Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guma Aguiar of EJF - raised as Christian

RaP forwarded

Arutz 7: Amongst the famous names in Israel rubbing elbows at a cocktail reception launching the 6th annual Jerusalem Conference on January 26, Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher spoke with oil magnate and philanthropist Guma Aguiar, the chairman of this year's conference, about using his personal gain in order to transform the Jewish dream into a reality, and using discoveries which changed his life and the lives of thousands of Jews throughout Israel.

Email readers, click here to watch video interview with Guma Aguiar

"The dream that our parents, grandparents, and great-great grandparents had…it begins with a profound trust in G-d and is accomplished by gathering the Jewish people from the Diaspora to their homeland," Aguiar told Fleisher, in a joint interview broadcast on Israel National News TV and Israel National Radio. "Unless we have the dream of having a Temple that we would be able to serve our G-d with all of the [commandments], then ultimately, what are we doing here in Israel? That's the reason why my family came to the Holy Land. That's the reason why all our forefathers longed set foot in Israel. Based on my studying of our Hebrew scriptures, it is clear to me that our focus must be focused on sacred matters here in Israel. This inspiring endeavor will strengthen the Jewish state and, please G-d, hasten the redemption."

Aguiar has come a long way toward these understandings. Despite having been born Jewish, Aguiar was raised as an Evangelical Christian, encouraged to participate in Christian youth groups and church events throughout his young life. At the age of 26, Aguiar moved to Houston, Texas with the determination to find oil beneath the soil. Seeking out a Christian congregation to join, he encountered Rabbi Tovia Singer who has devoted his life to helping Jews in the church return back to the truth and beauty of the Jewish faith. Rabbi Singer is the founder of Outreach Judaism and pop ular talk show host on Israel National Radio.[...]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bialik & Sefardim

YNET wrote:

Long-held notion that national poet hated eastern Jews stems from statements wrongly attributed to him, say researchers

"The national poet of Ashkenazim only," "A well-known Sephardim hater," and "a famous racist" are only some of the sentiments – often expressed in talkbacks as well – aroused by the name Chaim Nachman Bialik. The national poet himself has been dead since 1934, so he is not here to defend himself. However, the notion stems from a statement attributed to Bialik: "I only hate the Arabs because they resemble the Sephardim." But it turns out that Bialik never said those words, but rather editor and translator Aryeh Leib Smiatzky.

Smiatzky included the statement in his book "Bialik on Atar" as a joke, and some researchers later claimed that literary circles hostile to Bialik attributed the words to him in a bid to besmirch him. Notably, none of Bialik works includes any mention of hatred or patronizing towards Sephardic Jews. [...]

Guma Aguiar - philanthropic activity

Chabad Lubavitch global network

Rabbi Moshe Meir Lipszyc announced today that Guma L. Aguiar co-founder of Leor Energy, an oil exploration and production company based in East Texas, contributed an additional half million dollars to Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Lauderdale. The center will be renamed “The Guma Aguiar Family Campus.

Guma has a heart of gold,” said Rabbi Lipszyc.In recent years, he's funded much of Chabad of Ft. Lauderdale's dynamic growth. "He's now agreed to make his most recent contribution public because he wants to show the world that this is how Chabad responds to the oppressive darkness of terrorism, by taking action and growing.”Aguiar, 31, told that, like the rest of the world, he was stunned by the news of the terror attacks in India. Groping for answers, Aguiar considered Chabad’s place in the world. [...]

Haaretz reports

An American businessman and philanthropist has recently donated $8 million to Nefesh B'Nefesh, the organization announced on Sunday. Guma L. Aguiar, who joined the Nefesh B'Nefesh board this June, made the gift to support the organization's work in helping Western Jews immigrate to Israel and integrate into Israeli society.

The money, which was donated in several installments during the second half of 2008, is "being used to help meet the needs of thousands of recent newcomers," Nefesh B'Nefesh explained in a statement.

Tom Kaplan wants director of Kaplan Foundation removed

The Sun-Sentinel reported:
[Jersey Girl forwarded]

Fort Lauderdale, FL - In the legal annals of Broward County and the often furious back-and-forth between people suing one another for supposed lying, swindling, cheating and other misdeeds, this may be a first. The director of one of South Florida's most generous foundations, the Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation, believes he is the Messiah and has been spending the foundation's millions to bolster his image, a lawsuit filed by his uncle claims.

The alleged Messiah wannabe, Guma Aguiar, dismisses his uncle's assertions as nonsense. If he truly believed he was the savior, he said, he would belong in a mental institution. Aguiar's rabbi says the businessman is exceptionally giving, donating millions to improve the world. "He is a person who has a heart that is not matched by anybody," said Rabbi Moshe Meir Lipszyc of Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Lauderdale. But Aguiar's uncle, Thomas Kaplan, wants a Broward County judge to remove his nephew as director of the foundation created to honor Kaplan's mother, and to which Kaplan says he has contributed more than $40 million. The Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation, in existence for seven years, handed out nearly $4.9 million in 2006 to causes ranging from Jewish charities to the digging of water wells in Africa, according to the last federal tax return available online.

It's not those gifts Kaplan is objecting to, but to the more than $7 million he says his nephew, 31, doled out last year to advance what the lawsuit calls his "claim that he is the Messiah and to promote his messianic mission."

Kaplan's attorney, Harley Tropin, declined to comment on the case, saying the Jan. 9 lawsuit speaks for itself.

At the root of this unique court action may be a family falling-out over a business deal. Aguiar and Kaplan have dueling lawsuits involving a company they founded, Leor Exploration & Production LLC, which was sold for $2.55 billion after discovering huge natural gas reserves in East Texas. The nephew is demanding an accounting of where the money from the 2007 sale went, saying he is owed at least an additional $17.6 million. The uncle is accusing Aguiar of misappropriating Leor's assets for personal expenses and demanding his nephew pay back nearly $200 million. In an interview, Aguiar said that since the sale of the energy company, he's been dedicated to using his newfound wealth to promote good deeds. Last year alone, he gave more than $30 million to charitable causes, one of his attorneys, Greg Miarecki, said.

As for the Messiah business, Aguiar said he's never told anyone he's the Messiah. He does say, though, that he feels very blessed. "People have said what an amazing accomplishment it was that I started a company at 26 from nothing and built it up to be so successful," Aguiar said. "When I sold the company I gave credit to God."

Aguiar says he was largely responsible for Leor's success, having moved to Houston from Florida at age 26 and immersing himself in the world of oil and gas exploration. Leor ended up tapping into what turned out to a multi-trillion-cubic-foot field of natural gas. In 2007, he was named Executive of the Year by Oil and Gas Investor magazine. While Aguiar portrays his uncle as having a minimal role in the company, Kaplan maintains he guided the business every step of the way. Before Leor, Kaplan already had made millions in the mineral and energy industries. [...]

Three Oaths - Prevent settlement of Israel?

Rabbi David Bleich (Contemporary Halakhic Problems I page 14):

The prime argument cited in objection to the War of Independence, and indeed to the very establishment of the state itself, is based upon a literal understanding of the Talmud, Ketubot 111 a. In an aggadic statement, the Talmud declares that prior to the exile and dispersal of the remnant God caused the Jews to swear two solemn oaths: (I) not to ke the Land of Israel by force, and (2) not to rebel gainst the nations of the world. Rabbi Zevin maintains that these talmudic oaths are not binding under circumstances such as the ones which surrounded the rebirth of the Jewish state.

In support of this view he marshals evidence from a variety of sources. Avnei Nezer, Yoreh De'ah, II, 454:56, notes that there is no report in any of the classic writings regarding an actual assemblage for the purpose of accepting these oaths, as is to be found, for example, in the narrative concerning the oaths by which Moses bound the community of Israel prior to the crossing of the Jordan. The oaths administered before the exile are understood by Avnei Nezer as having been sworn by yet unborn souls prior to their descent into the terrestrial world. Such oaths, he argues, have no binding force in Halacah. Similarly, the Maharal of Prague in his Commentary on the Aggada, 11 a, and in chapter 25 of his Netzah Yisrael, interprets these oaths as being in the nature of a decree or punishment rather than as injunctions incumbent upon Jews in the Diaspora. There is obviously no transgression involved in attempting to mitigate the effects of a decree.

