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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘facts’

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Noach: Of Facts and Narratives: Postmodernism and the Ohr HaChaim

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

In a recent film review in the Jewish Review of Books, Prof. Gavriel Rosenberg blames Holocaust denial on a postmodernist ethos. According to Rosenberg, this ethos has allowed dangerous extremists to make up their own truth and present it as an equal narrative to one actually based on facts. Indeed, postmodernism is often decried as making everything artificially subjective. But that is not the only perspective on the topic. Indeed, there is another Rosenberg, who saw things quite differently. I am referring to Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg (more popularly known as Rav Shagar), a well-known Israeli rabbi, who saw postmodernism as something that Jews should appreciate. Here is not the place for a long exposition about Judaism and postmodernism, but suffice it to say that the second Rosenberg certainly had good grounds for his argument. As I discussed in a recent interview, the Torah itself presents parallel narratives of the same stories, thereby showing that the same events can truthfully be constructed in more than one way.

And yet with all of that, facts remain facts. A nice illustration of the latter is presented in an unexpected source. Rabbi Chaim ben Attar is the only writer in the Mikraot Gedolot who is known primarily for his mystical, kabbalistic, take on the Torah (Ramban only mentioning such insights here and there, and very much in the shadow of his more mainstream observations and analyses). And yet though I don’t think we would be mistaken to align postmodernism and Jewish mysticism, Ohr HaChaim shows us is that even mystics recognize the sanctity of facts:

One of the perplexing facets of the story of the Tower of Bavel is trying to understand exactly what its builders did wrong. When not much evidence is provided – as in this case – interpretations understandably vary widely. Among the most homiletically pleasing, however, is Rashi’s understanding that the men of the Tower wanted to fight against God (Bereshit 11:1, 9). It is not pleasing because of the position staked, but rather because of its answer to the obvious question: The punishment that they received doesn’t seem to fit the crime – all that happened was that God destroyed the Tower and divided them into different language groups, making sure that they would disperse and settle among their own groups. To this Rashi (11:9) responds that they got special consideration for ‘good behavior’ – their goal may have been diabolical, but they got along with one another. And that alone was worth suspending what should otherwise have been a clear and immediate death sentence.

Ohr HaChaim (Bereshit 11:1) however rejects this explanation, as something that does damage to the integrity of the text, citing the famous Talmudic rubric, “ein hamikra yotzei midei peshuto.” He is not disputing that the homilies that Rashi cites have value. What he does dispute is their advancement as an interpretation of the facts presented in the text. The question Rashi anticipated is one he asks as well, but the notion that one can be exonerated for fighting against God by being a good citizen is one that Ohr Chaim does not even dignify with a mention. Yes, being good to your neighbor is important – perhaps even more important than being good to God – but there is absolutely no way that it cancels out the death penalty that fighting against God rightly deserves. Moreover, the focus of the story seems to have very little to do with any struggle against God to begin with, thereby making Rashi’s words seem even more far-fetched. Rather, the men of Bavel just wanted to provide a better, more secure future for mankind. In order to do so, they used the only three things at their disposal: their labor, their unity and the natural resources around them. The plan was to pool these things and make a city stronger and more secure than what they had known before.

So what did they do wrong? Says Ohr HaChaim, go back to the rest of the facts: How did God respond? Simply by vetoing their plan. He had already given man a charge to conquer the earth and subdue it. And this would certainly not be accomplished by everybody staying in one nice safe city. In a word, they chose security over destiny, when God had already mandated the latter over the former. Given that this was the case, God overruled them and forced them to establish multiple areas of inhabitation.

While there may be room to disagree with both his critique and his interpretation, Ohr HaChaim does us a great favor by showing us the seriousness with which we must approach the holy text. In truth, even serious postmodernism does not create a free-for-all of ignoring facts and saying whatever one wants. And if that is true in postmodernism, all the more so should it be true in parshanut. Doing so is more than a good idea – it is an indelible cornerstone of Kavod HaTorah.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

You Asked, I Answered! – Teenage Myths And Facts, Reading Benchmarks, And Bedtime

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Q: There’s so much talk about parenting young children these days. What about teenagers? They seem like they should get their own attention!

