Apr 26, 2018

Interesting Psak: Fake Divorce

30 years ago Mr and Mrs got married in Uzbekitan. At some point they made aliya to Israel and lived in netanya, expanding their family with two children. 18 years ago Mr and Mrs show up at the local beis din asking for a divorce, and presenting a signed divorce settlement.

The settlement stated that Mr agrees to give the apartment in Netanya to Mrs. He also agreed that she would have full custody of the kids and that he would pay her 1500nis child support (monthly).

Now, 12 years later, Mr shows up in beis din requesting to cancel the divorce and the settlement saying it was fictitious and the purpose was only to avoid losing the apartment to his debtors. Mr explains that the restaurant he was running went into bankruptcy and he was stuck with heavy debt. They decided to fake a divorce in order to  avoid the debtors and the Hotzaa Lapoel - the Bailiff's Collection Agency. They came up with this plan and signed a settlement giving her all the assets, though immediately after the divorce was finalized he moved right back into the house, lived normal lives and even had another child together - nobody around them even knew they were officially divorced. Now they are actually fighting and possibly separating, so he wants his property back.

Mrs confirms the story but insists he willingly gave her his portion of the property, so it is hers.

The beis din discussed the issue and investigated the story and decided that the first divorce was valid, even though they meant it to be fictitious, but because they went back to living together as husband and wife, and even had another child together, to separate now they would require another divorce.

Regarding the original settlement, the beis din decided there was nothing unusual or extraordinary about the terms of the settlement, the two parties signed on it willingly and that is declared in the document and they also declare in the document that they will not appeal the validity of the document or any of the claims therein. The settlement is valid from both halachic and legal perspectives, so she owns the property. The beis din rejected the appeal to overturn and revoke the original settlement.
source: Kipa





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Headline of the Day

Putin eats matzah all year round, says Russia's chief rabbi

  -- Ynetnews

Rabbi Berel Lazar further said, "Putin eats matzah while drinking tea....Putin said matzah is tasty, easy and healthy to eat. He eats the matzah I bring him," 

Is he makpid on hand matza or machine matza? shmura or plain? if he eats it with tea he clearly eats gebrokts (aka shruya), unlike Rabbi Lazar who brings it to him. I'd like to see Putin eat his matza over a bag like a real Chabadnik!




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Oren Chazzan's elevator pitch

if I had to be stuck in an elevator for a few minutes with anyone, I am pretty sure Oren Chazzan would be at the top of the list. Chazzan is sure to keep things light and funny. Nava Boker disagrees with me, but he seems pretty good at diffusing a tense situation..



more details from the Times of Israel..



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Picture of the Day



this is from the kipa march in Germany and that is a Muslim woman wearing a colorful kippah atop her hijab in solidarity with the German Jewish community


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will the Knesset get a female Rabbi?

The Knesset recently published a tender for a new Rabbi of the Knesset. The responsibilities assigned to this position include responsibility for all religious issues such as kashrut, the Knesset shul, installing and maintaining mezuzot, selling the chametz, and more.

Initially the tender required applicants to hold rabbinic certification from the Rabbanut of Israel at the level of "Yoreh Yoreh". That requirement was just removed after the Reform Center For Religion and State petitioned the relevant parties with a complaint that this is discriminatory against women as the Rabbanut does not allow women to take their certification tests.

The Knesset authorities accepted the petition and changed the requirements to requiring applicants to hold minimally an academic BA along with certification as mashgiach kashrut for the Rabbanut - a certification women are able to attain.
sources: Srugim, Actualic
So theoretically, a woman, or any mashgiach kashrut, or any other non-rabbi meeting non-rabbi requirements, can qualify for the job of Rabbi of one of the most important government institutions.

Strange. I am even surprised the Haredi MKs did not block this change, as they have done with similar attempts in many other places in government.

Maybe we will soon see a female rabbi of the Knesset. That will definitely be interesting to see...



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Apr 25, 2018

John Oliver on reconsidering the Iran deal (video)

woah..that was unexpected


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Synagogues of Australia (video)







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Apr 24, 2018

they can criticize the extremists - when they want to

The Admor of Vizshnitz Bet Shemesh came out harshly criticizing the extremists in RBS B.

Over Pesach, Deputy Minister Meir Porush had been invited to the kehilla and when he arrived he came under attack from hundreds of the extremists.

The rebbe criticized them, said Porush is a welcome guest and is someone who helps anyone who needs help, no matter who they might be, and even invited him again to his grandsons bris. The rebbe said Porush should not be afraid from this minority of people who are regularly destroying the city. He said it is fine and nice that they do not take money from the State but they cannot come out against people. They can debate ideas and argue against opinions and methods, but they cannot go personally against any person.
source: Kikar

I dont know why he waited 3 weeks or so before saying anything, but ok. I am sure he has his reason. What I do find interesting is that he said anything at all. We regularly hear excuses when refusing to condemn the extremists about how we have nothing to do with them, they do not listen to us, we are not them and they are not us, it is insulting to be lumped with them that we have to condemn them, etc etc etc. Sure enough, when someone want to he has no problem condemning them.

Further, this raises the question why only when it affected his small community could he say something, and not when it is more general, when they do things affecting the entire city. He even says in his attack on them now that they are regularly doing things that destroy the city. So why not condemn them at other times? Let them know, and let everyone else know, that what they are doing is wrong. Maybe if important people speak up they will eventually feel pressured to stop.




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Supreme Court upholds law about holding cellphone while driving

The Supreme Court has upheld the police position, and the law as defined until now, by rejecting the appeal of a Jerusalem driver who had been ticketed with a 1500nis fine, and revocation of his drivers license, for holding his cellphone while driving.

The driver first appealed in the lower courts and lost his appeal twice, so he continued to appeal further to the Supreme Court. he must have money to burn, considering he had already lost on appeal twice.

