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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘phone’

Defense Minister Ya’alon: Assad Has Lost Control

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Against the background of the gas attack in Syria and the reports about hundreds of victims, perhaps more than a thousand, Israeli Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said on Wednesday that “the Syrian regime has lost control over the country, is present only in about 40 percent of its territory and is finding it difficult to subdue to opposition forces.”

Speaking at a ceremony welcoming the new Jewish year at the defense ministry compound in downtown Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said that “for some time now this has not been an internal Syrian conflict. We decided not to intervene in this conflict, but we drew red lines to make sure our interests are not harmed.

The defense minister expressed skepticism about the ending of the war in Syria. “We don’t envision the end of this situation, since even the toppling of Assad won’t bring about a conclusion. There are many open, bloody accounts yet to be settled by the various elements.”

“It’s a conflict that has turned global, with one axis receiving support from Russia and the other bein helped by the U.S. and Europe. Lebanon is connected to the massive Iranian support and therefore the war has been dripping into its territory as well. Inside Lebanon there are focal points of confrontation as well. But, generally speaking, the borders are peaceful and we are watching to make sure the cannons are not trained on us,” Ya’alon said.

According to rebel sources in Syria, the number of dead as a result of the chemical gas attack on a suburb of Damascus has topped 1,300, including women and children. The rebels are claiming this was a massacre of innocent civilians, who were hurt by poison gas in the area of the Guta camp, a rebel held spot outside Damascus.

A Syrian government spokesperson has said in response that those claims are unfounded, and are intended to sabotage the work of the UN inspectors who have just arrived in Syria to investigate earlier reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.

Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, head of the 20-member inspection team, told news agency TT that he finds the reports of such a high number of casualties suspicious.

“It sounds like something that should be looked into,” he told TT over the phone from Damascus. “It will depend on whether any UN member state goes to the secretary general and says we should look at this event. We are in place.”

Minister Ya’alon referred to situation in Egypt as well, saying there has been relative quiet on the Israeli border with Egypt, but noted that extremist elements like the World Jihad will attempt to destabilize the border.

He warned against the recent developments in the Sinai, such as the execution by Islamist terrorists of 25 Egyptian policemen, spilling over into Israel.

“Over the past week, the Sinai border has been the hottest, and it obliges us to realign for it.”

In Hebrew: ‘To Dial’

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

לְחַיֵּג As language develops, words sometimes depart from their original meaning to take on a similar but new meaning.

Take, for example, the English verb to dial meant something else to do with the word day in its original Latin, but today its main meaning is to press numbers on a keypad.

Likewise, the Hebrew word for to dial - לְחַיֵּג (leh-khah-YEG) – comes from the root ח.ו.ג (kh.w.g), which has to do with circles. This root appears in the children’s song, עוּגָה עוּגָה עוּגָה (OO-gah, OO-gah, OO-gah) - Cake, Cake, Cake, in the word נָחוּגָה (nah-KHOO-gah) - we shall go around (see a translation and transliteration as well as a video of the song).

What do circles have to do with dialing? You may recall the ancestor of the iPhone, the rotary phone, which had a round dial.

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Hamas Propaganda is Terror Art

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Israel does not target, with malice aforethought, children and other non-fighter populace.

50,000 warning phone calls were made last week to residents at potential locations that could be attacked.

Hamas places its weaponery amidst the civilian population. Its rockets also kill their own children when they explode on ignition or fall short.

poster like this

is not only horrendously gruesome and posed but evil misrepresentation.

With an enemy like this, with its warped logic, there is no common language.

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Whose Watchdogs Are They?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

It is morning and my car glides down the mountains of the Shomron into the smog of greater Tel Aviv. Another crazy day of running in the primaries is about to begin.

My cell phone rings. A young, determined voice is on the other end.

“Hello, this is so and so from the news website ynet. I am writing an article about donations to the candidates in the primaries. I wanted you to confirm a certain fact.”

“Go ahead,” I say.

