Thursday, June 29, 2006

simpolistic complexity

There is a Charlie Brown episode where they are taking a math test and peppermint patty asks marcie what she wrote for a certain question. Marcie replied with a number (I don't remember which) and peppermint patty says, "I wrote green" Green? Was the surprised response. She replied, "I thought it was a trick question."

People sometimes complicate simple things for no reason. It isn't because they are less intelligent or are missing something, it's because they think that life is more complicated then it really is.

On the other hand, sometimes people take things that are very complex and try to provide a simple solution that doesn't fully answer the need.

Therein lies the problem.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

an evening of dance

One of the guys at work is part of a ballroom dancing performance and he asked everyone to come and watch. For 7 months he has been practicing this 3 hours a day 5 days a week. He first sent out an email which I ignored. He then walked around asking everyone if they were going to come or not. I told him that I had to think about it. Then he came around again asking if I was coming and I told him I had to discuss it with my wife. Finally he came around asking if I had discussed it with my wife.

So I agreed to go. I do have to work with this guy and I don't really want to insult him. Shouldn't there be some law about what co-workers are allowed to ask you? Or how many times? Is this the same thing as girl scout cookies?

My wife quoted a recent dilbert when I told her about it, which surprised me because I hadn't realized she kept up.

So we're making an evening out of it and got a babysitter, which is a story unto itself, and we're going out for dinner in Haifa, if we can find a kosher restaurant (apparantly not such an easy feat). Our babysitter said she really wanted to come but her friends were getting together at 10:30, so would we mind if she found someone to replace her then. Of course, she didn't know for sure that her friends were getting together, so she only wanted someone to replace her if she decided to leave. We needed a babysitter, so we agreed that if one of our regular babysitters was willing to replace her at 10:30 conditionally then that would be fine. Obviously she didn't find anyone, so we found another babysitter who was happy to stay the whole time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

God's role in tragedies

אני מאמין באמונה שלמה שהבורא יתברך שמו הוא בורא ומנהיג לכל-הברואים והוא לבדו עשה ועושה ויעשה לכל-המעשים.
I believe with complete faith that the Creator—blessed be His name—creates and directs all creatures; and that He alone made, [now] makes, and will [always] make all the works.

The first of the 13 declarations of Jewish faith is that God is running the show. People continuosly question "where was God" when certain events happen or they blame individuals or political philosophies for tragedies that happen on a national/global level. People think that God gives us freedom of choice so we can screw things up on our own. Therefore, if we vote Sharon into power and he decides that he is going to go against everything he has ever campaigned for, then obviously he is using his freedom of choice to screw up the entire country.

During the tsunami/hurricane/... you would think that people would finally say this is the hand of God, a completely natural act of destruction. Nope. The same people who blame politicians and people for events on a global/national level either don't understand how God could let this happen or say it is a completely natural event and has no spiritual connotations.

I'll tell you where God was during the expulsion from Gaza - with tears in his eyes, he kicked them out with his own foot.
I'll tell you where God was during Hurricane Katrina - He was standing there blowing real hard.
I'll tell you where God was during the tsunami - He was spitting at the people who lived in the area.
And to go one step further (into the forbidden zone) God himself lit the fire in the crematorium and sprayed Zyklon gas on the Jews during the Holocaust.

Do you know why? Neither do I.

In the Torah when tragedies happened, it is made fairly obvious what the reason for the destruction is.
In parshas Nitzavim it clearly states natural desasters come from God for a very specific reason:
גפרית ומלח, שריפה כל ארצה - לא תיזרע ולא תצמיח, ולא יעלה בה כל עשב: כמהפכת סדום ועמורה, אדמה וצבויים, אשר הפך ה' באפו ובחמתו. ואמרו כל הגויים: 'על מה עשה ה' ככה לארץ הזאת?; מה חורי האף הגדול הזה?'. ואמרו 'על אשר עזבו את ברית ה' אלוהי אבותם, אשר כרת עימם בהוציאו אותם מארץ מצרים.
Because the Jews did not follow the covenant of God, who took us out of Egypt.
We see the Torah full of stories that describe what happens when Jews are bad: After the sin of the golden calf, a good portion were wiped out. After the spies, they had to dig their own graves and sleep in them at night because there were good odds that they wouldn't wake up. After Korach, aside from the ground opening up and swallowing them, there was another plague where people started dying until Aharon the kohen gadol burnt ketores in the camp of the people.

