Monday, July 31, 2006

What really happened in Kfar Kana II?

Hezbollywood? Evidence mounts that Qana collapse and deaths were staged

It was to be a perfect Hollywood ending for Hezbollah. Just as the Israeli bombing of the village of Qana in 1996 brought a premature end to Israel's Operation "Grapes of Wrath," so too a sequel of Qana II could change, once and for all, the direction of Israel's current summer blockbuster, "Change of Direction."
There are other mysteries. The roof of the building was intact. Journalist Ben Wedeman of CNN noted that there was a larger crater next to the building, but observed that the building appeared not to have collapsed as a result of the Israeli strike.
Lebanese rescue teams did not start evacuating the building until the morning and only after the camera crews came. The absence of a real rescue effort was explained by saying that equipment was lacking. There were no scenes of live or injured people being extracted.

There was little blood, CNN's Wedeman noted: all the victims, he concluded, appeared to have died while as they were sleeping -- sleeping, apparently, through thunderous Israeli air attacks. Rescue workers equipped with cameras were removing the bodies from the same opening in the collapsed structure. Journalists were not allowed near the collapsed building.

Rescue workers filmed as they went carried the victims on the stretchers, occasionally flipping up the blankets so that cameras could show the faces and bodies of the dead.

But Israelis steeled to scenes of carnage from Palestinian suicide bombings and Hezbollah rocket attack could not help but notice that these victims did not look like our victims. Their faces were ashen gray. Their limbs appeared to have stiffened, from rigor mortis. Neither were effects that would have resulted from an Israeli attack hours before. These were bodies that looked like they had been dead for days.
But the accumulating evidence suggests another explanation for what happened at Kana. The scenario would be a setup in which the time between the initial Israeli bombing near the building and morning reports of its collapse would have been used to "plant" bodies killed in previous fighting -- reports in previous days indicated that nearby Tyre was used as a temporary morgue -- place them in the basement, and then engineer a "controlled demolition" to fake another Israeli attack.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What happened in Kfar Kana (as of 9:30PM IDT 7/30)?

According to the IAF we don't know. What we do know is that Kfar Kana was used to shoot rockets at Israel. As Warner Wolf used to say "let's go to the videotape". The IAF played a video which showed rockets being launched from that building in Kfar Kana.

The IAF said as follows. The building in question was attacked between 12:00 and 1:00AM, it did not collapse until around 8:30AM. A further attack around Kfar Kana took place at 7:30AM but it hit 3 different buildings and based on the camera evidence all the bombs hit their targets and the building in question was not hit.

Therefore, the IAF at this point is not taking responsibility for what happened. It is very possible that sometime in the morning, Hezbollah did something that caused the building to explode.

Here you can see a video taken from the air of Hezbollah shooting rockets from right next to Kfar Kana and then driving right into the village.

In addition we need to ask the following very simple question, why were so many children in a war zone, even though the population had been warned by the IDF to leave several days earlier?

Leaflets distributed by the IDF, July 25, 2006:

To all citizens south of the Litani River

Due to the terror activities being carried out against the State of Israel from within your villages and homes, the IDF is forced to respond immediately against these activities, even within your villages. For your safety! We call upon you to evacuate your villages and move north of the Litani River.

Interview with the Bostoner Rebbe on the war in Israel

This is a very interesting interview (in Hebrew). I recommend that everyone who can should read it.

Just War Theory: Is it relevant to Israel?

DovBear quotes a long screedessay by Michael Walzer about Just War Theory and how Israel should abide by it.

This is absolutely wrong for 1 simple reason, Just War Theory contradicts the Torah's view of war.

Rabbi J. David Bleich writes (Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Volume 3, Preemptive War in Jewish Law, p. 277):

Not only does one search in vain for a ruling prohibiting military activity likely to result in the death of civilians, but, to this writer's knowledge, there exists no discussion in classical rabbinic sources that takes cognizance of the likelihood of causing civilian casualties in the course of hostilities legitimately undertaken as posing a halakhic or moral problem.

