JBlog Carnival Updates, HH, KCC & JPIX

Monday, March 19, 2018

What Makes You Happy?

In the senior citizen program I attend on Thursdays we begin with group discussions. This past week, we were asked what we love and enjoy about children. All of us who attend are parents and grandparents, so we do get to see the younger generations.

One thing many of us mentioned was the fact that children are so accepting and how they are seeing things for the first time. That enthusiasm is lost too quickly once people grow up. We get too jaded and take much too much for granted. We also get disappointed, sometimes more quickly and more deeply than youngsters who have an innate optimism.

A grandchild of someone I know from somewhere else has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and I'm always amazed at the smiles that glow from the pictures they post. It's clear that the sick child doesn't really understand the serious ramifications and lack of grantees, but the parents and grandparents also show large optimistic smiles. I guess they are doing the right thing, since as long as there is life and a chance of a complete recovery, there is no need to allow fear and depression to reign.

That optimism is the secret ingredient that makes every second we live a true blessing and pleasure. May Gd give us the strength to always see the joy in life, to see what's in the cup and not what's missing.

רפואה שלימה
Refuah Shleimah
A Complete Recovery to All Those in Need, Gd Willing

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Preparing Ourselves for Passover

For years I've loved the pre-Passover series, #blogExodus and #Exodusgram, that the Bima Ima, aka Phyllis Sommer, blogs and teaches about. That's because she reminds us that there is a lot of mental, emotional, spiritual efforts needed for us to prepare for Passover. We shouldn't think that the chametz is just in the kitchen or the house.

Here is her 5778, 2018 #blogExodus and #Exodusgram.

Today is already the 2nd of the Jewish Month of Nisan. That means that we must catch up. We have to Begin the process and Bless Gd and all that we have.

I look forward to these blog posts every year. The Bima Ima's blog used to be updated almost daily, but now it hibernates most of the time. And as Purim rolls around I start getting anxious and wonder if she'll resume posting in time for Nisan. Thank Gd, the Bima Ima is back blogging.

Begin- Here in Shiloh, we began the Month of Nisan with a special Kiddush after blessing the fruit blossoms, Birkat Ha'Ilanot, which show that Gd is giving us fruit from/via the trees. In our neighborhood we go to neighbors who have a lot of fruit trees in the yard, and some still have flowers.

Bless- I wish to bless my family, community and friends near and far that they have good health and enjoy the gifts that Gd has given us. It is truly a blessing, when we know how to see the good in our lives.

Shavua Tov, Chodesh Tov

BlogExodus Topics 2018/5778
1 Nisan - Begin
2 Nisan - Bless
3 Nisan - Cleanse
4 Nisan - Grow
5 Nisan - Hide
6 Nisan - Tell
7 Nisan - Ask
8 Nisan - Rise
9 Nisan - Thank
10 Nisan - Join
11 Nisan - Celebrate
12 Nisan - Find
13 Nisan - Welcome
14 Nisan - Praise

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Deja Vu, Another Terror Ramming

Every time an Arab terrorist uses a vehicle as a weapon against Israelis/Jews, I feel an ache. Over twenty years ago, I was most probably the very first to be injured by an Arab terrorist who drove his vehicle into a group of Jews waiting at a bus stop. Nobody can remember such a terror attack before "mine." The Israeli police tried to claim that it was an "accident," but we managed to convince them that nobody "accidentally" makes a sharp turn onto a sidewalk and another sharp turn to mow down shocked, unprepared innocent people.

Why am I writing about these terror attacks again? It's because right before Shabbat, there was another terror ramming attack.
Two killed, two injured in car-ramming attack in Samariapic.twitter.com/iRmWCrgpN0
IDF Sergeant Netanel Kahalani, Courtesy of the family (Arutz 7)
An IDF officer and a soldier were killed and two additional soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack adjacent to Mevo Dotan in Samaria on Friday afternoon.
The injured soldiers were taken to the hospital for medical treatment, said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
The Arab terrorist initially fled the scene but was later caught. The IDF said he was injured and was taken to the hospital. He is being questioned and IDF troops are searching the area.
Recently this has become much too common, and that is because it really is easy. And there aren't any totally effective ways to prevent these ramming attacks.

