Sunday, July 31, 2005
Gotta love it.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
My wholly inadequate translation of a few lines:
"Halakhah and Agadah are not really two, but one; two faces of the same creature. The relationship between them is like the relationship between the word to thought or to feeling or between the deed, the perceived form and the word. The Halakhah is the crystallization, the final and necessary essence of the Agadah; the Agadah is the strength of the Halakhah."
Print out this fascinating essay for Shabbat.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The slogan for the pro-hitnatkut convoy that is on its way to somewhere is "Return to Zionism".
Where is religious-Zionism going after the hitnatkut? I have a better question, where is secular-Zionism going?
It is time for the secular elite in
The "post-Zionist" project was meant to purge any love of land, tradition and the Jewish people from the educational system, from the high culture and from the mass culture of the country. The secular elite must negate post-Zionism (as Amnon Rubenstien and others have already done) and declare themselves, unapologetic and unabashed Zionists,
That means sending their boys and girls back to the officer corps and the more dangerous units of the army. It means that when they establish their next start-up they move it to Mitzpe Rimon or Be'er Sheva, or Qiryat Shemona, or Afula. It means that they vacation in
Mostly, it means that the majority of the country needs to reclaim that aspect of Zionism that matters most – settlement. That means establishing settlements on the hilltops of the
It is quite clear that the lesson to be learned over the last thirty years is that the only way the religious-Zionists can be accepted is to be followers and not leaders. We must see where the secular Zionists are going and follow them. We must see which army units the best of their youth enter and enlist in them. But their chance will not last long. Religious-Zionists won't let the country fall apart waiting for their cue. They must re-adopt Zionism, in its classical form, as more than its motto, and they must do it quickly.
Had we waited thirty years ago after the Yom Kippur War, when it was the kippot serugot and denim skirts who picked this country out of its emotional depression, who would be manning the combat units today? Who would have formed garinim to teach the poor in Shderot, Yerucham and other development towns? Yes, we may have spent too much time worrying about which hilltop in Yesha should be settled next, but that is not all we did. We also went north and south – we built and we taught.
If the motto of the hitnatkut is to "return to Zionism" then they have the religious-Zionists to thank that there is a Zionism to return to.
If the hitnatkut actually causes the secular elite to return to the Zionist ideals of settling the
We religious-Zionists have made our mistakes. Our rabbinic leadership has all too often done their very best to make religion and Zionism hateful to many. We here in this blog have criticized the religious-Zionist leadership, sometimes relentlessly. But that does not take away all of the good that we have done – even if the press never reports it.
If the slogan is true and the secular leadership is really ready to "return to Zionism" then we religious-Zionists can only say: Better late than never.
And welcome back.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Whereas in America a ketubah, which is to be a financial guarantee to the wife in the case of divorce will have the symbolic sum of "100 zekukim kesef" in Israel many ketubot have actual amounts in New Israeli Shekel. Therefore, some grooms want to impress their brides by promising, at the signing, many hundreds of thousands of Shekel. As an Halakhically valid document singed by two witnesses you would think that the rabbis and dayanim would be strict in holding the groom to his word.
You would be wrong. In certain cases you see, the dayanim can figure out that the groom was just joking around, being a showoff – denying the wife vast sums of money that was promised to her. Of course, in the case of agunot, etc, these same dayanim have to be very strict so as to assure that the absolute letter of the each and every law is upheld.
Machmir (stringent) for the women who only want their freedom. Meikil (lenient) for the men who need the cash.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
From my very own IDF sources, from an "Aluf Mishne" (full colonel), it seems that some good has come out from the lockup of the anti-hitnatkut protesters last week: Shiduchim. Yes, the hitnatkut, according to this senior officer will be the first military operation in which 50% of the participants will be women – young, female soldiers and officers standing alongside young male soldiers and officers.
At Kfar Miamon last week, many phone numbers were apparently exchanged on both sides of the fence. The boy combat soldiers who suffer through bad accommodations and combat rations finally got to meet the girl soldiers as they sat for days waiting for some action. And action they got – phone numbers, dates. Marriage proposals? Not so quick. And, as we stated this happened on both sides of the fence. This was the biggest social event of the decade here in
Maybe they can go to
You don't get a dime for setting up a boychick though – probably because if you set up a good Jewish Central Queens boy with a non-Central
Its time for the local Queens rabbis to set up some kind of semi-legal protest – maybe against the non-kosherosity of the water in the Big Apple – have them locked up in the Bronx Zoo for a few days. Maybe some phone numbers will be exchanged. You can give the 2 grand to the walruses.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The sky is still up above so we shouldn't jump to any conclusions, but with anti-Western rabbis on the one side and cynical politicians on the other, we better hope they are independent minded.
