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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Only in Israel... the buses wish you a Happy Purim instead of telling you where they are going!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Shtikel Purim Torah

There are many new years throughout the Jewish calender. Rosh Hashanah is the main new year but there are others such as Tuv b'Shvat which is the new years of trees and Rosh Chodesh Nissan which is the new years of kings. Pesach is the new years of the Jewish holidays. Rebbe Nachman once said regarding this, “All beginnings started from Pesach but now...” Reb Natan said that from the Rebbe's gestures it was clear he meant Purim, i.e. Purim was now the holiday from which everything would start. Purim is the holiday of flip-flops and opposites. All year long we are studious and responsible yet on Purim we not only allow ourselves to get completely drunk but are expected to. Instead of dressing like respectable people we dress in light-hearted costumes. Why is it that Rebbe Nachman made this statement about Purim and why is it that everything is backwards from how it normally is on Purim?

Chazal says that in the time to come we won't celebrate any of the old holidays except for Purim which will continue to be celebrated even after the Mashiach comes. Why is this? By all our major holidays we say “Zecher l'yetziat Mitzraim” (in remembrance of the exodus from Egypt) because they all center around the miracles that happened when we left Egypt. We recognize these miracles because we always go after the biggest chiddush and the miracles that occurred during the exodus from Egypt were the greatest ever witnessed in the history of humanity therefore it would be a lesser statement of Hashem's greatness to proclaim lesser miracles. Yet when Mashiach comes Hashem will perform miracles that are even greater than those of Yetziat Mitzraim and therefore we won't need to remember those miracles anymore. But unlike the other main holidays which were based on the past redemption, the redemption of Purim was actually based on the future redemption of Mashiach which has yet to happen. This is why we will still celebrate Purim even after Mashiach comes. This is also why everything in Purim is backwards of how things normally are- instead of reaching into the past redemption and pulling the kedusha forward like the other holidays, Purim pulls into the future and pulls the kedusha backwards to the past.

Sefer Daniel describes a statue with a head of gold, arms of silver, thighs of copper, and legs of iron with the feet are made of part iron and part clay. Then four kingdoms are described corresponding to the four parts of the statue. The last part of the statue- the iron with some of the feet iron and some clay is described as a divided kingdom. The statue and kingdoms represent the four nations which will oppress the nation of Israel- the four exiles. The gold is Babylon, the silver Persia, the copper Greece, and the iron is Rome and by extension Edom and modern day America and Europe. Exile, or GaLuT (גלות), has the same root as MeGiLLah (מגילה) suggesting a link between the Megillot and the exiles, but there are five Megillot and only for exiles. Where is the fifth exile? In the iron part of the statue at the very bottom it becomes partially mixed with clay and the kingdom is divided. In the current exile of Edom that we are in, we are reaching the end of it and the kingdom is becoming divided by a new rival to America and Europe- Islam and the arabs. The fact that it is in the feet of the statue corresponds to sefer B'reshit when three angels came to Avraham and he asked them to wash the dust off their feet. Rashi comments that this is because the angels appeared to Avraham as arabs and since arabs would worship the dust on the feet he wanted to prevent them from doing their idolatry. Just like clay is mixed in with the iron, the fifth exile is mixed in with the fourth one. A hidden exile connotes a hidden megillah- the Megillat Ester as Ester means hidden. How is this exile we are now in hidden? Because the concealment is so deep that it's a concealment within a concealment- the concealment is such that people don't even know they are in it and therefore don't know to try and get out. Many of us have returned to Israel and we have a government here, yet right here we are still in spiritual galut. Many Jews don't even know there's a G-d or anything it says in the Torah. Yet this is the exile of the “Megillat Ester.” Megillah can be read as “MeGaLeh” or “reveal.” This Megillah is the revealing of the hidden. Since the clay was at the feet of the statue- the end, this current exile is nearing its own end when the hiddeness of Hashem will be revealed to the world.

In Sefer Daniel it tells of a rock that will smash the statue and then become a mountain that encompasses the world and a kingdom that will never be destroyed. This rock and kingdom is Israel when Hashem brings the final redemption. This time and experience can most be tapped into on Purim when we are spiritually speaking actually in the future redemption at the present. How do we know that we are currently tapping into the future redemption right now? At what point in the Megillat Ester do things start to turn around from bad to good for the Jews? In the sixth chapter when the king realizes that Mordecahi was never rewarded for reporting the conspirators who had planned to assassinate him. In second chapter of the megillah the name of one of the two conspirators written Bigtan (בגתן) yet in chapter six when the things start turning around his name is written Bigtana (בגתנא) with an extra aleph. Hashem was showing that by implanting that aleph into the bad situation He would turn it all around into a redemption. So to with our current and final exile, Hashem doesn't even need to make a new situation but can take this very one itself and make it a redemption, for what happens when you implant the aleph into the root of GaLuT? You get GEuLah (גאולה) (redemption)! It should be Hashem's will that we tap into the future redemption this Purim and help bring it in it's entirety soon and in our days, amen.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Jerusalem Factor of Purim

Above picture is the Malcha Mall in Jerusalem, decorated for Purim. Click here to see my pictures from the early part of the Kumah Purim Seudah at Kever Shmuel HaNavi.

