Friday, December 30, 2011

Verbal pogrom on Haredim

Beit Shemesh, Israel - Op-Ed: Welcoming The Charedi Spring
“tyranny of fanatics whose thuggery and primitivism ran unchecked in Meah Shearim for years
“there is nothing in the pictures coming from Israel to differentiate the mobs in Beit Shemesh from those in Pakistan or Iraq.
“barbarians at the gates of Beit Shemesh.”
“The extremists are not the equivalent of the poor, semi-literate unwashed masses in the Muslim suburbs of Paris
From essay of Rabbi Adlerstein - Vos iz Neias

Beth Shemesh, Israel - The Charedi Hooligans Should Take Lesson From Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel Zt'l
"Beth Shemesh, Israel - How dare you?
How dare you spit on an 8-year-old schoolgirl and terrorize her as she walks to school? I don’t care what she’s wearing; spitting, verbal abuse, and threats of violence cannot be tolerated."

"You are a thug and a hooligan"
anonymous essay from VIN

New York - Rabbi Yakov Horowitz: - 'Kanoim' Are Rodfim And Abusing Our Community
"As Rabbi Aryeh Deri clearly stated  in an interview earlier this week, the only solution to rid our community of the depraved kanoim who are wreaking havoc on our community is to demand that they be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
"My dear friends, it has come to this. We have two choices. We can continue to blame the secular media for its campaign against our charedi community or we can admit the painful truth – that we collectively have allowed ourselves to be abused for many years now by a small and violent group of uncontrolled kanoim."
"For the sake of our children, we need to collectively do everything in our power – everything – to put an end to the abuse immediately."

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz VIN

Jerusalem - In Fiery Speech Noted Rabbi Suggests Violence Against Charedi Extremists Says They Are Animals
“They are the worst kind of evildoers, far worse than the most secular individual,” said Rabbi Zar.  “If I could I would break their arms and legs.  This is not just my opinion, it is the opinion of Chazal.  They would catch them, give them lashes and break their bones for their appalling behavior.
Rabbi Zar (???)

JewishPoet Says: comment section of VIN

chaos in the street,
were a little innocent girl has been mistreat,
entire nation on their feet, 
men women children defeat,

a group of extreme fanatics,
with radical agenda tactics, 
armed with semiautomatics, 
anarchy peril and dramatics, 

to impose the taliban way of life, 
segregate men and women they strife, 
its their way or a knife,
no respect for human life, 

they claim to be the oppressed,
its their country and everyone else is only a guest, 
when in fact living in israel they should be blessed, 
to the country they contribute zero but have constant requests, 

in the name of a false god, 
force people back to the gulag,
protesting in striped WW2 garb,
isolate its people into wire barb,

the world is watching with awe,
they have no regard for the law,
coming at us with a chain saw,
from world society they withdraw, 

they dont recognize the land they live in, 
to them its a game they must win,
our jewish heritage and values they spin,
psycho brains razor thin,

First attacks against haredim are taking already place in EY. The comments on various Jewish websites are just unbelievable. It is hard to believe that those are rachamim bnai rachamim who call for incarceration, boycott, separating children from parents and yes killings. I guess it is all OK for the commentators quoted above when subject of verbal and physical abuse are haredim. Or... perhaps there is something more in their aticharedism than protection of eight years old girl from Beit Shemesh?
Matys Weiser

The clip above i will leave without the comment, but i wonder why video below didn't create such uproar as one haredi spiting on the girl. Video below is used on the internet for few years already by various antisemities. My question is why didn't we look for reasons of behavior pictured in the clip below? Why no one scram about Chilel Hashem and so on? Is there any reason why religious settlers are treated different than religious people of Mea Sheurim and Beis Shemesh? Any comments?

From my comment to the previous post:

With all due respect, I think you have to read my post again. I clearly call acts of those individuals ‘despicable and in other place criminal, according to Torah standards.
What I object is depicting whole haredi community true prism of some hot headed, misguided individuals. But the same way as I describe my nonobservant Jewish brothers and sisters as those lacking proper information and not necessary rebellious to our Creator, the same or different privilege of doubt I can generate toward my observant fellow Jews who perhaps missed shiur on mussar or derech eretz.
What I’m afraid of is that it seems to appear that some of other observant Jews jumped on bandwagon of enemies of Torah to make their politics. Even some haredim from camps different than Satmar and Toldos Aharon are using events in Bais Shemesh and Mea Sheurim for their backyard politics. Unfortunately it may result in backslash against all of us, as the name, the stature of the haredi Jew will erode in minds of not only nonobservant but also all bnai Esaw in different countries.  
Some of our frum people appear not to understand that they dancing to the music of the others and this music was designed to exhaust us from very beginning. Yes we should keep together, all people serving HaShem. Despite of our differences, united around of Torah and nothing else. Even when we think that some of others from us are mistaking, according to what we believe.

