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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Yehareg V'al Ya'avor

AP Reports:

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A 15-year-old girl was fatally shot after refusing a man's demand for a kiss, authorities said. The alleged gunman was captured Wednesday night in Washington, D.C.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz said Alfred R. Bishop, 21, will be charged with murder in the death of Elisa Hernandez, a high school sophomore.

Hernandez had gone to an apartment in her housing complex to visit girlfriends just before midnight Tuesday, Blitz said. Bishop, a friend of the apartment's occupants who stored some of his belongings there, arrived shortly afterward.

After some casual conversation, Bishop tried to get Hernandez to kiss him, but she laughed at him, the prosecutor said. Bishop then pulled out a pistol, put it to her head and demanded a kiss, Blitz said.

According to witnesses, Hernandez refused, and pushed the gun away twice before Bishop allegedly shot her through the left eye and fled, Blitz said. She died at the scene.

An anonymous tipster's call to Atlantic County's major crimes unit led authorities to Bishop, police said. He was arrested without incident at his aunt's home in Washington, said Janet Niedosik, spokeswoman for the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office (search).

Hacham Ovadia gives us hope

From, and translated by an email sent to DevoraChaya:

Yesterday 18 Adar II (March 19, '05), Harav Ovadia Yosef (former chiefSefardic Rabbi of Israel), said:

All the talk about disengagement from Gush Katif is only temporary. Immediately (tekef umiyad) Moshiach will come!! He is already at ourgates! Very shortly he will knock on the door: "I am coming! Ahlanw'sahlan!" (familiar Arabic greeting) Moshiach will come and then -- who are all these dogs? (enemies ofIsrael) He will throw them to Azazel in the desert! He will return the crown of old, and all of Eretz Yisroel will be ours forever!

Here's the video for viewing
Here's the video for downloading

Kotel Hamizrahi - Vandalized

Someone carved "Allah" into the Eastern wall of Har Habayit.

Arutz Sheva's story

Israel's Courtroom Folly

Israel's Supreme Court ruled in another decision today that completely disregards the values of authentic Judaism. It ruled by a 7-4 decision to accept non-Orthodox conversions finalized abroad, even when the study process was done in Israel. The Knesset, prompted by Shas, will hold a debate on the subject next week. The chief rabbis condemned the decision.
It is a sad decision indeed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Religious Zionism Having Second Thoughts? 2

Last month, I linked to 3 articles on this subject.

Here's another from the Jerusalem Post.


One rabbi proclaims zionism dead.

Another rabbi cancels Yom Ha'atzma'ut.

What's happening? Disengagement is dividing the country.
Would a referendum have helped? Unlikely.
Does this government need to fall? Yes, or preferably, do Teshuva.

Monday, March 28, 2005

New Halachic Controversy - Strawberries

Can we eat strawberries or not?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sofrot 2

Hacham Ovadia writes in his Hazon Ovadia on Purim that a woman may write a Megillah. For those who do not follow Rav Ovadia, please still ask your LOR. writes, in addition to what they wrote previously (in Hebrew, loosely translated by myself):

Hacham Ovadia requests from the Jewish community that after the Megillah reading on Purim night, everyone should sit down with his/her family members and discuss the words of Haza"l on the Megillah (as was discussed in his recent Shiur). Doing so will be fulfilling the verse "Sihu Bechol Nifle'otav" [Talk about all of His wonderous miracles]. The Holy One, Blessed be He, should perform for us miracles and wonders!!!

Rabbi Slifkin Reinstates Controversy Page

Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's "Controversy Page", which was taken down last month, has now been reinstated. Rabbi Slifkin writes:

Why I Made This Section Of The Website
"Hanna rose up... And Eli the priest sat upon a seat by the gate post of the temple of God. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to God, and wept bitterly. She vowed a vow, and said, O God of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant, and remember me, and not forget your maidservant, but will give to your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before God, that Eli observed her mouth. And Hanna spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought that she was drunk. Eli said to her, How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you. And Hanna answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before God. Take not your maidservant for a worthless woman; for out of my great complaint and grief have I been speaking. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant you the petition that you have asked of him."

