Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why did Yaakov say Shema when he met Yosef?

It seems really strange that after 20+ years of not seeing Yosef, when he finally sees him he says Shema.

I saw 2 very different approaches in the mefarshim.

The Maharal explains that Yaakov felt a tremendous outpouring of love and wanted to direct it towards Hashem. He felt tremendous gratitude and love to Hashem for returning his son alive and therefore wanted to show it by being מקבל עול מלכות שמים.

The Netziv has a very different explanation. He explains as follows based on the Targum Yonasan. The Targum explains that Yosef wanted to fulfill his dream (that his father would bow down to him) and therefore he came to his father dressed in his royal garb so that his father would not recognize him and bow down to him. Yosef's plan worked, however, Yaakov was annoyed with Yosef for forcing the dream to come true in that way and making him bow down. Therefore to stifle his annoyance he said Shema. Yosef, realized that he had made a mistake in making his father bow to him and therefore cried on Yaakov's shoulders.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yosef's revelation to his brothers

When Yosef reveals himself, he asks אני יוסף העוד אבי חי. It is a very strange question. After all Yehuda just finished telling Yosef the whole story including that his father is alive, so what exactly was Yosef's question? Did Yosef think that Yehuda suddenly got a nevua that Yaakov died? In addition, Rashi quotes the medrash that this was a great תוכחה. What exactly was the תוכחה?

The Beis Halevi explains as follows. Yosef was asking a rhetorical question. Yosef told his brothers you claim that you are so concerned about your fathers health, yet, I am Yosef is my father still alive? Meaning, he asked them if you really cared for your father how could you put him through the pain of of my disappearance. He exposed the hypocrisy of Yehuda's claim that they were concerned about their father's well being through Yehuda's own actions.

Now we can also understand why this is called a תוכחה as well. This is exactly what will happen when a person goes up to שמים after 120. Whatever excuses he gives for not doing mitzvos or doing aveiros will be shown to be hypocritical by his own actions.

In previous generations it may have been hard to imagine playing back your life after you die to see what you did wrong. However, for us this should be easy to believe. After all, we see how modern technology can record every action and play it back in color with sound. We see it happening all the time when people get caught on video or on audio doing things they shouldn't be doing and the embarrassment and damage that it does (e.g. Tiger Woods, Tropper etc.). Therefore, we should understand that everything is being recorded and will be played back at the appropriate time and there will be no excuses.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is R' Shteinman one of the Gedolim?

R' Shteinman recently met with the Rav Yoel Cohen, the Chozer, a prominent Chabadnik who was very close to the Rebbe. Because of this 2 pashkevilim were circulated late last week. One was a 4 page screed about how we need to be pure in hashkafa etc. and which basically said that R' Shteinman is not a Gadol. The second was 2 pages with a list of quotations from various "Gedolim" against the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

This reminds me of a story that I read about the Brisker Rav. A number of kannoim came to him to get his support for a protest against something. They said that he was the Gadol Hador and they wanted his approval. He answered, you only call me the Gadol Hador because you think I support your position. As soon as I say something you don't like I will no longer be the Gadol Hador.

The same or worse applies today and is exactly what happened to R' Shteinman. Yonasan Rosenblum (Kollel is not always forever) said it best:

There is another reason that there will be no such public statements. Any such statement would be met with vicious attacks by the “kenaim,” who would say about the gadol in question precisely what KollelGuy asks me: Who are you? The Chazon Ish did not say what you are saying; Rav Shach did not say it.” Perhaps KollelGuy remembers the attacks on one of the Sages he mentions for his tacit support of Nahal Chareidi. (Even Rav Shach used to say that he was afraid of the stone-throwers.) One of the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the United States told me recently that the gedolim cannot even discuss questions surrounding poverty because if they did the “street” would just label them fake gedolim.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

R' Herschel Shachter is on the front cover of the Mishpacha magazine - Updated

There is a very long positive article about R' Shachter, RYBS and YU. They actually call YU a "fortress of Torah" and R' Shachter is described as "average height but colossal stature".

R' Belsky who works with R' Shachter at the OU said the following about R' Shachter:

he is a gadol in Torah, Yiras Shamayim and Midos, and I couldn't do this without him.

Very high praise indeed.

For anyone who learned at YU this article is a must read.

I have to say I am stunned that a Charedi magazine would publish such a positive article about a YU Rosh Yeshiva. I can't wait to see the letters in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Different laining in חו"ל and ארץ ישראל on Chanuka?

Believe it or not the answer is yes. Most people don't notice because the difference is not that great, but there is a difference.

On Chanuka we read the parsha of the נשיאים, every day the נשיא for that day. Each נשיא is 6 pesukim and we have 3 aliyas. The miniumum number of pesukim for an aliya is 3. therefore we are 3 pesukim short. From where do we get the extra 3 pesukim? This is a machlokes the Mechaber and the Rama. The Mechaber writes that we simply read over that day. In other words, tomorrow morning Kohen will read the first 3 pesukim of the 5th נשיא, Levi will read the next 3, and the third aliya simply repeats all 6 pesukim of the 5th נשיא. The Rama on the other hand says, that for the third aliya you simply read the next day. In other words, tomorrow morning Kohen will read the first 3 pesukim of the 5th נשיא, Levi will read the next 3, and the third aliya reads the 6th נשיא. In חו"ל the minhag is like the Rama and in EY the minhag is like the mechaber.

The Gra points out that this is לשיטתם by chol hamoed succos. On chol hamoed succos the problem is greater, each day is only 3 pesukim and there are 4 aliyos. According to the Mechaber in חו"ל kohen and levi read the 2 days of sefeka d'yoma and then the next 2 aliyas simply repeat them. The Rama writes that שלישי reads the next day, meaning if today is the first day of Chol Hamoed, the first 2 aliyas read days 2 and 3 and the third aliya reads day 4, even though it is clearly not day 4 even with the sefeka d'yoma, and רביעי goes back on the first 2 days. In EY the machaber writes that we simply repeat the same thing 4 times. Here also the minhag in EY is like the mechaber.

The machlokes would seem to be does the next day have any connection to today and does it make sense to read it.

Interestingly enough the Ashkenazim in EY are noheg like the Mechaber both on Succos and on Chanuka.

Monday, December 14, 2009

If I break your window do I need to pay?

At first glance the answer is of course, I damaged you and therefore I have to pay. However, R' Sternbuch and others point out that it is not so simple.

The Gemara in Bava Kama (48b) learns out from a pasuk that if my animal eats fruits that are growing in your field I don't pay for the actual fruits that were eaten, rather I pay for the devaluation of the field. Lets take a simple example. You have a field that is worth $1000 which has orange trees. My animal comes and eats 50 oranges and each orange is worth $1. The damage I caused you is $50, however, I don't pay you $50. Instead, I pay how much the field is devalued by the fact that my animal ate 50 oranges. Lets say that the field was originally worth $1000 including all of the oranges and now that my animal ate 50, the field is only worth $990. Since the value of the field has only gone down $10 all Ii have to pay is $10 (not $50). The Gemara says that the same din applies if I do the damage myself (I eat the oranges or I uproot the tree).

Based on this it is quote din the name of R' Chaim, the Chafetz Chaim and others, that the same din should apply if I break the window of your house. I don't pay for the damage I caused, rather, I need to pay the amount that your house has been devalued. The fact is that price for a house that has 1 broken window is the same as the price of the house with no broken windows. If I am asking for $300,000 for my house, the extra $50-100 for a broken window is simply not taken into account. The buyer is not going to change his offer to $299,900 because there is now a broken window. Therefore, the person who broke the window doesn't need to pay me anything because there is no damage the way the Gemara says to figure it, the value of the house is still $300,000.

The Chazon Ish (Bava Kama siman 6 sif 3) argues and says that you have to pay the replacement value. The Chazon Ish says that a house is more similar to מטלטלים. Everyone agrees that if instead of breaking the window of my house you broke my car window, you would have to pay for the damage. Damage to non-property is figured based on the actual damage and therefore if it costs $50 to replace the window that is what you owe me. The Chazon Ish thinks that the same din would apply to a house window and you would need to pay for the actual damage.

הלכה למעשה you have a machlokes haposkim. R' Sternbuch paskens like R' Chaim etc. that the damager doesn't have to pay and others pasken like the Chazon ish, it depends on the Beis Din.

I have to say this machlokes really surprised me in a number of ways. First of all, none of the Rishonim or early Acharonim discuss this question. It is only in the last 100 years that this question is being discussed. Second of all, the Gemara in Bava Kama says that we don't want to be hard or easy on the מזיק. In this situation it seems we are being way too lenient on the מזיק by allowing him to get off scot free. Intuitively, the Chazon Ish's approach seems right, why should the guy get off scot free, yet the Chazon Ish is against the simple reading of the Gemara.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some questions for Kollel only supporters

These are not my questions, rather Yonasan Rosenblum asked them of the Kollel only crowd.

