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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘shoes’

UN Sec-Gen’s Convoy Pelted As He Enters Gaza

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s convoy was pelted with shoes and stones as it entered Gaza on Thursday.

Scores of demonstrators lined the Gaza side of Erez crossing, from where Ban entered Gaza, to protest Ban’s neglect of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The UN chief is scheduled to visit UN-funded development projects in Gaza.

 

Jordan’s Queen Orders Solid Gold Shoes as King Pushes Two-State Solution

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan has commissioned a jeweler in Calcutta, India to make shoes for her out of gold.

The 22-carat gold shoes will each weigh 750 grams, and will be encrusted with diamonds and topaz, according to Irish news site breakingnews.ie, citing Bengali daily newspaper Anandabazar Patrika.

The sites reported that while the queen is accustomed to wearing shoes utilizing gold threads on leather, this time the shoes will be made of solid gold. Rania has already paid an advance of almost $54,000 for the shoes, according to breakingnews.ie, with the custom footwear expected to come to a significantly higher total price.

The news comes as Jordan’s King Abdullah II began a new push for a Palestinian state on land within the State of Israel. On January 17, US President Barack Obama met with the Jordanian leader in the White House to strategize their next steps in bringing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to direct negotiations. The get-together came just a week after the first Jordanian-brokered meeting between Israeli and Palestinian Authority envoys in months.

Aside from relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the King and the President discussed the effects of the Arab Spring on Jordan.

At a press conference following the meeting, King Abdullah thanked the President for “the economic support that you’re showing Jordan in this very difficult time,” and noted that as Arab revolution sweeps the Middle East, “the economy and the situation that challenges the livelihood of Jordanians is very, very important”.

Q & A: Tying Knots On Shabbat (Part II)

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Question: My son recently stopped wearing a necktie and lace-up shoes on Shabbat. He explained that he doesn’t want to transgress the prohibition against tying knots on Shabbat. Is tying a necktie or shoelaces really forbidden?

“A Mother in Israel” (Via E-Mail)

Answer: The proximity of the mitzvah to rest and refrain from work on Shabbat to the description in Parshat Vayakhel of the construction of the Mishkan teaches us (says Rashi, citing the Mechilta) that the 39 melachot used for the Mishkan are forbidden on Shabbat. Among them is “hakosher v’hamatir – tying and untying a knot.”

The Mishnah (Shabbos 111b) states that the knots in question are those of camel drivers and sailors. Rashi explains that these are permanent knots. The Chayyei Adam (topic 26-27:1-2) states that any knot tied to last for a lengthy period is considered permanent, but some view a tightly tied knot as permanent as well (even if it is not tied to last a long time). The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 317:1) adds that knots similar to those of skilled craftsmen are also included. The Rema cites Rashi, Rabbenu Yerucham, the Rosh, and the Tur who disagree about the length of time a knot must remain tied to be considered permanent (24 hours to a week).

* * * * *

The Gemara (in Shabbos 74b) tries to determine the instance of tying in the Mishkan that serves as the source for the av melachah of “kosher – tying.” (The Hebrew word for tying, “kosher,” is spelled kuf, shin, resh. The word “kosher” in regards to food is spelled chaf, shin, resh.) The Gemara first proposes that workers tied the Mishkan curtain to pegs that held it in place. The Gemara, however, rejects this suggestion because the workers never intended for their tying to be permanent since the Mishkan was constantly being assembled and disassembled as the Jews’ encampment moved from place to place.

The Gemara, therefore, offers an alternative source for the melachah of tying. When artisans wove the Mishkan’s curtains, strings would tear necessitating that the two broken ends be tied together. The problem with this explanation is that we’re left with not knowing what the source for the melachah of untying is. The Gemara subsequently explains that if the weavers noticed two knots adjacent to each other, they would untie one and tie the other (Rashi s.v. “ve’katar chad” explains that they would leave the other tied as it was).

The Gemara rejects this explanation, though, as unseemly. (Rashi explains that there would be a visible hole remaining in that process as the threads used were thick; thus, a different process that involved longer strings must have been used so that knots did not occur close to one other.)

