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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Words Can Be Dangerous, A Lesson From Torah Portions "Vayeitzei," and "Vayishlach"

Torah Portion "Vayeitzei" which begins in Bereishit Chapter 28:10 tells the saga of Jacob after he left his parents' home. It includes his "nap" in Beit El, marrying his two wives and the birth of most of his children.

Two dangerous things are said, one by Jacob and one by Rachel, which foretell or cause a tragedy.



First Rachel blames Jacob for her barrenness, rather than praying to Gd. Very dramatically she states:
וַתֵּ֣רֶא רָחֵ֗ל כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָֽלְדָה֙ לְיַעֲקֹ֔ב וַתְּקַנֵּ֥א רָחֵ֖ל בַּאֲחֹתָ֑הּ וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹב֙ הָֽבָה־לִּ֣י בָנִ֔ים וְאִם־אַ֖יִן מֵתָ֥ה אָנֹֽכִי׃
When Rachel saw that she had borne Jacob no children, she became envious of her sister; and Rachel said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die.”
And later in the Torah Portion, when Jacob and his family are fleeing Lavan, Lavan chases after them angry about two things. One is that Jacob left, and the other is that his personal idols had apparently been stolen by someone in Jacob's entourage.
וַיַּ֥עַן יַעֲקֹ֖ב וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְלָבָ֑ן כִּ֣י יָרֵ֔אתִי כִּ֣י אָמַ֔רְתִּי פֶּן־תִּגְזֹ֥ל אֶת־בְּנוֹתֶ֖יךָ מֵעִמִּֽי׃
Jacob answered Laban, saying, “I was afraid because I thought you would take your daughters from me by force.
עִ֠ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר תִּמְצָ֣א אֶת־אֱלֹהֶיךָ֮ לֹ֣א יִֽחְיֶה֒ נֶ֣גֶד אַחֵ֧ינוּ הַֽכֶּר־לְךָ֛ מָ֥ה עִמָּדִ֖י וְקַֽח־לָ֑ךְ וְלֹֽא־יָדַ֣ע יַעֲקֹ֔ב כִּ֥י רָחֵ֖ל גְּנָבָֽתַם׃
But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain alive! In the presence of our kinsmen, point out what I have of yours and take it.” Jacob, of course, did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

I'm sure that you all know the result. In "Vayishlach" Rachel dies after giving birth to Binyamin. Gd turned her threat around. Rachel died from giving birth, not as a result of being barren. Jacob predicted her death in his very "Yiftach* moment" by declaring that someone must die without realizing the power of his words.

Every word has power, and I also see shadows of Rachel's threat in the failures of her descendant King Saul. Contrast Rachel and the names she gave her children with her sister Leah, who recognized Gd's power in the names she gave her children. King David is clearly her descendant and the leader most fitting to lead the Jewish People and produce the Moshiach.
*Judges 11וַיִּדַּ֨ר יִפְתָּ֥ח נֶ֛דֶר לַיהוָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אִם־נָת֥וֹן תִּתֵּ֛ן אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י עַמּ֖וֹן בְּיָדִֽי׃
And Jephthah made the following vow to the LORD: “If you deliver the Ammonites into my hands,
וְהָיָ֣ה הַיּוֹצֵ֗א אֲשֶׁ֨ר יֵצֵ֜א מִדַּלְתֵ֤י בֵיתִי֙ לִקְרָאתִ֔י בְּשׁוּבִ֥י בְשָׁל֖וֹם מִבְּנֵ֣י עַמּ֑וֹן וְהָיָה֙ לַֽיהוָ֔ה וְהַעֲלִיתִ֖הוּ עוֹלָֽה׃ (פ)
then whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me on my safe return from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s and shall be offered by me as a burnt offering.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Coalition Politics: How To Banish Avigdor Lieberman to The Sidelines

There are many dimensions to the political situation present in Israel right now. On one hand I agree with the various opinions of Arlene Kushner, Caroline Glick and Ruthie Blum.

But last night as I was falling asleep, I suddenly had the solution to the Avigdor Lieberman problem. He has evolved or devolved from a strong Right wing Likud activist politician to a dangerous political anarchist, who gets his kicks from breaking up government coalitions and driving most everyone crazy. Inexplicably he has enough followers to keep him in the Knesset with sufficient MKs to stymie every possible coalition. Avigdor Lieberman wants to be the kingmaker and Prime Minister. I've come up with a way to lock Lieberman out of the government.

It's pretty obvious, once you think about it. Of course it's based on a shaky double "if."

If both Gantz and Bibi really want to avoid another useless round of Knesset Elections...

If both Gantz and Bibi really are sick of Avigdor Lieberman's dangerous political games...


Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue & White's Benny Gantz do no need Avigdor Lieberman to form a broad coalition together. Both parties got over thirty 30 seats in the last elections. Together that's the majority needed to form a government. Both of them can say that:
"For the good of the State of Israel, we must have a strong government, a broad-based government of Right, Left, religious and secular. We welcome all parties, all MKs who want to work together for the betterment and security of the State of Israel into our coalition."
That's it. That's what most Israeli citizens really want.

Can someone please send them the message ASAP...

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Chanukah, Rosh Chodesh Tevet, Save The Date


Last Friday, women from Gush Shiloh, Eli and Shiloh, celebrated Rosh Chodesh Kislev praying together in Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh.

בראש חודש כסלו נשים מגוש שילה הגיעו להתפלל ביחד, ככל ראש חודש.