A: Below, I’ve included some myths and facts about teenagers that can help guide parents.

Teenage myth #1: Parents and teens just need to survive the adolescent years. The teenage years are all about pain, confusion, and terror.

Teenage myth #2: Hormones make teenagers go crazy.

Teenage myth #3: At the end of adolescence, teenagers become adults and are completely independent.

In his new book, Brainstorm, Dr. Dan Siegel debunks all three of the myths.

Teenage fact #1: The teenage years are not about surviving, they are about thriving. There’s a lot of work taking place during adolescence that is necessary for teens to develop core character traits for the future. Teens who test boundaries and who have the passion to explore are working on themselves.

Teenage fact #2: There are more hormones during the teenage years, but it is the changes in the way the brain is developing that motivate their behavior.

Teenage fact #3: Teenagers do not become adults and completely independent at the end of adolescence. In reality, they are moving from dependence to interdependence – the ability to depend on you and your ability to depend on them.


Q: What are some reading benchmarks for children?

Family Section.indd


Tips to Encourage Reading

Ages 3-5: Point out text in your everyday routine – on the cereal box, on street signs, and in the supermarket. You can also play word games, writing out words yourself and then having your child copy them with stamps or stickers.

Ages 6-7: Get involved with your child’s reading at home by knowing what they are doing in school. If your child was assigned to read a Cam Jansen mystery, take fifteen minutes and read it before bed one evening. When reading becomes a communal activity, it is more exciting and enjoyable. In addition, if your child is reading a book (any book that is appropriate), you shouldn’t pass negative judgment on it (even if it is a silly topic or below grade level). Reading breeds more reading and that is the goal.

Ages 8-10: Board games are great ways to encourage your blossoming reader. Boggle and Apples to Apples require simple reading skills that can help reinforce what your child is doing in school. It’s also great to keep a lot of age appropriate reading material in the home. This way, when your child is bored, you can always point to a book for entertainment.


Q: I’m having a lot of trouble with bedtime. Do you have any suggestions?

A: In my experience, a lot of parents struggle with bedtime – and what comes after. Struggles can arise from different sources.

Challenge: Your children are climbing the furniture. You don’t know how you can force them into their beds, but you definitely don’t think they are going to fall asleep.

Solution: There’s a chance that your children are overstimulated, but the more likely culprit is that bedtime is too late! When children get overtired (yes, there is such a thing), their bodies kick into overdrive and they get hyper. If you want to ensure that doesn’t happen, consistently get them into bed between 9.5 and 11 hours before they have to get up in the morning. This will allow them to get the sleep they need in order to function the next day.

Challenge: Every time you think you are done with bedtime, your child asks for another story or another glass of water. Or, he tells you his socks don’t fit right.

Solution: Create a bedtime routine that can include brushing teeth, washing faces, reading a book, telling a story, rubbing the child’s back, singing Shema, or any other calming ritual that your family enjoys. If possible, create a poster or small book with simple drawings so that your child can understand the routine. Then, explain that you will not deviate from it. The routine will allow your child’s body to understand that it is bedtime and, thus, time to relax. If you stick with the routine, your child will also eventually stop asking for those extra stories and cups of water.

Challenge: Your child is afraid of the dark or what’s in her closet.

Solution: Your child’s fears are very real and should not be ignored. However, bedtime is not the time to address those fears in a genuine matter. If you are aware of the fears, sit down with your child and talk to him about what scares him. Explain that things are the same in the dark as in the light, we just can’t see them. Help him look in the closet during the daytime. Read books about fears so he can see how other people overcame them. Maybe he will feel better with a nightlight or a special doll to hug. That said, once you have done these things, bedtime is bedtime.

Challenge: You stick to a bedtime routine, but your child still won’t go to sleep. And, even when he does, he wakes up throughout the night.

