Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Good News for Chocolate Lovers!

Rav Eliezer Melamed is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Bracha in Beit El and is a prolific author on Halacha. His series of clear, yet comprehensive, Halachic works called Pninei Halacha are mainstays of baalei batim and yeshiva students alike.

Chapter 9 of his Pninei Halacha: the Laws of Pesach has recently been posted to Scribd and it offers good news for chocolate lovers:
Chocolate and candy labeled “Kosher for Pesach only for those who eat kitniyot"  are technically permissible even for those who do not eat kitniyot, because the kitniyot in these products are added before Pesach and are batel be-rov. In addition, these products generally contain kitniyot oils, which, according to several leading poskim, are not included in the custom to prohibit kitniyot.

He goes on to write that kosher certification agencies label them as "Kosher for Pesach for kitniyot eaters" because "people are stringent".

I disagree and believe that this is really due to the Charedization of the kashrut organizations--and it seems that the Tzohar Rabbinical organization agrees with me. Last year, Tzohar started a campaign for more accurate "Kosher for Pesach" labeling. (See "Vered HaGalil and the Kitniyot Problem".)

By the way, on page 7, Rav Melamed cites the source of the "kitniyot cooties" in chocolate:
The Badatz is strict about lecithin derived from rapeseed. Halakhically there is nothing wrong with this substance; however, there are many uncertainties that mitigate toward leniency. Firstly, rapeseed is not a legume (the technical meaning of kitniyot), but a member of the Brassicaceae family of crucifers, whose fruit grips thestalk and whose seeds grow in pods, much like the mustard plant. Oil is extracted from these seeds. According to Igrot Moshe OC 3:63, we do not forbid anything that was not explicitly prohibited by custom. Additionally, it is debatable whether the status of kitniyot can be applied to the seeds of a plant when it is clear that the plant itself is not kitniyot....
For more information go to Pninei Halacha: the Laws of Pesach (Kitniyot).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Custom of Tefillin

The custom of Tefillin is very ancient, even predating the custom of kitniyot. In the USA, tefillin are commonly worn during Chol HaMoed. When making aliyah, most olim from the USA adopt the the "Minhag HaMakom", a.k.a. the local custom, and stop wearing them during Chol HaMoed.

What makes this so interesting is that:
  1. Most olim continue to abstain from eating kitniyot during Pesach under pretense of following "Minhag Avoteinu", commonly understood as the custom of their parents, rather than the local custom. 
  2. Most olim adopt what they believe to be the local custom despite the fact that their Fathers wore tefillin during Chol HaMoed. 
  3. And this is the really interesting part--wearing tefillin is not actually a Minhag (custom), but a Mitzvah D'Oreitah, a commandment dictated by HaShem in the Torah. 
Ironically, the first source in the Torah that commands us to wear tefillin has a Pesach theme:
And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of HaShem may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand did the HaShem bring you out of Egypt. (Exodus 13:9)
The Rambam writes that tefillin are not worn on Shabbat since they too are called a "sign":
And the children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations, for an ever-lasting covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested." (Exodus 31:16-17)
Regarding Yom Tov, the Rambam writes that there are six days--and only six days--in which tefillin are not worn: the 1st and 7th days of Pesach; Shavuot; the 1st and 8th day of Sukkot; and Rosh HaShana. (Yom HaKippurim is considered like Shabbat and is called "Shabbat Shabbaton" in the Torah (Leviticus 31:16)).

Chol HaMoed is not included in this list.

So what's the bottom line? If you have an established track record for adopting local customs in Eretz Yisrael, why hold onto what Rabbenu Yeruham called a "foolish custom"?

But seriously, we all need to realize that kitniyot are indeed "little things." Putting on tefillin during Chol HaMoed is a big thing. So is bringing a Korban Pesach. May we all merit both.

-------

P.S. To make your holiday a really special holy day, check out the Pesach shiurim of Rav David Bar-Hayyim on the Machon Shilo website.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mishnah Brurah on Rice

Section 453: Laws Concerning the Wheat and Concerning the Grinding of Wheat for Matzos

Even if a person kneads rice flour and the like with steaming hot water and covers it with cloths until it expands like leavened dough, this does not mean that the rice dough has become leavened, but that it has decayed, and it is therefore permitted to be eaten on Pesach.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vered HaGalil and the Kitniyot Problem

In last week's the Tzohar parasha sheet, they ran a series of articles on kitniyot. After an article by Rav Dov Lior and some Q&A, there was a fascinating article about Tzohar's efforts to bring some sanity--and some halacha--back to the kitniyot issue.

Tzohar's Rabbinical leadership has been in touch with the Rabbanut and a revolution in Pesah labeling is on the way with more accuracy and less humrot that have no halachic justification (although they are popular in Haredi Judaism).

They also took the Rabbanut to task for not enforcing its own psak from many years ago that ruled that canola/"liftit" and cottonseed oil are kosher for Pesah even for those who do not eat kitniyot.

Tzohar concluded by saying the last year has witnessed the rise in power of the consumer. They call upon Jews who care about halacha to buy only from companies that have halachically accurate Pesah hekshers... not just during the seven days of Pesah, but all year long.

Today I was pleased to discover that Elite bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao) carries a halachically accurate heksher: "Kosher for Passover. Contains canola."

On the other hand, Vered HaGalil has a halachically inaccurate and misleading heksher: "Kosher for Passover for kitniyot eaters only." With no explanation of course.

The fine print says that there may be traces of soy and other products. But this does not render it fit only for kitniyot.

This is not the halacha. Following the advice of Tzohar, I will buy from Elite and not from Vered HaGalil.

Chag Sameach!

P.S. The Tzohar parasha sheet also relate how Rav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav would offer peanuts to his students guests. When they would ask the Rav whether he ate kitniyot of Pesah, he would laugh and answer that peanuts aren't kitniyot. (This story was also related by Rav Bar-Hayim related several years ago).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Things I Learned at the Mikdash Conference

On Sunday, the 13th Annual Temple Conference was held in Jerusalem. It was sponsored by the Temple Institute and the Movement for the Establishment of the Temple. The day started with an ascent to the Temple Mount and a symposium at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem that covered a variety of topics from a whos-who of Jewish leaders (and revolutionaries).

The event marks 13 years since religious Jews began regularly visiting the Temple Mount in purity--and 11 years since my own first ascent in purity (which was followed by Ariel Sharon's ascent and the Oslo War).

