Saturday, April 27, 2013

Interesting Fact 07: Rabbi Akiva against Christianity

In Shul this morning, someone mentioned this statement of Rav Kook. I don't have time now to translate it (perhaps in the future), but it is from the fourth of the Shemoneh Kevatzim of Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook number 238.

In it Rav Kook writes that the "Son of the Israelite woman" mentioned in Parshat Emor, who curses G-d, refers to Jesus and Christianity. The "Israelite man" refers to Rabbi Akiva who was the antithesis of Christianity. The attention to detail, represented by every crown on every letter represents Judaism, whereas claims of love while causing suffering, and disregard of the details, represent Christianity.

רלח. המינות היא הנוטלת את זיו העולם, המחשיכה את עיני הבריות בקציצת הנטיעות ממקור השרשים העליונים שלהם. כל הרעות הרשעות והטומאות הנם טמונות בעומק חובה. זוהמת החיים, שפך דמים, שנאת הבריות, התמוטטות יסוד העולם, העכבת התעלותו והתפתחותו, השפלת שיא גבהו הפנימי, גאותו המקודשת שעל ידה הוא מתעלה, השפלה הגבוה והגבוה השפל, הכל כלול ביסוד הרשעה של המינות. כל ההשחתות אינן אלא ענפיה ושריגיה, והיא מתאמצת להתקרב אל צורת הקודש, להתעטף בטלית וחלוקא דרבנן, מתגברת ללשונה להפוך דברי אלהים חיים לדברי נבלה. גרועה היא מעבודה זרה, במה שהיא מתפרצת להפוך את הצורה הקדושה של היהדות למפלצת. היא חפצה תמיד לינוק משפעת התורה, כדי לטשטש צורתה האלהית, לאבד ממנה את ההוד העליון, ולהפכו לדוה מטומאה. יסוד החיים בבהירות העליונה ניכר במערכי ההפריה המעשית באותו משך החיים שנמשך בכל שבילי המפעלים, על-ידי כל קוץ וקוץ שבתורה, שטנה של המינות בהתחלת צמיחתה. רבי עקיבא הוא שדרש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילים של הלכות, הוא שהכיר את ערך של האומה בכללה, וכחה לאלהים בכל צורותיה שהיא מתגלה בהם, אפילו בגבורה גופנית שלה ידע כי חלק ד' עמו, ונשא כליו של בן כוזיבא, אולי תצמח ממנו ישועה לישראל, מסר נפשו על נטילת ידים, ויצאת נשמתו באחד. הוא איש הישראלי בעומק יסודי הפנימי, למרות מה שהוא בן גרים בחיצוניותו, והוא הכח המגין נגד נקיבת השם של בן האשה הישראלית, אחת היתה ופרסמה הכתוב, אותה הקוראה שלום לכל, ונוטלת המון דבורים, הומיה וסוררת, שלומית בת דברי, וינצו במחנה בן הישראלית ואיש הישראלי, עד אשר פורש המשפט, וכל קרני רשעים אגדע תרוממנה קרנות צדיק.

I did try putting it into Google Translate to at least get an approximate translation, but it gave me meatballs, so I won't bother sharing it here (yes, it literally translated the first line as "darkening the eyes of his meatballs").

Lag Ba-Omer Songs

By which I mean four songs called 33 (just in case you forget that today is the 33rd day of the omer making 4 weeks and 5 days)

1. 33 by Coheed and Cambria

2. Extension 33 by Yoko Ono

3. Catch 33 by Meshuggah

4. Thirty-three by Smashing Pumpkins

Thursday, April 25, 2013

31st day of the Omer

Here are some "thirty-one" themed songs:

31 Days by Zee Avi

Ghost on 31 by Fightstar

31 Candles by The Mendoza Line

31 Flavors by Trevor Hall

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

29 Days (4 Weeks and 1 Day)

Today is the 29th day, making 4 weeks and 1 day of the Omer.

Ringtones anyone? (btw I had to reset my phone, and lost my ringtone app. Now I cannot reload it, so I'm suffering without ringtones. Any other suggestions from anyone?)