The Maharal in Vayishlach discussing the action of Shimon and Levi regarding Shechem writes:

It seems to me that there is really no question. [A conflict between individuals or groups is] not comparable to strife between two national groups, like the Israelites and the Canaanites. For this reason, it was permitted for Yaakov’s sons to wage war, comparable to that of any nation waging war on another. Although our Torah commands us (Deuteronomy 20:10) “When you approach a city to wage war against it, you shall call out to it for peace,” this [obligation to first sue for peace] does not apply if the enemy has already acted against us. Where they have acted against us in some manner – as in the incident at had where they opened a breach against them by their vile act – we are permitted to avenge ourselves [through war] against the entire nation even when only a single individual was guilty of the infraction, since that individual is a member of the national group.

We see 1 thing very clearly.

Causing civilian casualties in the course of hostilities legitimately undertaken does not pose a halakhic or moral problem. This is in direct contradiction to Just War Theory.

DovBear then came up with the following inane response:

I'm machmir on this I guess. The Hasidim are machmir on sitting in the sukka when it rain; the yeshivish people are machmir on eating the exact precise amount of marror, and I'm machmir on preserving innocent human life.

This answer simply does not hold water for a number of reasons:
1. This so called "chumra" directly impacts the lives of other people. Are you allowed to put other peoples lives in danger so that you can be machmir? By worrying about civilian casualties you are putting Jewish soldiers lives in danger. Who are you to decide that those civilians blood is redder then our soldiers! Last Wednesday we saw the tragic results of this.
2. A chumra is defined as a kiyum of some shita in halacha. The halacha is like A but since B disagrees we can be machmir to be choshesh for that shita. Just war theory has no basis in Torah and therefore cannot be considered a chumra. What kiyum in halacha is there?

Just War theory is another attempt to replace the ethics and morality of the Torah with the morality of modern Western society.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The difference between Sefer Devarim and the rest of Chumash

A number of the mefarshim (Gra, R' Y Kamenetsky, the Ramban seems to say this, and I heard this from RHS as well) make the following distinction between Sefer Devarim and the rest of Chumash. The first 4 sefarim was Hashem talking through Moshe's mouth. Every word was literally dictated by Hashem. Devarim however, is Moshe expressing Hashem's ideas in his own words. A regular Navi gets a vision from Hashem which expresses a certain idea which the Navi then says over in his words. Sefer Devarim is the Nevua of Moshe. Moshe received the ideas from Hashem more clearly then any other Navi, but he expressed those ideas in his own words. This explains why the style of Sefer Devarim is different from the previous 4 sefarim. This also explains why certain rules of Torah SheBaal Peh are different in Devarim, for example everyone agrees that in Devarim we darshen semuchim.

The real story behind the deaths of the Unifil soldiers

Kofi Anan accused Israel of deliberately targeting the UN soldiers. The truth however, is really very simple, Hezbollah was using the UN position as a shield.

Canadian Killed Complained U.N. Position Was Shielding Hezbollah

"...the tragic loss of a soldier yesterday who I happen to know and I think probably is from my Regiment. We've received e-mails from him a few days ago and he described the fact that he was taking within - in one case -- three meters of his position "for tactical necessity - not being targeted". Now that's veiled speech in the military and what he was telling us was Hizbullah fighters were all over his position and the IDF were (sic) targeting them and that's a favorite trick by people who don't have representation in the UN. They use the UN as shields knowing that they can't be punished for it."

Retired Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie interviewed on CBC Toronto radio 26 July 2006


This picture says it all, the UN flag right next to the Hezbollah flag.

Keeping things in perspective

Yesterday was a very tough day of fighting with 9 soldiers killed and 22 wounded. My heart goes out to all of them and their families. However, the reaction in the press has been hysterical. We are not losing the war and unfortunately soldiers die in war. Hezbollah is now asking for a ceasefire, a clear sign that they feel that they are losing. People talk about how Israel defeated 3 armies in 6 days in 1967 what they forget to mention is that 800 soldiers were killed in 6 days. Guerilla warfare against an enemy that is well trained and prepared is very tough.