Title from Jewish news websites and picture illustrating the title:

Haredim throw stones at buses in Beit Shemesh -,

There you have it. To those who thought that their call for condemnation of 'out of control haredim' (whose control?) will direct the anger only against some sectors of the haredim and will spare those to whom they have closer ties, they were mistaking.
All of the haredim are hated, and by the way if any of the haredi group is famous for 'extreme' separation of sexes, are the Gerer Chasidim and not Hungarians who are hated for different issues.
See this:
and this

Finally some words of wisdom on the topic! 
From Rabbi Lipschutz.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“When the Jew spits on a seven year old girl?”

In recent days the temperature of the national Jewish debate rose to the end of the scale!

Open letters have been written, petitions are drafted to be signed and everybody has something to say about the events publicized in the international press regarding what happened this week in Beis Shemesh. That’s right, it has become international news. In many important news outlets it is posted on the opening pages and already millions of people are commenting on all kind of internet forums about the despicable ultra orthodox Jews from some (mostly) unknown until now, town in the Holy Land. I also checked various forums in different regions of the world (as much as I could understand the language) and the above is on the front pages all over!

Without a doubt, judging from the titles of the press articles like the one quoted above to the shortest comments on internet forums, there is only one conclusion. The behavior of ultra orthodox Jewish people is identical to the behavior of wild uncivilized beasts! They are undeserving of any freedom or perhaps even their existence! These conclusions are based on something. What is it based on?  They are not coming from the traditional unprovoked hatred of the nations of the world toward the Jews. These statements and the statement  from the Secretary Of State Mrs. Hilary Clinton a few days ago where she commented about women’s rights in the ultra orthodox community didn’t emerge from thin air.

As a Jewish convert observing and being a part of everything Jewish around me, I can not by pass this national discussion. As a haredi Jew myself and a blogger writing weekly on various issues I will take the stand on this one too!

Let’s follow the time line of the events. The trigger of these events was probably the noisy discussion on the topic of Israeli orthodox soldiers refusing to listen to female soldiers singing during various ceremonies. (Due to the complicated nature of this issue I will not elaborate on this particular subject.) After a few weeks of this discussion, Mrs. Clinton issued a statement upon returning from her visit to Burma. The statement was aimed to protect women rights that were being allegedly violated by religious Jews.
Not long after that or perhaps at the same time, reporters from an Israeli TV channel came to Beis Shemesh where they recorded the infamous report and video. Since that moment a few days ago, everything became accelerated and now we don’t even know where it will go and how it will end. One think we can be sure of, even if in the next few hours the two Koreas will start to fight between themselves redirecting the attention of the media, the memory of black clothed Jews spiting on seven year old little girls will remain in the collective conscience of a large part of the world population. (see video below the post)
This video on Israeli TV is a propaganda masterpiece of which even Goebels wouldn’t be ashamed of. What we have here is everything that these and other masters of anti-Semitic propaganda can only dream of! A crying seven years old girl! but crying only with her back turned to the camera and somehow sounding, simply fake! As to the women in the video, we have religious women from different sectors of society, but to anybody who knows how religious women dress it is obvious that the women in the video look as frum as the shnorers dressed as Chasidim schnoring in many American synagogues  i.e. obvious fakes. What we have here are some outrageous statements which without a doubt were taken out of context.*(see interview with reb Yoel below) Then a film producer with a certain agenda produces and cuts the video so it looks and sounds like they want it to sound! We also have some real people screaming. But they are mostly screaming to be left alone to live as they wish.
For days we are being told about brutal haredim attacking the police, we hear about Chasidic hooligans and ultra orthodox tugs violating the rights of innocent by bystanders! Judging from the vicious battle described in the media it seems to be a common reality of Bais Shemesh, Yerushalaim and other places where haredim dwell. I ask again and again in such situations, show me the pictures!  I want to see this violence with my own eyes! I want to see ‘zebras’ throwing stones, haredim burning cars and ultra orthodox kicking the cops! I want to see the violence myself! I don’t want to be informed about it in the screaming titles of various Jewish and non Jewish media outlets without any prof of verity of the information.

