Apr 24, 2017

Special Interview in Krakow with son of Elie Wiesel (video)







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PM Netanyahu's Remarks at Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day Ceremony (video)







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Apr 23, 2017

Interesting Psak: splitting the apartment

A couple getting engaged added a clause to the tennaim regarding the purchasing of an apartment for the couple. The clause stated that the groom's father would give his son 250,000nis towards the purchase of an apartment for the couple, and the bride's father would give 500,000nis towards the purchase, and if necessary the young couple would complete the necessary sum on their own by taking a mortgage on any balance.

The couple got married and the parents each fulfilled their commitment, and the couple were the proud owners of an apartment. The apartment actually cost them 850,000nis, and the couple had taken a mortgage on the balance of 100,000 beyond what the parents had given towards the purchase. The apartment was registered in the names of the young couple.

Two years later, the couple decides to get divorced. The beis din decided that the two sides should each split the value of the apartment equally, despite the fact that the investment into the apartment was not equal. The wife claimed she shoudl walk away with 2/3 of the value, as per her father's investment into the apartment.

Upon appeal to the Higher Court she claimed that she deserves 2/3 because her father put 2/3 of the money in, as per the parents investment, yet the original beis din decided to split it equally because of the extra 100,000 mortgage.

The majority of the rabbonim on the beis din hearing the appeal decided to reject her claim and uphold the original decision, saying that the money given by the parents originally was a gift. As soon as the apartment is registered in the couples own names, it is theirs alone and the percentages originally invested are no longer relevant.

The minority opinion of Rav Igra saying that she keeps her fathers investment was rejected, and they split the apartment 50-50 despite the initial 33.3-66.6 breakdown.
source: Kikar




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Quote of the Day

The Haredim in Central Tel Aviv see everything. They see young women walking in, baruch hashem, immodest clothing according to Haredi concepts. They see the entire Jewish nation, but the Haredim in Tel Aviv specifically are very happy. Why? Because nobody bothers them.

  -- Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, speaking on Kol B'Rama radio station about the Supreme Court decision..

I am not sure what the "baruch hashem" in the middle of that is - is it baruch hashem the Haredim see these young women dressed that way or is it baruch hashem the women are dressed that way? I don't know. Either way it seems to me to be a weird statement.

I happen to agree that Tel Aviv is very good for religious people. In Te Aviv anyone can do anything, live hsi or her life in whatever way they choose, and nobody cares. Everybody does what is good for them, and nobody bothers them.

Huldai went on to talk about how the Supreme Court didn't allow them to open businesses, but basically confirmed a situation that already exists. As well, Huldai stressed that he follows the law and if the Haredi parties successfully change the law, he will follow whatever the law becomes. As well, Huldai stressed that massive illegal chilul shabbos happens around the country, but in Tel Aviv they follow the law and all businesses are closed and only a small number of stores are open in accordance with the law. Huldai said out of 20,000 businesses in the city, only 200 shops are open.




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Bizarre Foods Delicious Destinations S03E13E14 - Tel Aviv & Albuquerque (video)







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PM Netanyahu Meets US Secretary of Defense Mattis (video)







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Netanyahu shuts down Zahava Galon (video)







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One on One with Alan Dershowitz - Apr. 20, 2017 (video)








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Menashe | Official Trailer (video)








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Apr 20, 2017

Goy claims his chametz and doesn't get it

And here is what can throw the selling of chametz into a bad light and make people want to not rely on it, or maybe their rabbi needs to explain to them what it means to sell something, even chametz....

Supposedly on the first day of Pesach in Williamsburg, the goy who bought the chametz of the through one of the rabbis of tens of families in the area decided he wanted to collect.

It seems this was a "new" goy that bought the chametz this year as the regular goy was not available. This new goy did not really know the process and what is really happening, that this is a halachically mandated sham of a sale and while it is legal and he could go pick up his half loaf of bread, he isn't really expected to.

Anyways, the goy paid his deposit for his chametz and then on OPesach he decided he wanted to pick up his stuff. He looked at the list of people he had bought from and picked one, randomly I guess, out of the list. He went to the house and said he wants his chametz and asked how much is there - can he load it into his car or does he need to bring a trailer?

The family panicked. They tried to warn him off saying things like he might be punished from heaven for this, or this is an issue of holy rabbis and he shouldnt get involved, etc.

Mr. Goy understandably got upset that his chametz was being withheld from him and went to the rabbi for clarification. The rabbi convinced him to come back later, on Chol Hamoed. At that time the rabbi explained to him what the sale actually is and how it works, and the goy understood and left them alone.

The story concludes with a request by the family to not have their name published so people shouldnt talk about them and question if they actually sold their chametz or not.
source: Behadrei and Matzav

The funniest part of the story, for me, is the last part - how they wanted to keep their name out of it so nobody would question their kashrus. As if the public perception is more important than the actual potential kashrus problem.

Yes, the sale of chametz is a halachically mandated sham, as everyone involved knows nothing is being transferred, but the halacha explicitly allows it to happen. That being said, if a goy comes to claim his chametz, I am not sure why anybody would get nervous about that and refuse. Just give it to him and collect your money. They probably thought if the goy takes it it will mess everything up somehow..