While I was celebrating Shabbat Purim, the middle of the 3 day Jerusalem Purim celebration this year, I took the time to read the lead tidbit of the OU Israel Center Torah Tidbits. Phil Chernofsky explains how our sages could have just kept Purim as the Galut (exile) holiday it was, but instead put a special emphasis on Jerusalem, essentially turning Shushan Purim into Jerusalem Purim, thereby bringing out the uniqueness of the Geulah (redemption), or Israel, celebration. I'm copying the article below in the full post, or you can read it on OU's website.

And now let's look at the Forest...

There's an expression that's been around for at least 500 years, "can't see the forest (or wood, woods) for the trees". It is defined as, "to focus only on small details and fail to understand larger plans or principles". It is equally true - even without an old saying to back it up - that some people "fail to see the trees for the forest". In Torah Life, there are countless details of halacha and custom - those are the trees, and there are the concepts and the hashkafa that give the practical details a healthy and helpful way of looking at the whole picture. Last week's Torah Tidbits contained an 8-page Pull-Out on Purim, with the major emphasis being on the special situation in Jerusalem this year of Purim M'shulash. Aside from all the details about the mitzvot of Purim, there are the many questions that arise when a Jew finds himself in different places at different time over the two-day period. These we presented last week. Those are the trees. But here is the forest - or, at least, one of the forests to behold.

Why is there a difference in the day of Purim between Yerushalayim (and several other places due to doubt) and everywhere else. And especially this year, when, because of the ban against reading Megila on Shabbat, we in Jerusalem read on Thursday night and Friday, like Jews all over the world. Why didn't our Sages say to move everything to Friday and for this 11% occurrence, we would have Purim on the 14th of Adar? They pulled back Megila. They pulled Matanot La'evyonim with it. Why didn't they go all the way? And even if you want to say that Al HaNisim and Torah reading should stay on the 15th, since there is no objection to their being done on Shabbat, why not pull Seuda and Mishlo'ach Manot back to Friday? They postponed these two aspects to Sunday. To the 16th of Adar. Beyond the two Purim days that the Megila said should not be bypassed.

We are not looking for the simple reason: The Megila tells us that the Jews all over the kingdom fought on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th and celebrated on that day. And the Jews in Shushan fought on the 13th and the 14th and rested from their fighting on the 15th and celebrated then. This doesn't address the question as to why the Sages perpetuated the split observance of Purim. There seems to be no imperative to do so. Let's look in the Megila. Although Esther 9:19 tells us: Therefore the Jews in open cities and villages make the 14th of Adar a day of festivities and of sending gifts to one another - what follows seems to suggest that Mordechai's original plan for Purim was different from the way we have it. From 9:20 on we read that Mordechai wrote to Jews throughout Achashveirosh's kingdom - far and near - to accept upon themselves the 14th of Adar AND the 15th of Adar in every year (to come); as days that the Jews rested from their enemies and in the month that was turned from sadness to joy... to make them (plural - the two days of Purim) days (there's the plural again) of parties and festival, and of exchanging gifts one with his fellow, and giving gifts to the poor. And the Jews did accept this on themselves... Look in the Megila; there is repeated reference to these two Purim days - without the distinction that we apply to them.

Why? Or. perhaps, what does this draw our attention to. Even if this isn't THE reason, we certainly have a focus and a message here.

We call it Shushan Purim, but in fact it is Jerusalem Purim. Maybe that's what evolved, but Chazal definitely pushed us in that direction. The always remember the Jerusalem Factor in the Purim story and in the Purim celebration.

Besides Shushan, which is mentioned in the Megila 19 times, there is only one other city named. ISH YEHUDI... There was a Jew who was in Shushan the Capital, and his name was Mordechai ben Yair ben Shim'i, ben Kish, ISH Y'MINI (a Benjaminite). But the description of Mordechai does not end there. Who was exiled from YERUSHALAYIM...

The Purim story happened in Galut, in exile. And more than its venue is the frame of mind of the Jews who lived in that exile. About 70 years had past and already the Jews were so comfortable in their exile that they went to Achashveirosh's parties and enjoyed themselves. The party at which Achashveirosh arrogantly flaunted the plunder of the Beit HaMikdash and paraded around in the holy garments of the Kohen Gadol. It was Mordechai, whose identity is not just a Jew in Shushan. He was also one who was exiled from Jerusalem. The other Jews might have wanted to forget Jerusalem; it might have been more convenient and politically correct to be to be Jewish Persians, to be Shushanites.

But not so very many years before, they swore not to forget Jerusalem. They did, and that's why Haman's sword hung over their heads for almost a whole year.

