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Monday, April 30, 2007

Conversion Agreement

The RCA and the Rabbanut have come to an agreement in regard to standardizing conversions. The Jerusalem Post reports that not all the details were worked out yet, but excluding the nitty-gritty, the agreement has pretty much been made.

Bamidbar Rabba 10:1 tells us why conversions are important from the second-to-last verse in Parshat Kedoshim:

ר' יודן בשם ר' חמא ב"ר חנינא ור' ברכיה בשם רבי אבהו אמר שהוא מרבה לי רעים כיצד כתיב ואבדיל אתכם מן העמים כזה שהוא בורר את היפה מן הרע בורר וחוזר ובורר שכל מי שבורר את הרע מן היפה שוב אינו חוזר ובורר כך הקב"ה מצפה לאומות העולם שמא יעשו תשובה ויקרבן לתחת כנפיו

(On the verse "Zeh Dodi Vezeh Rei'i" from Shir Hashirim:) Rabbi Yudan in the name of Rabbi Hama the son of Rabbi Hanina, and Rabbi Berechya in the name of Rabbi Avahu say that he (the Jewish people) increase "loyal friends" (Rei'im) for Me. How is this applied? It is written "And I will separate you from the nations". Like this [one] who separates the good from the bad, he separates and continues to separate (looking to see if he can find more to put into the "good pile"), because whoever separates the bad from the good, separates no longer (since he's not looking to find more bad ones for the "bad pile"). Similarly, Hakadosh Baruch Hu is waiting for the nations of the world - perhaps they will repent, and He will bring them close to [go] under His wings.

At this late stage of history, standardizing conversions will hopefully ensure that those who are true Rei'im - and true Rei'im only - to Hakadosh Baruch Hu get to go under His wings.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Edah Haharedit Starts Talmud Torah Past Green Line (GASP) reports that the Edah Hahareidit opened a Talmud Torah in Beitar, the first ever educational institution for the Edah Hahareidit past the green line, breaking a long-standing taboo against such things.

Hizku Uvirchu to them.

Learning Torah anywhere in Israel is a good thing.

Redemption: Is a Hudo Shel Mahat Required?

Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer in Arutz Sheva:
The Redemption will not fall from the sky [Rabbi Kroizer concludes], and it is dependent upon us. We must believe that it is within our power to bring about and implement the revolutionary change. We must remember that the path is likely to be long and difficult; it is not incumbent upon us to complete it, but neither may we neglect it for a moment. Even if some aspects are not possible to carry out at present, it is important that the goals be clear. May G-d grant blessing to our actions and enable us to see quickly the complete Redemption of Israel.


However, the idea that "The Redemption will not fall from the sky" is by no means accepted by all people in all circumstances. Even those who do accept this concept should admit that it's altogether possible for the Redemption to happen Keheref Ayin. The way things look right now, it appears to be a Kim'a Kim'a (slow) process. However, Yeshu'at Hashem Keheref Ayin, so one should be ready for anything. See the Gemara in Eruvin (43a-43b) how this is even LeHalacha. The more one is ready and prepared for it, the more chance of an Ahishena Ge'ula, as it says, Hakeh-lo:

כִּי עוֹד חָזוֹן לַמּוֹעֵד, וְיָפֵחַ לַקֵּץ וְלֹא יְכַזֵּב; אִם-יִתְמַהְמָהּ, חַכֵּה-לוֹ--כִּי-בֹא יָבֹא, לֹא יְאַחֵר

On the other hand, the author is right - we must do everything possible now to "bring about and implement the revolutionary change", as he put it. In the absence of knowing Hashem's ultimate plan, we need an אתערותא דלתתא (reawakening from below) now to show our ultimate goals. As Haza"l say, if we open up a hole the size of the sharp part of a needle, Hashem will open up for us the size of a large hall.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not being Kafui Tova to the State of Israel. The creation of the State of Israel was a Ness, and we must thank Hashem for giving the Jewish people its homeland, wherein Torah and Mitzvot can be performed in a greater way than if no State existed. So, I therefore support the creation of the State. Some Israeli governments have done terrible things to stifle religion in the State, and that has been terrible, but the concept of a State was, IMHO, for the best, compared to the alternative at the time.

However, we have grown up as a nation. 59 years is approaching retirement age. It is time for a change. The goals the author suggests should be in the mindset of every religious Jew in Israel and the Diaspora alike. How these goals will be implemented and when they will be implemented are up in the air. The fact that they will be implemented is not.

