Friday, July 27, 2007

Harry Potter Sikkum we'Siyyum

Erev Shabbos Koidesh Nahamu 5767

Hogwarts YeshivehThere was a shailah as to whether I could pick up the newly released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for my friend on Sunday, as I hadn't gone to the mikveh that day. I did carry it in plastic which some say it acceptable bidi'eved, and was careful about kedushah and taharah.

I have already addressed the issue of the buying the book during the "Nine Days." My friend for whom I was shaliah mitzvah, had pre-ordered the book, thus avoiding this issue all together.

We were so anxious to read the book, that we didn't mehazer in hevrusa after every perek, let alone after every daf. I must admit, I did have to call him with a shailah about Godric Gryffindor's sword.

I'm sorry to add this spoiler, but we still don't know if Anthony Goldstein is halachicly Jewish, and thus whether we need to send a shaliah to address his Shabbos and kashrus needs, among others such as seeing if he needs a mezuzah for the Ravensclaw Common Room or getting him some tefillin.

At least one siyum took place in the Me'ah Sha'arim neighborhood of Jerusalem. I intend to make my siyyum on Shabbos.

The author J. K. Rowling really outdid herself!

And so to this tzadekes I say hazak, hazak, venihazek!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Haveirim in our Shannah Zayin Mahzor:
A review by Doodle Head
More evidence as to the Muslims' blasphemy can be found at Elder of Zion.
The archive of our Rosh Yeshiva's shi'urim may be found at the Harry Potter and Torah Blog.
Do a search for "Harry Potter" at Hirhumim to find posts regrading halocheh and midrashim from our Masgia'ah.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Haveil Havalim #126 Is Up!

7 of the Fifth Month 5767

Reb Chaim HaQoton is hosting the 126th edition of the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival. Reb Chaim says there are actually 126 links listed on this weeks edition. Don't drive yourself crazy by trying to count them. Just check it out, and enjoy the fruits of his labor....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Machon Shilo Publishes Special Tisha B'Av Kinna Commemorating the Destroyed Communities of Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron

4 of the Fifth Month 5767

Cross-posted with permission from Machon Shilo

K'far Maimon Debacle, 5765JERUSALEM, ISRAEL, July 18, 2007 (Menachem-Av 4, 5767) - Machon Shilo has published a dirge ("kinna") about the destroyed communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria. The dirge is to be recited as part of the Jewish Ninth of Av Service that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples by the Babylonians in 586 CE and by the Romans in 70 CE.

The Jewish Communities of Gush Katif and the northern Samaria were destroyed on the Tenth of Av in 2005. The motivation of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in destroying these communities has been the subject of considerable speculation.

The dirge was written in the style of Rabbi Eliezer HaKalir, the 6th century composer of religious poetry. Rav Buch's dirge is based on "How the Rose of Sharon Sits", HaKalir's dirge of 24 stanzas about the 24 shifts of the Priests ("Kohanim") in the Jewish Temple ("Bet HaMiqdash"). Words of the Rabbi Buch's dirge are borrowed from Rabbi Eliezar's original version as well as from the first chapter of the Book of Lamentations ("Megilat Eicha"). The stanzas are arranged according to the Hebrew alphabetical order and the last line of each stanza ends with the name of a destroyed community.

"This is religious poetry that truly speaks from the heart. It eloquently captures the feelings of the day, of both the destruction of our Holy Temple and the holy communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria," says Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, the head of Machon Shilo.

"Many words in the dirge have double meanings and reflect the bitterness caused by this modern tragedy. Rabbi Buch has expended great effort to adhere to the historical style of the traditional dirge. All words of his dirge—except for one—are found in the Hebrew Bible although grammar may have necessitated some slight changes. My only regret is that Rabbi Buch's beautiful poetry reflects our current state of mourning rather than celebration. I look forward to the day when we will be able to publish poetry celebrating the rebuilding of the destroyed communities and our Holy Temple."

The dirge can be downloaded from the Machon Shilo website at Machon Shilo Gush Katif Kinna

About Machon Shilo
Machon Shilo seeks to promote the study of the customs and practices of our forefathers and Rabbis, who lived in Erets Yisrael. Machon Shilo believes that while the Jewish People have physically returned to their ancestral homeland, Erets Yisrael, they have not yet returned to the Torah of Erets Yisrael, only to the learning of Torah in Erets Yisrael. For more information visit

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Nine Days

Rosh Hodesh of the Fifth Month 5767

Most of you are aware of the great excitement and anticipation being caused by the impending release of the final installment of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

How could you not be aware of the hype?

