Monday, September 22, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jerusalem Demonstration In Support Of Ami Meshulam and his family

17 of the Sixth Month 5768

Tonight I stumbled upon a demonstration in support of Immanuel Yedidya (Ami) Meshulam, now in Canada for medical treatment for undetermined illnesses, allegedly from a lethal drugs injected into him by agents of the persecutory Israeli government. I know, I know. But read on, just a bit more.

Ami Meshulam is the son of Rabbi Uzi Azulai Meshulam who is best known for raising awareness, and pursuing justice for the Yemenite children, kidnapped during the early years of the State of Israel.

This case has both disturbed and fascinated me for years. It disturbs me not only that Yemenite children were kidnapped from the families, but also because there has no real response from the government, save for the persecution of those in pursuit of the truth.

The Rosh Yeshivah of the yeshiva high school where I last taught is one of the non-kidnapped victims. He has a brother out there, possible still alive, who was taken from his parents over 50 years ago.

I have been fascinated by the thoughts of seeing families reunited someday.

Rabbi Uzi Meshulam claims to have compiled a list of 4,500 names of missing children.

You can read the background story in English. It is like something out of a film about CIA cover-ups. Only this one features the Mossad and Shabba"k (Israeli secret police). It also features a Waco style stand-off, known as the Yehud Incident.

But, that's not even the half of it.

I have heard various names thrown around of big rabbis and [sitting] government officials who he claims were involved in the kidnappings and subsequent cover-up, as well as big name rabbis who turned him over. In the words of the man with whom I spoke at the demonstration, "...the Erev Rav."

I have yet to find any of those names on his supporters' website. Yet there is a lot of material out there, including videos, to be examined.

This is not the only case of non-Ashkinazy children allegedly being abused by the Israel government. The documentary "The Ringworm Children" exposes the radioactivity experiments which were carried out on children of mostly North African descent.

Some of you will scoff at the incidents presented here, and called them convoluted conspiracy theories.

One of the fliers that was being handed out included a quote from Mori Hayim Sinwani ztz"l, Rav Uzi's grandfather and rav who originally instructed him to look into the issue of the kidnapped children:

"The state that sells its children in the end will be sold to its enemies."

Sounds like prophecy to me. Examine the evidence. Something is rotten in Israel.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The "Rebbe"

16 of the Sixth Month 5768

When anyone starts trying to talk to me about what "The" Rebbe said, or what "The" Rebbe did, I love to start in with him.

BY (Me): "Oh, which rebbe would that be?"

CN: "You know. The REBBE."

BY: "Um,...well, there are lots of 'rebbes.' Are you talking about the Toldos Avraham Yitzhaq Rebbe?"

CN: "No!."

BY: "The Belzer Rebbe?"

CN: "No! THE Rebbe."

BY: "The Karliner Rebbe?"


BY: "Oh. You live in Givath Sha'ul. I'm sorry. You must mean the Stropkover Rebbe."

CN: "No! No! No! The REBBE!"

BY: "The Bostoner Rebbe? He's in Har-Nof."


BY: "The late Bobover Rebbe? I heard he was a big tzadiq."


BY: "Hmmm... In America. Still alive. The Biale Rebbe?"

CN: (By now turning red and apparently experiencing chest pains, while he crouches over...)
"NOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO! The Lubavitcher Rebbe...." (out of breath)

Such arrogance! On the rare occasion that I'm in a Chabad schul, one of the few non-messianic places, fine. I should assume that you're talking about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Otherwise, expect the response from me, recounted above. Can't you at least say "My Rebbe?"

I'm not going to let other communities off the hook either. When you talk about "The Rav," don't expect me to assume you're talking about Rabbi Soleveichik ZTZ"L, unless we're in a specific place or at a specific event related to a specific community. The same goes Rabbi Kahane hy"d, who is also referred to as "The Rav."

I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to someone go on about something that "The Rav" said, then asking him, "Did Rav Kahane say THAT? I don't remember him saying anything like THAT." It was very embarrassing,...not for me, but for the YU grad or NCSY madrich or the whomever. Once I wasn't really paying attention, and thought the other guy was quoting a sugiyah in the Talmud. (Did you get that?)

Why can't everyone just be a little bit more specific when referring to Rebbes, like...

Rav Naftali Tzvi (Bobov), Rav Kook, Rabbeinu Tzvi Yehudah (Kook), Rabbi Nahman (Breslov)....?

