Thursday, September 29, 2005

The process of din on Rosh Hashana

We find 2 conflicting accounts of the process of din on Rosh Hashana

1. ראש השנה ט"ז: אמר רבי כרוספדאי, אמר רבי יוחנן: שלושה ספרים נפתחין בראש השנה, אחד של רשעים גמורין, ואחד של צדיקים גמורין, ואחד של בינוניים. צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיים. רשעים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר למיתה. בינוניים תלויין ועומדין מראש השנה ועד יום הכיפורים: זכו - נכתבין לחיים; לא זכו - נכתבין למיתה

R' Kruspedai said 3 books are opened on Rosh Hashana, 1 for reshaim 1 for tzadikkim and 1 for average people. Tzadikim are incribed and sealed right away for life, reshaim right away for death and the average person is waiting until Yom Kippur, if he is worthy he is incribed and sealed right away for life i he is unworthy for death

2. ונתנה תוקף: בראש השנה יכתבון וביום צום כיפור יחתמון

In the piyut U'Nsaneh Tokef: On Rosh Hashana a person is inscribed and on Yom Kippur it is sealed

There are 2 contradictions:
1. The gemara has everything happening either on RH or on YK, the piyut has the inscribing on RH and the sealing on YK.
2. The gemara has different groups while in the piyut everyone is lumped together.

To answer this we need to fully understand the gemara. The Rishonim ask a powerful and obvious question on the gemara. How can the gemara state that צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיים and רשעים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר למיתה, this is just not true, there are many cases where צדיקים die and רשעים live.

The Rishonim offer a number of answers, I will mention 3 of them (and focus on the last answer of Tosafos):

1. The Ran answers that we are misunderstanding the words צדיק and רשע. We interpret them to mean righteous and eveil. However, the Ran says here they mean צדיק בדין and רשע בדין, meaning that anyone who wins a din is called a צדיק and anyone who loses is called a רשע. This is what I would call a technical answer.
2. The Baal Hamor says that the gemara said צדיקים גמורין, someone who is a צדיק גמור who has no aveiros will live, likewise a רשע גמור someone who has no zechuyos whatsoever will die. Everyone else including regular צדיקים are lumped in the category of בינוניים
3. Tosafos says that רבי כרוספדאי is talking about חיי עולם הבא. This Tosafos answers our original question, there is no contradiction, ונתנה תוקף is talking about din in this world, who lives and who dies, who is rich and who is poor, etc. while רבי כרוספדאי is talking about חיי עולם הבא.

The question remains what does Tosafos mean by חיי עולם הבא? It makes little sense to have a din every year on what your reward will be when you die. A number of acharonim(the Gra, R' Aharon Kotler, and others) explain Tosafos as follows. חיי עולם הבא means spirituality in this world. Torah and mitzvos is חיי עולם הבא. Every year there is a din on how much help (or harm) a person will get in ruchniyos. As I mentioned here Is it ever too late to do teshuva? the Rambam writes

שמונעין ממנו התשובה ואין מניחין לו רשות לשוב מרשעו, כדי שימות ויאבד בחטאים שעשה.

It is possible that a person can do a great sin or many sins until the judgement for his sins that he did willingly is that he is prevented from doing teshuva and he is not given permission to repent so that he will die with the sins that he did.

This is exactly this idea, that a person needs help from above to succeed in ruchniyos. צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיים means that they will have siyata dishmaya to succeed in ruchniyos and therefore they are considered alive. רשעים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר למיתה means that even though physically they are alive, they are dead spiritually and will receive no help (and may be prevented) in succeeding spiritually.

It comes out that there are 2 separate din processes on Rosh Hashana

1. A din on your physical life whether you live or die, rich or poor, etc. This is בראש השנה יכתבון וביום צום כיפור יחתמון

2. A din on your ruchniyos, how much help will you get from above, this is what רבי כרוספדאי was talking about and this is all on RH or all on YK depending on your status.