Mr Driver felt he had a good case, admitting he had been holding his phone but claiming he had not been using it. Further, he claims to have been stopped at a red light at the time, and not actually in motion.

The courts decided to accept the claims of the police that he was actually in motion, though they also stated that being stopped at a red light is still considered being in a traveling vehicle and is the same as being in motion. The court therefore upheld the punishment levied on Mr Driver.

I would add that it has been stated before by the courts that just being stopped is not enough and one would actually have to have put the car in park - though I do not know if you put the car in park at a red light if that would be good enough or if you have to first pull over to the side of the road and park properly.

Back to the case, the Supreme Court stated that a driver of a car must hold the steering wheel (or handlebars) with both hands whenever the car is in motion. The driver can remove one hand from the steering wheel only if he needs to perform an action necessary for the integrity of the car or for fulfilling the rules of driving. As well, the court stated, his use, or lack thereof, of the phone while driving is irrelevant, as simply holding the phone while driving is prohibited and punishable.
source: Maariv

I would guess that this means to set the blinkers to warn drivers of your impending right or left turn, to hit the hazard button, to adjust the windshield wipers, and the like. As I have asked before, I do not know why it is ok to fiddle with the radio, considering the severity of the laws of holding cellphones and recently even holding or drinking coffee (and other drinks) or checking waze while driving. Adjusting the radio has nothing to do with rules of the road or integrity and safety of the car, so I dont get why adjusting the radio is not a ticketable offense. Or maybe it is and now it is time to figure out those newfangled buttons on the steering wheel that control the radio.

Regardless, drive safely. Forewarned is forearmed. Get a dash mount, keep your phone in your pocket, put it in the glove compartment, leave it at home - whatever, just don't hold it while you are driving.






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will one candidate become two or three?

Municipal elections are about 6 months away, and the situation in Bet Shemesh is already heating up.

For a city with 1 mayoral candidate, the incumbent, what could possibly get heated up?

The various news media have, nearly daily, articles about potential opponents to Mayor Moshe Abutbol. The main, and really the only, point of debate right now is whether Degel Hatorah will field a candidate against Shas's Abutbol. There is also some debate as to who that candidate might be, but for now the main issue is whether they will decide to support Abutbol or field their own candidate.

Degel leaders recently went to the rabbonim to discuss the issue but have so far been holding things close to their chest. Whatever it is they are waiting for, they have not announced any decision as of yet. It could be that no decision has yet been arrived at, it could be they are trying to improve their negotiating power trading support in bet Shemesh for more jobs and power or support elsewhere in the country.

Interestingly, this morning I heard an interview on the radio with MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes (UTJ) about the situation in Bet Shemesh, and more specifically about a letter of support the Hamodia newspaper printed today for Moshe Abutbol. Mozes thinks, like Hamodia and Aguda, that Abutbol should be supported and he hopes Degel decides to not field its own candidate but to also support Abutbol.

What Mozes  said was interesting though. Mozes is concerned that if Degel will field its own candidate, the city could fall into undesirable hands. He never said a name or even implied who or what type of person that might be, but I found the concern interesting considering the fact that Abutbol is the only candidate, and if Degel fields a candidate that means there will be two candidates, both Haredi. So who could he possibly be concerned about? Does he consider the possible Degel candidates (likely Shmuel Greenberg, maybe Moshe Montag, possibly an external candidate) to be undesirable and dangerous for Haredi interests?

If Mozes is worried that others might see a Haredi split and field a third, non-Haredi, candidate and might win due to a Haredi split, it would be easy enough to revisit the issue in such a scenario and agree to re-unite behind one candidate so as not to split the Haredi vote. He also did not say that if Degel fields a candidate another, non-Haredi, party might as well, so perhaps he considers anyone other than Abutbol (with whom Mozes is very close) to be undesirable and dangerous, even other Haredi candidates...

Regardless, the coming days will be interesting as decisions are made. Also regardless, who ever thought that an election campaign with just one candidate could be so interesting and filled with so much intrigue?



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Oren Chazzan against Natalie Portman (video)

he is such a clown, he is always fun to watch and listen to, even when he is being serious..




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Have you ever heard of Israel's Drip irrigation? (video)







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what's the problem with independent kashrut, such as Tzohar's? (video)







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Synagogues of Australia (video)







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Nishma - Lecha Dodi (Under the Sea) A Cappella (video)







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Apr 23, 2018

police make arrests for pulling down flags

According to this report in Actualic, Arabs from East Jerusalem have been pulling down flags in the French Hill neighborhood from parked cars. Police acted quickly and have arrested 3 people involved.

This tells me one of two things:
1. The police in Jerusalem function far more efficiently, and much more like actual police, than the police in Bet Shemesh
2. The Arabs are just not lucky enough to have been Haredi. For the same crime they would have been ignored.






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the ship is sinking

Mishpacha Magazine (Hebrew edition) has been running an initiative recently promoting new young couples in the Haredi community take on their own mortgages instead of burdening their parents with the mortgage. This would allow the current system of the parents chipping in for the down payment, but instead of the parents also then paying the mortgage, the couple would, Parents in the Haredi community are struggling in debt as they take in 3, 4, 5 or more mortgages to pay for their kids apartments. This would put the burden of 1 partial apartment on the couple owning the apartment and living in it, and less of the burden on the parents.

This past week's edition of Mishpacha had several interesting letters, three letters out of many, to the editor in response to this initiative, and I thought it was worth sharing these three letters with you. The three are from three different perspectives and sides of the issue.

