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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Rav Mutzafi on the Supposed Ben Ish Hai Heter for Uncovered Hair

Jacob Sasson has an article where he quotes a book in Judeo-Arabic written by the Ben Ish Hai called Qanun-al-Nissa.  This book was translated into Hebrew by Rav Ben Tzion Mutzafi, Shlit"a, in a book called חוקי נשים.  See the article inside, where it quotes a passage where the Ben Ish Hai supposedly considers uncovered hair to not arouse sexual thoughts in men, and that is what the author of the article attempts to prove.

Rav Mutzafi himself was recently asked about this and he gives his answer.  I'll quote you the Hebrew and give my translation:
שאלה - 80730

שלום בלוס אנג'לס יצא פסק ע"י רביי שמותר לאשה נשואה ללא כיסוי ראש ומסתמך מספר חוקי הנשים להרי"ח שכתב כן על נשות גרמניה והפסק עושה רעש ורבים נגררים אחריו, נא מכת"ר לעורר על זה בתודה מראש קהילות הספרדים לוס אנגלס וקנדה.


אוי לעיניים שכך רואות , ואוי לאזניים שכך שומעות, כי שני חטאים נוראים חטאו המתירים בזה, האחת להוציא דיבה ועלילה על קדוש ישראל רבנו הבן איש חי שכאילו התיר הדבר חלילה, והשנית לעקור דבר מהתורה, ולפרוץ את חומת הצניעות השומרת עלינו מכל רע, ולגרום שהשכינה חס ושלום תסתלק מישראל. אוי לדור שכך עלתה בימיו, והרי כיסוי ראש לאשה לדעת רבים מהפוסקים הוא מהתורה, וכדאיתא במסכת כתובות עב, א. וכן הוא במדרש רבה נשא ט . טז. שהוא מהתורה. וכן דעת המאירי כתובות שם, והרשב"ץ מ"ע קלז, נב. וערוך השלחן עה, ז. ועוד רבים מגדולי הפוסקים. ומי הוא אשר יהין להתיר איסור נורא של שער באשה ערוה, כנזכר בברכות כד, א. וכן נפסק בשלחן ערוך אורח חיים עה, ב. ועוד בשלחן ערוך אבן העזר כא,ב. אסר על האשה ללכת בחוץ גלויית ראש בסכינא חריפא. וכן לו בסימן קטו , ד. שההולכת אפילו במבוי או בחצר משותפת גלויית ראש נקראת עוברת על דת משה ויהודית, ועליו לגרשה מיד ללא כתובה . והאם לא די לנו בצרות והאסונות הנוראות המקיפים אותנו מכל עבר, ואויבינו מכל העולם מדמים להשמידינו, ועל הכל היצר הנורא אורב בכל חלק ופינה להחריב כרם בית ישראל, והדור הצעיר נחלש ביראת השם, והמסורת הנתונה לנו מדור דור הולכת ומתדלדלת, עד שקמים אנשים מקרבנו להרוס גדר הצניעות ??? ועל הטענה המופרכת שכאילו הבן איש חי התיר, מעולם לא היה כדבר הזה, אלא הוא דיבר לגבי קריאת שמע מול שיער של מי שרגילה להתנהג בפריצות ובעלה רגיל בכך, וחלילה להעליל על קדוש ישראל שהתיר את הדבר. והדברים ברורים ואינם צריכים הסבר לכל ישר דעת ונבון. היה לא תהיה, גורו לכם מפני התורה הקדושה, גורו לכם מפני החבלה בצניעות ובקדושת ישראל, אל תמרדו באבינו שבשמים, אל תמרדו בגדולי הדור, אל תמרדו בתורה הקדושה. והשם יתברך יגדור פרצותינו, וישכין שלום במחנה ישראל, ונשמור על חקי התורה ומצוותיה עד בא גואל לציון בב"א. החותם בדמע ובכאב נורא בן ציון מוצפי. היום כ"ב באייר , ל"ז למטמוני"ם התשע"א.
Question #80730
Hello.  In Los Angeles, a Pesak Halacha was issued by a rabbi that it is permissible for a married woman to be without a head-covering, and he based it on the book "Hukei Nashim" by Rav Yosef Hayim who wrote this about the women of Germany.  The Pesak Halacha is making noise and many are being pulled along after him.  Can the rav please enlighten us about this?  Thank you - from the head of the Sephardic communities of Los Angeles and Canada.

Woe to the eyes who have seen this and woe to the ears who have heard this - for those who permit this have sinned two terrible sins in this.  The first is to spread false rumors against the holy one of Israel  - our rabbi the Ben Ish Hai - as if he permitted the matter - G-d forbid.  The second [sin] is to uproot something from the Torah and to breach the wall of modesty which guards us from all evil and to cause the Shechina to be removed from Israel - G-d forbid.  Woe to the generation that this has arisen in its days. 