All we can do is to stay alert, keep our eyes on the traffic. And when we're waiting, we should "case the joint," look and see where we can find protection. And of course we must always pray to Gd. Gd can protect us, but we must do our part.

Refuah Shleimah, a full and speedy recovery to the injured.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rosh Chodesh Nissan on Shabbat...

תפילת נשים ראש חודש אייר בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה

... We won't have our usual Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh. That's because many of the women who come to Tel Shiloh to pray don't live in Shiloh. One year we had a small group of two on Shabbat, and instead of praying in the morning, we walked down, and then trekked up after the Mincha prayers.

We will have to wait until Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, which falls on both Sunday and Monday, the 15th and 16th of April, 30th of Nissan and 1st of Iyyar. Gd willing, we will have a joyous Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers on the 1st of Iyyar, 5778, Monday, April 16th, 2018. So, please make your plans to join us.

ראש חודש אייר נתפלל ביחד בע"ה בתל שילה
א' אייר, יום ב', 8:30 16-04-2018
הלל בשירה ומוסף
סיור קצר בשילה הקדומה
דבר תורה
בואו ולהזמין קרובות, חברות ושכנות

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Iyyar 5778
Monday, April 16, 2018
1st of Iyyar, 5778, 8:30am
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh
Tour of Tel Shiloh
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors.

לפרטים נוספים For more information about our Rosh Chodesh Prayer Group, please email shilohmuse@gmail.com with Rosh Chodesh Prayer Group as subject, thanks.

There are always fantastic activities for young and old at Shiloh Hakeduma during Chol Hamoed Pesach, besides the usual daily tours and more. Contact them for more information, www.telshilo.org.il, art@telshilo.org.il, visit@telshilo.org.il.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Brexit Made Easy, Ever Wonder Why?

There's nothing like PragerU to make intelligent easy to understand informational videos. I highly recommend listening to this one about Brexit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Migron, Still Counting

Migron is/was a quiet community in a great location, just off Highway 60, north of Sha'ar Binyamin and the turnoff to Psagot, Kochav Yaakov and Tel Tzion, across from the southern end of the Alon Road. It's not far from Jerusalem, and many young families were living there in temporary homes. But instead of building permanent homes, a nuisance case was brought by Peace Now, the anti-Jewish settlement group claiming to represent "true Arab owners*," and the Israeli Lefit courts ordered Migron to be destroyed and moved.

In compensation, the government promised that the residents would get a new totally approved location, and while waiting they would be set up in state of the art caravillot (temporary prefabricated homes) nearby. This "temporary" setup has been going on for quite a few years already. The community set up a large electric sign, which you can see below. It shows the amount of days Migron has been waiting for a new location and permanent homes.

Yesterday when I passed by the number had reached 2,142 days exiled and waiting. That is why so many of us do not consider the present Israeli Government coalition to be Right, pro-Jewish rights/settlement. The truth is that we have no one to vote for. The most reliably pro-Jewish rights/settlement party is Jewish Home, but the coalition agreement/conditions really ties the hands of the more dedicated Knesset Members. Bibi sure knows how to write a very tight contract, and nothing can be done effectively by a party out of the coalition.

The real problem is that the Israeli High Court makes policy according to the judges' ideology and doesn't decide according to law. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Jewish Home, is trying hard to change this, but it isn't easy and will take a long time.

*The so-called owners had been offered land by Jordan on the condition that within a certain period of time they developed it. But prior to the 1967 Six Days War, when Jordan was illegally occupying land west of the Jordan River until the Israeli border, they did nothing to make the areas habitable. Nobody was interested in living or investing here. The "gifts of land" were considered worthless. All of the modern infrastructure, electricity, water, sewer, telephone etc have been built by Israel, post Six Days War.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Haredi Anti-Army/Draft Riots

I have absolutely no tolerance nor understanding for any anti-draft/IDF actions/riots etc here in Israel or any place else. The State of Israel is under constant threat and periodic attacks. From the Jewish point of view, that makes serving in the IDF a great mitzvah, Torah commandment, because it saves lives.

