Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are there Hedgehogs in Baba Batra

People learning Daf Yomi recently started Baba Batra and have spent the past few days discussing how fences between properties should be built, who is responsible for the upkeep etc.

Well it looks like Dan Antopolski, the prize winner for the funniest joke of this year's Edinburgh Fringe had Baba Batra in mind when he came up with this prize-winning zinger:

"Hedgehogs - why can't they just share the hedge?"

Don’t let the facts get in the way

I was just forwarded a link to a site by a “young New Zealander” where he tries to give perspective to global events.

I haven’t gone through every page on his site, but his article on the history of the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” seems poorly researched and written. His terminology and use of language looks like it comes directly from a Palestinian propaganda style book and he manages to make significant historical errors in almost every single paragraph, quite an accomplishment.

In the interest of fairness, I though I’d point out some of his most glaring errors.

Conflicting British Promises

During WWI, Britain supported independence from Turkish rule for the mainly Arab population of Palestine, who had lived in the area for thousands of years. To gain Jewish favour, Britain also supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

False: In the 1800s the area was vary sparsely populated. Although there was a small Arab community going back to the 7th Century (hardly “thousands of years”), the vast majority of the Arab population came in search of better economic opportunities at the end of the 1800s or early 20th Century.
The only population that had been in the land for "thousands of years" was the relatively small Jewish population that can trace itself back to Biblical Times.

Awarded Palestine at the end of WWI, Britain saw how conflicting its promises were: Jews began moving to Palestine, clashing with locals who believed in their own dreams of independence.

The Holocaust

After WWII, the world saw the full horror of the Holocaust and became sympathetic to the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Sadly it was the Palestinians who had to suffer for Europe’s guilt.

False: Firstly it wasn’t “European guilt”, The Arab community (particularly Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem who was a guest of Hitler in Berlin for the duration of the war) supported the Nazis and were also partially responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.
Secondly, the State of Israel was one of many states created after WWII with the breakup of the British Empire. The movement to create an Independent Jewish country pre-dates any attempts to create an Arab State in the area or the Holocaust and was not a result the Holocaust.

Britain’s control of Palestine became a burden. Violence increased between Jews and Palestinians. Jewish terrorist groups attacked the British – most infamously blowing up their headquarters at the King David Hotel.

False: It is true that "Violence increased between Jews and Arabs", but the violence was almost all in one direction - Arabs attacking Jews. There were Jewish military groups (Hagana, Palmach, Lechi), but they were almost exclusively for self defence. The Lechi/Stern Gang which did take the offensive on occasion could not be defined as "Terrorism" as they attacked only British Military establishments (The King David Hotel housed British HQ). Also interesting that the author failed to mention the Arab riots of 1929 and 1936-39 which were terrorist attacks against (mainly Jewish) civilians.

In 1947 Britain asked the United Nations (UN) to make a decision on the future of Palestine. The UN voted to split Palestine in half – into separate Jewish and Arab states.

Birth of Israel

On May 14 1948, Jewish leaders announced the birth of Israel. The next day surrounding Arab countries declared war on them. After a year of fighting, Israel defeated the Arab-alliance and secured its survival.

Palestinians who lived within Israel’s borders were forced to leave. If they refused, they were beaten or simply murdered. Over 750,000 Palestinians fled their homes. Today they and their descendents still live in terrible conditions in refugee camps.

False: The Palestinians were not "Forced to Leave", many Arabs stayed and are now full equal citizens of the State of Israel. There were very few (if any) examples of Arabs who refused to leave being "beaten", certainly not murdered, in fact many Jewish leaders begged the Arabs not to leave and explicitly offered them equal rights and a called for peace in the declaration of independence.
Many Arabs did flee, but this was mainly in response to fear generated by Arab propaganda which tried to demonize the Jews by exaggerating, or creating false accounts of Jewish attacks against Arabs.

