Jul 30, 2014



I am surprised that we are not hearing anything further about the missing soldier, Oron Shaul.  He was killed when terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at the armored personnel carrier (APC) he was riding in. Six other soldiers were also killed in that incident.

But while the bodies of the other six were identified, Shaul went missing. Hamas claimed to have kidnapped him but so far, they have yet to provide proof to their claims.  The horror for the parents - no body but they are told he was killed.

For that matter, Israel has yet to locate the murderers of the three kidnapped boys.

Certain things are kept in the forefront of the public's awareness and other things just quietly fade away.

Jul 29, 2014

Two Horrifying Events on the Same Day

On Friday, June 13, I read two shocking news items.  One was the kidnapping of the three teenagers the night before, Thursday night.  The other was that the Tel Aviv Gay Parade, the culmination of a week long series of events that celebrate to'eiva in the Holy Land, took place that day, Friday.  Both events took place on 15 Sivan.

Since I saw the two news items almost simultaneously, it occurred to me that they are linked.  We make a huge commotion, and rightly so, over the kidnapping of Jews, with prayers at the Kosel and all over the world. 

Where was the commotion, the outrage, and the prayers worldwide over the 1) public 2) celebration of 3) sin by 4) Jews in the 5) Holy Land? The Torah says that for this and other sexual sins, the land will vomit out its inhabitants.

Over the decades, religious Jews in Eretz Yisrael have protested the drafting of girls and yeshiva students into the army, unwarranted and unauthorized (by the families) autopsies, and Shabbos desecration.  But when it comes to to'eiva, "the heads of Sephardi and Lithuanian yeshivas in Jerusalem have instructed their students to stay away from the protests. Their decision is not due to support for the gay parade, but because the general ultra-Orthodox population is no longer willing to expose its children to the existence of a strict sexual taboo." So the parades, whether in Tel Aviv or Yerushalayim are mostly ignored. 

Jul 28, 2014

Mickey Zivan, Roommate Of Ayal Yifrach

This is a touching tribute to Ayal Yifrach, one of the kidnapped and murdered boys, by a 20 year old roommate of his:


We Don't Know Anything

Because the boys were kidnapped, 
raids were conducted.
Because raids were conducted and terrorists arrested,
more rockets and mortars than usual were launched at Israel.
Israel puts up with only a certain amount of missiles landing in its country;
if the enemy sends too many, they finally react with bombing missions.
That led to more rockets being sent from Gaza,
which led to more Israeli bombing missions,
which led to the current war.

If not for the current war and the destruction of terrorists' tunnels,
supposedly there would have been enormous, multiple terrorist attacks Rosh Hashana time.  This according to "anonymous sources in the Israeli security services."

At this point though, I am skeptical.  I find it hard to believe that with Israel's intelligence they had no knowledge of the tunnels leading into Israel.  Anonymous sources cited in a news item do not inspire confidence.  Then again, even named sources do not inspire confidence.

Because they lie to the public, I find myself believing indisputable facts such as the burial of the three boys.  But if the media tells me what the authorities believe, that might only be what they want us to believe. 

After terrors attacks occur, there is no arguing that they happened.  But before terror attacks are perpetrated, I am not convinced that they would have been carried out.  Maybe yes, maybe not.

This applies not only to Israel.  As someone summed up the news to me, we only know that something is going on somewhere, for example, Ukraine, Syria.  But what exactly is going on and what is going on behind the scenes, we have no idea.

Jul 27, 2014

They Lied to Us

Before the bodies of the three boys were found, the news was, "While senior IDF officials have announced that in the army's estimation, the three yeshiva students kidnapped last Thursday night are still alive and being kept somewhere in the Judean Hills ..."

After the bodies of the three boys were found, the news was, "With the horrific news that the bodies .. had been found, came details of their abduction that had been withheld from the public during the 18 days search for them.  The IDF knew almost from the start that there was little hope that the three yeshiva students were alive."

As reported in Y Rosenblum's column, they knew this because of the recording of the boy's phone call to the police in which gunfire could be heard, and cries of pain afterward, and voices speaking in Arabic congratulating one another.  The next day, the IDF found the kidnappers' bloodstained burned-out car which contained bullet casings.  All this information and the IDF's assessment that the boys had been murdered was shared with their families.