“I see that you received a donation from a woman by the name of Nitzah Kahane,” the reporter says. “Is it true that Nitzah Kahane is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Kahane?”

Maybe I hadn’t yet completely awakened. Perhaps I was suffering from lack of sleep and loads of pressure due to the campaign. But that question peeled a thick layer of political correctness right off my psyche.

“Oh,” I said to the young reporter. “You probably want to show your readers that women support Feiglin.”

“No,” the man dryly answered.

“No? Then perhaps you would like to show your readers that a woman donating to Moshe Feiglin’s campaign is also an academician whose scientific articles are published in the most prestigious journals in the world.”

“No,” the young voice said yet again.

“Oh,” I continued. “Perhaps your scoop is that a woman who is a famous academician, a mother of 10, a grandmother of 15, who manages to synthesize running a beautiful family and a glorious academic career and is involved in the community and Israeli society in an unprecedented manner supports Moshe Feiglin?”

“No,” the reporter stood his ground.

“And after you hear all of this, don’t you feel just a wee bit loathsome?” I asked with disdain.

“No.”

“Okay,” I finish the conversation, “I submit that Professor Nitzah Kahane is the daughter-in-law of Rabbi Meir Kahane, may God avenge his blood, who was murdered 22 years ago in the U.S.”

“Thank you,” said the young voice in a professional tone. “That is all I needed.”

Screening Our Calls

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

As I sit at my home computer typing these words, virtual gale-force winds are blowing through my apartment, filling it with fresh – and free – air. This has not always been the case. In fact the electric bill for the past two months was astronomical, due in large part to our high usage of air conditioning virtually around the clock.

When we purchased our apartment “on paper” a number of years ago, we were among the first to buy in our particular development, and as such were in the enviable position of having first choice among the 48 apartments in the project. It was a no-brainer. We immediately selected the last upper unit in the complex, which afforded us the least noise, the most privacy and the best view and exposures. We have never regretted that decision.

The only downside to the arrangement was that although our cross-ventilation was incredible in theory, the lack of screens on our windows made it impractical to implement. So we did some research and came up with the name of a highly recommended “tris” and screen man. I immediately wrote his numbers on the first page of our local phone directory for safekeeping. We then contacted him, explained our dilemma and requested that he come by at his earliest possible convenience to measure for three screens that would afford us adequate cross-ventilation, even during the hot summer months.

He was very friendly and receptive over the phone, and somehow figured out multiple connections to a number of our friends and relatives. However, he was busy with larger, more lucrative jobs – and never showed up.

Every few weeks we would call him again, have a pleasant conversation, and await his arrival. But he never came.

Finally, we decided to throw in the proverbial towel and try to locate another workman to do the job. We added that task to our lengthy to-do list, and promptly forgot about it.

A few days later, a cousin who lives in our neighborhood phoned to invite my husband to attend her husband’s first ever siyum on Shas. My husband was not available to speak to her, so she gave me her cell phone number and I assured her that I would deliver the message and that he would return her call later that day. I did not want to risk forgetting this wonderful simcha, so I wrote her number on the very first page of our local phone directory.

I relayed the message to my husband as soon as I saw him. In addition, in my capacity as his unofficial secretary, I even offered to place the call for him, instructing him to pick up his extension on my signal.

You guessed it! In my haste to follow through on my commitment, I accidentally dialed the wrong number. The friendly, vaguely familiar voice that answered was definitely neither our female cousin nor the ba’al simcha. As my husband was about to apologize to the screen man for inadvertently dialing his number, the latter recognized my husband’s voice as well.

“I’m just finishing up by another Klein,” he said. “I’ll be over in just a few minutes.”

I quickly dialed my cousin’s correct number and my husband graciously accepted the invitation to participate in the upcoming siyum. He had barely hung up the phone when the screen man appeared as promised, just a couple of months late. He set to work measuring and ironing out the details of our order, as we looked on incredulously.