29 Ways by Marc Cohn

Lag BaOmer on Motze'i Shabbat

Four interesting halachot relevant to Ashkenazim this year, since the 33rd day of the Omer falls straight after Shabbat (and on Sunday)

1. The Rema rules that it is permitted to have a haircut on Friday (but not Thursday night) "lichvod Shabbat" (Orech Chaim 493:2)

2. Even though it is permitted to have a haircut before Shabbat, weddings (and presumably live music) are permitted only on the day of Lag BaOmer (i.e. Sunday) and not the night before (i.e. Sat. night) (Mishna Brura 493:10 in the name of Eliya Rabba)

3. The Rabbanut of Israel has ruled that all bonfires and celebrations should be pushed off to Sunday (instead of Saturday night) to minimize chilul Shabbat (this applies even in neighbourhoods where the majority of people keep Shabbat).

4. Laws of Nezikin/Damages still apply on (and before) Lag BaOmer. If you are unsure of how to tend a fire and are not prepared (or able) to watch it until it is completely extinguished, do not light a bonfire. Leaving it under the supervision of a child is negligent and one is liable for any damages caused (not to mention the potential risk of pikuach nefesh in such a situation). Similarly, wood taken/borrowed/stolen without permission is forbidden to be used. Learn Bava Kama before lighting any fires. If you see others acting in a way which is irresponsible and/or assur speak to them and explain the halachot. If they do not understand, call the fire brigade (or police). Last year seven people were injured on Lag BaOmer. Each of us has the responsibility to ensure that nobody is injured and no damage caused to property this year.

Monday, April 22, 2013

28th day, 4 weeks of the Omer

Today is the 28th Day of the Omer, making 4 weeks.

Here are some theme tunes for the day.

What's the Deal by 28 Days

Rabbanut Monopoly on Weddings

Yizhar Hess wrote an article complaining about a nice Tzohar Rabbi who performed at a wedding of a nice young non-religious couple. Everything was fine, until the groom told the Rabbi that he wanted to use his army commander as a witness on the ketuba. The Tzohar Rabbi, nice as he was, refused to allow this person to be a witness, on the grounds that he does not keep Shabbat.

There are a few points in this article that are worth discussing:

1. One of the problems of the law in Israel requiring every Jewish person to get married through the Orthodox Rabbanut is that many (most) of them are not committed to halacha. And some will end up divorced without giving a 'get'. This creates a problem that any subsequent children born to the divorcee are considered mamzerim in halacha.
One solution which I have heard (quoted in the name of an anonymous godol) is to use non-kosher witnesses for any wedding when the officiating Rabbi is concerned that the marriage will eventually be disolved without a get (which according to some means the majority of non-religious weddings). This theoretically solves the mamzer problem, but causes many other sins by both the couple (living together without a chuppa etc) and the Rabbi (dishonesty and not providing the service he was employed to provide).
Rav Bakshi-Doron (Techumin 25 p. 100) writes strongly against this custom.
So in fact, the Tzohar Rabbi was being both honest and trusting in insisting on only using kosher witnesses. (Even though I understand the emotional trauma this caused). For this reason, when I was a Rabbi I had a rule that the Chazan and I were the witnesses at every wedding we performed. In this way nobody was embarrassed or questioned about their observance. Of course, in Britain there are also witnesses for the civil documents, which can be signed by anyone, so the couple can give their friends a special part in the wedding ceremony. There is no equivalent 'kibud' in Israeli weddings.

2. In the article Hess writes about 'Gur' (the non kosher witness):
How absurd. Gur could have been a tax evader, an abusive employer, or even a rapist, but the rabbi didn’t care about any of that. He wouldn’t have bothered to ask about his character. A good Jew, one who is fit to be a witness, can only be someone who observes the Sabbath (in the Orthodox manner). A secular Jew, no matter if he is one of the righteous few, a talmid chacham, or a bona fide Jewish hero, is unfit. Women, by the way, even if they are Sabbath observers, are considered unfit to be witnesses from the outset, simply because they are women.
Really? Who says that a tax evader, rapist or other criminal is a kosher witness for a ketuba? Unfortunately there is an assumption that if someone dresses the part they also follow all the rules. But it is clear that a thief may not be a witness. And witnesses should do teshuva from any sin before signing the form. Perhaps if we could somehow change the perception that Orthodox Jews are tolerant of theft, tax avoidance, abuse and rape, we could avoid a lot of chilul Hashem.

