Thursday, May 27, 2010

My reply to "Right of Reply – the kosher labelling submission"

This is ridiculous.

How often in Australia do we find products that claim to be kosher? Most products don't have kashrut symbols on them, and are just listed in a book. Are we really worried that a marketer might say something is kosher? If that happened, the community would be very quickly informed of the lies without the need for government intervention.

Are you really scared that Food Standards Australia will mandate what is kosher in the future if you don't now? They are not concerned by such claims. Just look at how many times they pushed back requests for standards of vegetarian and other religious labeling.

see here:

You mention the importance of "our community is unable to achieve a consensus on the details of a regulatory system". What makes you think that it is important that we reach a consensus. 2 Jews, 3 opinions. People do or don't follow the Eruv here in Melbourne. Around the world each person has different Kashrut organizations they do or do not trust. I do not think I should have the strictest strictures of "Kosher Australia" foisted upon me and I don't think the community should be forced to follow these rabbis which they themselves don't necessarily trust.

I would think that that ORA would forced glatt and other "mehadrin" ideas that would drive up the price of kosher food making it less available. There is more than one way of keeping kosher, and ORA admits this. There are Halakhic disagreements between different supervising businesses in Australia. However they represent a very narrow band of the spectrum of what is acceptable, and they should not be allowed to legally dictate to Australia's Jewish community what is acceptable to them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Intresting tidbit about Bnei Akiva

Via a comment from failedmessiah that was turned into a post:

Tibi writes:

My father is from the region of Satmar. He is now 82 and still remembers R' Yoilish bribing the regional governor to ban B'nei Akivah.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Maybe the scientists are sane

Scientists Debating Scientific Method

I always hated it how teachers always worshiped THE "Scientific Method". To me it always seemed like a model. Just like most of the models we get, from models of the atom or of an ecosystem, are just that, models. They don't really reflect reality; they are merely a way of conveying a certain specific amount of information about the thing you are modeling. THE "Scientific Method", at least to me, seems a pretty lacking model. But I guess for people who aren't used to thinking logically or scientifically its a good start.

Finished GED!

I finished my GED today. I had to go through this because I started University before graduating High School.
I thought that maybe because I did early admissions I could just transfer. But no, thats not the way it works here. I remember instructions always telling you to bring every document when making aliyah, even your high school transcript because employers will care about it. I thought maybe times had changed...but no, they haven't.

I was even told by one of the test center employees about her daughter who started college at 16 in America, graduated, did her Masters (MA), and then wanted to apply to a PhD. program in Israel but wasn't accepted simply because she didn't have a High School diploma

I have been trying to complete the GED for months now. The material is not the problem, it is ridiculously easy, easier than the SAT in my opinion. The problem is the company that gives the test -Prometric. The people in the Israel office are really nice. The problem is that they can't do much to help. Holland controls booking, South Africa does tech support, the test itself comes from America, and England is also thrown in the mix.

Besides lots of booking errors in the past (theirs not mine), I had a new problem. The tests were asking me to input a number for the essay I had to write. The number was on an essay answer booklet. This "5 digit code" that the computer wanted doesn't exist anymore. Now you would think this could be solved easily, after all its only a 200 word essay.

I don't want to tell the story now. But don't be fooled, this isn't an Israel bureaucracy story, this is a story of a messed up multinational company that don't care about its customers. If you can avoid Prometric and especially Prometric GED then do.

On the bright side, the head of the test center invited me over to his house for Shabbat. Makes you love Israel.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

100th Post - America tells Israel to stop supporting Iran?

This is ridiculous:
Jewlicious - Fighting Iran One Nut at a Time

US asks Israel to stop importing pistachio from Iran

Washington displeased with nuts smuggled to Turkey from Tehran and imported to Jewish state

US Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Keenum demanded Monday that the Israeli import from Turkey of pistachio nuts originating in Iran be halted immediately, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned.

The US undersecretary met with Israeli Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon in Rome during a conference organized by the International Food and Agricultural Organization.

The Israeli embassy in Italy reported to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that the Americans are working to stop the export of Iranian pistachio nuts as part of the economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

Keenum told Simhon that it was absurd that Israel was purchasing most of its pistachio nuts from an enemy state. According to the undersecretary, Washington was extremely troubled by this, as US pistachio growers have protested the fact that America's friend favors Iranian pistachio nuts over American ones.

But in so many ways this just fails to surprise me.

I would post about Annapolis, but I just don't think there is a point...well except that David Miliband (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) said that the real elected Palestinian government rejected violence and wants peace and is representative of the Palestinian people and is led by Abbas. At least thats the way it sounded on CNN. Maybe he forgot that Hamas won the last elections, and that the PLO hasn't ever had real elections ever, and none at all in the last 10 years. I hope I misunderstood him, because I wouldn't want to think someone in his position completely misunderstands the situation.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Exercising my Free Speech

My free speech is accomplished through this blog among other ways. I haven't been blogging lately, but with free speech being muddled I figure its time for me to use mine.
Whats this all about?
"Holocaust deniers to speak at Oxford"

Irving and BNP people are (maybe) going to be speaking. Now I am for free speech, very much so, but that doesn't mean I am for giving wacky and damaging views a honoured place. Sometimes I wish people would take on the debate a bit and show how exactly the Holocaust deniers, the 9/11 wackos, and Rabin assassination wackos are lying, but a debate society is not the place for that.

Oxford University's students associated condemned the idea as well several Muslim students' organizations who object to Griffin's policies and the Jewish student body
I was thinking, wouldn't this be a wonderful issue for activists from both the Jewish and Islamic communities to work together on. I did a bit of searching, and this was the best I could find

Hopefully this won't be relevant because the event will be canceled but here it is
Join the protest against Griffin & Irving this Monday 26th November - Oxford Union is no place for fascism meet at 7pm, outside the Oxford Union, St. Michael Street, Oxford, OX1 3JB

Unite Against Fascism is a broad based national campaign aimed at stopping the BNP, which brings together Black, Jewish, Muslim communities and other faith representatives, Lesbian and Gay activists, trade unionists and MPs into an alliance with all those who are threatened by and oppose fascism.

I don't know how true they keep to that but it sounds cool. But if only we could get the right-wing elements of both communities working together.

While looking around I saw this good quote by Trevor Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission:
"People have died for freedom of speech, they didn't fight and die for it so it could be used as a silly parlour game. Nobody needs to invite these people to deny the holocaust. The issues are too serious. I would say to the Oxford Union -- think again. If this goes ahead I hope the Oxford students will turn their backs on this shabby exhibition."
Of course the article calls Irving, a self-taught historian. Shame on the BBC for that. So that led me to look up Deborah Lipstadt's take on this. It turns out she has a good blog.

Some other recommended recent posts from that blog
Rwanda: A new form of genocide denial
Egyptian cleric preaches antisemitism to children
Armenian University gives award to Ahmadinejad: A double standard???

and back on topic
Oxford Union: Muddled reasoning

Another thing I found while researching is that the pathetic BNP can't spell in the headlines of their press releases.

and while on the subject of free speech, yes it is related in more than one way
November 25 letters to the editor of jpost:

"Personal kosher playground

Sir, - Dr. Haim Katz misses the point entirely when he compares the ownership of Park Avenue apartments by wealthy Europeans to the feeding frenzy of Diaspora Orthodox Jews on the epicenter of Jerusalem ("Priced out of the market," Business & Finance, November 22).

In Jerusalem, virtually every major real estate development in the city's center is exclusively intended for absentee owners. There is no such parallel in New York. And, yes, there is a domino effect, whereby small shop-owners and providers of basic services are either priced out of the market or bereft of a livelihood, displaced by overpriced boutiques that peck at the eyes of a population surviving on overdrafts.

The malaise, however, goes far deeper. There is a phenomenon today whereby a certain segment of American Jewry looks at Jerusalem as its personal kosher playground. Here they can drop in when convenient; enjoy overpriced restaurants; make fancy kiddushes in their rarely-used million-dollar homes in order to show off their real estate swag; and then go home to Lawrence or Englewood without ever making any real investment in Israel, the kind of investment that involves genuine risk and commitment.

