Thursday, December 29, 2005

where to light

Tonight we are beginning our journey southward, towards the holy city of Jerusalem.
The itinerary includes Ramat Bet Shemesh, where we will visit the recovering brotherinlaw and his family. We are planning on visiting some other friends there as well, if it isn't too late.

As it is written, you should stop in the courtyard to prepare yourself before entering the holy.

We will then head into the kedusha itself where we will be staying in Har Nof. (Up to this point we will still not seen any native Hebrew speakers). Hopefully, I'll be able to make it to the kotel, but it depends on how the family settles. The big question is where to light candles. Harav Yoylee, (he performs weddings for a small fee but isn't licensed so it has no weight in this country) thinks I should light candles where I sleep. But I can't eat until I light candles. So I may light at brother benji's. I don't think I'm planning on eating before I get to jlem anyways, so food may be a non-issue.
Friday morning we have the haylika family chanukah party. We have adopted a no-presents policy this year because the 20 shekel grab bag is the only thing that makes sense and I feel that if any if the atendees wants something for 20 shek, he should buy it.

The location of the party will not be mentioned here for security reasons.

After the party we will be heading into the Israeli territories near Hevron. We will be returning the the Galilee, God Willing on Saturday night.

We shouldn't be missed.

key to happiness

As everyone knows, except women, the key to happiness is meat. Women have an affinity for chocolate and ice cream and that makes them incapable of true happiness. In the good old days, when we were allowed to sacrifice animals to show ourselves and God how much we love him, the gemara says that there is no happiness without meat.

Israelis don't understand meat. They think that chicken and meat are the same. Chicken is not meat. Chicken is a bird. It tastes good, if prepared correctly, but it doesn't bring the eater up to the highest levels of spirituality and pure unadulterated joy that a side of beef does.

Chicken is the sitra achra. It looks kind of like meat and can be prepared similarly, but it doesn't have the חיות that meat has. Chicken, and even turkey (the buffalo of the chicken family), are scrawny little nothings. It is a trick. Don't be fooled.

I feel that when the rabbonim put chicken (and other birds) into the same category as meat they did Judaism a great disservice. They were trying to protect us from mistaking a chicken for meat and then seeing people eat chicken with milk would eat meat with milk. They had good intentions, but you know what path is paved with good intentions.

Monday, December 26, 2005

happy chanukah

It's the first day of chanukah and it is going very well so far, though I forgot to say al hanisim this morning.

The kids didn't cry when we gave them presents, even though we got them sharing presents and not individual ones.

My wife surprised even me when she bought our daughters a self-piercing kit.

We have friends coming up tonight from jlem for the second lighting and a festive holiday meal. Hopefully, we'll figure something to do with them tomorrow afternoon.

Friday morning is the official Israeli family chanukah party. Brother benji might not make it, because of his convalescing. (BTW did I mention they freed him from the confines of the hospital?)We are planning on having the greater part of the Israeli family there. 2Ares (who is single by the way if you happen to know anybody), and SRA will be there with his wife and cousin Justin (TUGS) will be showing as well. On the other side of the family, Yoylee and family and Shira with her new hottie (or so she says) husband will both be attending as well.

We have drafted a no-presents policy for the adults because the grab bag makes sense financially, but if you really wanted a 20 shekel item, go and buy one.

For shabbos chanuka we are going to be leaving the galilean heartland and go visiting settlements. While we are not going to heading towards Muqata's beloved Samaria, we are planning a foray deep into the jungle of Judea. A little village about 10 minutes from Hebron is the destination. The last time we were there, about 3 years ago, we heard helicopters all shabbat and found out afterwards that a multi-felafel soldier was killed in Hevron, the highest ranking soldier to be killed up to that point. May his neshama have an aliyah and may the wicked enemies of Israel rot in pig guts till eternity. (and let them go to hell and have shoes thrown at them. Amen.).

For those who don't know, a felafeled soldier is one who has gotten more stripes then fit on his shirt, so they take off all his stripes and congratulate him by giving him a felafel.