Covering hair of a woman, according to many halachic decisors, is Biblical, as it says in Ketubot 72a.  And also in Midrash Rabba Nasso 9:16 - that it's Biblical.  And such is the opinion of the Me'iri in Ketubot loc. cit. and the Rashba"tz - positive commandments 137:52.  And the Aruch Hashulhan 75:7.  And many more of the great halachic decisors.  And who can dare permit a grave prohibition of women's hair, which is considered Erva, as is mentioned in Berachot 24a.  Similarly decided the Shulhan Aruch in Orah Hayim 75:2.  And also in the Shulhan Aruch in Even Ha'ezer 21:2, he forbids a woman to go outside without a head covering with a "sharp knife" [i.e. he's very strict about it].  He also says in 115:4 that a woman who goes even in an alleyway or a shared courtyard without a hair covering is called one who transgresses the religion of Moshe and Yehudit, and it is incumbent upon the husband to divorce her immediately without a Ketuba.

Is it not enough for us with the troubles and terrible tragedies that encircle us from all sides, while our enemies from the entire world imagine to destroy us, and above all, the terrible Yetzer Hara is lurking in every section and corner to destroy the vineyard of the house of Israel, and the young generation is weak in their fear of Heaven, and the tradition that was given to us continues to diminish, that men from among us arise to destroy the fence of tzeni'ut??? 

Now, regarding the false claim that supposedly the Ben Ish Hai permitted, there was never such a thing.  Rather, he was talking regarding [a man reciting] the Keriat Shema opposite one who normally accustoms herself to being immodest and her husband is used to it.  G-d forbid to accuse the holy one of Israel of permitting the matter. 

These matters are clear and do not require explanation to all who is wise and knowledgeable.  This [heter] never existed or will exist.  Fear the holy Torah.  Fear causing damage to Tzeni'ut and the holiness of Israel.  Do not rebel against our Father in Heaven.  Do not rebel against the great leaders of our generation.  Do not rebel against our holy Torah.

Hashem Yitbarach should fence in our breaches and cause peace to dwell in the camp of Israel, and we should guard the laws of the Torah and its Mitzvot until the redeemer comes to Zion speedily in our days, Amen.

Signed with tears and terrible pain,

Ben Tzion Mutzafi

Today, 22 Iyyar, 37th day of the Omer, 5771

Thursday, May 26, 2011

We Are Not Experts When Hatzot Is

We are approaching Rosh Hodesh Sivan, which means that the time of Minha Gedola of the sixth millennium is only a bit more than 2 months away - on ר"ח אב תשע"א - Aug. 1st, 2011.

For reference, see:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

I'm no Harold Camping - lehibadel - but this date is an auspicious time.

Many were disappointed when Mashiah didn't arrive in 5751 - what we considered Hatzot of the sixth millennium.

According to the Magen Avraham in Orah Hayim 233:1 (quoted by Sha'arei Teshuva and Sha'ar Hatziyun here), we really should start praying Minha at Hatzot. However, we're not experts on the exact time of Hatzot Hayom - midday. Therefore, we push it off a half an hour so that we're certain that the sun is in the West.

Similarly, our calendar may be off enough for us to mistake when Hatzot really is. Therefore, Hashem may have pushed off the date of Mashiah to what we consider Minha Gedola - 5771 - but may really be Hatzot.

A similar idea can be found during the time of the Exodus from Egypt, when no human knew the exact time when midnight was. Moshe Rabbeinu announced כחצות הלילה - around midnight - knowing full well that Hashem had told him that the plague of the firstborn would be done exactly at midnight.  He did so to make sure the Egyptian stargazers won't think that Hashem is lying if it's off according to their calculations.

We are like the Egyptian stargazers.  We don't know when the exact time will occur.  We don't even know if Minha Gedola is the right time.  However, we know that it's auspicious.  And we hope.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


In this week's Perasha, the Jewish people were counted to have 603,550 men from age 20-60 besides the tribe of Levi.  There were about 600,000 souls when they left Egypt, says the Torah in Parshat Bo.

Any other significance to the number 600,000?

The Hebrew-language Wikipedia article on it gives us some more examples:
  • Many opinions hold that a public domain (Reshut Harabim) must have at least 600,000 people passing through it each day
  • One who sees 600,000 Jews together says the blessing חכם הרזים.
  • The gemara in Gittin that talks about the 600,000 cities on Tur Malka
  • The Zohar says that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah.  This isn't true - it's closer to 305,000 - but there are many explanations to explain this concept.
  • It's brought down in writings of Hasidut that there are 600,000 souls of Israel.
  • The Kol Hator said, "If it would be possible to bring 600,000 [Jews] to Israel at one time, one should do so immediately because this number of 600,000 has a great and complete power to overpower the Samech Mem in the gates of Yerushalayim."
  • Rav Akiva Yosef Shlezinger writes in "Berit Olam" that if there will be 600,000 Jews in Israel, the nations will give the Jews permission to rule in the land.  Some tie these words to the fact that at the time of the War of Independence (in 1948), 600,000 Jews lived in the Yishuv of Israel.  Also, during the Six Day War, the IDF had approximately 600,000 soldiers, which is something that hints to the redemption of these events.
Ribbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira asks in Mahsof Halavan why HKB"H needed to count the Jewish people in this week's Perasha.  He explains that the Jewish people could not have any less than 600,000 when they left Egypt.  The reason is because the Torah has 600,000 letters and 600,000 explanations so there needed to be 600,000 souls so that each soul could take one letter and one explanation.  All three of these (letters, explanations, and souls) are hinted to in the following acronyms for ישראל (Yisrael):