There is another issue that needs to be raised. The army is endangering (and causing the deaths of our soldiers) to protect the lives of "innocent" Lebanese. There was no reason to send in troops house to house yesterday, that is exactly what Hezbollah wanted. Instead they should have demolished the buildings with the terrorists in them. What the governemnt and army is doing, putting Jewish soldiers lives in danger is immoral and against the Torah.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

R' Ovadya Yosef: Cancel Bein Hazmanim

אלפים נשאו תפילה בכותל לשלום החיילים

בתשעה באב יוצאים תלמידי הישיבות החרדיות לחופשה בת שלושה שבועות, עד ראש חודש אלול. הרב יוסף קרא לכל בני הישיבות שלא לצאת לחופשה ולהמשיך ללמוד תורה גם בימי "בין הזמנים".
לדבריו, "הרי כולנו בצרה. מה זה חופש? צריך ללמוד תורה."

On Tisha B'Av thousands of Charedi yeshiva boys go on vacation for 3 weeks until Rosh Chodesh Elul. R' Ovadya Yosef called on all the yeshiva boys not to go on vacation and to continue learning during Bein Hazmanim. According to him, we are all in danger, what is a vacation? We need to learn torah

משנכנס אב ממעטים בשמחה

During the 3 weeks and especially during the 9 days we observe many ניהוגי אבילות such as not eating meat, not listening to music, not bathing, etc. The point of these is to make us sad and help us focus on the aveilus of the Churban.

The ניהוגי אבילות are not an end to themselves but rather a means to an end. They are supposed to bring us to a mood of aveilus. Therefore, for people to rely on kulos or work around these halachos completely defeats the purpose. Here are 2 examples:

1. Eating gourmet milchig meals with ice cream (because we are milchig) for dessert. This fulfills the ניהוג אבילות of not eating meat but defeats the purpose, you will not feel sad or missing anything after a gourmet meal. Someone who does this has completely missed the point of the 9 days.
2. Al Capella music. I am not going to get involved in the Halachic issue of whether it is permitted or not. Even if it is strictly speaking permitted again, it is against the spirit of the period and defeats the purpose. Presumably, a person listens to this music because he enjoys it.

It is hard for those of us who grew up in the West to relate, but during the 9 days a person is supposed to deprive himself and suffer a bit. This period is supposed to bring us to a state of mourning for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and the Galus Hashechina which is the root cause of all our problems.

Yishmael in Torah sources

For the last 50 years wee have seen the rise of Yishmael and their war with the Jewish people. This rise and war have been predicted in the Medrash and the Zohar. Below are some (a little disjointed) sources and thoughts on Yishmael.

Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (Tehillim 55:20) writes
Why is his name called Yishmael? Because G-d will hear the sound of the [Israel’s] groan from what Bnei Yishmael are destined to do in the Land in the end of days. Therefore, his name is called Yishmael, as it says, “Yishma E-l ve’yaanem” – “G-d will hear and answer them.

Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (ch. 29):

Bilaam said: Of the seventy nations that G-d created in His world, he did not place His Name in any one of them, other than Yisrael. Since G-d equated Yishmael’s name with that of Yisrael: “Oh! Who will survive in his days,” as it says, “Oh! Who will survive when He imposes these!” (Bamidbar 24:23)

The Zohar states (Zohar 1:119a)
... The Children of Yishmael will go up at that time with the nations of the world against Jerusalem ...

The last Baal Haturim in Chayei Sarah

when Yishmael falls at the end of days moshiach will come

The Ramban in Chumash (Bereishis 16:6) explains the reason for the hatred

'And Sarah caused her [Hagar] to suffer'. Our mother [Sarah] sinned by doing this, and so did Avrohom for letting her do it. Hashem heard her cries and gave her a son who will be a wild man that will make Avrohom's children suffer through all manner of suffering.

If we look at Yishmael and his descendents we see that they inherited a number of characteristics from Avraham Avinu. Let us examine some of these characteristics.