Hopefully, though I don't know if there will be time, we will make it to Hevron to discuss political, social and religious issues with our forefathers in the maaras hamachpeila (cave of the patriarchs).

Sunday, December 25, 2005

my Jewishness.

They've never been able to categorize me before, I don't know why they thought they could do it now. User Test: The Orthodoxy  Test.

Left Wing Modern Orthodox: 15%
Right Wing Modern Orthodox: 49%
Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 61%
Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 29%

This means you're: Huh?

What does it mean?
I give up. What are you?

Comparison Summary:
Of the 1875 unique test takers...
For: Left Wing Modern Orthodox
76% scored higher, and 22% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 30.3, your's was: 12.

For: Right Wing Modern Orthodox
75% scored higher, and 23% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 46.3, your's was: 36.

For: Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi
44% scored higher, and 54% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 40.3, your's was: 43.

For: Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi
44% scored higher, and 54% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 24.0, your's was: 23.

a shabbos from heaven

This was supposed to be a very laid back shabbos for us. It had been a stressful week and I was looking forward to the relaxation that shabbos provides.
My mother-in-law came to visit, as she was in for a week visiting my hospitalized brother-in-law, who is doing very well. He is hoping to get released to today. The tehillim are working (or else God didn't really want to kill him this time.)
Anyways, back to the story. So my mother-in-law was sleeping in our guest suite downstairs, which isn't really a basement because it is on the lower groound floor.
The rain was coming down like gishmei bracha (rains of blessing) is supposed to. At 6:30 AM there is a loud bang and all the power went out. No, we weren't attacked by terrorists - it was God himself. The main breakers had jumped so we were without lights or heat for all shabbos. My motherinlaw gets up at 7:30 and steps into - not just a puddle of water, but a full lake. Two inches deep, in the shallow section. The entire guest suite had flooded. But none of the walls were wet and there are no drains in the floor. We couldn't figure out where the water could possibly be coming from.
I ended up davening at home because shul was mostly over by the time we gave up sweeping the water out of the house.
Our neighbors invited us over for lunch, because they had lights and heat, so we brought over all of our food (the chulent was still warm) and had an enjoyable meal.

All in all it was an enjoyable, though stressful, shabbos from shomayim.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

democracy does not equal morality or intelligence

First of all I want to let everyone know that I spoke with my brotherinlaw Benji and he thinks he is recovering nicely.
Beseech God, you never know when he may listen.

I've been hearing a lot of comments on various blogs that Netanyahu's move to ban Feiglin from running on the Likud list is undemocratic. This follows all the comments that Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza was undemocratic. People seem to mistake democracy for morality or intelligence.

Democracy means the decision rest on the votes of the majority of people eligible to vote. In a representative democracy (such as the US), the people vote for representatives and then anything that those representatives vote on reflect the will of the people. If it doesn't reflect their will, the people are not supposed to vote for them again. In a parliamentary democracy (such as in Israel) the people vote for a party, the leaders of the party determine who the representative list is. In this system, someone who has a lot of supporters among the leaders of the party will be sent to the parliament, even if all the people who support the party hate him.

Removing Feiglin from running on the Likud is a dumb thing to for netanyahu to do, because after losing who knows how many votes to kadima, he is now trying to alienate another large group of people (17% of the party voted for him).

Blackmail and making deals is also part of the democratic process. The way that you get people to vote for your proposal is by promising to vote for their proposal. (quid pro quo)

On that point, there was nothing undemocratic about the withdrawal from Gaza. It may have been unethical. It may not have been intelligent, but the majority of knesset members certainly voted yes.

On that point, if the majority of Germans vote to kill all Jews, that is also democratic. Wrong, but democratic.

If the majority of voters vote that black people should be enslaved, it is a democratic decision. Wrong, but democratic.

People were not given the ability to determine moral societal values. Those were given to us by God, in an unalterable book. The model of the world is based on God, a single ruler over everything. In the animal kingdom, we have the Lion is the king of beasts. The human world used to believe in the "Divine right of Kings" (Charlamange).

