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Monday, March 29, 2004

Tithing the trash can

Maariv has an article which notes that the army discards 10% of their produce due to maaser. The objection is that the food is not being given to poor people, and the Rabbinate insists that it must be discarded or fed to animals. Can anyone more knowledgeable about the halachot post an opinion on this?
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Sunday, March 28, 2004

Israeli Real Estate

We went to the Israel Real Estate Expo in New York last night. It's going on today as well, from 12-7pm, at Lincoln Square Synagogue. I recommend it for anyone thinking about buying in Israel, now or in the future. There were many knowledgeable people on hand, and we were pointed in the direction of several great areas with apartment prices much lower than anyone living in New York could imagine. The Aliyah Center at Tehila were there too!
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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Adar Goes Out With a Bang

No, that's not Yassin's car, that's a car parked on a Jerusalem street.

After justice was meted out to but one of the Haman's of our time, the month of Adar ended with a 3:30 AM bonfire in our 'seam-line' neighborhood of Morasha (Musrara) set by Ishmaelite youth disgruntled at the IDF's treatment of their wheelchair-bound cult leader.

When I passed by, the indigent Moroccan Jews of the neighborhood, who've been here since the Jordanian border served as one end of their soccer field, were gathered around the torched car.

"Looks like they got Rantissi," said one. "Arab ne'er-do-wells," said a first-generation Musrara-nik - here since '53.

"Little did the Arabs know, "one neighbor told me, "that they chose the car of the biggest leftist on the block." The neighborhood has become centrifuged over the past decade, with diplomats, EH and UN operatives, and Hebrew U. Faculty members moving in.

"What's funny is that he won't admit Arabs did it - he's certain it was Jews who are at fault," said the neighbor, looking at the savagely smashed vehicle and the branches overhead that had caught fire along with the car due to the intensity of the gasoline-induced conflagration. "kacha zeh b'Yisrael haYom," lamented the neighbor - "That's what it's like in Israel today."

We are getting over it, though.
'Pesach is coming...' I hear whispered from rooftops and dark alleys of the Jewish State.
And it is. You'll see.
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Justice Vs. Pragmatism

I began writing these thoughts yesterday. Then I check my email and discover Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) - currently attempting to initiate a revolution within the Likud - beat me to it. 'Justice! justice! you shall pursue....'

The Killing of Yassin - Justice Versus Pragmatism
By Moshe Feiglin

The great controversy surrounding the elimination of this vile person centered around the issue of whether it was worthwhile. Would the execution prevent or intensify the terror?

Naturally the Left was opposed to the operation while the Right justified it, but both sides relied on the same criterion - whether it was of value.

Although the arguments of the Right are more successful and logical than those of the Left, and even if reality repeatedly demonstrates their correctness, in this controversy
the Right is bound to lose because it accepts the basic assumption of the Left as an axiom.

The Left does not recognize the concept of justice. There is no such thing as right and wrong. Everything is subjective and the aspiration is only that "despair will be more comfortable". (Chava Alberstein, "Traveling to London").

The spokesmen of the Right who explain that Yassin's death will lead to a reduction of terror are right, but without noticing it they are voluntarily entering the Leftist cage of awareness.

The idea that we could impose our existence on the Arabs by force alone, without roots of Jewish justice, was expressed best by Moshe Dayan after the Six Day War: "Sharm a-Sheikh without peace is better than peace without Sharm a-Sheikh". With these words he sowed the seeds of the destruction of Yamit, because basing the policy of the Jewish State on pragmatic considerations only is a two-edge sword. The Yom Kippur War destroyed the myth of Israeli invincibility, and the pragmatism in whose name we held on to Sinai (to force the Arabs to come to terms with us) now led to its being given to Egypt (for that same objective).

The killing of Ahmed Yassin was necessary simply because it was just. Since Oslo, Israel has lost its most important weapon - justice. The slogan that in the last decade has led the citizens of Israel to unceasing blood-letting is: "Don't be right - be clever".

We have been clever, we have abandoned justice, and we are paying the price every day.

Just like nature, morality abhors a vacuum. The Hamas entered the space of justice that we abandoned. Justice is a tremendously powerful weapon, and when the Jews handed it over to "righteous" people such as Yassin and Arafat, the final result was the use of children as living bombs. Suicide bombers who blew themselves up next to a civilian population were unknown before Oslo. This is a crazy kind of motivation that burst out of the irresponsible experiment performed in the laboratory of the Left. These irresponsible Jews did not only seal their own fate, but also that of the Free World. The WTC twin towers would still be standing if the Islam Shuhada had not burst out of the test tubes.

