יום שלישי, נובמבר 29, 2005

Odd Israeli Slang

Shavuz - it does not get any better then this. It's an acronym for... (I kid you not) "Nishbar Li Ha'Zayin. Lit. "My penis is broken."

It mean tired, fagged out, beat, done for. The best part is that women use it too.

Read more Odd Israeli Slang at Treppenwitz.

יום שני, נובמבר 28, 2005

"Gamble everything for love..."

{My apoligies...}

I don't know what love is. I do know about friends. I want a best friend. Does that mean love? Am I holding out for some ideal called "love"? I know the answer I'd get from the bog-standard frum world. {insert well thumbed articles by Sherri Zimmerman} Or do I go with Ben Lee, "Make a list of things you need, leave it empty. Except for number one, write love.... If you gamble everything for love, you're gonna be alright."

יום רביעי, נובמבר 23, 2005

This Political Life

People around the uni have been asking me about "Sharon's new moves".
- A new dance craze? I keep telling them, the action only starts once the Knesset no-confidences and elections are scheduled.

In the meantime I think the most interesting thing to happen to our glorious homeland is Amir Peretz. The question will be how much of his down-home style is real?

Also, try the following quiz: Spot that 'Stash!

Just looking

I just spent a few mins looking through the other Blog templates and couldn't find anything that didn't look like all the other blogs. Maybe I'll just play with the color until I can make sense of the HTML these templates are made of.

I also finished my Stats exam and just have OR to pass. Bring it on!

יום ראשון, נובמבר 13, 2005

My case for Israel - Part I

A few weeks ago I went to a play with some friends. It was more of a political monologue against the State of Israel. I mean the country, not the current "state" it is in. The steriotyping was awful: The overweight army officer, the "Barking" Jews (no joke), and choreorgrphed beatings to the tune of Hava Nagila. It was even bad art. When a play resorts to monolouges, I feel that's bad art. But even bad art leaves an impression. In response for my friends (unspoken questions) I felt I had to share answers to the accusations that were laid out that evening.

I'll try to post parts 2,3,&4 when I've written them. If you have any feedback I'd love to hear it. My assumption for this is zero Jewish knowlidge.

Anyway, here is part 1 of my response. Please comment 'cause I'd love
to hear what you have to say about these thoughts.

"So why should the Jews be living in Israel? By what right? And what are you people doing to those poor, downtrodden Arabs?"

After seeing that play with the two of you I realized I had to do a few things. One, to tell the Israeli side of the story. Two, to correct a few historical inaccuracies. In order to do that I will try to give a bit of a history lesson and I'll try to source as much as I can. I think I'll have to break this down in to a few sections:

1)Religious - God created the world.
2)Historical - Jewish connection to the land
3)Modern history - Establishment of the state
4)Accusations against Israel - Arab Refugees.

I realize that this first part being the religious perspective might not convince anyone who isn't Jewish but it is an underpinning of the Jewish perspective and important to understanding the story.

{Note: The following piece does NOT prove why the land belongs to the Jews more than to the Muslims. It is an explanation of the Jewish religious belief that God gave the land to the Jews. In order to explain this belief I have included some information on Jewish belief in the divinity of the Torah and it's uniquness. The existence of God is, for this disscussion, a given and can gladly be disscussed on another occasion.}

1)I'll be honest. Part of why Israel is the inheritance of the Jewish nation is that God said so. I won't make any excuses for that, it is part of why we want to be there. This sounds very fundamentalist so I'll give you a little background...

Jewish belief is that the five books of Moses given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. They are not a history book. This is not a book of cute stories or legends. It is a manual for life. God created man, wrote an instruction manual, and in front of 3 million people, presented it. (I'll get back to the 3 million people later) We believe that God doesn't waste words. Everything appears in the Torah(5 Books of Moses) for a reason. Even the name Torah has the root Hora'ah - instruction.

I'm now going to insert a short pargaraph about God's giving of his Torah on Sinai.

One of the tenets of Jewish faith (and I think here we may part ideological ways from Baha'i) is that the revelation of God on Mount Sinai was a one-time, never to be repeated event. That's not to say that there have been no prophets since Moses but Moses's is seen as definitive and unchangeable. Meaning any prophecy post-"giving of the Torah" can not contradict what is written in the Torah.
I'll be honest - I can't prove it. But if you would like to read what I feel is a %95+ proof then please look at this Aish article "Did God speak at Sinai?"
If you don't want to read the article the main points are as follows (but please read the article):

The case for the historical reality of a public revelation at Siani was first put forward in Rabbi Yehuda Halevi's book "The Kuzari (1140CE).

The outline is as follows:

1. God's revelation to the entire ancestry of the nation of Israel is without parallel in all history. No other religion makes such a claim.

2. The reason it is without parallel (or claimed parallel) is that such a story cannot be fabricated.

3. Only private revelations and miracles can be fabricated; a public revelation must actually have happened.

The main issue is whether a public event, all the more so before an entire nation, could be told without having happened. This refutes the allegation that the revelation at Sinai is a result of myth formation. Also it indicates that the revalation was unique. If Sinai was unique among religious revalations it should posses a certaint veracity.