Our next Women's Rosh Chodesh dovening will be Rosh Chodesh Tevet at the end of Chanukah, Sunday December 29, 1st of Tevet, 8:30am

תפילת נשים לכבוד ראש חודש טבת יהיה א' טבת, 29-12-2019 ב8:30 בבוקר בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה. לפרטים נוספים shilohmuse@gmail.com, subject: ראש חודש

נשים ונערות מוזמנות

For more information contact shilohmuse@gmail.com, subject: Rosh Chodesh. Women invited. 

Shiloh Hakeduma, a beautiful archaeological site, where the Biblical Tabernacle stood for almost four hundred years, is open to visitors of all ages on weekdays. For more information contact Phone: 02-5789122, visit@telshilo.org.il

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Nu? What's New in The Jewish Blog World?

Clouds but not much rain
It's winter here in Israel, though there hasn't been enough rain yet. Gd willing the rains will start soon. But considering that the sages say that Gd gives us the rains we deserve... No doubt the awful political situation is holding back the blessed rain.

Let's see what our intrepid bloggers are blogging about. If you have blogs to recommend, please let me know in the comments, thanks. As usual, I'm only listing titles, so click to see which blog and what's written. I'm only responsible for the contents of my own blogs, not the others here.

Enjoy, read, comment and share.

#ShidduchCrisis, Book Review
Rockets & Reads: The November Jewish Book Carnival
Hold the Phone
Just enough rain to sweeten
the oranges
Berkeley Professor’s Survey Findings Confirm Embarrassing Ignorance of Israel-Haters
Almah
Proposed Law: changes to the electoral process
Bibi's Not Perfect, But He's Not Corrupt
Indictable Offenses
Judaism starts with the Land of Israel, Parshat Lech Lecha 2019, Beyond The 4 Amot
Rosh Chodesh Kislev
this Friday, Women's Prayers,
Tel Shiloh, 8:30am
Dinner at Hatch Brewery, Great Beer and Wings
Israeli za'atar beer from the Nomads
Improving Safety and Traffic at Shiloh Junction
STARTING CPR QUICKLY SAVES TRUCK DRIVER
Overcoming Challenges in Jerusalem
Should I Or Shouldn't I?
The Trail Of Our Lives
Real life beyond the headlines
Progressive Democrats Get it Wrong About Israel, Again
The Rockefeller Archaeological museum
To every fruit, there is a season (with helpful seasonal Hebrew vocabulary!)
Daily Mail Corrects Tel Aviv Error
Wrapping in a Corporate Professional Office Environment: Part 2

I'd appreciate if you'd tell me which blog posts you enjoyed the most, and of course please recommend blogs I haven't included in this edition.

Dry Bones

Friday, November 22, 2019

Bibi's Not Perfect, But He's Not Corrupt

What the Left, International Left to be exact, couldn't achieve in legal elections, they are doing by inventing crimes. My complaints about Prime Minister Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu are that he hasn't used his legal official position as PM to fully annex all the Land we liberated in the 1967 Six Days War, and he tries to please the world rather than act as a proud Jew. Bibi's attempts to be Centrist weaken the State of Israel. I want him to be a David not a Saul*. But these trumped up charges against Bibi are a coup, just like he claims.

I have no doubt that the funding, backing mentoring for Gantz's Blue and White Party can be traced to the same international Leftist conspirators who brought Obama to the US Presidency and funded the "anyone but Bibi" groups, V15 etc ad nausuem. Now, that's really illegal, but the judicial here and almost everywhere are terribly politically Left leaning.

This anti-Netanyahu coup is not only dangerous for the State of Israel, but it's dangerous for the world. There's no objective "truth and justice. " They've colored everything, spent the last century effectively taking over universities and media all over the world.

Someday it will just be chapter in World History, but it's hard to live through it knowing what we know.

Gd is The True Judge and can override everything. Shabbat is soon, and we certainly need a rest from the mundane world. Thank Gd for creating Shabbat.

שבת שלום ומבורך
Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach
May You Have A Peaceful and Blessed Sabbath

*King Saul was from the Tribe of Benjamin, and his weakness as a leader caused Gd to choose David to be King and establish a dynasty.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Coalition News? Haven't a Clue, But Don't Like What I Hear



Maybe by the time you read this there will be a coalition.

Benny Gantz and crew are busy trying to tack together a ruling coalition leaving out the MKs voted for by most Jewish voters in the State of Israel. Yes, please think of it like that. Blue & White doesn't want chareidim, the "ultra-Orthodox/religious Jews. He's not crazy about my crowd either.

The Blue & White leaders use the term "unity government," but they're not talking real unity. They don't want to serve with the fastest growing (reproducing) Jewish community in Israel and in the world  chareidim, the "ultra-Orthodox/religious Jews. For some strange reason they prefer Arabs to very religious Jews.

Basically, the Gantz crowd wants to go back to the days before 1977, before Menachem Begin's becoming Prime Minister. For those twenty-nine years of Leftist Labor rule, the idea that Labor would ever be in the Opposition seemed preposterous.

Remember that it was during those twenty-nine years, certainly the first decade, when Yemenite and other non-Ashkenaz new immigrant infants and children were kidnapped and given to Holocaust survivors and other infertile European Jews for adoption. It was during that time when religious new immigrant children were sent to strictly secular boarding schools for "better education."

Blue & White doesn't want unity with Jews.

On the other hand, Bibi Netanyahu has been Israel's Prime Minister for over a decade, and he failed just as I predicted before he was re-elected. Instead of being a strong leader, Bibi restricts himself to what he considers the "Center." Instead of aiming/leading forward, Bibi's focused on the Center, and it's like trying to cut a tough steak with a butter knife.

