Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harry Potter is a Zionist Plot, and the Jews are to Blame for Darfur...

Click. Wow, we sure are an insidious lot, aren't we? :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cool Quiz Site!

Click. And you can post the results on your blog!! :)

Christians United For Israel - CUFI

DovBear had an interesting post today that linked to this article. Christians United for Israel, headed by the "venerable" Pastor John Hagee, had a big summit in Washington on July 16. Hagee, as you may know, seems to be God's Christian gift to the Jews. He supports Israel and even calls for its expansion, seems to love Jews, and has called for unilateral attacks against Iran to preempt Iran's seemingly imminent attack on Israel with nuclear weapons.

But there's a catch. In Max Blumenthal's own words:

But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. - must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
The sad thing is many right wing Orthodox Jews, including many hardcore Religious Zionists I know (see, I don't just bash Chareidim...), think that people on the Christian Right like Hagee and Bush are wonderful for Israel and are Israel's best hope in Israel's ongoing fight against terrorism within her own borders. This is obviously not the case.

And it gets worse:
None of this seemed to matter to Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee's flock as "even greater than the multitude Moses commanded."
Lieberman went so far as to call Hagee an "Ish Elokim" - a man of God. Lieberman, as we all know, isn't exactly an authority on Torah Judaism. But as ignorant as he is, how can even he fall for this Christian claptrap about being for Israel when there is ample evidence, even proof, that they are indeed not?

And when Blumenthal tried to ask tough questions, he was removed from the conference:
The conference, we were told, was about "one message" - evangelical Christians supporting Israel. We were instructed to only interview CUFI leaders capable of sticking to the talking point that their support for Israel has, as Hagee declared, "nothing to do with the End Times." But I was forbidden from asking Hagee about statements he made in his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," that appeared to blame Jews for their own persecution. After doing just that during a press conference, I was removed from the conference by off-duty DC cops summoned by members of Hagee's family.
I'm not sure where exactly this idea that Evangelical Christians can be true friends of Jews came from, but it's very disturbing. These people do not love Jews. They want Jews to be Christians or be damned to Hell forever. This is there "hashkafa," their calling, their purpose in life. They want Israel in the hands of Jews not because they believe Jews deserve it but because they believe the Holy Land needs to be in the hands of the Jews, or at least in the hands of non-infidels, in order for Jesus to have his "second coming." According to their beliefs, at that point, it's either convert or be damned, but all the world will be Christian, or some such nonsense.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Science vs Torah

DovBear had an interesting follow-up to the topic of the post below, along the lines of what I wrote here..

The Convenience and Inconvenience of Apologetics...

DovBear had a fascinating post yesterday about the denial of scientific fact in the "Torah True" world. For all of you who don't know, this is the ironic self-given name of the Chareidi/Yeshivish world. Ironic, that is, since they are not, as I've mentioned before, not really frum or "Torah True" at all...

Anyway, DovBear, in his usual tongue-in-cheek style, wanted to make sure Chareidimi stayed true to their "Mesorah" and provided them with a new set of "Ani Ma'amins."

Attention Jews who piously repeat 13 Ani Maamins each day. You are koferim. Heretics. Deficient in belief. Spiritual Pygmies.

Perhaps 13 fundamentals were enough for our ancestors, but we live in more challenging times. Therefore, following the excellent advice acquired here, I firmly suggest that you add the following proclamations to your daily devotions:

- I firmly believe the world in exactly 5767 years old. [*] [1]

- I firmly believe that the sun, moon and planets revolve around the earth. [1]

- I firmly believe that the Mediterranean Sea is the largest body of water (hence it's name "yam hagadol").

- I firmly believe that Eretz Yisroel is higher than all other lands, including Mount Everest [1]

- I firmly believe that there are six planets

- I firmly believe that there are 4 elements [1]

- I firmly believe that lice do not come from eggs [1]

- I firmly believe that the moon generates its own light, and does not merely reflect the sun.

- I firmly believe that there was a flood that covered the entire earth.

- I firmly believe that no animal species will ever go extinct.

Laughing? Stop. These are genuine Haredi beliefs.

[*] Any Rishon who suggested otherwise was a kofer.
[1] I know actual people who believe this.
Oh, and I know people who believe this dribble as well.

What I find interesting is this: Here is a great opportunity for Chareidim and modern day "gedolim" to use everyone's favorite way to explain away and dismiss "strange" and "otherwise incomprehensible and unexplainable" events and behaviors in Tanach: Apologetics! And it would even be apologetics the way apologetics should actually be used! Some RWNJ (Right Wing Nut Job) posted this stupidity, thinking they had completely debunked science. Incidentally, this is DB's source for his new "Ani Ma'amins."

Let's take a look:
1. I firmly believe the world in exactly 5767 years old.
Sure! Time is Relative! We have no idea about the flow of time when the Big Band took place. (Don't like my belief in the Big Bang? See my post Fear of Science)

2. I firmly believe that the sun, moon and planets revolve around the earth.
Any of you Chareidim ever think this might mean in a SPIRITUAL sense?!

3. I firmly believe that the Mediterranean Sea is the largest body of water (hence it's name "yam hagadol").
Ok, that's just dumb. First, the Torah speaks B'Lashon B'Nei Adam - as people would speak. As far as the residents of the Middle East at the time were concerned, this was the largest body of water they knew. Also, it says "Yam" - Sea. It doesn't say "Okyanus" - Ocean.

4. I firmly believe that Eretz Yisroel is higher than all other lands, including Mount Everest.
Once again, in a SPIRITUAL sense, YES! In a physical sense, NO. Interesting to note, however, that Israel does boast the Earth's lowest PHYSICAL point (the Dead Sea).

5. I firmly believe that there are six planets.
Funny. I'm pretty well-learned, and I have NEVER seen any other planets mentioned in TORAH. Sure, Chazal later generations discuss them, but not the TORAH. So, as far as Chazal and the Rishonim knew, based on the scientific knowledge of their times, they believed there were six planets. Had they lived today, they would have believed there were eight. As for the stupid remark that last year there were nine and next year there might be ten? That's really dumb. I don't think I really need to explain further. The point is Chazal and the Rishonim worked on knowledge they had available to them then, not on knowledge we have available to us now. Rambam even writes based on Aristotle's scientific theories, which have proven, in their majority, to be very wrong. Does this make the Rambam stupid? No. He was working with what he had. Does it make him wrong in certain things? Yes. And he would be the first to admit it.

6. I firmly believe that there are 4 elements.
See above explanation for point number 5.

7. I firmly believe that lice do not come from eggs

Same as 6 and 5.

8. I firmly believe that the moon generates its own light, and does not merely reflect the sun.
The Chareidi retort to this is: It says "Hamaor Hakatan" - the lesser light, or as they would explain it, sun. Therefore, the moon must give off it's own light and not that of the sun. ??????????? It says Maor - Light. It doesn't say anything about the origin of its light. And the moon gives off plenty of light, especially when it's a full moon. And don't forget, the moon has a DARK SIDE. If it has it's own light source, why is it the only part of it that gives off light is the side THAT FACES THE SUN?!