The children of such people come to Jerusalem for a year or two after high school. An entire industry of overpriced, underperforming "yeshivot" caters to their whims without imparting even minimal appreciation of Israel in terms of familiarity with the land, let alone recognition of the fact that their Israeli counterparts are in uniform defending their country, at times giving their lives for it. Instead, these unsupervised boys and girls often disport themselves with a sense of entitlement that is nothing short of galling.

The message this conveys to young Israelis goes far beyond "Abandon ye all hope of living in your own city." The message is that a galut Jew and his children can exercise an ownership attitude which requires no real commitment, and that easy money buys American 18- and 19-year-olds the right to flash their lavish allowances, behave inexcusably in the city's streets and cafes, and look at the soldiers who defend their "Disneyland" as if they were invisible.

The entire phenomenon of such tourism needs to be more closely examined. The so-called yeshivot should be scrutinized. Standards should be set for what they teach and what values they impart. And the nouveaux-riche parents should be taxed for their assets here to the extent that they feel the pain a bit, too.

And, yes, through proper legislation, they should know that these taxes are being used to build affordable housing for those to whom Jerusalem is not merely a place to visit - housing alongside theirs, not in remote peripheries. (I live in the US, but my son is a soldier in the IDF.)

Riverdale, New York

Thats all for now

Friday, October 12, 2007

Waiting for a bus on a warm summer night

I was waiting in Petach Tikva near my Yeshiva for the 78 bus to Sirkin junction צומת סירקין, at 8pm Thursday night, along with an older Russian couple. Along comes by a girl, about 10 years old, skipping jump rope out of breath followed by her brother, about 7 years old, running after her. At first I thought it was just the two siblings having fun at night, in Israel. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary because parents feel comfortable letting there ids out in most places in Israel because its mostly a very safe environment.

However behind them comes their father carrying an infant in a baby carrier strapped on in front of him. With one hand he is playing with the baby. I was a bit confused with the way he was walking and holding his other hand. Although I already suspected it I was still surprised to see a lit cigarette in the hand trailing behind him. How could someone who looked like such a good and responsible father smoke in front of his kids like that. If he is addicted, why doesn’t he at least smoke away from his children? As if to intentionally compound my disillusionment, 10 meters later he throws his still lit cigarette on the sidewalk.

Either way it was nice to see kids having innocent and healthy fun on one of the last of the hot summer nights in the urban environment.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Yom Kippur - Gmar Tov

I want to wish everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur. May we all be judged with through mercy (רחמים). I apologize to anyone who I have offended in anyway, and I hope that you forgive me. I of course forgive everyone for anything that they have done to me. Tefillat Zaka is something that is written in the Machzor for Yom Kippur to say before the Holiday/Fast starts. One of the most important parts of it I will write below, so that everyone can say it. It is something you can say anytime, but it is especially appropriate now:

"I extend complete forgiveness to everyone who has sinned against me, whether physically or monetarily, or spoke lashon hara(negative speech) about me or even false reports. And (I also forgive them) for any damages, whether on my body or my property, and for all sins between a man and his fellow except for money which I can claim in a court of law and except for someone who sins against me saying, "I will sin against him and he will forgive me". Except for these I grant complete forgiveness and no person should be punished on my account. [And just as I forgive everyone so should You grant me favor in the eyes of all men that they should completely forgive me]."

"והנני מוחל במחילה גמורה לכל מי שחטא נגדי, בין בגופי ובין בממוני או שדיבר עלי לשון הרע, ואפילו הוצאת שם רע, וכן לכל מי שהזיק לי בגופי או בממוני, ולכל חטאות האדם אשר בין אדם לחבירו, חוץ מממון אשר אוכל להוציא על פי דין, וחוץ ממי שחטא כנגדי ואמר אחטא לו והוא ימחל לי, חוץ מאלו, אני מוחל במחילה גמורה ולא יענש שום אדם בסיבתי.[וכשם שאני מוחל לכל אדם כן תתן את חיני בעיני כל אדם שימחלו לי במחילה גמורה]".

May we all have a meaningful fast and remember Tshuva is something we can do all year round and to keep up the heightened awareness we have in treating others so that next Yom Kippur we need to ask for less forgiveness.

If I have done anything specific to you that I can change for the future please tell me. Whether it is not answering the phone enough, not emailing you back, talking to you to little, talking to you to much, stealing a million dollars from you, taking your pen without permission or anything of that sort or any other sort please tell me so that I can try to not do it in the future

Gmar Tov

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Overheard: Israel wins?

Overheard in the falafel shop near Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva

Customer: How much did Israel lose by?

Falafel Shop Owner: when?

Customer: tonight

Falafel Shop Owner: they didn't play tonight, last night they lost by...

Customer: I mean against Spain

Falafel Shop Owner: thats tomorrow night

A few seconds go by

Falafel Shop Owner: hey, why did you say they lost, they didn't even play yet, they might win

Customer: If only (Halevai)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A new way to "sell" Israel

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told olim who arrived in Israel from North America that Israel "is not an easy country to live in as it has security problems in addition to bureaucratic problems."

Well its not anything that I didn't know before. I am sure most olim also know it already. If they don't know it, then they must be living in some dream world. In fact in the video the Jewish Agency shows you to prepare you for aliyah they show a clip about a guy trying to go to the Interior Ministry (Misrad Hapnim) and the office just happening to have decided to close with the narrator saying that this is a common occurrence which will most likely happen to you.

Its nice to hear an Israeli politician being honest. But I wouldn't try this as hasbara to anyone except Olim.

At least Olmert said he was proud and happy that the olim wanted to settle in Israel. Becuase after all where else besides Israel would Olim settle?

(Hat Tip: Israellycool )
(Source: Ynet )

Things I have stumbledupon

So I recently downloaded StumbleUpon (which Ebay bought for $75,000,000) and I have found a few interesting things with it

Such useful things like how to build your own yurt

Or some really interesting things like what money really is and how it works

Turning yourself into a lie detector

you also get this useless and fun wastes of time

or other randomness

Then I found this, which reminded me to post
which lets you freely check tons of stats about your page. So I checked HAeD and then I checked this blog...

and I looked at where people had linked to me through technorati while I was away and not blogging

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Jokes in Shmita Shiur

On Sundays at Yeshivat Petach Tikva I go to a shiur on shemita with Rav Gil. He told a few jokes in shiur today.

He told the one about the psak not to smoke which in the American version goes
After it was decided it that smoking was against Halacha (which it of course is [even if you are addicted]) the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Rabbis get together to decide what to do.
The Reform Rabbis simply decide that since this is a Halachik ruling they can ignore it.
The Conservative Rabbis decide that from now on Conservative Rabbis will no longer smoke.
The Orthodox Rabbis decide that before a Jew may smoke he must sell his lungs to a Non-Jew.

The Israeli version which doesn't play on movements that don't exist in Israel, simply has a guy taking a neder (oath) not to smoke. Making the same point about the legal fiction of Matana Al Minat L'Hachzir (A gift on the condition of return) and the general idea of selling Hametz on Pesach.
This of course relevant to Heter Mechira. Some Talmidim were complaining about it, so he said everyone sells hametz on pesach, and eats hametz that was sold by big companies over pesach.

Then the other really good joke which has a good moral that he told goes as follows:
A rav of a town was very respected and served his congergation day and night. After many years this exuasted him so he decided to go on a short vacation. The community was petrefied, what would they do without the Rav. As the Rav leaves he gives intsturctions as to how to check if meat is kosher. He tells them to throw any questionable meat to his dog. My dog is smart he says, he knows you are supposed to throw treif meat to the dogs, so if he knows its treif he will eat it. If he doesn't' eat it, then its kosher. After a few weeks teh Rav comes back and everyone is so happy to see him. The first thing they say to the Rav on his return is: "We are so glad to have you back, your dog is so machmir!(gives strict rulings)"... Which goes to teach any old dog can be machmir, but it takes a real Rav to be meikil.