(1) Do you think there are any differences of kind, not just magnitude, between the homogeneous group of idealists who rallied to the Chazon Ish’s banner and today’s chareidi community of three-quarters of a million nefashos?
(2) Do you have any idea of the degree of poverty in the chareidi world, including among avreichim? Do you see the chareidi world today as vulnerable? What, for instance, would happen if the Israeli Supreme Court ruled definitively that the state cannot fund schools that do not teach a common curriculum? Israeli welfare payments have grown twice as fast as gross family income over the last two decades. What do you think the impact would be if the Israeli government decided that disparity is unsustainable and imposed another dramatic cut in welfare payments, like the cut in child care allowances under Prime Minister Sharon (with Netanyahu as Finance Minister)?
(3) Do you see any cost to traditional Torah family structure from the assumption that the wife will be both the primary breadwinner and primary caregiver to very large families? Do you think most women are capable of sustaining both roles?
(4) Do you think the Gemara knew what it was talking about when it said that the primary source of marital strife is the lack of money? Do you see poverty having an impact on shalom bayis in the Torah community?
(5) What do you think happens to a eleven-year-old who is already struggling and falling behind in cheder when he asks his father what he is going to be when he grows up and his father tells him his only option is to be an avreich?
(6) Is there any point at which the communal cost in terms of drop-outs and broken families is too great to be sustained without being addressed at its core?

I have been asking many of these same questions (and others) myself and the answer is clear that kollel only is not the solution for everyone.

Must read article by Yonasan Rosenblum

In response to the comment that I quoted here Different messages for different people, Yonasan Rosenblum wrote a long response, Kollel is Not Always Forever. He said things that I have not heard anyone in the Charedi world explicitly say.

...In a similar vein, the Chazon Ish is also widely reported to have said that two generations of full-time learning were necessary to rebuild from the ashes of Europe. Those two generations have now come and gone.

And if KollelGuy asks, so why no announcements in Yated Ne’eman, I suspect he already knows the answer, or should. Ori, a non-Orthodox Jew in Austin, Texas, knows it: The last thing the gedolei HaTorah want to do is destroy the striving for greatness in Torah learning that characterizes the Israeli chareidi community. And any such public announcement would be interpreted as a statement that everything we did, everything we have built over the last sixty years was a mistake. (I emphasized in “Living with Complexity” that just the opposite is the case.) In other words, it would lead to an overreaction more dangerous than the situation it sought to cure.
There is another reason that there will be no such public statements. Any such statement would be met with vicious attacks by the “kenaim,” who would say about the gadol in question precisely what KollelGuy asks me: Who are you? The Chazon Ish did not say what you are saying; Rav Shach did not say it.” Perhaps KollelGuy remembers the attacks on one of the Sages he mentions for his tacit support of Nahal Chareidi. (Even Rav Shach used to say that he was afraid of the stone-throwers.) One of the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the United States told me recently that the gedolim cannot even discuss questions surrounding poverty because if they did the “street” would just label them fake gedolim.
especially when one remembers that there are no historical precedents for a Torah society built around the ideal of full-time learning for every man forever – an entire society of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai’s. (The number of those learning full-time in Eretz Yisrael dwarfs by many times the numbers of those doing so in pre-war Europe.) The denigration of “working” that one sometimes hears in the Torah community in Eretz Yisrael has scant support in the Torah, and countless sources refuting it

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Satmar Rebbe: Children should not be sent for music lessons

The Satmar Rebbe at his yearly gathering (כ"א כסלו) announced to the Chasidim that children should not be sent for music lessons. He also prohibited any kinds of videos at public events such as dinners.

The music ban is very surprising as music has always been considered a worthy endeavor and in fact the Leviim played musical instruments in the Beis Hamikdash.

The question we can ask is what is left for Satmar children to do? For some kids music is a lifeline. Some people are blessed with musical talent (I am not). Why would Hashem give a person musical talents if he isn't supposed to use them?

Source: הרבי אמר: אסור לילדים ללמוד נגינה

Monday, December 07, 2009

Different messages for different people - Updated 12/7

Yonasan Rosenblum's latest column Living with the Tension, was published in 3 different venues, Cross Currents, Englinsh Mishpacha, Hebrew Mishpacha, and in each one it was changed to fit the venue.

On Cross Currents he writes

Let us take one contemporary example.
As the original small flock of dedicated idealists who rallied to the banner of Reb Aharon and the Chazon Ish has miraculously swelled today to an entire community of hundreds of thousands, encompassing a wide range of abilities and spiritual levels, the pendulum has begun to swing in the other direction in search of a new equilibrium.

However, in the English Mishpacha this paragraph was changed to be more nuanced. It says instead:

Let us take one contemporary example.
the original small flock of dedicated idealists who rallied to the banner of Reb Aharon and the Chazon Ish has miraculously swelled today to an entire community of hundreds of thousands of dedicated Bein Torah. Yet there can be no certainty that rules applied to a smaller less diverse flock can apply forever to a vastly larger public encompassing a wide range of abilities and spiritual levels.

Instead of writing that the pendulum has begun to swing he writes there can be no certainty that the rules ...

He understands that anyone reading Cross Currents knows that the shift has already started. However, the audience of the English Mishpacha is more conservative and therefore since the Gedolim haven't said that the pendulum has shifted he can't say it. Instead he needs to resort to a much more nuanced expression of "no certainty" that the system may not fit everyone. It is clear that he means the same thing but just can't say it as bluntly in the Mishpacha as he can on Cross Currents.

What is most telling is that this whole paragraph of the contemporary example is simply omitted in the Hebrew version. There simply is no example given, it just skips right to the final paragraph. It seems that in Israel you can't even suggest that Kollel only was a reaction to the Holocaust and is not simply the ideal system.

I made this point (regarding the omission in Hebrew) on Cross Currents, it will be interesting to see if he comments on it.


This comment on Cross Currents shows exactly why this wasn't printed in the Hebrew edition:

Do you have backing of the Gedolei uManhigei Yisroel on your side? Did you consult with RYSE? RAYLS? RMYL? RCK? RNK? Anyone of stature?

Truth is, you can think what you want… but how can Mishpacha claim to be a chareidi magazine and print a baalebos’ opinion on a communal level without consulting with gedolim?


Comment by kollelguyinEY

The above commenter is an American living in Israel (who read the column in the English Mishpacha), you can just imagine what native born Israeli Charedis would say.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Kollel for everyone was a reaction to the Holocaust

and a swing of the pendulum in one direction.

These are not my words these are Yonasan Rosenblum's words in his latest column.
Living with the Tension

After every catastrophic event that destroys the previous equilibrium, there is a pendulum swings until a new equilibrium is found. Let us take one contemporary example. The period between the beginning of World War I and end of World War II completely destroyed a European Jewish civilization built over nearly two millennia. In order to rebuild the entire world of Torah learning destroyed by the Nazis, Rabbi Aharon Kotler in the United States and the Chazon Ish in Eretz Yisrael declared a societal ideal of long-term Torah study for all males that had few precedents in Jewish history. The pendulum swung in one direction, as part of the rebuilding.

As the original small flock of dedicated idealists who rallied to the banner of Reb Aharon and the Chazon Ish has miraculously swelled today to an entire community of hundreds of thousands, encompassing a wide range of abilities and spiritual levels, the pendulum has begun to swing in the other direction in search of a new equilibrium.

It is heartening to read that he understands that Kollel only is not a sustainable model and that the pendulum is starting to swing back in search of equilibrium.

What is absolutely fascinating is that this piece was published in 3 different places, Cross Currents, English Mishpacha, Hebrew Mishpacha, and each one it was changed to fit the venue. For an analysis of this see my post Different messages for different people.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Santa Coke

It seems that Coke bottles in the US have a picture of Santa on them (see below). is all worked up about this:

...Did you also know that the affect of this tumah will cause you and your prodigy to learn Torah improperly and could, G-d forbid, influence your offspring to go off the derech!?

How do I know this to be true?

Anything that takes you close to Hashem is emes while anything that takes you away is sheker! There is nothing in the world but emes and sheker. There’s no neutral zone! Does that make sense to you?

Please ask that your yeshiva not distribute this drink to your kinderlach. Please also ask the frum stores not to sell this stumbling block. Consider that when a non-Jew sees this product in your shopping cart, they see this, even in a minutia way, as your participation in their holiday and this causes a chillul Hashem.

Do you think that this is an issue? Or do you think this is another overreaction to something harmless?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The West Bank Palestinians doing pretty well

This article details how the Palestinians in the West Bank are doing very well now and have no real interest in having their own state. Right now they have the best of both worlds.

...As I sat in the plush office of Ahmad Aweidah, the suave British-educated banker who heads the Palestinian Securities Exchange, he told me that the Nablus stock market was the second best-performing in the world so far in 2009, after Shanghai. (Aweidah's office looks directly across from the palatial residence of Palestinian billionaire Munib al-Masri, the wealthiest man in the West Bank.)

Later I met Bashir al-Shakah, director of Nablus's gleaming new cinema, where four of the latest Hollywood hits were playing that day. Most movies were sold out, he noted, proudly adding that the venue had already hosted a film festival since it opened in June.
Palestinian economic growth so far this year—in a year dominated by economic crisis elsewhere—has been an impressive 7% according to the IMF, though Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad, himself a former World Bank and IMF employee, says it is in fact 11%, partly helped along by strong economic performances in neighboring Israel.
Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went further in explaining to me why there is no rush to declare statehood, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren't ready to do so by themselves yet.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Are גמ"ח's a bad thing II?

This weeks Mishpacha magazine in English published a letter which drives home the point about how גמ"ח's can destroy people.

...When I began marrying off children, I saw no way over the fence except to take out gemach loans.
I knew that the only way I could keep going was to continue to juggle loans. I"ve married off five children and have another six to go. I"m currently juggling about 45 gemachim. My days and nights are consumed with paybck schedules deadlines and possibilities for other loan sources. For me it's to late to get out of the web. But it's not too late for others to not get sucked in.

