Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A very interesting upcoming event

On March 5th R' Feldman, R' Moshe Aharon Shechter, and R' Matisyahu Solomon, are going to be speaking in Teaneck on PERSPECTIVES ON TIMELESS ISSUES. I assume the Slifkin ban will be one of the topics of discussion. You can see the flyer here. I would really like to get a summary of this event so if anyone atends please let me know.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Iran and Moshiach

I usually don't like posting about these kinds of topics but today I am making an exception. Someone sent the following to me:

The gemara in Yoma 10a, states:

Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Yehuda in the name of Rabbi Ilai: In the time to come, Rome will fall at the hands of Persia.

The Yalkut Shimoni states:

Rabbi Yitzchak said: The year that Melech HaMoshiach will be revealed, all the kings (leaders) of the nations will be struggling against each other. The leader of Persia (Iran) will contest with an Arab leader and the Arab leader will go to Aram (the Western Superpowers) to get council from them.

The leader of Persia will respond and destroy the entire world. All the nations of the world will be trembling and shaking and falling on their faces. They will be seized by pains like labor pains.

The Jewish people will be trembling and quaking and saying: "Where can we go? Where can we go?" And [Moshiach] will say to them: my children, do not fear! Everything I did I did only for you! Why are you frightened? Don't be afraid--the days of your redemption have arrived!

Rabbi Yonasan Eibshetz, writes in his sefer Yaaros Dvash:

At certain moment the time will come when Moshiach should have already arrived but the redemption has not yet come. The Moshiach will ask how it could be that the time for redemption has arrived and he still undergoes sufferings? The response that he will receive is that he must wait for nine months. Why? In order to wait for the fall of Persia (Iran) at the hands of Edom (the Christian West), and then the final redemption will come.

When we look at what is happening today with Iran and the West the parallels are remarkable.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

כפה עליהם הר כגיגית Why?

I mentioned this idea recently offhand in a previous post ( How did the חרטומים turn blood into water?) and I bleive that it bears repeating.

The gemara in Shabbos comments that כפה עליהם הר כגיגת by Matan Torah. The obvious question is didn't they say נעשה ונשמע, meaning that they excepted the Torah willingly? The Meshech Chochma answers that the gemara is meant to be taken allegorically. The revelation when Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, krias yam suf, and matan torah was so great that it was as if Hashem forced them to accept the Torah. The revelation was so great that they could not say no, Hashem's presence in the world and Torah's importance were self understood like the sun is shining. They understood that if they did not accept the Torah the world would be destroyed, not as a threat but as a fact, as reality. In other words, their free choice was taken away by the tremendous revelation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Can the actions of a צדיק cause a mishap to occur?

The gemara in Kesubos 28b seems to say no. The gemara there is discussing testimony which allows a person to eat Teruma. The gemara brings a story with R' Elazar where he states that he gave testimony that allowed an עבד כנעני to be mistaken for a כהן. The gemara asks from the famous story in Chullin (7a-b) with R' Pinchas ben Yair that if Hashem doesn't let the animal of a צדיק cause a mishap קל וחומר a צדיק himself won't cause a mishap. Therefore the gemara corrects the story that the beis din was going to pasken that he was a כהן but didn't actually do so. We see from here that this principle applies in general to צדיקים.

However, Tosafos in a number of places in shas (Shabbos 12b, Gittin 7a and more) disagrees. Tosafos is bothered by a number of cases where we see that צדיקים did cause mishaps by their actions (for example in Shabbos 12b, R' Yishmael learned by the light of a candle and tilted the candle and violated an issur d'oraysa). Therefore R' Tam posits that this principle only applies to matters of food. Hashem will not cause the a צדיק to eat or violate an issur relating to food. However, this principle does not apply to other areas. R' Tam is therefore forced to change the girsa of the gemara in Kesubos and take out the line which refers to the principle. The Netziv suggests that the reason that this principle only applies to food is that non-kosher food is metamtem es halev.

The Ritva in Shabbos disagrees with R' Tam and answers the case in Shabbos by saying that R' Yishmael was punished for vioating the gezera d'rabbanan and the Ritva rejects R' Tam and claims that this principle applies in all cases.

