is considered such a "Stinking" event.

Mk Einat Wilf (One of those who left with Barak) wrote an interesting analysis of the Labor Party in "Israel Today" weekend edition (sorry for the rough translation):

"From a certain aspect the reaction reminded me of the reactions of a cheating husband, who belittles his wife daily, and mocks her attempt at creating family life. Suddenly one day he is shocked that she gets up and leaves. He curses her, accuses her, and completely forgets all of his actions up to that point."

And a bit further in..

"Part of the explanation (for the death of Labor) can be explained by the parties shift to the left.- not in the wish to come to peace with the Palestinians – most Israelies are willing to do so – but in the constant self degredation that Israel is to blame that we have yet to make peace.
However the main reason in my eyes is demographic/ The inability of the party to change its ways in accordance with the changing reality of Israeli society. We have turned from the party that created the state, to the party "of those who's state was stolen from them".

I've only really had one case in my life, where I felt that Israeli Democracy was on the point of failing - and that was during the Hitnatkut (Aka the disengagement from Gaza). I'm going to have to come clean - at the time I grudgingly supported the Hitnatkut. That was why I voted  for Labor in the election proceeding the Hitnatkut. People have forgotten - The Hitnatkut was the Labor leader Amram Mitzna's idea (Though he was against leaving the northern region of Gaza). It was Labor's flagship plan during the Mitzana-Sharon election. Sharon won that election, famously saying "The future of Netzarim (an Israeli Gaza Settelement) is as the future of Tel-Aviv." Then a few months later he flipped. I'm far from thinking that leaders shouldn't change their minds - they can, and probably should quite often. However in this case - this issue was the heart of the elections. Changing your mind was literally stealing the ballots of the right wing, which had just won the election. I was even more surprised that the courts did not come out against it. (Legally it was kosher- it just stank). I stated then, that the precedent of trampling the democratic will of the people for the sake of "peace", will come back to bite the left in the future.  

That was the one act that I think should have had all real lovers of democracy up in arms. This week's break up of the Labor party does seem to me to have stolen anyone's votes - There is no noticeable difference between "Independence" and "Labor". 


I must not be getting this...

So this week we have seen Kadima MK's coming on the radio, and in one voice condemning Ehud Barak for splitting Labor and "Stealing" the left's ballots.

But didn't Kadima do the same thing 3 years ago??? 16 of the 28 members of Kadima were in the Likud just 3 years ago.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Pashkevil War Continued

So I've been a bit slow on this one. Following last Friday's Psak Halacha by Harav Ovadia confirming that all conversions in the army are kosher, both sides have been busy gluing their accusations on every available wall in the city. Here are some of the better ones:

This Pashkevil compares Sepharadic Chief Rabbi to former Chief Rabbi Goren. Harav Goren is actually fairly admired in Dati-Leumi circles, but is considered a Kofer by Haredim, following a Psak Halacha where he allowed two "Bastards" to marry.

This one is not really that interesting or original. Its just Rav Ovadia's Psak with the title roughly translated as follows:  "The letter that shocked the Gedolim, who couldn't believe that Harav Ovadia Yosef could reach such a low of allowing the conversion of thousands of Goyim without accepting the yoke of Mitzvot, to enter the Jewish people and create mixed marriages. The Gedolim Shlita have come out harshly and said that he is worse then Goren and his Psaks are hereby cancelled, and he is acting like a reform rabbi may god have mercy!"

From the Pro- Harav Amar Camp:

Well this one is interesting though I can't fully make it out. It accuses that an Askenazic Rabbi from Bnei-Brak married the Philippine caretaker of his deceased wife...basically they allowed a conversion just for the sake of marriage.

You can find a few more here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Israel Supreme Court Judge "Lets appoint Goldstone as the new IDF Chief of staff?""

Israeli high court Judge Asher Gronis, was caught sniping today:

"Perhaps we should appoint Judge Goldstone as the next IDF Chief of Staff?" 
This little gem was remarked while hearing a motion by the Left of left NGO "Yesh Gevul" against the appointment of Galant to head the IDF. Yesh Gvul's attorney Yiftach Cohen charged that General Galant should be deemed as "unworthy" of the appointment because he "is suspect of war crimes committed during the IDF Cast Lead operation." 