Yet, once I also heard someone talking about his rebbe, "Reb Hayim." I did a double-take, thinking he was talking about Rabbi Hayim of Vologin ZTZ"L. After coming back to Earth, I realized that he was obviously was not talking about Rabbi Hayim of Vologin ZTZ"L.

So, next time you meet me on the street, and you want to tell me about your "Rebbe," do me a favor, and be VERY specific. Also don't assume that everyone not on your same wavelength is wrong. You could end up having a rather rude awakening someday. Or worse, you could end up being subjected to the torture I describe above.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Haveil Havalim #182 Is Up!

14 of the Sixth Month 5768

Batya is hosting this week's edition of the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival. It's entitled "Back in The Saddle-- HH Rides Again!," and can be viewed at two different locations, Me-Ander and Shiloh Musings.

Islam Is Not Immune

Mossa'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Ki Thezei 5768

Ramadan DecorationAll around certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and all through my long journey home every night from work, through the "oppressed and occupied [by Arabs] territories," I see these tacky Ramadan, crescent-shaped decorations, hanging in windows. I do not remember seeing them in previous years. But it is possible I am just blocking out their memory.

Anyway, I cannot help but laugh when I see them. Now it seems that not even Arabs are immune from the tacky materialism of holiday money-making. I used to think this was a tacky Western thing, or a tacky American thing. Apparently, Islam is not immune.

Now, I have to admit that all of these crescent moon decorations strung together look kind of cheery. Although, I suppose the same could be said for a Hamas summer camp for kids....

Also, "cheery" (I guess) are these traditional lamps. But they ARE pretty tacky looking. I distinctly remember seeing news stories in previous years which included the display of these cool looking aluminum lamps, which are given as Ramadan gifts. What happened? I mean the lamps pictured here are REALLY tacky looking.

Now before anyone criticizes me for hypocrisy, let me just say that there are some very cool Sukkoth decorations you can get for a reasonable price. They can also be put away and saved for future holidays, as they are of classic design and content.

Yes, I even like to string lights in my Sukkah, as long as they are not the flashing kind, which ARE very tacky. You can buy them in the Ge'ulah neighborhood in Jerusalem. Just don't tell anyone what the "Luces Feliz Navidad" on the label means. (wink) They are not tacky; they are cool! They also come in a variety of shapes, like chili peppers. (Not sure where to get those, though)

But I digress...

Here's a Ramadan joke to cap off this post for all of my Muslim friends... Oh, that's right; I don't have any.

So, here's a Ramadan joke to cap off this post for all of my Muslim enemies. Sorry, but it's not really offensive. I tried. Honestly, I did.

When I was in Me'ah Sha'arim for Shabbath a few years ago during Ramadan, I noticed that there were two night time cannon blasts which went off about an hour apart. The cannon blast, of course, signifies official "night time," informing Muslims that they may now break their daily, daytime fast.

The sound of two cannon blasts about an hour apart puzzled me. So, I asked my friend, a Yeshiva Mashgiah and in whose house I was staying if he happened to know the significance of the two cannon blasts.

His response?

"The second cannon blast is for those Muslims who hold by Rabbenu Tam."

Yuck, yuck, yuck...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Top Ten Words and Phrases of תשס"ח/5768

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Ki Thetzei 5768

The following is the list of Top Ten Words and Phrases of תשס"ח/5768. The presentation of this list is an annual tradition. Do not expect to understand all of these words, nor the point to their being listed here, unless of course, you know me personally.

This year's list is dedicated in celebration of Effie's recent hasanah and impending birthday, the birth of David's daughter (may she be zokhah to linguistic fabulousness), and Matti's impending engagement. Gee. I hope I didn't just jinx it....


Shannah Tovah.

10. Recalcitrant credit to The Kalashnikover Rebbe

9. Every where, like such as, and... Credit to last year's Miss Teen South Carolina

8. I personally believe that... Don't we all? More credit to last year's Miss Teen South Carolina

7. Vilde Hayah (Yid: "wild animal") - Don't ask.

6. Sour Puss partzuf hamutz in Hebrew - I hope not to see anymore of these next year.

5. Perfunctory

4. Precarious

3. Accusatory K-Rebbe had something to do with this one, too.

2. Nefarious credit to The Elder Of Ziyon

And the top word or phrase of תשס"ח/5768 is...

