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Monday, August 31, 2009

Tzor and America

Rabbi Tovia Singer says that America is comparable to the country Tzor (Tyre).
Watch this:

He tells us to look at יחזקאל כו - כח for the main prophecy regarding Tzor.

(As an aside, if you look at each of these chapters, you notice that Tzor is spelled Haseir (צר) in part of the chapter and Malei (צור) in another part.

Shemot Rabba 9:13:

אמר רבי אלעזר כל צר שבמקרא חסר במלכות הרשעה הכתוב מדבר וכל צור מלא בצור המדינה הכתוב מדבר

Said Ribbi Elazar: Any "Tzor" in scripture that is spelled Haseir [without a "vav"] is speaking of the evil kingdom [of Edom], and any "Tzor" that is spelled Malei [with a "vav"] is speaking of the country Tyre.

This would mean that part of these chapters is speaking of Edom, while the other part of these chapters is speaking about Tyre. Both are warned of utter destruction.)

Rabbi Singer says, however, that America, just like Tyre, has a choice to make, and if it chooses wisely, does not necessarily get destroyed.

There are many others who say that America is Edom (or, at least part of Edom), and a recent Geulah Perspectives post that I linked to lends credence to that view. (Others contend that Edom is Russia, and still others contend that it's the EU.)

Edom will definitely get destroyed, as is mentioned in Ovadia and other books of Tana"ch. Edom getting destroyed is part of the Ge'ula process, as we see from the last verse in Ovadia.

So, there is a difference of opinion on what America is.

During Selihot, we Sepharadim that are outside of Israel read:

אלקינו שבשמים תן שלום לשרי המדינות האלו
תן בלבם להטיב אלינו

I pray for America's leaders and for its leaders to do the right thing and be good to the Jewish people.
At least according to Rabbi Singer's view, it will thereby have a chance to survive.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Article on our Current Situation

בחדרי חרדים has an interesting article (in Hebrew) about how our current situation is all Hashem's plan even though Israeli society is controlled by a few anti-religious and left-wing crazies (especially, in the judicial system), quoting R' Elchonon Wasserman's עקבתא דמשיחא.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are Tears Me'Akeiv Certain Selihot?

Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a, in his Motza'ei Shabbat shiur (at the 52:45 mark), says that some Aharonim forbid you from singing the Piyut called Eilecha Hashem unless one is actually crying since included in that Piyut are the words: וְגַם אֶת דִּמְעָתִי שִׂימָה בְּנֹאדֶךָ, and if a person is not crying, it's as if he is a liar.

He then says that other Aharonim permit it since it refers to tears in general - not necessarily tears right now, and if a person will cry on Yom Hakippurim, that's what is meant during the Selihot.

I would add that this could be similar to the halacha in Shulhan Aruch (Orah Hayim - beginning of Siman 25) that one who says Keri'at Shema without Tefilin, it's as if he is bearing false witness upon himself.

After doing a Google search, it seems that the Lubavitcher Rebbe Zt"l said the following on this:
דהא דאמרינן דכל הקורא קריאת שמע ללא תפילין
מעיד עדות שקר על עצמו היינו דוקא אם לא מניח תפילין כלל
באותו היום, אבל עם עתיד להניח תפילין לאחר מכן שוב לא
נחשבת קריאתו כעדות שקר

which would seem to follow the second opinion of Aharonim that Rav Ovadia quoted.

In Defense of the Cheating Husband - Updated

Now that the title of my post got your attention, I'm not coming to defend cheating husbands ח"ו. You'll see what I mean if you read on.

Fox News reports:
A cheating husband is trying to make amends by publicly admitting his indiscretions — in a sign he's toting outside a busy Virginia shopping center.

William Taylor stood in front of Tysons Corner Mall Wednesday sporting a sign that reads "I cheated. This is my punishment," according to

The Centreville, Va., man stayed outside for most of the morning commute, causing quite a stir in the process.

Taylor and his wife agreed to the deal, he told MyFOXDC.

"I thought she was kidding, but she was serious," he said. "I figured I got to do what I got to do to makes things right. So here I am."

Taylor planned to return to the streets Thursday and Friday with his cheating sign.

The gemara in Yoma 86b says:

א"ר יהודה רב רמי כתיב (תהילים לב) אשרי נשוי פשע כסוי חטאה וכתיב (משלי כח) מכסה פשעיו לא יצליח לא קשיא הא בחטא מפורסם הא בחטא שאינו מפורסם רב זוטרא בר טוביה אמר רב נחמן כאן בעבירות שבין אדם לחבירו כאן בעבירות שבין אדם למקום

Rav Yehuda said: Rav asked a contradiction. It is written (Tehilim 32): Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is (pardoned) [covered]. And it is also written (Mishlei 28) He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy. There is no contradiction - 1 deals with a publicized sin, while the other deals with a non-publicized sin. Rav Zutra bar Tovia says in the name of Rav Nahman [to answer the contradiction]: 1 deals with sins between man and his fellow man, while the other deals with sins between man and Hashem.