And for those of you who insist that 14 year old girls get not be allowed to see their parents and should sit in jail while awaiting trial for blocking roads, you should definitely read this little news item:
"Hundreds of angry farmers from the Galilee and the Golan blocked the main Kiryat Shmona to Rosh Pina road near the turnoff to Yesud Hama'ala for almost an hour on Thursday morning to press for urgent government aid."
Since their protest is part of a "Zionist enterprise whereby the land is farmed and the region is green and blossoming" ... no arrests were made, as far as I can see.
Lessons in democracy. Part II.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
In about 15 minutes (
But before the next battle we need to get through this without poisoning the army more than it has already been poisoned. The soldiers involved will use this experience in order to shape their future views as to the country – its Jewishness, its democratic foundation. It is from this that they will learn civics, not from their bagrut (matriculation). This is a real life lesson for us all – most of all for our soldiers, for our children.
Will they end up being cynics or believers in a better country? Will they feel like they helped to get the country through this? Or will they think at the end of this – for this I risked my life?
There are two people who can bring us back from cynical abyss – Ariel Sharon and R. Avraham Shapiro. Both are failing – the former because of ego and belief in force and the latter because of a misguided view of Jewish peoplehood.
You want to march? March to
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Did I hear someone say Kent State?
Although my mind is where everyone else's is here in Israel – on the hitnatkut, I have been planning on writing on changing attitudes in modern-Orthodoxy – one more liberal and one much less so.
A few days ago Mirty wrote her story on her blog of being raised Orthodox, leaving the fold, intermarrying, being disowned by her parents and eventually returning to live as a Jew. We have dealt with intermarriage before in an interesting exchange with Braita but would like to comment brieflyl with the fact of "disowning" the child who has intermarried.
My father was a rabbi in mostly non-Orthodox congregations in small towns and finally in
In the modern-Orthodox community throughout the same period and up until today I sense a changing attitude towards relationships with intermarried children. While the opposition to intermarriage is still strong, I don't know that most parents would cut off all ties with their children if one were to intermarry. In a discussion with the OOS wife, we both agreed that, difficult as it would be (and living in
What does that mean about our commitment to Judaism? What does that mean about our relationship with our children? Does this statement send a wrong message to our children? Does it, so to speak, take the pressure off of them? Should we condemn Mirty's parent's actions … or our own views?
I don't really know.
Monday, July 18, 2005
The hate-fest continues as we seem to be failing the "sinat chinam" test.
Last night the opponents of the hitnatkut were at Kissufim Junction at the entrance to
While watching a few minutes of a news show on Channel 10 called "
On the positive side, the Israeli Civil Rights Organization has condemned the police for their actions preventing today's demonstration. Also, the head of the Kiryat Shemona hesder yeshiva, Rav Tzefania Drori has told any officer in the IDF that if a soldier refuses orders he should call him directly and he will set him straight.
I am not really a believer in the apocalypse or in chicken little so I don't think this is something we will not survive. But libeling some of your best citizens does not bode well for the future of the country.
Ha'aretz's editorial in support of the police's decision to take away the free speech rights from those who oppose the hitnatkut is fascist, plain and simple. It uses the "big lie" by stating that the "Yesha leaders know very well, from their experience with similar demonstrations, that violence is implicit in their plans" – eventhough Moetzet Yesha demonstrations have never been violent. They continue to malign a large group of people who oppose government policy. They claim that protesting against a policy legally adopted by the government is "not waging a campaign for Gush Katif, but a campaign against the State of Israel". Only fascists belief that the State is the source of all legitimacy and must be followed blindly.
Nothing bothers me more than a curtailment of free speech and nothing promises violence in a democracy more than dis-allowing legal protests against government policy. Everyone, left, right and center understands that in a parliamentary democracy at 180 degree turn in policy by the government needs to be followed by elections. Everyone, left, right and center understands that "legal legitimacy" is different than "political legitimacy" – that you need both if you want to implement a policy that is controversial.
This is not an "anti-hitnatkut" post, but a plea to allow freedom of speech before Ha'aretz's fascism spreads.
Some kids waiting for the bus to the protest in Netivot.
