Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rav Aviner Needs A Good Wake Up Call From Reality

I've kind of stopped blogging, but every so often someone does something annoying enough, that you kind of want to share your anger with everyone. This week's culprit is Rav Aviner. Rav Aviner, is not my cup of tea. To be honest, he's not even my choice for a second rate biscuit to dip in my tea. However, he has over the years, never quite managed to cross my line for "bad" rabbis, and just stayed in my "not cup of tea" rabbis. Well he's now in my "bad" rabbi list.

This weekend I picked up "Olam Katan" for the first time in weeks. I used to read it every week (yes, during davening) but I've been fed up with them after the whole incessant anti Rav Stav campaign that they launched, succeeded, and then failed to apologise to the Dati-Leumi public for. So what did we see this week?

As reported by Ynet, Rav Aviner has come out in support of convicted sexual predator Harav Motti Alon. The "question" he was asked was:
 "In the trial Rabbi Morechai Alon confessed that he hugged and kisseed, but said it was out of love (!-Bot), The Judge ruled based on her impression that it was out of lust.  Who should we believe?"
Rav Aviner's response:

If it is as you say, you can not convict a person based on impressions and not proof, because what is in his heart is known only to himself and to god. More so, Harav Alon hugged and kissed hundreds, and thousands, of people with great warmth, and that was his way, and no one felt that it was wrong, except in a few single instances.

COME ON. lets ignore the fact that it wasn't only the judge who thought Rav Alon was a little "lusty", it was a whole room of top tier rabbis. But really, even if it was only the Judge, how can you possibly dismiss the court as "having no proof"? Are witnesses no longer considered proof? does halacha not use witnesses? and seriously...so it was only a few instances...so it wasn't wrong? lets just blame the victims who misunderstood everything..

 Rav Aviner and his best pal Rav Druckman (who also supports Alon) have seriously failed their public. Please now leave us alone.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why would anyone want to use their phone to make a call?

Oh those funny little Haredim. "The Marker" has a story today about a new "kosher" phone being sold in Rami-Levi. Rami Levi did not receive the endorsment of some rabbis, because he refused their demand that the new phone won't actually allow people to call one another. Luckily some other Haredi group is already producing a smartphone that won't allow you to "text" or "call" anyone. In other words they are producing a crappy machine to check your email on.


And while I'm nitpicking. The new Rami Levi phone will apparently be loaded with "Jewish Apps" including one called - שניים מקרא ואחד תורה. Erm yes...


Monday, September 16, 2013

Ouch

Saw this making the rounds on Facebook:


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Jewish MALE Burqa Cult?


Israel Hayom had this picture in their print edition, explaining that many Breslov Haredim are making their way to Uman (Ukraine) for Rosh Hashana. What the photographer seems to have missed was the better question of what are these Hasidim wearing? it looks like a male veil! Guess we just discovered the Jewish male Burqa cult...

Update: @gdlmeir  pointed me to this Kikar Hashabat article on the same topic. It has more photos of our Hassidic veiled fools.


I especially liked this photo because my thoughts are "It works! I can see that trouser wearing woman in the back, and that Hasid can't!".

Sunday, September 1, 2013

No Haaretz, tradition does not mean we are all crazy...

In the weekend editiono of Haaretz I found this little gem:

We should remind people that where "masoret" (lit tradition) - things will often end in fantascism. 

So what great crime do you think they were fighting? What great intolerance by the religious? You'll be shocked. The article was against having Rabbis (who were also qualified teachers) come to schools to talk about the meaning of festivals. Because if a Rabbi talks to kids...who knows what fanatics they might become! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Love You Israel, But...

So...today my kids are going to get their Polio inocculation as well as new Gas Masks (Syria etc). Seriously, this isn't normal.

An Understandable Mistake To Make...


Two Contrasting Pics of Israel

Slow summer blogging. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things, as my kids return to Kindergarden.

Here as some pics of different aspects of Israel:

The top sticker reads "Modest Girls Prevent Disasters". Which leads us directly to the next pic:

"Your wife is 50? Throw away the old hag, and get a young russian!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Easiest Way to Support Mostly Kosher

I use Dropbox for everything. Literally. However I'm running out of space. If you don't have Dropbox yet, please install it using the following link: http://db.tt/jTGkfpk and help me get some more space!

What is Dropbox?


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are You Kidding Me? Rabbis Still Supporting Rav Elon

Ynet reports that Rav Druckman has invited Rav Elon to continue teaching in his Yeshiva (Or Etzion). Yes, Rav Elon - now a convicted sex offender - is still teaching crowds. The always interesting (if not always right) Tomer Perisco points out that if Rav Elon would have SMS on Shabbat or claimed homosexuality wasn't forbidden he would have been chased out of the Yeshiva...but sex offender? meh.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blooper of the Day

Martin Dempsey = US General.
Partick Dempsey = Actor who plays McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy.

Is Ynet sure it got this distinction down?


Via: 7eye

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Three Pronged Sadness of Rav Elon

Rav Elon's sad story can be divided into three acts:

First: His actual crimes, and the suffering he caused his students.

Second: He couldn't accept exile. His ego just wouldn't allow him to remain in anonymity.

Third: Even after all this time and even after he was convicted, he still can't admit to having done anything wrong.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Old Joke, Still Worth a Post

There is a well-known joke about Talmudic interpretation. A Jew is talking to his Rabbi.
Rabbi," the man said, "Explain the Talmud to me."
"Very well," he said. "First, I will ask you a question. If two men climb up a chimney and one comes out dirty, and one comes out clean, which one washes himself?"
"The dirty one," answers the man.
"No. They look at each other and the dirty man thinks he is clean and the clean man thinks he is dirty, therefore, the clean man washes himself."
"Now, another question:
If two men climb up a chimney and one comes out dirty, and one comes out clean, which one washes himself?"
The man smiles and says, "You just told me, Rabbi. The man who is clean washes himself because he thinks he is dirty."
"No," says the Rabbi. "If they each look at themselves, the clean man knows he doesn't have to wash himself, so the dirty man washes himself."
"Now, one more question.
If two men climb up a chimney and one comes out dirty, and one comes out clean, which one washes himself?"
"I don't know, Rabbi. Depending on your point of view, it could be either one."
Again the Rabbi says, "No. If two men climb up a chimney, how could one man remain clean? They both are dirty, and they both wash themselves."
The confused man said, "Rabbi, you asked me the same question three times and you gave me three different answers. Is this some kind of a joke?"
"This is not a joke, my son. This is Talmud."

