Well, I just had a classic Erev Shabbos/Erev Yom Tov/Erev Yom Kippur thing happen to me: I'm sitting at my desk, having just done Kaparos (over money, mind you, not a chicken), and I'm having a conversation with my wife (about the big Rabbi Gil Student fiasco going on over at DovBear and Hirhurim [sorry, no time for links!]). I take out my glasses wiper, start wiping my glasses and SNAP!! They break in half!! We were both so stunned we just started laughing hysterically! Well, as my wife said, it's a kapara!! May it be the worst thing that ever happens to any of us! Maybe it's also a siman I should get Lasik surgery already and just get it over with...:)
Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I'm a big Smallville fan, and the 7th season premiere is on Thursday, September 27th. In case you want to watch but don't remember everything that happened at the end of last season (season six), here's a pretty good recap!
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/18/2007 09:28:00 PM
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Well, that's a lot to cover!
To me, Elul really starts with Shabbos Chazon. While the Haftara warns of the imminent destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, it also exhorts us to do Teshuva, because it's never too late. And of course, the Haftara of this Shabbos has the famous possuk we say many, many times during the Teshuva Season:
Go forth, now, let us reason together, says Hashem. if your sins are like scarlet, they will whiten like snow, if they have reddened like crimson, they will become [white as] wool.The Shabbos, we begin to read the seven Haftarot of consolation, the "Shiv'a D'Nechemta." These Haftarot are replete with prophesies of the future, when Hashem no longer turns His back on Yerushalayim and the Jewish people, when the Jewish people truly return to Hashem, and when Hashem finally grants us a Geula Shleima. They culminated last Shabbos with the last of them, and the last possuk tells us:
In all their troubles, He was troubled,and an angel from before Him saved them; with His love and with His compassion He redeemed them; He lifted them and bore them all the days of the world.These Haftarot never fail to make me cry, and I've never understood anyone who doesn't when they read them.
We then have the minhag to say Selichos, beginning, most years, on the Motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashana. Selichos is something with which I've an issue. There are so many of them, and they are so long, that by the time I get to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I'm so sick of it I have no emotions left for when they really count. So, mostly, while I mentally ready myself for the Yamim Noraim, I don't usually say Selichos at all. I have a feeling they exist simply to make happy the poets who composed them. They didn't make the Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur cut, so we has to do something with them, right? :)
Does this make me less frum? I don't think so. For some people, Selichos are necessary. They prepare a person for the Yamim Noraim. For some, like myself, they are simply too long and, quite honestly, meaningless. It's interesting to note: While I was in Yeshiva, and later davening in a Yeshivish shul, they skipped many of the Selichos anyway. I'm not saying not to say Selichos. But it is a minhag, not Halacha, and if saying Selichos is detrimental to one's quality of davening on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, why say them? We're taught, while learning Torah, that quality takes precedence over quality. Why not the same with davening? Remember, God doesn't just want someone mumbling a bunch of stuff, and the more the better. God wants people to repent and Return to Him. That's the point of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
More later! If I don't write before Rosh Hashana, I would like to wish all my readers a wonderful new year of bracha, hatzlacha, peace, and all the best.
Shana Tova U'Metuka.
Am Kshe Oref
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/11/2007 01:45:00 PM
Friday, September 07, 2007
Man, we all knew Bush was an idiot, but, dear Lord! How many times can one person screw up at one appearance?! Check THIS out!
Bush went to the APEC summit in Australia. I would quote stuff from the article, but then I would simply have to paste the whole thing. Wait! I will!! :)
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Even for someone as gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush, he was in rare form on Friday, confusing APEC with OPEC and transforming Australian troops into Austrians.Ah! The idiot strikes again!!! :)
Bush's tongue started slipping almost as soon as he started talking at a business forum on the eve of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney.
"Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction," he told Prime Minister John Howard. "Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit."
As the audience of several hundred people erupted in laughter, Bush corrected himself and joked, "He invited me to the OPEC summit next year." Australia has never been a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Later in his speech, Bush recounted how Howard had gone to visit "Austrian troops" last year in Iraq. There are, in fact, no Austrian troops there. But Australia has about 1,500 Australians military personnel in and around the country.
Upon finishing his speech, Bush took the wrong way off-stage and, looking slightly perplexed, had to be re-directed by Howard to a center-stage exit.
But not before a veteran White House correspondent seized the opportunity to ask Bush whether there had been any new message in his speech. Apparently misunderstanding the question, he bristled and asked, "Haven't you been listening to my past speeches?" before turning away.
Bush is no stranger to the occasional faux pas, and often jokes about his habit of mangling the English language.
One of his highest-profile gaffes came in May when, at a welcoming ceremony for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, he nearly placed her in the 18th century.
Then there was the famous incident at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg in 2006 when Bush, unaware he was on camera, greeted British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the words "Yo Blair."
