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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Yom Kippur’

Swing That Chicken Over Your Head

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

A Hareidi man performs the Kaparos ceremony for his son, in Beitar.

The ritual, which some consider controversial, is performed before Yom Kippur, as part of the repentance process.

A chicken is gently raised and waved over the head of a family member or yourself.

The person performing the ritual says the following statement (or a variation of it if you are performing it for someone else):

This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This [chicken/rooster/hen] will go to its death (Alternative text: This money will go to charity), while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and to peace.

After which, the chicken is shechted (kosher slaughter) and given to a poor person so their family will have chicken to eat before Yom Kippur.

For those that don’t like chickens, money can be substituted, which is then donated to the poor in place of the chicken.

The ritual is first mentioned in by Natronai ben Hilai, Gaon of the Academy of Sura in Babylonia, in 853 C.E

Their are many reasons modern people consider the ritual controversial:

1) Animal activists don’t like that chickens are slaughtered for food. 2) Animal activists don’t like that people wave chickens over their heads. 3) Animal activists don’t like the way the chickens are stored while waiting for the kaparos ceremony (a valid concern in some cases). 4) The process is done publicly, and most people have never been to a slaughterhouse. The concept that chickens were actually once alive before reaching the freezer section of the supermarket can be shocking to some. 5) There is a concern that the person may not hold the chicken properly and will injure it during the ritual. 6) It’s kind of icky to hold a live chicken, not to mention the associated risks of holding a bird over your head.

There are also religious authorities that consider the ritual controversial.

There are questions as to the origin of this ritual, and some (Ranban, Rashba) consider it a foreign, pagan practice that snuck (not sneaked) into Judaism. Rav Yosef Karo (Shulchan Aruch) also objected to it.

On the other side, there are other leading rabbis (and kabbalists) who do approve of it.

Whatever your stance, for many Jews its simply a long-loved tradition they aren’t about to give up or change. .

Suspicious Family Illegally Opens Mt. Herzl Grave – Finds It Empty

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

For 40 years, the family of Tzion Tayib have been fighting for proof their son was killed in the Yom Kippur war and it is his body that is buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, according to a report on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).

Tayib’s position on the Hermon mountain was overrun in the first days of the Yom Kippur war by Syrian commandos, where Tayib served as a communications specialist, according to a detailed report on Walla.

From that position, a number of soldiers were declared missing, and 11 months later the IDF declared them dead.

According to the court papers released by the Supreme Court, the IDF claimed that they learned from captured Syrian soldiers the location of Tayib’s body, and they recovered it, confirmed his identity, and buried it.

The body of Tzion Tayib was buried without the family being present, and they were later informed that he had been buried.

The family, from the beginning claimed the IDF did not do enough to positively confirm the identify of Tayib, and it was lying to them. They felt there were discrepancies in the versions told to them.

The IDF said it had 100% confirmed that Tayib was dead and buried in his grave.

Twenty years ago, when DNA testing became reliable, the family asked that the body be exhumed to confirm that it was Tayib who was buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, but the IDF refused.

Three months ago, the family turned to the Bagatz (Israel’s Supreme Court) for permission to exhume and test the body.

In February, the Supreme Court responded that the IDF’s presented sufficient proof that it was Tzion Tayib who was buried there, and did not grant permission to the family.

The family then decided to take action on their own.

On Friday, when the cemetery was busy with preparations for Memorial Day, the family entered the cemetery with two doctors, one of them a pathologist, as well as a tombstone maker. They carefully removed the tombstone and began digging.

They did not find the body of Tzion Tayib. They did not find any body at all in the grave.

They videoed all the evidence, and then restored the grave and tombstone so that no one visiting their lost ones during the day would be disturbed by the site of an open grave.

As can be expected, this has caused a major scandal in Israel.

During the Yom Kippur war, when many soldiers were killed in terrible battles, sometimes, such as in the case of burnt out tanks, there was very little, if anything left to bury. But in those cases, the IDF privately informed the families that they were burying an empty coffin, or were burying a tank unit together, whose parts weren’t individually identifiable.

In this case, the IDF fought the family for 40 years, claiming it did bury the Tzion Tayib’s body.

What happens next remains to be seen.

From the Ministry of Defense Yizkor site:

Online Marker for Tzion Tayib

Online Marker for Tzion Tayib

Acharei Mot: The (Surprising) Point of Yom Kippur

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

We call Yom Kippur one of the Days of Awe – but what does awe have to do with forgiveness for our sins?

