Thursday, March 29, 2007

Freedom From Blogging

I think that this will be my last post until after Passover. My all of you that celebrate Passover have a wonderful holiday. I join Rafi in his prayer for the holiday.

Speaking of freedom I saw something bizarre yesterday and caught it on film. As my bus to Tel Aviv got off on the Kibbutz Galuyot exit, I saw a parrot on a tree, free as a bird! Parrots do not live in the wild in Israel. This guy must have escaped home, or perhaps his owners decided that they did not want to care for him anymore. Click on the picture to see an enlargement:

Update: The bird is apparently a Rose-ringed Parakeet, a bird that was not a native of Israel but has made itself at home. (Hat tip: Zman Biur).

Update!: See more info at The Invasive Species Weblog.

Final Update?:Just saw this:
The ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) apparently spread naturally from Egypt, where it was introduced from India, although there is a possibility that the Israeli population originated from escaped or released pets during the 1960s (Dvir, 1988). It started breeding during the 1980s, and is now very common in the coastal plain and northern valleys, as well as along the Jordan Valley. Roosts of thousands are located along the coastal plain and other areas.

Keep The Sabbath And Say Psalms For The Soul!

I snapped this one the other day in Tel Aviv:

The upper sign reads, "Keep and remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it." Then in small letters, "For it is the source of blessing."

The lower sign reads, "Also in the new year we say Psalms for the soul."

Everybody knows that Jerusalem is holy. Did you know that Tel Aviv is also holy?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Klezmer Band At The Entrance To The Azrielli Towers

When I was at the Azrielli Towers the other day I photographed what I thought were sculptures of Klezmer musicians at the entrance to the parking lot. I was surprised that the owners/managers of the towers decided to add a Yiddish touch to the place.

After I came home I enhanced the photo and I saw that these were not Hasidic Klezmer musicians! It actually looks like a New Orleans style jazz band:

Louis Armstrong would be proud.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oom Shmoom!

Saw this here but I'm posting as well to give it as much exposure as possible:

Heads Up!

I wish I had something profound to write to accompany this photograph that I took of the Azrielli Towers, but I don't.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Links For Today

I am not really in a blogging mood today (see the previous post). But there are a few things that you shouldn't miss:

The 4th Edition of J-Pix is Now Live!!

Liveblogging the March to Chomesh!

Eliyahu puts the kidnapping of British soldiers into historical context.

Balashon makes seder.

David Bedein questions Shimon Peres' C.V. Here is something that I have to add to this from the archives:
I once had the priviledge of meeting Rehavam Ze'evi. We were both at a protest in front of the Orient House in Jerusalem. If my memory does not fail me, the reason for the protest was the fact that then Prime Minister Shimon Peres would not let soldiers that were posted near the Orient House fly the Israeli Flag (He did not want to hurt Arab feelings). So MK Ze'evi and other outraged Israelis came to do what Israel's Prime Minister forbade: to wave the Israeli flag in the heart of Jerusalem.

After the protest we talked. MK Ze'evi, who had reached the rank of General in the IDF, remarked that Shimon Peres never served in the army. I asked him if he was sure, since I thought that I had once seen a picture of Peres, dressed in an army uniform, chatting with David Ben Gurion. Ze'evi replied that the picture must have been taken on Purim (a day when many Jews wear costumes).

Terri Schindler Schiavo - 1963-2005: We Will Not Forget!

Why is Johnathan Pollard Still in Prison?

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

I heard about it this morning:
( Just ten day after parents of eight were killed in a car crash near Kiryat Arba, a newly married couple was killed similarly nearby.

Heavy mourning once again draped the Jewish towns south of Hevron, with the news of the deaths of Tzviki (22) and Hadassah Stitskin in a car accident this morning. The couple was married just two months ago.

Tzviki's father, Rabbi Donnie Stitskin, is the rabbi of the community of Maon, from where the joint funeral will set out at 3:30 this afternoon. Rabbi Stitskin is a veteran of a similar bitter experience with his good friend, the late Rabbi Yosef Dickstein; the latter was murdered, together with his wife and son, by terrorists on a Friday afternoon in 2002, and Rabbi Stitskin spent the Sabbath together with the nine remaining orphans.