That's why Israel hasn't won a war. Our Prime Minister is a "centrist."

Likud may be out of power for a few years. Gd willing the country will survive, even though the anti-chareidi utterings of the wannabes sounds too much like the sinat chinam, baseless hatred that caused our exile over two thousand 2,000 years ago.

Gd willing, if there's a Leftist aka Liberal government, it won't last long enough to do too much damage.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Parshat Shavua Vayeira, Akeidat Yitzchak, Testing Issac

Bereishit, Genesis 22, Vayeira
We could spend a whole year studying the Torah Portion Vayeira, and I've written about it before. There's so much in it, narrative, theology etc. One of my pet peeves is the totally inaccurate translation of the term  עֲקֵדַת יִצְחָק, Akeidat Yitzchak, as the "Sacrifice" of Issac. Issac wasn't sacrificed, wasn't killed. The more accurate meaning of the word is "binding," and here it's not in a physical sense. Issac proved his commitment to Gd, so he could follow his father Abraham as leader of the new nation.

I believe that Abraham understood that this was a Divine test. It was already clear to everyone that his older son Ishmael didn't have any of the necessary characteristics needed to lead, but Issac had to be put to a very serious test.

As parents, we sometimes must witness our children's struggles. We can't take their place or stop it. It wasn't easy for our forefather Abraham to cooperate administrating this frightening test on his beloved son. But he played the role perfectly, and that's why Gd praised him afterwards.

Abraham was then able to "retire" as "national leader," but he still had to marry off Issac. More about that next week in חיי שרה Chayei Sarah, the Lifetime of Sarah.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Déjà Vu War- Let's Destroy The Terrorists So There Won't Be Déjà Vu 2

Israel's security is like a broken record. We keep having the same sort of crises, or wars, or whatever you want to call them. Of course the government doesn't call it a "war," since a war would not only require real fighting, but there's certain expenses and compensations that people must receive during wars, while "operations" or whatever euphemisms are chose cost the government less.

So far, I don't think the government has come up with a "snappy" marketing name for this one. Since Israel's citizens, especially those in the south of the country, have been suffering through these massive military terror attacks but the government never calls it a war every year or so I'll just refer to it as "The Déjà Vu War."

It's a vicious cycle. Israeli citizens are ordered to "shelters" and told to wait it out. How long should they wait it out? Until there's quiet aka until the Gazan terrorists use up all their missiles.
"Don't worry," our suffering citizens are told by the Israeli Government. "The Iron Dome prevents most missiles from hitting you. Statistics are in your favor."
I think the Gazan terrorists aimed about a thousand deadly missiles at Israel during the last Don't Call It a War.

Periodically, Israeli "forces" succeed in a movie-worthy attack on the Gazans, or more accurately a Gazan "command center," missile launcher or terror leader. But our government wouldn't dare destroy Gaza.
"What would the world say?"
Yes, I'm angry. Just because my house isn't under attack doesn't mean I don't care. My country and fellow citizens are under attack, and our government isn't protecting us. The only real protection would be to destroy the Gazan terror base, the entire enclave.

Following are pictures and videos sent to me by Gedalia Bloom. I'm using them with his permission.











Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Improving Safety and Traffic at Shiloh Junction

Just a few years ago, the powers that be in our Binyamin region thought they were improving our lives by building a sort of bus stop/hitchhiking post on Highway 60 going north at the Shiloh Junction. It has a bench, top and backing. For safety there are even a few poles that in theory would stop a terrorist vehicle from ramming into waiting Jews seated there.

Yes, in theory, sitting at some desk, designed and planned by "experts" who own cars and get cars from their employers, that bus stop/hitchhiking post is a gem.

But for us, those who get dropped off there, or those who have to that bus stop/hitchhiking post, it's terrifying.
  • The bus stop/hitchhiking post is far north from the Shiloh junction.
  • There's no safety barrier, or even sidewalk between the "shelter" and the turnoff to Shiloh.
  • Walking to the Shiloh turnoff requires walking directly into traffic, and most of the traffic is Arab. 
  • Walking from the Shiloh turnoff requires having your back to the traffic.
  • All this brings up my post traumatic stress from the terror attack, first ramming, in which I was injured over twenty years ago.
A couple of months ago, there was an announcement that due to the heavy traffic by the Shiloh Junction, we're being upgraded to a traffic light. 

Thank Gd, more than just a traffic light will be gracing our junction. The entire Shiloh Junction is being upgraded. There will be designated lanes for right turns. The construction of this new Shiloh Junction has been causing traffic delays most nights. It's far from finished, but the terrifying walk along the road is now a thing of the past. Last night I happily hopped, skipped and jumped while making my way through the dirt and rocks until I could cross the road and catch a ride going into Shiloh. The icing on the cake was when someone offered me a ride before I even reached the sidewalk. 


Next big request is that they make that  bus stop/hitchhiking post into an official bus stop, so we'll have more transportation northwards to Eli, Ariel and Tapuach. Gd willing....

Friday, November 8, 2019

Quiet on The Coalition Building Front, Good or Bad?

Israel has been in the Election and Government coalition building mode for close to a year already. We've had two national Knesset Elections, and still Bibi's steering a "temporary," lame duck government.

After the first 2019 Elections, Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu, the sitting prime minister and #1 in Likud, was entrusted with forming a ruling coalition, because he appeared to be the only party leader with a chance. He failed. And Benny Gantz, head of the Blue & White Party didn't do what the wily and experienced Bibi would have tried. Gantz didn't work behind the scenes to craft a coalition and surprise the country with it at the Knesset vote to disband and call a second 2019 Knesset Elections.

