Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mishulachim Drivers

There are certain jobs in the working world in which making a commission is justified. For instance, in high school I worked for The Sports Authority selling footwear (insert Al Bundy joke here). At this job, getting paid on commission is beneficial for both the employee and the employer: if I get paid on commission I will work harder to sell more pairs of shoes, which, in turn, will make the company more money. That being said, there are obviously jobs in this world where this concept wouldn't make sense. I would imagine that the overwhelming percentage of those reading this are not paid on commission. Your working harder, while it may indirectly benefit the company, is not bringing immediate returns to them.

Using the above logic, if someone could please enlighten me as to why on earth the guys who drive around the mishulachim make a commission (usually 30%), I'd be all ears. It's ridiculous. These drivers exist to be a service to the mishulachim. Sure, they're using their cars. Sure, it's taking up their time. I'm not arguing they shouldn't be paid - they absolutely should. But why do they get a CUT of the action? They should be paid by the hour for their services; how would a driver drive "harder" to make the mishulachim more $$? Are they going to drive 5 mph quicker from Park Heights to Greenspring? Give me a break.

A mishulach asked me for a ride last evening from shul to the other side of town, and I agreed. I asked him if he had a driver, and he responded that he couldn't afford to have a driver; he couldn't afford to give someone 30 out of every 100 dollars. In effect, the mishulachim have now become a service for the drivers. I have heard there are people that drive for a living; they have no other parnasa than to drive these people around; seems like a sleazy way to make a living to me (yes, this is my opinion).

What do I recommend? I recommend a per hour salary. Something like $10-$15 an hour. That way, the mishulachim are getting a desperately needed service from the drivers for a reasonable fare; and the drivers are still being reimbursed for providing this service. If mishulachim are turning down the option of having a driver because of the price, something is wrong with the system. When they are turning them down, despite their feet being covered in blisters, something is wrong.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Imam Hendi

And you say Frederick isn't an exciting place?

A couple weeks ago the leader of the Islamic Society of Frederick, Imam Hendi, called for an open dialogue with the Frederick Jewish community regarding hostilities in light of the situation in Israel and Lebanon. He claimed that all parties involved were responsible to come together for discussion; after all, according to him, the religions have much in common. He cites these common grounds as "an emphasis on social justice and the Golden Rule." First of all, I'm skeptikal of Islam in general; but, even if they do subscribe to these principles, is that reason enough to come together for discussion? I'm sure there were plenty in the Nazi party who believed in social justice and the golden rule. Does the alleged common bond oblige us to come together in discusson? I think not. Just because we may share beliefs on certain issues does not mean we share responsibility in the current situation.

In response to the Imam's call for dialogue, Rabbi Kosman (who, for the record, did not know he was being interviewed for the paper) replied, "It's obvious that no truth is going to come out of this", and said that he "[doesn't] want to put him in a public forum." Rabbi Kosman concluded, "This guy, and Islam, they want to kill us. There's nothing new about that for Jews. Now they want to kill Christians, too. You'll find out that Islam is out to get you. I promise you that. And I'm not a pessimist."

Let's just start out by saying that Rabbi Kosman is not an man that incites; he doesn't go around looking for fights. In fact, Rabbi Kosman is probably the most gentle, sweet man you will ever meet in your life. This is the same man that hugged a young man after the man was at fault for hitting the Rabbi's van. So, any comments of these sorts made by Rabbi Kosman are made, not because he is out to get anyone, but because he must feel that this is 100% fact.

While Rabbi K's comments are obvious sharp and to-the-point, I believe they are warranted. Imam Hendi, in his call for dialogue, does not do as much as to condemn Hizbullah for their shelling of Israeli towns or hiding in residential areas. For someone who represents a religion that hasn't exactly had an amazing track-record in recent history in regards to terrorism, there is nothing to discuss without immediate acknoweldgement that the acts of his people are those of terrorist nature. The reality is that if any of these Hizbollah terrorists were to infiltrate America, they would slit your throat (yes, even you Mr. Liberal) in a hot second. You want to talk? You gotta speak out against those thugs first.