Prior to the Israeli Declaration of Independence, while we found ourselves defending ourselves against the Arabs and British, the "underground" forces, Haganah, Palmach, Etzel and Lechi had a complete cross-section of volunteers of all types of Jews in the Land of Israel. That included secular, traditional, religious and hareidi. 

In the early days of the State of Israel, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made an agreement with the hareidim that they could get a deferment for full-time yeshiva students and religious women. The yeshiva students were expected to support the state by their prayers and learning. Of course, many of us believe that Ben-Gurion was "generous" in granting a deferment, because he wanted to isolate the then small number of hareidim from the rest of the population. He didn't want religious interference or influence in the IDF.

While there has been great improvement and changes in the IDF for strictly religious soldiers, certain  hareidi factions have become dangerously and violently more intolerant of the army and soldiers. Jerusalem has been plagued by frequent violent anti-draft riots. Last week, I found myself waiting for buses that couldn't come to the stop, because they had been rerouted. There was no notification. Public transportation and many main thoroughfares were closed or rerouted when possible.

Ordinary citizens, young and old, religious and secular have suffered physically due to travel difficulties. This is all because young, fit hareidi men are wasting their energy rioting, rather than serving the Jewish People, rather than doing mitzvot, Torah Commandments.

They claim that their time in the Batei Midrash, Study halls are too precious to waste in the IDF, but they have lots of time to riot, attack the police and endanger the health and welfare of innocent Jews. There is absolutely nothing to support their behavior in the Torah.

Senior citizens touring the Underground Museum, Russian Compound, where Jewish fighters were held prisoners  by the British Mandate before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Portable Biblical Tabernacle, Mishkan,

Yesterday at our women's Shabbat Torah Class, we talked about the Mishkan, Tabernacle, which is the main topic of the Book of Vayikra,  Leviticus which we just finished reading. The neighbor who spoke to us started by reminding us that there isn't a clear chronology in the Bible. That means that events didn't happen in the order we read them.

A few years ago I studied Bamidbar, Numbers, in Matan, taught by Atara Snowbell, and  one of the important things she began with was to say that Vayikra and Bamidbar happened simultaneously. The books each cover different aspects of that time period.

Back to Vayikra and the Tabernacle. Yesterday we were reminded that the "Sin of the Golden Calf" occured right after the Jewish People escaped from Egypt, before the building of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle in the wilderness was to remedy the people's need for a place to worship, even before entering the Land of Israel. Of course, parallel to this was the "Sin of the Spies," when the people and tribal leaders voted that they weren't ready/capable of the challenges of entering the Promised Land and defeating those there.

In short, those two major sins, the "Golden Calf" and "the Spies" were the reasons why we not only had to wait forty years for a new generation to be ready to enter the Land, but we had a place to worship Gd, the Tabernacle as a central meeting point. Not only was the forty years a time for the twelve Jewish tribes of former slaves to become a People, but the early form of community Judaism developed then, too.

I photoshopped the Tabernacle onto the spot in Tel Shiloh, it is believed to have been in Biblical times.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Should The State of Israel Take Advice/Orders?

When I opened the computer tonight after Shabbat I saw this headline:
Europe criticizes Israel over legislation on terrorism
All I could think of was that the last thing the State of Israel should do is to pay attention to Europe's opinion. They are pro-Arab and anti-semitic.

And the United States isn't much better. Even the Jewish organizations don't know what's best for us. Caroline Glick's latest article is a must-read:

AIPAC’s mission to cultivate and maintain bipartisan support for Israel in the United States is an important mission. Unfortunately, the messages AIPAC’s leaders delivered during the organization’s annual policy convention this week in Washington indicate that they are at a loss for how to achieve their mission in the contentious political environment now prevalent in post- Obama America.

