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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Purim: "Reigniting Our Passion for Religious Nationalism"

Rav Chaim Jachter on Purim as an opportunity for Religious Zionist Renaissance (link)

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What's with the Acacia plantation?

During these past couple of weeks, we have been reading about building the Tabernacle in the Torah portion. Most of this structure was made by a special kind of wood from an Acacia tree. Many commentaries say that all this wood was planted when the Jews first came to Egypt, and was taken with them when they left. But why? Why would we plant a huge plantation of acacia trees and watch it grow for over 200 years? Isn't that a bit MUCH???

Well I found a really nice answer to this; "The reason why G-d "inconvenienced" the Jewish people so severely, requiring them to plant acacia trees hundreds of years in advance and carry them into the desert, was to give them comfort throughout the period of their exile. For at every moment during the 200 years of bondage, if their faith began to falter or hopelessness began to set in, the Jewish people had a physical reminder of their future redemption. For, together with them in Egypt, there was a small group of acacia trees planted by Yakov their ancestor, from which the tabernacle in the desert was one day going to be built ( Toras Menachem, 25:8-12)."

When I read this, it made me think of the physical connections we have in Israel, that we can connect to when our faith falters, and situations seem too hard to deal with (like that horrid MURDER of Erez Levanon) We can go to the Kotel, and remember the promise that one day, the redemption will come, and we will all be HOME for ever!!!

Have faith... we shall ya!!!

~ Shulamit

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Even Though We Ain't Got Squirrels...

So here in Israel, in the age of globalization, you can now easily procure Heinz Ketchup (In Israel it used to be Pesach year-round ketchup-wise -- you know, cinnamony), Dr. Pepper (Efrat, Raanana and even Chofetz Chaim at the shuk), Dr. Browns (ditto), Mountain Dew (only Efrat), Ortega taco shells (everywhere) and even Ben & Jerry's. But there is one thing that is totally missing: Squirrels.

So here is your pre-Purim squirrel-fix, fellow Olim. And the guy singing the song is even named Israel (though he is Hawaiian)

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Meat! Fresh Bleeding Meat! Arf Arf!

The angelic lefty loons are on a feeding frenzy again today. When aren't they? These are fat loons we have here, let me tell you.

All of the major news web outlets are feasting on MK Esterina Tartman's gaping wound: Sunday night it was Amnon Abramovich of TV Channel 1 who took the first big bite out of the newly appointed, yet to be sworn in tourism minister for the right wing (?) Yisrael Beiteinu faction, whom the Left hates for being good looking, the IDF record holder for parachute jumps by a woman, a survivor of cancer and a very bad car accident, and of course for her politics. Abramovich revealed that Tartman received 1 million NIS from an insurance company when she left her previous job at Yahav bank in 2001, following her accident.

She and her lawyers had convinced the judge that she left the job because she could only work 4 hours a day and was permanently disabled. The insurance company had claimed she was lying and that she was leaving because she was entering politics. So the question is, how can she work a full time job as an MK and now as minister, if she can only work 4 hours a day, wink wink?

The way I see it, it is quite possible that at the time she could only work 4 hours and now she can work more. In any case, it is clear that the media would never ever feast this way on, say, Supreme Court Judge Edna Arbel, who has quite a few corruption scandals attached to her name, or Dorit Beinish, even, who is also far from clean.

Today they have added a new indictment: Tartman claimed - on the Knesset website and Yisrael Beiteinu's website - to have a Master's Degree in Int'l Relations from Hebrew U., when in fact all she had was some graduate courses from Touro College.

I guess that is pretty embarrassing. But still, if you take a look at Yoav Yitzhak's website - NFC.CO.IL - you won't see the item at all. Yitzhak, on the other hand, has been the one hounding Arbel and Beinish for years about their scandals, which are worse than anything Tartman may have done. This is because Yitzhak, besides being a fighter and a nonconformist, is a Yemenite Jew and an outsider. He used to work for Maariv and then fought with them and went independent. He seems to be doing OK.

If you want to publish an opinion piece on his site, you can. He rarely censors stuff. Even if it isn't PC at all. But still, NFC's ratings are nowhere near Ynet.