Six-Day War and Occupation

In 1967, Israel initiated the Six-Day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. By its end, Israel had taken control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – the only land the Palestinians had left since Israel’s creation.

False on 2 accounts: Firstly the Israelis did not initiate the 6 Day war, it began when Egypt violated the cease-fire agreement and positioned tanks on the border and broadcast that they intended to destroy the State of Israel.
Secondly the Gaza Strip and West Bank were not "the only land the Palestinians had left”, they were occupied (or in the case of the West Bank, annexed) by Egypt and Jordan, and there had never been any talk of allocating this land to the Palestinians.

Today the West Bank remains under Israeli occupation. Successive Israeli governments have funded the building of Jewish villages and towns (settlements) on occupied Palestinian land. Now there are over 300,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

These settlements violate Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states that ‘the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’

False: Firstly Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions does not apply to the West Bank and Gaza as they were not never part of a sovereign nation (they were previously occupied by Egypt and Jordan), however Israel has voluntarily applied the Geneva Conventions to these territories. Article 49 refers to forcible transfer of populations, allowing citizens to voluntarily build homes in disputed areas is not covered by Article 49.

In 1968, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242, which called for Israel to end its occupation of the territories captured after the Six-Day War. 40 years later this still hasn’t happened. The honoring of Resolution 242 remains central to any Palestinian vision of peace.

False: Resolution 242 does not obligate Israel "to end its occupation of the territories", at the time the resolution was passed there was a debate whether the article should include all "The Territories" and the final wording refers only to part of (not all of “the”) Territories. Israel fulfilled its obligation in the 1980s when it withdrew from over 90% of the territory when the Sinai was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 Peace Agreement.
Since then Israel has voluntarily withdrawn from the entire Gaza strip and has offered over 90% of the West Bank. Far more than was required by Resolution 242.

First Intifada (Uprising)

The growth of Jewish settlements on their land caused the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to rise up in violence against both the Israeli military and Jewish settlers between 1987 and 1993.

Nightly television images of Palestinian youths hurling stones at Israeli tanks created a global awareness of the Palestinian cause.

A Flawed Peace: The Oslo Accords

In 1993 the Oslo Accords peace agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Under the agreement, Israel would return the Gaza Strip to Palestinian control. The West Bank would be split into zones, with over 60% remaining under Israeli occupation.

In return for the Gaza Strip, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was expected to ‘control his people’ and end attacks against Israelis: an equation known as ‘land for peace.’ This would prove difficult as the majority of Palestinians viewed Oslo as a betrayal because it allowed the Israelis to escape the legal obligation of UN Resolution 242.

False: The Oslo Process did not define the final border arrangements, but it was generally understood the almost all of the territory would be given to the Palestinians and in fact the Palestinians were eventually offered 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza.
In exchange for this territory Yasser Arafat had to do more than ‘control his people’, rather he had to actively stop violence, end incitement, and educate his people for peace.
Had he fulfilled his obligation to stop incitement and prepared his people to live in peace it is almost certain that there would be a Palestinian State today.

Second Intifada (Uprising)

Between Oslo’s signing in 1993 and 2000, the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew from 80,000 to 150,000. This proved to the Palestinians that Oslo was a sham.

Oslo collapsed at the Camp David talks in 2000. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak refused to abandon the illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, and Arafat refused the portion of land Israel deemed fit to give back.

False: Far from refusing to abandon Jewish Settlements, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians almost 100% of the Occupied Territories with only minor border adjustments. It is unclear why Arafat refused this offer, but is seems that he was unwilling or unable to agree to an end of the Conflict

Disheartened by political attempts to gain independence, Palestinians turned again to violence. Both sides routinely committed atrocities, and most of the victims were innocent civilians.

False: Both Sides did not "routinely committed atrocities". The only side that deliberately and regularly attacked civilians were the Palestinians. There are zero cases of the Israeli Army deliberately targeting civilians.