In summary, there is a machlokes rishonim whether the principle that the actions of a צדיק do not cause a mishap applies to all cases and all kinds of mishaps or just to food related aveiras.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Standing up for the Aseres Hadibros

I posted about this ( Standing up for the Aseres Hadibros) a while back. What I wrote then is very relevant this week when we read the Aseres Hadibros in Parshas Yisro.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In the end a bit of unity

After months of bickering Degel Hatorah and Aguda agreed to run to together again. They expect to get 6 seats (1 more then last time) and they will rotate the 6th seat between Degal and Aguda. On a related front, the Dati Leumi parties also united and the NRP and the Ichud Haleumi will run together.

It will be interesting to see how things shake out. I believe that Olmert is starting to run into trouble with Amona, Hamas winning the PA election and his interview where he said that there will be more disengagements. I don't believe the polls and think that the election will be much closer then it appears now.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A common misconception about קריעת ים סוף

Most people picture the sea splitting and Bnei Yisrael going through to the other side. However, both Tosafos (ערכין ט"ו) and the Rambam (אבות ה,ד) state that Bnei Yisrael actually went in a semicircle and ended up on the same side that they started from. This makes the נס even bigger, because the shevet on the outside had to go much further then the innermost shevet and therefore Hashem had to make sure that the innermost מצרים were slowed down so that they would not emerge before the outermost Jews.

The cartoons that shook the world

Here are the cartoons that the Muslim world is rioting about judge for yourselves:

I don't really get this one.

I don't really get this one.

This one seems quite funny to me

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How many people are learning fulltime in Israel? The official numbers: UPDATED

Here are the current numbers for people learning full time in Israel according to the government (these are people who get money from the government):

Yeshiva students: 44,186 with 8,232 from chutz laaretz
Avreichim in kollel: 50,972
Exemptions from the army (Toraso Umnaso): 40,680
Hesder Yeshiva students: 6,850

All the numbers are from last weeks Mishpacha.


Haartez has an interesting article about the numbers. How did 20,000 yeshiva students disappear?

It is a mystery: In June 2001, approximately 81,000 students were enrolled in post-high school yeshivas and kollels. Four and a half years have passed since then. Between 20,000 and 25,000 new students have entered the yeshiva education system - more than 4,000 new students per year.

Nevertheless, the number of students enrolled in these yeshivas (for unmarried students age 18 and above) and kollels (which cater to avrechim, married students) now totals about 85,000, only 4,000 more than in mid-2001. Where did 20,000 yeshiva students go?
One of the explanations, of course, is that many fewer fictitious students are now listed in yeshiva rosters.

Some thoughts on Amona

It is clear to me that the timing of this was political. There are literaly thousands of illegal houses in Israel with orders of destruction, most of them built by Arabs. Yet, the government decided less then 2 months before the election to specifically destroy these houses in Amona. Olmert/Kadima thinks that this show of force will get them more votes especially from the left.

There is a tremendous campaign of vilification of the settlers by the left and the government. These are people who are motivated exclusively by a deep passion and love for Eretz Yisrael and who are willing to put their life on the line for it. The government is now making them out to be enemies of the state. This is the start of a war between the Jews and the Israelis.

I am against violence and do not justify the throwing of rocks, etc. at the police. In any case, throwing rocks harms the cause much then it helps. However, the violence used by the police was completely out of proportion and was out of control. It is 1 thing for 15 year olds to lose it and start throwing rocks. It is much worse when the police lose it and indiscriminately just beat everyone with the intention of causing injury.

The following illustrates the bankruptcy of the left in today's society. They are more worried about the horses getting hurt then 15 year old Jewish teenagers. 'Don't use horses for evacuation'

Tnu Lahayot Lihyot - Israel's main animal rights groups - protested against the use of horses in Amona's evacuation on Wednesday.

According to the organization, the horses that were recruited for the evacuation found themselves in a battlefield, susceptible to rocks being hurled at security forces by "dozens of law-violating settlers."

The group called upon Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz to remove the animals from public discourse, and to refrain from using them for purposes that effectively place their lives in danger.

When a society puts the rights of animals ahead of human beings it is big trouble.