Friday, January 30, 2009


I have one friend on the highest plane.

And one friend on the lowest.

But that doesn't make me in the middle.

It makes me way up high and way up low.


I don't feel half good and half bad.

I feel completely good and I feel completely bad.


I rejoice and I sigh

with equal force,

with equal attention,

with equal authenticity...


I’m totally high and I’m totally low.

I do not think "the other has it bad" when I laugh with your news.

I do not think "the other has it good" when I cry with your blues.

Just as your gladness is in my bones, in my blood and in my heart,
So, my heart and my blood and my bones all carry your sorrow.

It's a strange balance.

It's a strange non-balance

I cannot share one with the other-though I do long to-because of privacy.

(the good not yet known; the grief not to be known)

I would not share one with the other-though I long to-because of respect.

(allow the good, unfettered; allow the grief, unfettered)

It's a tough balance.

It's a tough non-balance.

soaring sinking soaring sinking soaring sinking


so powerful; so focused


It's a draining balance.

It's a draining non-balance.

I cry.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The War Aint Over

Till it's over. But keep in mind, this war has always been around...

Josh (Ruti's hero of a kid) wrote this breathtaking piece about his first-hand experience of being a soldier in Gaza durin Operation Cast-Lead. (Wow Chanukah was AGES ago.) I just posted the whole thing in the post prior to this one, cuz it's so so powerful. With each comment that comes in to my inbox, I think to myself how much I agree and, too, how our words can hardly express what we are struggling to...

I'm hearing time and time again how meaningful the civillian letters of encouragement were to the IDF soldiers that received them durin the operation. They kept them in their vests, they read them over and over again, it saved em during difficult times...I find it near-chilling. TheHorizensBeginning wrote a beautiful letter to an IDF soldier that was sent to some (unknown) lucky chayal. Here is an excerpt:
While across the road lies a world filled with injustice and murder In you lies a beating warm heart Filled with Jewish fervor While on the other side lives a coward hiding behind others In you there's a ferocious lion protecting its sisters and brothers
I LOVE hearing/reading things like this--
One of the rabbis mentioned that on that Erev Shabbat, before entering the ground phase, it was clear that the small synagogue in the base would not house the participants: The minyan moved to daven at the soccer field, until virtually the entire Golani brigade was present, singing, answering Kaddish and davening Kabbalat Shabbat. "If not for the time, the place, and the color of the uniform," he told, "it could have been Tfillat Ne'ila at any one of the large Yeshivas".
(Don't remember where I read it, probably Rafi or Jameel)

Like the paragraph above, things like this bring tears to my eyes. Tears of mourning that swim with tears of gladness.
Rabbi Amos Netanel, father of Captain Yonatan Netanel, one of four soldiers killed by friendly fire, had this to say to the tank crew responsible for the terrible accident that took his son: "You did not kill Yoni," Netanel told them. "Yoni sanctified God's name at the exact time that it was decreed in the heavens. You were the sacred messengers who carried out God's will. Better that your pure hands kill him and not the defiled enemy hand. Evildoers could not have hurt him." At Rabbi Netanel's request, the IDF Chaplaincy helped him contact the tank crew, currently fighting in Gaza, before Shabbat. "The family very much wanted to communicate our message to the soldiers before the Shabbat," Netanel said. "It was something that we wanted to resolve." Netanel told the tank crew that he and his family were conscious of the fact that casualties caused by friendly fire were part of every war. "Under this working assumption Yoni went out to war, under this working assumption we sent him out to battle. We accept this as part of the struggle to overcome the enemy, and we love you and embrace you."
(Shared by Naomi Ragen)

I forwarded this photo, with the subject "nice, no?" to a few people and here were the responses:
E-"and sad. they are so young. and happy. and carefree. they shouldn't be in uniform."
M-"No. They have crooked teeth and funny smiles/laugh and weird hat."
R-"you realize it's impossible to look at this without grinning?"

A must-read article about miracles that took place durin .מבצע עופרת יצוקה An excerpt:
A Hamas map was found, with booby-traps, landmines and sniper positions clearly spelled out. The IDF was able to counter each installation due to the information given. A large platoon of soldiers not realizing they were resting in a school that was booby-trapped, (discovered by a soldier relieving himself in the night), disarmed the bombs with no one hurt. A single soldier successfully fought off several Hamas terrorists trying to drag him into a tunnel, and all were captured. Hundreds of tunnels, hidden in homes under beds and kitchen cabinets, all full of live explosives and ammunition, yet none have exploded with IDF soldiers inside.

Then, Rafi G. is still obsessed with the Rochel Imeinu story. I'm not even linking to him anymore-Blogger's Anti-Spam people are gonna hunt me down. But, from a comment on one of the posts, I got to reading a beautiful incident, Momma Rochel Brings Teshuva.

The Jerusalem Post reported that according to Army Radio, IDF had decided not to release the names and pictures of battalion and brigade commanders who participated in Operation Cast Lead. The decision was made in anticipation that international war crimes lawsuits would be filed against IDF officers, who could face prosecution when traveling overseas. Indeed, Israeli Leftists have already created a website ( appealing to Israelis to inform the World Court if any of these people leave Israel (so they can be arrested and prosecuted) The Left in Israel have gone so far as to actively petition the World Court in the Hague -- that Israeli politicians and IDF officers be tried for War Crimes against humanity, for their part in the Gaza "Cast Lead" counter offensive.
Ouch. (but feel free to read more)

O shkoyach, Muqata 7:30 AM NRG reports that captured Hamas terrorists from Gaza admit they sold Humanitarian Aid and food that the IDF allowed into Gaza during the Cast Lead organization.

Retarded Israeli government. And yes, unlike most of you, I can use that word.

Addressing the government's leaders, Aviva Shalit cried, “You promised us you'd bring him back.” She held the IDF responsible as well, referring to “the unwritten covenant between the IDF and mothers that was carved in stone: we give our sons and daughters, and the state gives them back when their service is over... In my private case, I feel that covenant slipping from my fingers.”

Precious, precious Gilad.
You have thousands waiting, praying, hoping, crying.
You have thousands writing, calling, begging, dealing.
But not enough?
We want you home.
We want you home and healthy.
Healthy in body and healthy in spirit and healthy in mind.
You're our kid, Gilad.
You're in our hearts, our mouths, our deeds, non-stop.