The mourning also envelopes the Gush Katif-expellee communities throughout the south, as Hadassah lived in N'vei Dekalim, from where her family was thrown out during the expulsion of 2005. Her father, Rabbi Meir Cohen, was the unofficial rabbi of the secular community Pe'at Sadeh, near N'vei Dekalim; the family is now living, with other former N'vei Dekalim residents, in Ein Tzurim.

Details of the accident were unclear at first, but it now appears that the couple's car swerved inexplicably into an oncoming truck at around 7 AM, south of Kiryat Arba. Medics who arrived on the scene first found Tzviki's body, and then realized that two people had been killed when they found that of his young wife.

Just ten days ago, during a brief but heavy snowstorm, the rabbi of the town of Telem and his wife - parents of eight - were killed when the car swerved into an oncoming bus. Maon and Telem are several kilometers southeast and northwest of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, respectively.
Rabbi Dani Stiskin (not Stitskin as written in the article), the Rabbi of Maon was one of my rabbis when I learned in Machon Meir. I had the privilege of being a guest of his and his wife Shlomit many times. Tzviki I remember as a little kid. Since the family moved to Maon I would only see the Stiskins from time to time. My heart goes out to them and to the Cohen family. May they be comforted with the rebuilding of Zion.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Pope Also Wears A Kippah

I find this hard to believe:
On Shabbat Emek Refaim is very quiet, but another new restaurant aims to fill in the gap: A branch of Iwos Meat Burger (whose original restaurant is downtown) opened up three weeks ago in a location that formerly was a non-kosher butcher. The street is known for an abundance of burger places, but Iwos hopes to stand out from the pack and it seems to be working - the only other burger place open on Shabbat is McDonald's.

"We have our name and people know us - there isn't room to sit on Shabbat," explains owner Avi Ben David. "Our meat is kosher, but we have cheeseburgers... We make a quality hamburger, and we do it exactly how someone wants. There were a lot of requests for us to come to Emek Refaim, and you know what? Sometimes I see people with kippot eating here, even on Shabbat.
I wonder who these kippah wearing cheeseburger fressers on Shabbat are. I mean, isn't wearing a kippah and eating cheeseburgers that were cooked on Shabbat contradictory? Then again, the Pope also wears a kippah!

Two Years Since The Court-Ordered-Murder Of Terri Schiavo

It's about two years since Terri Schiavo was starved to death. In light of this sad anniversary, BlogsforTerri has been very active lately. Check it out!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Preparing For Passover

That's where my thoughts are right now. The X family has been cleaning the apartment for the last couple of weeks. The apartment is more or less kosher for Passover, except for the kitchen. After this Shabbat the kitchen will undergo metamorphic changes: All of the non-kosher for passover stuff will be taken out, and some serious cleaning and kashering will take place. I won't bore you with the details. Mr. X (that's me) will also have to spend a lot of buying food next week. The main thing is that the food that we will eat on Shabbat HaGadol, the Sabbath before Passover will be kosher for Passover. The only "chametz" will be the "challot" for "HaMotzi". We will eat off paper plates using disposable "silverware" (I guess I should try to find something "Shabbosdik" and not the regular white plastic stuff). By the way, the spiritual preparations are also important. Mr. X (that's me again) has to think of original ideas to keep the X children, especially the younger ones, awake and attentive during the Seder. If we do not properly fulfill the precept of telling our children about exodus from Egypt, what good is the chicken soup with matzah balls? (P.S. any ideas and comments will be appreciated!)

My hope is that everything will be prepared early enough so that we will have time to rest before the Seder. You are supposed to feel like a free man and not a slave on Passover!