They weren't honest with the public.  The public prayed and prayed and made many mitzva commitments for the sake of bringing the boys home alive and well, while the authorities knew they were dead. 

Why did they mislead the public? Well, it gave them 18 days to raid thousands of buildings and arrest hundreds of terrorists.  Apparently, it is only when there is an excuse of missing boys that the government allows itself to protect the nation by cleaning out the nests of terrorists in our midst.  The longer they could keep their secret, the more raids and arrests they could make under the guise of looking for missing, live, boys. 

Jul 26, 2014

Fraternizing with the Enemy

Some Jews take pride in photos and news items of Jews helping Arabs, whether in hospitals or even in Gaza itself.  There is a term for that.  It's called fraternizing with the enemy.  Usually outlawed by a country's military.  But not us.  We admire it.  It goes so far that in other frustrating news from Arutz Sheva:
IAF pilots in Gaza say they sometimes refrain from helping IDF soldiers facing terrorists on the ground because of 'moral' limitations.

Reports in Israeli media cite IAF pilots who bitterly complain that due to the strict limitations placed on their use of fire, they sometimes have to refrain from helping comrades facing terrorist fire on the ground.

“Testimony that is reaching us from fighter pilots who provide close air assistance to the combat soldiers who are currently fighting in the field,”Channel 2's military correspondent Nir Dvori reported, “about growing frustration over the fact that they hear the forces below them on the ground asking for cover and close air support when they see the terrorists drawing near from short range, firing at them, and there is no approval, because of various limitations, so as not to hit innocent civilians, and out of concern not to hit uninvolved people, and for this reason they cannot always give covering fire, cannot always fire, and so the frustration is that to some extent, they are leaving the fighters on their own to fight on the ground...”

Jul 24, 2014


Try this for an interesting lecture on the halachic status of Gaza.

Jul 20, 2014

It May Have Helped?!

News item:
18 is the total number of soldiers killed since the army began a major ground operation in Gaza late on Thursday.
About 63 soldiers were wounded in the heavy fighting in Gaza since Sunday night.
The residents of Shejaiya, a known hotbed of terrorists, were notified ahead of time by the IDF to leave the area because the IDF intends to enter it. Hamas had filled the neighborhood with booby traps well ahead of time, and the advance warning given by the IDF may have helped the terrorists there prepare for the IDF to enter.


In the midst of war with those who seek to annihilate us:

The IDF will create a field hospital outside Gaza in order to treat injured Palestinians, army sources announced Sunday. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has approved the measure.
The hospital will be located near the Erez crossing in northern Gaza, near the site of recent heavy battles. It is expected to be active by 8 p.m. Sunday.
It will be available to treat ill as well as injured patients, and will include a delivery room.
On Sunday morning, a soldier reported that he and other IDF medical staff had saved the life of a Gaza terrorist. Soldier Daniel Albo told Yediot Aharonot, “My team and I saved the life of a terrorist who tried to kill us because we are IDF soldiers and citizens of Israel. We saved him because we are human."
“I’m proud to serve in the IDF,” he concluded.

news item here

No comment necessary.

Jul 15, 2014

Praying for IDF soldiers

Once again, I'm seeing requests that we join the program that pairs up Israeli soldiers with Jews around the world who do acts of chesed, tefilla and study Torah in the merit of "their" soldier.  They say:

Any mitzvah that you do, be it once or on a daily basis, on behalf of a soldier truly makes a difference - to the soldier and to Jewish unity. Pick a mitzvah that can easily be a part of your life and dedicate it to 'your' soldier. Be realistic. Write your soldier's name out and post it where you'll see it: near the Shabbos candles; on the refrigerator; in your car; in your phone. Then, when you are going to do something positive in the world - stop and think of  'your' soldier and include him or her in your mitzvah.
I think the idea has merit since it personalizes the war for us.  It's like those who go on the March of the Living and are given the identity card of someone their age who perished in the Holocaust.  It enables the person to see the Holocaust in a personal way.  We don't relate to the number six million, but we can relate to the life of a person just like us who lived at that time. 
However, I was surprised to see a very strong reaction to this idea.  A person wrote a comment in which he wondered why these gimmicks are needed and why we can't just pray like our Bubbies and Zeides did "and shed an honest earnest tear for the better health and safety of our fellow bretheren in Eretz Yisroel. No fanfare or organizations needed."