9. I firmly believe that there was a flood that covered the entire earth.
Who said the Flood covered the entire planet? I personally think it only covered the parts that were populated ( don't know if that's scientifically correct, but I'm open to other explanations...)! 

10. I firmly believe that no animal species will ever go extinct.
Apparently, this is a quote from the Minchas Hachinuch, which was written by a person, not God. This person, as mentioned earlier, probably didn't have the knowledge we do now. If he did, he might not have said what he said!

See, apologetics used here would have been great! But Chareidim/Yeshivish people can't get passed the idea that the Gedolim of previous generations, let alone the modern day "gedolim," were in fact fallible. Period. Using this basis, they could have taken the opportunity and fit science nicely into a Torah mindset, regardless of the era or the science.

Instead, they use apologetics to completely maim and destroy stories in Tanach (yes, Moshe did indeed screw up...), when they could use apologetics in a proper manner and teach how science does indeed fit into a Torah mindset, even if you have to be a bit creative about it, which you really don't.

If you want to read more about the IMPROPER use of Apologetics, see here, here, here, here, here, and here (you might want to read them in the order I provided...).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Possible Reason Our Governmental (Emphasis on MENTAL) Leaders Last So Long...

Heh! They're fruitcakes too!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

DovBear's Tag!

DovBear tagged all his readers today. It was about Tisha B'Av. Here are my answers:

Fast: Really easy! I'm a big guy, and I guess my reserves make fasting very easy for me.

Insights: The new Harry Potter book sucked! Oh, wait, about Tisha B'Av? See my post, The Nine Days.... DB inspired me to write this...DovBear had this AMAZING INSIGHT!

Moments: Fixed my screen door after my 21 month old escaped into my driveway...

How long was Shacharis: I didn't go to shul and didn't have to put on talis and Tefillin, so pretty short. I don't say very many Kinos. I don't find it meaningful to do so...

Kinah for Gush Katif: Didn't know one existed until today! See here.

Kinah for the Holocaust: EVERY SINGLE YEAR!! I worked for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation for over three years. I probably, just by the fact that I dealt with so much info about the Holocaust, know more about the Holocaust than 99% of the Earth's population. Also, this Kinah is very meaningful not only because it laments the loss of European Jewry. It is also meaningful because because here we see a modern day example of new liturgy accepted into prayer; this proves things can be changed - that halacha and davening and probably many other aspects of Orthodox Judaism is flexible and mutable, despite any objections from, shall we say, more "right wing" elements... And that's why I think the creation of the new Sanhedrin in Israel is a WONDERFUL IDEA!!!!

Break Fast (shouldn't this be one word?): Spreadable cheese on fresh rye bread, vegetarian "pigs in blankets," and lots to drink...

So, in the spirit in which DB tagged all his readers, if any of you read my blog but don't read his, consider yourselves tagged by yours truly!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Continuing Proof That We Are an "Am Kshe Oref"

Well, we're going into Tisha B'Av again tonight, aren't we? :(

Hence my aptly named blog...

Please have a meaningful fast that reflects upon the reasons we fast on this terrible day.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Eh. OK. I already finished it. It was 759 pages long, and the story could have been told in about 400 pages. There was a lot of diddle dallying in the book, a lot of non-action. It does all come to together in the very climactic final few chapters, especially when Harry finally learns all the secrets. Then came the completely unnecessary epilogue, which takes place nineteen years later and is there simply to tell us all is well in the future.

End of story? Ended so-so. Rather disappointing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Couple of Prickly City Strips...

Hmm. Maybe we should consider this... (the quote toward the end...)

This one just speaks for itself...:)

Joke! Or Maybe Not...

Many years ago, when he was still alive, Yasser Arafat met with Ariel Sharon. They met in neutral territory to simply have lunch and discuss things without the media attention (probably Bemidji, MN).

At one point, Sharon says, "I think I have figured out why there is so much animosity between my fellow Jews and your Palestinian people."

Arafat asks, "Why is that?"

Sharon explains, "Several centuries ago, Moses went for a swim in the Jordan, and one of your ancestors stole his clothes from the beach."

Arafat ponders this for a few moments, then says, "No, that simply cannot be. Palestinians weren't around them."

Sharon smiles and says, "Now that we have THAT cleared up."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Saudis are WHOSE Friends?

Well, pretty much no one west of them. Or east. Or north or south for that matter either! Ah! Oil!! "Yado Bakol V'Yad Kol Bo..."

here for more Dry Bones!

Thanks to the artist, Yaakov Kirschen, for allowing me to post this strip!

Mouse Cursor...:)

Ever wonder how the cursor on your computer works if you looked at it real close? Click here to find out...:)

The Nine Days - The Story Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza Part Two

So, look at the story. There's the debacle with the host of the party. He's not a good guy. There's Chazal who were there. Didn't do anything to improve the situation. There's Bar-Kamtza, who decides to take revenge. There's Zecharia ben Avkilos, who seems to, quite frankly, have gone nuts. And R' Yochanan pretty much supports me here with his statement about Zecharia ben Avkilos basically causing the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.

But there's another part of the story, and I'm going to use some of the actual language of the Gemara, because that's part of the code: Nero (possibly a general by the same name as the emperor of the time, Nero) the general was sent to Jerusalem. As he approached Jerusalem, "Shada Gira (hard G)" - he fired an arrow (Gira here is a key word, so keep it in mind...) to the east and it fell in Jerusalem. [He fired one] to the west, and it fell in Jerusalem. [He fired to] all four winds and [they] fell in Jerusalem. He said to some children, "tell me what you are learning." They said, "I will take my revenge against Edom (commonly referred to as Rome) through the agency of My people Israel..." Said the general: "Hmm. God wants to destroy the [Bais Hamikdash] and wipe his hands clean of that man (in other words, destroy that person)." So, he ran away and, IGA-YER.

Now, don't jump yet and say, "Hey! That means converted!!" Yes, yes it does. But it also mean, oh, so much more than that. You see, first, he fired a "GIRA" into the air (Hebrew letters: Gimmel, Yud, Reish, Alef), and when he figured out this couldn't possibly end well for him, IGA-YER (Alef, Yud, Gimmel, Yud, Yud, Reish).


This man, this Roman Goy, out of all the people in this story, was THE ONLY ONE who could figure out what was going to happen here. NO ONE ELSE COULD BECAUSE THEY DID NOT SEE THE NOLAD AS THE ROMAN DID!!

The Jews of this time period, even the best of them, ESPECIALLY the best of them, did not see it coming because their hatred for each other, their Chanufa, and their political maneuverings blinded them to the Nolad.

The outcome? A golus that still, nearly two thousand years later, has not ended. And it won't until we open our eyes to see the Nolad to which our nation has been blind for so very long.

