Sunday, July 30, 2006

EY trip completed

July 20th:
Went to Geula and Mea Shearim. I wanted to get kugel in Maadan Hamuchan. But they only had cold kugel.

Got garanim in one of the many nut stores in Geula.
Didnt notice if Uri Pizza is still open.
I used to eat there (they had a mechitzah in the back/side).
I enjoyed walking around the life of Jerusalem, and it brought me back to my yeshiva days.

Then I walked back to the hotel like a lunatic.

July 21st M"S
Went to Ben Yehudah. What a scene. Big Apple Pizza is clearly the best pizza in Israel, maybe america as well.

July 22nd:
Biblical Zoo - Hoping to bump into Slifkin, Then I remembered he is on big tour of the USA.

It was hot like hell. It smelled something awful when you approached the big beasts.
Ate lunch at El Gaucho. YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!

At night I had Sushi at David Citadel. Which reminds me, there was a Sushi to go place on Ben Yehuda. Now, what person in his right mind would eat sushi from a take out place that had their door OPEN? Its freakin 100 degrees!

July 23rd:
Israel Museum - got a chance to see what the Daf is talking about.

I also found the Dead Sea scrolls very interesting. The children of Light called Chazal the children of Darkeness. Very interesting. Seems there were many competing groups. If Chazal version was so obvious, why the competition? Could it be that the Mesorah wasnt so clear?

At night I ate at Caffit. Didnt like it, and the service was lousy. We told the waitress to bring the appetizer before the soup and then the main. She brought the main and then the soup, and the appetizer. I guess she thinks in HEBREW.

July 24th:
Ate at Macdonalds at the airport. I told them NO MAYONAISE. And you know the rest.
Uneventful flight except that the we had to wait half hour for this family of 9 to show up.
Everyone was eyeing the empty rows, drooling over the possibility of bed.
Airline food was horrible.

Thats all folks.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Some Details of my trip to EY

Here is the first part of my diary of my visit to Israel:

July 18th
Sitting here, at 3:30 am, 7:30 hours into the flight, thinking so this is what I wasn't going to let them ruin? Sitting in coach trying your damnest to fall asleep without Ambien!

The plane smells like a locker room. They didn't have a glatt meal for me. Actually enjoyed the El Al food. Meatballs and pasta.
No sleep.
Arrived, this is the first time I'm here in 7 years. Things have changed. No longer do you get on a bus to get to the airports passport control.

Its now a long, long, long walk.

Shmuel picked us up, 50 dollars to jerusalem.

On the way Shmuel tells us, they should bomb till there are no bombs left

Arrive in hotel. Rest up for tour in the evening.

Old city, walked in shuk, and some arab yelled Jew.

Also davened maariv at kotel. More Shnorrers than at a wedding in williamsburg.

Went to Jewish quarter. More pizza and shwarma/falafel shops than in boro park.

Actually there is now a resteraunt in mea shearim that is called boro park resteraunt.
Also kids from all types of yeshivas are hanging out.
One set of charedi teenagers were at kotel bus stop and talking about taking her to red heiffer, but he will only pay for himself so it won't be a date.

Kids playing poker in front of the various pizza shops, acting loud. A table of girls next to them. Parrent who think their kids are supervised here are blind.

July 19th
Asked for 7 am wake up call, never got it. Ate breakfast at hotel. Then off to kotel for shachris
I did reis kriah.

Then to a bar mitzvah breakfast.
Visited the Davidson center which is the southern wall excavation.
Thank God its indoors!

It was very interesting. Had a virtual recreation.
You can see the daf come alive.
Shekels, buying animals, shabbos horn, the platform 3 football fields, 250k people.
Sign for goyim not to enter

Also did the Glass tour at the Kotel. Thing was nice but not great.

Went to Ben Yehuda street and did a falafel taste test.
Moaz on king George and moshiko on Ben Yehuda where "falafel buys you". It was better. Tell him the guy with hat who told him he is better than moaz sent you.
It is fresher and tastier. Moaz famous for shwarma.

Interesting sign on burger king "murder equals meat".