Solution: There are various disorders that can disrupt sleep, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), previous traumatic experiences, or sleep apnea. These need to be addressed and diagnosed by a doctor, psychologist, or educational specialist. If these sleep issues persists, it is best to consult a professional.

Rifka Schonfeld

9 Facts You Need to Know about Hallel Ariel, Who Was Murdered in Bed by an Arab Terrorist

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

1. Hallel Yafa Ariel, 13 and a half years old, was on summer vacation, having just finished the 8th grade.

2. Hallel was related to Israeli Minister Uri Ariel.

3. The terrorist-murderer was 17 years old, Muhammad Taraiyre, from the village of Bani Naim. He climbed the fence at 8:44 AM, was spotted by security cameras, but made his way quickly to the Ariel house and murdered Hallel Yafa by stabbing her dozens of times while she was asleep in her bed.

4. The terrorist was neutralized by a member of the civilian Rapid Response Team. Another member of the team, Yehoshua Gilboa, was severely injured. The determination and drive of the RRT stopped this terror event from spreading any further.

5. The funeral will begin at the family’s home in Ramat Mamre “Kharsina” neighborhood of Kiryat Arba. The procession will conclude at the Ancient Jewish Cemetery in Hebron where the burial will take place. The funeral is expected to draw Ministers, Knesset Members, Rabbis and other spiritual and cultural leaders.

6. The Jewish Community of Hebron puts the blame for this murder squarely on the heads of the Palestinian Authority. The Jewish Community of Hebron calls on the State of Israel to cease supporting the PA and Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the murderous organization behind the incitement and today’s barbaric act. The PA was created by the State of Israel under the Oslo Accords, and continues to survive daily only due to the support of the State of Israel. It is ridiculous to support this Jihadist monster and then accuse it of terrorism.

8. The local Arab population works in Kiryat Arba without any sense of discrimination. Even thirty minutes after the murder, Arabs were seen working in the town unhindered. Our fight is not with the Arabs, but with the Jihad — a supremacist ideology.

9. This morning Rina Ariel, the mother of the victim, spoke at the hospital, saying, “My daughter was simply asleep, calm and serene, she was happy, and a terrorist came to her bed, in Kiryat Arba, and killed her… I want everyone to see our pain and to come console us. Hallel, may your memory be a blessing.”


Jordan: Myths Vs. Shocking Facts

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Many Western and Israeli journalists paint a rosy picture of a Jordan’s “peaceful regime” and “stable throne.” As you will see in the next few lines, those descriptions are very far from the truth.

Even worse, some journalists, do claim “authority” on Jordan’s politics despite failing to do the proper groundwork and research, assuming that spending a week in a five-star hotel in Jordan entitles them to judge the status quo. Some claim authority about Jordan just because they can read Arabic and then translate Jordan’s official state media stories as “exclusive analysis” of their own.

Such practice of deliberate misinformation should worry every American and Israeli, as it does end up feeding wrongful information to the public opinion and eventually influencing decision makers into taking the wrong actions. Therefore, those either uninformed, ignorant or simply sell-out journalists do threaten American, Israeli and Jordanians’ interests.

Here, you will see the pure naked truth presented against the myths that some media people keep misinforming the public with, at best, out of ignorance or, at worst, spreading lies on purpose..

Myth: Israel sees Jordan’s regime as stable and depends on it for security

Fact: A recent Israeli intelligence leak shows that Mossad leadership believes the king and his regime are on their last legs and as such, he will never be able to pass the throne to his heirs. This is one possible reason why Israel is building a $1 billion mega wall across Jordan’s borders. [1]

Myth: Jordan is friendly with all of its neighbors, making it a stable country

Fact: Despite alleged peace with neighbors, Jordan’s king has clearly aligned himself with Syria’s Assad. Why? The King fears that Assad’s fall could bring his own. As a result of his belief, he is close to Assad’s supporter:  Iran. He has also been provoking, antagonizing and disturbing Saudi Arabia and Israel. The King’s official media is in the process of inciting not just a war of words against the countries, but anti-Semitic programs (including the stab-a-Jew go to heaven program).  In fact, an official Israeli statement recently described Jordan as a “major contributor to the unrest in Jerusalem”, through both: incitement and action. [2]

