Gee, what will take the place of those Anti-Semitic cartoons in the Muslim newspapers?
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Gee, what will take the place of those Anti-Semitic cartoons in the Muslim newspapers?
Gateway Pundit covers Pelosi's first stop: Jerusalem, accompanied with Keith Ellison.
[Hat tip: Larwyn]
Update: Republicans are also visiting--Syria, Pelosi's next stop.
Here's a question: is the reason Pelosi refused to allow consideration of a resolution condemning Iran's kidnapping of British soldiers because she didn't want to upset Syria and friends during her Mideast tour?
Did R. Avraham Kook eat kitniyos? Did R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach eat kitniyos? They knew everything contained in this ruling and still kept their family customs.Technorati Tag: Israel and Pesach and Passover and Kitniyot.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Yeshivat Har Etzion KMTT
The Torah Podcast
ישיבת הר עציון
Do you listen to KMTT - the Torah podcast?
KMTT gives you a chance to hear a half-hour shiur every single day, and, thanks to MP3 technology, you pick the time and the place. Is there anyone who does not have a half hour where he is in a car, walking or jogging, waiting or otherwise have his mind ready to learn? Now you can fill those wasted moments with Torah, learning every day, regularly, with the shiurim of Yeshivat Har Etzion.
Now you can, of course, listen on your computer. But the real power of KMTT is in its portability. If you do not use a portable MP3 device, you are missing out on the true potential of KMTT. In case you are put off by the price of an iPod, for listening to KMTT shiurim, you do not need more than the least expensive devices. A small flash-based MP3 device with 256 Mg of storage can hold one month's worth of shiurim and the quality is more than adequate. These can be found on the internet for less than $15-30.
(for instance, see http://froogle.google.com
/froogle?q=mp3+256&btnG=Search +Froogle&lmode=online&amp;amp;amp;amp;price1= &price2=70.00&scoring=p)
An MP3 player lets you learn Torah anywhere, anytime, including those hours now totally wasted in traffic, on the train, or walking. It is an investment well worth it.
There will be new shiurim starting after Pesach, and you can still hear the special week of podcasts of shiurim on Pesach.
What do you need?
1. A computer - that you have
2. A podcatching program - get it from the website (http://www.kimitzion.org)
3. To free yourself the computer, a MP3 player
Join us in this revolution in Torah learning. Join KMTT today.כי מציון תצא תורהChag kasher ve-sameach
THE MAGNIFICENCE IN THE MUNDANE
Rabbi Avi Shafran
With the approach of spring, the synagogue Torah-reading segued from accounts of the seminal events of Jewish peoplehood, the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai – to a series of social laws, like oxen goring one another and penalties for thieves. And then, another transition, to the painstaking details of constructing the Tabernacle and its vessels, and the laws of sacrifices.
The two holidays of the season, Purim and Passover, although mere weeks apart, also differ markedly in tone.
The staple of our recently celebrated Passover Seders (besides, of course, the matzo and wine) was the grand narrative of the exodus from Egypt; the commemoration was all miracle and majesty. How different from the Purim that preceded it, where so hidden was G-d’s hand that there is no overt mention of Him in the Book of Esther. In fact, the narrative of the deliverance of ancient Persian Jewry can easily (if wrongly) be read entirely as a sort of Shakespearean comedy, with fortuitous coincidences taking the place of divine intervention.
A lesson of the odd juxtapositions may be that holiness permeates not only the miraculous but the mundane. G-d, indeed, is “in the details.”
The details of the Torah’s laws and the details of history. The payment due the owner of a damaged ox no less than keeping the Sabbath day; the subtle miracle of Purim, no less than the splitting of the Red Sea.
In fact, Judaism teaches that G-d inheres even in the minutiae of daily life. Ours is a religion where every area and moment of human endeavor is sublimated by the law – or, better “the proper way,” a more precise translation of the word “halacha.”