We, who commemorate and celebrate Purim must keep the Jerusalem Factor in the forefront of our thinking and feeling and reacting to the Purim story.

Our Sages gave us a startling way to do exactly that. First they established a "regular" Purim and a Shushan Purim. Then they gave us the criteria for who keeps the 14th and who keeps the 15th. They did not have to make the Walled City like Shushan rule. They could have kept Shushan Purim for Shushan only. But they didn't. They could have said walled cities from that time, but didn't do that either, because Jerusalem would have been left out. They could have moved Jerusalem's Purim to Friday this year, but they didn't do that either. Because Jerusalem would lose the focus. And it mustn't. What does one do if he goes to Jerusalem at night, in the daytime, etc. What does one do if he travels from Jerusalem, etc. Jerusalem. Jerusalem.

And Jerusalem is not just a city; it is the flagship city of Eretz Yisrael. And that brings us back to the Galut point. Shushan Purim calls attention to Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael. To Zion. People who sit down to their Seuda on Sunday will be acutely aware of Jerusalem's special role in Jewish Life. And so too will Jews elsewhere who are not having their Seuda on Sunday.

Celebration of Pesach includes a "Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem" declaration. The Dayeinu song brings us beyond the Exodus all the way into Eretz Yisrael and to Jerusalem.

So too Purim. IM ESHKACHEICH YERUSHALAYIM, if we forget Jerusalem, TISHKACH Y'MINI, then you might as well forget Mordechai, the Y'MINI, because without the Jerusalem Factor, we miss the point of Purim.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Answer

Esther said to relay to Mordechai: "Go and gather all the Jews who are in Shushan and fast for my sake, do not eat and do not drink for three days, night and day. My maids and I shall also fast in the same way. Then I shall go to the king, though it is unlawful, and if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:15-16)

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Unfinished Business

Haman and his sons were hanged, their estate taken over by Mordechai. Even though we read Parshat Zachor last week, the evil of Amalek still lurks.

Check out a great article on the continuous Purim Struggle (in Hebrew) HERE

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Huge 2 Day, 3 City, Purim Photo Essay including Eclipse!

This is a really long photo essay. Here are 60 pictures from: a few days before Purim around Yerushalayim, Purim night in Ramat Beit Shemesh, a concert in Yerushalayim, the total lunar eclipse, Purim day Seudah by a friend near Bar Ilan University, Purim night in Yerushalayim at Machon Lev, and Purim day in Givat Mordechai and Har Nof. Enjoy!

Yerushalayim on Wednesday, 10 Adar, Feb 28
Girls in costumes even before Purim, 1 was dressed as a laundry machine

Stores all around the Shuk were selling costumes

A candy store in the Shuk was selling packaged Mishloach Manot

Colored hair even a few days early

Angels Bakery across the street from the Shuk was in the Purim spirit

Israelis tend to like America, even when choosing Purim costumes

Kohen Gadol costumes for sale

Dressed up, running toward the bus...

... which they took to Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital to bring some pre-Purim joy!

Purim Night in Ramat Beit Shemesh

My friend dressed as a terrorist, his French wife as an American, and his daughter as a butterfly.

Kids were throwing fire crackers, and other such really loud noise makers, in the street.

A concert in Yerushalayim that featured Naftali Abramson and his band, among others

During the night, there was a total lunar eclipse

Full moon before eclipse

Full moon during eclipse

Seudat Purim at an apartment near Bar Ilan University


My friend, Ilya, who hosted the seudah

Waldo, from "Where's Waldo?", was a popular costume (above and below)

Purim night in Yerushalayim at Machon Lev - Jerusalem College of Technology

Purim Day around my neighborhood, Givat Mordechai

I'm on the left, next to my friend Moshe (thanks to his wife for taking this picture)

First Seudah - at my friend's house

The baby really wanted the wine

My friends who made the seudah

On and From the Bus to Har Nof

Har Nof, where I went for my 2nd Seudah

Dressed up kids watch the craziness on the street from their window

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Shin is for Shushan

I was spotted and snapshotted by Mobius of Jewschool whilst on the prowl for the mother of all Shushan Purim photo essays (to be posted on A7 tomorrow, hopefully). A prize for whoever can explain exactly what my costume is.

Good Purim everybody. I don't remember saying havdala, do you? OK then. Still Purim, since there is a safek - at least until seder night.

In that spirit, check out my story on the Old Winemaker. He is the real deal.

In other news, little kids everywhere, as well is bigger kids who like candy, have begun pesach cleaning - by that I mean they have been eating copious amounts of leavened junk food they received in mishloach manot from their friends and neighbors.