J. K. Rowling, who said she cried at the completion of the book, purports to answer all of our questions in this final gaze into the life of one of the most famous protagonists ever, a teen-age wizard. However, for those of us who are Torah-observant Jews, the answers to those questions will have to be delayed for several days after the release of the book. Not only does the book go on sale on Shabbath, but also during the "Nine Days," from the first through the ninth day of the "Fifth Month" (Menahem Av). Leading up to the ninth of the month (Tisha b'Av), various aveluth (mourning) practices are observed, culminating in the full night and day Fast of Tisha b'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Holy Temples, as well as other calamities which have befallen the Jewish People.

Even those who hold to observing aveluth only during the week in which Tisha b'Av falls (Mishnah Torah, Hil. Ta'aniyoth 5:6) will have to wait.

Although not explicitly stated by the Ramba"m, cited above, many halachic (Jewish legal) authorities hold that purchases which raise ones spirits (eg. new clothes) should be curtailed during this period of aveluth, when are hearts and minds should be focused on events of great tragedy.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So, since I will have to wait a little longer than most you to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I will take this opportunity to reiterate the author J. K. Rowling's request, that those of you who read the book not reveal its contents to those who have yet to read it, thus ruining the experience for them,...for us.

Hopefully, there will be a new character in the book which I could play on screen. The movie is already slated for production, and due out sometime in 5770-71 (2010). Of course, the producers and director (and Ms. Rowling, if you're reading) will have to accept that I won't work on Shabbath or Yom Tov (holidays)....


I was just informed by a friend of mine from Me'ah Sha'arim that he has pre-ordered the new Harry Potter book from a bookstore in town. His copy, which cost him a whopping NIS 139 (about $33), will now be waiting for him to pick it up on Sunday. He has asked me to be "shaliah," in other words, to go pick it up for him, as he does not want to be seen. In exchange, I'll get to borrow it.

For what it's worth, this isn't just any resident of Me'ah Sha'arim, but a former mashgi'ah at a yeshivah in the same neighborhood.

I mentioned my opinion regarding the purchase and the "Nine Days." He just brushed it off by saying that people get killed in the book, so it's OK. He then elaborated on how it really was OK according to his understanding halachah related to the "Nine Days."


I just heard that an Arab-owned store on Sala-din Street in Jerusalem's Old City pre-sold 120 books, and then opened up on Shabbath at 5:30 AM in order to distribute them. A rabbi, whose identity has yet to be learned by me, said that it was [technically] mutar (permissible), as no money was exchanged, no Jews were employed, and an eruv was in force.


More news on the release of the final Harry Potter book is reported by Rafi G. at Life In Israel.

Haveil Havalim #125 Is Up!

Rosh Hodesh of the Fifth Month 5767

Happy Birthday, Yid With Lid!Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival, Edition #125 is up at Yid With Lid. Don't forget to wish him a Happy 50th Birthday!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Christian Missionary Can Ruin My Day

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Matot-Masa'ei 5767

Shuq Mahaneh YehudahIt only takes one christian missionary to ruin my day. So you can imagine what 30 of them did to me yesterday. Yeah, I know what some of you will say:

They can only have power over over you...if you let them.

That may be true to a certain extent, on an emotional or psychological level. Yet, when Jews fail to respond to missionaries*, at least in some way, then complacency, avoidance, numbness, and other manifestations of denial, of the true threat of christian missionaries, can assert a more profound and dangerous power.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the shuq (Mahaneh Yehudah) in Jerusalem, having coffee and trying to refocus, deciding what else I would try to accomplish in the city before making the long trek back to the Shomron (Samaria). Then I heard it...the singing, the guitars, and the proverbial tambourines, and I knew what was about to make its way around the corner. The volume grew louder; my nerves grew more aggravated. The over-sized Israeli flags made their appearance first, above the heads in the Thursday evening, pre-Shabbath crowd. A man with a huge, Yemenite shofar (horn) made periodic blasts, further announcing their presence.