When Jesus said (or so I've heard), "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," he was basically saying that the laws of God are not meant to be followed. We, as Jews, instantly rejected him because of that. That is saying that it is impossible to punish anyone, thereby creating a lawless society, because who among us is without sin.

While democracy is not inherently good or bad, it is based on the values of the voting population. Therein lies the intrinsic problem of a democracy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

israeli categories

When I came to Israel, I was told I had to define myself in a sociopolitical category.
My choices, as a religious ashkenazi, were either:
  • dati leumi (national religious), which apparantly means that I believe that the State and the Messiah are one. We were already redeemed, just the guy who was supposed to tell us never showed up.
  • Chareidi (ultra orthodox), which apparantly means that I believe the state has no right to exist, I don't work, don't go into the army, leech off of society, and am generally despised by everyone.
There is a sub-category of national religious called "mustard" which are people who are as religious as an ultra-orthodoxer, but even so believe that the state is the religion. But we won't get into that.

It seems to me that there are a lot of religious Jews out there (maybe mostly from midwest America, though one of my readers will claim that in the south there are normal Jews as well, but we just look at them funny and say, "inbred") who do not fit into any of these categories. This leaves us as ill-represented. I moved to Israel because of religious reasons, secular zionistic reasons played a part in it, but religious zionism was not part of the decision process.

I would guess that makes me chareidi. Except when people ask me what kind of Jew I am and I tell them chareidi, they laugh. Apparantly, I don't much look like a chareidi. And I work. I didn't go to the army, but they didn't ask me nicely to go. Also I use a suf when I daven and layn. And I don't know the rambam by heart. I tried going through two of rav kook's sefarim and didn't understand a word.

My children are going to be dati leumi because we moved to a dati leumi community and send them to dati leumi schools. But I'll probably be able to give them a little perspective, which they'll happily ignore.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

israeli politics

The big question in Israel for the next few months is who to vote for. This is not at all similar to the same question in the US, where you have 40% conservatives who always vote Republican and 40% liberals who always vote Democrat and then 20 percent of the population are swing voters. They tend to vote for the person who they like personally, irrelevant of the actual issues.

In Israel it does not work that way. The platforms of the political parties in general do not represent a broad spectrum of policy, but rather they focus on an issue and everything else is ignored. For example, the Likud is known as a right-center party. I believe that specifically means they are anti giving land to the Palestinians, but not so much. How do they feel about abortion? It's probably split. How do they feel about social programs? also split. Difference between big government and privatization? Most of them don't know what that means.

How are these people supposed to agree on a budget if they don't agree on any issues? What happens is the head of the party decides how he wants to vote on these issues and if it's considered important he imposes party discipline making everyone in the party vote his way.

Shinui, on the other hand, is anti-religious. That is their platform. They officially have no policy on disengagement, or government or anything else, except that they don't want to be told whether they can eat pig while driving on shabbat or not.

Labor looks like it is shaping up more as a replacement for meretz as a true social-democratic party, where they are interested in creating a bigger welfare state then already exists. Except if you hear the voices coming out of the party, it is Peretz, the new leader, who is advocating this and no one else is really sure what to make of it.

Shas's platform is black people are cool, and give us money for our own school system. And you're all a bunch of racist bastards, and we need more money for our schools.

There is no party that I like in Israeli politics, I don't think they focus on issues at all and even when they do it is generally a one person opinion, not a party platform.

With this vacuum in who to vote for, degel HaTorah, whose sole purpose in the government is to strengthen Torah institutions, is looking more plausable. Since there is no viable party to vote for, why not vote to strengthen Torah Judaism.

A vote for degel haTorah is a vote against Shinui.
A vote for degel haTorah is a vote against Labor.
A vote for degel haTorah is sending a message to the NRP
that they're a bunch of hypocritical dogs.