Their befuddlement is not surprising. For the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, AIPAC’s leaders showed a consistent inability to understand the challenges they faced. And since they were unable to understand how or why the Obama administration was undermining AIPAC, they couldn’t protect AIPAC or advance its mission during his tenure in office.

At this week’s AIPAC convention, the message emanating from the speeches AIPAC’s senior leadership delivered was that they still don’t get what happened.

And largely as a consequence, they do not understand the challenges they face as an organization moving forward. And again, since they don’t understand what happened, or what is happening, they are incapable of meeting today’s challenges to AIPAC’s mission in a constructive way... Click for complete article

Friday, March 9, 2018

Israeli Political/PM Election System Made "Simple"

Last night I caught a few seconds of the TV news from which I heard Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying that unless his coalition partners insist otherwise, he plans on having them serve out their full term. That would give them another year and a half in government.

The Israeli Electoral System makes polling very risky. That's because you vote for a political party, and its list of potential Knesset Members. The head of the party which, post-elections, can form a coalition becomes Prime Minister. That's one of the reasons why in recent elections many more people end up voting Likud than voting for the party they had indicated for the poll, if asked.

You may like the ideology/platform of a certain party, but its leader seems totally incompetent as potential Prime Minister. So, a certain percentage of voters find themselves taking the Likud ballot, even though it's not their prefered party.
Here I am voting in the 2015 Knesset Elections
This trend can be seen very easily if you read the polls. Taken from Jeremy's site.

Panels conducted a poll that was broadcast by Walla News on March 8 2018.
Current Knesset seats in [brackets]
30 [30] Likud

Who is most suited to be Prime Minister?
39% Netanyahu, 34% Don’t know/Other, 16% Lapid, 11% Gabbai
Can Netanyahu fulfill his job as Prime Minister?
52% Yes, 42% No, 6% Don’t know
A poll, like this, showing thirty 30 seats, out of the one hundred and twenty 120, for Likud means that only one quarter, 25% of the voters are thinking of voting Likud. But in that very same poll, you see that 39% of those polls see Netanyahu as "most suited to be Prime Minister," and his runner-up is "34% Don’t know/Other."

And please don't claim that "voting districts" will make the system easier. That would be a totally hellish nightmare. Have you ever heard of GERRYMANDERING?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Life in Israel: Once an Oleh, Always an Oleh?

The other evening I joined a few dozen olim, ascendants/immigrants to Israel, mostly from English-speaking countries, some recently arrived and others here for about half a century. Actually, at my table we probably had the highest sum total of years in Israel. One friend has already celebrated fifty years since her aliyah. My half century is just a year and a half from now, and my other friend came not all that long after I did. Some of the audience only made aliyah after retiring in order to fully enjoy their freedom from work and to fulfill the dream of living in the Jewish State of Israel, the Land of the Jewish People.

Benji Lovitt, Joel Haber, Hani Skutch and Liami Lawrence entertaining Anglos of South Jerusalem.
About a hundred years ago, my grandparents, great-grandparents and others, who had escaped eastern Europe and moved to the United States had been active in landsmanshaft, clubs/societies of those who came from the same towns, cities or areas. My father's parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even some cousins are buried in the Neshelsk Cemetery in New York. Nasielsk, Poland, near Warsaw was the city they came from. And I remember hearing how excited my two grandmothers were to discover that they were both from the same city in Belarus, Rogotshov. My father's mother confirmed this in a way, when she told me that my coloring is like my other grandmother. She remembered seeing her in Rogatshov as a young woman.

All of the comedians at the event based their routines on the immigrant experience, which is natural, since we all have it in common. My friends and I see a big difference between our aliyot to Israel way back when and that of many of the newcomers, but we still all laughed at the jokes. I guess that's because you do need a good healthy sense of humor to adjust to the differences we've encountered and enjoy our lives. Baruch Hashem, Bless the Lord, we are so happy we came to Israel to live and just can't imagine living anyplace else!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

PragerU So True

PragerU has some of the wisest videos and ideas on the internet/youtube. So I highly recommend signing up or at least checking it out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Honestly, Israel Doesn't Need America to Survive

I have problems with the whole concept that "We need to know America has our back," Minister of Education Naftali Bennett.