Rav Aviner's 2000 Year Screwup

I didn't actually see the question in this week's Shabbat pamphlets but suppsedly Rav Aviner was asked the following question via SMS:

Q: Why are there more Haredi talmidi hahamim (impressive torah scholars) than Religious Zionists ones?

So what would you guess would be his answer? an outright denial? perhpas praising haredi commitment to torah, while stating the cost of their culture? stressing how many torah giants Religious Zionism has?
none of the above.

His actual answer:

A: Because Haredi talmidi hahachamim started 2000 years ago and Religious Zioninst only started 100 years ago. However, their number and quality has been rising steadily. 
I don't even know where to start on that answer. ignoring the factual question whether or not the assumption that there are more Haredi talmidi hachamim is true, the most serious critque of his answer is that it reveals Rav Aviner's  view that Religious Zionism is a break from the supposedly unbroken chain of torah learning. This is a serious problem for anyone who wishes to be a true Religious Zionist. The flip side is a weird acceptance that the Haredi world is somehow an unbroken chain of torah continuity. If Rav Aviner truely believes that Haredim are the true (or at least) only embodiment of 2000 years of torah leaning (why 2000?) one fails to understand how he can be Zionist.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Israel Being Sued Over Jesus...Again..

From the Jerusalem Post:

A Kenyan lawyer has filed a petition with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, suggesting that the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was unlawful, and The State of Israel among others should be held responsible, Kenyan news outlet the Nairobian reported on Friday.

Dola Indidis, a lawyer and former spokesman of the Kenyan Judiciary is reportedly attempting to sue Tiberius (Emperor of Rome 42 BC-37AD), Pontius Pilate, a selection of Jewish elders, King Herod, the Republic of Italy and the State of Israel.

"Evidence today is on record in the bible, and you cannot discredit the bible," Indidis told Kenyan Citizen News.
Oh well then..

Yes, those he suggests should have been convicted during the original trial have not been alive for more than 2000 years, however Indidis insists that the government for whom they acted can and should still be held responsible.
“I filed the case because it’s my duty to uphold the dignity of Jesus and I have gone to the ICJ to seek justice for the man from Nazareth,” Indidid told the Nairobian. “His selective and malicious prosecution violated his human rights through judicial misconduct, abuse of office bias and prejudice.”
Indidis apparently named the states of Italy and Israel in the lawsuit because upon the attainment of independence, the two states incorporated the laws of the Roman Empire, those in force at the time of the Crucifixion. 
We did? I really should ask for my money back from Bar-Ilan Law School. However suing Israel for the death of Jesus isn't even an original idea. Haim Cohen, former Israeli Supreme Court Justice recalls:
During 1948, not long after the establishment of the Supreme Court, I then still the State Prosecutor, was called to Moshe Smoira, our first president [of the court], and he showed me some files, filled to the rim, with petitions for the Supreme Court to have a retrial for Jesus the Christian (ישו הנוצרי). The petitioners were protestant reverends from various countries, all arguing that now, with the establishment of the Supreme Court in a Jewish state, our first duty was to correct the mistake of our immediate predecessor, the Sanhedrin, 1900 years ago. The president informed me that he had discussed the matter with the the other Justices, and they -obviously- decided that they don't have the authority to hear these petitions....He also asked me to respond in his name to the petitioners and explain why we didn't feel we had the jurisdiction.(Haim Cohn, A Personal Introduction, pg 305)

Joke of the Day

Spotted on Facebook:

A guy is walking along the beach in Tel Aviv when he comes across a lamp partially buried in the sand. He picks up the lamp and gives it a rub.

A genie appears and tells him he has been granted one wish.

The guy thinks for a moment and says, "I want to live forever."

"Sorry," said the genie, "I'm not allowed to grant eternal life."

"OK, then, I want to die after the Israelis and Palestinians make peace.

"You crafty little bastard," said the genie.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Israeli Half-Shabbos - Bachelors vs High School

Makor Rishon (and NRG) have an interesting piece over the weekend of the Israeli version of the half-shabbos -  religious Jews who observe Shabbos, with the minor exception of texting. The entire piece (published in full at מוצ"ש) is worth a detailed read as it not only describes the phenomenon, it also attempts to give a religious interpretation of it.

However - I wish to focus on one glaring difference between the Israeli and American versions of Half-Shabbos: In America the phenomenon is appears to be a high-school phenomenon. The Israeli version (at least as it is described) appears to be a late bachelorhood phenomenon. I haven't got a good explanation for the difference. One possible reason is that even in America the Upper West Side bachelors are texting on shabbos, but aren't talking about it. However, I'm doubtful of this explanation, as I'm sure some would be willing to talk anonymously.

As such I have no explanation to explain the difference between the Israeli and American phenomenon. Feel free to offer your explanations in the comments below!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Chumra Watch?


So why exactly do I need to know that this chicken was slaughtered after the nine days?

Hat Tip: @Benwaxman

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chief Rabbi Race of Nepotism

The registration period for the position of Chief Rabbi has finally closed. Here is the full list of candidates:

The candidates for Sepahrdi Chief Rabbi are:
  •  Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, 
  • Rabbi Ratzon Arusi
  • Rabbi Tzion Shalom Boaron,
  • Rabbi Yehuda Deri, 
  •  Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, 
  • Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, 
Eliyahu and Yosef are both the sons of former Chief Rabbis, while Deri is the brother of SHAS chairman Aryeh Deri.