We Want Gilad Now!

A Soldier's Thoughts on the Operation

By Joshua Eastman

In the past week, Israel terminated an operation after having reached a state of cease-fire with a cowardly and murderous foe. I wanted to briefly discuss the feelings and thoughts that I pulled away, and hope from here someone, somehow can pull hope, strength or even the means to understand why from the words I write now.

We were first called up on a Shabbos, immediately at the end of ten months of regular training and an extra two months of specialized training with the whole brigade on the Golan Heights. We were told that Israel was preparing for a possible conflict with Gaza. We were allowed to stay in phone contact at the beginning, and we listened for news from our families, always better informed than the army, to give us news. We heard the bombs falling near the Strip, and readied our gear. And we waited. And waited. Every day another rumor came in.
"We're going today"
"We're going today"
We waited a week. And they surprised us by sending us the following shabbat.

The first time we came back out, after the first twenty four hours, our unit was under the impression that all the other units would be coming out as well. A little R and R, and then back in. But only our soldiers arrived at the base. The others were in till the very end.

The next two weeks we were deployed over and over again into neighborhoods whose names are as ingrained as if from childhood memory, and told to ready ourselves for the final operational steps the army was preparing.

Thank g-d, for us, it never came. After fighting through less densely packed urban neighborhoods and villages, we never had to, as an army, enter the tightly packed urban nightmares of the inner cities.

A cease-fire was signed, and we pulled out with hatches open on our vehicle, waving flags and flashing the peace symbol even though no one was there to photograph it. After all, we were one of hundreds of squads returning. There was no way to record every tank and APC that came home. But it was cathartic, and made it official.

I saw many things. I heard things.

I saw soldiers who were virulently anti-religious put on tzitit under their bullet-proof armor. As one soldier put it, "Why do I put it on now, if I never wore it before? When do you ask your father for help? When you need it."

I saw heroes. Boys just out of high-school, young men who should have been playing sports or starting families or going to college, were loading weapons and placing armor on their fragile frames, securing helmets, and checking gear. They suppressed the fear the threatened at the edges of their minds, and as a unit swept across the fence and planted unwavering lines of boots in the soil of Gaza. I watched them fight like grown men against the evil. The first night we went in, we were unable to wear bullet-proof armor in my unit, and had to settle for flak vests. My young commander, who had an easy load to carry that wouldn't interfere with his vest, still left without bulletproof armor. "If my men don't, I don't". I told him the next day, I would have followed him through the entire Arab world if need be, my respect for him was so. I saw my brave wife, Chana, who came down to volunteer, just to be close to me, braving rockets and missiles to do so, and watched her help soldiers by handing out desperately needed winter gear and food. I watched chabadniks who came to us every day and inspired the soldiers with song and mitzvot. I saw heroes praying for our safety, and feeding us, and caring for us.

I saw pain. Just today, I ran into yet another friend from another unit, who tells me, when asked how he is, "I am fine from the neck down." Sixteen of his friends were injured in a blast on the first night. He lost many more until the end. He is still sweet, still charming, but his laugh is more weary, and his eyes are sadder. Another friend in a different unit lost two-thirds of his whole platoon when a bomb destroyed their house. He says he walked in, and he saw limbs moving or laying still, and bodies unattached to them, hurting, dead. He still hasn't pulled back completely.
A former commander of mine died, and a friend lost his arm and use of his legs, and is still in a coma.

I saw lies. The world is already trying to fault Israel, telling everyone that civilians died here, and Israelis murdered there, But I was there. My feet were on the ground and I saw the truth. I saw that warnings were given, I saw the enemy that fought us. I saw the twelve year olds with missiles and RPGs strapped to their backs. I saw that it was with sadness and great anger Israeli troops saw the need to fire on people who crossed the red line, the danger zone which meant they saw us, and knew where they were. Old people mined with bombs, children armed with detonators, tunnels that opened in the ground to swallow soldiers of ours. I watched my commanders passing out all of our food to the children who were taken prisoner. I received the commands "closed to fire on the right" if our intelligence had reported civilians in the area. I watched us, more often then not, taking cover when supposed civilian positions fired on us from the right. Yet the world thinks it can bend the truth. We were not allowed to fire on schools. We were told not to loot. We watched in anger as our bombs, so as not to fall on large civilian centers, fell on our own troops, so that we could tell the world we were attempting to scare the enemy while limiting civilian losses. Yet they won't say that in the press.

I saw cowardice. We listened with concern when Hamas threatened to use snipers and bombs on us, to fight us every step of the way with their fifteen thousand man army, and we watched videos of full brigades parading, waving their weapons and threatening Israel. But as we invaded, they fled. They would attack in small groups, hit us with missiles and sniper fire, and then flee. The 'warriors' of Hamas were brave when their rockets fell unanswered on the schools of children and the homes of elderly, but they did not stand when the enemy called them up to answer for their crimes.

I saw miracles. Rockets that blazed past our houses, bullets that scarred the outside of windows we were watching from. A unit near ours that was walking in had RPGs pass straight between their ranks without hitting a single soldier. Mines that didn't explode, mortar rounds that landed next to friends that didn't explode. RPGs that blazed into the earthen barrier directly in front of our APC, detonating before penetration. The night walk through a neighborhood that wasn't on the map, that was full of snipers and mines, according to reports, that we walked through unawares, by accident, without harm or incident. And that was just a taste of what we knew.

Every time I entered, every time I squeezed the trigger, every time a missile landed near by, I was struck by fear. It is a deep fear, hard to explain, but I will try. Your body shivers as if you are frozen to the core. You find yourself staring at the ground, trying to adjust to the ringing in your ears. You freeze, and unless someone slaps you, or you manage to shake yourself, your eyes stay downcast, and you lay numb on the earth, waiting without realizing. Eventually, training pushes your awareness to full, your gun snaps up, and adrenaline hides the signals of fear and hurt. You roll on fearlessly, or at least with adrenaline telling you that you are invincible.

