Monday, May 31, 2010

"Hamas Ahoi" - How the world loves Terrorists

One of the boat terrorist sailing to Gaza.
Do peace activists look like him ? Many biased (anti - Semitic) international journalists do believe so.

More on HAARETZ !

The ships leaving Istanbul for Gaza. Then already people yelled INTIFADA 
against Israel !

Harry's Place has more!

Boat terrorists beating Israeli soldiers

Longing for Beit HaMikdash (the Temple)


When you walk through Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter in the Old City today, you will mostly find antique sites from the Second Temple period. Here and there are some remains of the city wall from the period of the First Temple, however, everything else concentrates on the Second Temple. The Kotel HaMa'aravi - West(ern) Wall or the nearby Ophel. You can join tours taking you 30 meters below where the original market street in front of the Temple used to be. Where we stand today is about 30 meters on top of the original site where Rabbi Akivah or Rabbi Gamliel used to walk.

It is very emotional walking through the tunnel system underneath the Kotel as well as seeing the stones (from the top of the wall) thrown down by the Romans during the Second Temple destruction. On some of those stones you can still see black spots from the fire when the Temple was burning.

In the Ophel, right next to the Kotel Plaza, you can walk along the ancient shopping mall in front of the Second Temple. Where the Jews used to buy their sacrifices for the Temple. You can sit there and imagine how it used to be in those days. Busy streets, Jews buying sacrifices and walking up to the Temple. Going to the Mikweh (ritual bath) and then handing in the animal to be sacrificed.

What a great feeling must this have been and how could the people 2000 years be so ignorant of all the Shechinah (G - d's presence) surrounding the Temple. At least in those early days of the Second Temple when corruption among the Cohanim did not yet take place.
How could the Jews start fighting when they had a Temple ? When the Prophet Jeremiah (Yirmeyahu) was warning them.

The question is if we today would be so much better. We may think so but when it comes to fights, arguments and priorities we are probably not so much better than our ancient ancestors. Is it of any use sitting in the Ophel and dreaming about the good old days with the 
Second Temple ? Of course all those ancient sites and stones provide the visitor with a certain emotional feeling but how about concentrating on the future ? As we know from the Talmud, the Second Temple didn't include such a high level of the Shechinah as the First Temple did. There was no more Aron HaKodesh (ark with the tablets), all the great prophets were gone, the Shamir (a kind of small animal King Salomon used for cutting the stones of the First Temple) had vanished and all the other visible miracles were gone.
The Talmud Tractate Yoma explains us that only a bit more than 40,000 Jews came back to Israel from the Babylonian Diaspora. Hundreds of thousands of other Jews preferred staying in Babylon where they had built up their businesses. Why returning to Jerusalem where there are only ruins ? The result was that the Second Temple has never reached the level of Kedusha (holiness) as the First Temple did.

Instead of dreaming about a glorious past we should concentrate on the future; meaning on Meshiach and the Third Temple. Not looking back in history but imagining us sitting in the Third Temple and we should all do something that we get there very soon.

Pre - planned violence from Peace Terrorist


Al Jazeera and its false propaganda was faster than the Israeli Hasbarah. However, fact is that no one really knew what happened on the six boats stopped by IDF soldiers.
The Israeli army says the following:

1. The boats were warned by helicopters to dock on and all goods for Gaza would be delivered to its destination by the army.

2. The Peace Terrorists on the boats refused and thus Israeli soldiers got on the boats where people opened fire, hit soldiers with metal sticks and attacked them with knives. One soldier got a knife in his stomach and is now treated in hospital.

Further information HERE !

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kosher Jerusalem ?


If a frum Jewish tourists arrives in Israel, he basically expects the country to be kosher. But is this really the case ? When I came to my second Kibbutzulpan for Kita Gimmel (Hebrew language course) years ago, we students found out that the Kibbutz provided us with pork steakes. 
"Not everything in Israel is KOSHER and even in the Holy Land you should get used to check what you put into your mouth !"

Many people say that the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv is mostly not kosher. This is true up to a certain degree. An elderly Arab couple sells non – kosher Laffa bread (flat Yemenite bread), the Manila Butcher sells pork and you can also buy shrimps. Nevertheless, is the Jerusalem Machane Yehudah Market more kosher than its counterpart in Tel Aviv ?

The blogger from "Jerusalem Kosher News" offers interesting Machane Yehudah Markte tours. He is an expert in dealing with the Kashrut business and on his tours he explains how some market stands use false Hechsherim (kosher certificates). Last week, I passed his tour while doing my shopping and I overheard some interesting news. His great explanations made me think of joining one of his tours.

What I overheard was shocking. The two stands where I have been buying salads, fish or olives for years offer their products as "Badatz Edah HaCharedit" but they themselves do not have a Hechsher. When you buy there and ask for a Hechsher, the salespeople show you the original cans with the Badatz Hechsher. However, they fill olives, salads or fish from the big cans with a Hechsher into small plastic boxes for selling.

I spoke to our bakery Mashgiach from Belz and he said that it is a matter of trust. Do you, as a customer, trust those salespeople at the stand when they tell you that all products actually have a Badatz – Hechsher ? Or is there a doubt and you should rather buy somewhere else where there is a valid kosher certificate ?

A grocery store doesn't have a special certificate for its cheese stand outside. Another store specializing in international cheeses doesn't have a Hechsher at all. Other stands hang out false Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate) certificates without a stamp or phone number of the Mashgiach.

