Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rabbanut B'li Ta'am: The Anti-Democratic Structure of Synagogue Life in Israel

Amona Replay Planned to "Evacuate" Jewish Homes Built on "Palestinian Land." (But This Time, Hundreds Will Be Armed and Ready)


What the hell is “Palestinian Land”????

Do they mean that that land was legally purchased by members of the Israeli Arab community from the Jewish people?

Or, do they mean that the land, which is ALL JEWISH, that was squatted upon by some murdering terrorist sympathizers who now say it belongs to them in an effort to destroy Israel?

I am betting the latter.

And now the Israeli government is throwing around references to Amona! The unnamed official says "We expect the violent scenes from Amona to return. We will do our utmost to minimize the violence, but we will be ready for every possible
scenario." Hmmm. I guess this is a threat?

If I remember correctly, only two of the officers who were particularly violent during the Amona expulsion served six months in jail and were sued by those who were injured—but there were more than 200 brutality cases.

I suggest that this lax justice has puffed-up the pride of the police to such a level that they believe they are completely safe.
But wait! Olmert is no longer in charge, boys!

His corrupt government has been replaced by an equally corrupt but slightly less police-brutality-supportive government headed by Bibi! (In other words, still taking baksheesh, but this time against you instead of for you).

In addition, the level of awareness has increased since Amona, and those attending the protest and demonstration against the destruction of Jewish property, Jewish homes, and Jewish lives will not proceed without a very significant record of the whole process.

Now, my dear unnamed official, the protesters are armed—with hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of video cameras, cell phones, and satellite data transmission equipment.

We will be shooting—hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of hours of film.

Taking cameras and destroying film is so last decade.

Trying to prevent the networks from airing the footage is so last millennia.

You can’t confiscate it all before it is immediately uploaded to cell networks and satellite links and dispersed on Youtube.

We don’t care what NBC, CNN, and MSNBC want to air—this is a new generation, and we get our news from Youtube channels and over facebook.

This time there are too many leaks in the cauldron of information.

This time, we will record ALL of you and your hidden name tags and your Gestapo tactics against our youth.

We will see, record, and disperse every word and translate it for our listeners in fifteen different languages.

We will send it around the world, and we will send it to the very sympathetic Knesset members that we fought to put into office.

Is it really worth it for you to take a punch at one of our youth now?

Is it really worth it for you to relish the idea of stomping the head of our child with a horse or to beat an MK?

This time, the tables will be turned--and you will eat what you dish out.


May 28, 2009 0:06 | Updated May 28, 2009 1:14
6 outposts on Palestinian land soon to be evacuated

The IDF is drafting operational plans to evacuate several West Bank outposts by the end of June, senior defense officials said on Wednesday.

According to preliminary operational plans being formulated in the Central Command, the evacuations will take place over a few days and will likely begin sometime toward the end of next month, after Defense Minister Ehud Barak returns from his scheduled trip to the United States.

Barak issued an official directive to the IDF on Wednesday to finish drafting the plans by the middle of next week, officials said.

Also on Wednesday, officers from the Central Command met with representatives from the Judea and Samaria Police District to discuss the plans. One possibility is that the evacuations will be carried out by the Border Police and the perimeter security will be provided by the IDF, similar to the model used during the evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona on February 1, 2006, when more than 300 people were injured, the majority of them protesters.

In the first stage, the defense establishment is to evacuate some six illegal outposts that have been built on Palestinian land. These include Ramat Gilad, near Karnei Shomron; Shaked Farm in Samaria; Mitzpe Yosef in the Binyamin Region; and Einot Kedem in the Jordan Valley.

In the second stage, the IDF would begin evacuating some 12 outposts that have been built partly on state land and partly on Palestinian land.

The Defense Ministry's settlement adviser, Eitan Broshi, was given until Barak returns from the US in the second week of June to exhaust a dialogue with the settler leadership, officials said. It was possible that a few of the outposts would be voluntarily evacuated, they said.

The evacuation will need to span several days because of the possibility that security forces will encounter violent resistance at some of the "hardcore" outposts, specifically those in the Northern Samarian Hills, they added.

Another reason is the IDF's need to redeploy forces around the outposts following their evacuation to prevent settlers from rebuilding them. Officials said that this would demand a larger number of soldiers and policemen than were currently deployed in the West Bank.

"We expect the violent scenes from Amona to return," one official said. "We will do our utmost to minimize the violence, but we will be ready for every possible scenario."

