Sunday, February 28, 2010

Panim be'Panim


The weather on Purim is pretty bad in Israel and many public events have been canceled. Since Friday, it has been pouring and Jerusalem was quite flooded. The stormy weather and the rain are also continuing today and we will see if I make it to Mea Shearim for the Megillah reading. If not, there is still Ruzhin - Boyan nearby and if the rain is so bad that it is impossible to move, I can still run into the Synagogue of the former Yemenite Kabbalist Mordechai Sharabi z"l.

The Megillah reading in Jerusalem is only taking place tonight, as we celebrate "Shushan Purim". Tomorrow all kinds of parties are scheduled including the famous traditional "Se'udat Purim - Purim Meal". Towards the evening, countless events in Mea Shearim are going to take place. Plenty of Chassidim will be so drunk under the table … unbelievable.

The Gemara (rabbinic discussions) in Talmud Chullin 139b teaches us that G - d hid in the name "Esther". "Astir - I will conceal" - or "nistar - hidden", those words are included in the name "Esther". Talmud Megillah 10b teaches us that Esther was originally called "Hadassah". Hadassah literally means "myrtle"

There is a very famous kabbalistic teaching by the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria). The concept is called "Panim be'Panim - Face to Face".
G - d's name is not mentioned in the "Megillath Esther - Book of Esther" and we see that everything He does is hidden. When we have a look at the Purim story, we see all kinds of people acting but not G - d because He is hiding His face. It was G - d who hid His face from the Jewish people when they neglected Torah study and joyfully participated in the unkosher meal of Achashverosh. In the end, however, the Jews did Teshuva (repented) and G - d caused a miracle.

Sometimes G - d is hiding His face from the Jewish people and we may be more vulnerable to the other nations. Nevertheless, G - d is never leaving His people (the Jews) and will eternally stand side by side with them.

"Purim Sameach - Freilichen Purim" to all of you !

Against Christian and Missionary Idol - Worship in Jerusalem

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch from the Edah HaCharedit against the government's decision  to put Christian sites on a special Israeli tourism website. Rabbi Sternbuch is warning against Christian idol - worship !

Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat allows a budget for Christian and Christian missionary events ! Idol - worship events are forbidden to take place in our city and country !

Rabbi Mordechai Machlis on PURIM

The Banquet of Achashverosh


Doesn't it remind you of PURIM ?

The new Haman(s) today planning to destroy Israel and the Jews:

Achmadinejad, Assad and the Lebanese terrorist Sheikh Nasrallah.

The whole meal of the three terrorists reminds of the Se'udat Achshverosh and evil Haman. Haman and his sons were preparing the destruction of the Jews but, in the end, it was them being destroyed.

Heil Hizbollah !

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chassidishe Purim

Purim 5769 in Toldot Avraham Yitzchak

Those dressed up chassidishe youngsters you mostly see in Bnei Brak

From Chassidut Erloi
All pictures may be viewed HERE !

Shabbat Shalom


It is pouring in Jerusalem. Last night when I went to the Machane Yehudah Market, the rain started and most customers ran home. Israelis don't like to be in cold weather outside and instantly put on their winter boots and gloves. The Machane Yehudah traders closed down their shops and stands and by 9pm, anything was abandoned. Very unusual for a Thursday night because thousands come for the Shabbat shopping.

The rain has just arrived on time. Purim in Jerusalem without rain is no Purim. I don't know what I am going to do this Shabbat. Actually I was planning to go to Mea Shearim but a walk without an umbrella is impossible and the pouring rain is supposed to continue until Sunday.

In Jerusalem we celebrate Purim (Shushan Purim) on Monday and not, as everywhere else, on Sunday. The best celebrations are going to take place in Mea Shearim. Especially on Moday after the traditional Purim meal (Se'udat Purim). Most chassidic groups are going to have their Tishes and many Chassidim will be laying drunk under the tables. Even the Neturei Karta and the Mishkenot HaRoim will be open to all.
No doubt that it will be packed.

"Shabbat Shalom - Shabbat Shalom" to all of you !