But I have felt that weakness. I have felt my supposedly mighty muscles shudder, felt my devastatingly powerful weapon shake in my hands, felt my heart hammer against my armor, felt my soul and mind search for some way to avoid pain and the nightmares that were becoming real. I would have been lost, but for the words of my Rebbe. "Ein od Milvado" The mere utterance strengthened limbs, and a surge of faith and hope carried me, without fear throughout the invasion, without terror through the detonations and whistlings of richoting rounds and falling bombs. For I knew, for once KNEW and understood absolutely that I was in the hands of the greatest general on Earth. A veteran of every war and every conflict, the ultimate warrior and defender of his people. I remember the joy that swept through the lines when they said the head commander was entering the field, because of his experience and strategies, everyone felt safer. Yet, it reminded me that an even greater commander had been there all along. I understood the words of Tehilim 147, "Not in the strength of the horse does he desire, and not in the legs of man does he favor. Hashem favors those who fear him, those who hope for his kindness." My strength had failed me, yet when I begged G-d to allow me to be a conduit for his strength, to be his shield and sword for his people, I was able to stand and fight. Those nights, my body was there, but G-d fought on that field.

What was my other strength? I am not free of sin, and was by no means worthy of the miracles that befell me. That g-d aided me, that my entire battalion walked out, against all odds, while every other unit suffered losses, without serious casualty or mental scarring, was a miracle beyond any. That I was able to feel his strength replace mine, a gift for which I was undeserving. I would like to thank, with every fiber of sincerity and joy in my body, the thousands of people who davened for me, who prayed for the wellbeing of the army, who cried for the return of the fragile and precious jewish youth who fought like lions where men twice there age would have fled. You are the reason we returned. You are the reason I am alive. You, the people who daven and cry and feel you are not the front lines, are truly the army of Hashem. The IDF, as people should see, is merely the physical arm of what your prayers accomplish. You are the ones in the battle. We are the holding action, delaying the physical evil while you battle to clear the path for Moshiach. Never again will I feel a yeshiva student who learns all day is not brave for being with us on this field. Because I watched the words and letters that he learned and prayed march ahead of us, thousands deep, and millions strong, absorbing the bullets and metal meant for me.
I thank you, humbly, warriors of my heart and faith. You let me come home to my wife.

I want to thank the people who aided us. During this war, we recieved a tremendous outpouring of love and support; letters, donations, food, and clothing. In specific, because I know them, although without diminshing the greatness of all the people I dont know, I want to thank my mother and her tireless blogging efforts, my family for their support and letters, my wife for being brave beyond any woman or man I have ever known. I want to thank Congegration Tiferes Yisroel for remembering an old neighborhood kid, and multiplying that to help all my brothers in uniform. I want to thank all of the community in Baltimore for the davening and love that we felt even in the heart of darkness. I want to thank the little six year old who wrote, "Dear IDF, I am proud of you." I cried on that letter, my tears running through the pain and stress as we recovered from Gaza. I want to thank the people who donated money for the vests that saved our lives, the people that gave us clothes to warm our bodies, candy to warm our hearts, and letters to warm our souls. You cannot know what one pair of socks, one choclate bar, or one hastily written sentence can do to save the minds and hearts of your children from despair.

I am not as gifted with words as my mother, nor a hero as great as those who marched beside me or filled the air with prayer around me, but I hope from this letter, from my fumblings and my emotions you can draw for yourself the love and hope I am trying to convey.

I have seen this people, my people, at it's best and at it's worst, but through any time, I can see why Moshiach will come soon. As a nation, we drew together. Disunity, differences in Kippas or sects fell away, and everyone reached out to help as best they could. No one said, "I have no part" or "This isn't my war". May Hashem see the greatness of his holy, beautiful people, and allow me to sing that old song to my child, with absolute truth and great joy:
"I promise, my little one, that this is the last war."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So Many Things To Blog About

Here are some of the open tabs:

Torah learning as payment.
Directions to Beit Aryeh.
Humorous story that offers more than humor.
Comic relief (/wishful thinking) with Israel, the Arabs, and a lawnmower.
American Airlines enforces crazy policies.
Australia for sale.
Today, anti-semitism from hundreds of years ago.
Vote for the best country; Israel's winning.
Surprising stance taken by BBC.
Picture-perfect, but war.
Converting YouTube videos for Ipod.
Thinking about Amona.
Kids book based on Tanya (read 3rd to last paragraph).
Brilliant question, '94 DryBones cartoon.
The 2 IDF songs.
Names of the wounded.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Haaretz 14:32 EU to transfer 32 million euros to Gaza in 2009 (Army Radio)

Bereaved Families Split on Terrorist Release

This is the SADDEST thing ever :(

Many Israelis who have lost loved ones to terrorism have spoken out recently on the possibility of a mass terrorist release in exchange for the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. While some have publicly said they would let their loved ones' killers go free in exchange for Shalit, others have taken a strong stance against terrorist release.
Israelis murdered by released terrorists
Photo: Almagor Terror Victims Assoc.

Earlier this week Yael Ze'evi, whose husband Rehavam (Gandhi) Ze'evi was assassinated by terrorists in 2001, announced that she would be willing to see her husband's killers go free if it meant Shalit's safe return. She was joined by 100 other bereaved families, who signed a letter to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which they expressed willingness to see their own family members' murderers go free for Shalit.

Another widow who spoke out in favor of prisoner release was Rachel Koren, whose husband and two teenage sons were murdered in the bombing of the Matza restaurant in Haifa. “I can't live with the knowledge that there's a boy rotting in prison on my conscience,” she explained. “They should release whoever they have to release in order to bring him back home.”

Other families, and representatives of terrorist victims, have taken a strong stance against terrorist release. “I'm in touch with many families, and this support [for terrorist release] is likely to provoke rebellion,” warned Ze'ev Rap, whose 15-year-old daughter Helena was stabbed to death by a terrorist in 1992. “Whoever supports this process doesn't understand the suffering they're causing us,” he added.

"If they release my daughter's murderer, they'll destroy my family and the families of others,” Rap continued. He threatened to take the law into his own hands in such a case, saying, “I'll murder him before he leaves our borders, at the border fence. I'll die with the Philistines.”

Efraim Kastiel made a simple plea against release, saying, “My heart hurts for Gilad Shalit but I just can't handle it from a psychological standpoint. My heart won't allow it, I just can't.” Kastiel's daughter Liat was one of two young women stabbed to death by terrorists in Wadi Kelt in 1997.

