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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What airline should you fly on II?

Today's Yated Neeman had a follow up ad which listed more recommended airlines. For the curious, US Airways is the recommended airline for flights in the USA.



Of course, if you must fly on a different airline that has movies you can get your handy mechitza by calling 057 3155613.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Russia succeeded in Georgia and Israel failed in Lebanon

The press here in Israel has been very focused on the war in Georgia and actually quoted Russian sources that Russia learned from Israel's failure in Lebanon. They have also been discussing why the Russians succeeded so quickly and Israel failed.

There is a very simple reason why Russia succeeded and Israel failed. Russia used overwhelming force while Israel did not, basically fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. Israel's leaders need to learn this simple lesson from the Russians, overwhelming force wins. You can't fight a war with 1 hand tied behind your back and win. Until we learn that lesson the war in Lebanon will repeat itself again and again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Historic event in Vilna taking place today

The Kupat Hair Bnei Brak is sending a minyan of talmidei chachamim to daven at the grave of the Gra for the people who gave money to the Kupa.

Here is an ad that appeared last week to promote the big event:



Here is the schedule for today's big event:



As I hope you can figure out from the tone here I am not in favor of this for a number of reasons:

1. It tries to get people to act against Halacha. These ads ran in newspapers around Israel and flyers were distributed all over the country. Yet, the halacha clearly states that עניי עירך קודמים. In other words, someone who lives in Yerushalayim, Bet Shemesh, Beitar, Rechasim, Ashdod, etc. should be giving to their local Kupa shel Tzedaka not the Kupa of Bnei Brak. By going out with these big campaigns they are making it hard for local tzedaka organizations (which al pi halacha come first) to collect money.
2. It makes a business out of tzedaka. People can no longer give tzedaka just to give tzedaka? How many עניים could have been supported with the money that went to fly all of these people to Vilna? Do we need to promise a yeshua to get people to give tzedaka?
3. It is a quick fix approach. It makes all kinds of promises of yeshuos with no effort. Give a little money and someone will daven for you and you will be saved. Is that what we believe in? What happened to working hard on yourself, davening yourself, improving yourself?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Not eating meat during the 9 days

There are a number of different reasons for not eating meat during the 9 days:
1. Aveilus - Meat is something that makes us happy (אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין) and therefore in these days of mourning we abstain
2. זכר לקרבנות - We are supposed to remember that during this time the קרבנות were stopped.

Whatever the reason we are supposed to use this to feel the aveilus of the churban. Unfortunately, many people take not eating meat during the 9 days in the wrong direction. Some people love it, as I once heard "and best of all, there's always ice cream or cheese cake for desert".

Those who feel that it is easy and great and they get to eat ice cream all the time, are missing the whole point. They may be doing the minhag but by Aveilus there is supposed to be a kiyum balev, you are supposed to feel something. These people feel no aveilus because they are not eating meat, in fact they are happy. This is a perversion of the minhag. The minhagim are supposed to help you feel aveilus, if they don't you should do something else that will help you feel the aveilus as well. Clearly, we cannot violate the minhag and eat meat even if we don't like meat, on the other hand, we shouldn't be eating gourmet milchig meals and enjoying ourselves either.

These days are supposed to be sad, eating gourmet milchig meals while not technically violating the minhag is certainly violating it's spirit.

Monday, August 04, 2008

ערב ט' באב שחל בשבת when to take off your shoes?

The Rama is clear, after Borchu you take your shoes off. This is the minhag that I remember when I was growing up.

However, recently a new minhag which makes a lot of sense has evolved. People go home after mincha, eat, and then at Tzeis Hakochavim say boruch hamavdil, take off their shoes, change their clothes and then go to shul to daven maariv. This seems to work better then the old minhag of taking off your shoes in shul. The question is, why didn't the Rama advocate this minhag? One answer is that in the days of the Rishonim and Acharonim it was hard to get people to come out to shul at night and therefore if people had gone home they wouldn't return for maariv. Still you have to wonder is this really true? Was this the case in Eastern Europe 100-150 years ago?

I am interested to hear what the readers will be doing.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Functionally illiterate Chasidim

This weeks Hamodia had a very sad letter from a Chassidishe housewife living in Boro Park. It seems that her husband who was born in NY cannot speak English. He is completely dependent on her for any interaction outside of the Chasidic community. From her letter it is clear that this is not an isolated incident but is a normal phenomenon in many Chasidic groups in NY.

My wonderful capable husband is completely handicapped. He can't call the telephone company without me. Any questions on our credit card bill must be resolved through me.
...
Yet, if my husband must venture out into the world, even simply via a telephone call he is at a complete disadvantage due to the inadequate command of the English language.
...
my husband went to take his road test. When he arrived home, I asked him how it went and he sheepishly handed me the paper the instructor had given him. He hadn't been able to figure out whether he had passed or failed.
...
my husband is a native New Yorker, born and raised. He is also quite intelligent. Yet, when I walked in he was at a complete loss and the nurses were gaping at him in disbelief not comprehending how an American adult could not respond to such elementary questions about his own child without assistance.


This is very sad and is spreading to the non-Chasidic community. I can identify a Yeshivish kid right away by the way they speak Yinglish instead of English. English today is the language of the world and for people living in America not to learn it is a terrible shame.