Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hamodia and the Hubble Space Telescope - Cognitive Dissonance

Hamodia published an interesting feature in this weeks English newspaper about the Hubble space telescope. Of course they emphasised the "wonders of Hashem" and talked about far off galaxies and nebulas and how they show the greatness of Hashem's creation.

However, those same far off galaxies and nebulas also "prove" another fact, that the universe and the world is billions of years old which is something that much of today's Charedi world does not accept and calls kefira. It is fascinating how they can use and praise science when it fits their agenda but suddenly when science contradicts their agenda (e.g. Chazal got their science from Sinai and never made a mistake in Sinai) suddenly the scientists don't know anything etc. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Only in Israel can the Attorney General say that from a legal standpoint Deri can be a Minister but he will have a hard time defending it

What on earth does that mean? If legally Aryeh Deri can be appointed a minister (he fulfils all of the criteria set out in the law), what is there to defend? It is an open and shut case. The answer is that the Supreme Court in Israel has decided that it has the last word on judgement, and therefore if in the Supreme Court's judgement he is not "worthy" to be a Minister, then he can't be appointed.

There is no way to describe this except as judicial dictatorship. The elected government makes a decision based on their judgment of what is best and comes the Supreme Court and substitutes it's judgment and says that the decision was unreasonable. Why should the opinion of unelected judges hold more weight then the man elected and charged with the responsibility?

One of the fundamentals of representative democracy is that the people elect representatives who are supposed to use their judgment in running the government. Basically what the petitioners are saying is that based on our judgment we think he is a bad candidate and we would not have appointed him. The problem is that Netanyhau was elected to apply his judgment as to what is best, not you, and not the Supreme Court, if you don't like it run for the Knesset.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yated takes the money for the ads but assumes no responsibility

Basically what it says is that while Yated Neeman publishes advertisements for various investment/real estate schemes they takes no responsibility for the trustworthiness of the people involved nor do they take any responsibility for the issurim of taking interest etc. that may be violated. The responsibility rests on the investors to investigate.

Imagine what would happen if Yated would take such an approach to restaurants or food products, or women's clothing. Imagine if they said the restaurants that advertise here may be treif, it is up to the consumer to check them out. There would be such an outcry that they would be forced to stop taking such ads until they checked them out. Yet in monetary matters, no one cares.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Have you ever wondered how all of the money change places make a living?

I have and this weeks Mishpacha magazine answered my question. Mishpacha interviewed 2 businessmen who lost everything due to the change places and the article explained how they worked. Changing money is a very low profit business with a margin of maybe 1.5%. This means that if you change $1 million a month you only make $15,000 gross and then you need to pay rent, workers, other expenses, etc. Given that, how can the change places in Charedi neighbourhoods, where there are 3,4,5 or more within blocks possibly all make a living? It is hard to imagine that so many millions of dollars are being changed very month. The answer that the Mishpacha magazine gave was loan sharking. The change places have become de-facto banks giving out loans to people who are desperate for money at ridiculously high rates. The businessmen who were interviewed spoke of taking a 20,000 shekel loan for a week at an interest rate of 5% for the week. Over a year that comes out to over 200% interest. Of course when after a week you can't pay back, they roll it over for another week taking another 5% interest etc. You end up using up all your money just to try to pay the interest.

Of course, these kinds of loans are both illegal under Israeli law as well as under halacha but it doesn't stop anyone. Unfortunately, many in the Charedi world are desperate for money and get sucked in.