Eretz Yisrael Time

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Monday, April 30, 2007
Somewhere on this blog (but I can't find the link right now) I wrote a post about how many potnetial converts in Israel don't finish the conversion process because they don't like that religion is involved (or something like that).

Here is a very good satire (I wasn't sure at first) piece that describes the situation.
I mentioned yesterday that I recommend reading Treppenwitz's post.

In reaction to a response and statement by a leftwing commentor to my comment there I did a little more research into the question at hand. It opened my eyes to something I was aware of, but didn't appreciate the level of seriousness involved.

This is what I commented there after my research.



I have to seriously reconsider a position I have taken until now.

After Mobius's challenge I took it upon myself to look up the Death Penalty issue in PA controlled areas, but using only Arab and Leftwing sources.

Until now, I knew (and observed) that under Israeli control life was better for the average “Palestinian”.

Once the PA took over, I knew things got worse, but I figured it is their problem – it was their choice.

Now going over Arab and Leftwing source material I find my position to have been too callous.

It is terrifying as to how bad life has gotten for the average Palestinian under PA rule. Summary executions, spurious trials, rape, murder, mayhem, corruption (well, we have corruption too).

What I found most disturbing were the long lists and lists of names of Arabs that were murdered and tortured by their fellow Arabs – whether in the courts or on the streets (or in their own homes) (- including for selling land to Jews).

And not that this started suddenly once Hamas took over, but this started immediately after Oslo began and authority was turned over to the Palestinians - and it was no secret to those in charge and behind the Oslo surrender.

It is beyond sick what they do to us with their suicide bombers and such, but how they destroyed their own society and the fear for own their lives these people live in from their own neighbors and government must be overwhelming.

I knew the Israeli Left hurt the Palestinians when they began the Oslo process by giving them self-rule, but I never realized the extent of evil that occurs to them on a daily level in their lives because we, Israel, are no longer there to protect them from themselves.

Darfur is far away. One can merely look on the other side of the wall and see a situation that demands our immediate intervention and return.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Treppenwitz has written a very insightful piece on current events - specifically the convergence of the decision to expel Jews from a rightfully purchased home in Hebron to the upcoming release of the Winnogad Commission Report.

Read it.
Anyone reading the Israeli press as of late keeps seeing a common theme repeating itself – “Why don’t we have great leaders anymore on the stature of Ben-Gurion?”

If you drive down to the Sde-Boker Museum you’ll see a biographical production that unequivocally attributes to BG nothing less than Messiahhood.

I’m not going to denigrate whatever BG was or wasn’t, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he was essentially a strong autocrat with a particular vision (part of which is exploited today by the Left, and part of which is completely ignored where inconvenient).

The Left wants to go back to the good old days of a single, uncontested leader with an iron fist, who will deploy their policies.

And while they found their false prophet in the form of Shimon Peres he is hardly a leader by force of personality, direct threats, and encapsulated authority.

And while awaiting the resurrection of their previous martyred false messiah, they ignore the autocrats of this generation that answered their prayers.

Didn’t Sharon turn into nothing less than the strongest leftwing autocrat in the history of modern Israel, espousing (and nearly bringing about) the complete vision of the left?

Absolutely. Yet that isn’t enough.

You see, because the call isn’t just a return to the totalitarians of the past (as we have them in the present), but rather a call for a return to the totalitarianism of the past where those who disagreed had no chance of gaining power.

Where those on the wrong side could be incontestably shot down in cold blood on burning boats by those in power. Where protests, free speech, and even jobs were reserved for those on the right (left) side of the fence.

Oslo was the beginning, the Expulsion was a good start, but then suddenly Amona proved that the good ol’ days just aren’t here.

And that is what bothers the left. They cry out not just for strong uncontested left-wing leaders, but for a society that openly discriminates and suppresses those they disagree with - as Ami Ayalon proved last week - at any price.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
There's simply nothing I could possible add to this article.

'I shall make you miserable'
By DAVID RUBINGER

If you have noticed, as you undoubtedly have, that driving into downtown Jerusalem has become a nightmare, be advised of the following: The traffic jams you encounter are not divinely ordained. The number of cars may have increased, but the true reason behind your suffering is the brainchild of one Kobi Bartov, who carries the title "traffic and superstructure manager, Jerusalem Municipality."

In an interview he told me bluntly: "I cannot pass a law that would prevent private cars from coming to downtown Jerusalem. But what I can do is to make life so miserable for the drivers, they will eventually leave their cars at home and come by bus."

Bartov so far has succeeded in the first part: Making life miserable for drivers.