Jewish tradition is that the first Bais Hamikdash, the jewish temple, was destroyed because the Jews regularly performed the 3 big sins. It wasn't because the king wasn't strong enough and didn't have a good army. Does anybody remember the story of Micah who took the idol and caused the Jews to lose lives for the first time in a war?
The second temple was destroyed because people hated one another for no good reason, not because the politicians didn't live up to their promises.
It would seem utterly foolish of Pharoah not to let the Jews go, when his country was being destroyed. But God had other plans and hardened Pharoah's heart.

There are the good times as well. In the days of Purim the people returned to God, and the planned holocaust didn't happen. In the days of chanukah, the people returned to God and the enemies were chased out of our country.

That doesn't mean we should just give up. We have to do our part by voting for the right people and protesting decisions that we feel are bad the jewish people. That doesn't always work like we saw after voting for Sharon.
However, the most important thing we have to work on is ourselves. Find out what God wants from us and start doing it. Until that happens, the political and security situation is going to continue getting worse. The biggest problem that we have to overcome in our generation is that people don't really believe in God. Return to the first of the declarations of faith and the path will becaome a lot clearer.

Where does freedom of choice start and divine providence end? That is another post, another day, probably not in the near future.

Monday, June 26, 2006

guns aren't muktzah

Last night at the hilchos shabbos shiur we were discussing various
kinds of muktzah and weapons came up. There were two opinions brought
down that weapons were not muktzah.

Rav Goren, the first chief rabbi of the Israeli army, said that it is
a "kli shemelachto leheter", a vessel whose primary use is permissable
on shabbos, because it is a mitzva to shoot the enemy even on shabbos.

Rav SZ Auerbach also said that it is a kli shemelachto leheter. His
reason reasoning was because the primary use of a weapon is not using
the weapon. Rather, the primary purpose of a weapon is deterrence.

In the end the rabbis psak was it depends on the situation and why you
want to carry the weaon as to whether it is allowed or not. I just
wanted to share an odd bit of trivia with you.

lousy defense

In the wake of the kidnapping of Gilad Shlait, we must first and foremost assign blame. It is impossible for Jews to do anything without first blaming somebody for what happened. So the shin bet said that they told the army this was going to happen so it's the army's fault. The army said the shin bet gave them general information but nothing specific so it was bad intelligence.
Joe Settler and Jameel, along with countless others, blame the left wing for getting us into this mess. The left wing sees this as a success because the arabs are not being victimized in this instance and therefore they blame the right wing for instigating towards a response.
Shimon Peres says "kidnap shmidmap. Ron Arad was kidnapped years ago and we aren't doing anything for him."

One of the major problems is that Israel does not learn from history or rather when they learn from history they do do a half assed job. Historically to defend a castle or a city, you would build a wall around it. Israel has started to do this and it hasn't helped. The problem in this specific instance is that the terrorists went under the wall. If Israel had learned from history they would know that castles not only had strong walls to protect them but also a moat. If there was a moat surrounding the walls with alligators and snakes, then the terrorists wouldn't have been able to get under. I feel strongly that the moat digging should start immediately and that walls should only be finished after the moat completely surrounds us. After the moat is finished and the walls are completed we will be heavily fortified and we can continue to threaten to retaliate when rockets are shot at us.

After the blame we need to threaten. The government of Israel has declared that if we ever get that soldier back there's going to be hell to pay. Did anybody else fall off their chairs laughing at that statement? Here's the conversation between 2 Gazans:
Gazan A: We finished with the game of capture the soldier, should we give him back?
Gazan B: Are you nuts? As soon as we give him back they're going to play Kick Our Ass.
Gazan A: You have a good point. Pass the peanuts.

It's too bad Sharon isn't still in office so he can start firing people who are thinking that maybe the evacuation wasn't such a good idea.

Finally we get to solutions. Israel has asked Abu Mazen to return the body safely. His miltary wing responded by sayng, "we have chemical and biological weapons, come and get him." We then asked our international supporters to help get our boy back and they requested that we don't do anything to destabilize the region.

In the end nothing will be done because we are a people without a leader. A body without a head, running around in circles because we have no clue which way is up.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