From the first words we speak upon arising in the morning (the “Modeh Ani” declaration of gratitude for another day of life) until the final ones before retiring (the “Hamapil” prayer that we be “laid to sleep in peace and be raised up in peace”); from what we wear to what we eat; from how we speak to how we act toward others; an observant Jew’s every utterance and action is governed by the Torah’s directives. Nothing is mundane.
And more: Not only are our words and actions to reflect G-d’s immanence, so are our mindsets. When we ponder the world, we must try to discern G-d’s hand, which is ubiquitous if not always obvious. As a keen rabbi once put it: “Seas split every day, but only sensitive eyes notice.” That is true about history – the Jewish people’s perseverance a case in point – but also with regard to our immediate physical surroundings, the constant miracles so easily taken for granted.
Perhaps that is why the same season of the year that presents such contrasts in both its Torah-portions and its holidays, is also the time for a special blessing that can be made no other time of year.
It comes from a category of blessings pronounced upon witnessing certain natural phenomena (like a rainbow, or thunder and lightning), and is made only once each year, in the early spring, upon seeing two or more fruit-bearing trees in bloom.
“Blessed are You, G-d, King of the universe,” it begins, as all such blessings do, “Who has omitted nothing from His universe, and created within it lovely creatures and lovely trees, to bring pleasure to human beings.”
The springtime tree-blessing, fittingly made as we experience a contrast in climate, winter’s darkness and cold giving way to spring’s light and life, helps us focus on what we might all too easily overlook, lost as we all too often become, in “more important” concerns.
It makes us stop and look at something commonplace – not even the forest, just the trees – and see within the beauty of their blossoms a loving gift from G-d.
It compels us, faced with the mundane, to perceive the magnificent.
© 2007 AM ECHAD RESOURCES
[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America]
Let's see what coverage this gets...
[Hat tip: Larwyn]
SQUID PRO QUO
Rabbi Avi Shafran
The half-ton squid caught in waters south of New Zealand in February – 33 feet long and weighing 1089 pounds – isn’t kosher, but it can still serve as food for Jewish thought.
Such sea-creatures – this one a representative of the species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni – were long thought to be the products of overactive imaginations.Technorati Tag: Science and Judaism and Rambam.
Until 1873, there were only claims, but no hard evidence, that monstrously-sized squids existed. That year, though, a fisherman off the coast of Newfoundland struck a large sea-creature with a hook and then hacked off one of its tentacles. The appendage was later measured to be nineteen feet long. Over subsequent decades, intact carcasses of such giant squids (a smaller species than the “colossal squid” of the recent catch) were discovered washed ashore on various beaches. Thus ended the centuries over which the animal was assumed to be fictional.
Only a few years earlier, though, Arthur Mangin, a celebrated French zoologist, dismissed sailors’ claims that they had seen the animal, urging that:“the wise, and especially the man of science, not admit into the catalogue those stories which mention extraordinary creatures… the existence of which would be… a contradiction of the great laws of harmony and equilibrium which have sovereign rule over living nature.”About 700 years before that, the venerated Jewish scholar Maimonides was crafting his powerful literary legacy. Not only a Jewish legal scholar and authority of the first order (whose religious texts are a mainstay of Jewish study to this day), Maimonides was a philosopher and scientist as well. A respected physician, he penned medical texts and served as the official doctor of Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt. Had one not known that Maimonides was the name of a man, a contemporary thinker once wrote, one would naturally assume it was a university.
Among Maimonides’ important works is his commentary on the Mishneh, the foundation of the Talmud. Commenting on the Mishneh’s reference to a bizarre creature – a spontaneously generated rodent – Maimonides wrote:“…the existence of [such a creature] is something well-known; countless people have told me that they have seen it, even though the existence of such a living creature is incomprehensible and cannot be explained in any way.” [Commentary to the Mishneh, Chullin, chapter 9]The difference between the reactions of the two scientists, each confronted with a claim that flew in the face of conventional wisdom, is subtle but profound.