He did so by narrowing all approach roads to the center to one lane only. To do so he created a white elephant on Rehov Hillel, a wide useless plaza with a few seats on it, thus squeezing all traffic into one lane, probably not more than 25 percent of the width of the street. Simultaneously Rehov Keren Hayesod and King George Avenue were given similar treatment.

To add a little more suffering and misery to the drivers, he purposely created a sort of funnel on Hillel near the ex-Eden Hotel, merging two lanes into one - even though there is no logical reason for it.

A tiny, but from his point of view useful, torture is to make the green pedestrian-crossing light at King George-Hillel coincide with the green light for cars. Vehicles, all the way back to the Agron crossroads, have to wait for a single pedestrian to cross, even though the light is green. Ingenious.

When on a more serious note I pointed out to Bartov that if - God forbid - a terror act or even a simple heart attack occurs - let's say near the Aroma Cafe on Hillel - no ambulance or fire engine could get to the scene. Even if all the vehicles in their one narrow lane allocated to them would want to, there is no way they could move aside to let them pass. He made sure of that: Concrete pillars prevent them.

Mr. Bartov's reply to this: "Write what you wish!"
It was nearly a year ago that I first discussed the conversion certification/documentation issue here and here.

It took a year but finally the Rabbinate and the RCA have signed an agreement that formalizes and standardizes the conversion documentation and certification process in a way that should make things easier and smoother for converts who want to make Aliyah (and in general).

Rav Amar's talent is creating (and raising) standards were they were missing or lacking before - to improve whatever situation needs fixing. He did it for Tel Aviv Kashrut which was a disaster before he was Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, and he is doing it now as Chief Rabbi of Israel in this area and others.

Good for him.
Friday, April 27, 2007
I was going to originally call this post “Pass me the Triangle” but that only really works in Hebrew (strange that lots of ideas proposed in Israel seem to only make sense in Hebrew - and only to those proposing them).

Otniel Schneller is repackaging (Avigdor, not Joe) Lieberman and suggesting a border adjustment where we give the PA the Triangle, and we annex a bunch of areas in return.

I’ll discuss this on a day when I have more time.

In the meantime, ask yourself this: How many Israelis know where the Triangle (big and small) is on map and what its strategic importance is?
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Azmi Bishara was hardly the first, but he has certainly raised the bar for "Israeli" Arabs - and they are rising to the challenge.

I haven't seen this reported in the leftwing papers yet, but
A7 describes an absurd situation where 150 Jews (from Haifa) picnicking in the Megiddo forest on Independence day were suddenly accosted and threatened by 6000 "Israeli" Arabs, many waving PLO flags.

It seems that the Israeli Jews had chosen to celebrate Independence Day in an area where the "Israeli" Arabs were publicly mourning and commemorating their Naqba (The Catastrophe of Israel's Independence).

This is after 5 off-duty soldiers (4 women and a man) were attacked and seriously injured in Yafo last week.

Israeli Arabs are not a 5th column - they’re quite open that we and they are enemies.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
From the JP (don't have the link right now)

Right-wing activist Moshe Feiglin called Bishara "an Arabic patriot" and said that "like any normal person, his loyalty is to his people and not to his enemy. Bishara is no different in his loyalty than any of his compatriots, except for the fact that what he did, he did in the public eye."
While you're voting JoeSettler in the JIBs, keep this in mind.

JoeSettler reported on the egg shortage a month ago. Ha'aretz is only reporting on it today.

Where would you go first to find out what's really going on in Greater Israel?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Well, that’s one 5th columnist we don’t have to deal with anymore (at least in Israel, and for the moment).

Azmi Bashara has tendered his resignation as an MK at the Israeli embassy in Egypt (man this guy traveled a lot in the past week).

Yuval Steinitz demanded that Israel track him down and arrest him for his deeds.

And what dastardly deeds did he definitely do (and can you say that 10 times fast)?

Rumor has it that during the last war he was busy contacting Hizbollah and informing them exactly where each missile hit. Not as bad as giving them guns, a government, or releasing them from jail, but still up there on the scale of things.

We’re still waiting to see if and when Olmert & Co. also bolts to another country without an extradition treaty.




Jameel told me a funny joke (but you need to understand Hebrew):

5 MKs are arrested. They are put into a police van. How do they all fit in together?

Answer: 2 me’kadima v-3 me’kadima.
Monday, April 23, 2007
The Worker's Union (Histadrut) is in a strike against Makhteshim Agan.
(Source: JP - read the article for the details)

They make chlorine.