Besides some pictures and videos of loud shouting and waving of fists by the haredim there is almost nothing to prove that this alleged violence occurred. I am not saying that screaming and waiving of fists by haredi Jews is a pleasant view but, Hashem Yirachem, it is not violence! If you want to see street violence then I advise you to google “London riots” or “Athens riots” or “Brussels violence”.  I’m sick and tired of the English language being abused on a daily basis; I can’t take anymore the propagandists who change the meaning of words. This is happening more and more in this country including manipulation by members of the American Jewish population.

I will not deny existence of some unstable elements among the haredim in Eretz Yisroel, but just as the ‘Jew land’ guy from New Square or the assailant in that case from that town doesn’t represent the good people of New Square. Just as a monster from Midwood doesn’t represent the good Jews of Brooklyn so too these marginal elements among haredi population don’t represent the people of Bais Shemesh or Mea Sheurim!  I may disagree with haredim of EY on several issues but without any doubt in my mind, they represent the best of our nation and the best of what humanity has to offer!

Why are they targeted and pictured as the villains and backward elements of mankind? I wrote an essay about this a few months ago. If you are interested you can read it here: At this time I can say only one thing, this anti-Semitic propaganda is caused by no others than the people who will not rest until they make sure that religious Jews and the religious lifestyle and even G-d himself is hated by all! Don’t be part of it!


* “Interview was aired over and over again, driving the message home, making sure no one in Israel missed it.
Kikar Shabbat asked him a week later “how do you feel now?”
One thing is for sure. I regret appearing in the secular media. This is certainly not my forte, not my place and I should not have played into the hands by giving the interview. They entrapped me with their words and took some of my comments out of context. I said a great deal, words that were cut out of the portion aired. I fell as if they put words in my mouth.
A non-Orthodox person standing at this side confirmed his statements for Kikar, that his words were edited to reflect the statements as they were aired.
So what do you conclude from all this?
I will tell you the truth. Yesterday I secluded myself to contemplate the events. I learned a lesson here, just how potent our words can be and how they can have a major impact. I learned just how important each word is that we utter to HaKadosh Baruch Hu in our tefilos as well as our words towards family and friends.



Two weeks ago was the thirtieth anniversary of the declaration of state of war in my old country. Such round anniversaries cause justified nostalgia. In such moments a person analyzes the past years, look for crumbs of facts that bring back memories of turning points in his life.

I did a Google search for pictures of the old country and started to look at them from the perspective that still rests in my brain’s long-term memory center. It was not difficult to recall whole situations in my life similar to the pictures I saw, but one of the pictures especially pulled my attention. It was a picture of a demonstration in which I had participated, commemorating the signing of the agreement between the ruling communists and people who had represented the workers in the Gdansk dockyard two years before.

For sixteen months out of those two years, my country had tasted some of the freedom that had been unknown to us already for generations. For me it was a first-time experience and it tasted good. I loved it and took it hard when the communists decided to end the holiday in December of 1981. Sunday morning, 13 December, the freedom ended, for many literally in concentration camps organized for the opposition members where some were detained for years without a court appearance or judgment or were sentenced by a phony communist court as enemies of the people or as terrorists. I was too young and insignificant to suffer this fate, but I suffered nevertheless, as the fresh air of freedom was smashed to smithereens by the tanks trampling the cobblestones of the street just a few yards away from my home. These were tanks of the “People’s Army,” which had come to take over the factory across the street from the hands of the striking workers.

So, I sat on my couch thirty years later, looking for some memories, and there I see a picture from the demonstration in which I had participated. I thought to myself, Maybe among these thousands I can find myself, and lo and behold there I see myself, three months past my sixteenth birthday, walking with older and much-older citizens and asking for bread as much as for dignity and freedom.