Letter 1:
I'll begin with introductions, out of courtesy.
I am married, BH, to a talented and learned husband. We are both in our 50s. We have married off 5 children and have 2 more still at home.
When we married, there was money. It is not pleasant to say, but we had money from the German reparations. That money helped our parents get us on our feet. We got an apartment near my parents, I found a job as a teacher and my husband learned for some years in kollel and then became a "Ram" (ie a rebbi/teacher) in a known yeshiva.
For 20 years we lived in a cloud. In a dream. We earned some nice money. It was enough to save a little bit. We thought we were smart and successful.
Then we married off one daughter.
Then the second.
Then the third child, a son. Then the fourth, another daughter.
They were all loved, successful and smart. Each one came with a mountain of debt and obligations.
The money we had saved was barely enough for the down payment of our eldest daughter. For the second daughter we had to borrow money, a horrible thing and something not recommended to do. This concluded with us selling our beautiful apartment. We have moved between small rental apartments since then. The third child was a son, but he had some health problems so we had to take on ourselves more obligations than normally done. Today, with the fourth, there is no more money. It is all gone.There are no more sources of funding for us. That's it.
We are paying 4 mortgages, plus rent. We start each month about 20,000nis in overdraft.
I work at 3 jobs. If the students I teach in the morning would know that in the evening I am working a shift at a far away nursing home, they would faint.
My husband is broken. He learns privately with students from morning to night. He has no satisfaction. He is embittered and grumpy. He feels no self-worth  and also feels that he cannot support his children as others supported him. Our marriage has gotten very shaky. When we are alone for Shabbos we do not buy fish and meat, though when our children come we buy 2 types of fish and 3 types of meat!
And I am frightened of the day when we will start talking about shidduchim for our next child!
Forgive me Hashem, but I fear that moment!
I am writing in tears. My husband is a tzaddik, he knows I am writing this and he is praying that someone will read it and do something about it. Do something!
Why in Belz is it legitimate to buy an apartment in har Yona for 600,000nis, in Zanz to buy an apartment in Tzfat for 500k, and Gur in Arad for 300k, and Vizshnitz in Afula for I dont know how much? Why by the sefardim is it ok to get married and live in Netivot and in Yerucham, and only by us, the "quality", if you buy an apartment in Bet Shemesh and Modiin Ilit - for 1.1 million shekels - you feel like you are compromising??!
I am certain that by the hassidim they also have problems with this issue, but by us it is a catastrophe!
Yasher Koach for bringing the issue to the forefront, and Hashem should help all of us.

a truly heartfelt letter, and I felt bad for the situation they find themselves in due to community and societal norms


Letter 2:
It is very easy for you to write that the children should take the mortgage payments upon themselves. But forgive us for asking: how exactly are to pay these payments? Why do you think that a young couple getting married at the age of twenty-something and the system sends them to learn in kollel and his wife to work at a tiny salaried job, can possibly consider paying mortgage payments?
If there are stories about people earning a good living, and they still let the shver pay the mortgage, they should be ashamed! but the rest of us - what is even the suggestion that we should pay?
I ask for forgiveness and will be a bit extreme: who educated us in this way that we just want to learn and go to kollel? Was it not our father? Of course it was! Our entire lives our fathers have put into our heads that their desire is just that we should build houses of torah. And now suddenly you are sending us to pay mortgages? Maybe it is difficult for the parents, but this is what they want! That we should sit and learn! Not that we should be looking for other things! This is a complete disconnect! This is not connected at all to our lives!
I am not saying this is ok in relation to our parents. But what at all is the thought that these young people will be able to pay? How exactly? Do we have some secret parnassa that brings us money? No, not at all. We sit in kollel exactly as our parents dreamed for us. As they educated us. We are the good results of our education. For the ones that left, nobody pays their mortgage.  So now that we have done everything they wanted from us, people are coming with complaints.
I dont understand it!

wow. talk about entitled! this hurt to read, but a different type of hurt than the way the first letter hurt. In the first letter they are suffering for everything they have tried to do for their kids. It hurt to see how much they are suffering because of it. In the second letter he is saying that this is their fault, this is what they want, and leave me alone. This hurt from the chutzpah and lack of care for the predicament the parents find themselves in - on their behalf! It is their problem, let them deal with it!

This is clearly the result of a bad system. Young people getting married with no plans for parnassa demanding or needing apartments, expensive no matter how much or little it might cost, with having to do this for multiple children - as each family has 5-8 children, or more, and God forbid talk about having less kids or having kids despite not being able to afford food for them let alone apartments and weddings. God forbid letting them build houses of torah while also having a way to support his/her own family. Maybe they should not get married so young with no ability to pay rent or a mortgage, or at least a plan to be able to do so soon.

It is not really the kids fault. This is the way he was raised. This is the way the system he grew up in works. The system failed him, and the system failed his parents, just as the system fails thousands of other people. Systems were not put in place to help individuals or to solve the problems of individuals, but to sustain the systems and the people and ideals behind them. The people who suffer from these systems are causalities of war. This young man isnt wrong - he and his wife are barely earning enough for the electricity bill, the phones, and the food, so from where should he suddenly be able to pay a mortgage? But he also is not right. And he should have some compassion for his struggling parents. He should recognize what they are going through - for him.

Letter 3:
I am the person you are writing about. I am one like this that makes a little bit of money but still my father pays my mortgage.
Maybe it is not right, but I want to explain myself.
I started out dealing with being agents and things like that. Thank God I had some success here and there. Nothing major but some money was coming in.
I save a bit, I invested a bit in my home by doing some critical and necessary renovations and fixes. Today, thank God, I have some income from this work.
I could go to my father and tell him that I am taking the 2500nis mortgage payments upon myself and I could tell my shver that he no longer needs to give us the 500nis monthly for food. And then I'll be in a situation in which all my income is being spent on day to day expenses.
And then I will not have any great chances.
I very much want to take the burden off of my parents.But before I do I need to earn enough that in another 15 years when my children want to get married I will be able to give them.
I think this is the hishtadlus I am obligated in.
I am not even sure what to say about this letter. Do their parents think they are supporting someone in kollel? Do they know they are supporting someone who is working but wants to save in addition to what he is earning? Are his parents capable of paying the mortgage and monthly expenses and ok with it? Are they being swindled thinking they are paying for a child learning in kollel? It seems unclear, though it leans, in my mind, to him supposedly being in kollel. Otherwise what is the relevance? If he is working and his parents want to help him out anyway, that has nothing to do with the situation being discussed by Mishpacha Magazine and the various writers on the subject. His parents are welcome to help him as much or as little as they want and are not part of the peer pressure system. If they help beyond their means, they have nobody to blame but themselves and can feel free to stop at any time. If they can afford it and want to, that is their business. So I suspect he is swindling his parents working, taking their money for learning, and using it to save for the future. And because he is writing on the topic, I suspect they are struggling with these payments, but he has justified them as necessary for his future. He might be shrewd but if that is what he is doing, I rue the day when his scam will be uncovered. Or maybe it is all innocent and they are simply trying to help out their kids and help them for the long term with their future and grandchildren in mind, and there is nothing wrong with that.