Juggled to Death Jerusalem

It is not a typo, he is juggling 45 gemach loans. I know that he is not alone and the situation is clearly out of control.

Below is the actual printed letter:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Are גמ"ח's a bad thing?

Sounds ridiculous at first, what could be bad about providing interest free loans to people who need them? However, in this past weeks Mishpacha (Hebrew) the editor printed a letter in his weekly column which makes exactly this claim.

The main point of the letter is that גמ"ח's allow people to borrow money that they can never pay back. Someone who has a hard time getting through the month has very little chance of paying back a $50,000 loan that he took to marry off his children. The existence of גמ"ח's greatly increases the societal pressure to provide money to children without giving any thought to how the money will be paid back. According to the letter most people in the Charedi world are in debt and spend a lot of time running from גמ"ח to גמ"ח to pay back loans. גמ"ח's promote irresponsible financial behavior and let people drown themselves in debt.

I agree with the letter writer to a point. גמ"ח's are definitely enablers for risky financial behavior just like zero dollar mortgages were in the US. As a parent I know it is very difficult to say no to a child or not provide them what they need. If $50,000 is the going price to marry off your daughter it is very difficult to say no and unfortunately in today's Charedi society if you say no to the money your daughter will have a hard time getting married.

The bottom line is that the Charedi lifestyle is simply unsustainable financially. Sooner or later the bubble will burst.

In truth, I don't know what the answer is. In today's world (both in the US and in Israel) even if you have a good job it is very difficult to support a large family. Salaries are simply not made to support 6+ kids. Therefore telling people to work is not necessarily going to solve the problem. Large families and the modern finacial world just don't go together.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry ... Part II

Here are some quotes from some well known Gedolim about this (

הגראי"ל שטינמן: אף פעם לא שמענו מכך, אבל הם מראים בספר אז כנראה זה נכון, אבל צדקה לבד זה גם סגולה.

הגר"ח קניבסקי: לא שמעתי על כך, מי שרוצה ישועה שיתפלל, אפשר להתפלל תמיד מתי שרוצים.

If R' Chaim Kanievsky never heard of this then it must be really obscure as he is a tremendous baki.

Hat tip: Rafi G.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I don't know whether to laugh or cry ...

after seeing this ad. They must be really desperate to be pulling completely unknown segulas out of a hat.

Has anyone even heard of this sefer? The sefer may be from someone who lived before R' Shimon Bar Yochai or may be from the time of the Ramban. That is a big difference.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Very funny conversation

Girl #1: I'm so tired of dating! I wish I were married already!

Girl #2: Yeah, I'm really tired of spending nights at the Marriott
Hotel with guys I really don't want to be there with.

Girl #1: But if you don't go to a hotel what else is there to do on a date?

Girl #2: Maybe we need to find a different hotel to go to instead of
the Marriott.

To the frum listener the meaning is obvious, however, the non-frum listener is liable to really misintrepret this badly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ותלך לדרוש את ה

Rashi comments that she went to Shem and Ever. The question can be asked why didn't she ask her husband Yitzchak or Avraham who was still alive? Also, once she got the amswer why didn't she tell Yitzchak. After all, she was told that רב יעבוד צעיר, and that when one was up the other would be down. if she had told Yitzchak, it probably would have changed his views on the Berachos.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

R' Hirsch: Chinuch lessons from Yaakov and Esav

The following is from RSRH's essay "Lessons From Jacob and Esau" that appears on pages 319 - 331 of his Collected Writing VII. It is amazing how his words below are so relevant to our generation. There is no question that R' Hirsch could be speaking about the current Charedi educational system. It is a terrible shame that his approach has basically died out as it is so needed in our modern world.

Down to our present day we have been able to observe the disastrous consequences of a one-sided approach to the unique task of being a Jew. Many a son of a pious talmid chacham has been totally lost to Judaism because his father insisted on training him to become a talmid chacham without considering whether his personality and inclinations truly lay in that direction. Thus he is exposed to Jewish life in only one context: that of a quiet existence of study and meditation for which he has neither talent nor desire. What attracts him instead is the busy, colorful life of the world outside. But as a result of the narrow view of life in which he has been trained he gets the impression that in order to participate in the active, variegated life for which he yearns, he must give up his mission as a Jew. He consequently abandons his Judaism in order to fling himself into the maelstrom of excitement and temptations offered by the world outside.

The story of such an individual might end quite differently if only, instead of forcing him into the mold of a talmid chacham, his father would raise him from the very beginning to become a man of the world who, at the same time, is faithful to his duties as a Jew; if only that father would teach this son that the activities of the world outside, too, have their place in God's plan, that it is possible to preserve and to demonstrate one's complete loyalty to Judaism even as a sophisticated man of the world. He should make his son understand that, as a matter of fact, many, if not perhaps the most important, aspects of Jewish living are intended primarily to be practiced amidst the conditions and aspirations of everyday life, in the midst of the world and not in isolation from it. He should make his son understand that the Taryag Mitzvos are not meant to be observed in the klaus [Judeo-German equivalent for a small synagogue. (Ed.)] or in the beth hamidrash but precisely in the practical life of the farmer or the public-spirited citizen. If only that father would make it clear to his son that the spirit and the happiness of Judaism are just as accessible to a Zevulun "in the world outside" as they are to an Issachar "in the tents,"?who knows whether that son might not stand by his father's
deathbed and gently close his father's eyes as a loyal, pious Jew?

He explains in his commentary on Chumash that Yitzchak and Rivka made exactly this mistake with Esav. They tried to educate Esav the same way as Yaakov, to sit and learn all day in the Beis Medrash. However, Esav's personality and inclinations did not lie in that direction. Because he was not given an alternative he turned into Esav harasha.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה

Rashi comments that when Rivka passed a Beis Medrash Yaakov tried to get out and when she passed a house of Avoda Zara Esav tried to get out.

That obvious question is was Esav a Rasha already in the womb? What choice did he have there? Did he even have a Yetzer Hara before he was born? The same goes for Yaakov. Chazal state that a person's yetzer tov doesn't enter them until the age of 13, if so, what drove Yaakov to the Beis Medrash?

The Maharal gives a very perplexing and difficult answer. He says that Esav was not propelled by the Yetzer Hara to go to the house of Avoda Zara rather that was simply his nature. The same with Yaakov and the Beis Medrash. Esav's innate nature was drawn to tumah and Yaakov's was drawn to kedusha.

This Maharal seems to contradict a fundamental principle of Judaism that every person has free will and can choose to be a Tzadik or a Rasha. If Esav's innate nature in the womb was to worship Avoda Zara how can he blamed for his actions, likewise if Yaakov's innate nature was for kedusha why should he be rewarded for that?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Davening 40 days in a row at the kotel, is it a segula?

The various tzedaka organizations promote davening 40 days straight at the kotel and other holy places at various times of the year to raise money.

R' Elyashiv is quoted as stating there is "no inyan" in such an act, adding one’s tefillos are accepted each time one davens at the Kosel.

It will be interesting to see how the various tzedaka organizations react to this.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chosson and Kallah Dancing Together at the Sanz Wedding

Take a look at Sanz Klausenburg Wedding In Israel 2009 Part 27 and you see clearly that they are dancing together holding hands.

I am absolutely stunned at this, that they would dance together holding hands. What happened to tznius?

Fascinating perspective on the Israeli economy

Israel: Leader of Business Innovation

Those of us living here don't always see it, but it is a very true look at the hi tech economy here.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

America's obsession with sports

I just came back from the US having spent a few weeks working there on site for a customer (one of the big reasons why I haven't posted much).

Being in America for an extended period of time helped me realize how obsessed America is with sports.

There is not 1 not 2, not 3, but at least 10 all sports channels available (Espn, ESPN 2, ESPN Classic, ESPN News, Yes, MSG, SNY, MLB...) in the NY area. There are also 2 all sports radio stations that talk sports 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Sunday afternoon is dominated by the NFL.

Peoples lives are defined by the sports teams that they are fans of and people live through their teams.

Being back in NY pulled me in a little and I am very happy that in Israel I am somewhat removed from this.

When I was in Israel learning for the year, I was completely disconnected. There was no way to be a US sports fan in Israel, you were completely cut off from everything. You couldn't even get the scores. Unfortunately, today, the internet has made it very possible to continue being a US sports fan in Israel. Everything is available online. The internet has made the world a much smaller place, you can feel connected to anywhere now. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is great that my kids can talk to their grandparents and cousins on Skype and keep up a very close relationship. It is bad that it makes it hard to pull away from the sports obsessed US culture.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

יקח נא מעט מים ורחצו רגליכם

Rashi comments that Avraham was afraid that they were ערביים who worshiped the dust on their feet and Avraham was מקפיד not to bring avoda zara into his house. Lot on the other hand was not מקפיד and therefore did not have them wash their feet first.

It is clear from Rashi that he is praising Avraham Avinu for his behavior. However, if you look at the Gemara ב"מ פו you get a different picture. The Gemara says that because Avraham was חושד that they were עובדי עבודה זרה Yishmael came from him whose descendants worshiped exactly as Avraham was חושד the malachim. The Gemara is saying that Avraham was חושד בכשרים and punished for his behavior while Rashi seems to be praising Avraham for not wanting to let עבודה זרה in his house.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some halachos of building a succah

This post, Some halachic points regarding building a succah , covers many of the main issues.