יש ששים רבוא אותיות לתורה
יש ששים רבוא אופנים לתורה
  יש ששים רבוא אורות לישראל

The main count in this week's Perasha, therefore, is to show the Jewish people that they should not be weak in their Torah study.  Hashem is telling them that they will never be less than 600,000 souls since the Torah has 600,000 letters and explanations, and that they need to busy themselves with Torah study day and night so that the lights of the Torah and the lights of their souls will shine.  If some individuals are lax in their Torah study, the collective will be missing part of the complete Torah.  In addition, this laxity of Torah study causes a plague to come during the count, which is why a Kofer Nefesh is required during the count to prevent a plague, as the Torah states elsewhere.  See the Mahsof Halavan inside.

The current Jewish population of Israel is 5,837,000Here's a blog that says that it will reach 6,000,000 by next Yom Ha'atzma'ut.  Besides reaching the number of souls of the Holocaust, there's another interesting stat here.

Based on 2009 numbers, 25.2% of the Jewish population is a male from 20-60.  This would make the total Jewish males from 20-60 this year equal approximately 1,471,040. 

Wikipedia states:

According to a 2004 Israel Central Bureau of Statistics study[citation needed] on Israelis aged over 18, 8% of Israeli Jews define themselves as haredim (or Ultra-Orthodox); an additional 9% are "religious" (predominantly orthodox, also known in Israel as: Zionist-religious, national-religious and kippot srugot); 12% consider themselves "religious-traditionalists" (mostly adhering to Jewish Halakha); 27% are "non-religious traditionalists" (only partly respecting the Jewish Halakha), and 43% are "secular". Among the seculars, 53% say they believe in God. Due to the higher natality rate of religious and traditionalists over seculars, the share of religious and traditionalists among the overall population is even higher.
Let's say the hareidim and Zionist-religious all study Torah - if not all day, periodically.  I would say that the "religious-traditionalists" have also studied Torah periodically in a Torah class here and there.  That gives us a population of 426,602.  Add to that a good percentage of the "non-religious traditionalists" plus all the students studying from abroad who are over 20 and learning Torah in Israel, plus the fact that these percentages are from 2004 and they're growing, I'm sure we will soon have 600,000, if not already.

The physical battles (in 1948 and 1967) required the physical 600,000.  The spiritual battles require the spiritual 600,000.  In Egypt, we had much more than 600,000 who died in the plague of darkness because they weren't ready spiritually.  When the time of the redemption came, only 600,000 remained.  Those who remained were worthy of redemption because they were going to receive the Torah 50 days later.  May we continue to grow and go מחיל אל חיל and be worthy of our own Final Redemption - may it come בב"א.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So, Bibi, Let Me Get This Straight...

...All Mahmoud has to do is say 6 words and you will uproot hundreds of thousands of Jews?

Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress had a whole lot of good and a whole lot of bad mixed together.  It was אור וחשך משתמשים בערבוביא (light and darkness serving in a mixture - see Rashi on Bereishit 1:4).

YWN has the full text of the speech.

The good:

The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are vital. But they’re not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians.
The bad:

Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.

I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace.

This is not easy for me. I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland.
In the same breath where Netanyahu is about to say the best part of his speech (about it being the land of our forefathers), he claims that he's "required" to give up parts of it.  Not only is he not required to do so, but a genuine peace will not tolerate giving up our homeland.  Only by insisting that our homeland is ours - never to be given up - can we possibly have genuine peace.  You don't tempt the insatiable Arab appetite by showing weakness. 

The good:

In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo.

This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.
The bad:

But there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they will be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state. They should enjoy a prosperous economy, where their creativity and initiative can flourish

On what basis do they deserve to live as an independent people?  Who are they and where did they come from?  Were they ever an independent people?  There was never any such people as "Palestinians" so why does Netanyahu insist on creating a state for them?

The good:

So why has peace not been achieved? Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state, if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.

You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about. In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes. The Palestinians said no. In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli Prime Ministers, to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War.

They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees.
The bad:

My friends, this must come to an end. President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people, and I told you it wasn’t easy for me, and I said… “I will accept a Palestinian state.” It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say… “I will accept a Jewish state.”