And just to add in a joke which reminded me that I wanted to post this, from MomInIsrael

A girl comes to her father and announces her marriage plans. When the father asks the boy's occupation, the girl tells him that he is a chazan (cantor). The father says, "No daughter of mine will marry a chazan!" The girl and her mother cry and beg, but the father is adamant. He won't consider a chazan for his daughter. Finally, they convince him to go to shul to hear the potential chassan (groom) in action. After the davening the father comes to his daughter and wishes her mazel tov. The daughter, delirious with joy, asks her father what changed his mind about her intended. He replied, "I heard him, and he's no chazan!"

(Unfortunately, the bar mitzvah speaker who originally told this joke concluded by saying that the bar mitzvah boy was also no chazan, but had other wonderful qualities!)

Back at Yeshiva & Family has made Aliyah!

I am back at Yeshivat Petach Tikva after Ben Hazmanim. Working at Derech Hateva over the summer was great and I recommend it both as a camp for 13-18 year olds and as a place of employment. I'll post more about it later. Meanwhile...


which is very exciting. I met them at the airport. I woke up at 3am to ride my bike to the airport and came back in a taxi with them to Yerushalim. We dropped off the luggage and went to the kotel and did some basic shopping. I took us through the Arab Shuq to get some electronics. Shlomia got to see her friends on MTA and we picked up a the green Melamed Aramaic-Hebrew-English dictionary (the happy dictionary, called so because it is green[?]). on the way back we went through the new shopping area just outside שער יפו which is really nice, we picked up some naot shoes and desperately needed toiletries.
After that Shlomia and I went to pick up my Shoresh sandals which were in for repairs at Orcha. The popular myth that the sandals are only under guarantee while the green dot is still there isn't 100% true. The warranty is good for two whole years or (not and) while the green dot is completely whole. After collapsing at home for a few hours we took a sherut to Rambash רמב"ש Ramat Beit Shemesh. Somewhere in all of this my Tefillin went missing. Luckily they have my email on them. No point putting a telephone number or even worse address on them, because those change to often. Now I just have to hope the person who finds it read the parsha and saw the positive and negative commandment of Hashavat Aveidah (returning of a lost object)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Off to the Trail

I will be backpacking for the next week, so there goes nay hope for me updating the blog.

Meanwhile I will leave some questions for people to ponder:

How should one view the "kiruv" of Jews to non-observant but involved Judaism, and why?

Which is more important: Kiruv Rechokim (bringing those who are far close to Judaism) or Kiruv Krovim (bringing those who are close into a real care and vibrancy about Judaism)

Why is Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel important (imagine in theory Jews could live in Israel peacefully under foreign rule)?

Does a Jewish democracy have din malchut, if not is a theocracy (more accurately a monarchy becuase the kohen kadol/ Av beit din) is the religious leader the ideal?

Is it a form of tzedakah to save the environment?

If your brother has a flu and your neighbor is getting a stroke, who do you deal with first? If a Jewish person has the flu and a non-Jew is getting a stroke who do you deal with first?

Should the a government be responsible for needs beyond basic necessities of life towards its citizens?

Should the Israeli government be a diffrent case becuase it is obligated to care for the Jewish people?

Is a representative democracy the same thing as the people?

If Am Yisrael is obligated to do something is the government obligated?

If you take in refugees to save lives, how do you draw the line at which you can't save more lives?

Is it better not to accept any refugees because you really can't help every single person in the world or is it better to set an arbitrary line?

How can you accept the 1000th person but not the 1001st?

If the lives were Jewish Lives would you act the same way? Is it ok if the answer to that was yes?

and a bonus:
What should be the place of Arab's in Israel (politically, socially etc)?

Is it (and if yes to what extent) is it ok to use psychological warfare in the occupation of the West Bank? If shooting at a blank wall in an Arab village will stop terrorists from shooting at nearby settlements for instance...or random arrests and detentions?

Is it ok for Jews to settle in the West Bank considering there are Arabs in Israel?

If the Palestinians view themselves as at war with Israel and some/most see it fit to resort to violence why is it wrong to play our side of the struggle and try to build on as much land(not that belongs to private Palestinians) as possible?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Celebrating the Hamas takeover of Gaza?

I have had trouble posting lately, so there are many things that I have wanted to write about hat I haven't got a chance to, because it won't save my drafts. I have lost interesting posts that I have put a lot of effort into, so now I write it all in Gmail.

I have gotten a bit tired of the "More power = More responsibility = More accountability" reasoning. This reasoning was among the lines of thought that gave me hope that the disengagement might produce something. In the sense that if Israel was gone they might actually try to fix the real problems, which really have nothing to do with occupation.

I said the same thing when Hamas won the elections; maybe now the world will realize what Palestinian "nationalism" is all about. It didn't happen, because the world chose to shut its eyes.

The reasoning is true in the sense that people try to fill their roles. So, if someone is thinking of themselves as a student/chanich they will try to find loopholes in the rules and be disruptive. While if they suddenly are put in charge of a group, they will try to establish order and think of themselves as a part of the solution and not the problem.

So why am I "celebrating" the Hamas takeover of Gaza?

Its very simple. No its not that I am glad that Palestinians are killing each other, that's actually a pretty sad result of the depravity of their society. So why is it? Because the West Bank and Gaza are now separate. Gaza will unfortunately become a backwards taliban/Iran mixture of Islamic religious extremism. While the West Bank will gravitate towards modern more secular palestinian Arab nationalism. Neither is a great enemy for Israel to be up against. It was also easier for Israel to combat a divided Palestinian population through the old "divide and conquer". So what is it that we are gaining from this (lest anyone think that Fatah aren't also crazy) ? The concept that maybe we can have a tri-state solution. Its not quite Rav Yoel Bin-nun's idea of Egypt taking Gaza and Jordan taking the West Bank, but its a step in the right direction. With no need for territorial continuity we really may be able to achieve some sort of permanent borders. In fact, Hamas understands that this separation of the West Bank and Gaza can hurt the Palestinian ideal of taking over all of Israel through stages or otherwise. I happen not to think that Egypt and Gaza reclaiming the lands that they had until '67 is a realistic idea. I much prefer we break up the Palestinian extreme nationalism and let them focus on the land they currently occupy rather than carving up Israel for the needless desire for a contiguous state, when two separate sates would do equally well. The only question remains is if and how to transfer people from Gaza to the West Bank and vice versa who want to live in the other Palestinian state.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No Time For Blogging

Well I really just don't have the time to blog, or actually do anything else. I have to work on time management. The fact that I am writing this now shows that I might actually start getting there. The process of Aliyah takes a while and there is much bureaucracy to go through. After going on a long journey to Lishkat Giyus Tel Hashomer (Tel Hashomer Recruitment office) and not even getting past the information desk outside the offices, and faxing a few times, and calling many times until I find out a good way to avoid the long telephone menus and actually reach a person in a few seconds instead of waiting on hold for 5 minutes and thn being disconneted, and then having Liora (she is the best), the yeshiva Secretary to call on my behalf, I finnaly got my tzav rishon (first call up) to be in a week, more about why that's so important later.

If you think I haven't being a good job of keeping up my blog now, be prepared when I go into the wilderness for 7 weeks this summer.