As I wrote above, the system is failing. It is failing itself and it is failing the people in it. The parents can't handle the struggle and burden of buying apartments for 5, 8, 10 kids and then also helping support them. The kids have become entitled and have no plan for themselves, getting married young with no financial options other than to take from the parents for the long term. The Mishpacha initiative is good to lessen the load somewhat from the struggling parents, but the ship is sinking. Having 6, 7, 8 or 10 kids in this generation when the parents and grandparents also spent their entire lives in kollel or teaching is not the same as the previous generations when people had 2 or 4 kids and the parents were working people. The ship is sinking.



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Book Review: Song of Riddles

a guest post by Dr Harold Goldmeier

Riddles Unwoven
Song of Riddles (Gefen Books, 2018), by Guela Twersky, is a definitive explanation of King Solomon’s Song of Songs in an academic style.  

Her book makes a marvelous gift for cantors who read the scroll on the Sabbath mid-Passover. Students of religious tomes who concentrate on learning stone-cold laws and precepts to define the relationship between humans and God will uncover the rest of the story in this book, i.e., the significance of intimacy Solomon intended but is largely neglected in theological studies.

I cannot imagine one singing Song of Songs for the public without having carefully read Song of Riddles. The book is a must have in libraries of every divinity school, yeshiva and seminary. It is an invaluable decipherer on love, suffering and the search for the meaning in relationships. Twersky’s book takes the reader one step further by explaining Solomon’s forewarnings of the difficulties for discipline in love.

Romantic and Divine Love
Song of Riddles is written in an academic style as if it is the progenitor of the author’s doctoral dissertation. The book is heavily footnoted. It opens with a comprehensive review of books and themes from other authors. For example, Song of Riddles acknowledges internecine interpretations of Song of Songs like it “is celebration of romantic human love, not divine love.” But “the underlying premise motivating the approach to the Song presented in this book is the contention that the books that comprise the Bible underwent a careful process of scrutinization and were ultimately selected for canonization because they harbored timeless messages of profound theological significance.”

When I was blessed to marry my beautiful artist girlfriend we exchanged wedding bands with two Song of Songs lessons of love. One is with the popular, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is to me.” The other band, “I belong to my beloved, and his desire if for me.” Twersky explains the riddle that Adam and Eve suffered a “tragic failure to nurture a loving relationship in the Garden of Eden,” but this rectified in “the Song’s celebration of romantic love. Whereas God proclaims in Eden that the woman shall desire man, the Song uses the same lexical term (tshukah) to indicate man’s desire for the woman.”

An Essential Book
The book’s chapters offer deep explanations of the Song’s metaphors and riddles, anomalies, and conundrums. Growing up, I was used to seeing two sculpted cherubim (Keruvim) atop the arks encasing the holy Torah scrolls in synagogues. Twersky explores the duties of these guards and their significance.

In addition to those folks mentioned above who ought to read and refer to Song of Riddles, everybody who studies the Song of Songs and follows its reading on Passover will truly benefit from Twersky’s book.  Song of Riddles is, to paraphrase the great Shel Silverstein, a bright light in the attic illuminating a key book we read too fast every Sabbath Passover and give shrift to instructions.   



      


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Chotam gets a lesson in Internet use in kashrut warning

The organization called Chotam put out a kashrut warning on its Facebook page yesterday.Kashrut warnings are normal for any organization in the industry, but there are kashrut warnings and there are kashrut warnings. This kashrut warning was written in such a patronizing and aggressive manner that Chotam really took a hit with over 3000 comments (as of this writing) written in response almost entirely scoffing at Chotam and criticizing their style and approach.

Chotam issued a warning about the kashrut of a restaurant chain named "Pasta Basta". Pasta Basta has become somewhat of the poster boy in the fight between the Rabbanut andd Hashgacha Pratit (which has sort of merged now into the new kashrut division of Tzohar), with Pasta Basta in Jerusalem being one of the early adapters of Hashgacha Pratit's alternate hechsher.

Here is the warning:



translation:
Pasta Basta!
Initially your branch in Mahane Yehuda removed the kashrut supervisers and brought in Hashgacha Pratit and caused hundreds of customers to abandon the restaurant.
Your branch in Petach Tikva had become a meeting place for many of the religious youth of Petach Tikva. And now, recently, you have thrown sand in the eyes of your supportive customers. Overnight you removed the kashrut of the Rabbanut and brought in the supervision of Tzohar.
In response to the questions of the customers, you responded that this is the policy of the chain - all branches have now moved over to the kashrut of Tzohar!
As if previous attempt sin Jerusalem weren't enough, you have again decided to rebel against the Rabbanut and against the community of kashrut observant people to whom it is important that wish to remain faithful to the organized kashrut authorities.
Again you decided to play along with the whims of kashrut organizations that get their praise from the Reform and criticism from great and important rabbis.
We will vote with our feet.
Whoever wants to eat kosher - will not go into Pasta Basta with Tzohar kashrut. We want to eat kosher!
if you scroll through the comments you will see the vast majority are scoffing at Chotam and talking about how now they will eat at Pasta Basta specifically because of the change and some just to show support for Pasta Basta even if they never intended before to eat there.