They make the chlorine that is put into the water pumped from the Kinneret. The same water I won't drink after my kids made some pretty hefty donations to the National Water Supply during Pesach.

Anyway, they are going on strike, and that means no clorination of the water supply - or at least no more in one more week when the current stock runs out.


I guess hitting the airports isn't enough. Now they got to poison us too.

(Well, actually it will only affect the water supply of people in the Tel Aviv & Central region - so I guess, who cares).
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Friend Robert from Be'er Sheva wrote this amazing response to the leftist drivel printed in Haaretz:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/851079.html
In the above Haaretz editorial, Gideon Levy explains why he is ashamed of the Israeli flag. I wrote the following response to TalkBack:

I've felt just like Gideon Levy many times, like when I saw my prime minister shake hands with a pedophilic terrorist with the Israeli flag flying in the background, and when I saw the Blue & White unfurled at demonstrations against the Jewish communities of Yesha.

That rectangular symbol of our purpose and potential in our Homeland was perhaps most defiled when it appeared as a backdrop to the expulsion of 9,000 Jews from their Gaza Strip homes - homes and synagogues that were then razed to the ground.

But I put out my Israeli flags as always because despite my being utterly ashamed by Israel's participation in the Oslo Accords and all the moral and political corruption that has inevitably followed, I still believe that the State of Israel is a gift from G-d to the Jewish People, and when we look at the Israeli flag, we should focus on that singular idea, and not on the failings of the people entrusted with the Gift.

In yet another example of how truth, basic values, and other civil rights can be trampled for the Leftist cause, Ami Ayalon (former Shabak head, wannabe Labor PM, and a founder of the Geneva Surrender Committee) is admitting that Margalit Har-Shefi knew nothing of Yigal Amir’s plan to assassinate Rabin (if he actually did it).

He openly admitted that they had unambiguous intelligence information that indicated that she was innocent.

Now this isn’t like Shimon Peres’s claim two months ago that he knew years ago that Moshe Katzav was a molester (and kept silent all these years thus allowing Katzav to be in a position to supposedly attack more women – if he did it).

No, this is from someone in the Left-wing establishment admitting they framed an innocent girl – while Avishai Raviv (their agent of incitement whose mission was to slander the right and create a blood libel against everyone who disagreed with them or tried to block their deal with the terrorists) runs free.

Again, we have learned to expect nothing more from this crowd besides lies and destruction.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The NYTimes has this interesting article.

But the problem with is when they start discussing stats.

NYTimes pulls out Arab propaganda and claims that there are 240,000 Settlers to 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank (not including the 200,000 Settlers in East Jerusalem).

Only problem is that we already know that there are only 1.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem combined, so the difference is 440,000 to 1,400,00 for the region they are discussing.

Wiki puts the number of us Settlers in Judea/Samaria at around 270,000. Meaning 470,000 to 1,400,000.

In short we are already 1/3 of the Arab number in Judea/Samaria.

(There are around 230,000 Muslims (which includes Israeli Arabs and Palestinians - not that there is a difference) living in East Jerusalem to our 200,000 Settlers in East Jerusalem - which includes the Old City, Gilo, French Hill, Pisgat Ze'ev, etc.)


But if we are already counting all of Jerusalem's Arabs, then lets count all of Jerusalem's Jews too.

So in the entire West Bank and Jerusalem there are 1.4 million Arabs to 750,000 Jews. And we already know that Arab birthrates have peaked and have been dropping the past few years, while Jewish birthrates for the this specific region are rising.

Which means we are already 1/2 the number of Arabs in the geographical region under discussion.

That begins to change the argument a bit of a just few settlers in a sea of Arabs - doesn't it?


But one would get their facts wrong if their sole source for data came from the Church of Peace Now.

It's Yom Hazikaron for IDF soldiers.

Sometimes I have to consider what my lines are between JoeSettler and the real me when posting. How much do I write? How much should I write? What should I write?

During my IDF service, someone I served with was murdered by Arab terrorists.

Hashem Yikom Damo.


That's all I will say on the subject.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I'm not calling for this (unless he didn't do it), but a major advertising campaign in going to begin soon calling for his release.

The message:
Not that Amir is innocent or deserves to be released, but if Israel is going to freely free mass murderers and their handlers, then there is simply no justification to discriminate and also continue to keep Amir imprisoned.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Just after Yom HaSHoah it seems that some people still haven’t learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

Questions for my readers:

1) Which countries have race laws forbidding or restricting Jews from owning or purchasing land or properties?

