Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Next Stop Syria

4 of the Ninth Month 5772

From Tomer Devorah's UPDATE ON SYRIA...
2 Kislev 5772

By all appearances, the West is going to try to do a 'Libya' on Syria and it gets closer by the day. Preparations are well underway.

Arab sanctions find Syria's 7 neighbors on alert. Russian missiles for Assad

...the armies of Syria's seven neighbors were already scrambling into position on standby on its borders for acts of retaliation. Military suspense mounted after the Arab League vote to cut off transactions with Syria's central bank, withdraw Arab funding from projects and other painful sanctions over Bashar Assad's refusal to halt his crackdown on protest.

Debkafile's military sources report Israeli armored brigades pushed forward up to the Lebanese and Syrian borders; Ankara placed three armored brigades, its air force and navy in a state of preparedness, likewise Hizballah and the Lebanese and Jordanian armed forces, while the US and Russia are in the midst of a naval buildup opposite Syrian shores.

Military sources in the Gulf report that 150 Iranian Revolutionary Guards specialists had landed at a military airport south of Damascus on their way to Lebanon to join Hizballah which began bringing its rockets out of their hideouts.

It's ironic that just at this time, we are moving into the holiday period in which we celebrate an ancient victory over the Syrian-Greeks. If we go to war with Syria at Hanukah time, will we then be at war with Iran in time for Purim? With Geula for Pesach? Hmmmmm.

That doesn't mean, however, that we would necessarily have to wait til Pesach for Mashiach. Personally, I envision the Erev Rav regime collapsing due to a colossal failure during the imminent war with our nearest neighbors and MBY coming forward to take charge in the resulting vacuum....

(Click here to read the entire post)

After American forces were firmly implanted in Iraq, it was thought that Syria would be the next target of the U. S. After all, many of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction [WMD].

Those of us living in the Shomron (Shomron) thought that this would be the perfect segue for U. S. forces to enter Israel, led by Gog Bush "from the north." (See Yirmyahu 1:3-16; Yehezqel 25-) First they would come through the Golan, and then down into the Shomron.

Of course, that did not happen,...yet.

One of the reasons Israeli officials saw the expulsion of Jews from Azza as a disaster was not because we had no right to give away God-given lands, not that it clearly did not save any lives, not that it was expensive, and not that it left thousands of Jews homeless. Rather, Israeli officials thought that it was a disaster because it was psychologically trying on our soldiers. This is true, of course. Nonetheless, this point of view reveals much more than the Israeli government's concern for its soldiers nor for pragmatism.

The Israel government has often toyed with the idea of using foreign soldiers to do their dirty work. They know that settlers will have a lot less qualms about fighting foreign soldiers than Jewish ones. A lot less. This will just motivate the foreign soldier

Sure, the goyim who serve in the Yasa"m (riot police) unit have had a hell of a time beating up Jews, just like in the former Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. But, to the dismay of the Israeli government, there are not enough goyshe Yasa"mniks to execute expulsions on the massive scale it requires.

Enter the U. S., NATO, EU, and the UN.... But, how will the Israeli government be able to bring them into the country without raising any eyebrows from the numbed-out Israeli populace?

Bring in the foreign troops through Syria, with the excuse that it is to protect us from the "evil Assad regime," to put Hizbollah in its place, and to put a stop to the Qatusha rockets raining down on the north of Israel.

Sounds legitimate, doesn't it?

But, of course, the goyim do not give a rat's tuchus about the safety of the Jewish People.

Sound far-fetched?

Only time will tell. I, for one, will be bracing myself for the worst.
מַשָּׂא, דַּמָּשֶׂק: הִנֵּה דַמֶּשֶׂק מוּסָר מֵעִיר, וְהָיְתָה מְעִי מַפָּלָה - יְשַׁעְיָהוּ יז.א
The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. - Yishiyahu 17:1
When you hear of foreign troops entering Syria or Lebanon, and making their way to Damascus, just remember that Damascus is only a stop along the way to their final destination,...your backyard.

Something's Rotten In The Israeli Postal Service

4 of the Ninth Month 5772

What in the HELL is this??!!

I will tell you what the HELL this is. It's an Israeli Christmas stamp! That's what it is! I bought it today from a stamp machine in the post office.

Why is the Israeli postal service producing Christmas stamps?!

For the Christian Arabs? In English? I seriously doubt it.

And this is far from the first Christmas stamp that the Israeli Postal Service has produced.

This is very big embarrassment. Did you make aliyah to a "Jewish" country, in order to praise the religions of non-Jews? I sure didn't!

This is so typical of the Israeli government, running around, going above and beyond, bending over backwards to praise the goyim, to accommodate non-Jewish tourists and foreign workers, and to make sure that they are happy and that any goy who wants to check up on Israel, will see how pluralistic and accepting we are.