1. Ergo credit to Solomon Corners

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lashon HaQodesh (Loshon HaKodesh)

10 of the Sixth Month 5768

Lashon HaQodesh (Loshon HaKodesh)
by Rabbi Dawidh Bar-Hayim
Rosh Machon Shilo

Rabbi Dawidh Bar-HayimIf the truth be told, I welcomed the letter received by a local Jerusalem newspaper with regard to the transliteration of Hebrew words as they appear in my articles. It affords me the opportunity to broach the issue of the pronunciation of the Holy Tongue. I say 'the Holy Tongue' - because that is what it is. (Hazal almost always refer to our language as 'Leshon Haqodesh' - 'the Tongue of Holiness'). Our language is unlike any other - it comes direct from the Creator Himself. "'This one shall be called 'isha' (woman(, having been taken from 'ish' (man)' (Bereshith 2:24) - from this [the fact that these words for 'man' and 'woman' are, till the present day, the terms for these concepts in Hebrew] we know that the world was created in Leshon Haqodesh" (Bereshith Raba 18:4 - Rashi ad loc.). We should therefore take the matter very seriously indeed.

So let us discuss pronunciation. Can we assume that the way in which Hebrew is commonly pronounced today is correct?

Unfortunately not. First of all, Jews in every part of the world (during the Galuth) pronounced, and continue to pronounce, our language differently from one another. They cannot all be right. Secondly, there cannot be any doubt that the long and bitter Galuth had a very negative effect on our command and pronunciation of our ancestral language. Take the letter 'ayin for example. As is well known, the Ashkenazim have not been able to differentiate between it and an aleph for centuries. The Sepharadim and Taymanim, on the other hand, have never experienced such trouble. We can attempt to explain this phenomenon in one of three ways:

1)It is simply a matter of luck that those communities of Jews preserved the original pronunciation.

2) The Ashkenazim lost (as a rule) the ability to pronounce the 'ayin due to the fact that in Europe, the vernacular that they spoke (whether it was German, French, Russian, or Yiddish) lacked such a consonant. (Not one of the native languages of Europe possesses such a sound). Seeing that Hebrew ceased (until recently) to be a spoken and living language at least 2000 years ago, the Ashkenazim simply never heard such a sound, and could not, therefore, pronounce it.

3) The Sepharadim and Taymanim are in fact wrong: the 'ayin and the aleph are supposed to be identical, and thus indistinguishable, and were designed to lead to confusion. I'll leave it to you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions. The same applies to several other Hebrew consonants (according to standard pronunciation). Teth (tet) and Tauw (Tav) are mysteriously and confusingly identical, as are Waw (Vav) and Veth (Vet), Kaf and Qof, and Khaf and Heth (Het). We therefore have five sets of letters, 10 letters in all, that for some reason are precise copies of their 'twin' letter! Does this make any sense? Does this sound like a tongue the Creator Himself would have dreamed up?

Sefer Yesira (a very ancient text that discusses, among other things, the aleph beth - see 1:1, 2:2 and 3:3) lists the 22 letters of our aleph beth, and points out that 7 of their number are 'double', i.e. have two alternate pronunciations, depending upon whether they have a dot or not: BeGeD KaPoReT, i.e. Beth, Gimmel, Daleth, Kaf, Pe, Resh, Tauw. All of us know about three of these: Beth/Veth, Kaf/Khaf, Pe/Fe (and according to present-day Ashkenazi tradition the fourth is Tav/Sav, which we shall presently discuss). But what of Gimmel, Daleth and Resh?

While not attempting to deal with every aspect of this subject in the current article, I feel that one clear indication from the Talmud that the standard pronunciation of today is woefully lacking is in place. "Sumkhos stated: 'He who lengthens [his pronunciation of the word] Ehad will have his days lengthened [by Hashem]'. R. Aha Bar Ya'aqov added: 'On the daleth'" (Talmud Bavli Berakhoth 13b). This is a standard Halakha (see Rambam Qeriyath Shema 2:9, Shulkhan 'Arukh Orah Hayim 61:6). The trouble is that as anyone who has ever tried to lengthen the daleth knows, this can simply not be done - the letter d is a plosive consonant (i.e. it is formed by the expulsion of air from the mouth in one, explosive burst, and by definition cannot be extended). What usually results, therefore, is Ehannnnnnnd. (Try it and you'll see what I mean). If, however, one knows that the undotted daleth of Ehad is to be pronounced as the th in the definite article the, the matter becomes simple - the way to extend the daleth is to say Ehathhhh (which can be said, try it and you'll see). To perform this requirement is, then, very simple, if one knows that the undotted daleth is to be pronounced like the word the; it is impossible, however, if one pronounces it as a d.