As previously noted, I am skeptical of a religion whose members become more hostile as they become more religious. I therefore believe that we must assume that Imam Hendi condones Hizbullah's actions until we hear otherwise. Would I believe him, even if he said he condemns their actions? Probably not. But, at least he'd be giving us a little lip-service. Hendi: until you say that you're opposed to Hizbullah's thuggish actions, you deserve no pleasure of dialogue with Rabbi Kosman.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Careful What You Wish For....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Parshas Shoftim

Just a quick thought on the Parsha...

The pasuk in this week's parsha (17:8) says, "You shall arise and ascend to the place that Hashem, your G- d, shall choose". Rashi, quoting a Midrash says that the word "ascend" teaches that the Temple was situated higher than all other places. R' Elya Meir Bloch notes that we, of course, know that there are many places in the world that are higher than Har haMoriyah (ie, Mt. Everest). What Rashi, quoting the medrash, is saying is that since the earth is a sphere, any place could theoretically be at the top of the sphere. The medrash is suggesting that because of it's holiness the temple was situated at the very peak of this sphere.

Basically, the medrash is teaching us that even though a place may not be inherently a peak or inherently holy, it has the ability to serve as a peak, depending what we do in it. Because of the Avodah that was done on Har haMoriyah, it was upgraded from being dwarfed by many things, to being the peak of the world. I think we can learn a lot from this lesson.

I think it teaches us that regardless of situation we are in we have the opportunity to upgrade that place to be something greater than it inherently is. Regardless of if you're the only Jew at your office, your high school, or your city, the wrong attitude to have is one that says, "this place is devoid of Judaism and there's nothing I can do." The proper attitude is one of perseverence, one that urges you to push forward, regardless of the inherent value of the place. I know people that have been in certain situations where they would say, "I know there's no way I can do this or that THERE." A person with that attitude is doomed for failure. Our responsibility is to take whatever situation we are in and learn from Har haMoriyah that what really elevates something's status isn't its inherent attributes, but rather, that which we do to elevate it ourselves.

Nothing Better to Do?

So I'm driving around town yesteday, doing some errands, when I pull up to a 4-way stop behind a car, who is the only car at either of the 4 stop signs. He sits there, not moving, for a period of 5 seconds before I finally honk my horn for approximately .5 seconds. Unluckily, there was a cop who was sitting out of sight who proceeded to pull me over. I wasn't sure what exactly I did wrong; after all, I did stop at the stop sign. He proceeded to tell me that in the state of Maryland it is against the law to use your horn except in case of emergency. He asks for my license and registration, and asks me if the address on my license was my current address. I see no reason to lie, so I respond in the negative. He asks how long I have been living at the new address, and, not seeing a reason to lie, again, I say a little over a year. He comes back with a $40 citation for not telling the DMV my new address within 3 months of moving into my new address. Ridiculous.

Morals of the story:
  • This man needs a girlfriend. If he has a girlfriend or a wife, it's not my fault his relationship with her sucks
  • If asked by a cop if the address on your license is correct, ALWAYS SAY YES
  • If you do not heed the above warning, when asked how long you have lived in your new residence, the answer is always LESS THAN 3 MONTHS


