Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Israeli accounting

Yesterday I went to Petach Tikva (the same one that was for sale on EBay) for a meeting with an accountant. Some of you may be surprised that I would travel such a distance to meet an accountant when there are plenty of accountants in the north. I have found a problem with a lot of Israelis and especially Israeli accountants that they only know how to think horizontally. I am an out of the box person and I only think laterally. This comes into play when I try to explain to an Israeli accountant what I want to do and he looks at me strangely and says you can't do that.
So I got a recommendation from a former petach tikvan that if I want to talk to a creative accountant then I need to speak to his guy in Petach Tikva. So I called the guy up and set up an appointment and went down to Petach Tikva, which happens to be in the middle of nowhere for those of you thinking of going.

I started off by telling him about my diaper venture that I never followed through with because of the Israeli accountant's advice, which is the reason I was looking for a person who understood the way things really work. I explained to him that I was probably hiring a bunch of doctors soon and I could either do it the standard way by having the parent company pay them on US W-9s or I could start a company here, bill the company for the entire amount and pay them as Israeli employees.

He started off by explaining what kind of headache I would be getting into if I opened a company here and how much simpler it would be if I did it the standard way. I told him that was the advice that I would expect from an Israeli accountant and what I was thinking was more along the lines of how much money could I save the doctors by doing it in Israel, along the lines of tax benefits, pension plans and so on. Because if we could do that correctly then I could take an administrative fee off the top and everyone would win. The doctors would take home more money, I would earn more money and the parent company would be paying the same amount. Only various governments would lose out.

He took a second and then came up with social security tax. If you are self-employed in Israel and report to the US government, which is a good idea if you ever want to see the motherland again especially when you are paid on a US tax stub, then you have approximately 15% social security tax, which you don't have to pay if you are an employee of an Israeli company. So off the top, before anything else I saved them 15%. There is also keren hishtalmut, which is a savings plan that lets you put money away tax free and at the end of 6 years you get it as a lump sum, tax free. Then there is kupat gemel (pension fund), which I still have to learn about, but basically it sounds like if they decided to take a year vacation, they would be able to get "pitzuim" and take a salary, which they can't do as self-employed people.

After we finished talking he was excited about the idea and he's going to charge me a lot of money to write it up and give me some spreadsheets so I can convince future employees that I am right.

In short, if you are going to receive $1000 on a W9, which would leave
you with $600 after everything, it might be more worth it to become an
Israeli employee and receive $900 which would leave you with $650 and
a lot of extra benefits. I still have to get the exact numbers before
I decide whether it is 100% worth it and how many employees I need to make it more worth it then headache.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mashiach (A Religious MEME)

My sister in law put up this meme and tagged the world
1. How will he arrive?
1) We're expecting a white donkey, but some modernists have translated that to a white Cadillac with tinted windows.

2. Under what global circumstances will he arrive?
2) I'm expecting he will come in the midst of a very serious threat to the existence of the Jewish people.

3. Will everyone believe in him?
3) I think there will be the skeptics, but the difference will be who the believers are. In the times of the false mashiachs (such as shabtai tzvi) most of the rabbis denounced them and the lay people supported them. I think here the rabbis will support him and there will be a korach type story where a bunch of people get swallowed by an earthquake.

4. How will we all go to Israel, or will we?
4) Definitely by plane. It's much too far to walk. I think that the majority of religious Jews will come (except for maybe yak), some of the non religious will immediately want to become religious and come also and the rest will be lost amongst the nations.

5. Will all our enemies be destroyed?
The real question is who are our enemies. I think religious muslims will respect the outcome and join our side. The enemies will then become the previous apathetic who see this as a threat to their lifestyle.

6. Will a lot of us die in the process?
If you consider the Holocaust part of the process, it's already up to 6 million.

7. What about revival of the dead?
I think revival of the dead is something that we cannot fathom, especially because of the concept of gilgulim, so there's really only 100 people and everyone else is recycled. The last mishna of the 4th perek of peirkei avos indicates that the final judgement day will be after the dead come back.

8. Will we still have to work?
I think we'll have to work.

9. When Mashiach (who is human) dies, who will be our leader?
The son of mashiach. We believe in the kingdom of David and Mashiach will be the first of the new dynasty.