The Gemara ultimately concludes that Jews performed the melachah of tying and untying for the Mishkan in capturing the chilazon, the creature necessary for the techelet royal purple dye. Tying and untying was necessary to produce, use, and enlarge the ropes and nets that trappers used. (The Jerusalem Talmud [Shabbos 7:2], however, states that the source for the melachah of kosher lies in the process of weaving the curtains for the Mishkan.)

The Mishnah (Shabbos 111b) states that the forbidden tying and untying applies to knots of camel drivers and sailors since they exemplify the property of permanence found in the knots of the Mishkan. (The Mishnah does not mean that Jews actually tied camel drivers’ and sailors’ knots for the Mishkan.)

Do we know what sailors’ and camel drivers’ knots looked like? The answer is: not exactly. We do know that camel drivers’ knots included piercing a hole in a camel’s nose (similar to the piercings in ancient times for human nose rings). A short rope would be run through the camel’s nose piercing, which would form a sort of ring when knotted. To this, the camel drivers’ reins would be attached to enable leading or driving the animal. Similarly, the sailors’ knot involved attaching a rope through a hole in the bow of the boat, to which another rope or chain would be used for either mooring or anchoring the boat in place.

According to the Taz (Orach Chayim 317:1) explaining the Rambam and Rif, the knot must be firm and sturdy (tight) as well as long lasting. Tying such a knot on Shabbat is biblically prohibited. If the knot, however, is either not long lasting or not sturdy, then tying it is only rabbinically prohibited.

The Taz explains, though, that Rashi and the Rosh maintain that it matters not whether the knot is sturdy or not, but rather what the person’s intent was – i.e., did he expect the knot to remain tied indefinitely so that he need not retie it? If he did, then it is biblically forbidden to untie it on Shabbat. However, if he intended to untie it on the very same day that he tied it, he may untie it without incurring any violation, biblical nor rabbinical.

Q & A: Tying Knots On Shabbat (Part I)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Question: My son recently stopped wearing a necktie and lace-up shoes on Shabbat. He explained that he doesn’t want to transgress the prohibition against tying knots on Shabbat. Is tying a necktie or shoelaces really forbidden?

“A Mother in Israel” (Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Chayyei Adam (topic 26-27:1-2) states, “One who ties or unties a permanent knot [on Shabbat] that meets the criteria of a craftsman – such as knots used by camel drivers, sailors, shoemakers in the course of crafting shoes and sandals, and similar knots – is liable according to all views. There are those who say that any knot tied to last for a lengthy period is considered a permanent knot…. A knot that is tied to be untied every day is not considered a knot and one is allowed to both tie it and then untie it. However, in deference to those who view any knot that is squeezed tight as permanent, one should avoid untying [such a] knot unless it is a situation of great discomfort….”

The Chayyei Adam unusually classifies this halacha as one topic but gives it a twin numeric – “26-27” – since in many instances we are talking about a person actually committing two forbidden acts: tying and untying.

The source of this halacha is the mishnah in Perek Klal Gadol (Shabbos 73a). It lists the 39 primary labors prohibited on Shabbat. These were acts that were generally performed in constructing the Mishkan. The only exception is baking, which Rashi (s.v. “ha’ofeh”) notes was not performing in building the Mishkan.

The biblical source for prohibiting these melachot is derived from the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, which details the construction of the Mishkan. Preceding the description of the construction is the following verse (Exodus 35:2): “Sheshet yamim te’aseh melacha u’vayom ha’shevi’i yiyeh lachem kodesh Shabbat shabbaton la’Shem kol ha’oseh bo melacha yumat – On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem; whoever does work on it shall be put to death.” Rashi cites the Mechilta which explains that this passage precedes the construction of the Mishkan to serve as a warning that the melachot necessary to build the Mishkan do not override Shabbat.