Yassin's execution is a breath of fresh air in the wilderness of justice in which we have found ourselves. If the execution is the first sign, and if considerations of justice continue to guide Israel's policy, we can be sure that the terror will be defeated. The person in the right wins, and pays the lowest price in the end. However, we know that this isn't Sharon's intention. The Sharon government will rapidly nullify this moral achievement by a series of concessions that will restore the enemy's confidence that he is in the right. Despite this, a just action has value in itself and deserves commendation.
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Sunday, March 14, 2004

Kumah-Inspired Tunes!

Incredible tunes from a band that doesn't just sing for the ear but for the Jewish soul.

They are called Aspaklaria and their
magnum opus is a musical call for those Jews in the diasporah driving complacently along to Arise and return to the Land where Jews take part in the Jewish project. It is appropriately entitled: Kumah.

You can click here to hear the title track (also called Kumah)
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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Salute to Israel Parade

Kumah will again be marching in the Salute to Israel Parade on May 23rd in Manhattan. We'll be marching with signs that say, "I'm Making Aliyah," giving out our wildly popular pins, and having a great time. The theme of the parade this year is, "Let's Go To Israel Now!" What could be better?

Anyone in the New York area is encouraged to join us. Please get in touch with me (ben at kumah dot org) if you'd like to come. I'll be posting more details about the parade as it gets closer, but please reserve the date for now.

KUMAH: On Our Way Home To Zion
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Sunday, March 07, 2004

In case of traffic, beseech Creator

Having just finished an exam, the three of us were driving home to Jerusalem from Bar Ilan University when we hit serious traffic. We decided to pull over to pray Mincha (the afternoon prayer).

We began to pray when all of the sudden another car pulled over about fifty feet away from us. An old Yemenite man hopped out and told us, "what, you don't want to pray with a minyan (quorum of ten)?"

As we answered him two more cars pulled over - one with Breslov Chassidim and the other with a pair of Moroccan brothers, with kippot creased from being folded and pocketed.

More followed and we had the great privilege of praying to God along with a random sampling of our incredible people - gathered from all the world to thank the God of Israel at the side of a highway leading to Jerusalem.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Taanit Esther

I'm reposting an updated version of an old article I wrote about Taanit Esther, which is tomorrow:

In the fourth chapter of Megilat Esther, Mordechai finds out about the terrible plight that has befallen the Jews of the Persian Empire. He sends a messenger to Esther to tell her to go and speak to the king on behalf of her people. Esther replies that she cannot go, since the king has not called her in 30 days, and anyone who approaches the king without being called gets killed. Mordechai responds forcefully, warning Esther not to think that she will escape any more than any other Jews. He tells her that if she does not act, then deliverance will come anyway, from another source, but she and her family will be destroyed. Esther accepts this rebuke, and declares a fast of three days, after which she will approach the king, even though this means risking her life.

Am Yisrael once again finds itself in a very difficult time. Our existence is again threatened in our home land. But we've been afraid to approach the King, perhaps because we haven't heard Him calling us. But God is always waiting for us to pray to him and ask for His help. Just as Mordechai told Esther, we know that the geula will eventually come to Israel. But we, and our generation, may not be the ones to see it if we don't act.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 4th, is Taanit Esther, the fast which commemorates Esther's fast before approching the king. We normally commemorate the fast on 13 Adar, though this year 13 Adar is on Shabbat, so we fast on Thursday. The 13th day of Adar has the great potential for redemption. It was on this day that the Megila states (9:1), "Bayom asher sibru oy'vei hayihudim l'shlot bahem, venahafoch hu hayihudim heima b'soneihem." On the day (the 13th day of Adar) that the enemies of the Jews hoped to rule over them, it was flipped around, and the Jews came to have control over those who hated them.

Kumah strongly urges everyone to fast this year on Taanit Esther. The fast begins Thursday morning, before sunrise, and ends at night after maariv. Purim is often compared to Yom Kippur, so to borrow a phrase from the Yamim Noraim, please make this Taanit Esther a day of "teshuva, tefilla, u'tzedaka" - repentance, prayer, and charity. And with God's help, next Adar we will bring the mahatzit hashekel to the Beit Hamikdash in a peaceful and vibrant Yerushalayim.
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