Thursday, October 30, 2008

local elections

In our national elections, the NRP has decided to merge with the a number of right wing parties to build a united "right-wing" front. From a political perspective this is a great idea, if they can form some sort of agreement on policy. From a Jewish perspective, it is marketed completely wrong. The Torah says very specifically that we should go straight and not turn right or left. Therefore the party should market itself as a centrist party, in keeping with the Torah, instead of saying they are a religious party that believes that right-wing is better, against what the Torah says. They should market every party that is more left-wing then themselves as right-left (Likud), center-left (Labor) and left-left (Meretz, Kadima). If there are other parties that are more right wing then them, they can be marketed as right wing.

It's all in the marketing. Kadima marketted themselves as a centrist party and then apologized to the Palestinians for the refugee problem, something that not even President Peres would consider.

In our local elections, the supporters of the guy running against the current mayor called our house to convince us to support them. MY wife, who is mostly apolitical, answered the phone. They started telling her what the problems were with the current mayor and that their guy was going to fix it. Instead of hanging up on them or passing the phone to me, she asked them how they were going to fix those problems. They replied that there are a lot of problems. So again she asked HOW they are going to fix them. They had no response so the candidate himself got on the phone. He told her that the current mayor puts a lot of money into making the city look nice, so he would take all that money and put it into education, as an example. She finally hung up without making any commitment to vote for him.

She didn't ask him this question, but according to what he is saying, the ugliest cities should have the best education. Does he have any statistics to back that up? The facts are that the more beautiful cities generally have better education because the way a city looks says something about the population. I wouldn't want to live in a city that looks like a ghetto and I would bet the level of education would sink very rapidly if the city stopped investing in its looks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

more spam

I just saw the most shocking video of Barack Obama talking about his ideas of redistributing wealth to poor people. That means that if you earn $100,000, he wants to take it away from you and give $50,000 to someone who did not earn it so that you are both even. Now after the poor person has the money and loses it, he would then take the money away from you again and give it to him to lose again. As he says "I don't want to punish you for success, I just want to give the people behind you a chance as well"

Watch it and weep:

I keep getting this email at work from Chinese domain registration companies that someone is trying to take our company's domain name with a .tw or .hk or .cn at the end. They, being a morally upright company, want to give us the first chance at it because it is our trademark. I generally either ignore the messages as spam or I send them back a ridiculous message that makes no sense. It is fun because they generally respond.

Today, this is the email I sent them:
"I will file a lawsuit against you in the International Court of Justice that sits in the Hague. This is outright licentiousness and we feel that you are causing international strife. We insist that you cease and desist at this very moment. Chinese domain names, as you well know, are like the big dog that barks twice and then howls long and loud. I believe that you are Kevlin and you are not Will and you begin this process of squeezing us out of all of our hard-earned profits so that you can take over the world and get a Chinese American woman elected to President. We will not stand for this."

I got 2 responses back from them. The first one said that if I didn't register it soon the other group would because of the law: "who is first, who is the owner."

The second response I got back from them was surprising:
"Thank you for your reply, we have rejected their applications,but they will most likely register and snatch those domains in other approach.In that case we will not be with responsibility for any result about the matter."

I replied and invited him to tea to discuss world arbitization.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Acco in flames

Acco has been a "model of Jewish/Arab relations" for the past number of years. They shop at each others stores, eat in each others restaurants and drink coffee together like brothers. At least that's how it was until Yom Kippur. In an obvious attempt to incite a riot, the Arabs sent a driver playing loud music into a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur evening. The Jewish residents asked him to stop and when he refused they roughed him up a little bit (He was not sent to a hospital and had no serious injuries).
At the same time, the loud speakers at all the mosques in town started blaring that the Jews were attacking Arabs for no reason and they should all get over there. 2000 arabs attacked the Jewish section of Acco, smashing car windows and shops, beating up people and burning things. Arabs were yelling "itbach al yahud" "slaughter the Jews."

God told the people of Acco, your prayers were ignored.

After Yom Kippur, the Jews had had enough. They went on a rampage and starting their retaliation. Apparantly, the police had forgotten that it was their job to stop the Arabs and they didn't much stop the Jews either. Houses were firebombed and people were beaten up. There is a call for an economic boycott of all Arab businesses in Acco.

I heard from an Acco resident that her eyes stung on her way home from shul after Yom Kippur because of the amount of tear gas that had been fired on the crowd. She said she doesn't even live in that neighborhood. Right now she is completely freaked out and is thinking of moving in with her grandma in Haifa just to get away from the madness. The Arab leaders have agreed to condemn the violence but they do it in such a wussy manner that it is telling the Arabs, you go slaughter some Jews, and we'll say "noo noo".

Sunday, October 05, 2008

my shabbos shuva drasha

In our shul we have a speech on Friday night in between kabalas shabbos and maariv. The rabbi only speaks on shabbos mevarchim and the other 3 weeks a month, they ask a member of the community to speak. We have a lot of rabbis in our congregation so most of the time we do get a rabbincal speech, but every once in a while they ask someone who is not a rabbi to speak. This week they asked me. This was not just a regular shabbos, this was shabbos shuva, the shabbos between rosh hashana and yom kippur. During the day the rabbi gives a long drasha that is supposed to fill your heart with thoughts of repentence. I turned him down at first, but he insisted and wouldn't accept any of the alternative speakers I suggested. Generally, I speak in shul one day I year, shabbos zachor. We sell Aliyahs on that shabbos and a couple of years ago they decided it would be funny if someone who didn't speak hebrew very well would sell them.
In any case, I agreed to speak and prepared my 5 minute shabbos shuva drasha. Everybody seemed to enjoy it. I could tell by the shock on people's faces when I started out yelling "Repent! Repent or you'll burn in the fires of hell" and the smiles that broke out when I said people must have considered Hosea a hypocrite for talking about repentence that it was a success.

