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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘problem’

Palestinians: We Rejected Israel’s 90-Day Ceasefire Offer

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sources in the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership have told the newspaper Al-Hayat that Israel offered them a cease-fire for 90 days, during which it would examine their goodwill efforts prior to a discussion of Palestinian demands. But the Palestinians said they refused the offer, and stuck by their three points: a mutual ceasefire, an end to targeted assassinations and the opening all the entrances into Gaza as soon as the ceasefire takes effect. Those entrances include the Gaza port, which is blockaded by the Israeli navy.

The rejection came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Jerusalem. that “in the days ahead the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region.”

All those nice things will have to wait. Or, as Prime Minister Netanyahu told Clinton: “If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem with diplomatic means, we prefer that, but if not, I’m sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people.”

Yori Yanover

Hooligans?!

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

They keep saying that they are working to change things. But I don’t believe a word of it. According to the Jerusalem Post The Meah Shearim crowd is working with Charedi volunteers in the fire fighting establishment to prevent such occurrences in the future.

What kind of occurrences? These:

Haredim physically assaulted a female firefighter in the Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel Radio reported Thursday. The woman was working in a group of firefighters to put out garbage fires when the haredim threw objects at her, hitting her back and very lightly injuring her.

I’ve heard it all before. I know all about it. “These are hooligans no less than any society’s hooligans.” That is the cry of the apologists among us. I do not buy that argument. Never will. These people may be hooligans in the sense that they perpetrate violence against innocent outsiders whereas most of their society would never do that. But they are not hooligans like any other society’s hooligans. Certainly not in their Hashkafos which is what motivate their actions. These people were raised to believe that certain behavior is unacceptable. One cannot allow mingling of the sexes for any reason. Female firefighters working with male firefighters is therefore a violation of Halacha as they understand it.

That most of these people would not necessarily act this way on those beliefs is beside the point. There are some among them who believe they have an obligation to act on it. One can call them misguided. One can call them hooligans. But one cannot deny their motives. They do not just attack random people. They attack only people whom they feel violate their community rules. Rules which the rest of civilization does not have. Including the vast majority of Orthodox Jews. Including most normal Charedim.

Hooligans of the type that apologists compare these people to do not attack others based on the ideals learned from their religious leaders. The hooligans of a Chicago street gang are an orders of magnitude different from the Shomer Shabbos Charedim who threw objects at a female firefighter. The hooligans of Meah Shearim are meticulous about a great many Mitzvos – including going beyond the letter of Halacha in their observance of them.

They have beards, They have Peyos. They wear Chasidic type garb so as to differentiate from the secular world. They take pride in their isolationism for purposes of not being influenced by it. In short they are Frum to the point of being “Lifnim MeShuras HaDin” (beyond the letter of the law) in many aspects of their lives! I doubt for example that any of those hooligans have ever eating anything that did not have an Eida haCharedis Hechsher. To compare these people with the street gangs of Chicago or New York is completely disingenuous.

I realize of course that these people are probably dysfunctional. I also realize that they do not have the approval to do what they do from their rabbinic leadership. They do all this pretty much on their own. But they also know that their gender separation goals are very much appreciated by that very same leadership.

That is the core issue. It is the issue now with respect to that innocent firefighter and it was the issue last year with Naama Margolis, the 8 year old who was severely harassed on her way to school by the “hooligans” of Bet Shemesh. I’m sure those people too eat only from the Eida Hacharedis Hechsher.

In other words, they are all coming form the same place, Hashkaficly.

I have absolutely no confidence on things changing in those communities. The Charedi hooligans of Meah Shearim (and Bet Shemesh; and where ever else they can be found) who have lots of time on their hands will continue doing this type of thing unless their leadership cracks down on them. That means that they would have to violate their concepts of Mesira (informing on – or testifying against one of their own to the secular authorities). The Israeli government is not only a secular authority, they are considered a virtual enemy!

The bottom line is that this community can “Shrei Chai V’Kayom” – they scream until they are blue in the face about stopping this from happening again. They can say it is only the hooligans and that every society has hooligans. They can say all day long that they will work to change things. I don’t believe them. Until their leadership (like the Toldos Avraham Yitzchok Rebbe – pictured above) recognize that the problem starts with them – nothing is going to change.

What can we do about it? Not sure. But at the very least we ought to know the truth about what the real problem is.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

How Did Eisav Sell The Bechorah?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Note to readers: This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

We learn in this week’s parshah of Eisav’s sale of his birthright to Yaakov Avinu. There are several questions surrounding the legitimacy of this sale. The Rivash (Teshuvos 328) questions why the sale was valid, since Eisav sold something that did not exist at that time. The halacha is that one may not sell anything that is not in the world at the time of the sale. Since the bechor did not yet exist or take effect at that time, how could the sale have been valid?