Four of the seven policeman at the Kfar Saba Central Bus Station ready to prevent a bus from going to the protest in Netivot.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
I was reading Hirhurim and, regarding a discussion on Conservative Judaism by Judith Hauptman he wrote: "Note that she is not Orthodox and the opinion piece does not reflect Orthodox views. Do not read the following quote if you are not prepared for a non-Orthodox view."
Then, regarding Alan Yuter's letter to the Jewish Week, he wrote: "note that, while Orthodox, he is not right-wing and those sensitive to left-wing Orthodoxy should not read the following quote".
Finally, regarding Steven Weiss and his Canonist blog: "note that he is not a rabbi and the general content of his blog has not been rabbinically approved".
I don't have time to look through the entire blog for hints that this is a joke .... please Gil, tell me it is.
I was hoping that my previous posts (see side) on the hitnatkut (withdrawal from
With less than a month to go until the withdrawal I would like to give my views on the various forces and groups that are in the middle of this mess. First, I would like to break my own political silence and give my own view of the hitnatkut so that I will not be accused of having a secret agenda.
I think that unilateral withdrawal in general is only good when used as a tactical withdrawal in order to put a country in a better offensive or defensive military position. For this tactical withdrawal to work the enemy has to understand it as such and it cannot have long-term strategic elements to it. Unfortunately, the hitnatkut fails on both points. Even if it puts us in a better objective military situation the fact that the enemy views this as a victory for terror and a defeat for Israel makes this a looser from a military perspective. Regardless of Norman Podhoretz's newfound trust in individuals over ideas and policy thinking the best of Sharon or Bush does not negate the fact that the Palestinian leadership and citizenry look upon this as a defeat. However, that being said, much of the damage has already been done. The Palestinians have already gained a psychological and strategic victory whether we go through this or not and will (they have already started to) redouble their efforts to attack Israeli civilians on either side of the "green line". Stopping the hitnatkut will not change that element in the equation – which clearly favors the Palestinians. It might be argued that not going ahead with the withdrawal at this point will give them yet another victory in that since we have already committed to unilateral withdrawal, there will need to be another concession to the Palestinians just to get us back to the line of scrimmage.
From the human perspective, the terrible tragedy of forcing people out of their homes and farms will resonate for many decades. This is a problem that the government has refused to deal with. For those who "just" have homes, they will probably come out okay financially (but not necessarily psychologically or religiously), for those with farms, they will be ruined.
That said – my view is that the hitnatkut was a horrible idea but at this stage it is better if it goes forward than if it doesn't- on three conditions: That the opponents to the hitnatkut be allowed to voice their opinions without fear of being criminalized: That we first take care of the Kassam rocket situation: That the residents whose are being relocated be given fair value for their homes and businesses.
Now to the "situation". I feel that the main religious-Zionist rabbis are coming to understand that their calls for soldiers to refuse orders and their plan to disrupt the country in order to force a policy reversal were mistaken (the exception here remains Rabbis Eliyahu and Shapiro who are slowly loosing their authority with the adult population). The rabbis (not all, to be sure) have toned down their language. We are not hearing the incendiary anti-Zionist language we hared a few months ago. My second son received a letter from his principal (at Yeshivat Bnei Akiva in Ra'anana – known to have rabbis that are young and very right wing) explaining that as much as this is difficult for all of us, only doing good deeds and mitzvot will help our situation. They seem to have understood that they will need to explain in September that this is not the end of the "geula" and that we can't loose faith in God, in the country, in the people or in the army.
I wish I could say the same thing for the justice system in the country which has completely broken down. I just read a letter from two attorneys who visited five teenagers (two boys and three girls ages 13-17) who are accused and awaiting trial for blocking roads. They are being held without bail in tiny cells with only one hour outside the cell in the morning and one in the afternoon. All of the other prisoners at the Ma'asiyahu Jail (including convicted rapists and murderers) are given most of the day out of their cells and are allowed regular visits from relatives. The kids are only allowed visits from lawyers and are not given reading material. The Israeli justice system is known to be very lenient with children (too much so when it comes to rapists – but that is for another day).
It is my contention that people who break the law should go punished. However, when the truck drivers, taxi drivers and port workers blocked roads over and over again over the last few years, none of them were arrested, let alone jailed. People (especially children) must be punished for their crimes not their political views – and their punishment must come after conviction and must be commensurate with their crime.