Those six words will change history. They will make clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end. That they are not building a state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it. They will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace. With such a partner, the people of Israel will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise. I will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise.
These last 2 paragraphs sound very good, but are really too naive.  It's a drop-in-the-bucket of a starting-point.  If President Abbas would accept a Jewish state, it will not change history.  It will not make it clear to the Palestinians that the confict should end.  Instead, it will be understood by the Palestinian people as a trick. 

And it will be way too easy.  The father who gives his teenage son the car keys after misbehaving badly for years just because the son recognizes him as his father is not good parenting.  A steady pattern of good behavior is the only chance at him getting the car keys.  A steady pattern of good behavior does not include making deals with the kid down the block who constantly pelts the family house with rotten eggs.  It certainly does not include occasionally throwing those eggs himself.

So, as I said, in some ways, I really liked Bibi's monumental speech.  But in others, I found it extremely dangerous.  אור וחשך משתמשים בערבוביא. 

Now, the one mitigating factor of all this is that it could be that he's just playing the game, knowing that even his far-reaching compromise is still too much for the Palestinians to accept.  (In fact, Nabil Shaath called the speech a "declaration of war".  Totally expected.  It happened 11 years ago too.  They now have an "excuse" to start violence.  Again.)  It could be that he's totally calling their bluff.

So, the verdict is still not yet out on Bibi and his role in the future of the Jewish people.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Volcanoes and the President

It happened again. 

The President of the United States doesn't seem to get along with volcanoes.

Remember last year when the president was planning to go to Poland for the Polish president's funeral?  He got stopped by Eyjafjallajokull

This year, he's cutting his trip to Ireland short due to the eruption of Grimsvotn.

See also Neshama's post and Devorah's post.

Netanyahu: FDR Must Have Been A Hasid of Rebbe Nahman of Breslov

Kikar reports that Netanyahu recited the entire 1338-word Declaration of Independence by heart while on a walk in Washington DC. Pretty impressive.  This is also mentioned in Arutz Sheva's English site.

Kikar also noted (with a video from Israel's Channel 2) that as Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu was standing next to a statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he quoted FDR's famous quote, "There's nothing to fear but fear itself."

Later, Netanyahu asked the reporter who was walking with him, "Have you ever hear of Rebbe Nahman of Breslov?"

"Yes", replied the reporter.

Netanyahu continued, "What did he say? כל העולם כולו [All the world is]... Continue!  ... גשר צר מאד והעיקר לא לפחד כלל [...a very narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid at all].  Do you see?  Roosevelt was a Hasid of the rabbi!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jewish Spring is Not Yet in Full Bloom

Everyone's talking about the "Arab Spring".  Danny Ayalon talks about the "Jewish Spring".
As of last week, the 'Jewish Spring' is 63 years old and showing no signs of weakening.
I agree, but yet I contend that while our spring is budding, it is not yet in full-bloom.

I'm still anxiously waiting for:

כִּי-הִנֵּה הַסְּתָו, עָבָר; הַגֶּשֶׁם, חָלַף הָלַךְ לוֹ.

הַנִּצָּנִים נִרְאוּ בָאָרֶץ, עֵת הַזָּמִיר הִגִּיעַ; וְקוֹל הַתּוֹר, נִשְׁמַע בְּאַרְצֵנוּ.

הַתְּאֵנָה חָנְטָה פַגֶּיהָ, וְהַגְּפָנִים סְמָדַר נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ; קוּמִי לכי (לָךְ) רַעְיָתִי יָפָתִי, וּלְכִי-לָךְ.

This will only happen when Mashiah comes Bimheira Veyameinu.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interesting Links from the Hareidi Hebrew Sites

Ladaat - Incantations from Rav Kaduri ZT"L.  A 6-volume set of books going for 7000 (!) Shekels contains Kabbalistic incantations one can say for various reasons.  Included are incantations to: 1) see whom you will marry in a dream, 2) cure illness, 3) turn invisible, 4) get out of jail, 5) get water in the desert, 6) arrest criminals (for the police), 7) expose a thief 8) get wine out of the wall

Kikar - Working on a Halachic solution to build the Mizbe'ah

Kikar and Ladaat both have the story and audio of how the Yated Ne'eman (Israeli version) published an ad with a phone number to a recorded message telling people not to buy the Yated Ne'eman!  The ad is apparently in response to the newspaper's stance against rabbis (such as Rav Ovadia Yosef, Shlit"a) that don't conform to their worldview.  The fact that they got it published is a bit Geneivat-Da'at-like, but very funny.  The ad reads, "Is the future of your children important to you?" and gives the phone number to call.  Meanwhile, there are follow-up articles saying that the Va'ad Harabanim blocked the phone number and that the kid pictured is the son of the Chabad emissary from Kazakhstan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Imagine Mahmoud Abbas in "Liar Liar"

If Mahmoud Abbas would have starred in Jim Carrey's Liar Liar, instead of this, you would get this (by EoZ).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's Trying to Break the Covenant: Persians or Romans?