Gaza and Hamas

In 2005, the Israeli Government removed all Jewish settlements and military presence inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas (an Islamic party with a history of violence towards Israelis) gained control of the Gaza Strip, after a landslide victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections. Israel responded by closing down Gaza’s borders, causing mass unemployment and suffering.

Palestinian armed groups began firing rockets into southern Israel. In December 2008 Israel responded by heavily bombing the Gaza Strip, before invading on the ground. The conflict ended on 18 January 2009.

Human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes during the invasion. Accusations include the bombing of hospitals and schools, and the shooting of civilians carrying white flags.

False: Although certain "Human rights groups" have accused Israel of these actions. All actions have been investigated and proven to be false.
For example, A Greek Telethon raised money to Rebuild a Palestinian Christian Hospital that was allegedly destroyed by Israel. The only problem was that the hospital never existed (source). Similarly cases of "civilians carrying white flags" turned out to be armed combatants violating the Rules of Law by hiding behind white flags or the Red Cross symbol (for example see here)

The Arab Peace Initiative

The Arab Peace Initiative offers the best chance of lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The initiative proposes establishing ‘normal’ (peaceful and respectful) relations between the entire Arab region and Israel. In exchange, Israel would completely withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.

The immediate hope for the plan is not good – both Hamas and the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reject it.

False: The “Arab Peace Initiative” not only calls on Israel to withdraw from the “Occupied Territories”, but calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish State by allowing unrestricted Palestinian migration to Israel “referred to as “The Right of Return”). It does not accept Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish State.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hilchot Tshuva Chapter 1, Halacha 5

Sorry that I missed a few days, although it's 5 Elul and I'm up to Halacha 5, so I'm still on target.

This Halacha deals with the Scapegoat that was a central part of the Yom Kippur service in the Temple.

הִלְכּוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה פֵּרֶק א, הלכה ה

שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ--לְפִי שְׁהוּא כַּפָּרָה לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, כּוֹהֵן גָּדוֹל מִתְוַדֶּה עָלָיו עַל לְשׁוֹן כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל: שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲו‍ֹנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל" (ויקרא טז,כא).

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 5

The “Scapegoat” – as it serves as an atonement for all the Jewish people, the Cohen Gadol confesses over it using a language for all Israel, as it is written: “And he shall confess over it for all the sins of the Children of Israel” (Vayikra 15:21)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 4

Moving right along, Rambam continues with the concept that the essence of Tshuva is “Confession”, and atonement for sin can only be granted if you verbalise the nature of the sin. He also introduces the concept of abandoning the sin. Interesting to note that he didn’t start off with the concept of abandoning the sin before beginning the Tshuva process (compare to Sharei Tshuva)

הִלְכּוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה פֵּרֶק א, הלכה ד

וְכֵן כָּל מְחֻיְּבֵי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין, וּמְחֻיְּבֵי מַלְקוּת--אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶם בְּמִיתָתָם אוֹ בִּלְקִיָּתָם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִתְוַדּוּ. וְכֵן הַחוֹבֵל בַּחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ הַמַּזִּיק מָמוֹנוֹ--אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשִּׁלַּם לוֹ מַה שְׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ--אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ, עַד שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה וְיָשׁוּב מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת כְּזֶה לְעוֹלָם: שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם" (במדבר ה,ו).

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 4

And similarly, anyone who deserves death from a Beit Din, or deserves lashes – the lashes or death do not grant atonement, unless he did tshuva and confessed. Similarly, if one injured his fellow or caused him financial damage – even though he paid him what he owes him, he does not not receive atonement unless he confesses, and accepts not to do the action again, ever, as it is written: “From every sin of man” (Bamidbar 5:6).

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 3

OK, I'm experimenting with a new look for these Halachot which will hopefully make it easier to read.

הִלְכּוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה פֵּרֶק א

ג וְכֵן בַּעֲלֵי חַטָּאוֹת וַאֲשָׁמוֹת--בְּעֵת שֶׁמְּבִיאִין קָרְבְּנוֹתֵיהֶם עַל שִׁגְגָתָן אוֹ עַל זְדוֹנָן, אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶן בְּקָרְבָּנָם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה, וְיִתְוַדּוּ וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים: שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וְהִתְוַדָּה--אֲשֶׁר חָטָא, עָלֶיהָ” ויקרא ה,ה

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1

And similarly, someone who brings a Chatat (sin offering) or Asham (guilt offering) – at the time that they bring their sacrifice, whether for an inadvertent sin or a deliberate sin, they are not atoned with the sacrifice unless they do Tshuva. And they must confess with a verbal confession as it is written “And they will confess that which they sinned” (Vayikra 5:5)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 2

Chodesh Tov, here’s my second instalment of Rambam’s Hilchot Tshuva:

הלכות תשובה פרק א

ב כֵּיצַד מִתְוַדֶּה--אוֹמֵר אָנָּא ה' חָטָאתִי עָוִיתִי פָּשַׁעְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, וְעָשִׂיתִי כָּךְ וְכָּךְ, וַהֲרֵי נִחַמְתִּי וּבֹשְׁתִּי בְּמַעֲשַׂי, וּלְעוֹלָם אֵינִי חוֹזֵר לְדָבָר זֶה. זֶה הוּא עִיקָרוֹ שֶׁלַּוִּדּוּי; וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְהִתְוַדּוֹת וּלְהַאֲרִיךְ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה, הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח.

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1

2 How should one confess? Say “Please HaShem, I have sinned, I have transgressed, I have been bad before You, and I did such and such, and now I regret it and I am embarrassed by my actions, and I will never return to this thing”. This is the essence of confession, and anyone who increases the confession and expands this thing, this is praiseworthy.

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 1

Every year during Elul I try to work through a Tshuva text (often Rabeinu Yona’s Sharei Tshuva), but due to other distractions normally fail to make significant progress.

This year I thought that I’d try something a little different. Every day from now until Yom Kippur I will try to (bli Neder) post and translate a Halacha from Rambam’s Hilchot Tshuva.

I’m doing this primarily for myself. Hopefully the act of typing a translation will help me internalize the halacha, although I hope that it is also of benefit to others.

The translation is my own. I am not a language scholar or professional translator so I apologize for any inaccuracies in the translation. If you notice an error, please feel free to leave a comment.

So without further ado, here is Rambam’s Hilchot Tshuva:

הלכות תשובה

מצות עשה אחת, והיא שישוב החוטא מחטאו לפני ה', ויתוודה
וביאור מצוה זו ועיקרים הנגררים עימה בגללה, בפרקים אלו

The Laws or Tshuva (Repentance)

One positive Mitzva, and that is to return from a sin which you sinned before HaShem and to confess.
An explanation of this Mitzva, its principles, parameters, and what is included will be discussed in these chapters.

הלכות תשובה פרק א

א כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, בֵּין עֲשֵׂה בֵּין לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה--אִם עָבַר אָדָם עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן, בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָה--כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וְיָשׁוּב מֵחֶטְאוֹ, חַיָּב לְהִתְוַדּוֹת לִפְנֵי הָאֵ-ל בָּרוּךְ הוּא: שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם . . . וְהִתְוַדּוּ, אֶת-חַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ" (במדבר ה,ו-ז), זֶה וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים. וּוִדּוּי זֶה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה.

Hilchot Tshuva, Chapter 1

1 For all the Mitzvot in the Torah, whether positive or negative – if a person transgressed one of them, whether deliberately or inadvertently - he should do Tshuva and return from the sin. He is obligated to confess before G-d, Blessed is he as it is written: “If a man or woman if you transgress any sins of man … you should confess the sin which you did” (Numbers 5, 6-7). This is verbal confession. This confession is a positive commandment.

אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם יודְעֵי תְּרוּעָה

Just in time for Elul, this clip from Stephen Colbert where among other things he tries to blow a Shofar (at th 5:00 Minute mark)

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag- German Campaign, Russian Dogs & Flying Rabbis
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Protests

Hat Tip: Dov Bear

Lipa in Disneyland

I’ve started learning Medilat Ester with my oldest daughter. There is a widely understood opinion that the decree against the Jews of Persia was not that they abandoned the Torah, but rather that they were too immersed in the non-Jewish world.

I guess that would be kinda analogous to this:

Note – I’m a big fan of Lipa, and took my kids to Disneyland a number of years ago and had a wonderful time, yet to go there for Yom Tov (even Chol Hamoed), seems somehow not right (maybe I’m just jealous that I can’t afford it)

Suggestion – if you have the budget to have a memorable Succot, why not come to Israel, we have more to offer than a talking sheretz with big ears.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The New Fatah Congress - a mixed bag

Barry Rubin has an excellent analysis of the Fatah Congress Election Results.
He points out that the new congress includes some moderates, some hardliners, and almost everything in between.

I would highly recommend his column, which can be summarized in the following extract:

On balance, I would say it [The Fatah Congress] is slightly more moderate than its predecessor but the difference should not be exaggerated. For example, there are at least four members of the 18 who are capable of leading a war on Israel. Another four--including Fatah's probable future leaders--are extremely hardline. At the same time, though, there are also a number of individuals who have many Israeli contacts and who can pick up a phone and call or be called by counterparts.

There are a wide range of views from hardline to relatively dovish. Nevertheless, this is neither a group that will make peace with Israel nor one which will ally with Hamas. In other words, this is a group which Israel can work with on status quo issues but not on a comprehensive agreement.
What I though was interesting was the way it was covered in the media, looking at the following headlines you would think that these publications were all covering different events:
Now the next question is, will the new council FINALLY update the Palestinian Charter as they promised to do in the original Oslo agreement in the early 90s (don't hold your breath)

Monday, August 10, 2009

What Planet is Orly Taitz Esq From?

I’ve been watching the Nirther Movement lately, it makes for good entertainment.

I recently saw Orly Taitz Esq’s spectacular performance on MSNBC is you missed it, it makes for great entertainment. and makes us very proud to have someone as well spoken as Ms Taitz (Esq) as an Israeli citizen.

Firstly, to me it is amazing that someone with as many talents as Orly is not taken more seriously. She not only is a hot-shot lawyer, but according to CNN in her free time she is both a dentist AND a Real Estate Agent. Makes you wonder how she has time to keep on top of her appearances.

However, after seeing some of her videos, it seemed clear to me that there are many questions around her birth – it seems unlikely that such a multi-talented person was really born on Plant Earth.

It is already pretty much understood that the Hawaiian Birth Certificate of President Obama was a fake produced by the US Government to hide his real identity. It is also now clear that the Kenyan Birth Certificate presented by Orly Taitz Esq was a fake based on an Australian Birth Certificate.

The only question is, where was Obama really born, and is it the same Planet as Orly Taitz Esq?

The answer to the first question is Easy, Obama was born in a Biolab-Hatchery in Nevada.

As for Orly Taitz Esq? Is it possible that she is from the same planet as the Plant Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors? Her resemblance in looks (not to mention tasteful dress) to Audrey I is uncanny….

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Muqata: Israel from Space

The Muqata has an amazing photo of Israel as seen from the International Space Station.

What was amazing to me was how visible Modi'in is in the picture, a clear bright spot between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Shariah and Halacha

In a recent column by Daniel Pipes, in the Canadian National Post he addresses the question of why he is opposed to legal recognition of Shariah Law, but has no opposition to recognition of Halacha.