My 16 years old head.
From the moment this picture was taken we walked another few blocks, where hundreds of armed police forces were awaiting us with water canons — cynically called by communists “constitution” — and other heavy equipment. One of the types of vehicles used by the police was called BTR, a Russian-manufactured military vehicle able to survive a Molotov cocktail attack. The only person in this part of Poland who knew how these vehicles worked was my father. As a member of the police forces, he had gone to Moscow for few weeks, along with a few others from Poland, to learn about them. Now I was facing this particular and other vehicles.

All of a sudden, one of the trucks started speeding up and charging into the dense crowd. The water canons began to knock people down and we began to run away with nothing in our hands but flags or banners on sticks. I got wet on my back from the water canon, and we believed that the police had colored the water so that later they could pick out demonstrators from regular passers-by. There were almost no passers-by, as most of the citizens demonstrated. I got back to my home, where I changed, and once I learned from my friend that around Grunvaldski Square there was a freedom zone where the police could not get, I went over there.

Police forces were active on the other side of the Odra River and we, the freedom fighters, started to build a barricade on our side of the Grunvaldski Bridge. I was pushing large garbage containers and carrying park benches along with the others and we blocked the bridge.

Place on the bridge where we put barricade. 
And now comes another surprise thanks to Google: One of the websites commemorating these events has a record of the police radio transmissions from that day. My father had told me at that time, when he didn’t let me go to these demonstrations, that he knew from these transmissions that people were getting hurt and perhaps killed. I had thought that he didn’t let me go because he was on the other side of the barricade. Thirty years later I listen to the records of these transmissions.

Police central is being informed that there is a barricade being built on Grunvaldski Bridge. The order from the central command is to “take care of it.” Someone in the field answers that they have no manpower at the moment to do so. The central command is answering to go there as soon as they finish on other side of the river and catch everybody they can.

Meanwhile we on our side of the river realize that if we will not barricade another bridge less than a kilometer away from us the police will use it to surround us. Before we come to any conclusion — if conclusion is possible to achieve in a crowd like this — we see police in the distance, crossing the other bridge. But they don’t take the shortest way through the closest, narrow, street to get us. They are probably afraid of being stoned by people from their windows and roofs. The police take the longer but broader way and come from a side unsuspected by the demonstrators.

The shooting begins. It’s dark already and the loud petards and tear gas is limiting our movement and ability to see. The communists are getting closer and we start to run in all directions. Along with my friend, I chose to run through a dangerous, neglected construction site and through backyards to try to escape the siege. They are shooting at us with large tear gas containers that are flying over our heads and falling at our feet as we run.

The police radio transmission is talking about some youngsters running through this particular direction and the order from the central command is to get us.
I was thrilled to hear it thirty years later, sitting on my couch in the holy town of Monsey.
Baruch Hashem I escaped unharmed.

In the following months I went through my spiritual and intellectual revolution. This was the last revolution of my life, please G-d. A revolution that lead me to believe in evolution. No, not that Darwinian one! The social evolution, or rather progressive evolution, of the society.
I discussed the concept of revolution with my friends, Bogumil and Robert among the others, and I finally came to the conclusion, sometime in November of 1982, that a revolutionary change to a loathed system only brings the same as what the system represented — pain, suffering, and bloodshed. I understood that the only way to change the system, to escape the pain, would be to do it through my own example. Utilizing non  violent methods  and through positive communication. I knew it would not happen quickly, as no evolution happens that way, but it would happen. One day people would understand and join in this mode of thinking. They would understand that “other” is not the enemy and “different” is not a threat. People would learn how to live together in unity despite their differences. Mankind would achieve ultimate peace, but only through the effort of stubborn individuals who by their mode of  conduct would provide examples of peaceful coexistence and not through some  bloody revolution.

At that moment in my life, I didn’t understand that individuals are not enough, that there have to be a nation, nation of people proclaiming to the other nations this truth; a nation that survived longer than any other nation not because it engaged itself in revolutionary battle but because it restrained itself from force and violence. While other nations, empires, and civilizations perished from history, this one nation stands proud, but only with the humbleness of serving the Creator.

It took few difficult years in Poland till I understood this fact, and then I joined the evolution. The years were difficult because the years of communism had been agonizing and because of the anti-Semitic heritage of the nation from which I came. But ultimately I joined the Jewish evolution and I hope to contribute my stubbornness to this lofty goal.