I leave you with my top ten items received in mishloach manot and invite readers to post their own lists in the comments section:

10: Mekupelet (who knew chocolate became so good when you ran it through a pasta machine)
9: A giant tub of assorted Marzipan bakery stuff (with the rugs on the bottom)
8: Pancakes al haboker
7: Pumpkin Pie Hamentashen (oznei Haman, for those of you with contempt for any remnant of yiddish)
6: Pickled veggies
5: Reese's PB cups
4: Homemade apple butter
3: Smirnoff Apple something-or-other Vodka in a super cool bottle
2: Homemade granola (actually given to someone else who then left it at our place)
1: Dudaim (Mandrakes)

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Purim NY style

Monday, March 05, 2007

So May This Happen to All the Enemies of the Jewish People (Photos)

It's so good to be Home for the Holiday Season... you know, the holiday season! The time people dress up, give out candy, (get drunk) and decorate the front of their homes. Yep... sure you know what I mean. They decorate them with beautiful biblical scenes. You know what I mean. The scenes that sort of look like this:

Ahh, it's so good to be Home. So what biblical scenes did your neighbor set up?

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

For Purim: 100 Dancing Ninja Tutles

What? You mean you don't get what 100 dancing tutles have got to do with Purim or Israel?


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Friday, March 02, 2007

Israel Sends Sderot Band to Eurovision to Stick it to the (Ha)Man

The people of Israel - and I'm talking the TV watching, Eurovision-caring majority everyone is always trying to pander to and mind-read - have sent the world a Purim message: We are fixing to hang Hamanadinejad from a pole and are sick of slicing up our tiny birthright.

Well, after having the Defense Minister as a resident and after the government enacted a one-sided treaty over the heads of their young, most had given up hope in the people of Sderot rising up and taking to the streets. It turns out, a few of them have: Tipex - the band (who insist on spelling their name Teapacks, which they explained in their famous interview with Jewish music radio guru Ben Bresky.)

Teapacks, representing Israel in this years Eurovision (a competition usually consisting of annoyingly messageless songs that cross borders due to the common meaninglessness of pop music in most countries) submitted songs for the approval of their fellow countryman.

The song that won is called "Push the button" and ridicules Jihadists worldwide, starting with Hamanadinejad. The Scandinavian Nazi (the great thing about blogging is you can call whoever you want a Nazi!) organizers are already himming and hawing about the song - but the funny part is that should they disqualify it - an even better one is waiting in second place.

Salaam Salami is that song. It is a hilarious, yet dead focused indictment of the Oslo Accords and their Land-for-Peace successor the Road Map. It is also all in Hebrew, unlike Push the Button, which is in English and French as well.

In honor of Purim, a song representing Queen Esther has been chosen to enter Europe's pathetic kings' court. Instead of sending a Yemenite Jewish she-male to sing an ode to Cleopatra and Aphrodite (in 1998, when Israel had its third and last Eurovision victory) - Israel is sending a band of good-humored dudes from Sderot with a message to the world: The nation not only lives, but will no longer bow down.

Salaam Salami comes straight out and calls for en and to the policies of shaving off salami slices of the Jewish homeland, ending: לא כולם רוצים שלום - אז אולי מספיק

Teapacks's Koby Oz also always acknowledges the Most High.

(Thanks to Kikar Israel for the streaming songs linked above)

Here are the live versions voted upon by Israelis:

After seeing this video of Salaam Salami, I am hoping the Eurovision folks ban the first one - this one rocks!:

And here is Tipex, back in the day expressing the non-Sabbath observant Israeli's affinity for the restful nature of Sabbath in Israel and giving a shout-out to Arutz-7:

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"Amalek's Little Secret"

In the end of Beshalach we read: "War is to Hashem with Amalek from generation to generation."

But who is Amalek? Why does this nation deserve so much attention?

Amalek is the anti-good, anti-G-d force in this world. They hate the Jewish people for no other reason then Israel's goodness and spirituality. Hitler once said that he hates the Jews because they are the "conscience of the world." Amalek's qualities include the ability to cause people to doubt G-d, to cool off the excitement of G-d's miracles, to replace the faith in G-d with a belief in chance and happenstance. Amalek's every quality is meant to counteract the force of the Jewish people in this world.

But what is Amalek's weakness?

The Baal Haturim uncovers this mystery by asking an interesting question: What is the connection between the commandment to destroy Amalek and the commandment to bring Bikkurim, the first fruits to be eaten in Jerusalem? These two Mitzvot are seemingly connected only by their proximity in the Torah - the destruction of Amalek comes in the end of Ki Teze, and the First Fruits comes right on its heals in the beginning of the next parasha, Ki Tavo.

However, the Baal Haturim asserts that there is a reason why these two topics are put side by side.

The Torah tells us: "Therefore it shall come about when the L-RD your G-d has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the L-RD your G-d gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget." (Dvarim 25;19)

The Ba'al HaTurim lets us in to Amalek's little secret. The commandment to destroy Amalek only reaches its full potential when "the L-RD your G-d has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the L-RD your G-d gives you as an inheritance to possess ." Only when the Jews are in the Land of Israel do they have the power to fully destroy Amalek.