For now before I got to bed I will relate one story:

I was getting my phone fixed today. My phone does everything but ring which is a bit of a problem when it is also your alarm clock and you don't always have it in a place where you can feel the vibrations. After starting at the place I bought my phone, they told me I needed to go to the "Orange" store, which luckily was about 600 meters down the road, at least something was going right. I figure while I am there I might see about other plans instead of my current pay-as-you-go.
It had a nice atmosphere and you could see through a big window into the area where the technicians were working; it was still a place where you had to wait and wait of course. They gave me no trouble about warranties or faults or this or that. They just checked that I didn't accidentally have it on silent and took it in. Meanwhile I had a sales rep explain to me that I shouldn't buy now, and should wait until I get a certain status in the process of the army (which an Israeli is explaining to me as I write this). I learn a bit of mishna Eruvin as I wait for my phone to be fixed. The phone works for about 3 rings before dieing again, but by that time the store already closes in ten minutes and I am busy at the doctor filling out driving license forms. The interesting Israeli story to this:
There were these two guys, I was trying to figure out how to refer to them, they were an amazing sociological or psychological phenomenon. One was "dati" and the other was "hiloni", but I wouldn't consider either one religious or ethical secular. The word that kept on creeping into my head was the ביריונים beryonim of the mishna (or from the movie Kazablan). I guess thugs, but it wouldn't do them justice, maybe "grown-up" Arsim. The manager was working at the checkout, where I was buying a set of headphones (so I could listen to the radio for news in Hebrew and spend less of my computer time reading the news). They get fed up and walk around the shop, so I sit down on the stool where one of them was sitting.
He comes back and says "I was here first, so get up" but not in such a menacing way, and I happened to agree with him that even though he left he still was there first so I said "yah sure go ahead sit". As the rest of the customers and I wait in line and other people keep coming up and complaining about how its been an hour, even though "the computer says very clearly that you have been waiting 14 minutes, but I will do my best", this guy keeps on being pushy to the manager about finding two girlfriends of his work at the shop. In Israel, that's fair enough, you push for the unusual things for your friends and you sometimes get what you are after.
The manager was accepting his actions, as he was on the phone with one of the girls, she was telling him that they should come to the shop with a CV. He asks her to hire them on the spot or at least guarantee them jobs by tomorrow or the day after. She explains to him that as much as she has a role, "Orange" also is involved and you can't cut corners like this in a real company, because it just won't work even for her. She is helpful, giving him information, telephone numbers, and a website, but he wants a fax number for the CVs. She explains that "Orange"'s website has fax details but that she doesn't have the number for a fax to accept CVs in the shop. He gets fed up and gets her to take the phone from him to talk to the girl herself.
Meanwhile the "dati"(and by that I mean he was wearing a kipa) friend is on the store's phone making calls. Neither has any respect for anyone in the store or any societal norms and are pushing it to the point where I would think in America or any other western country you would ask them to please step out of the shop.
I laugh a bit about how ridiculous this is that people are barely phased by this here. The guy who now has nothing to do as the manger is talking on his cell phone yells at me "are you laughing at me?", I wanted to answer "YES! you are acting like thugs out of a movie and everyone is demurring to your every wish", but I just said "yah just the situation."
He wasn't happy and he said back "Well if you keep laughing, I am going to make you cry," which just wanted to make me laugh more. He got distracted and was just going around being bothersome.
While he was away a well biult guy said to me "you can't go around talking talking like that, not everyone in the world is a nice person like you."
The manager replies "yah you have to be careful you can't argue with these guys you have to just agree."

While this is atypical, I could only imagine this happening to me in Israel.

Instead of capitulating to the every whim of these thugs we should get them negotiating with the Palestinians, maybe show the Palestinians that if we wanted to really be ruthless thugs with nothing in mind but ourselves we could be. It would be a nice way to set the tone before entering real negotiations.

Monday, May 14, 2007

English helps Israelis study Torah at YPT

I plan to write up the shiur I heard today from Rav Ti about Ruth, but with my laptop broken I wasn't able to take notes, and it may take some time. Meanwhile, its just intresting that for all the complaints people make about having to learn Tanakh in Hebrew, it actually helps to know English. Transilations by thier very nature will be impercise, but in the Tanakh it makes a big diffrence because the language is meant to be very very percise. Normally that means that when you try to transilate the Tanakh you have two problems (well there are many more, but these ones are relevant to what I am saying).

1) It is difficult or impossible to fight the equivlent word in English (or whatever language you are transilating into)

2) Since most words don't have an exact 1-to-1 correspondance from Hebrew to English, your word choice is by definition an interpretation.

So after all that introduction, what is my point?
רות א:5 Ruth 1:5

וַיָּמֻתוּ גַם-שְׁנֵיהֶם, מַחְלוֹן וְכִלְיוֹן; וַתִּשָּׁאֵר, הָאִשָּׁה, מִשְּׁנֵי יְלָדֶיהָ, וּמֵאִישָׁהּ.

And Mahlon and Chilion both died, and the woman (Naomi) Va'tishaer from/of her two children and of her husband.

So what belongs in place of Va'tishaer ?

Well Rav Ti asked the full room: "מה התגום של ותשאר...הרתגום לאנגלית?" (What is the translation of Va'Tishaer, the translation into English)

So people threw out ideas: survived, left, stayed, remained

The point was that it was pretty obvious that if her husband and children died, then she was survived by them, so what is this verse adding?

In context if you use the word stayed or remained then you develop a picture that Naomi is staying in the Galut outside of Eretz Yisrael. This is why English helps you understand Tanakh

This is a good time to mention that "A Jew is Israel has G-d, a Jew outside of Israel has no G-d." Not "is like he has no G-d." There is a reason that it was especially true in biblical times, but here is not the place to expand on it.

An interesting post on translating and Torah can be found here

Tafnit on thier night off - Pokemon

Tafnit, the other program from Australasia/South Africa besides MTA, while they are at YPT (Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva) usually get Tuesday as a night off. Yom Yerushalim is Tuesday night this week, so they have off tonight. On their night off, some are at the computers. Often they can be found playing Age of Empires II. The computers reset each time they are turned off, so they have to reload it each time off an ipod or disc-on-key(flash drive, USB stick etc), which takes 5-10 minutes per computer, but that doesn't deter them. Tonight however, most of them are playing Pokemon on the computer. Seven of them are playing the original Yellow (not Blue/Red) Pokemon on the computer, including their madrich. A little nostalgia never hurt, but it's quite funny. I guess it's better than GTA: Vice City which one of them is playing.

(correction thanks to The Life and Times of the World's Greatest Jewperhero )

Thursday, May 3, 2007

In Israel electronically doesn't mean instant

I get my Teduat Zehut (identity card) on Sunday by picking it up at the NBN offices in Jerusalem. Without it I can't go to the Misrad Ha'klita or open a bank account. I do have a document called a Teduat Oleh, which looks like a passport, but is something that a new immigrant gets. I keep on hearing about its importance, but all I really know that it does is give Bnei Akiva money from the sochnut because I am a boger. I'll soon see what it actually is good for. Meanwhile with it and another piece of paper I went to the post office to get a form that lets me join a kupat holim(lit. sick fund, basically medical insurance). That is the only thing I can do in the bureaucracy chain that doesn't require a Teudat Zehut. I arrive at the post office and of course it is siesta, so I wait until 3:30. The post office workers get back earlier than that, but there is no way they will open it up until at least 3:32 at the earliest. To get free medical care for the first 6 months as an oleh, you need to pay 13.72 shekel. NBN had written down 12, I guess they need to tax you even on the fees you pay for your "free" services. The post office worker entered some information on a computer, scanned a printout had me sign something and that was it.

With the voucher from the post office I went to the Kupat Holim. I had chosen Klalit, purely for its location. There siesta ended at 4:00 so I waited around a bit. After some people pushed in front of me, I finally got to the desk armed with everything I needed. I lay it all out and say I want to join the Kupat Holim. The clerk starts to enter some data into her computer, and then enters some more information. Finally she looks up and says sorry you are not in the computer, did you go to the post office yet? I point to the form from the post office. I tell her I just came from the post office 45 minutes ago. Her response left me dumbfounded:
"Oh that was too soon, try coming back next week."

This was done by computers, it should be instant. Ok, if not instant, then at least overnight. How long could it take to transfer data, at worst there should be a nightly dump of data into the different systems.

Hey, at least I am Israeli now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Two Words

I'm Israeli

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Aliyah in 27.5 hours with Nefesh B'Nefesh from JFK

I haven't blogged in a while. Too busy dealing with Aliyah preperations and seeing friends and family.

There have been so many things I have wanted to blog about and have written out whole posts including links in my head, but they have remained there.