My son Moshe pointed out to me that "lechatchila" one should drink real alcoholic wine for the four cups and not grape juice. One who cannot tolerate wine can dilute its alcoholic content with grape juice. One who cannot tolerate even diluted wine can drink grape juice. (For more information click here and here).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More On Aliya At Beyond BT

Be sure to read Rabbi Yakov Horowitz on Making Aliya as well as the "recommended reading" for the post, When American Families Move to Eretz Yisroel by Rabbi Yair Spolter. These posts make a lot of good points. I left the following comment at Beyond BT:
Great post! I made decided to make aliyah 25 years ago while I was still a college student. A couple of years after finishing college and still single I was on a plane to Israel. I knew at that time that getting married in the States would be the first step to getting stuck there.

Even one who makes aliyah while single has to do it with the knowledge that Eretz Yisrael, along with Torah and Olam Habah is one of the things that is acquired al yedei yisurim. While I strongly encourage aliyah, it has to be done wisely. A person should know what he is getting into and be prepared for the challenges that face him.


Not paying a wage worker is a serious transgression according to the Torah. The Rambam explains that one who withholds a wage worker's salary commits five different transgressions(Laws of Rental 11:3)! Therefore this blogger sympathizes with the workers that are striking today:
The public sector general strike began Wednesday morning after last minute talks between the Histadrut and the Finance and Interior Ministries broke down. The National Labor Court had postponed the strike until 9 a.m. to allow more time to solve the crisis of unpaid local and religious council workers.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said that he had worked hard to reach a solution so that all public sector workers would receive their salaries, adding that the Histadrut had even agreed to distribute loans to workers in the more problematic local authorities on condition that employees in all other municipalities got paid.

"We were close to an agreement but the government ministries changed their minds," Eini told reporters outside the court.

"Starting at 9.a.m. a public sector general strike will commence, on the same scale that we planned yesterday," he said.

Eini said that the strike would be open ended and that it would continue as long as the government ministries fail to come up with a solution to the crisis of the unpaid public sector employees.
It is interesting that Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh blames the government, and not the Histadrut for the present strike:
Brosh laid the blame for the impending strike squarely at the feet of the government: "Whatever is possible to resolve today was possible to resolve four months ago. [Withheld public sector wages] is a problem that must not become part of accepted behavioral norms. ...The government must see to it that this disgrace does not repeat itself in the future. Even if [the government] pays the money today, what will happen on April 1st? ...I call on the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister and the Finance Minister to drop everything they are doing and solve this problem today. Gentlemen, such behavior by the government cannot go on...."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


An Important Reminder From Yitz


More On The Land Of Israel

Here is the continuation of the Sifri that I mentioned here:

מעשה ברבי אלעזר בן שמוע ורבי יוחנן הסנדלר שהיו הולכים לנציבים אצל רבי יהודה בן בתירה ללמוד ממנו תורה והגיעו לציידן וזכרו את א"י, זקפו עיניהם וזלגו דמעותיהם וקרעו את בגדיהם וקראו את המקרא הזה וירשתם אותה וישבתם בה ושמרתם לעשות את כל החוקים האלה ואת המשפטים אמרו ישיבת א"י שקולה כנגד כל המצוות שבתורה חזרו ובאו להם לא"י".
My unofficial translation:
A true story concerning Rabbi Elazar the son of Shamua and Rabbi Yonatan HaSandlar that were going to Netzivim (a place outside the Land of Israel) to learn Torah from Rabbi Yehuda the son of Beteira and they reached Sidon (a place near the border) and they remembered the Land of Israel. They raised their eyes up and their tears flowed and they tore their garments and they read this scripture (Deuteronomy 11:31-32) "...and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein. And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and the ordinances...". They said, "Dwelling in the Land of Israel is equivalent to all of the commandments." They returned and came back to the Land of Israel.

The waves are coming, why aren't you?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Soccer Dad Teaches Us A Lessen Lesson

It's HH #110!

Bagel Blogger, Baleboosteh And JIBs

This kind of makes me want to vomit. I don't know exactly what happened. I am certainly not going to takes sides. However, I am saddened when two excellent bloggers, who seem to be very nice people as well, were apparently hurt/insulted/offended enough by the jblogger community to bolt it.