From a Skinhead to Orthodox Jew


A story worth reading. There actually is a Polish movie (made years ago) about such a case where a Neonazi discoveres his Jewish roots.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ta'anit Esther


Information on today's "Ta'anit Esther - Fast of Esther" from the Orthodox Union in Jerusalem:

The fast in Jerusalem begins at 5am and ends at 6.01pm. 
Because Ta'anit Esther is preponed this year, no one follows it immediately with Megillah reading, and the fast is over at "stars out", like any other fast day.

This year, we say AVINU MALKEINU and TACHANUN at Mincha, because the fast is NOT followed immediately by Purim !

Yiddishe Purim Fun


From the Torah Tidbits of the "Israel Center - Orthodox Union" in Jerusalem:

Haynt iz Purim

Morgen iz oys

Gib mir a groschen

Und varft mir aroys.

In English it just doesn't sound as funny as in Yiddish !

"Today is Purim

Tomorrow it is over

Give me a nickel

And throw me out".

Coca Cola as part of Mishloach Manot


Now before Purim, people go just crazy about all their "Mishloach Manot - Purim Presents". They throw out unbelievable amounts of money and you can find Mishloach Manot all over Jerusalem. From 20 Shekels (approx. 5 Dollar) upwards.

Most packages include a small bottle of wine and in case, the recipient is not allowed to drink alcohol, the wine bottle may be replaced by Coca Cola - according to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv.

Seret - Vishnitz Rebbe visited Toldot Aharon


For years, they haven't seen each other but now, the Seret - Vishnitz Rebbe from Haifa came to see the Toldot Aharon Rebbe in Mea Shearim (Jerusalem).

Second from left: The Toldot Aharon Rebbe David Kahn

Middle: The Seret - Vishnitz Rebbe Eliezer Hager

Almost three years ago, I wrote a few brief details about Seret - Vishnitz.

All photos may be viewed HERE !

A Merry Purim to All !


One of my readers sent me this photo:

“He hasn't the slightest idea what costumes he bought for his kids....''

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Jerusalem Tram is NOT Kosher !


Officially, the Jerusalem tram was supposed to start running in spring 2011. However, this date has been delayed again due to the stuck (mess) in construction work. Everyone is waiting to see if the tram is ever going to run. So far, it has cost the municipality unbelievable sums of money. Money which the poor could have received and not an unnecessary tram and bridge.

If we ever ride on that tram, the price for a ticket will be incredible high. I assume 7 - 8 Shekels, at least. However, the tram hasn't been running yet and some parts of the haredi population already go wild. Not because of the costs but because of the missing Zniut (modesty). The new tram would not be kosher (men and women are not separated) and therefore, we (the Haredim) won't use the tram.

Today, the tram is running on a trial period. Only men may be "on board" making the tram kosher. The tram is definitely an event in Jerusalem but, as far as I am concerned, too much for Jerusalem.

Purim in Mea Shearim


I received those photos by e - mail !

Two Toldot Aharon Chassidim

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Donations or Justice ?


Without referring to any present cases or incidents, I am asking the question whether it is more important to keep quiet about negative behaviour of Rabbis or Jewish institution / organizations in order to ensure the donation flow or if the public has the right to know and judge for itself ? Especially when it comes to criminal acts.

I am surprised about the amount of e - mail responses to this blog. First of all, English is not what you would call my mother tongue, and secondly, there are other blogs around which may be more professional.:-)

However, some readers advise me in their e - mails to rather keep quiet about a known Rabbi, institution or organization. Otherwise I would destroy their donations. Basically the person in question would be a great Zaddik. Well, he / she has his / her faults and Yetzers (Yetzer HaRah) but, why not just leaving the subject and, instead, concentrating on the positive sides. Why awaken suspicion and causing the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate) or authorities to act ?

Personally I think that the public has a right to know with whom people are dealing. And what about victims, if there are any ? Don't they have a right to be heard ? Especially when it comes to warn others who may be running into the same trap.