Personally I think their argument is silly. No restaurant chain is going to do something ideologically even though it hurts their own business tremendously, if they do not have a plan to bring in other customers. Pasta Basta would not chase away hundreds of its customers to change to a hechsher nobody likes and relies on. And if they did it in one location and it was so unsuccessful, they would not then go do it in the rest of their locations - they would look into changing back or doing something else. Yet they continued to change over the rest of the chain, meaning they found the change to be worthwhile from  a business perspective.

The approach of the Rabbanut and of Chotam and of Kosharot (that isnt involved in this specific attack but has been previously) is clearly wrong and even counter-productive. Tzohar is not even doing anything illegal, as determined by the courts, and as long as they follow legal guidelines, people can decide for themselves whether they want to rely on Tzohar kashrut or not, just like they can decide for themselves whether to rely on Rabbanut kashrut or not. I do not know this for sure, and I have yet to see the standards in use by Tzohar kashrut or what the actual problems with it (as per the Rabbanut's claims) are, but I would guess, if I had to, that most people relying on Rabbanut kashrut are also ok with relying on Tzohar kashrut and they probably use pretty similar standards.






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Miriam Peretz accepts the Israel Prize (video)







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Palestinians: What are Israel's goals? (video)







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Jerusalem's Market comes to London (video)







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Hasidic Women Shatter the Glass Ceiling - Brooklyn's first All Female EMS Corps. (video)







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NFL in Israel Austin Jenkins (video)






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Apr 22, 2018

First World Problems in Vizshnitz

שטריימל עם שפיציםThe Vizshnitzer Rebbe spent some time in his Shabbos drasha to students in his yeshiva system going on the attack against the phenomenon of people buying the new style of shtreimel that has points, or "shpitzim", at the top - the mink fur is combed and set brushed upwards with the top coming to points, kind of looking like the tips of flames going up.

The rebbe told the students that he does not want boys from Vizshnitz buying these shtreimels with shpitzim, they are disgusting, and they look like the old shtreimels they used to wear on Purim. If everyone would refuse to by these before they get married, the shtreimel makers would stop making them.
source: Behadrei

I don't know much about shtreimels and which group of hassidim wear which shtreimels, besides for a few basic rules, but I have seen this often as they are common in a community I sometimes spend time in in Jerusalem. I thought they look nice (much nicer than in the picture included), though I could never identify which Hassidic sect they were associated with - I assumed it was just general hassidim without a specific rebbe. Most of the time, members of a hassidic sect wear specifically shaped and designed shtreimels, as per each groups specifics. This is also why it surprises me a bit to see the Vizshnitzer Rebbe warn his talmidim like this - why aren't they wearing the classic Vizshnitz shtreimel, whatever that may be? All these chassidim generally stick to the rules wearing the same glasses as the rebbe, the same shtreimel as the rebbe, same shoes as the rebbe, etc and now it seems the hassidim are getting caught up in some sort of fashion race in the realm of shtreimlech, instead of sticking to the rules and standards. I find that interesting, and even a bit surprising.

Further, I am somewhat impressed that this is such a serious problem that he has to express his concern about it. Online we call such things #firstworldproblems or #WhiteWhine - meaning, poor guy, he has nothing else to complain about other than that his Ferrari got a scratch on it, or something like that. Baruch Hashem one of the most pressing issues facing that community's new grooms is which shtreimel to buy and not anything much more serious than that..







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Genesis Prize now a farce

Natalie Portman's decision regarding the Genesis Prize surprised me. Portman has always been a supporter of Israel, and is Israeli herself. She has visited Israel in the past and has spoken in support of Israel. I dont want to accuse her of supporting BDS, as she herself says she is not, even though BDS supporters will probably use her in their campaigns, but her decision is painful.

The way it seems to be going down, with Portman accepting the prize (a lot of money) but refusing to show up and give an acceptance speech, turns the entire enterprise into a farce.

Basically this prize has been to attach a celebrity face to Israel on the world stage. It has done a good job so far, until Portman's decision, but perhaps instead of honoring rich celebrities and calling it "the Jewish Nobel prize", they would do better with honoring people who really work tirelessly on behalf of some cause connected to Israel - medical research, the poor, hunger relief, the sciences, peace efforts etc. Giving rich celebrities money they do not need for what the Prize calls its mission as  "The Genesis Prize honors individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel." makes the entire thing kind of wishy washy.

The Genesis Prize should also include a clause requiring recipients to be present to receive the award, or else an alternate recipient will be selected. What's the point of giving a celeb the prize in order to highlight their connection to Israel if you are not given the opportunity to highlight their connection to Israel?


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Headline of the Day

D.C. lawmaker who said Jews control the weather visits Holocaust Museum but leaves early


  -- The Washington Post

I hear he left early because of bad weather in the forecast




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4/21/18 The Return of the Shaitel Controversy (audio)

fascinating discussion with fascinating guests





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Is the Prophet Mohammad mentioned in the Bible? (video)







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Video 2213 R. Danny Myers 'Better for our children to take cheeseburgers then supermarket wagons' (video)







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Synagogues of Venezuela (video)







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Another Bais Yaakov Production - Trailer (video)

lol





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Apr 19, 2018

360 degrees video from the cockpit of a plane in the Yom Haatzmaut flyover (video)

very cool, though dizzying at times...





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Israel: Defying the Odds (video)







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Ethiopian Jews blessing Israel for 70th Independence Day (video)







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Yom Haatzmaut torch lighting ceremony (video)

here is the entire torch lighting ceremony. the actual torch lighting part of the ceremony begins at about 1:30:00 in and includes 12 wonderful and amazing people, each with touch and inspiring stories and words, including people such as, but not limited to, Dr Avshalom Kor, Racheli Ganot, Margalit Zinani and Zeev Revach whoput on a kipa in the middle and said the bracha of Shehechiyanu.