A third authority, R. Meir Simchah of Dvinsk, author of the Or Sameach, accepts the premise that these oaths do apply in a literal sense. However, he expresses the opinion that following the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration, establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine no longer constitutes a violation of the oatb concerning rebeIIion against the nations of the world. The text of Or Sameach's statement on this important issue is reprinted by Z. A. Rabiner, Toledot R. Meir Sameach (Tel.Aviv, 5727), p. 164. Rabbi Zevin adds that this argument assumes even greater cogency subsequent to the United Nations resolution sanctoning the establishment of a Jewish state.

There is yet another line of reasoning on the basis of which Rabbi nature of these oaths at the present juncture of Jewish history. He advances a forceful argument which, particularly in the present post-Holocaust era, must find a sympathetic echo in the heart of Jews who have witnessed an unprecedented erosion of all feelings of humanity among the nations of the world which permitted the horrendous oppression and torture of the Jewish people. The Talmud, loc. cit., records that the two oaths sworn by the people of Israel were accompanied by a third oath which devolves upon the nations of the world; namely, that they shall not oppress Jews inordinately. According Zevin and others who have advanced the same argument, these three oaths taken together, form the equivalent of a contractual relationship. Jews are bound by their oaths only as long as the gentile nations abide by theirs. Persecution of the Jews by the nations of the world in violation of this third oath releases the Jewish people from all further  obligation to fulfill the terms of their agreement.

Intent to sin - counted as sin?

Kiddushin(81b): Every time R. Hiyya b. Abba fell upon his face he used to say, ‘The Merciful save us from the Tempter.’ One day his wife heard him. ‘Let us see,’ she reflected, ‘it is so many years that he has held aloof from me: why then should he pray thus?’ One day, while he was studying in his garden, she adorned herself and repeatedly walked up and down before him. ‘Who are you?’ he demanded. ‘I am Harutha [a well known prostitute], and have returned to-day,’ she replied. He desired her. Said she to him, ‘Bring me that pomegranate from the uppermost bough.’ He jumped up, went, and brought it to her. When he re-entered his house, his wife was firing the oven, whereupon he ascended and sat in it [He tried killing himself]. ‘What means this?’ she demanded. He told her what had befallen. ‘It was I,’ she assured him; but he paid no heed to her until she gave him proof. ‘Nevertheless,’ said he, ‘my intention was evil.’That righteous man [R. Hiyya b. Ashi] fasted all his life, until he died thereof.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rav Sternbuch - Our source of security

We must stop using the word 'miracle' and start referring to ' hashgacha pratis'

Hamodia , 26 Teves January 22nd,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Refusal of talmid chachom to go to beis din

Regarding the discussion on this post regarding whether a talmid chachom needs to appear before a beis din. All I have been able to find is the following halacha

שולחן ערוך חושן משפט ז סעיף ו - מי שתובעין אותו לדון לפני דיין שקטן ממנו, אין הדיין יכול לכופו לילך לפניו, אלא מכנפי מאן דאיכא התם מחכימי ומעיינים בינייהו.

ערוך השולחן חושן משפט סימן ז סעיף ח
אם תובעים ת"ח לדין לפני דיין שקטן ממנו בחכמה אין הדיין יכול לכופו שיבא לדון לפניו וכיצד עושים אוספים כל החכמים שבעיר ודנים ביניהם דכיון דמתאספים כל החכמים ליכא זילותא כשידין בפניהם [או"ת] ואף אם הת"ח גדול מכולם ואם רצון הת"ח לבא לפני הדיין הרשות בידו דחכם שמחל על כבודו כבודו מחול ואם יש זילותא להת"ח לעמוד ביחד עם הבע"ד שלו שולחים הדיינים סופריהם ומקבלים הטענות בכתב ודנים ע"פ הטענות שבכתב [סמ"ע] ועי' מ"ש בסימן קכ"ד:

This is based on Kiddushin (70a):A certain man from Nehardea entered a butcher's shop in Pumbeditha and demanded, ‘Give me meat!’ ‘Wait until Rab Judah b. Ezekiel's attendant takes his,’ was the reply: ‘and then we will serve you.’ ‘Who is Judah b. Shewiskel,18 he exclaimed: ‘to take precedence over me and be served before me!’ When they went and told Rab Judah, he pronounced the ban against him. Said they to him, ‘He is wont to call people slaves,’ whereupon he had him proclaimed a slave. Thereupon that man went and summoned him to a lawsuit before R. Nahman. When the writ of summons was brought, he [Rab Judah] went before R. Huna [and] asked him, ‘Shall I go or not?’19 ‘Actually,’ he replied: ‘you need not go, being a great man; yet in honour of the Nasi's house,20 arise and go.’

Arab Muslim - commentator

I am making this comment a post as a reminder that the internet is not a private converation. Furthermore it does provide the opportunity to discuss issues with those that you don't normally meet in your daily routine. I do appreciate the fact that this commentator did take the time to send us his observations. For a related issue see Hasbara - Army of bloggers And Facebook battleground.

Just a gentle reminder to everyone that all comments require a name other than anonymous. I made an exception in this case.

Anonymous [ has left a new comment on your post "Should Jews hate Arabs?":
Jersey Girl, I would like to show my support to you. I'm of Muslim and Arab background. It makes me happy to see that are some decent Jews who have compassion and understanding. In history Jews lived under Arab/Muslim ruler in relative peace and harmony example the golden age for the Jews in Spain before the Christians took over and forced the population to convert to Christianity or die. What is happening Israel/Palestine is sad and tragic. And for the Muslim on the street supporting Hamas - well who should they support when there are innocent civilians being killed, and no democratic government is doing anything to stop it. Zionism turned to terrorism pre 1948 killing many innocent people.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stocks slumped with Pres. Obama's rescue plans

CNN reports

U.S. markets slipped Tuesday on banking concerns and as traders also faced up to expected rises in government debt. Government debt prices fell as the nation watched Barack Obama become the 44th U.S. president.

With the government deficit already exceeding $1 trillion, the rescue plan that Obama has been touting will mean the government auctioning off a tremendous volume of debt -- which makes government bonds unattractive.

Sinking bond prices are "a reflection of the massive stimulus plan in effect and the likelihood that there is more coming down the road, and the concerns how we will pay for all of this," Kim Rupert, fixed income analyst at Action Economics, told CNN Money.

Stocks slumped Tuesday as the global banking crisis and a spate of weak earnings highlighted the general plight of the U.S. economy. [...]

Cohen being married to convert /Reb Moshe

This discussion below of the validity of marriage of a cohen to a convert is relevant to this posting & this posting. It is also important because it is not cited accurately by Rabbi Simcha Cohen in his discussion of the matter. The person who sent this teshuva also requested the identity of the rabbi cited in this posting who gave a heter for a baalas teshuva to marry a cohen - or possibly the source the rabbi relied upon for his heter.

Tefilin & long hair - problem?

Rael wrote,
There is an issue raised by the poskim that having long hair is a chatizah with regards to tefillin.

See the following secondary sources:

Notes on the Mishna Berura by R'Yosef Rimon:

The Weekly Halacha by R'Daniel Neustadt:

Lettings ones hair grow long a shiur by R'Aharon Lichtenstein:

Shiur by R'Eytan Weisberg


A couple of questions:

1) What about the issue of the nazir, surely he had long hair and yet had to put on tefillin? Asides from the nazir, was it not common in biblical times to have long hair and in more contemporary times rabbis like the Rogachover Gaon and the Chatam Sofer had long hair?

2) In halacha everything has a "shiur", has anyone seen any measurements of what is considered long hair?

My understanding:

My understanding is that the issue being spoken of is a comb over, where the hair from the back of the head (i.e. hair that is growing from a position that you cannot place the tefillin shel rosh is pulled to the front). I would assume it is not an issue if the hair is long in the front, provided that the hair is from a position where you can place tefillin. Eg this picture:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Israel - Ringworm Children (video)

Please click on the following link for a cogent discussion of this issue

Full Rebuttal by PLANCK'S CONSTANT

Jersey Girl disagrees with Planck's Constant - see comments section
I would appreciate if you would do a bit more research before you post claims that Ringworm Affair never occurred as documented. I apologize in advance that this post is so long. But the topic is important.

As a family member of numerous survivors, I am frankly shocked and dismayed at your callousness and absurd rebuttal of a very well documented and attested documentary of history, a tragic chapter not unlike that in Europe in which 6 million Jews were murdered(H"YD).

