Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hakafot Shniyot: MiShebeirach For Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at Rav Kook's House

IMHO this took place at "Beit HaRav", Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook's house and the former site of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, and not at the current Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva. The "MiShebeirach" starts at 2:15:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Huma Abedin's Next Step

Now that Anthony Weiner's political comeback bid has failed miserably, many are wondering what Huma Abedin's next step will be: will she continue to stand by her man. or will she throw him out like a rotten tomato?

The question is not new. I raised it two years ago when Weiner resigned from Congress on the heels of "Weinergate":

The truth is, according to Jewish law, Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin are not married. A Jew cannot marry a non-Jew. Period. According to the Torah, their current lifestyle is a simple case of promiscuity, to put things mildly as possible.

My guess is that Huma and Tony are going to be parting ways in the near future. Huma thought that she married an up and coming Congressman who was on the way to becoming the Mayor of New York City. Now her "husband" has become a walking joke! Such an embarrassing situation is no doubt unbearable. Huma has little use for such a disgraced has-been. He's not President Bill Clinton. She will show him the door quicker than most people think.

Chances are that they would have broken up in a few years time anyway. As is well known, intermarriages are recipes for domestic strife and confused children. The Weiner-Abedin union is no exception. I wonder what baby Weiner will think when he/she hears the imam say that his/her father is "a descendant of apes and pigs"?

Well, two years have passed and my prediciton that Anthony and Huma would be "parting ways in the near future" was wrong.

At the beginning of the above snippet I mentioned that according to Jewish law Weiner and Abedin are not married. From the Torah point of view the two are involved in an illicit relationship, a relationship which is much worse that Carlos Danger's online escapades.

I wonder how Huma Abedin's family looks upon the couple. I remember back in the days when I still did reserve duty, I was on a border patrol together with a Bedouin scout. To my great dismay I had heard of Muslims marrying Jewish girls here in Israel. I had never heard of a case where a Muslim girl marries a Jew. I asked him out of curiousity if there is any chance that a Bedouin girl would marry a Jew. My Bedouin comrade-in-arms gave me a "perish the thought" kind of look and said that such a thing was absolutely forbidden.

A little bit of research confirms what he said. It turns out that according to Islam, a Muslim man can take a Jewish or Christian wife, as long as the children are brought up as Muslims:

Muslim men are permitted by Islamic Law to marry up to four non-Muslim women who belong to other two Abrahamic religions i.e. Christians and Jews, provided that all of the children are ensured to be brought up as Muslims. The conversion of the wives to Islam is encouraged, but not obligatory, as their children will legally be Muslim regardless.
However, for Muslim women, things are different:
Islamic scholars generally forbid Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men.
So by Islamic standards, the Weiner marriage is not valid. It seems that this union falls under the Islamic category of Zina, adultery or fornication, which is punishable by lashes. If Huma were to travel to Saudi Arabia without a diplomatic passport, she would probably come back with more stripes than a zebra.

So Huma Abedin, who professes to be a practicing Muslim, is living in a state of cognitive dissonance. Or is she?

Some people think that Anthony Weiner may have secretly converted to Islam:

Certainly the most likely scenario is that Weiner did convert to Islam, as Abedin’s mother, a professor in Saudi Arabia, would almost certainly have insisted that he do so. Weiner has made no public statement of this conversion, but since it would almost certainly have cost him politically if he had announced it, this silence is not any indication that he didn’t actually convert.
Others think that Huma Abedin was given special dispensation from Islamic clerics to marry the kafir Weiner in order to infiltrate the highest levels of the United States government:
Few Westerners are familiar with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood revival of the doctrine of muruna, which literally means “stealth” or “flexibility.” It is far worse than taqiyya, since it sanctions all prohibitions that block Muslim interests, even blasphemous ones. . . . Consider the example of Huma Abedin, a practicing Muslim who married Jewish former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Qaradawi has used muruna to sanction such marriages.

What was once forbidden by Shariah — from major crimes like Muslims killing Muslims, to issues of interest banking that include alliances with infidels — was made “temporarily” kosher by muruna.

While I cannot prove that these theories are false, I would like to present another option. Huma Abedin merely does what she wants. It is that simple. She has subjugated her Saudi submission to her Philadelphia freedom. She is willing to fast during Ramadan but not to wear a hijab. She preferred marrying an American Jew to a Muslim from anywhere else on the planet. It's not a conspiracy nor a secret, just an issue of personal preference. As far as she is concerned, if the Qadi doen't like it, he can go drink water from the Indian Ocean, or should I say the Great Salt Lake. Whatever.