Listed among the 39 prohibited labors is tying and untying a knot. The mishnah at the beginning of Perek V’elu K’sharim (infra 111b) states: “And these are the knots for which one is liable [for violating the Sabbath]: the knot of the camel drivers and that of the sailors. And just as one is liable for having tied them, he is also liable for untying them…” Rashi (ad loc. “v’elu k’sharim”) explains: “These, where the knot is permanent (kesher shel kayama) – they are never undone – are considered avot melachot (principle labors prohibited on Shabbat), similar to the tying of the curtains’ threads [in the Mishkan] that were torn.”

The Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 317:1) adds: “…albeit that it is ‘ma’aseh uman’ (labor of a skilled craftsman). Then he is liable [and must bring a karban chatat]. Examples: the camel driver’s knot or that of the sailors and the knots on shoes or sandals that the shoemaker ties in the course of their manufacture and all that are like these. However, if one ties a permanent knot, but it is not of a skilled craftsmen, he is not liable [biblically, but is rabbinically prohibited from doing so].”

The Rema (ad loc.) notes: “There are those (Rashi, Rosh, Rabbenu Yerucham, and Tur) who disagree and opine that for any permanent knot, even if it is not of a skilled craftsman, one is liable. There are others who [go further and] opine that any knot that is not meant to be untied on that day [i.e. it will remain tied for a 24 hour period] is considered permanent. And there are others who are lenient and consider any knot that remains tied for less than seven days as not being permanent.”

The Mechaber (infra) also notes that “a knot that is not permanent and not of a skilled craftsman can be tied ab initio.” Rema adds: “This applies as well to untying it.”

Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Kaf HaChayyim, Orach Chayyim, ad loc. sk 2) makes the following observation: “It would seem to me that the Mechaber’s [distinction between tying violations that make one liable to a karban chatat and those that do not and are only rabbinically forbidden] is of no consequence today as we have no sin offerings. However, I do see a consequential difference and that is in regards to those whose testimony is invalidated. If one intentionally transgressed a violation that requires him to bring a korban chatat, he is considered an invalid witness whose testimony may not be accepted. Also, if one betroths a woman in his presence [depending on him as a witness] there is no need for a get [if the couple should wish to divorce]. However, if his transgression is only rabbinically prohibited, then in the same circumstance, they will need a get to divorce, because he is deemed a valid witness…”

The Golden Slippers

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The long awaited wedding of her son was the highlight of Faiga’s (all names used here are fictitious) life. A widow, she had never given up hope that she would one day walk her son down the aisle to his chuppah. With a mixture of fear over the long flight ahead and joy at the upcoming simcha, she boarded the plane. She had never undertaken such a long journey, but nothing could have held her back.

When she arrived in Israel, she barely had time to settle in when it was time to go to the wedding. She dressed in her new outfit and started to put on the new pair of shoes she had bought for the occasion. Something was wrong. Her feet had swollen up during the flight and she could not get her feet inside the shoes. There was no time to shop for a larger pair, and so she place her feet into the shoes as best as she could, with her heels pressing down on the back of the shoes, rather than inside, where they belonged. It was very uncomfortable.

Faiga limped painfully along as she slowly walked her son down the aisle. After what felt like an eternity, she went up the three steps to the chuppah. The thought of standing next to her son through-out the wedding ceremony while constantly feeling discomfort, rather than just enjoying the moment, convinced her to do something to alleviate the situation. As unobtrusively as possible, she slipped her feet out of their tight confine.

A man, waiting for the chuppah to begin, noticed the chatan’s mother was standing barefoot under the chuppah. He quickly called over to his wife, Ruchie. The hotel where the wedding took place was also used as a temporary home for new Russian immigrants. The man suggested that his wife hurry to the lobby and try to find someone who could loan her a pair of large shoes or slippers for Faiga to wear under the chuppah.

The wife, herself an olah of many years from Russia, ran to the lobby.

She went from one person to the next, explaining the situation, but me with no success. Finally, one woman told her to wait, she would be right back.

The woman returned and gave Ruchie a bag with several pairs of slippers to choose from. One pair caught her eye. They looked large enough to accommodate a pair of swollen feet, and they were gold, and so could pass for wedding shoes.