Source: NRG and thanks to Muguata for the translation.

Barak on the Labor Party

In an under noticed comment from Barak's speech today:

Barak slammed Labor members who he said "have been dragged to the Left, to post-modernism and post-Zionism."

So which of the Labor Party members are we talking about? I actually found this comment quite interesting. Barak is famous for his Ha'aretz interview a few years back (Probably a decade ago now) where he stated that were he a palestinian he would have joined a terror organization. And yet Barak is leaving Labor accusing them of some Post-Modernism and Post Zionism? I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what he was referring to with those comments. It is at least somewhat comforting that someone coming from the left still seems to think that "Post Modernism" and "Post-Zionism" are negative.

Update: Apparently I'm not the only one who was trying to figure out that comment. Labor (??) MK Einat Wilf just stated on Channel 10 " When I would suggest motions with the word "Zionist" in them, Labor Mk's refused to sign".

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

This is a map of the Middle-East as published by Freedom House last week. Green = Free, Yellow=partly free, Blue = Not free. Guess which country is the only green one on the map.

On January 13, 2011, Freedom House released its findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties.

The Real Chief Rabbi (Israel)

It is time we all admit it. Regardless of his status, Harav Ovadia Yosef is, and has been the real Sephradic chief rabbi in Israel ever since he held the post in 1973. This weekend just proved it. The fact that the current chief rabbi feels he needed his backing to make the ruling on IDF conversions, just shows who is the real powerhouse.

So why don't we stop the pretense, and stop appointing other sephradic chief rabbanim? well there is quite a simple answer. We are all terrified we might have to acknowledge the Ashkenzaic real powerhouse. That would be a nightmare.

Harav Ovadia Yosef acted bravely, knowing full well how the Ashkenzaic Haredi Rabbanim would react. It is refreshing to see that Shas (aka Harav Ovadia) can still sometimes represent a different (and perhaps more liberal) view of the world. This ruling has shown how a true chief rabbi acts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Betting on the Next Chief Rabbi of the Commonwelth

PaddyPower, a well known Irish bookmaker is now accepting bets on who will be the next "next Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth". The Next Chief Rabbi race is a story that Bloghead has been blogging about but since Bloghead is on vacation, I'm going to have to fill in. 

You can read about it on Bloghead, Here and Here Funnily enough it seems that at least some of the figures on the PaddyPower's list made it straight out of "Bloghead's" aka Miriam Shaviv's article "Chief Rabbi: Who will throw their hat into the ring?" published in the Jewish Chornicle. The smoking gun that PaddyPower is relying on that article is the inclusion of "Harav Beni Lou" in that list - who I would consider a flight of fancy by Miriam, rather then a serious suggestion. All the other "long shots" mentioned in the article are on the list also.

For anyone interested I am willing to give much better odds then 500/1 against Sacha Baron Cohen getting the job. 

Worth a Read #2

  • Tablet Magazine - "Assisted Suicide" - When the Western press gives credence to anti-Israel propaganda, as it did in recent reports about a Palestinian woman killed by Israeli tear gas, it’s Arabs who are hurt most.
  • The National Post - Jenny Peto is a disgrace to U of T - not because of Israel Bashing..just shoddy research. 
Blood Libelgate:

Paleojudea - On one of the earliest cases of  blood libel, during the second temple.
Alan Dershowitz  defending the use of the term.
Jeffery Goldberg on why Sarah Palin's use of the term is good for Jewish Education.

Parashat Beshlach

Parashablog - The Karaites and naturally occuring Manna, and Regarding Natural Explanations for Manna.
On the Main Line - actually an old post, but one I thought of: An Egyptian Pasha accuses Egyptian Jews, in 1700, of robbing Egypt in biblical times.
DovBear - What is Derech Plishtim - not what I would have guessed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Want A Free ISHAS?

Rumor on the street is that all you have to do to get your own ISHAS is to marry Dov-Bear's daughter! Ipad not included.

Additionally DovBear might be willing to give free ISHAS's to certain individuals, if they promise to stay away from his daughter. These include:

A. Anyone who took the first offer seriously.
B. Anyone who is a regular user of the words: Da'at Torah, Gedolim or "my rebbe says."
C. Anyone who is a big fan of real american values a.k.a Sarah Palin.