10.Will there be a King of Israel, a Beit HaMikdash, and a Sanhedrin?
Yes. They are actually working on the sanhedrin now, Mashiach will be king and the Bais Hamikdash will be built. The Temple Mount institute is building the objects used in the bais hamikdash according to the exact specification so they will be ready when it is time to use them.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

happy brithday

It was my birthday on Friday and my wife made me a very nice birthday party shabbos afternoon. We had 6 couples over with their families and the kids had a great time beating each other up. From what I gethered, they were playing cops and robbers - boys against girls. It took me a while to figure that out while watching the much bigger girls throw the little boys on the ground and then into the fisher price house while kicking and screaming. (All of the girls are bigger then the boys in our crowd.) A nice time was had by all. I got one present, someone gave me a book that he wrote on education in Hebrew called, "Even parents need to grow up."

To reciprocate I let him read my book on Labor and Delivery which he had a hard time with because it was in English. I couldn't give him a copy because only 10 were printed and they've all been given out. If anybody is interested in reading "Labor and Delivery" leave a comment with an email address and I will send it. I wrote it from the woman's perspective and it is all in rhyme. It is appropriate to read after the first one is born, but can be read before the second one.

As a second birthday present, the Hizballah decided to send some rockets our way. The last news report said they hadn't gone farter west then manara, which is about 45 minutes from us, but my wife says she can hear the explosions. It looks like we're not going out for dinner tonight, though I am not clearing out our bomb shelter because there isn't enough room in there for all of us for more then 15 minutes. I should probably put building a bigger bomb shelter higher up on my priority list.

The doctor initiative is slowly gathering speed. We've gotten a number
of resumes so far, with minimal advertising. If I wasn't clear before
we are working with a company that does telephone medicine. It's an
exciting opportunity for doctors in Israel who are interested in part
time work to help supplement their income. If you know of any doctors who are licensed in the US and would be interested in supplementing their income, please let us know at: physicians@technologism.com

Thursday, May 25, 2006

what a view

This morning it was bright and sunny at 6:15 AM when I walked out of the house and got into the shared taxi to take me down the mountain. We start driving down and I see an amazing view. Normally I can see all the way from Haifa, the part that juts out into the sea, all the way to Rosh Hanikra, the northern border with Lebanon. Today all I could see were clouds from an airplane perspective. There was a huge cloud bank (not smog) stretching the entire way across and I was looking down at it, it was unreal. These weren't dismal clouds, we're talking real white and puffy.

We didn't get to drive through the cloud bank because the road cut down and underneath it before we got there, but I noticed that as we got under the cloud everything just turned dark.

Israel Job Opp: Physicians

Any US licensed physicians in Israel who are looking for a new part
time opportunity (may become full time), please send your resume to

This is NOT an Internet medicine program.

If you know of any physicians in Israel who are looking for a new part
time opportunity, pass this along.

Doctors must be licensed in at least one US State. Board Certified
physicians have preference (doesn't matter what the certification is

We currently have a need for doctors who can be primary care
physicians such as Pediatricians, General Practitioners, Emergency
Medicine, Internists,...
If you feel that while you have a speciality you are still qualified
as a PCP, send in your resume with that fact noted.

We are trying to expand our program to include specialists as well,
but that will depend on how many doctors we have available, so if you
are interested in a future opportunity, please let us know you exist.
Send all resumes to physicians@technologism.com

Disengagment punishments??

I have decided to answer the content of the insulting commentor who was banned. She had some interesting questions, which I am happy to discuss, I simply refuse to allow an insulting diatribe in my comments section. If you don't understand where I am coming from, you can ask a question or you can disagree. If you want to simply bash what I am writing you can start the antirockofgalilee blog or publish your comments on your own blog. I only read the blogs of people who I am interested in what they have to say. If I think they're off the wall and I find their content insulting to me I don't go to their blog and bash them, I simply don'y read them.

Q) Do I speak for God?
A) No. But when there are a number of seemingly disconnected events that happen "coincidentally" at the same time, I feel there is room to connect them. I think that history has shown us how God operates and that it is not problematic at all to say that if you feel that something was done incorrectly and bad things happen to the people who did it, that they are connected. Can you imagine what would have happened in the Purim story if the Jewish people had not listened to mordechai and esther's call to repent. They could have said this anti-semitism has nothing to do with the way we are behaving and the party was an irrelevant factor. It doesn't take any imagination to see what would have happened, it happened in 1939-1945 in Germany.