I would like to wish all the readers a כתיבה וחתימה טובה on both dinim, both in gashmiyus and in ruchniyos.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The new improved Making of a Godol

Someone go it for me and I started reading it. I read the original version a while back and this version doesn't strike me as being much different. The format is still the same awful format and the stories strike me as being the same. I see that others ( Differences btwn the "Improved" Making of a Godol and the Original) have listed some of the changes, they are very minor, there seems to be only 1 story that is completely omitted from the improved edition. The inconsequential nature of the changes shows how silly the original ban was and makes me wonder what is going on in the frum community.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The use of electricity on Shabbos

This is meant to be a quick and not comprehensive post about the reasons (or non-reasons) for prohibiting electricity on Shabbos. Note, this only applies to non-incandescent appliances.

Various poskim offer the following reasons why electricity should be prohibited

1. Molid (Beit Yitzchak 2:31)- Turning on an appliance is analogous to creating something new which is prohibited on Shabbat.
2. Boneh (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9) - Completion of a circuit is prohibited because it is a form of building.
3. Makeh B'Patish (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9)- Turning on an appliance completes it.
4. Sparks (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 50:9) - Completion of a circuit creates sparks and therefore is prohibited because it creates a flame.
5. Increased fuel consumption (Chashmal Leor Halacha 2:6) - The use of electrical appliances leads to an increase in fuel consumption at the power station, which is prohibited.
6. Heating of metal (Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 50:9) - Heating of a metal transistor or wire, even when no visible light is emitted, is prohibited because of cooking or burning.

These were rejected by RSZA for the following reasons:

1. Only a limited number of actions were prohibited by Chazal because of molid, and therefore we may not extrapolate from these limited examples that creating anything else new (like electrical current) is rabbinically prohibited.

2. Closing a circuit is analogous to closing a door (which is permitted) because it is meant to be opened and closed.

3. Since the appliance is made to be turned on and off it cannot be makeh b'patish

4. This is not factually true anymore

5. This is at most grama and in fact is many times not true.

6. This is not factually true anymore

Based on the above RSZA (Minchat Shlomo 74, 84), writes the following:

In my opinion there is no prohibition [to use electricity] on Shabbat or Yom Tov... There is no prohibition of ma'keh bepatish or molid... (However, I am afraid that the masses will err and turn on incandescent lights on Shabbat, and thus I do not permit electricity absent great need...) ... This matter requires further analysis.
However, the key point in my opinion is that there is no prohibition to use electricity on Shabbat unless the electricity causes a prohibited act like cooking or starting a flame.

He states unequivocally that since the minhag is to prohibit the use of electricity, and this minhag received near unanimous approval from the poskim absent great need we should accept this tradition.

My point in my previous post was that soon we will reach a point where it will be very hard to refrain from using electricity in some form given the ubiquity of electronics and sensors everywhere and this minhag may need to be revisited.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Staying in a hotel with electronic locks on Shabbos

I stayed in a hotel this Shabbos in a small Jewish community near the shul. These days it is a big problem to stay in a hotel for Shabbos because almost all hotels have switched over to electronic keys. Electronic keys use electricity and therefore are prohibited to use on Shabbos for whatever reason electricity is prohibited (there are a number of reasons given including the opinion of the Chazon Ish that creating a circuit is Boneh min hatorah, RSZA holds that there is no issur whatsoever however, it is prohibited based on minhag). The bottom line is we assume that electricity on Shabbos is prohibited at least m'drabbanon.

The advice that I got was to tape up the lock and leave the door unlocked on Shabbos when I go out, I did this and while it worked it made me very nervous. R' Willig told me that if you get locked out you can ask a non-Jew to open it as it is a shvus d'shvus b'makom kitzva.

This illustrates the problem that electricity poses for us and is going to pose for us in the near future. Everything is going electronic. Soon it will be very hard to find anything that doesn't have some kind of electronic sensor on it. If you go to a hotel you can see some of them for example:
Electronic keys
Motion sensors which shut off the lights and air conditiong if there is no movement
Faucets that go on and off based on motion sensors
Toilets with sensors
Automatic doors
Security cameras

Household appliances are changing as well. New refrigerators all have sensors that are put into action when you open the door etc. (even if you tape down the light switch). Modern burglar alarms have sensors on the door and register when the door opens even if the alarm is off. There are surveillance cameras everywhere.

The point is that electronics and sensors are becoming ubiquitious, they are going to be everywhere. It will soon reach a point that we will not be able to do anything without causing some reaction in some sensor.

