Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The scandals just don't stop

Today there are 2 more cases of religious Jews being arrested for financial crimes.

Monsey couple charged with welfare fraud

A chasidish couple was arrested for stealing $75,000 from federal rent, Medicaid and food stamp programs

Mail Thieves Caught in Rockland County

2 frum guys (with 3 week beards) were arrested for stealing checks from mailboxes.

It is not hard to understand why this is happening. The Gemara in Kiddushin (30b)states:
ר' יהודה אומר כל שאינו מלמדו אומנות מלמדו מלמדו ליסטות
R' Yehuda says that whoever does not teach his son a profession is teaching him to be a robber

In many parts of the Charedi world today "work" is a 4 letter word and many people simply have no skills to make a living, therefore as the Gemara says they turn to theft.

Why is Tisha B'Av more strict then other fast days?

On Tisha B'Av in addition to not eating and drinking we have additional restrictions as well such as not wearing shoes, washing etc., why is that?

There is a fundamental machlokes regarding this.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (18b) quotes a pasuk in Zecharya which calls the 4 fast days both a צום and ששון ושמחה. The Gemara asks that the 2 contradict each other. The Gemara answers when there is shalom then these days are holidays (ששון ושמחה). When there are גזירות on the Jewish people, צום, when it is neither then רצו מתענים רצו אין מתענים. The Gemara then asks what about Tisha B'Av? The Gemara answers that Tisha B'Av is different because הוכפלו צרות and therefore if it is not a time of shalom you have to fast.

The Ramban explains the following based on the Gemara. Why do we fast at all today on the other 3 fast days, we are in that intermediate stage where רצו אין מתענים? He explains that the Jewish people accepted to fast on these days. Really, all 4 fast days really should be like Tisha B'Av with the 5 עינויים. However, since now there is no חיוב to fast, the RAmban says that the Jewish people did not accept a full fast but a partial fast and did not accept the other עינויים.

Others argue on the Ramban and say that really the only prohibition on all fast days is eating and drinking. Tisha B'Av is different because we add in halachos of Aveilus. The additional issurim on Tisha B'Av are issurim of Avelus.

There is a very big נפקא מינא between the 2. According to the Ramban during a time like the Holocaust there is a חיוב מדינה to observe the other 3 fast days like Tisha B'Av while according to the others there is not.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Instant Semicha

I saw this today and if I didn't know it was serious I would be sure that someone is playing a joke.

Semicha is not supposed to be easy and not supposed to be short. Would you trust someone who was confused by the intricacies of the Shach and Taz to pasken questions for you?

What is this semicha going to be used for? Does anyone think that someone who takes a short period of time to do this will really know anything?

This is another manifestation of the "instant" culture that we live in and is why we now have who knows how many compilation sefarim.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

3 weeks, 9 days, and Tisha B'av posts worth looking at

I have written a number of posts relating to Tisha B'Av over the years. I think they are worthwhile to be read again now during the 9 days.

Another Tisha B'Av gone by
Leather shoes on Tisha B'Av
Wearing crocs on Tisha B'Av
משנכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה
The Aveilus of the Three Weeks

משנכנס אב ממעטים בשמחה

Based on this we have many ניהוגי אבילות during this period such as not eating meat, not bathing, etc.

Although there are a number of different reasons for not eating meat during the 9 days:
1. Aveilus - Meat is something that makes us happy (אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין) and therefore in these days of mourning we abstain
2. זכר לקרבנות - We are supposed to remember that during this time the קרבנות were stopped.

The bottom line is that we are not eating meat so that we feel the aveilus of the churban. Unfortunately, many people take not eating meat during the 9 days in the wrong direction. Some people love it, as I once heard "and best of all, there's always ice cream or cheese cake for desert".

Those who feel that it is easy and great and they get to eat ice cream all the time, are missing the whole point. They may be doing the minhag but by Aveilus there is supposed to be a kiyum balev, you are supposed to feel something. These people feel no aveilus because they are not eating meat, in fact they are happy. This is a perversion of the minhag. The minhagim are supposed to help you feel aveilus, if they don't you should do something else that will help you feel the aveilus as well. Clearly, we cannot violate the minhag and eat meat even if we don't like meat, on the other hand, we shouldn't be eating gourmet milchig meals and enjoying ourselves either.