Jul 14, 2014

Answering the Questioner

R' Dovid Orlofsky gives an excellent talk here on the topic of how to respond to questions about Yiddishkeit.  He makes some excellent points about communication and does so with his trademark humor which can be the laugh-out-loud type at times and excellent examples. 

You should really watch the talk but in case you don't, or you want a summary of his points even if you do, here are some notes I took:

You don't teach subjects, you teach people.
You need the right answer for that person.
Some people have dedicated their lives to a question, they are so invested in the question that there is no answer for them like a Holocaust survivor who wants an explanation for the Holocaust.
Others, only a few, are truly interested in hearing an answer.
The rest, 95%, don't want to know the answer to questions they ask!
Ask "what do you mean" to clarify matters because people don't even know what they're asking!
We love to share information but s'yag l'chochma shtika, the less you say the better.
The hardest question to answer is the question you haven't answered for yourself.
People make statements, acknowledge it; they are not questions and there is no point in arguing with statements.

Jul 10, 2014

Who We Heal

 219,464 Palestinian patients received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals during 2012 – 21,270 of them children.

News item:

While Hamas terrorists continued to hurl rockets and missiles at Israel, including the city of Haifa, Rambam Medical Center is now treating 20 Palestinians, including eight children from Gaza.

I don't recall reading that the Allies in World War II regularly treated Germans, Italians, and Japanese in their hospitals, children or otherwise, but Israel does treat those who seek to annihilate us.

News item:

"One of Israel’s top pediatric surgeons says he may have had enough. “…the situation has really become intolerable,” admits Dr. David Mishali, who heads the International Congenital Heart Center at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.  And his role operating on, among others, ailing Palestinians, while his son is a schoolmate of one of those abducted, only highlights and exacerbates the tragic complexity of life in the Jewish state.

“This morning, I’m depressed. I’m really depressed to have to go in to work,” he replies, quietly.
“I’m fed up with it,” he says. “I’ve had it with being a ‘bleeding heart’ that always aids the needy,” he reveals.

Depressing indeed, to heal our enemies.  Chazal say, "Those who have mercy when they should be cruel, will be cruel when they should have mercy."  We see this in Israel time and again.

Jul 2, 2014

Making a Mentch

I've heard of giving a child's teacher a gift for Chanuka and/or for Purim but today I heard something that goes way beyond that.  A mother of a 6th grade boy said she sends money (she did not specify how much) and a specially worded card every rosh chodesh!

I referred to it as a bribe and she unabashedly agreed, it is definitely a bribe.  She thinks the rebbi deserves it and needs it to handle her not so easy child.  She also said that her father-in-law used to do this and although it's not the "mesorah" on her side of the family, with only one son, she can afford to do it.

On a related note, she said that this child's English teacher is not frum, although Jewish.  He is a retired public school teacher.  Surprisingly, after so many years of experience, he asked in the beginning of the year whether her child is normal! Now, her child can be silly as 12 year old boys can be, but other than that, he is quite a normal and bright child.  She worked hard with her son over the school year and that, together with the fact that the teacher was really quite good and taught interesting things, made the child into quite a good student.

She had her son write this teacher a thank you note at the end of the year, in which he wrote about all he learned and how he became a mentch.  This was given to the teacher with a gift.  The teacher called and asked the mother, did you put your child on medication?

She said, not on your life! She would be the last person to do so, being quite opposed to even more ordinary medical practices.  He asked her several times, because he could not believe that the change in her son was due to parental involvement, hard work, his good teaching, and the child maturing.  I was surprised that a teacher with so much experience could not recognize a normal child from one who is not normal and couldn't believe that improvements can be made without drugs.  When I said so, the mother explained it by saying he is coming from the public school system so his frame of reference is different.