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Meron will not be Tel Aviv

Masada Will Not Fall Again. The Fate of Netzarim is the Fate of Tel Aviv. Never Again.

Those are some of the great Israeli expressions, or idioms.

Add to the list, "Meron Will Not Be Tel Aviv!". It does not have quite the same ring to it, but it is pretty good.

Rav Mordechai Halpern, Director of the Meron Committee, announced today that Meron will not be Tel Aviv and they will not allow mass chilul shabbos in Meron or on the routes leading to Meron in preparation for Lag B'Omer has has happened in previous years.

Halpern said that this year they will keep the gates to Meron closed and locked until after Shabbos concludes and nobody, be it the security forces or hassidic groups, will be allowed to access the town's infrastructure and the site unless they guarantee complete loyalty to Shabbos in their preparation for the Lag b'Omer bonfires.
source: Kooker

So what does he expect? he'll open the gates after Shabbos and all chilul shabbos will have been avoided? the police and visitors will not have traveled and done their preparations on Shabbos and just waited outside for the gates to be opened?

The only way to avoid any chilul shabbos is to to delay the bonfires to either Sunday daytime or even to Sunday night/Monday.

That won't happen, and the haredi askanim and MKs are too busy screaming about secular chilul shabbos to deal with religious chilul shabbos





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6km for 6 million

The Iryah of Modiin along with the SprinTeam club has organized a memorial run on Yom Hashoah in memory of the 6 million Jews that perished in the Holocaust. The run will be a 6km run, 1km per million Jews. They specifically request participants wear white shirts, as I guess they consider that more appropriate and respectful.



I know different people commemorate things in different ways, and there is no shortage of memorial styles for just about anything including the Holocaust...Is this appropriate or not? While it feels inappropriate to me, I cannot seem to put my finger on what is wrong with it - anything can be done as a way to make people think about the Holocaust, or about any death or tragedy, and having a 6km run at 6am does not exclude participation in other, perhaps more traditional, memorial events.

What do you think?  Is this inappropriate?

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Israelis: Should Israel annex the West Bank? (video)







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Imagined In Israel (video)







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Synagogues of Massachusetts (video)








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Jerusalem Zoo (video)







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Nemouel Elokai Acapella The Official Music Video (video)







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Apr 19, 2017

Deri's crocodile tears over Shabbos desecration

After Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri did not come to a conclusion with what to do regarding the request of Iryat Tel Aviv, the Supreme Court has decided to allow the City of Tel Aviv to approve the opening of more kiosks and supermarkets on Shabbos

Deri got the government to transfer the power to decide on this issue back to him, after a previous minister transferred it to a committee due to a supposed conflict of interests. Deri requested more time right before the deadline for his decision, but the courts never agreed and Deri let it slide, supposedly thinking they would approve it at the last minute.

Now Deri, and his peers in the Haredi parties, are upset with the court decision. They are threatening to design and pass laws that will circumvent the Supreme Court decision and ban the commerce on Shabbos.

I don't have a concrete opinion on this Shabbos law - for or against. In general I think religious laws do more harm than good, but I understand the Jewish nature of the State needs to be protected somehow - I just don't know how and am not sure passing secular laws forcing secular people to keep religious laws is the right way to go about it.

Either way, no matter which way I lean on that issue on any particular day, I do not feel bad at all for Deri and his co-parliamentarians. They had the power in their hands, and they let it slip through their grasp. I don't know if he is expressing his anger for show, and he is probably more relieved than angry that he did not have to make a decision, either way, that would surely anger so many people, or if he is sincere in his anger post-facto.

Either way, no matter if he is sincere or not, this is his fault. While I am not sure if he did the right or wrong thing, his tears now are more of the crocodile variety, because if he really cared and opposed it he would have declined the petition when he had the ability to.

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Facebook Status of the Day and Photo of the Day




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CNN Documentary Believer with Reza Aslan 4 9 17 (video)

this episode of CNN's "Believer" series goes to Jerusalem and takes a look at the Haredi community.. and they go to Bet Shemesh as well.. and when Aslan joins up with a group of Na Nachs it is a riot..





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Dr Mordechai Kedar, Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar Ilan University Apr 18, 2017 (video)







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LT COL res speaking about his Passover during Defensive Shield Operation (video)








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One on One with Alan Dershowitz - Apr. 13, 2017 (video)








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Rau Banim - Yaakov Shwekey and Jewish a cappella group Shir Soul LIVE at Pesach in Vallarta (video)

I think this should have a sefira alert despite the acapella group Shir Soul being involved...






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Apr 18, 2017

Minister Yaakov litzman visits Rabbi Berland under house arrest

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman paid a visit to Rav ELiezer Berland who is ill and under house arrest in the motel adjacent to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital after pleading guilty to charges of rape and other charges of sexual misconduct.


Berland reportedly has cancer, and in response to criticism regarding the visit, Litzman's office put out a statement saying that he paid a bikur cholim visit and they assist everyone in need.