3. Rav Bakshi-Doron (ibid.) writes in conclusion:
The issue of Orthodox marriages, to our sorrow, is not only not desired by a large segment of society, but has become a symbol of thsoe who hate Torah. They have made it into a shovel to dig against everything holy, claiming religious coercion. The question remains: Is it not better to do away with the law forcing Orthodox marriage, in order that the concept be not degraded? The greatest degradation is that enormous pressure is brought on Dayanim and Rabbis to permit that which is forbidden, or to convert people who do not want to be Jewish. Also the issue of annulling marriages to avoid mamzering causes desecration of the Torah, when we rejoice at finding invalid marraiges this avoiding the problem of adultery (and mamzerim).

This was written 8 years ago. The hatred of Orthodox has only increased since then. The numbers of questionable conversions and dodgy marriages continues to increase daily. The halachic problems and chilul Hashem caused by forcing Orthodox marriages are surely greater than allowing people the option of a civil marriage.

If the government forced people to marry through the Orthodox Rabbinate, it must also force the Rabbinate to convert people for marriage (which is forbidden by the Shulchan Aruch). Allowing civil marriage will do away with insincere (and potentially invalid) conversions, and will greatly lessen chilul Hashem in Israel.

If it were up to me, I would advise the government (and the Rabbinate) to allow civil marriages. But in exchange, conversions and divorce should remain firmly in the hands of the Rabbinate, without political pressure. (As to the question of Agunot - that is for another post. But things are slowly improving there due to sensible use of government legislation).

Interesting Fact No. 6: Rabbi Akiva's Death

For more interesting facts click the link

Rabbi Akiva's death was foretold by Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrkanus. In Avot de-Rebbi Natan 25 we find a description of Rabbi Elizer's last moments. He had been exiled to Caesarea after being excommunicated by Rabbi Yehoshua and the Sanhedrin. Yet he was the most brilliant mind of his generation. Only when he is on his death bed do the Rabbis come to visit him, and ask to learn Torah from him:
אחר כך אמר ר' אליעזר לחכמים: תמה אני על תלמידי הדור שמא יענשו מיתה לשמים. 
אמרו לו: רבי מפני מה? 
אמר להם: מפני שלא באו ושמשו אותי. 
ואחר כך אמר לעקיבא בן יוסף: עקיבא, מפני מה לא באת לפני ושמשת אותי? 
אמר לו: רבי, לא נפניתי. 
אמר לו: תמה אני עליך אם תמות מיתת עצמך. 
ויש אומרים: לא אמר לו כלום, אלא כיון שאמר רבי אליעזר לתלמידיו כך, מיד נמס דמו בקרבו. 
אמר לו רבי עקיבא: רבי מיתתי במה? 
אמר לו: עקיבא, שלך קשה מכולן. 
נכנס רבי עקיבא וישב לפניו, 
ואמר לו: רבי, מעתה שנה לי פתח. 
ושנה לו שלוש מאות הלכות בבהרת. 
 There is an almost identical version in the Bavli (Sanhedrin 68a):
 'Why have ye come?' said he to them. 'To study the Torah', they replied; 'And why did ye not come before now', he asked? They answered, 'We had no time'. He then said, 'I will be surprised if these die a natural death'. R. Akiba asked him, 'And what will my death be?' and he answered, 'Yours will be more cruel than theirs'. 
 I am not sure exactly how old Rabbi Akiva was when this exchange took place. Presumably he was still a student, rather than a teacher, in which case he lived for at least another 40 years after this. He knew that he would die a horrible death, and spent all his life preparing for it. And we know how he died, and how he explicitly said that he had been preparing for that moment his entire life Berachot 61b):