I would like to add an addtional point.

When do you say דופן עקומה?

R' Akiva Eiger has a famous teshuva where he quotes the Ran that you cannot put together 2 הלכות למשה מסיני to make a wall. Therefore the Ran (and others) hold that you you can only say דופן עקומה when the walls reach the סכך. If the walls don't reach the סכך, then you need the halacha of גוד אסיק to complete the wall and the halacha of דופן עקומה. This is 2 הלכות למשה מסיני which according to the Ran doesn't work.

This idea of 2 הלכות למשה מסיני can't be used together is only if the 2 are not independent. However, if they are independent then there is no issue. In the case of the walls not reaching the סכך they are not independent, you can only say דופן עקומה after you complete the wall with גוד אסיק. However, the following case would be good even according to the Ran. You have דופן עקומה and then you have a 2 טפח gap in the סכך. here you can say both halachos as the דופן עקומה stands independently of the לבוד and the לבוד is independent of the דופן עקומה.

The Mishna Berura quotes this chumra (he says it seems like the Shulchan Aruch holds this way). However, he comments that if the wall is within 3 טפחים of the סכך everyone agrees that it would be good. At first glance the MB is very difficult, why should לבוד be any different then גוד אסיק, they are both הלכות למשה מסיני and you can't say דופן עקומה without the לבוד. The מקראי קדש answers that maybe the pshat is that you can't be מכשיר a wall with 2 הלכות למשה מסיני of walls. However, לבוד works everywhere and is not a halacha of walls. Therefore לבוד would work even in conjunction with another הלכות למשה מסיני.

This is an important MB, without it we would almost never say דופן עקומה. In all of the succahs that I see the סכך doesn't actually rest on the walls it usually rests on some supports which rest on the walls. The סכך is generally a few inches on top of the wall (especially if you have a non-wooden succah where you have an issue of מעמיד). Therefore we are always relying on לבוד to fill in that little gap. Without the MB you would never be able to say דופן עקומה because you are relying on 2 הלכות למשה מסיני.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some reflections on Rosh Hashana

Here area number of thoughts I have on this past Rosh Hashana.

1. It amazes me how people waltz in to shul late on Rosh Hashana. Yes, davening is earlier then a regular Shabbos, but still how hard is it to get to shul on time? I had a Rebbe in 9th grade, R' Yitzchak Cohen, who I still remember very well 25+ years later for his musar. One of the things I remember very clearly is how he exhorted us to come to to shul on Rosh Hashana on time. He gave the following reasons:
a. Imagine if you had a secular court case and the trial started at 9AM. You would not dream of waltzing in at 9:20AM, you would be too afraid to come late. You would make sure that you got there on time if not a few minutes early just to be sure. Forget about court cases, imagine if you had an important meeting at work, would you show up late 20 minutes late? Rosh Hashana is the Yom Hadin, we are all on trial for our lives. To come late to shul shows that we don't really believe it and don't take it seriously.
b. Rosh Hashana is supposed to be a day where we daven with extra כוונא. To come late and have to hurry through or skip parts of פסוקי דזמרא kills your כוונא and again shows what is really important.

2. The acharonim point out that although on Rosh Hashana there is no issur of fasting half a day and therefore davening should go a little past חצות, that is on a weekday. However, on Shabbos the issur of fasting applies and therefore you should try to finish before חצות. This din seems to have fallen by the wayside. Very few shuls seem to be makpid on this. I remember R' Willig telling us in shiur, that when Rosh Hashana fell out on Shabbos he would tell his Baal Habatim that he would compromise with them, he wouldn't speak and they would start 15 minutes earlier to finish before chatzos.

3. A long speech by the Rabbi is counterproductive on Rosh Hashana. People are in shul for 5-6 hours, they are simply not able to sit and listen to a speech by the Rabbi for a half an hour. If the Rabbi feels the need to speak he should keep it short and simple.

4. Announcing how long the silent shemoneh esrei is going to be (15 minutes, a half an hour, whatever it is) is a tremendous help for kavana. This way people know how long they have to daven and how long they have to wait after they finish. You don't have people fidgeting and trying to figure out when is the chazan going to start chazaras hashatz and people who want to daven a long shemoneh esrei know exactly how long they have.

Recommended seforim for the Yomim Noraim

Here are some seforim that I find very useful/inspiring for this time period.

שער הגמול - by the Ramban. This sefer spells out many of the Yesodos Haemuna that relate to this time period. It explains what we are judged for on Rosh Hashana, צדיק ורע לא, Gehinom and Gan Eden, etc. It is both a tremendous source of mussar and knowledge for this period.
קונטרוס עבודת התפילה - This explains every line of the shemoneh esrei giving you all of the sources. I find it helps my כוונא tremendously. I like the sefer in Hebrew but there is an English version as well.
אסופי מערכות ימים נוראים - This is a set of essays from R' Goldvicht (former R' Yeshiva of Kerem B'Yavneh and talmid of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav). R' Goldvicht is a master in aggadda and he has some beautiful ideas about the ימים נוראים.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All men are created equal?

Is this a Torah value?

It seems that the answer is yes and no.

The Mishna in Horiyos (31a) states that for life and death situations a man comes before a woman. The next Mishna then continues the hierarchy, a Kohen is before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisrael, a Yisrael before a mamzer etc.

Interestingly enough, the Gemara explains how the Mishna knew that a Kohen is before a Levi etc. based on either pesukim or sevara. The one relationship that the Gemara doesn't explain is a man ahead of a woman. The Rambam in the peirush hamishnayos says that a man has more kedusha because he has more mitzvos. It would seem that for all of the others the kedusha is the same as they are חייב in basically the same mitzvos.

However, the Mishna has 1 very big caveat, that they are all equal בחכמה. If not, then a ממזר ת"ח comes before a Kohen Gadol עם הארץ.

What comes out is that yes, the Torah has a hierarchy, all men are not created equal, but, anyone can jump the hierarchy through his own efforts in Torah.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Is the Charedi world turning against the Edah Hacharedis?

This weeks Mishpacha newspaper (Hebrew) had a number of very strong opinion pieces against the Edah. Basically they said that they have become like the boy who cried wolf with so many protests and when a really important issue comes up the protest will have no meaning.

They also mentioned something that I posted a while back (Who is a real kannoi? ), that the kanaus of the Edah is not defined by Torah. They quoted a protester who said he was willing to die to prevent chillus shabbos. That is a very nice sentiment but is anti-Torah. The Torah says וחי בהם, a person needs to take care of themselves. Only the 3 cardinal sins are יהרוג ועל יעבור. In fact, here it is on an even lower level, it is not that someone is forcing him to be מחלל shabbos, but rather he is trying to prevent some stranger from being מחלל שבת. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis in halacha for a person to put himself in a life threatening position to prevent a stranger, or be מוחה for chillul shabbos.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

And the moral of the story is ...

The Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew) had a fascinating story this past week. The story was about a mother and her quest for wives for her sons and the lesson that she learned. She had a number of sons (3 close together and then a gap). For the first 3 sons she was looking for a wife who would be able to support her son so that he could sit and learn. Therefore, she chose Beis Yaakov graduates with a real profession (not teachers). The first was a computer programmer, the second an architect, the third an accountant. To make a long story short, each one of them was very successful in their career and made good money. However, their family life and her son's learning suffered terribly. They all worked full time jobs and therefore had to work 9+ hours a day. That meant leaving the house before 8AM and coming home the earliest 5:30-6PM. This turned their husbands into Mr. Mom. The husband had to get the kids out to school, help prepare supper, etc. 2 of them opened their own offices and therefore the husband helped run the office. In short, the husband's learning suffered and the kids were being brought up by babysitters.

After a few years when son number 4 was looking for a wife, she decided that she had learned her lesson and things would be different for son number 4. Can anyone guess what lesson she learned?

The lesson that she learned was that she should not look for a career woman, money isn't everything. Rather, she would look for a girl like her, a teacher/gannenet who would have time for her children and husband.

It did not occur to her that maybe the whole system of the wife supporting the husband while he sits and learns is the root of the problem. It did not occur to her that maybe her precious son should actually go out and work and make a living to support his wife as he is מחייב himself to do in the כתובה. Instead, his wife should work and support him while he would sit and learn.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ועשית ככל אשר יורוך

This quote has become the battle cry of the Charedi world, that you have to unquestionably follow the decisions of the Gedolei Hador. Many also quote Rashi (Parshas Shoftim) where he quotes the Sifri that אפילו על שמאל שהוא ימין, even if they are making a mistake you still need to listen.

I would like to discuss whether the modern day application is necessarily correct and some other interpretations of this principle.

There are 2 premises here:
1. This din applies to the Gedolim today
2. You need to listen even if you know that they made a mistake.

Premise 1 would seem to be a שיטת יחיד.

The Chinuch says this in Mitzva 495,496 however, as the Minchas Chinuch points out there he doesn;t know what the source for this is. In fact, the Rambam seems to disagree as the Rambam puts all of these dinim in the Perek where he discusses the ב"ד הגדול. It would seem that according to the Rambam this din would only apply to the ב"ד הגדול.

The Gemara in Horiyos (2b) explicitly contradicts premise 2.