Usually what happens to me when I encounter christian missionaries is that the weight of responsibility for the spiritual fate of the entire Jewish People bears down upon me. Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. It may sound silly and irrational, but yesterday was no different. The anger can become overwhelming. I knew I had to do something. But, what? My anger can really get in the way of my thinking rationally, and has gotten me into trouble more than once. As the make-shift parade passed by my table, I was handed a pamphlet. I accepted it, then ripped it up, through it back at the stunned lady who had handed it to me, and started yelling [various epitaphs] in Hebrew. My goal was to communicate with the on-lookers, not the paraders.

Shuq Mahaneh YehudahClose by two yeshiva students were trying to explain to an apparently secular Jew what was what happening, and why it was wrong. I joined it. The students pointed to me, in a gesture for their to listen to me, as they weren't so confident speaking in Hebrew. The secular Jew said he was unwilling to talk to me, but I was too aggravated and angry. I don't know how, but I immediately calmed, and told him that was understandable. He listened after all, and we ended up having a pleasant talk. He wanted to know why their parade of singing was a problem. "They have their path; we have ours."

With an Arab listening in, I responded saying that:

The Yishma'elim (Arabs) want to murder our bodies; the christians want to murder our souls.

Torah never entered this discussion. Although in retrospect, it probably should have. My partner in this dialog and I shook hands, and I proceeded to leave the shuq. Then, I realized I had forgotten to purchase one of the very things I had come to the shuq to purchase in the first place: hilbeh**. Back I went to the second or third best place in Jerusalem to buy hilbeh, depending upon whom you ask. Sure enough I encountered the missionary parade on another pass. That was it. I could not grab, rip-up, and stomp on enough of their literature. I could not yell at them enough. I was intent on waking each and every one of my fellow Jews up from their denial, saying: These people are dangerous. Do something.

Pomegranates at Shuq Mahaneh YehudahI looked around, and was please to find that some Jews were doing something. There were various approaches. One man, who looked like he could have been from Nahla'oth or Yo"Sh (Judea & Samaria), followed the paraders, calmly explaining in Hebrew to the on-lookers the truth nature of the parade. Another young man, possibly from Nahla'oth, walked in front of the parade, singing along to the tune, yet cleverly changed the words to the Hebrew for "Here come the christian missionaries. Be careful and stay away from them." Haredim generally appeared to go about their business, yet also did not hesitate to show support for the various anti-missionary statements. Their interventions were probably too subtle for me to detect. A few may also have been quietly explaining the ultimate goals of the parade participants. A yellow-pinned, Habadniq was also warning people, acknowledging me and my actions with a nod.

Several shuq-goers were shocked by the hutzpah of the relatively straight-forward literature, and followed my example by ripping it up. Whatever actions are to be taken, I find it important, t the very least, to point out that these individuals are missionaries, and that they mean business. As an English-speaker, I am more likely to catch the key phrases in the words of their songs or literature. As an immigrant from the U. S., I [along with other Americans reading] tend to have more experience in recognizing missionaries than native-born Israelis.

I'll let you learn for yourselves what we, as Jews, are ideally supposed to do in such a situation, from the Ramba"m's Hil. Avodah Zarah weHuqoth HaGoyim, chap. 7, politically-incorrect, far from subtle, but true.

Criticize my actions if you will. (I have already gotten plenty of "feedback," as you can imagine.) But, at least I didn't take another approach, like some Jews do: Deny that they're a threat, and kiss their...



*Some anti-missionary organizations suggest that Jews refrain from engaging in arguments with missionaries. Contacting such anti-missionary organizations, asking them for advice, volunteering to help, or simply visiting their websites each constitutes a "response."

Anti-missionary organizations:

Jews For Judaism

Yad LeAchim (Israel)
Yad LeAchim (USA)
Lev LeAchim:
1-800-366-100 (Israel)

**Hilbeh is a Yemenite condiment based on fenugreek seeds.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Jew Fights For His Home

24 of the Fourth Month 5767

Yitzhaq HershkovitzYitzhaq Hershkovitz is fighting to regain control of his house from Arab squatters in "East" Jerusalem.

The INN TV Report with Aharon Deutch can been viewed by clicking here.