2) Which countries have confiscated land and property from people only because they were Jewish?

The answers are very straightforward.

The answer to question 1 is: the Arab States and the State of Israel.

The answer to question 2 is: Nazi Germany, the Arab States and the State of Israel.


I always heard that in the Zionist narrative, the State of Israel was supposed to be the answer to these anti-Semitic acts. Yet here we are, just days after Yom HaShoah and Yossi Beilin is calling for the removal of all Jews from Hebron, the heartland of our forefathers.

Yossi Beilin, like Hitler and all the Arab dictators and fascists does not believe that Jews have the same right like anyone else in this world to buy property or live wherever they want.

And as Noam Arnon said, Beilin is one of those personally responsible for bringing us Oslo and the subsequent suicide bombers.

Beilin in response said, “Go Home Crazies”.

Who else have we heard say to the Jews, “Go back to where you came from” (and I don’t mean just from Shimon Peres)?

Is this a harsh comparison?

Before you answer that, first tell me if you can honestly disagree with my answers for questions 1 & 2.

Then tell me how making Race Laws against Jews owning or buying property is any different than the same laws made Nazi Germany or the Arab states.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Ynet has a strange article about flagging flag sales ahead of Yom Hatzmaut.

Flag manufacturers are reporting that flag sales have dropped "steeply" compared to previous years. They claim that Settlers aren't buying flags.

Can you imagine that?

Us ~250,000 settlers out of 6 million citizens aren't buying flags (at the same level we did previously) and that is described as a steep drop.

When I hear "steeply" I don't think 4% I think 40%.

To my ears it sounds like they are saying we settlers were the most patriotic group in the country, and the rest of the country has to combine together to purchase the same number of flags as our little group did (or the rest of the country can't even be bothered to show display or feel any patriotism).

In short, Flag makers are yet another victim of Disengagement.
Monday, April 16, 2007
JP is reporting that Syria said that Israel must accept the Arab "Peace" Initiative, or else Syria will go to war to get back the Golan Heights.

I think that puts in into perspective (for everyone except Democrat Nancy Pelosi).

Syria is not interested in Peace. Peace is not the goal. Gaining strategic territory is the goal. And that militarily strategic territory will be acquired by whichever tool works better.

Furthermore, Syria's stated understanding of the Arab Peace Initiative is the complete undermining of the State of Israel.

So I can't even say that gaining strategic territory is the goal. That is just the expected perk or a necessary staging area. Destroying Israel is the goal.

But we already knew that.
RafiG has an interesting Yom HaShoah roundup.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
While we Jews have known for quite a while now that "Palestinian" society is nothing more than a bunch of uncivilized barbarian tribes, the rest of the world has generally ignored that because the only people they were really trying to kill were us Jews.

The Palestinians just announced that they executed the British reporter they kidnapped a few days ago.

Why?

Because they felt the world wasn't giving enough attention to their murderers that Israel captured and jailed (the hundred Israel will be releasing for our soldier they kidnapped).

So, until now, Britain and the West could safely ignore their activities, but now that the Palestinians have stepped over the line, can and will the West continue to ignore the fact that they are dealing with a culture and society of death?

The truth is, of course they can.

Just like the US made only a slightly more than symbolic response to their convoy and officials being murdered a few years ago in Gaza, the West will again react the same way here.


More likely, Tony Blair will meet with Abbas and Hamas as a show of solidarity and friendship.


P.S. Two Internet cafes in Gaza were blown up today as well as a Xian bookstore. It is not the first 2 Internet cafes to have been blown up in Gaza in recents months. Remember Tony... Islam good, Freedom bad.
Today is Yom HaShoah in Israel – the day we remember the massacre and attempted genocide of our nation a mere 60 years ago by Germany and her allies. Not so different than today when Iran wants to wipe us out while Germany supplies them with the tools and means to build nuclear weapons.

On the jblogsphere we often see a lot of riling against full time Yeshiva/Kollel students who sit and learn all day instead of working.

I won’t deny that I too see a problem with it, particularly when after having a discussion with some of these full-time learners, I sometimes walk away unimpressed or uninspired by the limited scope of their learning or knowledge.

On the other hand there are others who impress me highly with their learning and acumen.

Over Shabbat someone (whose sons all decided to “turn black” and become full time learners) put it into perspective for me (not her first choice for their lifetime profession, but she is proud that they are serious and real learners).

6 million Jews were wiped out.

We have perhaps 14 million Jews left in the world.