With regards to the JIBs, I myself do not pursue blogging awards for two reasons: 1) Our sages have instructed us not to pursue honor ("If one pursues honor, honor flees from him."), and 2) I don't think that this blog deserves an award. My blog is just a way for me to express myself. I am happy if someone visits here and finds something that he felt was worth his while. If you don't like this blog, there are millions of others to choose from.

Have a nice day!

Update: The Baleboosteh is back!

Update: Mr. Bagel is back!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chana Meira On Rejecting The Land Of Israel

What she said:
Very thought provoking and honest.

Reading this post, I was reminded of an olah I met when I first came to Israel. This person has since made yeridah from Israel, after only one year and various problems with several roommates, folks on the street, among others.

She said: "this is the last time I will be in Jerusalem, because other people are...". When I did not share her views (not to deny her experiences, but to say they were not similar to my own) her response was: "Wait a couple of months, honey, you'll see!" Well, several months later I am more in love with my homeland and people. Stuff and all.

As I go about my daily life, interact with people, and prepare for future challenges, my main thought and fervent hope is, please God, I should merit to remain in Israel. Little room for criticism of others if one holds such an perspective. Otherwise, a person is setting himself/herself up for a place on the next plane out of Israel.

Update: She's got more on this here.

Arousing Love Of The Land

And now for some more of the same (Sifri 80):

מעשה ברבי יהודה בן בתירה ורבי מתיא בן חרש ורבי חנניה בן אחי רבי יהושע ורב יונתן שהיו יוצאים חוצה לארץ והגיעו לפלטום וזכרו את א"י זקפו עיניהם וזלגו דמעותיהם וקרעו בגדיהם וקרא את המקרא הזה (דברים יא, לא) וירשתם אותה וישבתם בה ושמרתם לעשות את כל החוקים האלה אמרו ישיבת א"י שקולה כנגד כל המצוות שבתורה.

My translation:
A true story concerning Rabbi Yehuda the son of Beteira and Rabbi Matia the son of Harash and Rabbi Chananiah the son of Rabbi Yehoshua's brother and Rabbi Yonatan that were going abroad (i.e.leaving the Land of Israel) and they reached Paltom (a place near the border) and they remembered the Land of Israel. They raised their eyes up and their tears flowed and they tore their garments and they read this scripture (Deuteronomy 11:31-32) "...and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein. And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and the ordinances...". They said, "Dwelling in the Land of Israel is equivalent to all of the commandments."
I hope this quote from the Sifri will arouse the love of the land of Israel. If that is not enough, here is a picture of good old Tel Aviv with Yaffo in the background:

Monday, March 12, 2007

More Excuses Not To Make Aliyah

Check out this very interesting and well written post by Ron Coleman. In it he delineates the social and cultural obstacles that stand in the face of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish American that wants to make aliyah to Israel. In the end he writes:
Undoubtedly, Israeli haredim are on the front lines of a very profound kulturkampf, a fight for the soul of the Jewish people that is being played out in very stark terms. But where there is war, there are uniforms — rigidly enforced; there are casualties — however regrettably; and there are atrocities — so to speak. Yes, I remain more than impressed — positively inspired — by the wellspring of enthusiasm and, yes, idealism by olim who have grown and blossomed and flourished in eretz hakadosh. The growth of Torah to historically phenomenal levels can only be a sign of Heavenly approval. When I was in Israel, especially as I walked the streets of Jerusalem, I felt truly at home. Perhaps it is because I am a native New Yorker, but to me it is Jerusalem that I picture when I imagine, fantasize really, living in Israel. But as my youthful enthusiasm gives way to reality and the acceptance of who and where I am, I have realized and learned that, unfortunately, there is almost no conceivable way I can be there, short of the miraculous Redemption, in the foreseeable future. What pains me most, though, is the realization that this fantasy, like so many others, can perhaps only be nurtured in the abstract, and that from what I have read, seen and heard, this love may well be unrequited.

We are, after all, in galus.