Our Rabbis taught: Once the wicked Government issued a decree forbidding the Jews to study and practise the Torah. Pappus b. Judah came and found R. Akiba publicly bringing gatherings together and occupying himself with the Torah. He said to him: Akiba, are you not afraid of the Government? He replied: I will explain to you with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw fishes going in swarms from one place to another. He said to them: From what are you fleeing? They replied: From the nets cast for us by men. He said to them: Would you like to come up on to the dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors? They replied: Art thou the one that they call the cleverest of animals? Thou art not clever but foolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live, how much more in the element in which we would die! So it is with us. If such is our condition when we sit and study the Torah, of which it is written, For that is thy life and the length of thy days, if we go and neglect it how much worse off we shall be! It is related that soon afterwards R. Akiba was arrested and thrown into prison, and Pappus b. Judah was also arrested and imprisoned next to him. He said to him: Pappus, who brought you here? He replied: Happy are you, R. Akiba, that you have been seized for busying yourself with the Torah! Alas for Pappus who has been seized for busying himself with idle things! When R. Akiba was taken out for execution, it was the hour for the recital of the Shema', and while they combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of heaven. His disciples said to him: Our teacher, even to this point? He said to them: All my days I have been troubled by this verse, 'with all thy soul', [which I interpret,] 'even if He takes thy soul'. I said: When shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this? Now that I have the opportunity shall I not fulfil it? He prolonged the word ehad until he expired while saying it. A bath kol went forth and proclaimed: Happy art thou, Akiba, that thy soul has departed with the word ehad! The ministering angels said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Such Torah, and such a reward? [He should have been] from them that die by Thy hand, O Lord. He replied to them: Their portion is in life. A bath kol went forth and proclaimed, Happy art thou, R. Akiba, that thou art destined for the life of the world to come.
 Moshe Rabbeinu could not understand Rabbi Akiva's death. But Rabbi Akiva himself not only understood it, but was waiting for it.
It is not unreasonable to assume that knowing he would be tortured to death by the Romans gave him the freedom to act without fear, since he no longer feared the only punishment that the Romans could give him. Perhaps this permitted him to be such a vocal supporter of Bar Kochba, even while the other Rabbis were more cautious in their support (or even opposed the uprising).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

RIngtones for the 27th day of the Omer

27 by The Silencers
27 Jennifers by Mike Doughty

Today is the 27th day of the Omer, making 3 weeks and 6 days.
Don't forget to count, and to change your ringtone.

Rashi had ruach hakodesh

The Artscroll Gemara, unlike Steinsaltz and other English or Hebrew translations/commentaries, have set themselves the task of always following Rashi's explanation, even if it is not the simplest. You may have noticed this when the magid shiur in daf yomi tries to give Tosefot's explanation of a sugya which is easier than Rashi's, and everyone with an Artscroll Gemara argues that he is saying it wrong.

There is a sugya in Rosh Hashana 24a regarding the position of the moon in relation to the sun, and the difference between winter and summer.

Artscrolls team of Rabbis (18 names are listed in the beginning of the book) struggled to understand Rashi here. Eventually they were forced to write the following:

The facts of this explanation simply to not comforn to the basic astronomical data as we know it. According to simple ovservation, the new moon does not set at one place year round. On the contrary, its setting place is very close to that of the sun; namely, south of due west in the winter and north of due west in the summer. Furthermore, its north-south postion in relation to the sun does not depend on the season of the year but rather on other considerations (see Rambam, Hil. Kiddush HaChodesh 16:7 ff.). Unfortunately, the holy words of our master Rashi here are beyond our feeble understanding and they await elucidation.
Rashi's explanatino aside, the Gemara can be explained quite simply...
 In other words, the translators and editors of the Artscroll Gemara were unable to understand how Rashi's explanation of the Gemara fit with reality. Since that reality can be ascertained by "simple observation" it is inconceivable that Rashi didn't know it. It is not a question of modern science or even geography. Furthermore, Rashi left aside the simple understanding of the Gemara to write his difficult explanation that cannot be understood.

There are only two possible ways of understanding Rashi. Either he didn't know basic astronomy. Or he wrote his commentary with such deep Ruach HaKodesh that it can not be understood by modern talmidei chachamim.

Since the first option is inconceivable, it is clear that Rashi must have been writing with Ruach HaKodesh.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 26 of the Omer

It is getting harder to find songs with these numbers. Please leave any suggestions in the comments.

26 Miles (Santa Catalina) by The Four Preps

Today is the 26th day of the Omer making 3 weeks and 5 days.

Cohen in a bag

This picture was doing the rounds. Not only in Jewish media, but all over the world the media was showing how crazy some Orthodox Jews are.