Marriage at 15? that will solve all our problems!

Mynet is reporting on an attempt by Rabbi Asher Eidan (Who?) - Supposedly a Mashgiach in some Yeshivot in Bnei Brak to make marriage legal at 15. His reasoning? 

"There are many Hassiduiot that today break the law and marry their kids at 15-16. Parents to families with many children that have a difficulty to support their children financially, could marry their daughter off earlier, and she would be supported by the husband's family."
"יש חסידויות שכבר היום עוברות על החוק ומתחתנים בהן בגיל 15־16. הורים למשפחות ברוכות ילדים שיש להם קושי להחזיק את הילדים מבחינה כלכלית, יוכלו לחתן את הבת יותר מוקדם ושזו תעבור לבית בעלה".
Hmmm. And how is this 15-18 year old yeshivah bachur going to support his wife? how is his father going to support them, since I can only guess he isn't working either. Also wouldn't your son also marry some poor little girl, and ask you to support her?

Ok, lets keep reading the article. Rabbi Asher adds a few more reasons - "those girls will not be tempted to have forbidden relationships despite the fact that they could be married!". Well I'm fairly sure he has me on that point. The Talmud קדושין כט עמ' ב() does have Rav Hisdah say that he was better then the rest of his generation, because he married at 16, and had he married at 14 he could have told the Yetzer Harah to poke out its own eyes. 
אמר רב חסדא: האי דעדיפנא מחבראי, דנסיבנא בשיתסר [שש עשרה]; ואי הוה נסיבנא בארביסר
הוה אמינא לשטן "גירא בעיניך

So I guess that argument has some strong roots. Certainly you can find enough historical sources showing Jewish women getting married at a young age, but I would hazard that in today's world that is simply not applicable. Firstly from a biological standpoint the advances in medicine have made child bearing age much much longer - as well as increasing the odds of those children to remain alive. The "need" to bear children young is simply no longer there. Secondly on the society level the amount of education one needs to succeed in the modern world is far greater then it has ever been before. I'll admit that neither one of these arguments really answers the "Yetzer Harah" argument, but I suspect that in a cost-benefit assesment they will have to do. Additionally  I'm going to add one more controversial argument. Kids nowadays are just not expected to support themselves. They are not mature enough to take care of themselves (We don't allow them to drink, drive or have a gun), how can we expect them to take care of babies? Perhaps in a society where a 14 year old is working and has left the cradle of childhood, the cost - benefit argument against the Yetzer Harah will lean more towards marriage. Regardless Rav Hisdah's view is not the commonly held Halachic view.  

We get a much better hint of what this is all about, towards the end of the article. It seems that part of the reason is to stop Haredi girls from trying to get an education before they get married. My own guess is that nothing will stop a girl from having any chance of an education - and perhaps asking uncomfortable questions, quite as much as having to stay home and take care of a screaming baby. 

Hasn't 15 minutes passed already?

Well its official. Religious Israeli kids are just as silly as religious American kids. The Maccabeats performed last night in Jerusalem to an enthusiastic crowd. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Minyans and Sex-Offenders

Ynet Yahdut has a surprising poll. 500 respondents were asked should Katzav be allowed to be part of a Minyan? Surprising answer was overwhelmingly yes! 64% yes, 25% no and 21% have no opinion. Even more interesting was the next statistic: When asked if they would allow a sex offender to join a Minyan, the more religious you are, the more likely you are to allow them to:

  • 56% Hilonim
  • 77% Traditional
  • 86% Dati-Leumi
  • 88% Haredi.
So how to interpret these results? "Yesh dorshim leshevach ve'yesh dorshim legnay" (יש דורשים לשבח ויש דורשים לגנאי). If you are a more frummy feel good guy, you might just be thinking how inclusive and non judgmental religious people are. If you are slightly more in-tuned to reality you might just think that Hilonim have a more "religious" outlook on davening. Religious people are looking at this from the purely halachic viewpoint. A Minyan is a technical term, and you are not judged by who you pray with. Hilonim are under the impression that a Minyan is a "group" - and want to keep those pesky sex offenders out. 

