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  • in reply to: Shelo Asani Isha #1050900

    “So just be honest and say, “?????? ???? ??????”.”


    in reply to: Shelo Asani Isha #1050893

    I stopped saying *shelo asani isha* a few months ago. I’ve read more than a few of the apologetics for this, some of them by frum women and for me at least they no longer wash. They all seem to be a variant on theme of “Since men are spiritually weaker than women, Hashem gave us lots of particular mitzvot & that is what we are thanking Him for.” Even if one accepts this idea (I don’t, not any more), it still doesn’t sound right (“…who has not made me a woman”), on the contrary. Methinks a better way could have been found to express the idea. So I’ve been saying what women say & thus praising Hashem *she asani k’ritzono*. (He did.) Works for me.

    in reply to: Why is everybody anti anti-vaccine theories, a dissertation #1100431

    “Why is everybody anti anti-vaccine theories, a dissertation?”

    The verbiage is a mask for neo-Luddite ignorance. They blather on so much because they have so little to actually say, nothing with any hard science behind it anyway.

    Refusing to vaccinate one’s children should, as a rule, be considered felony endangerment. We ought not to hoist our children on our own ideological petards.

    in reply to: A real debate about women #1049753

    So Adina Bar-Shalom stepped up to the plate and flinched. She will suffice with heading the Shas Women’s Council and be the frontwoman for a movement that deems half of Am Yisrael to be unfit to stand for public office. Tsk, tsk, tsk. To paraphrase Thomas More (played by the late Paul Scofield) in the classic 1966 film “A Man For All Seasons”, “It profitteth a woman not to sell her soul even if she gain the whole world, but for the Shas Women’s Council?”

    I wonder if Eli Yishai will have any women on his list?

    in reply to: A real debate about women #1049713

    The Jewish Home has two religious women MKs (Orit Strock & Shuli Moallem-Refaeli) but, of course, they’re Zionists.

    A hot rumor has it that the daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef z”l, Adina Bar-Shalom, who founded the Haredi College (*Hamichlala Hacharedit*) in Jerusalem, may receive a high spot on former Likud MK Moshe Kahlon’s new list.

    Shlomtzion Hamalka, the widow of Alexander Yannai, was queen of the Hasmonean state from roughly 76-67 BCE. She was Rav Shimon Ben-Shetach’s sister. The sources say very nice things about her (Megillat Ta’anit 11, Midrash Vayikra Raba, and a few other places). She undid much of her pro-Sadducee husband’s damage. Her brother’s reforms were successful and accepted partly because she backed him up. Her reign is the only bright spot in the latter years of the Hasmonean state.

    in reply to: A real debate about women #1049691

    MDG, what tsniut issue??!!

    Lior, it is interesting that you, a man I presume, say, “There is no reason why women should be in the public spotlight, something contrary to Jewish tradition and law.”

    Devorah & Shlomtzion are contrary to Jewish tradition?

    I do not subscribe to the common (and infuriating) liberal fallacy that confuses equality with uniformity and presumes that an absence of the latter means a lack of the former. But neither is there any reason why women who are half of the tzibbur cannot represent the tzibbur equally well (or poorly, I suppose) as men. Something rankles me when women are deemed fit to work, support their families, pay taxes and vote, and otherwise do as they’re told, but are considered unsuited to stand for public office.

    in reply to: A real debate about women #1049686

    C’est la vie.

    Quoth Mao (of all people): “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.”


    in reply to: Remember Lipman? #1046636

    I’m trying to get Rav Lipman to come speak in our neighborhood like he did last time around. He’s part of the reason why I voted Yesh Atid & why I look forward to doing so again.

    kj husid, you posted:

    “Tzionim are all the same”

    Thank you! 🙂

    in reply to: a divine madness #1044808

    crazybrit, you posted:

    “I am sure your post was supposed to say ‘Rabbi Miller Worded it like that'”

    ??? 🙂

    Randomex, you asked:

    “When calamity befalls the Jewish People, to what else might it be attributed?”

    Hallavai that life & faith were that clear-cut. When calamity befalls the Jewish People we ought to say that Hashem has His own reasons which He need not explain to us. Like Devarim 29:28 says: “The secret things belong to Hashem…” Perhaps we should take David Hamelekh’s advice (Psalms 131): “Hashem, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in things too great, or in things too wonderful for me. Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; {N}

    like a weaned child with his mother; my soul is with me like a weaned child.”