The Kashrut business is a huge business in Israel but not every café or restaurant is willing to invest in a Hechsher and paying a Mashgiach. Some offer their products as kosher but have Arabs working in the kitchen. Gentiles who even turn on the stove. However, this even happens quite a lot at businesses with a Rabbanut Hechsher whereas Badatz Belz as well as the Edah HaCharedit are much more strict. The same with "Chalav Nochri – Gentile Milk".

I very much recommend joining the tour in case you are a regular buyer at the Machane Yehudah Market. You may be surprised finding out which businesses are actually kosher and where the black sheep cheat.

Hebrew Book Week 2010


The famous annual Hebrew Book Week is going to start this Wednesday, 2nd June 2010. Unfortunately, I am only able to offer you the offical website in Hebrew ! 
Many larger Israeli cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Kfar Saba, etc. offer Book Week events. Jerusalem's book fair is taking place at the "Gan HaPa'amon - Bell Garden" and Tel Aviv's location is Kikar Rabin. Moreover, many local cafes such as the Jerusalem cafe / restaurant "Tmol Shilshom" offer discussions with famous Israeli authors. 

The annual Hebrew Book Week has always been an important event where the masses were buying books for reasonable prices. In general, Hebrew books are rather expensive and a trip to the Book Fair was worth the time and money. 
In recent years, however, the largest Israeli book chains "Steimatzky" as well as "Zomet HaSefarim" have been selling books for such low prices that even famous authors won't make a living anymore. Four books for a hundred Shekels where usually one book is already a hundred Shekels (approx. 25 Dollar). Israeli authors have been complaining about this kind of dumping policy for along time but the public loves it. 

Nevertheless, before going to the actual book fair, you should definitely have a look at Zomet HaSefarim (Jerusalem: Central Bus Station, Tel Aviv: Dizengoff Center) first.

Who threatens Israel ?

The Jerusalem Festival of Light


In June, plenty of events are taking place in Jerusalem ! Here is only one example:


FREE of Charge !

Hillary's Fans


Friday, May 28, 2010

Shabbat Shalom


A week full of demonstrations lays behind us. As I said before, I am sick of going to further demonstrations and smell burning garbage. I am also lucky that I usually don't use Jerusalem's bus system. Otherwise I would be stuck in the demonstration or tram construction site traffic for hours.

Next week I am going to a chassidic wedding in Bnei Brak and already suffer from doubts. Maybe it is just me, as everyone else involved seems to be happy. So is the bride Ruchele.
She just turned 18 and has been engaged for exactly one year. Ruchele grew up within a closed chassidic society and doesn't expect anything else. On the contrary: She looks so happy because she thinks that as a married woman she belongs to the circle of all the adult women at the Shabbes table.

Despite all the happiness, and now I may sound like the former Gerrer (Gur) member and now runaway Sarah Einfeld: After the Chuppah, the wedding, food and dancing follows the wedding night. This is reality and there you basically going to bed with a guy you don't know.

A secular colleague told me that Ruchele has been raised this way and doesn't see anything wrong with it. So, what ?

I, on the other hand, think about the life she could have had by not getting married so early. Studying, learning a profession, whatever. If her marriage turned out to be not a happy one, would she say so or just continue and accept it as the way of life ?

This is not too much of a Shabbat subject but it still runs around in my thoughts.

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to everyone !

Parashat Beha'alotcha - פרשת בהעלתך

Vincent van Gogh


This week's Parasha Beha'alotcha tells us about the incident where Miriam speaks to her brother Aharon about Moshe. Because Zippora's name wasn't mentioned but the two older siblings of Moshe simply referred to her as the "Cushite" woman, the incident could be understood as "Lashon HaRah - Slander". Moreover it says that neither Miriam nor Aharon had a right to talk about Moshe and his relationship to his wife Zippora (they had separated and thus, no sex). Although the older siblings meant well, G - d interfered and punished them because of speaking slander.

Obviously there are times and reasons when we have to speak out and not everything can be considered as "Lashon HaRah". Unfortunately today, almost any kind of criticism is already seen as Lashon HaRah. As an excuse for ignoring bad actions within Jewish frum society, for instance.

When I open up the Chafetz Chaim book on Lashon Harah, I almost immediately close it. According to him, anything may be slander; even thoughts. As we are not living in a perfect world, we should speak up. I am not referring to Miriam at this point but can anyone really blame her and Aharon. However, Torah commentators tell us that the two didn't understand Moshe's extraordinary level of prophecy. He wasn’t "just" like our forefathers (who didn't separate from their wives because of their level of prophecy) nor had he a limited level just like the later prophets. Moshe's level of prophecy was unique because he didn't experience prophecy in a dream like the forefathers or in visions. G - d spoke to him day and night and with clear words. Whatever that means.

While studying this Torah section I started asking myself what all the other thousands of Jews in the desert camp did. No speaking Lashon HaRah ? Wasn't this a kind of boring ?:-)

It says that every human being has a limit of words during his lifetime. As soon as those words are used up, the person has to die. Due to that statement, we should limit using words. Sometimes we really only talk to someone in a rather stupid way. About unnecessary things and afterwards I am always upset because I feel that I have wasted my time. On the other hand, sometimes you simply need to talk about other than holy subjects or you go crazy.

"Shabbat Shalom and watch your conversations !":-)

The Meshiach at the Beach


Suffering from a cold, as weather is changing in Israel. The mornings in Jerusalem are still cold but when you you leave the house for work, you mostly do so without warmer clothes, because after one or two hours it is boiling hot. This is exactly what I did. Not wearing too much but going out into the cold and catching one.

