Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Correct Term For Forcing Others To Respect Your Jewish Belief!

I was sitting at a lunch meeting at work today. At the end of the meal, we wanted to "Bench" (say a blessing) and asked the only non religious guy at the meeting to join in. His reply "This Kippatheid must end". I loved the expression Kippartheid, and thing it should become the norm for people forcing their Jewish belief on others.


Sh*t Anglos In Israel Say

I thought this was hilarious:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Song About Women Singing!

I heard this on the radio this evening, and was very impressed with how the song sounds like "old time" Israeli music. This is a song about the recent controversy in Israel about "women singing". The singer is Shaika Levy - one of the iconic Israeli comedians of הגשש החוור.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interprenting Israeli Religious Beliefs

Dr. Samuel Lebens starts his op-ed right:

Two statistics, culled from the same recent survey, made quite a mark upon the comment pages of Ha’artez: 80% of Israelis believe in God and 70% believe that Jews are the chosen people. According to Uri Misgav, the first statistic indicates that Israelis are pretty stupid. After all, no enlightened and educated figure could believe in God in this day and age), and according to Gideon Levy, the second indicates that the average Israeli is a neo-fascist racist.
However the rest of his op-ed seems to be little more than stating that no two jews could ever really agree on what "God" is - and hence the concept can be filled with every progressive meaning you could possible wish for. This argument, is both true, and highly useless. Much as Israeli Justice Michael Heshin once said of pornography - "I can't define it, but if you show it to me, I'll recognize it" the same is true of the Jewish God. I can't offer a good definition, but I'm fairly sure 99% will recognize him when we see him/debate him with others.

The Radical Nature of The HCJ Decision On Tal

There is a much overlooked legal aspect to the HCJ decision to declare "CHOK TAL" exempting (mostly) the Ultra Orthadox from army service. This aspect isn't in the result, but rather the legal process used to achieve it. The court's decision was based on its finding that the law was not capebale of fulfilling the aim for which it was legistlated - and as such the discrimination present in the law was not proportional to its injustice. This has been used several times in the past (though not as many as people think). However the recent decision really changed the rules - because the legality of the law, was decided not based on the wording of the law, but based on its exectuion. In other words, the court decided that the law was not properly balanced, based on the low rate of Ultra Orthadox men enlisted since the law was legistlated.In the past all decisions to declare a law illegal, were based on an analysis of the law at the time it was legistlated.

This is a huge change. It immediatly widens the scope of laws that can be attacked in the future - in essence every law which isn't fulfilling its true purpose can now be attacked. Additionally the time frame for the declaration of a law as illegal has widened significantly.  In the past, those turning to the court for relief, had to rush to court as soon as the law passed in the Knesset. Now, they may want to wait a few years inorder to gather the necessary evidence.

A Terrible Hasbara Video

I really disliked this video. It seems that the main message of the video is that peace is impossible, and all hope is pointless. Sure they (at the end) remember to blame the other side, but I think most of us will remember the line "Lets all give peace a chance - Sure but then Israel will end."  In addition the video had next to zero substantial information. Israel can do better. Hasbara can do better.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HCJ Decision On "TAL" and The Gush

The new HCJ decision on "Tal Law" - the service of Haredim (Ultra Orthadox) is fascinating for many reasons, and will probably be an ongoing source for some of my future posts. However, a friend of mine pointed out that Justice Rubinstein's opinion is noteworthy for the number of times he quotes rabbis affiliated with the Gush yeshivah (sorry no translations):

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kosher Shaving

It has been some four years since I last bought a shaver, and I've decided its about time that I get a new shaver. Last time I bought a shaver, I spent alot of time reading up on what is considered a "Kosher Shaver" and which brands have a Hechsher. Wanting to be up to date on the issue, I went to Machon Tzomet's website to see what are now considered the "Kosher" brands.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn...that Tzomet have reached the conclusion, that all electric shavers are kosher. In fact, they seem to be in some doubt, that there ever was an "unkosher" shaver.

However, this leaves a greater problem. I now have so many brands to choose from, that I actually need to do research into what is the best shaver for my money. I would prefer to go back to having just a few choices.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Economist Gets A Biblical Reference Wrong

In last week's (Feb 11th) Economist, they reviewed the book "Hope: A Tragedy" by stating:

EVER since Abraham’s idol-smashing outburst in the Hebrew Bible, a strain of iconoclasm has run through Jewish literature.
The problem is that Abraham does not smash any idols in the bible, Hebrew or otherwise. The story the Economist is referring to is quite a famous Midrash, of the sort we were all taught in kindergarten. I was intrigued that this reference managed to pass the Economist's famous editing team - perhaps they were all taught in Jewish Kindergartens?