I learned many things, but here are just ten:
Louis Gordon and Rav Hagai Yekutiel 
  1. It's always great to ascent to the Temple Mount. There's no escaping the feeling of holiness where you're up there and you always learn something new. This time, I learned that when the Arabs say "Allahu Akbar", you should answer "Amen." (Hat tip: Rav Hagai Yekutiel) 
  2. I feel especially grateful to the Holy One when I merit ascending with one of my children. It is such a blessing to be able to teach and be taught by the next generation. (Kudos to my wife for supporting our ascent).
  3. According to Noha Awad Hached, an Egyptian nuclear scientist, there is no Islamic claim to Jerusalem. Furthermore, she asked an Imam at Al Azhar University what should be done according to Islamic law if a mosque was built on stolen Christian property. He told her that the mosque should be destroyed. While she did not ask about a mosque on stolen Jewish property, she said that clearly the same verdict should be  reached.
    1. Gershon Solomon of the Temple Mount Faithful has no faith in our leaders who have done everything possible to distance themselves  from the Temple Mount. OTOH, Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud, has faith in the people who are growing in their desire for the Temple and authentic Jewish leadership. He also sees Noha's greetings to the conference as a taste of the future when Muslims will bring greetings to Jerusalem and worship at the Temple.
      If Hogwarts had a shul....
      1. Yehuda Etzion doesn't think that salvation--or the solution--will come from the current system of Israeli government. The people will need to rise up--peacefully--and exchange it for another system. [KLF: hopefully we'll have our own Tahrir Square and ditch the yoke of our unelected Supreme Court for a Jewish monarchy and Sanhedrin].
      2. There is an active group of women who ascend regularly to the Temple Mount. In the tradition of Miryam in the Bible, they broke out into spontaneous song on the Mount. This upset the police who must have been worried about kol isha. Despite police attempts to bar their ascent, the women continue to ascend.
      3. If Hogwarts had a shul, it would be the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem (see the photo and judge for yourself).
      4. MK Rav Uri Ariel requested an urgent meeting when a new person was appointed to a very senior security position. At the meeting MK Ariel revealed the urgent issue--Har HaBayit--and proceeded to explain its importance as Judaism's holiest site. The official expressed surprise and then gratitude as he had erroneously be taught that the Western Wall was Judaism's holiest site. Education is key. There is a lot of damage that needs to be undone.
      5. See BT Makkot 24B.
      6. Rav Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute and the author of the Temple machzorim, is not well and we should daven for his speedy recovery. He said that when the Temple Mount was liberated that people erred and used the Mount as a corridor to go to the Western Wall. [KLF: Using a shul as a short cut is forbidden by Jewish law and this would apply even more so to the Temple Mount].
      7. Burying the Oslo Accords? Hopefully. Did  the police check
        inside the box?.
      8. "Lo b'shamayim hee." The Temple is not in heaven... and it's not in Uman.  If only a fraction of those who go to Uman would ascend to Har HaBayit, we could literally move heaven and earth. Even better: we could chase away the foxes. How long can His House lie in ruin? How long will He wait? The choice is up to each and everyone of us... and it begins with a visit. This is a New Year's Resolution that everyone should make. Then tell your friends. As the the Hebrew expression goes: "chaver mevi chaver". A friend brings a friend.

      Wednesday, May 11, 2011

      Four Rabbis Were Walking on the Temple Mount

      It is recorded in the Gemara:
      Rebbi Avraham, Rebbi Yose, Rebbi Shlomo and Rebbi Ariel were walking along the colonnade on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, near the area closest to the Holy of Holies.

      As they walked along, Rebbi Yose came upon a carcass of a ben-yomo, a day-old bird, lying on the floor. Rebbi Avraham asked "What is the din [law]? Are we all ritually impure on Har HaBayit from contact with a carcass?" 

      Rebbi Shlomo said, "Just this week, we learned that contact with a carcass renders you impure, but this is only from a dead 'sheretz' such as lizard or salamander. But from a kosher bird, you are only impure from eating it. We can surmise that bird is kosher."

      Rebbi Ariel looked up and saw the swallows that had built a nest under the roof of the colonnade. "These are probably the birds of the ben-yomo. Listen and you can hear the chicks in their nest. We have no reason to believe the bird is not kosher. Praised are the words of Rebbi Shlomo."
      Actually... the above is not recorded in the Gemara, but only on the Kitniyot Liberation Front blog. Nevertheless, the incident is 100% true. 

      It occurred on the 5th of Iyyar during an ascent to the halachically permissible areas of Har HaBayit. This is a true example of  Torat Hayyim, of Living Torah.

      There is no better place to learn and live the Torah than on Har HaBayit, where the Great Sanhedrin learned the Law.

      For information about ascending to to Har HaBayit, contact louis@machonshilo.org.

      Sunday, May 8, 2011

      "Meshulash" for Yom Tekuma Yisrael (Yom HaAtzmaout)

      (To download the Al HaNissim prayer, go to http://machonshilo.org/en/images/stories/files/Al_HaNissim_YA_YY_Revised.pdf)

      As was the case last year, the observance of Yom HaAtzmaout is on the 6th of Iyyar although the State of Israel was actually declared on the 5th of Iyyar

      The holiday was delayed so that the Memorial Day Services of the 4th of Iyyar could begin tonight--Sunday night--rather than Saturday night and preserve the sanctity of the Shabbat avoid the temptation to prepare for the various ceremonies or drive to them on the Shabbat. 

      If Judaism lends importance to actual date of an event, how can we reconcile the following issues:
      • While Rav Goren zt"l ruled that the proper day should be observed, how can we separate ourselves from the public who observes the deferred day?
      • When should we recite the Hallel prayer? Isn't the recitation of the Hallel a prayer in vain if we're not saying it on the day of the miracle?
      • When do we add the Al-HaNissim prayer to our Birkath HaMazon and Shmona Esray?
      Rav Bar-Hayyim suggests that we look to "Purim Meshulash" for the answer and rules that the festivities and customs of the day should be divided into two:
      • On the 5th of Iyyar (tonight and Monday), we should include the Al HaNissim additions to the Shmona Esray and the Birkat HaMazon. The special Torah reading should also be said on this day. These actions commemorate and sanctify the actual day of the event.
      • On the 6th of Iyyar (Monday night and Tuesday), we should join the public celebrations of the deferred day and recite Hallel (with a beracha), Shechechiyanu and the "She Assa Nissim" prayers. This enables us to commemorate and sanctify the observed date and join the public celebrations.
      The additions to the tefila should occur even when the 5th of Iyyar is observed as the Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers and those who were murdered in terrorist attacks.

      This is the case this year. To download the Al HaNissim prayer, go to http://machonshilo.org/en/images/stories/files/Al_HaNissim_YA_YY_Revised.pdf

      Chag Sameach LeGeulah Shelayma!