After some misinformation when people though this man didn't want to be in the same plane as a woman, it was clarified that he is a Cohen (priest) and climbed inside his plastic bag in order to protect himself from ritual impurity while the aeroplane flew over Cholon cemetery.

Some of the blogs even praised the person himself (even if they thought the ruling was odd) for listening to the ruling of his Rabbi. (Even Dovbear tried to justify (or not) his actions)

I just want to throw in my 5 cents (or tuppence if you are British).

Firstly, as has been pointed out, the idea that a plastic bag protects (being synthetic) more than the actual plane (which is made of aluminium) or the carpet etc (all made of synthetic materials) is ludicrous.

But let's leave that aside.

It seems to me that his Rosh Yeshiva (who may well be a great Torah scholar - I have no idea) has forgotten a Gemara in Berachot 19b regarding when and when not to do things that are potentially embarrassing in order to avoid sin.

The Gemara begins by saying that if a person discovers they are wearing a garment containing Shatnez they must disrobe even in public, to avoid sinning.

R. Judah said in the name of Rab: If one finds mixed kinds3 in his garment, he takes it off even in the street. What is the reason? [It says]: There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord; wherever a profanation of God's name is involved no respect is paid to a teacher.

But the Gemara then goes on to give a list of exceptions to this rule. Including the following:

Come and hear; for R. Eleazar b. Zadok said: We used to leap over coffins containing bodies to see the Israelite kings. Nor did they mean this to apply only to Israelite kings, but also to heathen kings, so that if he should be privileged [to live to the time of the Messiah], he should be able to distinguish between the Israelite and the heathen kings. Why so? Let us say, 'There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel before the Lord'? — [It is in accord with the dictum of Raba; for Raba said: It is a rule of the Torah that a 'tent' which has a hollow space of a handbreadth forms a partition against uncleanness, but if it has not a hollow space of a handbreadth it forms no partition against uncleanness. Now most coffins have a space of a handbreadth, and [the Rabbis] decreed that those which had such a space [should form no partition] for fear they should be confused with those which had no space, but where respect to kings was involved they did not enforce the decree.

In other words, a cohen is permitted to actually run over graves in order to greet a king (whether Jewish or not Jewish) because it probably only involves transgression of a Rabbinic commandment, which does not apply when honouring kings.

Is it not obvious that we can certainly apply a kal va-chomer to flying over a cemetery. Surely it is at least a safek or a Rabbinic prohibition.

But in our case, the Cohen was not going to greet a king. So how does that help? Because the whole sugya is based on avoiding chilul Hashem (profanation of G-d's name). I'll repeat the line from above:

wherever a profanation of God's name is involved no respect is paid to a teacher.

In other words, one is commanded to perform potentially embarrassing actions to avoid chilul Hashem.

Is one commanded to perform potentially embarrassing actions to cause chilul Hashem? Absolutely not.

Look there at the rest of the Gemara. It is clear to me that even if a strict interpretation of the halacha would require every cohen to get inside a plastic bag, the fact that nowadays people carry phones with them and are able to put pictures such as this on facebook/twitter etc within second, thereby creating chilul Hashem, means that one should not apply the strict interpretation of the halacha here, but should rely on one of the (many) possible lenient rulings to avoid chilul Hashem.

Ok, perhaps the Rosh Yeshiva has never heard of twitter of facebook, and didn't realise that people carry cameras with them (kosher phones have neitehr internet nor cameras). But why did the Cohen himself not look around and think that he was perhasp doing the wrong thing, since he was the only one on the flight with a plastic bag? The answer is a combination of "Da'as Torah" and pride.

The Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, gave an address at the funeral for Lady Margaret Thatcher. He struggled to find anything nice to say about her (so resorted to telling jokes). But one of the things he said was interesting. He pointed out the difference between Methodists (which Baroness Thatcher was) and Anglicans (which he is).

She once described her religious upbringing in a lecture saying: "We were taught always to make up our own minds and never take the easy way of following the crowd". The Bishop says that in the past it was so often the Methodists who took the lead.

Anglicans apparently are told to follow the party line and not question. Methodists are encouraged to question and search for truth.