What happened to our self-respect? I thought that we had achieved at least some in 1948, and then again in 1967. Yet, here we are, supposedly having left the galuth (diasporah), still worried about what the goyim think.

The only question left to ask...

Are these stamps made for tourists, Christian, foreign workers, both, or worse... for Jews to put them on letters sent outside of Israel?

It says...

כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה, וּדְבַר-יְהוָה מִירוּשָׁלִָם - יְשַׁעְיָהוּ ב,ג

For out of Zion will go forth the Law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
-Yishiyahu 2:3


כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא עבודה זרה
For out of Zion will go forth avodah zarah (foreign/forbidden worship)...

Yes. Something is definitely rotten in the Israeli Postal Service.

Maybe someone should ask Israeli Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon what that something is.

The sad thing is that he probably doesn't know; he probably doesn't think that there is anything rotten at all about these stamps, being produced by the "Jewish" state.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Will All Of My Wheel Of Time Questions Be Answered In The Final Book?

3 of the Ninth Month 5772

Now that I have finished Towers Of Midnight, book 13 in the soon to be 14-book Wheel Of Time series, I have a few questions. I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum. But, there are a few spoilers below, especially if you have not gotten very far in the series.

1. Will Nynaeve find out about the complete Healing of Stilling by Asha'man?

2. Will Siuan and Leane ever achieve their full power?

3. Will Setalle Anan be Healed?

4. What did Aviendha see in the rings in Rhuidien?

5. How do the Aiel Wise Ones establish their hierarchy?
(A friend of mine suggested that their hierarchy is based on the amount of ji collected over time. Is it?)

6. Will Liandrin escape the Seanchan, especially now that Suroth is out of commission?

7. Will Elaida escape the Seanchan?

8. Will Galina escape Therava?

9. Will Amathera regain her status as Panarch, or any status at all, perhaps as a rallying point for Taraboners to escape the reins of the Seanchan?

10. Will Nynaeve heal the rest of the Asha'man?

Min's Viewings:

11. How will Alivia "help Rand die?"

12. What is the "darkness" around Davram Bashere?

13. What does the "broken crown" above Perrin indicate?
(The popular theory is that Faile will Queen of Saldea, where the crown is known as the "Broken Crown.")

14. What is the thing that is "odd" about Aviendha's babies?
(Aviendha's visit to the glass columns in Rhuidien suggests that they could channel from a very young age. Is this correct? Anything else?)

15Min said that Cadsuane Sedai was going to teach something to Rand and to the Asha'man. It was something they had to learn, but were not going to like it.
(A friend of mine suggested that this already occurred, and that it backfired. Did it? What was it? Did I miss it?)

16. Is there is a third entity within or part of Rand's identity?

List your theories, and your questions below as comments.

Paying For The Jerusalem Light Rail Begins On Thursday, Or Will It?

2 of the Ninth Month 5772

In preparation for having to pay to ride the Jerusalem Light Rail, beginning on this Thursday, December 1, Citipass employees manned light rail stations in order to explain how payments and transfers will work, and to answer passengers' questions.

The ticket machines were already operating, allowing passengers to begin purchasing tickets and monthly passes. Passengers could also check to see if their transportation cards were readable by the light rail ticket machines. I checked mine, and the machine said that it was not readable, even though when I obtained mine from the Egged Bus Company offices, I was specifically told that it would be usable on the light rail.

Both the light rail operators, Citipass, and the bus company operating local transportation in Jerusalem, Egged, produced magnetic or chip-embedded, plastic cards to be used instead of paper tickets. Purchasing discounted tickets or a monthly pass, one pays the bus driver, or puts it into the light rail's ticket machine, and the correct amount of tickets or free time is encoded onto the passenger's card.

Several light passengers' cards received from Egged were not valid for use at the light rail's ticket machines. We were told to go back to the Egged offices, to have our cards "updated."

How many perspective passengers with unusable cards will be willing to stand in line, a second time, in order to be able to ride the train?

When Egged implements its impending, massive route changes and cancelations, forcing many Jerusalamites dependent on public transportation to ride the light rail, at least a portion of their journey, how many fights will break out, and how many riots will take place?

The train ride has been free for the past three months, because Citipass and Egged have not been able to work out an agreement on passes and transfers, and which company will get which money. Now that the agreement has apparently been hammered out, will they have the wisdom to postpone the bus route changes and cancellations until the new transportation card system gets worked out?

Only time will tell.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

...Last Night On The Train

2 of the Ninth Month 5772

Last night, a mass of tourist boarded the train. One of them was video recording the inside of the train. One Israeli parent was upset that his baby was being recorded, and gestured the tourist to stop.

