Saturday, 31 August 2013

Mussar: Do $60.00 Etrogim reflect Torah Values, or Capitalist Values? - 4

Rabban Gamliel taught us that we need to prevent extravagant funerals lest people get priced out of doing this most important mitzvah.

Rav Schwab Z"L in his day as well as several Hassidisher Rebbes today, are reining in the cost of outlandish S'machot [simhcos].

Leaders see the big picture, that keeping up with the Material Joneses is bad for the Jewish N'shamah - a form of Lo Tachmod. An Etrog is admittedly more ambiguous due to the Hiddur Mitzvah with which it is duly assoicated.

However, our case in Hilchot R'fu'ah, in our first post, teaches us that gouging for a mitzvah is still not an acceptable practice.

Finaly, when we decry non-Ortho's for promoting EG
Socialism
Feminism
Political Correctness
Etc.
At the expense of Torah Values

So how can we promote Capitalism at the expense of Torah values? Is Capitalism any more Kosher than the other "isms" listeed above?

The answer my friend is deep and honest introspection that goes along with this time of year. The temptation for denial, or the tendency to defend the status quo, should still yield to Torah sources.

Shanah Tovah!
Best Regards,
RW

Friday, 30 August 2013

Do $60.00 Etrogim reflect Torah Values, or Capitalist Values? - 3

«Friday, September 24, 1999 ...
Bad winter puts freeze on California etrog harvest
by SUE FISHKOFF,
Jerusalem Post Service 
The past year's bad weather in California, including below-freezing temperatures last December and biting cold rains through February and March, is proving to be a windfall for a handful of Israelis.

Which Israelis? The etrog growers, of course.

That's because this year's etrog crop in California has failed.

"There will not be a harvest this year," said John Kirkpatrick, a San Joaquin Valley farmer recently tabbed "the only large-scale U.S. producer of the etrog" by the Wall Street Journal.

Sukkot, the holiday that creates the demand for etrogim, begins today at sunset.»
Bad winter puts freeze on California etrog harvest | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California 
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/11664/bad-winter-puts-freeze-on-california-etrog-harvest/


Best Regards,
RRW

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Do $60.00 Etrogim reflect Torah Values, or Capitalist Values? - 2

«The cost of etrogim is directly related to the demand: All varieties of etrog trees bear many fruit of all sizes and shapes, and theoretically the vast majority are kosher [meaning fit for use in the Four Species bundle]. However, the market keeps demanding more and more "ideal" etrogim, with nary a blemish, which means that each fruit is tended to carefully, including tying it to keep it from rubbing against other fruits or branches or thorns (etrog trees are very thorny) and packaging it separately even at the wholesale stage to ensure no bruising. This "personal handling" from the orchard to the packing house adds to the cost to the consumer.»
How dear a hadar tree's fruit can be - The Jewish Standard
http://jstandard.com/content/item/how_dear_a_hadar_trees_fruit_can_be/20172


Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Impurity, Heresy and Immorality

Guest Blogger:
Alan Krinsky

Originally published in The Jewish Press, August 22
http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/22, 2013

Presented here with their permission.
The views presented are not necessarily the views of Nishma. Our goal is to promote the thought that this article should necessarily raise. We look forward to your comments.
*****

Impurity, Heresy and Immorality
Why aren't crime and corruption considered heresya kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts? By: Alan Krinsky

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/
Why aren't crime and corruption considered heresya kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts? By: Alan Krinsky

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/
Why aren't crime and corruption considered heresya kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts?

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/
Why aren't crime and corruption considered heresy, a kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts? 
by Alan Krinsky

Although purity and impurity figure as essential dimensions of Judaism and Jewish law, the truth is that without the Beis HaMikdash we have little connection to the world of tahor and tameh, the pure and impure. We have ritual washing of hands and we have the mikveh, but essentially we all remain in a state of ritual impurity. It seems we have found a substitute, though, focusing instead on ideological purity and impurity. In recent years especially, we have seen members of the Orthodox community seeking to identify and root out heresy – whether suspected, imagined, or genuine. We have seen this in efforts to ban books and label people as standing outside the camp. There has been particular anxiety over the “left” boundary of Orthodoxy. (Interestingly, there has not been a similar worry over heresy on the “right” boundary, despite the fact that some of what passes for basic Yiddishkeit on that end of the spectrum seems contrary to what we find in sources from Pirkei Avos through the Rambam.) We have seen a similar focus on what we might call genetic purity and impurity, observable in heightened suspicion of and hostility to potential converts and even to people years or decades after their conversion. We have heard increasing talk of the “Jewish neshamah,” as if it is some genetic or otherwise essential aspect of our souls that makes us different from (and, in some unclear sense, “better” than) non-Jews. The alternative perspective is that the souls of Jews and non-Jews do not differ; rather, Jews have been chosen to bear a special responsibility in this world, to be a “light unto the nations.” What is most striking, however, is not simply the current concern with ideological heresy and impurity but the increasing passion and panic with which it has been expressed. The language and actions are strong, such as concerted efforts to push rabbis out of the Rabbinical Council of America. And the freedom of the Internet has made the “exposure” of alleged heresy easier; one only has to browse some of the comment threads on Orthodox websites to see the vitriol and unkindness expressed, often anonymously, by so many. What happens when we step back and take a broader view of the concerns and rhetoric in the Orthodox world? It seems the most excited and passionate voices, among both centrist and right-wing groups, target ideological heresy, as if that were the greatest threat. But might we not say that the greatest threat is ethical impurity? Why have we not mobilized with a greater or at least similar zeal to root out wrongdoing, to push people out of the Orthodox camp for corruption and criminal activity, for extortion and misuse of funds, for verbal and physical intimidation and violence? The cynical answer, perhaps, is that we do not see morality as a matter of purity and impurity; that someone who is born Jewish and maintains proper ritual practice but engages in corruption has no lack of purity, whereas someone who is absolutely upright in his or her relationships and business dealings but whose beliefs are on the edge is an impure heretic. Is there nothing wrong with this picture? Why are crime and corruption not considered a sort of heresy in themselves, a kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts? Let us consider the reasons for the destruction of the two Temples: the first for the three cardinal sins of murder, sexual immorality, and idol worship; the second for sinas chinam, baseless hatred. Are these matters of ritual purity and impurity? Not really. Maybe one could argue that sexual immorality falls, in part, into such a category. Are they matters of ideological purity and impurity? Well, for idol worship, yes. Are they matters of moral purity and impurity? With the possible exception of idol worship, certainly. When the prophets railed against the people, did they do so because of incorrect beliefs or because of corruption and immorality? We lost our Temples largely due to ethical failure. Not heresy, but immorality. And yet today, when we claim to mourn our ongoing exile and the loss of the Beis HaMikdash, how do we direct our passion, our anxiety, our anger? Do we expose corruption and unethical behavior? Do we strive to make our community one of yashrus, of uprightness? Or do we place much more energy into exposing heresy and taboo thoughts? Where, truly, do the greatest threats lie? Is it when someone with Orthodox ordination suggests something outside of mainstream tradition? Or, rather, when someone with Orthodox ordination is discovered to have stolen charitable funds for private use, or government funds for Jewish schools? Is it when someone claiming Orthodox credentials declares that protecting the secular civil rights of openly gay and lesbian citizens is valuable in that doing so might protect the interests of all minority populations, including Torah-observant Jews? Or, rather, when someone claiming Orthodox credentials raises money for a charged sexual abuser of children or intimidates witnesses or calls the victim of such abuse a prostitute? And what dangers disillusion and drive people away from Yiddishkeit? Are supposed ideological heresies causing young men and women to discard their prayer books? Or is witnessing corruption and criminality doing so? Clearly, ideas are important and heretical ideas are not free of danger, but here is a proposal for our times: Let us put a temporary moratorium on rooting out ideological heresy, and refocus our attention on moral heresy. Let us take the zeal we have summoned in rooting out heretical individuals, and reorient it into a passionate effort to root out corruption and criminality in our midst. Once we have cleaned up our house in this respect, then we can return to issues of ideological purity and impurity.