Yom Ha'atzma'ut was stage 1. Yom Yerushalayim was stage 2. We're still waiting for stage 3, whether it involves אתערותא דלתתא or not. May it come במהרה בימינו.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Other Thing That Happened on 5 Iyyar

On 5 Iyyar, 5509 (1749), the sages of Yerushalayim instituted the following Takana called "Takanat Haravakim" - all single men from the ages of 20-60 who don't get married from today (5 Iyyar) until R"H Ellul will be kicked out of Yerushalayim.

- Sources: ריש ספר מנהגי החיד"א חלק אה"ע and this link

Although the average age for tying the knot has increased over the years, which makes this Takana אי אפשר לעמוד בו in our day and age, the idea of kicking people out of Yerushalayim who don't belong there appeals to me (namely, certain occupiers of Har Habayit).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vehu Yihye Pere Adam

Cho’s name was not on the package; instead, the return address said it came from
“A. Ishmael.” Investigators said Cho’s body was found Monday with the words
“Ismael Ax” scrawled on his arm.

Bederech Remez, regarding Yishma'el, it says:
והוא יהיה פרא אדם ידו בכל ויד כל בו ועל כל פני אחיו ישכון

והוא יהיה פרא אדם - self-explanatory.
ידו בכל - this could mean that what's inscribed on his arm is on everyone's mind.
ויד כל בו - this could mean that the writing of everyone's hand is about him.
ועל פני כל אחיו ישכון - this could mean that his memory still gives nightmares to his schoolmates.

However, in the end of Parshat Hayyei Sarah, it says: על כל פני אחיו נפל - the nightmares will eventually end, and life will go on.

After the last Pasuk, it says: ואלה תולדות יצחק - the Ba'al HaTurim writes (also mentioned here) about this that when Yishma'el will fall, Mashiah Ben David, who stems from Yitzhak, will sprout. May it happen soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nissan Ending - Iyyar Beginning

As we are ending Hodesh Nissan, Hodesh HaGe'ula, I will link to a few of the recent thought-provoking articles around the web regarding the Ge'ula:

The end of Nissan does not mean hope is lost for Ge'ula this year. In fact, see the beginning of's post from last year on how Iyyar has a special significance for the Ge'ula.

Hodesh Tov to all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Kiddush Hashem in Virginia

Updated - see below

Finding a Kiddush Shem Shamayim among the carnage, Arutz Sheva reports:
( As Israel observed Holocaust Day, thousands of miles away, A Rumanian-born Holocaust survivor gave his life in another senseless murder - and apparently in an act of heroism.

Among the 32 people killed by a lone gunman at Virginia Tech Monday is 77-year-old engineering professor, Liviu Librescu, a citizen of Israel. According to eyewitness accounts, Librescu ran to the door of his classroom and blocked it with his body – preventing the gunman from entering but getting shot to death himself as a result.


President Bush honored him in Holocaust-rememberance speech

Yeshiva World tells about preparations for his burial (hat tip CrossCurrents)

Stone vs. Dolar

Updated - see below

Today, in Chicago's 50th ward, there are aldermanic run-off elections.
Bernard Stone, the incumbant, is running against Naisy Dolar.

As Stone, who is Jewish, only received 48% of the vote in the elections held a number of weeks ago, this runoff was required. Following those elections, there was a great effort by the Orthodox Jewish community to get people registered to vote. Many frum registrars popped up like hotcakes making phone calls and announcements in Batei Kenesset and Batei Midrash to turn those not registered into registered voters. The implicit, if not explicit, intention was to get people to vote for Stone.

I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you that I had never voted before. I usually care more about the Israeli elections than I do about the ones here. Today, however, I am now one of those people who is newly-registered, and I voted today.

(As an aside, there were some flyers that were received in the mail showing a local Kosher bagel-shopowner who was advocating for Dolar. I heard rumors that some people will now boycott that store because of his support for the non-Jewish candidate. I believe that, even though they are within their rights to do so, such a boycott is unjust. As we say in America, "It's a free country". I just hope he doesn't lose money for this. And, Ahdut in the community is too important - much more important than this election.)

Like Harry M., I voted for Bernard Stone, basically for the reasons Harry listed.