I heard that they were Spanish speakers. So, in my broken Spanish, I explained that they should not record anyone without permission.

The tourist said that she was sorry. I then pointed to a hat that one of her group was wearing, and said that was also forbidden. The man took it off, and they said that they were sorry.

That hat was proclaiming praise for the Christian false deity (or false messiah, or both, depending on whom you ask, and what mood he happens to be in...).

You see? They just didn't know, and were quite amenable when they were informed, even when asked to be modest about their religious beliefs.

But, of course, we Jews do not bother to stand up for our laws and customs. We just let people step all over us, even in our own Land! What I did is considered to be hutzpadik (rude)!

A young man from the U. S., sans kippah, standing next to me, turned to me, and said,"They can wear whatever they want. They're not Jewish; we don't have to convert them."

I replied with, "No, they cannot wear whatever they want. It's avodah zarah. There is something called the 7 Misswoth B'nei No'ah, and one of those misswoth is not to do avodah zarah.

"Look. They're not doing anything illegal," he said.

"According to Israeli law, you mean? Dude, there is a higher authority than Israeli law."

I then gave my standard schpiel about how co-dependent we are as Jews, caring more about what other peoples think of us than what God thinks about us, let alone what we think about ourselves.

This Jew and I got off at the same station. I was able to fulfill another one of my duties, that to connecting with my fellow Jews, regardless of background and points of view. I struck up a chat with the Jew who was clearly irked by my interaction with the Christian tourists on the light rail.

I mentioned that my parents would probably be embarrassed by how poor my Spanish is. He asked me how I knew Spanish. I said that as a San Diegan (San Diegenio), it's pretty much a given. We chatted a bit more. Then, as we were about to part ways, I told him that one of the great things about Israel is that two Jews, total strangers, and with very different opinions, like us, can have a conversation deeper than sports and the weather. So, our interaction seemed to end on a pleasant note.

Such is life in Jerusalem, avodah zarah and meeting strangers on a train, the bad dealt with as it should is often followed by good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Shlomo Braun Thanksgiving!

27 of the Eighth Month 5772
(American Thanksgiving, 2011)

...Or Shlomo Moreno, if you're Sepharadi, or Shlomo Hum, if you've Hebraicized your name, if there is such a name, it is still Thanksgiving, an American holiday, in which Americans give thanks that the Pilgrims arrived in North America safely, after their journey on the Mayflower, from religious persecution.

There are more than a few families, as well as organizations, here in Israel which make Thanksgiving Day celebrations.

A friend of mine who lives in the Me'ah She'arim neighborhood of Jerusalem, and has been in Israel for over 40 years, still makes traditional Thanksgiving foods for the Shabbath which follows Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce accompany dinner, and a few spiced turkey wings in a plastic baking bag are thrown into the chollent for Shabbath lunch.

It's cute. It's fun. And it brings back pleasant memories of far away family and friends, a roaring fireplace, and one of the American holidays least offensive to Jewish sensibilities.

But, I would expect nothing less from this hassidishe friend of mine, reminiscing about what life was like in the Old Country, in the shtetl.

But, there is no difference between dragging galuth (diaspora) customs back from the shtetlach in Galecia, Hungary, or Lithuania to Israel, and dragging galuth customs back from the 'Hood, whether that is Borough Park, Lakewood, Hollywood, or Miami.

Of course, I am grateful for the opportunities I received, and the relatively easy time I had living Jewishly in the U. S., and specifically in Southern California, the relatively inexpensive University of California education, the ability to walk through Downtown San Diego at 2:00 AM safely, public libraries, the abundance of food, and any number of other things.

I say "easy," in spite of the spiritual challenges American Jews face on a daily basis, after learning of the experiences of my brothers and sister who made it out of other countries.
The Russians, who had to take turns watching at the window for KGB agents during Hebrew lessons, whose parents disguised a mikva as a swimming pool, and maintained hidden matzah machines.

The Ukrainians who had no clue what it meant to be Jewish except for a respect for education and the sense that they were different.

The Persians, who sent secret letters to the Jewish Agency through other Muslim countries, and who trudged across deserts with nothing in order to leave Iran. Those Persians still in Iran find it almost impossible to escape.

The Yemenites who married off their children very young, so that their daughters would not be kidnapped and raped by Arabs.

The Ethiopians who were persecuted in Ethiopia, and then when they had the opportunity to leave, so-called "Reform" Jews arrived "to help," telling them they did not have to convert, thus affecting their status, and allowing for goyim g'murim to flood into Israel, while kosher converts are stuck in the land of their persecution. And, of course, those who did make it out are still treated like crap in Israel.