    The Jerusalem Post quoted Rav Ephraim Stein, who was at the shul in Har Nof during the recent terrorist attack but who survived unscathed (physically at least), as saying:

    Not everything has to have a reason that is comprehensible to such as we.

    in reply to: a divine madness #1044800

    “He explains the cause of the destruction in Europe was because of the sins of the jewish people.”

    How does he know this? Hashem told him?

    in reply to: Natan (Haftarat Chayei Sarah) vs. Yosef (Parshat Vayeshev-Miketz) #1042422

    DaasYochid, you mean that Yosef erred by seeking to do hishtadlut for himself whereas Natan did the right thing by his hishtadlut not for himself?

    coffee addict, Yosef was in prison. So he asked twice; how is that so different from asking only once? Why did Natan “have” to say everything he said?

    I thank you both but your answers seem awfully arbitrary. What sources can you cite?


    in reply to: Kick Him Out! #1041832

    Reality check: How many of you actually have children who are, or were, juvenile delinquents/”swayed” children?

    in reply to: Har Habayis Debate: Baryonim of our times? #1041020

    tzviki16, you mean, of course, Rav Kahana Mi-Pum-Nahara, the 3rd-4th generation Amora from Bavel, right? Please tell us what he teaches about Har Habayit. Thanks!

    in reply to: So who here has actually been in the IDF? #1040512

    Aryea, please feel free to show my posts to your wife; I’m flattered.

    When our boys were little, they used to like to go to the IDF Armoured Corps Museum at Latrun & climb on all the tanks (and even into some of them). I would always daven that that should be as close as they would ever have to come to such things. That our eldest will be in the IDF a year from now and that my wife and I will have to learn to dread knocks at the door weighs on my mind.

    in reply to: Har Habayis Debate: Baryonim of our times? #1041014

    I do not think the historical analogy is so clear-cut.

    However, there is a mindset on the part of some who champion going up to Hat Habayit that scorns anyone who won’t go up to Har Bayit (and won’t join them in poking their opponents in the eye) as some kind of Galut-mentality weaklings who kowtow to the goyim. Rabbonim who oppose going up to Har Bayit (including some very notable Zionist rabbonim) are simply ignored.

    A friend of mine goes up to Har Habayit on occasion. But he told me that he goes to daven, not to make a point, and that he sees his visits to Har Habayit as very personal & very private and nobody else’s business. I contrast this with the parade of politicians to Har Habayit who go not to commune with Borei Olam but to make a point, to get their names in the headlines and bolster their political standing among whatever constituency they cater to, and burden the police who must allocate resources (that could be used elsewhere, say, in the war against crime) to protect them.

    The gratuitous, triumphalist let’s-rub-the-Arabs’-noses-in-it aspect of it reminds me of those Protestant Orangemen in northern Ireland who periodically march through some completely Catholic neighborhood to mark some medieval battle in which the Catholics were routed. Ugh.

    in reply to: So who here has actually been in the IDF? #1040508

    Thanks Syag Lchochma!

    Part II?

    I said, “Kashrut was occasionally problematic, especially at the tinier places I was at but one manages.”

    When I was at that (then) tiny roadblock between Ramot & Kever Shmuel, we had a hot fleischig lunch delivered (in foil pains) every day from a nearby Border Police base (the one next to where yesterday’s vehicular terrorist attack started). For the other meals we were on our own. We had a big tent with a few gas burners and big cooler that served as our fridge (for the cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, salami & such). The guys there would cook whatever they liked so I would only eat cold food for the other two daily meals (it was do-it-yourself). I got kind of sick of that & took to making soup in our coffee pot (the only thing anyone ever made in it was coffee so I figured it was OK). IDF charoset comes in little foil packets & was made with lots of pureed dates, Sephardi-style. It was also laced with so much ginger that it could have been used for maror. Mixed with alot of cottage cheese & spread on matzah it made an OK breakfast.