2019 Knesset Elections Redo also ended with a tie. There are basically four blocs of Knesset Members:
  • Right 
  • Left 
  • Hareidi (ultra-religious)
  • Arab
Likud leads the Right, though it prefers calling itself Center, and Blue & White leads the Left, though it prefers calling itself Center. Please don't get too confused, because they define Center differently. "Center" is one of those code words that politicians think make them popular with citizens of all stripes, like parve food in a kosher kitchen which can be served with both meat or dairy.

Center doesn't work with me. I don't vote for anyone whose ideology is "get me elected." I must know what the person plans to do for the country, their vision, red lines etc.

Simply put, the Likud can work with the Hareidi, while Blue & White campaigned to delegitimize chareidim from Israeli society and government. Blue & White promised a chareidi-free government. Their stated reason is the lack of patriotism of the chareidi public and their relatively low IDF army service. They'd like the support of the Arabs instead, but truth be told, Arabs are even less patriotic and less apt to serve in the army. Hmmm... does that make sense?

The best way for one of the big parties to make a coalition is to get deserters from the other side. Or are we going to have elections yet again?


Monday, November 4, 2019

The Tower of Babel and "The Twilight Zone." Parshat Noah

This past Shabbat's Torah Portion of the Week was Noach, or Noah. There are lots of topics in this Parsha, the flood, rainbow, Tower of Babel, antecedents of Abraham and Sarah and more. At our "Parshat Shavua Group," led by a neighbor, we discussed the sin that angered Gd in the "Tower of Babel" story.

In all honesty, I can't quite remember all the details, since my mind kept exploding with inspiration and ideas as she and others spoke. She read from an article that the late Rav Neria had written about it in which he mentioned the difference between  אחדות ואחידות, achdut viachidut, unity and uniformity. Unity is good, but uniformity אחידות achidut isn't. In both Hebrew and English both words seem almost the same. They are from the same linguistic roots meaning "one."

I was warned not to get into politics. You must know that a mantra of mine in recent years is:
Liberals aren't liberal.
We see this all over the world. Those who ascribe to the Liberal philosophies are horrendously intolerant. Socialism evolved into Communism which ran countries with very tight fists and forbade religions. And today Leftist leaning universities, politicians etc call those who disagree with their philosophies and leaders "wrong" rather than respecting the rights of others to other opinions.

When I was still a rather impressionable youngster, I'd watch the iconic and legendary television show The Twilight Zone. One episode has stayed strongly rooted in my mind for over half a century. It was set in the "future." This was a very regimented time, when even home libraries were limited to "approved books only." And not only were books censured, but people had to dress and look in the required way. At a certain age everyone was to choose a certain face from a catalog and submit to surgery. The episode told of a family of rebels which had forbidden books, and their daughter refused to submit to the surgery. They refused to conform to the uniformity of society. Finally the authorities seized the daughter, brought her to the hospital and operated. As I remember it we were shown her reactions as the bandages are being removed. She looks in the mirror for the first time at her new face:
"Oh, how pretty I look." She said sounding amazed and pleased. Then she looked at the woman who was holding the mirror for her and continued. "And best of all, I look just like you."
Light faded; the show ended. I'll never forget it. When they gave her the uniform catalog face, they also changed her brain, her independent mind implanting something to make her a complete law-abiding conformist.

Gd created us humans with Free Will, even though it meant that not all humans would follow Gd's laws. We're challenged by Gd to overcome our Evil Inclinations, which tempt us to conform to human philosophies and ideologies, rather than Gd's laws.

We're supposed to be united under Gd, for Gd and help others. The Sin of the Tower of Babel was that they made their own language, laws and morality. By creating a new language and building a tower they considered godly, they rejected Gd as Supreme Being and Commander.

We must unite under Gd not unify to defy Gd.

In Matan we learn as one, unified, united but not in a uniform. No uniformity

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Matan, 5780, 2019-2020, Spectacular Start

Matan, Jerusalem, 30 Rashbag Street
Yesterday I and hundreds of others began the  5780, 2019-2020 study year in Matan. (There are other courses in Hebrew and English which began on Sunday, but the ones I take are on Wednesday.) I've been treating myself to year long and special event courses and classes in Matan for over a decade already. My weekly schedule revolves around my Matan studies and Tanach/Bible chevruta, study group.

Dr. Yael Ziegler, on the stage
and Malka Bina, founder of Matan
greeting the students
By the time Yael Ziegler began her
lecture every seat was taken, and
women sat on the stairs.
The Matan student body is an amazing group of women, and some men in the English language courses. As you can see in the photos of the audiences/student body, many are senior citizens/retirees, even older than me, but there are also quite a few youngsters. And my two favorite teachers are young enough to be my daughters. Not only have I made new friends in Matan, but I'm studying with women I've known since we were teenagers.
Yael Liebowitz, somehow I didn't
catch her smiling

Like many others who had crowded into the Matan auditorium, I choose my courses by teachers. We sign up religiously for the two Yaels, regardless of the course titles. And to be perfectly honest, we haven't been disappointed yet. Both gave spellbinding, gevaldik, spectacular opening lectures.
Yael Liebowitz's student body
has been growing every year.

These are the Matan courses I'm taking this year. I've already officially signed up and paid.

Creation, Un-creation and Re-creation Bresishit 1-11 by Dr. Yael Ziegler
Making Sense of Biblical Dichotomies and Simultaneous Truths by Yael Leibowitz
There are other excellent teachers and courses on other days and in branches of Matan all over the country. Yael Liebowitz is giving the same course in a few other branches, if you're interested and can't get to Jerusalem on Wednesdays.