The following day, my husband attended the very moving and simchadik siyum, along with family, friends and neighbors. I stayed home and supervised the installation of our sleek new screens.

Now, as the cool fresh air blows through our house, I not only enjoy the pleasant breeze. I also marvel at the uncanny sequence of events that brought us to this very welcome new reality.

The Gemara in Chullin tells us that a man does not strike his finger below unless it was decreed from Above. I guess that principle may also apply to “screening” our calls!

The Maddening Thing About Moshe Kahlon

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

It looks like Moshe Kahlon, the popular and vaunted Likud Minister of Communications, will be the second consecutive Likud Central Committee Chairman to leave the party looking for more power. The first one, Tzahi Hanegbi who left to Kadima and was charged with handing out jobs to cronies and nearly convicted of perjury, is now back in Likud because Kadima has entirely crashed. He’s looking for a slot on Likud’s Knesset roster.

But that’s not what’s so maddening. After all, corrupt gangsters are all over the political spectrum peeking their heads in and out of political crevices looking for a slice of tax money. I am a voting Likud party member, and I don’t care all that much that Hanegbi is coming back. I simply won’t vote for him. What’s maddening is the reason that Kahlon is popular and polling 27 Knesset seats if he runs with former Kadima Diva Tzipi Livni, another a Likud defector.

The only reason that Kahlon is popular is that I, an Israeli citizen with a cell phone, only have to pay 20 shekels a month for good service now instead of 400. Why is that? Because Kahlon, in a fit of what must have been Divine Inspiration, decided that he, as Communications Czar of Israel, would just let the market be, get out of the way, and do absolutely nothing.

Quite literally, the best thing he did forIsraelwas to say that he would no longer forbid any company that wants to enter the communications market to do so. He decided he would no longer protect big business with government threats. He decided, in effect, that there was no need for a Communication Minister at all. And voila! More companies sprung up offering much lower prices, and the whole country now benefits from the free market in cell phones. (Or at least much freer.)

But what makes me want to put my head in my hands and weep “Oy Gevalt!” is that the country has no idea what Kahlon did or why it worked. The entire media is describing Kahlon now as an economic socialist, and that it was socialism and ingenious government regulation policies that fixed the cell phone market. All the people know is that Kahlon went into office and then the cell phone bills went down, so they all love him.

And the worst part is, Kahlon himself doesn’t understand why he succeeded. He really IS a socialist, into the welfare state idea and all that. He just happened to have a flash of genius once and did something totally libertarian, totally unsocialistic, by getting government out of the market and just letting it function. Now he thinks he knows how to fix everything with government, andIsraelbelieves him and will vote for him to do just that.

He’ll take that mandate, try to tinker with the free market somewhere, and the people will be disappointed, his party will crash, and he and everyone who goes with him will come crying back to the Likud, as they all do. Even Avigdor Liberman came from the Likud way back when, and now he’s back too.

All government has to do is get out of the way and leave everyone alone as much as possible. It doesn’t take Kahlon-ic genius to do that.

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Was ‘Internet Ban’ an Authoritative Decree of Torah Sages, or Just Baloney?

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

OK. The title is a bit extreme. But at least I have your attention. Last May – one will recall – there was a giant Asifa – a gathering of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews dealing with the dangers of the internet. Although it was billed as a way to properly use the internet, it was ultimately about trashing it and forbidding its use altogether accept for livelihood purposes. And even then – only with filters and only outside the house.

Not that any of that surprised me. But what did surprise me is the way Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman who introduced 99-year-old Israeli Posek, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner.

Using Rabbenu Yona’s Shaarei Teshuva as his source Rabbi Wachsman said that when Rivivos Yisroel (thousands of Jews) gather in one place and decisions for action are made by leaders of Klal Yisroel, those who separate themselves from those actions lose their portion in Olam Haba. I suppose he would call this ‘decision for action’ by Rav Wosner Daas Torah.