Both are compelled to state that the reports before them defy scientific explanation. But whereas Mangin cockily counseled a final rejection of any possibility that the report he received might have merit, Maimonides – even as he notes the inadequacy of scientific knowledge to explain what he has heard – allows for the incomprehensible.
The Talmudic creature could well have been intended as a theoretical construct. There are other references in the Talmud – like one to a “building that flies through the air” – that seem intended as thought-experiments (although, of course, the airplane became entirely real a couple of thousand years later). And Maimonides, famed for his rationalist approach to things, could well have so characterized the rodent case. But, an open-minded thinker first and foremost, he chose instead to simply express the inadequacy of science to explain the claim, allowing for the possibility that the popular lore might nevertheless somehow prove accurate.
That, in fact, is what a true scientist does when evidence doesn’t “seem to fit.” In most cases, an experiment clears up the matter or an observation is conclusively revealed to be flawed. In some, a new mechanism is postulated and demonstrated. And in others, a revolutionary breakthrough – like the discovery of DNA or an idea like relativity or quantum mechanics – turns yesterday’s “science” entirely on its head. And at yet other times, a question mark simply remains.
Spontaneous generation is a discredited notion today (although it is intriguing that contemporary science’s theory of life’s origin is predicated in its own way upon essentially the same thing). But regardless, how Maimonides treated a report of it in his day illustrates how a true scientist never loses the sense of the possible, acknowledges the unknown and maintains always the feeling of wonder that, in the end, leads to discovery.
Scientific hubris – the conviction that contemporary knowledge is ultimate knowledge – is no stranger to contemporary times. And so, in return for providing the recently captured sea-monster our acknowledgment of its existence, the colossal squid has provided us, measure for measure, an invaluable lesson.
© 2007 AM ECHAD RESOURCES
[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America]
So, is Mussar making similar inroads? Rabbi Israel Salanter predates and anticipates some of the ideas of Freud, plus as opposed to Freud's ideas vis-a-vis Christianity, Mussar is itself an intimate aspect of Judaism and has been around long before Rabbi Salanter's development of the Mussar Movement. If you do a Google Search for "Mussar", there is clearly a renewed interest--but to what degree and in what direction?
UPDATE: Check out Soccer Dad's post on Dr. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist who wrote "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children"
Check out also The New Editor [Hat tip: Instapundit]
disappointment many young Israelis feel upon discovering that their "progressive" peers abroad have pretty strong negative opinions about Israel, but little knowledge or understanding of the nuances or complexity of its history, conflicts and society.Technorati Tag: Israel.
[Hat tip: Larwyn]
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Just as Israelis and Palestinians must clarify a political horizon together, the Arab states must clarify a political horizon for Israel. These paths do not substitute for one another; they reinforce one another. The Arab states should begin reaching out to Israel – to reassure Israel that its place in the region will be more, not less secure, by an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state; to show Israel that they accept its place in the Middle East; and to demonstrate that the peace they seek is greater than just the absence of war.The New York Sun reports:
As Secretary of State Rice called on Arab countries to reassure Israel about its future, Saudi Arabia made clear that there would be no diplomatic openings toward the Jewish state and warned of the likelihood of war if Israel does not fully accept Arab terms.Technorati Tag: Israel and Condoleezza Rice and Saudi Arabia.