I should get back to blogging soon. Meanwhile I am still packing and somehow 210 pounds just isn't enough.

100 lbs for a set of Talmud Bavli
and about another hundred for a green mini set of kehati mishnayot, a rambam, a large set of Kehati, an english midrash rabbah, and more
then some clothing.

What most annoyed me is finding out that most suitcases way a bit over 10 lbs. Isn't there a better way to construct suitcases so that they don't take up a fifth of the weight that you are often allowed

Anyway, if anyone wants to meet me at the airport on May 1st at 1:15PM.

And to add another link to a Jewish site that has enough links:

Apparently, Jdate gets 135% more traffic than the second most trafficked Jewish websites, or all other major Jewish websites put together, don't know if that's true. Maybe someone can verify that.

Of course I will be wearing my Hultza/Tilboshet for the flight.

You too can fly Nefesh B'Nefesh. Unless you are already Israeli or live outside the US & Canada & UK. If so then at least there is the Global Aliyah Centre which is a free call from almost anywhere you might live, or at worst a free skype call. They will help you with just about anything Israel & Aliyah related

Sunday, April 8, 2007

NCSY Six Flags Great Adventure - Post I (Videos)

When the Jews take over Six Flags Great Adventure (well it was also Easter so it wasn't a complete takeover this year):

Just some videos that I took on the roller coasters for now.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Will the Left Wing Shut Up?

I often am on the left on many issues including Israeli "politics" Being on the left in Israeli politics is Pro-peace, but that doesn't mean that the right is anti-peace of course as some people would like to say. It’s a bit like pro-choice or pro-life. It’s all spin. People underestimate how much people on the right want peace. After a trip to Bethlehem I am inclined to agree with them that peace now or any time soon is untenable in the current situation. I don't care whose fault it is that the Arab street and the Palestinians aren't ready for peace. It’s much to complex and instead of assigning blame on anyone we have to figure out how to fix the problem rather than trying to take apart the situation. However, denying that there is a problem is just as much a sure predictor of failure as discussing blame. We can't treat a problem we deny exists. That said, I still think that it may be possible to talk to the dictators who control the Arab world and may be able to convince the "Arab street" to go along. I normally agree with Sharansky's Open Society vs Closed Society, but we should not close off any option when looking for peace. So why do I say the left should shut up? I have been reading for so long about how Israel needs to offer a comprehensive peace plan to the Arab World. Of course much of it was couched in cynicism about how Israel doesn't really want peace or it would have done so long ago. I don't think being a Zionist means thinking that Israel can do no wrong, and anyone who knows Israel bureaucracy and the way the Gush Katif evacuees were dealt with and the war (yes its officially a war) in Lebanon was conducted and the financial and sex scandals sweeping Israeli leadership, knows that things in Israel aren't handled properly. However being a Zionist should be done through truly believing that you are doing the best for Israel and that even if Israel is imperfect it deserves the benefit of the doubt. I am not saying all the critics of Israeli policy from the left or the right handled themselves inappropriately, but I was disappointed with the number that did. Why all of this? Because Israel finally did extend her hand. My opinion in all of this is that if Israel would have been the first to extend her hand she would not have been taken as seriously and this was a tactical move in the "war for peace."

Well it looks like despite letting the Arab World go first, nothing much was gained.

Basically, the Arab World wants to give Israel an ultimatum, not engage in negotiations. As I learned in Bethlehem, they really think that all they are required to do for Israel to give up everything that she could possibly give up is for the Arab States to say they are willing to meet with Israel, and “recognize Israel.”

Monday, April 2, 2007

Yeshivish Feminism and have I really left Israel?

Location: Monsey, New York
Date: Erev Pesach 5767 יד ניסן ה'תשס"ז
Or should I say 3319, especially considering that it is almost Pesach. 3319 is the number of years that it has been since the exodus from Egypt according to the traditional Rabbinical counting. If you look on the Daf Kesher, the newsletter of Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), that number is listed there. Apparently Rav Meidan thinks that it is a good way to fulfill the mitzvah of Zechirat Yetziat Mitzraim (Remembrance of the Exodus from the Egypt). There is no real reason to be recalling creation specifically, unlike the exodus, which we are supposed to remember everyday. This is different than the mitzvah of Sippur Yetziat Mitzraim(retelling the story of the Exodus from Egypt) which can only be done at the Seder once a year(twice a year if you are in the Galut, in Chutz La'aretz, in the Diaspora). I have heard this all second hand while learning at Gush, and I couldn't find any site or dvar torah about it on the web. Rav Meidan also has interesting Egypt much earlier than we usually think.

But that wasn't my point.

I was a salon where my sister was getting a manicure and pedicure. She didn't want to go by her self so I took along something to read, specifically the Hebrew Version of the Haggadah "A night to remember." While waiting I overheard some stories that a girl of about 11 was telling her younger brother of about 5 or 6. The family was definitely right wing, not sure how far. Big black velvet kippah on the kid and the girls were all wearing very long skirts and talking with yeshivish, some of which I didn't even understand easily. She told him two short stories to keep him occupied.

The first was about a woman construction worker who saved the day. All the other male construction workers were sick from a flu and there was a train that was going down the track and it was broken and the signals weren’t working, btu everyone except this women construction worker was sick that day, so she fixed it up and built it all by herself. So everyone was saved because of her, and she was rewarded with lots of medals and everyone thanked her and she was respected from then on. That was just about verbatim.

It was interesting to hear the very short story, but almost as surprising was the next story. The first story was possibly about females striving to fill male roles. I won’t try to write the second story word for word, because it basically matches the first one with a few exceptions. Just replace female construction worker with male beautician and his heroism was helping a kallah at chassnah(chatuna, wedding) when all the female workers were sick, and his reward was the kallah’s family and friends were forever grateful and everyone wanted to hire him. It looks like it is not just a drive for females to take on male roles. Its more of a two way street. Gender equality and fewer limits based on your anatomy. I should bring in an op-ed piece written by Yishai Schwartz in the SAR High School Paper, but I will need to get his permission to reprint. If and when I do, you will see why it is relevant.

Now the second part of the post:Why am I left wondering if I left Israel?
a) There are tons of Jews around. Haredim, Modern Orthodox, Reform Conservative, unaffiliated.
b) Everything, even the regular products have kosher l'pesach on them.
c) At The Young Israel of New Rochelle the congregation recited Tefillah l'shlom hamedina (prayer for the state of Israel) in unison with gusto. Well of course they also said a prayer for America and an interesting prayer for the troops, something that I will hopefully look at in a future post.
d) I have seen bumper stickers in Monsey from "ha'am im gush Katif" and "Hevron shelanu." Not sure if I have seen any left wing Israel bumper stickers. Well the extremists always are more committed, and the more committed are more likely to be extremists.
e) A siren when off when it was the last time you could eat Hametz. Coiencidence? Maybe, but it was too perfectly timed, and sounded like the ones you hear in Israel
f) At 2:30 erev pesach most of the stores at the local strip mall were closed and the parking lot which was impossibly busy just 2 hours earlier was almost empty

Hag Kasher V’Sameach
Or as I learned people say in a strange language : A Zissen Pesach

Thursday, March 29, 2007

In New York for Pesach

I am in New York for Pesach and until my Nesfesh B'Nefesh flight.

I am going to the New Voices conference which so far has been interesting. Looking forward to blogging about it and actually, you know, writing something. But that will happen, when I am actually thinking straight and its not 5am Israel time after a jetlag inducing flight.

Just a thought that you wouldn't expect from an oleh:
You know how some people talk of loving everything about Israel and how even the hoy dirt of Israel is beloved unto them. Well for me New York is the same in a way. I love the sounds and smells of New York and on the MTA Subway even the dirt covering the walls in the grimy stations remind me of my love of this city.