The Rivash says that he heard that the Rosh and his son, the Tur, answered that although one may not sell an item that does not yet exist at that time, he may sell an item to someone in this circumstance if he swears that he will sell it. Since the pasuk says that Yaakov made Eisav swear that he would keep his word, the sale was valid. The Rivash argues vehemently with this answer, and concludes that neither the Rush nor the Tur could have said this answer. He says that the reason one cannot acquire or sell an item that does not exist is due to a problem with the actual acquisition of the item – and that swearing cannot overcome that issue.

The Rivash answers that prior to mattan Torah one could sell items that did not yet exist. Therefore the sale of the bechorah was valid.

Some Acharonim explain the opinion of the Rosh, namely that swearing helps one to sell an item that does not exist by properly defining the reason one cannot sell an item that does not exist in the world. They explain that the underlying factor that is lacking is that one needs a certain amount of intent (da’as kinyan) in order to make a sale. When the item does not exist, one cannot reach the level of intent that is required to make the sale. However, a sworn declaration to keep his word adds to his level of intent – and the sale is valid.

On the explanation of the opinion that holds that the reason why one cannot sell an item that does not exist is because one cannot reach the required level of intention, the Ohr HaChaim points out that it only says that the purchaser cannot reach that level of intent to acquire. However, the seller can reach the required level to sell. Therefore, he asks, how can the seller’s sworn declaration help? It should only help the seller’s intent and should not aid the buyer’s intent. Thus, in the sale between Yaakov and Eisav the oath that Eisav, the seller, took should not have facilitated a sale on something that did not exist.

While this may indeed be the opinion of several Rishonim, the Shita Mekubetzes (Bava Metzia 66b) quotes from Rabbeinu Tam and the Tosafos HaRosh that explicitly say that the problem with selling an item that does not exist rests on the level of intent that the seller can reach. According to those Rishonim, swearing should aid in selling an item that does not exist since the oath will add to the seller’s level of intent.

I do not understand the Ohr HaChaim’s question. I believe that when the seller swears that he will sell the item it should increase the level of intent – even the buyer’s intent. Thus, even if the problem with the sale of an item that does not exist is with the level of intent that the buyer can reach, an oath should resolve that issue.

Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, zt”l, suggests an alternate explanation of the Rosh and the Tur’s opinion. He says that we must first understand how a regular acquisition works. In every sale the buyer and the seller reach an agreement, with the buyer then required to perform a ma’aseh kinyan (action of acquisition) on the item. For example, if one is buying a small movable item he will perform hagbah (lifting it up). However, the ma’aseh kinyan is not what actually transfers ownership of the item to the buyer; rather it is the agreement that actually transfers the item to the buyer. A ma’aseh kinyan solidifies one’s words into a binding agreement, and that binding agreement is what actually transfers property ownership. That is the reason why whenever the Gemara is discussing whether a kinyan has occurred, the Gemara uses the words “eino yachol lachzor” (he cannot retract). Why? Because his kinyan produces an agreement from which he may not retract. And that is what transfers ownership.

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

Road To Recovery

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Dear Brocha,

As I write this letter I am overcome with emotions. Relief, fear, trepidation, elation…the feelings are all jumbled up inside of me.

Please allow me to back track.

My daughter, who recently turned 20, just left to rehab. After four years of denial, lies, manipulation, anger and chaos she finally admitted she has a problem with alcohol.

Her drinking started at a school Shabbaton. Some of her so called friends brought liquor and they drank that Shabbos away. Since then she has been continuously sneaking drinks.

It took my husband and me a considerably long while to fully grasp the severity of the problem. Eventually, we finally emptied our house of all alcoholic drinks, informed the local liquor store that she should not be permitted to purchase any alcohol (evidently, there are various frum liquor store owners who will permit under age children to purchase alcohol if they say it’s for their parents, without any verification) and limited her access to money.

At that point, out of desperation, she figured out how to replace straight alcohol with mouthwash. What a nightmare! The mouthwash abuse was impossible to control! Additionally, it seems that it was much more damaging to her liver than regular alcohol. Recently, with Hashem’s help and the involvement of both a rav and an interventionist, she was able to admit that she had a real problem and to enter rehab.

While I am hopeful and happy that she is in a rehab, I need to know if you can advise me on how to deal with the phone calls. My daughter keeps calling and telling me how awful the food is, how she doesn’t like the other clients, feels restricted and various other complaints. Almost every time I see her phone number on the caller ID I start to cringe wondering what the issue is going to be.

By nature I am a very giving person. When she complains about the food, I try to send her home cooked meals. When she gets into arguments with her roommates I try speaking to her counselors about switching her room. The list goes on and on.

I am unsure if I am helping or hurting when I try interceding on her behalf. I am hearing terms like co-dependent and enabler and am very confused. At what point does helping become unhealthy?