Rachel Friedman lost her sister and niece, Lily and Tamara Shimashvili, in the 2001 bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. “I think our army is strong enough to find a different way to release Gilad Shalit, and not by releasing murderers,” she said.

Stanley Boim's 17-year-old son David was murdered nine years ago in a terrorist shooting near the town of Beit El. Boim, who opposes terrorist release, explained that he was not motivated by a desire for revenge, but rather by a desire to protect others. “The release of killers means the murder of more Jews in the Land of Israel,” he said.

One of David Boim's killers was not caught after the murder, and later carried out an attack in downtown Jerusalem in which several people were killed.

Like Friedman, Boim believes Israel can free Shalit without releasing terrorists. “We need to do everything possible to free Shalit, but via pressure on Hamas and not on our government,” he stated.

Protests For Shalit, Against Release
As Olmert's term comes to an end, protests for Shalit's release have picked up steam. Demonstrations calling for Shalit's release have been held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week, and Friends of Shalit began a steady presence outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Friday.

Three bereaved fathers protested the protest, standing opposite a Shalit rally in Tel Aviv and rejecting calls to release terrorists. The fathers, Yossi Mendelovich, Dov Weinstein and Zion Swery, said they would gather more bereaved parents to join them in rallying opposite demonstrations in support of terrorist release.

24 hrs after that most special shabbat

I read these words:

הפגישה הניפלאה עם המישפחה המדהימה הזו שפתחו בפני את ביתם, טרחו עבורי וחשוב מיכך העניקו לי מחום ליבם - לי לזר מוחלט - חילוני, מבלי לצפות לשום תמורה...
אנחנו צרכים להיות גאים ביהדות שלנו בנתינה שלנו באהבת האחים שלנו - בזה ניבדלנו משאר העמים... תודה לשליח חב"ד
שהזכיר לי מה שלא היה צריך להישכח

Do you understand now-even a bit-why I am still glowing from Shabbos?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a most special shabbat

friday night, seudah
friday night, after cleaning up
shabbos day, early morning
shabbos day, after the seudah
motzei shabbat, all night
בית אריה . The Rabbi . ארץ ישראל

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

YAY!! B"H, Aharon Karov, the 22-year-old soldier from Karnei Shomron who went to war in Gaza a day after his wedding and was critically wounded, is recuperating nicely and due to go for rehabilitation in a week.
Baruch Hashem!

A Soldier's MOTHER Speaks


I have been worrying about that kid keeping his limbs attached to his body since before he was born. It's not like I was going to stop when people were firing projectiles at him, trying to hit him. I worried about what would happen to his body if they got him. I worried about what would happen to his spirit if he got one of them. I felt his pain when he missed his wife desperately. I felt his fear, even though he would not voice it.

He would call when he was "back from the office," our code for when he was at the base just outside of Gaza. We had lovely talks sometimes, philosophical grappling with the situation's politics. He couldn't tell me much; and I didn't ask. We honored the rules. "No civilian phone line is secure." Mostly, we just updated each other briefly. I gave him news he was seeking; he just gave me his voice.

Every so often, we would get "the call."

"Ema, I love you very much. I really love you." He would say the words slowly and carefully, as if asking me to pay. close. attention. This call was code for "I'm going back in; and I am terrified I won't ever speak to you again." And my military/mom response was very cheerful, because that is my job: "You are one of my heroes, Josh. Your abba and I are so very proud of you. You have been well-trained. You know your job, and you are good at it. Think about what is in front of you, and the guys on either side of you. Remember For Whom you work. That's all. I love you very, very much." This was the verbal form of polishing his shield and sword. It was all I could do.

I feel privileged and I feel humbled to have had that glimpse;
The Perspective of a New Immigrant Mom, Post-Gaza.
The student (extremely miserable): "Today was my worst day!"
Her mother (extremely alarmed): "Oh no! What happened??"
The student (extremely tearful): "You really wanna know?! It's cuz I saw Chava [her teacher for most of the week] for only a few seconds today!!"


There's attached and then there's super-glued.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2 Songs for IDF Soldiers

Every time I listen, I 'm overcome with the same surge of pride.

Pride in our troops. Pride in our brothers.
Pride in our unity.
Pride in the singers. Pride in the blessings.
Pride in the unity.
Pride for those in Israel. Pride for those out of Israel.
Pride for that unity.
Pride for the mitzvot. Pride for the fighting.
Pride for the unity.
Pride in the trust. Pride in the dedication.
Pride in the unity.

I'm full of pride.
I'm full of pride and I'm sure You are, too.


Names in Yesterday's Chitas

Hehe I was too tired to type it last night and was gonna ignore it but just now I was skimmin an article that mentioned Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert, Shaul Mofaz...and the names popped out at me, again, forcin me to mention them. (They really did. They popped out and they forced me. Where do you think this long jagged bruise is from?)

שאול (That was the first one. Blurted out "Hey! You're in today's chitas!" He didn't disagree.)
לבני (Tzippy)
חברון (I need to explain this??)
קרח (From my piece I want to finish writing)
אלישבע (The blogger I rarely read)
נחשון (The Unit)
אלעזר-איתמר (The settlements)
אלקנה (Shmotkin. Our friend)
The student (extremely concerned): "What should I do!? My friends, who I haven't seen in a REALLY long time, are here and I wanna play with them...but I also want to continue learning with you!"
Her teacher (extremely pleased): "Hmm why don't you go and play with them now and later on today, before we go out, I'll learn with you for an extra half hour?"
The student (extremely relieved): "Yes! That's good! I like that! Thank you!"


She's grateful to me.
I'm so grateful to Him.

Follow-up to the Rachel Imeinu in Gaza Story

Even though Aryeh [from the interview here (omg I am SO happy I got to listen to that!)] doesn't seem to believe it happened, Rafi G (who else, eh? No, not gettin commission. Not even a Shabbos invite.) shares this anecdote about the Rachel Imeinu story. (read the comments, too)


"The 'ways of Chassidus' are that all Chassidim are to be like one family, with affection, as Torah teaches. Chassidus is vitality. Chassidus is to bring life and illumination into everything, to shed light even on the undesirable - to become aware of one's own evil exactly as it is, in order to correct it. "

(The Tzemach Tzedek explaining the Alter Rebbe's words, to his son.)


