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Friday, July 28, 2006


Know your enemy

I was thinking about Jews for Jesus and the Neturei Karta. Funny combination of groups, right? But both are enemies of normative Judaism, but both are Jewish groups.

I think it's interesting that we spend a lot of time, money, and mental energy on thinking about and fighting against these Jewish enemies, while our real enemies are shooting rockets as far as Nahariya.

I don't have any answers. Maybe there are physical, political, and spiritual enemies, and they're not all the same person at the same time. But I think it's curious that we have millions of bloodthirsty Jihadi savages slavering at our throats and we're busy stabbing one another in the tuchis.

Jews make up what, a tenth of a percent of the world population? So why is J4J pushing so hard to get us to convert? Why are they spending millions and engaging in such high-profile activities?

If you walk (as I did yesterday) along the tunnel that connects 7th and 8th avenues at the Port Authority subway station, you'll see what I'm talking about. EVERY billboard along the entire tunnel is plastered with J4J signs. The marketing slogan is "Jews for Jesus - Jesus for Jews." Which is so stupid. I mean, I could have come up with a better marketing campaign than that.

But stupid though it may be, each billboard has the message in bright colors and bold, paint-stroke print.

And it made me feel self-conscious. All of a sudden, I wasn't the guy walking to 7th avenue. I was the Jew with the yarmulke, running a gauntlet of propaganda aimed specifically at me.

Why do they need to focus such a bright spotlight on me? On us? Targeting us in a very specific way?

I mean, I know the answers to these questions, in theory. Evangelical dogma and end-times prophecies and whatnot. But it still feels weird, and I want to call them on it. But i'm always running for a train when I see the leafleteers, and at the end of the day, I know it's not them who dreamed up the campaign and paid for the billboards.

On to Neturei Karta - the Arab-loving lunatics in bekeshes and payos who often appear at anti-Israel rallies. (Don't say anti-Israel! Say anti-Zionist! Right. Right. Anti-semitic rallies.)

So apparently, they've been interviewed on Fox News, MSNBC, and various other news outlets in recent days, offering apologies for Hezbollah and blaming the escalating violence and body count on Zionists. They don't express this as their opinion; they insist that it is the Torah approach and the only possible expression of authentic Judaism. If there are any unaffiliated or gentile readers still with me - ignore them, please.

One friend of mine suggested they have a din rodef, as their actions are supporting our enemies, and thus we are Torah-bound to kill them. I don't disagree.

But I'm not whipping out my sword just yet. Because at the end of the day, if I'm busy clashing with J4J and NK, I'm not focusing on the real haters of Israel - Islamo-fascist fundamentalist freaks who want nothing more than to kill me. And that, I think, is where our attention should be focused.


Recent Observations

Hello all -

Na'aleh es yerushalaim al rosh simchaseinu - please daven for the safety, well-being, and victory of our soldiers in Lebanon, Gaza, and everywhere they may be - on land, air, or sea.

Sorry for the hiatus in posting; it's been (and continued to be) a very busy week.

First off, Mazel Tov to R & R & S on the birth of their son/brother. AM is a cutie and we adore him. Nachas and simchas and good stuff.

Secondly, while on the bus on Monday, I saw a small group of protesters in Times Square. "Maybe they're protesting for or against Israel," I thought. But no. They were protesting the fact that Nickelodeon (a cable television network) was planning to cancel a show called "Danny Phantom."

That's right. A dozen people with signs and placards were demanding the renewal of a TV show.

I'm sure, if you Google it, you'll find fan sites and protest petitions and whatnot. But I'm not going to include any links here. Because seriously! It's a TV show!

But this is America, right? We all have enough to eat. Nobody's raining bombs on our houses. And this sort of behavior plays into the establishment's hands perfectly: Better they should focus on unimportant things than turn their energies toward community service, political protest, and so on. Those things could get dangerous.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Tales of Emunah: True or False?

I just discovered a very disturbing problem: In the July 2006 issue of The Announcements, a Monsey ad book, a story called "United Flight 175" appears on page 76.

Essentially, the story is that a frum Jewish man was on the plane, realized that he forgot his tefillin in the terminal at Logan Airport, and made a huge fuss until the flight crew let him off the plane to retrieve them. The plane left without him, was subsequently hijacked and flown into WTC Tower 2, and this yid survived because of his dedication to the mitzvah of tefillin.

And, the story continues, because of his actions, the plane was delayed in taking off, which put an 18-minute gap between the two planes hitting the towers, and that led to thousands of more lives saved.

According to the post-script, this story appears in a 2002 book called "Even in the Darkest Moments," by Zeev Breier. This book has been quoted widely and even excerpted on Aish.com.
I was suspicious. Why had I never heard this story before? I looked it up online, and sure enough, snopes.com - the main site for debunking myths - reports that the story never happened.

It never happened!


Read the report on snopes and decide for yourself. It seems pretty straightforward.

So what are we supposed to believe? Is the story about R' Elyashiv on page 48 also a little bit of a white lie? Was Zeev Breier fooled by someone who claimed to be telling a firsthand story? Or did he make it up?

We've already seen many instances where stories about gedolim or chasidishe rebbes (and I don't mean the two are mutually exclusive) are interchangeable - some say it happened to Rebbe1, some say it happened to Rebbe2, and so on. But how many of these stories are just fabrications? Anyone?

Terry Pratchett, a brilliant British author, once wrote, "A lie can travel 'round the world before the truth has got its boots on." I just wish that weren't the case with stories that are supposed to inspire and give chizuk to people.

And then, the more frightening question: If people are inspired and strengthened by the story, does it really matter whether it's true?

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