(Samuel I 1:9-17)

The Talmud learns from this story that when a person is wrongly accused, they have an obligation to defend themselves. I thus created these webpages to defend myself against the condemnations that were issued. This defense has been claimed by some to be an attack on the Rabbonim who condemned my work; I view this characterization as false and grossly unfair.

In February, I tried taking down this section of the website, in an effort to bring closure to this issue. Unfortunately, closure was not obtained. Furthermore, to my distress, I noticed that when people search for information about my work on Google, one of the first results given is the Yated Ne'eman article containing slanderous distortions of events. I have therefore decided to reinstate some of these pages, hopefully just for a short period. Those who would wish to speed up my taking it down again, are encouraged to write to Rabbi Mordechai Plaut, editor of Yated Ne'eman, and to ask him to remove the offending article from their website and from Google's archives.

2 Tragic Events

  1. Bobover Rebbi was Niftar (via Hirhurim)
  2. Four children die in Teaneck, NJ fire

Baruch Dayan Ha'emet

Court Cases in Adar 2

I previously mentioned how I got a speeding ticket last month. Well, today was my court date, and I got "supervision", so B"H things things did work out OK in Adar. And, yes, I'm slowing down too.

Mishlo'ah Manot Craziness

This is what our family's Purim is like today. Maybe our family's Purim will change to this one day.
Food for Thought.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Jews, Christians and Moslems Join Against Yerushalayim Gay Pride Parade

But Mayor Lupolianski won't sign petition

DePaul's Blues and Demons

I went to DePaul for 1 class, but never ran into any of this mess:
A part-time adjunct professor at DePaul University has been suspended over an argument he had last September with Muslim and Palestinian students concerning the Middle East situation and Israel's role in it.

Steven Plaut also writes about this, and contrasts it with DePaul's hipocracy of employing Norman Finkelstein.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Been Busy, But... are some great posts in the JBlogosphere:

Hirhurim blogger R' Gil Student takes issue with R' Adlerstein's "glowing review" of Frumteens in Jewish Action. R' Adlerstein, for his part, defends and clarifies his views.

In the Slifkin affair, the New York Times discusses it, marking the first time a non-Jewish publication talks about the affair (as far as I know). Also, Godol Hador posts that Rabbi Berel Wein agrees to ban book bans.

In the Purim Shtick department, one must check out It's unbelievable how much work must have gone into this. Very Cool!
Also, check out Dov Bear's modern day Megillas Esther (Starts here). There's also a couple of spoofs on Cross-Currents.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Google Language fun

I don’t know how long this has been out there, but I just noticed some interesting language features fromGoogle.

  1. They have sub-culture non-languages like Bork, bork, bork! , Elmer Fudd , Hacker , Klingon , and Pig Latin.

  2. They have Yiddish, including the translation of Google’s About Page as "De Gantze Megilla". Translating the names of other languages into Yiddish is also funny: Klingon is "Klingonish" and Pig-Latin is "Chazir-Latin".

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Marvin Schick Unleashed

Marvin Schick of Cross Currents just said a mouthful in his latest rant regarding Metzitzah Befeh and Jewish leaders in the last 20 years.

The statistics cast a certain light on the issue that is now raging in certain Orthodox circles. I am not concerned here at all with what a particular Rabbi or Mohel may have done or said. What I am concerned about are the statements signed by dozens of Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim and published in Yated Ne’eman and on public posters denouncing the failure to do matzitza b’peh. The language is nearly violent.

And then there's this:
There is a second issue. Forty years ago I wrote an article for Jewish Life (then the publication of the Orthodox Union) called “The New Style of Orthodox Jewry.” This was a landmark article indicating how the Orthodox were breaking away in communal activity from the dominant pattern of the non-Orthodox. If I had to write an article in 2005 on the new style of Orthodox Jewry, I would have to focus on the proclivity for prohibitions, for statements signed by rabbis taking positions that are untenable, for constantly harsh language that is critical of what many and perhaps most Orthodox Jews are doing.