I hope you can join us studying in Matan, highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Next Month Rosh Chodesh Kislev, Who's Coming?

Paste your faces here, and join our Women's Rosh Chodesh
Prayers. Animals certainly not required.
Considering that today's Rosh Chodesh Marchesvan, it may seem a bit early to be making plans for next month, Rosh Chodesh Kislev, but I'd love to see a big crowd of women praying together at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh.

Just like this month, Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5780 is two days, the last of Cheshvan and the first of Kislev. Our prayer group has decided to meet Friday, November 29, 2019, 1st of Kislev, 5780, at 8:30am.

For more information contact
shilohmuse@gmail.com subject: Rosh Chodesh


תפילת נשים בראש חודש כסלו תש"פ
יום ו' 29-11-2019 א' כסלו 8:30 בבוקר
שילה הקדומה, תל שילה
כולן מוזמנות
לפרטים נוספים shilohmuse@gmail.com subject:
ראש חודש

Be ready to sing Hallel out loud with us, and then we'll each doven Musaf individually.

Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh is a beautiful archaeological site at the location of the Biblical Shiloh. For more information contact visit@telshilo.org.il or call 02-5789111.



Thursday, October 24, 2019

Will The Chareidim Be The New NRP?

The NRP, Mafdal, National Religious Party used to have a slogan to make it clear that they'd justify being in all coalitions to support their "special interests."

In those days they'd stay out of "politics" or anything controversial. They were "middle of the road," and even Leftist. They'd claim that their presence in the coalition was to safeguard the mamlachti dati, religious public schools, their kibbutzim and the rabbinate. This "ideology" predated the 1967 Six Days War. Religiosity in Israel was rather weak and apologetic. The Baal Teshuva Phenomenon hadn't yet reached Israel, and the NRP was more Labor with a crocheted kippah than comfortable with Menachem Begin and his followers.

It took a decade after the mind-blowing miraculous 1967 Six Days War for Menachem Begin's Likud to gain power and the settling of Judea and Samaria to begin in earnest. The old NRP leaders had to join with Likud to keep their power, and the youngsters were influenced by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook to settle the Land. Their youth movement, Bnai Akiva, moved more to the Right both politically and religiously. Also, after all these decades the mamlachti dati, religious public school system is firmly entrenched in government bureaucracy and is not under threat.

Israel's political chaos of today requires shaking things up to form a coalition. That's why there are rumors that Blue & White will try to make a deal with the chareidi parties. Today's chareidi parties are more insecure than the strongly ideological dati leumi, national religious crowd. The chareidim have more financial needs to support their schools, yeshivot, social services and amutot. They need to be in the coalition.

For Blue & White to form a ruling coalition, they need to break Bibi's bloc of parties, or at least MKs. As soon as Gantz's crew get a few deserters, he can declare a government. So my guess is that the chareidi political leaders will use their talmudic skills to rationalize jumping Bibi's ship and joining with Gantz. And Gantz will rationalize/defend his going against his "no chareidi" promise by reminding his supporters that the alternative would be another useless tied election.

What do you think?


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Israel's Coalition Woes, Bibi Passes The Baton

Since the Jewish Holiday Season, a three week plus marathon of celebrations, prayers, food and fasting, are finally over I'm back to blogging about Israeli politics.

Prime Minister Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu has celebrated his 70th birthday by announcing to the even more elderly President Reuven Rivlin that he just can't get the young Knesset party leaders to work together and form a coalition with him. Yes, Bibi gave up, at least for now.

Since Yvette Avigdor Lieberman has morphed from Right to spoiler-anarchist, there's no 61+ majority of MKs on either side of the political spectrum.

Even though Likud's Netanyahu and Blue & White's multi-headed leadership are all claiming to be hoping for a "unity" government, they are defining it differently. This may be a generation gap. Those of us that includes Bibi who remember the "national unity government" that Levi Eshkol crafted as Prime Minister during the security dangers/threats leading up to the 1967 Six Days War understand the term to mean "making a coalition with people/parties for the good of the State of Israel, even if you have major disagreements with them." Inviting Revisionist Herut Head Menachem Begin to join the coalition went against Labor's principles, but for the sake of the State of Israel, PM Eshkol invited Begin to join the National Unity Government.

Bibi's offers to Blue & White are similar to Eshkol's way back when, but unfortunately the Blue & White leadership, Gantz, Lapid and Ya'alon aren't in tune. They claim to want a broad coalition aka national unity government but insist that chareidim be banned from it. The truth is that they want a narrow Left-Center coalition which would even include Arabs, but not the more Torah observant Jews.

Of course, now that Bibi has given up and the ball is in Blue & White's court, there may be serious changes. The MKs who had pledged allegiance to Bibi may already be negotiating with Gantz and partners.

These coalition negotiations will definitely be interesting. And Gd willing it will be good for the State of Israel and the Jewish People.

May this be the dawn of a new age in Israeli politics/government

Thursday, October 17, 2019

NO POLITICS: We're Celebrating Succot, The Happy Holiday


Tonight as I was getting into a ride home after shopping in our local supermarket my friends and all agreed that we're onto talking about politics. Succot is the time of "joy." We're commanded to be happy and celebrate Succot.

Talking about politics will only cause לשון הרע Lashon Haraa, Evil Speech. That's a major sin, and who wants to sin barely a week after Yom Kippur...

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is the longest serving "lame duck" in the History of the State of Israel.