These days are supposed to be sad, eating gourmet milchig meals while not technically violating the minhag is certainly violating it's spirit.

The same thing applies to listening to music. The whole idea of "3 week CD's" (a cappella no music) is absolutely ridiculous. The whole point of not listening to music is so that you should feel the aveilus. It is clear that whoever listens to these "3 week cd's" enjoys them, otherwise why would they listen. This is a classic case of observing the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law or as the Ramban would say, a נבל ברשות התורה. Listening to these CD's clearly give people simcha the opposite of what we are supposed to be feeling at this time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The 3 Bachurim in Japan - parental negligence?

Let's take as fact the claims that they are innocent and had no idea what they were doing because they are so sheltered etc. How on Earth did these kids parents let them travel abroad to Europe and Japan when that is the case? These kids don't speak or read English. They could not fill out the custom forms because they were in English. How could anyone expect them to function in a completely foreign country which has a very different culture? How did they expect to communicate with anyone in Japan for their most basic needs? I assume that they were planning to stay in Japan at least 1 night, how were they going to get from the airport to a hotel? Check in to the hotel? No one in Japan speaks Yiddish or Hebrew, they barely speak English. It is beyond me how any parent could allow a completely sheltered kid who has no understanding of the outside world abroad when they don't speak the language of the country or English. How were these kids supposed to communicate with anyone? Last I checked the universal translator has still not yet been invented.

No one would send an 8 year old to Japan by himself, yet, in essence that's what was done here. These bachurim in terms of worldly knowledge are probably not even the equivalent of an 8 year old. My 8 year old son (living in Israel) is more worldly then these kids. He speaks and read English and has been exposed to the outside world. He probably knows what drugs are. However, I would never dream of sending him by himself abroad.

You can't have it both ways. If you completely shelter your kids you cannot expect them to be able to deal with the outside world and travel around the world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

All the news that is fit to print according to Hamodia

I have a subscription to both Mishpacha in Hebrew and Hamodia in English. It is absolutely fascinating to see what is printed in Mishpacha and not in Hamodia.

Last week there were 2 front page stories in Mishpacha that were not mentioned at all in Hamodia.

1. A Haredi Madoff. A Haredi investment broker seems to have pulled a Madoff and lost between 30-100 million dollars.
2. A summit about Chinuch Atzmai

What is the common denominator between them? They both involve Gerrer chasidim. The investment broker is a Gerrer Chossid and the Chinuch Atzmai meeting is an open challenge to the Gerrer Hasidim, an attempt to reduce their power. Anything negative regarding Ger is verboten in Hamodia.

It is sad that for some people Hamodia is their only source of news.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Who is a real kannoi?

The past weeks we have seen the "kannoim" riot in Yerushalayim. The question that needs to be asked is can these people really be called kannoim?

After Shimon and Levi destroy the city of Shechem Yakov is very angry with them and asks for exposing their family to danger, they answer,הכזונה יעשה את אחותינו. Yaakov Avinu does not respond at that point but does respond when he gives the shevatim their berachos in ויחי. Yaakov says about Shimon and Levi, כלי חמס מכירותיהם, clearly negative and then he says אפיצם ביעקב אחלקם בישראל, that they will be spread around. However, Rashi comments that Yaakov was saying that they will be the מלמדים and סופרים for the Jewish people.

R' Yaakov Kamenetsky asks why should they be the כלי קדש? Yaakov Avinu was not happy with their actions. He answers that to be a כלי קדש you need to be a kannoi. Things have to bother you and you have to act on it.

R' Yaakov then pointed out that Levi fulfilled the beracha while Shimon did not. Levi rallied to Moshe Rabenu's side when he said מי לה' אלי by the עגל, however, Shimon did not. In fact, Shimon used his קנאות for bad in the מעשה of זמרי where the נשיא of Shimon was a kannoi against Moshe Rabenu and acted out his desires. And in fact, who killed Zimri, Pinchas from Shevet levi.

What was the difference between Shimon and Levi? R' Yaakov answers, Torah. Levi learned torah in מצרים and was therefore able to harness his קנאות to torah while Shimon was busy working and therefore his קנאות was not bound by torah and turned out to be a terrible thing.