Israel's greatest victories were when there was no interference/support by any foreign country, even the United States of America. The Israeli War of Independence when we had to defend ourselves against British backed Arab troops/armies and the 1967 Six Days War when Soviet backed Arab armies, tacitly supported by the United Nations and innumerable foreign countries were miraculous victories. All logic and military experts had the State of Israel written off as defeated. We had no human or diplomatic allies.

Prayers went to Gd, and Gd wanted us to win. If we depend on humans, we may lose. That is what almost happened in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. The Nixon-Kissinger agenda was to make the USA the real power in the Middle East. It's only thanks to Gd and Jewish People that they failed.

The best response of the State of Israel to supporters like Trump and Pence is a simple "thank you for doing what is right in the eyes of Gd."

Monday, March 5, 2018

Israeli Politics, Deja Vu

There's a very simple reason I haven't been blogging much about Israeli politics. It is getting boring and tedious. Jeremy has posted two recent polls, which show rather predictable trends. Both polls use the same basic number of respondents, just under six hundred 600. I'd consider the margin of error rather large, and since no new "savior" has appeared on the scene... Also, even though the media and police are doing all they can to find something corrupt/jailable about Prime Minister Netanyahu, he still comes out #1 in the question:
"Who is the most suited to be Prime Minister?"
So, I will copy/paste the two polls and follow it with a bit of my commentary:
Poll #1: Walla
Panels conducted a poll of 589 people that was broadcast by Walla News on March 1 2018.
Current Knesset seats in [brackets]
29 [30] Likud
23 [11] Yesh Atid
13 [24] Zionist Union
11 [08] Bayit Yehudi
10 [13] The Joint (Arab) List
08 [10] Kulanu
08 [06] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
08 [05] Meretz
06 [06] Yisrael Beitenu
04 [07] Shas (under threshold)
00 [–-] Yachad, Yaalon, Zehut (as other) under threshold
66 [67] Current Right-Religious Coalition
54 [53] Current Center-Left-Arab Opposition
Who is the most suited to be Prime Minister?
37% Netanyahu, 20% Lapid, 19% None, 9% Gabbai, 8% Bennett, 5% Kahlon, 2% Liberman

Poll #2: Yisrael Hayom
Geocartography conducted a poll of 587 people that was published by Yisrael Hayom on March 2 2018.
Current Knesset seats in [brackets]
36 [30] Likud
23 [11] Yesh Atid
11 [08] Bayit Yehudi
10 [24] Zionist Union
10 [13] The Joint (Arab) List
10 [06] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
06 [05] Meretz
05 [10] Kulanu
05 [06] Yisrael Beitenu
04 [07] Shas (under threshold)
00 [–-] Yachad, Yaalon, Zehut (as other) under threshold
71 [67] Current Right-Religious Coalition
49 [53] Current Center-Left-Arab Opposition
One thing for sure is that the Likud will end up getting some of the Bayit Yehudi votes. It happens every time. In the final day before elections, Bibi will send out urgent announcements/warnings claiming falsely that "the Likud must have more MKs to form a coalition. If people vote for Bayit Yehudi, then X will be able to form a coalition instead." Of course, he omits the simple fact that it's the sum total needed to form a government, and that the smaller he can make Bayit Yehudi the more power he'll have over it. If Bayit Yehudi is larger, then Bibi will have to give in to its coalition demands.

If you look at the first poll, you'll see that Lapid and "none of the above" are almost tied for 2nd 3rd place. But all they have is really just over half the support and trust that Bibi has. And Bibi is constantly the butt/target of police and media accusations of corruption. After all the efforts the police have made to find something to charge Netanyahu with, they're looking rather desperate and even corrupt, if you follow. I suggest reading Caroline Glick's recent article, Defending the rule of law.

Looking at another section of both the polls is very interesting. Both polls show Shas as just under the minimum threshold to be represented in the Knesset, and both show an increase in the Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ.) My guess is that as the chareidi-style sephardim mature into second generation, they are more comfortable in chareidi society and now look at and vote as in the "big picture," as chareidim, rather than sephardim.

