No Little Green Men, But…

There may not be pictures of little green men, but these pictures of Mars are cool nonetheless.

Scientific achievements like landing a probe on Mars don’t belittle my awe of G-d – it just increases it. Hashem obviously gave us incredible potential. It makes me wonder – if we humans can accomplish something like this, then why can’t we use this potential to better ourselves?


Carnivals, Carnivals…

Havel-Havalim is up at FrumSarah’s. Another new blog for me…..

Batya hosts the Kosher Cooking Carnival at her place this month. Next month is my turn, so send in your recipes to westbankmama at fastmail dot fm.

The Discussion Continues About Megeirot

Mom in Israel has her take on Megeirot here, including some very interesting comments.

Batya does some research too – make sure to read the comments here also.

As to the validity of the sources in the Makor Rishon article – the author says that she had more than one source for everything she wrote in the article, and that she attempted to interview Sylvie herself but was refused. In addition she quotes Rebbetzin Lior, who says that she has had to counsel people hurt by Sylvie.

We have a subscription to Makor Rishon, so I read it every week. In my opinion the newspaper is reliable, and it is not known for sensational articles.

You Don’t Need To Give Up Your Common Sense To Be An Orthodox Jew

The desire to write this post has been building up for quite awhile.

The first time I wanted to write was when I heard about the incident of a woman being beaten up for not moving her seat on the “special” Egged lines for Charedim. For those of you not familiar, in some Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods there are busses where the men and woman are supposed to sit separately, the men in front and the women in back. This is supposedly because of the increased sensitivity to modesty in these neighborhoods. A woman refused to move to the back of the bus, and a man decided to beat her up for it. My first reaction was to write it off as one violent person, but I became very angry when none of the Rabbis in the Charedi world came out publicly against what happened (with the exception of Rabbi Horowitz, who lives in America). The laws of modesty, even for those who follow them to the extreme, do not preclude men looking at women in a public place – whereas the law of how one person should treat another is pretty clear – beating someone up is prohibited! Where is the common sense?

The second incident that almost made me write was when the story broke about Rebbetzin Keren, a very charismatic Orthodox woman who wears shawls, extra layers of clothing, and covers her face completely. She does so for various reasons, one of which is that she thinks this practice protects people in her neighborhood – although it did not protect her children from her emotional and physical abuse. What I found so appalling is how many women followed her in these practices (the layers of clothing, not the child abuse). Covering your face, and wearing many layers of clothing, is not normative practice in Jewish law, even in those Jewish communities that are very strict about modesty. Not only is the practice bizarre from a halachic point of view, but if defies common sense. If one layer of clothing covers your body, what does 7 do?

This past weekend I read an article in the Makor Rishon newspaper, (here in Hebrew)and I felt that I had to write. It seems that there is a woman, Sylvie, that started what is called the “Sheetat HaMegeirot” (the drawer method). I don’t really understand the method from the article, but it seems that how you organize (or in most cases, don’t organize) your possesions is a clue to problems you may have. Working with a counselor on organizing your things and analyzing yourself is supposed to help you in general, and in your spiritual growth. It seems that this method has become very popular, but the leader is somewhat of a nutcase. According to the article she compares herself to Moshe Rabbenu in importance, she verbally abuses her students and sometimes makes them wait for hours for a lecture, and she comes between husbands and wives. She has a theory that a man can have both a “physical wife” and a “spiritual wife” and she claims to be a “spiritual wife” to one of her student’s husbands. She even told her that she is holding him back and should leave him.

This woman is clearly off her rocker. What amazes me is the number of students who follow her. Where is their common sense? I understand the draw of a charismatic speaker – I enjoy them myself. I also can understand the emotional satisfaction that you can get from feeling part of a group that is working on a worthy goal, especially if there is personalized attention thrown in. But I cannot understand how people can think that they can learn about spiritual growth from a person whose personal characteristics are deformed.

What makes me angry and sick at heart the most though, is the Hilul HaShem (desecration of G-d’s name). I can imagine that there are people out there who may have some exposure to Orthodox Judaism, and may be thinking of taking on a halachic lifestyle (following Jewish law). What can they possibly think when they hear these stories?

So, here are my two cents (or, more appropriately, two shekels). You don’t have to give up your common sense to be an Orthodox Jew. If a Rabbi or a leader asks you to do wierd things, educate yourself! What he is asking may not be part of halacha at all. The more you learn the more you can discern. If someone who is teaching you turns out to show some troubling personal characteristics, or discourages you from asking questions and getting sources, find another teacher!

Don’t let the crazies make a mockery of my religion.


Havel-Havalim is up here….at mommyblogger. Cute kids and great articles!

I’m Sick to Death…

I am sick to death of crazy people making a mockery of my religion.

Post to follow.

Another Step Closer to the Next War

The developments in Lebanon are worrying, but not surprising. Although the Hezbollah gunmen have pulled back for now, it is only a matter of time until they mount a full-blown coup. Those pundits that claim that you can talk and negotiate with Hezbollah, and that they will not use their weapons against the Lebanese government, have been fooling themselves.

According to this analysis in the Jerusalem Post, the recent events are a blow to the US as well. According to Toameh,

“The lesson to be drawn from what happened in the Gaza Strip and Beirut is that whenever the US openly backs an Arab, he or she is immediately discredited on the Arab street. Abbas and Saniora are the victims of their public affiliation with the US.

On the other hand, Washington’s open efforts to undermine Hamas and Hizbullah over the past few years have backfired, increasing the two groups’ power among their publics.”

Toameh is right – to an extent, but he blames the Americans too much for Abbas and Saniora’s failures. They are both weak leaders, and do not fight the way you have to in order to win in this part of the world.

The Americans want their cake and eat it too. They don’t really want to commit 100% to the idea of democracy in the Middle East. If they did they would have to support Israel 100% – not just verbally. This would mean not demanding that Israel make concessions to the Palestinians when they haven’t dismantled the terrorist organizations. It would mean committing troops to help the Lebanese Army fight Hezbollah – and not hoping that Israel will do this for them. I don’t see this changing anytime soon – I can’t imagine McCain will be able, or willing, to commit troops to Lebanon, and Obama? (G-d forbid….)

In any case, we are one step closer to the next war here – which I fear will be another 1967 scenario. Hamas attacking from Gaza, Hezbollah from Lebanon, the terrorists from Judea and Samaria, the Syrians, and Iran too….. My hope is that when we have our backs to the wall, and are attacked simultaneously, our leaders, whoever they are, will have to pull out all of the stops and really fight – to win. No surgical strikes, no hesitation to bomb because of possible civilian casualties, and no worrying about worldwide condemnation.

In any


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