In the US, of the ~6 million Jews around 7% are Orthodox (400,000). In Israel of the ~6 million Jews, around 20% are Orthodox (1,200,000). Let’s throw in another 100,000 for the rest of the world. That gives us 1,700,000 Orthodox Jews in the world to carry on our heritage and message. (If someone thinks they have better numbers I’d love to hear them).

Of that 1.7 million let’s say nearly 10% learn (at whatever level) full time at any given time (150,000) (and that doesn’t mean that their wives don’t work).

(We know that 50,000 in Israel receive draft exemptions for full-time Torah learning, so I tripled that number to account for those that aren’t affected by the draft exemption and for those living in Chul – perhaps far too large a number, but let’s go with it for the sake of the discussion.)

So out of 14 million Jews in the world, just 150,000 Jews learn Torah full time – that’s a mere 1% of our nation ensuring that Torah is studied full time.

And (I’m just guessing), perhaps from those 150,000 perhaps 1% (1500) produces truly unique geniuses and outstanding Torah scholars that advance us (while the rest provide a solid base of continuity).

So let’s think about it, is the production of 1500 exceptional scholars really such a large number and huge drain for our nation of 14 million Jews. Is 1% of our nation learning full time such a drag on our national resources?

Is Kollel then really such a bad thing in the larger perspective?

I might ask at first, “Is that not worth the price?”, but the real question is, “Is this not the minimum we should be doing as a Holy Nation of Priests, and not to mention, to reverse the destruction the Shoah and the Assimilation has and is doing to our nation?”



As a side point, one of the things I don’t like a lot about the Kollel system in general is the free-for-all that many seem to be.

I think that Israeli government funded Kollel students should be required to undergo regular testing to make sure they are using their time properly and advancing. Kollel student should perhaps indicate their Torah specialty or if they are GLs (General Learners). There should be a publish-or-perish system in place to ensure that the Torah they are learning is distributed back to Klal Yisrael. Research Grants should be offered to unique paths of study and to outstanding scholars.

In short, aspects of the academic and Ph.D. system should be introduced into part of the Kollel system. Add some competition. Add some certification. Add some rigor.

Let’s make sure that we are getting “value” for our money and that the learning goes back to the community supporting it – and most importantly, let’s make sure that our investment in Torah is being properly guided towards rebuilding the Jewish nation.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Sometimes you have to wonder if Leftists live in the same world as normal people.

Normally I (rightfully) just ignore idiotic articles from columnists like Larry Derfner, but when he so purposefully distorts reality like he did in this article it deserves a response.

Derfner describes the wonderful experience he had watching his “seven-year-old boy and some black kids chasing each other around a jumping castle at a family restaurant in Johannesburg”.

What were the chances, I thought, of my son running around a jumping castle with a bunch of Arab kids in Israel” Derfner complains.

I don't know of a restaurant, or park, or any public place in this country where that could happen.”, Derfner continues.

So either Derfner doesn’t get out much, or he is an out-and-out liar.

I just took my oldest kid to the Kiddie Park (whatever it is called) inside Kanyon Ayalon in Ramat Gan. There he climbed up and down the chutes and ladder structure – alongside other children, which included native Israelis, Russians, Religious, not Religious, and dare I say it – Arabs. (There are only 2 kosher restaurants in that entire mall, so don’t go there looking for food).

The other month we went to the Kiddie Park in Pisgat Zeev.
Uh-oh. Here again my kid found himself climbing the structures and jumping into the ball pool with other children of all persuasions – including… wait for it… Arab children!

And Malcha, when they bring in the Jumping Castles every now and then…guess who is jumping together on the castles. (Or in the play area next to the children's stores).

Should I mention Kiftzuba – the largest park for children in the country? Because guess who was playing there too.

As regular readers know, I just got back from Tiveria, and as I mentioned in that post, Tiberias is an interesting coexistence of different sectors.


I don’t know where in Israel Derfner lives, or where in Israel he hangs out – but it certainly isn’t where the rest of this country is.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Have you been following the weather lately?

Rain Storms after Pesach (Heck, Rain Storms before Pesach)?!

I personally am not a fan of the Global Warming THEORY, and this article sums up my feelings on the matter quite nicely, but this weather is unusual.

Well, I guess that's just part of the natural changes in weather conditions that we have records of going back thousands of years.
Throughout Judea, Jerusalem, and as far away as Ma'aleh Adumim all the chickens have gone on strike. The chickens unilaterally decided that too many of their offspring were sacrificed in the boiling pots and frying pans this past week and have decided to stop producing eggs. (I'm not kidding).