Rav Sa'adya Gaon (flourished roughly 1100 years ago, universally accepted as one of the greatest sages, in all areas of Tora, of all time) in his commentary to Sefer Yesira (p. 74 onwards) states the following facts:

1) There are 29 consonantal sounds in our language (22+7). No two letters are identical, with the exception of 'sin' and 'samekh'.

2) The letters of our aleph beth are identical to those of (classical) Arabic, unless otherwise stated.

3) We possess four sounds that Arabic does not: Veth, Gimmel, Pe and the strong (or second) pronuncition of Resh.

4) The Arabs have three that we lack: Jin (as the 'j' in jaywalk), a second, deeper version of our dotted Daleth, and a second, deeper version of our undotted Daleth. The very same information is imparted to us by R. Dunash Ben Tamim (shortly after R. Sa'adya) in his commentary to Sefer Yesira (p. 21). Add to this the statement of the Rambam (letter to Shemuel Ibn Tibon, printed in Responsa Pe'er HaDor no. 143,. p.275) that Arabic is simply Hebrew 'gone somewhat awry' (sic), and the words of R. Avraham Ibn 'Ezra (in his commentary to Shir HaShirim 8:11) "that Arabic is very close to the Holy Tongue...over half the roots are common to both (Shalom-Salaam, Shemesh-Shams = sun etc.)", and the picture is more or less complete: the alphabets of these two related languages are very similar. (In the area of vowels, the difference is greater: Hebrew is much richer in its range of vowels. In addition, despite the similarity, our Holy Tongue is much gentler). The fact that all Medieval Jewish scholars (e.g. R. Sa'adya, Rambam, Ibn 'Ezra) who authored books in Arabic did so utilizing Hebrew characters speaks for itself.

Despite the fact that all of the disparate communities of the Jewish Diaspora were adversely affected (linguistically) by the Galuth, the Teymani (Yemenite) community preserved the authentic tradition more than any other. The same is true, albeit less so, for some of the Sepharadi communities. In this matter of linguistics and received pronunciation, the Ashkenazim, living in an environment entirely inimical to a Semitic language such as Hebrew, suffered the most. (If anyone doubts the truth of such a claim, witness the substantial and obvious differences in pronunciation between the average Ashkenazi, Haredi-style Jew, living today in New York, and his Israeli counterpart. One will say 'borukh' (blessed) with a plainly north-American 'r' sound, the other with a distinctly different east-European guttural 'r'. The American Jew will say 'godowl' (big) with the second vowel being identical with the common English-American vowel-sound 'o' as in 'old' but if you step into any schul of Israeli Haredim, you will hear 'godoyl'. This despite the fact that both these Jews stem from the same European communities, and theoretically are recipients of the same tradition. And all this in the space of two, or at the most three, generations of American Judaism. As opposed to this example, we are discussing aberrations that evolved over 2000 years!.

Many authorities have openly recognized the lackings of present-day Ashkenazi and Sepharadi pronunciations. The renowned Ashkenazi rabbi R. Ya'aqov Emden (Ya'abes) writes in his introduction to his famous Siddur Beth Ya'aqov: "Pronunciation must be complete and correct...particularly one must not confuse alephs with 'ayins and hehs...not to mention confusing totally dissimilar letters ...not as we the Ashkenazim pronounce the undotted tauw (tav) as a samekh, to our shame. In the matter of vowels, however, we are much better off, not like the Sepharadim who do not distinguish between a qames (kamatz) and a patah..." (new Eshkol edition p. 10).

R. Avraham Yishaq Hakohen Kook, (the leading Ashkenazi Rabbi in this country 70 years ago), states that "the essential aspect of any pronunciation is the distinction it provides between letters and vowels, and in this respect the Sepharadi pronunciation cannot equal the Ashkenazi, and even more so the Yemenite pronunciation which is superior to both, in that it differentiates more than the other two..." (Orah Mishpat p. 20).

In conclusion, I wish to quote the words of R. Ya'aqov Kaminetzky (in a letter of approbation to the book Safa Berura on the subject of the pronunciation of Hebrew, reprinted in the excellent book Qosht Imre Emeth, on the same subject, p.14): "It is very important to clarify the truth...I know that many will say 'Who is this person who wishes to introduce new things [pronunciations] such as these? As a certain person once said to me after I pointed out to him that our pronounciation of the undotted daleth is plainly incorrect [as explained above]: 'Do you imagine that the Hidushe HaRim [a great Tora sage of the last century] did not read Shema properly?' I replied that he certainly performed his obligation b'diavad. It is also possible that he himself read it entirely correctly, but could not influence the conduct of the entire community...But if only a few will pay heed [to what you have written], it will have been worthwhile".