Q) Does that mean that I think that everyone who died in the Holocaust was a bad person?
A) No. If you remember from the Purim story, the first person who was supposed to be killed was Mordechai, the tzaddik. When God decides to punish the Jewish people, he does not differentiate between good people and bad people. The entire nation is guilty. As an aside, this is the reason why the Jews in Egypt had to put blood on their doorposts. They needed extra merit so they wouldn't be killed in the plague, because plagues do not differentiate between different people.

Q) Am I saying that everyone who gets sick is a sinner?
A) No. There are different reasons why people get sick. I don't know the reason why people get sick, each situation is between man and God. When it happens publicly immediately after the person did something that you consider inappropriate, then you can tie them together. If more then one thing happens soon after then I am more confident tying them together.

Q) Did my brother-in-law have a stroke because of the disengagment?
A) I don't believe he did, but I also don't think it was a random occurrence. He had nothing to do with the disengagement, and nothing that I know of that he did would cause God to punish him this way, so I will chalk this one up to an unknown cause.

Q) Was God involved in Hurricane Katrina?
A) Yes. God caused the hurricane to happen for a specific reason. It very well may have had to do with the disengagement. As I posted at the time, the percentage of US residents who were evacuated during the hurricane is the same percentage of Israeli residents who were evicted from their homes in Gaza. Coincidence, I don't believe so.

Q) If God was invloved, why do all of these things look natural? The PM didn't listen to his physicians advice, was under a lot of stress and in bad health. The police have been criticized for a long time. The moshav was near arabs who have bird flu. There has always been talk of sex at army bases. Shouldn't it have been hail and brimstone?
A) God takes care of things in a natural fashion. That is the entire miracle of Purim, that seemingly disconnected events coincidentally happened in an unordered fashion and caused other things to occur. Haman just happened to show up at the moment that the king was thinking about rewarding mordechai. The prime minister could have had a stroke the week before the disengagement and plenty of people live with his bad health for years after. The police investigations have never gone anywhere in the past, for example in the bus 300 case all the people involved got promoted. There were other moshavs where the bird flu could have started in Israel that are also close to Gaza. The army sex scandals which have been going on for years are all coming to light now, giving people a very low opinion of the army.
Is any of this absolute evidence? Of course not. But there are enough coincidences to allow inteligent people to draw conclusions.

Q) If this happened 5 years from now, would I still say that they were linked?
A) Probably not. Though that doesn't mean that it wouldn't have been. It would mean that God does not necessarily want us to draw those conclusions.

I would appreciate it if the banned commentor does not comment. I don't read her blog because I don't care about what she has to say. That is a better method then showing how "smart" you are by posting sarcastic insulting comments on blogs of people you disagree with.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Black Jack morality

A Breitbart article talks about an ordinance in the city of Black Jack, Missouri, which doesn't allow more then 3 people from living in the same single family house unless they are related by blood, marriage or adoption. This ordinance is upsetting an unmarried couple who have been living together for 13 years and have 4 children from different marriages/relationships. They feel that the city is trying to impose their morals and ideas of what makes up a family on the residents.

I don't have any problem with a US city democratically voting to uphold a certain level of morals. If you don't want to follow those morals then Get Out Of Town. The residents will have their rights violated by letting people who are publicly sinning live in their community. They are trying to raise their children to be good moral people, which includes marrying the person you are living with. This couple has the option to get married and they will not be subject to fines.

We are not talking about an archaic law from the middle ages here, this was put on the books in 1985. If the people of Black Jack Missouri decide that they want to lower their moral standard then they can vote on it in the next elections, but it seems to me that the good peopel of Black Jack are intent at keeping the pretense of a moral and just country life.

I am not sure what right of the couple is being violated by the city, as they can live in a different town that doesn't have that rule. Why should they force their morals on the rest of the city just because they found a nice place to live. It is a nice place to live, probably mostly because there aren't immoral people like themselves, living in sin, hanging around.

This is not prejudice on the basis of race or any other qualification. Even gay people can live in their city as long as they don't have any children (unless there is another law about that). The fact is that this couple is publicly flaunting their immorality in the face of a community that is not willing to accept that kind of behavior.

Shout Out to Black Jack Missouri. Keep the faith.

police warned

The Mossad used to have a saying that no matter how long they'll get those that terrorize Israel. This was one of the concepts of Munich as the mossad chased down all of the perpetrators, slowly but surely.