Since the end of Pesach it is nearly impossible to find chicken eggs in any store. There are simply none left and the chickens can't produce them fast enough.

Those that are found are snatched up faster than you can swing a chicken before Yom Kippur.

Yeah, and I'm sure some commenter is going to write that he/she has had no problems finding eggs. Liar.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Lurker wrote this comment to this original post. My response is in the comments section of the previous quote:

Joe:
Sorry, but with all due respect, you're way off the mark on this one. The word afikoman is most definitely Greek, and purely Greek, in origin. This fact can be found in plently of meforshim on the Mishna and Gemara. Furthermore, the etymology you present is both problematic and wrong, for a variety of reasons:

The word afikoman appears in the Mishna in Pesachim 10:8: "Ein maftirin achar ha-pesach afikoman". This clearly has nothing at all to do with matza (middle or otherwise), which alone is sufficient to demonstrate that your etymology cannot possibly be correct.

Furthermore, AFAIK, your explanation of afikoman as meaning "take out the middle matza" has no basis in any traditional Jewish source.

The Bavli (Pesachim 119b) gives two interpretations for the meaning of "ein maftirin achar ha-pesach afikoman": According to Rav, it means that you cannot get up at the end of the meal and go join someone else's korban Pesach group (chabura). According to Shmuel, it means that you cannot eat after-dinner snacks (i.e., desserts) after eating the korban Pesach. The Yerushalmi also cites the opinions of Rav (anonomously, in Pesachim 10:4) and Shmuel (also in the name of R. Yochanan, in 10:6). (Shmuel's opinion is also cited anonomously by the Tosefta, in 10:11.) The Yerushalmi (10:6) also quotes a third opinion in the name of R. Inaini b. R. Sisai -- that afikoman means entertainment with musical instruments (minei zemer).

These interpretations dovetail perfectly with the well-established idea that the structure of the Seder is heavily derived from that of the Greek symposia: At the end of a symposium, it was traditional for the participants to proceed over to someone else's house where they would conduct after-dinner merry-making, with delicacies and music. This practice was called epikomion, which means "after-dinner activities" or "after-dinner entertainment". I.e., because someone might think that we can also borrow this idea from the symposia, the mishna makes a point of telling us that it is forbidden to follow the meal with an epikomion. The three interpretations in the Gemara imply three different reasons for the prohibition: According to Rav, its because you're not allowed to eat from the korban Pesach of someone else's chabura. According to Shmuel, its because you're not allowed to eat anything else after the korban Pesach. And according to R. Inaini b. R. Sisai, it would seem to be either on account of (a) the inappropriateness of having musical entertainment after eating the korban Pesach, or (b) the rabbinic prohibition against playing musical instruments on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

You are correct that there is a connection drawn between the word afikoman and the Aramaic word afiku. But you are mistaken in attributing this to Chaza"l (assuming that by "Chaza"l", you mean the Tannaim and Amoraim): There is no etymology of the word afikoman to be found anywhere in all of Sha"s -- not in the Mishna, the Tosefta, the Bavli, or the Yerushalmi. The explanations of the word afikoman using the word afiku are found only starting with the Rishonim, in their comments on "ein maftirin achar ha-pesach afikoman": The Rashbam (Pesachim 119b) explains Rav's opinion with the expression afiku minaichu ("take them out"), as in "take out your utensils from here, and let's go eat in another place"; and the Rav mi'Bartenura (Pesachim 10:8) explains Shmuel's opinion with the expression afiku minei metika ("take out [various] types of sweets"). Note that nobody says anything about afikoman meaning "take out the middle matza", since the mishna's use of the word is completely unrelated to this. Furthermore, these expressions used by the Rashbam and the Rav are not intended as etymologies of the word afikoman; they are simply mnemonic devices (notrikon). R. Kehati states this explicitly in his comments on 10:9 -- after he explains that the word afikoman is Greek in origin.

I find it strange that you would suggest that citing the Greek etymology of afikoman is un-"Jewish": The simple fact that this word is Greek can be found in the Tiferet Yisroel (Yachin, Pesachim 10:8, note 51), as well as the Tosafot R. Akiva Eiger -- who actually criticizes the Rav mi'Bartenura for not having known (or cited the fact) that afikoman is Greek! The Greek source of the word is also described in Kehati (see above), as well as Steinzaltz. Would you say that the explanation given by all these meforshim is not "Jewish"?