Rav Bar-Hayim may be contacted at

Sunday, September 07, 2008


8 of the Sixth Month 5768

North of Jerusalem Tremping MapEver since I first started tremping (hitchhiking) eight years ago, it has gradually become a staple of my getting around Israel. Nowadays, I mostly just tremp to work in Jerusalem, but take the bus home. I also tremp westward toward Tel-Aviv and to the beach, but take buses back at least part of the way. There isn't any bus service after 9pm-ish from Ariel to Tapu'ah. So I'm careful not to come back too late. The later it gets, the lower the chances are that there will be tremps.

Over the years, I have made some observations about tremping. Hopefully, the will be of help to some of you. Please feel free to leave links to your favorite trempings posts and tips in the comments.

I have met some interesting people, including at least one fellow blogger through tremping. Of course, I bump into Batya periodically on the road. She has written about some of her tremping experiences as well. Several years ago, Treppenwitz wrote his own guide to hitchhiking in Israel. I purposely haven't read it yet. (But, now that I have finished writing this post, I want to see what he came up with.)

I have also had some of very interesting conversations tremping, Torah, political, cultural, you name it. Usually, I bring something to learn, these days, the Mishnah Torah. I have been in tremps where everyone was learning, sometimes together, sometimes individually. I have been in many tremps when the driver is listening to someone else read, or to a recorded shi'ur or text.

I have certainly bumped into more than a few, fellow North Americans. Often we stick with Hebrew when we talk. Sometimes we switch to English.

I met my dog's future veterinarian tremping. Some of you know "Dr. Donny." How many frum vets from New York could there possibly be in Israel? Now, that's networking for you!

Twice, I even received a tremp from Rabbi Gen. Avihai Ronski, Chief Rabbi of the IDF. I addressed him as "HaRav." He asked if I knew him, to which I responded, "Um, no, not personally." I think he got the message. He was even in uniform. Say what you will about "rabbis," but I am always pleased to see them "not above" doing misswoth, in other words, practicing what they preach.

Tremping Priority Rules:
There are certainly a few mahloqoth (disagreements) regarding the following rules of who has priority over whom, when a ride arrives, and there are several people in line. Consult the map for clarification of location terms.
1. All things being equal, whoever is first, gets in first. It is possible that someone will politely ask, "I know you're first but I'm late for work. Do you mind if I get into this tremp?" Then you have to decide.

2. The exception to this is a parent with a baby waiting in the freezing cold, late at night. Most people agree that this person is given precedence.

3. The other exception is [in my not so humble opinion] that with people leaving Jerusalem (Giv'ath Tzarfatith), the person traveling farthest has priority when the ride in question is continuing past the destination of those trempistim fighting to get in, no matter how long they have been waiting. Did you get that? In other words, if there is a tremp from Jerusalem to Yitzhar, the person going to Tapu'ah (like me) has precedence over someone going only to Ofra. Tremps to Ofra are a dime a dozen. Tremps farther north are not so common.

I have had to fight more than once over such a tremp, with the residents of one particular town [which shall remain nameless, but you can look at the map] only a hop skip and a jump away from Jerusalem. This is one of the reasons I now try to avoid tremping out of Jerusalem. Giv'ath Tzarfatith can be a real mad house. Although now that school has started, things have probably calmed down, except for Thursday nights.

Rabbi Ronski seemed to hold by the distance rule, so that's good enough for me.

4. However, if the is a tremp, say, to Shilo or Eli, people who are going to Eli itself have precedence, even over those going farther. This is what we call a tremp yashar (direct ride).

5. Whatever the driver says, goes. You have a right to scream and yell about it, but I doubt it will help. Once I was getting into tremp, when a young lady arrived to wait for a tremp. The driver then told me that he preferred to give a girl a ride instead. I was dumbfounded. It was because of kidnapping attempts. I responded with something like, "Then why do her parents let her take the risk and tremp?" Well, I didn't exactly "respond." It was more like,...yelling. I recognized where this girl was from. She almost didn't get in, because she wanted to be fair....which brings me to the next rule...

6. Tremps should never go to waste. If people before you don't want to get in, and hopefully do not try to read your mind and wave the driver on, then get it, if you believe the ride to be beneficial to you. This girl obviously knew rule #5, and got in. The driver's decision wasn't her fault.

7. Back to the driver's choice, if s/he sees friends at the trempiada, tough luck. Get some new friends with cars, is my only advice to you in this situation.