In the late afternoon as well as in the evening, I was at the beach in Tel Aviv yesterday. Just laying there and breathing some nice humid air. A drunk South African tourist was staggering around and almost fell on me.

"Wanna hear something funny, he asked. The Meshiach has just appeared to me a few meters away. There is a guy walking around at the beach claiming he is the Meshiach and he told me to go into the water in order to find healing".

I also wanted to see the Meshiach but couldn't find him anymore. He was gone but, hey..., what about my healing from the cold ?

Antonio Salas as Muslim Undercover Terrorist


A new book ("El Palestinio") for Spanish speakers on terrorism in Venezuela and other parts of the world: The Spanish journalist Antonio Salas (I have no idea if this is his real name) learnt Arabic and invented a Palestinian biography for himself. He grew a beard and finally got accepted into Muslim terror groups. For a couple of years he worked undercover and got to know leading Muslim terrorists from all over the world.

If the western world has a reason to be fight Muslim / Arab terrorism ?
Antonio Salas says YES !

I would love reading the book but my Spanish is not enough. Hopefully "El Palestinio" is getting translated into English soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Are the Sikarikim taking over ?


Over the past year I have seen so many burning trash cans that I am not interested anymore in going to any further demonstrations. How much smelly burning garbage can you face ?

This morning, I have seen pictures of yesterday's demonstration in Yaffo. Some Toldot Aharon were there and Satmar. I also noticed a few Baalei Teshuva on the photos. Those are easy to recognize, as they just look a little diffrent even when they try to belong to society. As hard as they try, you can mostly see who is who.

Not too much going on in Yaffo yesterday and not too many Haredim showed up demonstrating against the non - halachic (by archeologists) relocation of Jewish dead bodies.

Two days ago, a wild demonstration in Mea Shearim (at the Kikar Shabbat) took place. There are haredi sources claiming that buses were stopped by the Sikarikim (extreme fanatics). A small group simply making noise and giving anyone else a bad reputation.

Avi Nimrad, a journalist at Israel's haredi radio channel "Kol HaRamah" said that the wild Kikar Shabbat demonstration was mainly started by Shababnikim (Haredim who don't act religious anymore but dress haredi). Those Shababnikim were looking for action and started a mess with the police on the back of the local haredi population.

Avi Nimrad asked the question "Why this is happening and if famous leading Rabbis cannot stop such nonsense of a few freaks ?" First he spoke to Yehudah "Meshi" Zahav who said that those people burning garbage and making a fuss are nuts and when it is getting too much, leading Rabbis are going to interfere and tell them to shut up.

It was interesting hearing this from Meshi Zahav because it was him who ran violent demonstration when he was young. Together with the former Neturei Karta leader, Rabbi Amram Blau (Bloi), who passed away in 1974, Meshi Zahav was a wild boy and participated in many beatings with the police. Later on, he founded ZAKA and now he seems to be much more open minded.

However, Avi Nimrad had the same idea and asked Meshi Zahav about his youth. The answer was that, according to Zahav, those days were different and not that violent as today.

Afterwards Avi Nimrad spoke to Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, a Toldot Aharon Chassid and spokesman of the Edah HaCharedit. However, Pappenheim said that even those crazy demonstration of Shababnikim (or whoever it was) would be necessary, as the police arrest countless demonstrating Haredim and any demonstration does show a protest against those acts.

Avi Nimrad did not agree with that kind of opinion and cut off Pappenheim. Actually the upcoming news gave him a perfect excuse for doing so.


The wild Kikar Shabbat demonstration. Whoever wants to see more photos may have a look HERE !

Some people claim to know who the Sikarikim (extremists) are and others just keep quiet in order to mind their own business. No one really wants them. Especially not when they stop buses, as it happened in the nearby Rehov HaNevi'im two weeks ago, and taking off advertising posters from Egged buses just because they show some bare female feet.

Last week, Sikarikim from Beit Shemesh yelled at a few haredi women because they were sitting outside on benches (in Ramat Beit Shemesh). Exposing oneself on a bench (sitting on a public bench as a woman) would be prostitution (Pritzut). After the women had left, those Sikarikim tried to take the benches apart so that no one else may sit on them.

It looks like people just get sick in their minds ! Those few nutty characters are about to destroy the reputation of the entire haredi society. Is no one there to speak up ?

Chaseneh in Gur

What is he looking at ?

At the Gerrer Rebbe during the wedding ceremony of the Rebbe's granddaughter.

All photos HERE !

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Computer in Toldot Aharon ?


About a month ago, the Toldot Aharon Rebbe David Kahn held a meeting with his Chassidim. The Rebbe spoke about the spiritual impurity coming from the Internet. After the meeting, the Chassidim were asked to fill out special forms where they either admit to have a computer at home (and for what purpose) or they simply sign that they don't have any such "impure gadget". Let alone an internet connection.

Furthermore, the form was questioning about the cellphone of each Chassid (and his family members). As we know, haredi society demands a kosher cellphone with firewalls to any kind of impure accesses. 

Any Toldot Aharon member not fulfilling the demands for having an internet connection at home, will be excluded. Not necessarily thrown out of the group but limited within society. Men would not be called up to the Torah and loosing their firm seat at the Synagogue. Women may also be punished by loosing their firm Synagogue seat on Simchat Torah or Yom Kippur. 

During the past two weeks, the Toldot Aharon "modesty police" walked around the backyards and made a few checks at the homes of "suspicious" Toldot Aharon members. The Jerusalem weekly (secular) paper "Yediot Yerushalaim" reports that Toldot Aharon officials said that all those latest stringencies were necessary because it came out that a few of their teenagers may be vulnerable to negative internet use.  