I left the following comment to his post:
“The Holy One Blessed Be He gave three good gifts to Israel, and all of them He did not give except through affliction, and they are: Torah, and the Land Of Israel, and the World To Come.(Berachot 5A)”


All of the social and cultural issues that you mention here are part and parcel of the affliction that one has to go through in order to acquire Eretz Yisrael. When one knows the importance of the goal, it is easier to deal with the afflictions along the way. When we compare today’s afflictions to what previous generations had to go through, we should be embarrassed to even mention them.

Hot Pics! Hot Pics!

See them here and here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Boycott Ynet And Ynetnews!

That's it. I've had enough of the deranged leftists at Ynet. They are continuing a disgraceful campaign to discredit the Jewish community of Hebron. The latest: Hebron settlers filmed throwing rocks at Palestinians. Behind the headline it turns out that the film is of an apparently disturbed child throwing little rocks. We don't see who he is throwing rocks at, or if there was a provocation before he started. A child throwing rocks is only news for an organization with an agenda. The agenda of ynetnews is apparently to do anything and everything to disparage the Jews of Hebron. The rioting Arab murderers of 1929 would be proud of Ynet. I have removed ynet and ynetnews from my bookmarks. I urge others to do so as well.

: I just saw that Joe Settler also blogged about this.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Rejecting The Land Of Israel

Two recent posts of mine brought back memories of a train ride that I took many years ago.

On the way home from my job in Newark, N.J., I met on the train a familiar figure from the Jewish community that I lived in. He had long side curls, was decked in black, and the fringes from his talit katan were out in the open (as we used to say in Yiddish, tzitzis aroys). The guy, who we shall call Shlomo, was not a Jew. He was however in the process of converting to Judaism. His seriousness about Torah and its commandments won him the admiration of many in the community.

I sat down to next to him and we began to chat. He told me that he had just returned from a visit in the land of Israel (Eretz Yisroel).

"How was it?", I asked.

"Let me tell you", he replied. "Tel Aviv is the dirtiest and most disgusting city that I have ever seen. Sabbath desecration is rampant. The Rabbanut gives a "Kosher For Passover" certification for canned corn! Can you believe it? The lone ray of light in the country is the Me'ah She'arim neighborhood in Jerusalem."

I was in shock. I had been in Israel a few years earlier, and had came back with totally different impressions. What did I remember of Tel Aviv? The beach, of course! Sand and the salty water of the Mediterranean Sea which was such a pleasure to bathe in on a humid day. The street and store signs were in Hebrew in a city that bustled with activity.

What about the Sabbath? I certainly felt the Sabbath in Israel more than I did in New Jersey. Commercial activity, especially in Jerusalem came to a standstill. This was a totally different Sabbath than those I experienced as a Jewish minority in the United states.

As for the "Kosher For Passover" corn, it is "Kosher For Passover" for all of those Jewish communities that did not accept upon themselves the Chumra of kitnyot. Thinking about that, it was really wonderful to meet Jews that came from all over the world to make their home in Israel, to see with my own eyes the (at least partial) fulfillment of the prophecy:
"For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land."

And yes Me'ah She'arim is a special place without a doubt.

How could I understand the difference in our impressions of Israel? Perhaps a person sees what he wants to see. Shlomo was connected with a Torah scholar who was very anti-State-of-Israel, and perhaps that affected his outlook. I, on the other hand, was raised in a very pro-Israel if not religious household.

Years later I would hear a very different, more mystical explanation. Rabbi Dov Begon explained that the land of Israel is like a shidduch. Sometimes a girl is set on a "blind date" with a guy that she knows and doesn't particularly care for. What does she do? She shows up for the date with dirty, smelly clothes, and disheveled hair. To top things off she eats a little bit of garlic before she meets the bachur. When this guy meets the girl he is of course totally repulsed. He informs the shadchanit that he is not interested in meetings this maidele any more. He thinks that he has rejected her when in fact the opposite is true.

So it is with the land of Israel. When someone is not fit to live in the land of Israel, when he visits the land he sees things that turn him off. He thinks that he has rejected the land of Israel, when it is in fact the land of Israel that has rejected him.
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