After that introduction what followed was Rav Wosner paskining in the most serious and solemn of tones that it is absolutely forbidden to own or use any device that has internet capabilities in one’s home – even if it is filtered. The only permit was for business, with a flter, and only outside the home. He added that it is even forbidden to enter a home that has the internet. And that religious schools should exclude children whose homes have it.

Despite that edict and Rabbi Wachsman’s dire warnings, that Psak has been almost completely ignored by the vast majority of Charedim. Although immediuately after that Asifa there was a flurry of activity by a number of Charedim to get rid of their smart-phones and remove the internet from their homes – the ban has basically been unsuccessful. I guess those poor people who still have smart-phones and the like (which is probably the vast majority of Charedim) have all lost their Olam Haba.

One of the things I noticed the most in my recent trip to Israel was that in the Charedi neighborhoods in which I hung out – virtually everyone had a smart-phone. They were so ubiquitous, that I could barely believe my eyes. Perhaps some of them had filters, I don’t know. But that wasn’t the Psak of Rav Wosner that Rabbi Wachsman said must be followed – or else! Rav Wosner said that it was only to be used for Parnassa purposes – with filters – in places of business. The Charedim I saw were using their smart phones causally at their leisure during Chol HaMoed Sukkos. Tons of them!

Not to let things just slide, members of the strident right keep coming out with public statements about such devices. Most recently just before Sukkos it was claimed by the Israeli Yated and other Charedi newspapers that Rav Chaim Kanievsky issued a public notice saying that anyone who owns an i-phone should burn it. It was later denied by sources close to Rav Kaneivsky saying that he only wished to warn people about the dangers involved.

Then something amazing happened. Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak was photographed using an i-phone in his car. One may recall that he was one the earliest proponents of destroying them – railing against its dangers. And yet, there he was using it himself. He defended his own use of it claiming he got a Heter (permission) from another elderly Gadol, Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, to use it for Kiruv purposes.

Well… all of a sudden the internet seems to carry some value among Charedim, at least enough to make exceptions to destroying it. And in the case of Rav Kaneivsky – he too seems to place some positive value on it. At least enough to be moved to deny the claim that he had called for destroying i-phones.

One of the biggest criticisms I have about the strident right, is their black and white – all or nothing approach to everything. Of course this is quite in character for them. Everything In their world is black and white, including their clothing. They never heard of the word grey. There is no nuance. No subtlety. No concessions to any of the positive values of something they don’t approve of. If they think the bad outweighs the good – then they just say it is all bad and forbid it. But life does not work that way. Reality will trump rhetoric every single time they come into conflict with each other. As can be plainly seen by the way their bans are ignored.

As I have said over a Gazillion times, the internet is a tool that can be used for good and bad and should be treated that way. The right always said that the bad so far outweighs the good that there is nothing to talk about. Rav Wosner sure felt that way. Even though he probably never used the internet in his entire life.

Another thing I have said over a gazillion times is that I agree with the right about the dangers of the internet. I also agree that precautions must be taken to prevent encountering those dangers. Where I part company with them is in their all or nothing approach. And in their refusal to acknowledge that there is a positive side to it worth utilizing. Their public knows it. Which is why Rav Wosner’s Psak is honored more in the breach than in its adherence.

Rav Shlomo Aviner has the most sensible attitude about using this technology, it is basically the same position most moderate Charedi and Centrist rabbinic leaders have. From YWN:

The rav explained that SMS text messages and internet connectivity are helpful to many people. He feels there is no prohibition in using either of these services.

“It is certainly preferable to have a kosher phone but this is a chumra and not obligatory. One who feels a non-kosher phone is a michshol must prohibit himself from using such a device” the rav stated.

Rabbi Avi[n]er  continued by explaining there are things the Torah did not prohibit but if a person realizes such a device will cause him to stumble, such a person must set restrictions into place to avoid falling due to this michshol.

I wonder if Rabbi Wachsman still believes we are all going permanently to hell?

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