It appears to me that the Chareidi world has chosen the path of the Anglicans. A student may never question his teacher. A Rabbi may never question a Godol. etc. Thinking and questioning is strongly discouraged (apart from very narrowly defined questions on Gemara which are permitted).

A good student, even if he was formerly a pilot in the airforce (as this Cohen was) is not allowed to question the ruling of the Rebbe. His job is to do what he is told. He should be a good Anglican.

It is true that a soldier ultimately has to follow orders from above. But if he is sent to do something which he feels is wrong, a good soldier (in a good army) will be permitted to question and clarify before going on the mission.

Furthermore, this Cohen was on the plane for several hours (I think it was a flight from the USA to Israel). The plastic bag/cemetery was only at the end of the flight. He had hours in which to ask if there were any other Cohanim on the flight, and whether they planned on getting into a plastic bag. And if not, why not. He could have done plenty of research on the trip before making Judaism a lauging stock.

But he (presumably) didn't. And why not? Because Chareidi Jews (and others) do not feel connected to the rest of Klal Yisrael. There would be no point in asking someone with a knitted kippa what to do (even if that person was a well-qualified Rabbi) because "such people are not really Jewish", and always look for the easy way out. (Look at all the political rhetoric surrounding Bayit HaYehudi coming from the Chareidi world).
And if there is a Chareidi Cohen on the flight, his opinion is also unreliable, because my Rosh Yeshiva knows better than he does.

There are many things that we Jews do which seem odd to the outside world. These are not a chilul Hashem, but can be a kiddush Hashem and Jews are often respected for them.
But when the crazy thing comes out of ignorance (of cameras and internet, not to mention aeroplane construction) and pride (because my Rosh Yeshiva knows better than anyone else in the world) this is a chilul Hashem.

This parsha of Acharei Mot/Kedoshim teaches us the mitzva of tochecha. But tochecha can only be given (if it can be given at all) to someone who is "amitecha" - part of your people. As long as each group views themselves as separate from the rest of klal yisrael, there is no chance of tochecha, and no chance of actual Torah, instead of stupidity.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Merkava Mk IV: Iron Dome

This is competely random, but too good not to share. A heavy metal song written in honour of Yom HaAtzma'ut, about a Merkava tank. Too cool for after school!

(Do not listen to until after Lag BaOmer, or never if you don't like Heavy Metal. But perhaps you can click on it anyway to show support for Israel).

Omer count 22

Today is the 22nd day of the Omer, making 3 weeks and 1 day. Here are some songs to help you remember that fact.
22 by Lily Allen (Best English accent in a song with 22 in the title)
22 by Taylor Swift (Very different kind of accent)
Twenty Two by Millencolin (Swedish Punk Omer song)
22: The Death of All Romance by The Dears (Canadians who stole the beginning of the song from the Clash)
22 Dreams by Paul Weller (Former Jam and Style Council member dreams of the Omer)
Waiting For 22 by Queensrÿche (Operation Mind:Crime)
Fell in Love at 22 Starflyer 59 (Shoegazing from California)
22 Acacia Avenue by Iron Maiden (part II of "Charlotte the Harlot" - as if you didn't know. This clip is from before Bruce Dickenson got his hair cut)

Rolling Stones won't play in Israel for Yom HaAtzma'ut

There was a story doing the rounds a couple of months ago that the Stones were playing Israel for Yom HaAtzma'ut (Independence Day). It was covered by many major media, but in fact was a Purim joke. (All of the mainstream online media have subsequently removed their articles about the Stones' tour, so I can't link to them. But believe me that they were there)

So, since you can't see them live, here are the Stones on youtube (and if you watch it while in Israel you could say that you saw the Stones in Israel on Yom HaAtzma'ut). So here are 6 decades of the Rolling Stones in concert:

From 1964, a group of young people from London

Stones in 1971 Live in the Marquee Club, London

Rolling Stones in 1981 in Houston

1998 in Bremen (without Bill Wyman)

In Boston in 2005

London 02 Arena 2012

Next year in Jerusalem!