Amazingly when asked if they would allow a woman in the Minyan, the results flipped. Sex offenders in - Women out. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

When The Messiah Comes

Bradley Burston has an entertaining, and sure to anger piece on his blog today called "When the Messiah comes". 

"When the Messiah comes, he will be without papers.
When the Messiah comes, he will be taken into a small room, off-white and chilled, with one gray metal chair at each side of a gray metal desk.
When the Messiah comes, he will be questioned by a junior officer of the Shin Bet, and by an official of the Interior Ministry, who got his job through his cousin, who is an inspector of ritual dietary observance at a cookie bakery and who got his job through his sister's father-in-law, third assistant to the deputy chair of the Shas party branch in Ramla.
When the Messiah comes, no one will know.
His donkey, which is white and is named Snowpea, will be impounded in a leaky underground police lot near the Lod railroad station. There will be no paperwork. By nightfall it will have disappeared, spirited into a closed truck by the lot's watchman, who after his shift will drive the donkey to a moshav. Money will change hands, and the donkey as well, four times, until it is sold by settlers to Palestinians some of whose ancestral land now lies inside the settlement fence...(Read the full post)
 It is quite easy to see that the Bradley's Messiah is clearly very left wing. Any lasting doubt is cleared towards the end of the post:
"When the Messiah comes, the Occupation will end.
But before it does, a global social network led by the Republican Jewish Coalition, Fox News, The Zionist Organization of America and Daniel Pipes, will launch a campaign aimed at exposing the Messiah as a Muslim.
When the Messiah is crucified, the army will deny that he was even present at the time.
When the Messiah comes, an Israel political party whose voters are routinely denigrated by native-born Israelis as whores and non-Jews will propose legislation declaring him a delegitimizer of Israel and the army (over the crucifixion), a blasphemer of Zionism (for suggesting that the Palestinians were not the sole obstacles to peace), and rendering him ineligible for citizenship unless he signs a loyalty oath stating that even if Israel did practice crucifiction, it did so in a democratic and Jewish manner."
I fear that anyone hoping the occupation will end with the coming of the Messiah is likely to be disappointed. Quite simply - We know little of the messianic times, but the very little we do know, or at least can make a fairly good guess about is that the land of Israel will be in Jewish hands. See chapter 48of Ezeikel and numerous midrashim. I'm not saying that one couldn't interpret these scriptures quite differently - just I fear that the simple explanaition does point to a quite "Right Wing" messiah - at least as far as the land issue goes. On just about everything else, I'm willing to accept Bradley's messiah. 

We want a Messiah that will free us of Pashkevilim. We want a messiah that will accept Giyurim done in the IDF. A Messiah that won't sign the Rabbanim Letter, nor blame Homosexuals, not keeping shabbos or Rav Amsalem for every natural disaster. A Messiah that will set just one Kashrut that every Jew can eat. A Messiah that will make Haredim join the army and go to work. A Messiah that will make Israel a more Jewish place to be in. A Messiah that will get Hilonim interested in learning at least the basics of Judaism. A Messiah who encourages people to think about their beliefs. A Messiah that will allow Jews to have different opinions. A messiah who will make Rabbi Slifkin walk hand in hand with Rav Elyashiv under a rainbow with bunny rabbits jumping alongside. A Messiah who can solve Israel's Hasbarah problems, or at least speak a decent English. A Messiah that will put a stop to the trend of us electing officials, only to discover they are corrupt/rapists/kissing soldiers before going to vote on war.

But Alas, at this point I'll take any old man riding a white donkey, who can solve any 2 of those problems. For the right person, we will be willing to forego the donkey.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed (a get out of jail free card)

It seems that a week long campaign of international ridicule has succeeded in freeing alleged Mossad agent - The Eagle- From Saudi Arabia. 

Bandar bin Saud, the Saudi nature authority, was quoted to Arabic language news daily that there is no truth behind claims that the bird was linked to espionage. Rather, there was a mix-up concerning a tracking device that had been placed on the bird. Saud added that Saudi Arabia uses similar tracking devices to follow rare birds. 