      Sunday, April 24, 2011

      Don't Go Nuts Over Peanuts

      Rav David Bar-Hayim responded to a question about eating kitniyot and quinoa:
      It is tragic that so many Jews have been bamboozled into avoiding foods that are both permissible and healthy. The good news is that it is simple to set yourself free. All that is required is a healthy determination not to be hoodwinked, a refusal to allow persons driven by commercial interest, fanaticism or a misconceived piety to distort Tora Judaism and recreate it in their own image.
      More from his tshuva:
      1. Peanuts may be consumed during Pesah even by those who choose to refrain from qittniyoth (or are still working up the courage…). At some point in the 1960’s, a campaign was launched by certain individuals to ban peanut oil so that they could sell their four-times-the-price substitute. Rav Bar-Hayim was informed of this by a Rabbi from NYC who served his community for over 40 years. It was a scam for profit.
      2. Exactly 29 years ago Rav Bar-Hayim heard the very same opinion expressed by HaGaon HaRav Shaul Yisraeli z’l. The conversation took place right after Shaharith in Y’shivath Merkaz HaRav, a few days before Pesah... HaRav Yisraeli added that peanuts are mutar, and that in his home town in Slutzk, Russia, peanuts were the item of choice placed before guests during Pesah.
      3. By the same logic quinoa may be consumed during Pesah even by those who refrain from qittniyoth. 

      Chag Sameach | חג שמח

      I just returned from another memorable trip to Har HaBayit b'kedushah. So many people were on Har HaBayit that we waited nearly an hour to go up. We had a group of more than 30 people with about 20 from a yeshiva in the holy city of Shechem.

      Many of the students were not so knowledgeable about the Temple Mount so I was honored with leading part of the tour. Their Rav added several drashot and explained how the Cohanim performed the priestly blessing (he was a Cohen... if you get my drift).

      In other news, this blog has had 3,000 page views in the last two weeks, clearly showing an increase in the quest for the "real deal" about kitniyot. The KLF really doesn't care whether you eat or don't eat kitniyot. Rather that you should realize that there simply a minhag from Galut that you should--or can leave behind in Galut--so that we can face the bigger issues that are ahead of us on the way to a complete Geula.

      May this be the last Pesah without Korban Pesah.

      Friday, April 15, 2011

      KLF Makes the News (Again)

      The Kitniyot Liberation Front was featured in today's online edition of the Ha'aretz "newspaper" (and I use that term generously).

      While I make it a practice not to visit the website due to its severely anti-Israel slant, the article is worth a read. The author is a recent immigrant from Germany and his frustration with kitniyot custom in Israel--and his own questions about the minhag lead him to write the article.

      Efrat rabbi tilts against Passover food restrictions for Ashkenazi Jews

      Others, unhappy with holiday legume laws, launch Kitniyot Liberation Front.

      ... A few week's ago, Rabbi Zvi Leshem, of Efrat, issued a ruling that it is permissible to consume products and dishes containing kitniyot, as long as they do not constitute the main ingredient and are not directly recognizable. His decision will help those who do not want to entirely abandon the tradition of avoiding kitniyot but have difficulties finding certain items - such as oil, mayonnaise or chocolate spreads - that do not contain kitniyot in their ingredients.

      ...But more and more Ashkenazim, especially Anglos, feel that in Israel it no longer makes sense to observe a custom followed by a minority.

      Louis Gordon, for example, said he wondered about the kitniyot divide since he moved from Baltimore to Israel 21 years ago. "I couldn't understand how kitniyot is kosher for these and treif [not kosher] for those," he told Anglo File. "There are people for whom kitniyot is worse than hametz. It didn't make any sense."

      To vent his frustration, Gordon, 44, recently created a Facebook group called Kitniyot Liberation Front. The site, which currently has over 600 members, many of them local Anglos, seeks to promote awareness of lenient rabbinic opinions regarding the use of legumes on Passover. His opinion is mainly based on the views of Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, the head of Jerusalem's Shilo Institute, who in 2007 issued a ruling allowing Ashkenazim in Israel to eat kitniyot.

      "The issue of kitniyot turns the holiday of Pesach from one of abstaining from hametz into abstention from kitniyot. Ashkenazim won't eat with Sephardim - this is not what God put us on earth for, to divide the people," the Yad Bimyamin resident told Anglo File.

      The opposition against kitniyot will soon reach the "breaking point," Gordon predicted. "A lot of people are pushing hard for this." Especially Anglo immigrants are ready to drop the kitniyot prohibition, which has to do with the fact that newcomers often feel they're abandoning their family traditions as soon as they arrive in Israel, he said.

      “If you’re looking to leave the galut [Diaspora] mentality behind then you’re definitely going to leave kitniyot behind.”

      Leshem, too, said he noticed many Orthodox Israelis disavowing the kitniyot prohibition. “It bothers me even though I can understand where it’s coming from,” he told Anglo File. “I’m in favor of unity among the Jewish people. But it does not seem to me halakically legitimate to just abandon the custom.” His ruling allows Ashkenazim to eat in Sephardic homes, as long as they’re not eating actual recognizable kitniyot, or dishes containing mostly of kitniyot, he added.

      Although Gordon, of the Kitniyot Liberation Front, argues for an end to the “foolish custom” of banning kitniyot, he hinted that his wife is not ready to introduce the controversial items to her kitchen. “We don’t serve kitniyot, but if I’m out or if I’m with Sephardim and they’re serving it, it’s not an issue at all,” he said.

      “The real idea behind the Liberation Front is that we need to forget about the little things. Kitniyot are little things. We mustn’t panic about eating something we know is not hametz on Pesach,” Gordon said. “If this is the thing that consumes the attention of the Jewish people, we’re really in a bad situation. We have much bigger issues to worry about.”

      Wednesday, April 13, 2011

      Are we bound to Ashkenazi custom concerning Kitniyot?

      Question:
      My family made Aliyah from the States in August 2006. We are Ashkenazim. The following Pesach I asked the Rav of our Yishuv if we could eat Kitniyot as taking on the custom of Eretz Yisrael etc. and he said no. Are we bound by this answer and is there a way to change our minhag? I feel strongly about this issue.

      Answer:
      The system whereby Rabbanim become the Rav of a Yishuv/town/city in Israel is a political and bureaucratic process which, in my view, is neither Halakhically valid nor binding. See Rambam, Mishne Tora, Sanhedrin 2:11 (Vilna edition: 8). Even if this were not the case, a Rav is appointed Rav of the Yishuv and communal issues fall within his purview; one is not required to accept the Yishuv's Rav as one's personal Rav.

      The Mishna (Avoth 1:6, 1:15) states: "'Asse l'kha Rav", i.e. choose a Rav and follow him. Similarly, the Talmudh ('Eruvin 6b) states that one should not always seek out the lenient opinion, and one who does so is deemed a "rasha" (a sinner). A Jew should choose a Rav and/or system and implement that choice with intellectual honesty and consistency.