And finally, the best mute Stones impersonation I've seen today, by Noel Fielding on Never Mind the Buzzcocks (which is a British game show with two teams of mildly famous people doing silly things with rock music). Make sure you watch to the end when Phil Jupitus does his Brian Jones impersonation too)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Songs for Israel Independence Day

For Yom HaAtzma'ut I've chosen some songs with "Israel", "Zion" or "Tel Aviv" in the title. As far as I know, none of them were written with Yom HaAtzma'ut in mind. There are a lot more reggae songs that are about Zion, but there is only so much backbeat I can take in one sitting.

Silverchair: Israel's Son

Siouxsie and the Banshees: Israel

Duran Duran: Tel Aviv

Army of Lovers: Israelism

Bob Marley: Iron, Lion, Zion

Damien Marley: Road to Zion

Lauren Hill (Featuring Carlos Santana): To Zion

Stone Senses: Heading for Zion

A band named Israel: Israel Vibration: Natty Dread

And finally,  Israel is not in the title, but in the name of this late Hawaiin singer with the most beautiful voice. Israel Kamakawiwoole: Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World

21st Day of the Omer - some ringtones

Today is the 21st day of the Omer making 3 weeks. It is also Yom HaAtzma'ut. Happy Birthday Israel.

1. 21 Days by Cory Morrow (Texan knows how to count the Omer)

2. 21 by The Cranberries (Irish folksy-rock Omer reminder)

3. 21 Questions by 50 Cent (change from a dollar?)
4. 21st Century Digital Boy by Bad Religion (weird video)

5. Retired at 21 by Black Flag (Not 21, not retired. Just American Punk)
6. 21 Guitar Salute by Dropkick Murphys (American Celtic Punk with the right number of guitars but too many "F" words)

7. Freedom at 21 by Jack White (Always odd, always brilliant)

8. 21 Guns by Green Day (Nice song, too much eyeshadow and too many tatoos though)
9. 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson (Best song ever sung through a distortion pedal)

10. This Is The 21st Century by Marillion (Marillian were never the same after Fish left - sorry)

11. 21st Century by Red Hot Chili Peppers (This song will be outdated in another 87 years, so enjoy it not)
12. 21 Seconds by So Solid Crew (I can't believe I am posting this - I can't even understand what the lyrics mean, except the "N" word - please skip straight to the next song)

13. 21st Century Girl by Willow Smith (This is only here to get the last song out of your head. The Omer count multiplied by 100 (with a girl))

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Twentieth Day of the Omer - Some Ringtones

Today is the 20th day of the Omer, making 2 weeks and 6 days of the Omer. Here are some songs which you could use as ringtones to help you (and those around you) to remember.

1. 20 by Travis (Scotsman gets the right day of the Omer)

3. 20 Flight Rock by Eddie Cochran (classic rock n' roll from the 50s)

4. 20 Small Cigars by Frank Zappa (Chunga's Revenge - nothing better than slow jazz from Frank)

5. 20 Eyes by Misfits (Brilliant Punk and equally Brilliant Lyrics)

6. Twenty Years by Placebo (20 days, not 20 years!)

7. 20th Century Boy by T. Rex (20 days, not centuries! But I challenge you to sit still while this classic is rocking)

8. 20th Century Fox by The Doors (20 days, not centuries. And why the fox?)

9. 20 Killer Hurts by Gene Loves Jezebel (Are we talking about electricity here?)

10. 20 Seconds to Comply by Silver Bullet (not seconds! 20 days!)

Today is also Yom HaZikaron. In memory of all those who have fallen defending the State of Israel. May their memory be blessed.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Omer Nineteen Ringtones

Are there fewer songs about prime numbers than other numbers (I suspect not, since 2 is a prime number, and there are lots of songs about 2).

I find that by changing my ringtone every day I always remember what day of the Omer it is (however I don't always know when it is my phone that is ringing).

Today is the 19th day of the Omer, making 2 weeks and 5 days.

1. 19 by Paul Hardcastle (Vietnam War used for Omer reminder?)
2. 19 by Phil Lynott (Great song. Rubbish video. By the "only black man in Dublin" - may he rest in peace)
3. 19th nervous Breakdown by The Rolling Stones (Even though the Stones are not really coming to Israel - they are still a great band)
4. 19 by Old 97s (I have never heard of this song or band, but apparently the people in the audience are familiar with both)
5. Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan (Great band. Interesting Name, nudge nudge wink wink)
6. Nineteen Forever by Joe Jackson (chill out with 80s New-Wave)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Eighteenth Day of the Omer (Ringtones)

What can one do when it is Shabbat? How can we do ringtones for the 18th day of the Omer? Not sure, but I must admit that apart from Shababt, I find having a different ringtone every day constantly reminds me of which day it is (and my wife also knows which day of the Omer it is by my ringtone).