And a Did you know?:
The longest subway ride with a transfer is the 2 train from 241st Street in the Bronx, with a transfer at Fulton Street/Broadway-Nassau to the Far Rockaway-bound A train (more than 38 miles). - The MTA

I almost did that today. I took the AirTrain from JFK Terminal 4 to Howard Beach station of the A train and from there eventually ended up at 231st st of the 1 train. Not as long, but still one end of the line to another

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Benisishm look down in Bethlehem

On the trip to Bethlehem there were many components. I am still working on sorting out my thoughts on the trip to blog about. Meanwhile, here is a video clip. When the dancing got very raunchy the benishim (yeshiva students bnei yishiva) said:
We are such a bunch of benishim all looking away
It was so true. For me that would have been true even before, but I realized that we all were not looking without even us looking at each other to judge one another. An interesting note on the non-judgmental aspect of the trip. Of course this was while they were eating food that I would have to define as not Kosher in almost any way I could define Kosher food, not that I am judging anyone

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Return To Homesh

I just got an SMS saying:
חוזרים לחומש: המאבק על החזרה לחומש נמשך! כולנו באים לעזרת 1500 הגיבורים הנאחזים במקום! הסעות מביבי האומה בירושלים משעה 9:30 עד 11:30. הגעתכם חשובה!!! העבר

Sender +97297922073
Sent 8:58:18 27-03-2007

This was in addition to a message I recieved erlier.

The gist is that they are bussing in more people to Homesh to try to take the land and build on it, against the agreement with the Army which they made...prepare for violence.

I have much more to say, but I am going on a tiyul around the area of Jerusalem with some friends, and I am late. Well I am off to Sataf

Monday, March 26, 2007

Couldn't Find Wireless in Palestinian Area A

I was in Bethlehem on Thursday and Friday. I thought I was going to blog from there. I couldn't find wireless. I was too tired to use the computer of the family I stayed with. I am working on a post about it on my laptop with pictures. Should be up soon

I went with this group

I am in Raanana now, and rushing off to minha. So I will write more later to you readers

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dancing in YPT

Now to Ben Hazmanim

Monday, March 19, 2007

Grog against Iran

The Petition doesn't suggest using force against Iran. It talks about sanctions, which is something I think any sane person would agree with. The question is do they really mean it, or is the bait and switch of the IAJV?

So go sign it!

Missiles will be falling on me tommorow

The rescue services will be dispatched to other "missile landing" areas in Petah Tikva and in a Jaffa community center. In Be'er Sheva a drill will be held simulating a "mega-terror attack," simultaneous to a heavy barrage of rockets in southern Israel, causing many injuries. - ynetnews
Don't worry its just a drill.

Its also the first time they are doing this. It sounds like a good idea. I just wonder if we are supposed to do anything when we hear the sirens. I mean its all very nice to test emergency services. But one of the biggest problems of the Lebanon war on the home front was the lack of adequate unlocked bomb shelters.

We can stop bashing the French?

( According to recent reports, French President Jacques Chirac was willing to support an Israeli attack on Syria during the 2006 war with Hizbullah. Chirac sent a secret message to Israeli officials saying that France would give Israeli full support if Israel were to invade Damascus and topple the current Syrian regime.

Israeli political commentators explained Sunday that the secret message shows Chirac’s understanding of the situation. Chirac realized that Syria is responsible for arming and supporting the terrorist group Hizbullah, they said, and saw Israel’s struggle against Hizbullah as legitimate.

Well I am surprised as you are about this. It doesn’t make up for the antisemitism in France.

It poses an interesting question. If Israel had the international support to deal with the root of the problem, why didn’t they?

NYTimes on Darfur & Israel

Looks like I should have gone to yad vashem with the group. Well it looks like they had a good time at least. And by good, I mean meaningful as anyone who has been to Poland with a Jewish group knows.


Well I already went on one trip with them, and I can't just leave yeshiva for every trip, even if it is volunteering.

[hat tip shmarya ]

RAL – facebook and Ha’aretz

Gush alumni are big fans of RAL. Some are so devoted to him that they ironically become Hassidim of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. If you thought rebbe worship was something only for the ultra-Orthodox, you would be mistaken.

There are facebook groups such as I♥Rav Aharon

People at Gush were even thinking of printing shirts with “I♥Rav Aharon”, of course not to be worn in the biet midrash or anywhere where Rav Aharon would see you

One of this years ideas for the overseas program sweastshirt with Mt. Gushmore, moddled of course on Mt. Rushamore with the likenesses of the four Rashei Yeshiva (Rav Ahraon, Rav Amital, Rav Gigi, Rav Medan) cast into the cliff face.

There is this fan website. He admits:

This is either the closest thing I have to God or the closest thing I have to Avoda Zara. Or both.

If you want a more reasoned approach to Rav Aharhon I suggest you read his books, or at the very least this Ha’aretz article

Concerning Yonatan Bassi, Lichtenstein argues that, as head of the Sela disengagement administration, he displayed conduct reflecting profound morality, as well as Zionism and a sense of mission. "His actions betrayed neither his nation nor the religious camp," he states categorically. "He wanted to serve Israel's best interests. He wanted to open the eyes of a public that was uninterested in understanding the situation. I think such conduct deserves respect. I am very angry that there are still people in my world who not only state that he failed but joyously celebrate that failure."

This does not mean that Lichtenstein completely condemns the criticism directed at Bassi. He believes that, when people say harsh things, they are showing they really care. "We live in an era when the future of the Jewish community here and Israel's future hang in the balance, and some people are more sensitive to this than others," he notes. "The British poet and writer T.E. Hulme related how, during a discussion in France of who was the better dramatist, Shakespeare or Racine, people threw chairs at one another. That shows they deeply cared about the issue."

Somehow I don’t think that Rav Aharon would find it acceptable to throw chairs in the beit midrash. Also he is not exactly condoning people’s actions, he is just saying that it is good that people are passionate.

Nonetheless, he observes: "When people become more religiously observant, they are convinced they have a monopoly on the truth. Although they might care more passionately about certain issues, they are not particularly imbued with a sense of humility or self-criticism that is rooted in a full-fledged spiritual world. They are unprepared to hear what others have to say because they believe it might weaken their religious faith."

It is easy to imagine that this criticism is leveled against the Hardali - the Hebrew acronym for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) nationalist - community. Although, in his view, the Hardali community displays some degree of intolerance, he sees a definite advantage in the strengthening of religious behavior it has fostered: "The Religious Kibbutz Movement is considered tolerant but is also perceived as prone to making compromises. Religiously speaking, it is less impassioned. The Hardali community is devoted to the Torah and strictly obeys the commandments."

Its interesting that he says that, considering how I have heard many times that despite the machon at gush he doesn’t exactly have a great love of academic Jewish studies. I for one would much rather be an impassioned meticulous member of the Religious Kibbutz Movement than an open-minded Hardali

Lichtenstein says that it's not his political positions that have changed; rather, the national-religious camp has moved further to the right. "Today," he admits, "I am in a political wilderness. I once belonged to the National Religious Party, but today the party is unprepared to hear my views."

People tried to obfuscate and doubt the move to right religiously, but I doubt people have the hutzpa to try the same tactics to convince us that Religious Zionism hasn't taken a drastic right wing turn politically. They also have taken on right wing politics as a religious credo, almost on the level of Rambam's 13.

Nevertheless, he emphasizes that he has never been a member of Meimad, although he supports it from behind the scenes: "I do not see myself going down that route. I advocate territorial compromise, but also hold the view that Jews must never be indifferent to the various parts of Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel."

His support of territorial compromise is based on the religious principle of piku'ah nefesh, Judaism's paramount directive to save human life. Soloveitchik also spoke of the need for territorial concessions. "When we talk about territorial compromise, we are talking about a calculated risk," explains Lichtenstein. "And, as long as experts see such concessions as serving Israel's best interests, we must respond. If every lieutenant in the army chooses to ignore policies established by democratic forces, that is a problem."

Don’t worry folks he hasn’t turned left on you. He is still central, all of you just ran as far up those Judean hilltops as you could.

There is also the moral aspect. "When a society becomes overly militaristic spiritually, a price is always paid," he explains. "One price is narrow-mindedness. Unfortunately, that statement holds true for a fairly large segment of the religious-Zionist community."