The question is what will the reaction from the poskim be? RSZA opinion that there really is no issur seems to be very well reasoned and I believe is generally accepted. The question is will anyone have the courage to run with it and say that in the modern world where circumstances have changed we need to allow certain things (like electronic locks, refrigerator sensors etc.) The fact is that in the next 10 years the incandescent light bulb will go the way of the dodo which will remove the only issur doraysa related to electricity. I know that there is a very fine line it is clear that we don't want people using computers, tv's, mp3 players on shabbos, on the other hand we are rapidly reaching a point where we will be unable to do anything on Shabbos in a modern home. The poskim need to come up with some kind of balance, given what is going on in the Jewish world I am not optimistic.

When is the proper time to say selichos?

The shulchan aruch in siman 581 states that the minhag is to get up early in the morning before alos hashachar and say selichos. The acharonim quote another minhag of saying selichos right after Chatzos.

It is clear from the Shulchan Aruch and the acharonim that the above 2 options are the proper times to say selichos. What about other times?

The Mateh Efraim discusses saying selichos after Alos and says that b'dieved this is fine and that it is better to say selichos after Alos then not say them at all.

The Acahronim discuss one other time, the first half of the night. Most Acharonim are very much against this as the first half of the night is a time of din and in fact, R' Ovadya Yosef states that it is better not to say selcihos at all then say them in the first half of the night.

R' Willig told us that based on this, that instead of saying selichos at 10:00PM, amuch better choice is to daven mincha a little early and say them between mincha and maariv at the end of the day before sunset.

To sum up there are 4 possible times to say selichos
1. Early morning before Alos - best time to say selichos
2. Right after Chatzos - also l'chatchela
3. During the day - anytime after Alos until sunset, not l'chatchela but better to say selichos at this time then not say them
4. First half of the night - according to some Acharonim it is better not to say selichos at this time, according to others this is really b'dieved (if you absolutely have no other choice).

The above is only a general guideline, as always, ask your local Rav any specific questions.


Here are some specific references about the issue

Mishnah Berurah 565:12, selichos should not be recited before midnight.

Sha'arei Teshuvah 581:1 quoting Birkei Yosef, one who finds himself in a shul where selichos are being recited before midnight, should not recite the Thirteen Attributes along with the congregation.

Igros Moshe O.C. 2:105, R' Moshe is very against the practice of saying selichos before midnight.

Yechave Da'as 1:46, prohibits saying selichos before midnight, instead he advises reciting selichos before Minchah.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Baal Teshuva's fate in the Charedi world

Mishpacha had an article last week (I think by a Baal Teshuva) about the problems that they encounter in the Charedi community. The main one is that their kids are not accepted in mainstream Charedi schools. She told a story of a new school that started that originally accepted the children of Baalei Teshuva and as soon as they became successfult they kicked them all out. Of course this continues on with Shidduchim.

This week they published a response. The woman who responded is married to the son of a Baal teshuva. She explained that she originally also felt very bad about this but a relative in Chinuch explained the situation. He said that many Baalei Teshuva stay in contact with their non-religious families. Therefore they are a tremendous danger to everyone else. After all, the friends may actually see a non-religious person in the house etc. Of course she threw in the obligatory anecdote about such a thing really happening (going off the derech due ti the influence of a baal teshuva friend). Therefore she concluded, that it is better to hurt individual baalei teshuva then to put the whole community at harm.

I could not believe what I was reading. What kind of paranoia is this? Why punish all the baalei teshuva? The Charedi world has such little faith in their kids, they feel that any little thing will throw them off the derech.

I really feel bad for any Charedi Baal Teshuva, these people have no idea what they are getting into.

Last week in Mishpacha they had an article about the workload of Girls seminaries. Many parents complained that the workload was too high. The administrator's justification, we need to keep the girls busy, otherwise who knows what they will do? The same story, a complete lack of faith in the kids and their education.