The candidates for Ashkenazi chief rabbi are:
  • Rabbi David Lau, 
  •  Rabbi Eliezer Igra, 
  •  Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, 
  • Rabbi David Stav,
Lau and Shapira are the sons of former Chief Rabbis. All in all out of 10 candidates, 4 are sons of former Chief Rabbis and one is the brother of a prominent politician.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Richard Silverstein's Logic

I think we are long past the point where there is really any  need to prove that Richard Silverstein is little more than a tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist. So this isn't a post aimed at proving that, it's just a little poke for my own amusement.

Today a story was working its way through the press that Israel had used Turkish air force bases to attack Syrian targets last week. The source of the story was Russia Today (now named RT), who based their report on a single unnamed "reliable source".  I obviously have no first hand knowledge if the story is true. It could be true, stranger things have happened. However, I think any reasonable person, aware of the current animosity between Israel and Turkey would at the very least be skeptical. I said reasonable:

"Given that this story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, I believe the story is very possibly true. "

Let's follow the logic. The weirder (or "curioser") a story is, the more likely it is to be true. Enough said?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Worst Haredi Hasbara of the Day

Today is a tough one, with Shas (see my previous two posts) working so hard at gaining this award. However, today's winner:


That's right, the Chief Rabbi of Acre (עכו) has suggested that the מי שברך traditionally said in Zionist synogogues for the soldiers of the IDF, should now include not only soldiers but also those who study torah (i.e in his mind Haredim). 

Oh lets just reach into the Zionist holy of holies, and really anger people.


Late Edit - this letter  in Hamodia would have won my illustrious award any other day.

Shas Making Us Proud

Continuing from our last post, one is delighted to hear that Rav Ovadia has enough sons who are "Gedolim" that he can so quickly nominate another for the role of Sephradic Chief Rabbi, as soon as another of  his sons is under police investigation.

It is also convenient that all the appropriate candidates that Shas will support for the position are the progeny of a single family.

Army Service Is Not the Dati-Leumi Sole Characteristic..

So another Shas rabbi has decided that the Dati-Leumi public is Amalek:

Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a senior member of the Council of Sages of the Sephardic Shas party attacked the religious Zionist sector over the weekend, calling its members “Amalek.”
Being Amalek is actually a demotion of sorts in Shas. The Dati-Leumi public used to just be a "House of goyim". However there is no need to fear. Naftali Bennett is here to defend us:

ו“ר ”הבית היהודי“, השר נפתלי בנט, גינה הבוקר בחריפות את ההתבטאות הזו וכתב בעמוד הפייסבוק שלו כי ”ברגעים אלה, אלפי חובשי כיפות סרוגות נמצאים מהגבול בסוריה ועד גבול מצרים, מרמת המחט"ים ועד אחרוני החיילים, ויורקים דם כדי להגן, גם על כבוד הרב. בימים אלה מתקיימות אזכרות לחבריי לנשק ממלחמת לבנון השניה, שמסרו נפשם, בהם חילונים ובהם חובשי כיפות סרוגות, חלקם נפלו עטורי צל"שים על גבורתם. להם גם, למען השם, קורא הרב עמלק“.
Roughly translated:
The head of the Bayit Hayehudi party,  Minister Naftali Bennett strongly condemned this morning the statement, writing on his Facebook page that "At this very moment, thousands of Dati-Leumi soldiers are  found from the Syrian border to the Egyptian border, from brigadier to the lowest ranked soldiers, "spitting blood" to defend, among others the honorable rabbi. In these days  ceremonies are being held to the memory of my brothers in arms from the Second Lebanon War, who sacrificed their lives, including non religious and Dati-Leumi soldiers, some of them with decorations for their bravery. They are who, (For God's sake) the rabbi is calling Amalek. 
Only after he gushes about the Dati-Leumi contribution to the army, does he also mention some other non-Amalek attributes of the Dati-Leumi public. Hey, we learn Torah too!

I'm certainly proud of my IDF service as a paratrooper. But is serving in the army really the defining characteristic of the Dati Leumi public? is that really our first (and largest) claim to not being Amalek?

One can't help but notice that for ex-commando Bennett it will always come back to the army.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Changing Nuclear Deterrence

From the London Review of Books:

Indeed, while Obama is struggling to manage the legacy of mutually assured destruction, nuclear deterrence has assumed a radically altered form. Powerful states no longer secure peace by threatening to launch unimaginably destructive weapons at each other. Instead, weak states seek nukes so that they can threaten to lose control of them in the event of foreign support for violent regime change. Bashar Assad was prevented from trying this by the Israeli strike on the Syrian reactor in 2007. But we have to wonder whether his resort to Sarin gas on a small but verifiable scale is intended to make Western powers shudder at the consequences of his regime’s unravelling.


I recommend you read the entire article, which argues persuasively that the result of liberal policies against holding terrorists for indefinite periods of time, as well as torture have resulted in the administrations preference to killing them through drone strikes.

Those Jews and Their Brains...

The Times Higher Education reports on an academic conference on BDS:

Looking at the struggle against apartheid, Saul Dubow, professor of African history at Queen Mary, University of London, pointed to the huge propaganda impact of sporting boycotts. “The real hurt to South Africa came with the Stop the Tour campaigns of 1969 and 1970, which targeted international cricket and rugby tests – a body blow to white South African masculine pride.”... 
In terms of visibility and desired effect,” he suggested, “universities are to BDS what athletic teams were to the anti-apartheid movement…"
I honestly don't know if I should be offended or flattered. I'm also somewhat reminded of this:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Shameful Chief Rabbi Race Moment Of The Day

From the Jerusalem Post:

"Rabbi Avraham Yosef, one of the leading Shas candidates for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi, was interrogated for eight hours by the police Wednesday morning under suspicion of a breach trust relating to a conflict of interests within the framework of his duties as chief municipal rabbi of Holon, the police said on Wednesday. 

