Showing posts from February, 2015

Breaking the Social Contract (Mishpatim)

Based on the commentary of Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch Five questions (you've probably heard the first three before): 1. What’s the difference between robbery (gezel) and theft (geneiva)? 2. Why does a thief have to pay the victim double the value of the object stolen, whereas the robber just needs to return the value of the object itself? 3. Why does someone who steals sheep and cattle have to pay an increased fine of four and five times the value?  4. Why does it require a Beit Din to rule on the fine? 5. If the thief can’t pay, due to lack of cash, he works as a ‘slave’ (actually more like an indentured labourer). Why does the thief/slave solely need to pay off the first half of the debt, but not the second half, the double portion? Rabbi Hirsch explains that the difference between robbery and theft, is that robbery is done with the knowledge of the victim, whereas theft is without his knowledge. Rav Hirsch explains that we are willing to leave ou

Lessons Learned at the Australian Royal Commission

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was mandated in 2013 to investigate and draw up recommendations about child abuse cases and the handling of child abuse allegations, mainly in religious institutions and communities. The Commission was initially specifically in response to reports of abuses in the Catholic Church, and the various child abuse scandals which came to light in Australia, and the systemic cover-up of offenders by the Church’s institutions. In the past two weeks, the Commissions has turned its attention to child abuse cases and the response to these allegations in Jewish institutions, primarily the Yeshiva Centers in Melbourne and in Sydney, both run by the Chabad movement. The picture which has emerged has shocked not just the Jewish world, but has been widely reported in scandalous terms in the non-Jewish world also. Three members of staff at these institutions have already been convicted of sexual offenses agai


The burning alive of Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, a Jordanian air-force pilot, and its gruesome video publication by ISIS, have evoked outrage throughout the world. There seems to be no level of barbarity & depravity which ISIS is unwilling to indulge in. A unique aspect of ISIS' amorality is the fact that they self-publicise their heinous crimes. Regimes around the world have resorted to enormous inhumanity and vast cruelty to their own populations, and even more so to their enemies. However, these depraved excesses have been hidden by the perpetrators. The Soviet Gulags; the North Korean Camps; the Cambodian killing fields; the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis by Hutu militia in Rwanda....and of course the Nazis extermination camps, were kept out of sight of the general public. Even the most barbaric forces of the past century have had some minimal moral understanding to appreciate that their crimes were shameful and, at a least, that publicity would damage their greater

Eli Yishai & Co Coming to RBS This Thursday!!

Eli Yishai's new party, Yachad, is coming to Beis Tefilla Hall, Ramat Beit Shemesh, 8pm this Thursday 5th February. The four Yachad candidates include Baruch Marzel, whose right-of-center (ahem) politics will appeal to many Beit Shemesh and RBS voters. Spread the word, hear what they have to say and challenge them with your questions! (Note: event is in Hebrew)