Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"

Archive for the ‘Haveil Havalim’ Category

Driver’s Ed, Yishuv-Style

Posted by rutimizrachi on 21/06/2009

Yom rishon, 29 Sivan 5769.

Driver’s education starts very young in Neve Daniel.  There is so much to learn, waiting until a person is 15 or 16 is just too much of a gamble.  What with all those signs in Hebrew — we expect them to learn this language so young! — and dealing with drivers who clearly grew up with a culturally different set of rules of the road — Arabs think nothing of driving on the highway using a method that would have been considered “playing chicken” in my day — driver’s training really must begin right alongside toilet training.

As always, Israeli inventiveness keeps us ahead of the game.  Since teaching one’s teenager to drive using the security road is frowned upon (you haven’t experienced the Gush until you’ve had Yoel pull you aside for unauthorized security-road driving, or been arrested for climbing the water tower… but that’s another post) — we’ll have to check with the local gan to see if they have a car big enough for Stunt Man.

Drive responsibly, kids.  And remember that famous slogan from the Old Country:  “Friends don’t let friends drive junk.”

The latest edition of Haveil Havelim, #222: The The The The The Edition, is available at The Real Shliach’s blog.  It is a great way to get a sampling of the Jewish Blogosphere — and for my money, the first place to go for “what is really happening” in Israel and on the Jewish scene in general (along with IMRA: Middle East News & Analysis).  Speaking of not driving junk — there is no excuse anymore to rely on the MSM for your Jewish news.

Yoel:  Neve Daniel’s long-suffering head of security
Gan:  kindergarten
Closing Baltimore-insider joke:  Great slogan used by Maven Motors.  Second in coolness only to the Brody Brothers’ extermination company slogan:  “Nice Jewish boys, licensed to kill.”

Posted in driving in Israel, Haveil Havalim | 2 Comments »

Colorful Street People

Posted by rutimizrachi on 01/06/2009

Yom sheni, 9 Sivan 5769.

It’s true that a really nice post could be written about the colorful street people you thought this post was going to be about.  One of these days, I’ll be worthy of writing it.  The fact is that I am firmly convinced that the prayers and brachot of some of Yerushalayim’s street people have kept my kids healthy, out of serious trouble, and on a Torah path.  (There is one holy lady in Meah Sha’arim whose prayers — said with my children’s names tucked between the pages of her Tehillim for over a decade — have felt to me like the prayers of a beloved grandmother.  I believe that Hashem surely has counted them as pure love from a pure heart.)

But this post isn’t about Leah and her holy ilk.

It is about the joyful metal artwork on Ha-Zehavit Street.  We are privileged to travel this street any time we drive or ride the bus from the Gush into Yerushalayim, via Gilo.  Delightful, colorful and playful characters people the grass strip between the lanes of traffic on this well-traveled road, reminding drivers that there’s more to do in life than rush to the office.


Avi and I reminisced about the Alte Heimland.  How might such statuary fare in Baltimore, Maryland, or in Lusk, Wyoming?  In Baltimore, these colorful cutouts wouldn’t have lasted a month before they were covered with crude graffiti and — uh — anatomically-correct Magic Marker appendages.  In Wyoming, the temptation to shoot the cast iron critters full of holes would have been irresistible.  But in Yerushalayim, at least thus far, the only additional artwork has been provided by an errant fowl.

Not bad for one of the most controversial cities on the face of the Earth.

Haveil Havalim #219, the Kakol Hevel Edition is up at DovBear‘s place.  Give it a read.  Some of my favorite writers pop by to share their opinions on politics in Israel and the US, and on Jewish life.

Posted in art, Haveil Havalim, street people, Yerushalayim | 11 Comments »

Yishuv Car Pool

Posted by rutimizrachi on 24/05/2009

Yom rishon, 1Sivan 5769, Rosh Chodesh.