We are celebrating the days of Chanukah, the days when we are commanded to announce with the light of the menorah the eternal truth of Judaism. We are commanded to announce that it is not the number of defenders; it is not their power or might, that brings success, but rather justice over lawlessness and pure life over succumbing to somatic desires that gives the power of eternal survival for a People who choose this most difficult service — the sons and daughters of Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov.

We celebrate the victory of Torah over the cult of man, we celebrate the victory of human rights over the dictatorship over the majority, we celebrate the preservation of spiritual values over the militaristic might of an empire, and we celebrate all of this with the hope of the ultimate triumph of Yisrael over Eisav.

On one side of the spectrum of the Jewish nation of that time, and perhaps not only of that time, we have Misyavnim, assimilators represented by the Kohein Gadol — the High Priest Menelaus — who with his party went to Antiochus Epiphanes and convinced him to prohibit the observance and teaching of Jewish law, as they rightly understood that as long as Jews learn, they will exist. Their goal was to make Jews just like other nations of the world.

On the other side there were chassidim of that time, so called by the contemporaries, who escaped to the desert with their families, where in extremely harsh conditions they were able to hide from persecution and keep Torah and mitzvos. From them emerged the Perushim, the Pharisees. These were the people who transmitted the mesorah — the laws of Moses — for the generations of the Tannaim. 

When the Sages who established the holiday of Chanukah were looking for the focal point of the celebration, they chose, with Heaven’s inspiration, the miracle of the oil, the very oil symbolizing wisdom and spirit. They downplayed the military aspect of the story of the Chashmoneans — the Maccabis — purposely. The relatively short discussion in Gemara Mesechtas Shabbos almost completely takes no notice of the war against the Greeks. The sons of Mattisyahu took the crown of the Jewish People reserved explicitly for shevet Yehudah, the tribe of Judah. Their direct descendents became the biggest persecutors of Perushim, who were preservers of Torah and emunah (faith) among the Jewish People. Alexander Yannay, for instance, crucified 800 Perushim  then slaughtered their wives and children in front of them so as to increase their terrible suffering and misery as they were dying. The story of the military  battle with the Greeks was not the message and not the story that the Sages wanted to use to educate future Jewish generations with. Violence, even when it arose from the correct claims of the persecuted and downtrodden, can only bring further violence. There is no end of revolutions and wars unless, one by one, people will follow the “family mode” of the civilization of Yaakov; unless we will shine with our example as the light to the nations, unless we will realize the priestly character of our calling and our mission, to be mamleches Kohanim.

Matys Weiser

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


After the division of the empire of Alexander the Great, not so long ago, the influence of Hellenic culture didn't cease among conquered nations. In fact it increased. The Greek rulers used Hellenism as a bond between the people, thus connecting them and assuring Greek control. Most of the pagan world was very open to this new trend.
At first the Greeks didn’t push their philosophy or wage religious wars in order to spread their culture. They considered it attractive enough for all nations to accept without the use of force. The nations of the world saw this Hellenization process as a positive step toward becoming part of the leading civilization of the world. This was true for all nations except for one – the Jewish nation. But there were other exceptions…

Initially the Seleucid Greeks, under the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes, didn’t see the Jewish religion as a threat to their goals. Interestingly, it was some of the Jews under the leadership of the Greek-appointed high priest Menelaus who recognized that Judaism and its Torah was the stumbling block on the road to “civilization.” The modern among the Jews knew that as long as there would exist even the smallest group of devoted Jews who would stick to their principles, i.e., observe the commandments in the Torah, it would be impossible to “civilize” the rest of them. They went to Antiochus to present the issue and to ask for appropriate laws to resolve the problem. That’s how the road to Maccabean wars was paved.

The Hellenizers’ goal was not to erase the memory of the Jewish nation. They considered themselves to be the proud leaders of an ancient people with a great history! But that’s what it was! History! Now, however is the time for change, for forward progress, toward ... what?

The Greek world contained many philosophic streams of thought. From the followers of Diogenes — refusing the good of the modern world — to the followers of Epicurus — seeking any possible pleasure by any means. Between these streams of thought there were a variety of others. Most of the elements of the Hellenistic culture were concentrated, however, on the human as the object of adoration — almost religiously worshiped. Religion was in servitude to the center of existence and the most perfect of this existence was – the human body.