4:19 Report: Olmert privately proposed division of Jerusalem to Arab leaders (Haaretz)

* sarcastic? let the ppl decide

A Soldier From Gaza Speaks

I'm utterly speechless after sucha speech. (Yes, I had to say it like that) Yishai and Malka Fleisher interviewed an IDF (reserve) soldier, Aryeh, who was just in Gaza for a week. If I thought "I felt like I was there" before, boy did I get a re-experience. (I shoulda been sleepin hours ago. Leave my English alone)

My pulse flutters as I prepare to share with you this most (get ready to start cheering, my cliche squad-) incredibly fascinating....... ....Interview With A Soldier From Gaza!

-eager applause- (that looks like applesauce)

(This is like how I used to write. Eh let's change that to "This is like how I used to. Write" Cuz now everything is copy-pasted. When I was a kid, we did everything the HARD way. Feh, spoiled generation! That change I did up there (chill B.Hussein--u don't own the change industry) reminded me of "There is one guideline for thin and fat people, alike. If you're thin, don't eat fast. If you're fat, don't eat. Fast." Man, I totally just took away from the seriousness of the guy's words. I really didn't mean to. I really was blown away by it. NO pun intended. HONESTLY!)

P.S Just noticed I exclaimed "boy" and "man".

Love it. Love him.

> "old" pic but still can't get over it <

Monday, January 19, 2009

Beautiful & Heartening Song for Israeli Soldiers

Translated Lyrics:
A Slow Line Enters Gaza

The unit commander is a factory owner.
The regimental commander is an engineer.
The company commander is a nature guide.
The platoon commander is in his mandatory army service.
The sergeant major sells holy books.
The sergeant is somewhat of a carpenter.
The squad leader is currently unemployed.
And the private is retired.

But all of them are excellent soldiers
Marching in the quiet of the night in a slow line
Entering enemy territory
Without fear
In order to wage war for our Nation
As their parents had done for them.

The unit commander has a bad back.
The regimental commander – high cholesterol.
The company commander – digestive problems.
The platoon commander just doesn't look good.
The sergeant major – problems with his eyes.
The sergeant has trouble sleeping.
The squad leader is scratching.
And the private has corns on his foot.

But all of them are excellent soldiers
Who slip into the darkness in a slow line
Entering enemy territory
Forgetting that they are pampered and sensitive
Filled each day with drops, oils and pills
And they are suddenly healthy.
And these men who are afraid of shots and dentists
Are suddenly courageous
They are not afraid of anything
They do anything that needs to be done
Because what is needed is needed.
They don't think about themselves
But about the national goal
Because it is enough of this mess
And we must now act to protect our Nation
And this is only the appetizer.

The unit commander is a leftist against the settlements.
The regimental commander is a settler for the settlements.
The company commander votes for the centrist party.
The platoon commander is a Religious-Zionist who is deciding between two parties.
The sergeant major is Ultra-Orthodox.
The sergeant is a socialist.
The squad leader votes for all the parties.
And the private has still not decided.

But all of them are excellent soldiers
Marching silently in the darkness of the night.
Under the smiling moon
With preparedness and strength
And the same people who do not agreed
About anything in politics and religion
Have suddenly become brothers.
Brothers in arms and brothers in battle
Who sacrifice for each other with their heart and soul
Everyone suddenly agrees
That the best thing we have
Is our country and the army which defends us
And they are ready to completely strike the enemy
For once and all
So that we will be left in peace.

And here's the beautiful and heartening song:
(Words by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
/Sung by Eliyon Shemesh)

Music Video Salute to IDF

אל תירא ישראל
כי גור אריה הלא אתה
ואריה כי ישאג
מי לא יראה
I just love it.
So incredibly heart-thumping...

It's A Numbers War

It's really not. I just wanted to write that. And every time I see the word "disproportionate", my blood boils. Ok fine, confession time, I don't know if my blood really boils, but I do gnash my teeth. Er roll my eyes, is more like it. Man I feel like BBC or something, gettin all my facts n opinions mixed up.

Anyhow, here's my number war:

1. Oohwah, how exciting--Muqata political analysis: As Hamas is rounding up and torturing Fatah loyalists in Gaza, Fatah needs to prove that they are just as anti-Israel as Hamas, and will begin perpetrating a wave of terror in response. This explains the latest surge in West Bank attacks since the cease fire.

2. Even though many have disproved this theory re killing jews vs goyim, I still find it fascinating:
When Shimon and Levi destroyed the inhabitants of Shchem, they first made them all get circumcised. The common explanation why they did that is that by them getting circumcised, they had been weakened, thus making it easier for Shimon and Levi to then be able to wipe them out.
Another explanation: Had Shimon and Levi killed them out with no circumcision, they would have been killing non-Jews, and the whole world would have screamed about the Jews killing goyim. Because they first circumcised them, thus in essence converting them, now it was Jews being killed. That is something the world can live with and let happen with no protest.
For 8 years Jews have been under fire, and the world remained silent. Suddenly the Jews are fighting back and killing non-Jews in retaliation, and the world is up in arms.

3. Saw this on Seraphic Secret from Day 21 and HAD to share it:

IDF soldiers in urban, three dimensional battlefields, must smash holes in walls between buildings in order to avoid booby traps. So expert are the IDF at this form of warfare that Israeli officers were dispatched to Iraq to train American troops. Thus, numerous lives were spared.

4. Sderot Blog, Here's an excerpt: We stay alert at all times. If Avi takes a shower, I need to be nearby listening for the alert, ready to grab him out of the shower if need be (and vice versa). If we drive somewhere, we tune our radio to channel 104, the army channel. All Tzeva Adom alerts are broadcast on that station, so you can immediately get out of your car and run for cover. We also drive with seat belts off, and windows open, just in case. (Several of the people who have died from Qassams were in their cars when the attack occurred.)