At 5:30 AM my children woke up, and starting talking loudly, laughing and generally making a ruckus. I started laughing, revenge is so sweet.
We were at the kineret on a small camping trip Thursday night. We figured it was a good time to go before all the kids got off of school, because it would be a little quieter. We found a nice beach where they promised no midnight disco party and a family atmosphere, which was exactly what we were looking for. I set up the tents, while the kids played in the water with my wife and our friends (they had gotten there earlier and had already set up their tents). Then I went in the water for a while while the grill heated up.
We had a nice bbq and got the kids to sleep at a very decent hour. We actually climbed into the tents around 11:30 and were planning on actually sleeping through the night. At about 12:30AM a group of 9 Muslim Arab men set up right next to our tents and started their BBQ. They weren't louder then they needed to be, meaning there was no yelling or loud music. But when you have 9 men bbqing and having a good time, it is not quiet. I got out of my tent and walked around so they could see that peopl were asleep over there, but that didn't faze them. They kept going until around 3:30. I said to my wife, tomorrow we will get our revenge.
I probably drifted off to sleep for a couple hours before my children woke up and were out of the tent whooping it up. They weren't louder then neccessary, just as loud as children should be when they get up. Our friends kids also got up around the same time and they were playing very nicely together.
The best part was the expression on the faces of those arabs as they lay there thinking "we just went to sleep." They had brought mattresses or sleeping bags and weren't sleeping in a tent, so we got to see the shock registering on their faces. I didn't allow my kids to make unneccessary noise, and I asked them not to yell when they were yelling. But kids make noise and that's that.

We went swimming and were in the water from around 6Am until around 10. Everyone had a lot of fun.

Ask Shifra wrote about being judgemental the other day when she saw some possibly modern orthodox kids and modern orthodox adults walking on shabbos, filthy and sweaty after a strenuous shabbos afternoon football game.
When I'm at the beach, I generally keep my glasses off and since I can't see 5 feet in front of me there is not as big of a tznius problem as there could be. (I'm not saying that there is no problem, it is just minimized.) Anyway, for some reason my glasses were on at one point and I saw a religious lady with her hair covered wearing a bikini walking around with her husband. She kept her hair covered when she went into the water. I turned to my wife and asked her what she thought about nude sunbathing with hair covered. She didn't think that either was very appropriate.

So we tried not being judgemental and made up stories about them, though in reality we were judgemental and felt that she was a crackhead. Either show off your body or be tzanua, but covering your hair and very little else seems a bit strange.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Toning down your resume

People have to learn how to tone down their resumes instead of building them up. I just got a resume from someone who put down he was the Director of sales and marketing for a company and President of another company, etc.. He's 27 years old and graduated from college in 2002.

When I asked our HR person what she thought of him for a sales/support coordination position, she looked through his resume and said he's probably overqualified. When I explained that he was 27 and probably just built up his resume she said that if he thinks he did all of these things then he will be bored at our job and will probably leave after a year or so.

I'm not saying that he didn't do what is on his resume, but there are a lot of different ways to present it. We have all been president of our own consulting firms. We have all been the VP of something or other because we were one of two people working in the company and we could be VP. We have all worked summer jobs as interns through which we can claim title to king of the world.

But a company does not want to hire a CEO for a sales position. A company wants to hire a salesman for a sales position. You should never have a higher position then the one you are looking at on your resume. If you are looking at IT Manager, your resume should have IT Manager at the highest level of what you have done. That is called a parallel move. If you write that you were the CIO and now you are willing to accept IT Manager, they will look at you as over qualified. In a 5 person company, the salesman is the assistant sales person as well as the Sales Manager and the Director of Marketing and Sales, as well as the Vice President of Sales and the Deputy Director of the company. However those titles are not going to get you a job, because everyone is looking for a lateral move and are not willing to pull someone above or below his experience.

I recommend before sending in a resume to find out what the requirements are and reading your resume from their perspective. If you were looking through the 100 resumes that you've received, would you consider this one to be a perfect fit for the position?

computax sucks

I went to the CompuTax show yesterday at the Tel Aviv exhibition center and I was totally disappointed. My goal was basically to meet vendors and see what was out there.
The vendors who were there weren't interested in talking business, they were interested in selling products to individuals. However, we aren't talking about retail stores, these are distributors. There were a few vendors who were interested in finding out what I was interested in, but when I asked questions I mostly got a response to look at their website. And if I leave my business card, someone would get back to me.

There were a couple of interesting things to see, but it certainly wasn't worth the time and effort of going.

I had signed up for an IT strategy lecture before the show to make a full day of it, and that was partly fairly interesting. The guy tried to bring a proof that managing IT strategy correctly was the key to success because in a PWC survey companies who align their IT startegy with their business strategy are much more successful then those that don't.
I suggested that maybe the companies that don't align their IT strategy don't understand business as an entity and that's why they are less successful. He said he knows a lot of people who are good at business and don't align their IT and aren't as successful and I explained that those people might be good at sales or other aspects of business, but they don't understand business as a whole. At which point he said exactly right and kept going.