With these rules, Toldot Aharon is not too different from other chassidic groups such as Gur, for instance. Internet use YES, but for professionell purposes only. Otherwise the computer should be locked or, at least, have a kosher internet connection where porn and other things are blocked. 

On the other hand, who is really able to keep all Chassidim away from the net ? Who is able to control mainly male Chassidim, cruising around in secular neighbourhoods and sneaking into Internet Cafes ? Not even the modesty police has such capacities. 
How about public libraries or the Bar Ilan University ? There you find many different Chassidim sitting and surfing the Net. Not too many Toldot Aharon but Gur, Belz or Litvaks.  

WALLA and the Christian Missionaries


The latest missionary warning from Israel's anti - missionary organization YAD LE'ACHIM comes from its head Rabbi Dov Ber Lifshitz. Last night he announced on the haredi radio channel "Kol HaRamah" that more Christian missionaries with even more millions of dollars in their suitcases have arrived in Israel in order to start a new vicious campaign against Jews.

Furthermore, Dov Lifshitz warned against a certain commercial published on the Israeli online news site WALLA. The commercial is promising a free book and guess who the book is about: About the false Christian Meshiach J. !

Walla members / readers should use their influence and complain to the site. If Walla doesn't react, the site should be boycotted !!!

Huge Edah HaCharedit Demonstration in Yaffo today


Chassidut Satmar (Jerusalem) together with the Edah HaCharedit is announcing a huge demonstration in Yaffo (next to Tel Aviv) today. Unfortunately, I cannot go and report about the event, as I am stuck at work in Jerusalem. However, when you listen to the Israeli haredi radio channel "Kol HaRamah", you receive reports from haredi journalists who got arrested by the police. Just because they are Haredim or because they filmed the police beating haredi demonstrators ? Who can say that for sure ?

Even if I was there, I could not get through, as the police is blocking everything.

The reason for the Yaffo demonstration (near the harbour) are more ancient JEWISH graves which are supposed to be removed. Not in a halachic way, according to the Israeli government.

Last night, I listened to "Kol HaRamah" where a haredi journalist claimed the following:

The graves in Yaffo are definitely JEWISH and no archeologist can lie about the fact this time. In the past, archeologists drew crosses on Jewish graves just to make people believe that certain graves were pagan and not Jewish. In Yaffo, however, is nothing to lie about but the Israeli government insists on removing the bones in a non - halachic way.

Today, Satmar as well as the Toldot Aharon are arriving for a huge demonstration from Jerusalem. It is said that the head of the Edah HaCharedit, Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, will also arrive but I couldn't find out when exactly this is going to take place.

More Pashkevilim HERE !

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Lubavitcher Rebbe on MESHIACH


BADATZ (Beit Din Zedek) Hechsherim (Kosher Certificates)


Maybe it is a mistake reading the secular newspaper "Yediot Acharonot" almost every day. One of my excuses for doing so is that I have a Cafe Aroma membership card and thus drink my first cup of coffee in the morning there. And Aroma offers its customers  "Yediot Acharonot" to read.

Anyway, any time when I have been opening the paper lately, I found articles from all kinds of journalists against the haredi world. Israel's secular journalists don't make a difference between those Haredim from the Agudat Israel who do vote for the Knesset and those who are anti - Zionist. No matter whether Litvak or Chassid, Israel's secular society generalizes. 

The secular public itself is not that interested because those Jews have heard all kinds of anti - haredi propaganda over the past years. For instance, there was the former Minister of Justice (under Ariel Sharon) Tommy Lapid whose Shinui party only had one goal: Getting rid of the Jewish religion and all the religious in Israel. 
Today there is the present Tel Aviv mayor and known leftist Ron Chulda'i as well as opposition leader Zipi Livni or even Benjamin Netanyahu. All of them have one thing in common: They would like to get rid of the Haredim. However, Netanyahu is limited in expressing his anti - haredi views, as the haredi parties SHASS and Agudat Israel are part of his government. 

It has become popular lately, making politics on the back of the Haredim. Thanks to Zipi Livni who speaks out against Haredim but, at the same time, embraces the homosexuals. Ron Chulda'i, on the other hand, wants to introduce his own left - wing party and thus is in need of attention. Why not making some remarks against Haredim and get into the headlines ? Chulda'i's plan worked and now haredi society has to justify its education system, as the Tel Aviv mayor sees them as a whole generation of "Burim" (stupid and a welfare burden to society). 

Almost daily, "Yediot Acharonot" confronts its readers with negative reports about the haredi world. Child abusers in Yeshivot, Haredim don't join the army but only study, not even that, as most of them just hang around unemployed and receive welfare.

Last Friday afternoon after arriving in Jerusalem (from Tel Aviv) I witnessed a very typical scene at the Machane Yehudah Market. 
 The market was packed (as usual on Friday afternoons before Shabbat) and some young Israeli Chabadnikim were standing right in the middle of one of the main alleyways asking Jewish men to put on Tefillin. For Chabad, this is a great Mitzvah, as their last Rebbe claimed that every Jew doing one Mitzvah has a place in Olam HaBah (the World to Come). 

The Chabadnikim were asking every man passing until one of the Chassidim asked this young Israeli rather Hippie looking. The secular "Hippie" was schlepping his shopping bags and obviously wasn't too happy about the young Chabadnik asking him to put on Tefillin. The Chabadnik said "Tefillin ?" and the secular answered in a rather rude way "If you are going for me to the reserve duty !"
Meaning "You don't go to the army but I do. Why should I put on Tefillin if you do nothing ?"