The only negative comments I got were a couple of people who thought that maybe instead of saying "go forth and sin no more" I left out the "no more" and called on people to just sin. All of the other people just said they really enjoyed it. My Hebrew has drastically improved in the past 5 years and everyone actually understood me.

If anyone wants to see the English translation, let me know.
Here is my speech in Hebrew, for your enjoyment:

שובו! שובו פן תשרפו באש של גהינום!

כך אמר לי איש – יחף ומלוכלך - ברכבת של ניו יורק לפני 15 שנים. עכשיו אני עומד פה מול קהילה של רבנים, תלמידי חכמים ואנשי ציבור וחשבתי לעצמי מה אני יכול להגיד לכם על תשובה?

ההפטרה שלנו מתחיל עם הושע אומר לשבטי ישראל, "שובה ישראל."

מי זה היה הושע? הספר מתחיל אם סיפור שצווה אותו לקחת אשת זנונים ושיהיה לו ילדים. לפי כמה מפורשים הסיפור קרה בדיוק כמו שכתוב. בעיני העם חייב להיות בעיה דתית עם הושע. איזה צבעוני לדבר על תשובה בנאדם כמוהו שמםתובב עם נשים כמו גומר בת דבילים.

הייתי מדריך בתנועת נוער בארה"ב שעסק בקירוב רחוקים. היה להם אירוע לגייס כספים וכמה מהבוגרים דברו. נער אחת ממשפחה דתי עמד ודיבר על החווית החיים ונסיונות שלו וגם דיבר על ענייני מוסר ותשובה. הוא אמר שעכשיו הוא התאושש וחזר לדרך הטוב והישר אבל הוא זכר שבתון אחת במלון שהוא גילח עם סכין גילוח והזמין פיצה לא כשרה. היה שוק והלם שנער ממשפחה דתי יכול להגיד את זה, במיוחד שההורים שלו ישבו בקהל.

מה זה תשובה – זה תהליך שחייב לעסוק בו רק אחר שעושים חטא

ומה זה חטא – זה פעולה נגד רצון ה'

ומה זה ה' – הוא מלך מלכי המלכים, בורא שמים וארץ, שנותן לנו הכל, איש כפי צרכיו ולכולם יש תכלית אישי ומסלול החיים שהוא צריך ללכת.

איך אפשר לדמיין בן אדם שעובר על רצון השם? משוגע הוא? אחר הפרשיות הקודמות שתיאר מה יקרה להעם שלא הולך בדרכו. “בהמתו שחט לפניך ולא תאכל ממנו" "גלות" “עונש" “נשים אוכלים בנם"

אבל בסוף פרשה שלנו משה רבינו אוסף את כל המנהיגים של כלל ישראל ואמר להם:

כי ידעתי אחרי מותי כי השחת תשחיתון וסרתם מן הדרך אשר צויתי אתכם וקראת אתכם הרעה באחרית הימים כי תעשו את הרע בעיני ה' להכעיסו במעשה ידיכם"

משה ידע שיש חטא, היה לו הרבה נסיון מאז שהוא התחיל להנהיג את בני ישראל. חטא דבר טבעי

וזה מה שהוא רצה למסור למנהיגים של העם. תנהיג בסבלנות. יהיה עונשים. וזה גם תהליך של חיים - של לומדים מהשגיעות שלנו.

לפעמים קשה לקבל דברים כאלה מרבנים שנראים בעינינו כמו לא מהעולם שלנו, רחוקים הם. כך היה לנו את הושע, היה לנו הנער ההוא, היה לנו את האיש היחף ברכבת ועכשיו יש לכם אותי. ואני אומר לכם תהיה לכם סבלנות. אתם תחטאו, בני זוג שלכם יחטאו, ובניכם ובנותיכם יחטאו. זה נורמל, וזה טבעי.

יהיה עונשים גם לכל אחד פרטי וגם לכל העם.

לדלג לפרשה הבאה:

הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט א-ל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא"

שבת שלום

Friday, October 03, 2008

after shmitta planting

Well the new year started and shmitta is over. Like Yom Kippur, where you start building your sukka immediately after, we tilled the land and planted carrots (That's the only vegetable in season right now). I will not be surprised if they do not grow, because we were supposed to but them 2 cm in the ground and 20 cm apart from each other and my children have a hard time following instructions. It's not simple to just go out and plant now that shmitta is over. If the plant was created in a forbidden way during shmitta then you can't plant it after shmitta either. This is the reason we got seeds. (Also because they didn't have any flats of what I wanted.) I don't have a tiller, so I did it with a shovel. It was pretty difficult. I think the reason the vegetables didn't work 2 years ago when we tried (aside from the fact that we were chased away from our home by Katyushas and our watering system stopped working) is because I didn't till the land. So this time, I made sure to till first.
It will take 1-2 weeks until the buds start coming out and then 2 months until we can eat them. These are organic carrot seeds, and I dodn't spray them with anything, so these will be real organic carrots. I was very excited to be able to plant right after shmitta. It's like saying that the only reason we didn't work the land the entire year was because God told us not too. As soon as the prohibition ended we went and planted.

Now I have to work on my sukkah.
BTW, does anybody know what days the chol hamoed concert in Bet Shemesh is this year?