Bush's sometimes muddled syntax and mispronunciation of words like nuclear ("nukular") have long been fodder for late-night TV comedians. But aides say his folksy style has helped endear him to Middle America.
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/07/2007 04:30:00 PM
"The assumption that the root of Israeli-Arab dispute is territorial," the report continues, "stems from the hope that an era of peace can finally be brought about via Israeli territorial concessions. This conception does not jibe with our accumulated experience, however... as can be seen from the two latest instances in which we ceded territory down to the last grain of sand - in Lebanon and Gaza. Not only do territorial concessions not bring peace, they actually lead directly to an escalation of terrorism."This is an excerpt from a report Israel right wing (politically, not religiously) Yisrael Beiteinu recently released.
One would think by now this would be obvious. Instead, the West continues to be naively optimistic that if Israel gives up yet more land, peace will come. The report states
This mistaken conception (writes Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, the Minister for Strategic Affairs) leads to basic errors in Israel's foreign policy. "Israel must explain its positions on an intellectual level, and not with Messianic slogans such as 'Not one inch.' Israel must explain [for instance] that the anti-Israeli positions led by the leaders of Israel, and which are prevalent in many Western circles as well, are a direct carry-over from classic anti-Semitism."I agree. I love the idea the Religious Zionists refuse to budge regarding the horribly mistaken "land for peace" concept. But the rest of the world has to hear it in terms it can understand, and using the reasoning of "Israel is our God-given birthright" won't much affect world opinion.
"Israel must explain that the demand for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the 'right of return' are a camouflage of the attempt by extremist Islam to destroy the State of Israel. It must explain that their demand for self-definition is just a way of prettifying this, and that 'two states for two peoples' does not mean one and a half states for one people [the Arabs] and half a state for the other."
Now, to be fair, neither will empirical data. But that's probably rooted in ancient anti-Semitic ideas. But look at how hypocritical even the US is, and I don't just mean Republicans. I mean Democrats too. Look at Iraq. Not an inch given by the Republicans to withdraw (in fact, it seems withdrawal has recently been taken off the table). And the Dems are the ones who believe "land for peace" is a viable solution. Both parties are calling for Israel to make a "land for peace" deal, and either both don't really understand this could mean the destruction of the state of Israel, or they don't care in their "quest for peace" while endlessly warring themselves with other nations.
For the complete article, click here.
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/07/2007 08:49:00 AM
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Rav David Sperling Speaks
Q: Assuming that 3 women can make a mizumin, can it be understood that a mizumin of 10 women can add Hashem's name?
A: 3. Three women who ate bread together may make a zimun (see Shulchan Aruch 199,7). Even though there are many communities where this is not customary, there are no halachic opinions that forbid this. The opposite is true - there are opinions who obligate three women in zimun, and many who encourage it (see Ben Ish Hai, Parshat Korach 13 (first year) who advises men to instruct the women in their families to form a zimun when three or more of them eat together). In my opinion it is a wonderful thing for women to make a zimun (who wouldn't want to praise G-d with the words "Blessed be (our G-d) he of whose bounty we have partaken, and through whose goodness we live" in unison with one's friends!), as long as it does not offend the sensibilities (rightly or wrongly) of those around you.
However, the Shulchan Aruch (199, 6) writes that the term "Elo-kainu" can only be added to the zimun if ten men are present - and not ten women. This is because the use of G-ds name in this context requires the stringencies of a minyan (see the Mishna Brurah there).
While we are discussing women's zimun, it is a good opportunity to mention that even when one or two men are present, three women can still make a zimun. Only when three men or more ate together are the women to refrain from making the zimun (unless they separate from the men altogether). This matter is discussed at length in Rabbi Henkin's work "Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women's Issues" (Ktav publishers).
Rav David Sperling is the Mashgiach Ruchani at
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/06/2007 11:56:00 AM
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
This video was forwarded to me from someone who reads my blog. I found this very interesting and look forward to further "webisodes."
This is a discussion between a bunch of "twenty-something" Jewish men and women and their connections to Judaism and Israel. I love the contrast between the Israeli group and the American one. They discuss present-day issues facing young Jewish people and what Israel and Judaism means to them. Watch, enjoy, comment here and there!
Thanks to Todd for the heads-up.
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/05/2007 08:27:00 PM
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Quick! Who caused the most debt for the United States, Republicans or Democrats?
Did you say Democrats? BZZZT!! WRONG!!!
That's right kids. Take a look at some facts: Click here for an essay about debt and one of the dumbest concepts in history, "Trickle Down Economics."
And here's a great comic, today's Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau:
And take a look at this fascinating graph:
Are you noticing the trend? For lots more info, Google here! Enjoy!
Perhaps the time has come for the Republican Party to stop partying, close up shop, and just GO AWAY!!!
Posted by Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People at 9/02/2007 03:57:00 PM