Greek temples were not as important to the Greeks as the stadiums and gyms. At the arenas and sport halls, the human body was celebrated. Sport competition satiated the natural desire for pride and haughtiness. Sport was the leading element of the Greek popular culture. Competition between athletes and sports teams bonded the various populations and cultures under Greek rule when fans of different heroes and teams united under the colors representing them. It was not the Greeks who invented theaters and competition, but they were certainly the first who used them in such a grand scale.

The Olympics started in Olympia on the Peloponnesian peninsula. From that time on, other than with wars and religion, there was no better technique for politicians to distract the minds of their subjects. But this is not the topic of this essay.

So … Jewish Hellenizers convinced Antiochus to issue laws prohibiting the performance of the essential commandments of the Torah, being aware that as long as the Jews would keep to the core of their religion there could not be complete assimilation. However, this strategy was really one of the last steps on the road toward Hellenization. The first steps were established well before that. Building the stadiums and the gyms, organizing sport teams, accustoming the Jewish population to viewing the uncovered body, and other strange and non-Jewish behavioral patterns were implemented with the help of so-called “Jewish leaders.”

Some of the Yidden at that time — many called them “Chassidim — escaped with their families to the desert. They escaped from what was the first religious persecution in history. “Jewish” and Greek officers traveled from town to town to make sure that Jews would no longer be attached to their faith. That was, in fact, how they came to Modiin.

There, Mattisyahu and his sons organized what is referred to in the history books as the “Maccabee revolt.” We know the rest of the story. The Maccabee’s fought for independence in order to strengthen and continue Jewish loyalty to the Torah of Moshe — and restored the Temple service.

Since that time, even in later periods when the Romans wanted to build a stadium in the Holy City, the attempt to secularize the Jews caused tension, turmoil, and opposition from the devoted Jews. The Romans finally succeeded, but with the trowel in one hand and a sword in the other, and only with the support, again, of Romanized Jews.

At the end of the 19th century, “Hellenizers and Romanizers” of that century created the first in the so-called modern era “Jewish” sport clubs. It is obvious where the influence and inspiration came from, but yes, it was the modern Olympic Games. They called the clubs with some of the historic Jewish names and Hebrew words: Gibbor, Hakoach, Bar Kochba, and … Maccabi.

It is hard to imagine the irony in giving the name “Maccabi” to a competitive sport club. It is as if the Indians would call the American army “liberators.” Like an early colonist calling the Britons “the defenders of freedom.” Like calling a concentration camp a summer colony!

Like calling … I can go on and on!

For more on this subject, please see my essay on sport and exercise posted last week.

Matys Weiser

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My take on sport

How many times have you noticed this phenomenon? A big coed swimming pool with a gym right next to it!  Oh, and upon closer scrutiny we notice a synagogue or even some sort of school with religious programs attached to it. And the name in big bill board letters along the wall of the building!  “Mamonides Center” or ‘Rambam Institute”.
How many times have I read the following terms: orthodox sport team, orthodox player or frum wrestler? I ask myself, what is the basis for such names and descriptions?
Is competitive sports part of the Jewish heritage? Or perhaps it is thoughtless imitation of the ways of the nations as it has been so many times in the history of the Jewish people knows as the “people of the Book”?

Don’t forget, I’m a stranger!  Doing my research! I am trying to understand this new (for me) reality!

There seems to be two opposing points of view. On one side of the spectrum we have those where sport is a big part of their lives and on the other side there are those that prohibit sports totally! I live in a neighborhood where the School/Yeshivos don’t have a competitive sports program other then during recess when each “team” wants to be the winner. My son attends a yeshiva where ball playing is not allowed at all!  Now both sides feel that they are the ones following tradition & mesora! Where does the truth lie?

The proponents of physical activity appear to base their hashkafa on the words of the Rambam, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and various other sources. A perfunctory reading of these sources yields the following. (I didn’t have the privilege to learn it in the yeshiva but B-H,  I was able to read here and there and this is what I found)

“Keep your body in perfect condition” Mishney Torah 3:3 of Rambam.
“Toil in moderate degree is good for the physical health” Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 32:21
“Take up everything into your way of life which brings it health and strength” Horeb 430

So there we have it. Clearly Chazal’s statements encourage physical activity! All of the
three authors quoted above wrote those lines in their major volumes in the chapter dedicated to the health of man. It is required to take care of the health of the individual. Proper diet and exercise are the primary tools to achieve this goal.

