Aug 20, 2017

everyone needs a little R&R

 A chassidishe Rebbe vacationing in Italy tells his chassidim that the purpose of his travels is to gather that the sparks of tumah around the world and turn them into sparks of holiness. (source: Kikar)

Come on. Just say you need to get away for a bit and relax. There is nothing wrong with getting away for a little R&R...



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Quote of the Day

In our generation there is a new phenomenon..a person goes to sleep at night, wakes up in the morning and suddenly he is a "Baba", a miracle worker... Then he oublicizes himself and everyone begins to go to him, some giving money and some not. Stupid people go and get blessings and pay money...

  -- Rav Dovid Yosef



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Book Review: Rebels in the Holy Land

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Rebels in the Holy Land, by Sam Finkel
 

The premise of Rebels in the Holy Land is that the history of the First Aliyah of Jews to the Land of Israel largely ignores the contribution and participation of the religious element. The First Aliyah took place during the late 19th century and was agricultural in nature as Jewish farmers from Russia immigrated to the Land of Israel (called Palestine at the time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks) and established agricultural communities. The First Aliyah was largely funded and supported by Baron Edmond de Rothschild.

Finkel explores the history of the religious element of the First Aliyah through the story of the establishment of the farming community of Ekron, later renamed Mazkeret Batya (in memory of the mother of Rothschild), and produces a fascinating story. Rebels in the Holy Land begins with the search in Russia for Jewish farmers willing to move to Palestine and establish a community there. 11 Jewish farmers made the cut and the book follows their arduous journey and challenging experiences on the way to Palestine, and in Palestine in the founding of the community.

Rebels in the Holy Land is chock full of pictures of the various people involved, along with ancient maps and images of the relevant people and places. All the main Jewish newspapers of the time are described and reports from those papers are included. The history is researched thoroughly and we are given much detail about the day to day life of the farmers and their struggles; their successes and their failures.

As you read through this piece of history you will be amazed by the names of famous personalities that were somehow involved in this experiment in one way or another - from Rothschild to Rabbi Mohilever to Rabbi Shmuel Salant, to Rabbi Yitzchak Elchonon Spektor to Eliezer Ben Yehuda to Ahad Ha'Am and on and on.

The second half of Rebels in the Holy Land focuses on the struggle the community had with the approach of the first shemitta they would experience. The struggle focused on if and how to keep shemitta. The religious farmers intended to keep shemitta to the fullest, but found their benefactor  to be less interested despite previous agreements. In this recounting we learn how the famous hetter mechira came about and who supported it and who opposed it. It seems to shed some light as to why the issue of hetter mechira is such a fractious and heated issue even to this day. The community of Mazkeret Batya insisted on keeping shemitta to the fullest despite the opposition and the challenges they knew they would face, and the community was nearly decimated because of it. As much as I thought I knew about the hetter mechira previously, after reading this I now realize how little I really know.

The fighting between the community members and the representatives of the Baron left me with questions, such as how much did the Baron really know what was going on? were the reports given to him skewed by his administrators or did he get reports from other sources as well? How could the Baron, who had found such favor in Mazkeret Batya until then - it seemed this was his favorite among all the communities he had supported - suddenly do a 180 degree turn and consider Mazkeret Batya such a problem? Were the people of Mazkeret Batya "double crossed" by both the Baron and his people and by the rabbonim they followed and nearly lost everything because of?

Regardless of my questions, reading Rebels in the Holy Land left me with a sense that I was reading about heroes. These were people who gave up everything to settle the Holy Land and got little more than heartache from everyone around them. There is a certain sense of tragedy as by the end of the book we learn from brief biographies of each of the founding members how things turned out for them. So many of the children became secular as they fell to the influences of the maskilim. This happens all over, but it is particularly tragic to see that after reading about how the parents gave up so much to keep religion involved int heir lives. Alas, this too is a part of the history.

Rebels in the Holy Land is an amazing piece of history that seems to have largely been left out of, or ignored, from the story of Israel and the immigration to it, and the foundations of Israel, as it is is normally told. People interested in learnign about Jewish Palestine and the history of Israel would do well to read this book. People interested in the history of shemitta observance and the hetter mechira would also do well to read this book.

You can buy Rebels in the Holy Land on Feldheim

You can buy Rebels in the Holy Land on Amazon.com

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.


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Interesting Psak: throw them out of the neighborhood

The fight between the factions in the Litvishe Haredi world - the Peleg Yerushalmi led by Rav Shmuel Auerbach and the general litvishe Haredim under the Degel banner led by Rav Shteinman -  has reached new levels...

The Jerusalem neighborhood French Hill has gone from being a largely secular neighbor with a relatively small religious community to being more and more mixed as Haredi couples and families move in and decide to take up residence there.

Besides for the neighborhood being mixed, the Haredi community there is mixed as well - a mixture of Sephardic Shas voters along with some Chabad families and a mixture of both factions of the Haredi Litvishe - Degel and Peleg - families.

Besides for the general power struggles and the fighting over limited resources in a mixed neighborhood, there is also an internal power struggle among the Haredi factions. Cutting to the chase - the Peleg people and the Degel people are fighting and supposedly the Peleg people are even working to convince the secular residents to not support granting of resources to the Degel community and making accusations of connections to the Reform movement and whatnot.

To that end, the rav of the Haredi community went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky to ask how to proceed. Rav Chaim Kanievsky's answer was, supposedly, to throw them out of the neighborhood and give them their own, separate, neighborhood.
source: Kikar

Obviously this is a one-sided psak and not a decision of a beis din, as Rav Chaim Kanievsky did not wait to hear the other side of the story as a beis din is supposed to. Clearly he is also relying on the history of the fighting in general between the factions and not just on the local issue, as he considers the Peleg people to automatically be wrong and against daas torah.

All that being said... how do they plan to throw the Peleg people out of the neighborhood? What exactly are they going to offer them and how will they split the neighborhood or offer them a spot somewhere else in a different neighborhood? How does that work?






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Israeli Frenemies - Aug. 18, 2017 (video)






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A proud Jew in Charlottesville. Singing, and lighting the world. (video)







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Water Balloon Fight With Strangers (video)







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Synagogues of New York (video)

surely there will be about a million episodes of the New York series...









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Gad Elbaz - Just Like That (video)







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Aug 16, 2017

We All Speak Ball: Ep 5, Meet the Families of Israeli Football (video)







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Itzik Orlev Bo Nadlik T'Esh Official Music Video (video)







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Aug 15, 2017

Brigitte Gabriel - raised in Lebanon - now pro-Israel, anti-Islamist activist (video)








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Israelis: Do you see Arab-Israelis as "second-class" citizens? (video)







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Israel's First Whiskey Distillery (video)







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We All Speak Ball: Ep 4, Women's Football League in Israel (video)







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Ata Kadoch - David Hababou Feat Los Primos Compas - אתה קדושׁ - Cover Duele El Corazon E.Iglesias (video)








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