The Ringworm Children (Part 01)

Bailout - Help banks or encourage loans?

NYTimes reports:

[...] Congress approved the $700 billion rescue plan with the idea that banks would help struggling borrowers and increase lending to stimulate the economy, and many lawmakers want to know how the first half of that money has been spent before approving the second half. But many banks that have received bailout money so far are reluctant to lend, worrying that if new loans go bad, they will be in worse shape if the economy deteriorates. [...]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Israel - Ashkenazi vs Sefardic students

YNET reports:

After a year of deliberations, High Court Justices Edmond Levi, Hanan Meltzer and Edna Arbel ordered the Beit Yaakov religious school and the Independent Education Center to nullify within a week all discriminatory practices and protocols that separate between Ashkenazi and Sephardic students, including the removal of a wall in the school's courtyard, unifying the two teachers' rooms meant for two different "learning tracks" and cancellation of the unlawful levies on parents of students in the "Ashkenazi-Hasidic track."

In the decision handed down by the court, it was also decided that the Emanuel Regional Council is to present an arrangement acceptable to all parties for the separation of the school's various learning tracks, otherwise the High Court will not authorize the existence of separate learning tracks in the school. [...]

Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Miracles to behold

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rav Aharon Schechter - Attitude towards Science

Rav Aharon Schechter on Rabbi Slifkin and creation, Part 1 Part Two

Gaza - Sign up to support our soldiers


מצורף לינק לתפילה לשמירה או רפואה לחיילים הלוחמים.

נרשמים והם שולחים שם של חייל את מתפללת והוא לוחם.

תזכי למצוות ובשורות טובות!

Desecrate dead to save lives? - Barzily Hospital

Bartley Kulp wrote:

I first saw this issue in the news about a month ago. My question is why there was no ruling a lot sooner. Why no Haredi Rabbis expressed any opinions on this issue quickly considering that the hospital has already been hit by rockets? There should have been a very rapid heter given and if not a reason why? Are we a society that is more concerned with setting up batei dinim for inspecting woman's clothing than tackling life or death issues.

Here's the article;JPost

Halachic ruling: Lives more important than bones

Protecting Jews from Hamas's Grad rockets is more important than respecting the rest of the dead. Hospital patients and their... Hospital patients and their families wait in a bomb shelter in Ashkelon Barzily hospital, Saturday.

That is the unsurprising halachic decision issued Wednesday by the two chief rabbis of Israel regarding the ongoing controversy surrounding foundation construction at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center.

The construction is designed to fortify the hospital against Grad rockets fired by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, by adding an underground operation room.

But the necessary digging will disinter Roman- or Byzantine-era graves, an act that is prohibited according to Jewish law if the bodies are Jewish - which is unclear.

Last week Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger reasoned that since the digging is aimed at saving lives, and since there is a doubt whether the bones are Jewish, building the underground room takes precedence over not disturbing the deceased.

The Chief Rabbinate's Governing Council ratified Metzger's decision, which was also backed by Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

The Health Ministry announced the ruling on Wednesday night. [...]

EJF - Halacha cafeteria style

EJF surrogate Roni keeps pounding certain points over and over in his defense of R' Tropper. 1) He claims that EJF is an improvement of the previous situation in that EJF makes sure that there is a genuine commitment to mitzvos 2) He claims that the proselytizing is a chet kal which is permitted in order to improve the situation. 3) He claims that EJF is not bringing in goyim - as the other rabbis do.

This is an example of his defense.

Roni wrote
Most importantly: Bomze'rs actions (and actually there are MANY such fake dayanim who convert for a business or at least do not require the convert to commit to observe torah and mtizvot)is one of the main reasons that EJf was created: to establish a STANDARD of conversion that up till now was neglected by the general public. The magnitude of the crime by the fake dayanim and the tragedy of bringing goyim into klal yisroel is a "Chet chamur" (very severe sin) and our Rabbis establish in our tradition, that at times it is permissible and at times commanded to make a "shet kal" to prevent and stop a chet chamur! SO, if what is needed to prevent the prospective converts not to turn to the fake rabbis but to turn to the kosher ones' and to the kosher standard is a chet kal, of seeking those sincere one to follow the right path and maknug sure that those who are not aware of the right path at least know that the wrong path does not fulfill their desire to become jewish, so be it. Our illustirous rabbis in the past centuries have ruled that one may perhaps violate some of the rabbinical prohibitions (like for instance: not to convert someone for the sake of marriage) as long as the person would commit himself to live a jewish life, ie. a life dictated by the code of jewish law!

1) As Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Chaim Ozer and many other gedolim has stated - the sincerity of most converts is questionable. Rav Moshe states pointedly that even when they say they are going to keep mitzvos - most of them are lying. Rav Chaim Ozer - who initially took a lenient view changed his mind and said that no respectable beis din should be involved in converting intermarried couples. Thus it really isn't' as critical to point out how much money was charged for the conversion - but to see how permanent and committed the geirim are. What are the statistics for EJF of how many gerim stay observant? How many of their children keep Shabbos after they leave day school - or even in day school? BTW I know of one major rav associated with EJF who has been accused by a prominent rabbi of doing conversion for the sake of money.

2) It is interesting to note that R' Tropper claims to be following the psakim of Rav Moshe Feinstein. In regards to this issue of a beis din sinning in order to convert an intermarried couple - Rav Moshe categorically prohibits it. So does Rav Eliashiv in the teshuva I published. Which one of the poskim has stated - in writing - that it is permitted to sin (chet kal) in order to convert intermarried couples. I asked R' Tropper point blank and he refused to answer. This attitude of chet kal in fact is associated with the left wing views - which have been solidly rejected by contemporary poskim. While it is true that there are rulings such as freeing a slave to make a minyan, which contemporary posek has is stated that the public need is served by EJF proselytizing operation? Loudly screaming "we insist on acceptance of mitzvos" is simple nonsense - unless you can show that the majority of converts are permanent - and stay religious even if they divorce their Jewish spouse. Otherwise you are simply bringing goyim into Klall Yisroel the same what you claim that as the so called fake rabbis - you constantly denounce. - are doing We had a EJF participant commenting on this blog a year ago - he proudly announced that he had strongly pressured his wife to convert. That is what you call sincere acceptance of mitzvos?

3) There is no evidence that R' Tropper is doing a service to klal Yisroel by taking off the stigma of intermarriage. There is no evidence that his conversions - though possibly cheaper than other rabbis - are more sincere converts. After all if you have to wine and dine a couple to get them to pay attention - it doesn't bode well for the sincerity of the conversion. There is no question that R' Bomzer has produced some genuine converts. Where is the head to head comparison to show that EJF converts are superior to his?

Bottom line 1) chet kal is rejected by Rav Moshe Feinstein 2) No evidence that EJF converts are superior to other conversion programs 3) There is no evidence that Klall Yisroel is benefiting from encouraging intermarried couples to convert instead of following Rav Eliashiv's view that they should be ostracized.

Life - Return of multigenerational households

[...] Like the Obamas’ new domestic arrangement, whereby Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s 71-year-old mother, will become a third head of household and the primary caregiver for two children born to two high-achieving parents, the linchpin of the Baker-Roby household is a grandmother. Theirs is an old-fashioned scenario that fell out of style as Americans drifted to the hermetically sealed nuclear family. Since the early part of the last century, academics have noted the waning of this arrangement in the United States, because of increased mobility, smaller families and even Freudian attitudes, rampant at midcentury, that described “too close” adult maternal ties as unhealthy.

It is a choice, however, that is cycling back into favor. A recent study by AARP shows that multigenerational households are on the rise, up from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million last year, an increase from 4.8 percent of all households to 5.3 percent. It’s not always a smooth ride — families being what they are — but it’s still an appealing solution to the work-life conundrum.

Elinor Ginzler, senior vice president for livable communities at AARP, sees a number of forces contributing to these numbers. “There is some cultural play here,” she said, “as we become more and more a nation of new immigrants who bring that tradition with them. Yet 25 percent of American boomers we surveyed said they expected to have their parents move in with them, and were looking forward to it.” For all these reasons, she said, “Our cultural norms are shifting. There is a great renaissance of what we think about when we think about family.”