Haveil Haveilim (No Number, No Name Edition) appears at Benji’s place, “What War Zone???“.  B’ima sheli!  Benji can be funny; but if you feed him chumous, he can be convinced to just sit quietly and behave.  Here, Benji!  Sit, boy!  Sit!

Posted in Haveil Havalim, What War Zone??? | 2 Comments »

The Jew and the Land

Posted by rutimizrachi on 26/04/2009

Yom sheni, 3 Iyar 5769.
“The meaning and purpose of Jewish history, and Jewish life, is inextricably bound to the Land of Israel.  I’ll say the words again: The meaning and purpose of Jewish history, and Jewish life, is inextricably bound to the Land of Israel. This means that the definition of a spiritually healthy Jewish life is either one that is lived in the Land, or one that is lived in a state of near desperate longing to do so. If you believe these words, if these are your words, the words of your Torah and your guts, then let them fill you. Breathe them in. The meaning and purpose of Jewish history, and Jewish life, is inextricably bound to the Land of Israel.”  —  Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf

These words were up on my kitchen wall for years.  They gave me a lot of strength, and a clear goalIt’s time to pass them on, or to give them back.

Haveil Havalim #214, The Radiant Ziv edition, is posted at The Rebbetzin’s Husband for your edification and enjoyment.

Posted in acquiring the Land, Haveil Havalim, Israel, Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf | 4 Comments »

Spring Comes to the Gush

Posted by rutimizrachi on 05/04/2009

Yom sheni, 12 Nisan 5769.

Blessed are you, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, for nothing is lacking in His universe, and He created in it good creatures and good trees, to cause mankind pleasure with them.   

In the English translation of the Modim of the Rabbis that is said during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei, we say “[We thank you] for inspiring us to thank You.”  I have always loved that passage.  Many times throughout our day, the prayerbook inspires us to show G-d appreciation for the many gifts He gives us that we might otherwise take for granted.

One of those prayers is said only once each year, upon seeing fruit trees in bloom.

Even though this special prayer was also available to me in Chutz l’Aretz, it feels even more special to say it in this very holy place.  Please let me share some of the local Gush Etzion beauty with you.


 We had a few guests drop by, as the weather started to warm up.  A couple of them even posed for photos.

 And, of course, some of the greatest beauty is the Jewish people and their love for the mitzvot…  such as cleaning every inch of their homes for Pesach.

 Thank you, Borei Olam, for this beautiful Land, and for all of the lovely, colorful flowers and the interesting creatures and the fine and holy people that fill it.

Thank you most of all for friends with whom to share Your wondrous creation.

Chag Pesach sameach v’kasher l’kulam!

Haveil Havalim #211 is posted at Ima’s place.  She calls it “The Preparing for Pesach Edition.”  There is some fun stuff in there to take your mind off of your scrubbing and cleaning…  or to focus you more intently.  Take a break.  You deserve it!

Modim:  acknowledgment, gratitude, admission
Shemoneh Esrei:   prayer with “eighteen blessings (plus)”  said three times daily
Chutz l’Aretz:  everywhere outside of Israel
Mitzvot:  commandments, elevated deeds
Pesach:  Passover
Borei Olam:  Creator of the world
Chag Pesach sameach v’kasher l’kulam!:  Happy and kosher Passover to everyone!


Posted in Gush Etzion, Haveil Havalim, Nisan, Pesach, Spring | 24 Comments »

Posted by rutimizrachi on 29/03/2009

Yom rishon, 4 Nisan 5769.

Haveil Havalim, Issue #210, is available at Jack’s place.  Jack calls it the Locke, Hurley and Starbuck edition.  This means nothing to me.  However, the video clip from Night at the Opera is worth the whole issue.                                             


Remember that great story about the yid in the shtetl who complains to his rabbi that the house is too small and crowded?  “Bring in the cow,” advises the rabbi.  The man brings in the cow; and the house feels even more crowded.  He returns to the rabbi, who says, “Bring in the chickens.”  So the yid brings in the chickens, and the house feels even more crowded.  So he returns to the rabbi, who tells him to “bring in the goat and the watchdog and the rooster.”  The yid brings in all of these creatures; and needless to say, the house feels unbearably crowded and small.  This time when he returns to the rabbi, the rabbi tells him to shoo all of the animals out of the house.  “Ahhhhh!,” says the yid to his now-happy wife, “our rabbi is the wisest of men!  See how he helped us to increase the size of our home?  And the peace!”