I don't know who I'm going to vote for yet, but I'm leaning heavily in this direction.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Day 2 - At Home

Day 1 went significantly better then day 2, as my monitor would not even turn on this morning and after I gave up waiting for it, I switched monitors. 2 hours later the old monitor finally turned on and I was able to switch back.
Getting the kids up, dressed and to school is no small matter. Mom's probably already take this for granted, but to me it is a new experience. The girls are up for 20 minutes. They are in their room after I asked them to getr dressed, I walk into their room and they are both in pajamas. One of them (2nd grade) says it is because she could not find socks, the other (1st grade) had no excuse but was going through her closet for the third or fourth time trying to decide which skirt to wear for her tiyul today.
Playing with the kids is going fine, except that the motorcycle guy's head got kicked off and that upset number 4.
Tonight we have the gan's chanukah party and I have to find a babysitter and go, now that my wife is unable to be here at that time.
My motherinlaw is due to arrive today to visit with my brotherinlaw. He seems to be doing ok and they'll probably know the results today at some time.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

busy busy

For those who haven't heard, my brother-in-law Benji had a stroke on Thursday and is in the hospital Hadassah Ein Kerem. His hebrew name is benzion yehuda ben chana rachel. If you have the chance to say a kapital tehillim or give some tzedaka or something, it can only help. The Rock of Galilee blog wishes him a refuah shleimah, a refuat henefesh and a refuat hagoof.

My wife went down to jlem to be with her brother and his wife. From what I understand, it was not a serious stroke and he seems to be recovering, though they will probably figure that out over the next few days/weeks.

The hospital doesn't seem very competant to me, though I suggested a policy of assuming competance until proven otherwise. I think they have pretty much proven otherweise.
The prime minister, Ariel Sharon, also had a stroke and is in the same hospital. I am not sure why it didn't take them 72 hours to figure out that he had a stroke.

If he is out of politics, even for the short term, that will remove a good portion of the old cancerous cells of the political establishment. Kadima's only platform is Sharon knows what he is doing. None of the people who left their political homes for kadima would be allowed back in and since they have no platform without their leader, the party would fall apart and all those people would be out of the Knesset. Of course the new crop of people is likely to be just as corrupt, if not more corrupt then the current crop. But as my rabbi likes to say, new shmootz is not like old shmootz.

Anyways, while my wife is hanging out on ben yehuda, I have assumed the mantle of Mr. Mom, once again. I am working from home, which gives me a solid 4 hours in the morning before the baby comes home from gan. and a little bit of time after they go to sleep. Today was pretty good. We played inside and out and read stories. I hope tomorrow will be as productive.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yeshivishe pritzus

I received this apology note in my ad-sponsored hotmail account.
Oh the irony.
The text of the email says:
Dear fellow Alumni,
Regrettably, I too have fallen victim to the hidden dangers of the Internet. Unfortunately, the Evite I sent you was linked to non-tznius material. this was done by the vendor, and I of course had no idea this would happen. I apologize and commit to being ever more diligent in the future. I have terminated my association with Evite. Further information about the Melava Malka will be arriving in your home mail box and is always available at our controlled Website, I sincerely regret sending that email. Please discard the EVITE if you have not yet opened it .
Thank you and my apologies,

Stop The Trial...

Omri Sharon, the corrupt son of the corrupt prime minister of Israel requested that his sentencing for violating the election laws should not be held during the election season because it will be damaging to his political party.

Omri, Have you ever heard of chutzpah?

As if announcements that Sharon is planning on dividing Jerusalem isn't bad enough, his son is going to jail for helping his dad win the election last time.

The only thing more surprising then the request itself is that the court rejected the motion. I would assume that the powers that be are sending a message to Sharon senior, by gently squeezing his election nuts, not to vehemently deny reports of giving the Jewish capital to the Arab murderers.

Who really won here? Sharon in grabbing Peres away from Labor, or Peres in grabbing Sharon away from the Likud. Sharon's platform, kneel and kneel good, is fulfilling the wet dreams of Shimon Peres in his goal at becoming a destroyed European country. Peres who has lost at everything he has ever tried is now, with the help of the Sharon mob, finally succeeding at losing our country.

As the Iraqis like to say... "they can go to hell".