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Facebook Status of the Day




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Eretz Tzvi - Shai Abramson (video)







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Six13 - Mi Shebeirach | מי שברך (a prayer for the IDF soldiers) featuring Chaim Dovid Berson (video)







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Ari Lesser - Jewish Refugees (video)







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Yonina- Israel @ 70 Mash-up (video)







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Apr 18, 2018

extremists accept authority of the State

I don't like getting caught up in the minhag of the day of pointing out Haredim, or other people (as I personally witnessed today), who do not stand still, or do other things, during the siren.

What I would like to point out, and have pointed out before, that when Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Hazikaron are pushed off to be celebrated later, or pushed up to be celebrated earlier - as it is this year - to avoid chilul shabbos, and the anti-Zionist extremists do their protests and provocations on both Yom Haatzmaut and on Yom Hazikaron, it is the greatest sign that they recognize and acknowledge the day as determined by the State and the Rabbanut. It is the greatest sign of accepting their authority and right to make decisions.

After all, if the State had no authority, if the Rabbanut had no authority, the extremists would hold  protests on 5 Iyyar to protest the formation of the State on that day against, in their view, halacha. Yet they protest on 4 Iyyar and 3 Iyyar, thus confirming that they accept the authority of the State.


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Kululam with Shlomi Shabbat, and everyone else, for 70th Yom Haatzmaut (video)







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From x to Israel - Talking Aliyah (videos)
















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Orthodox Jewish All Star, Yael Federbush, Today Show Producer (video)







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What does it mean to be an Israeli? (video)







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The Maccabeats - Megillat Ha'atzmaut - מגילת העצמאות - Yom Ha'atzmaut (video)







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Apr 17, 2018

Book Review: Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered

A Guest Post by Dr Harold Goldmeier

Before diving into Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered by Sarah Tuttle-Singer (Skyhorse Publishing, due May 8, 2018), I wondered, what more might be said about Jerusalem that hasn’t been presented over centuries?

Moreover, how is Tuttle-Singer, with a reputation as a social media virtuoso, in a position to write a meaningful book of polemology that practically defines Jerusalem? Can this lurching work in progress I know from her posts on social media bring clarity to the world’s holiest City imbued with the Divine Spirit?

Sarah does so much better.  The book is one idiosyncratic, irresistible fast-read, revealing nitty-gritty life in the City.  She humanizes Jerusalem. Gone are screaming headlines. No polemics. No religious zealotry. No blazing battles over nationalism.

It is a tale about a young American woman coming of age in an explosively young country. Sarah moves into an ancient but vibrant City coming into its own after centuries of being drawn and quartered. If it were a book just about Sarah’s life it would be ordinary. But she has a comfortable writing style that carries the reader along with her.

Her mind works like an artist’s eye letting Sarah view her surroundings differently than most other people. Her personality is relatable, and together these functionalities result in her weaving two trendy topics, her personal growth and that of the bracingly straightforward modern Jerusalem. Her stories stimulate all five senses, and Sarah is a marvelous storyteller.  “The street smells like coffee and ripe strawberries and saffron. You can buy bags of pink and blue almonds, and Christmas lights during Ramadan, to illuminate the night.”

      Sarah offers snippets of the Old City’s history, politics, and religions mingling with her stories about the daily life of shopkeepers, residents, and tourists. All who pass through its gates, she discovers, share her love and lust for the Old City and its people.

Sarah is a mix of Holden Caulfield and Lady Bird propelled by her Jewish soul. Sarah flashes revelatory memories of teenage rebellion and angst. Memories of her mother take on context and new meaning for Sarah in her adulthood and motherhood. We watch Sarah learn to be an adult and like herself. Jerusalem is no longer allowing its bad memories of being drawn and quartered hold it back and Sarah’s bad memories help her find her own voice.


      Sarah is notoriously independent and flouts societal norms and expectations. At the same time, she reveals herself to be a hena, i.e., a very sweet, beautiful girl, whose interactions with strangers evoke a smile and trust getting them talking. She tells about her conversations with the Palestinian taxi driver boyfriend of a Jewish Israeli, and the ultra-Orthodox wife and mother starving for affection. The cold stone Old City can appear rough and raw, but believers and the faithful can touch the indentation in one wall “left by Jesus Himself when he stumbled and almost fell.”  When Sarah touches the cold Jerusalem stone, she feels warmth from the spot.  

      Sarah defines herself a patriotic Jew choosing to live in her homeland, while yearning for a connection with ultra-religious Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Armenians. Sarah cringes at the limited interaction between them. “We all live in different worlds” in the same four quarters. It’s a chasm she tries to bridge. She and the City are hip and novel today, centers of attention. “Cell reception sucks in the Old City. It’s like, the closer you get to God, the worse the network and the harder to communicate with humans.”

      The Damascus Gate is it’s most interesting entry point, “Where old women sit cross-legged in the sun and sell ripe figs, where ultra-Orthodox Jews enter the Muslim Quarter in their black hats and black suits to get to the Yeshiva or the Kotel, where tourists waft down the steps into the shuck speaking French or Italian or Russian, where young guys speaking Arabic with gelled hair are frisked and searched without any reason other than the fact that they’re young guys speaking Arabic, where you won’t see any Jewish Birthright groups because they’re warned ‘It isn’t safe.’”

       There are three subjects this reviewer prefers the author explored in more depth. I want to know more about her failed marriage. She uses it as a reference point more than once and seemingly laced with love.

       A second lacuna is a story she tells of a mysterious male friend of her mother. He was unknown to Sarah or her father. She tracks him down after her mother’s death but there is no insight into his role in their lives. It niggles at the reader why she mentions him, and though Sarah dismisses the notion he might have been her mother’s lover the reader is never quite certain. Sarah includes the story in the book for some reason. Why and what does she learn?