And it looks as if one particular family relationship — that of adult daughters with their mothers — may be entering a period of more than just détente, as veterans of the women’s movement endeavor to help their own daughters achieve the work-life balance that may have eluded them. That’s why Ellen Pulleyblank Coffey, 65, a family therapist and author in Berkeley, Calif., calls herself a “feminist grandmother” for her role in caring for Cole, the 2-year-old son of her daughter, Sarah Patrick, an urban planner whose husband, Todd Patrick, is a graphic artist [...]

Gaza - Proportionality & hypocrisy

Israel is judged by different standards than NATO - why?


"There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher."

Jamie Shea, NATO spokesman, BBC News, May 31, 1999

It was in these words that the official NATO representative chose to respond to criticism regarding the numerous civilian casualties incurred by the alliance's frequent air attacks during the war in Kosovo between March and June of 1999. He insisted NATO planes bombed only "legitimate designated military targets" and if civilians had died it was because NATO had been forced into military action. Adamant that "we try to do our utmost to ensure that if there are civilians around we do not attack," Shea emphasized that "NATO does not target civilians...let's be perfectly clear about that."

However, hundreds of civilians were killed by a NATO air campaign, code named "Operation Allied Force" - which hit residential neighborhoods, old-aged sanatoriums, hospitals, open markets, columns of fleeing refugees, civilian buses and trains on bridges, and even a foreign embassy.

Exact figures are difficult to come by, but the undisputed minimum is almost 500 civilians deaths (with some estimates putting the toll as high as 1500) - including women, children and the elderly, killed about in 90 documented attacks by an alliance that included the air forces of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Turkey, Spain, the UK, and the US. Up to 150 civilians deaths were reportedly caused by the use of cluster-bombs dropped on, or adjacent to, known civilian areas.

By contrast, the military losses inflicted by NATO on the Serbian forces during almost 80 days of aerial bombardment, unchallenged by any opposing air power, were remarkably low - with most estimates putting the figure at less than 170 killed.

Meanwhile, NATO forces suffered… no combat fatalities! This was mainly due to the decision to conduct high altitude aerial attacks which greatly reduced the danger to NATO military personnel in the air, but dramatically increased it for the Serbian (and Kosovar) civilians on the ground. Moreover, the civilian populations of the countriesparticipating on Operation Allied Force were never attacked or - even threatened - in any way by Serbian forces.

The significance of all this for Israel, beset as it is by a maelstrom criticism and censure regarding its military campaign in Gaza, should be starkly apparent. It raises three trenchant issues which it would fail to address to its great detriment:
  1. The irrelevance of proportionality in military engagements
  2. The unlimited hypocrisy of international politics
  3. The disastrous incompetence of Israeli international diplomacy [...]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

EJF invites 1/3 of world to convert /RaP&Roni

Recipients and Publicity comment to "EJF - offers enlightenment to non-Jews":

It's not just "Art Gib" because as the article tells the readers at its end: "About the Author :- Eternal Jewish Family offers information on Jewish conversion. Art Gib is a freelance writer." This Mr. Art Gib has been writing a lot of upbeat GLIB PR articles in behalf of EJF lately, as if he was promoting a new yummy super-delicious brand of Hagen-Daz ice-cream. He is more than a "freelancer" with all his stuff popping up online it surely seems that he is a well-paid and highly skilled writer on the EJF payroll (just that "freelancer" sounds a lot nicer to the gullible.)

This one takes the cake (or is it a super-dooper scoop of ice-cream that widens the eyes): "While nearly one third of the population of the world is considered Jewish or has Jewish ancestry" (SAY WHAT???) and that to his come on to the gentiles: "If you've always had questions or curiosities, or are considering conversion and want to know more, most of the time all you have to do is ask" (NOT PROSELYTIZING, RIGHT???) with the assurance that: "You'll find that anyone practicing the faith will be more than happy to answer your questions and steer you down the path to spiritual enlightenment" (LIKE WHO, WOULDN'T BE EJF WOULD IT ???)

So now EJF is inviting "nearly one third of the population of the world" (oh, they can also deny it by saying it was "Mr Gib" the shmo who wrote it) that he and EJF "consider" to be "Jewish" to join up and become Jewish with ultra-holier-than-thou conversions managed by EJF (and this, after accusing Bomzer and Rabbi Drukman of going overboard), with Rabbi Tropper running a "yeshiva" and educational programs for ove TWO BILLION people/"Jews" (the world's population is about 6 and half billion at present), that's greater than any false messianic movement in world history, with Rabbi Tropper at its epicenter as the "ultimate leader of all the halachic converts" -- you know, that should be a lot of fun (for Rabbi Tropper and his partner Tom Kaplan at least, who will have then materialized their delusional megalomaniacal dream!

No wonder Rabbi Eisenstein has walked away from Tropper and EJF because it is inconceivable that anyone in the Torah world wishes to lure over TWO BILLION gentiles into Torah true Judaism under the "auspices" of EJF.

Some things are best left for Eliyahu Hanovi and the true Mashiach to accomplish, but obviously the Tropper-Kaplan duo don't think so. Get ready for the fireworks on this one!

Roni comment to RaP's comment to post "EJF - offers enlightenment to non-Jews":

"that he and EJF "consider" to be "Jewish" to join up and become Jewish with ultra-holier-than-thou conversions managed by EJF (and this, after accusing Bomzer and Rabbi Drukman of going overboard)".

After all your treatises (while I agree that this article is misleading -even if he is not seeking converts; just making accessible for someone to ask about it- ) he does NOT bring goyim into klal yisroel; his organization does not engage in converting not intermarried couples. we do NOT have the crime of bringing goyim into klal yisroel and destroying kedushat yisroel!

Whereas RHB and some others, seek fake converts by their representatives, and deceive the Jewish people and the prospective covnerts by "converting" falsely: for without kabbalat hamitzvot the conversions is NULL AND VOID! (besides that the conversion may be invalidated due to exorbitant fees!). So ?RHB's converts are goyim and he brings goyim into klal yisroel (and at the same time fostering intermarriage) when he converts a girlfriend who wants to marry a Jew, and makes mockery of the conversion process and meaning itself by converting a shikssah so that her boss can marry her and abandon her husband and children.

Talis for a soldier

YNet reports:
כשרב גדוד 13 בגולני הגיע לבקר את החיילים הפצועים בבתי החולים, הוא נדהם לגלות כי כמעט אצל כולם מבצבצות ציציות
מתחת לחלוק. "השכפ"ץ שסידרת לנו הציל את חיינו", הודו לו. גם בפגישה עם
הלוחמים בשטח הבחין הרב הצבאי באחוזים לא רגילים מהם הלובשים ציצית חאקי
מתחת למדים. הפעם טענו החיילים: "אנחנו רוצים כבר לצאת להלחם עם החברים
שלנו, אבל בגלל השמירה הזו לא קורה כלום. המחבלים פשוט לא באים". מאוחר
יותר הבין כי מקבילו, רב גדוד 12 (במיל') שמואל קאופמן, דאג ל"שירותרום"
ספונטני ברדיו קול חי לגיוס אלפי ציציות, נוכח הביקוש הגבוה בקרב הלוחמים
לקראת הכניסה לעזה.

הרב קאופמן פנה לעיתונאי ידידיה מאיר וסיפר לו כי מאות חיילים,
דתיים וחילונים, מבקשים ממנו ציציות שיגנו עליהם בקרב. למחרת הזכיר מאיר
בתכנית הבוקר "התעוררות" כמה פעמים את מצוקת הרבנים הצבאיים, הרגילים לספק
בשגרה מספר מצומצם של ציציות לחיילים הדתיים וכעת מתקשים לעמוד בעומס,
והשאיר מספר טלפון לתורמים המעוניינים לסייע.

למחרת כבר דיווח רב הגדוד על אם שכולה שתרמה 40 ציציות, "כוח של שלושה
רכבים מרעננה" עם 500, משלוח נוסף של 700 גופיות-ציצית מירושלים, גברת עם
מבטא אמריקני שהבטיחה תרומ



EJF - offers enlightenment to non-Jews

Articlearchive Art Gib writing for EJF

While nearly one third of the population of the world is considered Jewish or has Jewish ancestry, Judaism is a religion not understood very well by those who don't practice in the modern world. Sure, we know about Hanukkah and Passover, but what are the basic foundations of this worldwide faith.

If you've always had questions or curiosities, or are considering conversion and want to know more, most of the time all you have to do is ask. Here are some of the basic precepts and beliefs of Judaism.[...]