I have no problem with Litzman helping Berland and visiting him to see what his needs might be. The Minister of Health is responsible for the health issues of convicts and prisoners just like he is responsible for the health issues of all citizens of Israel. The problem would be if Litzman and his office are not doing anything to help convicts in general or visiting them to assess their needs, but made an exception for Berland. If he has only gone to visit and talk to Berland, then this is a visit that is poor in taste. I don't know if he visited other rapists and criminals or not, so I will refrain from levying comment on it beyond what I already wrote - there is nothing wrong with it if he is helping and visiting others as well, but if he is not helping others and only Berland, that is a problem.

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selling your chametz to your father

There was a cute meme going around social media before Pesach about Ivanka Trump Kushner asking her father, President Donald Trump, to buy her chametz from her for Pesach.

This story reminded me of that.

Shortly before Pesach, the Beis Din of Haifa performed the annual ceremony of selling the chemtz of their people to a gentile.

This year's goy for Pesach in Haifa was actually the father of the goy the Rabbi used to sell the chametz to.

Over the course of the past year, the previous goy completed his process of converting to Judaism. Being that he is now a Jew, this young man, Ron, could no longer be the guy goy who buys the city's residents chametz, but he himself needed to sell his own chametz. The rabbi sold all the chametz, including Ron's, to the young man's non-Jewish father.
source: Kikar

This is far better than the stories we sometimes hear about discovering the goy who bought the chametz is actually a Jew...



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When Eli Cohen ate matza in Damascus

Avraham Cohen, the brother of Eli Cohen - aka "Our Man in Damascus" based on the name of the book written about him, revealed a new and fascinating tidbit about his deceased hero of a brother..

Avraham Cohen has been gathering every morsel of information he has been able to find about his brother. As you surely know, Eli Cohen was a spy for Israel in the Syrian government in the 1960s, and much of Israel's success in the Six Day War on the front with Syria can be directly connected to information passed along to Israel by Cohen about war preparations, as well as his influence within Syria setting them up for Israel.

Cohen revealed a never-before-known incident about his brother, and how he was moser nefesh to eat matza on Pesach even in Syria.

Eli Cohen operated in Syria under the name Kamel Amin Thaabet and posing as a successful businessman he made strong connections at all levels of the Syrian government.

Avraham heard the following story from a Syrian-Jewish woman who told it to him after having made aliyah to Israel. She claims to have been a witness to the story as a child in her father's shop.

Early on in Cohen's career in Syria, in 1962, shortly after he arrived in Syria, he went through a market in Damascus. This woman's father operated a shop in the market. Cohen approached him and said he is very hungry and needs food. The man, her father, responded that because it is the Jewish holiday of Pesach he does not have any bread or pita but only has matza available. Thaabet, aka Cohen, responded that he does not know what this matza is, but he is so hungry and needs something to eat, whatever it may be. Her father gave him the matza, and, she related, Cohen took his food to the corner of the room, mumbled something to himself and ate the matza, before leaving.
source: Kol Hai News, among other sources




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What happened to the 10 lost tribes of Israel? (video)







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One on One with Alan Dershowitz – Apr. 6, 2017 (video)








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VIZIN ArchOfTitus SpoilsPanel 040717 (video)

very cool..



In 2012, a team of historians, scientists, and archaeologists began to study the Spoils Panel of the Arch of Titus, Rome, hoping to discover and reconstruct the original colors of this remarkable work of art. The Learning Sites team was hired by the Institute for the Visualization of History, working with Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, re-create the panel as it might have once looked. This video chronicles our methods and progress.





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A talk with an Israeli Nobelist - Prof Aumann (video)







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Israelis prepare for Passover 2017 in Jerusalem (REUTERS) (video)


this report on Reuters includes a bit on the practice run of the korban pesach...





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Apr 16, 2017

keeping the eating in balance

This morning I got in a nearly 8km run. Weather was nice, sunny and pleasant temperatures. With all this overeating due to the Pesach holiday, it has been very important to me to stick to my running schedule. Hopefully the running has kept my overeating, especially of matza, in balance


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Apr 9, 2017

going away for Pesach vs staying home

YWN posted a very harsh letter that had been sent in to the editorial board. It basically expressed glee at the cancellation of flights to Florida from New York and the cancellation of hotel Pesach programs that left many people in the lurch at the last minute.

The anonymous author of the letter is happy about their suffering because s/he thinks these people need to be taught a lesson, as does the community. The author references people that s/he knows go into serious debt in order to participate in such programs, as well as traveling for Sukkos or summer camps, and the like.

