Hamas War

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.