In any case the question remains: What will be Huma Abedin's next step? According to my theory, she will do whatever she perceives as being good for her. Is she better off being a single mother or sticking it out with a man who has brought her so much embarrassment, and who just happens to be the father of her son? Is Anthony Weiner an asset or a liability to her own political and/or career ambitions? Does she think that at 37 years old plus a child she can find somebody better? Who knows? Huma knows.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Anthony Weiner vs. Saul Kessler: Hakoras HaTov

It's hard to believe, but this is my third post about the famous "argument in the kosher bakery". But then again, I mentioned that there is a lot to learn from the clip. This time I want to write about what happens towards the end of their dispute. Here it is again for you viewing pleasure:

Now here is something that you should know: When two Jews have an argument in a kosher bakery, there are a lot of subtleties that may go unnoticed by the general public. At about 2:00 into the clip, Anthony Weiner says the following:

"By the way I fought very hard for this community and delivered more than you will ever in your entire life."
Kessler responds:
"You never delivered deliver for yourself."
It could be that Kessler was hinting to the what the Talmud says in Avodah Zarah 2B with regard to certain nations of the world. Subtle! In any case, at this point Weiner says something that I think probably went under the radar of most of the people who viewed the clip:
"You don't understand Hakoras HaTov."
Hakoras HaTov (or Hakarat HaTov according to the Sephardi pronunciation) is a very important concept in Jewish thought. Once upon a time, I wrote an entire post about it:
Jews like to ask questions. Some say that Jews like to answer a question with another question. This is a strange thing to do.

Every Sabbath we end the morning prayers with a question, which is a verse from Tehillim, Psalms 106:

"Who can express the mighty acts of the L-RD, or make all His praise to be heard?"

This is also a strange thing to do, to finish the prayers with a question! Of course, this is a rhetorical question that is not meant to be answered. Nobody can express the mighty acts of the L-RD! It just cannot be done!

The verse itself seems to be redundant. The second part of the verse seems to repeat the first part of the verse. "Making all His praise to be heard" seems to be the same as "expressing the mighty acts of the L-RD."

The Maharal from Prague wrote a book about the Exodus, "Gevurot Hashem". In chapter 1 of Gevurot Hashem the Maharal explains that the verse is telling us two different ideas. The first part of the verse deals with quality, while the second part is talking about quality. "Who can express the mighty acts of the L-RD" in terms of the quality of his acts,” or make ALL His praise to be heard" in terms of quantity. Whether in terms of quality or in terms of quantity G-d's praises cannot be expressed!

Since this is so, the Maharal questions why we bother making a seder Passover night. While eating chicken soup with kneidlach is certainly a worthy pastime, the real purpose of the seder is to speak of the great miracles that G-d did for us as we left Egypt. But this is an impossible task! Who can express the mighty acts of the LORD, or make all His praise to be heard?

The Maharal answers that while we cannot possibly say all of G-d’s praises, we dare not be silent. This is called "Hakarat Hatov", recognizing and appreciating the good that someone has done for you. Gratitude. This is considered an important character trait that one should foster, and G-d forbid not to be a "Kefui Tovah", an ingrate. We say G-d's praises in order to show our appreciation and gratitude, even thought we know that our words cannot encompass all of the things that G-d is to be praised for.

I am impressed that Anthony Weiner was familiar with the concept. May we all merit to recognize the good,

G'mar Chatimah Tovah!

Update: Perhaps Weiner learned the term from his meeting with these rabbis.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yom Kippur War - Israel fights for her life and wins

40 years have passed since the Yom Kippur War. We are here with God's help and the great bravery of our soldiers:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Anthony Weiner's Day of Judgment

I mentioned in my previous post that there was much to learn from "The Weiner Incident in the Kosher Bakery". I showed how the incident was an example of how not to reprove somebody. But there is so much more.

That video clip depicted a sad spectacle. Yes, it was a sad spectacle indeed to see the man who has separated himself from God and His Torah walking into a kosher bakery just before the Jewish New Year, desparately trying to drum up votes among the very people who he has abandoned. Being Jewish is a lot more than shoving some honey cake into your mouth and saying, "Have a sweet year". Nobody at the bakery mentioned this. Who would dare? It's not polite. It's not politically correct. Then came Kessler.

Saul Kessler's confrontation with Anthony Weiner was a "clash of civilizations" within the Jewish community. In the United States of America there are two different kinds of Jews: those whose progeny will be Jews and those whose progeny will not. Kessler, as far as I can tell without knowing him personally, belongs to the first. Weiner, to our great dismay, at least at this point of time, belongs to the second.

Weiner, by "marrying" a non-Jew, has knowingly cut off his seed from the covenant of Sinai and the ways of Abraham:

"For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'"
Weiner's uncontrolled passions caused him to leave the path of Abraham and follow the path of "Carlos Danger".

Yesterday was Weiner's Day of Judgment: 19 out of 20 Democrats who took part in the primaries voted for someone else. Anthony Weiner objected to Saul Kessler judging him. Now the public has judged him, and he has no choice but to accept the verdict.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Weiner Incident in the Kosher Bakery

This incident is at once tragic and yet fascinating. There is so much to learn from it:
Beleaguered New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner got into a war of words Wednesday with a man who lashed out at him for being “married to an Arab,” in addition to chastising the former congressman about his well-documented sexting scandal.

The incident began inside a bakery in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, where the man yelled out to Weiner, who had just bought cookies and an iced coffee, “You’re a real (expletive deleted).”