Let's just be thankful for what we have, the gifts Gd has given us. Obviously, if we're reading and writing and thinking, we're alive, and that is a very great gift. Let's not nitpick over details. One thing I've learned over the years is that "things can always be worse," so no matter what your situation, there's plenty of good reasons to thank Gd and celebrate. One important thing I've learned is that we have a lot of control over our happiness. Decide to be happy. You'll find it easier and more enjoyable than the alternative.

Have a truly wonderful Shabbat, Succot and Simchat Torah. 
ושמחת בחגך
Visamachta Bichagecha

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What's New in The Jewish Blog World? 1st Roundup of 5780

Once upon a time there was a weekly Jewish Blog Carnival, Havel Havelim, which featured the latest blog posts from a great variety of Jewish and Israeli blogs. It was hosted by the various bloggers and had a nice international following. If you click on these old HH's and then check out the posts, you'll discover that many of the blogs have been discontinued. Some are still online, but others can't be found at all. My blogs are among the very few old time blogs still being updated, though not daily. Until a few months ago, I blogged on both blogs daily even when it required writing in advance and having the post go up automatically on a later day. But as of late I've become an occasional blogger. Sometimes I think I've said it all, just too many times.

One of the great bonuses of blogging way back when was the community we established. Even though we were in different cities and countries, we became friends. And in some cases our friendships escaped the "confines" of the internet. Yes, quite a few of us have met in person.

According to Oscar Wilde:
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.
I'm amused and saddened by the fact that all sorts of mainstream journalism, newspapers, news sites etc, have convinced people to "blog" for them. Even I have arrangements with a few, but my condition is always that I can post from my blogs, including the link. All of this free writing has made it much more difficult for people to earn a living as freelance writers.

Back to what I call "independent blogs," there's still blogging going on. And now I occasionally post a blog "carnival" or "roundup" of blog posts. To spark curiosity, I just give a list of titles in no particular order, not mentioning the names of the blogs. Click, read, comment and share. Also, if you have any blogs to recommend, please let me know in the comments. I'd also like to know which blog post you enjoy the most. Of course, I'm not responsible for any opinions in the posts, besides what I've written of course.

Now, it's time to enjoy.



2 Stories for Yom Kippur: Unexpected Bus Magic
Shutting Down, Starting Anew (guest post)
Remembering Ari Fuld z"l and Yehoshua Friedberg z"l
Lessons from a pie
Four beers for the record
The Rabbi and the Mammoth
Parshat Shavua Thoughts, Is "Vayelech" Connected to "Lech Lecha?"
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Is Jewish History Repeating Itself?
"Blue & White," Follow The Money
We Blew It: On The Prohibited Sounding of the Shofar
Are Synagogue Prayers on Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur too Long?
The Purpose of Exile: Converts (Haazinu)
Tasty and Simple 21st Century Tzimmes
Have we Learned to Learn Lessons?
The Bible Can’t Be Jewish Because It Doesn’t Mention ‘Tikkun Olam’
Frugal Adventure to Beit Shemesh, Plus: Pishers' Guide to Beit Shemesh #1
G-d Rewards Failure (Derashah, Yom Kippur 5780)

Chag Sameach
Have a Wonderful Holiday

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Parshat Shavua Thoughts, Is "Vayelech" Connected to "Lech Lecha?"

Genesis/Bereishit 12
לך לך Lech Lecha
1 וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃
The LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
2 וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה׃
I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing.

Dvarim 31
וילך Vayelech1 וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֛ר אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
Moses went and spoke these things to all Israel.
...
וַֽיהוָ֞ה ה֣וּא ׀ הַהֹלֵ֣ךְ לְפָנֶ֗יךָ ה֚וּא יִהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ לֹ֥א יַרְפְּךָ֖ וְלֹ֣א יַֽעַזְבֶ֑ךָּ לֹ֥א תִירָ֖א וְלֹ֥א תֵחָֽת׃ 8
And the LORD Himself will go before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Fear not and be not dismayed!”
Both Lech Lecha and Vayelech have the same linguistic root, (ה ל כ (ך heh, lamed, chof, to go.

In Bereishit, which is in the beginning of the Bible/Torah, Gd tells Abram (Abraham) to go to a land of Gd's choosing, and Gd will make him a great nation. Then in one of the very last lines in the Torah, Moshe went (past tense of "go") to the Jewish People, those descended from Abram and reminds them that Gd will always be with them, and they shouldn't lose confidence.

While the politicians here in Israel are fighting over positions and honors, we must never forget that our TRUE LEADER  is GD ALMIGHTY. It's Gd who protects us, not the IDF or Iron Dome. Last week we celebrated, Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish Year, and this week we'll be praying and fasting on Yom Kippur, beseeching Gd to forgive our sins.

May all the Jewish People return to genuine Jewish Life, of Mitzvot and kindness to one another here in the Land Gd gave us.

גמר חתימה טובה
Gmar Chatimah Tovah
May Gd Accept Our Prayers 




Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Is Bibi the Perpetual "Lame Duck?"


Things still don't look very good for the announcement of a new ruling coalition here in Israel. It seems that both of the two largest parties, the newbie "Blue & White" and the veteran Likud have too many non-negotiable conditions to work together. And unless one of the smaller parties "breaks rank" and makes a deal with the "other side," we'll be back at the blue box in a few months. Considering that there can't be any major change in the population I don't see how results will differ from the two stalemates of 2019 or 5779, depending on the type of calendar you follow.

Apparently Blue and White cancelled their meeting with Likud. So, either they have a surprise up their sleeve, or this is some poker trick.

What do you think?