    One year I was seconded (as the Brits say) to the Nahal Haredi. This was, I think, 2001, when it was still in its infancy & one actually had to be haredi to get into it. (Now anyone get into Netzah Yehuda, as the Nahal Haredi battalion is called.) We were at a little base in the Jordan Valley, just north of Jericho. Seeing that great social-religious experiment up-close-and-personal was very cool. You could divide the guys there into two groups. First, there were the Idealists, very dedicated, idealistic young haredi men who really wanted to serve in the IDF, as long as certain conditions were met (more about those in a minute), and some of whom had been ostracized by their families & communities for serving in the IDF. Then there was the Fringe, guys who, for whatever reason, didn’t fit into the haredi yeshiva world here & were on the fringe of haredi society. (More than a few of these guys had ADD/ADHD written all over them.) Some forward-thinking rabbonim figured that something had to be done to help these guys to avoid their drifting into petty crime & such. With the army thy could work & make lives for themselves. So these two disparate groups were tossed together to make the Nahal Haredi. What were the “conditions”? 1) No women at the base. 2) The kitchen was mehadrin, maybe not all Badatz, but everything had to have some mehadrin heksher. 3) Barring security emergencies, they would have time to daven shaharit in the base shul every day. At shaharit in the morning I could tell who was who: The Idealist were davening & the Fringe were goofing off or otherwise just passing the time.

    One of the Fringe guys told me a story that still makes me want to cry. He said that he was in a haredi yeshiva high school somewhere here & one day raised his hand to ask a question. He said that he wasn’t trying to be a smart-aleck & that he really wanted an answer (I believe him). His question was, “Why is it important to believe in G-d?” The rav came over, slapped his face & told him to get out. He never went back.

    It was nice that year riding around on motorized patrol & talking about the parsha or some other frum topic & not the usual bs that reservists talk about.

    That was the year I was in for Tu B’Shvat. On Leil Tu B’Shvat, I was out on mototized patrol. As we were riding around I found myself looking up at a beautiful sliver of a crescent moon. Think what’s wrong with that picture. I *knew* it was Tu B’Shvat & wondered why the moon wasn’t full. I thought that maybe I had nodded off or had taken a knock on my head. Just when I was ready for the Twilight Zone music to kick in, I asked our officer to look at the moon. He said, “Yeah, nice eclipse, isn’t it?” I felt *so* much better.

    My last stint of reserve duty was in February-March 2003. I was a male escort. Really. I was seconded to a company that rode shotgun (actually we had M-16s) on all the schoolbuses & other vehicles that took kids from the (mainly chiloni) yishuvim in the Jordan Valley & along the Allon Road to/from the various regional schools. We would have to get up very early & be driven by our Druze drivers down to the various meeting points to meet buses before they started picking up the kids. One of our Druze drivers was a youg guy doing his first stint of reserve duty. As we drove through this one Arab area, he would always scream curses at the local Palestinian Arabs. I asked him why one day. He turned to me with dead seriousness and said, “You cannot hate them the way we do. We will teach you how to hate them.” I was a bit taken aback. (‘Course when you realize that the Border Police officer who was murdered in yesterday’s attack in Jerusalem was a career Druze officer who left behind a pregnant wife & three young children, you begin to figure out why there is so much bad blood between the Druze & the Palestinians.)

    I did the medic’s course back in 1991 at the big base at Tzrifin, across the highway from Kfar Chabad. We were there for Pesah (but got out for Leil Seder). Our seargent came around before Pesah & asked who among our group ate only matza shmura for the whole of Pesah. These guys ate at a separate table in the dining room. The incredibly nice people at Kfar Chabad *donated* enough matza shmura for the whole of Tzrifin (as they do every year, I think)!!!

    One year I was at a base at Dotan in northwest Shomron. Next to the base firing range was an ancient well that local Bedouin say is *the* well that Yosef was dumped into. We went out one day to have a look. That was ultra-cool.

    The year that I saw all the stars was the year I was in for Tisha B’Av. The CO took me off motorized patrol that day & posted me at the base gate where I could sit in the shade. It was still hot. I asked our Rav back in Yerushalayim & he said that since I was at a base on the Egyptian border, I had to be alert & could drink if I need to to stay alert, which I did. IDF rules say that any soldier who fasts is entitled to a hot meal after the fast. There was precisely one other soldier at the base who was fasting but the cook was cool. He fired up the grill & made us schnitzel & chi..french fries, and then joined us.

    Whenever, at any of the places I was at, we were short for a minyan, it was always the (more traditionally-minded) Sefardi guys who would help us make up the minyan. (Chiloni Ashkenazim couldn’t be bothered.)