An angel informed Hagar that she should give the name "Yishmael" to the son she would bear to Avraham, since "Hashem has *heard* ('Shama') your plight." That is, Hagar prayed to Hashem to save her from her oppression, and Hashem answered her prayers. It was through the power of prayer that she was blessed with a son, and it was this power that she imbued in her son. The literal meaning of Yishmael's name is "Hashem will hear [his prayers]." Indeed, when Yishmael was near death and prayed to Hashem for salvation Hashem "heard the voice of the lad" and saved his life in a miraculous fashion (Bereishit 21:17). Until today, his descendants are outstanding in their devotion to a rigorous prayer schedule of five daily prayers.

The Gra notes that "naase" corresponds to Eisav and "nishma" to Yishmael (the respective roots of their names). Esav, the Western world are big doers. Yishmael, the Arabs, on the other hand, are big talkers but not doers.

The Torah writes about Yishmael, his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him (Bereishis 16:12). The targum translates the Torah’s description as, "he will need everyone, and everyone will need him" a pretty fair description of Arab dependence on Western technology, and the world’s dependence on Arab oil.

In short, we see that Chazal have predicted the rise of Yishmale before Moshiach and we need to realize that the current war is part of the ikv'sa d'mshichah.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

When Jews are suffering

The gemara in Taanis 11a explains how a Jew should act when other Jews are suffering.

תניא אידך בזמן שהצבור שרוי בצער אל יאמר אדם אלך לביתי ואוכל ואשתה ושלום עליך נפשי
אלא יצער אדם עם הצבור שכן מצינו במשה רבינו שציער עצמו עם הצבור שנאמר (שמות יז) וידי משה כבדים ויקחו אבן וישימו תחתיו וישב עליה וכי לא היה לו למשה כר אחת או כסת אחת לישב עליה אלא כך אמר משה הואיל וישראל שרויין בצער אף אני אהיה עמהם בצער

When the public is afflicted a person should not say I will go home, I will eat and drink and only worry about myself. ... A person should suffer together with the public, as we find that Moshe Rabbenu suffered together with the public, as is written: "But Moshe's hands were heavy and they took a stone and put it underneath him and he sat on it" (Shemos 17:12). Did Moshe not have even one pillow or mattress to sit on? Moshe, however, said: "Since Yisroel are suffering, I will also share in their suffering"

In line with this I saw that R' Elyashiv and R' Steinman stated that school trips should be cancelled even to safe places because when Jews are being killed we shouldn't be going to have fun on trips.

Every person needs to figure out how to apply this Gemara to themselves, but we should not just go about our daily lives as if nothing is going on.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bein Hazmanim during a war?

From Tisha B'Av through Rosh Chodesh Elul is traditionally Bein Hazmanim where the Yeshivas/Kollelim close down for a short vacation. Jonathan Rosenblum With My Brother in Pain raises the question that if the war is still going on should/will the yeshivas close down.

We tirelessly proclaim that our Torah learning and mitzvos protect the Jews of Eretz Yisrael no less than the might of the IDF. We will never convince those who do not share our perspective. But at the very least let us check to see whether our own actions attest to our sincere belief that learning and mitzvos can help determine the outcome.

Removing Hizbullah rockets from range of northern Israel may well entail a large Israeli ground offensive into Lebanon, with the call-up of thousands of reservists. If thousands of troops are still mired in Lebanon two weeks hence, or if the residents of the North are still stuck in bomb shelters, will yeshivos close down, as usual, for bein hazemanim? Will the increased intensity of our learning and davening be palpable? Will we be spending our time thinking of concrete ways to relieve the stress of families under fire – perhaps even inviting them into our homes?

It will be instructive to see what happens. Hopefully the question will be moot.

Radio interview with an Arab Israeli

I heard an interview this morning on the radio with an Arab Israeli from Nazareth. He is the uncle of the 2 boys who were killed by a Katyusha yesterday.

Interviewer: Are you upset with Nasrallah for firing katyushas at Arab Israelis?

Arab-Israeli: Nasrallah is a religious man, he would never fire rockets at civilians. He is only firing at military targets.

Interviewer: Are you sure?
Arab-Israeli: I am 100% sure, Nasrallah would not shoot at civilians.

They then interviewed the editor of the largest Arab weekly newspaper in Israel.