There are many differences between Shariah and Halacha, and an argument could be made for legal recognition of one and not the other, for example it is possible that people (particularly women) are coerced into using Shariah courts against their will and receive unfair treatment there. However from a legal perspective I have trouble understanding why Canadian Courts should limit the power of Shariah courts to adjudicate cases between Muslims (or others) who choose this as a court of arbitration, in the same way that a Beit Din is accepted as a court of arbitration for those who voluntarily choose to use it.

I think that the particular examples that Daniel Pipes raises are not good examples of the difference between the way Jews and Muslims treat their religious legal system (I’m only quoting one of the two examples here):

Those of us who argue against Shariah are sometimes asked why Islamic law poses a problem when modern Western societies long ago accommodated Halakha, or Jewish law. In fact, this was one of the main talking points of those who argued that Shariah should become an accepted part of dispute resolution in Ontario in 2005.

The answer is easy: a fundamental difference separates the two. Islam is a missionizing religion, Judaism is not. Islamists aspire to apply Islamic law to everyone, while observant Jews seek only to live by Jewish law themselves.

Two very recent examples from the United Kingdom demonstrate the innate imperialism of Islamic law.

The first concerns Queens Care Centre, an old-age home and day-care provider for the elderly in the coal town of Maltby, 40 miles east of Manchester. At present, according to the Daily Telegraph, not one of its 37 staff or 40 residents is Muslim. Although the home's management asserts a respect for its residents' "religious and cultural beliefs," QCC's owner since 1994, Zulfikar Ali Khan, on his own decided this year to switch the home's meat purchases to a halal butcher.

Queried about his decision, Khan, lamely replied he ordered halal meat for the sake of (nonexistent) Muslim staff. Then he backtracked: "We will be ordering all types of meat" and went so far as to agree that religious beliefs should not be imposed on others. His retreat did not convince one former QCC staffer, who suspected that Khan "intended to serve only halal meat at the home but has had to think again because of the row."


[B]oth Islam and Judaism abominate the flesh of pigs, so this prohibition offers a direct and revealing comparison of the two religions. Simply put, Jews accept that non-Jews eat pork but Muslims take offense and try to impede pork consumption. That, in brief, explains why Western accommodations to Halakha have no relevance for dealing with Shariah. And why Shariah as public policy must be opposed.


I agree with Pipes that forcing Halal meat on non-Muslim residents in a nursing home is a silly decision, although I’m not sure what the legal issue is here – shouldn’t the owner or manager of a nursing home have the right to serve whatever food they think is appropriate?

The problem seems to be the way in which it was done, that there wasn’t discussion or warning before a radical change in diet for the residents (although it seems that the decision was reversed within a week).

Pipes is correct that Halacha does not require non-Jews to eat only kosher food, however there could be several reasons why a Jewish owner of a non-Jewish nursing home could decide to serve only kosher food:

  • He may be trying to attract Jewish clients to expand his business.
  • He may be trying to support local kosher suppliers to help bring down the cost of kosher meat for the Jewish community
  • He may have found a way to reduce costs by brining in Kosher food (e.g., he has access to a wholesale kosher meat distributor)
  • There is a religious prohibition for Jews to Benefit from (not just eat) non-kosher food (specifically meat and milk products cooked together). The owner may feel that if his business (the nursing home) is making a profit based on the non-kosher food offered to clients, he personally is transgressing the prohibition of benefiting from milk-meat products.
  • He may believe (mistakenly) that a kosher diet is more healthy and would benefit all residents, even non-Jews.

To me Khan’s decision (which he later backtracked on) to offer only Halal meat was a bad decision, if he had stuck to the decisions, consumers (residents) would have to decide whether to stay in the nursing home or leave. That’s how the free market works (although I realize that the decision to leave a nursing home is often complex).

However I don’t think that issue would have been different if he had imposed a vegetarian, organic, or any other type of special diet.