These kinds of things really bother me about the Charedi comunity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The destruction of the shuls in Gaza

Whatever the Israeli government would have done, the destruction of the shuls was a forgone conclusion after the disengagement. No one really believed that the Palestinians would prevent the buildings from being destroyed. I agree with what Israel did for the following reasons:

1. Most of the poskim who were asked (including R' Ovadya Yosef and other prominent poskim) agreed that it was prohibited for Jews to destroy the shuls
2. It would set a bad precedent worldwide
3. The Palestinians got bad PR from the destruction

I am sure that many people when hearing/seeing the destruction thought what barbarians, we would never do that to a mosque. While it is true that the Israeli government (or the US government) would never do that, the halacha may require us to do just that. The Torah commands us to destroy Avoda Zara especially in EY, so if Islam is considered avoda zara then mosques would need to be destroyed. Even if it is not avoda zara, a mosque certainly has no kedusha and is no different then any other building.

Again, we see the conflict between the Torah and Western values. There is an international treaty prohibiting the destruction of any religious site, while the Torah commands us to destroy avoda zara.

In fact, the parshiyos that we have read lately and are reading in Devarim, are very un-pc. In parshas Reah we have the din of עיר הנדחת, where if the majority of people worship avoda zara we raze the city and kill ALL the inhabitants, in Shoftim we have the halachos of war, including the halacha to wipe out the 7 nations. In this weeks parsha, Ki Tetze, we have the mitzva of wiping out Amalek.

On Rosh Hashana, we emphasize the Akeda. If we think about it Avraham Avinu was willing to kill/sacrifice his son to fulfill the will of Hashem. Again, this is something that conflicts with the Western sense of morality. Avraham Avinu who was the איש חסד par excellance was able to overcome his feelings of חסד and fulfill the will of Hashem. Not only that, this act did not affect him negatively and he remained the איש חסד par excellance. In passing the test of the Akeda, Avraham Avinu passed down to us this quality, that we have the ability to fulfill the will of Hashem even where it is seemingly cruel and not be affected by it.

I am not advocating actually doing any of these things today, we cannot. My point is that we need to look at the halachos relating to these issues and from there understand the Torah's idea of morality/justice and how it conflicts with Western morality.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Is it ever too late to do teshuva?

If you look at any mussar sefer the answer is no, as chazal say אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על ראשו אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים. Yet, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (6:3) states explicitly that it could be too late:

ואפשר שיחטא האדם חטא גדול או חטאים הרבה, עד שייתן הדין לפני דיין האמת שיהיה הפירעון מזה החוטא על חטאים אלו שעשה ברצונו ומדעתו, שמונעין ממנו התשובה ואין מניחין לו רשות לשוב מרשעו, כדי שימות ויאבד בחטאים שעשה.
לפיכך כתוב בתורה "ואני, אחזק את לב פרעה" (ראה שמות ד,כא; שמות יד,ד): לפי שחטא מעצמו תחילה והרע לישראל הגרים בארצו, שנאמר "הבה נתחכמה, לו" (שמות א,י), נתן הדין למנוע ממנו התשובה, עד שנפרעין ממנו; לפיכך חיזק הקדוש ברוך הוא את ליבו.
וכן ישראל בימי אלייהו לפי שהרבו לפשוע, מנע מאותן המרבים תשובה, שנאמר "ואתה הסיבות את ליבם, אחורנית" (מלכים א יח,לז), כלומר מנעת מהן התשובה.

It is possible that a person can do a great sin or many sins until the judgement for his sins that he did willingly is that he is prevented from doing teshuva and he is not given permission to repent so that he will die with the sins that he did
therefore the Torah writes that I will harden Paroah's heart ...
and also the Jews at the time of Eliyahu because they sinned so greatly were prevented form doing teshuva ...

We see black on white that the Rambam writes that a person can be prevented from doing teshuva, in other words it is too late.

What do the mussar sefarim do with this Rambam? R' Schwadron, who edited the Lev Eliyahu, asks this question on the Lev Eliyahu in Parshas Bo in a footnote and answers as follows.

The Rambam's proof from Bnei Yisrael in the time of Eliyahu is very difficult, after all the story there ends with Bnei Yisrael screaming ה' הוא האלוקים, in other words doing teshuva. He answers that even if teshuva is closed off tefilla never is. A person can always daven to hashem that the punishment should be lifted and he should be allowed to do teshuva. This is exactly what Eliyahu Hanavi did.