Where do we run? Well, Sderot is pretty well prepared. There are bomb shelters of every shape and size everywhere you look – almost every ten meters you have one. The idea is that you are always within fifteen seconds of a shelter. However, this concept is flawed in its execution. Some areas are covered with shelters. But some residential streets have none. If you are on a residential street in the middle of a Tzeva Adom alert, you run into the nearest house. This is what happened today. As we heard the alert, we saw a flash of two people in front of our house. We ran, opened the door, and the two young guys followed us, running into our bomb shelter. We waited to hear the explosions, they thanked us and were on their way.

5. And finally, I can't NOT write about that Arab kid who hurled a rock at a passing car recently. Go read it. It's too perfect.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Battle Weary IDF Soldiers Returning From Gaza

Thanks Muqata!

It's a PR thing.


The Rebbe took a zero-tolerance approach to self-defense. He rested his argument, as always, upon a halachic ruling. Here is how he explained this to Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, then chief rabbi of the U.K., in a letter dated November, 1980:

I am completely and unequivocally opposed to the surrender of any of the liberated areas currently under negotiation, such as Judah and Samaria, the Golan, etc., for the simple reason—and only reason—that surrendering any part of them would contravene a clear ruling found in Shulchan Aruch (O.C., Ch. 329, par. 6,7). I have repeatedly emphasized that this ruling has nothing to do with the sanctity of the land of Israel, with "the days of Moshiach," the coming redemption or similar considerations—but solely with saving lives.

The Rebbe here refers to a ruling in the standard codification of Jewish Law that discusses a border town attacked by marauders. The ruling is that all that are able must go out, even on Shabbat, to fight with them—even if the marauders are only attacking to obtain straw. The reasoning behind this ruling is that once a border town has become vincible, life within those borders is endangered. The Rebbe generalizes this logic: In a situation involving danger to human life, the mitigating factor for determining action is exclusively how best to protect and save lives, and nothing else. Not how will we justify this, not how do we finance this, not what the world will say or what they will think of us. Just the protection of lives.

To drive my point: The source for this ruling is in the Talmud (Eruvin 45a). The example given of a border-town is the city of Neharde'a in Babylon (present-day Iraq) — clearly not in Israel. As I have emphasized time and again that it is a question of, and should be judged purely on the basis of, saving lives and not geography.

The said ruling deals with a situation where gentiles (that is the term, not enemies) besiege a Jewish border-town, ostensibly to obtain "straw and chaff," and then leave. But because of the possible danger, not only to the Jews of the town, but also the cities, the Shulchan Aruch rules that upon receiving news of the gentiles (even only of preparations), the Jews must mobilize immediately and take up arms even on Shabbat — in accordance with the rule that "saving lives supersedes Shabbat."

The Rebbe continues that the decision whether a particular concession will endanger lives or not must be left up to the experts. Just as in a medical question, the experts are the doctors, so in a military question, the experts are military experts. Yet even they are not to make political, economical or sociological considerations, but simply: the protection of human lives. Since all the experts he consulted agreed that returning the areas of Judah and Samaria would place many millions of lives in greater danger, the Rebbe was opposed.

On the one hand, a hawkish view indeed: Not an inch of territory could be relinquished to the PLO. Even the very act of discussing territory, the Rebbe asserted, was enough to embolden the terrorists and endanger lives. Furthermore, the Rebbe would cite the Talmudic ethos of self-defense: "If someone is coming to kill you, rise early to kill him first." "Which means," the Rebbe insisted, "that it is possible to know that someone wants to cause mortal harm, and in such a case, one has the responsibility to prepare a preemptive attack."

Yet, even here, the Rebbe noted that the dictum does not say that you must actually kill anyone, only that you must be ready to do so. They said, "Rise early to kill him," he pointed out, not, "Rise early and kill him." If you show that you are ready to attack first, there will be no need for such. The emphasis in all these matters was on psychological warfare first: Act weak, and all are placed in danger. Show you are strong and no one will be hurt. Again, what was the consideration? Simply the protection of life.

Indeed, the Rebbe expressed his concern over the loss of Arab lives on several occasions. For example, a month after the talk cited earlier, the Rebbe spoke again about security and defense in Israel. Again he declared that those who proposed relinquishing territory were endangering the inhabitants. With strong, secure borders, the Rebbe asserted, there would be no need for war. Citing the verse about the Land of Israel, "you are bolted with iron and bronze," the Rebbe noted that:

If the door is well bolted and locked, there is no need for war. Obviously, bolts and locks don't go out to battle. And if so, this is to the advantage of those who oppose us. For if there is no need for war, no one is killed or wounded on the opposing side either

Similarly, shortly after the Yom Kippur War, as the Rebbe was bemoaning the upcoming Geneva Conference at which "nothing would be accomplished," he interjected, "At least, in the interim there is a ceasefire. For even if an Egyptian falls in battle, it is not a good thing…"


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Save Amit

Naomi Ragen emailed: Even in the middle of war, with rockets falling, we cannot afford to abandon our concern for each and every life. I got a letter the other day from Rabbi Sagi, who is my son's Rav at Karmey Chayil in Beit Rimon, the wonderful yeshiva and army training program in the Galilee.
He wrote me that his niece, six year old Amit, a little blonde ray of sunshine, has been diagnosed with leukemia. The family has now been told that the only thing that can save her is a bone marrow transplant. A drive in Israel, headed by the organization Ezer Mizion, to register potential donors has begun. January 21, from 10 a.m- 8 p.m you can give a blood sample at stations all over the country to see if you would be the person lucky enough to give Amit the gift of life. In Jerusalem, stations are set up in the Malcha Mall, and the Central Bus station, just to give you an idea.

If you are in Israel, please go here to to find a station near you. This site is in Hebrew. The English website has been hacked into by Muslim terrorists, and isn't accessible.
If you are outside of the country, please go to this website to see how you can help support this special little girl and her wonderful family.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The public has been asked to say a prayer for the
7 year old boy hurt in a Grad rocket attack on Be'er Sheva earlier today, now in critical condition; Ar'el ben Angela.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

8:49 PM MUQATA EXCLUSIVE: IDF soldiers concerned about acne epidemic. Soldiers report that Israel and its supporters around the world have sent the soldiers so much chocolate that in some locations there is more chocolate bars than ammunition. Furthermore, supermarkets around Israel are offering half price on items being delivered to IDF troops.

DoubleTapper reports that some people must have gotten their donations mixed up because his troops received several size 3 (toddler) girl's dresses. Regardless Israel and its supporters generosity is extremely appreciated.