The author writes:
I was thrilled to learn that many flights from NY to Florida were cancelled on Erev Shabbos. I was also thrilled to learn that at least two Pesach hotels pulled the plug just a few days before Yom Tov.
Why am I thrilled?
Because I just collected money (more than $10K) for a family whose Flatbush home was slipping into foreclosure and friends got together to save them. So this was a thank you (spit in the face) to those that helped them out. They used credit cards to go to an upscale hotel for Pesach.
Now some may say “thrilled” is the wrong word, and of course it is not my wish that these people lose large sums of money, but yes I am thrilled that maybe just maybe the world will finally be exposed to this sickening phenomenon that is destroying so many families in our midst.
How reckless have we become? When did lose our minds in this insane fashion.
I know of a family that BORROWED $80,000 (yes, you read correctly – 80 THOUSAND DOLLARS) to fly their family to a Pesach hotel across the United States.
These are the same people that borrow money to purchase their summer homes in the Catskills (because you MUST); who take their kids to Miami on mid-winter vacations (because you MUST); who go on a vacation or two a year (because you MUST); who spend Sukkos in Israel every two years (because you MUST)….
So yes, I am thrilled that some people might Nebach have to spend Pesach in their homes. I am thrilled that instead of sharing their most precious family time with strangers, waiters and swimming pools they may enjoy a beautiful and uplifting seder around their very own, plain, boring dining room tables.
While I understand the point being made, and don't disagree with it and of course think that people should not go into heavy debt for such things - essentially just to keep up with the Joneses, or Cohens, I think his point is overly harsh the way s/he makes it. How people spend their hard earned money is really only their business. While some people go into debt for these things, some people do not. Some people work hard all year and save their money to go away on a vacation or for the holidays. And the people who did not go into debt for their vacation are also losing their money. Some people cannot make Pesach at home, due to circumstances out of their control and sometimes going away is their only solution. In addition, it seems cruel to wish that these people who took on debt to celebrate the holiday, rightfully or wrongfully, with or without a plan to pay it back, will lose all their money just to teach them a lesson and now have to pay back debt that they did not even get to enjoy.

I also find it noteworthy that the author seems to make a point that people who make the seder at home have a "beautiful and uplifting seder" while those who go away do not. I would posit that many people have a beautiful and uplifting seder at home, but many do not. Some people are alone and just go though the motions or others have a seder full of fighting among the kids and even adults who do not get along with each other. And people who go away can also have a beautiful and uplifting seder, with guidance from inspirational rabbonim who lead the seder in hotels, with loving family members they don't get to see to often, with everyone around the table including parents who are not too tired from all the preparations to also enjoy the seder. One need not over-stress his imagination to consider the multitude of scenarios in which one can imagine people who go away having a wonderful seder and people staying at home having a less than wonderful seder. Juts because these people are forced to stay home now does not mean they will automatically have a beautiful and uplifting seder, though I hope they will.





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Interesting Psak: kosher cigarettes for Pesach

In the shiur of Chief Rabbi Rav Yitzchak Yosef last night he paskened that there is no need to purchase special cigarettes with a special hechsher for Pesach. Rather, one could buy any cigarette and smoke it on Pesach, even "American cigarettes" - whatever that is.

Rav Yosef mentioned a rav who said that you cannot smoke cigarettes on Pesach because they are all chametz. He attacked him for arguing against something his father, Rav Ovadia, had written and said you don't just start learning halacha at age 50!

Rav Yosef explained that cigarettes are ok because they are not edible for a dog. He did clarify and say that one who does not smoke at all is even better because it is dangerous, but someone who does smoke does not need to look for a KFP hechsher on his cigarettes.
source: Kikar




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Headline of the Day

Mariners to offer toasted grasshoppers at Safeco concession


  -- ESPN

I guess the Mariners have also decided to open a kosher concession...

to increase engagement, I have included the picture from ESPN as well..


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A talk with an Israeli Nobelist - Prof Aumann (video)







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At Crave, it’s the (kosher) food you always wanted, but never could have (video)

mmmm





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Matzah Gets a Makeover | Have You Met? (video)







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Synagogues of Massachusetts (video)









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The Maccabeats - Mah Nishtanah - Passover (video)







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Apr 7, 2017

Israel Songs for Peace Mashup - Dance Spectacular! - Elliot Dvorin | Key Tov Orchestra (video)







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Apr 6, 2017

new category of kashrut


"Normal Kosher" - the new category in kashrut....



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Amnesty for outstanding arnona

Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri has announced that he has approved an amnesty plan by which people who owe a lot of money for old arnona bills they never paid will be able to pay "pennies on the dollar" - local authorities will be empowered to offer such people the option of paying up all their arnona debt at up to 50% off.

According to Deri, outstanding arnona debt in Israel stands at 30,000,000,000nis (that's right, billion).

To qualify, a person's arnona payments for the years 2015 and 2016 have to be paid up in full, and the amnesty only applies for years of debt until the end of 2014. Paying in one payment, cash, will qualify for a 50% discount, while paying in 12 monthly installments will get a 45% discount. The plan will go into effect on June 1 and will remain open for a period of 6 months.

Minister Deri said that the amnesty program will allow many people to come out from the dark as they can now take care of their debt, and all residents will benefit from improved municipal services, as the municipalities will have more money coming in..
source: Kol Hai

It is good to have an amnesty program every now and then. People get caught up in their debt and it compounds itself making it very difficult to get out of the mess. This allows them a way out. But it shouldn't happen too often, or people will plan around it and avoid paying knowing that later they'll be able to pay less.







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Quote of the Day

I am telling you now - I have sinned. There is no need to punish me any further.

  -- former, disgraced, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, to the courts while appealling the rejection of the plea bargain agreement the court nullified recently

ahh, if only it was this easy. The judges and courts would have much easier jobs if all the criminals were supposed to say was "I sinned, no need to punish me"...



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The problem with the Rabbanut is...

Rav Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, has an interesting approach to the various problems in the kashrut industry in Israel.

Basically he blames all the problems on the various "Badatzim".