Ok. I see the reasoning for physical activity, but something is telling me that the sources quoted above can’t serve as support for the participation or careers in competitive sports!
Is this feeling too extreme? Well, you know those Gerim and Baaley Tshuva they tend to be extreme…

Let us take a closer look at the sources we quoted above. A more complete reading shows a different picture.

“It is wrong to watch your health only to be in the good shape (…) Keep your body in perfect condition so that your soul can know G-d.” Mishney Torah 3:3

“Before a meal, one should take a walk, do some work or exercise until you body warms up. Do physical labor in the morning, working up to sweat, then take a break cooling off, and eat after that.” Mishney Torah 4:2

“Toil in moderate degree is good for the physical health, but excessive toil, as well as idleness, are injurious to the body. In the hot season, a little exercise will suffice, but in the cold season, more is required. A fat person requires more exercise than a lean person.” Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 32:21

“Take up everything into your way of life which brings it health and strength. Horeb 429
The body belongs to the soul – and both belong exclusively to G-d! Do not put your body to the service of the any other task.” Horeb 430

A Jew has one and only purpose in life - to serve Hashem his Creator! Our  special task is to fix our warped and  broken reality, and to bring us back to level of Adam Harishon before his sin. To achieve this goal a Jew is equipped with special set of tools! This is the Torah ! Physical activity and conditioning of the body can only be a means to an end! A way for us to keep our bodies strong so that we can use the tools that Hashem has given us to accomplish our goal and task in life!

I personally enjoy swimming, hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking (I have my own kayaks), and generally being pretty active. We play sports with my family, sometimes getting really tired out. And yes, I would like to my sons yeshiva to include some of this activities during yeshiva time. However, I had a decision to make and a path to choose. I chose for my children schools where they may grow to be Erleche Yiden – good  Jews rather than good sportsmen knowing more names of sport players than the names and the teachings of our sages.

Matys Weiser 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ha Kol, Kol Yaakov