As a matter of fact, everyone needs donations nowadays. Nevertheless, whoever (no matter if Rabbi or organization) acts in a negative way, it is not the fault of the public or the person reporting about the issue; as soon as someone acts in a negative manner, he has to expect the consequences and not blame others.

Almost a year ago I had one incident where someone accused me by e - mail (in the worst rude way) of destroying someone's donations. Later on I found out that this guy accusing me is in charge of those donations. Not only that but he is charging the person he is collecting for a huge percentage of the incoming donations. By writing and accusing me he wanted to ensure HIS own income and not necessarily the actual donations.

Money or justice ?

Each of us has to decide what his more important for him !

Photos from the Haredi "Education Conference"

Middle: Rebbe Israel Hager (Vishnitz / Bnei Brak)

Right: The Gerrer Rebbe Yaakov Aryeh Alter
Left: The Boyaner Rebbe Nachum Dov Brayer

Obviously the conference included the Agudat Israel as well as other haredi institutions accepting money from the State of Israel. Other groups, such as Dushinsky or Toldot Aharon, do NOT accept a Shekel from the Israeli government.
For two reasons:

1. Both groups are anti - Zionist.

2. A Dushinsky member told me that they do not want the Israeli government to interfere into their education programmes. As soon as a Rabbi / Rebbe accepts money from the government, the Ministry of Education would tell the haredi schools / Yeshivot what to do.

Sefat Emet: Parashat Tetzaveh


Parashat Tetzaveh from the famous SEFAT EMET (Chassidut Gur). I have to admit that the Sefat Emet is one of my favourite Torah commentators !

Parshas Tetzaveh

Sfas Emes, Zechuso Tagein Aleinu, Parshas Tetzaveh, 5631

Note: Before beginning this ma'amar, the Sfas Emes tells us "Eini zocheir karui. Bekitzur velo nichtav kaseider." That is, he does not recall properly; his notes on this ma'amar are disjointed and abbreviated. In effect, he is giving us advanced notice that we will need an extra dose of siya'ata dishmayua (help from On High) to understand what he is this ma'amar.

The parsha starts with HaShem telling Moshe to command ('tetzaveh') Bnei Yisroel to provide pure olive oil for the Kohanim to use for lighting neiros (lamps) in the Mishkan. The Sfas Emes begins by quoting Medrash Raba (36, a). The Medrash poses Chazal's classical question. HaShem has no need for us to provide Him with light. Why, then, does He have us light neiros in the Mishkan?

Chazal provide answers to this question -- which the Sfas Emes ignores. Instead, he draws our attention to something we might otherwise have missed: the question's premise. Chazal's question is premised on the assumption that by lighting the lamps, Bnei Yisroel provide light to the world. How do we do it? With our ma'asim tovim (good deeds). Note how commonsensical this is. If we do a good deed, we do in fact make the world a brighter place.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menachem Porush died at the age of 94


Some people may have got confused when they heard that Menachem Porush passed away. When we hear the name "Porush" today, everyone thinks of Me'ir Porush who is the son of Menachem Porush.

I wasn't planning to write about Menachem Porush, as I hardly know him. In the middle of the research concerning Purim and Parashat Tetzaveh / Zachor came the request to post something.

Most details about Menachem Porush are on Wikipedia, however, one incident is not mentioned there. One usually doesn't write this in order to commemorate a person; nevertheless, when you start reading Amnon Levi's book "HaCharedim - The Haredim", you find one famous story about Menachem Porush right on the first page:

I think it was in the 70ies or very early 80ies. At the time when Menachem Porush was still a Knesset member. He said something against the Gerrer (Gur) Rebbe in those days. Only a day or so before Shabbat. It wasn't really against the Gerrer Rebbe but rather a certain remark which Chassidut Gur took too seriously.

Menachem Porush said something like "the Gerrer Rebbe is so old and, therefore, it is not certain how much longer he would live".
Chassidut Gur saw this remark as a total offense and went berserk.
Menachem Porush spent the following Shabbat in one of the hotels near Jerusalem's Central Bus Station. When the hotel guests where still praying downstairs, some Gerrer Chassidim stormed into the hotel, pushed away the Arab receptionist and jumped onto Menachem Porush. They broke some of his rips and I don't know what else.
Just note that at that time, Menachem Porush was not the youngest guy himself but this didn't bother the Gerrers.