Also, here's a corny Remez to vote Stone from the Rambam in Hilchot Shabbat:

נוטל אדם את בנו שיש לו געגועין עליו, והאבן בידו; אבל לא דינר--שאם ייפול הדינר, ייטלנו האב בידו.

Ok, that was pretty bad, but I really voted for Stone for his helping the Jewish community throughout the years.

Update: Stone won. See Frumhouse's post and election results here.

Bernard Stone5,96553%
Naisy Dolar5,30447%

This means Stone won by 661 votes. Pretty close. The community's strategy seemed to pay off.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fourth exile: Paras?

The last Midrash in Vayikra Rabba for Parshat Shemini:
משה ראה את המלכיות בעיסוקן את הגמל זו בבל שנאמר (תהלים קלז) אשרי שישלם לך את גמולך שגמלת לנו את השפן זו מדי רבנן ור' יהודה ברבי סימון רבנן אמרי מה השפן הזה יש בו סימני טומאה וסימני טהרה כך היתה מלכות מדי מעמדת צדיק ורשע אמר רבי יהודה ברבי סימון דריוש האחרון בנה של אסתר היה טהור מאמו וטמא מאביו ואת הארנבת זו יון אמו של תלמי ארנבת שמה ואת החזיר זו פרס

The Etz Yosef addresses this, and calls Paras a Kinui for Edom. I would imagine that it's so in this instance (i.e. when deriving it from the unkosher animals, even though in other parts of the same Midrash, it is called "Edom") because of the section that follows: כי מפריס פרסה הוא.

It is still interesting to note the exile as "Paras".

May we be saved from both Edom and Paras, and experience no more exile - as the Midrash concludes:

ד"א ואת הגמל זו בבל כי מעלה גרה שגררה מלכות אחריה ואת הארנבת זו יון כי מעלה גרה שגררה מלכות אחריה ואת השפן זו מדי כי מעלה גרה שגררה מלכות אחריה ואת החזיר זו אדום והוא גרה לא יגר שאינה גוררת מלכות אחריה ולמה נקרא שמה חזיר שמחזרת עטרה לבעליה הדא הוא דכתיב (עובדיה א) ועלו מושיעים בהר ציון לשפוט את הר עשו והיתה לה' המלוכה

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Missed Predictions

Two years ago, the Gerrer Rebbe said that Mashiah would come within 2 years.

A commenter named Mike commented here:
It is now 2007 and no Moshiach. ANYONE who tries to guess when Moshiach will return is playing a loosing game. Such greats even as the Rambam and many more illustrious sages have also been mistaken. Look what this issue did to Chabad. Please turn your thoughts and efforts to something else. When Moshiach comes we will know it. Until then, well, we won't.


Mike's feelings are common. We've been burned before.

Was the Gerrer Rebbe incorrect here? Bimhilat Kevodo, I have to unfortunately say - yes. Some may explain his words to be referring to some spiritual realm - and that may have or may not have occurred - but the physical act of Mashiah coming did not occur, and we have not experienced what was predicted in the time that it was predicted. May it occur soon.

That being said, we are so much closer than any of the sages of the past, and that is agreed to by all present-day sages. This is why I cling to these statements. When I go to Shamayim, I will be asked "Tsipita Lishu'a?", and these predictions - when given by a recognized rabbinic authority - are one way of expecting Ge'ula. If the predictions don't pan out, I don't give up hope. I still believe in his arrival every day.

And so, I will not turn my thoughts and efforts to something else, as Mike suggests. I will continue posting on the subject as I see fit.

I will now make an XGH-like warning:

If, by reading this blog, your Emuna in Mashiah is diminished due to failed predictions or for any other reason, then do not read this blog.

לתקן באתי ולא לקלקל

As for me, I will believe nonetheless.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birkat Hahama - 2 years from today

The first Birkat Hahama of the Internet Age will occur 2 years from today - Erev Pesah, 5769.

In case you didn't have enough things to think about on Erev Pesah...

Be'ezrat Hashem, that year, we'll be saying Birkat Hahama in the morning, and bringing our Korban Pesah in the afternoon.

Blog Kasher VeSame'ah

I wish all bloggers a Blog Kasher VeSame'ah - your blog should be Kosher and happy.

I wish all Jews everywhere a Hag Kasher VeSame'ah.

On this Pesah, may we change our mentality from that of Shi'bud to that of Ge'ula.