Regarding that left-wing liberal blogger who you describe as the "Grinch of Pesach": Yes, his political views are certainly misguided and offensive, but there's nothing wrong or Grinch-like in his comments on this particular subject: Firstly: If one is intellectually honest, it is impossible to ignore the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that Chaza"l borrowed ideas from the Greek symposia in formulating the Seder. If you haven't already, take a good look at the article he cites on the subject. Secondly: There's nothing un-"Jewish" about Chaza"l having done so: They borrowed many useful ideas from non-Jews -- particularly the Greeks -- while rejecting the bad stuff. ("Tocho achal, klipato zarak", as R. Meir did with Acher.) Many of the Tannaim clearly saw great worth within Greek culture -- in the yeshiva of Rabban Gamliel [who was the Nasi], they actually studied Greek philosophy side-by-side with the Torah (Sotah 49b). They didn't "copy" the Seder from the symposia, but they appropriated a great many elements, adapting them to the purpose of sippur yetziat Mitzraim, and thus elevating them into the realm of kedusha.

Prior to the time of the Mishna, there was simply the korban Pesach, and the telling of the story of yetziat Mitzraim. But there was no canonized structure or liturgy for the night of Pesach. Detailed accounts of the laws and customs of Pesach can be found in several pre- and early- Mishnaic period works, such as Sefer HaYuvalim (perek 49), as well as Philo and Josephus. They all describe the korban Pesach, the matza, and the maror; and the mitzva of telling the story -- but apart from that, there is no mention whatsoever of any of the elements of our Seder. That's because people used to fulfill these mitzvot in a more free-form manner. It was only around the time of the churban that Chaza"l decided to organize it into a unified form. And it made sense for them to adopt the form of the symposia, since this was what familiar to the Jews of the time. Perhaps they formulated Seder as a sort of "replacement" for the korban Pesach after the churban, not unlike the three daily tefillot, which "replaced" the daily korbanot in the Beit HaMikdash.

I question your assertion that there's something un-"Jewish" about borrowing non-Jewish practices and adapting them to something holy. In the Moreh Nevuchim (III:32), the Rambam goes so far as to say that Hashem borrowed the entire idea of korbanot from pagan cultic practices! I presume that you wouldn't accuse the Rambam of "just trying to be contraversial for the pageviews". Compared to an idea like that, the idea of borrowing a few clever ideas from the Greek symposia for the Seder seems rather tame by comparison, wouldn't you say?
Rumors are floating around that Azmi Bishara may be defecting seeking asylum in Qatar after committing an act of treason that reached a level the government couldn't ignore anymore.

It is not clear if he (1) gave over weapons to the Palestinians to be used on Israelis, or if he (2) helped Palestinian terrorists escape justice and their prisons, or if (3) merely he participated in handing over parts of Eretz Yisrael to the Enemy.

Perhaps he (4) helped destroy our deterrence capabilities?

Perhaps it has to do with taking (5) bribes, (6) making illegal political appointments, or (7) tax evasion.

But most likely (9) he had information about another Olmert corruption scandal.


In any of the above cases it is clear that he should and would go to jail if he has the audacity to return.

Hattip: Jameel for the comparison.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
After intermittent internet connectivity over the chag, and no release for my creative energies (or all that Matza), I’m bursting with what to write. I spent half the holiday trying to decide if I will write one long post, or a series of smaller ones, but it’s all coming gushing out, so one long post it is.

First of all, there is no question in my mind that the only way to properly experience Pesach is to experience it in a hotel – specifically a hotel geared to the Chareidi audience.

Let’s go through the reasons:
Pillars of Smoke and Fire
I spent the Chag in a Tiberian hotel with a Bnei Brak (Chareidi) crowd. Plenty of smoke and fire from those cigarettes during Yuntiv (not in the dining room – my wife made sure of that – anyone who even thought to light up got a mouthful until they ran out).

Yetsiat Mizraim
The rush and tumble, pushing and shoving immediately after the holiday ended to get into the elevators to pack up and leave the hotel left nothing to the imagination. Yetsiat Mizraim was clearly experienced.

The Maan
Imagine unlimited portions of food 3 times a day, but always the same stuff at every meal. Now I understand what the Maan was.

Some of the Shvatim:
Bnei Brakers from Har Shalom
Chareidim from Har Shlomo
Chareidim from Rechesh Shuafat
Americans from Ramat Beit Shemesh (they stood out a bit)
The Eruv Rav - I think that was the JoeSettler family with this crowd.

Kriyat Yam Suf
I crossed the Jordan River a few times, so I think that counts


Moving on to other related subjects, I think everyone who made fun of the rabbis and their Tznius conference on women’s clothing and wigs needs to apologize - quickly.