Tremping Etiquette:
The following rules are pretty standard. Some trempistim are stricter than others; some drivers are also stricter than others.
1. Be careful with your bags, that they do not scratch the vehicle, or bump into the heads of other trempistim.

2. Ask if there's room first, before getting in. Some backseats may look like they have enough room for three, but the driver doesn't want the extra weight, or perhaps a friend will be picked up on the way, etc.

3. Make sure the vehicle is going to where you want to go, AND is willing to stop where you want to get off. Remember, whether you agree with how the driver does things, the car belongs to the driver, not you. S/he can do whatever he wants.

Beware. Sometimes a driver will make a stop

4. Be careful not to slam doors, spill food and drink, etc.

5. Ask permission before making a phone call. Most people don't care, and will look at you like you're being silly. I ask anyway, but I guess I'm just stricter than others about this. I have been asked by a few drivers to turn my pelaphone (cellphone) off for the duration of the trip. One man was learning, while his wife drove. Another man likes to chill to classical music on his way home from work. So, respect drivers' requests.

6. I have almost never seen anyone offer to contribute gas money to the driver. The exceptions seem to be if it's your neighbor, or a regular or pre-arranged ride.

7. If someone of the opposite gender is waiting a long time before you, and a tremp with a couple of places next to each other comes along, and you see that person waiting does not sit next to someone of the opposite gender, please consider giving that person a break, and wait for the next ride. This is not a hard and fast rule. It is my rule. Althoug it is true that residents of many towns do not care about this issue, one way or another, this post focuses on the Efraim and (West) Menasheh, home to some of the most observant "Zionist" towns.

You will also invariably come across someone offering a ride who is from Yitzhar, Giv'ath Ronen, and even perhaps Elon Moreh and Beth El Beth who will choose to arrange the seating in this manner. His car; his rules. If you don't like it, you don't have to get in. Likewise, if someone doesn't like a mixed seating arrangement s/he doesn't have to get in either.
Tremping Laws:
1. Where a seat belt. Whatever you think of seat belts, Israel has strict seat belt laws and FINES for not wearing seat belts.

2. Crossing back and forth between Yehudah and Shomron and the defacto border crossings (which Ariel Sharon denied he was creating with that dumb "security fence") you are required to have a te'udath mishlo'ah in the event you are conducting commerce. You do not have a right to do any harm to your host/driver. So, if you are conducting commerce, you had better have your papers in order, so that you don't cause problems for innocent by-standards.

3. It is illegal for a soldier to tremp. I believe this is for safety and security reasons. S/he gets free bus fair while in uniform. So, it is not necessarily a hardship. It depends on how long you have to wait for the bus. Buses can take a lot longer to get you where you're going than tremps, too. Soldiers have told me that if a soldier is seen in a car by Military Police, you probably will not be stopped. The driver can always say that the soldier is a friend, and after a ride together may even be telling the truth. However, if a soldier is spotted getting into a car at a trempiada, s/he may get stopped for questioning.

4. Once while walking over to wait for a tremp at Tapu'ah Junction, I saw some kids yelling for an Arab to move along, and wait a distance away from the designated area. A cop pulled up, and asked to see ID's from everyone involved. The Arab produced a blue, "Israeli" ID. So, the cop said he had a right to stand there, too. The reservist [with the earring, long ponytail, and Russian accent - not that there's anything wrong with that], trying to intervene was asked what it mattered that Arab "citizens" waited next to them. The kids started giving him reasons why. I interrupted and said that "even leftists don't like getting blown up." The reservist, and everyone else, was quiet, and he walked away.

5. Although I'm all for "free speech," [if we were in a real democracy and were not obligated to follow the Torah, which does not allow for saying anything we want], and "freedom of assembly," I am against the incitement and the endangerment of our soldiers' lives for the hell of it. Thus, I ask that you be on the look out for that evil group of mostly women, calling themselves "Machsom Watch." A hot line has been set up, to combat the danger they put our soldiers and citizens in, on a regular basis, through intimidation and harassment. So if you see these people, please call the hot line at 050-5580822 to report them.

Tremping Tips - Jerusalem Northbound:
My general rule of thumb is that it's always good to progress. There are a few exceptions.
1. I wouldn't bother with Hizma anymore. No one seems to stop.

2. Standing on the street at Me'ever Mikhmash (the gas station) or Giv'ath Asaf and 10 sheqqels won't even buy you an ice cream. Oh, I've done it, especially early in the morning. But it's hit or miss.