Giv'ath Elnaqam 4I had the honor of meeting Yitzhaq Hershkovitz on Shabbath, as he was in Tapu'ah, a couple of friends from Jerusalem and Qiriyath Arba. At dinner on Giv'ath Elnaqam 4 he gave a D'var Torah, in which he concluded that one should be cautious in choosing friends, as it can very difficult to know who your friends are and who your enemies are, in this day and age.

After a 15-year fight, Mr. Hershkovitz finally obtained a court order to have the squatters removed. Yet, the police has not been helpful in enforcing the evacuation. One of the issues was that the Arabs were keeping their goats hidden inside the house, which apparently is against the zoning regulations. However, every time the police arrived to execute the order, or rather do a pre-execution investigation, the goats are taken outside through the back an and hidden somehow. There is now a stay on the eviction order.

Fortunately, he has been getting some support from friends, including the Defense-training and Torah-study, IBF Canine Unit, based in K'far Tapu'ah.

I'll try to find out more information about what can be done to assist and support him.

My Dues Are Paid, So Why Shouldn't I Vote?

23 of the Fourth Month 5767

Binyamin Netanyahu
Here's the latest on the impending Likud Party primaries from Hillel Fendel at Arutz 7. Many are predicting a 20 Ellul (Sept. 3) date for the primaries, which thus far appear to include only Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin.

Moshe Feiglin
From almost the beginning of Moshe Feiglin's venture into the Likud, I've been a registered Likud member. I voted him in primaries and for his Manhigut Yehudit block on the Likud Central Committee. Being a member even meant that I was able to vote in the referendum on Sharon's YSh"W Expulsion Plan. A lot of good that did us to vote his plan down. He went ahead and did it anyway.

Previously, I have expressed my appreciation for Moshe Feiglin, yet increasingly luke-warm feelings toward his venture, believing that the time have arrived to throw the baby out with the bath water, and spend my NIS 48 (just over $10 these days) on something else.

So, why have I stuck around for the last additional year and a half? To be honest, I just kept forgetting to cancel my Likud membership and the hora'ath qeva' (standing instruction) allowing the NIS 48 to be withdrawn from my account every year. But, now since I'm paid up until next February, there is nothing stopping me from voting in the primary. I don't know think Moshe has a chance of taking down Binyamin Netanyahu. But, I have no doubt he'll increase his percentage of support from the last go around, and be able to further his publicity of some crucial issues.

Well, unless I end up going on my [once every 10 years] trip to the US.

Shhhh! Don't tell Moshe.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 4 - 17 Tammuz

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Pinhas 5767

משנה תענית
ד,ו חמישה דברים אירעו את אבותינו בשבעה עשר בתמוז, וחמישה בתשעה באב. בשבעה עשר בתמוז--נשתברו הלוחות, ובטל התמיד, והובקעה העיר, ושרף אפסטמוס את התורה, והעמיד צלם בהיכל...;

Mishnah Ta'anith
"4:6 Five things happened to our 'forefathers' on 17 b'Tammuz, and five on 9 b'Av. On 17 b'Tammuz--the tablets were broken, and the Tamid [offering] ceased, and the city [of Jerusalem] was breached, and Apastimos burned the Torah [scroll], and he set up an image (statue) in the Temple....."

All in all, the 17 of the Fourth Month (Tammuz) has been an unhappy day for Am Yisrael (the Jewish People), to say the least. So, perhaps you will be surprised then to learn that July 4, 1776, the day the United States of America declared its independence from England, fell on 17 Tammuz 5536.

In the short-term, the founding of the USA could be seen as something positive for Am Yisrael. After all, many Jews have benefited from the extensive educational and financial opportunities, made available by living in the USA. Many Jews have even found refuge there, a reprieve from suffering, persecution, and even death. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and I have all certainly benefited. And for that, I am grateful.

HamburgerWhen I lived in the US, of course, I celebrated the Fourth of July. It was a lot of fun, and after all, it's not a "religious" holiday, but a national one, far from offensive to the diverse, American population, right? For most Jews, the Fourth of July was considered "kosher."

But this world can be deceiving. With the exception of a few Torah-enriched neighborhoods, what has living in America done for Am Yisrael spiritually? Assimilation, intermarriage, materialism, confusion of "western" values with Torah values.... Many Jews have turned to the false, spiritual band-aids, of so-called "liberal Judaism." Just like morphine, it's never enough. Give me more.... Water Judaism down some more.... Make my spouse Jewish.... Tell me my spouse doesn't even have to be Jewish....