I’ll let that stand


Then why is he in the minority? Why has modern Orthodox Judaism not caught on here in Israel?

"The very complexity of that outlook," he replies, "requires a certain level and ability to balance things and clarify issues. It is much simpler to follow a single flag."

The YouTube of documents

I just found this website that lets you upload documents from almost any format and then converts them to PDF, Word and even audio. It does this for free, and you can set the document to public or private. If that weren’t enough you can also embed the document anywhere!
We are used to embedding videos, and this isn’t that different. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is an amazing resource.

Like YouTube, it also will have copyright issues. I don’t know about you but I do have a problem with ripping, burning and downloading music illegally. I know almost everyone does it, and there have been many attempts to say that halakha doesn’t prohibit the practice. It’s interesting, the very same rabbis who complain about the slippery slopes in other areas will be the first to moreh heter for music and media. I am actually don’t have as much trouble with books. I know that for long books with large distribution that you want to actually read, you will want a real copy and support the author. For books with small distribution the royalties are tiny and it all goes to the publishing house. Why would I want to support a publishing house in its efforts to destroy forests? I still know its wrong to download copyrighted materials of the internet no matter what the format, but with google’s book project, and the access that we all have to public and academic libraries I know the lines are fuzzier here. At the end of the day I believe that data wants to be “free.” Not it the sense of zero-cost, but in the sense that it should be accessible to as any many people as possible without physical, technological or economic boundaries.
We have seen companies respond to the amazing ease with which it was possible to view and download their content. I am talking positive models, not suing YouTube. I mean things like opening up their databases to be people who want to view content and wouldn’t mind too much for a small fee to access content. Hopefully this will lead to the same results in print without all the road bumps. That looks unlikely to me, because despite the warning about copyright and some great documents that were out of copyright or not copyrighted, the site lets you upload anonymously. It’s too easy to upload things you shouldn’t be and have no responsibility.
Anyway for a positive use of Scribd, here is the diagram with text of the mishnah yevamot 4:7

In Defense of YCT

I am not going to link to the horrible posts attacking YCT, but I will bring you this. A very worthwhile read:

Keeping it short!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Haveil Havalim #110 is up

Haveil Havalim #110 is up this time on soccer dad

Go check out the interesting posts. I won't bias you by saying which ones I liked.
I just should have submitted a better one myself.

meh, I have been using it for a while

Meh - the word that's sweeping the internet

How was my weekend? Meh. The mehness of it is indescribable. Just one big, fat meh. If you are an old-media kind of reader, "meh" won't mean a whole lot to you. The word has appeared in the national press three times in the past year. If you gain new vocabulary from conversation, it is probably unfamiliar. If you can't be torn from the web, however, you will almost certainly know it, and its meaning.

Meh means rubbish. It means boring. It means not worth the effort, who cares, so-so, whatever. It is the all-purpose dismissive shrug of the blogger and messageboarder. And it is ubiquitous. On the I Love Music messageboard, for example, 4,010 separate discussion threads feature the use of "meh". - The Guardian
I have been using this word on and offline for years now. So my response to this article is "meh"

learning moed katan

With the starting of tractate Moed Katan, R' Chaim Kanievsky said that it is known in the name of the Chasam Sofer that there is a concern in learning Moed Katan because of the fact they you are learning the halachos of mourning. Therefore the Chasam Sofer said that a person should give charity before learning this tractate.

R' Kanievsky added that certainly someone who gives charity to "Kupat Hair" will be saved from any pain and anguish and has nothing to worry about.

As always, the names of all donors will be passed on to R' Kanievsky for a blessing
published in the Yated Neman via Jewish Worker

Its a good thing I don't believe in the superstition and also follow Rabbis who think learning Moed Katan is important.

And to quote the Rav when people asked used to ask him for a bracha (blessing) :
What are you an apple?
Also it is shameless to say donate to my charity and no harm will come to you. Now if that only worked.

Math while listening to the parsha

While I was listening to the Torah reading I did some quick math in my head twice

The first instance was when the Torah was going over the donations, I was wondering how much is a ככר(kikar, talent) of precious metal? So first I thought, well maybe

כד כָּל-הַזָּהָב, הֶעָשׂוּי לַמְּלָאכָה, בְּכֹל, מְלֶאכֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ--וַיְהִי זְהַב הַתְּנוּפָה, תֵּשַׁע וְעֶשְׂרִים כִּכָּר, וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וּשְׁלֹשִׁים שֶׁקֶל, בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ. 24 All the gold that was used for the work in all the work of the sanctuary, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.

So first I thought: maybe its 1000 shekel. its more than 730. But then:

כו בֶּקַע, לַגֻּלְגֹּלֶת, מַחֲצִית הַשֶּׁקֶל, בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ--לְכֹל הָעֹבֵר עַל-הַפְּקֻדִים, מִבֶּן עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה, לְשֵׁשׁ-מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים, וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשִּׁים. 26 a beka a head, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that passed over to them that are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.
כז וַיְהִי, מְאַת כִּכַּר הַכֶּסֶף, לָצֶקֶת אֵת אַדְנֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ, וְאֵת אַדְנֵי הַפָּרֹכֶת: מְאַת אֲדָנִים לִמְאַת הַכִּכָּר, כִּכָּר לָאָדֶן. 27 And the hundred talents of silver were for casting the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the veil: a hundred sockets for the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.
כח וְאֶת-הָאֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע הַמֵּאוֹת, וַחֲמִשָּׁה וְשִׁבְעִים, עָשָׂה וָוִים, לָעַמּוּדִים; וְצִפָּה רָאשֵׁיהֶם, וְחִשַּׁק אֹתָם. 28 And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their capitals, and made fillets for them.
Which reminds me of the nice drasha how all the people of Israel were equal and of utmost importance when it came to the very foundation of the משכן(tabernacle). Well turns out, not quite, they really only needed 100 talents so 1775 shekel was used for other things, still a nice drasha so I am sure there is a way to work this out nicely.
Anyway the math
603,550 people (men over 20 of the nation of Israel) give 0.5 shekel which makes 301,775 shekel. Subtract 1775 for the left overs and you are left with 300,000 shekel being equal to 100 talents, meaning one talent was 3,000 shekel. Hmm before I calculated it during the reading I thought it would be 2,000 shekel, I wonder why I thought that?

Then later we have the Golden Altar for the sacrifices of animals, I always think of it as very big and impressive, tall and imposing. Well, it couldn't be that big, it would have to be carried whole.

א וַיַּעַשׂ אֶת-מִזְבַּח הָעֹלָה, עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים: חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת אָרְכּוֹ וְחָמֵשׁ-אַמּוֹת רָחְבּוֹ, רָבוּעַ, וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַמּוֹת, קֹמָתוֹ. 1 And he made the altar of burnt-offering of acacia-wood: five cubits was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof, four-square, and three cubits the height thereof.
An אמה(bredth) is normally 5 tefachim(handbreadth) but for the משכ ן(tabernacle) it is 6. A handbreadth is taken to be between 8-10cm. So it is between
3 x 6 x 8cm = 1.44 meters (4'8") and 3 x 6 x 10 cm= 1.8 meters (5'11")

I guess I already knew that, but I just usually thought of it as bigger in my mind. Well if you didn't know, now you do

RSS feeds - right wing conspiracy? not any more

So I just started using RSS feeds. I have been so hesitant to do this for some reason. Normally I am the first one to try to get my hands on technology, but this one took me a while to get comfortable with. While setting up some RSS feeds with this blog
Subscribe in a reader

I finally decided to start using the myself. I actually like it, it means I can quickly browse many blogs and see when people actually update. I am using Google reader Add to Google Reader or Homepage , and I have to say so far I am really impressed.