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/0/

Although purity and impurity figure as essential dimensions of Judaism and Jewish law, the truth is that without the Beis HaMikdash we have little connection to the world of tahor and tameh, the pure and impure.
We have ritual washing of hands and we have the mikveh, but essentially we all remain in a state of ritual impurity.
It seems we have found a substitute, though, focusing instead on ideological purity and impurity. In recent years especially, we have seen members of the Orthodox community seeking to identify and root out heresy – whether suspected, imagined, or genuine.
We have seen this in efforts to ban books and label people as standing outside the camp. There has been particular anxiety over the “left” boundary of Orthodoxy. (Interestingly, there has not been a similar worry over heresy on the “right” boundary, despite the fact that some of what passes for basic Yiddishkeit on that end of the spectrum seems contrary to what we find in sources from Pirkei Avos through the Rambam.)
We have seen a similar focus on what we might call genetic purity and impurity, observable in heightened suspicion of and hostility to potential converts and even to people years or decades after their conversion. We have heard increasing talk of the “Jewish neshamah,” as if it is some genetic or otherwise essential aspect of our souls that makes us different from (and, in some unclear sense, “better” than) non-Jews.
The alternative perspective is that the souls of Jews and non-Jews do not differ; rather, Jews have been chosen to bear a special responsibility in this world, to be a “light unto the nations.”
What is most striking, however, is not simply the current concern with ideological heresy and impurity but the increasing passion and panic with which it has been expressed. The language and actions are strong, such as concerted efforts to push rabbis out of the Rabbinical Council of America. And the freedom of the Internet has made the “exposure” of alleged heresy easier; one only has to browse some of the comment threads on Orthodox websites to see the vitriol and unkindness expressed, often anonymously, by so many.
What happens when we step back and take a broader view of the concerns and rhetoric in the Orthodox world? It seems the most excited and passionate voices, among both centrist and right-wing groups, target ideological heresy, as if that were the greatest threat. But might we not say that the greatest threat is ethical impurity?
Why have we not mobilized with a greater or at least similar zeal to root out wrongdoing, to push people out of the Orthodox camp for corruption and criminal activity, for extortion and misuse of funds, for verbal and physical intimidation and violence?
The cynical answer, perhaps, is that we do not see morality as a matter of purity and impurity; that someone who is born Jewish and maintains proper ritual practice but engages in corruption has no lack of purity, whereas someone who is absolutely upright in his or her relationships and business dealings but whose beliefs are on the edge is an impure heretic.
Is there nothing wrong with this picture? Why are crime and corruption not considered a sort of heresy in themselves, a kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts?
Let us consider the reasons for the destruction of the two Temples: the first for the three cardinal sins of murder, sexual immorality, and idol worship; the second for sinas chinam, baseless hatred. Are these matters of ritual purity and impurity? Not really. Maybe one could argue that sexual immorality falls, in part, into such a category. Are they matters of ideological purity and impurity? Well, for idol worship, yes. Are they matters of moral purity and impurity? With the possible exception of idol worship, certainly.
When the prophets railed against the people, did they do so because of incorrect beliefs or because of corruption and immorality?
We lost our Temples largely due to ethical failure. Not heresy, but immorality. And yet today, when we claim to mourn our ongoing exile and the loss of the Beis HaMikdash, how do we direct our passion, our anxiety, our anger?
Do we expose corruption and unethical behavior? Do we strive to make our community one of yashrus, of uprightness? Or do we place much more energy into exposing heresy and taboo thoughts?
Where, truly, do the greatest threats lie? Is it when someone with Orthodox ordination suggests something outside of mainstream tradition? Or, rather, when someone with Orthodox ordination is discovered to have stolen charitable funds for private use, or government funds for Jewish schools?
Is it when someone claiming Orthodox credentials declares that protecting the secular civil rights of openly gay and lesbian citizens is valuable in that doing so might protect the interests of all minority populations, including Torah-observant Jews? Or, rather, when someone claiming Orthodox credentials raises money for a charged sexual abuser of children or intimidates witnesses or calls the victim of such abuse a prostitute?
And what dangers disillusion and drive people away from Yiddishkeit? Are supposed ideological heresies causing young men and women to discard their prayer books? Or is witnessing corruption and criminality doing so?
Clearly, ideas are important and heretical ideas are not free of danger, but here is a proposal for our times: Let us put a temporary moratorium on rooting out ideological heresy, and refocus our attention on moral heresy. Let us take the zeal we have summoned in rooting out heretical individuals, and reorient it into a passionate effort to root out corruption and criminality in our midst.
Once we have cleaned up our house in this respect, then we can return to issues of ideological purity and impurity.