If he had been Catholic and decided to put a crucifix in each room, in spite of the fact that were no Catholic residents, would this have been any different?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tu B’Av

Happy Tu B’Av everyone.

Tu B’Av is the anniversary of the date that Debbie and I got engaged – so happy Tu B’Av Debbie, my true Eishet Chayil – 15 years since we got engaged, and here we are 5 kids later and you are still a wonderful wife and mother.

2 years ago my brother wrote a very interesting Post on Tu B'Av which I thought I’d summarize for you.

The Mishna in Ta’anit (4:6) lists 5 events that happened on the 9th of Av:

  1. The spies sent by Moses to report on Eretz Yisrael returned and gave a negative report.
  2. The First Temple was destroyed
  3. The Second Temple was destroyed
  4. Betar was destroyed, marking the end of the Bar Kochba rebellion
  5. The Temple mount was ploughed over

The Talmud (Ta’anit 30b) lists 5 things that happened on the 15th of Av:

  1. The ban for orphaned girls to marry outside their tribe was lifted
  2. The punishment of the spies ended and the Jews stopped dying in the Desert
  3. The tribe of Benyamin was welcomed back into Klal Yisrael and permitted to marry with other tribes
  4. The road blocks preventing Jews from brining wood to the Beit Hamikdash were lifted
  5. The dead of Betar were buried

These is a certain parallel between the events of 9 Av and 15 Av:

9 Av 15 Av

The spies sent by Moses to report on Eretz Yisrael returned and gave a negative report.

The punishment of the spies ended and the Jews stopped dying in the Desert

The First Temple was destroyed

The tribe of Benyamin was welcomed back into Klal Yisrael and permitted to marry with other tribes

The Second Temple was destroyed

The ban for orphaned girls to marry outside their tribe was lifted

Betar was destroyed, marking the end of the Bar Kochba rebellion

The dead of Betar were buried

The Temple mount was ploughed over

The road blocks preventing Jews from brining wood to the Beit Hamikdash were lifted

Rabbi Sedley explains this connection as follows:

Obviously numbers 1 and 4 match. Number 5 is intuitive - Ploughing the Temple Mount was intended as a clear sign that Jerusalem would never be central to Jews again. There was to be no chance of rebuilding or reviving it. Removing the blocks that Yeravam had set up showed that Jerusalem was once again the centre of things, and that everyone would be able to go there.

Numbers 2 and 3 seem to go together, because both are the destruction of the Temple, and both are allowing marriages between tribes.

The first Temple was destroyed because of murder, idol worship and sexual immorality. The tribe of Binyanim were banned from marrying anyone because of the incident recorded at the end of Shoftim - Pilegesh b'Givah, which involved idolatry, sexual immorality and brutal murder.

The Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. As I wrote here Tisha B'Av Quotes, the Netziv explains that the main sin was that everyone felt that their way of serving G-d was the only correct way. Everyone had their group with their own views on life, and anyone who disagreed with them (even though they were equally 'religous' was considered an apikoros. The tribes originally thought it was forbidden for them to marry each other. Each tribe had to maintain tribal purity. Since each tribe had their own way of serving G-d, based on where they stood at Sinai and surrounding the Mishkan, it stands to reason that they also felt their way was the only true way of serving G-d, which was why they could not intermarry. Allowing 'mixed marriages' (nothing to do with Noah Feldman) broke down the barriers and allowed for ahavat chinam.

Source: Rabbi Sedley

Happy Tu B’Av to all. May we all soon merit to see a time when we know true Ahavat Chinam and the Beit HaMikdash will again be the center of our personal and national identity.

Other interesting Tu B'Av Posts:

ביאת כולכם

Today another Nefesh B’Nefesf flight arrived in Israel, and we’d like to welcome all these new Israelis who are fulfilling a dream of generations.

For those readers who have not yet made Aliya, please stop for a minute to think what your great-grandparents (or their grandparents) would have given for the opportunity to live in Eretz Yisrael. 75 years ago who would have dreamed that Aliya would be as easy as booking a ticket on an airline and driving to the airport.

