Sunday, September 29, 2013

Three Years of Parnassah…Up Front!

Firstly, I do want to apologize for not following up on my Shidduch Crisis post that I launched last spring. I do hope to get to it eventually but for now, I need to digress. I hope to follow the crude advice of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to "never let a crisis go to waste".

The Yomim Noraim of 5774 have come and gone. What did we daven for?

Well, if you are like me, a heartfelt entreaty for parnassah was probably at the top of the list. After all, the world economy in general and Yechezkel Hirshman's economy in particular are what we call here al hapanim (the pits). I mean really bad shape. My own trade deficit (income vs. outgo) rivals that of Uncle Sam. My income cannot cover my basic day to day expenses and I have been forced to supplement my meager earnings with reserve money to the point of near total depletion. Cutbacks and mounting short term debt have taken their toll. I have IOU notes in my cookie jar. Not to mention at least 3 offspring on the Shadchan's sights (getting back to the Shidduch crisis…)

Of course, the Yad Hashem is always evident. About six months back I calculated that I have enough reserve to keep me afloat until June. When June came around, a long overdue and hard fought payoff came through and I revised my calculation that I now have enough to hold me until Rosh Hashannah. To me this was quite significant because every Rosh Hashannah is another chance to reset the tables. I saw that HKBH's plan for me for 5773 was fulfilled. But what's in store for 5774?

So when the Days of Mercy came around three weeks ago, like so many others, I poured out my heart for financial salvation.

But it struck me recently that perhaps, we who live here in Eretz Yisrael didn't have to. For us, there is no need to worry about parnassah this year. For 5774, parnassah is guaranteed. GUARANTEED!

And not just one year of parnassah. Three years. Three whole years of parnassah to be dealt out in 5774. GUARANTEED!

Where is it guaranteed?

Right here in my chumash. In Vayikra 25:20,21. Here it clearly states:
וכי תאמרו מה נאכל בשנה השביעית הן לא נזרע ולא נאסף את תבואתנו: וציויתי את ברכתי לכם בשנה הששית ועשת את התבואה לשלש השנים:

Free translation:
And should you ask "What shall we eat on the seventh year? Alas, we cannot sow and we cannot gather our produce?" And I will order My blessing on the sixth year and it will yield its produce for the amount of three years.

That's right, for those who intend to uphold the laws of shemitta, we have a guarantee that on the sixth year the GDP will do a threefold performance and we'll pull in enough to keep us afloat for three whole years. What a deal!!

Of course this probably won't apply to everybody. There are those Jews who rely on the Hetter Mechira and by so doing, treat the seventh year like every other year.

In a previous post (see my post about Ki LiHaAretz - Eminent Domain), I wrote at length that the validity of the Hetter Mechira needs to be reviewed because some of the key factors that were used to justify it in the first place are no longer applicable. But regardless of whether it is still Halachically valid it may not be a good idea to rely on it.


Because it probably voids the guarantee.

You see, this guarantee is earmarked for people who ask: "What shall we eat on the seventh year? Alas, we cannot sow and we cannot gather our produce?"

G-d is making this guarantee for those who intend to follow the basic laws and not to sow and not to gather the produce. For those who will use Halachic loopholes to circumvent the prohibitions, I am sure G-d can find some loopholes in His guarantee.

So now, 5774, the sixth year of the cycle, is the time for all of us Jews living in E"Y to decide how we intend to keep the upcoming Shmitta year. The genuine way that comes with a three year guarantee or the convoluted way that doesn't.

Remember: הטורח בערב שבת הוא יאכל בשבת.

Now, I personally identify with the follow-the-rules-as-written (WYSIWYG) clan so I do hope that the guarantee applies to me. Of course, one may argue that this guarantee is only applicable to those who actually work the land, not to those who get their sustenance from Technical Writing or the benefits of a US based family business.

This may indeed be so. But since 5774 is indeed the sixth year of the cycle, people like me can always fall back on preservation plan B…

…5774 is a Maaser Ohni year!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Anticipating the Geula

Wel-l-l-l, it's the third day of Nissan and, although the Pesach rush makes things hectic at home, it is actually quieting things down a bit here at the Har Chotzvim office. This gives me a long overdue opportunity to write.

Now, there have been occasions over the past year that I considered to finally come out of hibernation and post something, but it just didn't happen. One of the main urges came around the issue of the Great Internet Satan and the great Kennes that took place in CitiField last summer.

