Sunday, July 31, 2005

israel - land of the Lorax

It may be because I have Barbaloots running around in my back yard, maybe it's the fresh air with the ponds that the Humming Fish swim in or the song of the swomi swams (some people say they are jackals) that we hear on a nightly basis. I have thinking about the Lorax recently and how life parallels it in a number of ways.
On one level I see the arabs as the oncelor, the settlers as the barbaloots and sharon as the Lorax and as he says:
They loved living here. But I can't let them stay.
They'll have to find food. And I hope that they may.
Good luck, boys," he cried. And he sent them away

In other aspects, sharon is the oncelor and the settlers are the lorax.
I laughed at the Lorax, "You poor stupid guy!
You never can tell what some people will buy."

"I repeat," cried the Lorax,
"I speak for the trees!"

"I'm busy," I told him.
"Shut up, if you please."

We can really see the Lorax in everyday life. Was the oncelor a good guy or a bad guy? He came trying to make things better and trampled on things that didn't concern him.

Sometimes we are the lorax, sometimes we are the barbaloots and sometimes we are the oncelor.

When I was standing at the kotel last night and I looked at the wall, at the stones at the remnant of destruction that we consider our holiest site, and I thought Unless. I thought about the mosque standing behind that wall and how it is the true obstacle to peace and I thought Unless.

"But now," says the Once-ler,
"Now that _you're_ here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not.

The problem with the oncelor is that he had a vision and didn't concern himself with the periphery.
"What's more," snapped the Lorax. (His dander was up.)
"Let me say a few words about Gluppity-Glupp.
Your machinery chugs on, day and night without stop
making Gluppity-Glupp. Also Schloppity-Schlopp.
And what do you do with this leftover goo?
I'll show you, you dirty old Once-ler man, you!

You're Glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed!
No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed.
So, I'm sending them off. Oh, thier future is dreary.
They'll walk on their fins and get woefully weary
in search of some water that isn't so smeary."

I'm still stuck on the word "UNLESS" watching my barbaloots, listening to the humming fish and the swomi swans and hoping they don't try to take this away.

One major problem is Israel is that nobody wants to keep their position. The settlers won't accept the position of barbaloot, to Sharon's Lorax - they are insisting on being the Lorax against sharon the oncelor. In a game where the definitions are not set in stone. Just about anything can happen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

time in the old city

Tonight I'm going to be back home by myself, with my country music (not live), after an exhausting night in the old city. I went to sleep after midnight last night, after eating a steak salad. A steak salad is an invention of burgers bar for those of us who are on a diet but still want to eat steak. At 4:00 the baby and the biggest both started screaming. After convincing them both to go back to sleep I got to lie down for another half hour before getting up to go to work.

Ilana Messer writes about erotic dreams in today's Singles section of Ynet. Apparantly, I don't want my bosses job, I am not reaching for the stars, don't want to have a lesbian experience, and I do not have the need to prove my own sexuality. For those of you who still want to know why I read the Singles section it is part of my media entertainment, along with reading arutz 7, the onion and dilbert.

I'm trying to decide if I should BBQ tonight or eat pizza bagels. BBQ is infinitely ore enjoyable, but takes actual effort. Pizza bagels are thrown into the toaster oven and require no clean up. My original thought had been to BBQ on the beach one of these lonely nights, but I decided that would not be conducive. Also I have no country music on the beach.

I am planning on finishing my next part of the project that I am working on tonight and should have the results to my brother to see. I enjoy projects more when they actually move forward. My experience until now has always been having the other guy not do any work and wanting to ... (look for venture capital, sell the idea, excuses, excuses)

Last night as I was driving through the old city, I reached a very narrow spot where there was an elderly couple pressed tightly against the wall. They looked frightened or stuck, so I did what any reasonable person would do. I drove very close to them, rolled down my window and asked if they knew how to get to the kotel. My wife didn't understand why I had the need to do that, but she thought it was pretty funny.