How goes?

Rav Ariel explains - 90 years ago Rav Kook established the Rabbanut so that there would be one address for people to turn to, to rely on. The various Badatzim, for ideological reason, said they don't want to cooperate with the Rabbanut but each one decided to make its own kashrut organization.

But that has boomeranged. Now there are people who want to destroy the Rabbanut kashrut entirely and say that if the Badatzim could go off on their own and create a private kashrut organization, why can't we as well, and even do it relying on just the restaurant owners for supervision?

Rav Ariel then went on to criticize another aspect of the private Badatz kashrut organizations. He said that they have created a situation in which people think the Rabbanut is no good, which is not true. The Rabbanut is a fine hechsher. People can choose to be machmir on issues and be "mehader" - try to do things better - but the Rabbanut itself also gives such options, with two levels - regular kosher and mehadrin. Even if the Badatz wants to add more mehadrin on top of it, that is fine - but not to say that the Rabbanut is no good or not kosher and disparage them.

There are more differences between a national hechsher and a private hechsher, for example with kitniyos. The Rabbanut gives its hechsher for everyone to use so they also give a hechsher for kitniyos products, clearly labeling that the product contains kitniyos so someone who does not eat kitniyos will know not to eat it. However the Badatzim simply don't give a hechsher to any factory that also produces kitniyos. They make it seem as if they are being mehader, doing something more, but they are not.

The criticism of the Rabbanut, he said, for their mistakes is also exaggerated. Yes, there is corruption, and sometimes in the Rabbanut as well. they found a mashgiach that was corrupt so they fired him and sent him to jail. In the Badatzim there is no corruption? Of course there are problems, but the Badatzim also have similar problems. In a private house are there never any problems - it does not happen that someone might put a dairy spoon into a fleishige pot? in a normal house things happen, and questions arise. In factories as well. Every now and then there is a problem, so we work to resolve it. But because of that to disparage them?
source: Srugim

right on the money. and he does not even mention the problems that former employees of the various Badatzim, including and especially the Eida, sometimes point to within those organizations...




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SUPERSIZE MY SEDER (video)


Horseradish Explosion


Man vs Matza


The Hillel Sandwich Challenge


The Four Cups



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Passover: I’m in Love with the Taste of You (video)







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Six13 - Seder Crew (2017 Passover Jam) (video)







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Prince of Egypt Violin Medley - Ariella Zeitlin & Kong (video)







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Apr 5, 2017

Picture of the Day




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the new family vehicle

I just saw, and decided to not take a picture, an electric bicycle being used as a family car.

This fellow was riding his electric bike through the streets, in and out of the shopping area of RBS. He was holding shopping bags in his hands and hanging from the bike handles. He had a daughter in a bike seat behind him, while he was on the bicycle seat, and he had another, younger daughter, seated in front of him on the bar of the bicycle.

At least they all had helmets. They looked pretty unstable, so I just hope the helmets don't actually get put to use!


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Quote of the Day

Netanyahu is the Prime Minister but the day he finishes his task I intend to compete for the leadership of the Likud and for the position of Prime Minister, and I am convinced I will be elected. There have only been 4 leaders of the Likud party, and I intend to be the fifth.

  -- Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz



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Sell your chametz online through the Rabbanut, on Life in Israel

The Chief Rabbinate has decided to facilitate the sale of chametz, for free, to the public via a new website at Chametz Sale. You simply have to fill out the form, by no later then this Friday, and your chametz will be sold.

I am embedding the form here for you, and you can either fill out out here or go right to the Chametz Sale website and do it there.

Interestingly, in the intro to the form, they write that it is preferrable to go to a real-life rabbi and sell it through him, but if you cannot arrange to do so then you can use this form and sell it via the Chief Rabbinate. Yet, the entire reason they did this is because Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef just paskened in a recent shiur that one can sell his chametz lechatchila via the Internet. So, it is possible lechatchila but should only be done if you have no other option? That does not really make sense to me.





fgh


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Behind the Scenes with Itzhak Perlman (video)







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V'hi Sheamda Awesome Jewish Passover Music (video)








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advice before you fill your shopping cart for Pesach (video)







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Y-Studs - La La Passover (video)

this Pesach video was named Best Pesach Music Video but then the judges realized that they had opened the wrong envelope..





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Apr 4, 2017

Facebook Status of the Day




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Changes in attitude on Har Habayit

I recently went up to Har Habayit, after about 8 months since my last visit. While Har Habayit is the same, there is a lot different in the situation of Har Habayit.

The police officers controlling the area have been changed. While the procedures were more or less the same, the police were pleasant and we were not made to feel like criminals. While we waited to be allowed up the police officers chatted with us and smiled and said a number of times that the more people that come the more we will see improvements and were very encouraging to get more people to join the groups. The police processed us quickly instead of making us wait behind the tourists, and they were barking orders at us about different things.

On the Har itself the polcie were friendly, though they enforced the rules and did not let anyone pray. There were more police surrounding us than I ever remember from previous visits, and also more waqf agents. At one point I counted 21, police and waqf agents, around us, that I could see. And they stayed with us and surrounded us very tightly.

The changes have largely been for the better and I hope the situation for Jews on Har Habayit continues to improve.