We are waiting for the pictures of DoubleTapper in his new outfit.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israel! Say NO to a ceasefire! Please!!

That's what all the Ferrara Pans boxes always told me. O wait, that was to drugs. Same thing, same thing--false illusions...

(reminds me of this video from the Lebanon War)

Why We Need To Keep It Up:
(m'hablog shel..Rafi G!)

For Whom We Need To Keep It Up:
(That's my aunt you see. And my brother. My cousin. My sister.)

Can We NOT Keep It Up??

Helpin Us Keep It Up:
(by bringin us the lighter side..albeit comin from a darker side)

Shliach’s Son is Wounded in Gaza

Remember that just-married soldier that got seriously wounded in Gaza? Aharon Karov? So, another soldier that was hurt in that same incident is Cpl. Nechemia Rubin, son of Rabbi Yehuda Rubin, Chabad House director in Eilon Moreh.

Nechemia and Aharon, his commander, were standing next to each other as they cleared a house outside Gaza City when a mine went off and shrapnel filled the air. “It’s just miraculous that his injuries are moderate considering how close he was to a mine explosion,” said Rabbi Rubin who has four other sons in the army. Nechemia is being treated at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva where he underwent emergency surgery to remove shrapnel from his eye and was treated for burns on his face and arms. Nechemia Rubin’s bride of two months, Meital, and his mother Orlene are at his bedside. Aharon, who left the Gaza front to get married and returned to fighting the next day, remained in critical condition at the same hospital.
“One of the soldiers told me that after the boys were hurt, the first and only thing Aharon asked was ‘is everyone okay?’” said Rabbi Zev Karov, Aharon’s father.

Please recite Tehillim for:
Nechemia Shalom Dovber ben Orlene

Aharon Yehoshua ben Chaya Shoshana

Monday, January 12, 2009

War Inc.

Ever since my mum sent me this Ynet article answering six cliches re Israel, Rafi G. put up his tribute to Ariel Sharon "Today marks the third anniversary of the day Ariel Sharon was brought down by a massive stroke. Sharon still remains in his coma. "In his honor", today Israel has returned to Gaza and specifically to the former Gush Katif settlements of Netzarim, Eli Sinai and Dugit. ...", I rewatched this video a buncha times I read this super line "But unfortunately, when the wolves make a regular practice of hiding among the sheep... often with the willing cooperation of the flock... regrettably, some wool is going to fly." from Treppenwitz's post, and this piece of news made me giggle, the war links n photos have been piling up...

But before I link to anything else, here are names of soldiers n civilians that need your prayers.

I generally go first to the muqata for super frequent and detailed updates of the matzav (painful as it is to follow the hype ;)..but I do comfort myself with the knowledge that I've been there months and even years before most of the others hehe) but apparently, Israellycool also does the updating thing.

Lookin forward to some Geula updates, I tell ya.


In the meantime, this video about a Hamas leader reforming is pretty cool. Encouraging only if ten million more followed suit so it's not that meaningful..but it's interesting nonetheless. I think I saw it on Rafi's blog first. (Nice guy, btw. Or, a good actor. Staaam) Much of the stuff in this post comes from the muqata blog and from Life in Israel by Rafi G.

Talk about blog linkage, apparently Double Tapper can use some blog visits now that he's been called up for miluiim and his stats will drop due to non-posting. (Interesting that Jameel writes bout that..vs "let's pray long and let's pray hard" nu nu)

Then there's Amo. Avrohom Meir Ostfeld, a Canadian Chabad bochur, who has volunteered in the IDF and is now fighting in Gaza. His brother in law in the States is keepin a sort of journal: I spoke to Amo. Here is his latest entry:

I just had the opportunity to talk to Amo for 2 minutes. He was whispering the whole time and was like - Shmuli I can’t talk now it’s in middle of a war. I said yes you can it’s your brother in law. I told him how much we are all praying for him, about this blog, and how everyone in Toronto and elsewhere are all davening for him and are worried about him. He said don’t make a big deal about me please.

Then his voice got excited and he said “Shmuli you have no idea, I love it here – get this, Friday night my Unit made a Minyan in a shelled house which we took over… we couldn’t have lights on so we had the place lit with flares, we were singing and dancing L’cha Dodi while mortar shells and rockets were going off all around us, but we didn’t care, now that’s a Shabbos I won't forget, it was like a carnival”

I said Amo we are all so proud of you and your faith and determination is inspiring, we are all happy your ok... but were not sleeping at night man. I am happy your having a carnival, but finish up and get home. He says don’t worry man were doing fine, I have my Teffilin, Tzitzis, Chitas and dollar of the Rebbe, I feel protected and secure.

He talked briefly and proudly about the business he is talking care of. He said they have faced many booby traps and resistance in the past few days, in one round of fire they received his friend was hit in the leg...


Although the initial reality of the war may be wearing off, please do not let up in saying Tehillim and doing Mitzvot as for the soldiers the danger is still very real and they need our prayers.

His name is Avrohom Meir ben Leah Naomi and he's gone with his friend Levi Yitzchak ben Margalit.

Hinei, here are some ways you can help em (and other chayalim):

Here is an unbiased analysis of the war. A bit old by now, but refreshing nonetheless.

Benji makes me laugh, as always. Read BREAKING NEWS: Gaza War Turns Nuclear

O wow, I just read a fantastic story that's going around of how soldiers were miraculously protected in Gaza. Quite unbelievable! (emphasis on "unbelievable" hehe stam. no seriously actually--I cannot at all vouch for its authenticity).
The Story:
The Israeli soldiers were going from house to house looking for terrorists the other night. Three times in the same night, at three different houses, a woman dressed all in black stopped them from entering. She pleaded with them not to go in. They listened to her and found out all three of the houses were rigged with tons of explosives. She saved a lot of our soldiers from dying. No one knows who she was. She disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. One soldier asked who are you, and she said Rachel. Other soldiers heard her say this.

In the Sixth [sic] Day War, a similar incident happened with a very old man sitting by the side of the road. He appeared to many groups of soldiers in the same day, telling them don't go down that road, or they must go down this road. When the soldiers all got together and shared the story, they were astounded that they all saw the same old man, dressed the same way, but at different places during the war. (This was told to me by a man who fought in the Sixth [sic] Day War and experienced this miracle first hand).