This idea is further buttressed by the proximity of the mitzva of Bikkurim, bringing the first fruits to Jerusalem. This commandment can only be fulfilled when the Jewish people are on their land: "Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it; that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the LORD your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name."

Amalalek wants to destroy the Jewish people, and he always attacks us when we are at our weakest, when we are tired, hungry, and separated. The contrast, of course, is to the Jewish people when they are on their own soil, united, strong, and eating of the fruit of the land – then the Jewish people are in position to turn the tables, to destroy Amalek, and to create a society built in G-d's image. Amalek's greatest fear is the Jewish life in the Land of Israel because that spells his doom!

So what does Amalek do? Everything in his power to stop us from reaching our goal – to stop us from reaching the Land of Israel.

"The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, then Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"

Who told Pharaoh that the Jews fled? According to the Baal Haturim, the culprit is Amalek. Amalalek sees the Jews fleeing Egypt and heading towards Israel and he must stop them. First Amalek dispatches Pharoah and the whole Egyptian army, and when that doesn't work Amalek goes out against the Am Yisrael himself: "Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim."

Even today, Amalek is hard at work trying to stop us Jewish people from taking up our eternal inheritance. Terror, political ostracizion, economic hardships, and most of all fear - this is the handiwork of Amalek. Iran's Mahmud Ahmadinijad is today's reincarnation of Hitler, Haman, and Amalek. Ahmadinjad is set on destroying us because he knows that the Jewish people's redemption is at hand, and he will do anything he can to stop us.

Fearlessness, faith, a constant commitment to bring all the Jewish people home are our greatest weapons against Amalek. When we unite in Eretz Yisrael, with joy and love, living by the Book, there is nothing that can stop us. May we merit G-d's blessings to fulfill our mission to destroy our enemies and build His dwelling place in Yerushalayim!

By the way, compare these two verses in light of the above:

Bamidbar 13;30

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it."

and Ester 6;13

Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him."

See it? Our faith in the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is the death of Amalek.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mahmoud Hamandinejad's House Gets Nuked, All Within Die.

Mahmud Hamandinajad was killed today along with all his household when his house dissipated in a mushroom cloud, putting all of Teheran in a decidedly bad mood.

The mystery surrounding the explosion has yet to be unearthed, but some facts have come to the surface: A few weeks ago, Hamandinajad had become tenser then usual when Iran's secret police informed him that the seed of Yigal Amir, Israel's most famous prisoner, was to be transferred over to his new bride. This piece of news created great anxiety in Hamadinajad's heart, for it corroborated the message of an ancient scroll dating to the time of Daniel the Prophet which was in Hamandinajad's possession. The scroll states that in the end of times a man who wields a fire-stick will attempt to save the Jewish people, but will instead be imprisoned and unable to procreate. But a new magic will arise which will enable him to have a child without union. It is this seed which will bring about the redemption of the Jews and the destruction of their enemies. Concerned with his fate, and the fate of his people, Hamandinajad embarked on a plan to nuke the Israeli prison which holds Yigal Amir.

Ahamandinajad was planning to fire a nuclear-tipped Jihad3 missiles at Israel on March 4th - a date randomly selected by computer. In the weeks beforehand, however, a delegation of American Reform Rabbis for Homosexual Marriage were touring Iran on a goodwill mission. This delegation was headed by a certain Dr. Trimbobler who curried the favor of Iran's top echelons, and though she wore a burka throughout the trip, she generally found favor in all who saw her. In fact, she was shown many of Iran's secret installations, including the silo sites for the Jihad 3.

Unbeknownst to her fellow travelers, and certainly to Iranian officials, Trimbobler was on a secret mission code named "Nahafochu" for the underground organization "Jews For Jihad," whose mission is to turn Muslim Jihad in on itself. (She once famously quipped "If they want to commit suicide, let them really commit suicide.") Upon entrance to the Jihad 3 installation, Trimbobler faked a broken heel, and proceeded to access the coordinates of the missile target. "I had only seconds to do it," Trimbobler said, "and my life was in danger, but then I heard Ilan Ramon's voice talking to me as if from the heavens, and he said to me 'Use the force, Larrisa, and as G-d guided me to Osirak, so too, He will guide you. Fear not, for the force will be with you - always!" Trimbobler was able to change the coordinates without being detected.

In the days prior to the launch date, Hamandinajad was noticeably perturbed, awaiting anxiously to fire the deadly arsenal. His only solace was listening to Wagner on his specially designed Triangular earphones, and drawing anti-Semitic cartoons for a local daily. Hamandinjad dreamt of the day when he would be paraded on the main streets of the world and heralded as "Master of the Universe." If he could kill the Messiah, then he would rule the world, and become even more powerful then his heros Hitler, Khomeini, and Gargamel.