A little background. The beginning of Horiyos discusses the halachos of a פר העלם דבר של ציבור. If the ב"ד הגדול paskens that something where the punishment is כרת is permitted and the majority of the people follow the psak and do the aveira, the individuals do not need to bring a korban chatas, rather the ב"ד brings a פר העלם .דבר של ציבור

The first Mishna in Horiyos discusses the case where a member of the ב"ד disagrees or even if a talmid who is ראוי להוראה disagrees with the psak of the ב"ד. The Mishna says that if they rely on the psak of the ב"ד they will not be covered by the פר העלם דבר של ציבור, but rather will need to bring their own private חטאת. The Gemara asks why are they considered a שוגג if they knew the pask was wrong. The Gemara answers that they made a mistake in the מצוה לשמוע לדברי חכמים. They thought that they needed to listen even when the ב"ד made a mistake.

You see explicitly from the Gemara that you are not supposed to listen to the ב"ד הגדול if you know that they made a mistake.

This seems to contradict the Sifri that Rashi quoted. In addition, the Yerushalmi also seems to contradict the Sifri. The Yerushalmi writes that I might think that I should listen if the chachamim tell me על שמאל שהוא ימין, the Yerushalmi says קמ"ל that you should only listen when they say על ימין שהוא ימין.

The Rishonim and Acharonim offer a number of resolutions to these contradictions.

A number of mefarshim of Rashi claim that the Sifri is only talking about where you think that the ב"ד is wrong but you are not sure. In that situation you just listen to the ב"ד. However, if you are sure, then you should not listen and this is the Gemara in Horiyos and the Yerushalmi.

The Ramban in his השגות on the Sefer Hamitzvos (שורש ב) offers the following resolution. He says that if you disagree with the ב"ד הגדול you should follow your opinion until you go to them and present your arguments and they reject them. He says that this is pshat in the Gemara Horiyos. However, once they reject your arguments and maintain their psak the din of the Sifri applies that you must listen.

The Ramban is difficult because the case of the Mishna in Horiyos includes where a member of the ב"ד that ruled on the case disagrees. It is hard to imagine that he did not present his arguments when the case was heard and yet, the Gemara still says that he should not follow the psak of the ב"ד.

R' Elchanan in קונטרוס דברי סופרים offers the following resolution. Part of the איסור of בל תוסיף is that the חכמים are not allowed to label a דין דרבנן as a דין דאורייתא. The חכמים are allowed to create דינים דרבנן but they must be clearly labeled as such. Based on this he explains the Yerushalmi as follows. The Yerushalmi is talking about a case where the חכמים are labeling a דין דרבנן as a דין דאורייתא, that is what ימין שהוא שמאל means and therefore you are not allowed to listen. The Sifri on the other hand is talking about a completely different case. The Sifri is talking about where the חכמים tell you not to perform a mitzva, for example not to blow shofar on shabbos. Even though they are telling you not to do a mitzva (ימין שהוא שמאל) that is within their authority and therefore you have to listen.

According to R' Elchanan, it comes out that the Sifri has nothing to do with listening to the חכמים in general, it is talking about a very specific case.

The bottom line is that the application of this principle to the statements of the "Gedolim" regarding elections etc. and saying that everyone has a חיוב to listen would seem to be on very shaky ground.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Edah Hacharedis continues with their campaign for the "starving mother" ...

With a 50 page booklet detailing the crimes of Hadassa.

Here they attack Hadassa for being a research hospital. This is just silly. How do think the new treatments that save their lives will be discovered without research? Anyone who knows anything knows that a research hospital is generally the best place to go as they have access to the best and latest treatments.

The last page is absolutely fascinating. The caricature shows how they believe that the chiloni world is obsessed with attacking them. As someone who works in hi tech and deals with chilonim every day, I can say this is absolutely silly. The chiloni world has no interest in Charedim whatsoever and spends no time thinking about them.

Also, take note of the e-mail address.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

For the first time since Moshe Rabenu ...

This is how the latest Kupat Hair flyer begins in dramatic fashion. What will they think of next? Who comes up with these ideas?

Is this really what gets people to give tzedaka?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jerualem Post: Most haredim want secular higher education

Most haredim want secular higher education

Over half of haredim would be interested in receiving advanced secular education in preparation for a profession if they could be assured of a religious, gender-segregated classroom environment, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

If this is really true this is absolutely fascinating and says a lot about how much Haredi society is changing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kiryas Yoel: an example of a Charedi town

This week is the 30th Yartzheit of the Satmar Rebbe and therefore Hamodia published a number of articles about him and Satmar. One of the articles focused on Kiryas Yoel. What was really interesting was that the writer took you around the town and in a surprised sort of voice kept saying that the Chasidim are doing everything from running the fire department, collecting garbage, public safety etc. It seems like Kiryas Yoel is basically self sufficient and all everything is done by Chasidim.

I obviously have major ideological differences with Satmar but this aspect is very admirable. Satmar has always been very practical and has never had a kollel only approach. Most men in Satmar learn 2-3 years after they get married (at 18-19) and then go out to work in the community. This seems to be a much more sustainable lifesytle then the kollel only style here in Israel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Been on vacation and now traveling on business

I haven't posted in a while because we went up to the Golan (very limited internet access) and now I am in the US on business.

I hope to get back to regular posting later this week.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The end of an era

R' Zelig Epstein Rosh Yeshiva of Shaar Torah and one of the few remaining Roshei Yeshiva who grew up and learned in pre-war Europe passed away yesterday.

While he is not the last, the number is dwindling and within 10 years there will be no one left who learned in pre-war Europe.

The question is how will this affect us? Until now, there has been a glorification/idealization of the Eastern European yeshivas and what they represented. The Yated Neeman goes so far as to call that generation the דור דעה. I wonder whether when they are all gone will this idealization of pre-war Europe get stronger or weaker?

Until now, the focus of the Torah world has been to replace what was lost from pre-war Europe by the Holocaust which has been a very big contributor to the Torah only hashkafa. Maybe with the passing of that generation we will be able to move forward and understand that it is time to move on and that the הוראת שעה has ended.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The scandals just don't stop

Today there are 2 more cases of religious Jews being arrested for financial crimes.

Monsey couple charged with welfare fraud

A chasidish couple was arrested for stealing $75,000 from federal rent, Medicaid and food stamp programs

Mail Thieves Caught in Rockland County

2 frum guys (with 3 week beards) were arrested for stealing checks from mailboxes.

It is not hard to understand why this is happening. The Gemara in Kiddushin (30b)states:
ר' יהודה אומר כל שאינו מלמדו אומנות מלמדו מלמדו ליסטות
R' Yehuda says that whoever does not teach his son a profession is teaching him to be a robber

In many parts of the Charedi world today "work" is a 4 letter word and many people simply have no skills to make a living, therefore as the Gemara says they turn to theft.

Why is Tisha B'Av more strict then other fast days?

On Tisha B'Av in addition to not eating and drinking we have additional restrictions as well such as not wearing shoes, washing etc., why is that?

There is a fundamental machlokes regarding this.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (18b) quotes a pasuk in Zecharya which calls the 4 fast days both a צום and ששון ושמחה. The Gemara asks that the 2 contradict each other. The Gemara answers when there is shalom then these days are holidays (ששון ושמחה). When there are גזירות on the Jewish people, צום, when it is neither then רצו מתענים רצו אין מתענים. The Gemara then asks what about Tisha B'Av? The Gemara answers that Tisha B'Av is different because הוכפלו צרות and therefore if it is not a time of shalom you have to fast.

The Ramban explains the following based on the Gemara. Why do we fast at all today on the other 3 fast days, we are in that intermediate stage where רצו אין מתענים? He explains that the Jewish people accepted to fast on these days. Really, all 4 fast days really should be like Tisha B'Av with the 5 עינויים. However, since now there is no חיוב to fast, the RAmban says that the Jewish people did not accept a full fast but a partial fast and did not accept the other עינויים.

Others argue on the Ramban and say that really the only prohibition on all fast days is eating and drinking. Tisha B'Av is different because we add in halachos of Aveilus. The additional issurim on Tisha B'Av are issurim of Avelus.

There is a very big נפקא מינא between the 2. According to the Ramban during a time like the Holocaust there is a חיוב מדינה to observe the other 3 fast days like Tisha B'Av while according to the others there is not.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Instant Semicha

I saw this today and if I didn't know it was serious I would be sure that someone is playing a joke.

Semicha is not supposed to be easy and not supposed to be short. Would you trust someone who was confused by the intricacies of the Shach and Taz to pasken questions for you?

What is this semicha going to be used for? Does anyone think that someone who takes a short period of time to do this will really know anything?

This is another manifestation of the "instant" culture that we live in and is why we now have who knows how many compilation sefarim.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

3 weeks, 9 days, and Tisha B'av posts worth looking at

I have written a number of posts relating to Tisha B'Av over the years. I think they are worthwhile to be read again now during the 9 days.

Another Tisha B'Av gone by
Leather shoes on Tisha B'Av
Wearing crocs on Tisha B'Av
משנכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה
The Aveilus of the Three Weeks

משנכנס אב ממעטים בשמחה

Based on this we have many ניהוגי אבילות during this period such as not eating meat, not bathing, etc.

Although there are a number of different reasons for not eating meat during the 9 days:
1. Aveilus - Meat is something that makes us happy (אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין) and therefore in these days of mourning we abstain
2. זכר לקרבנות - We are supposed to remember that during this time the קרבנות were stopped.

The bottom line is that we are not eating meat so that we feel the aveilus of the churban. Unfortunately, many people take not eating meat during the 9 days in the wrong direction. Some people love it, as I once heard "and best of all, there's always ice cream or cheese cake for desert".