How does this work? When a person is prevented from doing teshuva it means that his yetzer hara is given more power and there is no way for him to overcome the yetzer. However, he can daven to remove this. This is like a person who loves to talk loshon hara. The person knows it is assur but just can't help it. The person may even daven to hashem to help him overcome. This is the same idea here. The yetzer hara is too strong to do teshuva but tefilla can help weaken the yetzer hara and then he will be able to do teshuva.

Therefore, the Rambam is right that sometimes it is too late to do teshuva, but even so the mussar sefarim are right that it is never too late, a person can always ask for rachamim and the ability to do teshuva.

We should keep this in mind in Chodesh Elul that tefilla is never too late.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

R' Ovadya Yosef - Katrina is punishment for the disengagement

גלי צה"ל this morning played on the radio an excerpt of a shiur that R' Ovadya Yosef gave last night where he blamed Hurricane Katrina on Bush's support for the disengagement.


Here is a link to what R' Ovadya said Shas rabbi: Hurricane is Bush's punishment for pullout support

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former chief rabbi and the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas movement, said on Wednesday that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for U.S. President George W. Bush's support for Israel's Gaza pullout.

"It was God's retribution. God does not shortchange anyone," Yosef said during his weekly sermon on Tuesday. His comments were broadcast on Channel 10 TV on Wednesday.

Yosef also said recent natural disasters were the result of a lack of Torah study and that Katrina's victims suffered "because they have no God," singling out black people.

"He (Bush) perpetrated the expulsion (of Jews from Gaza). Now everyone is mad at him. This is his punishment for what he did to Gush Katif, and everyone else who did as he told them, their time will come, too," Yosef said.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The international dateline and halacha

I may be traveling to Japan on business so this may be very relevant halacha lamaaseh to me.

There are 3 major opinions on where the halachic dateline is.

1. The Chazon Ish, Brisker Rav and others hold that the dateline is 90 degrees east of Yerushalayim. This is based on the Baal Hamaor's interpretation of the gemara in Rosh Hashana 20b. The Baal Hamaor explains that Bait Din has until noon on the day that they see the molad, new moon, to declare Rosh Chodesh on that same day. However, if it is after noon, then Rosh Chodesh is on the next day. This explanation would only make sense if the Halachic Date Line was at the Kitze Hamizrach which is 90° east of Jerusalem. This is so because the reason why the Baal Hamaor said noon is because that is the last time in Israel that somewhere else in the world that the day is just starting. In order for Rosh Chodesh to be on that day, it must be possible for Rosh Chodesh to last 24 hours somewhere in the world. Since noon is 18 hours into the day (starting from sunset on the night before), the place where the day is just starting is 18 hours to the west of Israel which is 270° west of Israel because every time zone is made up of 15°. So, the place where the new day starts, or the Halachic Date Line, must be six hours to the east of Jerusalem which is also 90° east of Jerusalem. This Line is on the 125E meridian (the explanation of the Baal Hamaor is taken from David Pahmer, The International Date Line and Related Issues, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society Number XXI, Staten Island, NY, 1990). This line passes through Australia, China, and Russia. The Chazon Ish writes that all the Rishonim who discuss the topic (the Baal Hamaor, the Kuzari, and others) agree with this opinion.

The Chazon Ish however, throws in a wrinkle. He claims that the dateline doesn't split up a continent and therefore all of China, Russian and Australia, are on the same side of the dateline as Eretz Yisrael, even the parts that are more then 90 degrees east of Yerushalayim. The Brisker Rav disagrees on this point.

As an aside, RHS pointed out that it would seem that the Chazon Ish and Brisker Rav are l'shitasam. The Brisker Rav takes his analysis to it's logical conclusion and that is it. If the Halacha states that on this side of the street it is Shabbos and on the other side it is Sunday so be it. The Chazon Ish on the other hand says that it can't be so (it would be too confusing, people could walk in and out of Shabbos, even skip Shabbos, etc.) and therefore comes up with his chiddush about landmasses. We find a similar machlokes by taking Terumos and Maasros from fruit juice. The Brisker Rav says tough luck, since the halacha states that fruit juice is just maya b'alma you can't take teruma from it so the juice remains tevel. The Chazon Ish writes that you can't have something that is Tevel that has no way to be mesaken it and therefore disagrees.