But, these "things" I received by virtue of having been born in the U. S., were all just to help me to prepare for my return to my true Homeland as a Jew, Eretz Yisra'el.

Whether The Almighty decides to give you all a kick in the pants or not, to make all of you still there realize this, is up to Him. Of course, I pray that it doesn't have to be too hard of a kick in the pants, nor too many kicks in the pants, before you wake up, come to your senses, and come back to your [only] true Homeland, the Land of Israel, and invest yourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in it, and not in the Lands of your exile.

Once you are here, you will have plenty of opportunities to thank The Almighty for the journey he had set you on:
Give to charity.

Volunteer your time.

Celebrate the date/Shabbath of your aliyah.

Celebrate Passover and Sukkoth, and give thanks that He brought us out of Egypt.

Celebrate Shavu'oth, and thank him for giving us the Torah.

Say Tehillim.

Add thank-yous to your regular prayers for anything you have received, new and old.

You can eat turkey shwarmah, if you like. After all the word for Hebrew words for turkey and for thanks do have the same roots.

But, for goodness sakes. Leave the holidays of the lands of our exiles behind, and move on to the next chapter in your lives, investing in your [only] true Homeland, the Land of Israel.

You put a heksher (kosher certification) on your turkey, a kippah on your head, and call Thanksgiving Yom HaHoda'oth, but it will still always be an American holiday to be celebrated in America.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rabbi Lior: There is No Freedom of Speech in Israel

27 of the Eighth Month 5772

I believe that this statement (the title above) of Rabbi Dov Lior pretty much covers it.

I found the article, in which he made this statement, to be important enough to re-post in its entirety, and have done so below.

Here at Esser Agaroth, I have pointed out several examples of the Israeli government cracking down on rabbis teaching and making Torah statements which stand in contradiction to Israeli law:
The Battles Between The Torah And The State Of Israel

The State Continues Its Battle Against The Torah

The Torah Will Not Stand For An Investigation!

Hello! There Already Is A Ban On Sales To Arabs

Religious Zionists, Make Up Your Minds!

The Real Religious Zionist

To Refuse Or Not To Refuse

Naveh's Crimes

What The Hell Was He Thinking?!
I must admit; I sound like a broken record.

Will you follow the Torah, or will you not follow the Torah?

Just what is it about this question which makes it so difficult for people to answer?

Bottom line?

The religious mamlakhti (undying State loyalists) will eventually have to make up their minds as to whether to follow the Torah or the State, because they will not be able to follow both. If they do not, then they will eventually fall off the tightrope they have been walking, and/or explode from the build-up of cognitive dissonance.

Unfortunately, there are still those who continue to insist that such stiroth (conflicts) do not exist between Torah and State.

It is for those individuals (as well as for those North American, religious Jews who have no clue as to what is really going here), that I post this article in its entirety.

Rabbi Lior: 'There is No Freedom of Speech in Israel'

Rabbi Dov Lior said the criminal probe into Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for 'racism' proves free expression is stifled in Israel.

Gavriel Queenann, 11/22/2011

Rabbi Dov Lior(IsraelNN.com) Chief Rabbi of Kiryat-Arba and Hevron Dov Lior told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that the decision to launch a criminal probe into Tzfat [Safed] Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for 'racism' showed there is no freedom of speech in Israel.

"There is no freedom of speech, but a stifling of expression," Rabbi Lior said after hearing of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision to launch the probe into statements made by Rabbi Eliyahu to Israel's press.

"It is difficult for me to agree this is incitement," Rabbi Lior said, dismissing the assertion the ruling had nothing to do with Rabbi Eliyahu's Torah views. "Rabbis focus on cultivating a love of humanity, and Judaism touches all righteous people, but Jewish law prohibits one from renting to non-Jews."

Rabbi Lior said, "What Rabbi Eliyahu said is a valid Torah opinion. To prevent rabbis from speaking their minds, which is their duty, is reminiscent of the methods of the Bolsheviks - who only allowed the Jews to express opinions they approved of.

"There's no freedom of expression, but a silencing of the truth. If a Torah scholar studies the Torah and justifies his opinion from sources - explaining his reasoning - even if there are others who disagree with him... it is still knowledge of Torah.

"The right of rabbis to express Torah opinions is on trial!" Rabbi Lior said. "This is against our holy Torah, let alone the rules of democracy."

Rabbi Shmu'el Eliyahu"You cannot drown out the voices raising unpopular opinions. Rabbi Eliyahu is not a political person calling for insurrection against the laws of the state. He is merely expressing his Torah opinion on a relevant issue. Prosecuting him for this is no different than arresting a rabbi for teaching Sabbath [Shabbat] laws because the state allows people to drive on the Sabbath."