The point is that IT isn't the cause for business success, rather if you don't understand how to manage your operation as a congruent entity then you obviously won't do as well if you did have everything going in the same direction.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Tomorrow I'll be off blogging (and work) to spend a day at the
CompuTax exhibition. CompuTax is supposedly the only computer show in
Israel and it occurs once a year. All of the big vendors are supposed
to be there and everything should be on sale.

Back in the states, I used to go to computer shows regularly and pick
up good equipment dirt cheap. I've heard that they do have great sales
here, but I am assuming that means the prices will be only 20% higher
then what I could find retail in the US.

If anybody else is planning on being at the exhibition tomorrow, let
me know and we'll hook up.

settlers are enemies

The Yisraeli newspaper is a recent newspaper phenomena in Israel that is competing against the mainstream press. There are two editions, morning and evening and it is given away for free at the train and bus stations. Advertising costs 20,000 shekel per day for a full page ad and they are getting advertisers. (what that means is that I can't afford to advertise in the Yisraeli, which I was thinking about doing.)

That is all just background information for those people who would have said,"I've never heard of the Yisraeli, it must not be a real paper"

This morning I read an article that the soldiers stationed around Psagot have been banned from visiting with the residents of that city. The unofficial reason given was because they don't want friendly relations to hamper the upcoming expulsion. In other words, the residents of Psagot should be looked at as enemies. It is dangerous to visit with them, as they may destroy the mission.
One resident says that that he has been hosting soldiers for the past 25 years and now he feels like they are treating him like a Palestinian. He doesn't feel that being friendly towards Israeli soldiers is bad for Israel.

Last Thursday night, Jameel's wife hosted Israeli soldiers for a BBQ at their Muqatan settlement. If this keeps up, those might be the last settler steaks those soldiers get to eat.

The army gave an official "security" reason for the ban on Psagot, but sees it as a weak excuse.

Monday, June 19, 2006

maybe realignment is good for Israel

A new perspective just hit me as I was reading through the daily news. The right wing uses the Gaza example showing one reason why the convergence plan will be bad for Israel. Bad for our morale, bad for our security and bad in all other aspects. Thinking through it rationally, there have been no positive aspects to the diengagement from Gaza from any perspective. From the looks of it, there will be no positive benefits to retreating from the West Bank. There will be nothing positive about giving the Arabs Jerusalem.

Obviously we are missing something here.

Israel has had numerous enemies over the past 50some years. Some of them blatantly hating us, others not so blatantly. Jordan has a peace agreement with us, as does Egypt, but there is nobody foolish enough to think they they won't join in the next war against Israel, tacitly at the very least. The British have made their hatred of Israel very well known, from the time before the modern State was created through today, as they are trying to put our officers on trial for war crimes. I don't even think we need to mention the French.

Looking at Sderot and the security situation since the disengagement, we would expect the British to stand firmly behind Israel and say, "Do it again." Jordan certainly has the ability to keep the Palestinians at bay for a couple of months while they silently encourage rockets sent at El Al planes leaving Ben Gurion international. Egypt should be smiling and saying, disengagement sounds cool, that will show the Gazans that they won and they should keep fighting on that side of the border. The French should be ecstatic at the prospect of more chaos in Israel.

I only wonder what we are missing here? What could possibly be so bad for the Jews in Israel that would make a convergence seem like a good thing for us? The convergence plan is based on giving the palestinians 90% of the West Bank. We already gave them 100% of the Gaza Strip. Is it practical for anyone to think that in negotiations they will receive 100% of the West Bank? Isreal is saying we won't negotiate anymore, here is 90% of what you want and the other side is saying "no, we will only accept it after we negotiate."

One possibility is that it will greatly empower Hamas and the rest of the Islamic brotherhood, which will then be bad for the rest of the world. Remember what happened to France a couple months ago, when the country was trashed by a bunch of muslims? Egypt and Jordan are barely holding onto their thrones amidst a sea of Islamists. Britain is being taken over by the brotherhood as well. (can you say terrorist wearing sneakers).

When your enemies don't like your plans, that generally shows that they think it is better for them without your plans. This is a rare case where what is bad for Israel will be infinitely worse for the rest of the world. There is no other possible explanation why our enemies would be against our suicidal plans.

the moth

We have a number of lizards running around our house. They are little and cute and everybody likes them, so we don't even try to get rid of them. I'm not convinced that if we tried to get rid of them they would leave without a fight, but that's a different story. I've heard that lizards eat bugs and that they are actually good to have around.
On Friday night we were eating our shabbos meal and we noticed that there was a little lizard on the wall standing very still. There was a big moth flying around and every once in a while when it landed the lizard would move slightly.