I'm hoping for an interesting correction in next week's issue.

Friday, February 17, 2012

When Rav Soloveitchik Is Linked To Basketball (The Messianic Days?)

In a New York Times Op-ed, the religious struggles of a basket-ball player (Jeremy Lin) - humbleness vs Playing for glory, are compared to Rav Soloveitchik:

Soloveitchik plays off the text that humans are products of God’s breath and the dust of the earth, and these two natures have different moral qualities, which he calls the morality of majesty and the morality of humility. They exist in creative tension with each other and the religious person shuttles between them, feeling lonely and slightly out of place in both experiences.
Jeremy Lin is now living this creative contradiction. Much of the anger that arises when religion mixes with sport or with politics comes from people who want to deny that this contradiction exists and who want to live in a world in which there is only one morality, one set of qualities and where everything is easy, untragic and clean. Life and religion are more complicated than that.

I take my hat off to the author David Brooks, for this unique viewpoint on professional sports.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some Thoughts on Hared Vs Dati Leumi "One Way Street"

Rav Slifkin has an interesting post on how the Dati Leumi (which he insists on calling Modern Orthadox) public shows respect to the Haredi world, but that respect is not replicated:

- Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi synagogues support Charedi charities, but Chareidi synagogues do not support Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi charities.

- Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi synagogues often have Chareidi rabbis, but Charedi synagogues never have Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi rabbis.

- Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi synagogues and organizations often have Chareidi rabbis as guest speakers, but Charedi synagogues and organizations never have Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi rabbis as guest speakers.

- Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi schools often have Charedi rebbeim, but Chareidi schools never have Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi Rebbeim.

- Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi Jews often fund Chareidi publications, but Chareidi Jews never fund Modern Orthodox/ Dati Leumi publications.

I'm not going to defend the Haredi world, but there is an important difference. The Haredi culture is proudly closed. Being a closed society, they have no interest in meeting the other, or presenting him as an alternative. As such some of Rav Slifkin's observations are understandable.

Of course, being a closed society, does not mean you can't be civil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Satirical (and offensive) Video of Haredi Teshuvah Stalls

This video is certainly offensive, and yet it does more or less capture how the hardcore non religious public see the Haredi community. This is a video from the satirical "Eretz Nehederet" TV show on channel 2:

As an afterthought, I should point out that it is also quite funny.

Two Anti BDS Pieces You Should Hear/Read

The first is a surprising video by the controversial, and normally not cited by open zionists like myself, Norman Finkelstein. In this video, he simply calls the BDS movement a "cult" and says that they are not honest about their real aim - destroying Israel:

Arguing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign with Norman Finkelstein from HuffPoMonitor on Vimeo.

The second is an excellent Op-ed in the NYT "Another Trial for Shylock" about the attempt to boycott Habima's "The Merchant of Venice" production in London.

**Update - seems someone (named Norman?) keeps getting the video banned. I'll try and update it, as those wily Zionists and BDS group play their Cat and Mouse game.

Interview With A Jewish Vampire?

From MyJewishLearning:

"Every culture has its legends of paranormal monsters--
including Judaism. It’s no surprise, then, that contemporary fiction’s obsession with vampires has spawned Jewish varieties.

The novel The Last Jewish Virgin: A Novel of Fate by Janice Eidus takes itself incredibly seriously. Lilith, the rebellious daughter of a secular Jewish feminist, enrolls in fashion school and promptly falls for her professor--whom she suspects is a vampire. As her affections waver between her easygoing classmate Abel (definitely Jewish) and the noirish, mysterious Mr. Rock (definitely not Jewish), Lilith feels her priorities shifting in terms of intermarriage, traditional gender roles…and, of course, becoming a vampire.

Erica Manfred’s novel Interview with a Jewish Vampire is not quite as weighty. She describes her book as "what would happen if Anne Rice and Mel Brooks had gotten drunk one night at Grossingers." Filled with knowing winks to readers of vampire fiction, from Dracula to Lestat, Interview with a Jewish Vampire is unexpectedly credible, even while pumping Catskill-flavored jokes through its basically silly premise. 
Interview is told in a fast, punchy style: “I was a Jewishdivorcee of 41 who claimed to be 35. He had been dead for a long time, but I didn't know that right away." You know exactly where it's going, but the road there is a lot of fun. "

Monday, February 13, 2012

Young Rav Ovadia - Surprising Photo

Ynet has published this picture of a young Rav Ovadia Yosef. They have rightly focused on two issues: The first is that Rav Ovadia's wife is wearing only a partial head covering - one that the wives of Shas would certainly not be seen with today, and additionally her neckline is far lower that would be expected. The second issue, is that Rav Ovadia is wearing a modern western suit!