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Pesach hotels shutting down

A large Pesach program in a hotel in Greece just suddenly canceled the entire program, leaving its subscribers in the lurch.

I don't know if they'll get their money back or not (I hope they do), but from what I understand this is the fourth such hotel program to shut down in the past few days, and we are just a week before Pesach. That adds up to a lot of people who are being left, at practically the last minute, without plans for Pesach.

If they stay home now, if they cannot find an alternative program that they can afford that has space, they will have to clean and buy supplies and cook, all at the last minute. Many might not be able to, due to disabilities or timing, which is why they try to go away in the first place. Many might not have enough space for their extended family they were planning on traveling with..

I don't have solutions for them, but I do feel bad and extend my sympathies.




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Interesting Psak: shaking hands of women

Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav Yitzchak Yosef has issued a psak saying that it is prohibited to shake hands with a woman in a senior position of authority as a sign of respect.

Rav Yosef explicitly disagreed with rabbonim who say it is allowed. He said we have to go according to halacha and not just say "muttar, muttar, muttar" to things. Not everything is allowed -some things are prohibited according to halacha.

Rav Yosef brought as an example an incident from when his father, Rav Ovadia Yosef, was set to receive the prestigious Israel Prize on Yom Haatzmaut in 1970. At the time the Prime Minister was Golda Meir and she extended her hand to shake his hand, but Rav Ovadia was worried especially because it would be photographed and seen all over so he made a motion with his hand and did not shake but gave her a warm blessing and everything was fine.

Rav Yosef also brought his own example of having traveled to many places around the world and having met with many important women in government. A female ambassador came to meet him once and extended her hand to shake. Rav Yosef says he gave her effusive blessings and she completely forgot about the handshake that did not happen.
source: Kikar

I like how he brings personal examples to make his point, as if that strengthens the halacha. 






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AIPAC 2017: Benjamin Netanyahu (video)







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Signing ceremony for Beit Shemesh roof agreement (video)







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Underdos: Coconut (video)





and the original "Gold" by "Static"



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Synagogues of Massachusetts (video)












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SHTAR - Echad Mi Yodea - Passover 2017 (video)







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Apr 3, 2017

Proposed Law: Deducting terror funding from PA tax monies

In the budget of the Palestinian Authority it says that they transfer 1.1 billion shekels - that is over $300,000,000 - to the families of terrorists for their killing of Jews.

That's a lot of money.

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) has joined forces with other MKs from across the benches and ha sproposed a law that would deduct the monies paid by the PA to terrorists from the total amount of tax money Israel transfers to the Palestinians on an annual basis. This is money that belongs to the Palestinians from imports that pass through Israel's ports - Israel collects the taxes and eventually passes them along.

The idea is that the funding of terrorism is a breach in the Oslo Accords, so deducting these monies from the monies to be transferred by Israel is a natural result. Israel regularly complains to countries around the world about sending money to the Palestinians that gets used to fund terror, but Israel never put a stop to transferring such money to the PA itself.

according to Kipa this law was proposed before, though it does not say why it did not pass then. I would guess that the issue with it is more international pressure than internal issues, as it has support from both coalition and opposition parties, and is a logical proposal.




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Quote of the Day

This program will double the size of Bet Shemesh. It is a tremendous accomplishment. I see this city becoming a large city in central Israel. It is developing at a very fast pace... There are Haredim, secular, ashkenazim, sefardim, new immigrants - we are all obligated in every part of the land that brothers will live together - שבת אחים גם יחד. I am aware of the problems, my ministers are aware of the problems, but with cooperation we can solve them. This land and this city belong to everybody and there is place for everyone. We are planning to create a wonderful future. I see Bet Shemesh reaching half a million residents -and we must invest together.

  -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a ceremony signing the agreement for further construction of housing and new neighborhoods in Bet Shemesh

half a million people! that's a lot of people. major city.






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Book Review: To Rise Above

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: To Rise Above, The Amazing Life of HaRav Dov Cohen zt"l A Journey to Greatness Against All Odds


To be honest, when I first received To Rise Above, I was intimidated. This is a thick book, close to 700 pages, and I did not know when I would have time to read that much. After putting it aside for a bit, I picked it up and started reading. At that point I could not put it down.


To Rise Above is the story of Rav Dov Cohen, his life, his memoirs, as written by him and his family, in Hebrew and translated to English. Rav Dov Cohen, or "Benny" as he is known through much of the book, lived a life that would be entirely unexpected considering his background, but the book is much more than just his life.

Benny Cohen grew up largely in Seattle, Washington in the small Jewish community there. All Jewish communities, outside of New York, at the time were small, but was sent, or perhaps "brought by his mother" is a better description, at a young age to Israel to learn in a real yeshiva. After various attempts he eventually landed in the Slabodka yeshiva in Hebron, and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the book tells its story around Cohen's life and from his perspective, To Rise Above is both about how Benny Cohen became Rav Dov Cohen and about many different aspects of history. Reading To Rise Above gives you a perspective on the history of Jewish America in the early 20th century, in New York and then Seattle, what travel and communication between the USA and Israel was like, what Israel, or Palestine, was like in the 1920s, specifically what Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Hebron were like, the history of Slabodka and what the yeshiva was like, both in Europe and in Israel, a firsthand experience of the 1929 riots and massacre in Hebron perpetrated by the Arabs of Hebron against the Jewish community, and how he and some other survived those riots, the rebuilding after the riots, and then his work in the Air Force, in government and in the rabbinate.