Interviewer: What is the headline of your paper going to be?
Editor: Israel continues it's belligerence

Interviewer: Is that really going to be your headline. Nothing about Hezbollah? Can I change your mind?
Editor: No you canot change my mind

Interviewer: Are you writing this because you think it will boost readership?
Editor: No, this is what we believe.

The Arab population even though it has suffered also still supports Hezbollah. Not only that but they have complaints against the government that they don;t have bomb shelters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Richard Cohen: Israel is a historical mistake

Richard Cohen a Jewish Op Ed columnist for the Washington Post wrote the following today Hunker Down With History (the same article was also published in the NY Daily News Israel vs. history)

The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.

With Jews like these we don't need enemies.

How stupid can the Israeli Left be?

In todays Yediot Acharonot there is an opinion article לא לקרוע להם את הצורה by a Meretz MK, Avshalom Vilon, which states the following (my paraphrasing).

To ensure the success of the diplomatic effort after the fighting ends we shouldn't hit Hezbollah too hard. We need to leave them some of their pride. Then he goes on to list some of the conditions that Israel would need to accept including:
1. A prisoner swap
2. allowing hezbollah to remain in South Lebanon under internatinal supervision

This is one of the stupidest articles I have read in a long time. We can't hit Hezbollah too hard to allow them some pride?????? What planet is he living on? This is so silly I can't believe that someone actually wrote this with a straight face. I guess he never heard of the Powell doctrine. I am sure that he would have said the same during the WWII, of course we can't ask for unconditional surrender and don't hit the Nazis too hard. The fact is because in WWII we annihilated the enemy and held out for total surrender neither the Germans or the Japans have made a peep since. Only decisive, unambiguous victory for one side or the other can end a long, bitter conflict. Until Israel learns this there will never be peace. Organizations like Peace Now not only don't being Peace Now but like Neville Chamberlain, actually encourage the other side to continue the battle.

The only bright spot is that if you read the reader's comments on that article, they are overwhelmingly negative and basically echo the points that I made here. At least it seems, the average Israeli is waking up.

Monday, July 17, 2006

How many innocent Jews need to be die ...

before all those on the left who were in favor of running away from Lebanon and leaving Gaza will admit that they were wrong? How can anyone today possibly be in favor of further retreats in the West Bank?

The country from Haifa on northwards is completely shut down, people are getting killed by rockets daily, and why? Because the government did nothing while Hezbollah and Hamas rearmed and got ready for war and in fact encouraged them by running away and showing them that terror works.

Here is an article from Haaretz (not exactly a right wing newspaper) which says it quite well, We deserve the Qassams and the Katyushas

The hundreds of Qassams and Katyushas that have landed in the south and north are a natural response coming from those who, over the years, have grown used to believing that Israel regards the thousands of mortars and Qassams on the inhabitants of Gush Katif as nothing more than rain.
The kidnapping of the soldiers was practically obligatory from someone who understands that "deterrence," a much-favored term used by many Israelis, was a kind of self-delusion, largely virtual, and that Israeli prisoners, for those who swore they would "not get down on the knees," are worth a few hundred terrorists.

Hezbollah and its Palestinian pupils internalized this and made note of it. After the wars against terror, like the one going on now, come the retreats, and then more wars, which lead to more retreats. Terror sows and then reaps. Fact: The blood of the dead and wounded had yet to dry and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was already making clear that in addition to the two fronts where unilateral steps were taken - with great success, as everyone knows - he will undertake another unilateral move. The "convergence," right next to the main mass of Israel's population, will take place, he insists.

The truth? We earned it honestly as a nation of gullible fools, who over and over followed the illusions of quiet, peace and demography sold buy its leaders. We deserve it. However, the influence of the recent events has moved something, maybe temporarily, but something has moved.

As I wrote earlier peace happens only after you DEFEAT your enemies. I refer you again to this article Victory process, not peace process, needed in Middle East. Until the government understands this point there will be no peace.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Victory process, not peace process, needed in Middle East

The Israeli left and really the world has been saying for years that Israel needs to negotiate for peace with the Arabs. The Israeli Peace movement is even called "Peace Now" as if Israel could somehow wave a magic wand and make peace. the fact is that peace happens only after you DEFEAT your enemies. This article says it better then I can.