Having explained that the Torah (in Jewish belief) is a unique, God-given, manual for life, lets return to our topic...
If this is all true, that the Torah does not waste words or tell stories, then why start the Torah with the story of creation? Shouldn't God just cut to the chase and tell us how we're supposed to live our lives? What is the relevance to our lives in knowing that the fish were created before the elephants?

An explanation might be that a prerequisite for all of the things written in the Torah is "God created the entire... everything". Meaning if he tells us our souls are best nourished by some foods and not others, well he created it so it's understandable that he knows. And if he says the following patch of land is to be given to the children of this family, then so it should be 'cause it's all his and he can give it to whomever he wants.

Now the kicker. Did God give the land to the Jewish Nation? Muliple sources from the Torah indicate yes.

In the Torah (remember: The dictated words of God in a public revelation) God said:

* Genesis 15:18-21

* In that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates; {the lands of} the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.’

* Exodus 23:31

* And I will set thy border from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness unto the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

* Numbers 34:1-15

* And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Command the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land of Canaan, this shall be the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to the borders thereof. {The verses continue on and deliniate the borders}

* Deuteronomy 1:6-8

* The LORD our God spoke unto us in Horeb, saying: ‘Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain; turn you, and take your journey, and go to the hill-country of the Amorites and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the Arabah, in the hill-country, and in the Lowland, and in the South, and by the sea-shore; the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.’

* Deuteronomy 11:24

* Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border.

I realize, as a friend has pointed out, I'm using verses from the Torah to defend my position against people who do not belive in the divinity of the Torah. This is part of the reason I included the above section on the historicity of the revalation on Mt. Sinai. The other reason I included it was to show it's uniqueness. This is in response to those (Christian or Mulsim) who say "God might have given the land to the Jews but he has since changed his mind." Over the years this has been said. First by the Christians (1500 years post-Sinai). "The Jews were God's nation and no longer are." Muslims (2100 years post-Sinai) might make a similar statement: "God gave you the land and now he's changed his mind." or "My prophet post-dates your prophet."

In a legal sense, you can understand that in order to overturn a prior ruling you need a "better" (as per the case) proof. In our case I would say that to "overturn", or to contradict, a previous statement of God you would need a greater prophet/revelation than before. Especially if you are looking to contradict a statement of God.

In summary, if you belive that there was a definitive revalation of God in which he dictated his code of laws to Moses, you can belive that the land belongs to the Jewish Nation.

This concludes part one of our series:
The Pessoptimist Saeed, the Donkey, & the Israeli Big Man.
The Revisionist, the Car keys, & the "Palestinian".

Hello World.

Here's a beautifully written realization that the world is filled with real people. Even if they're not Jewish.
Yeshiva Bachur's Essay
Maybe I'll look around and try to find similar posts.

יום רביעי, נובמבר 09, 2005

Sports World

I just saw a most amazing news item on TV. Sports World had the story of a pro coach who during the off season, put his players to work with a construction firm. The only ones who had to do it were those who went from school directly into pro-ball. His thinking was "These guys need to know what it would have been like to have a real job." So his team is out working in the summer sun paving roads and building houses. And after a days work - they still show up for practice. Bravo Coach!

As for me, I've got statistics to learn. So I don't have to pave roads.

יום שלישי, נובמבר 08, 2005

Campus Comedy

My friend in London writes about his campus:

"I have to encounter student activists manning 'road-blocks' on campus by an 'apartheid' wall and yelling at students to show ID. When they asked me for mine I answered that I was a Palestinian suicide bomber, and could I please pass so I could blow people up."

יום שני, נובמבר 07, 2005

Sex Appeal

Wasting time on random blogs. One of them sends me to a questionnaire "Rate your sex appeal." Nice. I'll just confirm what the world already knows about me. And I know it's scientific accurate 'cause it's on adultfriendfinder.com!

So here's the interesting part: No questions about sex. None about money. Nothing on look, background, personality. Nada.
Every question was about self-esteem.

1) No matter what, my friends will always accept me for who I am.

Strongly disagree
Somewhat agree
Strongly agree

2) I don't have to prove myself to other people.

3) Even if I make mistakes, I know that everything will work out in the end.

4) My true personality is one that most people like.

5) I don't wait for opportunities. I seek them out.

6) If, tomorrow, I were to disappear forever, a lot of people would miss me.

7) I don't need to be told that I've done a good job. I know that I've done a good job.

8) When I need help, there's always someone around.

9) At parties or when socializing, I can always find the right thing to say.

10) I always try my best even if I have a hard time getting it right.

11) I usually feel like I'm a good person, full of hope about my life.

12) I'm very satisfied and happy with myself, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or tells me.

13) I rarely let down the people who really care about me.

14) I'm very good at socializing with other people.

15) Even if I had the ability, I wouldn't change anything about my personality.

16) If someone disagrees with me, they can still respect and like me.

17) Even though I have flaws and make mistakes, my friends and family still love me.