      Having researched the issue of Qitniyoth on Pesah extensively, it is quite plain to me that this custom was originally based on the mistaken notion that foodstuffs such as rice, beans etc., like the five species of grains (essentially wheat and barley), can become Hametz. This position, which stands in direct contradiction to the Mishna, the Talmudh and universal Jewish practice until its appearance in France in the 13th century, was so problematic that alternate explanations were suggested (wheat and rice being packed in the same sacks, being difficult to tell apart when ground into flour etc.)

      The facts, however, are otherwise: qitniyoth were considered a secondary form of Hametz, as stated explicitly in several medieval sources. It follows that this custom is based on an error, believing something to be assur when in fact it is mutar. Several Rishonim describe this custom as “foolish” (e.g. Rabbenu Yeruham quoted by Beth Yoseph OH 453) and “extreme” (Tur ad loc). The fact that many Karaites consider anything fermented to be Hametz (e.g. yoghurt) and all items that can ferment as possible sources of Hamess raises the possibility that this custom has its roots in Karaite Judaism.

      A custom based on error does not have the legal standing of a valid minhagh, and can therefore be undone. See Yerushalmi P’sahim 4:1 and Rambam, Mishne Tora, Isure Biya 11:13-14 (or 14-15). As pointed out by the Ya’abess (R. Ya’aqov Emden), a custom based on error can simply be dropped.

      This minhagh has been extended over time to include many items that cannot be defined as qitniyoth, e.g. peanuts. HaGaon Rav Shaul Yisraeli z”l said to me exactly 27 years ago that in his Russian home town of Slutzk peanuts were not only consumed during Pesah but were placed on the table when guests arrived. He mentioned that this was done in the home of HaGaon Rav Isser Zalman Melzer z”l, the Rav of Slutzk and later Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivath ‘Ess Hayim in Jerusalem. 45 years ago all Ashkenazim in North America used peanut oil during Pesah; today it has mysteriously become qitniyoth.

      This minhagh has further been extended to oil and qitniyoth derivatives (e.g. lecithin). This is beyond extreme. HaGaon Rav Dov Lior Sh’litta has published his opinion in writing that qitniyoth derivatives may be consumed on Pesah.

      Due to all the foregoing, I believe that you and your family may consume qitniyoth on Pesah.

      It is my considered opinion that this issue constitutes a litmus test of our aspirations and commitment to laying the foundations for a more authentic and meaningful Tora Judaism for ourselves, our children and for future generations.

      Hagh Sameah
      Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
      Machon Shilo
      www.machonshilo.org

      Saturday, April 9, 2011

      Some Sanity for Ashkenazim

      One of the biggest "pieces of shtuth" is the additions to the whole kitniyot craziness. For many years, raw shelled almonds from Supersol were labeled "Kosher for Passover for Eaters of Kitniyot Only".

      This was pure craziness. Almonds grow on trees and can't become legumes. They were uncooked. The presence of legumes in the factory did not change them into legumes. It was simply an error due to misplaced zealousness. Fortunate this year, the label has been corrected.

      It is also fortunate that even for those who cling to kitniyot, there is light to disperse the darkness of shtuth.

      Rabbi Zvi Anshel HaLevi Leshem of Efrat (02-9309133) has written a psak about the halachoth of kitniyot for those who still cling to this custom of the galuth:

      1. Some of the oils designated as "kitniot" or "only for those who eat kitniot" are permissible also to Ashkenazim (even according to the position which prohibits kitniot oil), such as peanut, soy, canola and cottonseed oils.

      2. Some of the products that are labeled "for those who eat kitniot only" are permissible according to all opinions, since the ratio of kitniot ingredients is less than 50%, and they are therefore annulled in the majority of non-kitniot ingredients. Additionally the kitniot ingredients are often oils such as soybean, that were never included in the prohibition, or derivatives of these oils. Only those foods in which the kitniot ingredients constitute the majority are prohibited. Therefore, many dairy products, "kosher for Pesach" cookies, chocolates and more, which are labeled "kitniot" or "only for those who eat kitniot" or "for those who eat liftit" (liftit and lecithin are both types of canola) are completely permissible for Ashkenazim.

      3.Quinoa, which is a very new food (other than for native South Americans), is permissible.

      4. There is no problem for an Ashkenazi to be a guest of a Sephardi on Pesach and to eat food prepared in vessels that were used to cook kitniot, even within 24 hours of the meal. This is true since if the kitniot themselves can be annulled in a mixture of a majority of other ingredients, their taste is certainly annulled. Moreover, even if the food contains a kitniot ingredient, as long as it is not the majority and is not recognizable as a separate element of the dish, it is also permitted.

      5. Those people who have thus far been careful not to purchase any food item labeled "for those who eat kitniot only", because they believed that this was in fact the Halacha, are not considered to have accepted this as their custom; it is at best a "mistaken custom" and they are not required to perform "vow annulment" in order to eat such items.

      6. It is a mitzva to publicize this decision, which is based upon the traditional Halachic methodology of the great authorities throughout the generations, and not upon looking for unnecessary stringencies.

      (Contact louis@machonshilo.org for the full PDF with sources or call HaRav Leshem at 02-9309133.)

      Thursday, February 3, 2011

      Nachshon Ben Amminadav & Har HaBayit

      Although G-d parted the Red Sea, our tradition teaches us that Nachshon Ben Amminadav had to dive into the water before the sea parted.

      So what does this have to do with Har HaBayit? Everything of course. When you go to Har HaBayit on a monthly basis, it's never really convenient. And at times it even seems impossible to go. You're sick. Your spouse is sick. Or your kids, or your driver or even your car/horse. So you reschedule, and reschedule and reschedule and suddenly there are only a few days left before the end of the month.

      And so it was this month. After rescheduling twice, we finally set a date two days before Rosh Hodesh. On the big day, I woke up at 5:30 am, went to the mikveh with my son Yishai, and then to synagogue at 6.

      At 6:10, my son nervously informed me that our driver hadn't yet arrived at shul. I wasn't panicked. But minutes passed and I sent out my first of several SMS messages. No luck. Finally, I called him... and there was no answer. Then I started to worry.

      Finally he called... with bad news. He had fever and had to cancel. Oy.

      "Sure I can take the bus," I lied. I was actually not sure whether we could make it there before 10 am, when the Temple Mount is closed to non-Muslims.

      "I guess there is always next month," I said to myself. "I tried. I did honestly try. I got up early and even went to the mikveh. My 'hishtadloot' is done."

      Or was it? While I thought it was, my son felt otherwise: "Abba, you've been going each month for such a long time. I can't remember when you last missed a visit. Can't we take the bus? You promised me that I could go with you this month."