The Rav who taught me to read this Gemara this way continued: This whole Gemara is a code, and it's a difficult code to decipher. How Chazal could have missed all this is a question to which we simply don't know the answer. All we do know is the only one perceptive enough to figure it out and come away clean was a Roman general who did not want to screw around with God. THE ONLY ONE...

Take this as you will. It doesn't make the Gemara any easier, but it does give a little more clarity into one small part of it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Giving Thanks To HaKadosh Baruch Hu

For those of you who know me, you also know our financial situation for the past few years has been absolutely horrendous.

I just want to take a moment and thank Hashem Yisbarach. I just closed a deal (I sold an MRI system to an Orthopedic center in New England) that will (once we, Im Yirtze Hashem) get paid tomorrow (July 18) solve many problems for us. I want to thank all our friends who've been there with emotional support and have always been there to lend an ear. I want to thank my wife for standing behind me and encouraging me it can be done. I want to thank my dad for helping me get through it (he's my partner and my friend). I want to thank my in-laws, who've been there to help us emotionally and finanacially. And above all, I want to thank Hashem Yisbarach for helping us through this very difficult time. We are still in need (always will be, I guess) of Parnassah, but closing this deal will go a long way toward helping us solve some financial problems and will give us the breathing room we need to plan for the future.

May He continue to grant all of us Kol Mishalos Libeinu L'tova. Amen.

The Nine Days - The Story Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza Part One

We all know the story. Man throws party, mistakenly has servant invite wrong guy (Man's enemy instead of friend). You can read the story almost it its entirety in English here or in its entirety in the original Gemara here (scroll down to the fourth wide line at the colon - it starts with Amar Rabbi Yochanan) and on the next page here (through the ninth wide line), or here, ArtScroll's translation... (up to "and R' Meir descended from him" [p. 56a4).

This Gemara has always been very troubling. Extremely so. How is it that so many people screwed up so royally?! And I'm not just talking about the Ba'al HaSimcha, or Bar-Kamtza. I'm talking about the members of Chazal who were sitting there, those who were at the Bais Hamikdash when Bar-Kamtza brought the blemished animal, and R' Zecharia ben Avkilos. In other words, nearly (explanation shortly) everyone involved in this story.

First, of course, there's the apologetics we are all fed: Bar-Kamtza really should have left, he should have known better, he shouldn't have allowed the Ba'al HaSimcha to make a big scene. Blah, blah, blah. BS. Those are simply apologetics designed to make Bar-Kamtza seem worse than he already was. Perhaps he really didn't want to be embarrassed?

Then there's the other apologetics about Chazal. I looked up in the meforshim about this gemara. It's interesting that the ArtScroll Gemara (and here's a way to KNOW ArtScroll is simply wrong about things - makes you wonder how many things) (mis)quotes the Maharasha completely: "The Rabbis did not protest because they felt doing so would be to no avail." (OK, never mind the REALLY BAD GRAMMAR HERE.) This is absolutely NOT what the Maharasha says. AT ALL. IN ANY WAY. The Maharasha says, with lots and lots of doubt that the Rabbis did not protest because "one could say it is possible they were afraid to say anything because of Chanufa." Spelled out, this means one might be able to say that it's possible the rabbis said nothing because they were afraid of political ramifications if they seemed to side with Bar-Kamtza over the Ba'al HaSimcha, who, apparently, was an important political figure at the time. And the Maharasha sounded very iffy about this reason. VERY IFFY.

So, this is a very troubling Gemara. I found it interesting when I did a search online for this Gemara, I found many sites that quote this story, but not in its entirety. It leaves out the KEY to the whole shebang! All the sites I looked at ended with R' Yochanan's statement that R' Zecharia ben Avkilos' "anvanus" lit. humbleness, but here used as a euphemism for stubborness "destroyed our House (the Bais Hamikdash) and burned the Heichal (courtyard) and drove us out of our land." Unfortunately, the other sites leave out the key, as I mentioned, to this entire story.

You see, this entire Gemara is in code, and you have to see the whole picture to understand this code.

To Be Continued...

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Nine Days...

DovBear had an interesting re-post today about the Nine Days. He is trying to figure you why he doesn't like the Nine Days and comes to this conclusion:

In my humble opinion, this strange gloom that overtakes me year after year is simply one of the unhappy by-products of my all-too-succesful Jewish education.

I was taught to be sad during the nine days, and so I am.
For me, personally, aside from the time of year, which does greatly upset me, more and more each year, I have another reason why I don't like the Nine Days, one DovBear doesn't mention, but one that might also explain his dislike, and it certainly explains mine.

The Nine Days make me sad, yes. But they also make me angry at the Jewish Nation. That is angrier than usual...It royally pisses me off that it's been nearly two thousand years since this golus started, and there seems to be no end in sight. I sit in shul on Shabbos Chazon every year, listen to the Haftara, and cry my eyes out.

We, myself included, are a nation that simply can't get along with itself. "Kol Yisrael Chayavim - everyone is wrong in everyone else's eyes." And as a result, here we are. Still in golus, still filled with hate for one another, still begging Hashem for a Geula we simply do not deserve.

I've said on other threads before, I don't hate the RWNJs (Right Wing Nut Jobs). I don't like them, but I do love them. They are Jews, and I am commanded to love them. And I do. My goal in this space has never changed. It was never to demonize the RWNJs (even when it sounds like I am). It was always to show there are other ways to Avodas Hashem. My core thesis, that these people simply aren't frum, isn't because they don't learn and don't follow mitzvos. It's because they don't accept anyone else who does, but not on the same derech as them.

Says the Navi:
Why do I need your numerous sacrifices, says Hashem...When you appear before me, who sought this from your hands? ...You shall not continue to bring me worthless meal-offering...you appointed festival, My sould hates; they have become a burden upon Me; I am weary of bearing [them].
Knock off the BS, says God. That's all he's saying here. Just knock it off. I don't want chumras, I don't want korbanos. I want you simply be what a Jew is supposed to be and knock off all the hatred.
Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the victim, do justice for the orphan, take of the cause of the widow...
The posuk doesn't say "learn well." It says "learn to do good." there's a big difference here.

So, where is the compassion between Jews?! Where is the love? I don't know. Oh, sure, some will claim, "well, look at all the certain communities do." Whoopee. Hooray. What, you want to be praised on things you are already supposed to do? You want Geula for that?! If it were that easy, the geula would have happened centuries ago. No, it's the going above and beyond, WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND what we are supposed to do that will bring the geula.

And this is what the posuk says. I would go out on a limb here and say the ArtScroll translation of "Limdu Heiteiv - learn to do good" is wrong. I would say the correct translation LEARN - emphasis on the word LEARN - to do BETTER - Heiteiv can also mean improve - Learn to Improve! Don't just learn to do good. That's easy. LEARN TO DO BETTER THAN GOOD, LEARN TO KEEP IMPROVING - that's where the challenge exists. It's easy to do good. It's not so easy to keep improving on it.