3. A lot of people don't like to stand a the Shilo Junction, especially at night, and would rather stay back in Ofra. The same thing goes for Rehelim. I disagree. You always have the added possibility of tremps coming from Shilo and Neve Tzuf (not pictured)

4. Most people tremping to Qedumim and Qarnei Shomron travel through Yitzhar now, and not through Ariel - Barqan - Immanuel Junction. From Qarnei Shomron, you can get tremps to K'far Sava and Netanyah, I'm told.

1. Many do not like to stand at Rehalim, and prefer to stand at Tapu'ah. Of course, I disagree. There are several tremps coming down from Ariel. Many of them do not stop, for any number of reasons. But I still say it's worth moving forward, especially if there's a long line at Tapu'ah.

2. I have been told by several people that the rabbi of Ofra does not approve of people waiting on the southbound side of the street, across from town. I received many a nasty face, interspersed among the "I'm just going to ignore you" looks from Ofra residents. I still have to confirm this, though. I'd like to see someone from Ofra try to order me off that side of the street. If the town's rabbi did not allow the picking of olives from a grove within the town he claimed did not actually belong to the town, then he certainly cannot lay any claim to the other side of the street.

3. I do not recommend standing at Giv'ath Asaf. It is my primary exception to the "always move forward" rule. Most drivers feel it is too dangerous to stop. Better wait for a tremp at Ofra.

4. Standing at the Mikhmash/Pesagoth gas station is sometimes a pain. However, there are fairly frequent buses coming in from all over into Jerusalem, AND it's only 3 sheqqels, an amount that many are willing to compromise their tremping principles for.

5. Between the gas station and Jerusalem is the Sha'ar Binyamin Industrial Park (not pictured), which includes a police station, a Leumit Medical Center, [an Arab-filled] Rami Levi supermarket, Shifon Bakery, and mini strip mall. I have seen some stand on the street across from it. Let me know how that goes. I doubt I'll try that anytime soon.

Tremping Possibilities:
A buddy of mine is know for tremping everywhere you can image, including in the middle of Tel-Aviv. Now, believe it or not, tremping from Tel-Aviv is not uncommon. On the northbound side of Derekh Namir (Haifa/Coastal Road) across from the Kibbutzim Teachers' College, it is common to find trempistim traveling to Netanyah, Haifa, and beyond. The entrances to freeways are also common tremping points. I always see several trempistim waiting both northbound and southbound at the entrances to the Ayalon Highway (#2).

On Highway #4, across from Bar-Ilan University, the popular tremping point there is affectionately known as Tzomet Coca-Cola, as it is next to the B'nei Braq Coca Cola plant. People wait for rides to Jerusalem, the Negev, and everywhere in between. It is also conveniently located next to a Mehadrin Burger Ranch and Hallo Teiman, one of the best shwarma places in Israel. So, there are plenty of people going in and out of there. Some desperate trempistim will actually block the gas station exit, so that you are forced to acknowledge a tremp request one way or another. Pretty chutzpadiq, huh?

Many people wait for tremps at the main entrance to Jerusalem. Apparently, they're waiting to go all over the country, not just Beth Shemesh, Beth Me'ir, Telshtone, and B'nei Braq.

The Giv'ath Tzarfatith trempiada is where to wait for rides north to Efraim, Menashe, Biq'ath HaYarden (Jordan Valley), Beth Sha'an and farther, east within Binyamin, like Ma'aleh Adumim and Mitzpeh Yeriho, and to the Dead Sea, and even to Eilath.

The trempiada in the south of Jerusalem is where to wait for tremps to destinations within Yehudah, like Efratha, Bat Ayin, Sde Bo'az, and surrounds, and farther south to Hevron and Susyah.

There are a few places where people tremp within Jerusalem, like the corner of Hertzl Blvd. & Rav Tzvi Yehudah St. to get to either the Bayith weGan or Har-Nof neighborhoods. Both ends of the Ramoth road serve as tremping points, to travel between the city's entrance, Ramoth, Giv'ath Tzarfatith and continuing outside of the city.

Tremping to and from towns across Israel is common place. The above is just to give you a few examples of tremping in and around Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv areas. Next time you're in a small town, or even a larger town like Modi'im or Beth Shemesh, just ask where the "trempiada" is. Or if you're in your own car, pay attention when you enter and when you leave. It should be easy to find. Major intersections also serve as tremping points, Tzometh HaNegev, Tzometh Golani, Shilath, Yarkon, or Morashah.

Personal Goals:
I think I would like to tremp to Tiveriyah, Tzfath, or farther The other day, I caught a tremp to Tapu'ah. The driver was on his way to a wedding in the Golan. Tremps like these do come around once in a while. I have had a couple people drive by over the years saying that the were on the way to Tiveriyah. At Giva'th Tzarfatith once a car came by on the way to Eilath.