The house process is continuing to move forward. We may actually meet with them this week (though I doubt that will actually happen). I think the longer it takes them to meet with me the better position I will be in, because I am going to offer less then they are expecting (Based on the rate when we originally discussed it, which is about $10,000 less then the current rate). She'll be under pressure to sell at that point and won't have time to put it on the market.
It's pretty much irrelevant because I can't afford an extra 10G.

Monday, July 25, 2005

home alone

Night 2. Alone. Last night I was invited to break the fast at our adopted parents so I didn't get home until after 9 and by 10 I was in bed. I thought I would sleep well with no one in the house, but for some reason I woke up in the middle of the night anyways. I guess bad habits are hard to break. There's something about an empty house that seems unwelcoming. That's probably one reason why people get married.
It's not that I don't have things to do, it's more of a lonely sense of non-motivation. I'm working on a project right now with my brother and he sent me his part, so I'm going to look at it and see if it makes sense. But I probably won't but serious effort into it.

Thank God for Yahoo Radio. I moved my computer downstairs to the living room and have country music blasting like has never been heard in this country before. I don't know why they sdon't have a country music station here, northerners would probably like it better then the music they play on galgalatz. Dixie Chicks is on now. Not Earl, but still good stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

small break

I won't be getting anything posted for the next couple days. I'll
be running between Maalot, Haifa and Jerusalem, visiting
parents, seeing wife and kids, sleeping and working.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

shabbos at kissufim????

My parents will be here this shabbos and we were planning on spending it with them in the old city of Jlem. I was thinking that instead, it might be a great experience to take them to the big protest for shabbos, wherever it might be, and bring tents and all.

Just a thought.

shelo asani eesha (...that you did not make me a women)

How would you explain the bracha that men say every morning, "Blessed are you our God, King of the World, that you did not make me a woman," if asked by a non-religious Jew/ess who really wanted to know the answer?

Obviously, if they were trying to show you how bad your religion is or was trying to use it as a push off, then the answer would change, but let's say someone seriously wanted to know the answer. Do you tell him/her that Judaism feels that men are better then women? That it is better to be a man? Would you explain the gemara that says that you can't say "...for making me a man" because of the concept that it would have been better if we weren't created at all and therefore we say all of the "for making me..." blessings in the negative.

When discussing male and female issues in Judaism I generally explain that men and women aren't different versions of the same being, they are completely different creatures. Everything about men and women are different, from the ay they look, to the way they react to events, to the way they think, to the way they feel. Our brains do not function on the same wavelength in any sense of the word. But does that make men better or just different?

I think when it all comes down to it, you have to look back at the creation to understand how things in life should be. Man was created first. It says "in the image of God, he made Man." When women were created it says he created "a helper, opposite him." While the woman's task in life is of utmost importance, it is secondary when viewed on the macro level. I think that is how I would explain the bracha shelo asani esha.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The March

Need I say more. Today is the start of the big march on Gush Katif. Tens of thousands of people, mostly teenagers will be walking for three days in the direction of the Gaza Strip to... Well, I'm really not sure. I don't think they want to go to the beach. I don't think that they think the government will see a lot of people walking, singing songs and dancing and change their minds. So if they don't think that it will change the government's mind, what will it do? Will it get previosuly undecided people to side with them? Somehow I don't see that happening.

In fact I feel that there is no goal.

We all know that Sharon is lying when he says he is not planning any more disengagements. We also must know who we are dealing with here. The butcher of Sabra and Shatila who now decided that right wing Jews can be butchered. That means he will not give orders and not prevent a bloodbath. The first time it happened a lot of Christian Arabs got killed. Will the army fire on right wing marchers? It's possible. It's pretty much a given that the first shot will be fired by a shabak man in right wing clothing. The question is will he shoot in the air or shoot to kill a poor soldier who is frightened to death of being there?

Speaking of shabak, does anyone know where Avishai Raviv is these days? I haven't heard his name recently and I know he hasn't been tried yet for his role in killing the prime minister. I guess when the Prime Minister orders you to get people to try to kill him then it is hard to put the guy on trial for at least knowing it was happening, like they did to Yigal Amir's girlfriend.