Anyway, whether you can use them or not, here are some 18 themed songs which could be used as rintones on your Shabbat approved phone.

1. 18 by Moby (Named after a white whale)

2. 18 and Life by Skid Row (What kind of name is "Rachel" for a guy? And Sebastian Bach? You're having a laugh).

3. I'm 18 by Alice Cooper (What kind of name is that for a boy - Vince?? Oh, and NEVER wear shiny trousers on TV!)

4. She's Only 18 by Red Hot Chili Peppers (funk - bad for the soul)

5. Eighteen by Pat Metheny Group (laid back jazz to sooth the soul)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

17 Ringtones

Today is the 17th day of the Omer, making 2 weeks and 3 days of the Omer (Tiferet in Tiferet)

Here are some 17 related tunes

1. Seventeen by The Regents
2. Seventeen by Winger (A bit of hair-metal anyone?)
5. Seventeen by The Sex Pistols (I don't wear flares)
6. Seventeen by Ladytron (a blend of electropop, New Wave and shoegazing from Liverpool)
7. The Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac were never the same after Peter Green left the band. Jews do make a difference!)
8. 17 by Smashing Pumpkins (Only 17 seconds long)
9. At Seventeen by Janis Ian (Another New York Jew)
and finally
10. Sixteen Going on Seventeen by Rogers and Hammerstein (1 Jew and 1  Episcopalian), from the Sound of Music (I'm not sure that really counts - should probably be for yesterday)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seven Years Old - Free Download

I see that today is the seventh birthday of my blog. My first post was 10th April 2006 (I know, English birthday, not the "real" birthday, but unfortunately Blogger doesn't record the Hebrew date, and I can't be bothered checking it).

In honour of my blog's birthday I would like to leave a present for anyone who wants something to read about Pesach, Shavu'ot and Sefirat HaOmer. This is a book that I self-published three years ago for my daughter's bat mitzvah. It is selections from an amazing book by Rav Tzadok HaCohen entitled "Machshavot Charutz" ("Deep Thoughts")

My original plan was to finish translating the entire book, but I got busy with other things and never did. Maybe one day I'll get back to it.

Anyway, here it is. If you want to order a print copy you can go to Lulu and order it.

I would appreciate any feedback (and/or corrections etc.) in case I ever get back to finishing the translation of the entire book and publishing it properly.


16 Sixteens

Tonight is the 16th day of the Omer, making 2 weeks and 2 days (Gevurah in Tiferet)

Here are sixteen "16" songs which you could use as ringtones

1. Sixteen by Musical Youth (If you remember Musical Youth you must be older than 16 now)
3. Sweet Little Sixteen by Chuck Berry (from a very long time ago - sounds a lot like BeachBoys doesn't it)
4. 16 by Green Day
5. Just Sixteen by Velvet Revolver (What Slash did next)
6. 16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six by Tom Waits (Who can ever compare to Tom Waits? Fantastic. Though it is not "music" (according to my wife) so perhaps it is permitted to listen to Tom during Sefirah?)
7. Sixteen by The Buzzcocks (Just what you'd expect from Manchester)
8. 16 Days by Whiskeytown (Before Ryan Adams became famous. Not the "e" to show it is not scotch whisky)
9. Christine Sixteen by KISS (Chaim Witz aka Gene Simmons on vocals)
11. Sixteen by Sebadoh (LoFi indeed)
12. Sweet Sixteen by Billy Idol (Generation X)
13. Sixteen Blue by The Replacements (Or did they mean "Sixteen, Gevurah she-be-tiferet"?)
14. Sixteen by Iggy Pop and the Stooges (Ok, maybe they come close to Tom Waits in brilliance)
15. Sixteen Saltines by Jack White (I love this one - Jack is so mental he is brilliant)
16. Only Sixteen by Sam Cooke (Something sweet to complete the list)