The Three Weeks, and especially the last Nine Days, and even more especially, Tish'a B'Av itself, are not just a national Jewish Day of Mourning. They are much, much more than that. It's up to us, not God, to bring about the Geula. He's sitting up there, waiting for us.

The very next Haftara, Nachamu, gives us a key: "her iniquity has been conciliated, for she [Jerusalem, and by association, the Jewish People] has received from Hashem twice [the punishment] for all her sins." The hint here: It's not just twice the punishment; it's twice the effort on OUR PART, as the Jewish Nation, that will bring the Geula. God destroyed the Bais Hamikdash, we all know, because of Sinas Chinam. The Geula isn't going to take place because we no longer hate each other. That's just one step. But we have to double that effort: "Kiflayim bechol chatoseha - double for her sins" says the Navi - it's not enough to just take that one step forward and stop hating, as we took that one step backward and started hating.

We all need to put in DOUBLE the effort, just as we received double the punishment - we need to feel Ahavas Chinam for each other as well. This is the logical procession to to a full Geula - doubling the correct behavior to right the wrong we have been doing for over two thousand years. Not just stepping away from Sinas Chinam, but stepping into Ahavas Chinam - we need to distance ourselves from Sinas Chinam so the chance of falling back into that behavior is minimized, perhaps even eliminated, by creating a schism between the positive and the negative behavior.

This is why the Bais Hamikdash will only be rebuilt when we have Ahavas Chinam for one another - because Ahavas Chinam is the double - the two step solution..."Kiflayim bechol Chatoseha..."

So, I don't know, DB, but maybe this is reason for your dislike as well. Maybe it's not just the standard "it's a sad time of year and you're not allowed to be happy" reason we all get in school.

U.S. launches Middle East peace moves

You know, the last time an American president tried this, an Intifada started, and it still hasn't ended.

This really can't go anywhere good...

Very Well Said Essay

Jeremy Rosen's Blog

This is just a great essay. I really couldn't have said it better myself...

Hattip: DovBear

Israel to Release 250 Terrorist Prisoners

According to this AFP article, Israel is set to release 250 Palestinian prisoner by this Friday.

Here's a quote from the article I found to be especially ridiculous:

The prisoners include 11 minors, with the rest adults who have at least a year left to serve in their sentence, and all will have to sign a "commitment not to be involved in terror," the Israeli official said.
Ok, then. Riiiiigghhhhtttt. Suuuuuure! And because they signed a piece of paper, this is supposed to stop them from being involved in terrorist activities?!

This just goes to show the naivete of the Israeli government. What a shame that so many decades of terror has taught the government of Israel absolutely nothing...

When You Have Kids, This Is Pretty Much How It Goes...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Los Angeles Catholic Church in record abuse deal - Yahoo! News

Los Angeles Catholic Church makes record deal in abuse case. Yeah, like that's supposed to make it all better, right?

Hmm. Maybe celibacy isn't such a good thing after all...

I mean, in prison, when inmates are supposed to be "celibate" because they don't have conjugal rights (usually), they find a way, if you know what I mean: "I'm Bubba. So, do you want to be the husband or the wife..."


So why should the celibacy in the church be any different?

Again: Ick.

Knesset Bill To Force 'Made in Israel' IDF Uniforms - News Briefs - Arutz Sheva

You'd think this would be a given, wouldn't you? But of course, it seems to be a First World trend - Outsource, outsource, outsource!!

Iran Claims It Is Ready To Attack 600 Israeli Targets - News Briefs - Arutz Sheva

Oh. Great!

Just what we need...:(

World Population Rises, Jewish Population Remains the Same...

According to this article from Artuz 7, while world population rises, the Jewish world population remains the same:

The number of Jews in the world has remained steady at about 13 million for a long time, but Jews today represent only two out of every 1,000 people in the world, compared to 3.5 out of every 1,000 in 1970, 4.7 out of 1,000 in 1945, and 7.5 out of 1,000 in 1938. Israel is home to 5.4 million Jews. Last year it became the world's largest Jewish community, passing the U.S. with its estimated 5.3 million Jews.
The Jewish Agency named intermarriage, affordable Jewish Education, and diluted Jewish Identity as the leading causes for what they call the decline, which I guess is what it is.

And remember, this is ALL Jews, not just practicing Orthodox Jews.

Very Interesting Article

I saw this very interesting article about a meeting of Kohanim taking place in Israel over the next few days. Wish I could go!

Yep, I'm a Kohen...:) So, if any of my readers is a Kohen and went to this seminar and would like to guest post about it, please let me know!

Friday, July 13, 2007

After the Heat of the Moment

OK. So in the slap debate, in the end, who was right and who was wrong?

In case you've missed it, essentially, the attorney for the Justice Ministry in Israel slapped Chareidi MK Cohen after Cohen pronounced, when attorney Amnon De Hartog denied Chareidi schools funds because they don't meet state requirements to receive government funding, that De Hartog was worse than the Nazis because the Nazis only went after the bodies (to kill Jews physically, like Haman), while De Hartog is destroying Jews' souls (by denying the Chareidi schools money and thus denying Chareidi children a Chareidi education, if you can call what they get an education). This pronouncement was made after De Hartog told Cohen to stop acting like a Behaima (apparently Cohen started making lots of noise when De Hartog said the Chareidim wouldn't get funding). De Hartog warned Cohen to hush up or he (De Hartog) would smack hiim (Cohen). Cohen dared him, and De Hartog smacked away.

Was De Hartog correct in hitting? No. Did I cheer him on? Yes. Was I right in cheering? Probably not.

Other side: Was Cohen right in calling De Hartog a Nazi (and don't protest by saying he said Germans; he meant Nazis, end of story)? NO. That is a line, as I've mentioned before, one simply does not cross. Ever.

Now, should there have been apologies FROM BOTH SIDES? A resounding YES! ABSOLUTELY! Was there? NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

Well, then, who apologized? One would think, Cohen, such a "frum" person with so much Torah knowledge might have apologized for his slur, maybe even trying to excuse it by saying he had gotten caught up in the heat of the moment, right? WRONG! All he did was cry about how much the smack hurt and that his father had never even hit him that hard when disciplining him.

On the other hand, De Hartog DID APOLOGIZE to Cohen. Publicly. Before the press. And the world. Sorry, but the article is in Hebrew. And here's an article in English.

So, to review real quick: Were both wrong? Probably. Would I have done what De Hartog did? Probably, though now knowing the incident, I'd probably have better control of myself. Has a Chilul Hashem been committed by BOTH PARTIES? Yes. Did Cohen apologize? No. Did De Hartog? Yes.