In this week’s parsha video, Rabbi Fohrman challenges the way we think about Yom Kippur and teaches us that we merge with God, and through that connection, we are purified on Yom Kippur.

Visit AlephBeta.  /  Rabbi David Fohrman

A Hairbreadth Can Be The Whole Difference

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

In this week’s portion, the Torah tells us that Aharon the high priest cast lots upon two goats, “one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel” (Leviticus 16:8).

Rashi explains the procedure as follows: “One goat he [Aharon] placed on his right hand, the other on his left. He then put both hands in the urn, took one lot in each hand and placed it upon the corresponding goat. One of the lots was inscribed ‘for the Lord’ and the other ‘for Azazel.’ ” Ibn Ezra explains that Azazel was a height from which the goat was hurled.

Sforno argues that the goat inscribed “for the Lord” was sacrificed as an offering to atone for sins committed in connection with the Sanctuary. The goat sent away was meant to expiate the sins of the community (Sforno, Leviticus 16:5).

Other explanations come to mind. It can be suggested that the lots teach us that there are aspects of life that are based purely on mazal. This doesn’t mean that we do not have the power to precipitate change. What it does teach, however, is that in life we all face a certain fate over which we have no control. The Talmud says it this way: “Life, children and sustenance are not dependent on merit but on mazal” (Moed Kattan 28a).

No wonder we read about the lots on Yom Kippur, the day in which we recognize that there are elements of life that are only in the hands of God.

The Talmud also notes that the goats were similar in appearance, height, size and value (Yoma 62 a,b). Yet a slight shift of Aharon’s hand brought about different destinies for the goats – one to the Lord, the other to Azazel.

It’s been noted that life is a game of inches. This is even true in the world of sports. For example, a hard-hit ground ball to shortstop could result in a double play. Had the ball gone an inch to the left or right, the winning run could have been driven in. So too in worldly affairs. It is often the case that an infinitesimal amount can be the difference between life and death, between belief and heresy, between doing the right and wrong thing.

This may be the deepest message of the lots. The slightest movement could make the difference between heaven and earth, between being sent to the Lord and being cast to Azazel.

Mike Huckabee: How Can a Democrat Support Obama as ‘Pro-Israel?’

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Fox News talk show host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is already looking ahead to 2016 when he thinks American Jews who care about Israel will support him if he makes another stab at becoming the Republican party presidential candidate.

“I’m looking at it very seriously” he told JNS.org when asked about 2016, adding that he is having exploratory meetings to determine “whether people who I trust, and people whose views I have confidence in, believe that there is a pathway forward for me through the primary.”

Presidential candidates always have their eyes beamed on the “Jewish vote,” which includes “Jewish money.” One lesson from the 2012 election was that money cannot buy an election. Just ask Sheldon Adelson who GOP fundraisers said was $150 million poorer, in a virtual way, after President Barack Obama handily won re-election.

Most of the dough went to super PACs. Adelson also spent a few million dollars to prop up Newt Gingrich’s efforts to go head-to-head against Obama, but the money could have been better spent on supporting a yeshiva or some soup kitchens in Israel.

But Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, must view the American Jewish vote as something spiritual with roots in the Holy Land and an ear in the Heavens.

“Israel could have no greater supporter than Mike Huckabee, and as far as any concerns we have about the safety and security of the state of Israel, we couldn’t ask for better than Mike Huckabee,” Fred Zeidman, a Houston businessman and major donor to Republican presidential campaigns, told JNS.

President Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008 and “only” 69” percent in 2012. Republican pounced on the drop as indicative of a trend of Jews fed up with the President’s attitude towards Israel in general and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in particular.

“I would certainly hope” that the downtrend in Jewish support for Obama will continue in the next election, no matter who the Democrats nominate, Huckabee said.

He understands that Jews traditionally vote Democrat because of a liberal socio-economic orientation.

But if Israel is a factor, why would anyone committed to the safety and security of the future of Israel “be supportive of the policies of Barack Obama, which you can call the most frighteningly non-supportive [U.S.] policies on the state of Israel since its inception,” he asked.

“I can’t imagine that somebody could look at those policies and say, ‘Boy, [Obama has] really got the Israelis’ back’—because he doesn’t,” Huckabee added. “If that’s a priority, and that becomes a defining factor in how people vote, then it’s inconceivable to me that they could give their support to someone who supports the current administration’s policies toward Israel.”

The key to Huckabee’s mistake is that for most American Jews, Israel is not a factor.

Huckabee does not understand that the majority of American Jews supports their own concept of Israel, not Huckabee’s, and not mine and probably not yours.