According to the police statement, the conflict of interests relates to the granting of mehadrin kashrut license in the city."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Too Early...

Ha'aretz reports on a letter sent by a group of "Intellectuals" אנשי רוח urging Netanyahu to kick out of the coalition the Jewish Home party for their support of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu as Sepharadic Chief Rabbi. Problem? The Jewish Home hasn't actually announced any support for Rav Eliyahu yet. In fact the Head of the Jewish Home Minister Naftali Bennett specifically stated  THIS MORNING that the Jewish Home has yet to support anyone for the Sepharadic Chief Rabbi. Too early, too eager...





Lets Get Serious..

This has to be the single worst argument against Women of the Wall yet made...Dov Helbertal warns us in Ynet: that " In the End They Will Want To Pray Naked." .(Heb). The argument is basically a slippery slope one...by allowing WoW to pray in the Kotel, we are placing individual fulfillment above Jewish tradition. Once we go down that slippery slope, can we ever stop? what happens when some new age hippies demand to pray naked?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

British Understatment

The BBC has a terrific interview with the Syrian heart eating cannibal. After some discussion of did he or did he not actually take a bite from the heart, the Syrian soldier tries to put things in context::


"He goes on to talk about the man whose flesh he held in his hands: "This guy had videos on his mobile. It showed him raping a mother and her two daughters. He stripped them while they begged him to stop in the name of God. Finally he slaughtered them with a knife... What would you have done?"

Good question. What would you have done? The BBC reporter tries to give us his answer, in classic British understatement.
"Well, perhaps not make a meal of my enemy, I think."

You think? do you want to take another minute to consider?
 


Shameful Chief Rabbi Race Minute of The Day

I think we can split today's award:


  • Kipa is reporting on a petition to the HCJ by The Movement for Quality Government in Israel  - a well known anti-corruption NGO- to ban Mayors who have been criminally charged  from being part of the electorate body choosing the next Chief Rabbi. The 159 person electorate body includes the 25 mayors of Israel's biggest cities. At the moment two mayors have been indicted, and two others are awaiting a hearing before being indicted. 

  • Bechadrei Haredim summarizes an incident that occurred last week where some of the leading candidate were hosted at a public panel to discuss their visions for the rabbinate. After some gentle barbs between the other candidates, it was the turn of Rav Stav to explain his positions. During the speech Rav Stav claimed that tens of thousands of Israeli couples have gotten married outside of Israel because of the Rabbanut. Harav Yosef , interjected that the true number is "only" 11,000. The audience at that point burst out into screams at Rav Stav accusing him of being a liar. Apparently it got so bad, that all the members of the panel just got up and left. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Worst Ha'aretz Translation Ever

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu (Yeah I'm not a fan) is facing severe scrutiny. In the last few days an old answer he gave on the Website Kippa, was doing the rounds on Facebook, and through there made it into Ha'aretz. The screent-shot of the answer is on the left. The question being posed is how should a religious person use his anger over the disengagement in a positive manner.

However before we get to analyzing the answer lets have a quick look at how the Ha'aretz translators summarized the answer:

"The text attributed to Eliyahu urged revenge against secular Jews, calling on people to attack them, smash their heads in and bring their children back into the religious fold. "
Ha'aretz yet again demonstrate that their translators have no understanding of spoken Hebrew. The phrase להסתער עליהם, לטחון להם את הראש would if translated word for word using only a Hebrew-English dictionary mean roughly what Ha'aretz ascribed it. However, we do expect translators to have some basic understanding of the language they are translating beyond using a dictionary. In spoken Hebrew the phrase להסתער means to do something with enthusiasm. לטחון את הראש is usually used in the negative sense to mean to bring something up again and again to the point of being a nuisance. Together, the entire pharase would mean that you should go with enthusiasm to Hilonim and talk/argue with them to the point of being a nuisance. I.E. work really hard at convincing them to do Teshuvah.

**Late Edit - After I pointed out the error on Twitter, Ha'aretz swiftly corrected their translation.

OK, now that we've removed the bizarre interpretation given by Ha'aretz translators, lets try and understand what Rav Eliyahu actually said. When you read the text carefully, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu only really says two things. One - you should get revenge on the non religious. Two - that revenge will be by making them or their children do Teshuvah (I.E. become religious). That's it. The text is not as bad as some people are interpreting it. However, it is bad enough. I don't think any real rabbi would object to a general aim of making all the non religious do Teshuvah. However, Rav Eliyahu is not talking about a process that comes out of a deep love for all of Israel.  What comes across quite clearly is that Rav Eliyahu sees all the non religious as the enemy. They need to be conquered. Just as troubling he is convinced that no one could be religious and approve of the disengagement. That is because for him there is only one legitimate religious position - a far right one.

A Chief Rabbi can not see the majority of the nation as enemies. The Rabbanut is already hated, and needless to say this kind of rhetoric will not make it any more loved.





Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why Harav Shmuel Eliyahu Should Not Be Sephradic Chief Rabbi

Summary of the opinions on today's Facebook feed:

Harav Benny Lau (Heb) - Rav Eliyahu does not accept the State's law ( including equality to all), Harav Eliyahu is not sympathetic (and worse) to those who made Aliyah but may not be halachically Jewish.

Harav Bazak (Heb) - A Chief Rabbi can't be someone who holds what even he admits are "extreme" positions - specifically regarding Israeli Arabs (gives the example of transfer). Secondly Rav Eliyahu often expresses himself badly and delegitimizes the opinions of rabbis he disagrees with.

I would have gone further on each of the points, but I think it is important that the more liberal rabbis of the Dati Leumi movement have come out clearly against Harav Eliyahu. He is not a valid candidate, nor is he representative of Religious Zionism.