Alan Krinsky is a senior analyst in the field of healthcare quality improvement. He is also a writer who was previously a monthly columnist for Rhode Island’s Jewish Voice & Herald and whose essays have been published in print and online by a number of publications. He lives with his family in Providence where he currently serves as president of Congregation Beth Sholom.
Alan Krinsky is a senior analyst in the field of healthcare quality improvement. He is also a writer who was previously a monthly columnist for Rhode Island’s Jewish Voice & Herald and whose essays have been published in print and online by a number of publications. He lives with his family in Providence where he currently serves as president of Congregation Beth Sholom.

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/0/



Although purity and impurity figure as essential dimensions of Judaism and Jewish law, the truth is that without the Beis HaMikdash we have little connection to the world of tahor and tameh, the pure and impure.

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/0/
Why aren't crime and corruption considered heresya kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts? By: Alan Krinsky

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/impurity-heresy-and-immorality/2013/08/22/

Do $60.00 Etrogim reflect Torah Values, or Capitalist Values? - 1

Given: that the cost of to grow an Etrog is between one and three dollars [US]; so assuming a reasonable profit, how come sets of Arba Minim cost so much? Often in excess of $60.00! Is this not Ona'ah?

See EG S"A Y"D 336:3 about not raising prices on herbs for a choleh.

Also, see the underlying Sugya in Y'vamot 106a Bas Hamu'ah de Rav Poppo.

Price gouging seems quite legal [admirable?] under capitalism, but seems to be not so kosher according to Torah Values.

Are Etrogim really that costly?

More later BE"H.

Best Regards,
RRW

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Huffington Post: There Is Some Logic to Marois' Uniform Quebec

The Premier of Quebec wishes to introduce legislation that will include a ban on religious headwear for public employees. My clear critique of this proposal took a bit of a different spin.

I invite you to take a look at: There Is Some Logic to Marois' Uniform Quebec  

My original title for the post, btw, was 'Of Course Uniformity and Homogeneity Foster Unity' but it was changed by the editors.

Please feel free to comment here or there.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Experimental Edition of Tanakh

« Full editorial documentation: Various editions of the Torah or Tanakh in Hebrew may seem identical to the untrained eye, but the truth is that each and every edition, from Koren to Breuer and from Artscroll to JPS, always makes numerous important editorial decisions. In most editions these decisions are not transparent, and the student of Torah therefore relies upon the good judgment of the editor. But in Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah the entire editorial process and the reasoning behind it are fully described in all of their details: Every stylistic alteration and every textual decision made regarding every letter, niqqud, and ta`am in the entire Tanakh is documented. An extensive, six-chapter methodological introduction describing the editorial process in great detail is available here (in Hebrew).2

Free Content License: Unlike most other modern editions of the Tanakh, Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah is made available under a free and open license for public use (CC-BY-SA). This license covers both the text itself and its extensive documentation.»

Weekly Freebies: Experimental Edition of Tanakh
http://torahmusings.com/2013/08/weekly-freebies-experimental-edition-of-tanakh/


Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 26 August 2013

Yossele Rosenblatt and Chazanus

To many people the name "Yossele Rosenblatt" is synonymous with the Golden Age of Jewish cantorial music. To many Jewish immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries Hazzanut was a connection to their former lives, the traditions of their shtetels and their parents and grandparents. Regardless of philosophical bents or religious affiliations almost all Jewish institutions, from Hassidic courts to Reform Temples, included hazzanut in their liturgies as the leadership realized that their congregants craved the customary singing and chanting. Jewish institutions vied with each other to incorporate the highest possible level of cantorial expression in their services.

One of the most widely-recognized cantors of this era was Yossele Rosenblatt --  "Yossele," as he was known to his audiences and admirers. Yossele was recognized the greatest hazzan of his time. He was a highly-sought-after cantor who expressed his love of Jewish liturgy with every fiber of his being.

Yossele was born in 1882 in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine. The Rosenblatt family included many generations of hazzanim and from an early age Yossele and his father, a Ruzhiner Hassid and a hazzan himself, performed together in the Sadagora Rebbe's synagogue. Yossele started to tour with his father while he was still quite young -- Yossele's father chanted the services as Yossele accompanied. Yossele was recognized as a prodigy whose unique talent infused the ancient prayers with new strength and power.

Rosenblatt's father was afraid that the wrong influence could weaken Yossele's devout religious commitment and he refused to send Yossele to any of the great musical academies of the day, but this did not diminish Yossele's abilities. (Although he did have no training at a conservatory, he was still taught musical notation which would allow him to write his own compositions down.) He was given the position as the premier hazzan of Munckz, Hungary at age 18 and then moved to  Pressburg Austria. In 1912 Yossele immigrated to America and took up a position as the hazzan at the Ohab Zedek synagogue in New York.

Rosenblatt was recognized for his incredible sense of melody which combined with his strong tenor to infuse Jewish prayers with spiritual heights. His audiences were generally comprised of new immigrants who were struggling in the New World. They cherished Yossele's hazzanut which brought back the sounds and atmosphere of their childhoods.

Yossele's developed a structured, metered style which continues to influence cantors of all streams of Judaism till today. He transmitted the familiar Askanazi sounds of his audiences' youth with soothing emotive expressions and a dramatic style that satisfied the listeners' nostalgia for their homelands.