After the chuppah was over, Ruchie took the slippers, planning to return them to their owner. The woman said, “But what will the chatan’s mother wear on her feet to dance?” She told Ruchie to give the slippers back to Faiga for the rest of the wedding. Ruchie took the woman’s phone number so she would be able to return it the next day.

The wedding was wonderful. Faiga danced and enjoyed the special evening. The next day, Ruchie picked up the slippers, prepared to return them to their owner. When she called to ask if the woman was available to receive them, she got a pleasant surprise.

“Let the lady keep the slippers. They fit her and she needs to wear something.”

The story does not end here. Ruchie was so impressed with the old Russian woman, that she decided to befriend her. She began calling her up every week. One day, about four years into their friendship, the woman called Ruchie with a strange request.

“I am making my gefilte fish today. I would like you to come over and write down the recipe.”

The two friends sat talking as Ruchie helped the old woman chop the vegetables and grind the fish. Ruchie carefully copied down the recipe, not understanding why this was so important to the woman. Two weeks later, Ruchie got a call from the old woman’s relative. The old woman had passed away. She knew her end was near, and she wanted to leave something of herself to Ruchie, who had become so important to her. She left her recipe for gefilte fish.

A pair of swollen feet, a pair of golden slippers and a recipe for gefilte fish-Hashem works in mysterious ways, indeed.

May we all be zocheh to see yad Hashem in all we experience in our lives.

Clear And Present Danger

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Anyone wanting to walk in the shoes of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff was in luck, as thousands of belongings from his New York penthouse, including pairs of designer shoes, recently went on the auction block, and often sold for far more than the pre-bid estimates.

Madoff loved footwear. He owned about 250 pairs of designer shoes, mostly European imports. Ten pairs of Madoff’s used designer shoes sold at this auction for the steep price of $900, well exceeding the $250 minimum.

Madoff was also fond Italian house slippers and possessed numerous embroidered sets. The slippers, bundled with a shirt and some other items, went for $6,000, against a pre-sale value of $110. The purchaser said he would never be able to wear the slippers because his shoe size is 13, far larger than Madoff’s 8.

Other noteworthy items for sale included a 10.5-carat diamond engagement ring that belonged to Madoff’s wife, Ruth. The winning price was for $550,000. Bernie’s vintage steel Rolex watches sold for $67,500.

Madoff was arrested two years ago for running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme in which he used billions of dollars in cash from new investors to pay old ones, cheating charities, celebrities and institutional investors, many of whom were Jewish. The disgraced 72-year-old is behind bars for life in prison; his wife was unceremoniously ordered to leave their homes. Advertisement

I am fascinated by the continued enthrallment with Madoff and so I sought to identify basic motivating factors that likely played a central role in the frenzied, top dollar purchasing of his belongings.

On the simplest level, the auction gave people the opportunity to establish a connection with the rich and famous, to enter a realm (albeit vicariously) that is seldom experienced by even some of the world’s most affluent individuals. Despite the fact that many items comparable to those that were auctioned could have been purchased for less elsewhere, the idea that they once comprised a segment of the once-glamorous Madoff estate motivated buyers to pay top dollar for a piece of someone else’s past glory.

Others, such as John Rodger, were motivated by their chance to be part of history. Rodger, an 81-year-old Long Island real estate executive, purchased a 1917 Steinway grand piano at the auction for $42,000. “I’ve got loads of pianos, but this one has history,” he said. “It’ll make an interesting conversation piece.”

Still, I suspect that at least some of the bidders were attracted by a desire to connect with the fantastic, debased nature of the Madoff scandal.

We are all aware that each person is born with a capacity for good and the ability to stray down the path of evil. For the most part, we stay somewhere within a normative range of behavior and thought, and choose to conduct a life that is either generally righteous or moderately sinful.

In every generation, however, there also exist individuals who achieve lives of notable piety, or, conversely, descend to the depths of extreme decadence. Such people garner our attention due to their unique status on the moral continuum, and typically either earn our collective adulation for their noble character and deeds or are the source of our shared disdain for their sinful, wicked conduct.