Barak told the Labor Party faction this week that the evacuations would be completed by the end of the summer. He said that, out of the 87 West Bank settlement outposts, 26 were illegal.

Although the cabinet in 2005 accepted an independent report from attorney Talia Sasson that identified 105 unauthorized outposts, Barak said on Monday that there were 87 outposts, of which 26 were illegal, and that both he, when he was prime minister, and former prime minister Ariel Sharon had promised the United States that these outposts would be removed.

In the past year, he said, four of them had been removed and one, Migron, was covered by an agreement with the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to be relocated. He stressed, however, that the evacuation of these outposts had nothing to do with the US, but was an internal Israeli matter regarding rule of law.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shavuot--General Customs, Sephardic Customs, Specific Info for This Shavuot Holiday, and, Of Course, A Recipe!


Shavuot is the only major festival mentioned in the Torah that is not given a particular date on the Jewish calendar. Instead, the date of the festival is given in relation to Pesach. Instead of giving us an exact date, we are commanded to count a week of weeks, 49 days, in anticipation of the date the Torah was given. Clearly, the lesson that Shavuot is intimately connected to Pesach cannot be ignored. In order to understand the importance of Shavuot, we must begin with an understanding of this connection.

Pesach is clearly the festival celebrating our freedom from the slavery of Egypt, but this was only the beginning. When one is enslaved, one is stripped of two important aspects of humanity—freedom and responsibility.

As freedom diminishes, so does responsibility. As slaves, we had no ability to control our own destinies or the destinies of our families. We could not make decisions. We lost track of the days as we strived hour by hour just to exist. During this time, it is said that the Jewish people slipped to the 49th level of impurity, a spiritual state so low that we were almost lost completely. Because we lost our freedom, we lost our responsibility. Because we lost our responsibility, we lost our humanity.

At Pesach, Hashm restores our freedom.

At Shavuot, Hashm restores our responsibility.

It’s a gradual process. Immediately following Pesach, we were commanded to begin counting the days, keeping track of time, until the day we will receive the Torah. Anyone who has attempted to count the Omer knows that every day the count becomes more difficult to remember to do.

It requires a greater and greater level of commitment as the Omer progresses, each day building upon the next. As the week of weeks progresses, every day requires more responsibility, more dedication, and a greater level of attention to make it to the end.

Finally, at the culmination of this process of restoration, each day that passes representing the redemption of another level of purity, we receive the Torah, the supreme example of Hashm’s confidence in our ability to rise to the occasion and accept responsibility to live as moral, upright, individuals.

Shavuot is a holiday that most people associate with eating milk products. In fact, I have some friends who seem to think that it is a time when one should never eat meat. This, of course, is not our tradition. Although we eat dairy in the morning, we definitely eat meat for our dinners in order to fulfill the
Mitzvah of Simchat Yom Tov.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. What I want to do is provide a short primer on the holiday of Shavuot, give some basics on general Sephardic practices (but, of course, I don't mean to speak for all Sephardim, as we are such a diverse group!), and give some specifics for this particular holiday--and, of course, throw in a nice recipe (why not?).

OK, here goes:

General Info About Shavuot

The Shavuot holiday begins Thursday evening, May 28, and continues through Shabbat to the evening of May 30. (In Israel, Shavuot ends Friday evening, May 29, but, then it goes right into Shabbat.) This holiday necessitates making a Eruv Tavshilin in order to cook for Shabbat on the Yom Tov. (I have instructions for making an Eruv Tavshilin at the end of this article under "Specific Info For This Holiday.")

It is a widespread custom to stay up the entire night learning Torah. This custom is based upon the Zohar (Parasha Emor 98a) which states that the original pious ones did not sleep this night, and they toiled in Torah.

Since Torah is the way to self-perfection, the Shavuot night learning is called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which means "an act of self-perfection on the night of Shavuot.” The reading established by the AR"I was reading the Pasukim from the beginning and end of each Parasha as well as from the Nivi’im and Ketuvim, etc. All of our Hachamim in the last 400+ years followed this reading.

On Shavuot, we read the Biblical book of Ruth. Ruth was a non-Jewish woman whose love for G-d and Torah led her to convert to Judaism. The Torah intimates that the souls of eventual converts were also present at Sinai, as it says: "I am making [the covenant] both with those here today before the Lord our God, and also with those not here today" (Deut. 29:13).

Ruth is the grandmother of King David, who was born on Shavuot, and died on Shavuot.