This week's Perasha contains the quintessential verse of our survival:

 וְאַף-גַּם-זֹאת בִּהְיוֹתָם בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיהֶם, לֹא-מְאַסְתִּים וְלֹא-גְעַלְתִּים לְכַלֹּתָם--לְהָפֵר בְּרִיתִי, אִתָּם:  כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה, אֱלֹהֵיהֶם.
And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.

 The gemara Megilla 11a brings Shemuel's opening statements on Megillat Esther in addition to a Beraita:

ושמואל אמר (ויקרא כו, מד) לא מאסתים ולא געלתים לכלותם לא מאסתים בימי יוונים ולא געלתים בימי נבוכדנצר לכלותם בימי המן להפר בריתי אתם בימי פרסיים כי אני ה' אלהיהם בימי גוג ומגוג במתניתא תנא לא מאסתים בימי כשדים שהעמדתי להם דניאל חנניה מישאל ועזריה ולא געלתים בימי יוונים שהעמדתי להם שמעון הצדיק וחשמונאי ובניו ומתתיה כה"ג לכלותם בימי המן שהעמדתי להם מרדכי ואסתר להפר בריתי אתם בימי פרסיים שהעמדתי להם של בית רבי וחכמי דורות כי אני ה' אלהיהם לעתיד לבוא שאין כל אומה ולשון יכולה לשלוט בהם

Soncino translation (from
Samuel quoted: I did not reject them, neither did I abhor them to destroy them utterly. ‘I did not reject them’ in the days of the Greeks; ‘neither did I abhor them’ — in the days of Nebuchadnezzar; ‘to destroy them utterly’ — in the days of Haman; ‘and to break my covenant with them’ — in the days of the Persians; ‘for I am the Lord their God’ — in the days of Gog and Magog. In a Baraitha It was taught: ‘I have not rejected them’ — in the days of the Chaldeans, when I raised up for them Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; ‘neither did I abhor them’ — in the days of the Greeks, when I raised up for them Simeon the Righteous and Hasmonai and his sons, and Mattathias the High Priest; ‘to destroy them utterly’ — in the days of Haman, when I raised up for them Mordecai and Esther; ‘to break my covenant with them’ — in the days of the Persians, when I raised up for them the members of the house of Rabbi and the Sages of the various generations. ‘For I am the Lord their God’ — in the time to come, when no nation or people will be able to subject them.
The word פרסיים in this case would refer to the Persians during the Sassanid Empire as the house of Ribbi (Ribbi Yehuda Hanasi) is mentioned.

However, the עין יעקב's girsa changes both words פרסיים to ארמיים.  And we know that ארמיים is just a euphemism for אדומיים - to avoid the censor.

Also, Snunit has in both places:
להפר בריתי אתם בימי <פרסיים> {רומיים}
which indicates that both girsa'ot have been used.

The Soncino's footnote also notes the variant girsa.

I may be wrong, but it appears to me that using פרסיים here was also to avoid the censor, and either רומיים or אדומים was the original girsa. However, Hashem, Who knows the future, knew at the time of the censoring that using פרסיים would be accurate as we are currently "בימי פרסיים" - in the days of the Persians, who are, as its current leaders say, trying to cause Hashem's covenant with us to be nullified.  Just listen to Ahmedinejad and the Ayatollah themselves.  This is why all these years, פרסיים was used.

This could also be an approach for why פרס is used here too.

One could add to this that the אדומיים are attempting to cause us a spiritual annihilation at the same time that the Persians are attempting a physical one.  Nevertheless, Hashem allowed us a land of Israel where we could set up Yeshivot to stem the tide of our spiritual downfall.  Therefore, nowadays, both girsa'ot are correct.

More Chicago News and More

...And speaking of Chicago, here's some more Chicago news:
And in other news,
  • Ladaat notes that they celebrated Naqba Day in Tel Tziyon with a Pidyon Peter Hamor.  I personally would have opted for the Arifa, as that would have been more symbolic.
  • Mr. Qaddaffi is basically saying, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, you can't get me!"
    "I tell the coward crusaders -- I live in a place where you can't get to and kill me," he said. "I live in the hearts of millions."
    Some say that he's hiding under a children's playground, where, besides being a war-crime, is likely the source of his taunt. Of course, his protection may be linked to something else.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Outdoing Chicago

Ever think about moving from "cursed Romania"* to the USA in 1874?

Have I got a Sefer for you!