Judaism is a traditional and ancient religion that is practiced by many, but understood by few who don't share the faith. If you have questions or need further clarification on the Jewish faith or conversion, contact a support group near you or even your local Jewish community center or synagogue. You'll find that anyone practicing the faith will be more than happy to answer your questions and steer you down the path to spiritual enlightenment.

Prayer protects the heart

NYTimes reports

[...]Reducing chronic stress is another important factor. The Interheart study, which examined the effects of stress in more than 27,000 people, found that stress more than doubled the risk of heart attacks.

Dr. Joel Okner, a cardiologist in Chicago, and Jeremy Clorfene, a cardiac psychologist, the authors of “The No Bull Book on Heart Disease” (Sterling, 2009), note that getting enough sleep improves the ability to manage stress.

Practicing the relaxation response once or twice a day by breathing deeply and rhythmically in a quiet place with eyes closed and muscles relaxed can help cool the hottest blood. Other techniques Dr. Ozner recommends include meditation, prayer, yoga, self-hypnosis, laughter, taking a midday nap, getting a dog or cat, taking up a hobby and exercising regularly.[...]

Jewish spirituality - the secret weapon

Two soldiers made their way through the winding streets of Gaza City, carefully watching for booby traps. Their objective was to hunt down Hamas terrorists and locate caches of Kassam and Grad rockets and other arms.

As they deliberated whether to turn left or right at an intersection, a woman dressed from head to foot in black appeared from out of nowhere.

"Go this way," she said, pointing to the right. For some reason, the two soldiers listened to her.

After proceeding for a few seconds, the pair heard a large explosion behind them, in the direction they had almost taken. A rigged house blew up, destroying everything in the vicinity.

The two soldiers asked the woman dressed in black who she was.

"I am the Matriarch Rachel," she said, referring to the beloved wife of Jacob.

This story, whether true or not, is being circulated in religious circles - via Internet forums, SMS, e-mail and word of mouth - and is fast becoming an urban legend.

There is a tendency among the faithful to introduce metaphysical dimensions to the fighting in Gaza. Two-and-a-half weeks into Operation Cast Lead, religious faith has been integral to many soldiers' morale.

"We are being swamped with demands, from religious and secular, kibbutzniks and yeshiva students, Sephardim and Ashkenazim," for the names of soldiers to pray for, said Rabbanit Grossman, director of the Jewish Information Center in the capital's Mea She'arim neighborhood. The haredi organization has created a special "prayer hotline" for

The initiative, backed by the Bostoner rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Horovitz, and Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook, pairs a soldier involved in the Gaza fighting with a supplicant who prays for that soldier's health and welfare.

Only soldiers who are interested in the service - or whose family members or friends are interested - are being singled out for this special spiritual protection from Hamas terrorists.

Thousands, Grossman said, have contacted the Jewish Information Center, which has publicized the service via word-of-mouth and e-mail.

People from all walks of the religious community, from the religious-Zionist Bnei Akiva to the anti-Zionist Eda Hahareidit, have volunteered to pray for the soldiers, said Grossman.

"Our prayer-sayers include yeshiva students at the Mir, Kol Torah, Ponevezh and Hebron, residents of Mea She'arim, students at Beit Ya'acov seminaries as well as national-religious yeshiva high schools and ulpanot," said Grossman, who preferred not to give her first name because "good deeds are best left hidden."

"Soldiers from all walks of life and from a variety of backgrounds, both religious and secular, have asked that we pray for them," she said.

"Just the other day an entire battalion of soldiers, just about to enter Gaza, gave us all of their names. They passed the phone from one to the other, secular and religious - not one of them refused.[...]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Arabs & Jew Hatred (anti-Semitism)

Wall Street Journal - Referred by Jersey Girl

[...]  Jews around Europe are increasingly under attack since Israel decided two weeks ago to defend itself after years of rocket fire at its civilian population. There have been arson attempts on synagogues in Britain, Belgium and Germany. Police last week arrested Muslim protesters who wanted to enter the Jewish quarter in Antwerp. Several Danish schools with large Muslim student bodies say they won't enroll Jewish kids because they can't guarantee the children's safety. In France, a group of teenagers attacked a 14-year-old girl last week, calling her "dirty Jew" while kicking her.

At rallies in Germany and the Netherlands over the past two weeks, protesters shouted, "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas." In Amsterdam,Socialist lawmaker Harry van Bommel and Greta Duisenberg, widow of the first European Central Bank president, marched at the front of one such "peace" demonstration. They didn't join in the background chorus calling for another Holocaust. Instead, they chanted, "Intifada, Intifada, Free Palestine." Mr. Van Bommel later insisted this wasn't a call for Jewish blood but for "civil disobedience" -- a laughable defense given that terrorists during the last intifada murdered more than 1,000 Israelis.

Most of the anti-Jewish violence and protests in Europe come from immigrants. In what may have been a Freudian recognition of the changing face of Europe, CNN two weeks ago used footage of anti-Israeli protesters in London in a report about the growing anger in the "Arab and Muslim world." The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.

After a burning car was rammed into a gate outside a synagogue in Toulouse last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement that was as morally confused as his judgment of Israel's Gaza offensive. Mr. Sarkozy, who condemned both Hamas terror and Israel's attempt to stop it, also blurred the distinction between the victims and perpetrators of anti-Semitism in. [...]

Ramban - Love neighbor as yourself

I am having difficulty understanding the Ramban's commentary to Vayirka (19:18). He starts out saying that the commandment cannot be understood literally because the heart can not love another as oneself. Then he concludes by saying that this commandment is to remove the jealousy from your heart so that there is no limitation on the love you have for another person. This seems to be a direct contradiction.

Vayikra (19:18): [R' Chavel's translation]. AND THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. This is an expression by way of overstatement, for a human heart is not able to accept a command to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Moreover, Rabbi Akiba has already come and taught, 86 “Your life takes precedence over the life of your fellow-being.” Rather, the commandment of the Torah means that one is to love one’s fellow being in all matters, as one loves all good for oneself. 87 It is possible that since it does not say “and thou shalt love ‘eth rei’acha’ 88 as thyself,” but instead it likened them in the word ‘l’rei’acha ‘ [which literally means “to” thy neighbor], and similarly it states with reference to a proselyte, and thou shalt love ‘10’ (him) [but literally: “to” him] as thyself; 89 that the meaning thereof is to equate the love of both [himself and his neighbor, or himself and the proselyte] in his mind. For sometimes a person will love his neighhbor in certain matters, such as doing good to him in material wealth but not with wisdom and similar matters. But if he loves him completely, he will want his beloved friend to gain riches, properties, honor, knowledge and wisdom. However [because of human nature] he will still not want him to be his equal, for there will always be a desire in his heart that he should have more of these good thIngs than his neIghbor. Therefore Scripture commanded that this degrading jealousy should not exist in his heart, but instead a person should love to do abundance of good for his fellow-being as he does for himself, and he should place no limitations upon his love for him. It is for this reason that it is said of Jonathan’s [love for David] “for he loved him as he loved his own soul” 90 because Jonathan had removed [altogether] the attribute of jealousy from his heart, and he said [to David], and thou shalt be king over Israel 91 etc.

רמב"ן (ויקרא יט:יז) וטעם ואהבת לרעך כמוך - הפלגה, כי לא יקבל לב האדם שיאהוב את חבירו כאהבתו את נפשו, ועוד שכבר בא רבי עקיבא ולמד חייך קודמין לחיי חבירך (ב"מ סב א): אלא מצות התורה שיאהב חבירו בכל ענין כאשר יאהב את נפשו בכל הטוב. ויתכן בעבור שלא אמר "ואהבת את רעך כמוך", והשוה אותם במלת "לרעך", וכן ואהבת לו כמוך (פסוק לד) דגר, שיהיה פירושו להשוות אהבת שניהם בדעתו, כי פעמים שיאהב אדם את רעהו בדברים ידועים להטיבו בעושר ולא בחכמה וכיוצא בזה, ואם יהיה אוהבו בכל יחפוץ שיזכה רעהו האהוב לו בעושר ובנכסים וכבוד ובדעת ובחכמה, ולא שישוה אליו אבל יהיה חפץ בלבו לעולם שיהיה הוא יותר ממנו בכל טובה, ויצוה הכתוב שלא תהיה פחיתות הקנאה הזאת בלבו, אבל יאהב ברבות הטובה לחבירו כאשר אדם עושה לנפשו ולא יתן שיעורין באהבה. ועל כן אמר ביהונתן (ש"א כ יז) כי אהבת נפשו אהבו, בעבור שהסיר מדת הקנאה מלבו ואמר (שם כג יז) ואתה תמלוך על ישראל וגו':

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hamas - religious not national struggle

The conflict in Gaza has been triggered by Israel's belief that the status quo has become intolerable and should be overturned.

