Thursday, February 28, 2008

Abbas reveals his true face

Take a look at this article Abbas: Armed 'resistance' not ruled out

PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said that he does not rule out returning to the path of armed "resistance" against Israel and took pride in the fact that he had been the first to fire on Israel and that his organization had trained Hizbullah.
"At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can't succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different," he said.

In other words, the so called "peace process" is a complete and utter fraud. The Palestinians realized that they can't win a war so now they are trying to get what they can in a different way, however, fundamentally , they believe in "armed struggle".

Here is another great quote

"I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it's like; when it is effective and when it isn't effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is," Abbas said.

The bottom line is that there is very little difference between Abbas, Arafat, Hamas, Hizbullah, etc. in terms of their ultimate goal, the destruction of Israel. The only difference is tactical, what is the best way to accomplish it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Arabs of Palestine a view from 1961

The Arabs of Palestine is an amazing article from 1961 which explodes many of the so called "truths" and myths related to the Palestinians.

Here are some great quotes relating to some "Mad Hatter" conversations she had with Palestinians in 1961. Please read the whole article it is really worth it.

I listened to the first of what became an almost daily Mad Hatter conversation.

It went like this:

"The Arab countries invaded Israel in 1948 to save the Palestine Arabs from being massacred by the Jews."

"Were there massacres? Where?"

"Oh, yes, everywhere. Terrible, terrible."

"Then you must have lost many relatives and friends."

This, being a tiresome deduction from a previous statement, is brushed aside without comment.

"Israel overran the truce lines and stole our country. We left from fear. We have a right to our property, which brings in 47 million pounds a year in income. If we had our own money, we would need nothing from UNRWA. Our own money is much more. We do not have to be grateful for the little money spent on us. We should have our own."

"Then, of course, you want to return to your property and to Israel?"

"Not to Israel. Never to Israel. To our own country, to our own part."

"But didn't the Jews accept Partition, while the Palestine Arabs and the Arab governments refused?"

"Yes, yes. And England protected the Jews. An Arab was arrested if he carried a pistol only to defend himself, but Jews could go through the streets in tanks and nothing happened to them. Also, England told the Arab states to attack Israel."

The principal of the school then spoke up. "In our school, we teach the children from their first year about their country and how it was stolen from them. I tell my son of seven. You will see: one day a man of eighty and a child so high, all, all will go home with arms in their hands and take back their country by force."
ANOTHER Mad Hatter conversation, practically a public meeting, took place in the office of the leader of two adjacent camps, a man in charge of some 29,000 people. The camp leader, the self-appointed orator, sat behind his desk. The Secret Service youth, mentioned earlier, the quiet UNRWA Palestinian, my regular chaperone, and the three uniformed cops of highish rank completed the company.

First the camp leader told me how rich they had all been in Palestine and how miserable they were now and how much land they had all owned. I do not doubt for one minute how much land some of them owned, nor how rich some of them were, and I did not point out this subtle distinction: if everyone owned the land claimed, Palestine would be the size of Texas; if everyone had been so rich, it would have been largely populated by millionaires. To gild the past is only human, we all do it; and to gild it with solid gold is even more human if you are a refugee.
"The Jews are criminals," the camp leader continued in a rising voice. "Murderers! They are the worst criminals in the whole world."

Had he ever heard of Hitler?

He banged his table and said, "Hitler was far better than the Jews!"

"Far better murderer? He killed six million Jews as a start," I observed.

"Oh, that is all exaggerated. He did not. Besides, the Jews bluffed Hitler. They arranged in secret that he should kill a few of them--old ones, weak ones--to make the others emigrate to Palestine."

"Thirty-six thousand of them," said the Secret Service man, proving the point, "came here, before the war, from Central Europe."

"It's amazing," I said. "I have never before heard anywhere that the Jews arranged with Hitler for him to kill them."

"It was a secret!" the camp leader shouted. "The documents have been found. Everyone knows. It was published. The Jews arranged it all with Hitler."

Hat tip Aliyah! Step-by-Step: Making a Life in Israel

Why is Shas still in the government?