"Every investigation of this sort is an assault on the Torah of Israel, and against democracy and equality," Rabbi Lior concluded.

Weinstein has said he will not probe statements by Rabbi Eliyahu made that stem from his opinions on Jewish law, including his opinion - co-signed by 50 other rabbis - that one may not sell or rent a home to non-Jews when Israel's current socio-political circumstances are taken into account.

Instead, Weinstein claims, he will focus on comments made by Rabbi Eliyahu to Israel's press, such as “The Arab culture is very cruel,” and “When talking about Arabs, people speak in codes that normalize violence and turn into ideology.”

Critics, however, say Weinstein's probe into “public statements” is simply an oblique way of striking at Rabbi Eliyahu for expressing Torah opinions at odds with the ideology of Israel's secular left.

Civil Liberties advocates note Rabbi Eliyahu's statements – irrespective of their Torah content – would be considered protected speech in the enlightened Western democracies Israel's left claims it wants to emulate.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Haveil Havalim #340 - The Krembo Edition

24 of the Eighth Month 5771

KremboThis is called the Krembo Edition of Haveil Havalim, as a shameless plug for Esser Agaroth's debut edition of Carnival Of Krembos.

Well, it was either calling it the Krembo Edition, of the "BlogCarnival.com Is Having Issues Again" Edition, which would have been way too boring. But, yeah, that site is having issues,...again.

Hey, I have an idea. How about if we have a standard, contingency plan for when this happens again? And, I am afraid that it WILL happen again. How about if we agree that if BlogCarnival.com develops "issues" again in the future, we automatically know to leave a comment on the host's blog. Any host who has comment moderation, can simply retrieve the information, and delete the comment. Those without can retrieve the information, and then delete the comment, or just leave it there.

But, what about those newcomers not in the know? Well, let's have Jack see if a note can be put on our BlogCarnival.com page, explaining our contingency plan.

Got any better ideas? Send them to Jack directly at talktojacknow@gmail.com.

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means"Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Unable to depend on Blog Carnival, I had to search out posts on my own, trying to include some of our regular contributors. So, here it is, this week's edition.


The Parsha Blog
provides A Consistent Explanation Of Shalshelet, Across Tanach.


Jennifer at Jewneric interview Jew in the City in Jew In The City Wonders…Do God And Science Have Chemistry?

Rafi at Life In Israel asks, "Is This What The Kollel System Leads To?"

Velveteen Rabbi
writes On Prayer, Gratitude, Darkness, Praise.

Ima On The Bima
is short and sweet in First World Problems, but there is much wisdom to be gleaned from it!

In Israel

Ruti at Ki Yachol Nuchal! brings us a[n epic] story of what a man does to fight his wife's cancer in The Dawn Of A New Day. (bring tissues)

The Jewish Fist brings us a Portrait Of Amalek.

"Peace-loving" Rabbi Michael Lemming remembers fondly Yitzhaq Rabin-Man Of Love.

Ariel at The Torah Revolution also chimes in on Rabin, as does The Virtual Medinat Yehudah in The First Rays Of Dawn.

And, now, how about some Ritter Sport Chocolate Tea Biscuit Milk Cream & Cocoa? Check out Isreview's review to see if she thinks they are worth it.

Outside Of Israel

at Simply Jews brings us Iran: Mossad's Involvement In Blast A Myth. What do you think?

Sultan Knish says Don't Underestimate Iran's Instability.

Meanwhile, Elder Of Ziyon reports that the Muslim Brotherhood Is Going Public In Lybia.

Princess Pana reports on the case of Valerie Carlton...Victimised For Being Jewish! Carlton is now in solitary confinement, and faces worse possibilities for her future. Read this post to find out why. Where are all of the calls for pidyon hashvuyin (redeeming the captive) now?

Tomer Devorah has a message for Jews In NY.


To Kiss A Mezuzah brings us Germs And Words Circling The Bed.

Last, but definitely not least,the Shiloh Muse brings us Sweet "Revenge," in memory of Rachella Druk hy"d, who was murdered 20 years ago, in one of the first Arab shooting attacks.

And, who's hosting next week's edition? Good question. No one has signed up yet. Please contact Jack directly at talktojacknow@gmail.com, if you would like to host. It's not so hard, once you get the hang of it, and it's fun, too!