There are several reasons why Israel felt it could not live with the situation in Gaza. The most immediate is the rocket attacks by Hamas that have made life for nearly a tenth of Israelis an exercise in anxiety. Also a factor is that Hamas, since it staged its putsch two years ago, has closed Gaza to all Palestinian groups that have accepted a two-state solution. This makes it impossible for Israel and the administration of President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the West Bank to restart negotiations that could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

More importantly, perhaps, Hamas has forged an alliance with Iran based on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's strategy of “wiping Israel off the map”. Tehran's investment in Hamas is large enough to have given it a decisive say in shaping the group's strategy. Israelis see Hamas as one of the two arms of a pincer, along with Iranian-funded Hezbollah in Lebanon, that Tehran is building against them.

Thus, Israel's war aims are clear: end the rocket attacks, reopen Gaza to other Palestinian parties and eliminate the Iranian presence. This means creating a new status quo in which Hamas is not the dominant party in Gaza.

Some commentators have claimed that the cause of the current war is Israel's occupation. But Gaza - until last weekend - was the one bit of Arab territory nominally under Israeli occupation that was free of Israeli settlers and troops. Yet, most of Israel's troubles, in the form of rocket attacks and suicide operations, came from Gaza. At the other end of the spectrum, the Golan Heights, under Israeli occupation since 1967, have been as quiet as a churchyard despite the presence of large numbers of Israeli settlers and troops.

Hamas, as its charter and political literature make clear, does not want an end to Israeli occupation. It wants the end of Israel. That is because Hamas is part of a pan-Islamist movement with global messianic ambitions. Creating a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank is not its aim. A branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas dreams of world dominion for its version of Islam rather than a mini-state in 5,000 square kilometres of barren land in a geopolitical backyard.[...]

Gaza - Who is winning?

Time Magazine:

[...] For in the end, the only thing that is certain is that every symbol of Hamas' rule in Gaza, every government building, police station, and office block has been replaced by a very large hole. It will take years for Hamas to re-build Gaza's infrastructure and to offer basic services to the war-dazed 1.5 million Palestinians inside the sealed-off territory.

R' Bomzer censured by Vaad for Conversion

Conversion - Retroactive nullification - child

Anonymous requested that I post this story about the retroactive nullification of conversion of the adopted son of the philosopher Fackenheim. It could be an important story but there are not enough details to draw any definite halachic conclusions.

YNET reports:

בית הדין הרבני בירושלים סיפק השבוע שערוריית גיור חדשה המסעירה את הממסד
הדתי והפוליטי. אב בית הדין האזורי, הרב יששכר דב הגר, פסל רטרואקטיבית את
גיורו של יוסי פקנהיים, שחי כל חייו כיהודי ואף נשא אישה באמצעות הרבנות,
כדת משה וישראל.

פקנהיים גויר לפני 29 שנה, כאשר היה תינוק, בבית דין אורתודוקסי בקנדה. כל
חייו הוא חי כיהודי לכל דבר ובשלב מסוים עלה ארצה והתחתן כהלכה, לאחר
שהרבנות ערכה את כל הבחינות הנדרשות.

לאחרונה נתגלעו פערים ומחלוקות בינו ובין אשתו והם החליטו, בהסכמה
הדדית, להיפרד. בני הזוג פנו לבית הדין הרבני האזורי בירושלים במטרה
להסדיר הליכים והגישו בקשה לסידור הגט.

לאחר שהתברר לאב בית הדין כי פקנהיים התגייר בעודו תינוק, הוא החל
לתחקר אותו בנושאי שבת, כשרות ושמירת מצוות. כשהרב אימת כי מדובר בבחור
שאינו דתי ואינו שומר שבת החליט אב בית הדין כי אין צורך בגט מאחר והבעל
אינו יהודי. גיורו נפסל רטרואקטיבית ועל כן נישואיו אינם נישואים.

בני הזוג התעקשו בכל זאת לקבל מסמך גירושין רשמי מבית הדין, על מנת
שיוכלו להסדיר את התוקף המשפטי במשרד הפנים. רק לאחר דרישה נמרצת של
פרקליט האישה ותלונות לנציבות קבילות השופטים והדיינים הסכים הרב הגר לסדר
גט לחומרה, אך השאיר בעינה את הקביעה כי הבעל אינו יהודי, ושמו צורף
לרשימת פסולי החיתון באופן שימנע ממנו לשאת אישה יהודיה באופן מקובל.

Should Jews hate Arabs?

Jersey Girl
has left a new comment on your post "Arab propaganda war against Israel":

We were sitting in the vestibule of the synagogue on Shabbos, a group of mothers and children waiting for the service to end.

Two young pre teenage boys were playing a game, "I'm shooting Arabs","pow,pow, pow" "I'm blowing up Arabs", "I can kill more Arabs than you".

The mothers were horrified and one sends a child to go get her husband who questions the boys.

"Where did you learn this type of thing, this is terrible?" asks the father.

"Oh, the youth director, from NCSY," replies one of the boys. "We play a game on Shabbos called the "Settlers of Catan" and it is about an imaginary place, but we make it to be Israel and the object of the game is to kill as many Arabs as possible to win the game."

After Shabbos, one of the parents googles and learns that the game, developed in Germany, is played in nearly every NCSY youth group in the country.

During the 2006 Second Lebanon War Rabbi Sholom Wolpe, a prominent figure among Israeli Chabad told the local Kiryat Gat weekly "that the war should continue "until the enemy has been totally eradicated." [Interview with Shalom Dov Wolpo, Kiryat Gat Net (Hebrew), July 13, 2006]

Fortunately, the Orthodox Union issued a statement in response to Rabbi Wolpe's
racist and hateful remarks: “We unequivocally condemn Rabbi Wolpe’s statements. They are beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy)".

But Chabad leaders have not distanced themselves from Wolpe and other extremist Messianics who call for genocide against Arabs.

Children in a local yeshiva bring home a parsha sheet in which the Ramban is credited with saying "that Arabs have been the evil enemies of the Jews since Avraham and Sarah".

A quick look at the referenced sefer, perek and passuk, shows that the Ramban never wrote such a thing. In fact, those who know history, know that the Ramban was expelled from Christian Europe and granted refuge in the Moslem Levant.

Where did this come from?

There is a great deal of Anti Arab and Muslim hate in our Jewish communities, so much that it is often shocking. This is not part of Judaism or our Torah. It is frightening to note how much Judaism has changed in the past 50 years. Our great grandparents would not recognize it.

Gaza imperils 2 state plan

NYTimes reports

With every image of the dead in Gaza inflaming people across the Arab world, Egyptian and Jordanian officials are worried that they see a fundamental tenet of the Middle East peace process slipping away: the so-called two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel.

Egypt and Jordan fear that they will be pressed to absorb the Palestinian populations now living beyond their borders. If Israel does not assume responsibility for humanitarian aid in Gaza, for example, pressure could compel Egypt to fill the vacuum; Jordan, in turn, worries that Israel will try to push Palestinians from the West Bank into its territory.

In that case, both states fear, they could become responsible for policing the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, undermining their peace treaties with Israel. [...]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Abuse - rape of young girl

Just received this question :

Take this situation: A man regularly abuses a young girl He is not her brother, not her father, etc., so it is not Gilui arayot.

In this case, does she at all have a case against him according to torah law? Or can she just ask for a money settlement because she lost her virginity (if this is the case)? If he goes on abusing her for several years, will this make a difference (as compared to if he does it just one time)?

Has she a case to bring him to civil authorities? I would be very grateful for an answer to this question
The simple answer - 1) if you know for certain that these are the facts and he is still abusing her or others - is to call the police since this is viewed as a case of pikuach nefesh. The fact that this does not involve a specific sexual prohibition which is punishable by court or by kares - it still is prohibited because of many other Torah prohibition. 2) If it is only a suspicion - then contact someone who is experienced in these matters - whether a rabbi, psychologist or social worker - and ask how to proceed. Do not consult people who are not experienced in issues of abuse.