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Interfaith Marriages

Thankfully, our Sunday/Hebrew school/Camp Shoresh education has engrained in us Frednecks the desire to marry someone Jewish. Things happen, however, and people fall in love. This is precisely what happened to a longtime best friend of mine who is getting married next summer. The question is: does someone like myself, who is obviously upset with his decision to end his family's line of Judaism, attend the wedding? Or, do I need to show a personal protest by not attending? Of course, the easy thing to do is hope that it is out of town; which is what I was hoping for. However, even though they've lived the last 6 years of their lives together in Florida, they are coming back home for the wedding. Next, I was hoping for a Shabbos wedding. OK, I just realized that I was hoping for a Jewish guy to get married to a non-Jew on Shabbos - maybe that's not the best thing I've ever hoped for in my life. Regardless, it would help me out greatly. But, when I ask him what day of the week he's getting married on, he replies, "Sunday - I could never get married on Shabbos." Interesting - he doesn't realize the effects he is having on his Jewish yichus by marrying a non Jew, yet he's frum enough that he won't get married on Shabbos. My final hope: wedding in a church; then, I definitely would be able to get out of it. Nope - wedding in a regular wedding hall. OK, I guess it's good that he's not getting married in a church on Shabbos, but again, it would've helped me out tremendously. I can still hold out for a broken engagement, but let's assume they go through with it.

So - what to do? To go or not to go? That's the question...

I feel that, as a general rule, those in the frum community would not attend the wedding of a friend or relative that was marrying a non-Jew. I could be wrong in this belief, but for whatever reason, I get that feeling. I am not here to judge anyone, as I know each case is different and comes with it's own set of circumstances. Those circumstances, in thise case, led me to my conclusion: to go to the wedding, both ceremony and reception.

Regarding the decision to attend both the ceremony and reception, my thinking was the following. I stand to gain nothing, and lose alot. If I were to skip the ceremony, and go only to the reception, in my mind, I am still giving support to his decision to marry a non-Jew. By skipping the ceremony (which, as mentioned, is NOT in a church) I stand to offend my friend. He's a fairly sensitive guy to these types of things, and not going could get him upset with me - which, as I will explain in a second, is the entire reason for my attendance at the wedding.

So why go to the wedding if, after all, it is a show of support for his marriage to a non-Jew?

Regarding the decision to attend any part of the wedding at all, this was my thinking. For whatever reason, every religious person that this person has ever had contact with has lost touch with him (or he lost touch with them - whatever). A lot of this being out of touch has to do with the fact that he went to college in Florida, rarely coming home, and has lived there ever since. Whatever the reason is, I am the only religious (Jewish, that is) person this guy has left in his life. As mentioned before, by not going to the wedding, I will alienate myself from him, thus leaving him with a total of 0 religious people that he is in contact with. There have been numerous occassions where I have reminded about Tisha B'Av, Passover, Sukkot, etc., and he has actually observed the holiday in some fashion. Anything that keeps him in touch with Yiddishkeit after he marries into Shiksakeit will be through me. Additionally, with statistics like this, chances are, his marriage will end in divorce. I would never wish the strife that comes with divorce on anyone, but this is the reality. Perhaps, if things don't work out, he'll be much more likely to listen to what I have to say; after all - I was the person that was there through everything.

I do believe that in every Jew is a Pintele Yid - that spark that wants to come closer to Yiddishkeit. My continued contact with my friend is an aid to that spark; and I know that by not attending his wedding, I will be throwing water on that spark, as small as it may be.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Certain Foods in the Middle of a Meal

I've always been fascinated with the way the olam in general views halacha; sometimes justifying non-compliance with explicit halacha by saying, "the minhag is not like that" (standing in place after Amidah), yet other times refusing to budge from code (talking after Barchu). I also find it interesting that there are certain halachos that the majority of people aren't even aware of. It is one of these halachos that I wish to discuss.

The laws of which Brachos to make on foods can become quite complex. Artscroll and Feldheim have both published informative books on the matter. People have various customs regarding making a bracha on foods eaten for dessert. However, regarding food eaten during the main part of the meal, a seemingly easy way to avoid having to make brachos on other foods is to wash and eat bread, thus alleviating the necessity of making any further brachos - after all; once you wash, the bread covers all food. Ahh, not so fast, the Shulchan Aruch (177) rules that:

ואם הם דברים הבאים שלא מחמת הסעודה, דהיינו שאין דרך לקבוע סעודה עליהם ללפת בהם את הפת, כגון: תאנים וענבים וכ מיני פירות, אם אוכל אותם בלא פת, טעונין ברכה לפניהם…

"And those things that are not brought because of the meal, which is, things that it isn't the normal way to establish a meal upon them, to give taste to the bread; for example: figs, grapes, and all fruits - if eaten without bread, they require a bracha before eating them".