RHS (and others including R' Sternbuch) point out the following anomoly according to the Chazon Ish. If one is on the East Coast of Australia and sails out to sea on a boat or takes off in a plane on Sunday (anywhere in Australia past 90 degrees), you will sail or fly into Shabbos. The Chazon Ish's chiddush only applies on the continent itself, however, once you leave the continent (either by plane or boat) then since you are past 90 degress from Yerushalayim, you have crossed the dateline and Sunday turns into Shabbos. This has very serious halachic implications for people living in these places with regards to plane and boat travel on Sunday.

According to the Chazon Ish Japan is on the other side of the dateline from EY and therefore what the Japanese call Sunday is really Shabbos.

2. Rav Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky holds that the dateline is 180 degrees from Yerushalayim based on the gemara that states that Yerushalayim is the the center of the world. If so, the dateline is on the exact opposite side of the Earth, halfway around the globe at 144.8 degrees. This places Hawaii on the other side of the Dateline from the United States. Hawaii would then be nineteen hours ahead of NY, rather than five hours behind, as it is on the same side of the Dateline as Asia. The day Hawaiians call Friday is halachically Shabbos, and the day they call Saturday is halachically Sunday.

According to this opinion Japan is not an issue because it is on the same side as the international dateline puts it.

3. Some poskim claim that there is no such thing as a Halachic Dateline. Instead, a person just follows the day that the country that he is in is observing. In other words the halachic dateline is the international dateline. There are other poskim who put the halachic dateline very close to the international dateline (2 or 3 degrees difference).

To sum up, the problematic places are Japan, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

According to the Chazon Ish, Sunday is Shabbos in Japan, according to opinions 2 and 3 Saturday is Shabbos in Japan.
According to the Chazon Ish and opinion 3, Saturday is Shabbos in Hawaii, while according to R' Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky, Friday is Shabbos.
New Zealand
Same as Japan.

Someone I know went to Japan and asked what he should do for Shabbos. The answer he got was to observe shabbos on Saturday, but to refrain from melacha d'oraysa on sunday in deference to the Chazon Ish's shita. This seems to be the consensus of the poskim today.

Some other interesting issues that come up with regards to the dateline are what if you cross the line during sefira, Chanukkah?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

עיר הנדחת and תשובה

In this past weeks parsha we had the dinim of עיר הנדחת. The Rambam in Hilchos Avoda Zara (4:6) writes a very difficult din. He writes that if the people do teshuva the city no longer has a din of עיר הנדחת. The Raavad there asks that we don't find that teshuva ever helps by a punishment of בית דין.

Many acharonim ask why is this so? Why doesn't teshuva help to save a person from a punishment of בית דין? There are many answers, I will mention 2.

The Chida writes that in theory Teshuva would help, but the בית דין can never ascertain whther a person really did teshuva. Only Hashem can, and therefore theבית דין cannot take teshiva into account.

A more fundamental answer is based on the following. We can ask how can teshuva work? After all normally we say לא אתי דיבור ומבטל מעשה, words cannot wipe out actions. The answer is that teshuva does not work with the notmal principles, teshuva is not of this world, in fact, Chazal state that teshuva preceded creation. Therefore, בית דין cannot take into account teshuva because it is not part of the system of this world.

This all strengthens the Raavad's question.

RYBS (printed in קובץ חידושי תורה) explained the Rambam as follows. When the Rambam writes that if they do teshuva they no longer have a din of עיר הנדחת he doesn't mean that the guilty go scot free. He means that the city is no longer an עיר הנדחת and all the various dinim of עיר הנדחת don't apply, however, those individuals who worshipped avoda zara are punished as individuals. Why is this so? RYBS explained that the gemara (based on the pesukim) says that the people of an עיר הנדחת are בני בליעל, reshaim who have no chelek in olam haba. The Rambam understood this as part of the definition of an עיר הנדחת, that the people need to be reshaim who have no chelek in olam haba. Therefore, if they do teshuva, it doesn't absolve them and prevent punishment but takes away the חלות שם of עיר הנדחת because they can no longer be called בני בליעל, Since, בני בליעל is part of the definition of עיר הנדחת the city no longer qualifies, however, they are punished as individuals.

Friday, September 02, 2005

117,500 - The number of people learning full time in Israel

53,500 learning in Kollel
41,000 learning in Yeshiva
23,000 learning in Yeshiva Ketana

These numbers are amazing.