One last thing. If you're ever invited to the Prime Minister's Residence, don't bring a consumable "house gift," such as cake, candy, wine or cigars. You may be charged with bribery...

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Disillusions, A Book Review

Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer, The Real New World Order by Yemima Bakol manages to be both a very serious philosophical and theological book mostly about Judaism, but light, fun and easy reading, too. Now, that is a very amazing accomplishment. It certainly helps that it's short, less than two hundred 200 pages, and divided into chapters.
Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer & The Real New World Order is a fresh, even fun (and quirky!) approach to learning Torah, equally for the ben-Torah as for the ba’al teshuva. While the story’s framework is essentially an answer to two international bestsellers, Richard Bach’s 1977 Illusions and Dr. Stephen Hawking’s 1988 A Brief History of Time, Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer & The Real New World Order is an easy-flowing, novel-form narrative that brings together most of the central spiritual concepts of Torah. Restaging and recasting Bach’s two characters as Aryeh Lieb and Dan Shimon, though not requiring the reader to have read either addressed books, Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer & The Real New World Order redefines the concept of illusions, as are other spiritual precepts, but according to Torah. The characters embark on a mind-stretching, mental and spiritual challenge that is uplifting and inspirational, as they explore and define the “navigational” tools Torah gives us to raise our consciousness and direct us toward the upcoming Geula, being Hashem’s New World Order...
Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer is made up of a series of connected events and conversations about life and faith and Gd. Normally I don't read any philosophy, but this book wasn't hard to get into. All that was missing was a glossary, since many of the words and terms would be incompressible for its potential readership. Even though I have been living a Torah observant life for over half a century, I'm still very sensitive to the differences in everyday language, or I try to be. Sometimes we say things that are perfectly clear to us in the Torah observant World and forget that the word usage makes no sense to others.

On the whole, Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer, The Real New World Order is a delightful book and can be enjoyed on many levels. Excerpts of Yemima Bakol's book can also be used to stimulate discussion.

  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Targum Press, Incorporated; 1 edition (November 13, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568716435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568716435
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

3 1/2 Weeks to Pesach

It seems like Passover is always on my mind. I look at my house and can't imagine how I'm going to get it ready. OK, yes, I certainly know the drill. Not every room really needs to be considering as harboring hidden chametz. We don't eat chametz all over the house. But since my house is a real mess, I do need to clean up, at least once a year.

Here's the freezer. We are trying to empty it. We ate some defrosted rolls for our Shushan Purim Seudah, festive meal. I gave my daughter all the flour a couple of weeks ago. She bakes; I don't. I wonder what treasures I will find while trying to empty it.

It may sound funny to hear this, but truth is that getting the kitchen ready for Passover is easier than cleaning the rest of the house. We have too much unnecessary unused junk including books. I'm in charge of the kitchen, and I've been getting rid of things, old useless pots, a bunch of my books and cd's. One of my children had needed tablecloths, so I gave him a nice supply. It's shocking how many I don't use at all. 

Anyone who wants any of the books here can just take them. I've gotten rid of quite a few. In the process of going over them I found old family recipes my kids had been hoping to discover. So I sent over all the files.

I've been having trouble with my hip, so I won't be able to do the usual cleaning in the other rooms. But I'll try to throw more things out, Gd willing. In a sense, that's what chametz is. The increase in possessions we have but don't need is very much like how yeast makes the dough rise. We shouldn't be slaves to our possessions. We need to unshackle ourselves and be free.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Purim: Mordechai and Esther, The Rebel and The "Sleeper"

One of the great things about the Hebrew language is that pretty much every single combination of two or three letters can be understood as words.