Went to cafe rimon for the evening.
Full of smokers, even charedi women where smoking. Woke up smelling like smoke.

more next post....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chevron - Love it or Leave it?

I visited Chevron on my trip to Israel.
We had a guide from Chevron. He went on and on about the importance of Chevron.
Here are some pictures:
This is the Arab part of Chevron. According to the guide, 30,000 arabs have left it.
Why? Well, there are no jobs.

Another view of Arab Chevron:

And finally, a picture of Chevron that the Jews want to get back:

The picture above is the shopping mall that Jews used to own.

Now for a Trial Balloon:
This is tough to say, but I believe that we need to leave Chevron. At the very least, the Avrohom Avinu neighborhood.
The reason? Not only because there are 80,000 arabs and maybe 50 jewish families.
But also because i think you have to be nuts to live there. And the people I saw looked like nuts. They quote navi for everything, but what about putting your life in danger? I know the arguments:

A) israel is also outnumbered compared to arabs.
B) if we give up chevron, next is tel aviv.

both of those answers are stupid, and just re-enforces the point that you have to be nuts to live in chevron.
The jews of chevron dont realize, they are in a JAIL! And they put Israeli soldiers lives at risk.
I know I may have ruffled some feathers, and I apologize. Maybe the guide failed to inspire me.
I just had a headache after visiting chevron. All the memorials. Its really a museum and a macabre one at that.

I know this is bad timing, but its simply what I saw, and what Im reporting.
Chevron: We love ya, but we got to leave you.

your thoughts. Any convincing reason to stay?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm Baaaaaaaaaack!

Arrived last night.

Now comes the battle of Jet Lag.

I decided before I went that I would not be checking Email or Internet. So for those who sent me emails, Im sorry I didnt get back to you.

As a famous Rosh Yeshiva, of a very hard to get into Yeshiva, said in one of my visits, the bochrim in his yeshiva do not have cell phones. They are disconnected from the street.
I was too, in fact, I was disconnected from the world at large. When you are in Jerusalem, you have no idea a WAR is raging with 2 1/2 million people under siege. Who gives a crap about 700,000 so called refugees, who made thier deal with their devil, Hizbollah. No news media is reporting what the scale of the crisis in Israel is.

In the Hotel you get Sky News and CNN. These channels are basically Arab run channels. Be prepared to be sick to your stomach while watching them. So I decided to watch Israeli News.
I had no idea what they were saying, but they seemed to cover the details no other media reported. Think Eyewitness news in Hebrew.

I had a wonderful time, maybe too good of time, considering its the 3 weeks and Israel is at War.
I will report more shortly.

For those who want to know if they should go.
As of now, no rockets have rained on Tel-Aviv. I think in that situation the stakes would be much higher and I would not of gone. We had a terror alert when traveling to Netanya, but they caught the cell.

If youre visiting Jerusalem, you will not notice there is a war on.

As a followup re the refugees in Lebanon.
Its very clear, Israel bombed roads and infrastructure, because that very infrastructure supports Hizbollah ability to fire missles. They get re-supplied by road via Syria, they get re-supplied by air via the Airport, and they get re-supplied by sea via the Ports.
Im not sure if American media showed the israeli strikes on katyushes. They literally have them between buildings. The refugee crisis is manufactured by Hizbollah as their ONLY lever to win their war. Of course Israel made mistakes, but its War, and its not one Israel started.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Should I Go?

Im supposed to Fly Monday evening to Israel.

Should I go?

Would You?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Goodbye, GH, Goodbye

Goodbye, GH.

Is there anyone out there? - Pink Floyd
Welcome to the machine - Pink Floyd
All we are is another brick in the wall - Pink Floyd

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dr. Klafters Rules

I found these rules so refreshing that I decided to quote them on my Blog.

Rule of thumb:

1. If you believe all the aggadatos are literally true you are an apikores AND a fool.

2. If you believe all the ma'aselach about the Ba'al Shem Tov and the Ari-Zal you are a complete fool.

3. If you don't believe all the stories about miracles performed by Ba'al Shem and the Ari Zal, but you believe that they were capable of performing such miracles you are still a complete fool.