Yossele was best known for his ability to hit high notes at unusually high speeds. He used cantillations to cause his voice to break in the middle of an arrangement which, combined with his talent for transitioning his voice into a falsetto at the drop of a pin. His "kretches" -- sobs -- conveyed passions and emotions in a way that other cantors  -- indeed, all other singers -- could only dream about.  

Rosenblatt was famous for his Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur hazzanut which included compelling sections of operatic-like recitatives. In conjunction with the traditional liturgy Yossele's High Holy Day hazzanut included snippets of folk melodies and large sections of improvised chanting. Yossele wished to create musical dramas that would allow the congregation to experience the liturgy as true supplications and feel the spirituality of the Days of Awe in new and meaningful ways.

Rosenblatt often expressed the opinion that his voice was a gift from God. His commitment to use his voice only in God's service was tested when Cleofonte Campanini, the general director of the Chicago Opera, offered Yossele $1,000 per performance to sing the role of Eleazar in Halevy's La Juive opera. Campanili promised Rosenblatt that his religious sensibilities would be honored during the performances. He promised to cancel all Shabbat performances and adhere to all necessary religious strictures, including issues of modesty. Rosenblatt considered the offer but in the end, he decided to demur. He did, however, star in Al Jolson's 1929 The Jazz Singer about the son of a cantor who turns to secular music.

Over 180 pieces of Rosenblatt's work have been preserved, some of them by the Lowell Milken Archive, a project started by Jewish philanthropist Lowell Milken to preserve American Jewish music. Among the best-known are Hasheim Malakh, V'af Hu Hoyo Miskaven, Mi Shebeirakh and, Tal. U'vnucho Yomar. Rosenblatt's rendition of Tehillim 126 was so popular that in 1948 Israeli leaders considered Shir Hama'a'lot as a possible national anthem, though in the end they chose HaTikva.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Huffington Post: What You Read About Egypt is Wrong

In my latest blog on Huffington Post-Canada, I deal with the present situation in Egypt. While there is much more that could be said on the subject, the focus of my piece was specifically on the complexity of the matter and the drive by individuals to simplify what is happening. It is this simplification which, I believe, leads people to improperly perceive and define what is happening in the Middle East. It is, thus, a topic I wanted to address and while on the surface this piece would seem not to have a specific Jewish slant, it is my belief that it inherently does. One, because part of Torah is truly comprehending the complexity of life. Two, because such comprehension in this case will lead also people to better understand Israel's viewpoint.

I invite you to take a look at: What You Read About Egypt is Wrong

My original title for the post, btw, was 'The Complexity of Egypt' but it was changed by the editors. The fact is that they originally changed the title to 'Why It's Easier to Lay Blame Than to Understand Egypt's Issues' before arriving at the present title. 

Please feel free to comment here or there.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Mussar: B'tzedek Tishpot Amitecha - Judgment Requires Omniscience

I recently received an email as to how only Hashem has the wherewithal to judge people, since we humans simply lack the complete story.

"In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things; past, present and to come. One would have to recognize in advance all the effects of his judgments on everyone and everything involved in them in any way. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests now and in the future.

Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself?"
The Answer can only be HKBH.


Caveat:
We may be able to judge a particular ACTION or DEED as out-of-bounds, but not the person him/herself

Best Regards,
RRW

Friday, 23 August 2013

Parsha Ki Tavo - The Holocaust Foretold

Forwarded with permission -

«Rabbi Riskin has a great personal story about Davening as a 12 year old boy with the Klausenberger Rebbe in the Brooklyn in this week's Jewish Week:

http://www.thejewishweek.com/jewish-life/sabbath-week/nothing-fear-klausenberg-shul

(It's also in his book "Listening to G-d" pages 59-61.) 

«...Then came the Torah reading. In accordance with the custom, the Torah reader began to chant the Tochacha in a whisper. And unexpectedly, almost inaudibly but unmistakably, the Yiddish word hecher ("louder") came from the direction of the lectern upon which the rebbe was leaning at the eastern wall of the shul.

The Torah reader stopped reading for a few moments; the congregants looked up from their Bibles in questioning and even mildly shocked silence. ...»


Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Jewish tradition implores us to raise our eyes to see the needs of all humanity.

«Jewish tradition implores us to raise our eyes to see the needs of all humanity.  As one of Judaism's greatest contemporary scholars and teachers, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, wrote, "We have always considered ourselves an inseparable part of humanity…ever ready to accept…the responsibility implicit in human existence."»
Protection of Civilians August 2013
http://embassies.gov.il/un/statements/security_council/Pages/Protection-of-Civilians-August-2013.aspx


Best Regards,
RRW

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

"D'vorim Hayyotz'im min Halleiv Nichnasim el Halleiv"

I saw the following quote on the Internet:

"If words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart."
~ Rumi ~

Then it hit me - did Rumi get this idea from us Jews or vice versa?

So I conducted a search for the earliest source for:

"D'vorim Hayyotz'im min Halleiv Nichnasim el Halleiv"

One kind colleague, Rabbi Yehoshua Steinberg, responded as follows:

«It's often quoted in the name of Chazal, but the closest Chazal is Brachot 6a "kol adam sheyesh bo yirat shamayim devorav nishmaim."

Much closer though is 
Sefer haYashar, R"T (13:173): "kol davar sheyatza min halev yikanes balev."»

And R Steinberg add the following T'fillah;

«May our prayers on Rosh Hashanah be from the heart and enter the RBSH"O's heart kivayachol.» 

I Googled the Dates of Birth
For our competing authors -

Rumi's DoB:
September 30, 1207,
Vakhsh, Tajikistan
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi,

Rabbeinu Tam's DoB:
1100, Ramerupt, France
Rabbeinu Tam

Thus, Rabbeinu Tam preceded Rumi by about a century, yet the precise origin may remain shoruded in mystery, covered by the sands of time.

Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 19 August 2013

Integrity, Cheating, and the Fudge Factor

«The "fudge factor theory" explains how we decide where to draw the line between "okay," and "not okay," between decisions that make us feel guilty and those we find a way to confidently justify. The more we're able to rationalize our decisions as morally acceptable, the wider this fudge factor margin becomes. And most of us are highly adept at it: Everyone else is doing it. This just levels the playing field. They're such a huge company that this won't affect them at all. They don't pay me enough anyway. He owes me this. She cheated on me once too. If I don't, my future will be ruined.»
What Strengthens and Weakens Our Integrity – Part I: Why Small Choices Count | The Art of Manliness
http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/08/05/what-strengthens-and-weakens-our-integrity-part-i-why-small-choices-count/


Best Regards,
RRW

Sunday, 18 August 2013

On Evil and Atrocities - Part 2 Albert Goering

«The good Goering: Nazi Hermann's younger brother could be honoured for saving Jews during the Holocaust

•Albert Goering, who died in 1966, believed to have saved hundreds of Jews

• Petitioned for them to be freed and funneled aid to refugees across Europe

• Yad Vashem in Israel preparing file for Righteous Among the Nations award»
Hermann Goering's younger brother could be honoured for saving Jews during the Holocaust | Mail Online
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2291983/Hermann-Goerings-younger-brother-honoured-saving-Jews-Holocaust.html

----------------------

Additional Links:

Albert Göring - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_G%C3%B6ring

--------------

Albert Goering, the good brother

http://www.auschwitz.dk/albert.htm

-----------------

Albert Goering, A Story of Courage

http://www.deathcamps.info/Albert/

-------------------------------------

Comments:

Situations are mostly neutral
Virtue, or the lack thereof, depends upon our response to them.

Best Regards,
RRW

Friday, 16 August 2013

Parsha Ki Seitzi; The Fedora and Lo Tilbash

The Origin of the Fedora and its implications with regard to Lo Tilbash
Something to consider, contemplate and meditate upon.

It started as a Begged Eeshah

It was first worn by an unsurly character in a 19th Century Play.

Its origins conjure up very unseemly characters, at least by Orthodox standards

1. A cross-dresser
2. A morally flawed Prince of Wales - [who was a Nazi sympathizer yet!]
3. Women's Rights Activists. WOW!


Yet, it went from
Issur Gamur [for a man] to
Muttar to
Hiddur to
Hiyyuv Gamur :-)
In about 120 years.

«The word fedora comes from the title of an 1882 play by dramatist Victorien Sardou, Fédora, written for Sarah Bernhardt.[3] The play was first performed in the United States in 1889.

Bernhardt played Princess Fédora, the heroine of the play. During the play, Bernhardt, *a notorious cross-dresser*, wore a center-creased, soft brimmed hat. *Women's-rights activists adopted the fashion*.

Men began to wear them with city clothes after 1924, led by Britain's Prince Edward, the most influential man of fashion in his day. It was popular for its stylishness and its ability to protect the wearer's head from the wind and weather. Since the early part of the 20th century, many Haredi and other Orthodox Jews have made black fedoras normative to their daily wear.[4]
Fedora - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedora


Bottom Line:
What constitutes Begged Eeshah usually depends upon Societal Convention and not so much upon its origins.

As to how something becomes Tahor after having such a "colourful past" is food for thought. EG is Wagner's music now OK?

Best Regards,
RRW

Thursday, 15 August 2013

On Evil and Atrocities - Part 1

«Stepping back, Dawes draws attention to the common socio-cultural forces that run through instances of mass brutality the world over: "Today most scholars trace genocidal behavior to organizational identity, social context, and national ideologies, rather than to individual personalities," he writes. "In other words, you're not so much who you are as where you are." To illustrate how easy it can be to get humans to commit to immoral behavior, he cites a few famous psychological studies, such as Stanley Milgram's controversial experiment demonstrating that people are more likely to carry out harmful acts if they're sanctioned by an authority figure. As it happens, the veterans with whom Dawes met "emphasized the importance of the regime's willingness to take responsibility for their actions."»

'Evil Men' by James Dawes - The Washington Post
http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2013/08/09/e77fc5b2-b266-11e2-baf7-5bc2a9dc6f44_print.html


Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Parents Shame Daughter with Sign

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/us/2012/11/22/dnt-fl-parents-shame-daughter-with-sign.wesh

I saw this and wondered what to think. It would seem to me, at best, to be a gamble - could have a positive impact on the daughter but could also have a powerful negative one. My leaning is towards the latter -- but then what to do? What, of course, is not mentioned in the report -- as a factor in this process -- is that it is a step-father and not a father. I wonder what type of influence that has had on the family dynamic. This is not to say anything negative about the step-father -- he seems to be a caring person -- but there is always the question of where is the father.

Anyways, wanted to throw this out for your contemplation and, if you have any thoughts you would like to share, to hear what you think.

Take care
RBH

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Does Faith Make You Healthier?

«In 2012, researchers led by a group at Yeshiva University analyzed the health outcomes of more than 90,000 women over an eight-year period and found that those who frequently attended religious services were 56% more likely than non-attending women to report high rates of optimism, and 27% less likely to report depression. Other studies of the same group found a 20% lower mortality rate.

Researchers at University College London found similar results in analyzing dozens of studies that examined the impact of religiosity among men and women. Numerous other studies by researchers at Harvard, Duke and other universities have found that religious identification and church attendance are associated with less social isolation, lower risk of substance abuse, lower rates of suicide, greater happiness and life satisfaction.

Yet believers should be wary of celebrating these findings too much. The faithful may be winning at the game of life, but they're playing by rules that social scientists have written in essentially post-religious terms. While churches define the highest aims of life as salvation or enlightenment, social science research replaces these with health and wealth, well-being and satisfaction.»

Ari N. Schulman: Does Faith Make You Healthier? - WSJ.com
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324328904578622481104499620.html


Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 12 August 2013

Archaology Issues

One of the problems with any type of academic study is the hidden bias which colours any conclusions but is steadfastly still denied. One is the secular bias -- an answer that involves Divine intervention is rejected right from the onset so that it, as a possibility, is not even considered. Thus any presentation based upon this assumption is immediately dismissed as not academic.

In the following clip, we may have mention of another one.