This halacha uproots the notion that haMotzi covers all food eaten after it at the meal, and implies that all fruits eaten during a meal, if not eaten with bread (I don't know anyone that eats fruit with bread), requires a bracha. The previous explains that those things that are normally eaten with bread do not require a bracha during the meal, and it lists: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and cheese. Fruit seems to be singled out as the thing that requires a bracha, as it is never eaten with bread, and never eaten to satiate (at least according to the SA/MB)

Below are a couple of counterintuitive examples of things that do require a bracha in the middle of the meal in addition to those requiring a ha'etz:
  • those things that are brought as a treat, even if their bracha is "ha'adamah" (watermelon, strawberries)
  • chocolate/sweets (same reason as above)
  • fruit soup, even at the beginning of the meal (SVT Shibolei haLeket, R' SZ Auerbach)

Disclaimer: as with anything, always check with your local rabbinic authority.

Friday, August 18, 2006

We got 2 Jews!

Screw you Mel Gibson...

Denis Leary-Mel Gibson

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Parshas Re'eh

After blogging almost-daily in Israel, I needed a brief hiatus to get my creative juices flowing once again. I'm back in the game, and have come up with a couple ideas for new posts. For now, just a D'var Torah. During the year, I hope to continue posting a D'var weekly, something that I received a lot of positive feedback on. Anyway...

This D'var is adapted from the Parsha Insights of Rabbi Eli Mansour

The parsha starts out with Hashem telling us, "Look ya'll, I got a blessing and a curse to put in front of you." All of the commentaries go crazy with the fact that the word for "Look", Re'eh, is in the singular tense, while the word for "in front of you", Lifneichem, is in the plural tense. The Torah doesn't just do this for fun, so what gives?

In a seemingly unrelated aside, the Kli Yakar gives advice on how one should view life. He says that we should view our proverbial "scales", of both ourselves as individuals, and the world as a whole, as being perfectly balanced with an equal amount of sins and mitzvos on either side. Therefore, if they are perfectly balanced, each action we do, whether it is a mitzvah or a sin, can tip the scales to the corresponding side. The Kli Yakar explains that the individual has the ability to tilt, not only his scale, but the scale of the world when doing a deed/sin - thus, the individual can have a profound effect on the world around him. One that lacks this vision, the Kli Yakar explains, is like someone who drills a whole in their cabin in their boat. Upon the captain coming down demanding he stop, the man says, "Look, I paid for this space - it's mine; I can do whatever I want." What this man doesn't realize is that he isn't just affecting himself; he is also affecting everyone else in the boat.

This is what Hashem is telling us in the Pasuk. Re'eh (look, you individual), I have a blessing and a curse to put Lifneichem (before you; remember, you, the individual, can affect EVERYONE around you, not just yourself).

So many times, after coming back from a great workout at the gym, I rationalize something I probably shouldn't eat, telling myself, "It's OK - you just burned off 300 calories, I can afford these 200." The same thing can happen, and does happen, when doing mitzvos. It's very easy to say a similar thing, that I'm a good guy, daven 3 times a day, learn, etc., so what's the big deal if I do such and such." Or, as often happens, this happens the other way, where people who aren't observant Jews would suggest that since they aren't religious at all, what good is davening once a week; wearing Tefillin once a week, etc.?

If we lived with this mindset - that each and everyone one of our individual actions can tilt the scales one way or the other, it would be much harder to fall into the trap of bringing your past merits/demerits to your credit/discredit, and thus putting more emphasis on each individual decision placed before us. Have a good Shabbos.