When the fateful day came, it began badly when a metal bucket came crashing on Hamandinajad's head. A household servant named Cherbona, who was not in the house when it exploded, told reporters that the bucket was filled with manure from the sheep that the Hamandinajads kept on the second floor. "Muhmud's wife, Ichsa, was cleaning the stalls of Mahmud's favorite sheep, and the bucket simply fell on his head" said Cherbona.

Hamandinajad was not to be dissuaded, though, and was readying to depress the Red Button which he had installed in his own house so that he could watch the whole thing on CNN from his own couch. He gathered all his ten children around himself and prayed out loud, "Oh Allah, you know we are a backwards people, a people bent on violence and world domination, please help us destroy the Messiah!!!"

At 127 AM, a gigantic fiery explosion ripped through downtown Teheran with its epicenter being at Hamandinajad's home. It seems as though a certain Jihad 3 missile had gone off course. The light generated by the nuclear explosion was so great that it illuminated the night sky of Israel 2,000 kilometers away. The Jews had light and joy that night and great celebrations were held. The president of Israel, Baruch Marzel, issued pardons to many Jewish criminals who promised to do Teshuva. Yigal Amir was released and promptly held a massive chuppah at Kikar Malchai Yisrael (Rabin Square) for him and his bride Dr. Larissa Trimbobler.

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"Go and Gather All the Jews..."

Ta'anit Esther is above all, a day of Teshuva, fasting and prayer when our primary concern must be to follow Queen Esther's powerful directive: to strengthen Jewish Unity.

All too often we focus on what divides us, as opposed to what we share in common...
In 1933, Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook zy''a wrote:

" is incumbent upon us to draw near to the path of teshuvah which brings redemption and healing to the world.The Jewish people have become divided into two camps, through the categorization of Jews as Charedi and Chofshi.

These are new terms, which were not used in the past. Of course, not everyone is identical, especially in spiritual matters; but there was never a specific term to describe each faction and group...Emphasizing this categorization obstructs the way towards improvement for both camps. One who feels that he belongs to the Charedi camp looks down upon the secular camp. If he thinks about teshuvah and improvement, he immediately casts his eyes in the direction of the Chofshi camp, devoid of Torah and mitzvot. He is confident that full repentance is required by the irreligious, not by him.The secular Jew, on the other hand, is convinced that any notion of penitence is a Charedi concept, completely irrelevant to him.

It would be better if each person would concentrate on discerning his own defects, and judge others generously. It could very well be that others have treasure-troves of merits, hidden from sight. We must recognize that there exists in all of the camps a latent force leading towards goodness. Each camp has much to improve upon, and is capable of learning much from the light and goodness of the other camp.Let us be known to each other by one name: "Klal Yisrael"{Adapted from Moadei HaRe'iyah, by Rav Chanan Morrison of Mitzpeh Yericho}

This Taanit Esther, let's try to respect and care for each other - at least as much as Haman (and Hitler, Arafat, Ahmadinejad etc.) desire(d) to destroy us!

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Smokers Beware: Torah Still In Effect On Purim (Graphic Photos)

So here's the story. I remember back in tenth grade we were invited to our high school rebbe's house on Purim. And it was loads of fun. One guy even had a pack of cigarettes because after all on Purim you don't have to keep the Torah. A few of my classmates snuck outside to smoke including "A" (we'll leave his full name out.)

That was "A's" first cigarette but not nearly his last. He started smoking regularly and then even became a heavy chain smoker. Later he developed severe respiratory problems. Last August my friend "A" passed away at the ripe old age of 27.

Smoking Kills. The Torah demands one to "heed to yourself and guard your life strongly" (Devarim 4:9). Remember all Torah laws, both positive and negative, remain in effect for both Purim and Shushan Purim. You don't have to break Torah laws to celebrate on Purim!

Have fun! Be jolly! Stay safe!

Now for the graphic photos if you smokers are not convinced. (Warning: if you get queasy easily don't continue viewing the rest of this post...)

This is what a healthy lung looks like:

And this is what smoking does to it:

Let's review. Healthy:

And the smoker's:

Still not convinced:

Here's more:

Think about it!

Chag Samayach!

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Purim: "Reigniting Our Passion for Religious Nationalism"

Rav Chaim Jachter on Purim as an opportunity for Religious Zionist Renaissance (link)

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Monday, February 26, 2007

We're Dreamin' of a Persian Purim

Mekubal Rav Batzri has attracted the attention of the Associated Press with his organizing of thousands of Jewish children to pray for a modern Nahafoch Hu for the modern day Hamanadinejad (notice, all I switched was the first three letters - a Persian friend tells me that the local pronunciation is actually more similar to what I just wrote than Ahmedinejad). AP writes (reprinted in the Int'l Herald Tribune):

Batzri's idea came from the biblical story of Purim, whose protagonist Mordechai organized mass prayers to stop Haman, a royal counselor, from killing all the Jews in the ancient Persian kingdom. In the end, the king hanged Haman instead. Purim starts the evening of March 3.