As of the time of publication, the alleged operative, known only as "The Eagle" has not commented on his release. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

More on the "Jewish Burqa"

I've written in the past about the cult of the Jewish Burqa and its rapid spread (see also a bloghead blog about this). Two stories are coming forth on the Haredi Forum "חדרי חרדים":

The first is about a Haredi girl who was being pressured by her parents to wear the Jewish Burqa. She refused for two years, until they forced her to go to a councilor. While there it was revealed that this girl had an Arab boyfriend!
 - Some of the comments: Well if she has to wear a burqa she might as well marry an Arab.

Second story: The wearing of a burqa is now not just for married women, as this picture shows:

They are also reporting on some of the minhagim this "cult" has developed:

  • Each woman is to wear three layers of clothing and on top of that the Burqa.
  • No showering more then once a week.
  • Women must only get married on a day when she is Nidah and forbidden to her husband, so that the guests will not commit an avera when they see the bride's hand. 
Reportedly when these women walk down the street, they are followed by a crowd of people harassing them.

The second story is especially interesting since the writer confesses that this cult is spreading rapidly, and is no longer just a "Chozer Be'teshuva" phenomenon. There is a real fear that this will slowly become the new norm for Haredi women. The fact that this has now spread to young unmarried girls is even more troubling. There is already a community with its own schools. The first story is illustrates how this is being forced on girls against their will. It is probably also illustrative of the damage this is doing to the young girls - who are fleeing their parents regime into the hands on non jews. (Though honestly there are plenty of other frum girls who run off with Arab boyfriends, as reported in the news recently). 

It is time for Rabbanim to come out clearly against them and nip this terror in the bud!

Side notes: "Burqa Woman" sung to the tune of pretty woman. 


Chulent and Judaism

Saw this quote from the Mahritz:
סימן נ"ו - הלכות בישול והטמנה מערב שבת ובשבת
שלחן ערוך המקוצר - אורח חיים חלק ב'

[יח] מצוה מדברי רבותינו ז"ל לענג במאכלים חמין את השבת. ולכן מי שאינו אוכל חמין, צריך בדיקה אחריו אם הוא מין, ואם מת יתעסקו בו עממין. וכל המאמין, צריך לבשל ולהטמין, לענג את השבת ולהשמין, ויזכה לקץ הימין{נא}:

Some of you are probably thinking who is the Mahritz?

(Via) - I did not check up on this quote to see if it is authentic, since the book is slightly obscure. I did find it on the link they provided. 

Heine also has a poem about Cholent (Schalet)

" But at noon, as compensation. 
There shall steam for thee a dish 
That in very truth divine is — 
Thou shalt eat to-day of schalet ! 

" Schalet, ray of light immortal ! 
Schalet, daughter of Elysium ! " 
So had Schiller's song resounded, 
Had he ever tasted schalet. 

Well this one is just silly..

From a haredi local paper..

"I took it upon myself to make sure to give my husband his meals on time for 40 days, and I promised to publicise the issue - And we were blessed with finding a Shidduch for our daughter!

Normally I'd make fun of these. However on second thought, this husband might be on to something all of us hungry husbands could use.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mitzvat Pidyon Shevuim

I just thought this was too funny..

Hat tip: Eldar of Zion.

The Pashkevil War.

This pashkevil has been spotted in Jerusalem:

The Pashkevil says that the Ashkenazi Rabbanim should not preach to the Sepharadim Rabbanim regarding conversions since they on a regular basis convert women for money. It then promises to reveal what they are referring to in the future. Sounds interesting. Clearly this is a response to a Pashkevil against Harav Amar that was posted this week. 


Not Algebra!

From Ynet today (my translation):

Following the Judge's decision that running "Mehadrin routes" (Bus routes separating men and women) is legal, while needing greater supervision by the ministry of Transport - a member of Yahdut Hatora explained to Ynet the silence of their Knesset members on this issue: " We have bigger dangers, like that they will introduce the teaching of Algebra to the Talmudei Torah, and with all due respect to the Mehadrin Lines - we think that to the Haredi public the separation of men and women on busses is less important."

אחר קביעת השופטים כי הפעלת קווי המהדרין חוקית, תוך פיקוח ואכיפה מוגברים מצד משרד התחבורה - מסביר גורם ב"יהדות התורה" ל-ynet את שתיקת הח"כים במאבק: "יש לנו סכנות גדולות, כמו שיכניסו לימודי אלגברה לתלמודי התורה, ועם כל הכבוד לקווי המהדרין - אנחנו חושבים שלציבור החרדי פחות חשובות המחיצות בין גברים לנשים באוטובוסים".