Myth: Jordan has survived the Arab Spring

Fact: Jordan has been in a total chaos and unrest since 2012. As a result, both the US and UK embassies in Amman have elevated their security warnings for travel in Jordan. Additionally, gun battles are happening in the capital Amman and the south, including Petra tourist area – daily. Gunfire is regularly exchanged between the king’s forces and the angry locals many of whom are simply looking for work or food for their families. With that in mind, anti-regime protests have become regular; and although not massive, they still mimic Egypt’s anti-Mubarak protests that proceeded the 2011 revolution, and extended between 2006 and end of 2010. Which means, those could escalate into a full-scale revolution sooner or later. [3] [4]

Myth: The king is revered, loved and respected by his subjects

Fact: The king, who has placed himself above the Constitution and all Jordanian law, is despised by his subjects, controls them with an iron fist and when they oppose him, they are often thrown in jail. They dub him “Ali Baba” which is equivalent to thief. Jordanians of all backgrounds exhibit sincere hatred for him over social media risking server punishment, which shows the actual level of dismay with the king and the royal family is much greater beneath the surface. Hatred for the king comes from all background, “East Bankers” do even exhibit much more vocal hatred -to the Hashemite family- than other Jordanians. In other words, the claim that “East Banker tribes support the Hashemites” is not only outdated, but also laughable.

Myth: The king of Jordan, lives in Jordan. If he ever leaves Jordan there would be chaos.

Fact: The king of Jordan spends more time out of the country than he does in it. In fact, he has been nominated for a Guinness Book of World Records, Record – as the Monarch holding office the longest in a country that doesn’t live in. Even his office is proud he spent 25% of the year abroad in 2015 alone.  This figure does not mention his “undisclosed personal travel”. After careful analysis, with all this time out of the country, one has to wonder how relevant the king of Jordan is to Jordan’s security, not to mention stability.

Myth: The king of Jordan controls the army and intelligence services and therefore he’s an asset to the USA

Fact: Jordan’s king has lost his grip on the army and intelligence. Since the 2012 “November Revolution’, those organizations have become independent and now coordinate directly with the US, UK and Israel. Because of this, the king is irrelevant to Jordan’s security. [5]

Myth: Jordan’s king is fighting ISIL, therefore, he is essential to US interest

Fact: Jordan’s contribution in the war on ISIS has been limited to six F16s and for only three months in 2015, after that UAE’s F16s began bombing from Jordan. Further, recent reports show Toyota trucks captured from ISIL were originally sold to Jordan’s government.  CNN Arabic reported Jordan is one of ISIL’s top oil buyers, and 4,500 Jordanians have managed to cross the borders to join ISIL under the king’s nose. Further, the king harbors and embraces the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL’s ideological mother foundation. [6]

Myth: The king has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood (MB); they are his enemies.

Fact: Jordan’s king has been in full cooperation with the MB. Historically, the MB stood up against the November 2012 revolution, crushing it while publically saying: “We won’t allow the king to fall”. The king’s Minister of Political Reform has said on TV: “The MB is a part of the regime”. The king refused Saudi’s, Egypt’s and UAE’s demands to shut down the MB.  Although supposedly vigorously fighting the MB, the king publically licensed 2 new MB organizations in the last few weeks. Despite the king’s claims, MB still operates their TV station, daily paper and a $3 billion trust fund. Further, the king is allowing the MB to patriciate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. [7]

Myth: The king could be a part of the solution to the Palestinian’s cause by taking over the West Bank

Fact: The Palestinians have historically hated the king and his ancestors. Why? Because they have lied to them, treat them as outsiders (see above) and are using them as pawns while the king consolidates power and ravages the country for every dime he can. In fact, if one thinks about it, if the king can barely keep control over Jordan, what makes anyone in the world think he can control the West Bank? Make no mistake about it, the King of Jordan cannot (and will not) bring stability to the country and west bank. [8]