One reason I didn't take it up is that to some extent I have been worshipping the Great Internet Satan myself (of course I have filters) so perhaps my perspective would wax thin. Another reason is that I really did not have much to add to the outspoken pundits who were already on record.

My overall position has always been that the Internet is just another one of many Para Adumos that we must suffer along our treacherous journey to Destiny. This was totally reflected by the banner slogan that graced the event: We can't live with it; we can't live without it. Of course, I do think it is a great Kiddush Hashem that so many frum yidden took the time and congregated to face up to the hazards of this issue. Yet, I don't think it is especially prudent for anybody in today's generation to pompously declare who does or doesn't get a share in Olam Haba. This is not salesmanship and not the way to win friends or influence people.

Another crucial event was the expose' and trial of various sexual offenders. Primarily the one from Williamsburg. Though I have not been privy to all the details of the case, I am personally of the opinion that the fellow is guilty as sin.


Because there does not seem to be any dispute that he violated the Halachos of Yichud l'mehadrin min ha'mehadrin. And when basic ABC yichud is so blatantly and wantonly violated, not only is there no chezkas kashrus to the perpetrator, but there is actually a chezkas tumah as we know from the laws of Sotah.

Still, I try to stay away from discussing the sexual issues because, more than not, they are a discussion of human behavior inside of a religious framework rather than a discussion of hashkafa. My game is hashkafa. In other words, I may preach "Being of the chareidi hashkafa is the best because we have the morality laws and only we have the halachos of Yichud to safeguard ourselves and others." Invariably, the kvetchers will point out how much of our morality laws and laws of Yichud are brazenly violated by my fellow chareidim. To which I can only respond, "It's not a problem with the rulebook, it's a problem with the players!" (That's ye olde "Don't judge Judaism by the Jews" defense.)

Of course, the hottest issue of the day is the power struggle in Eretz Yisroel and the mishugoss of "Equalize the Burden" and the resulting coalition crisis.

Now, this should not be an issue in the eyes of any Orthodox Jew because, as I wrote clearly in Chapter 6 of my book, Orthodox Jews are expected to live within the precepts of Pirkei Avos. Pirkei Avos (3:5) tells us:

רבי נחוניא בן הקנה אומר: כל המקבל עליו על תורה מעבירין ממנו על מלכות ועל דרך ארץ; וכל הפורק ממנו על תורה נותנין עליו על מלכות ועל דרך ארץ.


Those who carry the burden of Torah are relieved of the burden of government. Those who throw off the burden of Torah are exacted the burden of government.


In short, we have our burden and the secular have theirs. They don't carry ours – we don't carry theirs. Seems pretty equal to me. We have nothing to apologize for. Especially to those who are not familiar with Pirkei Avos and do not even recite Krias Shma (or even Modeh Ani) at least once a day.


Notice the word כל which means Everyone. Not 400 students and not 1800 students. It means Everyone who accepts the yoke of Torah, whether it is 600, 6000, 60,000, 600,000, or 6,000,000 .


It is sad but not surprising that even some "Orthodox" Jews do not respect the words of Pirkei Avos (as well as do not recite Krias Shma twice a day). These may include such notables as Naftali Bennet.


In any case, my observations are that the sincere Torah oriented religious Zionists (RWs) are not currently at odds with the chareidim. Ever since the disengagement they learned that the post-Zionist establishment is not their ally. What comes out is that this army issue is really a religious/secular (believer vs. non-believer) issue rather than a chareidi/NCOJ (beliver/believer) issue. My work is to deal with the latter.


With this, to express my feelings about the army issue, I refer you to my dear friend and colleague, Rabbi Moshe Averick, who has taken up the believer/non-believer cause and has written a poignant and well researched essay that speaks for all of us. (Click HERE for the essay – just don't forget to come back!)


So, if I didn't come out of retirement to discuss the Internet, sexual deviance, or Israeli politics, what did bring me out of the deep freeze?


It is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart and to those of many others --- the Shidduch crisis!


As I knew it would, it hasn't gotten any better. There is no reason for it to have.


Unfortunately, I have already used up almost all of my window of time for this winded introduction, aside from the fact that this post is already as long as a post should be. Thus, I will sign off from this post and bare my thoughts in the next post which I hope should come out before Rosh HaShanna, bli neder.


In the meantime, Chodesh Nissan is here. It's time for a real geula.