Trust me when I say, I couldn’t tell if half the women in the room were married or about to go clubbing at a singles bar.

What I’ve learned this week is that if you want a “Custom” wig that looks so real that I personally can’t see how it counts as Kisui Rosh then go to “Eli” at D-Mall or “Beit Shlomo” on Jabotinsky and drop a two thousand dollars (this was an upper class B”B crowd). Lycra is also very in. Hot Chanie has nothing on this crowd.

I was also introduced to some very strongly opinionated halachic(?) viewpoints (by the women, of course) who made it clear that a hat or scarf that is clearly covering the head, but with hair coming out (the explicit example I was given was that of a settlerette) is not a kosher Kisui Rosh, but a Custom wig (even made from one’s own hair, as in one case!) that is completely unrecognizable as a wig is a 100% kosher Kisui Rosh. Go Figure.

Regional information:
Tiberias (the city center at least) is an interesting mix of Arab, Russian, Arse, and Tourist. There is a major Chareidi neighborhood, but I didn’t get a chance to visit it, though I saw them all at Kever Rebbe Meir Baal HaNes.

The roads within Tzfat needs to be redesigned. At a minimum, sign need to be put up at key street corners to let you know whether to go left or right to the Old City and other sites, otherwise you will go in circles for a half hour.

Kvish HaBiqa is the only way to go North (and back) – very little traffic, but some very, very dangerous drivers. We saw a fully-loaded semi-trailer that had just gone off a cliff. At least 20 ambulances and fire trucks at the scene trying to rescue them (and the Bedouin homes I think they crashed down on).


On Kashrus:
The water supply from the Kinneret is disconnected during Pesach, due to a “Chashash” of Chometz. Yes, there is definitely small amounts chametz in the Kinneret, mostly in the form of beer cans, but I’m not going to discuss that Halacha.

Instead I will mention that after my kids took a "visit" to the Kinneret, I personally will now only drink bottled water that comes from Ein Gedi (at least until we visit down South).


More to follow (maybe), but I need a breather.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Sometimes it's easy to play the Grinch of Pesach (like a certain left-wing liberal Jewish blogger). But let's discuss the Jewish origin of the word Afikomen and the reasoning behind it.

After 4 cups of wine I asked my wife the reason and origin of the Afikomen, and if it had any connection to the Greeks. In response she asked me what I actually did in Yeshiva for so many years. My brother -in-law expanded on her answer (without the insults).

First off let's start with the word Afikomen itself. It's not Greek, but basic Aramaic.

"My Nafka Mina," my wife said to me, "Didn't you learn that in Yeshiva, 'What comes out from this?'"

"Afiku" means to take out. We say that word in an important Tfilla (which she asked me if I skipped this year).

And that is the origin of the word, Aramaic. Not Greek.

Moving on, why do we eat the Afikomen at the end of the meal?

Because the Afikomen is a Zecher l'Karban Pesach, and we would only eat the Karban once we nearly finished with the meal and "satisified".

Why specifically the middle matza of the 3?
In honor/remembrance of Shevet Levi that continued to serve Hashem in Mitzraim, and their descendents who prepared to Karban Pesach.

And why not then the top Matza (Cohen)? So that we would have 2 shleimim (whole matzas) for Lechem Mishne (top and bottom).

Hence the reason we take out the middle matza from the 3 "Afiku Mina" - "Take it out from them".

And that is a Jewish Answer.
Monday, April 02, 2007
I saw 2 sights recently while driving around.

The first was a long line of people waiting to get into a store (or what I thought was a store). As I got closer I saw that it was a food kitchen that was giving out free meals and food for Pesach.

What I found disturbing was how normal and ordinary the people looked. These weren’t lice-ridden, unshaven people answering out loud the voices in their heads.

These were people who looked like your neighbors, someone you went to work with, or might bump into regularly in the supermarket or in shul.

In short these people were normal people with families (and even jobs) who unfortunately hit rock bottom.

I’ve heard it said that 25% of the country is currently living under the poverty line.

This is very disturbing, because we aren’t talking about junkies and chronic welfare cases. We are talking about normal, hard working people who can’t make ends meet, no matter how much, how hard they work, or how many jobs they work at.

I don’t really have a point to what I mentioned above other than that I think these food charities are extremely important to donate too (if you can), as based on what I saw, they are doing a good job helping people.

The second sight I saw was in my yishuv where the municipality put down cans every few blocks that all say, ”for burning chametz”.

It’s nice to always see the small touches in Israel. It reminds you why you are here.
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