When it all comes down to it though, there really is nothing to do to protest. Making this seem like the holocaust is a nice circus act that is meant to stun, but it won't change anybody's minds. The rosh yeshiva in maalot said that this disengagement is actually symbolic of the real disengagement that has already happened in Israel. Between Jews and Jews. With chilonic jews having nothing to do with datiic jews, and both sides hating the chareidim. He feels that we should make like 7th Day Adventists and knock on people's doors and say hi. I wasn't at the talk, but I agree with him that this is a very important step in the right direction. We need to connect with Jewish people on a personal level, instead of disconnecting from all people who aren't religious or as religious as we are.

After they see and feel the love that we bring forth they will decide on their own to emulate us. After our children play with their children, and we BBQ together we be able to engage them in conversation. Only after we converse will they be able to ask questions. Only after they decide to be shomer torah and mitzvos, we can bring the mashiach and live in our land under our law with our temple and our God.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

it's all in the distance

I kind of had a pissing contest with someone at the office today who thought he should tell me how he would do my job if he were doing it. I basically won because my boss sided with me. It's only a basically won because now if there are any problems with the design I'll get blamed more.

I have 2 bosses, one fo them gives me an idea of what he wants and I design it and the other one tells me specifically what he wants and if there is anything slightly different then it goes out the window. So the less flexible boss gave me a new project to do and someone else who will be using the project wanted to give his input. So we had a big argument about how to do system design in different situations. He felt that you should always use proper system design and I felt that sometimes you use proper system design and sometimes it is just a big waste of time.

The big question here is whether I should take 2 days fulfilling the user requirements or 2 weeks. Of course after the 2 weeks, when I came back with a nice looking system it would be scrapped in favor of the 2 day system anyways, so there is no real point.

I say "know your customer."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

interesting demographic

It's always interesting to know who visits your blog, and we have a very diverse crowd at the RockofGalilee.

One of our strangest demographics is that of spouses of my married younger brother's ex-girlfriends (and yes we have more then 1 here). Presumedly the ex-girlfriends come because they really wanted to be part of the family and were rejected. So they go onto family blogs and try to be a part anyway. I guess that's cute, in a way.

However, you would think that the spouses of the ex-girlfriends would have more of a reason to not visit.

I find it odd.

liberals, conservatives, israel and the like

A difference in thought process between Liberals and Conservatives and how it relates to Israel.

There is a sad looking man held prisoner by the local authorities. He is given his meals, but he must stay in a small cell. He is not allowed to speak to anyone. He can read, but only books that are approved. He is allowed written communication with the outside world, but the letters are censored. Everything that he writes or receives is scrutiniuzed carefully before being permitted. Approximately three quarters of what he writes are rejected. He is not allowed any visitors, not even family. This has been his situation for 20 years. In short the man leads a miserable existence.

Liberals look at this man and their hearts go out to him. What kind of people would keep a kindly old man behind bars like this in such inhumane conditions? They become activists on his behalf, hand out flyers, speak about the corrupt regime and in general make nuisances out of themselves. The media picks up this cause as well, and write articles about miserable prison conditions. They interview the warden, but only include statements that make him sound like a facist.

Conservatives, on the other hand, ask questions like "why is ths man locked up like this?" They find out that he was convicted of violent actions, including rape, armed robbery and battery. They find out that when the authorities tried to put him in general confinement with contact to other people he would become very aggresive and start fighting. They heard about threatening letters that he continuously tries to send to his former victims and relatives of his former victims. And they say, forget keeping him locked up - society would be better off if he were dead.

A lot of my topics come from my conversation on the train each morning. And my discussion partner feels that looking at history and the background reasons why the Palestinians are in the horrible situations that they currently are in is not relevant. He sees the Arab on the street as an innocent bystander and blames the corrupt leadership for all the background and history.
We both agree that they are in a bad situation, but I see it as their own fault and he sees it as a situation that they were basically forced into. Maybe not by the Israelis, maybe by accident of chance, but not a decision that they made. I blame the current situation on the Saudis, Iraqis, Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese and Egyptians for not integrating these people into their own countries. I blame the Palestinians themselves for not making a sacrifice for peace, but expecting everyone else to do it. He says you can't blame the people either here or in other countries, because their leadership won't do it. I say leadership reflects the people, whereas he disagrees.