When asked what the purpose of the current prayers was, Rabbi Menachem Bassi, head of the school, said: "You know what happened to Haman."

Jpost printed the story and had the last quote slightly different. "You know what happened on Purim," it read. Indeed, it was not just Haman who met his demise and it was not just the king who got his hands dirty.

Click here for full story

(Hmmm, Jpost has now left out that last paragraph)

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Led Zepplin Knows Purim

Led Zepplin (one of the great bands of all time) has a song - it is called Gallows Pole. I find it to be a great Purim anthem, and I shall explain.

Here is the song and here are the lyrics of "Gallows Pole":

"Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
Think I see my friends coming, Riding a many mile.
Friends, did you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?

What did you bring me, my dear friends, To keep me from the Gallows Pole?
What did you bring me to keep me from the Gallows Pole?"

[What is this silver and gold that the song refers to? Could it related to the strory of Haman's attempt to destroy the Jews? Here is the text of the Megilla:

3;8. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain.
9. "If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king's business, to put into the king's treasuries."
10. Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
11. The king said to Haman, "The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please."]

The song continues:

"Hangman, hangman, turn your head awhile,
I think I see my sister coming, riding a many mile, mile, mile.
Sister, I implore you, take him by the hand,
Take him to some shady bower, save me from the wrath of this man,
Please take him, save me from the wrath of this man, man."

[The wrath of which man? Who must the Jews be saved from?

7;3. Then Queen Esther replied, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;
4. for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king."
5. Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?"
6. Esther said, "A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!" Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.]

The song continues:

"Oh, yes, you got a fine sister, She warmed my blood from cold,
Brought my blood to boiling hot To keep you from the Gallows Pole
Your brother brought me silver, Your sister warmed my soul,
But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging on the Gallows Pole"

[Who is this fine sister? You can guess...

2;15. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
16. So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17. The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.]

The song ends:

"Swingin' on the gallows pole!"

[Yes indeed, may we seen Haman swinging on the gallows pole!!

7;10. So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king's anger subsided.]

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Music for the Revolution

Stuck in Chutz L'Aretz?

Feeling far away from Home?

Want to re-connect with Yerushalayim?

Need a boost before Purim?

Shlomo Katz Live in Teaneck
This Sunday Evening, 8 Adar /February 25

@ 7:00pm / 339 Maitland Avenue (Corner of Rugby Road) /$15
For Info.: 201-837-0723

Check out a Shlomo Katz clip HERE

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Jewish Comedy: Rabbi Mordy Katz

Purim is coming...

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Post Month: Greatest Place on Earth!

Okay, so I just wrote up this long post on what the Meam Loez writes about the Sanhedrin in Parshat Mishpatim and why Jews are far better off with one than without one... but then I thought hey, it's Rosh Chodesh Adar! Let's get happy!

So with the power invested in me as chief-head-super-duper-ultimate-supreme-master-and-
and-kumah-webmaster-and-blogmaster-general I herby declare this month of Adar to be Kumah Happy Post Month!

I'll kick things off with this happy post.

A Tale of Three Cities

I have the esteemed privilege to be able to spend Shabbat all over this wonderful land that Hashem gave us as a gift along with his Torah. The past three weeks I spent Shabbat in Beit-El, Bnei Brak, and Ramat Beit Shemesh, respectively. And while all three places certainly have their differences I find they have some wonderful things in common.

For example in all three neighborhoods one would be very hard pressed to find a car on Shabbat. In all three one will find the streets full with many children playing and enjoying Shabbat. They are the future of the Jewish people! Can anything be more exhilarating?

In all three one will experience Shabbat on a higher more intense level than is possible in many other places on earth. Sure I could think of a handful of other places, (Tzfat springs to mind, and I've always been impartial to the Old City of Jerusalem) but nearly all of them are in Eretz Yisrael.

So attention Brooklyn Jews: when the siren goes off in Boro Park (and now Flatbush) in a futile attempt to build a "mini-Jerusalem" and "recreate" the atmosphere of the real Jerusalem, just remember you can't beat the real thing! So why risk upsetting the goyim (and make no mistake. They do get annoyed hearing the siren each week) when you are guests in their kind country when instead you can simply come home and play Jewish music over the loudspeakers for a half hour on Erev Shabbos because it's our home and we make the rules!

Take the Kumah challenge: Visit Eretz Yisrael and spend Shabbat on any Yishuv or any of the places I mentioned and you'll experience what Shabbat is really all about!

It's a little secret which we shouldn't keep to ourselves but everyone here knows that the Jews of Chu"L simply have no idea what they are missing. I thank Hashem every day that I am somehow worthy of experiencing Shabbat in Eretz Yisrael every week!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pssst! Purim's Coming.

(You know, MoHo from the Danish cartoon.)

From a 1990 NY Times:
SHLOMO CARLEBACH AND ORCHESTRA, in a Purim concert, at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, 65th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Tomorrow at 8:45 P.M. Information: 969-0950.