HOWEVER, I'm against him being blocked from running for the position by the Attorney General. Through his own choice, the Attorney General has previously decided not to prosecute Rav Eliyahu for his outlandish comments, and even worse he allowed him to remain a tax-payer supported communal rabbi. There is no general "Not a nice guy" or "No Racists" criteria in the law for Chief Rabbi. As such the Attorney General should not take it upon himself to create criteria where none exist. (See also this letter).



Wittiest Political Soliloquy Of The Week

Best  Political soliloquy of the week goes to President Putin:
Putin denied that the Russian special services were debriefing Snowden. “I would prefer not to deal with such matters because it’s like shearing a piglet -- there’s a lot of squealing and not much wool,” Putin said.

Luckily the BBC already did the research for me:

The piglet line appears to be an authentic but little-used Russian saying. One Russian source tells the Monitor that the full version begins: "Arguing with a woman is like shearing a piglet etc." 

Not From The Onion: Mongolian neo-Nazis rebrand themselves as environmentalists

The Guardian reports:

A Mongolian neo-Nazi group has rebranded itself as an environmentalist organisation fighting pollution by foreign-owned mines, seeking legitimacy as it sends swastika-wearing members to check mining permits.
...

Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, has only 100 or so members but it is one of several groups – others have names including Dayar Mongol (Whole Mongolia), Gal Undesten (Fire Nation) and Khukh Mongol (Blue Mongolia) – that are linking nationalism and resources as foreign firms seek to exploit the mineral wealth of the vast country, landlocked between Russia and China.
Based in an office behind a lingerie store in the Mongolian capital, the shaven-headed, jackbooted Tsagaan Khass stormtroopers launch raids on mining projects, demanding paperwork or soil samples to be studied for contaminants.
"Before, we used to work in a harsh way, like breaking down doors," the group's leader, Ariunbold Altankhuum, 40, told Reuters. "But now, we have changed and we use other approaches, like demonstrations."On a patrol to a quarry two hours' drive from the capital, members wore black, SS-style Nazi uniforms complete with lightning flashes and replica Iron Crosses.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dude, where's my tank?

This Russian tank was found buried in Holon. No one seems to know how it got there, though one theory in Ha'aretz is that it was left there from an old army course.

You can see more pictures of the tank, in the Israeli Police Facebook page. 

Shameful Chief Rabbi Moment of the Day

I'm starting a new feature on this blog "Shameful Chief Rabbi Moment of the Day". I should have started this long ago, and certainly I've missed some great stories this week. However today's moment goes to Rabbi Ratzon Arusi (Rabbi of Kiryat Ono), in the running for the Sephradic Chief Rabbi - who legally changed his date of birth so that he would not be over the cutoff age of 70. Harav Arusi explains that when his family arrived from Yemen, there was some confusion over his age. Recently he discovered a previously unknown cousin, who was able to correct his date of birth - conveniently just before he announced his candidacy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The New Yorker Gets The Wrong Wall

Wrong Wall New Yorker!

The New Yorker has this charming tidbit about the movie World War Z:

"What do the Israelis do? They build a wall. But they’re basically humane, civilized people, so in Jerusalem, where we join them, they keep a gate open to let in the as-yet-uninfected un-undead—Palestinian Arabs, by the look of them. All goes well until some Palestinians already in the city start singing too lustily, and the massed zombies, also seemingly Palestinian, decide that they want in, too. (Zombies are attracted by loud noises.) This leads to the most remarked-upon scene in the film, which takes place at what resembles the Western Wall. The scrambling West Bank zombies just keep coming, climbing on top of one another until they form a giant ex-human pyramid, a siege engine of the undead, stacking up and spilling over the barrier. We are left to infer that everything probably would have still been O.K. if only the gates had been kept shut."

Does it really resemble the Western Wall? I think not... someone mixed up their walls...

Hat Tip: @lahavharkov

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Fun: I Guess If You Really Like Your Locusts


Ourasanah collaborated with KitchenAid to develop the Lepsis, a small, decorative unit that can rest on a kitchen counter. The unit addresses the question of how to produce large amounts of protein without devoting more land space to the cultivation of insects, and it was just announced as a finalist in the INDEX awards. According to Ourasanah, 80 percent of the world population already eats insects, and introducing edible bugs to rapidly-expanding urban populations could significantly reduce the impact of meat production on the environment.
The Lepsis is a vessel that can be used to grow insects for food. The product consists of four individual units that are each designed to breed, grow, harvest and kill grasshoppers, and they combine to form a decorative kitchen product. “In order to move toward a sustainable future, we must do away with our culinary hangups and redefine the paradigm of food,” explains Ourasanah. Even though growing and eating insects is pretty repulsive to many people in the developed world, an attractive product like the Lepsis could help people to warm to the idea. (source)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Newly Discovered Mosaics In Galilee Show Stunning Portrayal of Samson

Photo by Jim Haberman
This beautiful mosaic was found in excavations of the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee,

The Mosaic is described as:

"Last summer, a mosaic showing Samson and the foxes (as related in the Bible’s Judges 15:4) was discovered in the synagogue’s east aisle. This summer, another mosaic was found that shows Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his shoulders (Judges 16:3). Adjacent to Samson are riders with horses, apparently representing Philistines.Although he is not described as such in the Hebrew Bible, Samson is depicted as a giant in both scenes, reflecting later Jewish traditions that developed about the biblical judge and hero."

Hat Tip: @findneedles

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Future of Haredim?

This was a picture of the day over at Life in Israel:


This is clearly the future, and one can only hope that this becomes a more common sight!  Of course the soldier is breaking a few IDF dress rules, but we will let it slide just this once.




Monday, June 24, 2013

Israeli Postal Office Uses Sexual Harassment Ad

I was really happy to hear today that MK Eliza Levi has condemned the Postal Authority for this disgusting ad. The ad seems to show a woman enjoying her sexual harassment..