U.N. health authorities officially endorsed circumcision Wednesday as an effective means of curbing the spread of AIDS among heterosexual men, laying the groundwork for a widespread expansion of the procedure in Africa, where studies suggest it could eventually save millions of lives.[Hat tip: Larwyn]
Technorati Tag: AIDS and Circumcision.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
To the Editor:
Kislev's JO's article detailed various difficulties of the American family moving to Eretz Yisrael. While the article was meant to perform a valuable public service by laying out various issues the olim and family have to contend with, and various dangers which are potentially lurking, its tone was pessimistic and negative. Every single person I spoke to who had read the article perceived it as carrying a message saying: "Do Not Come" "Come At Your Own Risk" "Keep Out!" The article became a prime weapon in the hands of those attempting to dissuade others from moving to Eretz Yisrael. It was faxed to people contemplating the move, with the message 'don't do it!' [In one case I know of, a family received it four times, from four different sources!] It was not perceived as a friendly offering of a "how- to" manual, but rather as an advisory pamphlet warning people to stay away. Many people remarked to me "I can't see how anyone in their right minds would make aliyah after reading that." One person, here already over 25 years, laughingly said- "It's a good thing I'm here already; if I were coming, I'd rip up the tickets and head back home!"
But it is no laughing matter.
People who have successfully lived and raised children here for many years, have expressed dismay, anger and resentment at the portrayal of life here. They agree that the article was well- intentioned, but feel that it did not portray the actual reality of living in Eretz Yisrael. With dedication, perseverance and hard work, the obstacles can be, and were, overcome. These very people, who have given up large houses, nice salaries and positions of prominence in their communities and have worked hard to acclimate to life in Eretz Yisrael, felt that they were being told that they were foolhardy and had exposed their families to great spiritual dangers! They felt humiliated! And we are talking about hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families who have moved here and do not regret it for a moment!
Certainly it is important for anyone considering such a major move to come with open eyes, intelligent planning and preparation. Certainly stating all relevant facts and potential pitfalls is a great help. But the all- important context is that Eretz Yisrael is the Land that HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself chose for all Jews to live in, and that so many people have already come and have been successful in settling here! It must also be stated that of the problems encountered, many are normal “life problems” that exist in any modern society- of course they have to, but they can be, dealt with. In fact, challenges in life- avoiding dangers, dealing with problems, and growing in the process- are how Chazal themselves characterized life in Eretz Yisrael (Berachos 5a)! How can it be left unsaid that life in Eretz Yisrael is a life with an unusually close relationship with Hashem, the raison-d’etre of a Jew’s very being? That the average person living in Eretz Yisrael learns more Torah, davens with more Kavanah, does more varied chessed, has more and deeper Emunah, Bitochon and appreciation for Hashem’s gifts, and lives with more spiritual values and less materialistic ones, than in any other place in the world. That one can move here, and be successful! And the message thus can easily be:" Come, My Children! V’Shavu Banim LiG’vulam - And The Children Will Return To Their Borders”.
Let me summarize your article, with some short comments.A) - The article begins with the obligatory "Great place to live- in theory". But then comes that discouraging concept: - EFFESS. HOWEVER- or, in more modern terminology, “Not so fast, Yankel & Sarah. Don’t get carried away. There are issues, problems, obstacles- intractable issues that call into question the wisdom of such a move in the first place” [See Ramban to Bamidbor 13:27 who explains the effect of that "But" word].Yes, the Land is an exceedingly good land. If Hashem wants to, He can give it to us- i.e. overcome the difficulties (as so many have indeed already done). Yes, we know the problems, but we do not fear them- after all, Hashem, who takes care of us in Chutz La’Aretz, will surely not forsake us in His Land! (See Bamidbor 13:30; 14:7-9; D’vorim 1:29-33; Ramban to Bamidbor 14:9). Don’t hesitate to talk to people who have been there, done that- i.e., to people who have moved here- ask them if they regret it. Ask them how they dealt with their children’s chinuch, the issues, and the problems. Read about the fierce love our Gedolim had throughout the generations for the Holy Land and the self- sacrifice they showed to come settle there. The hardships. The difficulties. The rewards when those difficulties were overcome. Talk to people how, after a period of adjustment, they found their place in the multi- tiered frum society in Eretz Yisrael. How in the last 5, 10 years, so many
B) – "Can you be so sure you will benefit spiritually? In fact, there is a good chance your spirituality will be lessened! After all, here in Chutz La’Aretz we have an ongoing relationship with Hashem- who knows what will happen if we risk it by such a move!" [Hashem’s master plan for the Jewish people is to live in Eretz Yisrael, and therefore the potential for Kedushah and bonding with Hashem is greater than anywhere else in the world.]