As we were watching, a small moth landed near the lizard. Suddenly, it moved very quickly and snatched the moth with into its mouth. The moth was beating its wings trying to get away, but the lizard wasn't letting go. This was savagary at its finest. Beast against Beast. Survival of the Fittest. The lizard slammed the moth into the wall a couple times. After a couple minutes of fighting, the lizard nodded his head and swallowed the moth whole. You could see the lizard's body shaking as the moth was still alive inside it mouth desperately fighting for survival. Finally, the lizard swallowed the moth and it was never seen again.

We now have one less moth in the house and are happier because of it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

canada is magog

I've picked up a small ice coffee habit recently. I don't drink coffee and I'm off of coke, because of my diet (which is going very well, thank you for asking) so when I don't sleep well at night I am very tired in the morning. Ice coffee is the perfect answer between coffee and coke because it is like a slurpee, (but not, don't ever confuse any frozen drink in Israel with a slurpee. you'll be disappointed) and it doesn't have coke in it, but it does have caffeine. I guess it tastes like coffee but it is cold and doesn't bother me so much. It's a 10 shek once a week habvit right now, so I'll survive.

I learned something interesting in the daf yomi yesterday (yoma not rosh hashana). We all know that the masicah is supposed to come in the aftermath of the great war between gog and magog. We don't really know who these nations are and people have often suggested that the world warss have been between gog and magog, or it was the cold war between the US and Russia etc... It turns out that magog is the son of yafes, the son of Noah. The gemara discusses who each one of yefes' kids are. Magog is listed as Canadia.

Now we know half of the participants in the war and we can say with absolute certainty that Gog is going to win.

What sucks about Quiddich

I've been reading Harry Potter recently. It's an enjoyable clean read and it keeps me in the ballpark of my oldest daughter's imagination. I read the first in English, the second in both English and Hebrew and now I'm working on the third one in only hebrew. One of the nice things about reading these stories in Hebrew is that it really contains a lot of conversation, which is what I am looking to learn, so it is increasing my vocabulary and knowledge of the normal ways to say things (Hebrew is not a direct translation of English.)

For those non-Harry Potter readers, Quiddich is a game played by witches and wizards on flying brooms. It is kind of like that game that you play in bumbper cars where you try to catch a ball with a net and throw it in the hoop, but a lot more complicated. (My sister just reminded me the name of the game is whirlyball, and she doesn't know if it is played outside of the great midwest.)

Harry gets a brand new broom so that he can go faster then everyone else. This is what sucks about Quiddich. The winners are the people with the best equipment, not necessarily the best players. Every good sport regulates the equipment so that equipment is not a factor in winning the game. In baseball, for example, players are not allowed to cork their bats because it makes the ball go farther. In hockey, the sticks have to be regulation size. You can't play with a stick that gives you a two inch advantage over the other players. I actually was at a game where they made someone switch sticks. In basketball you can't wear shoes with springs in them to make you jump higher. Quiddich, on the other hand, is stacked so that the guy who can afford the best equipment has the best chance of winning.

Until this problem is fixed, Quiddich will never, at least in my mind, be a real sport.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Some people hear the word manipulation and are instantly repulsed. Its 12 letters simply makes it 3 times as bad as a 4 letter word. I will agree that there are manipulative abuses, but call a spade a spade. Lets be honest, everyone manipulates and it is not a bad thing when done properly and correctly. To put it simply, manipulation is the act of specifically doing something that will increase the chance of other actions being performed (my own definition). A teacher promising no homework to students who are quiet during the class is manipulating them. A wife who puts the garbage bag in a place where her husband will see it is manipulating him.
God himself, according to Rashi, puts a high value on manipulation. When moshe was taking donations for building the temple he refused to take the mirrors of the women because they were used for sexual purposes. God told moshe that it was the best donation of them all because the women used them to manipulate their husbands who were not interested into being interested. The mirrors were then melted down and used to make the laver.

I'm not saying that all manipulation is good, but it can be a very powerful tool to get people to do what they should be doing or really want to do anyways, just don't know it yet.
In short, if you want something from someone figure out what will get them to change their minds. Then apply the right sort of pressure or modify the situation until they feel on their own that this is exactly what they want to do.

The innocent, terrorized people of sderot are currently on a hunger strike to try and manipulate the government into doing something about the daily barrage of rockets that are falling on their town.