As I have written often, in the great formative years of American Orthodoxy, when we were blessed with true Torah giants, prohibitory statements were rare and they were reserved for major issues. Each day now, we tragically see what we have lost. We tragically see, as Rav Schach, ztl, said in his remarkable hesped for Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztl, the period of the Acharonim has come to an end.

Let's hope that if the Acharonim have come to an end that Mashiah is not far behind.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Various Items on JTA's Breaking News Today

Israel gave the Palestinian Authority control over Jericho.
U.S. evangelical Christians and Israeli Orthodox lawmakers joined up to protest an upcoming gay pride parade in Jerusalem.
Putting pressure on the Hareidi mayor to find a legal way to stop this
Israeli Arabs opened a Holocaust museum.
Wow! I always contended that Holocaust museums should be funded and attended by non-Jews - Jews should spend their time and money on Jewish education. This is good news, indeed.

There's another that may involve Leshon Hara, so I won't post it.

Suha Arafat goes Nigerian

Israel Insider tells about a new "Nigerian-letter" style letter emailed by "Suha Arafat" asking for assistance.
Lichvod Adar Bet.
Update: Point of Pinchas points out that he already posted about this in January.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hacham Ovadia vs. Sharon 2 - a la Shira Schmidt

Hizki Uvirchi to Shira Schmidt of Cross Currents fame for her detailed defense of Hacham Ovadia's recent statements "against" Sharon.
More eloquently than I did here.

Update: Shira re-explains her position in Cross-Currents. Ayin Sham B'Comments

100 Jews Left in Syria

Read about life there.

Poland's New FM - Jewish

JTA reports that Poland's new foreign minister is Jewish.
Adam Daniel Rotfeld, who replaced Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz as Poland’s foreign minister earlier this year, was born to a large Jewish family in the eastern part of the country, near what is now the Ukrainian city of Lvov.

I don't think that the Poles really wanted a Jew as their foreign minister; rather, they decided they'd be helping President Bush and Condi with pronouciation issues.
Today Poland is seen by many as one of Israel’s best friends in Europe. Krajewski said, “Poland is among the most pro-Israel countries. Paradoxically, in Poland — and I think in much of Europe — Jews are sometimes less willing to promote pro-Israeli attitudes than non-Jews, who are not afraid of the double loyalty accusations.”

This is very sad regarding the Jews there. It's the Julius Rosenberg's judge syndrome.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lail Shimurim or Lail Shomerai Negiah?

A school in Gurnee, IL apologized for scheduling a prom on Pesah night. The event will not be rescheduled since it's too late to do so.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, many students will be missing the seder to attend their prom. This is tragic. On the other hand, this may be a good thing: the more religious students (i.e. those who will attend the seder no matter what) will not be exposed to the promiscuity of a senior prom.

Yeranen Trivia Contest #1 Results

Congratulations to

The answer to what 3 times besides Shabbat / Rosh Hodesh / Shekalim do we read from 3 Sifrei Torah:
  • Simhat Torah
  • Shabbat / Rosh Hodesh / Hanukah
  • Shabbat / Rosh Hodesh / Hahodesh

Friday, March 11, 2005

Yeranen Trivia Contest #1

Be the first to answer correctly in the comments and you'll get a grand prize:

A mention in a new Yeranen Yaakov post
(with a link to your blog, if applicable).

Sorry, I can't afford anything more.
Ok, here's the question:

This week is Parshat Pekudei / Rosh Hodesh / Shekalim, and we therefore take out and read from 3 Torah scrolls. Name the 3 other possible times of the year (not necessarily every year) that we read from 3 Torah scrolls.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Canadian Jewish News on Rabbi Slifkin

Worth reading.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Something BIG will happen in next 2 months speculates, based on the book of Daniel and other sources, that something really spectacular will happen between Erev Purim and Rosh Hodesh Iyyar. This could mean, they say, a war between the US and Iran, a nuclear explosion, the coming of Mashiah, or some other miraculous event.