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/07/31/3000-year-old-inscription-translated-biblical-history/

key phrase for me -
Near Eastern history and biblical studies expert Douglas Petrovich:
"It's just the climate among scholars that they want to attribute as little as possible to the ancient Israelites,"

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Original Torah Script - Ivri or Ashuri? Pt. 2

More on the same
* * * * *

«The Holy Script and Speech
There is a beraisa quoted in mesechtos Megillah (3a) and Shabbos (104a) that R' Chisda says, "the [final] mem and samech of the luchos stood miraculously." Meaning: the letters were carved all the way through, so that  ם and ס, letters that are drawn as closed shapes had a piece in the middle unattached to rest the luchos. The miracle was that the unattached middle piece floated in place with the rest of the luchos.

Rav Chisda's statement describes the current block script and kesav Ashuris (Assyrian script / praiseworthy script; see below) used in sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzos. Which would indicate that Rav Chisda kesav Ashuris is at least as old as Har Sinai, and the original script the Torah was given in.

....

But the Yerushalmi's version of the gemara in Megillah (1:9), has R' Levi quoting Mar Zutra and R' Yosi that it was ayin and tes that had floating pieces. This would fit kesav Ivri (Hebrew script, see candidates below), although Ivri also has other letters that are closed shapes. Perhaps it refers to yet another script, but it's certainly not Ashuris!

The Holy Script and Speech | Aspaqlaria
http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2011/07/holy-script-speech.shtml


Best Regards,
RRW

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Mussar: Toil to Overcome Your Yeitzer

From Derech Emet:
- - - - -

Sefer Pele Yoetz, chapter Copheh, paragraph 3:

This explanation is from a group of early [students of] Arizal:

Tractate Berachot, page 8A teaches:
[Rabbi Chiya bar Ami taught on the name of Ula:]
HE WHO BENEFITS FROM HIS TOIL, HE IS
[EVEN] GREATER THAN ONE WHO FEARS G_D
[literally, fears Heaven].

They want to say this interpretation:

The person who toiled greatly to suppress his temptation
is [spiritually] greater than a person whose nature is to
fear G_d [literally, fear Heaven]. Because he benefitted from his toil [to control his evil side], he is even better in the afterlife [than a person who is naturally good].

Behold, it is appropriate to rejoice over the spirit of
temptation that is within us, because through it we give
[literally, do] satisfaction to G_d [literally, the One Who
formed us]; and through it, we become worthy of the
reward of the righteous, much goodness.

And behold, it is written in Sefer Chasidim [chapter 28
and chapter 173], that for every sin that comes into
your hand and your spirit of temptation urges you
to do it, you should place in your mind that if they
[an evil Gentile government] would decree that you
should change [or abandon] your faith [in the Torah],
you would certainly sacrifice [even] your life to give
honor to the Name of the Blessed One [by sacrificing
your life to avoid abandoning the Torah].

Since you are able to control yourself to sacrifice your life, [then] you should also be able to control your spirit of temptation to give honor to G_d. [literally, to your Owner] [by controlling your
temptation to sin].

CHRONOLOGY 1:
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria [the Arizal] was born in Jerusalem
in 1534 CE to an Ashkenazic father and a Sephardic mother.
He died in 1572 CE.

CHRONOLOGY 2:
Rabbi Eliezer Papo lived from 1785 CE to 1826 CE.
Sefer Pele Yoetz was completed in Bulgaria on April 28, 1824.


Best Regards,
RRW

Friday, 9 August 2013

Original Torah Script - Ivri or Ashuri? Pt. 1

Surprise - It's a machloket! This machloket is at least 1,800 years old, and we at Nishmablog are not going to resolve it in a Blog Post or 2
But it does make for a fascinating topic re: Talmudic rulings and "scientific evidence"
This post was triggered by a lively discussion on the Leining Google Group.
Below are some hits from a Google search:
--------------
In terms of what script was used at Mount Sinai, there is a 3 way disagreement in the Talmud Sanhedrin 21b-22a.
Mar Zutra (some say it was Mar Ukva) holds that the Torah was originally given in Ivri script, but later the standard was changed to Ashuri in the times of Ezra.
Rebbi says that it was given in Ashuri script, but after the Jews sinned (not clear which sin is referred to) it was switched to Ivri script. Later when they repented it switched back to Ashuri script.
Rav Elazar HaModai says it was always in Ashuri script, and Ivri script was likely just a common handwriting used by the people but not in Torah scrolls.
Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? - Mi Yodeya
http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/15420/which-alphabet-were-the-original-torah-scrolls-in
----------------
Script and Vowelization
Although the "Old Hebrew" script was commonly used in ancient Israel, the original Torah scrolls, as well as the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, were written in the same Ashurit script used for Torah scrolls today. According to other opinions, however, the Ashurit script was forgotten during the Babylonian exile, and the common Old Hebrew script was used for Torah scrolls, until the Ashurit script was restored by Ezra. A third opinion is that the Torah and Tablets were originally given in the Old Hebrew script, and the Ashurit script was introduced by Ezra.
The original Torah scrolls were written without vowels, just as they are written today. However, just as the exact text of the Torah was given to Moses, so were the precise readings. These were preserved orally until they were finally put in writing.
Writing the Torah
http://www.aish.com/jl/b/bb/48936097.html
------------
Was the Torah written originally in Phoenician or Paleo Hebrew script?
Modern Hebrew called Ktav Ashuri, came from Assyria. The Torah was first written in Ktav Ivri, which is either Phoenician or Paleo Hebrew. There are small differences between the two scripts. Which one was etched in stone at Sinai?
Asked by Christopher 5 years ago
Best Answer:
It is most likely that the original Torah was written in Ivri script. The two Talmuds disagree on the script used in the original Ten Commandments with one implying Ivri and the other Ashuri. At any rate, they have the same letters in the same order. They are written differently. Phoenician and Ivri are very similar and one who is trained in reading one can read the other.
Was the Torah written originally in Phoenician or Paleo Hebrew script? - Y! Answers
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080805052353AAcwhZs
------------------------------
This second professor suggests that the Hebrews spoke Egyptian in Egypt so the question remains "Why was the Torah given in Hebrew"?
I then sent the question to a rabbi with a PhD from Cambridge in Philosophy and S'micha from Mir Yeshiva. This is his reply:-
"Archaeological evidence shows that a Hebrew Language was in use around 3000 years ago and inscriptions around 700 BCE are in the public domain. The Samaritan Torah is still written in the early Hebrew script. Judaism changed to our current (square) script in Babylon. You can see these scripts on Google. As to what the Torah was written in, it certainly wasn't originally given the square script we now have."
This rabbi dates Hebrew very early but does not deal with the language that the Hebrew spoke in Egypt".
Was the Torah written in Hebrew | Reflecting on Judaism
http://www.reflectingonjudaism.com/content/was-torah-written-hebrew