    And when I was discharged (before I schlepped out to my base to get the discharge certificate), I received a form letter from our battalion CO informing me of my impending discharge & asking me if I wanted to volunteer to keep doing annual reserve duty even past the legal discharge age. I read the letter & showed it to my wife & said that I would like to be one of those guys that you read about in the paper, who keep doing reserve duty well into their 40’s and 50’s so I could be an example to our boys. I quoted Kennedy’s famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” My wife didn’t say a word. She just glowered at me. What a look! Phasers from the Enterprise at full power could not have borne into me like that look! I tore up the letter and that, as they say, was that. (Do other wives do that?)

    in reply to: So who here has actually been in the IDF? #1040506

    I (51) did four months (basic training & then the combat medics course) back in 1991 in the framework of the (now discontinued?) “Shlav Bet” track for older immigrants. I was home only on Shabbat/chagim during that time.

    After finishing the medics course (with a final mark of 88) & being appointed a medic (rank of corporal), I was assigned to a reserve medical unit. We were an intermediate unit, more than a battalion aid station but less than a field hospital. We functioned as a unit only during exercises & emergencies. In order to complete our annual stints of reserve duty & get our annual quota of days in, we were assigned to a pool of medics. Every year, we’d get called up, meet all together at some base & then get sent out to various units, wherever they needed a medic. This way, I got to meet lots of different people & see many parts of the country.

    I had to get used to dealing with the heartache of leaving my wife, and then leaving her and our eldest son, and then leaving her and both boychiks for 3-4 weeks a year, sometimes over various holydays. (And of course my wife had to get used to both seeing me disappear for 3-4 weeks and seeing an empty place at the table and sleeping in an empty bed and having to deal with the horrible fear that the knock at the door might be two soldiers from the IDF Adjutant’s Office.

    The first time that I went off to reserve duty after our oldest boy had learned to walk and he was old enough to notice my absence, my wife said that he’d waddle into the various rooms of the flat, look inside and ask, “Abba?” I remember the first time I went off to reserve duty after we had adopted him, I was afraid that he wouldn’t remember me when I came home. I remember how overjoyed I was when I came home and he looked up at me & his face lit up and he got all excited & started waving his arms.

    I’ve been on the Egyptian border (1993), on the Lebanese border (1992), in Lebanon (in 1994, by about 300 yards) and in the Jordan Valley, including on the northern end of the Dead Sea (lots of times).

    In the late summer of 1993, I was at a little base on the Egyptian border, between Sinai & the Negev, way out in the middle of nowhere. One night, I drew the all night/wee hour patrol shift. Myself & three other guys were about 20 miles north of the base, on motorized patrol. We stopped for a break. Our Bedouin tracker made coffee on his little portable gas burner & we turned off the lights on the jeep to enjoy the stillness. We were at least 20 miles from the nearest electric light & it was a perfectly clear night. I looked up and just stared in awe at the heavens. I have never, either before or since, seen such a display of stars, the sky was carpeted with them! I could see the Milky Way. I saw falling stars. It was awesome (and humbling). I said the bracha oseh maaseh bereshit. I stood there, just gaping upward, for about 10 minutes until it was time to resume patrolling.

    As we were riding around that night I remembered how back in the US when my brother (3.5 years younger than me) & I were little kids, we would be afraid to go all the way downstairs first thing in the morning (we were always up before our parents) lest the monsters down there get us. So we’d go as far as the landing on the stairs & then call for our big German Shepherd (whom we adored). We’d call for him & wait there on the landing until he came to the foot of the stairs, all bleary-eyed & wagging his tail. Then we knew that it was safe to go downstairs because our good, good dog had chased the monsters away. And I thought about this and I looked around and saw that I was armed to the teeth (M-16 with 5 clips, a heavy swivel-mounted machine gun & a box of grenades) on guard against monsters who were all too real. All I could do was remember that time when the only monsters were the ones in two little boys’ collective imagination & who could be chased away by the family dog.

    I still have a small callous just on the palm of my right hand just below the indexfinger from when I spent 2 hours sweeping & mopping the shul at the base where I was at in 1995.

    I remember seeing the Hale-Bopp comet through the big binoculars in the guard tower at the base I was in in the Jordan Valley in the early spring of 1997.

    I remember, in February 2003, being in the base guard tower (in the Jordan Valley) on a Friday evening, as Shabbat was coming in, in the midst of a howling rainstorm, as the tower windows (shatterproof) were rattling in the wind, and singing Lecha Dodi and feeling as close to Hashem on Shabbat as I’ve ever felt.

    My company commander is/was a real sweetheart, a very nice guy, who looked out for us, went to bat for us, etc. One year, we were all waiting around, on the day we had to report, to receive our assignments. One of the guys sauntered in very late. We kidded him that the company commander would be upset (he wasn’t). The guy, a big burly fellow, said, “Ah, I’m not afraid of him. I’m afraid of only two things in this world, Hashem and my wife.” One of us (not me!) asked him, “Nu, who are you afraid of more?” He replied, “I can see that you’re still single.”