Such statements are very common in today's Israeli society. 

I am neither justifying nor glorifying haredi society, as every society has its pros and cons. However, if anyone was repeatedly publishing negative statements about one particular society, lets say the national religious, people belonging to this particular group would protest. Haredi society, on the other hand, has no real lobby within Israeli society and the haredi press is too weak. Of course, the Knesset member Yaakov Litzmann (Chassidut Gur) may protest but who cares. Not even too many Haredim care about what Litzmann has to say. The secular hate him anyway because he is seen as a fanatic and ruining the health system (Litzmann is the deputy minister of health). Let alone the whole fuss about the pagan cemetery in Ashkelon. 

A few days ago, Israel's secular press had a new idea:
The Haredim boycott our army, Egged buses, the state - owned airline ELAL, our justice system, don't pay taxes, you name it. So, lets get some revenge and start a boycott against them. From now on, we won't buy products with a Hechsher (kosher certificate) from the "Edah HaCharedit". The Edah is responsible for all the crazy demonstrations and now let them suffer. Let them see how it is to be boycotted. 

Secular politicians as well as their press forgot to differentiate between the Edah Hechsher and the other Badatz (Beit Din Zedek kosher certificate) from the Belzer Chassidim. Badatz is Badatz, no matter what and who. 

One secular Jew following the boycott walked into a grocery store and asked for Badatz free products. Unfortunately, there wasn't too much to buy (food) for him, as most products were certified by Badatz. Apparently boycotting is not that easy !

HOMEFRONT DRILL on Wednesday !


This Wednesday, 26th May 2010, a nationwide HOMEFRONT DRILL is going to take place ! At 11am, sirenes will go off and every ISRAELI CITIZEN (Not Tourists) is supposed to go into the next bomb shelter.

The drill is an exercise and not a provocation, as Lebanon puts it. People do talk about a new war this summer but I don't believe in it too much, as, at the moment, none of the parties has a severe interest in starting a war. However, you never know what is going on in the confused Achmadinejad / Nasrallah mind. 
All Details about the drill from the PIKUD HA'OREF (Home front Command):

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bits and Pieces from THE KUZARI


Maybe one shouldn't to this: Opening a book and picking out a few bits and pieces from here and there. Nevertheless, I did and the brief content below is the result .

My source was THE KUZARI written by Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi over a period of twenty years in completed in 1140.

THE KUZARI 1:115.3

… A convert (to Judaism) is still not equal of a Jew who was born into the faith, because only Jews from birth can achieve prophecy. Converts can accomplish their purpose by accepting (the word of G - d) from the prophets and becoming wise and saintly, but themselves cannot be prophets.

A rather controversial statement because we know that the Prophet Ovadiah was a convert to Judaism (see Talmud Sanhedrin 39b) !

Answer: Ovadiah was an exception to the rule, because an Edomite was needed to prophesy about the downfall of Edom. In general, however, converts cannot be prophets.

Nevertheless, the Rambam (Maimonides, 1135 - 1204) states in his "Moreh Nevuchim - Guide for the Perplexed" as well as in his "Iggeret Teiman - Epistle to Yemen" that even non - Jews are capable of prophecy and he cites Iyov, Tzofar, Bildad, Elifaz and Elihu (all from the Book of Iyov) as examples.


… The Garden of Eden (Paradise, Gan Eden) refers to a certain spiritual (and not at all physical) plane that was prepared for man. Had man not sinned (e.g. Adam and Chava), he would still be there today.

However, was does it mean "spiritual plane" ?
The Torah's description of Gan Eden is extremely difficult to grasp. Are humans able to understand it at all. I personally agree to those commentators who see Paradise as a higher spiritual state of mind rather than a material place.   

New Movie about FACEBOOK & Marc Zuckerberg


Who really is the Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg ? Hardly twenty years old, he founded the biggest social networking of our times.

Officially, Zuckerberg stole the Facebook idea from two other Harvard students but the result was extremely successful. However, who is the "Loner Zuckerberg", what does he do and how much influence does he really have ?

David Fincher made a new movie about Facebook and Zuckerberg.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

Chassidic Tish


It has been a short week (due to Shavuot) and Israeli newspapers today wonder about the American authorities building a mosque on Grund Zero. Isn't it strange ? The terrorist Osama Bin Laden blows up the Twin Towers and then gets a mosque as a present.
But can we in Israel complain ?
We have the Dome of the Rock instead the Beit HaMikdash (Third Temple). An ugly Muslim courtyard with trees on the Temple Mount. The first thing we have to do when then Third Temple is around, we have to cut those trees off, as in ancient times, trees were considered as idol - worship and thus not allowed on the Temple Mount (see Talmud Tractate Avodah Zarah).

Shabbat is right ahead and thus hopefully some Tishes in Jerusalem's haredi neighbourhoods. If anyone has a chance, could you please let me know when the Kaliver Rebbe is giving his Tish ! I would be so interested in going there and finding out whether he speaks to women. He may be a great person to talk to concerning the Holocaust and the information is definitely interesting to my German readers. Today's Germany where the Holocaust almost seems to be forgotten and where the left loves the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv is warm and sunny this morning. As usual, I will be going to Jerusalem this afternoon. What a difference ! From Tel Aviv where you see gay couples walking in the streets holding hands to holy Jerusalem. Last night I saw two male gay couples in Tel Aviv holding hands. This, you wouldn't see in Jerusalem and those are the moments when I miss the Holy City and it's still existing moral laws.