If the halacha is like Rav Yehuda, then this Virginia man is doing the wrong thing since his sin was not publicized beforehand. However, if the halacha is like Rav Zutra besheim Rav Nahman, since cheating on one's wife is Bein Adam Lahaveiro, the Virginia man is correct in putting up his sign.

Luckily for this guy, the Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva seems to agree with Rav Zutra besheim Rav Nahman:

ו [ה] ושבח גדול לשב שיתוודה ברבים ויודיע פשעיו להם, ומגלה עבירות שבינו לבין חברו לאחרים, ואומר להם אומנם חטאתי לפלוני ועשיתי לו כך וכך, והריני היום שב וניחם. וכל המתגאה ואינו מודיע, אלא מכסה פשעיו--אין תשובתו גמורה, שנאמר "מכסה פשעיו, לא יצליח" (משלי כח,יג).

ז במה דברים אמורים, בעבירות שבין אדם לחברו. אבל שבינו לבין המקום--אינו צריך לפרסם עצמו, ועזות פנים היא לו אם גילם: אלא שב לפני האל ברוך הוא, ופורט חטאיו לפניו, ומתוודה עליהן בפני רבים, סתם. וטובה היא לו שלא נתגלה עוונו, שנאמר "אשרי, נשוי פשע; כסוי חטאה" (תהילים לב,א).

and the Ra'avad would also agree since he only comes to add Rav Yehuda's idea of a publicized sin that's Bein Adam LaMakom to all sins of Bein Adam LaHaveiro which one should admit.

Now, this guy wants to be Mahmir Lechol Hadei'ot and MAKE HIS SIN INTO A PUBLICIZED SIN so that when he admits it again, he'll be required to admit it even according to Rav Yehuda.

What a frum guy!

MyFoxDC reports that this was all a hoax.

This guy is even admitting something he didn't do just for publicity.

Such Mesirut Nefesh! We should all learn from him. (NOT!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rescued Yad L'Achim Families visit Rav Ovadia

A very moving Ladaat article talks about Rav Ovadia Shlit"a meeting with women and children who were rescued by Yad L'Achim from their Palestinian husbands and fathers. He blessed them with a beautiful Beracha and gave the children a Siddur with his signiture.

How I wish I were there to see it!

For the JBlogger Convention...

For the second annual jblogger convention, where you can nominate a blogger to go free on a Nefesh BNefesh flight to Israel while writing about a family's experience:

I nominate Neshama from the Going Home ... To Yerushalayim blog.

From her writing, one can see that Neshama is a lover of Israel, and as you see from the title of her blog, wants to make Aliya one day herself. Her excellent posts focus mainly on Israeli and Torah topics. She would be a perfect candidate for this trip.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Interesting Links

  • R' Lazer Brody tells us Who Needs Moshiach.
  • Ari Goldwag informs us, based on a Wikipedia article, that Washington DC's former name is "Rome", owned by a guy named "Francis Pope", and with a river named after Rome, Italy's river. Things that make you go Hmmmm....
  • R' Yehoshua Ben Levi's grave was found...or wasn't it? Someone with that name's grave was found in Tzippori. Rafi has the story with an update. (Also found on A7). R' Yehoshua Ben Levi is especially famous for his questions to Eliyahu Hanavi and to Mashiah himself, "When is Mashiah coming?" as found in Sanhedrin 98a.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Compassion for the Lockerbie Murderer

-Nick Anderson from the Houston Chronicle

From Arutz Sheva:
Al-Megrahi was set free on "compassionate" grounds in response to a prisoner transfer application submitted by the government of Libya due to the terrorist's terminal prostate cancer.

Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill explained the government's decision in a statement released Thursday.

The passage from THIS WEEK'S portion was eye-popping:

יא וְכִי-יִהְיֶה אִישׁ, שֹׂנֵא לְרֵעֵהוּ, וְאָרַב לוֹ וְקָם עָלָיו, וְהִכָּהוּ נֶפֶשׁ וָמֵת; וְנָס, אֶל-אַחַת הֶעָרִים הָאֵל.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die; and he flee into one of these cities;

יב וְשָׁלְחוּ זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ, וְלָקְחוּ אֹתוֹ מִשָּׁם; וְנָתְנוּ אֹתוֹ, בְּיַד גֹּאֵל הַדָּם--וָמֵת.

12 then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.

יג לֹא-תָחוֹס עֵינְךָ, עָלָיו; וּבִעַרְתָּ דַם-הַנָּקִי מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, וְטוֹב לָךְ.

13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

Yo, Mr. MacAskill...what part of "Thine eye shall not pity him" do you not understand?