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

2nd grade f-word

My daughter came home from her 2nd grade upset because some kids weren't nice to her again. She finished her homework (or didn't have any) so my wife allowed her to have a friend come over. While she was out getting her friend one of the girls in her class (Israeli with no English speaking blood) called and told my wife that she was very upset because my daughter called her a F****** B****. Now this was very upsetting for my wife to hear, because we don't approve of that kind of language. This is the same girl who stole my daughter's belt one day and then blamed someone else for giving it to her. (her belt was off for a good reason, having to do with gym day, but I didn't fully get that part)

My wife asked my daghter about it later and apparantly she had never heard those words before the girl said them to her and she didn't remember the words. This is very believable because we never use those kind of words in our house, the children don't watch television and they only speak and Hebrew except in the house.

My daughters story was the girl was being very mean to her and yelling at her in Hebrew and then she said F******* B**** to my daughter who said there were no such words in English.

So my wife went to the girls house with our daughter this evening to discuss the animosity between these girls with her mom and the girls together. The girl changed her story and said actually another girl said that to her and said my daughter told her to say it. My wife has the feeling that she still wasn't being completely honest, and since she is from a non-religious family with older siblings and a television that is never shut off, she has probably heard that kind of language before.

In any case, after discussing the problem, the girls decided that they can try to be friends in school from now on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

end of an era

He who made women into into widows and children into orphans.
He who founded a movement based on senseless violence and killing .
The man they call tookie.
He's dead.

But his legend lives on.
While children read the books that tookie wrote saying how bad gangs are, his gang followers are knocking down old ladies and steraling their purses.

What is most surprising is that he did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, they gave it to arafat and peres, two of the most notorious self-centered, enriching themselves on the back of the poor, individuals that should never have had the honor of standing in the same room as Yitzchak Rabin, an honorable general (who I politically disagreed with), forget about winning any degree of respectability.

Tookie represents a lot of things to a lot of people. To me he represents a silly nickname. Like the guy taking the heat in the CIA leakage case. What kind of 60 year old is called Scooter in the international press?

To born againers and NAACP folks he represents the best that their society has to offer. A bad person who is sent to life in prison and execution and then decides, maybe he'll soften up a little so God won't laugh so hard when he asks if he can get into heaven.

I'm happy that tookie is dead. But I think our death penalty system is messed up. I don't think he should have had the opportunity to write so many books or present himself as a changed man. I think he should have been dead within a week after the sentence was handed out.

Here's an ode to Tookie:

There was a fine fella named tookie
killed someone who wasn't his bookie
When arrested they said
y'all gonna be dead
He said I'm so peaceful now, lookie.

Monday, December 12, 2005

line dancing in gan

This past Saturday night number 3 had a havdala party in gan. I'm not sure what the point was, but they may have wanted to do something interactive with the parents and children. Number 3 got to choose which parent got to go with him and he chose me.

It was an entertaining evening. He didn't want me to dance with him, so I sat down and watched. The morrocan deejay (if you could call him that) turned the gan into a honky tonk and led the crowd in line dancing to Jewish music.

three steps left, kick your feet, two steps forward two steps back swing your partner round - kid slides through parent's legs. now back to back...

It was a lot of fun and the kids had obviously been practicing for a while.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

counterculture and local Bnei Akiva

Did you know that counterculture is one word? Both and babylon list it as such.
Todays conversation on the train revolved around israeli counterculter or the lack thereof. I suggested that the religious culture in Israel was in fact a counter culture while my esteemed colleagues argued that anything that is part of and funded by the establishment could be considered counterculture.
First a dictionary defintion:
coun·ter·cul·ture Audio pronunciation of "counterculture" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kountr-klchr)
A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture.
Lets look at an incident that is in the middle of happening in our Galilean village.