**update
On twitter Gldmeir pointed out the woman isn't being sexually harassed..she's turning a robbery into a sexual incident. He has a point. I agree that the woman seems to be the instigator rather than the victim (perhaps she's sexually harassing the poor robber?). Regardless the Ad is disgusting.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Worst Habadnick Hasbara of the Day

From the JTA:

SYDNEY (JTA) – A former senior Chabad leader in Sydney suggested that some of the Jewish victims of alleged child sex abuse in Australia may have consented.

Best Palestinian Gov't Account?


Picture of the entire Twitter account of just-resigned Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Clearly he got a lot done.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Deep Down He's Superficial

From Chief Rabbi Sacks:

A significant area of intellectual discourse — the human condition sub specie aeternitatis — has been dumbed down to the level of a school debating society. Does it matter? Should we not simply accept that just as there are some people who are tone deaf and others who have no sense of humour, so there are some who simply do not understand what is going on in the Book of Psalms, who lack a sense of transcendence or the miracle of being, who fail to understand what it might be to see human life as a drama of love and forgiveness or be moved to pray in penitence or thanksgiving? Some people get religion; others don’t. Why not leave it at that?
Fair enough, perhaps. But not, I submit, for readers of The Spectator, because religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact. That is what the greatest of all atheists, Nietzsche, understood with terrifying clarity and what his -latter-day successors fail to grasp at all....
...Richard Dawkins, whom I respect, partly understands this. He has said often that Darwinism is a science, not an ethic. Turn natural selection into a code of conduct and you get disaster. But if asked where we get our morality from, if not from science or religion, the new atheists start to stammer. They tend to argue that ethics is obvious, which it isn’t, or natural, which it manifestly isn’t either, and end up vaguely hinting that this isn’t their problem. Let someone else worry about it...
...The new barbarians are the fundamentalists who seek to impose a single truth on a plural world. Though many of them claim to be religious, they are actually devotees of the will to power. Defeating them will take the strongest possible defence of freedom, and strong societies are always moral societies. That does not mean that they need be religious. It is just that, in the words of historian Will Durant, ‘There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.’ 

The title of this post is taken from Sack's opening line "I love the remark made by one Oxford don about another: ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’ I think some people would use that line to criticize Rabbi Sacks. Rabbi Sacks is of course using a very broad brush in painting European religiosity in such a positive light. (See Dov Bear). Nor have atheists been sticking their ethical head in the sand, quite as broadly as Rabbi Sacks claims. (see Why Evoloution is true). Furthermore it remains more than a little untested whether  religious moderation is really enough of an animus to combat the religious "barbarians". As someone once told me all the pathos is to be found in the extremes. 

p.s - on a sidenote, I'd be happy if someone can explain the connection between  the cartoon The Spectator added and Rabbi Sack's piece. 



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Balak Parsha Sources

Some of my previous writing on parashat Balak:


And Who Isn't A Rabbi?

At the Haredi website Kikar Hashabat, they have the following poll:

Notice which candidate isn't considered a rabbi?

Hat-Tip: Srugim

There Is Nothing Left To Say - Metzger


Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger was questioned under caution by police on Thursday, for suspicions he was involved in bribery, fraud,  money laundering, and breach of trust. 

Metzger is one of several suspects in the investigation that national fraud unit made public on Thursday. 

As part of the investigation, on Thursday officers went to the house and office of the rabbi, and confiscated documents, computers, and other materials they believe may be linked to the allegations. 
There is really nothing much to add, other then it is time to send Rav Metzger home.  Rav Metzger was elected ten years ago as a non impressive, non charismatic - not much of anything - sock puppet of Rav Elyashiv. He has managed to brilliantly fail to fulfill even those low expectations.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Who is "Torani"/ Hardalnick?

I wrote in the past about the increasing use of the term "Torani"  to rebrand the term "Hardal" (חרדי דתי לאומי). In the ten months that have passed since I wrote that post, the rebranding has more or less become a done deal.  As I wrote in my previous post:

However, if Hardal was offensive to "Hardalnickim" the new term they are using "Torani" (Literally "those of the Torah") is even more offensive for those of us who consider ourselves true Religious Zionists. Torani implies that the rest of us are somehow less religious than they are  - that somehow they are closer to the Torah. 


This past weekend, Harav Eliezer Melamed was quoted as saying that the Hardalnick education system was superior to the Dati-Leumi one, because it had a much lower rate of people who became non-religious. In the article he gave the following definition of who is "Torani":



"אני מעדיף את ההגדרה הציבור התורני (על פני ההגדרה החרד"לי). הציבור התורני מכיל את כל מי שקובע עיתים לתורה באופן משמעותי, והוא לומד על מנת ללמוד לשמור ולעשות, או לכל הפחות מצהיר שהוא מחוייב לשולחן ערוך, ציבור זה בדרך כלל לא מסתפק בשליחת ילדיו לבית הספר ממ"ד, אלא מפנה אותם לבית ספר תורני או דואג שיוסיפו וילמדו תורה מעבר למה שהם לומדים במסגרת בית הספר ממ"ד. בדרך כלל הציבור התורני חי בקהילות תורניות יותר. אמנם יש לא מעטים שחיים בקרב הציבור הרחב, תוך הקפדה אישית על קביעות עיתים לתורה".
Roughly translated:

I prefer the term Torani (as opposed to Hardalnick). The Torani public includes all of those who set substantial time for Torah learning, and learns inorder to keep and act, or at the very least declared that he is committed to the Shulhan Aruch. This public ususally is not content with sending his children to religious-state schools, but sends them to a Torani school or makes sure they learn Torah beyond what they are taught in the Religious-state school. Normally the Torani public lives in more Torani communities, even though there are not too-few who do live in the wider community...

And there you have it. This is how the Hardal community sees all non Hardal Dati-Leumi. We don't learn torah, we don't have a commitment to Halacha...

Kamtza Meet Bar-Kamtza

Rav Ovadia Yosef stated last night that Rav Stav is an 'unworthy candidate" who "is dangerous to Judaism, the Torah and the rabbinate," and that "His friends from the Mafdal, his party have testified before me - that this man is dangerous to Judaism, to the Torah! How can I stay silent". 