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to everyone !

Israeli Short Movie:"Democracy is Freedom of Choice"

Democracy is … Freedom of Choice

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thoughts on Parashat NASSO

Photo: Mark Rothko


The Midrash Tanchuma is telling us the following story in regard of this week's Torah Parasha NASSO:

There was an incident involving two sisters who resembled each other. One of them was married (and lived) in one town, and the other one was married (and lived) in another town. The husband of one of them wanted to warn her (against secluding herself with another man) and to have her drink the bitter waters in Jerusalem. She went to the town where her sister lived. Her sister said to her, "Why did you come here ?" She answered, "My wants to have me drink the bitter waters". The sister said, "I will go and drink instead of you".
She answered, "Go !" Her sister put on her clothes and went instead of her. She drank the bitter waters, was founded innocent, and went back to her sister's house. Her sister went out to greet her joyfully. She hugged her, and kissed her on the mouth. When they kissed, (the sister who was suspected by her husband) smelled the bitter waters, and died immediately, in fulfillment of that which it says, "Man is not in control of the wind, to be able to confine the wind, and he has no authrority on the day of death. There is no substitution in war, nor does evil escape him to whom it belongs". (Ecclesiastes / Kohelet 8:8)

First, Parashat Nasso lets us know who carried which parts of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and then explains the fate of an adultery woman.

What is the point to explain every single part of the Mishkan and who carried which part in such detail ? Sometimes it seems really boring. All these descriptions and the reader feels like falling asleep. 

One explanation I heard is that no matter if you come from the Merari family, are a son of Moshe or anyone else, G - d gave everyone a job to do. A task in life and it doesn't mean that if you are not a Cohen, a Levite or any other celebrity, you are a nobody in life. Everyone of us has his task and the general manager is not much better than the secretary or the cleaning lady. 
We all have our goal in life and each of us has a different one.

When during Temple times a husband suspected his wife of having an adulterous relationship with anther man, he was supposed to warn her not to be with this man alone. In case she didn't listen to her husband and thus ignored his warning, he could take her into the Temple in Jerusalem where she had to undergo a special procedure in order to find out whether she betrayed her husband with another man.

Water was taken from the Kiyor (in the Temple) and mixed with earth from the Azarah (the area around the Kodesh HaKodeshim (Holy of Holies). Her hair was uncovered and the woman had to drink the water. If she was guilty, she died a terrible death because her stomach just exploded. If she was innocent, she was able to go back to her husband and it is said that then she had the merit (S'chut) to have another child.

To be honest: If I was married and my husband was dragging me to Jerusalem due to some suspicion and I had to undergo this whole procedure just to prove my innocence and then returning to the husband and have another child - well, I would throw him rather out of the house.
This is how women see it today but maybe in Temple times, women were more patient or I don't know how to call it. 

If the wife is guilty, I do see the point but what about the husband. He is allowed to have a relationship outside his marriage. You can say whatever you want, Parashat Nasso with the Sotah subject seems to be really unfair to women. And in case you are claiming the opposite, you must be a MAN !

Despite the "Sotah Waters", have a great Shabbat, Shabbat Shalom ! 

The RAMBAM on SHMUEL (the Prophet Samuel)


Israel was commanded to fulfill the Mitzvot upon entering the Land:

1. To choose a king.

2. To wipe out the descendants of Amalek.

3. To build a Beit HaMikdash (G - d's chosen house).

Since it is a Mitzvah to appoint a king, why was G - d displeased with the people's request of a king from Samuel (Shmuel) ?

This is because they made their request in a spirit of complaint. Rather than seeking to fulfill the Mitzvah of appointing a king, they were simply intent on rejecting the Prophet Samuel (Shmuel).


"Mishna Torah - Hilchot Melachim"
by the Rambam (Maimonides, 1135 - 1204)

So, how was your Shavuot ?


I had a wonderful lazy relaxed Shavuot ! 
A Shearim reader from New Jersey and I went to the Karlin - Stolin Synagogue in Mea Shearim. Shavuot seems to be one of the few occasions when the Karliner Rebbe comes over to his Jerusalem Beit Midrash from his residence in Givat Ze'ev (outside Jerusalem).

On Erev Shavuot, most Karliner Chassidim were to be found outside the Synagogue. Already standing on the metal benches and awaiting the Rebbe. Even some women were standing at the Ezrat Nashim (women's side) which is very unusual when you look at Erev Shabbat. Hardy any women show up on Friday nights for Kabbalat Shabbat. However, for holidays (Chagim) they do.

First I placed myself inside the Synagogue, the Karliner Rebbe walked from the Aron HaKodesh (Torah Shrine) towards the exit (metal benches outside) and all Chassidim sitting inside the Synagogue stood up. Then the Maariv (evening service) began.

As usual, prayers were shouted out loud and whoever is not used to the wild Karliner prayer may be in a state of shock. The Chazan screams out the first words / first sentence of a prayer and the rest is being shouted out loud by all the other Chassidim. A kind of a mess but very emotional.

After the service, the New Jersey guy and were invited to the house of a Karliner Chassid and his family. The food being served was the best Shavuot food I have ever eaten ! At least ten dishes were served: Pancakes, red pepper stuffed with rice, salmon, salads, lasagne, potatoe slices with something dairy on them. Later on onion soup and white / brown chocolate cake.