The Dearly Beloved and I fell off the chair (only one chair — the apartment’s too small) laughing at the Marx Brothers’ overcrowding shtick.  (Warning: hilchot negiah alert.  Hysterical, nonetheless.)

I hope you’ll read through the various bloggers in the whole issue…  but at least give yourself a good, hearty laugh.

Happy Pesach cleaning!  Of course, consult with your own posek; but this article at Torat HaRav Aviner makes it a more pleasant process for me:  “How to do your Pesach Cleaning Cheerfully in Less than One Day.”

Yid:  Jew
Shtetl:  small European Jewish village
Hilchot negiah:  the laws detailing boundaries for physical contact between the sexes
Posek:  Advisor regarding Jewish law

Posted in Haveil Havalim, Marx Brothers, Pesach, Rav Shlomo Aviner | 3 Comments »

Vote for a Jewish Homeland

Posted by rutimizrachi on 08/02/2009

Yom rishon, 14 Shevat 5769.

Voting.  Our civil right.  One of the threads that keeps our “democratic” system of government intact.

Here is why I wasn’t going to vote this time around.

It is no secret to my friends that I tend to be just to the Right of Attila the Hun politically.  I am a religious Jew, so halacha is important to me.  I am cautious about politically-imposed halacha without the guidance of Moshiach, as there seem to be too many interpretations out there to make me confident that we really know what is best for all the people.  But my Torah outlook tends to keep me on the conservative side of arguments.  I love this Land of Israel; and know that it must remain the home of the Jewish nation.  So I am not for giving it up for illusions of peace, or to try to convince the world to like us.  I am not even sure we are halachically allowed to give away any of it for any reason.

I believed in Binyamin Netanyahu years ago, even though his platform wasn’t particularly religious.  He sounded intelligent enough to know that we can’t give away the Land.  But after he gave away Hevron, I realized that I had been believing in ghosts.  I thought he would be as heroic as I imagined his brother, Yoni zt”l, to be.  And I fell for the ghost of good public speaking.  At the end of the day, Bibi let us down.  It would have been better had he remained an articulate spokesman for the Jewish people, perhaps with control of the economy.  Control of the country seemed more than he could bear.

I have waited to hear him say that Hevron was a mistake.  But I don’t think he thinks it was.  This troubles me.

I believed in Ariel Sharon.  He was clearly a tough guy, who had fought for many of the kilometers of soil we now held, after successful defensive wars.  Surely I could trust him not to give away an inch of our holy Land.  I wonder what he is thinking about these days, in that deep, deep place in which he hovers.  Would he have done anything differently, with the wisdom he must now surely possess?

Moshe Feiglin is interesting.  But he and I handled the painful disaster of Gush Katif differently.  We were both angry and devastated by the theft of it from our people, by our people.  But after it was lost to us, I decided that it was Hashem who said no.  We have an opportunity to treat the dispossessed people of Gush Katif well, or not.  But for reasons of his own, Hashem did not bring the miracle that could have allowed a win for all of the people who marched and prayed and wept and spoke out — for all of the holy Jews all over the world who cared.

Moshe and I were together in our thinking on many points.  But I have waited in vain to hear him come through for me on one point:  How will he bring the people of this nation together, post-Gush Katif?  He wrote something that made me quite nervous several months ago, about how we would have won at Gush Katif and Amona if we had fought harder.  I wrote to him to ask him what his end-game scenario would look like.  Is it okay with you, Moshe, if Jews begin to kill Jews, in an effort to hold onto the Land?  He was too busy to answer.

Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz is the founder of Arutz Sheva, aka Israel National News.  Also at Gush Katif, there was a major difference of opinion between the staion policy and Rav Shlomo Aviner.  This was illustrated by the sudden absence of any Rav Aviner commentary. Apart from an occasional news reference, this lack has continued until today.  Does Ketzaleh believe that it is appropriate to “tear kriah” over someone with whom we disagree on one major issue?  This, again, gives me concern regarding another potential leader’s ability to bring the people together.  If we cannot even make peace on the Right, how can we make peace among the Jewish nation?  It would make me more hopeful if I saw that rift healed, by a return of Rav Aviner’s wisdom to the station I hold in high regard.

I realize that I am politically naive.  But if Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Ichud Leumi, and United Torah Judaism got together, their combined ranking of 46 would send the other parties packing.

Of course, that would mean that they would have to put the good of the Land and the People ahead of their partisan differences…

There are only a few people I would really want to vote for, and they’re not running.  Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.  Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo.  Professor Robert Yisrael Aumann.  Tzafrir Ronen, zt”l.

An Ashkenazic Rabbi, originally from France.  A Sephardic Rabbi, originally from Holland.  A Nobel Prize winning games theory scientist, who is also an Orthodox Jew.  And a recently-deceased self-described “irreligious” Jew.

They have at least one thing in common:  they put their love of the Jewish people above all earthly things.

Each of us must make a personal decision about our priorities; and I happen to agree with these men.  The Jewish people and our connection with each other is even more important than the fine points of holy, holy halacha, even more important than the holy, holy Land. The halacha and the land are Hashem’s gifts to us, and are very precious.  But they cease to have meaning if we sacrifice each other in their honor.

Finally, Dr. Tziona Fleisher convinced me to vote.  In her commentary, “Get Out the Jewish Vote,” this former Zionist refusenik from the USSR reminds me of one of my own “bottom lines.”

As much doubt as I may have about Bibi’s strength in the clutch, about Moshe’s love of all of the Jewish people, about Ketzaleh’s desire for unity with his ideological opponents…  these candidates are all Jewish people.  And Tziona points out the important demographic problem:  If fewer and fewer Jews vote for Jews, and more and more Arabs vote for Arabs…  Well, you do the math.

With all of our faults, I want this to remain a Jewish country.

halacha:  Jewish Torah-based law
tear kriah:  to treat as if dead, to disown
refusenik:  a Jew in the USSR who was refused permission to emigrate

News flash!  The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is out on the stands, expertly edited by the ever erudite Esser Agaroth!                                                                  

Posted in Esser Agaroth, Haveil Havalim, Israel, vote, voting | 4 Comments »

Tikkun Leil Gridiron

Posted by rutimizrachi on 02/02/2009

Yom sheni, 8 Shevat 5769.

There are two quiet, holy mornings each year, that are really just for women.

The more kadosh of the two is Shavu’ot.  

In many communities, the men and older boys have spent the entire night learning Torah for Tikkun Leil Shavu’ot, a night of perfecting the world through the holiness of constant learning.  This custom derives, we are taught, from the need to “repair the damage done” by the Israelites sleeping the night before the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  (The argument is that when one is about to receive the greatest gift mankind has ever received, he should sit up all night in anticipation.  An argument in response is that sleep is the first refuge of the utterly terrified…)  In any case, the men and boys learn until the wee small hours of the morning, in gatherings at people’s homes, or at shul.  Then, the weary soldiers daven the early morning prayers, and drag their spiritual swords and shields home, where they indulge in a few hours of well-earned rest.

The town is absolutely quiet, filled with a special aura that exists only in a world free of adult testosterone.  Small children people the streets, giving the community a Lilliputian feel.  Soft voices of women fill the air, chatting quietly, singing, laughing softly.  It is a world inhabited only by women and children.

It is a few months’ time until Shavu’ot, with its particular sweetness.