As Dr. Seuss says, "It's easy to win you just have to know how."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

mondail or mondale

My wife took me out for dinner the other night to Morgenfelds for my birthday. Morgenfeld's is a South American steak house in moshav Liman, a small moshav approximately a 5 minute drive from Rosh Hanikra. While the restaurant is not kosher lemehadrin, some of their meat is glatt and they will be happy to tell you which one if you ask. Of course you have to know who to ask. We asked the waitress if she could ask Marcell which meat was chalak (the hebrew word for glatt). She said they all were. I told her that Marcell said that some of them were and some of them weren't, so could she please go and clarify. She came back and said that the sinta was and the others weren't. That made sense because the other times we had been there the sinta was glatt, though the last time the Asta was too. We ordered the special, which is an antipasta plate, a specific appetizer and a main dish for 100 shek. If you order them separately it would come out to 125 shek, so it is a good deal (but yo!
u have to get antipasta instead of wings, which everyone would most likely order if they were just ordering an appetizer).

Sitting next to us was a bunch of English people, not just English speakers but real britim. They were a funny group and it seemed like they had a special relationship with the owner of the restaurant, and I surmised that he married into the family. My wife didn't think that it was nice that I was talking about them the whole time, even though they didn't hear me.

The mondail was on the big screen tv the whole time, I think it was brazil against some other team. Mondail, for those that don't know, is the guy who lost to Reagen in the 1984 presidential elections. He not only lost, he lost badly. The only 2 places he won were Minnesota (his home state) and Washington DC (not a state). Europeans, who have a habit of loving things that Americans hate and vice versa, chose Mondale to represent the soccer championship. So they took the guy who America rejected and used him to represent the sport that America rejected. Very appropriate. Though Walter Mondale doesn't spell his name the same way the Europeans do, that is because Europeans don't know how to spell. Even in England, the country where the English language evolved from, they throw in the letter U in random places. Note: That the canadians also do this just shows that their language has not finished its evolutionary cycle yet, though it is light years ahead of the British. As an asi!
de, Walter Mondale has Norwegian ancestry and is very proud of that.

After dinner we walked around the beach for a little bit. All in all it was a very enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

israel train accident

Snickers in Israel are not kosher. You read it here first 3 months ago. I don't know if it's because of the triangle k or for some other reason, but my assumption is that the rabbanut reads my blog.

Every morning I take the train to work, well at least part way to work. I have to take a sherut, shared taxi, from home to the train station and then a taxi meets me at the next train station and takes me to work. But as they say, that's neither here nor there. Yesterday at about 12:30 PM I got an email from the guy I take the train with (an infrequent commenter named traintalk) that there was a train crash.
The train going from Tel Aviv to Haifa had hit a car on the tracks and 3 of the cars flipped over. 5 people were killed and over 80 people injured. ברוך דין אמת. It turns out the driver of the car was hit and pushed onto the tracks by another car and was unable to get off. The driver escaped just in time.
Now the story gets a bit fuzzy. The driver was on valium at the time of the accident. According to people who are on Valium should use caution when they are driving, operating machinery or performing other hazardous activities. That means that it is ok to drive as long as you do it cautiously. Apparantly, the drugs people don't see any reason for people not on valium to drive carefully. Also when you use Valium you shouldn't use alcohol. As everyone knows, when you use alcohol with drugs that say do not use with alcohol they work better, so we can assume he was drunk.
So now we have a reckless, drunk, drug addict who is driving around and parking on the tracks.

There was obviously no way to stop this accident from happening. The only real question here is would we feel better if it was a terrorist attack so we would have an enemy to blame or does accidental friendly fire in some ways comfort us?

Monday, June 12, 2006

kiruv?? no.. Look a bird.

Ynetnews has just published an article that will convince a number of Israels to go to Sweden and commit crimes. This is not out of hatred for Swedes or protest against an unfair foreign policy, such as writing on every product made in Jerusalem that it is made in an illegal occupied territory. The story is actually about what great living conditions prisoners in Sweden get. Private television, Steaks every Saturday, a shopping trip every half a year and sex once in a while in a luxury apartment. I can imagine some of them turning down the offer of probation.

We were at a sheva brachos on shabbos afternoon for some people we don't really know. I think we still get invited on the oleh who's new in the community ticket, because a large percentage of the community was there, but nobody our age. I was talking to Don who used to run the local chapter of Elul, an adopt a chiloni program. I used to go to the program but the timing was bad for me so I dropped out. I asked him how the program was going and he said he stopped it because the main office in Jerusalem put out too many requirements. I said that was too bad and he said he didn't like the program anyways. Elul is a group of religious and not religious learning together, but it is supposed to be a from a "your ok" perspective. More of a culturally jewish learning then a religious jewish learning. So for sefiras haomer, he had to get poems written by secular jews and discuss what the meaning aside from also throwing in some traditional jewish texts. I remember one session that I went to where a woman said that she loved doing certain mitzvot because they made her feel good. I explained to her that those weren't mitzvot, she was doing it for herself and not because God told her too.