Waiting to hear the Megilla, the Scroll of Esther
Chaz"al, our sages, have been debating and discussing the meanings of the two most crucial names in Megillat Ester, Mordechai and Esther. Most claim that neither are actual Jewish/Hebrew names. Maybe it's a bit chutzpadik of me to add my two cents 2¢ to the discussion, but very learned teachers and friends do respect my opinions, so here goes:
Megillat Ester, Chapter 2, Verse 7זוַיְהִ֨י אֹמֵ֜ן אֶת־הֲדַסָּ֗ה הִ֤יא אֶסְתֵּר֙ Hadassah, that is Esther
I agree with those who say that the name Esther/Ester is Hebrew/Jewish, not a version of "star." It is derived from the Hebrew linguistic root  סתר, s, t, r, which means hide. In the megillah narrative, Esther is planted as a spy, a "sleeper," by her uncle Mordechai. In the line in which she is introduced to us, I don't think that the הדס hadas, myrtle plant is used as a noun, name of the bush.  The myrtle is a hardy, evergreen plant. The fact that in the megillah, it's written with a ה "h" at the end to make it feminine, I consider it an adjective. So I'd translate it as:
"strong/hardy is Esther"
We have some myrtle in our garden, and they thrive in the most difficult of weather. Yes, that is very much like Esther who rose so magnificently to the challenges she was faced with.

Mordechai is considered by most as a totally non-Jewish, non-Hebrew name. It is even suggested that he is the Navi, Prophet Malachi. But I see a Hebrew name very clearly. Actually, so did Haman. Haman accused Mordechai of being rebellious. And what is the meaning for the first three Hebrew letters in מָרְדֳּכַ֛י Mordechai?
מרד mered, rebellion
Now go over Megillat Ester with this new information. What do you think?

Chag Purim Sameach!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lots of Legitimate Kosher for Passover Customs/Psak/Laws Part 1

Note that I didn't use the word "choice" in my title here. As many people know, I'm in the midst of planning a new kitchen. We never made a change or even major repair in the kitchen we built as part of our house almost thirty-five years ago. We've changed the major appliances, but that's it. We probably should have done work, like major repairs, on the plumbing, but we didn't.

Some of you may be wondering why I'm writing about something as mundane as a kitchen on Shiloh Musings. Isn't that more a topic for A Jewish Grandmother? Yes and No. When it comes to the logistics, aesthetics, planning, appliances and things like that, yes, I'll be blogging a lot on A Jewish Grandmother. But a Jewish kitchen isn't just about style and even convenience. There is a lot of halacha, Jewish Law involved when planning a kitchen and choosing materials and even appliances.

Once my friends, in real time and the internet, facebook and blogging, heard that I was going to totally redo/renovate my kitchen the advice began flooding in. In almost all cases, I was told to get "X," because it would make Passover cleaning easier. And, inevitably, the recommended type of appliance or sink or countertop that can be kashered more easily for Passover is more expensive.

In Torah aka Orthodox Judaism we follow our rabbinic instructions/decisions/customs etc. Not all Orthodox rabbinic instructions/decisions/customs are the same, especially when it comes to Passover. There's a major difference between the instructions/decisions/customs of Ashkenaz (European) Jewry and the Sefardi (North African) Jews. And even within Sefardi Jews there's a big difference between, Yemenite, Moroccan and Tunisian etc including which cities the family had lived in.

It's not just a matter of who eats rice and/or lentils.

In general, Ashkenaz psak, decisions and procedures are strictest and most difficult. We are Ashkenazim, so we change and cover pretty much everything. We always had Passover sets of silverware, dishes, pots etc, so I never found myself learning how to kasher anything for Passover. Just take it out of storage.

Now I keep hearing that I must get a stainless steel sink, because it can be kashered for Passover. I may get one, but since I may have the chance to get a good regular one much more cheaply, then since I already have Passover sink bowls, I may decide to save the money. Renovations always entail extra expenses. We also need to buy new lighting fixtures, and now my husband is talking of changing the livingroom windows...

Countertops are another major issue. We have always completely covered our countertops. It's no big deal for me. Certainly in this stage of life I don't see the point in spending extra money and then have to pour boiling water over everything, which has safety and other risks.

When I say "this stage of life," I'm reminding you that the one week Passover Holiday is no longer a time of major cooking and entertaining for us. Our daughter, may she and her family live and be well, has taken over the big family Passover Seder and most other family entertaining/hosting. Our new kitchen must be suitable for two senior citizens, which is a topic for  A Jewish Grandmother.