A matnas is a community center, kind of like a JCC. I don't know exactly how the matnas is funded or what their mandate is, but they have been providing certain services to Bnei Akiva. There was a notice posted in shul that for shabbos Irgun, which is some international hokey shabbos that bnei akivians have. The letter said that the matnas refused to print their invitation because it had the words gush katif on them. The subject of the shabbos was "continuing the spirit of gush katif" After the youths printed it somewhere else the matnas told the Komonarit (head communist girl) that they would not be supporting bnei akiva anymore and they would not be able to use their facilities in the coming year for their shabbos irgun. The letter noted (and I don't know how factually accurate this is) that the matnas is supposed to support the organization on an oirganizational level and not at a detail level. The matnas is not supporting them out of kindness, but rather it is a right of bnei akiva as a local organization to expect this support.

While this is a specific example of youth, I see this as an uphill battle for the entire dati leumi communty. To me, it seems like the dati leumi (national religious) is in fact a strong counterculture as the established culture is trying to railroad them into leaving their culture and values behind, while they are fighting to instill a distinct seperate set of values into themselves.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Kind of Music - Ray Scott

Oh, I met this girl I swore was close to perfect.
I could see the ring, the dress, and the whole nine yards.
I had a country station on and she reached and turned it.
Said she couldnt stand the sound of a steel guitar.

We hit the town to catch an early movie.
And ol' Kris Kristofferson played the leading role.
I said "That's my man!" She said "Who's he?" I jumped up and said "Girl, we gotta go!"

She dont like to play my kinda music.
She's never heard a Waylon Jennings song.
She's never been a fan of Willie Nelson.
So there aint no way in hell we'll get along.

She told me she thinks country musics hokey.
She said "You can't dance to it, and all the songs are sad."
I cocked my eyebrow and said "You must be jokin!"
"Ain't no excuse for havin taste that bad."

Then I asked her if she'd heard of Alan Jackson.
And she said "Didn't he sing that song called 'Where Were You?'"
I said "Ya, but girl, that man's a livin' legend."
And she said "Really? I thought he was new."

She dont like to play my kinda music.
She's never heard of David Allan Coe.
She can't get enough of Whitney Houston.
And I'm thinkin "Lord, that's all i need to know."

So when the night was over i walked her to her door.
And i bid that girl an overdue farewell.
And without a good night kiss i jumped back in my truck.
Turned on some Hank and cranked it loud as hell.

She don't like to play my kinda music.
She don't know Sunday morning comin down.
She can't see what's so cool about he stopped lovin' her today.
Or angel flying to close to the ground.

She told me that she sorta likes the Eagles.
She couldn't name one hit by Johnny Cash.
No, she don't like to play my kinda music.
So i had to tell that girl to kiss my ass!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

speaking in hebrew

Last night's sheva brachos was very enjoyable. The chosson walked in wearing a sling because he dislocated his shoulder during the wedding. He took some good natured ribbing for that, but he may not have understood it because it was American ribbing which Israelis, even those who speak English very well, just don't get. The Israelis wished him a refuah sheleima.

I was originally told that I could speak in whatever language I chose, but there were actually Hebrew speaking Israelis there, and people requested that I speak in hebrew, so I did. I was the entertainment for the evening. Speaking in a different language isn't just about the words that you use. I had planned an opening in English before I got started and I couldn't think of a good way to do it, so I said thanks to the people who made the party and the chosson and kallah for getting married and then launched directly into my dvar torah, which was a unique perspective on mixtures, both permitted and forbidden.

My point, which was probably lost on all, was that men and women are completely different beings and when you put them together in marriage you form an unbreakable bond. Milk and meat are prohibited together and one could say that it is similar to walking into a graveyard with your tzitzes on, milk gives life to animals and meat is dead animal. So putting a life giver with something dead is a contradiction that can't be resolved and that is why it is forbidden. Men and women are very similar in that respect. Men and women are a contradiction that is almost too great to overcome. They walk on the line of permissibility. This is why men and women can only have a real relationship after they are married, because an unmarried woman is a complete contradiction to an unmarried man. This is also why during the time of nidah, that men and women cannot have a physical relationship, because women go way over the line during that time of month and cannot coexist with men.

My bracha to the chosson and kallah was that they would be able to find the balance (they understood that I wanted to say balance because I asked how to say it in Hebrew) in marriage between the permitted and the forbidden and that they should enjoy a life of kosher mixtures.