This theme has been hammered over and over again in books on Americans and Zionism, but it bears repeating: The existence of Israel makes most American Jews feel good to be Americans, especially when Israel is considered something like a 51st state with kosher food and lots of synagogues open for Yom Kippur. Most American Jews have a good conscience so long as Israel exists, and they don’t care where the borders are so long as no one, God forbid, criticizes Israel.

“Oy, the United Nations says Israel is illegally letting Jews live in Judea and Samaria? The put them back in Tel Aviv where they belong

“Oy, The New York Times condemns Israel for maintain the Western Wall as an orthodox religious site? How Un-American! Let the Women of the Wall make the rules.”

And don’t forget to wave the Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, during the seventh inning stretch.

Huckabee forgets one important point. Sorry man, but most American Jews are not orthodox. Most American newlyweds do not even marry other Jews, unless the term “Jew” is widened to include anyone who decides for himself, ”Yeah, I think I will be Jewish.”

Regarding those who consider Israel a factor, Huckabee certainly has the backing of American Jews, most of them Orthodox, who know that the “peace process” is a bunch of baloney, but dangerously poisonous, and that Judea and Samaria is just as much a part of Israel as is Tel Aviv.

He forgets that most of the remaining real Jews – those who are Jewish according to Jewish law –  are “armchair Zionists.” They buy Israel Bonds on Yom Kippur, pushing down a tab with enough zeros after the “1” so that their name can be announced from the pulpit.

Wild Bushfires Drive Some Australian Jews from Their Homes

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Wild bushfires ravaging Australia forced members of the Jewish community to evacuate their homes, some of which already have been destroyed by flames since the fires broke out Wednesday a week ago due to explosives used in army exercises.

David Lake, a traditional Sephardi Jew lost his home in the blaze at the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and was able to flee with almost no possession except a Kiddush cup and a mezuzah.

“All my possessions were incinerated,” Lake said. “It’s difficult and emotionally traumatizing.

“The Kiddush cup was completely blackened but I managed to restore it – it’s still useable,” he added. He said the mezuzah on the archway in front of his door was “still intact,” but others lying in the ashes were totally destroyed.

Lake has been living since Tuesday at a Chabad house in Sydney, which has 40 rooms available, along with a handful of other Jewish evacuees.

Other Jewish groups rallied to help the victims this week.

Our Big Kitchen, a Chabad-run community kitchen in Bondi, staged a cook-a-thon on Tuesday, preparing more than 1,000 meals for distribution to victims and firefighters.

“We pray that God Almighty has mercy and brings a swift end to this terrible catastrophe, comforts the bereaved and heals the wounded,” said Pinchus Feldman, the chief rabbi of Chabad in Sydney.

The Jewish House, a crisis center, is offering psychological help, as well as shelter for those with pets.

“We’re in touch with 25 families,” said the center’s CEO, Rabbi Mendel Kastel. “Most are all packed up and ready to run if they need to.”

Jewish Aid Australia launched an appeal this week. “Like all Australians, the Jewish community is deeply concerned by the devastation left in the fires’ wake,” said Jewish Aid Australia CEO Gary Samowitz.

Bush fires are akin to Australia’s frontline war. In 2009, bushfires killed more than 170 people and destroyed 150 homes in Victoria, the worst blaze in Australian history.

Two people have been killed, the latest being a pilot whose water bomber plane crashed in rugged country on the southern coast of Australia. The crash sparked another fire, one of more than 50 are burning across the state of New South Wales.

More than 200 homes have been destroyed, and one man died from a heart attack while trying to save his home.

Israeli Clock Change to Cut Time Difference with US – for One Week

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Israel goes back to Standard time, known as “winter” time, at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, leaving only a six-hour and nine-hour difference from the East and West coasts of the United States respectively.

The usual seven and 10-hour gap will return the following weekend, when the United States also turns back its clocks.

This is the first year that Israel in ending Daylight time, known as Summer time, in tandem with European countries, after a tradition of making the fall switch the Thursday night before Yom Kippur.

Many rabbis claimed that if the fast day were to extend into the early evening hours when there is daylight, less people would fast. Somehow, Israelis this past Yom Kippur managed to start and end the fast an hour later than usual, just like almost everyone else in Europe and the United States.

The more significant impact in extending summer time for the religious community has been on the start of morning prayers, when the relatively late daybreak has forced many synagogues to postpone the start of prayers because the earliest time permitted for putting on tefillin is later than it was at the same time of year during “winter” time.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-clock-change-to-cut-time-difference-with-us-for-one-week/2013/10/24/

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