You'll notice in the English article, De Hartog mentions he never raises his hand against anyone. This shows how incredibly frustrated he was and raises an interesting question:

Did anyone stop to think that maybe De Hartog was frustrated because he WANTED to provide the funds, but couldn't because it would be against the law, and that calling him a worse than the Nazis finally brought that frustration to the surface? Did anyone stop to ask that maybe, behind closed doors, De Hartog begged his superiors to provide funding, and the answer his superiors gave was no? Did anyone stop to think that he was frustrated because he had to take the brunt of Cohen's attacks where he should have received some Hakaras Hatov instead?

I'm not saying this all happened, but De Hartog is a FRUM JEW, not a secular one!! How do you know he DIDN'T fight for the Chareidi schools? You don't. But it's OK to say he's worse than a Nazi because he had to obey the law...

And never mind, also, that the Chareidi press has been demonizing him for ages. Even though he's an equal-opportunity funds denier (he denies funds to secular and RZ institutions as well if they don't meet state criteria...).

And yet, De Hartog, with all this probably going through his mind, DID IN FACT APOLOGIZE. Cohen did not.

Perhaps more later.

Good Shabbos!

Wooly Mammoths and the Age of the Universe

There's a great debate going on over at DovBear today. Actually, I should say it's raging on! Head on over and check it out!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Great Quote!

I found the following quote in a book I'm currently reading:

Blindness can take many forms other than the inability to see. Fanataics are often blinded in their thoughts. Leaders are often blinded in their hearts...
This perfectly describes some of those fanatics out there, doesn't it...

The De Hartog Slap - The Saga Continues...

Wow!! Great article!

Hattip: DovBear

Ah, Republicans and Their "Moral High Ground..." :)

My father-in-law, who is even more liberal than I am, brought this New York Times article to my attention last night.

The article tells the story of a US Senator, David Vitter (R-Louisiana), who rose to great prominence amongst his constituents riding on his message of Family Values, the great Republican Holy Grail that has become their Chalice of Death.

Senator David Vitter has been known for efforts to plant himself on the moral high ground, challenging the ethics of other Louisiana politicians, decrying same-sex marriage and depicting himself as a clean-as-a-whistle champion of family values.

“I’m a conservative who opposes radically redefining marriage, the most important social institution in human history,” Mr. Vitter, a 46-year-old Republican, wrote in a letter last year to The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans daily
Eh, yeah. Well, maybe not so much:
That self-created image, a political winner here since 1991, when Mr. Vitter joined the Louisiana House, took a tumble Monday with the disclosure that his phone number was among those on a list of client numbers kept by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, who is accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington.

Mr. Vitter admitted Monday night to a “very serious sin in my past,” and talk radio and coffee shops here buzzed all day Tuesday with the front-page news, even as the senator remained out of sight
Here's the funny thing:
Through it all, Mr. Vitter’s consistent themes have been family values, morality and ethics — his own, in contrast to what he has depicted as deficiencies in the local political culture. In Louisiana, where the well-documented infidelities of the onetime governor Edwin W. Edwards were all but a political asset, Mr. Vitter could easily survive any disclosure about adultery. Insincerity, however, is another matter.

“What makes this tougher for him is, one of his stronger campaign messages is a family-values message,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “Whatever this is, it addresses the sorts of things he makes the centerpiece of his political message.”
Get the irony here? It's was OK to be unfaithful to your spouse. That's something Vitters could have gotten away with without much, if any, fallout. It's the insincerity thing that's probably going to knock down, permanently.

More irony: Vitters was supposed to be Rudy Giuliani's campaign manager in the South, where Giuliani's "Family Values" reputation is not all that good (as opposed to anywhere else in the country) and Vitters was supposed to be there to say, "I support Giuliani. So should you, because he's a great guy. And since I'm the Family Values guy and I support Giuliani for president, that means Giuliani will be just fine for family values..." Eh, yeah. Right.

Oh, yeah, one last irony here:
Five years ago Mr. Vitter was linked by a New Orleans weekly to a prostitute in the French Quarter, an association he angrily denied. But by then his position as a self-proclaimed scourge of lax ethics was well established.
Hmm. Maybe they should reopen re-examine that incident too, huh?

And these are the people so many frum people, especially those in the Chareidi/Yeshivish camp support and for whom they will vote?! OK, so democrats aren't anti gay marriage. In what possible way does that affect us, as frum Jews? On the other hand, Democrats want to fix the healthcare problem in the country (did you know this is the only first world country without Universal Healthcare for everyone? That's pretty embarrassing, don't you think?), they want to fix the economy (Clinton left office with a surplus; Bush will not be able to say the same, if he and Cheney actually give up office, that is...), and they want an end to a completely useless and illegal war.

Family Values. Yeah. Right.

More On Cheney...

Yeah. Still not a good thing...:(

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Chareidi Who Actually Defended (gasp!) Girls!

This story appeared on Arutz 7 this morning. It seems that while traveling on the No. 1 bus, three Israeli Arabs began harassing some Jewish girls who were on the bus. A Chareidi came to the girls' defense:

The incident occurred as the bus was driving on Malkhei Yisrael Street. The Arabs, all in their mid-20’s, started harassing several Jewish girls on the bus and continued the behavior despite being warned by the Jewish man to stop bothering them.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Israel National News that the situation quickly deteriorated into an argument, which then became a fist fight after the Arabs attacked the Jew.

Police were called to the scene, with a special motorbike patrol unit arriving within minutes. The three Arab men were arrested on site and were taken to the Tzion police station for questioning.

Their victim sustained moderate wounds and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
It's so refreshing to see a Chareidi person acting appropriately, rather than just ignoring the incident because those being harassed were girls. May he have a Refua Shleima.

On a note related to my previous post about Amnon De Hartog, here's an interesting tidbit I didn't know. MK Cohen told De Hartog he was "worse than the Germans; they wanted to destroy the body, while you want to destroy our soul." At which point de Hartog threatened to slap him. Cohen did, and De Hartog knocked Cohen out of his chair. As I said previously, GOOD FOR DE HARTOG! Cohen crossed a line one simply does not cross.

Here's what I didn't know: De Hartog is frum. He is a Religious Zionist. I'd have understood Cohen better if he'd called a secular person a Nazi. It certainly would not have surprised me, and it didn't. I wouldn't have agreed with it any more than I do now! It's despicable no matter what. But to call a frum person a Nazi?! That's way, way, WAY over the line.

Of course, since that nutcase keeps calling me a Nazi, I guess I really should not be surprised at what lengths Chareidim will go to make any belief other than theirs false. Even if it means calling their detractors Nazis.


Seems I've Been Tagged...Again!!:)

The Rules:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged.