      If truth be told, I really wanted to make this visit too. I'd been out of work for 3 months and had been fervently requesting His assistance in finding a new job. And now, just one day after I had signed a new employment contract, was I really not going to Har HaBayit to thank Him?

      And then I thought of Nachshon. He probably felt the same way when he first got his feet wet: "I tried. I really did. My feet are wet and my sandals are nearly ruined. I'll try again next month." But did Nachshon really say that... did he really give up so easily?

      Nachshon didn't and neither did we. We raced home and set out for the bus stop by foot. Hopefully we'd make the next bus. Hopefully the bus wouldn't be full and would actually stop. Hopefully there wouldn't be any traffic jams.

      No sooner than we had arrived at the bus stop, a car stopped to offer us a ride to the Holy City. We were on our way.

      Friday, December 31, 2010

      The Kotel App and My Jewish Problem

      The Western Wall Heritage Foundation recently released an iPhone app. It includes a live webcam stream from the Kotel (Western Wall) and a compass that points in the direction of Jerusalem.

      This is great and terrible at the same time... but not (or just not) because you can virtually visit the Kotel rather than experience the real thing.

      The problem is the app perpetuates and even promotes some of the largest and most popular myths in Judaism. As Michal Ophir states in the Washington Post: the app "brings the Western Wall to every Jew in the world because it is the heart of the Jewish people. "

      But last time I checked, Har HaBayit was the heart of the Jewish people. That's where G-d's presence resides. That's why once a month, I push everything aside and make my way there.

      I don't go because it's convenient. I don't even go because I get something out of it (but I do). I go because I want G-d to know that not everyone has forgotten. That I know where He really lives and where the Shekhinah really dwells.

      So each month I go. And I try to take my friends and maybe even a "newbie." Then more Jews will know where the heart of the Jewish people really is... or where it should be.


      Sunday, April 18, 2010

      "Meshulash" for Yom Tekuma Yisrael (Yom HaAtzmaout)?

      In most years, the observance of Yom HaAtzmaout is not celebrated on the actual day that the State of Israel was declared (the 5th of Iyyar) in order to prevent a desecration of the Sabbath.

      This year, it is celebrated on the 6th of Iyyar, so that the Memorial Day Services begin on Sunday night rather than Saturday night. (In fact, the next time that Yom HaAtzmaout will be celebrated on the 5th of Iyyar is in the year 2020!!)

      If Judaism lends importance to actual date of an event, how can we reconcile the following issues:
      • Rav Goren zt"l ruled that the proper day should be observed, but what about separating ourselves from the public who observes the deferred day?
      • When should we recite the Hallel prayer? Isn't it in vain if we're not saying it on the day of the miracle?
      • When do we add the Al-HaNissim prayer to our Birkath HaMazon and Shmona Esray?
      Rav Bar-Hayyim suggests that we look to "Purim Meshulash" for the answer. The festivities and customs of the day should be divided into two:
      • The early/deferred day would include the public celebrations, including Hallel, Shechechiyanu and the "She Assa Nissim" prayer

      • The actual day, the 5th of Iyyar, should include the Al HaNissim additions to the Shmona Esray and the Birkat HaMazon as well as the special Torah reading.
      The additions to the tefila would occur even when the 5th of Iyyar is observed as the Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers and those who were murdered in terrorist attacks.

      This is the case this year. For a copy of the article/psak, please email my friend at louis@machonshilo.org.

      Chag Sameach LeGeulah Shelayma!

      Al HaNissim for Yom HaAtzmaout (Revised)

      'על הניסים' לה' באייר -יום תקומת ישראל (יום העצמאות)

      עַל הַנִּסִּים, הַגְּבוּרוֹת, הַתְּשוּעוֹת, הַמִּלְחָמוֹת וְהַפְּדוּת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּנוּ וְעִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

      בִּימֵי תְקוּמָתֵנוּ, בְּקוּם עָלֵינוּ בְּנֵי עֲרָב, לְהַשְׁמִיד לַהֲרֹג וּלְאַבֵּד אֶת הָעֹלִים מִשְּׁבִי הַגּוֹלָה אֶל אֶרֶץ חֶמְדָּה. אָמְרוּ: לְכוּ וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי, וְלֹא יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד תהילים פג, ה.

      וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים עָמַדְתָּ לָּנוּ בְּעֵת צָרָתֵנוּ. רַבְתָּ אֶת רִיבֵנוּ, דַּנְתָּ אֶת דִּינֵנוּ, נָקַמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתֵנוּ. מָסַרְתָּ רַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים, וּרְשָׁעִים בְּיַד צַדִּיקִים. הֵמָּה כָּרְעוּ וְנָפָלוּ; וַאֲנַחְנוּ קַּמְנוּ וַנִּתְעוֹדָד תהילים כ, ט. לְךָ עָשִׂיתָ שֵׁם גָּדוֹל בָּעוֹלָם, וּלְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשִׂיתָ תְּשׁוּעָה גְדוֹלָה. וּבַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵׁנִי בַּחֲמִשָּׁה לַחֹדֶשׁ, פָּרַקנוּ עוֹל גּוֹיִם מֵעַל צַוָּארֵנוּ.

      כְּשֵׁם שֶׁעָשִֹיתָ לָּנוּ תְּשׁוּעָה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם, כָּךְ עֲשֵׂה עִמָּנוּ בָּעֵת הַזּאֹת, וְנוֹדֶה לְשִׁמְךָ לָנֶצַח.

      יש לאומרו בשמונה עשרה בהודיה (ברכת מודים) בערבית, בשחרית ובמנחה, וכן בברכת המזון. www.machonshilo.org

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      Praying for Rain - A Must-Read from Rav David Bar-Hayim

      Although the rainy season is over in Erets Yisrael, Rav Bar-Hayim has just released a tshuva about praying for rain.

      His answer clearly shows his mastery of the sources as well as his logical halachic approach that makes Judaism--and daily prayer--relevant.

      To summarize:
      • We make mention (Mazkirim) of HASHEM’s great powers which cause the rain to fall from the evening prayers of last day of Sukoth

      • In Erets Yisrael, praying for rain from the 7th of MarHeshwan is no longer relevant since there are no pilgrims who need time to return to their homes outside the Land before the rains begin. We should "mazkir" rain starting from Mossa’e Sh’mini Assereth.

      • The Rambam writes that people should pray for rain (Sho’alim) based on the rainy season of that area. This is why the Jews of Bavel differed in their Halakhic practice from their brethren in Erets Yisrael. They waited until the 60th day after the equinox, often erroneously taken to mean, based on the Julian calendar, December 5th, but in fact November 22nd or 23rd. (TY Ta’aniyoth 1:1; TB Ta’anith 10a).