We are certainly living in historic times; a few years ago Israel surpassed the US as the World’s biggest Jewish community. This is the first time since the destruction of the 1st beit HaMikkdash that the world's biggest Jewish community as been in Eretz Yisrael.

According to Bibi at the airport today, we are rapidly approaching another milestone – Bibi said that very soon the majority of the Jewish people in the world will be in Eretz Yisrael:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed a planeload of olim on Tuesday at Ben Gurion Airport, telling them "we're close to a tipping point."

According to the prime minister, "for the first time in 2,000 years, there are going to be more Jews in Israel than outside it."

Speaking to a terminal full of olim from the United States and Canada, who came with Nefesh B'Nefesh on the organization's 38th chartered aliya flight since the first one in July 2002, Netanyahu noted that Israel's Jewish population was nearing the six million mark.

It is hard to gauge the number of Jews in the Diaspora. In the largest community - the Untied States - the only effective tool is a telephone poll. Nevertheless, Diaspora Jewry is usually estimated at between six and seven million, though some demographers and scholars consider this a low figure.

Source: Jerusalem Post

The concept of the majority (or possibly all) of the Jewish people living in Eretz Yisrael is a Halachic concept known as “ביאת כולכם”.

According to some opinions, various mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael, such as Truma, Challah, or Shmitta which are D’rabanan today will become D’oraita when we have fulfilled the requirement of ביאת כולכם

For example in Hilchot Truma (1:26) RamBaM says the following:

כו] התרומה בזמן הזה, ואפילו במקום שהחזיקו עולי בבל, ואפילו בימי עזרא--אינה מן התורה, אלא מדבריהם: שאין לך תרומה של תורה אלא בארץ ישראל, ובזמן שיהיו כל ישראל שם, שנאמר "כי תבואו" (ויקרא כה,ב), ביאת כולכם כשהיו בירושה ראשונה וכמו שהן עתידין לחזור בירושה שלישית; לא כשהיו בירושה שנייה שהייתה בימי עזרא, שהייתה ביאת מקצתן--ולפיכך לא חייבה אותן מן התורה. וכן ייראה לי שהוא הדין במעשרות, שאין חייבין בהן בזמן הזה אלא מדבריהם כתרומה

[26] Truma in these days, even in the places that were conquered by the “Olei Bavel”, and even in the days of Ezra, is not a Torah obligation, rather it is Rabbinic. Because the Torah obligation of Truma only applies in Eretz Yisrael at a time when all of the Jewish people are there, as it is written “When you will come” (Lev. 25:2), …

(RaMBaM also seems to say that we require the restoration of Yoval and for the tribes to return to the inheritance in order for these Mitzvot to become De’oraita, but that is a separate discussion)

According to many authorities, (probably including the RamBaM), “ביאת כולכם” does not require all of the Jewish people to be in Etetz Yisrael, just a majority. For example, Sefer HaChinuch in Mitzva 385 says the following with regard to the Mitzva of Challah:

ונוהגת בזכרים ונקבות, בארץ ישראל בלבד מדאורייתא, שנאמר באכלכם מלחם הארץ. ודוקא בזמן שכל ישראל שם, כלומר רובם, שנאמר "בבואכם

[The Mitzvah of Challah] applies to men and women as a Torah obligation only in Eretz Yisrael, as it is written “When you eat from the Bread of the Land”. And specifically at a time when all of the Jewish people are living there; that is to say The Majority of them, as it is written “when you come”…

If we are in fact about to fulfill the Halachic definition of “Biat Kulchem”, there may be many Halchic implications (for example would we still be able to rely on the Heter Mechira or other leniencies).

I’m not a Halachic or demographic expert, however the fact that the Jewish people may be approaching a status that we have not achieved for well over 2000 years is very exciting and hopefully another step in fulfilling our Destiny.