This will be continuation of the essay from the last week, however I think it will explain some thoughts which may be not so clear at first glance. We will return to this topic IYH in the future.
“Hakol, kol Yakov; veyadaim, yadey Eisav.” Voice is for Yaacov; hands will be used by Eisav.
In nearly every generation since the destruction of the Bays Hamikdash (The Holy Temple), we understood these words as Chazal received it from Har Sinay: the realm in which Jews exist and operate is voice, teaching, thought. We quarrel, but with ideas, logic, analysis. We win with faith and proof. Even when we win, boasting is prohibited to us. Don’t boast over your fellow when you prove you are right, says the Pirkey Avos (Wisdom of Sages).
It doesn't even say when you prove him wrong—but rather when you are right. In our Jewish battles, we have to take under consideration the honor, the feeling of our fellow Jew, not to belittle him in any way. And this rule for our conduct operates only in the realm of kol: voice.
Most frum (devoted) Jews know of the Herem (ban) of Rabayni Gershom. Usually we think of the one which prohibits polygamy (otherwise permitted by Scriptures). None of us would even think about taking second wife, even if rabbi’s Gershom prohibition for thousand years, ended. Such is the power of his word.
Many of us know the prohibition of peaking at someone else’s correspondence is also issued by the same Rabaini Gershom. Not many of us know however that Rabaini Gershom issued other prohibitions, as well. One of them is that if a Jew hits another Jew, the attacker cannot be counted in a Minian (quorum of ten).
It was wrong to hit the Jew before his Herem too, but Rabaini Gershom, in his power of issuing law—a power given to him by Torah—denies the aggressor the elementary right of Jewishness: to be counted as a Jew.
In many places, Chazal teaches us that we should grasp the hints in the Torah, that it is not for the Jew to use physical force.
We know and we pray that our final triumph over the nations should and will happen when the teaching of our Torah will be understood by all and recognized as the truth. The whole Jewish history is an extreme demonstration of such a path: we survived not because of our number or military power, but because of our submission to the Book. This will be our ultimate Victory.
But Eisav? He chose different path. He learns how to use his hands. He arms them with ever more sophisticated weapons. He has no patience for discussions and all this Jewish hair-splitting. If Eisav wants something, he takes it.
His grandson Amulek went even farther. He loves the taste of blood, and kills for pleasure of killing. It is shameful, however, to show himself in this manner among his less blood thirsty cousins, so he will always try to find some lofty justification for his killings: e.g. freedom, justice, equality, egalitarianism, human rights, democracy and so on.
My birth country experienced this equality and justice, as delivered by Soviet tanks, but Soviets are not the only who represent this Amuleki trait. Our Sages teach us that the Angel representing and protecting the nations of Esav and Amulek is Satan himself.
The Sitra Ahra (the other side), the Yeitzer Haro (the Evil Inclination) is what those militarist nations represent in our earthly realm. And as we know, Haluha is that “Eisav soine Yisruel”—Eisav hates Yisruel.
Rav Hirsch in his comment on Amulek’s attack on Jewish children as they fled from Egypt gives this as the reason for the attack: Amulek felt threatened by very fact that the Nation using its Voice as a weapon exists; it is a living rebuttal to the Ameluki way. Only if the Jews are annihilated, H-SH, can Amulek justify his Darwinian philosophy (the physically stronger prevails). This Darwinian spirit triumphed already over the descendents of Adam in a span of two thousand years of nothingness (as the Talmud calls the years from Creation until the time of Avraham.)
With Avraham, the age of Torah began. It will end with the coming of Moshiach, which it is our task to prepare humanity for. It will happen only when we will be ready for both our leadership and the final Geula (Salvation).
Eisav is coming to meet his brother Yaakov. But he does not arrive alone. He has with him over four hundred mercenaries to put Yaakov’s camp in order—or rather flatten it to the ground.
Yaakov undertakes preemptive steps. He sends for his brother goods of great value; he divides the camp for eventual survival of at least half of his children; and he prepares for war. Chazal explain that it was rather preparation to flee in case Eisav attacked. Then Yaakov starts his prayer, a spiritual struggle which will result in changing his name to Yisrael: fighting for G-d, struggling with G-d.
The night before he is going to meet his brother is the crucial night in the history of humankind. Yaakov crosses the brook and he meets on the other side the Saar Eisav (the Angel of Eisav). They struggle whole night until the morning.
What is the fight about? What is Yaakov defending himself from?
This special night was described and explained by Chazal in various ways and with a deep meaning. After studying some of those commentaries major question arise. Our father Yaakov was a man of great wealth; we see that from the amount of gifts which he tries to appease his brother Eisav. Why didn’t he do what his brother did—hire mercenaries? Why not fight for his life and family with his own army of four hundred man? He had enough resources to do it, to pay even eight hundred thugs for that one decisive battle.
The whole history of the mankind would have been different. Esav would have been destroyed. No Empires, no conquerors or battles; no bloody wars; no subjecting nations from all ends of the planet and subjugating them; no soldiers humiliating fathers in the front of their children’s eyes; no senseless bloodshed to appease the gava (pride) of kings and politicians.
And finally for us, the nation of Yaakov, everything would be different if our father had gone to battle his evil brother. No expulsion from our land, no persecutions or pogroms, no inquisition, and no Holocaust. If only Yaakov had fought!
There is no question Yaakov was able to do it; he possessed all the physical means to fight. He was a Gibor (extremely strong man). Don’t we remember when he removed the stone covering the well, a stone which only group of people was able to move otherwise? Why didn’t he smash Eisav there, at the beginning of the history? So much pain could have been averted from his own children.
Eisav would be gone... but would be his spirit? It would be Yaakov whom history would describe as victor of the battle on the Yabbok Brook. Or maybe history would describe him as chieftain of the band of thugs who exterminated his brother with his army? We don’t know how Yaakov would be seen in such a turn of hypothetical events, but one thing we know: Yaakov would become Eisav.
His alternative was to give up the way of his father Avraham and his father Yitzchok, the way of peaceful conqueror of the hearts to G-d of morality and Shuloim, to Hashem Yisburaich. Or perhaps he might have chosen to combine those two modes of bringing people to ethical monotheism, like his uncle Yishmuel did in the far future? While there was less of Bechira (freedom of choice) for the nations that the descendents of Yishmuel conquered, Yishmael was more or less successful uprooting paganism from those lands.
We have no idea what nesion (challenge) our father Yaakov underwent that night, but we know if he had failed, there wouldn’t be Yisrael. This is perhaps what Angel of destruction was trying to convince our Father on the other side…
Matys Weiser