The result was that Menachem Porush had to stay in hospital for several weeks and I don't know if the whole fight between his son Me'ir the the present Gerrer Rebbe doesn't have its roots in the beating more than twenty years ago.

"Chassidim, look what you are wearing on your Head !"


A STREIMEL is made of 24 of those animals (see picture below). I don't know the name of the animal but do you really feel comfortable wearing such a Streimel ?
No, I am not one of those animal protection activists but do so many animals have to be killed for a Streimel ?

Picture of the Day

Haredim like to stare at other people who are not like them. If anything is happening in Mea Shearim, everyone is out on the balcony staring.

Purim Music: "Mi she nichnas Adar"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Birthday and Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu


Today (Sunday) is the 7th of Adar (Zain Adar) and this date stands for the birthday and the Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu.

Talmud Megillah 13b teaches us that, first, Haman wished to destroy Mordechai alone but he changed his mind into destroying all the Jews. When Haman was casting the lots, he saw that the lot fell on the month of Adar. He thought that this would be a great sign, as Moshe had died in Adar. The month of Adar would not be an unlucky month for the Jews.
However, Haman did not realize that while Moshe died on the seventh of Adar, he was also born on the seventh of Adar. Rashi commentates: Moshe's birth on that day compensated for the day's negative aspect of being the day of his death.

The Torah does not exactly tell us the date when Moshe died but Chazal figured it out be the days / time given when the Jews mourned Moshe (see the Book of Deuteronomy - Sefer Devarim 34:8).

Rabbi Shalom Arush writes in his book "The Garden of Emunah" about our mission in life:

"Each of us comes to this earth for the express purpose of fulfilling a mission. Some people enjoy a long life and others pass away at a young age. Our souls come to this earth for certain Tikkunim (soul rectifications) and others have to fulfill special tasks. The reason why some people live longer and others don't is beyond our understanding".

There is an opinion that, as soon as we fulfill our task in life, we pass away. I am not sure if this is always the case because the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) says in his book "Shaar HaGilgulim - The Gate of Reincarnations) that sometimes people soul's are reincarnated because they didn't fulfill a special task / rectification.

Obviously Moshe's task was fulfilled and he passed away. Nevertheless, it says that Meshiach's soul is going to have a spark of Moshe's.

Michael Bodenheimer is NOT a German


The German authorities announced that the passport of one of the eleven assasins of Muhammad al Mabhouh was not a faked but an original one! The police in Dubai is still searching for the eleven assasins of the Hamas official who murdered several Israelis.

However, Michael Bodenheimer whose name was used, lives in Bnei Brak He is a Rabbi and had no idea about his name being used. He said that although his parents were born in Germany, he himself was born in the US and has never asked for a German passport.

Rabbi Michael Bodenheimer to Israel's newspaper MAARIV:
The whole incident doesn't bother me at all and I am not afraid because there is a G - d !

Yad Le'Achim versus Evangelicals


Haredi newspapers have been reporting about the issue last week. The fight between the Israeli anti - missionary organization "Yad Le'Achim" and Christian missionaries is nothing new at all. Thanks to Yad Le'Achim, the Israeli public is updated about Christian missionary activities in Israel. Furthermore, the organization offers classes where Jews can learn about missionary activities and false propaganda.

Missionaries hate Yad Le'Achim and now spread a new propaganda. Yad Le'Achim would work with Gestapo and KGB methods.

All details HERE:



Chassidic Parashat TERUMAH


Different chassidic versions of Parashat Terumah:

Picture of the Day

Purim is right ahead and with it all the calories !

Photo: LaDaat

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shabbat Shalom


The weather is still warm and sunny. I am in Jerusalem over Shabbat and probably going to Mea Shearim tonight.

Purim is coming up and one of the main discussions in Israeli haredi forums is how much money people should spend on Mishloach Manot and the whole business of giving presents. It is not easy to be a Chassid these days and I don't want to know much money Chassidim spend in order to buy Mishloach Manot for the Rebbe, important group Rabbis (Sheyne Yidden) or their neighbours and friends.