Myth: Israel depends on Jordan’s regime for its borders security

Fact: Israel depends on its own military power and puts little confidence on Jordan’s regime protecting its borders, this is why it is now building a huge wall across the borders and why it has deployed the “Lions of Jordan” brigade across the Jordan valley, our Western sources confirm the IDF has a contingency plan that includes deploying troops across the Jordanian borders if necessary. Further, our inside sources confirm; Israeli drones and F16s are in fact protecting Jordan’s Northern skies, close to Syria and also coordinating with the US Central Command to protect Jordan’s borders with Iraq.



2- http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/200941#.V2XhtLgrLIU







Mudar Zahran

Jerusalem Day Special: Ancient City’s Latest Facts and Figures

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

In honor of Jerusalem Liberation Day, which is being celebrated on Sunday, June 5 this year (because Israeli holidays go by the Jewish calendar), the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has issued a plethora of stats about the city, gathered in the years 2014-15. So, here’s a sampling of everything you may have wanted to know about the tangible Jerusalem of this world:

Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel. By the end of 2015, there were bout 870,000 residents living in the eternal city, roughly 10% of Israel’s population.

Compare this with 2014, when Jerusalem boasted only 850,000 residents, out of whom 534,000 were Jews and others (63%) and 316,000 Arabs (37%).

Out of the Jews of Jerusalem, 32% define themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 17% are religious, 13% traditional-religious, 15% traditional but not so religious, and only 21% are secular.

Of those additional 20,000 residents, about 19,800 were added via natural reproduction, about 3,700 moved in from the rest of the country and from abroad, and about 3,500 left to other locations.

The main sources in Israel of migration to Jerusalem are the cities of Beit Shemesh, Tel Aviv, and B’nai B’rak. Jerusalemites who leave the city go to Beit Shemesh, Tel Aviv, and the enclave of Givat Ze’ev which borders Jerusalem.

The overall fertility rate (average number of children a Jerusalem woman is expected to bear in her lifetime) in Jerusalem is 3.91, far higher than the national average of 3.08.

A Jerusalem average household has 3.8 members, also larger than the national average of 3.3.

On the work front, though, Jerusalem could improve a lot: only 51% of Jerusalem residents are counted in the work force, compared with 64.1% nationwide. This does not necessarily mean folks in Jerusalem don’t work for a living, it could mean more of them fail to report.

Jerusalemites don’t like to commute: 88.4% of the city’s working residents are employed in their city, compared with 71.7% in Haifa, 62.2% in Tel Aviv, 57.2% in Ashdod, 44.4% in Petach Tikvah, and 36.2% in Rishon L’Tzion.

Jerusalem retains its residents: a full 77% of them have lived in the city for more than 20 years.

While 57% of Israelis nationwide are satisfied with the size and proportion of green spaces in their cities, only 30% of Jerusalemites believe they have enough parks.

In the school year 2014-15, 65.5% of Jerusalem students were in Haredi educational institutions, compared with 65.3% in 2013-14. This trend has continued persistently, as the number of ultra-Orthodox students is going up and secular students’ down.

In related statistics: fewer than half (48%) of 12th grade students in Hebrew education institution took the matriculation exams in 2013-14, compared with 51% the year before. This means that more than half of the city’s young people are eligible to attend college.

Also related: Jerusalem registers the lowest average annual income out of Israel’s eight largest cities: $37,944.36.

As for housing, 57.9% of Jerusalem residents own their apartment or home, 30.9% rent, and the rest live in school dormitories or rent paying a key fee (one high amount up front, followed by small monthly payments). The average price for a Jerusalem apartment is $484,026.34, the average monthly rent is $826.12.

Regarding visitors: 78% of tourists who arrived in Israel made sure to visit Jerusalem (the rest, mostly Scandinavians and Germans, presumably landed directly on Eilat’s magnificent beaches down south).