Are either of us right? Probably not.

Here's an interesting idea, it can be the basis for the new peace plan.
How about if we make another bold step and offer to split integration of all the Palestinian people currently in Israel and refugee camps in the surrounding Arab countries. Maybe we can include the US, Europe and Canada in this split as well. Each country will be obligated to fully integrate them as citizens into society. Unfortuantely there will be very little interest from any party aside from Israel, because the goal is not to end the suffering, it is to wipe out the Jewish State.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

strip closed - natanya bombed

First they plant a fake bomb in the Central Bus Station, now they completely close off the Jewish Gaza Strip. The government is growing more insane everyday. Next thing you know they'll blame the right wing activists for blowing up Netanya.

Of course since throwing Jews has such a high priority to this government, they decided to remove the soldiers who were preventing terrorists from getting near Netanya and place them as a blockade for Jews trying to reach Jewish Settlements. Can you say Altalena?

What are the odds that Hizballah suddenly decides that when there are no soldiers on the border that it is a good time to attack? How about if Hamas wins the democratic elections and then declares war on Israel? Sounds idiotic? It is. Is it happening? It is.

Oh and here's the kicker. Let's invite the Egyptians to militarize the border again. Because they are our friends. Or Something. I have a better idea. Why don't we all just jump into the sea and drown like they've been trying to get us to do for 57 years.

Or we can protect ourselves and stop trying to prove to the whole world how stupid Jews really are.

help the rennerts

Someone pointed out that my analogy is once again off the mark, as a parallel to licking the ashtray would be licking the sink that was spit into after brushing your teeth.
But that's neither here nor there. It was the thought that count.

I added a link on the top right of the blog, if you haven't noticed. It has top billing for a reason. I think it is very important to help out the Rennert family. If you haven't heard the story here is the short version, Mrs. Debbie Rennert, the mother of 10 children and the wife of Rabbi Rennert was killed in a car crash recently. Obviously they are going to need help now for two reasons

1) The family lost half of its income earners
2) The family needs a lot of moral support, including possible therapy, probably babysitting and whatever else. I can't imagine what I would do and the extra costs involved if my wife wasn't around and she currently is not a wage earner.

I don't want to hear any garbage about how people shouldn't have large families. I find that kind of talk ridiculous and I am intolerant of it. The family was doing just fine, probably struggling to pay their bills like every other family in America, until this tragedy occurred.

This is a family that cares and that has translated their care into active participation into the the health and welfare of all Judaism. They do not hide in the yeshiva and pretend that is all that there is. They were involved in the community, helping out immigrants from Russia, doing chesed and in general just being there. Please open your hearts and your wallets, click on the link on the right side of the page and show that you also care about Jews and Judaism.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

kissing a smoker

They say that kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray.
I've never kissed a smoker on the lips, so I'm going to take the saying at face value.

I was thinking about this as I brushed my teeth last night and wondered, "Is kissing someone who just brushed their teeth like licking someone's toothbrush?
Would kissing someone who just drank milk be like licking an udder?
Would kissing someone who just ate steak be lick biting a cow?

Something to think about.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Need to Understand

People feel that they have a need to understand things. It is a natural feeling that somehow things have to make sense. This is what drives us towards new scientific, historic and medical discoveries among other things. However, it seems that this curioistic energy has been channeled in 2 negative directions.

1) If I do not understand, there must be a different explanation
2) Everything must fit into my understanding of life.

For example, people say things like, "I don't understand why good things happen to bad people and vice versa, there must not be reward and punishment/no God/uncaring God..." What happened to striving to find out the answer? Is it possible that the answer exists and a human does not have the intellect to understand it? Do we minimize God to such a level that he can only do things comprehendable by the human mind?

