Thursday, April 29, 2010

Super-Duper-Markets Come To Jerusalem

Call me lame but I’m someone that gets excited over nice supermarkets. I get even more excited when those supermarkets are in Israel. And when a new store opens that can rival a supergiant like Walmart or Costco, in size, service and value and it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from my home – well, then you know I’m going to blog about it!

Osher Ad opened its doors in March and I finally got to check it out tonight. Let me tell you, it’s the first place I’ve been to in Israel (certainly in Jerusalem) that I glanced from wall to wall and said – “yeah, wow, this place IS really big!” Walmart would not be embarrassed to open something this size and at least now in its opening weeks the prices can definitely compete with Cosco’s deals.

Now the reason I thought this fit to post on Kumah is because it’s wonderful to see growth in Israel – and this is real growth! Olim from America often lament about missing Walmart or Cosco and wonder why they don’t open up in Israel. Don’t get me wrong. Osher Ad is not Walmart. In fact one of the workers told me that himself. (We’ll get to that later.)

But it is a really wonderful feeling to see quality fruits and vegetables piled to the sky (all certified by Rav Efrati, by the way) with prices you can only find in “the shuk” if you spend hours searching. And then while you are shopping you hear an announcement over the loudspeaker. No, not for a cleanup on aisle 3, but announcing “if anyone is interested there will be a minyan for maariv in fifteen minutes, located in the biet haknesset in the back of the store. That’s right, this store comes complete with its own beautiful biet haknesset with minyanim every hour on the hour.

And so during my shopping adventure I spotted a Crockpot (only 100NIS!!!) and grabbed it. (Kumah’s Malkah has been telling me to get one for years.) Then realizing I would need to get the serving pot toveled I asked the guy manning the “appliances and electronics” section if this place has a kaylim mikvah. “No,” he answered my heavy accented Hebrew in his mother tongue English, “this isn’t Walmart!” I wasn’t aware that Walmart had mikvahs but I told him that I noticed the store had a shul and I figured it could have a mikvah too.

Anyway if any Osher Ad management people out there are reading this blog post it would be really cool to build a kaylim mikvah on site. I think that was the only thing to it was missing.

Crossposted on Kumah

Friday, April 02, 2010

Lipstick on a Pig

Michael’s post about the irony of President Obama holding a Pesach Seder when the theme of the Seder is the triumph of G-d’s hand over natural events and world leaders, (and even over superpower nations) and when its very climax is a return of all the Jewish people to a very undivided rebuilt Jerusalem, while at the same time attempting with all his might to tear away half of our forever precious Jerusalem, reminded me of something I saw in the Meam Loez.

Actually, it’s very appropriate because it’s on next week’s parsha, Shemini. The Torah discusses non-kosher animals and specifically points out the camel, the hyrax, the hare and the pig as animals with one of two kosher signs. When mentioning them it points out the kosher sign they have first and then explains what the non-kosher sign is. The Meam Loez asks why is it backwards? The Torah should first be pointing out the non-kosher sign as what makes it not kosher and add as an after thought that it’s not kosher even though it also has one kosher sign?

The answer is that the kosher sign is actually more important because the Torah is trying to warn us that even though it has one kosher sign don’t be fooled into thinking it’s kosher. The Meam Loez continues:

This alludes to people that make a great display of piety but inwardly they are filled with evil thoughts and wickedness. These hypocrites are very disgusting in G-d’s Eyes, more so than one who is wicked both inwardly and outwardly.

A wicked person does not fool people. But the hypocrites are only pious outside and they fool the rest of the world into thinking that they are good.

I wrote about this medrish (which is where it’s quoted from) when Mr. Obama was campaigning for the Presidency almost two years ago. Recall that the campaign arranged for him to visit the Kotel where he was to slip a note, a prayer, into the wall. It was reported that someone removed the note and sold it to a local paper which posted the contents:

"Lord - Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."

It was later learned that the entire episode was a PR stunt and that the campaign had delivered a copy of the “private” note to all the local papers fully expecting them to publish it.

That got me very worried because it was a perfect example of what the Torah was warning us about. A man taking great pains to outwardly fool the world into believing he is humble and pious. Later there were many more examples, like photos showing the President moving a chair himself (he knows the Whitehouse photographer is in the room with him and gives permission – or more likely orders – these types of photos to be released to the public, showing the world how humble he is) or bowing publicly to world leaders from nations far inferior to his own.

Actually in many ways the most appropriate non-kosher animal to compare the President to is the pig. This is not name calling but based on the nature of this animal as the Meam Loez (quoting the medrish) explains:

The Torah says that Esau and his nation were likened to the pig. They show their hooves like a pig.

A pig has one kosher sign; it has a split hoof. It shows its hoof to people as if to say “Look, I’m kosher!”

However, the pig is unclean on the inside.

Edom, the nation of Esau, behaved like very good people on the outside. They did not steal and they did not rob the property of the Jews. But inside they were wicked; deep down they wanted to wipe Israel out of the world and kill all the Jews.

It is very evident, that there is a leader in Iran today, that is actively attempting to facilitate the complete destruction of Israel, Heaven forbid. As such Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (or more correctly Haman-inejad as it's pronounced in Iran) is accurately compared to Hitler, may his name be blotted out. It would seem that a leader that had a remedy to help save the Jewish Nation, such as bunker buster bombs capable of destroying Iran’s nuclear weapons program in his possession, but didn’t use that remedy or even provide it to Israel so the Jewish Nation can use it – it would seem such a man could easily be compared to FDR, a President that knew Jews were being gassed in Auschwitz, yet refused to bomb the railroad tracks and allowed the murders to continue.

There are many people that try to warn Jews about President Obama’s paternal genes. They remark how his middle name is Hussein (his first name combined with that actually means “the blessings of Hussein” in Arabic). The truth is, the real threat comes not from his paternal side, Yishmael, but from his Maternal side, Esau and Edom.

A man, that would put millions of lives at risk by denying Israel the weapons she needs to protect herself, simply to push his own political agenda is immoral, and even evil – exactly what the midrash is warning us about. How could anyone try to link important defense needs with anything at all let alone to appeasing terrorists?

Thank G-d the Founding Fathers of the United States had the wisdom to limit Presidential terms to four years. The President will only be able to hold two more hypocritical Pesach seders at the Whitehouse, because the world, or at least Jewish voters, now see him for what he is, one that stretches his feet out for the world to see how kosher he is, when on the inside he couldn’t be any more non-kosher.

Posted from New York before Shabbat.

Crossposted on Kumah