Now the title mentions a right wing conspiracy. So what is this conspiracy?
the RSS feed symbol is Orange. It is very clear that they are protesting the disengagement. Don't worry Feed Icons is here to save the day for those left wing bloggers who are tired of the right wing imperialism and neo-colonization of the blogosphere feeds

Not a fan of orange? Download the package and customize the icon to your liking. It is believed that as a symbol, the feed icon is recognizable enough that it doesn't need to be restricted to one colour.

custom icons
I'll stick with orange, thank you. Its my protest to the anti-disengagement folks attempt to take a colour and give it political connotations. Everything in Israel is already political, do we really need to politicize colours?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sudan fights for right to do Evil

Apparently Sudan finds it easier to fight the law instead of following it.

Sudan would rather fight a lawsuit about their assistance to terrorism, rather than stop the actual terrorism.

Sudan would rather fight a UN condemnation of the genocide in Darfur, rather than stop the actual genocide in Darfur.

Sudan rather than claiming it had no involvement in the Bombing of the USS Cole, tries to get off on a technicality
Families of American sailors killed in the suicide bombing of the USS Cole warship are suing the government of Sudan, accusing it of aiding terrorism.

They claim the African nation helped al-Qaeda, which was blamed for the attack, and are seeking damages of more than $100m through a Virginia court.

Sudan has tried to have the case dismissed, saying too much time had passed since the 2000 bombing. - BBC

As for Darfur, Sudan doesn't just rely on technicalities, it creates them:
Sudan tries to block UN from considering Darfur atrocities report

March 13, 2007 (GENEVA) — Sudan on Tuesday accused a United Nations panel of bias, and moved to block the U.N. Human Rights Council from considering its report accusing Khartoum of orchestrating attacks in Darfur.

Sudanese Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told the 47-nation council that the American head of the mission, Nobel laureate Jody Williams, took "a preconceived and hostile attitude against Sudan."

Al-Mardi said Sudan "strongly and resolutely" opposes any consideration by the council of the report, which he said should be dismissed because it was written without the team having visited Darfur. The team said it had to proceed that way because Sudan refused to grant them visas. - Sudan Tribune

And if that wasn't enough, they also lie

"Any attempt to confer legitimacy on this mission will constitute a serious and dangerous precedent in the eyes, not only of the Sudan, but also of many members of this esteemed council," al-Mardi said.

He asserted that two of the six team members had failed to participate, which made the mission "no longer valid."

U.N. officials said Indonesian Ambassador Makarim Wibisono had withdrawn from the panel, but that he was the only one to do so. Gabonese Ambassador Patrice Tonda had to return to Geneva while the panel was waiting in vain for Sudanese visas, but he remains a member of the panel, the officials said. - Sudan Tribune

Some may think that we shouldn't be overly harsh with the Government of Sudan, but as an Israeli Jew, I have no reason to pretend to love a government which gets into bed with Ahmadinejad.

A Random Mishna in Yevamot (4:7 + diagram)

I was happily learning Mishna Yevamot until I got up to this one, when suddenly even with all of the help of Kehati I was underly confused. I made a diagram of it, and now digitized it. So now all of you can learn this random Mishnah. I don't want to even think how complicated the Gemara must be on this one. Anyway, all of what I am talking about is centered on just the last line.

ד,ז החולץ ליבמתו--הוא אסור בקרובותיה, והיא אסורה בקרוביו. הוא אסור באימה, ובאם אימה, ובאם אביה, בבתה, ובבת בתה, ובבת בנה, ובאחותה בזמן שהיא קיימת; והאחים מותרים. והיא אסורה באביו, ובאבי אביו, בבנו, ובבן בנו, באחיו, ובבן אחיו. מותר אדם בקרובת צרת חלוצתו, ואסור בצרת קרובת חלוצתו.

I tried translating that last line for the last while, doing lots of searches and thinking, but I give up. If anybody wants to suggest an good translation, please leave a comment.

This is just how complicated Yibbum and Halizah used to be when men had multiple wives.
An explanation of the diagram:
Diamonds are males. Circles are females.
Shapes with the same color are related, brothers or sisters.
Hollow shapes are dead, full ones are alive.

full diagram of the last two lines of Mishna Yevamot 4:7
Click on the picture below to be able to actually read it:
Description of the full diagram of the last two lines of Mishna Yevamot 4:7

Colbert Report: 3rd World should donate to USA

It gets funnier as it goes along. Near the end I was laughing so loud my roommates asked if I was ok. Luckily they weren't trying to go to sleep yet.

I just wish I could see the whole show online, which had Nicholas Kristof as the guest, but with Viacom cracking down on YouTube, and Comedy Central not letting us see the whole show, its not going to happen. Would it hurt them to host whole shows and forcing us to watch commercials?

For those of you who don't know Nicholas Kristof, I suggest you get to know one of the most well regarded reporters on Darfur. And a lot more, this is from the the NYTimes:

About Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof, an Op-Ed columnist for The Times since November 2001 and previously one of its associate managing editors, is the winner of two Pulitzer prizes. Mr. Kristof has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 120 countries, plus all 50 states, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island. He's also one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the Axis of Evil. During his travels, he has had unpleasant experiences with malaria, wars, an Indonesian mob carrying heads on pikes, and an African airplane crash.

Luckily I headed over to Kristof's blog and found that although injured by Colbert, he put a link up to more of the show...still not the same as the whole show though

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kaluach3 Funny Help

Kaluach3 is a program that besides helping you with the Jewish calendar also gives you complete customizable zmanim, daf yomi(bavli and Yesrushalmi), Mishna Yomi, Halakha Yomi, and Tanakh Yomi.

I was going to try to figure out how to use it with Google calendar, which I am now starting to use to keep track of where I will be when during ben hazmanim (intersession for Yeshiva). In the end I found the easiest way to get a Hebrew calendar, Hebrew dates, שבת times was by using hebcal which lets you export a calendar according to your specifications in either iCal or a CSV, which are both recognized by Google calendar.

But while searching the Help file of Kaluach3 I found some funny things, among the serious questions pertaining to how kaluach figures out the zmanim and the different halakhic shitot (opinions)

" - quote marks, used in rashei teivot (phrase contractions)

In Hebrew, phrase contractions are called rashei teivot, or "the first letters" (of the words in a phrase). Years ago they were commonly used to cut down the size of a book since printing was quite expensive and time consuming. Today, when printing is much cheaper, rashei teivot still appear in places where the context is clear, or in books that were printed using the original plates (or photocopies).

Rashei teivot are also commonly used by the Israeli army in order to obfuscate even the most trivial matters. It is common to receive an order to report to army reserves with a line, stating the objective, similar to this:
מטרה: שחיו"מ טב"י א:כ שטויות

It might look like this in English
Objective: tcx"e pi"w z"a nonsens"e

Upon calling the army to clarify, the usual answer is something like: "I'm not sure what it means, but I think you'll be doing guard duty or driving a jeep."

gehinnom - loosely translated as "hell"

This is a sort of holding tank where those whose fates have yet to be decided wait. Gehinnom physically resembles a dentist's office with Barry Manilow songs piped in 24 hours a day. Israelis wait in a separate room that resembles an Interior Ministry office with Tzvika Pik songs piped in. This is a place to be avoided at all costs.

tzaddikim - "the righteous ones"

Tzaddikim are those individuals that devote their lives to the service of the Almighty and to helping their fellow man. They also eat foods rich in fiber and don't put sugar on their grapefruit.

And after a long complicated explanation of shitot for tzeit hashabbat

David Kramer has suggested the inclusion of the "Egged tzeit Shabbat" (Egged is the major bus line in Israel). To the best of my knowledge, this is based solely on observation... If no one's looking, start the bus.

Its true that buses in Israel depending on which city they are in, do drive or don't, but Egged is no El-Al. Egged only runs buses 30 minutes after Shabbat goes out they say, but according to which shita?

And I'll end off with one funny mistake

In order to prevent desecration of Shabbat, the Chief Rabbinate decreed that the 27th of Nissan falls on Sunday, Yom Hashoah will be observed on Monday.
No, the Chief Rabbinate does not have the authority to fiddle with the calendar and decide that the 27th of Nissan will always fall on a Sunday.