Now the last thing you have to do to get into heaven is to answer this question: Two trains left Chicago travelling 40 MPH in opposite directions and...
To be honest this can be interpreted as both a good thing and a bad thing. It is somewhat comforting to discover that "Tznius" is not the biggest fear that the Haredi Knesset members have. Perhaps this is also an admission that this whole issue was really just representing a small public. So far the positive side. However discovering that Algebra was the even bigger boogeyman – well frankly that is just somewhat more worrisome. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another Burqa Story

I'm sorry, I just do like these stories. This isn't new, but has been making the rounds. This time Australia is the country facing a burqa story. This story is slightly too bizarre..

A Muslim woman wearing a burqa was stopped by highway police, and asked to show her identification. The woman started screaming at him that he was racist, and that she would get him. She went to the media and started telling them how the officer mistreated her, stopped her only because of the burqa and even tried to forcefully remove the burqa. She then lodged a formal complaint against the police officer. However what she didn't know, was that all police cars in Australia have a video camera. The video clearly showed her threatening the police officer, and him behaving quite gently.

The story doesn't end there. When the woman was charged for falsely accusing the police officer, her lawyer claimed that there was no way of identifying the woman who made the complaint..since that woman was wearing a burqa!!! oh the irony. She received 6 months of jail, and is currently appealing the sentancI'm sorry, I just do like these stories.This isn't new, but has been making the rounds. This time Australia is the country facing a Burqa story. This story is slightly too bizzare..

A Muslim woman wearing a Burqa was stopped by highway police, and asked to show her identification. The woman started screaming at him that he was racist, and that she would get him. She went to the media and started telling them how the officer mistreated her, stopped her only because of the burqa and even tried to forcefully remove the burqa. She then lodged a formal complaint against the police officer. However what she didn't know, was that all police cars in Australia have a video camera. The video clearly showed her threatning the police officer, and him behaving quite gently.

The story doesn't end there. When the woman was charged for falsely accusing the police officer, her lawyer claimed that there was no way of identifying the woman who made the complaint..since that woman was wearing a burqa!..oh the irony. She received 6 months of jail, and is currently appealing the sentence.

This might be a case where we see how a burqa is being abused by those wearing them.  

Hilchot Supermarket.

I recently posted about the mathematics of standing in line in the supermarket. There is something I hate more though, and which seems to be an Israeli characteristic:

1. People who put their Supermarket cart at the lineup, and then go to fetch more items. I'm not talking of someone who suddenly remembered they forgot 1 item and makes a dash for it. I'm talking of people who intentionally leave their cart to "Keep a spot" and then go to collect a myriad of items of their list. This is really a pet peeve of mine. This seems to occur almost every time I'm at the supermarket.

2. People who show up - ask "who is the last guy in line" and then tell him to keep their spot, and leave. I hate it when I've lined up, and suddenly discover that someone was in front of me without me knowing.

To be honest, I don't think you need to find a halachic principal to show why these two things are not allowed. Good old "Derech Eretz" should really be enough. However this is Israel we are talking about. I was surprised to find that I couldn't really find any sources for either case – surely I'm not the only one who thinks this is inappropriate behavior?

I think at least the second case should be considered a "Gezel Zman" - Had I known there were other people in the line I probably would not have joined the line.  Time in Halacha = Money. 
This could be inferred from the (32b) which deals with two boats arriving at a section of the river, where only one can pass. The boat that passes first, has to compensate the other for the time it had to wait. This would be even more obvious in waiting in line at the supermarket - where standing in line clearly gives you a right over whomever is behind you.  

The first case is slightly harder to pin down. Theoretically, as long as the person isn't holding up the line while he goes to find more items, he can claim that I didn't loose any time. However I would answer that I would have been before him in line, had he finished collecting all the items he needed before he left his cart. Therefore this is another case of Gezel Zman. Furthermore his behavior is against the Minhag of the place (תקנות סוחרים).  