The Sefer called טוב ארצות הברית goes through each of the states that existed at the time with a short description of each.  It also talks about the Jews of America at the time and other interesting facts.  It was pretty much a brochure to Jewish Europe to come live in America.  Of course, no one would write such a sefer nowadays - even for Jews who live in oppresive countries - since the place to be nowadays is Israel, but at the time, the US was the place to be for many.  The Gashmiut of America is really emphasized in the sefer. As for the Ruhniut - only a little - as America was a spiritual Midbar at the time. Anyways, being that I live in Chicago, I naturally turned to the part about Illinois.  Interesting are his words on the Great Chicago Fire:
בירח אוקטבר בשנת 1871 היתה שרפה גדולה
בעיר, שרפה אשר לא היתה כמוה בעולם זה מאות בשנים עד כי כמעט
כל העיר היתה לבית הדשן (עיין מאמרי על דבר שריפת טשיקגה במכ"ע
חבצלת שנה שניה גליון ח') אפס להשתוממות כל העולם כלו התנערה
מאפרה בזמן קצר כזה והיכלי מסחור וחרשת־המעשה יתנוססו בה מחדש
לגאון ולתפארת ובעבור עוד איזה שנים ותשכח טשיקגה את כל אסונה
הנורא אשר בא עליה  ותפרח מחרש ביפיה והדרה כבשנים קדמניות.

My loose translation:
In the month of October, 1871, there was a great fire in the city, a fire of which there was nothing like it in the world for hundreds of years until almost the entire city was turned to ashes.  However, to the astonishment of the entire world, it all was shaken from its ashes in a short period, and from commercial and industrial development, it was reenergized into something glorious.  And in the passage of a few short years, Chicago forgot all about its terrible tragedy that came upon it and it blossomed anew with its beauty and splendor as in the early years.
Isn't this exactly what the Jewish people are in the process of doing?  Are we not rebuilding ourselves from the ashes of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, the ashes of the Holocaust and the dictatorial rulers of the other nations?  The past 65 years have been just that.  And the speed of it all in relation to how long we've been oppressed is nothing short of miraculous.  We don't need to live in Chicago circa 1874 to see this miracle.  We're living it right now.  Furthermore, Chicago was just one city.  We're an entire nation, scattered throughout the world.

However, despite the miraculous speed of our rebuilding, not all the ashes or dirt have been wiped off yet.  We still await the day when this passage of Lecha Dodi will be fulfilled:
התנערי מעפר קומי לבשי בגדי תפארתך עמי על יד בן ישי בית הלחמי קרבה אל נפשי גאלה

* "cursed Romania" is the author's wording translated

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Earthquake in Spain

Shirat Devorah has details about the terrible tragedy in Murcia and Lorca, Spain today, where the latest update is that at least 8-10 were killed and 40 injured.  There is a Jewish community there too.  My prayers are with them.  Among the damage:
The tower of the church of Santiago was split in half according to eyewitnesses.
I'm not knowledgeable in Hashem's ways, but I happened to notice something interesting.  Exactly 600 years ago, something occurred in this region of Spain.  According to Wikipedia's entry on the History of the Jews in Spain, Vincente Ferrer ימ"ש successfully converted many Jews to Christianity:
Forced conversions

Renewed sufferings were inflicted upon the Jews as a result of the mission of the Dominican Vicente Ferrer. Ferrer traveled about Castile urging the Jews to embrace Christianity, appearing with a cross in one hand and the Torah in the other, but with the force of the law behind him. His impassioned sermons won him great influence, and he accomplished his ends in Murcia, Lorca, Ocaña, Illescas, Valladolid, Tordesillas, Salamanca, and Zamora. He spent the month of July, 1411, in Toledo; he invaded the large synagogue, which he transformed into the Church of Santa Maria la Blanca, and he is said to have baptized more than 4,000 Jews in that city.
Despite very recent apologies for how the Jews were treated in Majorca in 1691, I haven't seen the same in the mainland of Southeastern Spain.  In fact, a town close to Murcia called "Jumilla" is having a 600th anniversary celebration this year of Ferrer ימ"ש's April 18-20, 1411 sermon in the city:

This tells me that not only are they non-apologetic, but they celebrate this evil man's accomplishments.

Noah was 600 years old when the Mabul started.  From the time he was named saying "זה ינחמנו" (this one will console us from our actions) until the Mabul started was 600 years.  Hashem's ארך אפים is a very long time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hashem Should Protect Israel in its 63rd Year

We pray on Rosh Hashana Musaf (from Zecharia 9:14-15):

וַיהוָה עֲלֵיהֶם יֵרָאֶה, וְיָצָא כַבָּרָק חִצּוֹ; וַאדֹנָי יְהוִה בַּשּׁוֹפָר יִתְקָע, וְהָלַךְ בְּסַעֲרוֹת תֵּימָן.

And the LORD shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning; and the Lord GOD will blow the horn, and will go with whirlwinds of the south.

יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, יָגֵן עֲלֵיהֶם

The LORD of hosts will defend them;

Metzudat David on those verses says that it refers to Hashem protecting  Israel from the war of Gog Umagog:
אז יגן על ישראל שלא יהיו נלקים עמהם
For Musaf, we add the next 2 phrases in:
ה' צְבָאות יָגֵן עֲלֵיכֶם: ה' צְבָאות יָגֵן עָלֵינוּ:
The LORD of hosts will defend you.  The LORD of hosts will defend us.
Similarly, we find in Yeshaya 31:5:
כְּצִפֳּרִים עָפוֹת--כֵּן יָגֵן יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם
As birds hovering, so will the LORD of hosts protect Jerusalem;
That verse is speaking of the salvation of Yerushalayim from the invading Assyrian army, where a great miracle occurred and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were vaporized.  May the miracle that happened then reoccur in our days.