I'm counting on having to make it in several rides, but you never know.

Haveil Havalim #181 Is Up

7 of the Sixth Month 5768

Dan at is hosting this week's edition of the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where Do These People Come From?

3 of the Sixth Month 5768

A few years ago, I was dragged to an engagement party. Thank goodness it was over. Of course, I wasn't going to go in, as it was... mixed (whispered). I did take a peek inside the famous "shul" hosting the shindig. I couldn't help it; I was intrigued....

Well, after my anticlimactic peek, I escaped back outside, leaving behind a dwindling pontification about kevunnah during particular days of S'firus haOimer. Colors like purple and chartreuse also fit into it somehow. But I didn't stick around long enough to find out why.

Whew! Fresh air! Not for long, though, as I couldn't help but catch the conversation between my
[not anymore] friend and some woman he knew. They bumped into each other, while I was inside the "shul." Actually, it wasn't really a conversation, but more like a monologue....
I'm giving a shee'eer. You should come to my shee'eer. Did I tell you I'm giving a shee'eer? Yes, Rabbi so-and-so is away, so I'm giving his shee'eer. You could learn a lot from my shee'eer. You should really come to my shee'eer. Why aren't you coming to my shee'eer?

I can't even pronounce the word shee'eer. Can you? Did she perhaps mean shi'ur? My gaivah-radar alarm went off almost immediately. So, I stayed off to the side, pretending to admire the architecture of the "shul." It was a good thing, too. No one could see my eyes popping out of their socket.

Oh, and before anyone starts harassing me about this irritating incident involving a woman, let me just say that it would irritated me equally if it had been a man.

I once overheard another women say something like the following. Once again, it could easily have been a man.
He's a raaaaabbi. He has smeeeeecha. Are you a raaaaabbi? Do you have smeeeeecha? You don't have smeeeeecha. YOU're not a raaaaabbi. You have to stand for a raaaaabbi. I heard a raaaaabbi once say that you have to, so that means that you do.

It seems that she was talking about some kid taken off of his skateboard, given the Sha"S in English to read, taught how to dress, to shuckle and to give a good speech. And, voila! You're a raaaaabbi.

Just for the record, I am all for providing kids on skateboards with Torah education. Better to let them keep their skateboards and provide them with a real Torah education, than to make him a pawn of some "raaaaabbi's" empire.

I felt sympathy for this woman. She didn't know much about Judaism. Not knowing is one thing. But she thought she did. And, I don't think she wanted anyone to tell differently. She's stuck, a lot of us are in various ways.

Where do these people come from? Oh, yeah, 2.000 years of galuth....

We are in big trouble spiritually.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Yes, Michael, There Is A God.

2 d'Rosh Hodesh HaShishi 5768

Lefty loon film maker, Michael Moore, now all of a sudden believes in God.
“I was just thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in heaven,” Moore said. “To just have it planned at the same time, that it would actually be on its way to New Orleans for Day One of the Republican convention, up in the Twin Cities, at the top of the Mississippi River.”

Michael, now, all of a sudden you believe in God? And, it's because of a storm?

I guess the close proximity in occurrence of the expulsion of Jews from Azza and Northern Shomron, and Hurricane Katrina on August 29, three years ago, eluded your attention.

And what about all those other storms and "acts of God?"

October 30, 1991

President George H. W. Bush (41) opened the Madrid Conference AND an extremely rare storm, a storm later named "The Perfect Storm," with record-setting waves caused heavy damage to the President's home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

August 23, 1992

The Madrid Conference moved to Washington, DC with the same agenda of attempting to take land from Israel, which would have resulted in thousands of homeless Jews AND Hurricane Andrew produced an estimated $30 billion in damage, leaving 180,000 Floridians homeless.

January 16, 1994

President Clinton meets with the Syrian President in order to develop a strategy to force Israel to give up the Golan Heights. Within a day later, a 6.9 earthquake rocks Southern California (The Northridge Quake), leaving countless Americans homeless.

The list goes on... I'll be happy to forward the beautifully compiled e-mail message that was going around the Net quite some time ago (source unknown), which you apparently didn't receive. Or perhaps you marked it as spam.

Yes, Michael, there is a God.


Tomer Devorah has just informed me that a few books have been written about these very corresponding occurrences. One is entitled Israel: The Blessing or the Curse by John McTernan and Bill Koenig (2001).
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