Those who feel that it is easy and great and they get to eat ice cream all the time, are missing the whole point. They may be doing the minhag but by Aveilus there is supposed to be a kiyum balev, you are supposed to feel something. These people feel no aveilus because they are not eating meat, in fact they are happy. This is a perversion of the minhag. The minhagim are supposed to help you feel aveilus, if they don't you should do something else that will help you feel the aveilus as well. Clearly, we cannot violate the minhag and eat meat even if we don't like meat, on the other hand, we shouldn't be eating gourmet milchig meals and enjoying ourselves either.

These days are supposed to be sad, eating gourmet milchig meals while not technically violating the minhag is certainly violating it's spirit.

The same thing applies to listening to music. The whole idea of "3 week CD's" (a cappella no music) is absolutely ridiculous. The whole point of not listening to music is so that you should feel the aveilus. It is clear that whoever listens to these "3 week cd's" enjoys them, otherwise why would they listen. This is a classic case of observing the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law or as the Ramban would say, a נבל ברשות התורה. Listening to these CD's clearly give people simcha the opposite of what we are supposed to be feeling at this time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The 3 Bachurim in Japan - parental negligence?

Let's take as fact the claims that they are innocent and had no idea what they were doing because they are so sheltered etc. How on Earth did these kids parents let them travel abroad to Europe and Japan when that is the case? These kids don't speak or read English. They could not fill out the custom forms because they were in English. How could anyone expect them to function in a completely foreign country which has a very different culture? How did they expect to communicate with anyone in Japan for their most basic needs? I assume that they were planning to stay in Japan at least 1 night, how were they going to get from the airport to a hotel? Check in to the hotel? No one in Japan speaks Yiddish or Hebrew, they barely speak English. It is beyond me how any parent could allow a completely sheltered kid who has no understanding of the outside world abroad when they don't speak the language of the country or English. How were these kids supposed to communicate with anyone? Last I checked the universal translator has still not yet been invented.

No one would send an 8 year old to Japan by himself, yet, in essence that's what was done here. These bachurim in terms of worldly knowledge are probably not even the equivalent of an 8 year old. My 8 year old son (living in Israel) is more worldly then these kids. He speaks and read English and has been exposed to the outside world. He probably knows what drugs are. However, I would never dream of sending him by himself abroad.

You can't have it both ways. If you completely shelter your kids you cannot expect them to be able to deal with the outside world and travel around the world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

All the news that is fit to print according to Hamodia

I have a subscription to both Mishpacha in Hebrew and Hamodia in English. It is absolutely fascinating to see what is printed in Mishpacha and not in Hamodia.

Last week there were 2 front page stories in Mishpacha that were not mentioned at all in Hamodia.

1. A Haredi Madoff. A Haredi investment broker seems to have pulled a Madoff and lost between 30-100 million dollars.
2. A summit about Chinuch Atzmai

What is the common denominator between them? They both involve Gerrer chasidim. The investment broker is a Gerrer Chossid and the Chinuch Atzmai meeting is an open challenge to the Gerrer Hasidim, an attempt to reduce their power. Anything negative regarding Ger is verboten in Hamodia.

It is sad that for some people Hamodia is their only source of news.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Who is a real kannoi?

The past weeks we have seen the "kannoim" riot in Yerushalayim. The question that needs to be asked is can these people really be called kannoim?

After Shimon and Levi destroy the city of Shechem Yakov is very angry with them and asks for exposing their family to danger, they answer,הכזונה יעשה את אחותינו. Yaakov Avinu does not respond at that point but does respond when he gives the shevatim their berachos in ויחי. Yaakov says about Shimon and Levi, כלי חמס מכירותיהם, clearly negative and then he says אפיצם ביעקב אחלקם בישראל, that they will be spread around. However, Rashi comments that Yaakov was saying that they will be the מלמדים and סופרים for the Jewish people.

R' Yaakov Kamenetsky asks why should they be the כלי קדש? Yaakov Avinu was not happy with their actions. He answers that to be a כלי קדש you need to be a kannoi. Things have to bother you and you have to act on it.

R' Yaakov then pointed out that Levi fulfilled the beracha while Shimon did not. Levi rallied to Moshe Rabenu's side when he said מי לה' אלי by the עגל, however, Shimon did not. In fact, Shimon used his קנאות for bad in the מעשה of זמרי where the נשיא of Shimon was a kannoi against Moshe Rabenu and acted out his desires. And in fact, who killed Zimri, Pinchas from Shevet levi.

What was the difference between Shimon and Levi? R' Yaakov answers, Torah. Levi learned torah in מצרים and was therefore able to harness his קנאות to torah while Shimon was busy working and therefore his קנאות was not bound by torah and turned out to be a terrible thing.

The Chazon Ish once commented on the Kannoim in Yerushalayim that they were pre-matan torah Jews, meaning that their actions were not guided by torah but by emotion. This is a very bad thing which leads people to do terrible aveiros.

Unfortunately, this is the case of today's kannoim as well. They are pre-matan torah Jews like Shimon. Their קנאות is causing them to violate very serious aveiros for which they cannot do teshuva. They have been מזיק and stole from who knows how many people, an aveira from which there is no כפרה until you return the גזילה\היזק. There is absolutely no heter whatsoever to destroy public property to make a מחאה, it is simply גזילה from the ציבור. In addition, they have created a terrible chillul hashem, again an aveira with no kappara. Why? because their kanaus is not defined by Torah but by their emotions.

When R' Weiss was appointed the Av Beis Din of the Eidah Charedis people complained that he wasn't a big kannoi. The Satmar rebbe said that anyone can be a kannoi overnight, to become a Talmid Chacham like R' Weiss takes 20 years.

This is exactly the problem today, everyone is a kannoi but how many kannoim have their kanaus defined by the Torah?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peace now?

The name of the Israeli "Peace Camp" has been Peace Now for the past almost 30 years. It is an idiotic name as it implies that if Israel wants it can make "peace now". The only problem is that the Palestinians don't want Peace Now.

Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Chief Negotiator, is quoted in the Jordanian newspapers as saying that the Palestinians are in no hurry. Israel is slowly but surely caving in to the PA positions and therefore the Palestinians need to be patient.

Saeb Ereqat: We Have No Reason to Hurry

Saeb Ereqat: Over the Years, Israel Has Gradually Withdrawn from Its Positions; Therefore, We Have No Reason to Hurry

In a June 25, 2009 interview with the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, Palestinian Authority negotiations department head Saeb Ereqat said that the previous Israeli government, under Ehud Olmert, had offered PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas territory equal in size to 100% of the land occupied in 1967, by means of a land swap. Ereqat explained, however, that the PA would not agree to a land swap before Israel recognized the Palestinians' right to sovereignty over all the territory occupied in 1967. He added that there had been a steady erosion in Israel's position over the years, to the point that it had recently offered the Palestinians 100% of the territory; therefore, the Palestinians had no reason to rush into accepting the Israeli proposals. He stressed that the Right of Return and monetary compensation for the refugees were not mutually exclusive, and that the Palestinians would insist on receiving both.

Here is 1 short excerpt from the interview:

"[Some ask] where the negotiations with the Israeli side have brought us. First [the Israelis] said we would [only have the right to] run our own schools and hospitals. Then they consented to give us 66% [of the occupied territories].

"At Camp David they offered 90%, and [recently] they offered 100%. So why should we hurry, after the all the injustice we have suffered?

The Israeli government needs to understand that they are negotiating with themselves. The Palestinians have not offered a single real concession while every time the Palestinians say no Israel comes back with a new concession.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Is the עדה החרדית becoming zionist?

Otherwise why do they care that the city of Yerushalayim is opening a parking lot on Shabbos? There is chillul shabbos in Yerushalayim and there will be whether or not the city opens the parking lot on shabbos. The עדה החרדית would not protest in NYC if Mayor Bloomberg (a Jew) opened a parking lot on shabbos who why should they care about Mayor Nir Barkat? After all, according to them the government is illegitimate and assur.

R' Amram Blau (a famous kannoi) once came back from an anti government demonstration and told the Brisker Rav how he laid down in front of the police cars to prevent them from going. The Brisker Rav said that he sees that R' Amram is also a Zionist. R' Amram was very puzzled, how was he a zionist? The Brisker Rav answered as follows. He asked R' Amram would you have laid down in front of a police car in Communist Russia? R' Amram answered no, I would have been afraid that they would just run me over and kill me. The Brisker Rav said that is the answer. You clearly believe that the zionists are better then the communists and would not kill you. That makes you in some small way a zionist.

The same point can be made today. Even the עדה החרדית understands that it is bad for the Jewish government of Yerushalayim to be מחלל שבת. As the Brisker Rav told R' Amra, Blau, they have bought in at least a little to zionism.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What did R' Aharon Kotler advise talmidim to do before WWII?

Here is a description of a letter that R' Aharon Kotler sent to R' Gedalya Schorr after R' Aharon found out that R' Schorr was going back to America. This letter was written in the summer of 1939. (source Hamodia magazine Parshas Chukas))

...he could calmly remain in Kletzk and that he did not have to worry about a war in the near future

WWII broke out less then 2 months later and if R' Schorr had followed R' Aharon's advice he most probably would not have survived.

The question we need to ask is what is the lesson we need to take from here? The answer IMHO is that no one is infallible. Yes, RAK was a great talmid chacham but he (and almost all of the Gedolim in pre-war Europe) completely misread the situation before WWII.