This morning I am enjoying the other, less-holy “women-and-little-ones day.”  This morning is the quiet, man-free morning known of as “Super Bowl Monday.”  Who would have thought that the American Super Bowl would follow us to Israel?  (The only difference is that, while in America, the kickoff is around 6:30 PM EST, in Israel, game time is at 1:30 in the morning.  Imagine spicy chicken wings and chili at 3 AM!)

As the last warrior came home, a huge smile on his face, as he anticipated hours of sleep, I remarked on the similarity between the two days.  “Feels like Shavu’ot, doesn’t it?”  I asked him.  “Yeah,” he answered, his six-foot-plus teenage frame stretching into a big, satisfied full-body yawn.  “Except less kadosh,” I added.

“Whadaya mean?” he asked.  “I just got back from making a siyum with the guys I learn with.  We just finished our first perek in Brachot.  After I finished davening.”

“Yasher koach!”  I responded, proud that he hadn’t immersed himself only in the secular.

“Besides.  Ema.  It’s the Super Bowl.  C’mon That’s kedusha.”  Fortunately, this profane comment was uttered tongue in cheek, as he wandered off to his bed.

Ahhhh.  Quiet.  Blessed femininity.  The birds even seem to be singing more sweetly.

Now if we could just train those Arab workmen on the roof next door to take up the holy study of American football…       

(Sexism disclaimer:  It may be that there are secret enclaves of female football fans out there, wearily making their way back to their beds after a night of popcorn, chips, and insult-hurling at Sling Box TV hookups.  I just didn’t notice the ad in the online chat list.)

kadosh:  holy
Shavu’ot:  holiday observing the giving of the Torah
siyum:  completion of the study of a holy text
perek:  chapter
Brachot:  one of the books of the Talmud
Yasher koach!:  Way to go! 

***  Two important links:  Haveil Havalim, The “Did You Love Leah?” Edition, is out at Ima on (and off) the Bima.  And West Bank Mama has put together a roundup of commentary on the Gaza War by new immigrants to Israel.  ***

Posted in American Football in Israel, Gaza War, Haveil Havalim, Israel, olim chadashim, Super Bowl | Leave a Comment »

Hey, Nauru: I like you, too!

Posted by rutimizrachi on 18/01/2009

Yom rishon, 22 Tevet 5769.

Life stays interesting here in Israel.
What would you do if your two best friends in the whole world — in fact, your only friends — were this really, really big rich guy, who is ambivalent about his feelings of support for you, and this little teeny kid who, though he’s 100% behind you, makes a 98-pound weakling look hefty?
The big, wishy-washy guy is the US, of course.  But you probably never heard of the little guy.  Meet Nauru, the only other nation in the world that voted against the bizarre cease-fire arrangement on the grounds that it wasn’t fair to Israel.
Check out this issue of Haveil Havalim, hosted by Mordechai at The Rebbetzin’s Husband, for a more thorough history of this interesting and brave little ally of Israel.  He calls this the I-love-Nauru Edition.
If the Dearly Beloved and I willingly travel outside Israel for a vacation, Nauru looks pretty good to us.  How can you not want to visit a place who’s motto is “God’s Will First”?

Posted in Haveil Havalim, Nauru, The Rebbetzin's Husband | 4 Comments »

Haveil Havalim (#199 or #200) Makes an Appearance

Posted by rutimizrachi on 12/01/2009

Yom sheni, 16 Tevet 5769.

This one’s called the Harvey Edition.  (Don’t ask.  Let Jack explain it himself.) 

There seems to be some argument over which number this one is.  Blame it on the fact that the host has also been running updates on the war in Gaza that are coming so fast, the folks at Twitter are calling him for advice.

If you are new to the blogosphere (meaning you “don’t get the blog thing”), or if you want to hear something authentic about the matsav in Israel, rather than relying on only the MSM — try getting to know some very good writers through Haveil Havalim

Posted in Gaza War, Haveil Havalim | 3 Comments »