Weiner offered a quick retort, then said to no one in particular, “Very nice, that’s a charming guy right there.” It’s then that the man, later identified as Saul Kessler, responded: “Married to an Arab.”

The comment is an apparent reference to Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who works for Hillary Clinton. Abedin’s late father was an Islamic scholar from India and her mother, a sociologist, is from Pakistan. Weiner is Jewish, as were most of those inside the Brooklyn bakery.

The Democratic candidate responded with, “Very nice, in front of children… That is charming.” Kessler didn’t stop talking, even as Weiner was leaving the bakery, saying, “You are disgusting, disgusting.

“It takes one to know one, (expletive deleted),” Weiner replied.

The two then went face-to-face, with Kessler accusing Weiner — who resigned in disgrace after 12 years in Congress representing part of New York City after admitting to sending sexually suggestive images and carrying on inappropriate relationships with women over the Internet — of doing “disgusting things, and you have the nerve to even walk around in public.”

A visibly agitated Weiner responded,”And you’re a perfect person? You’re my judge? What rabbi taught you that?”

At one point, Kessler implored Weiner to “think about your wife, how could you take the person you’re most closest to … and betray her?

The mayoral hopeful then accused Kessler of acting like he is superior, even though he doesn’t “have the moral authority to judge me.”

The back-and-forth went on for about a minute longer before Weiner left the bakery. He seemed to quickly brush off the confrontation, saying, “He has every right to (challenge me). It’s America.”

Personally, I am disappointed in Anthony Weiner. I thought that he had the potential to be the next Teshuvah poster boy. So far, that has not happened. Instead, he has fulfilled the verse, "As a dog that returneth to his vomit, so is a fool that repeateth his folly."

The incident in the bakery brings to mind what Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah said, "I wonder if there is anyone in this generation who knows how to reprove(Arachin 16B)." Many mistakes were made here by Mr, Kessler, as one can see by learning what the Rambam writes:

It is a mitzvah for a person who sees that his fellow Jew has sinned or is following an improper path [to attempt] to correct his behavior and to inform him that he is causing himself a loss by his evil deeds as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "You shall surely admonish your colleague."

A person who rebukes a colleague - whether because of a [wrong committed] against him or because of a matter between his colleague and God - should rebuke him privately. He should speak to him patiently and gently, informing him that he is only making these statements for his colleague's own welfare, to allow him to merit the life of the world to come.

If he accepts [the rebuke], it is good; if not, he should rebuke him a second and third time. Indeed, one is obligated to rebuke a colleague who does wrong until the latter strikes him and tells him: "I will not listen."

Whoever has the possibility of rebuking [sinners] and fails to do so is considered responsible for that sin, for he had the opportunity to rebuke the [sinners].

At first, a person who admonishes a colleague should not speak to him harshly until he becomes embarrassed as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him." This is what our Sages said: Should you rebuke him to the point that his face changes [color]? The Torah states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him."

From this, [we learn that] it is forbidden for a person to embarrass a [fellow] Jew. How much more so [is it forbidden to embarrass him] in public. Even though a person who embarrasses a colleague is not [liable for] lashes on account of him, it is a great sin. Our Sages said: "A person who embarrasses a colleague in public does not have a share in the world to come."

Therefore, a person should be careful not to embarrass a colleague - whether of great or lesser stature - in public, and not to call him a name which embarrasses him or to relate a matter that brings him shame in his presence.

When does the above apply? In regard to matters between one man and another. However, in regard to spiritual matters, if [a transgressor] does not repent [after being admonished] in private, he may be put to shame in public and his sin may be publicized. He may be subjected to abuse, scorn, and curses until he repents, as was the practice of all the prophets of Israel.

Obviously, in order to properly reprove somebody according to what our rabbis taught us, you don't start by calling him a, uh, you know, what he said.

However, it must be noted that even if Kessler was not particularly adept at reproof, his heart is in the right place. He obviously detests intermarriage, and he is not afraid to say it. Mr. Kessler has not been spoiled by the prevailing political correctness spouted by "liberal" Jews with regards to this subject. What's more, Weiner's personal behavior does matter. If the man is a habitual liar who cheats on his live-in-partner (I refuse to call Huma Abedin his wife since Jewish law does not recognize such a union), he is unfit to serve the public.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Bad Translation of the Day

The nice folks at ynet have turned the Day of Judgment into doomsday. Here is the original:
לי אין ספק שבמשפטו של עולם יש לי הרבה חובות והמשפט הארצי הקלוקל הזה רק מזכה אותי בדין של יום הדין
Ynet translated this as:
I have no doubt that this flawed trial is giving me a lot of points in doomsday court
They should have translated something like this: I have no doubt that in the (heavenly) tribunal (of my deeds in this) world I have many bad deeds and that this substandard earthly trial will be to my credit on the day of judgment ( Rosh HaShannah ).

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Rabbi Zalman Retires From Beit El Rabbinate

Rabbi Melamed shocked those that came to hear his "Shabbat Shuva" lecture by announcing his retirement. He will however continue to head the yeshiva in Beit El.
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