Hacham Ovadia vs Sharon

It was reported that Hacham Ovadia Yosef said that Sharon was "cruel" and "evil" and that Hashem should "strike him a fatal blow".

Later, Hacham Ovadia clarified his remarks, and wishes Sharon to have a long life.

I'm reminded of the Gemara (2nd wide line) that says that if you see a Talmid Hacham sin at night, do not suspect him in the morning, because he definitely repented for his actions. This is especially true when we are just hearing about these things from the press, who are all too anxious to belittle our sages.

Update: JTA reports:
Sources within Shas say Yosef’s words did not refer to Sharon’s death but were a call for the death of the disengagement plan, the Jerusalem Post reported.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Why is Yeriho always the first to be handed over?

Is it punishment for Avon Achan?
Or because it was the first to be captured by Yehoshua?
Or because it was the last hurrah for Tzidkiyahu Hamelech?

Access to Kotel for all

Arutz Sheva reports:
( The government has completed paving a 120-meter path that enables wheelchair-bound people unimpeded access to the Western Wall.

Two elevators also have been installed to help the handicapped arrive to the Wall, one of the most popular places in Israel.

The first Mishna in Hagiga says that a Higger (lame) is exempt from being Oleh Regel, but modern technology is making it easier for them.
אַשְׁרֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִי כָמוֹךָ for those who want to do Mitzvot even when exempt.

Sanhedrin against Disengagement

The newly formed Sanhedrin in Israel takes a strong stance against Sharon's disengagement plan, according to Arutz Sheva. (Also, the full text of the declaration from Devorah Chaya).
Whether or not the Sanhedrin is legitimate (a debate for another post, BL"N), the content of their message is.

Mayim Aharonim Hovah for Madonna

Should I laugh or cry?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Rabbi Slifkin removes his "Controversy" Page

Rabbi Slifkin has removed the content of the web page that he devoted to the controversy surrounding the banning of his books. In its place Rabbi Slifkin wrote the following:
After consultation with my Rabbonim, I have taken down this section of my website in an attempt to bring closure to this issue.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who wrote in with messages of support. I will endeavor to reply to every letter received, but please note that due to the flood of e-mails being received lately, I cannot guarantee that this will be prompt.


Nosson Slifkin

I hope that this will in fact be behind him, and that he will one day be accepted by all of Klal Yisrael.

Latest Jewish Tsunami Victim

The remains of Ben Abels, A"H, have been discovered in Thailand.

May his family know no more sorrow.

Does your phone have a hechsher?

Now it can!

Purim Seudah on Friday

This year, as most of you realize, Purim will fall out on Friday. This presents an interesting dilemma regarding when to have the Seudah. One normally has the Purim Seudah in late afternoon, probably out of convenience. However, to do so on Friday would be disrespecting Shabbat by not having an appetite for the Friday night meal.

The Rama (695:2) says that when Purim falls on Friday, the Seudah should be eaten in the morning for this very reason. This seems to be the consensus among Posekim (both Ashkenazic and Sephardic). This is especially true since it is preferable to have the meal in the morning regardless of which day Purim falls (a minhag that I have never seen in practice).

Interestingly, however, the Meiri (quoted in a footnote in Yehave Da'at volume 3 - Chap. 15) says that what he used to do was say Minha early, and start eating a meal before sundown. When Shabbat arrived, he would say Kiddush, and continue his meal. In Bircat Hamazon, both Retze and Al Hanisim are said (despite the seemingly Tarti Desatri problem).

I haven't looked up all the references here, but obviously, Hadavar Tzarich Iyyun.

Although we don't seem to follow the Meiri (let me know if you do - ask your LOR to be sure), who wants to drink Ad deLo Yada in the morning?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Mishlo'ah Manot for US Soldiers

The Staten Island Advance reports that the South Shore Hebrew School of Staten Island, NY is sending Mishlo'ah Manot to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for Purim.