Our plan was going back to the Tish of the Karliner Rebbe at about 11pm. However, we decided to go to other places in Mea Shearim first but, in the end, missed all Tishes. Obviously they had started much earlier than we thought. We even missed the Karliner Tish.
Nevertheless, it was nice walking through Mea Shearim and seeing hundreds of Chassidim walking with their books under their arms into different Batei Midrash (study places) where they were doing their "Tikkun Leil Shavuot - Soul rectification on Shavuot by Torah study). 

After this kind of adventurous walk and all the food, I made my way into bed.

Elvis Costello on the Jihad


This summer, quite a few famous rock stars (Metallica, Rod Stewart, Elton John) are due to come to Israel and give at least one concert. Not too many stars visit Israel because they either support Arab terrorists or get frightened by Arabs scaring them away from Israel. So did Elvis Costello who is boycotting Israel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"CHAG SAMEACH - Happy Shavuot !"


King David as well as the Baal Shem Tov passed away on Shavuot. Chassidic communities celebrate Shavuot with special Tishes of their Rebbes and Mea Shearim will be busy as well.
Another tradition is eating dairy products on Shavuot. If you are in Israel and you haven't bought your dairy stuff yet, prices will be extremely high today. The shops want to make their profits and a holiday is always used as an opportunity.

Temperature went down a lot. From 34, 30 degrees to around 20 degrees Celsius. The perfect weather and those Jews going to pray their Shacharit at the Kotel (Western Wall) tomorrow morning won't melt away as soon as the sun is coming out.

I don't know who published this Pashkevili but there are some of this kind hanging on the Mea Shearim walls. "Modest Jewish Daughters" are asked to stay at home until 10am on Wednesday morning. Not home but refraining from going to the Kotel. Too much "Prostitution - Prizut - Immodest Behaviour" would be going on early in the morning, as thousands of Jews make their way through the Jewish Quarter down to the Wall. The alleyways are very narrow and thus men and women pass each other too tight. So, the very modest woman should wait until the masses are gone. I suppose that most Chassidim pray Shacharit in their Batei Mirdash anyway.

I may be not too modest but I am still refraining from going to the Kotel. It is far too crowded and you cannot really concentrate on the prayers. However, it is still great seeing so many Jews praying at the same place.

"Chag Samaech - Happy Shavuot" and lets all try to take some Torah giving spirituality into our daily lives.

Rabbi Mordechai Machlis (Jerusalem) on SHAVUOT

Avivah Gottlieb - Zornberg on "Megillath Ruth"

Monday, May 17, 2010

The inner meaning of Shavuot


Tomorrow night and Wednesday, the Jews celebrate the festival of Shavuot (weeks). In Israel we only celebrate one day (until Wednesday night) and abroad two days.

On Sivan 6th , G - d gave the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai. G – d reminds us several times in the Torah that the Torah itself is eternal and cannot be replaced by anything else. G - d and His Torah do not depend on time, as we do (Bnei Yissachar). After Adam and Eve (Adam and Chava) ate from the Tree of Knowledge, G – d changed the human DNA and made us mortal.

How do we approach Shavuot today ? How can we get exited at all without having been at Mount Sinai when the Torah was given ?
First of all, we do have the concept in Judaism that any souls (Neshamot) ever been created or will be created in the future, have been at Mount Sinai. All of us were there including the converts to Judaism. Before G – d gave the Torah to the Jews, He went to all the nations and asked if they would like to receive the Torah (see Midrash). The nations refused, as according to the Torah, murder, theft, adultery, not keeping kosher etc. are forbidden. However, the other nations did not want to give up their old habits and no changes in society whatsoever. Only the Jews said NA'ASEH VE NISHMA – Let's hear and we will do. The Jews said yes without knowing the conditions (Midrash).

The Vilna Gaon said that actually there were some people among the nations who did want to receive the Torah but G – d only asked their kings who refused. According to the Vilna Gaon, those people are the converts to Judaism today.

How do we prepare ourselves for Shavuot ?
First of all, we should internalize the Torah. We need to understand that it is not an ancient book which does not apply to me today. Rabbi Meir Weiner once said at a shiur (class) that each of us should look at the Torah as if it only speaks for himself. This thought might help us to understand the meaning of Shavuot in our days.

Everybody should spiritually prepare himself for this holiday and then we are able to reach higher and higher level and do important Tikkunim of the spiritual worlds. Furthermore, Shavuot is a Chizuk, a strengthening of the souls for all generations (Kuntres Dibrot of Toldot Avraham Yitzchak). All generations still have the eternal Mitzvah of Torah study (Bnei Yissachar). In Judaism we differentiate between different levels of Torah study. The first concept is called PSHAT where we only study on a more or less superficial level. However, our task is to internalize the inner meaning of Torah and Halachot.

During Shacharit (the morning prayer service) we add three additional readings: The Ten Commandments (Aseret HaDibrot), the famous poetic AKDAMOT prayer (written by Rabbi Meir ben Yitzchak in the 11th century) and the Book of Ruth (Megillat Ruth).
Akadamot tells us in a very poetic way about G – d's creation of the world until the World to Come (Olam HaBah). The verses are written according to the Hebrew alphabet and each sentence is being answered with the word TA. TA consists of the letters Aleph and a Tav standing for the first and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Symbolically, the word TA represents the whole Torah and that its study is endless.

The Book of Ruth was written by Shmuel HaNavi (the prophet Samuel), as it says in the Gemara in Talmud Bava Batra 14b. But why do we read the Book of Ruth on Shavuot ?
Ruth was an ancestress of King David and he was born and died on Shavuot. It says that only Zaddikim (righteous people) die on their birthday. Ruth was one of the most important converts to Judaism and, therefore, Shavuot is also the day of the converts.
His whole life, King David had to suffer from bad comments of other people, as his ancestor was a Moabite and not a born Jew.

