Sunday, February 18, 2018

Linked Article: It’s Not an F-16, It’s God -- Rogel Alpher, Haaretz

It’s Not an F-16, It’s God

Rogel Alpher, Haaretz

Since World War I, countless fighter jets have been downed. Planes of the British, German, Japanese, Soviet, U.S. and other armies have been downed over Europe, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Pacific Ocean and every other possible battlefield on every continent. They didn’t simply plummet to earth due to technical failure; they were shot down by other fighter planes or by anti-aircraft fire — despite being the best fighter planes of their time, flown by the best pilots humanity has ever created, pilots no less skilled than those of the Israeli air force, even if they were goyim.

Yet it seems news of a downed fighter has never before been met with the shock and dismay that greeted the terrible tidings that an Israeli fighter plane was brought down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire about a week ago. Israeli Jews were beside themselves. Their attitude toward the burning fragments of their fighter plane was as if a tribal totem had been blown up and torched, true desecration; as if their national pride had been castrated.

What a religious ritual was conducted over that plane. In the history of aerial warfare, it’s doubtful that any plane has ever been treated so religiously, like a false god revealed as mortal, Superman dropped from the sky, against all odds.

For Israeli Jews, air force jets are divine; the air supremacy they are supposed to afford is a divine supremacy that gives them the powers of omnipotent gods. The planes are supposed to be invulnerable, and the pilots who fly them are supposed to be angels. Angels do not commit human errors.

Images of the direct hits by Israel Air Force fighter jets on small, remote targets on the ground — images that are shown on television, eliciting awe from viewers, in which the crosshairs of the plane’s gunsight could be seen homing in on its target — attest to the superpowers of this divine plane and its angelic pilots.

They see everything from on high. Like God, nothing, no matter how small or how hidden, escapes their eyes. Nothing can escape their vengeful divine fire.

Like God, the Israeli fighter jet is omnipresent and can reach anywhere. It has a long arm. It’s the perfect predator, king of the skies. It’s an eagle, while Israeli Jews’ enemies, the Iranians and the Arabs, are nothing but rabbits and mice that flee in panic for their burrows and holes.

How much awe and respect the Israeli fighter jet inspires in the hearts of Israeli Jews! During the Independence Day flyover, they wave tiny flags at it and clap for it. In their hearts, they bow down to it.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Chiloni Violence that doesn't make the mainstream press

Rampaging Rascals Return to Kiryah

Chadash: Beit Shemesh Weekly Issue 954, 23 Shvat 08/02/2018

Bullies and burglars disturbed the restful Shabbos atmosphere in two Beit Shemesh neighborhoods this week. In the Kiryah Hachareidit, youths from Moshav Zanoach did not heed past weeks’ warnings and intimidated young children. In RBS Gimmel, a rash of audacious burglaries victimized six apartments in one evening. Although the incidents in question took place at two ends of the City and at different times of the day, there is one connection. Beit Shemesh residents are beginning to question their sense of personal security and call for a greater police presence in and around their neighborhoods. It is untenable for young families in RBS Gimmel to fear spending Shabbos outside the neighborhood out of concern for the loss of their personal property, or to spend such a Shabbos in constant worry as to what they might find upon their return home. It is likewise unconscionable for residents of a neighborhood that has been a safe area for children for two decades to fear allowing boys and girls outside on Shabbos afternoon.

Last week’s Hebrew edition of Chadash reported on the recent phenomena of youths from Moshav Zanoach acting out on the streets of the Kiryah Chareidit. The youths, accompanied by intimidating dogs and waving sticks, set their dogs upon innocent passersby and chased the fleeing victims, shouting invectives along the way . These invectives include “Stinking Cliareidim,” “Go get drafted!” and others. The incidents have been recorded on the surveillance cameras of local homes and businesses. In one case, a young boy who was not afraid of the dogs was assaulted by the youths, receiving injuries that required medical attention. After the incidents had become a weekly occurrence, several residents lodged a complaint at the Beit Shemesh Police Station against the juvenile offenders last week.