Best Regards,
RRW
























Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Open Siddur Project

«The map charts the development of Jewish liturgies over time and is color coded by period, the top of the map showing the earliest nusḥaot and the bottom of the page with the most recent variations. Yellow represents the period of the two temples (roughly 1000 BCE to 72 CE). Orange, the Tannaitic and Amoraic period (72 CE to 500 CE). Green, the Geonic period (600 CE to 1000 CE) and light green the period of the Rishonim (1000 CE to 1400 CE). Light blue represents the kabbalists (16th century), and the dark blue represents the period of Ḥassidut and the Haskala (18th and 19th century). The most recent variations are shown in violet. The nusḥaot found in Heinemann's chart are shown in in outlined boxes. Added material is indicated as boxes without outlines. Nusḥaot of which I have scant information I have left without an outline or color.»
http://opensiddur.org/2010/05/a-historical-map-of-jewish-liturgies

This project is open to scholarly contributions.


Best Regards,
RRW

How Fanatics Destroyed the Weimar Republic

Is Orthodox Judaism facing a similar dilemma with fanaticism from both Right and Left!


D.6. The Rise of the Nazis and Communists
http://www.colby.edu/personal/r/rmscheck/GermanyD6.html
«The rise of intransigent anti-democratic parties at both extremes paralyzed democracy. The Reichstag and most of the single state parliaments could not function any more once the radical enemies of the Republic held nearly half of the seats, as in 1930, and more than half two years later. Not to think of the profound differences between the moderate parties from the SPD to the DVP! (Imagine that in the United States the radical religious right and the communists would win a near-majority. Democrats and Republicans suddenly would have to agree on most issues; left-wing Democrat environmentalists would have to ally with right-wing Republican business groups.)

The chances for the survival of democracy were further undermined by the Catholic camp's move to the Right. The Center Party and the BVP had always tended to be more anti-socialist than genuinely democratic. The Center Party's alliance with the SPD had been dictated by the circumstances of the last war years and the chaos of the first Weimar period. After 1928 the Center became increasingly reluctant to cooperate with the Social Democrats and purged its left wing, the predominant voice of democracy within the party.»

Best Regards,
RRW

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

YouTube Debate on Messianism

With our thoughts on the recent passing of Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, in memorial, we direct you to one of his debates against a Jewish Christian.

Rabbi Imanuel Schochet Debates Dr. Brown, a Messianic Jew
"Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG26JPXZVx0


Best Regards,
RRW

New Chief Rabbi Lau Under Fire

Rabbi Lau allegedly made secret deal with Rabbi Sherman about conversion reviews

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/r-lau-to-submit-conversion-rulings-to-haredi-review-in-vote-deal

From the Comments:
«It's time for Israel to dump both chief rabbis, stop paying rabbis, and become an officially secular state as it was envisioned to be. If the haredim have a problem with that they can all move en masse to another theocratic state where they should feel right at home — Iran. Few will miss them.» 


Best Regards,
RRW

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Would Rabbis say things "Just for effect"?

Would a Rabbi say something during the course of a polemical debate just for the sake of an attack argument?

According to the Peirush HaRambam on Mishnah R"H 2:7 that actually happened. While the "Rav" in question is not named in the text, the Rambam goes on to opine that a certain Rav claimed that the Heshbon for Kiddush HaChodesh was always primary, while the r'eeyah was not. The Rambam claims that this cannot possibly match Talmudic and Midrashic literature, is therefore not true to Torah principles, and therefore the author himself did not really believe in what he was saying.

Rav Kafah's peirush identifies the Rav in question as Rav Saadyah Gaon. As such the Rambam parses R Saadyah Gaon's statements as being for polemic effect, and therefore that RSG himself did not believe what he was saying as being true, at least outside the context of the polemic.


Best Regards,
RRW

The Meaning of "Bashert" in Rabbinic Judaism and its Implications | YUTOPIA

«Although the idea of divinely matched soul mate is certainly romantic, it does pose significant theological problems especially in the aftermath of divorce or abusive relationships. Perhaps the most significant theological challenge to the preordained bashert is the denial of one's free will. In fact this definition of bashert is explicitly rejected by Maimonides on these very grounds in his Shemoneh Perakim Chapter 8.
http://www.joshyuter.com/2013/07/22/special-features/yutopias-10th-year-anniversary/the-meaning-of-bashert-in-rabbinic-judaism-and-its-implications-2/


Best Regards,
RRW

Monday, 5 August 2013

Warning about paskening halachah from "likut" sefarim

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-o6aB3CizG_w/UeORM4HNtlI/AAAAAAAAi_0/-2Iv_NCJEsQ/s1600/halacha.png

Best Regards,
RRW

Israel: Stop Whining And Do Something


Israeliadvocate
Israel: Stop Whining And Do Something
by Gerald A. Honigman
* * * * * 