Response To Reclaiming Zionism

24 of the Eighth Month 5772

Below is my response to a post, I found on one of the blogs I like.
Reclaiming Zionism
Samantha, The Israel Situation Blog

In recent weeks, various members of the global community have renewed their efforts to delegitimize Israel and call into question the legitimacy of Zionism as a movement. There has been an ongoing effort to take Zionism, which at its core is Jewish nationalism, and twist its meaning and intentions, distorting the term. Lack of understanding of Zionism has led to its corruption, Zionism being equated with racism by the United Nations, and many Jews not understanding the meaning of the term, its relevance, or their own connections to Zionism. Click to read the entire post...
Although, I like this blog, I think Eric is great (& as a DJ, too!), and you said something VERY important...
"To call one a Zionist is not to say that one blindly agrees with all of the policies of the State of Israel."
...and I think that I understand the audience you are trying to reach, I still believe that Zionism can (& should) be summed up in 2 sentences:

1) "Zionism is simply part of the Torah." - Rabbi Moshe Tzuriel, B'nei Braq.

In other words, there are many other misswoth to perform, as well as the "Zionist-oriented" ones, and the only justification we Jews have for laying claim to Israel is the Torah, not revisionist history, not who conquered it, and certainly NOT who was here first. The Cana'anites were here first, but The Almighty took care of that (See RaSh"I on Parashath Bereishith).

2) Zionism without aliyah is nothing. (paraphrase from Avraham Duvdevani, Chair, World Zionist Organization)

Torah and aliyah are the bottom lines, not just for our survival, but for our authentic identity as a people, as well.

It is time for us to stop being Jews in those other countries, and start being Jews in our own and only true country.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

South Park: The 99% VS The 1%

21 of the Eighth Month 5772

As many of you know, I find the television cartoon show "South Park" to be one of the greatest commentaries on American culture.

Recently, "South Park" set out to express its two cents on the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.

(clockwise: Muscleman Mark, Peter Panda, Polly Prissy Pants, Rumper Tumpskin, Clyde Frog, Eric Cartman)

In last week's episode, Eric Cartman represents the "1%," and the rest of his schoolmates represent the "99%," demonstrations included. Butters leads a demonstration, by occupying a piece of a parking lot.

As with many causes, there is an ounce of truth and good intentions to be found. Yet, whether a "Tea Partier" or a "Wall Street Occupier," or an Israeli housing price protester, there is no shortage of infiltrators to control the protesting pawns. The illusion of dissent is, thus, provided without any real threat to the "powers that be."

In this South Park episode, we see how the media employs the use of "creative journalism," or deep denial,or both. I don't even have to get into how the illusion of an adversarial relationship is propped up between different news media groups, made to appear on opposite sides of the fence of various issues.

South Park hits the nail on the head here, showing just how deep the Occupy Wall Street protests really are aren't.

Here is part one of "1%," embedded here for your convenience. You can also watch on-line for free at South Park Studios.com.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Krembo Challenge - Updated!

17 of the Eighth Month 5772

KremboThis is the Krembo Challenge. I challenge all Jewish and Israel-related bloggers, writers, and tweeters (see below) to write about Krembos, Israel's traditional winter treat.

Your post on Krembos can be about how much you love then, or how much you hate them. You can sing the Krembo's praises, or rant about how unhealthy they are. It can be a new post or an old one. It does not matter, as long your post(s) is about Krembos.

Your post may be from a political or a religious perspective. It does not matter what that perspective is, as long as the post really is about Krembos.

Krembo recipes, whether dairy, pareve, raw, etc. will also be accepted. Kosher recipes only, please.

Posts must be received before Shabbath Qodesh Parashath Wayishlah 5772/December 9, 2011.

Please also put a a link to this post somewhere within your submission.

You may submit your posts via the Carnival Of Krembos On-Line Submission Form.

If you experience problems with BlogCarnival.com's submission form, then either click the name "Ben-Yehudah" on the Carnival Of Krembos page, to send the link to your post directl to me. Or, you may leave the link below as a comment. It will not be published as such, but be assured that I will receive it!

The Carnival Of Krembos will be released shortly thereafter, along with awards in various Krembo Categories.

Happy Krembo Eating (& Writing) Season!

Twitter: For those of you who do not blog, but tweet instead, a special Tweeting category has been added especially for you!

Please submit your tweets as a comment below, along with your e-mail. The comment will not be published. But, you will receive a confirmation that your tweet has been received.


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ADD/ADHD: To Drug Or Not To Drug

17 of the Eighth Month 5772

I was recently sent a link to this page on the web. My 10 agaroth is below.
Parents Against Drugging Children

To educate all parents about the danger of drugging our children with ADD, ADHD, and SSRI drugs.

Even when I was in practice in the U. S., I was of the school that only one in 50 children who were on Ritalin (etc.) should have been. It was relatively easy to tell which children benefited from treatment, and which children were drugged up so that the parents did not have to deal with the real issue: their marriage (mostly).

Keeping the focus on their child kept them deep in denial about whatever that really issue was.

