Monday, July 28, 2008

In 5 years we"ll ask how this happened

This was Olmert's comment in response to the report from GSS Head Yuval Diskin about the the weaponry that Hamas is smuggling in.

There is just one problem, he is the Prime Minister and running the government. He can do something about it if he wants to. What kind of idiotic response is that? He fears what will be but does nothing about it. The sooner he goes the better.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The beginning of the end of the Kollel system in Israel?

According to Mishpacha, 2000 Avreichim may lose their places in Kollel and the 5 biggest Kollels have suffered a 50% drop in donations. The money has basically dried up due to the financial problems in the US and the devaluation of the dollar vs the shekel.

Is this the beginning of the end of the Kollel system for everyone?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Olmert's birthday wish to "Moish" Talansky

Ynet has a video that Olmert sent to Talansky for his 70th birthday.

מויש, אני אוהב אותך, אתה בן-אדם כיפי. תמיד מועיל להיות חבר שלך, אני מקבל יותר ממה שאני נותן, ובתקופות של צרות, של בעיות ושל קשיים - אני מעדיף לצידי אותך, מאשר את רוב האנשים שאני מכיר

Moish, I love you, you are a fun person. It is always great to be your friend, I get more from you then I give, and in times of problems, stress, and hardships, I would rather have you at my side then most of the people that I know

The line about "I get more from you then I give" takes on a lot more meaning today.

Remember, this is the guy who Olmert's lawyers tried to make out as a money launderer, and a serial liar.


Here is the actual video (courtesy of Rafi G):

Kadima splitting?

Globes is reporting that Tzippi Livni is thinking about forming a new party to run in the next elections. The reason for this is that Livni could very well lose the Kadima primary to Mofaz and she is not willing to be number 2 to Mofaz. According to Globes she has wide support both from the Kadima MK's as well as outsiders.

This is absolutely amazing, first they split the Likud now they are splitting Kadima.

As I have mentioned many times before the political system in Israel is completely broken and needs to be remade. It is absolutely ridiculous that in a list based system(the voters vote for a party not individuals), and MK can walk away from his party with his seat. At the very least there needs to be a district system where at least half of the MK's are elected from a district and are directly responsible to the voters.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Olmerts attorneys making another mistake

So far they have tried to blacken Talansky's image, calling him a liar and a money launderer and a criminal. While this might be a good tactic in a regular case, in Olmert's case they are just making things worse.

Imagine, they convince everyone that Talansky is a money launderer. That will not help Olmert, in fact it will hurt him. No one denies that Olmert was a friend of Talansky and took money from him. How is it going to look that the PM was friendly with and took money from a money launderer? It will only make the bribery case stronger, as a criminal does not give money for free, he asks for something in return.

Olmert's team also made a mistake in their pre-cross examination boasting. They boasted that they would destroy Talansky, peel him like an onion etc. This created very high expectations. So far, after 2 days of cross examination, they haven't done much. They have basically wasted time investigating Talansky's past. It certainly seems like Olmert and his attorneys were just blowing hot air.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The NY Times on Samir Kuntar - Raid went "horribly" wrong

The New York Times writes the following about the child killer Samir Kuntar:

Perhaps Israel's most reviled prisoner, Samir Kuntar, will return to a hero's welcome when he crosses into Lebanon this week, 29 years after he left its shores in a rubber dinghy to kidnap Israelis from the coastal town of Nahariya.

That raid went horribly wrong, leaving five people dead, a community terrorized and a nation traumatized. Two Israeli children and their father were among those killed.

What does the Times think would have happened if the raid had gone right? In fact, why do they think the raid went "horribly" wrong at all? What do they think Kuntar set out to do? Kuntar and his compatriots did exactly what they set out to do, they murdered innocent Jews. The only thing that went wrong was the fact that they were captured.

The fact that Abu Mazen praised Kuntar showed his true colors. How anyone can think that this man wants to make peace after calling a child killer a hero is beyond me. The same goes for Lebanese PM Siniora.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It looks like the government will fall over Avishai Braverman

Absolutely amazing. The government didn't fall after the disaster (war) in Lebanon, the 2 Winograd reports and Olmerts 6 investigations (including Talansky and Olmertours). It looks like it is going to fall because Labor MK Avishai Braverman was not appointed head of the Knesset Finance Committee. Because he was not appointed, the Labor Ministers voted no confidence in the government, this should lead to their dismissal. If they are dismissed, on Monday the government will fall and elections will be in 90 days.