I think that most Israelis are pretty disgusted.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"Blue & White," Follow The Money

As is the norm for professional, full-time soldiers in Israel, Benny Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon retired rather young. Of the three, only Bogie went searching for another strenuous career. Bogie has been in politics, first teasing Likud supporters by posturing as on the Right and strong on security. But it didn't take long for him to disappoint his Right/Likud supporters.

One shouldn't ignore the simple fact that Gantz, Ashkenazi and Bogie made their ways up the power ladder in the IDF when the "rungs" were sawed off for anyone even marginally on the Right of Israel's political spectrum or wore a kippah full-time. Truth be told, the IDF of their time was much more secular and Leftist than today.

Many people were surprised at the sudden appearance of the three with Yair Lapid, as they heralded a new "Centrist" party, which they cleverly called "Blue & White," the colors of the Israeli flag. Lapid the more dedicated and successful politician surprisingly gave up the top spot to Gantz. Political pundits, "anyone but Bibi" supporters and quite a few others on all sides of Israeli politics have commented that the four don't look like a comfortable mix. But in politics there are agendas and backers. I'm interested in the backers. Follow The Money
Who crafted/assembled this "knock out Bibi" party? Who's funding this "knock out Bibi" party? 
Shades of V15, the not very subtle American interference in the 2015 Israeli Knesset Elections. Four years ago it seemed pretty clear that the Obama administration and Obama's backers were interfering in Israeli politics to get their nemesis Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu out of office. This year, with Donald Trump as American President, the "anyone but Bibi" forces aren't connected to POTUS. They've regrouped, and I suspect that they're funding Blue and White. Of course, I can't prove anything.

Politics is complicated and not all that simple, nor clean. Gd willing, we'll survive.

 "Blue & White?"

Monday, September 23, 2019

Israeli Elections 2019, 5779 - Not Panicking - Don't Fear Change

In the dark of the night...
The Art of Israeli Politics

At this point, Bibi, Gantz, MKs and innumerous political wheeler dealers are busy with their combo chess poker game, a marathon of hints, talks, teases, flirts, promises, deals, maybes, posturing, threats, posing, faking increasing the national market for medication to reduce blood pressure.

I've decided to take it easy. Last week I voted, and that's as far as my influence goes. Some of you may have found my blog posts or facebook posts helpful in choosing which political party to go for, at least that's what I heard, but now it's not up to us.

Who's going to be sworn in as Prime Minister? 

Honestly, I don't know. I certainly don't want Benny Gantz or any of his Blue & White party. But on the other hand I think it's healthy for a country to have periodic changes in ruling leadership.

Since the great "shockeroo" of 1977 when Likud's Menachem Begin became Prime Minister, the Likud has led the State of Israel most of the time. Some of those governments were good, and some were bad, very bad. During the times when Likud was out of power, Labor and Kadima governments were passable to dangerously awful.

It's not good for a political party to consider itself invincible and above reproach. Ditto for political leaders. Sometimes losing is good, a serious reality shock.

May Gd have mercy on His People

Sunday, September 22, 2019

GUEST POST: Remember World Trade Center

Remember the World Trade Center

(a guest post by Mr. Cohen)
===================================

You may ask why I have chosen this
day to remember the destruction of the
World Trade Center and 3,000+ innocent lives,
because September 11 was ten days ago.

My answer is that the World Trade Center
was destroyed on the 23rd day of Elul,
and tomorrow is the 23rd day of Elul.
===================================

It is not enough to remember the names
of the 3,000 victims who died when the
World Trade Center was destroyed by
Arab-Muslim terrorists on 2001 September 11.

Even more important, we must remember:
the names of the 19 terrorists, and
which religion they believed in [Islam] and,
which religion motivated their violence [Islam] and,
which language they spoke [Arabic],
and where they came from [Egypt and Saudi Arabia].

===================================
Yigal Carmon [President of MEMRI dot org] said:

Two months before 9/11, on Qatar’s state-run
Al-Jazeera TV, [Osama] bin Laden was lionized
in a show dedicated to him. He was called
“the No. 1 Arab and Islamic hero” and
“the conscience of the Arab and Islamic world.”

The program host underlined that as
“the [Muslim] nation thirsts deeply
for someone who will confront America... 
not with words and slogans,”
and said that bin Laden was
“the right man for this important role.”

And indeed he was.

SOURCE:
Americans are good people — just ask the Qatari Emir
by Yigal Carmon, 2019/7/14
www.jns.org/opinion/the-americans-are-good-people-just-ask-the-qatari-emir

===================================
Yigal Carmon [President of MEMRI dot org] said:

“For over two decades, Qatar has been
fostering and advancing nearly every
terrorist organization that has murdered
Americans. It praised Osama bin Laden,
and after him Ayman Al-Zawahiri [leader of
Al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden], to the skies.”

SOURCE:
Americans are good people — just ask the Qatari Emir
by Yigal Carmon, 2019/7/14
www.jns.org/opinion/the-americans-are-good-people-just-ask-the-qatari-emir/

===================================
Germany: ISIS bride arrested after photo of
cake celebrating 9/11 found on her lost phone:
https://www.jihadwatch.org/2019/09/germany-isis-bride-arrested-after-photo-cake-celebrating-9-11-found-on-her-lost-phone
===================================

If you really want to know the details about Muslims
around the world committing violence against their
non-Muslim neighbors, then please go to:
www (dot) JihadWatch (dot) org

Articles on Jihad Watch right now include:

[1] Muslim scouted landmark sites in Boston,
NYC, and DC including Fenway Park and
Statue of Liberty for jihad massacres

[2] 61% of “Palestinians” approve mygf
of jihad murder of Israeli teen

[3] UK: Grand Mufti of Bosnia and
Herzegovina gives Qur’an reading
in Westminster Abbey