    In August 2000, we had a 1.5-weeklong exercise at a huge base down in the Negev (the desert region comprising southern Israel). We were in the classrooms at the base for a week and then packed up & shipped out for a 3-day field exercise way out in the desert. It was HOT, it was dusty (and we had huge trucks, halftracks, jeeps & such driving all over the place, kicking up LOTS of dust) and I was forced to go 66 hours (by my calculation) without showering. Sanitary facilities consisted of a convenient gully or ravine. I got home (just before 01:00) as dirty as I’ve ever been and as trans-exhausted as I was (I got about 6 hours sleep during this 66-hour period), I went traight into a shower. I had to shower myself twice; one wash just didn’t do the job. I slept for 14 hours afterwards.

    I ate army food that ranged from lousy to mediocre to pretty good (but was almost unifornly bland; I started taking a bottle of Tabasco sauce along with me). I slept in sleeping bags a) on a stetcher under the stars, b) in tents, c) in barracks, d) in underground bunkers, and e) in the back of an open halftrack. I froze (wore 3 pairs of socks), and melted in 100-degree heat. I learned the joys of getting a full aerobic workout simply by walking (thanks to the enormous quantities of thick, viscous mud stuck to my boots). I cultivated my love of Turkish coffee in the IDF (and learned from my Bedouin & Druze comrades the importance of buying the good stuff).

    There’s nothing like being woken up by having an excited 6-year-old and an excited 3-year-old jump on your head, shouting, “Abba’s home from the army!”

    Kashrut was occasionally problematic, especially at the tinier places I was at but one manages. Just before Pesah one year, I was stationed at the (then tiny) roadblock/checkpoint as you go out of Ramot towards Kever Shmuel. During the week before pesah people kept bringing us their chametz. We got cakes, donuts, cookies, you name it. The post was just a few paces outside the Ramot eruv. I called a rav friend of mine (now in Australia) & asked him a few fine points about muktze & such. He called me back later & said that one of his (haredi) rabbonim lived in Ramot & invited me for any meals I could get away from the post for. The last day of Pesah was on a Friday that year; I went to him for Thursda night & Friday night dinners. Lots of locals along the way to his flat asked me if I needed a meal. (I carried my M-16 & ammo, not muktze those, and nothing else.) I did get out for Seder that year. I was in for Purim, Chanukah, Tu B’Shvat & Tisha B’Av but not the chagei Tishrei (thank Hashem).

    I was by the now-closed Adam Bridge in the Jordan Valley once. I asked the rav of the Jordan Valley Brigade (who happened by the base) if, citing Yehoshua 3:16, I could say the bracha “sh’asah lanu ness bamakom hazeh.” He said yes but that I would have to go down do the river to do so (the base was some way off) and since I never got down there I never said the bracha.

    I was discharged in May 2004. After getting my discharge certificate, I walked over to the base shul. I needed to say mincha because it was late enough in the day that if I left right away & drove home, I would get home too late to say mincha. But before I actually said mincha, I walked up to the aron kodesh & took hold of the parochet and kissed it and held it to my face and cried as I thanked Hashem for affording me the privilege of serving in the IDF. I thanked Him that I had never had to aim a weapon at anyone, much less fire one (except on the shooting range). I thanked Him that I never had to put an IV into anyone except in exercises and that I never had to anything more serious than take out splinters, give out paracetamol & refer soldiers to this or that doctor. I thanked Him for keeping me & my family safe & whole. I thanked Him that I was fortunate enough to have never done anything as an Israeli soldier that I should be ashamed of or regret. After thanking Him a good bit & having a good cry doing so, I stepped back & actually said mincha. I said the tefillot for the welfare & well-being of my fellow soldiers, the memorial prayer for the soldiers who fell and the prayer for the State of Israel. I then left the base & drove home.

    Our eldest son (now in 12th grade) will be inducted next October.

    How’s that?

    in reply to: How does the legend of Icarus resonate in the Torah? #1039910

    Nadav and Avihu?

    in reply to: Son's best friend otd #1035917

    How does treating people (it’s not just kids) wrestling with OTD issues (not monolithic) like they were metzoraim help the situation? Such treatment merely reinforces whatever prejudices and sense of alienation they have.

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