       Another problem with Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered are the consensual sex scenes. They feel gratuitous. Perhaps the editor cajoled the author to include them to make the book racier because sex sells? I have no doubt Sarah had these experiences, but the sex is bath foam to her insights. Two mise-en-scènes are salacious but not organic to the story.

       The book includes candid snapshots of the author in various settings. It’s a nice touch reflective of the social media channel on which Sarah is a rising star. They symbolically meld Sarah and the City. The book is not a memoir but an enjoyable telling of personal stories about her life and Jerusalem’s in shared discovery.  Sarah is too young to write a memoir, but no one is too young or old to read her breakout- engrossing book. Keep writing like this and she better get fond of celebrity status.


Cover picture below

Reviewer’s Brief Bio:
Dr. Goldmeier received the Governor’s Award (Illinois) for family investment programs in the workplace from the Com. on the Status of Women. He was a Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard earning a doctorate. His first book is HEALTHCARE INSIGHTS: BETTER CARE BETTER BUSINESS

He worked in the administrations of four Governors. Currently, Harold is Managing Partner of an investment firm, a consultant to firms in commerce and industry, writer, and public speaker on public policy issues.

He teaches Mid-East Politics, Business Management & Marketing, & Values & Ethics courses to international university students in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Harold is a writer for GreenPoint Global and Seeking Alpha both international firms specializing in topics about healthcare & medicine, business management & investment, marketing & culture, and the publishing industry. 

His articles and book reviews appear in Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, The Jerusalem Post, Seeking Alpha financial website, Life in Israel, Arutz Sheva, Times of Israel, and US GreenTechnologies. Harold contributed a series of articles in the Gale Business Insights Handbook of Investment Research. 


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interesting psak: releasing an aguna from Yemen

an interesting case came before the beis din in Tel Aviv of a Yemenite woman who could not get a divorce from her husband.

The story goes that this woman was forcibly married off to her husband as a child in 1993 in Yemen. The husband was a violent man and would beat her along with other violent acts against her. At some point in a complicated mission, the Jewish Agency and the security forces pulled off the complicated task of sneaking her out of Yemen with her 6 children. Initially they were taken to the United States and eventually to Israel. The only problem remaining was that she remained married to her husband back in Yemen and communication with him became very difficult due to the complicated security situation in Yemen. This husband had converted to Islam in Yemen and seemingly all hope of getting a gett from him was lost due to the complications.

The dayyan in Tel Aviv investigated the case and analyzed her kesuba and the details of her wedding speaking to family members and friends and others of the few Jews in Yemen.

The dayyan's conclusion was that the original marriage can be nullified due to a number of justifications to invalidate it retroactively. In a 250 page psak, Rav Aviran Yitzchak HaLevi details 19 halachic reasons to release her from the marriage, including the kashrus of the witnesses, the process of the wedding itself, the husband's eventual conversion, and the fact that she was married against her will, and more.

At the end of the psak Rav Aviran Yitzchak Halevi and the beis din declared her marriage annulled and declared her a single woman who could marry another man if she so desires.
sources: Behadrei, Haredim10, Kikar





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new chumra: bought from a goy after Pesach

I was in the supermarket the other and spotted this sticker on some items. I had never before seen such a sticker that I can remember...



It says the item was purchased from a goy after Pesach 5778.

We've gotten used to stickers saying it is made from flour ground after Pesach. This is an interesting new sticker. Things generally would be covered by the hechsher or by the ishur that the store sold its chametz, but who is to say that after Pesach they did not buy chametz, even unknowingly, from a Jew that did not sell his chametz for Pesach? This sticker assures the consumer that the item was bought after Pesach from a goy. It could also mean that they sold it for Pesach to a goy and after Pesach bought it from the goy. So this does not really tell us much, but I guess it makes people feel like they are being machmir on something


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PM Netanyahu meets with the Israels born on 5 Iyyar 1948 (video)







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Dov Eichler: Haredim also mourn for the fallen soldiers (video)

the interesting discussion continues...






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Nas Daily s Interview i24NEWS Eng (video)







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Avi Does the Holyland | Mascots for the IDF (video)







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Es Brent, Tel me where shell I Go - Vi Ahin Zol Ikh Geyn - Shai Abramson

for  Yom Hashoah







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Apr 16, 2018

After 70 years of the Zionist state, I am happy to tell you that your concerns have proven false

Yehuda Meshi Zahav is an interesting fellow. His uncle was Rav Amram Bloi, famed head of the Neturei Karta and avowed anti-Zionist. Meshi Zahav grew up in that direction as well, living in Mea Shearim, protesting against everything Israel, being arrested numerous times for activities against the state and violence during the protests he arranged or participated in. At a later stage in his life Meshi Zahav did a complete turn around and is now a supporter of Israel. His sons have served and continue to serve in the IDF and he is openly proud of them. I would be remiss in not mentioning that he founded ZAKA, that does tremendously important work, though I think it is less relevant in this regard.

Yehuda Meshi Zahav has now written this letter to his uncle Rav Amram Bloi, entitled "After 70 years of the Zionist state, I am happy to tell you that your concerns have proven false". It is a brilliant letter and I am posting the original Hebrew below, and  hopefully my brief translation won't mangle it too much.