This book is humongous, both in page number and in history. There is just so much in it.

I felt myself particularly riveted, and even tortured, by his firsthand account of the 1929 massacre in Hebron. I have read about the massacres before, but never a firsthand account and never in such detail as described by Rabbi Cohen.

The truth is I am not even sure that is the most captivating part of To Rise Above. Different people might find different aspects captivating. The yeshiva graduate n me was enthralled by the description of the Alter of Slabodka, with whom he had a personal relationship, and the way the yeshiva worked, thrived and survived.

The pictures, the names of gedolim he describes as yeshiva bochurim in both Europe and Israel while talking about the yeshiva of Slabodka is fascinating, and he includes a wealth of pictures and copies of documents from every period he describes.

How his mother sacrificed everything for her little boy to get a real yeshiva education to become a talmid chochom. How little Benny Cohen survived and thrived so far away from home, with so little communication with his family, so lonely, as is described by notes from his diary, as he was so much younger than everyone else in the yeshiva and was one of the few American boys there...

The personalities he describes, the development of the Air Force and how he took a job as Chaplain in the Air Force to make sure there would be kashrus and Judaism there for those who wanted it, and then how he worked to improve kashrus in all public institutions and the battles he had to fight along the way.

The name dropping alone - not just as people in history, but as people he had regular dealings with - is mind boggling.

With the holiday of Pesach coming up, you will have plenty of time to read this recounting of so much of recent Jewish history, the last century or so, that it would be the perfect time to buy right now.

buy To Rise Above on Feldheim

buy To Rise Above on Amazon.com



NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.



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Why are Israelis so argumentative? (video)







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cleaning the Kotel for Pesach.. (video)








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An Entire Year With Reb Lipa (video)







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who is behind Nas Daily? (video)






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8th Day - Kapayim (video)







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Apr 2, 2017

Police investigating private organ donations

And now it is no longer just an issue between the Ministry of Health and the Matnat Chaim organization that promotes private kidney donation. They have complained about the organization and the police have opened an investigation into the organizations activities.

According to the Times of Israel, the police are investigating possible discrimination and the possibility that they actively trade organs for donations, and bumping patients up the line ahead of people on the donor waiting list who are often in more serious condition.

Regarding their activities, I hope they are found to be innocent. They have facilitated the saving of many lives through their efforts.

Regarding their efforts, as long as the recipient is not paying for the kidney, and the donor is not receiving money, I do not see how letting people specify relatives as recipients can be a problem. Chances of compatibility are so much higher, and people are more willing to become a donor knowing they are helping a relative than a stranger.

Regarding the actual laws regarding the financials, I have said in the past that while I understand they are there to prevent trafficking in organs, the end result is that every person in the chain of the organ donation ends up making good money off it, except for the donor and the recipient. Neither the doctors, the hospitals, the nurses, the ministries, the aides, the bureaucrats, the promoters, the marketers, or anybody else working within the chain works for free, and it seems unfair that the only people who cannot handle money for this are the people giving up the organ and receiving the organ. That does not seem right to me.





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please don't be mechalel shabbos

Once again, Lag b'Omer "falls out" on Saturday night this year, as has happened in recent years a number of times.

As happens every year, the Lag b'Omer celebrations in Meron, and less so elsewhere, are expected to cause massive amounts of chilul shabbos by the bus drivers preparing to transports tens or hundreds of thousands of people to the celebrations, along with the police and other security forces who will travel on Shabbos to get to where they need to be and put forth other efforts in preparation for the celebrations they will need to secure.

It is not a maybe yes or maybe no. We know it happens in massive amounts. The official reports from every similar celebrations say so.

When Yom Haatzmaut falls out close to Shabbos, the State pushes off the celebrations - either back or forward - to prevent chilul shabbos. The celebrations of Lag b'Omer are no more required or obligating for anybody than the celebrations of Yom Haatzmaut, yet the religious, specifically the Haredi askanim, refuse to consider pushing off the celebrations, even if just to the morning, let alone by a full day.

That is nothing new, and there is no need to harp on something that has been going on for a long time and the people responsible for it refuse to change it.

What is interesting is that MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes (UTJ). the man largely responsible for the planning of these celebrations and the logistics behind them, has called upon the security forces to refrain from desecrating the shabbos in their preparations for the events.
source: Kol Hai News

That is funny.

He wants to bring hundreds of thousands of people shortly after Shabbos to one small town and grave site and he seriously thinks he can call on them to not do anything in preparation on the day of Shabbos, right before those hundreds of thousands of people descend upon the target destination?

It seems like it is simply an attempt to give himself the opportunity to pass the buck and say "I told them not to, so it is their fault" when anybody asks questions about the chilul shabbos.

It would be more effective to actually do something to prevent it, rather than just continue to do what causes it and say please don't.