This has become a major point of contention between my husband and me. He is more of a disciplinarian and feels that I need to take a tougher stance with our daughter.

Please advise.

A Giving Mom

Dear A Giving Mom,

Congratulations!

You should be very happy that your daughter is finally on the road to her recovery! She still has a long and difficult road ahead of her. She will need to learn more about herself and retrain her self-perception. She needs to learn how to be real with her emotions and to be in control of them and not vice-versa. She needs to learn how to live, laugh and appreciate life again.

Most people enter the rooms of recovery kicking and screaming. They are usually upset that they “were caught” or “trapped” and now have to learn how to live sober.

It is hard work. Very hard work!

There is shame, guilt and various other forms of emotional pain they now have to learn to deal with as opposed to numbing themselves.

On the other hand, you should be using the time your daughter is in rehab to learn more about yourself.

For the past few years your daughter’s issues have been the sole focus of everything. If there are other children at home you should be spending considerably more time with them.

Additionally, you mentioned the terms co-dependent and enabler. The truth is that many loved ones who live with addicts inadvertently assume that role.

The addict becomes the drug.

Our “high” comes when there are no incidents and they appear to be doing well. Then, when they fall, we fall with them.

Your job is to learn how to live in peace and serenity, independent of the addict. You should be looking for Al-Anon meetings in your area. Your entire immediate family needs to find recovery.

Brocha Silverstein

On Politicians and Grunt Work

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

MK Uri Orbach is a personal friend of mine.  He even came up with the name “Almagor” for the organization in which I work.  The man is an artist of the written word.  And precisely for that reason, I have to react to troubling comments recently released in his name:

“Under the noses of the political commentators, a new breed of politicians is arising: Shelly Yachimovich, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett.”

Then an insult to the opposition within the party: “Many people are fed up with politicians who will just ‘take care of things’ for them.  They now prefer politicians who inspire confidence, who show they care.”

And a final swipe at MK Zevulun Orlev: “The old politicians wave around their ‘experience’—which often is bad experience—and toss around meaningless numbers as proof of their success.  That’s old politics.”

My purpose here is to present a defense.  Not a personal defense of Orlev or of Nissan Slomiansky, but a defense of my profession and that of many of my friends.  What we have here is a battle about the worth of the grunts, the people who are willing to do the sacred behind-the-scenes work of serving the public without arrogating themselves the status of “leaders.”

The Knesset members who “take care of things” for us deserve to be praised, not insulted: people like Uri Ariel and Zevulun Orlev, whose offices are filled day and night with the representatives of organizations and institutions, religious and secular.  And they “take care” of these people.  It’s true that Ariel and Orlev received popularity ratings of only three percent in a recent poll of the national-religious community, but this isn’t their problem—it’s the respondents’ problem.  Orlev and Ariel are too busy for self-promotion.

The “new” politicians have a certain style.  The public missions that they accept upon themselves somehow seem always to be short-term.  Somehow there always is aspiration to the next job.  Or maybe impatience.  Or boredom.  This raises questions about their future.  Assuming that we vote for them, how long will they have the strength and interest for the drudgery entailed in serving the public from day to day?

Hint: Orbach already “took care of” the answer for us.

And already now there is a line of young people who are studying the model of the “new” politicians and readying themselves to imitate it, young people who have never served the public and never “taken care of things” for it, yet are already setting their sights on the Knesset.

So who will serve the public?  Who will do the day-to-day grunt work that the public needs its servants to do?

I asked that question of a young activist of the “new” model, the sort who obsessively keeps tabs on his position in the polls.  He answered: “the suckers.”

Primaries: The Root of All Evil

At some point in the past, I signed up for an Internet campaign run by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked in behalf of the Yesha Council.  And somehow over the past few weeks, my computer and phone have been bombarded with e-mail and text messages calling on me to vote for them.  There is the question of how they are using data that they gathered in one job to promote themselves toward another one, but that is a separate issue …

There is no arguing that Orlev is a man of action, but he is liable to find himself up against an Internet-borne wave of new party members seventeen years old and up: the clientele to whom his opponents appeal, offering them a twenty-shekel opportunity to capture the party and “take control,” in the words of the banners that have been put on public display wherever there is a large national-religious population.  A movement that was founded over a hundred years ago by luminaries such as Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Reines is now liable to change beyond all recognition.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook used to sign his letters with the words “servant to a holy nation.”  But now there are to be no more public servants.  The new fashion is that of “leaders,” primary candidates, public relations professionals, and strategic advisers … and we’ve already heard from quite a few of them, courtesy of the propaganda campaign being waged by the new candidates.