There is room to say that God is operating on the same principles with those who expelled his katifians and laughed.
First the prime minister is struck down with a stroke.
The moshav that housed the disengagement authority was the first one struck by bird flu.
A large number of army sex scandals have been recently publicized making a joke out of the army.
Finally, the entire leadership of the Israeli police are about to be thrown out of office for incompetence in the line of duty.

General Halutz, I've heard that God does not frequent Las Vegas, it may be a good place to hide.

Traiditon has it that when Titus destroyed the temple, it was only because God wanted the temple destroyed. But then Titus got haughty and said that he defeated the God of the Jews. God got angry at him, not because he destroyed the bais hamikdash and beat up the Jews. They deserved that. But he shouldn't have laughed. So God sent a little misquito which flew into his nose and when up to his brain and hammered at it until it killed him. When they split open his head after he died, a mosquito the size of a bird flew out.

There's a right way to expel people and a wrong way to expel people. They did it the wrong way. Now they are paying the price.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Despicably polite

I learned a new Hebrew word today and with it, I think I understand Israeli culture just a little bit more. My boss asked me today if something was "minoomas" and I told him no. During the rest of the conversation I made it clear that there was no problem with it at all. This confused him and he said as much. Assuming I misunderstood, I asked him what minoomas meant and he said it means polite. This confused me, because I was pretty sure it meant disgusting. I went back to my office and checked my dictionary and sure enough the word for despicable is nimas. The dictionary also confirmed that minoomas was polite. In Hebrew conjugation you can put a mem in front of a word to say that you are doing it. So minamas would be to make something despicable.

Now it is easier to understand a society where with a slight mispronounciation you have changed from being polite to disgusting.

After thinking about it this makes a lot of sense.
The beauty is in the details.

Monday, May 22, 2006

running away is a crime in itself

I saw an interesting article on ynet that said petach tikva was for sale on EBay. I didn't believe the article so I checked Ebay and found the auction. It is currently at $255. It includes a standing room seat on the bus from petach tikva to Tel Aviv.

Another interesting thing I saw on Ynet recent updates is that someone was indicted for killing a person for looking at him. He is also charged with leaving the scene of a crime. I guess if someone is stupid enough to stab someone 4 times for looking at him he is also stupid enough to commit the gross and heinous crime of leaving the scene.

I feel that leaving the scene should, in most cases, be part of the same crime. For example shoplifting. If you don't leave the scene of the crime, then you didn't really shoplift and therefore there was no crime. Murder is technically different because the guy is dead whether you wait for the police to arrive or not. In pirkei avos it asks why God created the world in 10 sayings instead of just doing it all at once (which he is perfectly capable of doing) and the answer is did give more credit to the righteous and more punishment to the wicked.

Somehow I doubt that was the intention of the Israeli justice system when they came up with a law against running away after you commit a crime.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

something magical about jerusalem

We got home last night at about 12:30 and I made it up for work today with no problems. I have found that since I've started swimming I am able to deal with a lot less sleep, much to the dismay of my dear wife.

It's always nice and exciting heading down to Jerusalem. Even though we chose to live very far away (for very good reasons), the feeling that I have when I'm there was a large factor in my desire to make aliyah. We started off the trip in RBS to visit the in-laws. We went to the Grill Burger instead of the Burgers Bar because it was closer and we didn't have a carseat for my niece so the women wanted to minimize the amount of time in the car. (Kudos to rafi and mike for the recommendations) The food was good, I had the kids chicken and hot dogs as well as a burger, fries and chicken wings. The wings were the best part, and I highly recommend them. The burger wasn't great but I've had much worse. After dinner my wife found a friend a chatted for a while and then there was a GAP/Old Navy sale in some woman's apartment, (yes in RBS) so the women headed off to fight the crowds.

We finally left RBS and hit the 38 and I turned left and my wife, God Bless her, told me I turned the wrong way. I explained to her that we were going to take the back roads to Jerusalem because it was quicker. She didn't like that I dea but I explained that I made an executive decision and there was no veto. As we were driving I decided to call someone just to make sure I was on the right road because I had never gone that way before. Thankfully, Muqata was home and he told me I had just missed the turnoff. Since we were going through the settlements for a little bit, I asked him who I call if rocks get thrown at me. He said he would look up the number and I told him it wasn't that important because I have a red button in my car and if I push the button then helicoptors come and shoot the other guys. He was pretty impressed that I had one of those and wanted to know where I got it. After we discussed it for awhile he laughed and said he didn't think it was the real thing. So he gave me the army's phone number. Now I have to get my red button tested to find out what it really does. I don't want to push it just in case the helicoptors knowck off one of my neighbors by mistake, but I'd hate to try it when I need it and hear a laughing sound.