I would appreciate anyone who can help me find better sources for what seems so obvious to me. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Video of Jerusalem from 1918

Some of the more interesting points:

  • Men and Women davening together in the western wall. 
  • Sha'ar Yafo seems to have a large clock tower on it. 
  • Rachel's tomb is shown exactly as it is normally drawn- with a big olive tree in front of it. 
  • Lots of black hats. 
That clocktower was a surprise for me. Some quick Googling revealed:

From "Palestine remembred":
It took seven years to built the Clock Tower at Jaffa Gate, during the Ottoman period of Sultan Abdel Hamid II. It's construction was completed in 1909 at the silver jubilee aniversary of Abdul Hamid's II reign. The Clock Tower at Jaffa Gate was dismantled in 1922, during the British Mandate period. The British moved the clock first to a new tower across from the muncipility of Jerusalem, and then transfered it to the British Museum in London. The cost of building the tower at that time was twenty thousand french franc.

and Wikipedia (Hebrew)

ב-1907 בנו תושבי ירושלים מגדל שעון על גג שער יפו. היה זה אחד מכמאה מגדלי שעון שנבנו ברחבי האימפריה העות'מאנית כמחווה לסולטאן עבדול חמיד השני במלאת 25 שנה לשלטונו. הקמת המגדל עלתה לתושבי העיר כעשרים אלף פרנק, ובשל הקושי לגייס סכום כה רב מתושבי העיר העניים, נבנה המגדל למעשה רק כעבור חמש שנים, במלאת 30 שנה לשלטונו של הסולטאן. בארץ ישראל לבדה נבנו שבעה מגדלים: בצפתעכוחיפהנצרתשכם, ירושלים, והמגדל המפורסם בעיר יפו. העובדה כי שער יפו נבחר מכל שערי ירושלים כבסיס למגדל השעון, מעידה על חשיבותו הרבה באותה עת, שגברה אף על שער שכם.
מגדל השעון נבנה מאבן גיר שנחצבה במערת צדקיהוהסמוכה. הוא התנשא לגובה 13 מטרים, ובראשו נקבעו ארבעה שעונים, שפנו לארבע רוחות השמים. השעון המערבי והמזרחי הציגו את השעה הרגילה ("שעה אירופית"), בעוד ששני השעונים האחרים הציגו את השעה המקומית ("שעות זמניות"). מעל השעונים, בחלק המקושט והמעוטר ביותר, הוצב פעמון ולידו סמל השלטון העות'מאני, שכלל סהר וכוכב. 

Good Handwriting = Must Be A Fake.

Ynet is reporting that the IDf is questioning the so called death of a protester from tear gas. However I am not shocked by the Palestinians yet again trying to play us all for fools. I was shocked by this paragraph in the Hebrew version of the Ynet article:

על פי הדו"ח, אין סיבה ברורה למוות, הקבורה נעשתה בהליך מזורז ולא בוצעה נתיחה שלאחר המוות. כמו כן, חלק מהדו"חות הרפואיים נכתבו בכתב יד קריא וברור, בניגוד מוחלט לדו"חות רפואיים שהתקבלו בישראל בעבר.

Roughly translated:

"According to the [Medical] report, there is no clear reason for the death, the burial took place in a hasty fashion, and no autopsy was performed. Also parts of the medical reports were written in clear and legible handwritting, something that is completly unheard of in medical reports recieved in the past.

So basically -  Good handwritting = fake medical report. I checked - this shocking proof wasn't mentioned in the English version of Ynet. 

I hope the rest of the proof is something a little more serious. 

Worth a Read

Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, all the while insisting that they would be used only for peaceful scientific research, such as -- to quote President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- "seeing what happens when you drop one on Israel."
Elsewhere on the disaster scene, Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull (literally, "many syllables") volcano erupts, sending huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and forcing airlines throughout northern Europe to ground flights. Greece, although not directly affected, announces it will take six months off, just in case; France, as an added precaution, surrenders.

  • From Standing Point MagWarning to the US: Don't Play by Islamic Rules. Don't agree with most of it, but still a very good read. (Via)
  • Harav Beni Lou writes about the "Rabbainm Letter" and Democracy
  • And finally this lovely bit of satire, on right wing education! (hat tip: Negev Rock City)