Victory process, not peace process, needed in Middle East

What lapse of logic (or ancient prejudice) can explain the stubborn, utterly unshakable, and nearly universal insistence that Israel must pursue a “peace process” with its terrorist adversaries?
What possible value might a negotiated settlement hold when the Palestinian leaders who make such an agreement remain utterly unable (or unwilling) to enforce its terms? Both Palestinian President Abbas and his rivals in Hamas insist that they already disapprove of the daily rocket attacks on their Israeli neighbors—as well they should, given the inevitable, punishing responses from the Jewish state to this outrageous provocation. But the Palestinians can’t stop those attacks now, so how would a signed agreement pledging them to halt the violence suddenly confer upon them some new, altogether unprecedented ability to do so?Either the PA authorities remain totally impotent to curb the anarchic and deadly behavior of the terrorist thugs in their midst, in which case they can’t be trusted to do so in the future—or else they cynically choose to do nothing to curb that behavior, in which case they also can’t be trusted to do so in the future. In either case, an agreement with such people (indisputably characterized as impotent, dishonest, or both) remains a meaningless gesture.
The repetitive mistakes and the ongoing, irrational faith in an ever elusive-peace process stem from a worldwide failure to embrace the obvious lessons of several thousand years of human history: only decisive, unambiguous victory for one side or the other can end a long, bitter conflict. No such struggle has ever been resolved by compromise, treaty, or split-the-difference negotiations.
In this same spirit, those who honestly wish to see an end to the bloodshed and suffering in the Middle East must first give up their sick infatuation with negotiation, compromise and empty promises on paper. It’s not a peace process that the world needs when confronting relentless terrorist demands. Only a victory process can finally end the violence and the pain.

Where have I been?

I was traveling on business last week so I had no time to post anything. I had an absolutely crazy week. Here was my schedule

Saturday night - Israel - NY
Sunday Afternoon - NY - Midwest
Monday night - Midwest - West Coast
Tuesday night - West Coast - Midwest
Thursday morning - Midwest - NY
Thursday afternoon - NY - Israel

In short, I spent more time on planes last week then anything else.

I always think that with so much time on planes I will be productive and have a chance to learn something but it never turns out that way. I can hardly sleep on the plane so I am exhausted and can't really concentrate. I end up reading books, newspapers, and magazines on the plane and in the airports. This actually gives me some insight into what is going in society and helps me understand the world around me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The current situation in Israel

Here are some thoughts on the situation.
  1. The government is all talk and no action. So far the military action has been mostly cosmetic, blowing up empty buildings etc. What did bombing Haniyeh's emoty office accomplish? What has firing hundreds of artillery shells into empty fields accomplish except to waste money? Israel has become like the boy who cried wolf. Does anyone remember what Rabin said right after Oslo? Remember last year before the disengagement Sharon and Mofaz said if 1 Kassam falls on Israel we will strike back with all force. How many Kassams have fallen and what has been Israel's response? The Palestinians have figured out that Israel is all talk and no actions. Do you think that the latest threats realy concern them? Unfortunately, they have no credibility.

  2. The left wing is arrogant and incredibly blind. Yossi Beilin was on the radio this morning saying how we need to negotiate etc. Not only is he not embarrassed to show his face after the disasters that he and his friends have created he is still giving bad advice. He stated this morning that we, Israel can bring peace. What an arrogant and stupid statement. He is the ultimate racist, discounting the Palestinian contribution. If the Palestinians don't want peace then he can spout off from here until tomorrow and there won't be peace.The fact is that the Palestinians have no interest in peace and all Yossi Beilin and company are doing is encouraging to continue with violence.

  3. Olmert's התכנסות plan is DOA. The average person on the street has woken up and realized that it is a recipe for absolute disaster.