Close to 900,000 foreign visitors spent a night in Jerusalem’s hotels, marking close to 3,000,000 nights altogether.


Ivanka Trump Says NYT Distorted Facts of Father’s Treatment of Women [video]

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Ivanka Trump accuses the New York Times of distorting the facts about her father’s treatment of women in a story she says is “pretty disturbing, based on the facts as I know them.” Trump’s daughter, an Orthodox Jew, spoke to CBS “This Morning” show host Norah O’Donnell in an interview to be shown Wednesday.

“And obviously, I very much know [the facts], both in the capacity as a daughter and in the capacity as an executive who’s worked alongside of him at this company for over a decade . . . I was bothered by [the story],” Ivanka Trump says.

The New York Times Magazine on Sunday reported interviewing dozens of women who had worked with or for Donald Trump over the past four decades, in real estate, modeling and pageants, women who dated him, interacted with him socially — more than 50 interviews over six weeks. “Their accounts,” the report suggests, “reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct.”

Those interactions took place in his offices at Trump Tower, at his homes, at construction sites and backstage at beauty pageants. And even though to him they were probably unimportant moments, the NYT story suggests they left lasting impressions on the women who experienced them.

But the NYT report is not entirely negative, which is often the case with the Republican presidential hopeful. “What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait,” it says. “Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time. … He simultaneously nurtured women’s careers and mocked their physical appearance.”

Shortly after the magazine article had been published, Brewer Lane, one of the central figures being cited, who told of a humiliating episode where Trump displayed her before his guests at a pool party and forced her to put on a bathing suit, said in a Monday interview with Fox & Friends: “The New York Times told us several times that they would make sure my story that I was telling came across, they promised several times that they would do it accurately, they told me several times and my manager several times that it would not be a hit piece and that my story would come across the way that I was telling it and honestly and it absolutely was not.”

Lane said, “They did take quotes from what I said and they put a negative connotation on it. They spun it to where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump.”

The NYT report’s authors, Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, told CNN, “We really stand by our story, we believe we quoted her fairly and accurately and that the story really speaks for itself.”

Ivanka Trump told CBS the Times distorted facts about her father to fit its “strong thesis” about him, and cited the “backlash” against the story since it published. “It’s been largely discredited since….Most of the time, when stories are inaccurate, they’re not discredited, and I will be frustrated by that. But in this case, I think they went so far. They had — they had such a strong thesis and created facts to reinforce it…. And, you know, I think that narrative … has been playing out now.”


Egypt Coptic Christian Leadership Condemns Western Media Coverage

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

In the face of an unprecedented wave of violence directed against Coptic Christians amid the turmoil in Egypt that has left hundred’s dead, the church’s leadership issued a statement condemning the Western media’s biased coverage of the events in Egypt.

“We strongly denounce the fallacies broadcasted by the Western media and invite them to review the facts objectively regarding these bloody radical organizations and their affiliates instead of legitimizing them with global support and political protection while they attempt to spread devastation and destruction in our dear land,” reads the statement, according to a Google translation.

“We request that the international and western media adhere to providing a comprehensive account of all events with truth, accuracy, and honesty,” the statement added.

The Coptic Church also reaffirmed its support for the military-backed government, calling on the army and security forces to continue their fight against the “armed violent groups and black terrorism.”

One of the oldest communities in Christianity, Coptic Christians have survived numerous persecutions in the past. But the recent violence is unprecedented. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), an independent human rights organization, has documented 39 attacks against Coptic Christian churches, schools, monasteries and businesses since late last week, NPR reported.

Coptic Christians constituted a majority of Egypt’s population until the Middle Ages, when Islam, introduced by the Arab invasions in the 7th century, eclipsed their religion. Today, Coptic Christianity comprises nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, making it the largest single Christian community remaining in the Middle East.

JNS News Service

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egypt-coptic-christian-leadership-condemns-western-media-coverage/2013/08/20/

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