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Showing posts from January, 2015

Calling It Quits

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In an unusual message, Israel has let it be known that Israel will not be seeking retaliation for yesterday's murderous attack on two IDF vehicles near the Lebanese border.

This attack was carried out from Lebanese territory, 2 km away from the road, by Hezbollah operatives using Russian 'Kornet' anti-tank missiles. The vehicles, which were unarmed and not protectively armoured, were soft targets for the missiles, and two soldiers, Major Yochai Kalangel, Staff Sergeant Dor Nini were killed in the attack,

Israel's response to such attacks in the past has ranged from the immediate & obvious, to the long term and covert.

The most glaring example of the immediate& obvious was Israeli response to the kidnapping of (the bodies of) Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, on 12th July, 2006 by sending a Merkavah Tank, and Armoured Personnel Carrier and an attack helicopter into Lebanon in hot pursuit. This resulted in the deaths of five more Israeli soldiers. Events spiraled…

What Is a Rabbi?

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An interesting topic has cropped up in a class/shiur I regularly attend (for the past 15 years!), given by Shmuel Katz.

Shmuel brought a gemorah in Sotah, together with the Shulchan Aruch, which said that it is forbidden for a student to give a halachik ruling in front of his rabbi; therefore, a student who is learned enough to rule on matters of halacha needs a special permission (rishut) from his rabbi/teacher, in order to give novel (lechadesh) halachik rulings, in the presence (within 12 km) of his teacher.

Shmuel suggested that this is the origin of today's smicha, rabbinical ordination.

He also pointed out that, from this perspective, anyone knowledgeable enough, even without smicha, can quote halachik decisions which have been stipulated by someone previously (such as referring to a book - for example the Rambam, Shulchan Aruch, Aruch Hashulchan, Mishna Brurah, Igrot Moshe..etc..etc.) - ie. teaching an existing halacha, rather than innovating new halachik decisions.

This d…

Death of a Hero - Alberto Nisman

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Last night, fascinated and gripped, I read the last pages of Gustavo Perednik's book about the investigation of the 1994 AMIA Jewish Community Center Bombing in Argentina, "To Kill Without a Trace".

This morning, I woke up to the news that the protagonist of that book, Alberto Nisman, was found dead (suicide or murder?) in his apartment in Buenos Aires.

Alberto Nisman was a profoundly courageous & principled man who, in his role as Public Prosecutor, exposed his own government in Argentina of systemic corruption and cover-up of the real perpetrators of the horrific bombing, which killed 85 people. The establishment worked to convict the innocent, while whitewashing the guilty.

The fabricated case consisted of a web of fictitious witnesses and flimsy evidence - based on the identity of the Renault Trafic car used by the (unidentified) suicide bomber. A (genuinely) sleazy trader in stolen vehicles,Carlos Telledin, was paid $400,000 by the Argeninian Interior Minister

Sheleg RIP

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My kids found a litter of eight puppies near the communal dustbins outside our house, over fifteen years ago. We found good homes for seven of them, and my wife Julie (not a dog lover) agreed to let us keep one as our own home pet.
I was brought up with dogs in my home in England. Rufa, a lap-sized dachshund, was our pet and companion throughout my childhood. When he died, after ten years, we were devastated. My father brought home a lively mid-sized mutt we called Chad. Chad was then followed by a royal-looking Irish Setter....and my father's last dog (another Irish Setter) died just recently, with my father saying it was his last.  
When I came to Israel, myself and my flatmates in the Old City of Jerusalem adopted a stray mid-sized dog we found wondering homeless in the streets. We invited him to join us in our flat and named him Doo-Dah. 
When I became engaged to Julie, I decided to find a new home for Doo-Dah - and he moved out to a family living on a moshav. 
When the last …

Sausage Dissonance

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This interesting prank/experiment shows the dissonance of the whole supermarket culture.


The customers are delighted to try the sausage at the beginning. Yes, they know it's a pork sausage, and that pork is made from pigs. But they're thinking of a tasty sausage.  
Once they see a piglet, their whole attitude changes They're thinking of the cute piglet. And then the sausage comes out. 
They are visibly nauseated. Horrified. Distressed. And angry. 
Fascinating.
What a great ad for vegetarianism!

Freedom to Offend - From Paris to Exodus

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[Note: This article was written and posted after the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo and before the attack on the Kosher Supermarket in Paris; it therefore does not relate to that subsequent attack]. 
When the French satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" decided to publish cartoons of Mohamed, they crossed a line which resulted in terrorists horrifically and tragically murdering 12 people at the newspaper's offices in Paris.

The line between freedom of expression on the one hand, and the right not to be offended, on the other, has been debated for thousands of years. This is especially acute - and explosive - when God, and the possibility of blasphemy, is a factor.

Moses, in this week's parsha (Shemot) is instructed by God at the burning bush to return from Midian to Egypt, in order to obtain the release of the Children of Israel.

Instead of responding "Hineini!" - I am at your service - as Abraham had done when instructed to sacrifice Isaac, and Elisha would d…

New Magen Video: "Project 4"

This short movie follows the case of a child sex abuse survivor and his quest for justice against his perpetrator, illustrating how Magen's "Project 4" operates. "Magen" is a Child Protection Agency in Israel. "Project 4" is the agency's Investigations & Community Liaison Unit.www.MagenProtects.org
Tel: Israel (972) 2 9999.678
email: Hotline@MagenProtects.org

2014 - Year of Sleaze, Corruption & Justice

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2014 was the Year of Sleaze & Corruption in Israel.

The high profile corruption cases this past year included this litany of public figures and institutions:

"Holyland" - Ehud Olmert (ex Prime Minister, ex-Mayor of Jerusalem), Shula Zaken (Olmert's long serving PA), Dan Dankner (head of Bank Hapoalim), Uri Lupolianski (Mayor of Jerusalem, and founder & head of Yad Sarah) and other high ranking officials were sentenced to up to 6 year prison terms for bribery & corruption, mainly in connection to the re-zoning of the land around the Holyland Hotel in Jerusalem.

Israel Beiteinu - deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum has been questioned by police; former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov was also detained - along with around 20 additional officials, mainly associated with Israel Beiteinu. The allegations concern channeling funds to officials through NPOs and creating fictitious jobs around the country for party officials.

Israel Electricity Company -six cur…