Maariv's op-ed editor is also a Yemenite, Ben Dror Yemini. Yemini is a lawyer and he once represented the Yemenite residents of Pinkas St. in Tel Aviv, when fat cat landlords were buying them out for real estate development purposes. I believe he won that case and that was what launched his career in some ways, though I am not sure of the details. In any case, you will find Maariv's op-ed section is less PC conformist than others, and that Yemini attacks the "rule of law mafia" quite a lot, too.


One more:

Haaretz in Hebrew reports on a meeting between Condi Rice and Krazy Kooky Loon Spikey Haired Bee***ch MK Zehava Galon. Galon fed Rice a bunch of hyperinflated stats about the supposedly terrible situation in Israel re: exploitation of women (i.e., prostitutes).

I do not want to offend anyone's sensibilities here, but let me just say that it has been proven to my satisfaction that Galon & co. lie through their teeth about these stats. However, nobody calls them on it, and you are "not allowed" to talk about it (are you?). They make Israel look like a festering hellhole of woman abuse, when in fact it is probably the safest place for women in the entire world.

Now notice what is happening here: were it not for the feminist angle, Galon would never have gotten on Condi's schedule. However, once in there, she also went on and on about the supposedly terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza.

If the Right - and specifically, right wing women - had more sense they would understand that lefties like Galon have succeeded in creating a semi-secret ultraleftist feminist agenda through which they emasculate the entire West. If you can't see the connection between women's politics and left/right politics, well then - I think you are not trying. I always thought if the women of the Right took these women on we could have a fighting chance against the Left.

A true feminist would have pointed out the increase in Arab sexually predatory crimes against Israeli women in the past few years. Just today, five Galilee Arabs from Bir el-Maksur were arrested for allegedly carrying out a series of gang rapes of Jewish girls - as young as 13 - over the past two years for nationalistic motives. These guys apparently went around the roads of the Galilee prowling for girls, and they actually told at least one girl being attacked that this was in revenge for IDF activities.

Is this on Ynetnews in English or I don't see it. Why? Because it sends the wrong feminist message, you see. It makes Arab men look very bad, and could actually cause someone to think strengthening Jewish men is part of the solution. It could also make a lot of people very angry, and it is precisely that kind of anger which we now lack.

I personally used to think if feminist issues are so PC and beloved by the media (any and all sexual allegations are front page news, despite the very high rate of false allegations in divorce cases and by disgruntled employees, jilted lovers etc.), a group of right wing women should mount a protest against Arab sex crimes in front of Israeli police stations. However - this is not in the Right's oeuvre: it is not directly about Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, the fence or Pollard. It is a different tack, and one that could have been very effective. Maybe they wouldn't have reported about the group the first time, but by the third or fourth demo they would have. It could have knocked some wind out of the Left, which is very dependent on its feminists for its media and moralizing power.

Yes, sex is not a modest topic. But why is it OK and progressive when broached by "Kolech", for instance, against leading rabbis? Why is the fact that there is an intentional Arab campaign of sexual molestation against Jewish women not an issue?

What women like Galon do is lobby and pass laws that make it very hard for a Jewish man to even carry a gun, because supposedly, he is likely to use it against his wife. I cannot even begin to say how twisted this is, and how central it is to the emasculation of this nation. I wish I were less alone in this belief. I think it is a central issue, and one that the Right wing media, especially right wing female journalists, should try and push onto the national right wing agenda.

There is only one figure who can save Israel: the Jewish hero. If we hate our men, we will have no heroes. If we have no heroes, we will have no leaders.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Are you ready for some... Shmittah? (AUDIO)

One of the most special things that comes along with living in the Land of Israel is the privilege of being able to keep many Mitzvot that are simply not relevant to the Jew of the Exile.

Many of these Mitzvot are known as Mitzvot HaTluyot Ba'Aretz - Torah commandments that are incumbent upon a Jew living in the Land of Israel.

This coming year, 5768, will be a Shmittah year - the one year, out of every seven, when the Jew in Israel must allow the Land of Israel to lay fallow, (it's actually much more complex that that, but we'll get to that a little later on) and more importantly, being that I made Aliyah only four years ago, this will represent my very first opportunity to fulfill the Mitzva of Shmittah.