Oh yeah, and WO HOO on hitting the 10,000 visitors mark. Thanks Ya'll!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Israel Day 16

Day 16, our last day in Israel, was a pretty busy day. We started out with a little packing in the morning/early afternoon. We had our last lunch at Cafe Rimon, followed by the obligatory ice coffe. After dropping some stuff off at a friend's for my brother-in-law, we hit up another ice coffee, and went back to the apartment to pack some more.

In the early evening, we headed to this artsy festival, Chutzot haYotzer, which was being held outside the old city walls. We didn't know much about the festival, aside from the fact that there was a 40 shek entrance fee. As it turned out, this may have been the highlight, or at least the biggest surprise, of our trip. Yeah, it costs 9 bucks to get in, but anyone that is anyone in the Israeli art world was there and selling their stuff, all for very affordable prices. Think of Artscape in Baltimore, with less people, and more afforadable prices. Additionally, they shipped in people from over 30 countries to take part in the international art festival, where items were available from these countries. Funny, America wasn't represented - I guess we steal all of our stuff from the rest of the world.
After meeting Phil in town for a last beer, I realized that I forgot to go to the Kotel from the art festival, so I headed to the Kotel after midnight to say my goodbyes. This was definitely more like a 8.798 on the aforementioned 1-10 scale. So, here I sit, 1:30am, with a wakeup call 4 hours away, and I still have packing, showering, etc to do.

And you thought Slifkin was bad?

I was telling someone at work how much I love Israel. I told her if I had the chance to go anywhere in the world, it would be Israel, hands down. After I told her that a couple weeks ago, I found myself asking myself whether this was just lip service, or whether I really meant it. These past 2.5 weeks made me realize that this was more than just lip service. Damn it, this is the best place on earth. If you've never been, or haven't been in a while, get here. Sure, it's easier said than done, but there's no way I would've rather spent the last 2.5 weeks of my life doing anything else. We are so unbelievably sad knowing that we are leaving in mere hours...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israel Day 15

Today was a fairly light day. After a late start, we went to town to do some skirt shopping for the wife. I've totally gotten over the whole "scared to go into a store selling only women's clothing" thing. It doesn't even bother me anymore, and I just run around the store picking out stuff for PegLaz to try on. After buying an ice coffee, falafel, and another ice coffee, we headed home to cool off for a bit. We ran out soon thereafter towards Meah Shearim, where I learned with J. Radbill for a couple hours in the Mir, and the wife headed to do some more, you guessed it, shopping.

We went right back to town after learning/shopping to have dinner with PegLaz's best friend from her BY class, and her husband, a Bostoner chasid. Admittedly, I was a bit worried that him and I wouldn't have much to talk about. However, we actually got along great and had plenty to talk about (read: scotch). It was quite a pleasant dinner at this fairly new Chinese place, and I was glad Peggy got to reminisce about her school years with one of her best friends. We didn't finish dinner until after 10, when we headed home to spend some time with the sister-in-law and fiance.

Thanks for leaving funny comments. Last day tomorrow - we are really sad to be leaving.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Israel Day 14

Today we decided to branch out a little bit and take a trip to Tel Aviv. We spent some time at the beach, and the weather, as usual, was quite pleasant - not too hot, not too humind, and plenty of sun. Not much else to tell about the beach; the beach is the beach is the beach. I did realize, however, that we take advantage the luxury of finding kosher food at ease in Yerushalayim. In downtown Tel Aviv, everything is open on Shabbos; a big no-no in the kashrus world. Finally, we did find an overpriced dairy restaurant, but we were just happy to have anything in our mouths besides sand.

Not getting much business lately?

That being said, the overall experience if being in Tel Aviv proper is a truly miserable one. First of all, the city is disgusting. If you think Jerusalem is dirty, Tel Aviv is 10x worse. Next, and worst of all, I feel like I'm working out at the JCC when walking around - haMavin Yavin. Everything from the Tachana Merkazit to the street corners were filled with dirt; not to mention the place is void of Judaism. When going to a foreign country, I am not really interested in going to a place that is similar to a place from my home country. If I wanted to see Tel Aviv (sans beach), I could just take a trip to NYC. It was good to get some color and hit the beach, but, holy jeez, Tel Aviv is gross.