The bottom line is, the sooner this government falls the better and if it has to be on a political matter like Braverman so be it.

Where does ישמעאל fit into the ד' מלכיות?

בלעם at the end of the parsha, discussed according to many, the Messianic era. The Ramban understands that he was talking about the ד' מלכיות. The Ramban quotes the Ibn Ezra who thought that ישמעאל was the last of the ד' מלכיות. The Ramban disagrees and says that the Ibn Ezra is completely wrong and that ישמעאל is independent of the ד' מלכיות.

I heard teh following explanantion of the Ramban. The ד' מלכיות represent rebellion against Hashem. They take the kingship from us (who represents Hashem in this world) and worship avoda zara. ישמעאל is different. ישמעאל has Hashem's name in his name and is not rebelling against the מלכות of Hashem. ישמעאל as the Torah says is a פרא אדם, a wild man. He believes in Hashem but wants to do what he wants to do. ישמעאל does everything in the name of Hashem including killing. Therefore, ישמעאל is independent of teh ד' מלכיות and can exist concurrently with them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Olmert: Peace with Palestinians is closer then ever - Who does he think is fooling?

This is the headline in Haaretz online today.

How dumb does he think the people are? Gilad Shalit is still in captivity, Hamas is violating the ceasefire almost every day and he is talking about peace with Abu Mazen? Does anyone beside Olmert and the diehard left believe that Abu Mazen is relevant? Would a deal with Abu Mazen be worth the paper that it is written on? For Olmert to state

"It seems to me that we have never been as close to the possibility of reaching an accord as we are today,"

is cynical beyond belief. Olmert, a petty thief who stole from charitable organizations, is trying to make people forget about his legal troubles. This time I don't think it will work. No one, even the Israeli public, is that stupid.

Olmert's latest problem - double reimbursement for travel

It seems that Olmert would travel abroad (18 times a year while Industry and Trade Minister) and then bill 2 or more charitable organizations for his trip, pocketing the extra payment. This is not just verbal allegations, the police actually have the double receipts. Below is one example of the double billing:

Note the same flight number and date to 2 separate organizations. Interestingly enough the amounts are different.

I can't wait to hear the imaginative excuses for this one.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tzippi Livni and Resolution 1701 - disconnected from reality

Tzippi Livni was the architect of UN Resolution 1701 which has completely and utterly failed (see Security Council resolution 1701 has completely failed ). Yet, instead of fessing up to her mistakes she is still acting as if Resolution 1701 actually is working and means something.

Livni: We must disarm Hizbullah

"Unfortunately decision 1701 was not completed by the Lebanese side and I hope that during the next few days it will be implemented with the return of the kidnapped soldiers," Livni said.
"We need to stop the arming of Hizbullah by way of the Syrian border and disarm it. There is currently an opportunity to do so and we mustn't lose it." She refused to answer questions about the progress of the prisoner swap deal.
Israel plans to continue its efforts towards the fulfillment of decision 1701 through other Security Council channels in order to expand UNIFIL's mandate.

Believe it or not, according to Livni Resolution 1701 will be implemented when the prisoner swap takes place.

She completely forgot about all of the other important provisions in Resolution 1701 that haven't happened and will not happen. Who exactly does she think is going to disarm Hezbollah?

Let's take a look at what UN Resolution 1701 actually says and if it is even being close to implemented:

1. no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its Government;
Livni herself stated that Hezbollah is still smuggling arms.
2. there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon
As Livni herself stated not only has Hezbollah not disarmed but they now have more weapons then ever.
3. disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon see 2

In fact, she is wrong about the prisoner return as well. Resolution 1701 states:
unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers

The soldiers are not being returned unconditionally, but only after Israel agreed to pay a very high price.

The bottom line is, Resolution 1701 is a completely worthless piece of paper that has no connection to reality.

The really sad thing is that Tzippi Livni is a leading candidate to be the next PM of Israel.

Security Council resolution 1701 has completely failed

Officials: 1701 on verge of collapse

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, passed to stop the Second Lebanon War, is on the verge of collapse as Syria continues to rearm Hizbullah, senior defense officials warned Tuesday night ahead of a scheduled security cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
"Syria is rearming Hizbullah at a rapid pace and this is proof that 1701 has completely failed," one official said.