      • For the last 1500 years the practice in almost all Galuth communities has been according to the Babylonian custom without regard to their own local conditions--which is a fossilization of Halakha. The Rosh, Tur and Ran spoke out against this and found it strange that Jews living in Western Europe should act as if they resided in Baghdad.

      • Jews in Northern Hemisphere countries with climates and seasons similar to Erets Yisrael should act in accordance with the stipulations of the Mishna and Talmudhim. In Northern Hemisphere countries with significantly different weather patterns should adjust when they begin and cease praying for rain.

      • Jews in the Southern Hemisphere should pray for rain during their winter.

      • Off hand, Rav Bar-Hayim cannot think of any country today with a significant Jewish population with a climate and seasons similar to Bavel.

      Monday, April 12, 2010

      Kitniyot Wrap-Up

      Forgive me for hacking from the Esser Agoroth blog (that also references this site), but his collection of quotations from friends and neighbors was nice--and shows we're making progress:

      Religious resident of Bet El B':
      “I know so many Ashkenazim who eat kitniyot now. But, we're just not there yet.”
      (In previous years, this same Jew was adamantly opposed to the idea.)

      Religious resident of K'far Tapu'ah:
      “I see the logic behind kitniyot being permissible during Pesah, and I will say so openly. But, I am choosing not to eat them for now.”

      Religious woman of Iraqi decent in Jerusalem:
      “There is no way I would consider marrying an Ashkenazi man,...unless he ate kiyniyot during Pesah,...then maybe I would consider it. What's Pesah without rice?”

      Two friends at the beach:
      “Hey, wait a minute! You're always talking about what a hard core Litvak you are. What are you doing eating tehina?”

      “I eat kitniyos during Pesah.”

      “Have you ever heard of Rav Bar-Hayim?”

      “No, but I don't need a rabbi to tell me that the issur of eating kitniyos is stupid.”

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      Move Over Kitnyot, it's Soft Matza Time

      Zealots of Exile are no longer content with their ban on kitniyot and have moved on to banning soft matzah as was eaten by our forefathers for a mere 2000 or 3000 years, minus the last 300.

      The Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) wishes to express grave concerns about a new product called “Laffa Matza” being sold in certain food outlets in Melbourne, which bears a Kosher for Passover symbol and is soft and chewy.


      What is clear from this discussion is that:
      1. The RCV has not been able to explain why they are concerned--except that the soft matzot are chewy (I have not seen a source for this being a problem nor have they said soft matzot are actually chametz, chas ve shalom)
      2. There are vested business interests in this and the "Laffa Matza" is selling well despite their efforts
      3. The replies on the Galus Australis blog with the most invective come from people who have never made matzot and don't know what they're talking about
      4. There are thinking Jews everywhere who can separate truth from shtuth (yippee!)

      Having baked both "cracker matzot" and soft matzot by hand, I've concluded that the process for baking soft matzot is actually superior.

      With cracker matzot, if you leave them in a second too long, they're totally scorched. If you take them out too soon, they're not fully cooked. (I think a machine would avoid this problem as the timing could be more consistent). As a result, many are thrown away and it seems like bal tashchit.

      With soft matzot, there is much more control over the baking process and much less waste. If matzot do not look fully cooked (and the Mishnah Brura describes a cooked matza), then you can leave them on the blech a bit longer to cook. They won't get burned if you cook them for another second or even a minute.

      BTW, 18 minutes is a lot of time to cook matzot before you need to clean everything. This is the time from when the water hits the flour until they are put on the blech.

      For thousands of years, our forefathers made and ate soft matzot. They were people, not angels.

      The problem with soft matzot is one of HASHKAFA not HALACHA. G-d willing, we will soon have the Bet HaMikdash and then people who refuse to eat soft matzot can struggle to make a real Hillel sandwich.

      Wednesday, March 31, 2010

      It's official: Jews in the UK can eat kitniyot

      In an interview with the UK's Jewish Chronicle, Rav Bar-Hayim explains that it's permissible for Jews in the UK to eat kitniyot:
      His reasoning is that the tradition of avoiding kitniyot emerged at precisely the time that Jews were expelled from England - 1290 to 1656. This means that, just as the kitniyot custom cannot be considered native to Israel, it cannot be considered native to England.

      The tradition became established in England, he believes, by Jews who moved from Europe continuing to observe it out of habit after they immigrated. But he argues that according to halachah, when arriving in the "halachic virgin territory" of England they were free to either retain or discard the tradition. He believes that immigrants to England were unaware of this choice and therefore their descendants are free to either retain or discard the kitniyot custom.

      Lost segment of Jerusalem Talmud unearthed in Geneva

      Good news for fans of the Talmud HaYerushalmi. May it soon be returned to its rightful place in the eyes of the Torah world:

      Manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah, a collection of ancient Jewish writings stored in an Egyptian synagogue, which were recently examined reveal new segments of the Talmud, Mishnah (oral Jewish laws) and rabbinic literature.

      Among the scriptures was a whole sentence off the Jerusalem Talmud's Tractate Bikkurim which had been missing until now. The incorporation of the phrase in the Gemara renders the tractate chapter intelligible.

      Wednesday, March 24, 2010

      Machon Shilo Notes Increase in “Ashkenazi” Kitniyot Eaters

      Machon Shilo Notes Increase in “Ashkenazi” Kitniyot Eaters

      Compares Mistaken Kitniyot Ban with Controversy Over Ancient Ashkelon Graves of Pagans

      JERUSALEM, ISRAEL, March 24, 2010 — Machon Shilo has announced that the kitniyot rebellion continues as more Orthodox Jews are abandoning the mistaken practice of abstaining from eating kitniyot during the Passover holiday. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, head of the institute notes with satisfaction that Machon Shilo is frequently cited as having an impact on people’s decisions.

      “Each year I am contacted by an increasing number of people who inform me that they are no longer adhering to the ban on eating kitniyot,” says Rabbi Bar-Hayim. “They thank me for the “heter” of eating kitniyot and providing clear halachic insight that makes Torah Judaism relevant for thinking people.”

      Rabbi Bar-Hayim uses sources in the Mishnah and Gemara to demonstrate that customs are connected to the place where one resides and are not simply packed up like household items to be relocated in a new place of residence.

      “The original kitniyot ban was for the Jews of Ashkenaz, or the Rhineland,” notes the Rabbi.

      “It was probably erroneous for these Jews to take this custom with them to other areas like the United States where there was no local custom, and certainly erroneous for them to bring it to the Land of Israel where the practice throughout the ages was to eat kitniyot. Eating kitniyot during the holiday is the true custom of our forefathers in the holy land. Rice was even included on the Seder plates of antiquity.”