  4. there has been a lot of dicsussion about the halacha of pidyon shvuyim and how much can you pay. RHS and many others (see for example כיצד פודים את השבויים? ) hold that today we are in a state of war with the Palestinians and therefore the regular rules of Pidyon Shvuyim do not apply. During a war we would not allow any kind of exchange for prisoners.

    We see this in last weeks parsha
    במדבר כא, א: "וישמע הכנעני מלך ערד יושב הנגב כי בא ישראל דרך האתרים, וילחם בישראל וישב ממנו שבי",

    Chazal comment that they captured 1 shifcha, to save her they did not negotiate but rather went out to war.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A common misconception about the Parah Aduma

We all know that the Parah Aduma is a chok and it is מטהר הטמאים ומטמא הטהורים. Most people think that this refers to the person who sprinkles the ashes, that the sprinkler becomes טמא. This would seem to be based on the simple reading of the pasuk (21) that says ומזה מי הנדה יכבס בגדיו. However, this is simply not true. Rashi there quotes the gemara that the מזה is actually טהור and the pasuk is coming to teach us that the person who carries it becomes טמא.

The Jewish Observer banned (edited)

The latest edition of the Jewish Observer deals with Torah vs Science (the age of the world and other such questions). Because of that it has been banned. Below is the text of the ban.

Charedi poverty in Israel

In my last post I wrote that the Charedi world is poor by choice/idealogy. I would like to elaborate on this.

Poverty as measured in Israel as well as in most developed countries is relative. Someone is considered poor if they have less then the people around them. It is not an objective standard.

Given the above, the Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael 60 years decided on a Torah only program to restore the Torah world. They knew that this would result in poverty but they felt that the benefits outweighed the negatives. There are a number of reasons why the Gedolim made this choice.

  1. No one in the Charedi world is homeless or starving, when we say people are poor it means they have no disposable income, they don't have new clothes, etc. Many of these people who the government considers poor don't consider themselves poor. In any case, the poverty is nowhere near the poverty of pre war Europe. The poverty is considered manageable.

  2. Poverty creates Gedolim. It is easier to become a Godol growing up poor if you are given the opportunity (which in the Charedi world they are).

In the last few years however, the situation has changed for the worse for a number of reasons:
  1. Families have become larger

  2. This is the second or third generation doing this. There are no more parents or grandparents who worked who could help out their children who were sitting and learning

  3. Israel as a whole got richer, in the 1950,-1970's Israel was a relatively poor country and therefore the gap was not great. The average person was not very materialistic. Israel has gotten much richer and more materialistic and so has teh Charedi population. We can see this in many ways, here are a few examples:
    1. Cell phones

    2. Air conditioning at home

    3. Vacations - open up any Charedi newspaper now and you will see pages and pages of ads for vacations during Bein Hazmanim

    4. ...

    The Charedi population has been influenced to a degree by the materialism of the surrounding society and finds it much harder to live in poverty

  4. The economy has changed to a services type economy where secular education is very important, it is hard to find a blue collar type job

  5. Government budget cuts. The chiloni population is not willing to support an ever growing number of people (almost 50,000) sitting and learning.

In short, the poverty in many cases is no longer manageable.

The above has caused a change in Charedi society. If you look in the Charedi newspapers you now see ads for all kinds of programs where Charedi men can learn some kind of profession and get a degree. These did not exist 10-20 years ago.

I would like to conclude with the following story. In the early 1900's there was a fierce battle between the old Yishuv led by R' YC Sonnenfeld against using Hebrew as the language of instruction in the schools, with R' YC Sonnenfeld insisting on Yiddish. In the 1940's someone wanted to open a Talmud Torah teaching in Hebrew in Bnei Brak. Many opposed this citing the battle that R' YC Sonnenfeld had faught against hebrew. They went to the Chazon Ish to ask his opinion. The Chazon Ish answered that they should open the school in Hebrew. What about R' YC Sonnenfeld and his fight against Hebrew? The Chazon Ish answered that Hebrew vs Yiddish was the previous war, we have to fight the current war. Times have changed and Hebrew is no longer the battle that we need to fight, we need to save our strength for the real battles that are important today. This message applies just as much today as it did then.