4. If you don't believe all of the aggadatos are literally true, but you clarify that you believe HaShem is capable of such miracles, then you are just really annoying and and are not furthering our understanding of these difficult passages.

List of 13 ikkarei hashkafa for the 21st century. Anyone who does not master this list should have no chelek in Cyberspace.

1. It is important to know the difference between a posuk and a medrash.
2. It is important to know the difference between a ma'amar halakha and ma'amar aggadata.
3. It is important to know the difference between aniquated scientific and medical beliefs reported in the gemara which originate from ancient goyishe philosophers, and spiritual truths which are reported in the gemara which originate in a mesorah from har sinai.
4. It is important to know the difference between pesukim which are metaphors and pesukim which are literal.
5. It is important to know the difference between halakha and chumra.
6. It is important to know the difference between halakha and minhag.
7. It is important to know the difference between the private hanhagos of the Gr"a and his piskei halakha.
8. It is important to know the difference between "gedolim" who can say a good vort or who can give good shiur on the sugya, and real posekim who have a sophisticated understanding of politics, sociology, psychology, medicine, and science.
9. It is important to know the difference between a true machlokess le-shem shamayim and the machinations of a group of despicable, small minded, hateful, vengeful, power-hungry rashayim.
10. It is important to know the difference between examining your ma'asim and examining your mezuzos.
11. It is important to know the difference between ga'ava and yir'as shomayim.
12. It is important to know the difference between chochma and "da'as Torah".
13. It is important to know the difference between situations that call for pesak halakha, and those which call for etizah.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Am I happy?

GH asked me if Im happy.

Am I happy?


I grew up in a home where attention to every detail wasnt indocrinated. I assumed everyone else grew up like me, frum but not perfect or obsessed. You know, the attitude that taanis esther is a fast for rabbonim. Or the kalte litvaks who kvetch the benkel. or the rabbonim can make an appeal from every pasuk. Or knowing that in the alter heim, people were more human than angels, they did the normal stuff, normal human beings do, and not the idealized charedi bs they tried to tell us in yeshiva.

So Im in the same place practicing wise.

But jewish thought wise, I am a different person.
This is the first time in my life that I actually enjoy talking about judiasm.
So im actually frummer than i ever was.
I know alot more, i have great rabbeim in the blog world, S. Yediah, R' Harry, Y. Aharon, Seforim, Parsha, Chardal, GH, DB, Hirhurim, even FKM, BTA, Misnagid, RTJB and Lakewood Yid.
I now discovered Dr. Klafter and Baal Habos.

Im at the best point in my life, enjoying engaging debates. Somehow, wether TMS is real or not, seems to be beside the point.
I know all the other religions have plenty to offer. But i couldnt give 2 craps about them. So sue me.
Maybe DB is right about being hardwired. Or self preservation is what drives me.

Coincidently, im also learning with a charedi rav who is amazing. I appreciate how to learn. I never did before. The cognative dissonance is actually fun, because i get to debate with myself.

The most refreshing thing to me is that i feel heard. And im not alone.
I have doubts, but those doubts make me feel alive.

I also never knew there was such a thing as charedi until i came to the blogs. Until now, i thought chassidim, litvishe, heimishe were all there was. I dont include any of the above in charedim. Chassidim that I know, and my whole mishpacha is chassidish (satmer no less - S. i still need that reference to no moon landing) and they all have their children find jobs.

And now my mantle is to defeat charedi nonsense. The MO dont bother anyone. (i actually amk lw yeshivish, velvet yarmulke, black hat and white shirt on shabbos, so im not MO.)
But the charedi. Watch out.

Am I making any sense?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Believing Tall Tales - A Godol Speaks

Over at hirhurim i commented about that famous saying, if you believe all the stories of rebbes, youre a fool, if you believe none are possible, then you are an apikores.

I notes that the word possible is the wrong one to use. Since anything is possible, not believing so is apikorses. But is anything PROBABLE?