Shmittah has additional significance, as being one of the Mitzvot that only becomes Biblically mandated once the majority of the Jewish People are living in the Land of Israel - something that has not happened since the destruction of the first Temple 2,500+ years ago, and which is scheduled to happen at some point in the next 25 years.

In preparation for the upcoming Shmittah year, I helped to organize a weekly, English language, Shmittah shiur in my community. The shiur is scheduled to run from now until the start of the Shmittah year, and I will be posting each installment of the shiur, along with the accompanying source sheets.

The shiur is being given by Rabbi Gedalia Meyer of Ma'aleh Adumim, and he welcomes any questions that listeners might have ( .

The first, weekly English Shmittah Shiur can be listened to by clicking here. (MP3 format)

Tizku l'mitzvot!

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Remembering Erez Levanon

Erez Levanon (Cedar of Lebanon) was murdered yesterday while he was praying in a forest near Bat Ayin. He was a holy Jew, a musical Jew, a good father, a good teacher.

Hear about Erez, about the search for him, and the horrific discovery of his stabbed body.
Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

Hear one of Erez's songs, and sounds from his funeral as his body leaves us forever, and is interred in the heart of Eretz Yisrael.
Click Here To Listen
Click Here To Download

...and here is another song and a write-up of his funeral.

May his soul have rest, may his blood be avenged.

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We're Dreamin' of a Persian Purim

Mekubal Rav Batzri has attracted the attention of the Associated Press with his organizing of thousands of Jewish children to pray for a modern Nahafoch Hu for the modern day Hamanadinejad (notice, all I switched was the first three letters - a Persian friend tells me that the local pronunciation is actually more similar to what I just wrote than Ahmedinejad). AP writes (reprinted in the Int'l Herald Tribune):

Batzri's idea came from the biblical story of Purim, whose protagonist Mordechai organized mass prayers to stop Haman, a royal counselor, from killing all the Jews in the ancient Persian kingdom. In the end, the king hanged Haman instead. Purim starts the evening of March 3.

When asked what the purpose of the current prayers was, Rabbi Menachem Bassi, head of the school, said: "You know what happened to Haman."

Jpost printed the story and had the last quote slightly different. "You know what happened on Purim," it read. Indeed, it was not just Haman who met his demise and it was not just the king who got his hands dirty.

Click here for full story

(Hmmm, Jpost has now left out that last paragraph)

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Photos of Erez Levanon, of Blessed Memory, May God Avenge His Blood

Click here for continuously updated story.

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Haaretz Deliberately Violates Wishes of Grieving Jews

(Imagined scenario of how the following insult to the mourning family of the Jewish man stabbed to death last night next to Bat Ayin took place at Haaretz):

Haaretz editor: They found a murdered settler. Tie it into the IDF's incursions into Nablus and see if you can somehow convey the message that the guy had it coming.
Haaretz writer: Well, we just got a call that the family asked that the media not publish his name. Usually we respect the family's request, at least until the funeral.
Haaretz editor: So publish his hometown and stick in his last name. Let the family suffer. They forfeited their right to grieve when they moved out there. Maybe call up the ISM and internationals staying in Beit Omar and tell them today is a great day to uproot the guy's orchard, also. Also, don't mention he was meditating right near his home, make it seem like he was out gallivanting near the Arab village.

This has been up all morning (blur added by me):

That kind of thing is inexcusable.

Update: Name has now been released. Erez Levanon, 42. He was a student of Rebbe Nachman of Breslav who went nightly to recite Tikkun Hatzot and meditate in the forest. It was there that his murderers waited for him.

: So the name was apparently released around 6 AM, leaving Haaretz in the clear legally for the article pictured above (updated at 8:06). However, they still include the line about the family's request at this time (11:09), as though to advertise the fact that they disregard such requests. Or it could be just a careless mistake. Either way, worth reporting.

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The Tale of Krazy Klan

Krazy Klan created a country for itself. It fought and fought, built and paved, dug and dried, planted and harvested. It flourished and made the earth flourish. It beat its swords into plowshares and its plowshares back into swords. It killed the lion and skinned it, and flew the furry flag high above its home.