18) My opinion of myself is more important than others' assumptions.

19) I'm worthy of others' affection and kindness.

20) I'm very capable, and always will be.

I don't think this is a revelation to any of us. But it's nice to hear it from the sex-perts.

יום חמישי, נובמבר 03, 2005

Succot Part II

Explaining Jewish stuff...

So my friend Steve describes how he opened the shul door Hoshana Raba to get some air. After he realized that people on the street could see in he was wondering what they might think if they were to glance in....
"And there we were in long white capes, holding our fruits and vegetables, marching in a circle... If that isn't enough, we start beating out leaves on the ground..."

Me? I would have called the cops.

יום רביעי, נובמבר 02, 2005

Where to spend Shabbat?

With a month of 4 day weeks and every day is a "Friday" or a "Sunday" it's been a challenge for me to find places for Shabbat and Chagim each time. A definite lesson to be learnt upon returning home - invite people and do not assume that they will feel comfortable inviting themselves. To the credit of the Sydney Jewish community, at no point did I not have a place (or two) for shabbat. School work also got shoved aside a tad. Lucky for me Tues and Weds are the two days I didn't have any of my "important" classes.

As an aside...
Sitting around with a few friends talking junk before dinner. Food here is good. People here are talkative with a side of bullshit.

Back to my recent life rundown.
The Shabbat in middle of Succot was unusual. I was invited to Friday night dinner in the succah of the fellow who runs dorms. He invited a random sampling of other students as well. Succot is probably one of the more international holidays that we have, evidenced by the sacrifices brought for each of the world nations. That was the thought running though my head as I sat around a table with a Sikh, two Aboriginal girls, a Conservative Rabbi from Columbia (the country), a few other Jewish students in the college, and a Chinese girl. Intriguing discussions, excellent food.

It also meant I got to sleep in my own bed for the first Friday night since arriving in this country. That was a nice treat. Not having to pack up and travel. Oh well. It's now Weds. morning - where am I this Shabbat?

Succot Part I

The College built a massive Succah which propted the question by my non-jewish friends: "What's with the palm fronds?" And they hadn't even seen a lulav and etrog yet.

Being an obvious Jew, I get these question alot and have done fairly well with the easy ones. "What's on your head?" "What's with the strings?" "What do you do on your Shabbat?" With these sort of questions is you need a 4 line answer. And you'd better be sure the first 3 are really good.

So this was asked of me at 7:30am over breakfast and I'm still waking up. I told her I'd get back to her. No theoligy before 9am. Also this was a Hindu who was asking me so I didn't even have bible story knowlege to rely on.

After a bit of thought I put together the following lines:


"What's with the palm fronds?"

That's the question people have been asking me for the past week. Hmmm...

Succot is a holiday of thanksgiving. It's about recognizing the gifts of God we have in our lives. The palm leaf living area you can see outside the dining room windows shows this in two ways.

  1. This time of year is the end of the harvest season. When we gather in all our accomplishments of the year it can be easy to say "I'm great! I did all this by myself!". We leave our houses and live in temporary, fragile, exposed huts to emphasize how everything, our homes, our wealth, and even our physical protection is in God's hands.
  2. About 3,500 years ago, the Jewish nation spent 40 years living in the desert completely reliant on God for all our shelter and protection. By living for a week in a way reminiscent of that transient lifestyle we celebrate our connection to God in that we know he protects us, past and present.

Sukkot begins Monday evening, October 17 and continues until Wednesday, October 26th 2005.

People will be eating downstairs in the Sukkah for the week, please feel free to join.


I hung it up on the notice board and throughout the week was intermittantly joind by friends "Can I bring my coffee into your succah?". Except for the rain (proving we should all be doing these mitzvot in Israel) it was a lovely holiday.

יום שלישי, נובמבר 01, 2005

Beni Akiva Sydney

Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur I davened mostly at the Beni Akiva minyan. I don't think I taken the time to talk about Bnei Akiva here in Sydney yet so I'm going to do that now. Of all the different institutions I've seen here and among the different shuls they have
something really special. They cover all the bases of a proper shul and then some. Big 7ft mechitza, good chazzanim, people join in singing, no speech before mussaf. Very little talking and on RH / YK, (except for page numbers) I heard none at all. The kids that show up
range quite a bit. In a minyan of 30+ there are usually 4-5 hats and 1-2 kids who can't read Hebrew so well. This past Shabbos I sat next to one guy who just finished a masechta of gemora and another guy who couldn't read Rashi.

The minyan holds court in the semi-detached basement of another shul and some Friday nights will fill up with over 100 people. Learning every night with mincha and ma'ariv. I'm am absolutely amazed by the effort all the madrichim (and some of the kids) put in, all on a volunteer basis. They put out a weekly parsha sheet and a monthly newsletter. It's definitly been one of God's brachot to me that I fell in with the crowd that is BA Sydney.

Back to our storyline... Davening at Beni was as it should be. It was a yeshiva minyan on a small scale. The only real difference was the number of guys and 2-3 years in age.