Anyways, we made it to jlem pretty quickly (much much quicker then if we had taken the 1), especially as we were staying in katamon which is where the back roads let you off. We picked up my sister who had just started eating because she didn't believe we would make it that fast and she took us to the itty bitty apartment that we were going to stay in. I've actually seen smaller apartments before so I'll change this one to a "small" apartment. It was already late, so the kids fell asleep relatively quickly though one of them kept yelling that he wanted to go home.
In the morning we went to the wall for an intense prayer session. I took number 3 with me and my wife got the others. He found all the aleph bet on the page of the siddur that I opened it up to and was very impressed with himself.

We left the wall in front of the temple mount and decided to do something temply. On the case of the big menora in the cardo it said where the mueseum with the new vessels of the temple are on display. There's an organization that is making them according to specification so that when Mashiach comes to rebuild the bais hamikdash we will already have everything ready. It was a very cool place and they gave us a booklet with descriptions of what we were looking at. We probably spent an hour or so in there.

We then headed off to the biblical zoo and met my friend and his family there. The kids got along very well, which is nice. My friend is raising his kids chareidi and i'm raising mine national religious, so the kids will have a bit of cross culture when they get older (if they talk to each other).

Shabbos was very nice. My brother and his wife as well as my two cousins who are in the country came for shabbos as did my cousin's girlfriend.
I went to the wall for davening friday night. Jammed packed as usual. Dinner went well. We told them all the good news (see the loop). And then they all helped us carry the sleeping children back to where we were staying. Davening in the morning was excellent. It was an all English speaking minyan (though they did speak in heavily accented Hebrew) and it was in Ashkenaz, which I haven't heard in a long time.
Lunch wasn't until 12:30 and in retrospect it was probably good because it split up the day more then it would have if we had eaten at 10:30. After lunch there was a lot of adult conversation (well more like 22-25 year old conversation) going on and the kids were stir crazy because they are used to wide open spaces.So we headed back to the apartment we were staying at and napped for a little.

On the way back we stopped at KFC, I recommend the spicy wings and continued on our way.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

friday night

An MIT professor has taken research to a new level to try and figure out exactly how children learn to speak. While on the one hand there is an oops button, so they can erase the embarrassing moments, on the other hand, those moments are probably the most impressionable and the researchers will never know that they happened.

Dilbert was exceptional today, you have to read the archives to get the whole picture, but dogbert's answer, "Doesn't that seem like a stupid question now?" is spot on.

What kind of school has programs for little kids late at night just so children can stay up late for shabbos? My friend in jlem sends his children to a school that has an activity for children on Friday night between minchah and maariv. My children, thankfully, go to sleep before shabbos starts when it gets late because they are too tired to stay up.

This is relevant because if the kids are going to stay up late then they need to take a nap during the day. If they need to take a nap then we can't go to ein prat so instead we're going to the zoo.

This friend does not read my blog because he said he only wants to read my anonymous blog, which still doesn't exist. He doesn't believe the content on a non-anonymous blog is worth reading.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Tomorrow evening we are leaving the Galilee and heading towards the center of religious affairs, Jerusalem. My children will undoubtably have the same argument that they have whenever we start heading south, is it Jerusalem of Gold or Jerusalem the holy city. I explained to the that Jerusalem is a dussy word so you have to say eer hakoidesh like all national religious people when they are trying to sound dussy.

Dussy, for those who don't know, is being a dati with a sav. It's used for things that are "too frum", I have heard plenty of chilonical Jews using dussy words like tachlis and shabbos. It's a cultural thing. When they spell out dussy words they use a samech and some extra ayins so you don't confuse it with the Hebrew word of the same meaning with the sefardic pronounciation.