However if this is in regard to past activity and he no longer abuses and there is absolutely no possibility he will abuse in the future - the situation is different. In that case you need to consult with rabbinical authorities as well as a lawyer and experienced mental health expert.

Rav Eliashiv: Question: If someone is sexually abusing a boy or a girl in circumstances which we can’t stop him from continuing his evil deeds – is it permissible to notify the government authorities? Answer:...However, it is permitted to notify the government authorities only in the case which it is certain that the accused has been sexually abusing children. Informing the authorities in such a case is clearly something for the well being of the society (tikun olam). However in a case where there is no proof that this activity is happening but it is merely a conjecture or suspicion, if we permit the calling of the authorities - not only would it not be an improvement (tikun olam) - but it would destroy society. That is because it is possible that allegations are being made solely because of some bitterness the student has against his teacher or because of some unfounded fantasy. As a result of these false allegations the accused will be placed in a situation for which death is better than life – even though he is innocent. Therefore I do not see any justification for calling the authorities in such circumstances.

1) pikuach nefesh - Rav Eliyashiv [heard from Rav Maier Horowtiz - the Bostoner Rebbe's son] and Rav Sternbuch [heard directly] have clearly stated sexual abuse destroys the person and is thus pikuach nefesh. Simply put the person who is doing this is no different than someone trying to murder her. You must use the minimum effective action that will protect her. If it is clear that this is happening - call the police. The perpetrator is a rodef.

2) physically harming another person is prohibited

3) psychological harm is prohibited by "lo sono" Vayikra 25:17

4) embarrassing and degrading another person is prohibited

5) there is also a Torah requirement to stop a person from sinning.

6) this is also Torah violation of "loving your fellow as yourself"

7) there is a need to rebuke a sinner

8) the disgusting behavior of this individual degrades the spritual status of all Jews - through the mechanism of arvus.

9) there is a Torah prohibition of standing idly by while someone is being harmed

Arab propaganda war against Israel

YNET reports:

From the outset of Operation Cast Lead, a narrative that is highly disturbing for Israelis and Jews has emerged in the Arab world. "Israel carries out mass extermination," Hamas and Islamic Brotherhood spokesmen scream out on Arab satellite networks, and especially on al-Jazeera.

"Collective punishment, genocide, Holocaust," these same spokesmen cry out, with photos of dismembered bodies in the wake of Air Force attacks posted in the backdrop. These are charged words, yet it is precisely what speakers are trying to achieve: They wish to show the world that Israel has replaced Nazi Germany. Those are not slips of the
tongue, but rather, a deliberate argument that is repeated time and again.

From early on in the war, a dual and often contradictory narrative had been created by various Arab media outlets. Yet despite the contradictions, it appears many Arabs accept it: On the one hand, Israel is portrayed as a Nazi state and a mass exterminator of defenseless civilians, while the world remains silent. Yet on the other hand, "Palestinian resistance fighters" are said to pulverize Israel mercilessly, with the IDF said to conceal its casualties. [...]

Friday, January 9, 2009

Norwegian doctor in Gaza - Apologist for Hamas

Fox News:

A high-profile Norwegian doctor who has said the September 11 terrorists were justified in their attack is now treating patients in Gaza and is being accused of presenting "hard-core propaganda" to TV interviewers in his telling of the conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Dr. Mads Gilbert has become an unofficial advocate of the Palestinian cause, his critics say.

International media reports, including those from the BBC, CBS, CNN and FOX’s sister station Sky News, present Gilbert as an ordinary doctor.

But a look at his record shows that Gilbert, 61, is a political activist and member of the Norwegian Maoist "Red" party, and he has been involved in solidarity work for the Palestinians since the 1970s. He has criticized the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders for refusing to take sides in conflicts.

Gilbert volunteers at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza with the Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC), an aid organization funded by the Norwegian government, and he has been interviewed by the media on a variety of issues. Israeli government officials have said Hamas hides weapons in the hospital where Gilbert works.[...]

Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in America

To all dear Jews concerned about their fellow-Jews in this time of distress:

In light of the current situation, in which thousands of Jews in the Holy Land are in danger due to the attacks of the enemy, we regard it as proper to strongly emphasize the obligation on us all to awaken ourselves in prayer, to ask for Divine mercy for our dear brethren and to increase our charity and good deeds for the protection of the remnant of Yisroel from any and all harm. We should intensify the practice of reciting chapters 83, 130 and 142 of Tehillim each day, and fervently pour out our hearts in the prayer - Vehu Rachum' said on Monday and Thursday mornings and in the blessing of -Hashkiveinu in Ma'ariv, where we ask Hashem to -spread upon us Your tent of peace' and conclude -the Guardian of His nation Yisroel forever."

May Hashem in His abundant mercy and kindness shield His nation and heritage, release them from all straits, and take us from darkness to light and from subjugation to redemption. Amen, may it be His will.

8 Teves, 5769 [forwarded by RaP]

Hamas - Rejoicing in Palestinian suffering

NYTimes reports:

The emergency room in Shifa Hospital is often a place of gore and despair. On Thursday, it was also a lesson in the way ordinary people are squeezed between suicidal fighters and a military behemoth.

Dr. Awni al-Jaru, 37, a surgeon at the hospital, rushed in from his home here, dressed in his scrubs. But he came not to work. His head was bleeding, and his daughter’s jaw was broken.

He said Hamas militants next to his apartment building had fired mortar and rocket rounds. Israel fired back with force, and his apartment was hit. His wife, Albina, originally from Ukraine, and his 1-year-old son were killed.

“My son has been turned into pieces,” he cried. “My wife was cut in half. I had to leave her body at home.” Because Albina was a foreigner, she could have left Gaza with her children. But, Dr. Jaru lamented, she would not leave him behind.

A car arrived with more patients. One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.

“Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting,” he told the doctors.

He was told that there were more serious cases than his, that he needed to wait. But he insisted. “We are fighting the Israelis,” he said. “When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away.” He continued smiling.

“Why are you so happy?” this reporter asked. “Look around you.”

A girl who looked about 18 screamed as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded looked around helplessly. A man lay with parts of his brain coming out. His family wailed at his side.

“Don’t you see that these people are hurting?” the militant was asked.

“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”

Beis Din vs. Dina de Malchusa /HAFTR

RaP wrote:

(Here's a story about a Bais Din and Din Torah that has nothing to do with conversions, altho it has similarities in that like Rabbi Tropper and EJF who ignored the pleas of the Bais Din Tzedek of the Eidah Hachareidis, it is a zilzul of a Bais Din, and it goes further by landing up in gentile arka'os (courts), a very grievous matter in Halacha:)

Question: When a Din Torah clashes with "Dina de Malchusa" in the form of a secular court's counter-verdict, what does one do?

Or: Who took this case to to non-Jewish court after it was already adjucated, and why? Does the Bais Din have the power to put in cherem the person who took the Bais Din to a secular court?

If anyone has the answers to these questions, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Here is the story, that is both fascinating and foreboding:

The Jewish Star Also reported in Vos Iz Nei'as

"Beit Din decision overturned

NYS Supreme Court calls verdict on HAFTR teacher ‘irrational’

By Michael Orbach

Issue of Jan. 9, 2009 / 13 Teves 5769

The New York State Supreme Court has overturned a decision by the Beth Din of America, shocking both the rabbinical and civil legal communities. In a Dec. 18 decision, Justice Bruce M. Balter of Kings Country Supreme Court found that a verdict concerning a teacher at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, rendered by the beit din, was “irrational” and “violative of public policy.”

Left unappealed, the ruling could impact future beit din verdicts.

The case concerns a rebbe named Nachum Brisman. He began teaching at HAFTR in 1991 and was let go at the end of the 2005 academic year due to differences in hashkafa (religious outlook) with the school. He had received tenure over the course of his employment, though tenure was canceled school-wide in 2005. A din Torah (trial) before a panel consisting of Rabbi Mordechai Willig of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, and Rabbi Ronald Warburg found in Brisman’s favor and awarded him $50,000 in back pay. The beit din also doubled his salary to $100,000, reinstated his tenure and ruled that any future termination of Brisman must go through the beit din itself even though the original arbitration agreement granted such jurisdiction for just one year.