In this crucial 63rd year of the State of Israel's existence, we truly pray that Hashem protect (יגן = 63) Israel from the coming calamities that will befall the other nations of the world. 

P.S.  Another hint:  Yaakov Avinu was 63 years old when Yishmael died.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Links You May Find Interesting

Devash tells us where Modern-Day Egypt is, and then closes her blog.

Rucho Shel Mashiach and Elder of Ziyon note that Nasrallah is on the run. RSM also notes the earthquake that occurred after Iran turned on Bushehr.

EoZ also has pictures of surprising "American patriotism" in Pakistan.

Kulmos has some Noteworthy Observations about the date of Mohammed's death, along with Kabbalistic posts about Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzma'ut.

Shirat Devorah links to an old post of mine that mentions Persian magicians (from, who gets it from Rashi in Sanhedrin 98a ד"ה אמגושי) and connects it to accusations that Iran's president uses sorcery.

Rafi talks about G-d's sense of humor on Satmar. Akiva also weighs in on this.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Hashiva Shofeteinu Kevarishona

Arutz Sheva:

Rabbi Avraham Yisrael Sylvetsky, Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Kook:

…But we are still in the midst of the process. He "Who gathers Israel from the four corners of the world" has not yet restored our "judges as of yore", and the [resulting] "sadness and sorrow" have not yet been removed [quotes based on the 11th and 12th blessings of the Amidah prayer - ed.]. The legal establishment, our shame, is still a patchwork of British law and Turkish law, while the true justice of Torah law is abandoned by the wayside… Corruption, too, has spread in various parts of the government, where there is no Torah and the heart is not directed heavenward.

It appears that precisely this low point that we have reached is leading the Nation of Israel to recognize the need to build a new foundation of government and justice according to Torah, ‘whose ways are pleasant and whose paths are wholly peace.’ …

The State has already been established – the Jewish body is recovering from its sickness, the wounds of the Exile are healing, the limbs are getting stronger – and it is well on its way, with G-d’s help, to reaching complete health.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Rav Mutzafi on Bin Laden's Death

Rav Mutzafi:

שאלה - 79426
לכבוד הרב שלום רב מה דעת התורה לגבי חיסולו של ימח שמו וזיכרו אוסמה בן לאדן?זה יום שמחה לעולם?

נתפלל שלא יקום המן אחר . כי אמרו חז״ל באותיות המן - הה ממ נון , יש המן קטן . בכל אופן ברוך השם שהוא נטחן אחר הפסח. ובגמרא אמרו טוב שבנחשים רצוץ את מוחו ומכל שכן הרע שבהם .

My translation:

Question: To the honorable Rabbi: Hello! What is the Da'at Torah regarding the liquidation of - may his name and memory be blotted out - Osama Bin Laden? Is it a day of joy for the world?

Answer: We should pray that another Haman should not rise up. For Haza"l said that in the letters of Haman - המן - which are הה מם נון, there is a little Haman. Anyways, Baruch Hashem that he was ground up[?] after Pesah. And in the gemara [YY - really Mechilta Beshalah], it says, "The best of the snakes, crush its brains". All the more so, the worst of them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I've Bin Thinking...

On Thursday night, 25 Nissan, 5771 (April 28th, 2011), a special event took place at the grave of Yehoshua Bin Nun in the villiage of Timnat Heres in Samaria.  A record of 15,000 people went to Yehoshua's grave that night, including a number of dignitaries.

On Sunday night, 28 Nissan, 5771 (May 1-2, 2011) - a mere three days later - Osama Bin Laden ימ"ש is liquidated by United States Navy Seals.

Could there be a connection between the 2 events?

I'm going to theorize that there is. 

Notice that Yehoshua's name is Yehoshua "Bin" Nun, which is unusual as denoting the son of someone is always "Ben" Ploni - not "Bin" Ploni.  (See how the Bnei Yissaschar explains the reason for this.)  I don't know how many people nowadays have "Bin" as the first word of their last name, but if there are many people, Osama Bin Laden is by far the most famous/infamous.

Yehoshua Bin Nun was one of 2 spies who did not speak against the Land of Israel.  The punishment for the Jewish people's acceptance of the spies bad tidings was that 15,000 people would die per year in the desert (see Rashba"m Bava Batra 121a - as 600,000/40 = 15,000).  Now that 15,000 people visited the grave of Yehoshua Bin Nun this year, and this number has been only increasing every year, perhaps, a Tikkun was achieved in which the Jewish people rectified the sin of the spies.  Perhaps we can say that this Tikkun helped achieve something that has eluded the world for almost a decade.