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The Kotel and Kimcha dPischa

In case you previously had no idea, like me, but are interested to know, like me, the money donated to the tzedaka boxes by the Kotel get distributed via committee.

I just assumed all that money goes towards maintenance of the Kotel; cleaning, buynig new siddurim, chumashim, tehillim, chairs, bimas, kippot,and the like.

It turns out, according to Kol Hai News, that only 2/3 of the money collected in the boxes get used for general maintenance of the Kotel area (and other holy sites), while 1/3 of the money gets distributed via committee through the Ministry of Welfare to organizations meeting certain criteria and for helping the poor through "kimcha dpischa" programs.

I had no idea.




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Mar 31, 2017

Derech Achim - Lecha Dodi (video)







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Mar 30, 2017

Arab Israelis: What do you have in common with Jews? (video)








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Niki Haley at AIPAC and at Ambassadors Against BDS Conference (video)









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US Amb. to the UN @ Ambassadors Against BDS Conference (video)







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Paul Heyman says Kaddish for Goldberg in WWE ring (video)


at about the 7 minute mark Heyman goes into a routine in which he says Wrestlemania 33 (next week) will be the death of Goldberg, and then says Kaddish for him. though he reversed the first couple of words..




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Yonina- Rega Mechuvan (Moment) (video)

The Internet sensation married duo "Yonina" (without their baby) has released their first single....

kol isha alert





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Mar 29, 2017

Interesting Psak: spending Pesach with chametz-eating parents

A yeshiva bochur asked Rav Chaim Kanievsky about a difficult predicament in which he finds himself. He tells Rav Kanievsky that he, as a yeshiva bochur, keeps the Torah and mitzvos like all yeshiva bochurim, but unfortunately his family does not. At all. In any way. They respect his choice ot be frum and learn in yeshiva, and he respects them and their lifestyle, but he wants to go home and stay there for Pesach. He says that while they would be eating actual chametz on Pesach, he would have his own shmura matza and wine and everything else needed for a pesach sedder, but they refuse to clean the house from chametz and to stop eating the chametz. He says his mother told him that he can eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants, but he should not bother them.

The young man asks Rav Kanievsky that if he stays home, they might eat matza with him and eat with him at the seder, but is he allowed to stay home considering the halacha that one cannot live in a place with real chametz present lest he come to eat from it himself. However, if he goes away, they'll eat the chametz as well, but he himself won't feel as a free person.

Rav Kanievsky's response was that he should do whatever possible to find another place to sleep and eat during Pesach and not go home where they will be eating real chametz. Rav Kanievsky added, surely you will find an appropriate place as everyone says at the seder "kol dichfin yeisi vyeichol" - let all who need come and eat.

Rav Kanievsky added that while he has heard that some people sell the chametz belonging to non-religious relatives, using the din of "zachin" - doing something good on behalf of someone else even without his knowledge works because it is presumed he would have wanted it, it definitely does not work if they are continuing to eat the chametz that was "sold" as they are then showing clearly they did not want the chametz to be sold.
sources: Kikar, Kol Hai News, Behadrei






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What cropping out the smurfette could lead to

PR company Merkaim Hutzot Zahav has been advertising a new smurfs movie around the country. The billboards have appeared as so:

3 smurfs and 1 female smurf (I am told she is called a smurfette)

They placed a billboard in Bnei Braq that censored out the smurfette and appears as so..

Now, I have basically stopped reporting every time a publication censors out women, as it has just become too repetitive and I don't see the need or point in saying the same thing every time. But this is an unusual situation, as the female censored out is a smurfette, not a human. This is actually funny and unique.

The first point I would like to make is that I have seen a lot of online criticism, and derision, and ridicule, of the Haredi community for this ridiculousness. I would like to point out that nowhere, in any of the 3 or 4 articles I read about this, did I see any indication that the Haredi askanim demanded this. It seems to have simply been a preemptive marketing decision made by the marketing company to avoid trouble, as they are wont to do nowadays just assuming the Haredim will not want women in the advertisements in their areas.

Meaning, the Haredim don't seem to actually be responsible for this ridiculousness. Rather, the marketing company is.

The second point I would make is that it is funny that posting the image of the smurfette in Bei Braq is thought of to be problematic, but advertising the movie itself in Bnei Braq seems to be considered perfectly fine and acceptable.

The third point is the "hava amina" of cropping out the smurfette is just too funny, especially thinking what it might lead to. For example, will all publications in haredi areas soon begin censoring out female cats, giraffes, cows.. (e.g. books, magazines, etc)? The zoo or safari advertisements will only show male monkeys and hippos and no female ones. All reprints of books on hilchos shchita with pictures for clarity will be reprinted with the udders removed, as well as Haredi books about animals will not print pictures any female animals, especially while still on the cow. Hens are long gone, and packagers of eggs will have to be careful what imagery they use on the packaging.. as a matter of fact, the eggs themselves will all come blurred out somehow from now on, and the chickens sold in the supermarket will all have to be thickly wrapped with opaque packaging so the Haredi customer cannot see the shape of the legs or breasts of the female chickens, or maybe Haredim will have to stop purchasing chicken completely, or at least cover the wings until the elbows, cover the polkies, and definitely the chicken breasts.....

I just thought this whole thing was too funny..



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