Some points:

  • The word "friends" is being used very very liberally. 
  • When the Religious-Zionists loose the race to the Chief-Rabbinate (and if there is any justice in the world, they will), I think some of us would like to know who these friends were.
  • Kamtza, meet Bar-Kamtza.
And some of the reactions:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is Superman "Christian"?

I've (yet) to see the new Superman movie, but I did spot this blog post on CNN:

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - As the new Superman movie takes flight this weekend, filmmakers are hoping the Man of Steel lands not only in theaters, but also in pulpits.
Warner Bros. Studios is aggressively marketing "Man of Steel" to Christian pastors, inviting them to early screenings, creating Father’s Day discussion guides and producing special film trailers that focus on the faith-friendly angles of the movie.
The movie studio even asked a theologian to provide sermon notes for pastors who want to preach about Superman on Sunday. Titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” the notes run nine pages.
“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” the sermon notes ask.
I suggest you read the entire post, where some of the Christian allegory in the movie is explained. Here is a small sample:

The movie focuses on the origins of Superman, who was sent from the planet Krypton as an infant to save his species.
He is raised by surrogate parents who help him grapple with his special powers, even though they don’t fully understand the source of his extraordinary abilities.
When he turns 33, Superman must willingly sacrifice himself to save the human race. 
 Of course the Miami Herald argues for Superman's Jewish roots:

Much as the baby prophet was floated in a reed basket by a mother desperate to spare him from an Egyptian Pharaoh’s death warrant, so moments before Kal-El’s planet blew up, his doomed parents tucked him into a spaceship that rocketed him to the safety of Earth. Both babies were rescued by non-Jews and raised in foreign cultures — Kal-El by Kansas farmers named Kent — and all the adoptive parents quickly learned how exceptional their foundlings were. The narratives of Krypton’s birth and death borrowed the language of Genesis. Kal-El’s escape to Earth was the story of Exodus.
Clues mounted from there. The three legs of the Superman myth — truth, justice and the American way — are straight out of the Mishnah. “The world,” it reads, “endures on three things: justice, truth and peace.” The explosion of Krypton conjures up images from the mystical Kabbalah where the divine vessel was shattered, and Jews were called on to perform tikkun haolam by repairing the vessel and the world.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Rav Stav Question In A Single Sentence

I think I can now phrase the Rav Stav debate in a single sentence:

Is the Chief Rabbi meant to be the Chief Rabbi of the Rabbis, or the Chief Rabbi of the nation?

Understanding the Levitating Trick

This video from "America's Got Talent" is making the rounds:



The trick of course revolves around the cane:




Mr. "Special Head" must have something anchoring the cane hidden under the rug.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More On The Opinions Against Rav Stav

Rav Tzair posted some of the opinions being used by the religious opposition to Rav Stav. I've posted a brief summary of the main thrust of the arguments, though I now regret having not kept their various analogies in my summary. Rav Tzair's original post has generated quite a few insightful comments. Two intriguing ideas I found in the comments (but I've taken them a bit further):




  • The Hardalnick rabbis are trying hard to force their theological conceptions of a hierarchy of holiness onto the real world. They are possessed by a metaphysical understanding of how "Israel" and the process of "redemption" is meant to unfold. they are unwilling to accept any  compromise of their metaphysics. In this specific case, they believe that the hierarchy of holiness is that the Rabanut is meant to be the spiritual leader of Israel, raising Israel ever higher. The influence however is meant to be a fairly one way process. The rabanut will guard the true word of God, which will slowly spread to the entire nation.  In their eyes, Rav Stav represents the "bending" of the lofty Rabanut to the whims of the nation. Stav represents the opposite process, whereby the nation influances the Holy of Holies - the halacha. 

  • The second idea is that the Hardalnick rabbis see themselves (and Har Hamor specifically) as the natural leaders of the Dati-Leumi community. Since the Rabbanut was created by Rav Kook, in has for them a mystical leadership role. The appointment of Rav Stav to chief rabbi is interpreted by the Hardalnicks as the public rejection of their leadership.  


The Opinions Against Rav Stav

I'm going to do everyone a favor and just present a quick summary. On the positive side, I'm happy to see that at least those opposing Rav Stav are now attempting to give some explanation:

Rav Aviner - Those who criticize the Rabbanut are Apikorsim.I think this shouldn't be read literally, but more along the lines that you can't wish to head the Rabbanut, if you are basing your candidacy on how terrible it is.

Rav Ariel Bareli - Rav Stav doesn't accept Rabbinic Authority - proof: he didn't abandon his campaign in favor of Rav Ariel. Rav Bareli also seems to think that Tzhoar as a whole has adopted a method of paskening Halacha that is too independent of the "Talmeidei Hachamim".

Rav Avraham Yeshua Tzuckerman - If I understood correctly, (which I admit I always find it difficult to read the "Kav" Yeshivot writings)  the ideological objection is that  Rav Stav is too eager to please the community at large. This goes against the natural role of the rabbi as a leader of the community, and not as one that is led by the community. Rav Tzuckerman uses various midrashim (including Korach) to talk of the proper duty of the leader to lead and against the argument that the entire community is equally holy.

Rav Micha Levi - Two arguments. The first is similar to Rav Tzuckerman, that Rav Stav is too eager to please the different communities, and is in practice bending halacha to please them. I think the tone of the argument is slightly softer that Rav Tzuckerman - Rav Stav is even compared to Aharon (as opposed to Korach), but the bottom line is the same. A second argument is that too many local rabbis oppose Rav Stav, which would make it impossible for him to lead them.