Osama Bin Laden was killed on the 13th day of the Omer.  Kabbalistically, this corresponds to יסוד שבגבורה - the Yesod of Gevurah.  Yesod is the Sefira that corresponds to Yosef Hatzadik.  Yehoshua Bin Nun comes from the tribe of Ephraim, the son of Yosef.  Gevurah is the attribute of unmitigated justice.  Osama got his due in the week of Gevurah, but on the day of Yesod because of the visit to Yehoshua's grave.

A week ago, Ben Yosef Livnat הי"ד was murdered by PA police while visiting Kever Yosef.  As Yehoshua Bin Nun is an aspect of Mashiah Ben Yosef, this event may have also been a trigger in the demise of Bin Laden.  We can perhaps say זה וזה גורם - they both caused it.

As the verse says:
ויחלש יהושע את עמלק ואת עמו לפי חרב.
And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Now that Hashem has killed the Amalek of our day in Yehoshua's merit, we are waiting for the further weakening of his people. May that happen speedily in our days, Amen.

Anyone for a Nice Hotel Stay at Osama's Compound?

Whoever needs a good laugh should check out the "Customer Reviews" at "Osama Bin Laden's Hideout Compound" from Google Maps.

Some good ones:

Ultimately our visit was satisfying, but it took us almost 10 years (!) to find the dang place. Next time, we're staying at the Marriott. Or skipping Af-Pak altogether.


Great B&B on the east side of town. I stayed here over the weekend because the darn La Quinta in downtown Abbottabad had bed bugs everywhere and cancelled my reservation. So I'm hanging out in the lobby reading the March issue of Jihad Monthly I found on the coffee table when these freaking helicopters start hovering in the neighborhood! What's up with that!? I grab my Galaxy tablet and head down to 7-11 for a brewski and to check in on my fantasy cricket team. The next thing you know its pretty late. I get back and the proprietor is nowhere to be found and it turns out no one made up my room. Um, hello? The maid service was spotty and I had to use the neighbor's wifi so I have to take two stars away but the proprietor makes some amazing banana pancakes, they were THE BOMB!! It gets one star back just for the pancakes. I would definitely stay here next time I'm in town

Plenty more too.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


There were 3520 days from 09/11/01 until 05/02/11 (the date Bin Laden ימ"ש was killed, local time).

According to gezageza, one of the verses with the gematria of 3520 is from Mishlei 10:27:
יִרְאַת יְהוָה, תּוֹסִיף יָמִים;    וּשְׁנוֹת רְשָׁעִים תִּקְצֹרְנָה.
The fear of the LORD prolongeth days; but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden Links to Like

  • Kikar and Ladaat both tell over how the Skverer Rebbe, at his Friday night tish this past Shabbat, predicted Hashem's vengence against those who persecute Jews and how He will remove them from the world.
  • Kikar has another article about how Rav Mordechai Ganot made a similar vague prediction in his annual book "לוח דבר בעיתו".
  • VIN has the story of what led up to him being located and killed.
  • Some Arabs who condemned the killing include Hamas, Egypt's Musilm Brotherhood, and Arabs in Jerusalem.  Jordan's Islamists are even passing out sweets in celebration of his martyrdom.  I'm glad that everyone's celebrating.  I'm all for everyone being happy.  Let's liquidate Nasralla, Ahmedinejad, and al-Zawahiri too so Jordan's Islamists can party-on in celebration!
  • Iran says that there's no reason for the US to be in the Mideast now that Bin Laden ימ"ש is dead.
     משל למה הדבר דומה?
    This can be compared to a dog, a live cat, a dead cat, and a dove.  The live cat tells the dog that it no longer needs to be in the neighborhood of the dove now that the other cat's dead.
  • Gary Weddle can now shave.  The תנאי is now מקוים.  (He must hold the second sefira. :-) )
  • Shirat Devorah posts: Torah Codes: 5771: Bin Laden
  • R' Lazer Brody asks us to show a little gratitude to the One Who deserves it.
  • Rafi has a great quote from Amnon Rubinstein, talking about hypocrisy of human rights organizations.
  • CosmicX posts a similar idea.

They Got Him

Osama Bin Ladin is dead.  Killed by US Special Forces deep inside Pakistan - in a mansion - not in a cave.

YWN notes that the death announcements for both Hitler ימ"ש and Bin Laden ימ"ש were on the same secular date of May 1st.

See the connection of Bin Laden to Jewish sources here (in Hebrew) and here (in English).

His name also implies Hashem's vehicle of enacting Din - unmitigated justice - on the world.  Now, this vehicle has been killed.  We hope that the Malach Hamavet's turn to be slaughtered will not be long in coming.

One of the aforementioned Hebrew links notes that the Gemara that talks about בלאדן (Sanhedrin 96a) is a mere page away from where the Gemara first talks about the signs of Mashiah coming (Sanhedrin 96b), which cannot be coincidental.

As it says at the end of Devorah's song:

 כֵּן יֹאבְדוּ כָל-אוֹיְבֶיךָ, יְהוָה
So perish all Thine enemies, O LORD;