But Krazy Klan became so sophisticated it got caught up in its own lies. Its genius was such that it could stave off its enemy with one hand, and still beat itself senseless with the other. And Krazy Klan kept self-flagellating. It was high on the hill and the sun was out and the birds were chirping, and Krazy Klan took its own sword and started beating itself on the head like a Shi'ite in Ashura, bleeding and laughing. And so the enemies all around it awoke, and circled, and drew ever nearer.

Klan knew exactly what to do in these situations. It had learned its lesson in thousands of years of persecution.

It dressed itself in a pink tutu and began dancing a polka. It did somersaults and juggled bottles in the air with its feet. As it held up a mirror, it began screaming at itself in a high pitched, nasal voice: "why must you walk so hunched up, what are you, Quasimodo?"... "why walk so erect, are you a knight in armor all of a sudden?"... "eat with your mouth closed!"... "chew your food before you swallow, you'll choke!"... "don't talk so much!"... "why are you so quiet, did somebody die?"...

Meanwhile, a worried world looked on.

(to be continued?)

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Led Zepplin Knows Purim

Led Zepplin (one of the great bands of all time) has a song - it is called Gallows Pole. I find it to be a great Purim anthem, and I shall explain.

Here is the song and here are the lyrics of "Gallows Pole":

"Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
Think I see my friends coming, Riding a many mile.
Friends, did you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?

What did you bring me, my dear friends, To keep me from the Gallows Pole?
What did you bring me to keep me from the Gallows Pole?"

[What is this silver and gold that the song refers to? Could it related to the strory of Haman's attempt to destroy the Jews? Here is the text of the Megilla:

3;8. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain.
9. "If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king's business, to put into the king's treasuries."
10. Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
11. The king said to Haman, "The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please."]

The song continues:

"Hangman, hangman, turn your head awhile,
I think I see my sister coming, riding a many mile, mile, mile.
Sister, I implore you, take him by the hand,
Take him to some shady bower, save me from the wrath of this man,
Please take him, save me from the wrath of this man, man."

[The wrath of which man? Who must the Jews be saved from?

7;3. Then Queen Esther replied, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;
4. for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king."
5. Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?"
6. Esther said, "A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!" Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.]

The song continues:

"Oh, yes, you got a fine sister, She warmed my blood from cold,
Brought my blood to boiling hot To keep you from the Gallows Pole
Your brother brought me silver, Your sister warmed my soul,
But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging on the Gallows Pole"

[Who is this fine sister? You can guess...

2;15. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
16. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.]

The song ends:

"Swingin' on the gallows pole!"

[Yes indeed, may we seen Haman swinging on the gallows pole!!

7;10. So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king's anger subsided.]

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Skiing in Eretz Yisrael and much, much, more!

Where does it look like these pictures are from? The Rockies? The Swiss Alps? No, the Holy Land! That's right - you can go skiing even in Israel! There is one mountain up north, Mt. Hermon, just by the border with Syria, where you can go skiing. There are only a few slopes, and they may not be quite as good as some other fancy skiing mountains around the world, but this is the only place in the world where you can be doing a mitzvah while skiing! My trip was with about 30 young olim, organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, and we also spent the night in the Golan and visited the Golan Heights Winery among other places in the morning.

We left at 5 am from Jerusalem, the sun rose somewhere around the Kineret.
The Jordan Valley road is very colorful this time of year. Here you can also see some of the old brick and new buildings in Tiberias.
The snowy cliffs start peaking through...
A Golan town with Hermon in the background.
Looking out from the foot of Hermon, the structure on the left peak is Nimrod's Fortress from the times of the crusaders
The snowy Hermon peaks
Park entrance (above and below)

More skiing / snowboarding / Hermon park pictures

I decided to have fun blurring the next 2:

Only in Israel - a gun on his back, skis in his hand
Park slopes map
Some Nefesh B'Nefesh skiers
Only in Israel - Minchah after skiing
The Nefesh B'Nefesh Group

Sunset and the mountains, hills, and lakes of the Golan:

The view from the Golan Field School in Gonen, where we stayed:

Friday morning Golan views:

Cows - wandering around all over the Golan
Golan's topography - from the Kesem HaGolan (Magic of the Golan) museum-theater-display place...

The Golan Heights Winery:

Mmm... Wine tasting...

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