Yet sometimes the exact opposite occurs. Instead of admiring the righteous for their goodness, we allow the evil side within us to overtake our intellectual awareness and belittle their pious achievements. Conversely, there are times when we are confronted with evil and instead of reacting to the murderer or swindler with abject disgust and anger, an unexplainable sense of admiration creeps in, suggesting an element of regret that we were unable to achieve that same degree of vice ourselves.

Our sages (Sifri 32) inform us that when we are instructed to love Hashem “with all [of our] heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5), it means we must “love Him with [our] two inclinations [the good and the evil].” Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch suggests that this obligation places a tremendous moral obligation on every Jew, one that forces us to be in complete control of all our impulses.

To “love God with all your heart,” with both yetzer tov and yetzer hara, means to consecrate all of our thinking, together with all of our tendencies and impulses, all of our potentialities and endeavors without reservation to the fulfillment of God’s will, and to control and use them in His service in such a manner that will bring us nearer and nearer to Him. [Hirsch Siddur, Feldheim, pg. 116]

Certainly this can be a great challenge, especially as we witness those who have lived sinful lives and repeatedly tasted the sweet benefits of their illicit labors. In fact, American society routinely glamorizes such individuals, despite the tragic turns that their lives often take, such as life imprisonment and seizure of their many possessions.

Punish Us All

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

       Every time a Muslim terrorist commits an atrocity, the insane reaction of our liberal societies is to punish everyone collectively. Several years ago, a terrorist tried to detonate an explosive hidden in his shoe. As a result, every airline passenger is now required to remove his shoes and pass them through an x-ray device. It is common in airports to see long lines of passengers walking barefoot or in their stocking feet, queued up and waiting to have their shoes checked. Instead of forcing all Muslims to fly barefoot, every single passenger is inconvenienced to avoid racial profiling. 

 

      Now that a Muslim terrorist has hidden explosives under his trouser legs, we will most probably witness a demand in the near future that men remove their pants before being allowed to embark on an airline flight. The Muslim terrorist also went to the bathroom for an hour before the flight landed. Will we now all be restricted from going to the bathroom one hour before the end of a flight? We are lucky that the Muslim terrorist did not go to the bathroom three hours before the end of the flight!  

 

     The terrorist carried a pillow as he left the bathroom. As a result, all pillows and blankets will now be removed an hour prior to the end of a flight.  

 

     At a recent family gathering, my three sons, my wife and I met for our monthly family cream cheese and lox fest. We began to explore alternative solutions to this need to punish all airline passengers for the crimes of the Muslim terrorists. Hopefully, the airlines will not take our suggestions too seriously, but if they do, please remember that you saw them first here in The Jewish Press.

 

   The first rule, of course, will be that men (maybe also women) will no longer be allowed to wear long pants on flights. Kilts will become fashionable. Shorts in every style and color will become required attire for the international jet set, especially on flights from Florida and California. I wonder if trousers will also be forbidden on Air Force One and private flights.  

 

     Transparent slacks for men and women may become the next big seller and may be a good investment for someone with money to burn. The limits of the transparency will  have to be determined by airline officials in consultation with TV comedians.

 

     A steward or stewardess will be stationed in each public restroom and closed-circuit television will be set up in each restroom to be monitored by the pilots and airplane crew.  

To avoid the possibility of the terrorist blowing up the plane over densely populated areas, all flights between New York and California will be routed south over the ocean to Panama, over the Panama Canal, and north to California.

 

     No flights will be allowed between American cities and large population areas. Buses and trains will be allowed, until a Muslim terrorist threatens to blow up a bus or train.  

 

Special handholds will be glued above every seat in the aircraft and passengers will have to sit during the hour before landing with their hands above their heads. 

 

      The most effective solution and the most peaceful is to fill a plane with sleeping gas instead of oxygen, and to require all passengers to be in a deep sleep until the flight is over.

 

         I am sure that many of you can come up with your own innovative solution to punish the entire traveling public instead of, G-d forbid, profiling terrorists, as the Israelis do. Everyone knows that a little old lady in a wheelchair can be dangerous, especially if she is the tenth check-in passenger.

 

      Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/punish-us-all/2010/01/06/

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