We have a big event planned, as the entire family in Israel (at least my side) will be in attendance for shabbos. On Friday I am thinking of going to Ein Parat, which is one of the rivers that flows out of the garden of Eden. It's just passed Maale Adumim in the direction of Ramallah.
On the way down we're stopping in Little America to visit my wife's relatives and some friends. Does anyone know of a Burger joint in ramat bet shemesh? I seem to remember hearing that they have the best burgers bar in the country.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Israeli Business Meeting

(OOPS. I posted this on the wrong blog yesterday)

Last night I had the opportunity to meet with Jameel Rashid and anonymous (Not the anonymous who makes nasty comments on my brother's blog. A different anonymous). I met them in the train station at Hof Hacarmel. We walked into the mall and my bag got searched, as usual, but they just flashed their "I have a gun, don't bother searching" card and walked right through. We sat down next to the burger ranch for a serious business discussion and ordered fries.
Anonymous presents the idea and shows me some samples. It took some time for it to sink in because I wasn't on the same page as them. We discussed the target market and the legal issues involved. We ordered more fries. We discussed a number of issues until I was satisfied that I had a good grasp of what they wanted to do. Then, before we could order more fries, it was time to leave because our trains were leaving and the entrance to the Muqata is closed late at night.
We didn't have time to finish the discussion on compensation and I wanted to continue to think about the project to decide if I wanted in.

I went home and I thought about it and I thought about it and the idea makes sense. I can even see the people who would use it. I pretty much stayed up all night mulling it over, thinking through the pros and the cons. The maximum time I can put in is 20 hours extra per week. I already have a full time job and that is the time that I can squeeze in and still have time to learn English once a week with daughter one and put the boys to sleep when I get home. But it gives me no time for anything else and 6 months is a long time to not have time for anything else.

My main problem with the project was that it didn't speak to me. I didn't get excited thinking over the possibilities and how it would work. If I don't get excited about an idea then it becomes work and not fun. I already have a full day of work, when I do another project on the side, I need to be motivated and to be motivated, I need to be excited about the project.

I called the muqata and anonymous this morning and asked them to find someone else.

On to the next possibility.

article missing

I posted yesterday about my business meeting, but it isn't here now. I could have sworn that I saw it after it posted yesterday.
If anybody else saw it, pleaase comment here so I know that it did post.


galilee roast

The Galilee, and probably the rest of Israel as well, was full of smoke last night. It was more apparant in our area because we live about 25 minutes from Meron, the Mecca of Lag B'Omer. Over 200,000 people come to Meron from all over the country to celebrate Lag B'Omer and dance on the grave of the Rashbi. Everyone was at a bonfire. There was one community bonfire for the national religious, and I don't know if they had a city bonfire for the non-religious. We went to a neighbor's yard and had our bonfire with 3 other families. The hot dogs were "al ha-aish", and were actually put on skewers and laid across two pieces of wood at the edge of the fire. Of course there were potatos wrapped in tin foil to make it Israeli. It was too hot (actually our sticks were too short) for the children to actually get to roast their own marshmellows, but they enjoyed them anyways. Our bonfire ended at around 11 and we only had one kid sleeping by that time. A teenager told me that they aren't even starting their bonfire until midnight and it would last all night. One of our kids had a bonfire birthday bash to go to (for 1st graders). I asked her if they sang songs about bar yochai or bar kochba, and she said no they sang aish aish medoora (fire, fire, bonfire).

Thirty days before a holiday you are supposed to start preparing for it, by learning the laws and getting ready spiritually and physically. This is the only holiday that I have seen people actually start getting ready for a minimum of 30 days before. Already before pesach you could see kids dragging wood to their stash in preperation for the big day. Crates, pallets, trees, branches, old furniture and anything that might be burnable is thrown onto the altar of lag b'omer.

I now understand what cultural Judaism is all about. There is practically nobody, religious and secular alike (myself included), who have any inkling as to why we are having a bonfire on the 33rd day of the omer and why we are putting potatos wrapped in tin foil in the fire. We just do it and we don't ask questions and we have fun.
While we are supposed to count 49 days, 7 complete weeks, until receiving the Torah on Shavuos, most of Israel counts 33 days till we get to light up the countryside for no apparant reason.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

life at a macro level. according to avos

During sefiras haomer there is a custom to study pirkei avos, ethics of our fathers.
This week is the 4th chapter and I wanted to share with you the last mishna.
It is very powerful and basically sums up life from a macro perspective. I highly recommend the 4th chapter as it is chock full of good advice. Included are the basis for such sayings as "every dog has its day" and "Who is wise? one who learns from everyone. It gives advice on interpersonal relations: Don't try to appease a person at the peak of his anger and don't try to offer comfort when his dead is lying in front of him.

The final mishna (in English):

Those that were born will die and those that are dead will live and those that are living will be judged.

To know and to inform that He is God, He is the Fashioner, He is the Creator, He understands, He is the Judge, He is the Witness, He is the Plaintiff and in the future He will judge.