WatermelonSure, Israel's certainly not immune. Tel-Aviv looks more like a European city than a Mid-Eastern one. And I defy you to locate a Hebrew, neon sign in Hertzliyah from the freeway. (They're all in English.) But, for those of you who continue to sing the praises of the Almighty America (lehavdil) and its accompanying angels, the dollar and the military, wake up already before it's too late. If being Jewish has any importance to you whatsoever, and you don't want to lose what you still have, then get on the plane....

You can still have your barbeque. It'll just be on the Fifth Of Iyyar instead. Then you can have your watermelon in the summer as usual. It's supposedly good to eat before a fast.

Monday, July 02, 2007

US At War With Israel: It's Coming!

16 of the Fourth Month 5767

Report: Bush Wants U.S. Army in Yesha

"( The Bush administration is promoting a plan to deploy 20,000 American soldiers in Gaza and then in Judea and Samaria, according to the Jordanian newspaper ad-Dostour. The U.S. has not commented on the report.

The newspaper said the plan dates back to the siege several years ago on the Ramallah offices of former Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat. Ad-Dostour said that the American soldiers would be deployed through the force of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)."

What did I tell you? They're still here, and they're still coming.

Haveil Havelim #123 Is Up!

15 of the Fourteenth Month

Baseball Comes To IsraelI got link-sideswiped by Rafi G.. He's hosting this week's Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival. I am certainly not going to look a gift horse in the month, of course. I'm just not one of those "blog-hit mongers" [at least not yet], so I generally just send posts to one blog carnival each. My Jerusalem Needs A New Logo seemed like it should go to JPix rather than HH is all.

Look for my Esser Agaroth on the Israel plus Baseball combination next week. (Israel Baseball League fans beware!)

In the meantime, check out Rafi G.'s "Take Me Out to the Ballgame Edition."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tagged Twice

15 of the Fourth Month 5767

Well, now that I've been tagged twice, I guess I can no longer be a party-pooper. First I was tagged by Batya. I told her that I didn't have the ko'ah. Then she said I'd hit by lightening or something. Now, I've just been tagged by Doodlehead. Since he recently provided me with some secret, crucial information, I guess it's time to pay the piper.

Here are the rules. In the immortal words of Eve Arden in the movie "Grease:"

"Rules are rules."

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. My father was an art professor.

2. By the age of 14, I had visited 20 countries on two continents, besides the U. S./N. A.

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Inc.3. I was a lifeguard for five years. My mother, brother z"l, and sister were as well. I'm one of the few native San Diegans who does not surf. I probably will get on a board one of these days. In the meantime, I can still do a 360 on a boogie board!

4. I am a brother in Alpha Epsilon Pi,...and am looking for others in Israel.

5. I have this annoying talent of being able to quote lines from films, like The Breakfast Club, by heart.

6. I've lived most of most of my 10 years in Israel in Yehudah and Shomron.

Depeche Mode7. I have eclectic taste in music, including classical, New Age, and 80's. (No Country) I've been a fan of Depeche Mode almost since their beginning in 1981. Along with Beethoven, Mussorgsky, and Stravinsky, they have had a profound effect on my life.

8. I'm a Harry Potter fan. I read books 5 and 6, three times each. I don't think that R. A. B. in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will turn out to be Regulus Black,...too obvious. It'll be Neville's grandmother Augusta for sure!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

OK. Well, I cheated, having crammed more than one fact/habit into each line. But at least they're related.

Now, I'll tag....

1. Irina, which I feel the most guilty about because I know she's incredibly busy. 2. HaKav HaYorim, now that he's out of the army, and must have tons of time on his hands. 3. Faith In Nathan 4. Derech HaMelech 5. Ezra HaLevi 6. Tel-Chai Nation 7. Brooklyn Habiru 8. Sultan Knish, 8 1/2. Frum Satire, because I'm intrigued as to what these guys might list.

*I will NOT tag Erica, because she's been bugged enough by bloggers' memes.

...and I don't have to noodge Kalashnikover Rebbe nor Rafi G., because Doodlehead already did.