On Shavuot, it is customary to decorate the synagogue with branches and/or flowers. This is because Mount Sinai blossomed with flowers on the day the Torah was given. The Bible also associates Shavuot with the harvest of barley and fruits, and marks the bringing of the first fruits to the Holy Temple as an expression of thanksgiving (see Exodus 23:16, 34:22, Numbers 28:26).

Some General Sephardic Customs:

Sephardic customs for Shavuot include the eating of meat, as meat is the food of celebration and the absence of meat may indicate mourning. Many Ashkenazim eat only dairy foods on Shavuot--citing several Torah references for their custom, but this is not our tradition.

The book of Ruth is read in the synagogue, but not at morning services as is the tradition of Ashkenazim.

Because Shavuot is a commemoration of the offering of the “first fruits,” it is customary to include fresh fruit in Shavuot menus. Many also include dishes with honey because learning Torah is equated with the sweetness of honey and Shavuot is the holiday of the Torah.

Specific Info for This Shavuot Holiday

You must make an Erev Tavshilin in order to cook for Shabbat on Yom Tov.

Here's a general article about Erev Tavshilin, how it is done, and some of
the basic halacha:

Rabbi Ephraim Friedman

I’d like to use this opportunity to review some main aspects of the laws of
Eruv Tavshilin.

1 - As a rule, on Shabbos and Yom Tov one is not allowed to do any preparing for a different day. Consequently, even melachos which are permitted on Yom Tov such as cooking, baking, and carrying, may be performed for the needs of that day only. When Yom Tov falls out on Friday, however, the Chachamim permitted preparing food for Shabbos on Friday, provided an Eruv Tavshilin is made in advance. Through the process of Eruv Tavshilin, one actually begins Shabbos preparations on erev Yom Tov, and the melachos which are performed on Yom Tov proper for Shabbos are considered a continuation of these preparations. (Rema O.C. 527:1 See Beur Halacha there for a fuller discussion of the background and mechanics of Eruv Tavshilin.)

2 - The materials necessary to create an Eruv Tavshilin are a portion of bread or matza and a portion of cooked meat or fish or some other cooked food which is customarily eaten together with bread (e.g. a hard boiled egg). The amount of bread should preferably be at least the size of a c’beitza, which is twice the size of a c’zayis. The average challah roll or sheet of matza will serve the purpose. (If the eruv was made with one c’zayis of bread, it need not be repeated.) Even a broken or started roll or matza, or a large slice of bread, can be used for the eruv provided it meets the minimum shiur. Nonetheless, it is a hidur (an enhancement of the mitzva) to use a shalem – a complete loaf.

The minimum shiur of the portion of cooked food required for an Eruv Tavshilin is one c’zayis. Any method of preparing the food for consumption (e.g. cooking, roasting, frying, etc.) is acceptable. Here, too, hidur mitzva dictates that an attractive, tasty portion of food be used. As explained above, the concept of the Eruv is that Shabbos preparations have already begun before Yom Tov begins. In this vein, it is a preference that the food which is used be cooked specifically for the purpose of Eruv Tavshilin, or at least that it be cooked expressly for Shabbos use. It is also preferred that it be cooked specifically on erev Yom Tov as opposed to earlier. (Beur Halacha 527:6 and 14) In practice, however, as long as the food is designated for the Eruv Tavshilin (in the manner which will be explained below) the eruv is valid, regardless of when and for what purpose the food was originally cooked.

3 - The actual procedure of establishing an Eruv Tavshilin is as follows. After selecting appropriate food items, the head of household – or whoever else is making the Eruv – takes the food in his hands and recites a brocha (…asher kidishunu b’mitzvosav v’tzivunu al mitzvas eruv). He then makes a statement, declaring that through this eruv it should be permissible to cook, bake, insulate food, light candles and do whatever else necessary on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbos. This declaration, which can be found in most siddurim and machzorim in the original Aramaic text, should be recited in a language which is understood by the one saying it.

In the event that the one establishing the eruv neglected to recite the brocha, the eruv is nonetheless valid and should not be repeated. If, however the above declaration was omitted, the validity of the eruv is questionable. Therefore, if you realize your mistake before Yom Tov begins, the food items should be lifted again and the declaration recited. If a brocha was recited the first time it should not be repeated. If you don’t realize your mistake until Yom Tov has begun a Rav should be consulted. (See Mishna Brurah 527:63)

4 - After establishing the Eruv Tavshilin the two food items should be carefully stored away for Shabbos. In the event that the bread of the eruv is eaten or lost before Shabbos arrives the eruv is still valid. Nonetheless, if this happens before Yom Tov begins, take new bread and redo the eruv including reciting the eruv declaration, but do not repeat the brocha. On the other hand, if the cooked food of the eruv is eaten, lost, or spoils, from that point and on the eruv is no longer valid. If this occurs before the onset of Yom Tov, the eruv must be redone. If this occurs after Yom Tov has begun, a Rav should be consulted.