The justice system has broken down on so many levels that it is creating a situation where all is allowed (especially to corrupt politicians) as long as it does not interfere with the hitnatkut. When opposing the hitnatkut, people are being treated as enemies of the State. These children broke the law and should pay what other people who broke the same law pay. Doing otherwise turns them into political prisoners.
We must all take a step back and understand that we have to live regular lives after this happens. For those on the right, they have to understand that they can't educate their children against the state and for those on the left, they have to realize that destroying the religious-Zionists will destroy the Jewish state along with it (see Caroline Glick last week).
My son often feels that all of the many crises we encounter in this country are tests ("nisyonot") from God. I don't know that I agree with him – but if it is so, this "nisayon" is about "sinat chinam" (hatred of brothers) – we will either pass the test or allow what the prophets promised would never happen – cause a "Churban Bayit Shlishi".
Friday, July 15, 2005
Done. A full week of Macabiah baseball came to an end today. Yesterday,
On the one hand I got the feeling of what it would be like to be one of those "Sports guys" – you know, they eat, sleep and breath sports and don't really care about the rest of the world. No wars, no terrorism, no Halakhic issues. You know what – it wasn't have bad. But, it would be against my nature to let the great issues of the day go by without putting my two sense in … so we will probably return to that next week.
It was great meeting all of the players, coaches and parents from the
All in all, I had a good time and from the looks on the faces of the people, so did many others.
Bronze Medal, Israel National Team
Silver Medal, Team Canada
Gold Medal, Team USA
Team USA head coach, Jerry Weinstein
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Although it's tough to loose every day, the Israeli Macabiah baseball team is hanging in there. They lost to
And the hot dogs are kosher.
As promised, Israel team hair crew.
And a bit more.
And more hair.
This much dirt before the game.
Team Canada coaches, Howard Kideckel and John Elias.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
But that's okay … the
If you didn't show up, not only did you miss some great Zionist style baseball, you missed dancing umpires and ball-girls.
You have three more chances to see Macabiah baseball and here
It's your Zionist duty to have some fun.
I am not sure why the opening ceremonies of large international sporting events always take place days after the actual sporting events start … but the Maccabiah is a mini-Olympics, so we must do as they do.
59 Jewish communities in countries around the world, sent athletes to the 17th Maccabiah. The
There is something about sporting events that bring out the very worst in art and this was no difference. The kitsch was oozing out of every corner as two or three gazillion dancers pranced around the floor of Ramat Gan Stadium with multicolored plastic in hand. But … this is not a time for seriousness or art (although there was a memorial to the four Australian athletes killed by Israeli negligence in Maccabiah 15). This is a time for Jews to just have fun.
The worth of the Maccabiah is in giving Jewish people a chance to play games just for the sake of playing games in
Kol haKavod to those who originated these games and kol haKavod to those who continue to organize them every four years.
Instead of arguing about Halakhah, texts, land and lifestyles, we get to argue about hits, errors, missed goals and swimming strokes. We all know that we will soon return to our abnormal existence of debating the worthiness of life on a regular basis – but for a week or two, we get to just play games in a Jewish country.
Olympic gold medal winner, Gal Friedman, running with the torch.
Israeli team, "marching in".
Italy Loves Israel!
Australian long jump team.
Dancing, dancing, dancing...
Monday, July 11, 2005
Today, Team Canada lost a gutsy game to Team USA, 6-4. They overcame a 2-0 deficit to take a 4-2 lead - only to loose it in the next inning.
Too bad for the Canucks - they will have two more chances to beat up on Israel and two more shots at the US.
Tonight is the opening ceremony. We will be there, reluctantly. Traffic, crowds, general "balagan". Then back to baseball. We will be announcing games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - so come to Baptist Village and stop by.
Team Canada dugout.
Two guys from Team USA.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher, Marty Clary.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
If you are in Israel, come on by to Baptist Village - Yarkon Sports Complex outside of Petach Tikva - off of route 40 between Tzomet Hayarkon and Tzomet Segula.
Come to the announcer's tent and say hello. Admission 10 shekel.
To follow baseball on the Maccabiah, go here.
If you can pick out the OOS son - in the pictures, you win a free cup of coffee at the OOS household.
We will try to photoblog this event as much as possible.
For softball news, although Israel's mens team lost their opening game, the women came through and beat Canada 5-1. All softball and baseball is at Baptist.
Come on down. Let's play two!!!
Team Israel, introductions
Team USA (in white), introductions