The word mitzva means commandment, not feel good social behavior. If you only do the ones that you like, then you didn't do any because you are not doing what God wants you are doing what you want.

Don is now working on another type of kiruv where he has performances with mostly chinolical groups and they tell and act out stories of "Jewish History", mostly stories of holy rabbis with Jewish messages. He says as long as you don't put a religious context on it then the message penetrates deeply. He also told me a story of a univrsity in Israel, I forget which one, that had a Chinese philosophy class. It was the most popular class in the university. The professor made up names for the philosophers and taught them pirkei avos. At the end of the semester, he told them that it was really pirkei avos and explained who the philosophers that he talked about really were. Jews love hearing about other nation's cultures, but it is very hard to get them to pa attention to our own.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Our Land

Picture this:
You are walking in the hills of the Galilee enjoying nature in God's own country. You walk for about an hour and you don't even see one bear. The birds are chirping happily and flying around playing tag with each other. You sit down on a log in the middle of nowhere and watch some Persian fallow deer drink from a stream, unafraid. Mountains on the right and mountains on the left, the path goes straight through the middle. You can climb the mountains and explore. Other people have been there before. There is not an inch of virgin land anywhere in Israel. You may find something interesting, but you probably won't. You can play in the stream if you'd like, fresh cold spring water. There are fish swimming around, though if you try to catch one you'll probably just get wet.
This is your home and your land because God gave it to you.

I like to tell my children stories of tzaddikim who may or may not have walked right where we have walked. They generally don't believe me, which is good because I'm generally making up the story. I feel that most of the stories of tzaddikim are generally exaggerated and untrue in any case.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My brother-in-law survived his surgery yesterday and I had a very enjoyable vacation day. A friend just happened to be in the country with his fiance this week, so we planned on getting together. The timing worked out perfectly because I had already scheduled a day off to watch the kids when they got home from school while my wife went to watch her brother.

Then my friend didn't call me back, so I decided that it would be a totally awesome day if I went to nachal yehudiya by myself. If I left at 8:00 Am, after dropping the kids off at school and I could find someone to watch the little one when he got off at 1 there should be no problem getting back on time. But then my friend called back and said that they would be on the 10:30 train getting in at 12. So we decided to go to rosh hanikra, which is pretty close by, or to our local nachal and go explore the cave that I've never been in.

A weird thing happened in the morning before I went out. One of the neighbors who I hadn't met yet came by and told me that he has a very small yard and I have a very large yard and he has a swing and all i need to do is put a cushion on it. It took me a while to figure out what he wanted, but in the end he wanted to use the space the swing was taking up and he didn't want to throw it away, so we got a real nice metal A-Frame porch swing.

My friend never called and by the time he answered his phone it was too late to go to the golan. He pretty much overslept, with some sort of excuse about a brother's wedding and not getting to sleep until very late. So they didn't come up.

I decided to have a fun day anyways, so I went to the bottom of rosh hanikra, where I had never been and climbed around the white mountain face. There were a couple signs up that said anybody who goes in the water will go directly to jail and put on trial (in that order), so I decided to play it safe and not go in the water, but there were some pretty funky stuff there to explore. A number of arab fishermen were standing on the rocks fishing and they may have thought I was trying to steal their stuff because they kept looking at me funny. They were probably lousy fishermen because I didn't see them catch anything the whole time I was there. History has shown that lousy fishermen make good disciples, so if I ever Jesus out, I'll probably go there first to get them on board.

After I had my fill of the mountainside, I found a nice, quiet, private beach area and played in the water for a little bit. I put on suncreen but still got burnt up.

There is nothing as refreshing as doing some nature all by yourself

Double kudos to the neighbors who picked up the little one from gan and watched him until I got home and then called at night to see if I needed a babysitter to go get my wife and in-laws. I had already found a babysitter, so we were good, but it is so nice having friendly neighbors.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

PA referendum

Abu Mazen, otherwise known as Abbas, is trying to call a referendum of his local arabs to determine if they are interested in accepting a call to peace. Well actually it isn't a call to peace. It is a call to temporarily accept the '67 borders as the borders of a Palestinian state. Hamas opposes any declaration that will show them of having moderated at all.