Hat tip: @RavTzair

Oh Satmar...If Only You Had A Sense of Humor

From Algmeiner:

The Satmar Chasidic movement held a massive rally this weekend in Manhattan to protest the Israeli government’s efforts to draft yeshiva students into the military. Some estimates had attendance at an impressive 30,000.
In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home to a large Charedi population, organizers placed posters around the neighborhood to promote the rally. But one set of posters was rapidly removed according to a community source who spoke anonymously to The Algemeiner, for fear of damaging his business with the community, because the poster’s rallying cry accidentally contravened the Satmar movement’s official line.
“Shall your brothers go into battle while you remain here?” the poster screamed in large red print, encouraging Charedim in New York to take to the streets in support of the struggle faced by their brothers in Israel. Taken from the bible, the words are spoken by Moses as he chastises the tribes of Reuben and Gad both of which propose settling in Transjordan rather than Israel, and imply that they do not wish to take up arms for the conquest of Israel...
The source noted that this biblical phrase wherein Moses commands the tribes who wish to opt out of military service to in fact take up arms for Israel, would appear to promote IDF enlistment rather than reject it. The source said that the posters were on “every street pole” but that the Charedim in the area seemed to wise up soon after, as they were taken down not too long after the error was spotted.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

One of the Most Embarrassing Divrei Torah

MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) was invited by Galei Tzahahl Radio station to give their weekly 2-3 minute talk on this week Parasha (weekly portion of the torah) - which happened to be Korach. After speaking for a minute or two on how she was embarrassed that neither she nor any of her immediate associates have any idea what the Parasha is about she gave the following interpretation:

תחושה הזאת שאני לא מספיק "משהו", הביאה אותי ללמוד, לקרוא, ולחקור את פרשת השבוע. פרשת קורח. ואני יכולה להציע לכם פרשנויות רבות ומקוריות, מורכבות, או אקטואליות לפרשה, אבל הן לא יהיו שלי. אני לקחתי מקורח משהו אחר: קורח היה שותף להרגשה שלי, שהעם לא יודע מספיק על יהדות, אבל זה לא הופך אותו ללא ראוי. לא הופך אותו ללא מנהיג. הוא יצא למרד כנגד משה ואהרן תחת האמירה החזקה שכל העדה כולה מוקדשים, ואין סיבה שזה יתנשא על קהל. 
ובכן, אני לא בקיאה בפרשת השבוע, ורוב חבריי לא, אבל זה לא הופך אותי לפחות, פחות משהו. לא פחו
יהודיה, לא פחות ראויה להנהיג את העם הזה. שבוע טוב. 
Roughly translated:

The feeling that I'm not enough "in it", brought me to study, read and investigate the Parasha. Parashat Korach. And I can offer you many original and complex, as well as actual interpretations for the Parasha, but they wouldn't be mine. I walked away from Korach with something different: Korach and I share the feeling that the nation doesn't know enough about Judaism but that doesn't make him unworthy. Doesn't make him not a leader. He opened a rebellion against Moses and Aharon, under the strong saying that the entire congregation is holy, and there is no reason that he [Moses] should be above the congregation. 

So I'm not well read in the Parasha, and neither are my friends. But that doesn't make me less, less worthy. Not less Jewish, not less worthy to lead the nation. Good Week.  

Yesh Atid as  has some of the best current minds on creating a new Israeli identity  based on a mixture of Jewish learning and secular values. . It is unclear whetherMK Kol simply has no idea how the story of Korach ended, or whether she simply rejects the idea that someone can be found unworthy (by god). However, to come and declare that you wish to be like Korach, without at least explaining some of the differences between you is simply put- embarrassing. I expected better from members of Yesh Atid.

**Update:

It appears I'm way behind on this one. Adi Kol published this "correction/apology" on Facebook - in which she clarifies that: A. She does actually know the ending of the Korach story. B. She is equally aware that Korach is considered "bad". C. Her position was merely that one can't determine someone's Jewishness" merely based on a lack of knowledge.  I suggest you read the whole post, as its somewhat hard to understand her point.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cartoon Midrash - Educating Young Minds

A few months ago I wrote a short commentary on a similar educational cartoon. Today I saw that on Reddit, someone linked between my commentary on the previous cartoon and this picture.

There are two opposing ways of understanding this cartoon. Is the teacher taking away the natural gifts of her students and imposing on them her own worldview? or is the wise teacher taking the children's childish thoughts and patiently reshaping them to a more mature worldview?





Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Jewish Approach to Life Coaching


In recent years life-coaching has become more and more popular. As opposed to psychology, the process of life-coaching is very focused on specific goals or problems. People who turn to life-coaching are not seeking help for serious emotional or psychological problems, but rather help in achieving their own personal goals in life – making a critical decision, romantic hardships or difficulties in their professional life. One of the great advantages of life-coaching is the relatively short process. A typical training session consists of only 10 meeting or phone calls. The life-coach and the client together plan how to achieve those goals through both practical measures and through personal growth. Much like a typical "coach", a life-coach accompanies the client in the process of achieving those goals, helping him stay focused and overcome setbacks and challenges. Typically, a coach will often set the client specific tasks to accomplish between the meetings, that are geared towards achieving his larger goals.

Jewish Life-Coaching (Known in Hebrew as Kavanah) is an Israeli sub school of life-coaching that was developed nearly a decade ago my Mati Wexler. Jewish life coaching combines the basic tools of classical life-coaching with deeper lessons gained from the greats of Jewish thought. Many of the techniques and terminology that is used in the process are based on various insights that originate from Hassidut – ranging from the Talmudic insights to Hassidic doctrines of the soul. However, the Jewish emphasis is not confined to simply restating coaching in religious language. 

My wife Shira is an aspiring life-coacher, who is completing her training as a Jewish life-coacher.  As well as studying Jewish life-coaching she is also a qualified life-coacher from the Open University-Tut Communications (Alon Gal) and combines the best of both methods.  
  

If you are interested in experiencing a session of Jewish life-coaching (in Hebrew) - the first session is free -  or have further questions, call Shira at 0528345620 or via email Wei.Shira@gmail.com.

Please also feel free to pass this along to anyone who you think might appreciate some life-coaching.