The Chazon Ish once commented on the Kannoim in Yerushalayim that they were pre-matan torah Jews, meaning that their actions were not guided by torah but by emotion. This is a very bad thing which leads people to do terrible aveiros.

Unfortunately, this is the case of today's kannoim as well. They are pre-matan torah Jews like Shimon. Their קנאות is causing them to violate very serious aveiros for which they cannot do teshuva. They have been מזיק and stole from who knows how many people, an aveira from which there is no כפרה until you return the גזילה\היזק. There is absolutely no heter whatsoever to destroy public property to make a מחאה, it is simply גזילה from the ציבור. In addition, they have created a terrible chillul hashem, again an aveira with no kappara. Why? because their kanaus is not defined by Torah but by their emotions.

When R' Weiss was appointed the Av Beis Din of the Eidah Charedis people complained that he wasn't a big kannoi. The Satmar rebbe said that anyone can be a kannoi overnight, to become a Talmid Chacham like R' Weiss takes 20 years.

This is exactly the problem today, everyone is a kannoi but how many kannoim have their kanaus defined by the Torah?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peace now?

The name of the Israeli "Peace Camp" has been Peace Now for the past almost 30 years. It is an idiotic name as it implies that if Israel wants it can make "peace now". The only problem is that the Palestinians don't want Peace Now.

Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Chief Negotiator, is quoted in the Jordanian newspapers as saying that the Palestinians are in no hurry. Israel is slowly but surely caving in to the PA positions and therefore the Palestinians need to be patient.

Saeb Ereqat: We Have No Reason to Hurry

Saeb Ereqat: Over the Years, Israel Has Gradually Withdrawn from Its Positions; Therefore, We Have No Reason to Hurry

In a June 25, 2009 interview with the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, Palestinian Authority negotiations department head Saeb Ereqat said that the previous Israeli government, under Ehud Olmert, had offered PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas territory equal in size to 100% of the land occupied in 1967, by means of a land swap. Ereqat explained, however, that the PA would not agree to a land swap before Israel recognized the Palestinians' right to sovereignty over all the territory occupied in 1967. He added that there had been a steady erosion in Israel's position over the years, to the point that it had recently offered the Palestinians 100% of the territory; therefore, the Palestinians had no reason to rush into accepting the Israeli proposals. He stressed that the Right of Return and monetary compensation for the refugees were not mutually exclusive, and that the Palestinians would insist on receiving both.

Here is 1 short excerpt from the interview:

"[Some ask] where the negotiations with the Israeli side have brought us. First [the Israelis] said we would [only have the right to] run our own schools and hospitals. Then they consented to give us 66% [of the occupied territories].

"At Camp David they offered 90%, and [recently] they offered 100%. So why should we hurry, after the all the injustice we have suffered?

The Israeli government needs to understand that they are negotiating with themselves. The Palestinians have not offered a single real concession while every time the Palestinians say no Israel comes back with a new concession.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Is the עדה החרדית becoming zionist?

Otherwise why do they care that the city of Yerushalayim is opening a parking lot on Shabbos? There is chillul shabbos in Yerushalayim and there will be whether or not the city opens the parking lot on shabbos. The עדה החרדית would not protest in NYC if Mayor Bloomberg (a Jew) opened a parking lot on shabbos who why should they care about Mayor Nir Barkat? After all, according to them the government is illegitimate and assur.

R' Amram Blau (a famous kannoi) once came back from an anti government demonstration and told the Brisker Rav how he laid down in front of the police cars to prevent them from going. The Brisker Rav said that he sees that R' Amram is also a Zionist. R' Amram was very puzzled, how was he a zionist? The Brisker Rav answered as follows. He asked R' Amram would you have laid down in front of a police car in Communist Russia? R' Amram answered no, I would have been afraid that they would just run me over and kill me. The Brisker Rav said that is the answer. You clearly believe that the zionists are better then the communists and would not kill you. That makes you in some small way a zionist.

The same point can be made today. Even the עדה החרדית understands that it is bad for the Jewish government of Yerushalayim to be מחלל שבת. As the Brisker Rav told R' Amra, Blau, they have bought in at least a little to zionism.