Oy, I hope I haven't just committed the sin of the spies....

Anyway, the eveing was spent hitting up Burger's Bar, hanging around the apartment with sister-in-law and fiance, and christening the new hooka with Phil. A midnight Cafe Rimon trip capped off a long day...

A couple funny stories from yesterday that I forgot to post. So I’m walking in a shuk and a notice an obviously American family. Their son had to go to the bathroom, and, besides the fact you’re not going to find a public restroom in the shuk, they went about asking by saying, “Where’s the W.C.?” For those of you that don’t know what the heck a W.C. is, it’s a Water Closet. A lot of the bathrooms here in Israel say on the front “W.C.” That being said, I’ve NEVER heard anyone call the bathroom a W.C. Obviously, the people they asked had no clue what the heck they were talking about. I kindly informed them that they would be better off calling the WC a “bathroom”, and I also taught them the word for bathroom in Hebrew.

Next, and not quite as comical, is the fact that the poor people out here that are not poor are so bad at faking being poor, it is comical. I saw a lady collecting money, claiming to be poor, all while wearing 200 shekel “Crocs”. I also saw a guy collecting, who, at the end of his “shift”, wizzed away in a motorized scooter. I make a point to never give anyone money that will waste it on Crocs, a scooter, cigarettes, or beer.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Israel Day 13

We told ourselves that our last couple of days here would be spent doing fun, new things. But, I wasn't surprised when we ended up spending our day in Meah Shearim and in town. We spent a good amount of time in Mea Shearim picking up gifts for others and checking out a few sheitel places. Spending time in sheitel places consists of my wife trying on sheitels and myself sitting in the stairwell staring at a sign that says "Shytels" - see picture. Also picked up a pair of tzitzis, stencils for my mother, and the obligatory falafel.

Dinner was in town at New Deli, which is basically Burger's Bar with deli instead of burgers. Picked up some more gifts for people, yada yada, walked around.

Funny comment: when watching movies on Israeli TV, anytime there is cursing in English, the words "L'Azazel" appear on the screen. Only in Israel.

Tel Aviv tomorrow!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Israel Day 11/12

Friday morning/afternoon was spent taking a trip to Malcha mall. There were a ridiculous amount of people there, and, like usual, I made out like a banchee in Zara. OK, OK, I didn't really make out like a banchee, but anytime I find a Shabbos shirt for less than $25.00, that's a good day. Anyway, there are always a lot of Arabs in Malcha mall. Trips to this mall always hammer home the following point: Arabs have it good in Israel. They claim they are harassed by the Israeli soldiers and considered second class citizens - this very well may be. But, the truth is, none of their "bretheren" surrounding Arab nations want them in their land. So, they live in Israel, and shop and mingle in the same malls and same stores as we do. But, Gd forbid we would ever step foot in THEIR land - we'd be shot dead in a second. Sounds like we kinda get the raw end of the deal in that case - although, I'm not sure I'd WANT to step foot in an Arab village.

Anyway, we wandered around for a little while in the mall before coming back to our apartment to get ready for Shabbos. Shabbos was spent in Katemon at Phil and Racheli's. We've spent a decent amount of time with them here, and it's always good to catch up with friends from back home, especially ones with a similar life story as you. All in all it was pretty uneventful, stam Shabbos. Saturday night we walked around Emek Refaim before I decided on a bagel joint. Who knows what the coming week will bring - I will keep you posted though (no pun intended)!