Then lo and behold, S. in his other blog "whats bothering Artscroll?", has a post on the famous flickering lights when R' Moshe Fienstien died. He points out a explanation for the flickering, that casts the moral of the story in a different "light".

Then, I just happened to come upon the Charedi voice on the internet, Dei'ah Vedibur:
In a Q&A with Rav Shteinman with Argetinian Rabbonim:

Q. We have a group of irreligious businessmen who have been coming to hear mussar talks and learn for some time now, yet their shops remain open on Shabbos. They claim that they simply can't close on Shabbos and they have no intention of doing so. Should we continue learning with them?

A. Your learning with them isn't causing them to sin. What then? They are transgressing an aveiroh and are clinging to their bad ways. It's possible that in time they'll stop. Maybe they'll close their stores in a year or two, or maybe longer. The question is, is it worth it? It is! In time perhaps they'll close.

Q. It's said that Rav Yisroel Salanter told merchants to carry their keys in an unusual way and thereby made the point that it was Shabbos and they eventually closed completely.

A. It never happened!

Q. But it's written . . .

A. So what if it's written? Does that mean that it happened? You should realize that most things are not true. It should be assumed that most stories are untrue unless proven otherwise.

This is from the Charedi GODOL HADOR.

So the Godol has spoken, when any commentor says some story, they better have proof.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Our generations Navi Sheker

Over at Freelance Kiruv Maniac, related to discussion of "Gosse Theory", FKM says, "Isn’t God ‘acting that way’ when He intentionally allows a false prophet to use miracles to gain a following? "

Id like to propose an alternate meaning for Navi Sheker.
Maybe what God was upset about with the yidden, who followed false prophets, is not that he was testing them by having them perform actual miracles.

Rather, it was he couldnt believe people would fall for the parlor tricks and think them to be miracles. They didnt use their sechel.

FKM is right, God does test us in every generation.

Therefore, in my opinion, the lesson of navi sheker is why I will not be duped to believe in our generation of navi sheker (the mekubalim and roite bendele business).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Breaking the Cycle of Dependancy

Recently, the issue of shidduchim has resurfaced. Brooklyn Wolf talks about it, and points to Sephardic Lady discussion as well.

We hear talk about the breaking the cycle of violence when it comes to abuse. Well what we have here is another form of abuse. That is, the abuse heaped on parents by their spoiled rotten children. These kids have become addicts. They are completely dependant on their parents.
My european father had a different approach.

This is how my father dealt with shidduchim:

"I paid for their education so they can get a job.I will pay half of a wedding, the other family will pay the other half. and the rest is up to the couple."

All of his sons and daughters were treated the same. We worked, we got our own furniture, we paid the rent.

That is exactly how it will be with my children i"yh.

Todays parents are negotiating with terrorist, in my opinion. And all they get for their efforts is even more complaints that the poor spoiled children are not getting what their idiot friends are.

Like my wife likes to say, children think they are owed everything.

"We are here to break that cycle of dependancy".

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Torah is NOT Broken

Ruecently watched the movie Serenity.

Its the completion (in Movie form) of the now defunct series, FireFly.
Its excellent movie on its own, but even better if you watch the 11 episodes on DVD first.

Given the pending release of the revised Torah and Science Sefer

from Rabbi Slifkin, and GH noting that the Torah/Science Debate is burning up again, I figured I would share an interesting dialogue between Preacher (a mysterious preist like charachter and River, a next generation human who is some kind of super weapon and I assume, an Athiest).

The following is my paraphrasing of the conversation:

The bible is broken. Look at those myths. Given the science we now know, how can anyone believe in them?
The Bible doesnt need to be fixed. It cant be fixed to match Science.
The Bible was meant to give people something to believe in. Something to believe so much that it fixes you. Makes you a better person.
And who says there isnt Torah by the Umas Haolam? (I know, the Gemera does, but thats for another Post).

Clearly the Torah/Science issue is Not about the Problems in the Torah.

Its about us. WE are broken. WE need to be fixed.
We need to stop looking to the Torah to reconcile with Science.
We need to look to the Torah to inspire us.

(Thanks to Joe Socher for the correction (River instead of Captain))