1. I love to cook and bake. I discovered I had a knack for it quite by accident, especially baking. One Erev Rosh Hashana, I simply didn't have time to make my regular dessert of Chocolate Chip Cookies (which, by the way, are amazing, if I do say so myself), so I went across the street to LA's most well-known bakery. I looked around a bit and found a chocolate mousse pie. What could be bad, right? Chocolate Mousse, good. Pie, good. Wrong!! I spend $10 on air and white fluff. It was awful. So, after Yom Tov, I got online, found a recipe for chocolate mousse pie, tried, and have been making it ever since. It's my wife's all-time favorite dessert...Since then, I've experimented non-stop with cooking and baking and have been having a great time! I even learned how to make a better pizza than pretty much every pizza shop I've ever been to anywhere in the US and Israel.

2. My great-grandfather was a leader of the Zionist movement in Bulgaria and his son, my grandfather, was one of the founders of the kibbutz on which they lived in Israel.

3. For anyone who knows me - the obvious: I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate (both series), pretty much anything with the word star in it, as long as it's Science Fiction. I and ADORE the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Along those lines, I love the soundtracks to these types of movies because they are beautiful and orchestral.

4. Believe it or not, I daven out of one of the most Yeshivish/Chareidi Siddurim out there - the Bais Tefilah Siddur. I've davened out of many siddurim in my lifetime. I've come to discover I don't like the ones with translations (thank God, I know Hebrew fluently and understand all of what I daven), so ArtScroll's out. I also was never a big fan of their Hebrew siddur, the Yitzchak Yair Siddur. Tefilas Kol Peh is OK, but after much experimentation, including trying out the unreadable (really bad priint) Vilna Siddur, I finally settled on the Bais Tefilah and have been using it (and their Machzorim as well) for years.

5. I love to read. Especially Science Fiction (duh!) and comic books. Superman is my favorite super-hero. I pretty much read non-stop, and some books I even read more than once. Currently, I am reading the Dune Series by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson. I'm also about to finish the Spenser detective series by Robert B. Parker. I had read them all previously, but out of order, so I'm reading them in chronological order now. Most times, I'm usually in the middle of at least three books at one time.

6. Fun Fact: I have a Chavrusa, a rav in my community, with whom I am learning Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat. When I first approached this rav to learn, he said he had no time. Then I mentioned I wanted to learn Choshen Mishpat, and his eyes lit up. He had never learned it before and had always wanted to. The result: We've been learning for nearly two years now and it's been wonderful!

7. I'm a Kohen.

8. I love Macs, can't stand PCs...

Ok, I tag: Esther (my wife), Selena, SephardiLady (sorry, you don't get away this time...), Tzipporah (sorry, I know it's twice in one week...), Rafi G., Cool Yiddishe Mama, CoolJew, and Juggling Frogs!

Have fun!! :)

Final Note About Ed...

You know, I was going to post a whole long anti-Ed diatribe here, and even did a little while ago, but I decided to take it down. Not because he's right. He's so obviously wrong it's painful. Rather, it's because I've decided to stop giving Ed even one more second of my time (once I'm done writing this note, that is...). 
See, eventually, as he realizes I will no longer respond to his stupidity, he'll probably just go away or just completely ignore me, giving me the same treatment I'm going to start giving him. Which I will greatly appreciate...:)
Again, please do not mistake my silence for agreement or capitulation. It's just that what Ed says is so completely stupid, idiotic, moronic, and wrong that he's just not worth answering any more. If everyone started taking this tactic with Ed, he'd probably just disappear.
And if he doesn't, he won't get the satisfaction of receiving and answer from anyone...
Well, so long Ed. Can't say it's been nice...

The All-Powerful Cheney!!!:(

Just so everyone gets it - you all do understand this is not a good thing, right?
This is the way democracy ends, democracy ends, democracy ends. This is the way democracy ends, early in the 21st Century...:(

In case anyone wants to think Ed, or whoever it is who posts those nasty comments and calls me a Nazi, won because I started moderating comments and ignoring the anonymous poster, here's several other reasons on may choose why he didn't win...:)

When the other person does not fight back...
Consider this - You start a fight and the other person retreats. This can happen in a competitive situation as in you attack your competitor on his core business or in a simple situation where you attack someone on his or her blog. When the other person retreats, it is easy to declare a win for yourself. I talked to a dozen very smart friends on this topic recently. Here are a few other reasons where the person might retreat.

1. The retreat is temporary.  The person may attack you back but at a time of his or her choosing.

2. The other person thought that it is not worth his time or her time to fight you

3. The other person thought that it costs more to fight you than to ignore you

4. The other person has other important priorities to give this fight any further attention.

5. The other person feels that your attack has no merit. By engaging in a fight, he or she has to spend a ton of time explaining things in detail. So, ignore again.

6. The other person doesn't know who you are. Cannot make a determination whether to fight or not. Time passes by and he or she forgets about this.

7. The other person doesn't want to engage with you in any way - fighting or otherwise.

8. You may have a lot of time to engage in the fight. The other person may not.

9. The other person thanks you for bringing something to his attention and will handle the situation on his or her end.

10. The other person is fighting with you by NOT fighting with you :)

Something to think about...

Hattip: Juggling Frogs

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Note to Ed

Yo, buddy! Thanks for the nasty comments on my blog that I had to delete. As you'll note from the post below, I turned on comment moderation, so keep your venom to yourself, because any comments I receive from you I will delete without even reading.

And Ed, please note this: I will continue to comment on other blogs, such as DovBear, whom you also seem to hate (boy, you've got a lot hatred in you, haven't you?), and Emes Ve-Emunah. You can say anything you want to me on those blogs. I won't respond, per my wife's wishes. But know this: Do not in any way misconstrue my silence for admitting you are correct about something. Rather, I'm simply ignoring you.

And, I'll probably keep making fun of you silliness here...:)

Comment Moderation

Sorry, folks, but I had to turn on comment moderation, which means they will first come to me via email and then, should I choose, I will publish them. All of you will still be published, except that one nut job out there, and I suspect it's the infamous Ed, who won't get published because he's just not a nice person and keeps calling me a Nazi.

For the rest of you out there, please continue to comment. I value your input and the friendships I've struck up with some of you. Thanks for your support!

Am Kshe Oref.

Mi Samcha L'Ish - Who Made you Lord (not God - more in the Medieval Sense...)

This is a phrase a commentor, whom I've since deleted since I don't really appreciate being called a "stoopid (yes, this spelling) Nazi Jew Hater," someone used to demand who am I to judge "Torah True Chareidi Jews."

Point 1: The people I've described on this blog are NOT Torah True Jews. Period. If they were, they would not act in the despicable ways they act.

Point 2: In the vein I've used before about misquoting Pesukim or taking them completely out of context (see here), this one is a doozy. This guy, and many people quote this possuk when they are indignant (to use a mild term) about being judged probably doesn't actually know who said this line in the Torah. Well, it was Dasan and Aviram to Moshe (not the other way around, mind you) when Moshe confronted them as they fought with each other and one was about to strike the other. The Resha'iim said it to the Tzadik. Then, this guy, who thinks he's such a great defender of the faith, goes and uses it on me. Now, I'm not saying I'm a Tzadik, but I'm not the one or part of the group that goes and commits all the Chilulei Hashem I've been discussing over the last few months.