Dov Shurin, Jerusalem's Dylan, is a deep poet, but not so concerned with political correctness. He is a Purim Jew - all year round - and on Purim he just goes wild. So here is Dov live on Purim Kattan, 5763. It may offend most. If that might be you - bookmark the page and wait till Purim to watch it:

Heck, while I'm at it - check out his magnum opus:

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ehud Olmert is Logan and Avi Bieber is Jack

So if you watch 24 and know there is more to Israeli politics than meets the eye, you probably already know that:

1. Ehud Olmert is President Logan.

(Olmert photo source)

A nobody in a suit who takes his order from big-money men with their hands and hearts in all the wrong places.

2. Avi Bieber is Jack Bauer.

Bieber, whose famous words, Zeh lo Nachon, Zeh lo Tzedek, basically summed up the whole Kadimanizatzia of Israel, realized that what makes Jack so heroic is not his skilled use of weaponry, but his willingness to put his own job and self on the line for the higher purpose that job and role was created to serve in the first place. Avi refused orders under the toughest of conditions - Jack usually just hangs up his cell phone and does as he needs.

It is no coincidence that 24 is aired in Israel on Channel 10, the only channel somewhat independent of government control. Its message of refusing immoral or misguided orders is not lost on its millions of Israeli fans.

3. Graem, or Bluetooth (as we have known him until recently) is who?

I know Ami Ayalon looks a bit like him. I even think I spotted Ami using a blue-tooth headset at the Knesset the other day. But no. In Israel there are enough Graem crackers to make a whole meal out of S'mores (most of them receive their money from the EU or US Defense contractors).

4. Luckily,Israel has within it many Yaakov Bauers ("And your name shall no longer be Jack, but Yisrael"). Jack Bauer's sole extraordinary trait that makes him the noble hero he is is that same trait that led Abraham to smash the idols and Mordechai the Jew to refuse orders to bow down (most of the rabbis and certainly the Jewish leaders of his time screamed that not only was he not obligated to refuse orders, but if he did he was endangering everything the Jews had worked so hard to attain).

That trait is alive and well in the Promised Land. You see it more every day and tomorrow you yourself may be in a position where you are forced to choose between the orders of misguided men and those of the Most High.

Whether you are a company commander, a general, a simple torai (private) or a private citizen in a position to choose between good and bad. Ask yourself, "What would Yisrael Bauer do?"

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Now Is This Guy a Zionist or What?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Marbim B'Simcha -- Olmert Style

Tu B'Shevat is now behind us which means just one thing: Adar is right around the corner. In just a few weeks time we'll be drinking until we don't know the difference between the righteous Haman and the wicked Mordechai (ah wait, reverse that -- perhaps I started drinking too soon.

But perhaps I am not the only Jew that is confusing righteousness and wickedness ahead of the great Purim festival.

If you haven't noticed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to be one component of a very unholy triumverate, similar to the three sided hat Haman bedecked over 2000 years ago.

Olmert will take part in a 3 way summit with co-conspirators Condoleeza Rice and Mahmoud Abbas. This summit will attempt to bring the parties towards "final status negotiations" on the borders of a permanent Palestinian State -- within the current, though disputed, borders of Israel.

And the date for their summit: February 19th, or more correctly the first day of Adar -- a day of great joy on the Hebrew calendar.

Olmert and company will attempt to take all the joy out of this month of Adar, by meeting on how best, and when, to remove Jews from their homes in Israel's holiest cities, to create a state for the self-sworn enemy of the Jewish State.

Expect Olmert to continue in his predecessor Ariel Sharon's path of desiring to make far-reaching concessions. Such concessions will likely include the release of over 1000 terrorists from Israeli jails, and timed committments on how to move forward with bi-[read uni-]lateral withdrawals from the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria.

Be sure that chief conspirator Condoleeza Rice has learned well from Bill Clinton's mistakes, and will not come away from this summit empty-handed. And since Mahmoud Abbas has nothing to give Israel, the only way to achieve any diplomacy at all, is if Israel gives something to the PA.

Now I know that it is customary to give 2 items of food to our brethren on Purim, but those in the upper echelons of the PA, be they Fatah or Hamas, are by no means are brethren. They are not even righteous gentiles.

We can only hope that the magical month of Adar remains true to form, and we will have reason to celebrate, despite the machinations of this unholy triumverate, just as we have an annual reason to celebrate the failed annihilation attempts of evil's predecessor Haman.

We should not be fooled for one moment this Adar, of who is righteous and who is evil. There is no single righteous virtue in any summit between Olmert, Abbas, and Rice -- three individuals that in can in no way stand next to the holy likes of Jewish heroes Mordechai and Esther.

And while I may get confused in a drunken stuper on Purim day itself, I pray for continued clarity for the Jewish people on this matter, on all days before and after.

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