The other issue is that everything must fit into my understanding of life. I feel that stealing is wrong, therefore if someone steals he must be sick. If someone is a serial killer, he must be sick. It works the other way too, if something is a natural tendency, then it is ok. Homosexuality is a natural tendency, therefore if someone chooses that sexual perversion there is nothing wrong with it. The Torah is ancient and obviously God didn't understand that people must have these tendencies and therefore he wrote it was a perversion. If he had today's science, then he never would have written any of the stuff in that old book.

Beastiality is also a natural tendency, but you don't hear the people who exempt homosexuals from immorality exempting farmers who use their sheep. If you want something there is a natural tendency to take it, but these people are expected to overcome their natural tendency and be strong.

Nobody says, I don't understand how the bumblebee flies because it is aerodynamically unfit, therefore it doesn't.

The problem lies in the ability to see and understand. If you can see a bumblebee fly, then in your mind it is impossible to say that it can't. Whereas you cannot see God and his infinite wisdom and that gives you the ability to question things that can and cannot be.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Faith in God

God is supposed to be in charge of all financial matters as long as we do our part and try to earn a living. I was discussing this with my wife, god bless her, last night as we drove to visit some people at kibbutz lavi. Now the drive down to kibbutz lavi also requires faith in God, as the road twists and turns as you look down upon Karmiel. Now if you actually looked down upon Karmiel while you were driving then there is a good chance that you would end up permanently embedded in Karmiel, which would not be fun. If you don't look down at Karmiel and the surrounding areas then you are missing a great view. Hence the extreme need for faith of God.

In any case, we were discussing aliyah and why it was a very hard thing for people to do. To put your faith completely in God and say that I will quit my job and move to a new country where I don't speak the language seems to be insane. What happens when you do that and 2 years later you still don't find a job? Does your faith in God waver? You bet on a golden horse and you don't see it nearing the finish line. The problem is that in real-life that actually occurs. People quit their jobs and move to Israel full of idealism and high hopes. They can't find a job in their field so they take what becomes available and it may not always be what they are looking for or what they enjoy doing. Is this a fault in God? We don't believe there are faults in God. We simply don't understand the process. But when you take a leap of faith and nobody catches you it takes a greater amount of faith and the knowledge that we don't understand God's plan in order to get up and take another leap.

My wife asked me during this discussion, how we were able to do it, and I replied that insane people do insane things. But I'll also say that God did catch us after we leapt and as we were beginning to fall. Because God has a cynical sense of humor and that kind of thing makes him laugh.

I'm going to end today's post by thanking my wife for the last 8 years. It's been a wonderful ride and we're planning on continuing it for the indefinate future. She got a heart shaped box of polish chocolate (cuz she's canadian) and a big card shaped like a heart that was full of written text for her anniversary present. I'm not sure if she could read it because I don't write legibly, but she didn't ask for any explanation, so she must have managed her way through.

For our anniversary dinner we had a kick butt bbq with a nice chuck marinated for half a day in red wine and other ingredients, and then grilled most of the wat and baked the rest of the way. That was damn good beef and a perfect shabbos dinner.

This is relevant because getting married to spmeone also takes tremendous faith in God because so many people these days find bad wives and have miserable lives, and it's a miracle that I found a good one.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

what is a wedding?

What is a wedding?

There are 3 wedding situations that bring up the question of what exactly is a wedding and it involves the issue of tolerance, which we enjoy speaking about on this blog.

1) Jewish Girl Marrying non Jewish Boy.
2) Jewish Girl Marrying Jewish Boy who insists that there be nothing Jewish about the Wedding.
3) Jewish Girl Marrying Jewish Boy in religious ceremony after being maried civilly and physically for the past year

Which brings us to our questions -
1) If the girl is in love with the non-Jewish boy and grew up in a non-Jewish environment, why should you care who she marries? It is her choice. She has to live with him, not you. Be tolerant of other people and accept her choices that she has made.

2) Is a wedding a religious event or is it more a civil, social event?