      Rabbi Bar-Hayim continues: “It’s OK that Torah sages can err. Even the Sanhedrin could err as is mentioned explicitly in the Torah. Mistakes can occur regarding kitniyot or about building emergency health facilities in Ashkelon. The halachic framework can be used as a framework for a Torah-based solution. As we recently read in the weekly Torah portion (Leviticus 4:13), errors were rectified by bringing a sacrifice to the Temple. May we soon merit to rebuild the Temple and bring sacrifices, for the Pesah offering and for the errors we’ve made along the way, whether forbidding foods that were not forbidden or preventing the construction of a hospital emergency room for the sake of ancient pagan graves that can be respectfully relocated.”

      About Machon Shilo

      Machon Shilo seeks to promote the study of the customs and practices of our forefathers and Rabbis, who lived in Erets Yisrael. Machon Shilo believes that while the Jewish People have physically returned to their ancestral homeland, Erets Yisrael, they have not yet returned to the Torah of Erets Yisrael. For more information visit www.machonshilo.org.


      ###


      Media Contacts:

      HaRav David Bar-Hayim, +972-54-466-7557, harav@machonshilo.org
      Louis Gordon, louis@machonshilo.org

      Monday, March 22, 2010

      Rav Tal & Yeshivat Torat HaHayim: Yes to Kitniyot!

      A friend of a friend learns with an avrech from Yeshivat Torat Hayyim, the yeshiva that was expelled from Neve Dekelim and found a warm home in Yad Binyamin. He no longer abstains from kitniyot, having adopted the minhag of the yeshiva.

      Apparently the students of the yeshiva, following Rav Shmuel Tal, eat some kitniyot and kitniyot derivatives, including humous.

      Rav Tal is definitely Ashkenazi in origin. Apparently, part of his reasoning for dispensing with the minhag has to do with observing minhag hamakom. And of course, the minhag of Erets Yisrael was--and is--to eat kitniyot.

      It is interesting to note that Rav Tal and the yeshiva also share another less-than-common practice: wearing tefillin during Chol HaMoed.

      In short, the good news is that more and more people think that the time has come to dispense with this minhag shtuth and are voting with their wallets and their mouths. They are buying kitniyot and even eating them on Pesah. Not just because it's easier, not just because it makes sense, but because they want their Judaism to be logical, consistent, and relevant.


      Tuesday, September 22, 2009

      Why do you carry your machzor but not your shofar on Shabbat Rosh HaShana?

      Everyone incorrectly "trumpets" the excuse that the shofar is not sounded on Shabbat since you can't carry a shofar more than 4 amot in the public domain on Shabbat. But how many people carry their talit and prayer books all the way to synagogue?? Nearly everyone... so what's the big deal about a shofar??

      Most of us should be stunned to read the the Shofar was sounded in the Temple on Shabbat:

      When the Festival of Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbath, the Shofar was blown in the Beth HaMiqdash [the Temple], but not in the rest of the country. (Mishnah Rosh Hashana4:1; Talmudh Bavli 29b)

      The Jerusalem Talmud, also known as the Talmud Yerushalmi asks the following question: "If blowing the Shofar is Torah-mandated, why should it not override Shabbath everywhere? And if it is not Torah-mandated, why does it override Shabbath in the Temple?"

      Tuesday, September 1, 2009

      Har HaBayit, Accept No Substitutes

      I ran into a friend and he told me that his child no longer suffered from a potentially life-threatening food allergy. As an infant, they had two close calls when their child went into anaphylactic shock, and they've been obsessively vigilant ever since.

      "So what's the secret of your success? Did you take a vaccine or allergy shots?" I asked him. "No," he answered non-chalantly. "I just go to Har HaBayit each month and pour out my heart to HaKodesh Baruch Hu. There's no place like it for prayer, not even Monsey."

      Monday, August 3, 2009

      Four Years Since the Destruction - A Wake-up Call

      It's been four years since the destruction of Gush Katif and the wound has not healed. Most of the criminals have not paid for their crime, but "How the Rose of Sharon Sits" [in a hospital bed].

      With the destruction of Gush Katif coming right after Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, we can only conclude that they are connected. I have felt--and have heard others say--that HaShem sent us a not-so-subtle message about His displeasure about the state of His House.

      For now, the only message I can see in this horrendous act of shtuth is that it was a wake-up call for Am Yisrael, that we have been negligent in rebuilding the Bet HaMikdash.

      How indeed can we merit such beautiful houses in the Land of Israel when his house lies in ruins? Kal v'chomer with those who live in comfort in voluntary Exile in Galuth.

      In a related note, two friends went up to Har HaBayit on Tisha B'Av and gave me a great dvar Torah:

      That Har HaBayit lies in ruins is not the fault of the government, nor even of the Israeli public. It's the fault of the religious public who by and large are not really bothered by the lack of a Temple.

      These people, who have been burning garbage cans in Jerusalem--who are probably neturei kitnyos--would burn garbage cans if the government were to allow us to build the Bet HaMikdash on Har HaBayit. They'd claim that Mashiach hadn't arrived and/or that it was pasul (invalid) because it didn't drop from the sky.

      I regretfully feel that they'd even burn garbage cans and riot if the government were to allow--or even build--a shul on Har HaBayit.

      So what's the remedy?

      Simply put, we must go up to Har HaBayit, in purity, to the acceptible places--and spread the word. Once the Torah public is with us, we shall be able to restore the House of the Lord and the houses of our brothers and sisters in Gush Katif and the northern Shomron.

      As Rav Yehoshua Buch of Machon Shilo wrote in his Kinna for Gush Katif:
      There is an end and there is hope, And the sons will return to their borders.
      And then we will sing a new song like Shirat-HaYam.

      Thursday, June 4, 2009

      So Much Shtuth... So Little Time

      There is so much shtuth that I've been at a loss for words. Where does one start? How can one even finish? Until now, I've been quiet because I informally promised myself to try and stick to shtuth in Torah Judaism. It's so obvious that politics is full of shtuth.

      But I just can't keep my fingers idle any longer. This whole Barak business, not Ehud Barak (or "Barach"), but the Barak Osama, the current President of the USA.

      What were they thinking when they actually voted for him? I guess Austrian Jews also voted "for" the Anschluss. It's not much different.

      I think that his presidency will mark the setting of the sun on US Jewry. While Osama incorrectly referred to the USA as "one of the world's largest countries", I do think that Muslim power is on the rise, aided and abbetted by the current president.

      Within our lifetime, the history of US Jews will be no different than any other Jewish community in the galuth. No different than the Jews of England in the 11th century (and in the 21st). No different from the Jews of 15th century Spain. No different than Jews of 20th century Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Algeria, Eypt, yada, yada, yada. Simply put, they'll have to leave.