Everyone knows that negotiations on Jerusalem and other critical subjects are going on under fire. Didn't Shas promise to leave the government the moment that Jerusalem was put on the table? The answer is very simple, money. Today the government transferred 475 million shekel to Shas's institutions (
אושרה העברת 475 מיליון שקל למוסדות ש"ס

Shas is playing a very dangerous game. One of the writers in Mishpacha magazine wrote, all the money in the world is not going to help Shas if Olmert gives away half of Jerusalem with Shas's help.

When was משה רבינו born and when did he die?

The Gemara in Kiddushin (38a) states that Moshe died on ז' אדר. The Gemara learns this out from the pesukim in וזאת הברכה and Yeshoshua. In וזאת הברכה it says that Bnei Yisrael mourned Moshe for 30 days. In Yehoshua it says that after they finished mourning for Moshe they prepared for 3 days and then crossed the ירדן. The Pasuk states that this was on the tenth of Nissan. If you count backwards 33 days you get to the 7th of Adar. The Gemara then comments that Moshe said on the day of his death that he is 120 years old היום meaning that he died on the day he was born because Hashem is ממלא the years of a Tzaddik to the day.

However, the Gemara in Sota (12b) has a machlokes when Moshe was born. ר' חנינא בר פפא says that the 3 months of hiding of Moshe ended on the 21st of Nisan, and therefore it had to be that Moshe was born on ז' אדר ראשון and the 3 months are most of אדר ראשון, אדר שני and most of Nissan.

According to ר' חנינא בר פפא when did Moshe die? The Gemara in Kiddushin's proof from the pesukim seems airtight and therefore it is hard to imagine how ר' חנינא בר פפא could argue on that. Therefore it must be that Moshe died on ז' אדר either in a regular year or if it was in a leap year on ז' אדר שני. However, this is difficult because we assume להלכה that אדר שני is אדר and אדר ראשון is the extra month. If so, Moshe did not die on the same day that he was born.

In fact, the Magen Avraham in סי' תק"פ paskens that the fast for the death of Moshe is on ז' אדר ראשון. The fact is that the Rama writes that a yahrtzeit is observed in אדר ראשון as well even though he paskens that for a bar mitzva you need to wait until אדר שני. The reason for this is either אין מעבירים על המצות of that this is what he was מקבל, and therefore the same would apply to fasting for Moshe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The dollar is still worth 4 shekels according to the Gedolim

I posted last week ( The Gedolim say the dollar is worth 4 shekels) that the Gedolim decided that for the Areivim project the payout would be $50,000 at 4 shekel to the dollar even though the dollar is only worth about 3.6 shekels.

This week they announced that the $18 monthly contribution is also to be calculated at 4 shekel to the dollar. Why they just don't switch to the shekel is beyond me.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Drowning in Seforim

There are so many Seforim being published it is practically impossible to sift the wheat from the chaff. Where I daven in the mornings every week they put out 5 or 6 new Seforim to sell. Are they any good? Who knows. Every sefer has haskamos from people who didn't read the sefer. It is so easy and cheap to publish a sefer that many many people are doing it who shouldn't be.

This is bad for a number of reasons.
1. It is hard to know which seforim are worth buying and which are not, imagine what it is going to be like 50 years from now
2. Many of these seforim are halacha type seforim where they collect all the chumras from various sources and publish them (because you can't publish kulas) This is part of the reason for the trend towards chumra

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Gedolim say the dollar is worth 4 shekels

Even though the official exchange rate is only about 3.6.

A little background (based on Look Before You Leap).

Not so long ago the Charedi world addressed the plague of tragedies involving the loss of parents of young children, often after long and agonizing illnesses.

Many of the stricken families are left without even the money for basic necessities, not to mention resources to cover all the extra help required in the wake of such tragedies. About money to help the orphans marry, we need not even speak.

In virtually every case, the deceased parent had no life or health insurance. So the family is left without any recourse other than to turn to the already overburdened community, and to ask strangers to open their hearts and purses.

The current system of ad hoc appeals is not working and they came up with the idea of creating large groups of ten thousand or more families, whose members would in effect self-insure one another. The initial plan promised approximately $50,000 to every unmarried child, upon the death of a parent in one of the participating families. This is what is called Areivim (and is the basis for the ad that appears above).