The numbers are from this weeks Mishpacha, they are based on figures from the government.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Fundamentalist Christians view on world events

Unfortunately the Jewish religious world is not that far behind. The interview with Mary Fowler (and the subsequent comments) are eye opening Conversations at the Gas Pump.

Mary Fowler, 54, Housekeeper

Why do you think gas prices are so high?

From what I've read, they say it's because of the Iraq war. I've also read about alternatives to gas and even automobiles that use alternatives, but for some reason, the big oil companies bought up the patents for that, so it's not just the Iraq war and it's not President Bush's fault. He gets blamed for everything, but it's not his fault. It's just greed from other people. I feel like the president is doing everything he can to help.

Like what?

For one thing, he is protecting our country by being in Iraq. We can't pull out too soon because they'll think we're chicken and they'll try to attack us again. We can't pull out until they're able to fend for themselves. Those who are strong are supposed to help those who are weak. We are strong and we're that way for a reason. We've always been peacemakers. As long as we keep the peace, we'll be blessed.

So you believe we're acting as peacemakers in Iraq?

Yes and we're protecting the innocent. Muslims want to rule the world. They want to take over the whole world. That's their evil purpose.

Do you know any Muslims?

I've ministered to them. A few lived in my apartment building and they invited us over for dinner. I went with a Christian guy. They were nice. The food was nice. At the end, we said, 'Can we pray for you?' And they said yes, if we can pray for you. We prayed for the peace of god. Most of them are very harsh. There's no tenderness or love.

Do a lot of Muslims live in this area? Have you met any others besides the ones who invited you over for dinner?

Most of them live in Tulsa.

Why do you think we're in Iraq? People say we're freeing the Iraqis one minute and then change their opinion and say they're horrible people.

Soldiers over there say we don't get half the news. There's so much good going on. The majority of the people appreciate the help. The majority, not the weirdos who are deceived.

Where do you get your information about the war?

The Bible and the 700 Club. I also listen to preachers who know what's going on. Pat Robertson.

What do you like about Bush?

He's a praying man of god. He's a family man and he does care. He gets blamed for everything. If this country would turn back to god, things would get better. You can't go on killing babies and allowing homosexual stuff to stay. We do love the people, but we don't love their actions.

Do you think talking about homosexuality does anything to improve healthcare or poverty?

I guess for me I've always had to trust the lord for the next job, which is usually housecleaning. If you have your eyes on him, he'll take care of you. The government can't help us.

Do you always vote?

Yes, I volunteered for the Republican Party and I enjoyed it very much.

Have you always been Republican?

When I first registered, I was a Democrat. Just from studying in school, I thought that's what I wanted to be because I believed in government for the people, by the people and of the people. But after I was saved, I realized the Republican beliefs are me so I switched and I'm glad I did.

What does it mean to be a Republican?

Republicans pick the people who believe like we do.

You mean believe in the Bible?

Yes and godly principles. If we kick god out, we'll be like other countries that have AIDS, sickness and poverty. God created the earth, he created the rules and he knows what's best for everybody.

Unfortunately, we have AIDS, sickness and poverty in this country.

Yes, because we allow homosexuality.

You blame homosexuality for AIDS, sickness and poverty?

Well, sometimes people are innocent. This nation is in trouble. The ACLU are run by communists and funded by communists. What does that tell you? They want to take god away from us.

The ACLU once helped Pat Robertson's son set up churches. They also helped Jerry Falwell fight church restrictions three years ago. If they wanted to take god way from you, why would they help Pat Robertson's son and Jerry Falwell?

I haven't heard about that. I'm sure there are a few good people in the ACLU.

I've interviewed a lot of people on this trip and while they want freedom of religion, none have said they want to take god away.

When they first started the country, those that didn't believe in Jesus were put in jail. Once a country is dedicated to god and founded on its principles, it has to stay that way.

What issues are most important to you?

Getting the right Supreme Court Justice in you. I want god back in the schools. They kick god out of schools and they wonder why we have drugs and sex in the schools.

(At this point in our conversation, a gas attendant approached me and said I couldn't interview people without permission from the corporate office. I took a photo of Mary and her Bible sticker and went on my way.)