It is always easy giving Mishloach Manot to people you love but can you do the same to people you don't really like ?

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to all of you !

PARASHAT TERUMAH from the Nikolsburger Rebbe


This week's Drasha of the Nikolsburger Rebbe on Parashat Terumah is really amazing !

Parshas Teruma

Respecting Other People's Individuality

והיו הכרובים פורשי כנפים למעלה סובבים בכנפיהם על הכפורת ופניהם איש אל אחיו, אל הכפורת יהיו פני הכרובים.

"And the Keruvim's wings were spread out above them, covering the Kapores with their wings, and their faces were to each other; towards the Kapores should be the faces of the Keruvim." (Shemos 25:20)

We can learn an important lesson from this verse, which can be well understood with a story about the holy Sanzer Rav zt"l. The Sanzer Rav once made a siyum upon completing the entire Shas. One of the guests who joined him for the siyum was the son of the holy Maor v'Shamash, who was known as the "Gutter Yid from Neustadt." This hidden tzaddik tried to conceal his greatness. He was not known as a great scholar, but was often seen reciting Tehillim, much like the simple townspeople. During the siyum, he said to the Sanzer Rav that he too was celebrating a siyum, because he completed the entire Book of Psalms. The Sanzer Rav replied, "Would you like to make an exchange? I will give you all the merit I earned from studying the entire Shas, and you will give me the merit of your Tehillim." The Gutter Yid refused the offer, and it stayed at that.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Primitive Thoughts on Parashat Terumah


"Primitive Thoughts on Parashat Terumah ?"
Lets call it "Practical Thoughts !"
Or maybe YES "primitive" ?

G - d is giving all the instructions for the building the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Later on, certain families are appointed for the duty of carrying poles, walls, all kinds of parts while the Israelites travel through the desert. Those male family members of Moshe and Aharon seem to look at each other in a way of jealousy. At least some members.
Why is he allowed to carry this and I am only carrying that ?
It just looks like a typical male competition behaviour.

Who can imagine today what it meant to have a Mishkan ? We barely imagine having a Temple but who speaks or thinks about the original Mishkan except when it comes to some Torah readings throughout the year ? Okay, there was this Mishkan consisting of many parts but then the First Temple came into existence. The Mishkan was gone and some sources say that most of it was destroyed or burnt down.

Why is G - d giving every little single detail about how to build the Mishkan. Our Sages say in order to make us used to go into detail. The Mishkan was to be built in detail and so we have to keep the Mitzvot. Not going away from the law and making it easier but strictly follow the written and oral law.

Rabbeinu Bachya has several spiritual commentaries on Sefer Shemot (the Book of Exodus). The Mishkan was the exact counterpart of the Temple (Beit HaMikdash) in the upper spiritual worlds. As we know, everything in this material world has a counterpart in the upper spiritual world. Even human beings.

So, what does that mean ?
That there is another Miriam walking around in the upper worlds ? That there is another Tempel standing up there ? Another Jerusalem but just somewhere above us ?
What do those people there think when they look down on us ? What do we think ?

Basically it means that the Mishkan was perfect. The way it should be because G - d's Shechinah (Presence) was residing in there. So is the upper Miriam. She doesn't walk around and hopefully I won't meet my perfect "I". The other Miriam is the perfect person I should be.
The upper Jerusalem is the perfect Jerusalem; how it should be.

The concept with the counterparts is not to be taken literally but to be understood on a spiritual level. We can turn the Jerusalem in this world into a perfect Jerusalem. By doing Mitzvot, for instance. By changing the city and us into existences completely following G - d's will. And, in this respect, the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was perfect.

Today, each of us has to work on that in order to get a taste of the upper worlds.

The YAD VASHEM is asking for Help


Almost four million names of Holocaust victims have been registered by the  Holocaust Museum "Yad VaShem". Millions of victims remain unidentified ! Yad Vashem urgently calls upon Jewish communities to recover their names through a worldwide Names Recovery Project.