This is not exactly unexpected. I hate to say it but I told you so. I had a series of posts where I discussed the resolution and how it wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Believe it or not, I may have been too optimistic. I wrote:

How the ceasefire may play out

The situation in Southern Lebanon is basically back to where it is on July 12th, 2006

In fact, the situation today is much worse then it was July 12, 2006. Hezbollah has more rockets and more advanced weaponry then it had 2 years ago.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What airline should you fly on?

According to the ועד לעניני תחבורה the main criteria is whether or not the flight has movies shown. They split up the airlines into 3 groups.
Preferred - no movies shown
Second choice - movies but only on a personal screen which can be shut off
Third Choice - movies on a main screen

On the Tel Aviv - NY route for example, there are no Preferred airlines. Continental and British are second choice and El Al is third choice (because they have some planes without personal screens and the movies they do show are particularly bad (according to the Vaad). I wonder how they know this? Who watched the movies for them and compared?).

For some reason, they left out some popular airlines on the Tel Aviv - NY route. I know from personal experience that Lufthansa is very popular. They would probably be a third choice because on their trans-atlantic flights they have a lot of planes with movies on the main screen. They also left out Delta which has a non-stop flight Tel Aviv - NY as well as Tel Aviv - Atlanta.

Interestingly enough, Arkia and Israir are prohibited completely.

You can see the whole list below:

The dollar is still worth 4 shekels according to the Gedolim

The dollar hasn't been anywhere near the 4 shekel mark in a very long time but Areivim is still insisting on pricing in dollars at 4 shekel to the dollar. This month they will be collecting $5.6 at 4 shekel to the dollar. This obsession with the dollar is really strange, why they can't just say they are collection 22.4 shekel is beyond me.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Winograd commission member - PM should have been removed from office

Yechezkel Dror, one of the members of the Winograd commission that investigated the Second Lebanon War had very harsh criticism for the political system in general, and specifically PM Olmert:

A Severe Verdict That Didn’t Go Far Enough

... As a member of the commission, I expected that the Cabinet would resign or be dismissed after the interim report appeared. Indeed, the chief of staff honorably resigned, and the minister of defense was made to leave. The prime minister, however, did not resign, nor was he forced to leave. I do not think this would have happened in any other parliamentary democracy.
In retrospect, I think I erred in trusting the political system and the public to do what was obviously required in light of our harsh findings, namely to remove the prime minister from office. I did not expect such dismal behavior motivated mainly by narrow party interests and personal career considerations on the part of many members of the Knesset (with some distinguished exceptions). I regret that I did not insist on making an explicit institutional recommendation that, because of his grand failures, the prime minister should not continue to serve, even if this might have been regarded by some as deviating from the legal limitations imposed on the commission. This recommendation is all the more urgent and valid in light of developments since publication of our final report.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Buy segulos online

You can now buy segulos online. The Israel Catalog offers:

Kabbalah Amulet for Health
Kabbalah Amulet for Health Item Number: 12501
List Price: US$85.95
Your Price: US$49.95
You save: 41%
Shipping Fee: Recipient country...
Helps one stay healthy and avoid illness.
Made of Sterling Silver.
More Details Add to cart Buy Now!

Kabbalah Amulet for Prosperity
Kabbalah Amulet for Prosperity Item Number: 12513
List Price: US$85.95
Your Price: US$49.95
You save: 41%
Shipping Fee: Recipient country...
This amulet helps one to succeed in jobs and businesses and maximize profits.
Made of Sterling Silver.
More Details Add to cart Buy Now!

Kabbalah Amulet for Soldiers
Kabbalah Amulet for Soldiers Item Number: 12516
List Price: US$85.95
Your Price: US$49.95
You save: 41%
Shipping Fee: Recipient country...
Promotes good judgment and patience. Helps one to overcome fear and great physical and mental obstacles.
Made of Sterling Silver.
More Details Add to cart Buy Now!

Here you can get holy coins from Lizensk

This is an absolutely terrible phenomenon which makes Judaism into a joke.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How many strings of תכלת?

Recently I have seen in a number of places people recommending to wear 1 string of techeles like the Rambam.

