Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ben Gurion Airport ranked as the best airport in the Middle East

The World's Best Airports

South Korea's Incheon tops the list for the third year, Porto leads Europe, Dallas-Fort Worth wins first place stateside, and Ben Gurion is best in the Mideast

Some good news for a change.

Here we go again: Another Knesset split

The Pensioners party is splitting up and it looks like 3 of the 7 are forming a new party.

Israel has a list based election system. You don't vote for any individual person but you vote for a party list. Given that, it makes no sense to allow any Knesset member to leave his party and and form a new one. He was not elected and it is not his seat. The party was elected and the party should control the seat. If an MK doesn't like it let him resign. The current system is the worst of both worlds. There is no personal accountability, you cannot vote anyone out of office, if they are high on the list they will be in the Knesset. On the other hand the MK's can do whatever they want with the seat once they get it. This is a formula for disaster and is anti-democratic (remember Sharon and Kadima).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Starting Shacharis at 11:30AM

I went to the Kotel on Chol Hamoed late in the morning. We go there about 11:30 and it was really hot so we went inside. We saw a number of Chasidim with taleisim and then I heard them saying kaddish after korbanos and then starting הודו. It is hard to believe that people are starting to daven shacharis at 11:30AM.

Note the timestamps on the pictures.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

בדיקת חמץ nowadays, what do you need to check?

Nowadays that we clean for Pesach for weeks before, what do you need to check when you do בדיקת חמץ?

RSZA is quoted in הליכות שלמה פרק ה as saying that nowadays you do not need to go and check every little nook and cranny. What a person needs to do is check every place to make sure that it was cleaned for Pesach, that is the בדיקה. This means that the בדיקה does not need to take all night but rather a short time where you check each room, closet, etc. to make sure that it was cleaned for Pesach.

I heard a similar idea from R' Willig as well that the cleaning that you do before Pesach is מצטרף to your בדיקה and on the night of the 14th you do not need to spend hours checking every spot. All you need to do is make sure that you cleaned everything. The בדיקה is like the final check of all the cleaning that you did.

Monday, April 14, 2008

When to bake the matzah when Erev Pesach falls out on Shabbos?

There is a famous שיטת Rashi that the Matzas mitzva needs to be baked erev Pesach after חצות, otherwise you are not יוצא. Rashi gets this from the Gemara on Pesachim 120b where Rava has a היקש between מצה and קרבן פסח, that the זמן of eating מצה is the same as the זמן of eating קרבן פסח. Rashi understands that the היקש would likewise apply to the preparations, just like the קרבן פסח has to be prepared on erev Pesach after חצות, so too does the מצה. This is quoted as a יש אומרים in Shulchan Aruch. The Gra disagrees, one of his proofs is the following. What happens when erev Pesach is on Shabbos like this year? קרבן פסח is דוחה Shabbos and is therefore brought on Shabbos afternoon, however baking מצה is not דוחה Shabbos and therefore cannot be done on Shabbos afternoon. If so, how is anyone יוצא the mitzva of מצה, the מצה was not prepared in the זמן of the קרבן פסח? In truth, those rishonim who hold like Rashi say that when erev pesach is Shabbos, you bake the מצה on the seder night. However, the Gra's question stil holds. If the מצה needs to be baked in the זמן of the קרבן פסח, the seder night is too late, you cannot bring the קרבן פסח at that time.

A number of later acharonim answer as follows. The Gemara earlier states that the קרבן פסח is brought on Shabbos (and not that night after Shabbos) because it is זמנו קבוע. Rashi explains because there is a general din that korbanos cannot be brought at night. The acharonim ask, why didn't Rashi simply answer because the Torah says that the קרבן פסח needs to be brought on the 14th of Nisan and that night is already the 15th? They answer as follows. In halacha day follows night. However, by קרבנות the din is that night follows day. Therefore they say as follows. Although the seder night is the 15th in the calendar, with regards to קרבנות it is still the 14th as night follows day. Therefore, Rashi can't answer that the seder night is too late because that night is considered the 14th for קרבנות so Rashi needs to answer that קרבנות in general cannot be brought at night.

Based on this, we can answer the Gra's question as well. From the perspective of the קרבן פסח the night of the 15th is still the זמן, there is just a technical problem that you can't bring קרבנות at night, but from the pure קרבן פסח perspective it is the זמן and therefore you can bake the מצה that night. The היקש between מצה and קרבן פסח only relates to those special dinim of קרבן פסח, not to the regular dinim of קרבנות. Therefore from that perspective the seder night is still considered to be the זמן of the קרבן פסח and therefore you can bake the מצה then.

Some rishonim have a different version of Rashi. They understand that according to Rashi you need to bake the מצה on erev Pesach but even in the morning. This is clearly not connected to קרבן פסח as the קרבן פסח cannot be brought in the morning. The question is if so, why do you need to bake the מצה on erev Pesach?

RYBS explained as follows. The Yerushalmi has a din that it is prohibited to eat מצה on erev Pesach. The Ramban explains this as follows (why is the prohibition limited to erev Pesach). מצה is defined as being not חמץ. Without חמץ there can be no מצה. Before erev Pesach there is no halachic significance to חמץ, it doesn't really exist, therefore there can be no issur to eat מצה as if there is no חמץ there is no מצה. On erev Pesach when the mitzva of תשביתו destroying חמץ starts, then you can have מצה and therefore there is an issur to eat מצה.

Based on this RYBS explained Rashi. We know that מצת מצוה needs to be made לשמה. Rashi holds like this Ramban, that מצה is defined as being not חמץ and that without חמץ there can be no מצה. Therefore, before erev Pesach you cannot bake מצת מצוה because it can't be made לשמה as there is no שם מצה yet. Only on erev Pesach where there is halachic significance to חמץ can there be מצה made לשמה. Therefore Rashi says that the מצה needs to be baked on erev Pesach, even in the morning, to create the לשמה of מצת מצוה, and מצה baked earlier is no good because it lacks לשמה.

This also explains why they would bake the מצה on the seder night if erev Pesach was Shabbos.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Selling Chametz on pesach in Israel

There has been an unenforced law on the books for a long time that permits the public selling of Chametz in Israel. Last week a judge reinterpretated the law that it doesn't apply to stores rather it only applies to open markets. In other words, stores, restaurants, etc. are now free to sell chametz this Pesach.

The charedi and religious parties jumped on this and are trying to change the law so that it prohibits the sale of Chametz period.

IMHO, this is a big mistake. Religious coercion does not work in Israel. It just makes things worse. The real chiloni who wants his bread will get it even if he needs to break the law. The traditional person who doesn't eat chametz on pesach will still not eat chametz on pesach. So what is the point? This law will not make a single person not eat chametz. Religious even Charedi Jews manage to walk around Boro Park where all the stores are selling Chametz on Pesach and survive. All these kinds of laws do is make the chiloni population anti-religious. This is populism at it's worst.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The dollar is still worth 4 shekels according to the Gedolim

The dollar today, April 1, 2008, is worth 3.54809 Israeli New Shekel. I posted last month, The dollar is still worth 4 shekels according to the Gedolim, that the Gedolim decided that for the Areivim project the $18 monthly contribution is to be calculated at 4 shekel to the dollar. This month again both Areivim and the Gemach Hamercazi reiterated that the dollar is still 4 shekels.

It will be interesting to see how long they continue with this as opposed to just switching to the shekel.