Mea Shearim early in the Morning


Pictures from Jerusalem's Ultra - Orthodoxen neighbourhood Mea Shearim. Travel guides always stress the importance of Mea Shearim among the haredi population in Jerusalem. The truth is that, during the past few years, haredi population spread all over town. Today we have many haredi neighbourhoods. Just look at Kiryat Belz, Kiryat Matterdorf, Kiryat Zanz, Sanhedria, Bar Ilan, Beit Israel, Ma'alot Dafna, Ramat Eshkol, Beit Vagan, Teile Ramots, and others.

Tourists, no matter if Israelis or others, should avoid visiting the Mea Shearim market as well as the backyards. Mea Shearim inhabitants consider this as tresspassing their territory and if you go, you should definitely dress up very modestly and even wear haredi style. Women should avoid raising their voices and keep away from screaming around.

If you want to visit Mea Shearim as a tourist, do so during the week and walk along the main road called Mea Shearim Street.

Opening of the "new" Churvah Synagogue


In a month from now, Jerusalem is going to celebrate the inauguration of the "new" Churvah Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. The famous Synagogue was completely destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948. For many many years, a discussion was taking place among the inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City. Would it be of any advantage to collect so many millions in order to rebuild the Synagogue or should the money be rather invested in other things ? Finally a decision was made and the Churvah is back. 

The CHURVAH and its history HERE !
And in Hebrew !

Rabbi Mordechai Machlis on Parashat Terumah

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Rabbi Mordechai Elon a Pervert ?


Is the famous Israeli national religious Rabbi Mordechai (Motti) Elon a pervert and has he abused some of his male Yeshiva students ?
At least ten of his former students stand witness and say that they have been abused by the Rabbi when then came to him for private counseling.

The Rabbi has been under suspicious for at least four years and was told to look for psychological help. Mordechai Elon comes from a famous family and his brother Benny Elon is a Knesset member for the National Religious Party. Their father Menachem Elon used to be a judge at Israel's Supreme Court. The accused Rabbi used to be the head of the famous Yeshiva "Yeshivat HaKotel" at the Western Wall (Kotel). Many times, I saw him and his students dancing in front of the Kotel almost every Erev Shabbat (Friday night).

Seven years ago and even before, the national religious Rabbi and Chief Rabbi of Bet El, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, was accused of abusing women coming to him for advise. At that time, more than ten Rabbis (obviously Aviner's friends) quickly signed an announcement denying the accusation and that the women would only speak "Lashon HaRah - Slander" against the Rav. Those Rabbis signing knew no details about the accusations but just signed because their Rabbi friend was apparently causing a scandal for the entire national religious movement.
Before that, the former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Israel Lau was accused of abusing women but there were no further charges. The Lau case is rather complicated, as the prosecution didn't publish details and kept quiet. When Lau ran for presidency a few years ago, some politicians told him that they would publish his records and thus Lau resigned as fast as he could. He would not run for presidency anymore but became the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and was told to shut up.

After the Aviner scandal, the national religious movement founded a special forum (committee) for investigating such accusations. It was the forum investigating Rabbi Mordechai Elon for the past years and now the forum members decided to go public, as Elon again had started his private counseling.

Rabbi Mordechai Elon himself claims that nothing is true and that any accusation against him is "Lashon HaRah". The national religious press keeps quiet. As expected. 
None of their journalists wants to mess with their Rabbis. The secular press as well as the forum sees Elon as guilty. Not only because there are so many witnesses and Yeshiva students claiming that they have been abused by the Rabbi. He would touch them, ask them to take off their shirts and even their underwear.

The scandal has again caused a public discussion about homosexuals who claim to be religious and "keeping" the Torah. Furthermore the case shows how religious society including its press sticks together and uses the justification of Lashon HaRah.

The New York Police arrested Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira


One of the grandsons of the famous Kabbalist "Baba Sali", Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira, was arrested in New York. The Rabbi lives in Beersheva and came to New York in order to collect donations. However, some Jews claim that Rabbi Elazar promised them to influence their "Mazal – Luck" by using his kabbalistic knowledge. Not for free, of course !
Thus the Rabbi earned plenty of money but the Jews filed a complaint against him.