This is my original interpretation marriage and kashrus mixed in with some life philosophy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

sheva brachas

I'm going to sheva brachos tonight for a couple who I don't know. This seems to be a very Israeli thing. The stranger thing is they asked me to give a dvar torah. I have spoken at plenty of sheva brachos before, but only once before when I didn't know the chosson or the kallah and that was a couple months ago. At least this one will be in English. Last time they didn't tell me in advance, so I gave a nice quick vort in Hebrew. What I learned from that experience is that the word intimate in hebrew is intimiut. Maybe I'll post tonight's vort here tomorrow, depending on how it turns out.

My wife has the cold that I am almost done with, so she will probably be staying home, miserable. This is not a fun cold. The cold completely blows. It's the kind that goes up to your head and encircles your brain and squeezes so that you can't think and anything that you say is suspect. It's the kind of cold where you sit at your desk with your hands over the keyboard for 5 minutes before you realize that you should probably be typing something, but you don't know what.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

internet, aliyah and a little rashi

One of the primary reasons people have for not making aliyah has been solved by the Internet. A lot of people make various excuses as to why they would not or could not move to Israel. Most of these reasons are secondary. People work here, people make friends here, and people get new relatives here.

The one thing that truly scares people about living in Israel, though they may not admit it, is the lack of a country music station. Via broadband Internet, you can get high quality country radio, streaming into your computer. Now, I'll be the first to admit that it isn't the same as having a real local country station. You can't listen to radio while you're in the car. There are no Hebrew deejays or advertisements or news-breaks. But at least it's a start.

Surprisingly enough, I forgot to mention this fact to someone who was recently asking about aliyah. I think he's a reader, so now he knows. You can live in Israel and still listen to country music radio.

Parshas Lech Lecha was a few weeks ago and it deals heavily with aliyah. Rashi asks a question on the first pasuk and until I started planning my own aliyah I thought it was a great question.
The Torah says "Go for yourself from your land, your birthplace and your father's house to the land which I will show you." Rashi thought it should be the other way around, first leave your home, then your city and finally your country. Then he gives a nice deep explanation of why it is supposed to be this way.
While I was making aliyah, the thought occurred to me that the pasuk makes the most sense the way it is. God was talking to Avraham, the man of the family and the head of the household. The primary thing that he would have been concerned with was (no, not country music. All music was country back then) the economy and his earning potential. Is it possible to breach the culture gap and language differences of a different country and still put food on the table? That is what was waying on Avraham's mind. After that his concern was the local customs, friends, contacts, knowing what time the bank was open and general familiarity that he was leaving behind. That was his birthplace. Finally, the last thing on his mind was that he was leaving his family. Very important and emotional, but not somethng that would hold him back.
The pasuk is stated in a very logical order.
Now, if God was talking to Sarah then Rashi has a very good question because as a woman her priorities would have been exactly the opposite.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

norman and bens path

Being sick is not fun, even when it is just a stupid cold. Last week, I did nothing when I got home from work. Just sat on the couch and was miserable. I did finish the first Harry Potter book. My 2nd grader was reading it together with my wife, and they seemed to enjoy it, so I figured I would too since I wasn't doing anything anyways. Not a bad book, though I don't know if it wasn't a bit too scary for a 2nd grader. Good author, and that little twist at the end as to who the real bad teacher kept it alive at the end.

That's the book report.

On Friday while my children were in school, my wife asked me if I would like to go hiking. We decided to go to shvil Norman, which has a sign on the side "Norman and Ben's path." It seems that Norman and Ben are/were 2 teenagers from Kfar Vradim who decided that it was more fun if you didn't follow the standard blue trail, so they painted theirs in yellow. It deviates from the official path and they marked a number of places of interest such as snow whites home and the camp of mitz petel among others.I got to do a little mountain climbing and that was fun. There was a little mifgash with a nice sign that this was in memory of Amir, who died in a biking accident.

I recommend this path to hikers who are looking for an enjoyable, not very strenuous hike, with some minor, non-required mountain climbing available. Great view. Good for children. Better without.