Despite having been questioned by the police and confronted with the incriminating footage of their behavior, the youths did not discontinue their mischievous activities. On the contrary – they returned this past Shabbos fortified with additional weapons including pepper spray and knives, and repeated their actions of previous weeks. Local residents  organized to greet them and an altercation ensued. The youths, fearing that they had the lower hand in this encounter, fled the Kiryah Hcharedeidit and summoned police and ambulances. According to one eyewitness, they told the authorities that they had been out for an innocent stroll in the neighborhood, when a band of marauding Chareidim suddenly attacked them without any provocation on their parts. The eyewitness relates, “The police arrived prepared, in light of the complaint that had been filed. A quick search of the youths’ pockets revealed pepper spray and knives. Five of the youths were detained and transported to the Police Station, while one was transported to the hospital for medical treatment.  After their interrogations, the juveniles received a restraining order banishing them from Beit Shemesh for a period of fifteen days.

One of the youths’ mothers verbally accosted local residents who arrived at the Police Station after Shabbos to file additional complaints to those of the previous week. Some choice gems included, “We ought to kill you all!” “Why does the world need Chareidim anyway?” and “I will ensure that any Chareidi ‘who comes to Zanoach will not leave there alive.” Apparently, the apple does not fall far from the tree … Several Zanoach residents told Chadash that this group of youths and the mother quoted above do not represent the prevailing sentiments in their small, pastoral community, where the overwhelming majority of residents observe the sanctity of Shabbos.

Residents of the Kiryah Hachareidit hope that the police will use the resources at their disposal and the incriminating footage to put an end to the hooliganism and restore the serenity that has characterized Shabbos in their neighborhood for the past twenty years of its existence. A Police press release informed the public, “In light of complaints that have been filed, an investigation has been opened, in the course of which several suspects have been questioned and released with restrictive conditions. The nvestigation is still ongoing. For the protection of privacy and in light of the involvement of minors, we cannot provide any more details at this point.”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Land

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, "We mourn over that which brought about that destruction (of the Temple - author), we take to heart the harshness we have encountered in our years of wandering as the chastisement of a father, imposed on us for our improvement, and we mourn the lack of observance of Torah which that ruin has brought about. . . It (this mourning - author) obliges us to allow our longing for the far away land to express itself only in mourning, in wishing and hoping; and only through the honest fulfillment of all Jewish duties to await the realization of this hope. But it forbids us to strive for the reunion or possession of the land by any but spiritual means." (Horeb, 1981: 461

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Rav Chaim Kastel zt'l - Baruch Dayan Emes

This week one of the most special men of klal Yisroel passed away at the age of 62. He was my rebbe, Rav Chaim Kastel zt'l. He was an outstanding person. He was a huge talmid chocham, a baki in Shas, a posek, a master of hashkafa. You could ask him anything on any Gemara. You could post any halachic shealah to him. You could approach him with any conundrum on Judaism, on Midrash, on Maharal, and you'd find that he already worked through it. He was baal chesed who gave very generously of his time. People came to him from all over. He was patient with people. I think he was incapable of anger. He was non-judgmental. He was so special. He helped you carve out your own derech so even though he was pure Litvach, he was more than happy to see me become a Hirschian. He had great respect for Rav Hirsch.

I wrote a hespid for him that I'll post here in the near future. In the meantime, can I ask any of you to learn a little Torah in his memory. His name is R' Chaim Mordechai ben Shraga Feivel. I never ask for money here so if you have benefited at all from this blog, I'd like to ask you to do this. If you can learn some Mishnayus or even Chumash. Anything. Even a page. Even a few lines.

When my grandmother passed away, I told Rav Chaim that I was looking for someone to learn Mishnayus for her. He offered to do the whole thing himself and learned all of the 6 orders of Mishnayus for her. That's the kind of person he was.

Shalom Rosenfeld, 917-821-4444, is organizing learning of perakim of Gemara. If you call him, you can see what's available.

R' Chaim Mordechai Kastel zt'l

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Poem - Or

Or
The sefer leans heavily against the shtender
while i drift through the sun-drenched window.
i fly out and high
across tree-spotted valleys and cityscapes.
i contemplate:
such a gift is this world
one could lose himself in its roaring possibilities
or consider rather
the giving and the Giver
reading the card before tearing the box.
And looking straight ahead
I find myself
in the middle posuk
of the middle perek
and breathing
deeply.

Yisrael Kashkin