I also believe that diet must be addressed in these children, before even thinking about drugs.

I do not believe that it is a coincidence that the vast numbers of sugars and preservatives in the diets of many of these children, combined with the increased amount of toxins in the environment correlate positively with the increased numbers of reported cases.

I can also not even begin to address the conflicts of interest I personally suspected of existing within the physicians doling out Ritalin and other drugs.

Furthermore, the classroom needs to be more flexible. Many of these so called ADD/ADHD kids are actually kinesthetic learners. In other words, they learn most effectively using movement, as those are their most effective pathways to and from the brain.

No, I am not asking teachers who are already overworked to teach the lessons according to 30 different learning styles. I am asking them to be more flexible about kids moving around. I am also asking principals to allow this.

Regarding SSRI's (eg. Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc.), I personally do not believe that children need to be on these drugs, except under very unusual situations.


Note: I am not a psychiatrist/physician; I am a psychologist.

ADD = Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD = Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
ADHP = Attention Deficit Disorder with Hair-Pulling

SSRI = Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor: most commonly used to treat depression. Anxiety and ticks may also be treated with these drugs.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Gilad Shalit Deal, Part 2: Galuth-Mode Judaism vs. G’ula-Mode Judaism or Why Rabbi ‘Ovadhya Yoseph Is Dead Wrong… Again

Motza'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parashath Hayei Sarah 5772

The Gilad Shalit Deal, Part 2: Galuth-Mode Judaism vs. G’ula-Mode Judaism or Why Rabbi ‘Ovadhya Yoseph Is Dead Wrong… Again

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
Rosh Machon Shilo

10 of the Eighth Month 5772

Click here to read Part 1: The Gilad Shalit Deal: An (Authentically) Jewish Perspective?

Before expressing an opinion on a matter, a poseq (an Halakhic decisor) needs to be apprised of the facts. (The classic example is requiring expert medical opinion before deciding if an unwell individual may fast on Yom HaKipurim – see Rambam’s MT, Sh’vitath ‘Asor 2:8).

Many of you have probably viewed the brief video clip in which HaRav ‘Ovadhya Yoseph, spiritual mentor of Israel’s Shas party and widely considered a great Tora sage, can be seen and heard commending PM Binyamin Netanyahu for striking the deal with Hamas terror leaders which resulted in the release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. Rabbi Yoseph goes on to explain his position thus: “that [future terror attacks] is only a possibility, this [saving Gilad Shilat] is a certainty”. These were his exact words in Hebrew: "יאדו הפו קפס המש".

Here are some statistics: According to Elyaqim Rubinstein speaking during his term as Attorney General, 80% of terrorists released in earlier deals returned to their terrorist ways. (Rubinstein currently serves on Israel’s Supreme Court.) 180 people have been murdered by released terrorists since the year 2000. To date, at least 854 released terrorists have been re-arrested for murder. If you’re still unconvinced, someone has done the math for you: there exists a 99.9% likelihood of at least one lethal attack resulting from this latest release of mass murderers – as close to statistical certainty as you can get. (Would it make a difference if we modified some of the parameters and came up with a likelihood of 90%? I think not.) Of course, the likelihood of multiple attacks with untold dead and wounded, while not 99.9%, remains extremely high.

Nor did we need to wait long. Moshe Ami, 56, of Ashq’lon, died of wounds sustained in a recent rocket attack (01-08-64│29-10-2011), the latest in a string of such attacks since Shalit’s release after many months of relative calm. Add to this the unprecedented stabbing of a 17-year-old y’shiva student in the Ramoth neighbourhood of Jerusalem by a man who then escaped to the nearby Arab village of Bet Iksa, and the attempted stabbing attack in Gush Essyon the day after the release of 477 terrorists (the first ‘installment’ of the Shalit deal), and the picture begins to take shape. The blood bath has only just begun.

Moreover, not only is his analysis irrational; HaRav ‘Ovadhya Yoseph’s position contradicts the Mishna quoted in the first part of this blog. Why? Because clearly the Mishna is also speaking of sapheq versus waday, a possibility versus a certainty. If we ransom a captive Jew, it is certain that he will be a captive no more. (It is also very possible that we are saving his life). Yet we are instructed by the Hakhamim not to overpay lest we encourage the evil-doers to kidnap more Jews, i.e. a possibility, even a likelihood, but not an absolute certainty. In other words, due to the likely consequences for the community of our actions, we do not give priority to the certain salvation of the individual; the collective welfare of the many outweighs the welfare of the individual. Wherever it is reasonable to assume that overpaying for a captive will have negative future consequences (see Ran on Riph, Gittin 23a) Hazal instruct us to look at the big picture. No matter how painful. Even where our refusal is likely to lead to his death (see TB Bava Bathra 8b and Rashi ad loc.; Ramban to Gittin 45a; Pithhe T’shuva YD 252:4).