C) – "The religiosity there is too intense. Who can live like that? Eretz Yisrael is very demanding- you’re living in the Palace of the King. Maybe you’d be better off staying away?" [Living in the Palace of the King is indeed a privilege, where the opportunities for growth are boundless. Virtually all who go there feel the difference, and are glad they took that risk. Just ask them!]
D) – "There are reports of children “going off the derech” And it’s getting worse and worse. What will be with our children?" [Though this tragic situation exists, it unfortunately exists as well in Flatbush, Monsey, Baltimore , Lakewood , Far Rockaway, the West Side etc. How unfair to point to world- wide problems and lay them at the door of Eretz Yisrael! As it is, various shades of possibilities of chinuch exist in greater numbers in Eretz Yisrael than in Chutz La’Aretz. A multitude of institutes and mosdos have sprung up to deal with our children's varied needs. Yes, you have to do your homework, and search them out and not be embarrassed by the non- conventional. But it is there for the taking. There are also many institutes that have undertaken to advise people initially which Yeshivas to send their children to. Use them! (And “20% of teenagers go off the derech” is a non- scientifically- derived- at statistic, plucked from thin air. And the extrapolation "3
teenagers= 40% chance of becoming non- frum" lowers the unlikely to the ludicrous.]
E) - "There are so many issues to work out! Schools, transportation, camp- everything is new".
---"Finding means of parnassa is no easy task."
---"Remember, moving there will not automatically solve your problems." [It is wrong to assign the blame for all this to Eretz Yisrael. These difficulties are true for any long- distance move one makes. Who is not aware of painful parnassa problems in Chutz La’Aretz? And isn’t Eretz Yisrael the land that is “constantly under Hashem’s direct scrutiny. The eyes of Hashem are on it at all times” (D’varim 11:12 ). What more could one want? Of course one has to have a basic game plan- that in itself is Hashem’s requirement for us. But once one has one, there should be no need to dot every i and cross every t. True, your income will be less, perhaps significantly so. But your needs are also less, as well- significantly less. Many people point to the fact that making ends meet is much easier in Eretz Yisrael due to this difference. And you will be richer in vastly more important ways.]
F) - "Society there is so polarized." [The differences- especially among "regular folk"- are not nearly as great as is made out. And besides, people ultimately find their niche. And on the contrary, the unity exhibited in Eretz Yisrael- especially in times of crisis- is tremendously inspiring. And then there's the constant chessed one encounters, which crosses all lines, and the constant interaction with all types of Jews.]
"pockets" of Anglo 'communities' have sprouted, enabling those coming to even more easily acclimate themselves, to have a kesher with Rabbanim who understand 'where they're coming from', and help answer their multitude of questions regarding coping with their new life. How these 'newer' communities offer guidance, help, chizzuk, suggestions, schools (at all levels and to all 'types'), help in all issues of chinuch bonim and banos, and all other kinds of support. How the husband (and wife) are learning more Torah than ever before. How their davening has improved. How they feel the closeness to Hashem that is promised to those who live here and are open to it. The davening at the Kosel, of course. Kever Rochel. Me’oras HaMachpelah. Tz’fas. The multitude of kivrei Avos by which one is inspired to pour his/her heart out to his/her Creator.
Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ztz’l decried those who express a vision of Eretz Yisrael highlighted by its problems. Rather, one's attitude should be- “We will withstand all the tests; we will persevere and grow. It is in fact incumbent upon us to go up and withstand all the tests.” (Guardian of Jerusalem , Artscroll, pages 234-235).