Lets go to your local joe camel in East Rafiach.
Interviewer: Do you think the palestinian people should accept the '67 borders as a palestinian state and have a lasting peace with Israel?
Joe Camel: No way. We kicked them out of gaza. Next we're going to kick them out of jerusalem and then we're going to return to our homes in Jaffa and Haifa.
Interviewer: Don't you believe in peace?
Joe Camel: I believe that when all the jews leave our homes then there will be peace.
Interviewer: Did you vote for Hamas in the last election?
Joe Camel: Duh. Just like everyone else did. The Hamas kicked the jews out of our gazan homeland and they are currently getting them out of the entire west bank.

In the last election, the vast majority of the people voted against peace. Why does mazen think that this time they will change their minds? Because a bunch of prisoners, who just want to get out, have said that they should give up on their national aspirations? I think not.

If abbas had any intelligence, he would not have even suggested a referendum, in the same way that sharon did not want a national referendum on jewish gaza after he saw how badly he lost in the Likud referendum.

Monday, June 05, 2006

lights out

Well the boys at the Electric Company decided to show Haifa just who was really running the country and they shut off our power without any warning. It's probbaly a warning to the whole country. Yesterday, our power at home was shut off for an hour and someone told me that downtown Haifa was off as well. Today it was Technion campus that got hit without warning.
At least I got to find out what some of the problems with my network setup were. Our UPSes didn't all work, so they have to be fixed, it did give me some down time to go around plugging things in that needed to be plugged in without requesting a couple minutes for a shutdown from everyone.

It was an enjoyable break, but now back to life.
My in-laws have come in to visit, which some people may consider a bad thing but I personally enjoy. I'm just a little concerned that after they leave the a/c will remain on and that is hugely expensive. I don't mind turning it on in August but June? We're just getting used to the heat.
Anyways, the reason they're in is because my brother-in-law is going under the knife to have his heart fixed on Wednesday. Everyone say tehillim. benzion yehuda ben chana rachel.
I decided to take a vacation day so we wouldn't have to go crazy trying to workout where the kids go and everything after school. Then I found out a friend came in from the states so I might be able to get together with him that day as well. So I was thinking of findiong a babysitter for my littlest who finishes gan at 1 and going on a mad hike and getting home by 3:30 when the other kids are finished. It sounds rational to me, but my wife thinks that going on a pleasure janut while her brother is being cut up might not be in the spirit of the day. Obviously, I don't agree.
In the end it will depend on whether my friend has time to come all the way up to our end of the country or not and if I can find a babysitter for the little guy.

I'm looking forward to Yehudiya.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

company vacation

Our company vacation was just announced.
At the end of October we will be flying from Haifa to Eilat on a Thursday evening, staying in a nice hotel with kosher food, having group activities and flying home Saturday night after shabbos is over. It is 100% paid for by the company.

On shabbos we wouldn't join in any group activities that included shabbos violations. Last year, the kids got to watch part of the magic show that was done on Friday late afternoon after they promised us that there would be no shabbos problems with it. They kept their words and the kids got to see a good part of it.

Last year we went to the Dead Sea with the company to a hotel with kosher food and had some real problems with the children. A hotel with kosher food in Israel is not by any means a kosher hotel. All shabbos the hotel guests were in the pool with loud music blaring. There was no eruv, so it was difficult to go outside and we had to figure out a "method" for the kids to get their free popsicles from outside without violating the laws of carrying on shabbos. We explained to the kids how important shabbos was and why it was better for us to be in the hotel then outside in the pool. But they were very disappointed and wanted to (at different times) yell "it's shabbos" at the other guests who didn't understand how important it is to keep shabbos and go into the pool anyways. We try to teach our kids that our way of life is correct and better, but when you put a child in front of a candy store, they don't really care how candy is going to rot their teeth.

I can't imagine that it would be any different in Eilat, no matter how many things we brought to entertain them all shabbat.

Another option is to figure out somewhere to leave the kids for shabbos and go by ourselves. By that time my wife will be in her 8th month and might actually appreciate the weekend away. Of course there are logistics involved in this and we've never really left the kids for shabbos before, but this is not unsurmountable.

A solution to the problem may have been found because the flight back to Haifa leaves at 7 PM and you have to be at the airport an hour beforehand. According to hebcal, Shabbos ends that week at around 6 PM in Eilat. I don't know how far away the airport is from the hotel but getting there with 4 kids the minute that shabbos ends is a practical impossibility. I told my secretary we had a problem and let her know that, in any case, we haven't fully decided if we are going or not. Now we'll have to see if they find a way to overcome this problem, and if not we might get to decide on an alternate vacation spot for the religious families.

Persoanlly, I prefer to go on the vacation with the rest of the company, to show them that religious people can be semi-normal and will be happy to be a part of things if they can be done in an acceptable way. However, putting young kids through that is a completely different issue.