Meshi Zahav writes:
In my youth I was a small soldier in the system, when I joined in the protests that you headed - whether it was the protests every Shabbos against chilul shabbos, or during the week against any other breech. For me you were the leader, the unrelenting fighter, one who would not compromise on any of the principles of Judaism. I remember standing with you astonished each time anew at the blows you would receive from the police, or when you were repeatedly arrested. We grew up on the stories of your heroism, such as when you smashed your head through the window of the ticket booth of the Edison Theater while the police were hitting you with their nightsticks until you lost consciousness, in order to prevent chilul shabbos. 
On your knees I was raised and educated. From your mouth we heard again and again about the great danger hidden in the Zionist state, so much so that more than once you tried to cross the border and take protection under the government of Jordan. We heard about the decrees against religion of the Zionist government, whose entire goal was to take the nation of Israel away from its belief and religion. We heard your warnings about how within a few years there would be nothing left of Am Yisrael, We learned form you the importance of Isolation in regards to everything regarding the State: not to benefit from the State's monies and not to participate in elections and one who does is like participating in idol worship. I remember you once said that the Zionists are the greatest enemy of the Jewish people, even worse than the Greeks who tried to destroy Am Yisrael. 
In your public speeches I would be shocked from the stories of different incidents in ways the Zionist leadership tried to destroy Am Yisrael. You called them the "Cantonist decrees". You said the Zionists are responsible for all the troubles of Am Yisrael, including the horrific Holocaust. 
As I grew up, in the heat and passion in the belief of your ways, I too was involved in organizing protests. I was arrested many times, my bones were shattered from the blows of the nightsticks of the "Zionist stormtroopers". But you taught us that every red bruise on the body from these blows is another level and sign of praise in the ladder of mesirus nefesh, so we did not even feel the pain. 
Todaym after 70 years of the Zionist state, mercy upon us, I am happy to inform you, my dear uncle z"l, that your concerns have proven false: We have a Jewish Zionist state that is wonderful and amazing, that serves as a wonderful example to all the nations of the world. She is flourishing in just about every realm: security, economy, education, health, absorption,  and in Judaism. About 7 million Jews - more than 50% of the Jewish people - already live in Israel and Jerusalem alone is approaching 1 million residents, something that might not even have happened in the time of the Beis Hamikdash. 
Who would have believed that 73 years after the horrific Holocaust, in which Am Yisrael was nearly wiped out, mercy upon us, and there was almost no trace left of the Torah and Hassidic worlds, that we would have our own Jewish state. The State of Israel. A state in which the Torah world would flourish in a way that it never before did in the history of Am Yisrael. From the time of King Hizkiyahu there was never so much Torah learning in the Land of Israel as there is today, and you'll be surprised to hear who is the greatest supporter in the world of the Torah: the Zionist government. Every single year the government of Israel invests billions of shekels into the Torah world. 
It is hard to believe that just 75 years ago, not hundreds of years ago, a Jew could not find a place to put his feet down. Nobody wanted us. We were the most disgraced and disparaged people, the lowest of nations, we rolled from DP camps to European forests like animals struggling daily to survive. With the end of the war, each refugee went home, to his country, but the Jews were the only ones in the world that had nowhere to go back to - not a house, nor a country. Until the State of Israel was established. Thousands of generations of Jews dreamed about a state, and behold, we are meriting to what so many others did not. The State of Israel was established against all odds.
Who will wipe the dust from your eyes, dear uncle Rav Amram, leader of the Neturei Karta, to see that in the Zionist State Of Religious destruction 73% of citizens like Chanuka candles, 78% fast no Yom Kippur, and in the last selichos at the Kotel annually more than 200,000 people participate. How much you had to fight for every street in Haredi neighborhoods to be closed on Shabbos. Today it is difficult to believe that even Mea Shearim St and Kikar Shabbos were only closed on Shabbos after innumerable rallies that you led. 
 
At the end of 70 years of the Zionist State, there are 7 cities at the helm of which stands a Haredi representative, and their streets are closed on Shabbos and on the yomim tovim hermetically. In the other cities, in the neighborhoods where Haredim live, the streets are closed on Shabbos and on holidays, without any need for fighting. 
The Neturei karta anthem, that we would sing loudly at rallies, said "in the rule of the deniers we do not believe, and in their laws we do not participate, in the way of the torah we will go through fire and water, to sanctify the name of the Heavens". We would get murderous blows, and get arrested, and we were sure we were sanctifying God's name in public and that our place in Gan Eden had been secured. And now, in the Zionist State, the level of mesirus nefesh has become the greatest level, symbolized the holy tanna, Rabbi Akiva. Close to 24,000 soldiers of the IDF have died, giving their lives al kiddush hashem, protecting with their souls and bodies, on the State of Israel and on the People of Israel. 
If only you would know the amazing youth we have here. How many times a year thousands of the youth that were raised and grew up in the Zionist State gather by the remains of the Beis Hamikdash , and affirm or swear their readiness to give their lives al kiddush hashem protecting the State and am yisrael. How many tears I cried standing at this holy event, when I saw my two sons being drafted, one to Golani and one to the paratroopers, and affirming so. Nobody forced it on them.  They did so of their own choice and free will.  
"The State of Sodom and Gemorrah" - so you called the Zionist State in your article in Hachimah, the Neturei Karta newspaper.So listen, my dear uncle Rav Amram z"l, to how mush evil of Sodom is on this State. The state that leads the world in the number of Chessed organizations established in it. The one that is first offering help around the world in every tragedy. The State that actively illustrates the concept of shared responsibility for each other. The Zionist State does all it can to hep every Jew no matter where he is in any time of trouble or distress, and sometimes at tremendous risk and danger during operations such as Operation Jonathan. And, not just that, but most of the large chessed organizations in the Zionist State were established by Haredi people: Yad Sarah, Ezer MeTzion, the Hatzala organizations, Zaka that I head, and more and more. And these organizations are staffed by thousands of Haredi volunteers that the Zionist State has not yet succeeded in removing them from religion, mercy upon us, and they sanctify God's name in the land and around the world.  
In the State of "by my power and my might", when there is concern of drought, the Minister of Agriculture calls for mass prayer at the Kotel to pray for rainfall. This is the State in which 100% of the agricultural crops are tithed according to halacha. The State that financially supports farmers who keep the laws of shmitta, to the tune of hundreds of millions of shekels. 
So, rest, dear uncle Rav Amram z"l, peacefully. There is no need for any more fighting. While your generation rightfully was concerned about the Zionist State, but after 70 years it has been shown that the State of Israel, with God's help, is the one saving and protecting Am Yisrael, and it is the safest and best place to live as a Jew keeping the Torah and the mitzvos.

wow

The original:







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