כל המרחם על אכזרים סופו להתאכזר על הרחמנים

Another case of murderers being treated well (and this one specifically a murderer of Jews) is in the always-friendly Republic of Iran, where:
Argentina expressed outrage over Iran’s nomination of a man wanted in connection to a 1994 Buenos Aires bombing of a Jewish center that killed 85 people as the next defense minister.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tapping Ahmad Vahidi for the post is “an affront to Argentine justice and the victims of the terrorist attack” on the Jewish community center, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Yet another example of היו צריה לראש.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Evil Judges and Mashiah

This Shabbat, we will read פרשת שופטים.

Rav Ovadia has called the Israeli Supreme Court judges "Kofrim" and lambasted them for the harsh sentence to Shlomo Benizri. (See video here.) I don't know enough about the case, but if Rav Ovadia - himself, a Dayan of the highest order and intimately involved in the case - lambastes the judges, that tells you something about the Israeli legal system.

The gemara in Sanhedrin 98a says:

אמר רבי שמלאי משום רבי אלעזר בר"ש אין בן דוד בא עד שיכלו כל שופטים ושוטרים מישראל שנאמר (ישעיהו א) ואשיבה ידי עליך ואצרוף כבור סיגיך וגו' ואשיבה שופטיך

Said R' Simla'i in the name of Ribbi Elazar ben Ribbi Shimon: The son of David will not come until all the judges and officers from Israel will be destroyed, as it says (Yeshaya 1) And I will turn My hand upon thee, and purge away thy dross as with lye...And I will restore thy judges

A variation of this gemara appears in Shabbat 139a, which says:

ואין הקב"ה משרה שכינתו על ישראל עד שיכלו שופטים ושוטרים רעים מישראל שנאמר (ישעיהו א) ואשיבה ידי עליך ואצרוף כבור סגיך ואסירה כל בדיליך ואשיבה שופטיך כבראשונה ויועציך כבתחלה וגו

And the Holy One, blessed be He, does not cause His Shechina to dwell over Israel until the evil judges and officers will be destroyed from Israel, as it says (Yeshaya 1) And I will turn My hand upon thee, and purge away thy dross as with lye, and will take away all thine alloy; And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; etc.

This isn't the first time Rav Ovadia has lambasted Israeli judges either. I found another Ynet article from 2002 where Rav Ovadia quotes this very gemara, while dealing with a case where judges ruled in favor of the Reform Movement.

עוד תנאי שצריך להתמלא בטרם יבוא משיח בן דוד, על פי הרב עובדיה, הוא ששופטי ישראל יעברו מהעולם. הוא ציטט: "אין בן דוד בא עד שיכלו כל השופטים והשוטרים הרשעים שבישראל", והסביר: "שופטים רשעים דנים נגד התורה, נותנים חסות לרפורמים - זה בדיוק אלה. עד שיכלו השופטים הרשעים שבישראל, אחר כך יבוא בן דוד. משיח מחכה, עומד ליד השער, מחכה לנו".

As an aside, that article quotes a cute anecdote from Rav Ovadia that explains why Mashiah's arrival cannot be sudden. I'll translate it:
A poor American Jew bought a lottery ticket, and went and told his wife, "Today, I bought a lottery ticket." She told him, "Leave the ticket here with me in the house." After the lottery was drawn, it became clear to the wife that he won $10 million. She became very overjoyed, but she knows that her husband is very emotionally sensitive. She was afraid that if he knew that he won, he would die from shock. So, she asked her psychologist neighbor to tell her husband the news little by little.

He told her "How much will you pay me?" They agreed on $50.

Her husband came home, and she told him that the psychologist wants to speak with you. He went to him, and here is their conversation:

"Tell me, did you buy a lottery ticket?"
"If your lottery ticket won $1000, what would you do?"
"I'd buy a nice suit, shoes, hat."
"And if it were $5000?"
"I'd buy also for my wife and children."
"And if $50,000?"
"I'll tell you the truth - I work as a peddler on the street - I need to buy a small store."
"And if $100,000?"
"A bigger store."
"And if $1,000,000?"
"I'll branch out - one in New York, one in New Jersey, one in Brooklyn."
"And if $5,000,000?"
"I'll make another branch in Los Angeles."
"And if it were $10,000,000?"
He told the psychologist: "I swear that if it were $10 million, I'd keep half for myself and give half to you."
The psychologist was surprised. He's going to get $5 million? He collapsed and died out of shock. It's not good to tell over too much good news in one shot.
Yeshaya 52:7 'מה נאוו על ההרים רגלי מבשר. משמיע שלום, מבשר טוב, משמיע ישועה, אומר לציון מלך אלוהייך' [This verse tells of how the announcement of Redemption will be in steps since many phrases ("משמיע שלום", "מבשר טוב", "משמיע ישועה") are used to denote an announcement - this therefore must refer to different stages in the process.]