Blessed is He, before whom there is no injustice, no forgetfulness, no favoritism, and no acceptance of bribery, for everything is His. And you should know that everything is on account.
Don't convince yourself that the grave will be an escape for you - for against your will you were created, against your will you were born, against your will you live, against your will you die, and against your will you are destined to give an account before the King of all kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

racism? or anti-stupid.

Doctionary.com defines racism as either believing that one race is superior to others or having prejudice/discrimination because of race.

If you believe that there are inferior races, but not that any one race is superior are you still a racist? For example, you don't believe that your race is a step up from the human level, but you define a lower level called the idiot level where certain races belong.

If you help people of your own race before helping people of a different race, is that racism? Or is that fraternal love? If there was only a member of the other race needing help then you would help him, but you prioritize them lower on the list.

"There is a serious deterioration in the treatment of Arab Knesset members," said MK Taleb a-Sanaa (Ra'am-Tal). "People point to a number of reasons for this; but I think it all comes down to racism."

This is the guy who had a meeting with Hamas representatives and then had his ass thrown out of the
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He didn't give Hamas any classified information, the Committee didn't meet even once before they decided not to meet just so this guy wouldn't have an opportunity to hear any classified info.

"I am no racist," said Lieberman. "I just ask the obvious questions. Why does no Israeli Arab MK condemn calls by the Iranian president? ...The Arab public has to understand the problem lies in their midst."

The problem with calling people racists is the same problem with calling people anti-Semites.
When people make comments about stupid things done by a group of people they are called racists or anti semites, if it's against Jews.

Maybe these people just don't like stupidity.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

who voted for the pensioners?????

It's nice and cute to have these old folks in the Knesset with a goal of making the lives of other old folks easier. But at least one of them must have alzheimers or something. Moshe Sharoni suggested that kashrut be abolished to make prices of food cheaper. Does he think that he is a member of Shinui? Does he know that the anti-religious party collapsed?

In another attack on religion, Avraham Gal the head of the Cultural Judaism Center is upset that he didn't receive any money from the government to advance his cause. You can see this from the way he uses the word parasite. What is cultural Judaism that explains things in a non-missionary way? Go and explain Chanukah without bringing in religion. That isn't a traditional explanation, so it isn't a culutral explanation either. Culture stems from tradition.

Last night the office took us out to Papagaios, a very nice steak house in Haifa. One of the guys was surprised that a kosher restaurant would have good food. I explained to him that kosher meant there was no milk in the meat, not that they first piss on the food. He disagreed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

goings on

I've been working on an idea to build a system to benefit regular train passengers. I wrote up a nice little proposal for the train authority and then tried to get in touch with them. I got names of 2 people at the train authority, thanks to blog readers, and I spoke to one of them today.

Getting through the secretary was tough, but it definitely could have been tougher. She wanted to know who I was and who I was calling from and with regards to what. So I made up a company name and told her I was calling about the proposal. She wanted to know what proposal, so I told her it was for the new system proposal that we were working on. She then wanted to know what the system did. So I said it in a "why don't you know this already tone." Finally she let me talk to her boss who listened to what I had to say and told me that he didn't want to see my proposal and he didn't want to meet with me. His reasoning was because they are in the middle of a tender and this is one of the services in it and he can't look at proposals from other sources in the middle. At least my Hebrew is working at a high enough level to have these conversations.

Now the question is, lets say I can circumvent the train authority and build my system without them. It would be more difficult and less accurate but it would still work. Are they actually bidding out the project that I am working on and when will it come to the market? It could be one of those things that will never actaully happen, in which case I may as well go ahead with it.

In other news, I just released the newest version of the EyeTravel system for home care ophthalmologists. My next order of business is to rewrite it from .Net with a SQL Server background and a c# client to python with a postgresql background and an as yet undetermined client, though I've been thinking of wxWidgets. I have someone in mind to market it as an open source solution, give it away for free and charge only a monthly service fee and special development costs.

I have a couple other potential projects to work on, so we'll see what the next month turns up.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

joined the pool

I joined the pool this week because they opened up separate swimming hours twice a week during times that were actually good for me. Signing up for a membership here isn't like signing up for a membership there. I had to sit through 20 minutes of propoganda about the owner and what a good guy he was before he would let me pay.
He's quasi shomer shabbat,
so they don't have a cash register on shabbat, membership only. You know there's really no problem if people pay beforehand... Separate swimming is nice, but it is a business decision... blah blah blah... But finally he allowed me to pay and I am now a member of the pool for a year.