The flaw in Rabbi Yoseph’s reasoning, however, runs much deeper. For even if none of the above were true, the Shalit deal would still be utterly wrong because our situation is fundamentally different from that discussed in the foregoing sources. As described in the first part of this blog, the Halakhoth pertaining to these matters were formulated not for the present-day State of Israel but for the realities of Galuth (Exile): Jewish communities, both inside and outside the Land, dealing with criminals, in a time and place where piracy for profit was commonplace and targeted any and all available victims, Jewish or gentile. For the kidnappers it was simply business; the overarching imperative was not to provide an added incentive to kidnap Jews.

Hamas, and similar organisations, on the other hand, are not businessmen. They and their sponsors are not driven by money. They are driven by Islamic blood-lust. Their express aim is to wage jihad against the Jewish people until we cease to exist as a sovereign nation in our Land, until all Jews are returned to their ‘proper’ former status of dhimmitude. Kidnapping Jews in order to achieve the release of baby killers is not a career move; it is an act of war intended to demoralise the enemy, weaken his resolve and prepare the way for his elimination.

Even the massive loss of life that will inevitably follow the wholesale reintroduction of terrorists into circulation is not the core issue here. The real question is this: How does a nation-state conduct its affairs vis-à-vis the outside world, and specifically with regards to those waging war against it?

This is not the first time Rabbi Yoseph has led many astray. Since the Six Day War, he has supported the policy of ‘land for peace’ based on the argument of piquah nephesh (saving of life). His reasoning is based on the Talmudic dictum that if a Jew is coerced to transgress the Tora or be killed, he is to choose life, with the exception of three areas: the worship of foreign gods, bloodshed and certain types of illicit sexual behaviour (TB Sanhedrin 74a). While agreeing that handing over parts of the Land to gentiles is forbidden, Rabbi Yoseph points out that this sin is not one of the three singled out by Hazal. Thus, he reasons, seeing that people die in war, it is permissible to hand over land in order to save lives.

Quite apart from the fact that only the reality challenged could actually believe that handing over land to our enemies could possibly lead to peace and saving lives, such a policy is plainly suicidal. Imagine that our enemies demand a part of our homeland, threatening war if we do not capitulate. Now assume that we acquiesce, based on Rabbi Yoseph’s logic. If our enemies have their wits about them – and they do – they will realise that they are on to something. What if months or years later, they present us with a similar demand, only this time for another piece of our homeland? According to HaRav ‘Ovadhya Yoseph’s Halakhic paradigm, we would have no choice but to fold yet again because piquah nephesh trumps everything else, right? And thus it would go until we found ourselves in the sea. Put another way: according to Rabbi Yoseph’s Halakhic system, a Jewish state, any Jewish state, is unsustainable. Valuing the lives of individuals over and above the national imperative of Klal Yisrael’s (the Jewish people’s) continued sovereign existence, capitulating to one’s sworn enemies time and again, can only lead to extinction.

The lacuna in Rabbi Yoseph’s thinking stems from a mind-set: Galuth (Exile)-Mode Judaism. GMJ focuses on the individual and the community. It is never about the nation. Why? Because in Galuth there is no nation, only a collection of scattered communities and individuals. The issues pertaining to establishing and running a sovereign Jewish state in Eress Yisrael – something we are commanded by the Tora (Sh’moth-Exodus 19:6) to do – are simply not on GMJ’s radar. It is no accident that the return of Klal Yisrael to its homeland, with all the nearly insurmountable challenges that this entailed, not to mention the long dormant aspects of Jewish life that needed resurrection and revivification, could not be and were not undertaken by Jews steeped in the ways and modalities of GMJ, but rather by Jews who by and large had broken with that system.

And so it is with Gilad Shalit type deals. GMJ Halakhic thinking gets clouded when faced with issues which are essentially beyond its ken. This is at least one of the reasons why we heard nothing from Israel’s chief rabbis. (Another, of course, is the fact that the State pays their salaries.) Nor, apparently, did the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) world and its rabbis have anything to say; experience tells us that they do not remain silent when they object to something strongly. On matters such as these, GMJ rabbis are simply out of their depth.

The antidote to GMJ is GMJ: G’ula (Redemption)-Mode Judaism (which is confusing, so we’ll refer to it here as RMJ). RMJ, or Torath Eress Yisrael (the Tora of EY) as it is sometimes called, is not a slogan. It is a very real and extremely serious business, animated by the recognition that the direction and leadership that the Jewish people need and deserve cannot be based on the Tora of the shtetl.

Make no mistake. It is a matter of life or death.
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