In closing, Calev’s exhortation: “We will go up and occupy the Land- we will be able to overcome and conquer it!” (Bamidbor 13:30 ). And may the Jewish Observer publish its next issue from Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh!
I didn't think you'd be impressed...
Technorati Tag: Israel.
There is more about how Gissin thinks Hasbara should be handled in this YNet.com article last year in November.
The post is worth reading for Medad's letter to the editor where an article about the production appears.
See also LEHI Members Refute Comparison To Hamas
"Palestinians were the only people who became refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states. Their situation had long been precarious. During the 1947 UN debates, Arab leaders threatened them. For example, Egypt’s delegate told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by partition” (New York Times, November 25, 1947).
The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. Many Jews were allowed to take little more than the shirts on their backs. These refugees had no desire to be repatriated. Little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions (Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession, NJ: Transaction Books, 1984, p. 276). Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab reparations for Jewish refugees. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay anything to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries. Through 2005, at least 115 of the 774 UN General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East conflict (15 percent) referred directly to Palestinian refugees. Not one mentioned the Jewish refugees from Arab countries (Jerusalem Post, December 4, 2003).
The contrast between the reception of Jewish and Palestinian refugees is even starker when one considers the difference in cultural and geographic dislocation experienced by the two groups. Most Jewish refugees traveled hundreds — and some traveled thousands — of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language. Most Arab refugees never left Palestine at all; they traveled a few miles to the other side of the truce line, remaining inside the vast Arab nation that they were part of linguistically, culturally and ethnically.
This article can be found at The Jewish Virtual Library
[Hat tip: Larwyn]
- Hamas--which in the past has blown up fellow Palestinians by accident, this time kills them by failing to deal with a sewage problem.
- Palestinians turn on Hamas
- Hamas blames Israel
- Israel offers to help
- Israel's offer is turned down
Technorati Tag: Flying Imams.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Never in the history of nations has a society defined itself on the ruins of a neighboring democracy and never has such society sought sovereignty and international legitimacy while admitting its intent.[Hat tip: HonestReporting]
An example of Brenner's thought processes: he brings his favorite quote to prove the commonality between early Zionism and Fascism:
'Nations with racial differences appear to have instincts which work against their fusion. The assimilation of the Jews of the European nations among whom they live in language, in customs, and to some extent even in the forms of religious organisation, could not eradicate the feeling of lack of kinship between them and those among whom they live. In the last resort, this instinctive feeling of lack of kinship is referable to the law of conservation of energy. For this reason it cannot be eradicated by any amount of well-meaning pressure. Nationalities do not want to be fused, they want to go each its own way.' [emphasis added]and then declares that the author of the quote is:
Albert Einstein, none other than Albert Einstein, and that's complete pseudo-science, I mean there is no law of conservation of energy and biology, races intermarry constantly. And that was typical not only of the Zionist movement but of the upper class and middle class of Europe and America of that time, and even Australia. I mean in other words they were living in the age of white imperialism, colonies all over the world. So that affected everybody in the intellectual world. [emphasis added]Pity poor Mr. Brenner, who cannot distinguish between a metaphor and pseudo-science.
And pity the Australians who have to be subject to such obvious ignorance.
Read the rest of the HonestReporting article.
Technorati Tag: Jpix 1 and Jpix and Jewish Photography and Jewish Photography Carnival and JPix CarnivalJ Pix Carnival and Jewish Art and Jewish Photos and Blogs and Jewish Photo Blogs and Jewish Photo Essays and Israel and Photos and Jewish Creativity and Jewish and Israel
Monday, March 26, 2007
You can hear a recording of the conference call here.
57 percent of seculars don't mind son marrying non-Jewish immigrants[Hat Tip: The Shalem Center]
Thirteen percent of religious people say they do not regard assimilation as a problem, as long as the partner has Israeli citizenship
Technorati Tag: Israel.