Chabad Rabbis Call For People To Marry Young

A host of Chabad Rabbis have called on educators to teach their public that they should be getting married at a younger age - namely 20. What is interesting in this particular story, is the justification given. The rabbis do mention some issue of modesty, but it seems that their main concern is that unmarried young men are less likely to continue their yeshivah studies.

I've long argued that much of the Haredi insistance on a very young age for marriages, has more to do with "setting" young men in their lifestyle, than with any other concern. Once you are married, you are far less free to make any major "life changing" decisions.


Just saw that Failed Messiah has made a similar point, as well as posted a translation of the Habbad rabbinic call.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kosher Camera

What we've all been waiting for!

Introducing the Kosher Camera -
"To answer the need for images without the display of women and girls, our dedicated scientists have developed the Kosher Camera. Sophisticated, built-in facial recognition software analyzes a scene and detects all the faces within the frame. It then covers the feminine faces with one of several options: our Mehadrin Mask (brown paper bag), the Glatt Blot (pixilated face), or Modern Modesty (black bar obscuring the eyes)."

HatTip: Bloghead.(well sort of)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Which Supreme Court Justice Does Sesame Street Better?

This is American Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

And from a few years ago, Israeli Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Did Israel Feel Despair In The Desert?

I've wanted to write a review of Rabbi Yoel Ben Nun's book "The Miracle of the Gathering of Israel", but unfortunately despite having finished it months ago, I seem to not have found the time. This is a great shame, since the book is a Dati-Leumi masterpiece, and has not gotten the level of attention it deserves.

I do however want to share one central idea from the book. The book is divided into several series of lectures/lessons trying to clarify the meaning of the creation of the state of Israel through the prism of the redemption. Harav Ben Nun is arguing with the religious Zionists who have turned their back on the state, or who feel that it has somehow not fulfilled their messianic hopes. His main argument is that no one promised/dreamed of a fast "Geulah" - and that we should be prepared to wait many generations before the full Geulah occurs. He illustrates his point by asking this most poignant question:

How did the tribes of Israel feel while they waited for forty years in the desert to die? How did their children feel, when for generations after entering the land of Israel they did not succeed in conquering it?
The Talmud teaches that the redemption from Egypt is the prototype of the future redemption. However how did our ancestors see their redemption once they learned that they were destined to all die in the desert? did they not feel that the "redemption" had failed? did they not have second doubts? People living today in Israel, who feel that Israel is not the miracle they prayed for, would do well to meditate on this question.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Update: Another Article on Gur's "Holiness" lifestyle

Ha'aretz has a follow up article [Hebrew] about Gur Hasidim's teachings on "holiness" - whereby sexuality becomes a sin, and relegated to a "procreation" only approach. The first article (my summary available here) was somewhat (though only somewhat) sympathetic to Gur - stressing the total commitment of the community to banish sexuality, and essentially become almost asexual.

This follow up article is a collection of cases of people who have left the Gur community due to the harshness of its lifestyle. They all talk of how they felt that it was suffocating, or even worse, denied them a basic need. It makes interesting reading, though I would hesitate to try and learn any wider moral from this story.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Two Views On Haredi-Secular Relations

These videos are all from Channel 10, which seems to have a much more interesting relationship with the Israeli Haredi Community than Channel 2.
The first video is an Israeli version of "black like me" where the journalists dress up as Haredim and travel around Israel to feel and check whether Haredim are discriminated against. This is well worth watching, with the general conclusion showing that there was an anti-Haredi discrimination. It is also interesting since the reporters did not edit out their own comments on what would make "good" television.

The second video is an interview with a leader of the Haredi unrest in Beit Shemesh, which gives some insight into the extremist mentality.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Don't Get This Cartoon

This cartoon was published today in the Canadian paper The Globe and Mail. The two people on the right, are Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty both of which are currently in Israel, and voiced their support of Israel.  

I'm not understanding this cartoon, and I'll appreciate anyone who is willing to explain it.

Harav Motti Elon Interview

If the video doesn't work you can also watch it here

 I'm happy that Harav Elon is no longer hiding behind his students, and is now openly attacking the forum "Takana". The interview is somewhat painful to watch, due to the high regard which Harav Elon is still held in the Dati Leumi public. There is nothing really new it the interview, though some of the attacks on "forum Takana" is especially brutal.