RYBS said that R' Chaim thought that there would be Jews living in Brisk in 1979 just like they lived there in 1879 and therefore he didn't see the need for changes like secular education etc.

Today, the world is changing so fast that חדש אסור מן התורה doesn't work.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why don't girls cover their head when davening?

This is a really simple question which does not have a simple answer.

The Shulchan Aruch (סי' צ"א סע' ג) paskens that it is אסור to say a Beracha without a head covering. The Shulchan Aruch is based on 1 opinion in מסכת סופרים which Rabenu Yerucham paskens like l'halacha. The Mishna Berura (סי' ב' ס"ק י"ב) paskens like the shulchan aruch.

By issurim, there is no distinction between men and women, issurim apply to both equally. Therefore, this issur of not saying berachos without a head covering should apply to women as well. We don't find any source to distinguish here between men and women.

In fact, the sefer ישכיל עבדי draws exactly this conclusion. He quotes the shulchan aruch and says he doesn't understand how the Beis Yakov's allows the girls to daven without covering their heads.

R' Ovadya Yosef has a teshuva about this (יביע אומר ח' ו' סי' ט"ו). He has a long discussion about whether it is an issur to say a beracha bareheaded or just a מדת חסידות. He brings rishonim and acharonim on both sides and concludes that the minhag today must be to rely on those who hold there is no issur. However, he recommends that for Shemoneh Esrei and Bentching that girls should cover their head to be חושש for the shulchan aruch.

It is absolutely fascinating how this din is completely ignored by the חרדים לדבר ה. After all, the Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura both pasken that it is assur, why are we not at least חושש for their opinion? The Charedi world has adopted so many wilder chumras why is this one left behind? There is no question that this chumra has much more basis then disallowing certain color stockings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Should you wear תכלת because ספק דאורייתא לחומרא?

The answer would seem to be yes. Many poskim today assume that the techeles that has been discovered is at least a ספק and therefore since tzitzis is דאורייתא we should be machmir to wear it based on ספק דאורייתא לחומרא.

However, some want to say as follows in the name of R' Chaim. We only say ספק דאורייתא לחומרא when by doing an action we can be מברר the ספק. Take the classic case of a person forgetting whether he benched, said shema, etc. or not. After doing the mitzva again he will be ודאי יוצא the mitzva and therefore he is חייב to do that. However, in the case of techeles, even if a person is machmir and puts on techeles he is not מברר the ספק. He still may not be יוצא the mitzva. The only time you say ספק דאורייתא לחומרא is when by doing something you can be מברר the ספק, however, if doing something leaves you in the same state as before, ספק, the principle of ספק דאורייתא לחומרא doesn't apply.

There are a number of problems with this analysis.
1. RHS and others claim that R' Chaim never said it, it is not printed anywhere.
2. Even if R' Chaim actually said it we don't pasken like this. The Rishonim have a machlokes whether the first 3 berachos of bentching are מעכב one another. What is the din if you only know 1 beracha, should you say it? The Rif says no because they are מעכב one another and the Ramban says yes that they are not מעכב one another. להלכה what should a person do in this situation? This is the same kind of situation as we described above with techeles. You have a ספק whether you need to say the beracha you know and even after you say it the ספק still stands, you still may have not been יוצא. The פמ"ג says that in this situation you don't say ספק דאורייתא לחומרא (like R' Chaim). However, there is one extra wrinkle here by bentching. By bentching if you are not חייב you are saying a ברכה לבטלה which is an איסור. In other words here the chumra is not risk free. Therefore the פמ"ג says that you should not say the 1 beracha. However, wearing techeles is risk free, therefore it would seem that even the פמ"ג would agree that you should be machmir.

In any case, both the Mishna Berura and the Aruch Hashulchan pasken against the Aruch Hashulchan Pri Megadim and say that מספק you should say the 1 beracha. We see from here that they pasken that you do say ספק דאורייתא לחומרא even when you cannot be מברר the ספק even in a case where there is a ספק איסור!

ויקרא משה להושע בין יהושע II

The (קרן אורה (סוטה לד (thanks Chaim B) answers both questions as follows:

Moshe did not know that the Meraglim would sin. Rather he knew that the mission would be a serious challenge and the that yetzer hara would try very hard to entrap them and cause them to sin. Therefore he davened that they should succeed.

If so why did Moshe only daven for Yehoshua? He answers based on the Arizal as follows. Each Nasi represented a shevet and therefore the neshama of the progenitor of the shevet was with the Nasi on the trip. Moshe thought that would protect them and therefore he did not see the need to daven for them. However, Yehoshua was from Efraim and therefore had no progenitor to protect him (I guess you can ask why didn't Efraim's neshama come?) as the pasuk puts Menashe and Yosef together so Yosef went with Gadi ben Susi from Menashe and not Yehoshua. Therefore Moshe davened specifically for Yehoshua so that he would have different protection.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Netanyahu's speech yesterday

All things considered Netanyahu's speech yesterday was as good as can be. I am personally much more right wing then Netanyahu and can in no way shape or form support any kind of Palestinian state, however, I realize that Netanyahu did what he had to do at this juncture.

I think that it was very important for him to give the historical perspective which is always missing.

It was also very important for him to insist on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. As we can see from Mubarak's and others reactions this hit the nail on the head. They are so against recognizing Israel as a Jewish state because as a Jewish state we have a historical/religious claim on the land. However, if Israel is not a Jewish state then we are just colonialists stealing Palestinian land. It is critical that this come out in the open. The average person on the street in Israel is now being exposed to this and is coming to the realization that the Arabs simply don't want peace and will never accept Israel. The YNet article about this has a whopping 700+ comments already.

Our good friend Hosni Mubarak ...

Egypt (and the rest of the Arab world) will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

How can anyone think that Israel can make peace with the Arabs when they still deny this basic fact?

ויקרא משה להושע בין יהושע

Rashi comments that Moshe changed his name and davened that Hashem should save Yehoshua from the עצת המרגלים.

This is very difficult for a number of reasons:
1. We see clearly from Rashi that Moshe knew that the Meraglim would sin, that is why he davened that Yehoshua would not be caught up in it. If so, why did he send them at all? After all Rashi comments שלח לך that Hashem gave Moshe the choice as to whether to send meraglim or not. If he knew they would sin why didn't he just cancel the mission?
2. Why daven only for Yehoshua? Yehoshua was probably the greatest of the meraglim, why would Moshe worry that he would sin? At the time that they were picked all of the Meraglim were tzadikim, why didn't Moshe daven for all of them?

I did not find any of the meforshim on Rashi that dealt with the first question that if Moshe knew they were going to sin why send them. The Netziv does ask this question and because of this question says that Rashi's pshat is very difficult. In fact, he rejects Rashi's pshat and offers his own pshat.

The meforshim do deal with the second question but I didn't see any convincing answers.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

When does תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה not apply?

I saw an interesting piece in one of the the weekly sheets that are distributed. They had the following question. There was a wave of burglaries in a particular Charedi neighborhood so the residents decided to hire a private security company. However, then the question of how to apportion the costs came up. Since the Gemara says that תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה and the majority of the people in the neighborhood sit and learn in kollel (and presumably have the status of Talmidei Chachamim) who should pay? R' Elyashiv answered that the principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה only applies in a normal situation, before there is a rash of burglaries. However, now that there already was a rash of burglaries it would be considered a נס for the talmid chacham not to be harmed. Therefore the principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה does not apply and everyone has to pay equally for the security company.

When the issue of drafting yeshiva students for the army came up, this principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה was used as one of the reasons for the exemption. It would seem from the above that R' Elyashiv would disagree as it is as at least as much a נס to not be harmed in war/terrorist acts in Israel as not being burglarized where there is a rash of burglaries. In fact, at the time R' Zevin vehemently disagreed and made exactly this argument.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Your forget about the weather in Israel

In Israel from May - October you basically forget about the weather. Every day is sunny and it never rains.

It is a real shock to travel to the US and suddenly have to worry about the weather is it going to rain or not.

In Israel hardly anyone complains when it rains, people are generally happy because everyone knows that we need the rain. In NY when it rains in the summer all you hear is complaints.

It is clear to me that the rain patterns in Israel are much more conducive to emuna then those in the US. When it rains all the time you lose the connection to Hashem, rain is just a normal part of life. In Israel, where it doesn't rain for 6 months and even in the winter hardly rains, it is much easier to connect the rain to Hashem.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama thinks that the US is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world

Obama said the following in an interview 2 days ago:

if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.

This statement is simply not true by any stretch of the imagination. The number of Muslims in America ranges from 1 million to 7 million depending on who you believe (see for example here). Even if we take the higher number of 7 million the US is nowhere near one the largest Muslim countries. 7,000,000 Muslims is a little over 2% of the population. According to Wikipedia the US is number 52 in total population and is not even on the chart in terms of percentage.

What does this say about what Obama really wants? Is anyone in the press going to call Obama out on this?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What are you all Obama voters thinking now?

As things go bad from to worse regarding Israel are you Obama voters having second thoughts, regrets about your vote.

Forgetting about Israel, are you happy with the direction he is taking?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

San Francisco is such a depressing place

I travel to San Francisco for business every so often and it is a really depressing place. Everywhere you walk there are homeless people and bums all over the place. It is just amazing how many there are. It is a little scary to walk around when it seems like half the people are mentally ill and talking to themselves or yelling at you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where is the שוק?