And I thought the only connections between Iraq and Purim were that the first Gulf War ended on Purim and this.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Daf Yomi - not just for Orthodox

The Jerusalem Post editorializes:

The next step would be to see the growth of daf yomi, or some form of similarly dedicated Talmud study, spread outside of traditional Orthodox circles, and into the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.

In recent years, there has been a growing realization among Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist leaders, and even Jewish educators without specific affiliation, that exposing their constituents directly to the study of Judaism's fundamental texts is essential to elevating their basic Jewish literacy. Talmudic study in some form or another is no less essential to Jewish cultural life than synagogue attendance, no matter at what level of Jewish observance.

Non-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions should take the daf yomi example as an inspiration for their own efforts to make the study of Jewish texts more accessible and inspirational to a broader audience. Perhaps it should also motivate them to lend greater support to such projects as the Steinsaltz English translation of the Talmud, which was expressly designed to reach beyond the Orthodox world, and still awaits completion.

It sounds OK to me, provided 2 criteria:

  1. Those who learn it first consider the Talmud, and all of Torah Shebe'al Peh in general, as coming from Moshe at Sinai.
  2. Those who learn it don't corrupt an interpretation in the original texts to fit their warped ideologies.

Let it be the Sam Hahayim - not the Sam Hamavet.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Ten Commandments

Foxnews' Fast Facts: Ten Commandments :

The Ten Commandments — Jewish Version
— 1. I am the Lord, your God who has taken you out of the land of Egypt.
— 2. You shall have no other gods besides Me.
— 3. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
— 4. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
— 5. Honor your father and your mother.
— 6. You shall not kill.
— 7. You shall not commit adultery.
— 8. You shall not steal.
— 9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
— 10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Change "Commandments" to "Utterances", change "kill" to "murder", and change "steal" to "kidnap", and it's getting a lot closer to the Jewish version.

Natalie Portman 2

I previously blogged about Natalie Portman kissing at the Kotel.

Well, it looks like she apologized. Good for her! (Who's got drool now, DovBear?)

(Hat tip: IsraellyCool)

White Supremacists

Chicago's big story today and yesterday:

U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow found her husband and mother shot dead in the basement of her home Monday night, less than a year after white supremacist Matthew Hale was convicted of trying to have her murdered for holding him in contempt of court.

The Rasha Merusha apparently thought that they were Jewish:
Hale was angry at Judge Lefkow because she ruled his white supremacist group couldn't use the name World Church of the Creator -- another group in Oregon had rights to the name. This was cause enough for Hale to want her dead. Although Judge Lefkow and her family are Episcopalian, Hale once wrote beside Lefkow's name: "PROBABLE JEW OR MARRIED TO A JEW." The depth of Hale's perverse influence was demonstrated in 1999 when one of his followers, Benjamin Smith, went on a shooting rampage, hunting through Illinois and Indiana for members of minority groups. One of his victims was Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong.

He also injured 6 Orthodox Jews walking to shul Friday night (about 1½ blocks from where I lived at the time).

I think the Israeli government needs to snatch and do an Eichmann on this Hale guy, YMShV"Z.

Siyum Reflections

The Siyum Hashas was incredible last night. There were inspiring speeches by Rabbi Frand, Rav Salomon, and others. I want to wish a Mazal Tov to all the mesayemim.

There was some contoversy, however, with some wanting to boycott the siyum.

I am very much pro-daf yomi, even though I'm not currently doing it. It's partly the Cal Ripken Jr. aspect to it (doing something every day), but also the Mike Morgan aspect to it (Morgan was tied for playing for most teams [12]) - i.e., being exposed to all of shas.

I also have a couple questions on some things that were done at the siyum:
  1. Why did the booklets not mention Hashem's name in Mincha and Arvit? If it's because the fact that many may throw away the booklets, it has full pages of shas in there - would that be OK to throw away anyways? Maybe, it's worse with Hashem's name? I don't know.
  2. At the place that I went to, they said Shema Yisrael 1x, Baruch Shem 3x and Hashem Hu Ha'elokim 7x responsively after Arvit. How can you say Baruch Shem out loud if it's not Yom Kippur?