The exercise will do me good. Right now I don't move at all during the week, except Thursday night I play ball and Friday we generally go tiyuling or I work in the garden.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

israel train system

Does anyone know someone in management at the Israel Railways Authority?

I am considering a new project and would like a high-level contact to pitch it to.

independence day

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, was celebrated here yesterday. I went to the end of Memorial Day/Beginning of Independence Day ceremony for the religious at the Music school. Apparantly there were some politics over non-tzniusly dressed performers which caused the religious community to make their own ceremony.
It was a very nice ceremony and most of the music was not live, though probably not because of sefira. My kids all took part in the ceremony (except for the littlest who didn't want to). They first had a flag dance where all the kids in gan (before 1st grade) got flags and danced around for a couple minutes. Then my girls were part of a very cute dance that they had practiced for. There was a girls choir and then the boys choir. Then the fireworks happened and we left because it was too late for my kids. We had a festive prayer service, both at night and in the mornign which includes singing shir hamaalos to the tune of hatikva (That's written in the official machzor) .

During the day we went on a nice hike with 4 other families to Nachal Amud, which is between Tzfat and Meron and the kids got to play in the water and try to catch fish. We then returned home and had a delicious bbq with 2 of those families. We let the kids run through the sprinklers, even though all the women thought it was too cold.

I still don't get this whole first flowering of redemption thing and have not heard any good explanations. Everyone agrees that Mashiach still hasn't come. The process of redemption is a long process that started the day we were exiled. Every step along the way is another test, trial and tribulation. The process is supposed to build us into the nation that we need to be in order to merit the redemption. The fact that we're in Israel now seems to be the end of a long process rather then the beginning of a new process.
Would anyone say there was a first flowering of redemption for the Jews in Egypt? The redemption didn't happen until they actually left. When moshe came was that the first flowering? He was the mashiach!
In any case, I once again followed the wise words of hillel and didn't tifrosh from the tzibor.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Yom Hazikaron

What does yom Hazikaron mean to me?

Yom Hazikaron is Israeli Memorial Day, one day set aside to remember fallen soldiers. Most people in Israel have lost friends and/or relatives who died as they were protecting the people living here and serving their country. I am a new immigrant to Israel and do not know anyone, without ayin hara, who has died in Israel. I feel more like an outsider on this day, then on any other day of the year. Practically everyone else in the country has put their lives on the line so that I can live here in peace. To live in Israel I gave up a nice job, a comfortable social environment, family close by and a system that I understood. That seems so negligible when you see what the natives have given up so that I would feel comfortable coming. I brought my family here because of religious reasons, these soldiers gave me the confidence to do it.

Those who are serving and those who have served and those that will serve and those that will not all owe a big debt of gratitude to the fallen soldiers who gave up their lives so that Jewish people can live under a Jewish government (no matter how much you dislike the politics here) peacefully in their land.

As I hear the siren, I stand up and quietly think about the words written in Pirkei Avos: "Give to him from what is his, for you and yours are his. As David said 'from you comes everything and from your hand we give to you'"

God Bless the fallen soldiers and their families, may no soldiers die next year. May we all be zocheh to live in Eretz Yisroel under the future government of Mashiach, may he come speedily in our days.

Monday, May 01, 2006

should we protest darfur? i think not.

I was just reading a fiction novel about the Afghanistan war against Russia and a US CIA guy was trying to convince someone that the US was correct in helping the Afghan rebels because they were fighting for freedom. The person responded, Freedom for who? If the rebels win they will impose strict Islamic law and there won't be freedom for people who don't follow it.

Is one dictator better then another?

In Darfur, the people being killed are Black Muslims. They rebelled against the Sudanese government in a non-peaceful manner (to put it lightly). The Sudanese government and their Janjaweed friends have overreacted.

But the fact is there are 2 sides to this battle. Just because a group of people decide they want their own government doesn't mean that the government should roll over and say ok.

The Darfurians started shooting first. I don't think there is a need to protest just because peoiple are being slaughtered. You need to understand why the people are getting slaughtered. What if the people being slaughtered would kill you if they got the chance? How can Jews protest the killing of Black Muslims who do not believe that Jews have the right to exist, and after they are saved will support the Palestinians in their war against Jewish survival.