Funny how lines by bad people get used by bad people who think they are the good guys...

Point 3 (Corrected): Don't go around calling another Jew a Nazi. I don't care how much you disagree with what he has to say. You have no right to compare any Jew to a Nazi, no matter how evil you think that Jew is, because no Jew has ever been as evil as the Nazis. Ever. You'll notice, I've never called Chareidim Nazis, no matter how despicable and anti-Torah I find their behavior to be. Ever. And when a Chareidi Jew called Justice Ministry attorney Amnon De Hartog a person "more terrible and evil than a Nazi." recently, the Hartog slugged him. And good for the De Hartog. Now, you'll say, well, De Hartog was trying to take funding away from the Chareidi schools because they don't have a secular studies curriculum. Good! They shouldn't get the funding. It's the law: You want funding, you've got to have a well-rounded educational system. Maybe by teaching math and science some of these kids will grow up to want jobs instead of sitting in Kollel for the rest of their lives. Maybe they'll actually do their duty and go to the army. After all, no one was exempt from Dovid Hamelech's army because he wanted to be in Kollel. Why should it be different today?! You want to live in Israel, then be a contributing member of society and stop hating the state that gives you so much and takes nothing in return. Again, good for De Hartog for slugging a Chareidi who claimed De Hartog was worse than a nazi. That' just a line you DO NOT CROSS. EVER. I've corrected the story in this paragraph. De Hartog wasn't called a Nazi. He was called more evil than a Nazi. Yeah. Like that makes it better...:(

And, just to qualify this a bit more, here's a quote from the article:

 De Hartog also spoke to Israel Radio Wednesday, and said he apologized for the assault, but blamed his harsh response on the fact his parents were Holocaust refugees.

The attorney said he was not qualifying his apology, but felt people should understand the circumstances of his action.

"[MK Cohen} said this to a man, part of whose family perished in Aushwitz and whose father suffered the horrors of the Holocaust for four consecutive years," De Hartog told Israel Radio.

"This is what a member of the Knesset - and a rabbi - said to a Jew."
Nice. Really nice...

Point 4: Mi Samani L'Ish? I'll tell you who. I did. I lived among you for a very long time, both in Israel and in the United States, in many communities, and never in one have I found you to be truly Torah Jews. Ever. I don't say the things I say based on hearsay. I back up everything I say, and many of the experiences are my own personal experiences. I can accuse a Chareidi rav of stealing $3000 because HE STOLE THE MONEY FROM ME! Not from a friend, an acquaintance, or through the grapevine on someone else's blog. B'DIDI HAVA UVDA.

Something I Would Someday Love To Do, and Maybe My Family and I Will One Day Soon...

Make Aliyah with Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Looks like I've been Memed!! First Time Ever...

My friend Selena tagged both my wife and I...

Look at the list of books below: Bold the ones you’ve read. Mark in blue the ones you want to read. Cross out the ones that you wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (or use red coloring). Finally, italicize the ones you've never heard of.

I've read some of these, hated some, and wouldn't touch some, but there aren't any on the list I'm planning to read...See below to find out who's been tagged...

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown) Weirdest description of the Judaism I’ve ever seen – Sex with “priestesses” IN the Bais Hamikdash?!
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) school
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) I liked it when I was young
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) Liked the movies better…
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)

8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) Harry Potter!!!!
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) better than DaVinci, I think ( I agree)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) My FAVORITE Literature book
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien) (Selena, you want to read this but not the rest?)

22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) I really loved this too.
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert) DUNE!!!
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

45. The Bible Hmmm. Only the Old Testament...:)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) Ick.
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) hate....Me too… Could have been WAY shorter!!
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) Awesome series except Tale of the Body Thief!
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) I tried. I really tried…
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) Suggestion – read the abridged version! I read the unedited version and I want the time it took to read 1000 of the 1500 pages back…
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) Read it in Hebrew!!
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell) Twice!!
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) yuck.
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) Read the sequel, The Prodigal Daughter, too…
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) This is my all time book I HATE the most!!
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

100. Ulysses (James Joyce) Maybe in some other lifetime…

Bonus: The Princess Bride (William Goldman) Way better than the movie...

I tag Rebel With A Cause (sorry!! - You can post it on the our joint blog, if you want...No reason the blog can't be for fun stuff, too...) and Tzipporah!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More Evidence Chareidim Simply Aren't Torah Observant...

I saw this article thanks to Rabbi Maryles over at Emes Ve-Emunah, in which Chareidim have gone in and taken over a part of Bet Shemesh, near Jerusalem, and are trying to Chareidisize it by imposing prohibitions against the more established population there. The police have legally taken signs the Chareidim put up illegally and have gotten into actual confrontations with the police. Some were even arrested. Then, their leader threatens dire consequences to anyone who goes against them and their dictates.

There is a very basic halacha Jews MUST follow in any country in which they live: Dina D'Malchusa Dina - the law of the land is the law. If the law says don't jaywalk, you are NOT allowed to jaywalk (a law widely ignored by New Yorker Jews across the board and by Yeshivish people who live in my neighborhood and cross 20 feet away from the crosswalk because they're too lazy to walk to the crosswalk and too rushed to get to kollel to wait for the light).

This halacha is widely ignored by the Chareidim who live in Israel as well. They dodge the draft, they demand things of a government they hate, like money and welfare for those dodging the draft, and they cause huge Chilulei Hashem on a regular basis. They attack the police whenever they get a chance, throw rocks at busses, and are all around hooligans, as the article linked above shows.

Ok. So you hate the state of Israel. Congratulations. You have two choices: Get the hell out, or live there as you would in golus and obey the law of the land as you should (not that they would, since they don't really follow Halacha) in any other foreign country.

You can't have it both ways. You can't curse out the government and then tell that same government they have to support you. Sure, you have the freedom of speech to denounce the government. We all do it at one point or another. I do all the time. I hate Bush. But I also obey the laws here. Perhaps the time has come for the Israeli government to simply stop supporting these parasites and tell them, point blank, that if they are not going to start obeying the law of the land, including going into the army, that the government will simply no longer support them. Period. End of Story...

It's just one more Halacha, amongst a great many, that Chareidim simply ignore because it is inconvenient to them to follow it. Proof positive that, as I've said before, these people are no more Torah Observant, perhaps even less so in many ways, than any Reform Jew.

As I've said before, the possuk says "Lo Sasur YAMIN O Smol - do not deviate RIGHT or left." Many have been the times when the Torah Observant world in general has denounced those who deviate to the left, i.e. the more secular Jews, such as Conservatives and Reforms.

