Saturday, September 18, 2010

PM Netanyahu Solves Construction Conundrum

Yom rishon, 11 Tishrei 5771.

Hot off the press!

Displaying his vaunted talent for diplomatic discourse, Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu today claimed to have solved the looming construction freeze crisis a week ahead of the date the 10-month freeze was originally scheduled to end.

Mr. Netanyahu has been hinting at a compromise that would somehow manage to placate both the Arab and Western governments and media on the one hand, as well as staving off rebellion from his own party on the other.

The announcement was made in time for publication on Friday morning that there will be no extension to the freeze.  However, the following parameters for continued construction in the West Bank -- and indeed, all over Israel, in anticipation of any further demands by the Palestinians -- will be as follows:

Temporary dwellings with three or four makeshift walls and a thatched-shade roof taken from something that grows (as per Sukkah 2a); not more than 20 amot high (Mishnah Sukkot 1a).  More details available in soon-to-be distributed Government Circular 613-2b (or not 2b).

Several examples of acceptable construction, according to the recent proposal

Israeli think-tanks tasked with researching this proposal determined that yearly construction of this type of structure has elicited less hostility in the past from our enemies peace partners than any other.  Therefore, there is hope that if the entire country moves to this style of construction -- the flimsier the better -- there will finally be peace in our time.

This post produced with the able guidance and assistance of the Dearly Beloved.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Gates of Nikanor are screaming again.

Yom revi'i, 23 Elul 5770.

I don't usually write about sad events, because that is not the purpose of this blog.

But last night, I slept poorly. The last story in my mind before I went to bed was about yet another tragedy to have befallen the Jewish people: four Jewish civilians were murdered by Arabs as they were driving home, to a small town south of the holy city of Hevron.

According to Arutz Sheva, Yitchak and Talya were the parents of six children, ages 24 to nearly 2. Talya was nine months pregnant with their seventh child.

Arutz Sheva also informs us that Avishai, another of the victims, had only recently moved to the community of Beit Hagai with his wife.  What will she do without him?
One of my dear friends sent me the following email about Kochava, the fourth victim:

Hi - I am sitting here crying because one of the women murdered tonight was my son's gannenet [kindergarten teacher].  Yehuda is six and is developmentally delayed - his teachers are our world because they bring him such joy when the world is such an overwhelming and confusing place.  Kochava was an angel, and we were with her an hour before she died - she was on her way home from the gan [kindergarten] "welcome back" orientation when she was murdered.

I wish I could scream out to the world how unfair this is, how senseless to waste such a beautiful giving life, but I have no outlet to tell everyone. Then I realized maybe you will be writing about what happened, and so perhaps you can include this part of the story.

Thanks - jennie

Another friend sent me a message informing me that one of the first ZAKA volunteers on the scene was Kochava's husband.  The terrible and important job of ZAKA volunteers is to painstakingly and lovingly collect every piece of a Jewish body, every drop of blood it is possible to retrieve, so that the entire Jew can be buried according to Jewish law.  This is how Mr. Even-Chaim was informed of his wife's passing.

One of the boys said to The Dearly Beloved, "Wow.  That is so close to us -- just down the road."  His father responded, "It's just down the road from every Jew."

When I awakened this morning at 6:13 to wake my newly-minted 16-year-old for school, of course I checked to see if there were updates.  Besides more details about this tragedy, I was treated to the following headlines:

6 US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

Lod: 26 Year-Old Found Shot

Hollywood: Three Iranian Jews Murdered

There are plausible explanations for all of these and related stories.  The US is at war.  The murders in Lod and Hollywood may be criminal in nature.  Whenever Israel begins talking peace, terrorists accelerate their efforts to take Jewish lives.

There are plenty of "this world" messages in these events that must be addressed.

But all I can think of is the Gates of Nikanor.

In the last 40 years before the Second Holy Temple's destruction, the beautiful bronze gates of Nikanor screamed louder and louder each time they were opened.  The screams were a warning to the Jewish people that if they went on, "business as usual," and did not change their ways, the Temple would be destroyed.  But it's hard to stop living our lives as we always have.  One gets used to the horrors of life, and walks over them to get to the next job or meal or entertainment -- because that is how we survive without spending all of our minutes crying.

But My people would not listen to Me.  Israel would have none of Me.  So I left them to their stubborn hearts, letting them follow their own devices.

Teshuva, tefilla u’tzedaka ma'avirin et ro’a hagezeira – repentance, prayer and charity remove the evil of the decree.

It is Elul.  I can't fix the world.  I can only fix myself.

Have I been hurtful in my speech?  Very likely.  If it is YOU I have hurt with careless words, or lack of words, please let me know.  I humbly beg your forgiveness -- but it is still better for me to hear what I did or said directly from you.  Meanwhile, what about my performance of the other mitzvot?  How could I have gotten so lazy!

Could my davening get just a little more shvach?  [Sarcasm.]  Probably not.  It only takes me a few minutes out of every day.  Couldn't I put in just a little more effort?

We can't pay into every charity or roll up our sleeves to pitch in on every worthy project.  But surely I could be more diligent to support those I have selected as "my" worthy causes.

If only My people would listen to Me, if Israel would walk in My ways, I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their foes.

May the day come very soon -- this minute! -- when we will "get our act together," so that we will stop hearing and feeling tragedies.  May we fulfill whatever is that last effort needed from us to save our world.  May it be, as suggested by the prophet Yechezkiel, that we will see the Redemption coming through those very Nikanor Gates, speedily and in our days.

Nikanor Gate from
Elul: the last Jewish month of the year, a time for concentrating on spiritual renewal before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
Davening: praying [Yiddish]
Shvach: weak [Yiddish]
Yechezkiel: Ezekiel