The Abuchatzeira family doesn't seem to be too lucky after the death of the Baba Sali. The Baba Sali's son "Baba Baruch" was in jail and further family members are known to be crooks. One of the only honest ones seems to be Rabbi Israel Abuchatzeira residing in Haifa.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Purim Fun is expensive


These days, parents are busying themselves with looking and buying Purim costumes for their kids. The costume should be affordable and, more or less, nice looking and easy to clean. Different stores in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country offer costumes and, as usual, there is a huge difference between how religious children dress up for Purim and their secular counterparts.

The secular prefer combat costumes such as Superman or astronauts. Michael Jackson is very popular or the Kitty Cat among little girls. The religious prefer Queen Esther and the boys seemingly love cops and soldiers and not necessarily Michael Jackson.

I have seen quite a few kids going to Purim parties being dressed up. Other parents are still searching for cheaper costumes and when I walked into the Jerusalem store "Max Stock", I found it packed with Haredim. Litvishe guys looking through cowboys hats and the chassidische Yeshiva students love the red Turkish hat. I don't understand why but even in extreme Mea Shearim groups, you always find the Turkish hat just anywhere.

Some Mea Shearim Rabbis are not too tolerant when it comes to costumes such as Israeli soldiers or policemen. Such Zionist clothing is not always recommended but the kids don't bother. They obviously love being a soldier and having a plastic gun to shoot with.

The Women of Toldot Aharon

The nicest and cutes Mea Shearim costumes I have ever seen on Purim was worn by a little girl in Toldot Aharon. She must have only been two or three years old and she was dressed like her mother. As a married woman with the traditional Toldot Aharon "Yasameh" (the black Tichel).

I could wear the same but my Yiddish is %$$#$%^* and where do I get the schwarze Tichel from ?

Why Doesn’t Judaism Accept the Christian Messiah?


Usually I don't recommend too many books. In case I do, I mostly mention the well - known original authors / topics such as Rashi, Mussar or chassidic issues. With Rabbi Tuvia Singer, however, I want to make an exception because his subject does concern ANYBODY. No matter what his religion is.

I have written about Tuvia Singer many times before and now his latest book came out:

HERE an ARUTZ 7 article about the book and HERE  my previous articles about Tuvia Singer !
Not everybody has to run and order the book but should have a look at my articles and / or at Singer's website.



It's not in the Guinness Book of Records, but it should be: the largest ark on earth. Not Noah's ark in the Bible - the ark where Torah scrolls are housed in the synagogue.
This ark is in the Belz Hassidic dynasty's 5,000-seat Jerusalem synagogue. According to master carpenter Abraham Fried from Kiryat Gat, it's the largest commission he has ever received as an artisan of synagogue furnishings.

Fried considers it "the height of his career" in all respects, and says that putting it together was equal to "constructing the Eiffel Tower." Putting up the mind-boggling monumental 18-metric-ton structure that can hold 60 Torah scrolls was accompanied by the presence of a Talmudic student in prayer, in the hope that the edifice wouldn't come tumbling down onto his head before it was safely secured in place.
Just how high is high?

The carving-covered Holy Arch is almost Gothic in magnitude... at least by Jewish standards: it stands 12 meters high - equivalent to the height of a four-storey building.

Text by Chelm on the Med

Link received from Religion and State

The Aron HaKodesh in BELZ (Jerusalem)

Does Leonardo Di Caprio intermarry ?


European and Israeli papers have been announcing that Leonardo Di Caprio may marry the Israeli top model Bar Rafaeli. The two have been together for a couple of years.

It just looks like a new intermarriage is coming up, as Di Caprio is not Jewish. Some time ago, there was a rumour that he may convert to Judaism but who can imagine Leo keeping Mitzvot ? The conversion would rather be Reform and thus no real halachic conversion.