What no one seems to notice is that it says FIRST not to deviate to the right. It's similar to the drash made about two pesukim involving parents. The Aseres HaDibros states "Honor your father and your mother." A possuk later on states "Fear you mother and your father." It's easy to honor one's mother, so God made sure we understood we must also honor our fathers, and put father first when it came honoring one's parents. It's also easy to fear one's father, so God made sure we understood we must also equally fear our mothers, and put her first when it came to the mitzvah of fearing one's parents.

There is a reason God put YAMIN before Smol, right before left. He knows how easy it is to deviate to the left, how tempting it is to be a fanatic. So He warned about that first.

I once saw a a Babylon 5 movie called "The Legend of the Rangers." The Rangers in the Babylon 5 universe are defenders and protectors of the peace, and their slogan is "We live for the One, we die for the One" (what the One is is irrelevant here...). Using this slogan, they never back down from a fight, even if it means certain death. The Captain of one ship decided to back down to save his crew and was severely reprimanded. Along comes the Narn, G'Kar (played by the incomparable Andreas Katsulas, RIP), and remarks "Funny, there seems to be a lot of dying for the One, but not a lot of living going on..." Or something along those lines. His point - the Rangers seemed to be ignoring the "Living for the One" part and only focussing on the "Dying for the One" half of the phrase...

The same thing is going on here. I've begun decrying Chareidi behavior not because they upset me any longer, but because I'm trying to prove to the world that THESE PEOPLE ARE SIMPLY NOT TORAH OBSERVANT, any more than someone who deviated to the left and no longer keeps Torah is Torah observant.

Something to think about...

The iRak, presented by Apple Computers and MAD TV

This is great!

And, oh, so true! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Listen Up, All You Republicans!

Even the Republican Party is starting to split about Bush's Iraq strategy. The latest defector is Senator Domenici of New Mexico, who is a senior, six term Republican senator. Check out the story here.

Just so you know, Domenici is big time, a Republican down the line. If he's breaking with Bush about this, you know Bush is in the wrong.

New Blog

Hey, folks! Just wanted to let you all know Rebel With A Cause and I have started a new blog. It's titled Why Don't More Jewish Men Cook?. Click the link to read. Rebel With A Cause and I will be posting cooking tips and recipes and encouraging all you men out there (yes, I'm male too...) to help more at home with all the chores, including cooking, because Jewish Men Can Cook Too!!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What Is Patriotism?

I think our idiot president has very much lost sight of this. Of course, I personally don't think he ever actually knew what it was. This man is an overgrown (physically) child with the mind of a pygmy (though that's being cruel to pygmies) who illegally took the White House and has, for the last six years used his position as Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces to play soldier (probably some childhood dream finally come true since he was never really a soldier himself). Today, this mental pigmy called upon Americans' sense of "Patriotism" to have patience with the Iraq war, which, as we all know, has no end in sight despite the recent troop surge. Besides, if he was going to invade a country, it probably should have been Saudi Arabia, FROM WHERE BIN-LADEN ACTUALLY COMES!!

Mr. President, Patriotism isn't our troops fighting and dying in an illegal war fought with false information you and your administration manufactured in order to have an excuse to invade Iraq. Patriotism is having our troops get the hell out of there and back home where they belong, defending their own country in their own country and providing security for its citizens. Patriotism is not wanting our troops to die thousands of miles from home for no reason. Patriotism, on the homefront, is taking care of pressing domestic issues, like the failing economy, outsourcing of jobs, homelessness, universal healthcare for all your citizens, among many, many other matters.

So don't talk to us, the American People, about Patriotism. You, sir, are the least patriotic of us all by causing the murder of thousands of American soldiers in a completely unjustified war. You, sir, have shown you care not one bit about American domestic issues.

Patriotism is to a country, not to a person. If the person running the country is corrupt, as you have proven to be, we, the Patriotic American People, have the right and the obligation to depose you and your cabinet as corrupt and start over. In the words of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Happy Independence Day, Mister President. Perhaps if enough people make their displeasure known to you, you will remember what a Patriot really is and become one again.

Declaration of Independence...

Unfortunately, in these days of George W. Bush's reign, The Declaration of Independence has taken a bit of a beating. And even more unfortunately, we know there is something we could do about it:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
So what's stopping everyone? Fear. Fear of a despot who's usurped and abused authority at every turn and opportunity. There are even some people (though they seem to be shrinking in numbers daily) who think this usurper is doing a great job.

And let's not forget about the puppet master himself, the illustrious Mr. Cheney, who seems to think his position is above all else, including the law.

Oh, well. Happy Independence (for now) Day!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Some thoughts about the Three Weeks

Hey, Folks! I have lots to say about the Three Weeks, which have, unfortunately, started again today. Over the next few weeks, I will try to post thoughts about why have to observe them again, where we are, where we came from with all this, and where it seems we are going to end up at the end of the day.

I'll start with this: This is a period of time when we mourn many tragedies that have befallen us over the last 3319 years, basically, since the Exodus from Egypt.
And, while it is appropriate to mourn all these tragedies, which were, after all, not all that lightweight at all, I think we've missed a very important point in all of it. These days and weeks are not here simply for us to mourn the past. They are here for to MAKE UP FOR IT. They are still here, now, 3319 years later, and all those years in between, not just as days of mourning, BUT AS A CALL TO TESHUVA! 
As I was saying Slichos this morning, I noticed a lot of lamenting about what has happened to us over the course of history, but very little about the WHY, the reasons for what happened. Only one sentence actually glared out at me, one appropriate to the name of the this blog. It states that we stiffened our neck, therefore many tragedies have happened. That's it: Kishinu Oref - we were, and still are, an AM KSHE OREF.
More about this soon...

Am Kshe Oref's Kiddie Quote of the Day

Aba: Little Am Kshe Oref, do you know someone named Yaakov in Chani's class?
Little Am Kshe Oref: Yes! I do!
Aba: Are you friends with him?
Little Am Kshe Oref: I don't know him!

Today's Fun Fact...

Want an updated (daily) projection of the world's [human] population? check this out.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bad China!!

And yet, Mallard, you, as a staunch Republican, advocate outsourcing to places like China. Why does it surprise you they don't care about Americans?

Just more proof the Republicans are simply hypocrites...As long as their pockets are lines with green, nothing else matters...

Random Thought of the Day...

It's very heartwarming to NOT see the Yankees anywhere near first place at this point in the season. I hate the Yankees...

Go SOX (the Red ones, that is...)!!

Better yet, GO DODGERS. Maybe.:)

The United States and Rome...

It seems I wasn't too far off when I compared Bush to the Eastern Roman Emperor, Justinian. See this NY Times article about the comparisons between the US and Rome.

Hattip: Abe.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

More Proof Hamas Is Pretty Sick...

For those who hadn't heard, Hamas had been airing a children's program in PA TV featuring a Mickey Mouse look-a-like named Farfur who espoused terrorism and the world domination of Islam. Well, Farfur died on PA TV last week. He was "martyred" by an Israeli official trying to buy Farfur's land. Check it out, then tell me you still believe there can be peace with these people...