Regarding the number of strings of techeles there seems to be 3 different opinions in the Rishonim:
1. Rambam (הל' ציצית פרק א' הל' ו) writes that 1 out of the 8 strings should be תכלת
2. The Raavad there disagrees and says that 2 of 8 strings should be תכלת
3. Rashi and Tosafos in מונחות ל"ח hold that half of the strings (4) should be תכלת

Those who wear like the Rambam make the following חשבון. They say that according to the Rambam if you put on more then 1 (out of 8) strings of Techeles, you are not יוצא the mitzva of ציצית at all while according to everyone else while you are not יוצא techeles (with 1 string) at least you are יוצא the mitzva of ציצית.

I don't find this argument very compelling. One of the arguments to wear techeles nowadays is that since it is available, if you don't wear it you are עובר בל תגרע. However, if you only wear 1 string you would still be עובר בל תגרע according to Rashi and Tosafos.

The fact is that almost all the חכמי אשכנז (Maharam MiRutenberg, Mordechai, Rid, Semak, etc.) pasken like Rashi and Tosafos as well as both the Rosh and the Tur.

The majority of acharonim (who discuss the issue) also seem to pasken like Rashi and Tosafos.

Taz - או"ח סימן ט' סעיף ב'
בזמן שהיה תכלת מצוותו שיקח שני חוטין וכו': דכתיב גדילים תעשה לך אין גדיל פחות
משנים - גדילים ארבע והיינו שני מינים וסברא שיהיו שני המינים שווים שני חוטים מהאי
מינא ושנים מהאי מינא

Mishna Berura - סימן ט' ס"ק ז paskens like Rashi and Tosafos (half techeles half white):

בזמן הזה - פי' דבזמן שהיה תכלת שהיה צריך להטיל ד' חוטין שני חוטי לבן ושני חוטי

Shulchan Aruch Harav - הל' ציצית סימן ט' סעיף ד'

י"א שאין ציצית של צמר ופשתים פוטרין בבגדים של שאר מינים אלא א"כ יהיו הציצית צמר
ופשתים יחדיו דהיינו ב' חוטין תכלת וב' חוטין פשתים...

The bottom line is that the Ashkenazi psak would seem to be clearly like Rashi and Tosafos that you need 4 strings of techeles. The Taz, Shulchan Harav and the Mishna Berura are the עמודי ההוראה for Ashkenazi psak. Therefore, I don't understand how anyone can recommend to an Ashkenzi to follow the psak of the Rambam.

I have heard that this is how RHS and R' ZN Goldberg pasken as well, to put on 4 strings of techeles.

Another Hasidic succession battle - Vishnitz

The Viznitzer Rebbe has 2 sons, Yisrael and Menachem Mendel. About 20 years ago the older son Yisrael was removed from his position, the prevalent rumor was that his mother was responsible. The mother died and the Rebbe remarried 5 years ago and the elder son returned to the Chasidus. With the failing health of the Rebbe the Chasidus has split into 2 camps.

The warring between the 2 camps has spread and started a spate of "Shtreimel snatching".

Shtreimel vs. Shtreimel

The conflict among the two opposing camps in the Viznits Hasidic community in Bnei Brak doesn’t include stealing money or ideological arguments; instead, the Hasidic way of quarreling entails “swiping” shtreimels and bartering their return.

The shtreimel is a fur hat worn by many married haredi Jewish men belonging to the one of the various Hasidic sects on Saturdays and holidays. The hat is usually made out of a young fox’s fur, and a single hat requires 30 of them. A Hasidic man buys one or two expensive shterimels throughout his life for a price range of $2,000 to $4,000.

The shtreimel is worn without fastening, a significant factor in the latest street fights in the Viznits neighborhood. Those looking to humiliate a Hasid snatch his shtreimel, forcing him to return home with a lowered head sporting on his yarmulke.

In recent weeks, the brawls between the camps have intensified, with both sides snatching each other’s shtreimels. During the peacemaking, each camp returns the other’s goods stolen in the last strife.

The barters, one of which took place two weeks ago, also include returning torn shterimels that were intentionally spoiled and torn in the heat of battle in exchange for ones in mint condition.

In each fight, the Viznits Hassids try to snatch as many shterimels off their opponents’ heads, so as to have as many bargaining chips as possible ahead of the next barter.

I couldn't make this up if I tried.