      Brothers and sisters in America, you've had a nice visit, but your vacation in America is over. It's time to come home to Eretz Yisrael. As King David wrote:
      "Happy is the people who know the truah [i.e. the shofar blast]" (Psalms 89:16).

      Sunday, March 15, 2009

      Kitniyot Liberation - Redux

      The seasonal battle over kitniyot has already commenced. According to Ynet (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3686451,00.html), Rav Ovadia Yosef takes a machmir--though not entirely accurate approach--that the Ashkenazi custom of refraining from kitniyot has been around for 600 years.

      As Rav Bar-Hayim pointed out, we are in Eretz Yisrael, not Europe, and we should all be adhering to the local custom. The error of importing this foolish custom only occured 100-150 years ago and has become increasingly popular as it became more profitable for askanim (wheeler-dealers).

      And speaking of Europe, a number of years ago, Rav Shaul Yisraeli of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva recounted to Rav Bar-Hayim how peanuts were served during Chol HaMoed in Lithuania since they were considered a luxury.

      Maybe we could argue whether peanuts are really kitniyot... or whether they shouldn't be included on the Ever-Growing List of Kitniyot and Things That Make Askanim Rich.

      It is interesting why Rav Ovadia Yosef couldn't just take the easy way out and admit it's a foolish Ashkenazi custom and the Sefaradim have been correct all along. IMHO, this would open him up to admitting that we're in Eretz Yisrael and that we need to worry about the "big things, not the little things", like korban pesach, the Temple, etc. etc.

      By creating a big deal out of a little deal, we can continue the Purim veil over existence right through Pesah.

      What is especially nice about this article is that Ynet has appropriately given credit to Rav Bar-Hayim and Machon Shilo for its revolutionary halachic ruling.

      We are looking forward to an official reply from Machon Shilo.

      Wednesday, September 17, 2008

      Lipstick on a Pig

      Ben Horin is an erudite fellow with a blog worth following. My only complaint is that he doesn't posted enough.

      As he recently wrote:
      And yet. As Palin spoke, I realized that I now identify with those Americans who live in small towns, who love their country and feel deeply rooted in it, who carry guns for defense, who have large families, whose children fight its wars. That's my life now.
      Well put... even if my family ain't as large as it could be.

      Though still a registered Dem, I can't believe how the Democratic party has been taken over by the radical left. (And unfortunately this is a familiar story in Eretz HaKodesh. I remember when even the Labor party believed in settling the land of Israel).

      I've always been a southern conservative who couldn't stand Carter yet helped the Young Dems send Mondale to victory over President Reagan in a 1984 mock election at a major southern university.

      Now seeking the quiet life in the land of my forefathers, I really admire McCain for thinking out of the box and Sarah Palin for taking such a walloping from the media.

      McCain has put the dems on the defensive and it's not pretty. Obama has proven himself to be more of the same and only pedals "change we can deceive in." Most of all, he should not be comparing any women to animals when he's got a wife like Michelle (and I'm not thinking of a pitbull).

      In the upcoming election, it's clear who's peddling stuth. I just hope that the American public still haven't given up the battle for truth.

      Wednesday, May 7, 2008

      Kvetching About Kitniyot

      The Kvetcher blog took notice of Rav Bar-Hayim's latest article for the Pesah holiday on the Jewish Press blog.
      Yes, it came after Pesach, but Elliot Resnick at the Jewish Press appears to be sympathetic to the Kitniyot Liberation Front, and posted an essay (and link) to Rabbi David Bar-Hayim and Machon Shilo.
      We couldn't agree more, but this certainly gave some of their readers something to kvetch about.


      The most entertaining (and sad) comment talked about the dwindling intelligence of the charedi gene pool. I think that it's sad when anyone is driven out of Torah Judaism due to shtuth, especially when there are so many choices/options that let you stay within the fold.

      The Jewish Press Blog: Taking a Stand Against Shtuth

      Rav Bar-Hayim's latest article on the kitniyot saga got some eyeballs at the blog of the Jewish Press. More importantly, they have the wisdom to realize that neither the Kitniyot Liberation Front nor Machon Shilo are really about eating kitniyot:
      The following is an interesting article written by an interesting person who heads an interesting oganization.
      Read the blog here.

      Wednesday, April 23, 2008

      Uncovering Shtuth

      The court's most recent attempt to promote chametz occurred when it overturned the Knesset law forbidding the sale of chametz in public places. The court claimed that a shop was not a public place and could sell chametz if it was not visible from the street.

      In reaction, a supposedly haredi Jew stripped naked at the bread counter of a store selling chametz during Pesah. He claimed that he was not violating the law against public indecency since the store was not a public place and that he was not visible from the street.

      Read more at the Jerusalem Post.
      Unfortunately Ynet seems to have buried their article which provided a fuller account.

      It is refreshing to see that even haredim can uncover shtuth as well!

      Chag Sameach.

      Wednesday, April 16, 2008

      Establishments without vision

      Not only is Am Yisrael plagued by political leaders without vision, but as Rav Bar-Hayim points out, our relgious leaders are equally lacking. Hence the obsession with kitniyot and other shtuth:

      Unfortunately the Orthodox Establishment is similar to the Zionist Establishment: it does not know who and where we are or where we are supposed to be headed. It is hesitant and uncertain and prefers the familiar comfort of the downtrodden, Exilic version of the Torah rather than the majestic, vibrant and uplifting Torah of the Land of Israel, of Abraham, Moses, David and the Maccabees.
      Read more at http://machonshilo.org/content/view/93/1/

      Have a Happy Passover and make your kitniyot be tasty. And more importantly--may we soon enjoy the taste of a delicious Korban Pesah on soft matzoth. Peanut butter topping is optional.

      Wednesday, February 20, 2008

      The Cat is Out of the Bag

      For anyone who lives in Israel, the mere continued existence of the Third Jewish Commonwealth is a hidden miracle. As the ineptitude of our leadership increases, so does the size of the miracle.

      IMHO, we should certainly have this miracle in mind when we say the "Modim" or Thanksgiving blessing of the Shmona Esray. [That's prayer #17 out of 18 for those of you who use the authentic, Erets Yisrael nusah of HaRav HaGaon Davidh Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo.]

      Indeed at the Jerusalem Conference, Ken Abramowitz, Managing Partner and co-founder of NGN Capital noted that Israel has many advantages for foreign investors, including excellent universities, professional talent but,
      ...I have never seen a lower caliber of government than you have in this country. Your foreign ministry is staffed with low quality people and a low quality leader (Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni). The Supreme Court is a collection of far-left activists who then appoint more far-left activists to join them on the bench. It feels like all the smart people in the country have started their own companies, and the rest have been left to run the country.
      To read more, go to http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/125316.