Background: The Moabites and the Ammonites (today's Jordan) came from the illicit relations between Lot and his two daughters after they fled from Sodom. Both daughters had intercourse with their father and both bore a boy. One was called Ammon and the other was called Mo Av. The Mishna in Yevamot 76b teaches that Jews are not allowed to marry male Ammonites or Moabites but marrying a female is allowed. According to this Mishna, Ruth and Boaz had a legal marriage and there should not have been any gossip or doubt about King David's Jewishness. However, all his life, King David suffered from false accusations and I think that if he entered the Rabbanut (chief rabbinate) today, the rabbis might throw him out as well.

Nevertheless, the Meschiach is coming from a Moabite. Who would have thought that, as one might assume that the Meschiach is coming from a perfect family.

But not only King David died on Shavuot. On Leil Shavuot, Erev Shavuot, the great founder of the chassidut, the Baal Shem Tov died. Therefore, many Chassidic groups celebrate his Yahrzeit with certain events. Especially chassidut very much emphasizes the Tikun on the night of Shavuot. Reading certain prayers and Kavanah (concentration) helps us reaching higher levels and connect the spiritual worlds with our physical world.

All over the world, thousands of Jews will stay awake and learn through the whole night. Especially in Jerusalem, people like going to different shiurim (classes). Most synagogues and religious programmes offer different classes. Daily newspapers already started publishing many addresses for Torah study on Shavuot. Classes are free of charge and light refreshments will be served. At about 4am, people will start walking to the Western Wall (Kotel) in order to pray Shacharit. Every year, it is a great experience seeing the sun rising over the Tempel Mount.

Tomorrow night, on Leil Shavuot, several chassidic Tishes are going to take place. Shorter than usual but it will be interesting walking around in haredi areas and going to those Tishes. The Toldot Avraham Yitzchak have one, Belz does or Karlin - Stolin. Some even have a Tish in the afternoon on Shavuot day. Originally I was planning to go to some religious lectures but now it seems that I am stuck in Mea Shearim on Tuesday night. Invited in Karlin and going to the Rebbe's Tisch. Nevertheless, the Stoliners celebrate their Shavuot Tish outside which is not too good for the women. They either stand on the rooftop of the Beit Midrash or squeeze themselves near small alleyways in order to see something.

Chag Sameach – Have a great holiday !

The "abusive" Mea Shearim Mother made a Deal


Already a few days ago, the "abusive" Toldot Aharon mother made a deal with her prosecutors. She claims that since she gave birth to her last son (last year in autumn), she is unable to walk. However, she had to appear in court and was thus pushed in sitting in a wheelchair. Then a drama came up because her lawyers as well as the prosecutors tried to convince the Toldot Aharon mother signing an agreement which she finally did.

Basically she agreed that she is guilty of starving her three - year - old son and has to undergo psychiatric treatment. Furthermore, she is not allowed to live at home with her children for the next five years but can visit them once a week together with her mother. In the meantime, her husband is raising the children. After sthree years she will be allowed to see her children more often.

Her accompanying Rabbi Froehlich from the Edah HaCharedit was not too happy about the mother signing the agreement but what could he do. In any case, the agreement assures her that she is not going to jail.

I suppose that the prosecution as well as the judge took a likely reaction of the Edah HaCharedit into consideration: In case they had sent the mother to jail, further violent demonstrations of the Toldot Aharon and others would have been the result.

Haredi Demonstrations in Ashkelon


THE big headlines in Israel are the haredi demonstrations in Ashkelon. Groups connected to the anti - Zionist umbrella organization "Edah HaCharedit" demonstrated against the government's plan moving bones from an ancient graveyard in order to build a new emergency room for the local Barzilai hospital.

Israel's secular press is full with articles against haredi society. Not only because of the demonstrations but also due to the new government plan to educate Haredim in order to push them into the job market. Israel's secular society is sick of seeing Haredim studying in Kollels and not going to work. As a matter of fact, many Haredim do work but a high percentage doesn't. Those Haredi study the whole day and their wives are mostly supporting the families by working in hightech or other office branches.

Right and left - wing politicians show their empathy against haredi society and, at the moment, almost everyone and everywhere is going against them. But what kind of impression does secular society get from haredi society ? Let's look at the present demonstrations about moving the bones from an ancient graveyard: This issue has been going on for years and haredi society doesn't want to prevent a new hospital emergency room from the inhabitants of Ashkelon.  Moving bones from a graveyard does include many halachic issues and in the end, Benjamin Netanyahu preferred not to listen to rabbinic suggestions but rather acted on his behalf and sent out an archeological team in order to move the bones. The result can be viewed here: 

Without any rabbinical advice, the archeology team moved the ancient skulls and bones from the graveyard. The vast majority of secular Israelis doesn't understand what the fuss is all about. Why not just moving the bones and build the emergency room ?
Most people don't realize that haredi society has been shown in the most negative way. In the secular paper "Yediot Acharonot", for instance. There has hardly been one day recently where Yediot has not commented in the worst way on haredi society. 

Years ago, the Germany city of Frankfurt asked Rabbis for advice before moving Jewish bones from a ancient graveyard but Netanyahu didn't bother doing so. I was surprised to hear that, in the end, Israel's Chief Rabbinate condemned Netanyahu's actions. This happened due to a Psak Halacha issued by the halachic expert Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv who said that even if the graves were Gentile graves, the bones still have to be removed in a way of honouring the death and not just being collected and dumped somewhere else.