3) Is a completely secular wedding the same thing as an agreement to legally sleep together? Is there some deeper commitment in a secular wedding?

4) If a non-Jewish friend would marry another non-Jew would you go to the wedding? Then what is the difference between someone who doesn't recognize their own Judaism?

5) Is it racist to say that Jews should only marry Jews? Is there anything wrong with being racist in this way? What if you didn't have a problem if she would marry a black jew? Does that mean you aren't racist but just a religious fundamentalist radical? Is that bad?

6) If you believe that marrying outside of your faith is a terrible thing, can you go to the wedding of someone you love and watch them kill themselves? Would you go to a party that is celebrating the destruction of your people? Would you light someone's cigarette if you believed they would get cancer the next day because of it?

The Rambam (Maimonadies) brings down that before the Torah was given a person would get married by meeting a girl and agreeing to "be married." After the Torah was given, we now include God in our marriage and lives and therefore matrimony has become a very holy alliance.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

busy day

No time to blog today.
Very busy project at work and then got busy at home.

Tomorrow we're going to a wedding for some reason, though I'm not sure if we know why.
So I don't know if I'll have time tomorrow either.

I have topics to write about, just no time to type them up.

Have a good night.

Monday, July 04, 2005

a moment of silence

Yesterday was the funeral of Mrs. Rennert who died in a car crash on Saturday night.

I didn't know Mrs. Rennert very well, I may have spoken to her once or twice during my 3 years at WITS. But I do know that she must have been a very special person.

I spent countless hours with her husband, Rabbi Rennert, who was in charge of the dormitory for my 11th and 12th grade years. I cannot even begin to count the times that either my roomate or I were speaking to the Rabbi at 11, 12, 1 and even 2 o'clock. While this may have been a sacrifice for the Rabbi, giving his all to the boys, the real sacrifice came from his wife, Mrs. Rennert.

In the 8 years that I have been married, I have seen what it means to a wife when her husband volunteers and goes out every night, even for a good cause that she believes in. Though I didn't know the Rennerts on a personal level, I can see the amount of sacrifice that they both put in for the well being of the yeshiva boys.

I am sorry that I was unable to make it to the funeral in NY, but living in Israel made that impossible.

I am sure that Mrs. Rennert's neshama has already risen to the highest levels of the heavens where she will sit with mother Rachel and cry and plead with Hashem to end our suffering and to bring the geula. May her death be a kapara for us all.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Treading Fences, brought a new book over this weekend by Rabbi Nathan Cordoza, a rabbi who I had never heard of, that discussed the basis of what I have been struggling with last week. I was very impressed by the method he used to deal with it and found one possible weakness.

The question he asked was how is it possible to be tolerant when you have such strong beliefs about the way things should be. Is tolerance a strength or a weakness?

He answers by saying the only people who can be tolerant are people with strong beliefs. If you don't believe, for example, that it is a terrible sin to eat food that is forbidden by the Torah and that it affects the entire world when someone sins, then you cannot be tolerant of a person who does it. You are simply apathetic. You have no spine when it comes to that matter, so it is very easy for you to live and get along with that person.

He emphasized that tolerance is important because a) you're not 100% right and there are a lot of different truths, and b) even if the other person is 100% wrong, you should respect his as a person, listen to his views and try to understand where they are coming from. Only after you understand their side can you see the erroneous point that they are basing their ideas on.

He also gave a couple of solid examples of where the Torah shows us that God has been tolerant, even of the most wicked civilizations. This is an example to us to be tolerant.

I think his mistaken assumption is that everyone who reads his book is prepared to debate the issues on a high enough level. For example, I don't see a need to study the Torah on an anti-missionary level. Instead of engaging them in a debate over verses, I prefer to tell them to go to the local Jewish bookstore and pick up a copy of the answers to missionary book. All the answers are in there, and there is no reason for him to waste time trying to convince me that the Torah supports his point of view. I freely admit that I don't know the answers, but at the same time I know the answers are out there. There is plenty still to learn and I feel that my time is better used studying other topics.

I would recommend the book.