Meir Indor

The Voice of a Child

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Children should be seen and not heard. It was a maxim that I heard many times throughout my childhood and which caused me a fair amount of frustration. When, I often wondered, would I cross that invisible line and move out of the periphery to which I was assigned, into the arena of adulthood and be given the chance to express an opinion that people would listen to? Life ran its course, I became an adult, was granted the right to express my opinion and found out that very few people listen to me. Interestingly, in contrast to the past, popular psychology today has touted the need to build a child’s self-confidence so successfully that children are both seen and heard quite clearly. Despite this, I wonder how many communities would make a decision based on the perception of a child. Judaism does.

Last Shabbos the clear, strong voice of the baal korei (reader) rang through the attentive synagogue as the weekly section of the Torah was read out loud. Suddenly it came to a standstill. There was a moment of utter silence and then the sudden swish of numerous prayer shawls, the thud of footsteps and the mutter of deep voices. Peeping through the lattice that separates the women’s section from the men’s, I watched the crowd of men thicken around the table on which the open Torah scroll lay.

Apparently, there was a problem with the Torah scroll. A kosher Torah scroll is treated with great respect. For example, it is not permitted to leave it unattended; a person is required to stand in its honor and may not turn his back to it. A non-kosher Torah scroll is not awarded the same level of respect. If even one letter of a Torah scroll is problematic, the entire scroll is invalidated until the problem is fixed. Most authorities maintain that a non-kosher scroll cannot be used to read the weekly portion. Since the reading must take place from a written text, reading from a non-kosher scroll is akin to reciting by heart making the reading invalid and the blessings recited over it said in vain and the Torah reading must be repeated.

Taking the above into account, every Torah scroll that is written is scrutinized for accuracy. Today, computers help out. A megiah (checker) scans the scroll into a computer running a program that checks the letters and their sequence. The computer then points out possible problems: sometimes a letter hasn’t been written correctly. Some Hebrew letters are very similar: yud, vav and nun sofit are all shaped similarly to a number one, but vary in length. Other letters are written by combining one or more two letters: for example, an aleph, which looks something like an X, is actually made up of three letters: a slanted vav, and two yuds, one above the vav and one below. Sometimes a letter is actually missing and the computer picks this up too. The scroll is then checked by the megiah himself. It seems very unlikely that any problem with the letters could creep in after all that, but, sometimes the computer and the megiah do miss problems and sometimes the problems develop later. The ink used to write a Torah scroll is usually a mixture of tannic acid, which is derived from gallnuts formed on the leaves of oak trees by wasps, copper sulphate to give it a strong black color, and gum arabic to make the glue slightly elastic so that the ink doesn’t crack when the scroll is rolled. Sometimes the letters can become smudged or cracked—after all, the scroll is being used regularly.

In this case, my son informed me, one of the congregants, a Torah scholar of standing, had spotted a letter vav that he claimed was too long—so long that it could be mistaken for a nun. That being the case, the reading was suspended while the men debated whether the letter really did pose a problem or not. In a synagogue in which number of Torah scholars rivals the number of stars in the sky on a moonless night, there was no lack of differing opinions. I watched fascinated as varying opinions of men who spent their days and night toiling in the sea of Torah were whispered urgently. Finally, the decision was made: since the mistake was debatable, a child would be asked to identify the questionable letter.

Rhona Lewis

Romney Can’t and Obama Won’t Do What America Needs (Podcast Pt. II)

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Here is part II of Douglas Goldstein’s radio program – see below.

Synopsis of Parts I and II:

Romney may say the right things, but will he really be able to affect change? And Obama says… and does… the wrong things, and he has no reason to change. Democrats complain that Romney has no sympathy for the unemployment problem.

Of course this is ironic since he has been hunting for a new job for the past year. In the recent debate, he stressed how he would work to improve the economy to help the middle class. He wants to cut out deductions, lower taxes, and simplify the tax code. Great idea, but that’s not how Washington politics work. With so many special interests, will he really be able to make the required changes? It doesn’t look good.

On the other hand, Obama wants to spend his way out of the problem. He gets the money from borrowing the same way overspending American citizens fund their personal largess. Instead of paying back debt that he racked up, Obama pays the minimum monthly balance. It’s like if you pay $50 on your $5,000 credit card debt. Based on the logic of Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, the President feels he can double the amount of debt since he’d only have to make $100 monthly payments (or, in the case of the United States debt, make that an increase from $30 billion per month in interest payments to $60 billion!). This system of borrowing money will probably continue to work until at least the  election date, and maybe for a few more years. But at some point, that debt must be paid off.

On this week’s Goldstein on Gelt radio show, I asked former Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Harvard professor Ken Rogoff about the American Debt Crisis. He gave a great explanation.

Here’s part two of the show (below). Click here for part one.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/romney-cant-and-obama-wont-do-what-america-needs-podcast-pt-ii/2012/10/28/

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