[4] Women’s March Replaces Anti-Semites
with Another Anti-Semite

[5] That Was Quick: Women’s March Drops
Anti-Semite It Brought in to
Replace Its Other Anti-Semites

[6] Afghanistan: Taliban target election
rally, murder 50 in jihad bombings,
warn people not to vote or face death

[7] “Anti-Muslim” Event at Michigan Church
Cancelled Quite Unnecessarily

[8] Bangladesh: Muslim mob vandalizes Ahmadi
mosque, cops say mob is too large to oppose

[9] Smuggler claims he will get Islamic
State jihadis into Europe for $8,000

[10] Glazov Gang: Revealed –
Obama’s Betrayal of SEAL Team Six

[11] Muslim Mayor of Prospect Park, N.J.,
Enraged at Being Questioned by
Border Agents on Return from Turkey

[12] Why We Are Bogged Down in Afghanistan

[13] Miami: Muslim American Airlines
mechanic who sabotaged plane had ISIS videos,
spoke of wanting to harm non-Muslims

[14] India: Jammu and Kashmir official says
religion terrorists follow is “definitely not Islam”

[15] Germany: ISIS bride arrested after photo
of cake celebrating 9/11 found on her lost phone

===================================
Finally, I suggest that Batya add Jihad Watch
to Shiloh Musing’s list of “Interesting Blogs”.

===================================
****** END OF MESSAGE ******
===================================

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

"Gevalt" For Sure- Lieberman Holds Israel by The Neck

Recent history here in Israel is showing Avigdor Yvette Lieberman to be a dangerous anarchist. His political machinations has brought down the government, and since then no working coalition has been formed.

For some inexplicable reason, many Israelis vote for him which has been perpetuating the political chaos. The results of yesterday's elections aren't any better than that of the previous ones. It's very dangerous for the large Arab party to be in the coalition, and Gantz's Blue and White have painted themselves in a corner by refusing to work with Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

All those who voted ל for Lieberman are as guilty or even more so for strengthening and legitimizing him. Lieberman has a chokehold on Israeli democracy, on every citizen, Jew or Arab, Torah observant or totally secular. I have an easier time accepting people's vote for Leftist parties than for those who voted Lieberman.


We are in the midst of the Jewish Month of Ellul, the time for more intense Teshuva, Repentance. I pray that those who have been elected to serve us, citizens of the State of Israel, in the Knesset will find it in themselves to work together, reject hatred and dangerous vows. May they form a strong coalition for the betterment, security and sovereignty of the State of Israel.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Different Look at "Zachor"


I had been debating on whether or not to post this on "A  Jewish Grandmother." That's not because Torah and Parshat Shavua belong more on my other blog. It's just that I wanted my Israeli Elections 2019 posts to stay on top. But my messages/commentaries about "Zachor" really belong here.
דברים כה Dvarim 25
זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃
Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt—
אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹהִֽים׃
how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear.
וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהוָֽה־אֱ֠לֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃ (פ)
Therefore, when the LORD your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
Zachor is read to us twice a year in the synagogue. The first time is the Shabbat before Purim as preparation for  that holiday. Zachor זָכ֕וֹר means "Remember!" Haman, the totally evil anti-Jewish person in the Purim Megillah narrative is descended from Amalek, and he schemes a scheme to kill/destroy all of the Jewish People after the destruction of the First Holy Temple, when our leadership was exiled by the Persians.

A half a year later, we read Zachor זָכ֕וֹר again, since it's part of the Torah Portion Parshat Shavua that comes up a few weeks before Rosh Hashanah, just before we complete the annual Torah Reading cycle. In the Jewish Year of 5779, this year, it was this past Shabbat.

So last week, as I was preparing myself, doing homework, before attending our Senior Citizens' Women's Parshat Shavua Class, something new hit me about what's written. The standard conventional commentary about Amalek is that they make a point of attacking the weak, those who can't defend themselves. When I reread the verses for the umpteenth time, a few words suddenly stood out:
"וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ"
"all the stragglers in your rear"
The general principle when taking a group of people on a hike, or whatever, is to make sure the weaker participants are surrounded by the strong ones for protection and so that they won't stray, stop or get lost. In this Biblical narrative, the stronger ones were tired, so the weaker ones were unprotected, perfect fodder for Amalek, who wouldn't dare attacking anyone capable of fighting back.

Not to "blame the victims," this important Torah Lesson is to remind us, make it clear that it's a Mitzvah, Torah Commandment to protect the weaker in society. Leaving them exposed, whether on the trail or geographically, by government policy is forbidden by Torah Law.

In the early days of the State of Israel, the government used new immigrants, almost exclusively those from "Arab lands," North Africa to settle the more isolated and vulnerable locations of the new country. Newly constructed "Development Towns" weren't populated by the elite veteran European Israelis. New immigrants from Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq etc were literally dumped straight off the boat or plane, and given tents to share, until small substandard apartments could be built for them. If they requested to live in Holy Jerusalem, they were told that their new home was a nearby neighborhood of the long dreamt for city, even when hours away. And the lucky ones who did get housing in Jerusalem, were placed on the border and had to endure the dangers of Jordanian snipers. Security was also horrendous in the Development Towns and small isolated agricultural settlements where some were dumped. Besides the short-term government appointed administrators, only desperate newcomers lived in those new places.

Over half a century later, the residual resentment is still strong in many Eidot Mizrach families.

Gd willing the scars of past policies will fully heal, and today's elections will result in a wise and caring government, which is the only protection from modern Amalek.