Scotch consumed this Shabbos was:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Israel Day 9/10

Setting up for Tisha B'Av services at the Kotel

Day 9 and 10 were grouped into 1 post due to the lack of photo opportunities on Tisha B'av. Yesterday, before the fast, was spent downing mass quanities of water and taking a pre Tisha B'av trip to the Kotel. Some would suggest a more appropriate time to go would've been on Tisha B'Av instead, however, I was told by many to avoid it as it is too much of a social scene. Upon peeking around in the air-conditioned tunnel next to the Kotel, I found a (what seems to be) new part with a great, new, well-organized Seforim collection. I popped a seat in front of the Kotel for some last minute review of Hilchos Tisha B'av.

Anyway, we took a bus from the Old City back to the Central Bus Station, except it took us 30 minutes to get from the Old City to Meah Shearim, so we jumped off and walked back to our apartment. We spent the rest of the afternoon back at the apartment eating and drinking (water). I will say that my pre-fast meal consisting of plain pasta, a bagel, grapes, and pitas left me sailing through the fast with some ease. We davened last night at Ohr Someyach, and this morning at a little Ashkenazi sheteibel that I found. It's surprisingly hard to find an Ashkenazi minyan here in Nachlaot, so after some wandering I have been davening at the aforementioned shteibel. If I felt out of place at R' Bergers, yikes, I'm even more out of place here. That being said, I have been befriended by an elderly man at the shul, who even saved me a seat this morning at davening - so clutch. The rest of the day was spent around the apartment, passing time, etc etc, and break-fast was on a bowl of pasta, pita, and 2 Marzepan ruggelach.

Ahh the "Likavod Shabbos" shave

After the fast I headed to town for a beer/hooka with my old roommate, who is currently learning for the summer at a Lubavitch yeshiva. Speaking of Lubavitch, I'm almost done reading The Rebbe's Army, by Sue Fishkoff, which is basically an in-depth look at the Lubavitch world. I will make comments after completing it.

Regarding the situation, I spoke to some friends who recently made aliyah (same friends we stayed with last Shabbos) and are going to America for a couple weeks to visit family and friends. Since they live in Tel Aviv, and because Nasrallah tonight threatened to bomb Tel Aviv, I suggested they picked a good time to go home. Quite the opposite, they told me. They told me they felt horrible leaving their homeland at this time of crisis; they felt as if they were abandoning their country in a time of need. Definitely an interesting and refreshing thought on the matter.

Plaque remebering those who died in a 1996 bus bombing on Jaffa St.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Scotch Blog and Kashrus

Not to brag, but a shorter, translated-where-necessary version of a 2-piecer (see here and here)I did a while back has been published on The Scotch Blog. Kevin Erskine, the author of the blog, and I correspond frequently and requested that I do this piece for him. Check it out!

Israel Day 8

Before all, I recommend everyone check out Mentalblog, who has pictures of funerals of IDF soldiers who have recently fallen defending Israel. Some may consider it morbid, but honestly, it put me in the proper mood for Tisha B'Av.

Anyway, we took Penina's advice yesterday and went to the Biblical Zoo. While it was very nice and I even found an animal that looks like my wife when she is mad at me (see below), there wasn't anything biblical about it. On each of the cards explaining the animals was a biblical verse, however, it wasn't a verse about that animal particularly, and the verses it had in English and the ones in Hebrew were often different. Anyway, there were some cool animals, and the monkeys are always my favorite. As a side note, I found it nice that the zoo was offering a discount to those who live up north and have been forced further south.

After we cooled off we ate dinner at Village on the Green, a vegetarian restaurant, which was surprisingly good. I highly recommend the lemon-based vinagrette salad dressing. We had then planned to head to the Israel museum, but opted to do a little shopping instead - the major purchase was a new hooka. I asked the first guy how much it cost, and he said 200 shekels. Upon walking away, he told me he'd give it to me for 160. I walked away again, found an 18 year old kid in the back, asked him how much it was, and was told 120 by him. I bought it on the spot.

With Tisha B'av coming up, I'll probably limit the posting, but we will be back up after the fast. I hope everyone has an easy, yet meaningful one.

A plaque remebering those killed in the 2001 bombing at Sbarros - notice 5 members of one family died

The calm before the storm, followed by the storm itself.