Marvin Neiman, Brisman’s lawyer, stressed the nature of the compromise.

“It was a good compromise because it made everyone unhappy,” Neiman told The Jewish Star. He also explained that the beit din salary award was lower than Brisman’s total 2005 compensation which, according to Neiman, was mainly built through overtime.

A HAFTR official said that the school would have no comment about a pending legal matter.

While Neiman believed that HAFTR would honor the beit din’s decision, he sought to confirm the award with the New York State Supreme Court, which is a common step after arbitration. The overturning of an arbitration verdict is relatively rare and considered unusual.

While arbitration verdicts are not enforceable, the decisions are given weight in court. According to a 2006 precedent, an arbitration decision cannot be vacated, even if there is a factual error in the case, unless there is a suspicion of fraud, irrationality, or a harm to public policy. There is no suspicion of fraud in the case. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court refused to confirm the verdict.

Justice Balter found that the decision should be voided on the grounds that the decision was irrational, the beit din specifically went beyond its enumerated authority and that the verdict violated public policy.

The decision was irrational on two counts, Balter found. [...]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Economics - Return to Keynes

Wall Street Journal : [See also WSJ here] [referred by Jersey Girl]

The U.S. and dozens of other nations are returning to massive government spending as a recession fighter. It's not because they're sure it'll do the trick. It's because they're running low on options and desperate for tools -- even old ones -- to fight the global downturn.

Around the world, interest rates have been slashed and trillions of dollars have been committed to bailouts. But the global recession is deepening anyway. So policy makers are invoking the ideas of British economist John Maynard Keynes (pronounced "canes"), who argued that governments should fight the Great Depression in the 1930s with heavy spending. With consumer and business spending so weak, he argued, governments had to boost demand directly.

Drama was a Keynes tool. During a 1934 dinner in the U.S., after one economist carefully removed a towel from a stack to dry his hands, Mr. Keynes swept the whole pile of towels on the floor and crumpled them up, explaining that his way of using towels did more to stimulate employment among restaurant workers.

Keynesian policies fell out of favor in the 1970s, as government spending was blamed for helping to spur inflation around the world. But with the global economic turmoil being compared to the 1930s, government spending is once again back in vogue.

"The situation is so severe that we're all Keynesians again -- Keynesians in the foxhole," says Martin Baily, a former Clinton White House economist at the left-leaning Brookings Institution. "It really is such a difficult time that we're going to need to use whatever ammunition we have." [...]

HaRav Sternbuch - Understanding Gaza

Fear of Moslems costs JetBlue $240,000

CNN reports:

JetBlue Airways and two TSA screeners will pay $240,000 to settle an Iraqi man's claim he was denied access to a flight until he covered a T-shirt that read in English and Arabic, "We Will Not be Silent."

In the settlement, JetBlue and the TSA screeners deny any wrongdoing, saying they only wanted to resolve the 2½-year-old federal lawsuit.

But Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi who immigrated to the United States three years ago, cast the settlement as a victory, saying the payout would discourage airlines and airport security officials from imposing restrictions in the future.

ACLU attorney Aden Fine, who represented Jarrar, also called it a victory. "A $240,000 award should send a clear and strong message to all TSA officials and to all airlines that what happened here is wrong and should not happen again," he said.

The TSA screeners -- Garfield Harris and Franco Trotta -- declined comment, referring questions to their attorneys, who also declined comment, and the TSA.

TSA spokesman Christopher White, while noting that the TSA was not a party to the suit, said "There is absolutely no intention to take disciplinary action against the employees involved."

The incident occurred August 12, 2006 -- two days after the United Kingdom revealed a plot to bomb planes to the United States had been foiled. In response, the United States imposed a ban on carry-on liquids, and raised the threat level at airports.

Jarrar, now 30, said he was attempting to travel on JetBlue flight 101 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Oakland, California, when he was approached by TSA officers. The officers told him he'd have to cover his T-shirt.

"When I asked why, one of the TSA officers said, 'Coming into an airport while wearing a T-shirt with Arabic letters on it was equivalent to going into a bank while wearing a shirt saying, 'I am a robber,' " Jarrar said.

Jarrar said he originally refused to cover up the shirt, first asking to speak to a supervisor, and asking if there was a law prohibiting Arabic shirts.

"I said, 'I think as a U.S. resident and taxpayer, I think it's my constitutional right [to express myself],' " said Jarrar, adding the T-shirt's message was not threatening.

Jarrar said he finally relented when it became obvious he couldn't get on the plane without complying. [...]

Hamas wins by being defeated

Israel says its military offensive in Gaza has dealt Hamas a heavy blow, but that's not how the leaders of the radical Palestinian group see it. Their view is based more on a kind of jujitsu that uses Israel's military momentum against its own political objectives than on any serious belief in rhetoric about the organization's "steadfast" fighters being able to "crush" the invaders.

Israel had long assumed that Hamas wanted a ground invasion so it could land some blows on the Israeli military in order to claim a propaganda victory once the Israelis inevitably withdrew. Still, by entering Gaza on Saturday, the Israelis calculated that they could draw Hamas into clashes that would substantially weaken the organization, even if Israel suffered some casualties. But despite the ferocity of the fighting that rages in some parts of Gaza, there are indications that Hamas is keeping many of its best fighters out of the direct path of the advancing Israelis. Israeli military officials have noted that resistance has not been as fierce as expected, and that most Israeli soldiers wounded in the operation thus far have been struck by mortar rounds fired from a considerable distance. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel in a symbolic taunt to the Israeli public. (See pictures of Israel's sweep into Gaza.)

So what's Hamas' game?

The militant group is operating on a belief that Israel's assault cannot be sustained in the face of growing international pressure for a cease-fire. In fact, Hamas believes it is winning the political battle, as images of the horrors being suffered by the Palestinian civilian population flash around the world. And it wants to ensure the survival of as much of its military and organizational capabilities as possible so as to best profit from an eventual truce. [...]

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Palestinian protest in Florida - Call for ovens for Jews

Fox News:

[...] Most of the chants were run-of-the-mill; men and women waving Palestinian flags called Israel's invasion of Gaza a "crime," while the pro-Israel group carried signs calling the Hamas-run territory a "terror state."

But as the protest continued and crowds grew, one woman in a hijab began to shout curses and slurs that shocked Jewish activists in the city, which has a sizable Jewish population.

"Go back to the oven," she shouted, calling for the counter-protesters to die in the manner that the Nazis used to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.

"You need a big oven, that's what you need," she yelled. [...]

Lithuanian Charedi Mitnagdim pronunciation

Frank from France sent the following request


I've discovered your great website while searching some informations about hebrew pronunciation and different questions about minhagim, As I've noticed your great culture in those subjects I'd like to submit you some questioning I have.

I'm interested in Lithuanian Haredi Mitnaggim movement and great rav like rav Shach, rav Elyachiv, etc. and references like Chafetz Chaim, Chazon Ish, etc. My search is about their practice : hebrew pronunciation, minhag, nusach, siddur, halacha, etc.

I'd like you to clarify myself on those points :

Pronunciation, is this movement pronouncing like this : Boroukh Ato Adey-noy Eleyheynou Melekh Hoeylom Asher Kiddéshonou Bémitsveysov Vétzivonou ... ? cholam=tzerer= 'ey' like in 'veined', also I have read that some pronounce shin like sin and sin like shin not sure who is concerned...

I'm not sure this theoretical pronunciation is still respect in Israel because I didn't always recognize them while listening to some rav shach or rav elyachiv brachot also I have read many arguying about how to pronounce the holam for example, as in your website "R' Schach ruled that the vowel holam should davka be pronounced with a yud sound at the end," so lithuanian (so rav shach) pronounce 'ey' but he says to pronounce 'oy' ? same for the Vilna Gaon saying we should pronounce it like a long o (sounds 'ou' like in 'you' ?) how do the lithuanian Haredi Mitnaggim define the correct hebrew pronunciation ? and paradoxically is it different from what they actually do ?

siddur, what siddur (daily use) are they using ? classic ashkenazim siddur ? or siddur ha-gra ? other ? does an artscroll classic ashenaz siddur fit ?

nusach : does they have a melody while praying ? I read somewhere they are just talking not singing in every days prayers

halacha : is the mishnah berurah their actual authority or is there other texts ?

many thanks & best regards

Frank (from France excuse my english please)