The Gemara in Berachos 24b says that שוק באשה ערוה. Therefore it is really important to know what the Gemara means when it says שוק. In modern Hebrew it means the thighs and in fact that is what the Mishna Berura holds, he writes that שוק means the area above the knee.

The Chazon Ish however, disagrees based on a Mishna in Ohalos (8:3) which seems to clearly imply that the שוק is below the knee.

This has a tremendous נ"מ. If שוק is below the knee then a woman would need to cover the area from the knee to the ankle the same way she covers her thighs. Just like stockings/socks is not a good covering for the thighs it should not be for the calves either.

Interestingly enough the Chazon Ish (or other poskim that I saw) does not quote an explicit Gemara in Erchin 19b(that we recently learned in Amud Yomi).

The Gemara in Erchin is discussing what is the definition of רגל. The Gemara tries to bring a proof from Chalitza that you can do Chalitza up to the knee that רגל is up to the knee. The Gemara answers that by חליצה it says מעל רגלו and therefore up to the knee is above the רגל. The Gemara then asks if so what about above the knee? The Gemara answers that above the knee is מעל דמעל. The gemara then asks that from the ankle to the knee should already be מעל דמעל and the Gemara calls the area from the ankles to the knee שקא and therefore from the ankle to the knee should be considered מעל דמעל as well. The gemara answers that the ankle doesn't count (עיי"ש) and therefore the whole are from the foot until the knee is considered מעל רגלו.

We see black on white that the Gemara calls the area from the ankle to the knee שוק.

The bottom line is as the Chazon ish himself says, even the most pious women are not מחמיר to consider from the ankle to the knee שוק and therefore we need to say that שוק means different things in different contexts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When does a boy become Bar Mitzva?

Many times when the halacha speaks of years it doesn't mean full years but means years as counted by Rosh Hashana. For example, for the first 3 years you can't eat the fruits of a tree. The 3 years are not complete years, for example if you plant a tree in the summer, on Tu Bishvat the first year already ends after only 6 months. The first Mishna in Rosh Hashana lists off all of the Rosh Hashanas for various things.

The Gemara in Erchin (18b) lists 5 things (קדשים, בתי ערי חומה, שדה אחוזה, עבד עברי and בן ובת)where when the Torah says years it refers to full calendar years. The Gemara says that everyone agrees that by Bar Mitzva a boy needs to be 13 years and 1 day old.

However, the Gemara uses the language מעת לעת. Rashi says that not only do you count days but you even count hours. What this means is that a boy born on כ' אייר at 3PM will only become Bar Mitzvah on כ' אייר at 3PM. Until 3PM he is still a קטן. Tosafos (Erchin 31a, Nida 44b) argues on Rashi and holds that by Bar Mitzva we don't count hours, we only count hours by קדשים and בתי ערי חומה where there is a special limud.

להלכה, the Magen Avraham או"ח סימן נ"ג ס"ק י"ג paskens like Tosafos that we don't count hours as does the Bach and the Shach (ח"מ סי' ל"ה).

Some are machmir for Rashi and have the Bar Mitzva boy redo the mitzvos after the time.

For an interesting analysis see the משנה למלך הל' אישות ב:כ"א.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is the source for celebrating Lag Baomer as a holiday?

Lag Baomer is not mentioned in the Bavli, Yerushalmi, or any Medrashim. It is not mentioned in the Rambam either. The earliest source we have for Lag Baomer is from the later Rishonim. The Meiri (יבמות ס"ב) comments on the Gemara that describes how R' Akiva's students died between Pesach and עצרת that they stopped dying on Lag Baomer and therefore we don't fast or say hespedim on Lag Baomer. This idea is what is brought down in Shulchan Aruch.

The Pri Chadash asks why would we celebrate that they stopped dying? The Gemara says that all 24000 students died, the reason they stopped dying is that there were none left. Why is that cause for celebration? The question is better then any of the answers that I have seen.

The Chida based on this question says that we celebrate that R' Akiva took on his new talmidim on Lag Baomer when the old talmidim stopped dying. However, this is against the simple reading of the Gemara. The Gemara says that the world was desolate until R' Akiva started teaching new Talmidim. It sounds like there was a gap between the 2 groups of talmidim.

R' Chaim Vital gives a completely different reason for the celebration of Lag Baomer. He says that R' Shimon Bar Yochai died on Lag Baomer and therefroe we celebrate his yarhtzeit.

This is difficult for a number of reasons:
1. There is no earlier source that R' Shimon Bar Yochai died on Lag Baomer. R' Chaim Vital is the first to say this.
2. It says in Shulchan Aruch that the yahrtzeit of a tzaddik is supposed to be a fast day not a day of celebration. The shulchan aruch in סימן תק"פ lists off a whole bunch of fast days such as ז אדר (Moshe's death), the day of Miriam's death, the day of Yehoshua Bin Nun's death, etc. Therefore if R' Chaim Vital is right we should be fasting on Lag Baomer not celebrating.

The Chasam Sofer in his Teshuvos was very much against the idea of making Lag Baomer a Yom Tov. He writes:

How can there be a holiday for a day when no miracle occurred and isn't mentioned in the Mishna, Talmud, or any hint at all in the Tanach?

In recent years the pilgrimage to Meron has become a huge event. This year more then 500,000 people are expected. This is another clear sign that the Chassidim have won. Rashbi and Meron are kabbalastic traditions which the Chasidim have adopted, as we see from the Chasam Sofer the non-Chasidic world was against this. Yet, today the whole Charedi world is caught up in Meron and Rashbi.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cutting a child's hair before the age of 3

R' Chaim Kanievsky pointed out that there is an explicit Gemara that you can cut a child's hair before the age of 3.

The Gemara in Moed Katan 14b discusses whether a child can get a haircut on Chol Hamoed. The Gemara says that not only a child who was born on Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed can get a haircut but even other children. You see explicitly that if a child is born with a lot of hair you are allowed to cut it. This is quoted l'halacha in Shulchan Aruch Siman תקל"א.

Here is the background to the story. Someone asked R' Chaim the following question. His son is only 2.5 and he wants to take him to Meron to cut his hair on Lag Baomer (he won't be 3 yet). Should he be machmir to wait until his son is 3 to cut his hair? R' Chaim answered that it is explicitly permitted to cut a child's hair before the age of 3.

IMHO this question is a perfect example of what is wrong with the Charedi world today. Not cutting a child's hair before the age of 3 is a minhag, if you don't have the minhag then you don't have the minhag. To ask whether you should be machmir is ameratzus. What kind of chumra is it to wait until 3 to cut a child's hair?

It may make sense to be machmir when you have a a situation where we posken that something is mutar but some poskim say assur. Therefore to avoid violating an issur according to some shitos you are machmir. This depends on the issue and the person etc. However, by a minhag like this of not cutting hair, how can someone think it is שייך to be מחמיר?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Jewish Observer is stopping publication

Is this good or bad? I never really read the Jewish Observer so it is hard for me to comment. I think magazine like Mishpacha have taken a lot of their readers.

R' Ovadya's son: Haredi Bachelors Over the Age of 20 Must Leave Jerusalem

Haredi Bachelors Over the Age of 20 Must Leave Jerusalem

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This is not the solution to the shidduch crisis.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hamas is getting smart

They are now putting on a moderate face to Obama claiming that all they want is a state in the 1967 borders basically, no different then the Saudi plan. This will Obama to recognize Hamas start talking to them officially.

Of course in reality Hamas still wants to destroy Israel and is just following Mohammed's plan of asking for a truce when you are not strong enough to win.

Addressing U.S., Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets

On the two-state solution sought by the Americans, he said: “We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce. This includes East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.” Asked what “long-term” meant, he said 10 years.

Apart from the time restriction and the refusal to accept Israel’s existence, Mr. Meshal’s terms approximate the Arab League peace plan and what the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas says it is seeking. Israel rejects a full return to the 1967 borders, as well as a Palestinian right of return to Israel itself.

Kupat Hair never stops

Here is their latest campaign

You have to wonder how much this costs and is it worth it. Why are they spending money on sending people there for Shabbos?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Is mixed seating on buses our biggest concern?

According to Yehuda Meshi Zahav the founder and head of Zaka (and a former Edah Chareidis activist) the answer is no. There are many more important issues that need to be dealt with. According to him this is a way of running away from the real problems. It is easier to address something like this then the more serious issues in the Charedi world.

The road to purity

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the founder and head of Zaka, was once himself coordinator of the Eda Haredit. Today, he says that this focus on the fear of being in contact with women sounds a little obsessive to him. "When I was a child, I used to take the bus from Mea She'arim to Mahaneh Yehuda, and I don't recall that anything wrong happened to me. I think this whole matter of buses has become totally disproportionate - as if there are no real problems elsewhere. So what if they see a woman on a bus? What can happen to them? When I think of the terrible things happening in some families - like the sort of thing we have been witnessing recently - I really think it's a way of running away from the real problems. Mixed buses seem to me the least of our concern," he says.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I don't need prizes to give צדקה

Hamodia published a great letter this week from someone who is annoyed that he is being inundated with all kinds of useless free stuff from צדקה organizations. As he says "I don't need prizes to give צדקה".

I wholeheartedly agree and would extend this to all of the historic events as well. I don't need prizes and I don't need historic events to give צדקה. Give people a little credit that they give צדקה for the right reasons.

Here is the full text of the letter.