What do you think?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Will The USA Move Embassy to Jerusalem as a 70th "Shindig?"

Israel is now beginning to celebrate seventy 70 years of modern independence. The Jewish People had an independent Kingdom here in the very same place thousands of years ago. None of the peoples of that time or our ancient enemies still exist. But seventy years ago after a slow painstaking Zionist revolution, the Jewish People here in the Holy Land of Israel were able to reach the stage where a new Jewish State could be declared, defeat its military enemies and exist/thrive.

Seventy years ago, when Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Israel's Independence from the occupation of the British Mandate, the odds of the tiny, weak Jewish population here to survive at all were extremely poor.

Very few of the countries that voted on November 29, 1947, in the United Nations General Assembly to "approve" the right for the Jews to have a country expected the country to be viable and survive. They didn't care either; they just wanted to act nice to the pathetic remnant of Jews after the Nazi Holocaust. There was more sympathy to the Arabs, whom they recognized as the rightful "owners" of the Land claimed by the Zionist Jews. That's one of the reasons why most countries located their embassies in Tel Aviv. For them, Jerusalem was Christian and Muslim, not Jewish.

Of course the "elephant in the room" is the Holocaust and how no country took a stand to protest the early anti-Jewish discrimination/restrictions or protect Jews  in an official way. The United States entered the war for other reasons, and they had no battle plan to destroy the death camps.

Even though, Christians in the western world/culture use the Bible to swear on, they don't really take Ancient Jewish History seriously or connect it to modern Jewry.

Many American Presidents pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem when campaigning. But once in office they just followed the State Department policy, or like Obama who had also pledged to help establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, they were clearly lying, saying anything to get a vote and funding from Jews. Remember that American Jewry is giving much less to Israel and Jewish causes nowadays, but they are very big in funding American political things, especially Leftist.

Donald Trump has shaken up American politics in more ways than one. He came from real estate business and reality TV. The politicians and pundits never expected him to get the Republican nomination and certainly never thought he'd defeat Hillary Clinton in the elections. But with the relatively new primary system, the American People spoke, and they chose Trump.

And Donald Trump is the first American President willing to "put his money where his mouth is," officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital City and move the American Embassy to there. Recent talk is that not only will it be done before the end of his presidential term but in a couple of months, around Israeli Independence Day.

Admittedly I'm a cynic, especially when it comes to politicians, but since Trump has been consistently hurrying the move rather than delaying it, maybe Gd willing it will become reality. What do you think?

The Knesset, Israel's Parliament, in Jerusalem, of course

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Jerusalem Field Trip to The "Underground Museum"

A couple of weeks ago, the senior citizen "vattimkim," program I attend every week had a field trip to Jerusalem. I already blogged about our visit to the Jerusalem Municipality complex at Safra Square where we saw their amazing scale model of some of the city.

Just behind Safra Square is what's known as Migrash Harusim, the Russian Compound, in which there's a police station, jail and the jail that the British used when they were occupying the Land of Israel, during the Mandate.

In that old jail is a museum dedicated to the Jewish prisoners who had been arrested, held and executed by the British before the declaration of Independence of the State of Israel. Over the almost half a century I've lived in Israel, I visited that museum a number of times. Each time there are updates and improvements to help the visitors gain a good comprehension of what imprisonment was like there during that difficult time.

Most of the Jewish prisoners had been members of the Etzel and Lechi, known as the "underground." Since members of the Haganah and Palmach cooperated with the British by informing on the Etzel and Lehi, fewer of them were jailed. Pretty much everyone in our group has a good knowledge of pre-state history and knows the historical context of the Underground Museum. Our guide had to take that into account, and she was wonderful. When members of the group wanted to enter a room that the guide hadn't planned on showing, she cooperated happily.

Most of the group I was with didn't need

This is a wonderful museum, not too large. It is easy to get to by public transportation, bus and the lightrail. The tour guides are excellent, as are the public toilets.