Once Shabbos arrives the eruv can be eaten. It is a proper minhag to use the bread of the eruv as part of your lechem mishneh on Friday night, Shabbos morning, and again at shalashudos, at which point it is eaten. Even if the eruv food is not eaten on Shabbos, the validity of the eruv is unaffected.

5 - When Yom Tov falls on Thursday and Friday, the Eruv Tavshilin which is established Wednesday, erev Yom Tov, allows one to prepare for Shabbos on erev Shabbos only. No preparations for Shabbos may be done on Wednesday night or Thursday (until after nightfall). When Friday is the first day of Yom Tov, the Eruv Tavshilin should be established on Thursday, erev Yom Tov, to permit preparing for Shabbos on Thursday night and Friday.

6 - According to one view in the g’marah, the principle behind Eruv Tavshilin is that any food prepared on Friday Yom Tov, although intended for Shabbos, may potentially be used for on Yom Tov itself. If not for this potential the Eruv Tavshilin would be ineffective. It follows from this that any Shabbos preparations being performed on Yom Tov should be done at an early enough point in the day that using the food on Yom Tov would at least be possible. The Mishna Brurah paskens that one must conduct himself in accordance with this view. Therefore one should not wait until late in the day to put up a cholent or to begin cooking other Shabbos foods. Rather, all melacha for Shabbos should be done early enough that the food which is cooking will be at least partially cooked and somewhat edible before Shabbos arrives. In the event that one was delinquent and did not make sufficient preparations early on, one may rely on the opinions which permit cooking for Shabbos as long as it is before sunset. (see M.B. 527:3 and Beur Halacha.)

7 - Only those melachos which are normally permissible on Yom Tov for Yom Tov, are permissible on Friday Yom Tov for Shabbos through the process of Eruv Tavshilin. Anything which is forbidden to do on Yom Tov for the same day, may not be done on Yom Tov for Shabbos even though an Eruv Tavshilin has been established. For example, one may not plug in or turn on an electric crock pot or any other electric appliance or lights on Yom Tov despite the Eruv Tavshilin. Similarly, one may not strike a match to light Shabbos candles nor pick fruits or vegetables from the garden, even to serve at the Shabbos meals.

8 - One Eruv Tavshilin is effective for all the members of the household. According to accepted practice, this includes individuals (e.g. married children or friends) who are members of the household over the days of Yom Tov and Shabbos although they have their own permanent residence. A family which is sleeping in their own home during Yom Tov but eating all the meals at the home of others should establish an Eruv Tavshilin in their own home without reciting the brocha. The eruv declaration (see #3 above) should be recited. A family which is spending the two days of Yom Tov at the home of others, but returning to their own home on Friday to prepare to spend Shabbos at home, should establish an Eruv Tavshilin (on Wednesday erev Yom Tov) and recite the brocha as well.

9 - If one forgot to make an Eruv Tavshilin, or if the cooked food of the eruv is lost or eaten on Yom Tov, a Rav should be consulted.

Rabbi Friedman, the Moreh Horah at Mikor Chaim and Dayan for the CRC Beis Din, is a Maggid Shiur at the Kollel.

A Recipe!

Moroccan Chicken Tangine with Honey and Apricots

6 lbs chicken pieces
1 large yellow onion
1/2 olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lb dried apricots
8 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup peeled almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil

Put olive oil in a large pot or tangine. Fry the chopped onions until soft, then add the chicken, salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon sticks. Add enough water to cover the chicken, about two cups. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the chicken is done, adding water if necessary. Remove the chicken pieces.

Add the apricots and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add the ground cinnamon and the honey, stir and cook until the sauce has a honey-like consistency.
(Add more honey if necessary.)

When the sauce is almost ready, saute the almonds in oil. Drain most of the oil from the pan, and toast the sesame seeds. Return the chicken to the pot and reheat. Place the chicken on a serving tray, pour the sauce on top of it and top with the almonds and the sesame seeds. Serve with Couscous .