In truth, this plan does not actually work from a financial standpoint. Actuaries expressed their view that the numbers did not make sense. Indeed the developers of the plan did not even have the information available upon which to make informed actuarial decisions – such as the age of those covered by the program and the number of children who would be eligible for payments. Finally, they noted a number of ways in which the plan might be in violation of Israeli insurance law. In short, this is a sophisticated tzedakah plan, not insurance.

In any case the plan has enrolled over 20,000 people.

The problem is that as I mentioned a few days ago, the Charedi world prices everything in dollars. With the decline of the dollar, the $50,000 promised is now worth only 180,000 shekel a significant decline. Therefore the Gedolim in charge have decided that the dollar will be worth no less then 4 shekel when paying out. The ad doesn't say how to figure out the $18 monthly contribution, if that is based on the official exchange rate then there is going to be a serious funds shortage in the plan.

This is like a dream world. Price things in dollars but when the dollar goes down (or up) make up an arbitrary value for the dollar. This begs the question, why not just price everything in shekels?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The declining dollar and the Charedi world

The dollar has plunged from 4.27 shekel to the dollar 6 months ago to 3.6 shekel to the dollar today. This has affected the Charedi world much more then the average Israeli. Where I work, no one is upset about this in fact, people are happy. We get paid in shekels and therefore people's salaries are worth more. Airline prices for example are in dollars so now a trip to the US that costs $1000 a ticket is 600 shekel cheaper.

However, the Charedi world for various reasons is wedded to the dollar. Kollel stipends, teacher salaries, etc. are all in dollars. Many institutions, to prevent people from getting hurt are paying at a rate of 4 or even 4.25 shekel to the dollar. The problem is that the donations that they get are being exchanged at only 3.6 shekels to the dollar causing the institutions to lose a lot of money.

What really is hurting the Charedi world is the fact that much of the money to support the Charedi world in Israel comes from the US. Most of the fundraising is done in the US, and the dollar is not going nearly as far. Every yeshiva has been hit very hard by this, they have raised a lot of money in the US and come back to Israel and find that it just doesn't go that far. In addition, many unmarried or young married couples are being supported by parents in the US on dollars.

The Mishpacha magazine this week had a long article about this where they interviewed people changing money who were very disappointed at how few shekels they got for their dollars.

The problems with the US economy are another nail in the coffin of the Kollel only society in Israel. The money is simply running out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shas is playing a dangerous game

Shas has publicly declared that as soon as the government starts talking about Jerusalem they will leave the government. In the meantime, they are maintaining the fiction that such talks are not going on.

It is clear to everyone that such talks are being held in secret (or not so secret).

Sha's strategy is to stay in the government as long as possible and squeeze as much money out of Olmert as possible. There is no question this i working (in terms of teh money). However, this is a very dangerous strategy. A very likely result will be that the government will be presented with a fait accompli regarding the secret negotiations over Jerusalem. Shas will leave, but it will be too late, the damage will have been done. Shas is also risking a lot politically. Most of Shas's voters are traditional Sefardim who are generally right wing. If Shas is perceived as allowing Olmert the time to divide Jerusalem they will pay dearly at the ballot box.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mehadrin buses in Mexico?

Not exactly, but in Mexico they have started running women's only buses to prevent men from groping women on the buses.

On Single-Sex Buses, Relief From Unwanted Contact

Body-to-body contact is inescapable on Mexico City’s crowded public transportation system.
But many women complain that not all the contact is incidental. Among the 22 million passengers who use the bus and subway system daily, women say, are lecherous men taking advantage of the cheek-to-jowl conditions to leer and grope and then quietly disappear.
One place they are not is on new women-only buses that Mexico City began running in January to reduce the harassment. With pink placards and insistent drivers who growl at any man who tries to step aboard, the buses are quickly becoming a hit among women.

It is so interesting how things come full circle.

Where am I?

I have just been really really busy the past few weeks with work and family and have not had any tine to post. Hopefully, things have calmed down a bit and I will resume posting.