To see more of such pics, including descriptions, go here and here.

Why Children Die in Gaza?! It's a huge long post with a billion videos answering this question. In one word? Hamas. (disclaimer:didn't check it out personally, only skimmed it)

And yet, with all the craziness, the danger and the fright, one family in Beer Sheva sticks to humor. They posted a sign on their door with the following written on it (see original in Hebrew):
It says: In case this house is hit by a rocket...
Security Forces: Stay calm, we are by our parents.
Property Tax Authorities: In the apartment we had a plasma television, a bottle of 1709 Bordeaux wine, a rare antique porcelain statue.
Cable Company: the plasma screen was only a spare (not in use)
Ruthie: If we get hit we will not pay the vaad bayit expense (building maintenance fee)

Heehee. Mishug.

A doctor in Chevron realizes that the miracles that are occurring with every rocket. He believes that Tate Is Talking To Us. (Tate is yiddish for "father". Referring to our Father in Heaven, G-d) It's quite amazing, My best part? Where a cigarette saves his life :)

The Mishnah says that in a war that is a mitzva (Bibilical commandment, such as a defensive war, like the current one), even a groom leaves his room, and a bride leaves her Chuppa [wedding canopy]. IDF combat officer Aharon Karov was married only 2 weeks ago; he left his troops from the Gaza front a few hours before his wedding, got married, and the following morning was back at the front with his troops. Now he has been critically wounded from a Hamas explosive in northern Gaza and is fighting for his life. His full name is Aharon Yehoshua ben Chaya Shoshana.

Ruti Mizrachi (mother of IDF soldier Yehoshua Adam ben Sara Imeinu) composed a blessing for the soldiers and it's been jumpin around in my head ever since I read it. Here it is: May Hashem bless our soldiers with safety, strength, wisdom in battle, loyalty to each other, and success. May they have many mitzvot that Hashem requires of them, which they can only fulfill as healthy old men.

Amen! Amen! Amen!

IsraelHomeFront provides food packages, spiritual comfort, medical and financial assitance, hospital visits, grief counseling and more to: Soldiers on the front lines, families of soldiers fighting in the Gaza war, victims of rocket attacks, residents in direct range of rocket attacks and civillians throughout Israel.

According to CNN, Hamas vowed to "fight until the last breath". Like Rafi G says, we are happy to oblige-we will fight you until your last breath as well. Hopefully you will breathe that last breath soon!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

מי כעמך ישראל

The mother of Nitai Stern -an IDF soldier who was killed in Gaza by friendly fire- told President Shimon Peres when he paid a condolence call to the family: "I want you to find the soldiers that accidentally shot the tanks shells at my son, and give them this very clear message -- we embrace them and love, and we hold nothing against them" (Ynet)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I offered him my bread.

He moved my furniture.

I gave him a toothbrush.

He promised his khakis.

We exchanged music gadgets.

He's my brother.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Yared Ben Caro. Tzanchan. In my gdud. Shmonahmeotishim.
His front-line blog.

"Dear Shluchim" Song

Lyrics & Vocals by Chaim Fogelman and Benny Hershkovich

Says Fogelman: Now that we've all had a chance to take a closer look at the lives of our dear shluchim and the whole world got a firsthand look at their mesiras nefesh and devotion, I felt that we should salute and honor them.

We should not have to wait for devastating tragedies to recognize the preciousness of the shluchim. We should not have to experience such heartbreak to awaken us to stand united and do all we can to bring Moshiach.

I hope this song expresses how indebted the world is to our wonderful shluchim. Together, let's fill the world with Hashem's light and with goodness and kindness.

I would like to thank Chony Milecki and Benny Hershkowits. A very special thanks to Dovid Weinbaum for his video production skills and for his devotion and driving force behind this entire project.

"Stop Talking About Peace; Start Talking About Justice"

By David Moriah, a teacher whose son was butchered last year by a Palestinian terrorist while studying in Mercaz Harav yeshiva.
[The original is in Hebrew; what follows is a partial translation by Steven Plaut]

'After our son was murdered in the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva, the current scenes in Gaza bypass my human intellect and instead find their way to the basic primitive yearning for revenge...
'When our 16 year old son was murdered ten months ago together with seven of his friends, the TV screens of the world were filled with scenes of the yeshiva library filled with blood, together with scenes of the residents of Gaza dancing in celebration and flashing "V" signs to one another for victory, handing out candies and firing into the air in celebration.

'I do not deny that the current scenes in Gaza bypass my human intellect and instead find their way to the basic primitive yearning for revenge. But even more so they satisfy the fundamental yearning for justice. And anyone living in this land knows that there will yet come more pictures of innocent Jewish blood and more pictures of Gaza Arabs celebrating. 'Everyone knows that there lives amongst us a large community of citizens, and it includes members of the Knesset. They - in spite of occasional clickings of the tongue and even a condemnation here or there of the atrocities - clearly desire more mass murders of civilians and bloodshed to prove that there is no choice but to negotiate with the Hamas, not to defeat it, and capitulate to its demands.

'The media commentators will go back to explaining to us that the strong are the weak and that the weak are the strong and how the victims and casualties on our side make it necessary to negotiate with the Hamas.

Governments around the world pour out advice for us about how to calm things down and negotiate, while everyone on earth knows that in our place they would undertake the most destructive and violent retaliations without a shed of moderation or mercy for any poor women and children.

'Yet everyone is speaking about peace and no one is speaking about justice. It is time to stop the jabbering about peace and to address the question of justice. I met a grandmother with healthy common sense who used to say: "That which is evil is evil, and that which is good is good."
Firing dozens of bullets at children studying in a yeshiva library is evil. Firing missiles for the purpose of killing civilians is evil. Causing agony to the families of the kidnapped is evil. And dancing for joy when innocent civilians are murdered by terrorists is evil. On the other hand, taking measures to kill the murderer before he is able to kill civilians again is good. To demolish the home of a terrorist in order to deter is good. And expelling people who identify with the Gaza murderers and sending them to live in Gaza is VERY good and good things need to be
done immediately, with no delay or ponderings

The darkness must be vanquished immediately...'