Intermarriage always includes tragedy. Usually the parents follow their own personal interests and don't think of later children and their identity. As I said many times before: Jews and Gentiles have different tasks in this world and were created this way. By marrying a non - Jew, a Jew is giving up his identity and many times taking over the customs of the non - Jew. Quite often I heard that many of those "weddings" are being celebrated on Shabbat. Intermarrying on Shabbat ?
Jews don't marry on Shabbat, as a marriage is a contract and making contract is forbidden on the day of rest.

When it comes to a Jewish identity, the non - Jewish partner often tries to keep it away from the Jewish partner. "You don't need that anymore !"
Terrible reactions against the customs against the Jew when it comes to Pessach or other Jewish topics.

Before anyone intermarries, he should definitely speak to an appropriate Orthodox Rabbi. Even if he is not religious. Our ancestors kept their Jewish heritage like a treasure and even during the Holocaust Jews even died for their belief. And today someone is just coming and ready to throw everything away just because he or she sees a "sexy" Gentile ? 

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Day Off


I took a day off today and walked around in Tel Aviv. 31 degrees summer heat !
I watched a great movie and did not think too much about the haredi world. Just enjoyed the day and life !

The movie they showed at Dizengoff Center was "Made in Germany" and I was surprised how crowded the hall was. Not only old Germans but many younger Israelis.

I can only recommend the movie.
It was quite funny because I am so used to concentrate on Hebrew and suddenly the language was German.

Here is a short trailer of "The White Ribbon" !

Purim Simcha

Looks like this picture was taken at the Belzer Tish in Jerusalem.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It is all about Amalek


We are commanded not to forget what Amalek did to us.

Amalek was a grandson of Yitzchak's son Esav. He was the first one ever attacking Jews for no reason (see Exodus - Shemot 17:8). Amalek attacked Israel in order to destroy it. This was pretty new in Jewish history and "Exodus - Shemot" 17:16 lets us know that there will be war between G - d and Amalek from generation to generation.
Meaning, every generation will bring forth someone who wants to kill the Jews for no reason but for being Jewish.

After G - d had taken us out of Egypt, all nations were impressed but NOT Amalek. He alone dared to provoke G d's wrath and started a battle against Him and Israel.
Today, there are different opinions on what and who is Amalek. Easily we tend to accuse all kinds of anti - Semites or nations who are against us of being Amalek. Starting with Rome and later on the Germans during the Nazi Reich. Now some Jews claim that Obama or the Iranian or Syrian presidents are Amalek. Fact is, the battle is not over yet and will continue until Meshiach comes. There will always be nations hating Jews and trying to destroy them.

After Amalek attacked the Jews in Refidim, the next encounter took place 434 years later. When King Shaul ben Kish (from the Tribe of Binyamin) did not destroy the entire nation of the Amalekites but spared their King Aggag. Not following the precise instructions of Shmuel HaNavi (the Prophet Samuel), Shaul made a vital mistake. Aggag had time to beget a son and this son became an ancestor of evil Haman.
Shaul, on the other hand, was an ancestor of Mordechai and Esther. About ten generations were between them.

In the end, Shmuel killed Aggag in Gilgal but some 520 years later, the Jews in Shushan had to suffer from Shaul's mistake. However, Shaul had caused a new Amalek but the Jews in Shushan caused their own "punishment" for being disobedient. It was them neglecting Torah study and many of them participated in the non - kosher meal (party) of Achashverosh. Not only by eating but also by enjoying.

In a way we can understand King Shaul. Isn't it true that some of G - d's orders seem to be cruel in the first place.
"Destroy everyone ! Don't leave anyone alive !"
When we hear this today, well, then we think about the media, what other people (nations) say, about our own conscience. The answer to that is that G - d sees the wider picture, we don't. We only see the NOW. G - d, however, knows exactly what our actions cause to the future generations and if we knew what He does, we would definitely follow His instructions.

But many times we don't because we have our FREE CHOICE in life.
To be honest: I am glad that I was not in King Shaul's situation but … each of us has his or her own situation and while making decisions, we should also take the future into consideration.



PURIM: Season of Miracles
By Rabbi Zechariah Fendel