August 1, 2013   
Instead of constantly setting yourself up for victimization…Drum roll, please…Get ready for the latest round of Jew-arm twisting (aka "negotiations") and for the newest attempt to force a replay of Munich 1938.  As many of us have warned, in this scenario, Israel becomes the new Czechoslovakia. In the latter's case, that nation's Sudetenland region had a large number of ethnic Germans, so when Hitler put forth his demand to annex it, Czechoslovakia's alleged friends forced it to cede this important region to the Nazis for what Great Britain's Neville Chamberlain called "peace for our time" even though it was obvious that Czechoslovakia was but an hors d'oeuvres for what Hitler really had in mind.  The world was soon at war anyway after this sacrificial offering. For a supposedly intelligent people, Jews can be dangerously and pitifully stupid. 
Firstly, let's dismiss what Arabs and the Arabized have to say about any of this.  In their eyes, there is no justice besides theirs. Ask any of the scores of millions of non-Arabs in the region who have been their subjugated victims over the past sixteen centuries, continuing to this very day.  Most so-called "Arab" states were conquered and forcibly Arabized from assorted non-Arab, native peoples. The Arab-Israeli conflict has never been about Arabs getting their 22nd state and second, not first, in the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine.  They could have had that additional state decades ago if they just were able to grant that other peoples had rights as well.  Arab Jordan was already created from almost 80% of the Mandate in 1922.  Rather, the problem has always involved Arabs granting any of the region's other peoples (black Africans in the Sudan, Kurds, Imazighen/"Berbers," kilab yahud ("Jew dogs"), Copts, Assyrians, etc.) a mere sliver of the very same rights they so forcefully demand for themselves.  The only permissible "roadmaps" are Arab ones in this ruler and ruled line of thinking.
As far as Europe goes, its collective opinion on anything having to do with Jews is also worthless. Dehumanization, demonization, humiliation, ghettoization, degradation, subjugation, inquisition, expulsion, massacre, auto da fe, Holocaust, and so forth are terms too often associated with that lovely millennial experience vis-a-vis Christendom's alleged deicide people.  Despite some wishful thinking, continue to include Russia in this mix as well. So, besides sub-Saharan Africa and most of the non-Muslim parts of Asia–which are a mixed bag and mostly bystanders still too dependent on Arab or Arabized Iranian oil–that leaves the most important player regarding this whole Arab-Israeli mess…America. The Senator from Illinois, who was quite vocal stating that Israel would be crazy (his exact words) to reject the alleged Saudi Peace Plan (which, among other things, called for a total Israeli withdrawal back to the '49 armistice lines, not borders, which made the country a mere nine to fifteen miles wide at its waist, where most of its population and infrastructure are located).  Notwithstanding the abhorrent, suicidal nature of this plan, he received 78% of the Jewish vote anyway in 2008. Despite the predictable nastiness which followed as President Obama next surrounded himself with like-minded anti-Israel foreign policy folks and turned the screws ever tighter on Israelis who did not cave to his wishes, American Jews still gave him 70% of their vote and oodles of additional cash yet again in 2012.  Not having to worry about another election and with a perpetually Arabist State Department supporting him, Obama now virtually has a free hand; with Congress as the only potential countering force.
While it is true that if the President and his like-minded, carefully chosen, fellow anti-Zionist pod mates; Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Chuck Hagel, and John Kerry force the resurrected Munich scenario too much, tens of millions of Evangelicals might start beating down the doors of Congress, if I were Netanyahu, I would not count on this support for my nation's salvation.  David Ben-Gurion, the former Prime Minister of Israel once made an important point when he stated that it's not what Gentiles say but what Jews do that really matters in terms of Israel's survival.  And this brings me back to stupid Jews… Israel must let it be known loudly and clearly before coming to any "negotiations" that, unlike the Czechs prior to World War II, it has absolutely no intentions of virtually slitting its own throat via withdrawing back to the suicidal '49 Auschwitz/armistice lines.  State it unequivocally, mean it, and refuse to come to Borat's next "throw the Jew down the well" party. Furthermore, Israeli leaders (with backbones intact) must declare that they will insist on getting what the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242 promised in the aftermath of the Arabs' renewed, unsuccessful attempt on Israel's life in 1967–more secure, defensible, and real political borders.  This requires a real, effective, territorial compromise over the disputed; not "purely Arab"territories. Jews are not strangers to places like East Jerusalem, where their Temple Mount is located;  Bethlehem, where King David was born;  Hebron, and so forth.  Can the Brits say the same thing about the Falkland Islands?  How about America in places like Samoa, the Russians in Chechnya and the Kuril Islands? Or for that matter, the Arab Jihadi invaders of everywhere in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond which they conquered, settled, and colonized outside of their home base on the Arabian Peninsula?
Arabs repeatedly state that they will never allow for such a compromise. Furthermore, they insist that after Israel withdraws back to the '49 lines and allow itself to be swamped by millions of allegedly returning refugees.  Israel's next response must thus be to tell their "peace (of the grave) partners" to take a hike and prepare for all out war if necessary and saying hell no to the world's hypocrites which fire bombed Dresden, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc. and so forth. Moving on… Related to this next proposed round of Jew arm-twisting–er negotiations–Secretary of State Kerry's plan to get Arabs back to the table involves Jews freeing over a hundred more "Arab heroes," most of which have Jewish blood on their hands, and other wannabes.  We've been down this road far too many times before. When will pusillanimous, moronic Jews and their "progressive recessive" allies finally get the message?  If these murdering, throat slitters, decapitators, and body bombers were dealt with as they should have been in the first place; given summary capital justice when caught in the act, or soon after a trial, Israel would not have to look pathetic time and again, willingly setting herself up for blackmail to Arabs laughing their derrieres off.  How would any Arab and/or Muslim country deal with Jews if the situation were reversed?  Why should Israel be less trenchant in dealing with such a ruthless foe. But what about world opinion?  I offer, to hell with hypocritical world opinion. 
To the vast majority of these places Israel is merely "that shitty little country" which has to beg to be larger than a virtual zipper of a state while other nations acquire territories hundreds or thousands of miles away from home in the name of their own interests. When Israel's leaders arrive in Obama's Washington, they must be prepared for the worst…this despite the non-stop barbarism occurring all over the so-called Arab world today. But, never mind; the Jews will be expected to expose the necks of their kids to the likes of the latter day Arafats of Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas anyway. Once again, The One revealed his hand while still a Senator.  Nothing has changed from his perspective.  He still has a problem with Jews who won't prostrate themselves low enough to his demands.  His type of Israelis are those whose favorite animal is the Ostrich.