Pumpkins vs Purim

December 24, 2017

orig. written: 3rd of Heshvan, 5778, Lawrenceville, NJ  Hanoch Ne’eman

Halloween approaches in America. Need to ask: why some people are moved to put tombstones and skulls in their front yards? Necrophilia? Hard to say that plays no role.

Can we see anything good in Halloween? Yes. It’s fun to see people dressed up in “normal” costumes, like mermaids or caterpillars (not ogres or monsters). And does not trick or treating get people to meet their neighbors a bit? We often have no contact with people in our neighborhood. Though the implied threat of “trick” and the often accompanying Halloween vandalism is negative.

I can’t help contrasting this with Purim and sending portions, shaloch manot, to your neighbors. There you send something as a gift to your neighbor, instead of asking for it. But we also have the other side on Purim of gifts to the poor, where the poor often do come and ask.

And on Purim many folks dress up in costumes too.

Here in Jersey, for Halloween, many folks “decorate” their homes and shrubs with giant “spider webs”. Thank you very much, I have enough work keeping the real spider webs out of my home!

So I think the conclusion is that we should teach more people to celebrate Purim and then maybe they can leave the pumpkins for for pies and nothing more. Maybe they can make pumpkin hamentashen.


New Gemach

November 29, 2017

12 Kislev 5778 Jerusalem Chanoch Ne’eman

Tired of getting your good suit all wet and smelly at the draft protest?

Come to Yanky’s New Protest Suit Gemach!!!

That’s right, now you can pick up a already smelly-like-fertilizer suit, having been sprayed with skunk spray by the Israeli Police in previous demonstrations, and return it after your release!  No more embarrassing shidduch dates or Shabbos meals with your smelly suit!

Open evenings from 8-10 pm. Special discounts for Sephardim too.

Protest Management and Odor Issues

November 28, 2017

11 of Kislev 5778 Jerusalem, Hanoch Ne’eman

Got off a bus from Bet Shemesh today, around 4:30 pm.  Intersection near Jerusalem Central Bus Station smelled like… a barn?

Walking on Yaffo, I met a fellow who asked me if there had been protests up that way. Then I figured out that there must have been more protests, draft protests I assume, and the Police had used the stink stuff I had heard people talk about.

Give me a break, … Is there no better way to handle protests than to stink up our city?

Something is wrong with the Israeli Police… The Nose Knows!

And now you know too.

Breath of Fresh Air (Please!)

November 28, 2017

9th of Kislev 5778 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

I saw in the news that some mayors complained about air pollution from Arab towns. Yes, there is a big problem of Arab areas burning garbage. In recent days, with the overcast skies, I was suffering from it here in Baka too. And of course when I visit Tekoa, I suffer from it from the nearby villages. As do many places in Israel.

The Israeli EPA does not allow Israelis to do that, but the Palestinian Authority, that monster we created, does.

As Mr. Kushner, Minister of American Innovation and Middle East Peace, prepares to suggest a Peace Plan, I reflect on how we still have many years work ahead of us to try to mitigate the harmful effects of the Oslo Accords. I yearn for fresh air.

And of course, this week is 70 years from the 29 November, 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine, which led to heavy violence and of course it not being accepted or implemented.

Partitions are good for synagogues, but not Israel. Wish everyone understood that.


September 24, 2017

Motz. Shabbat, 4th of Tishrei, 5778 Yerushalayim, Hanoch Ne’eman

Back in Israel. Arrived on Monday. Spent time during flight thinking how could make airline cabin more comfortable and utilizing overhead space for place to lie down.

Glad, very happy, to see the Israelis again, my dear fellow Jews first of all. But the city itself is depressing me, it looks disorderly and dirty, as usual. (That is not a criticism of Israel, just of the way we are keeping it!) Feel need to move, at least apartments. Need fresh air and quiet.

Prayed two mornings of Rosh Hashana at Kotel. Nice to be in open air, with stereo symphonic shofar blowing, and the price is right. I have been away for over six months and have not had time to pay any shul dues yet. Didn’t even have any Israeli checks with me.


on fish and humming birds

May 24, 2017

28 Iyar 5777 Scottsdale

Funny sometimes how Man and animals interact. I noticed at the piling of Chaparral Road Bridge, in the canal, some large fish. They are big fish, over 30 inches long, if you threw one at your friend, it would likely knock him over. At first I thought they were spawning there, but having checked on them regularly for many weeks, I see that they are just always there. It protects them from the current, and in this man-made canal, there is not much else to hide behind. It is a really artificial situation; a man-made canal, and then these poor fish are “stocked” into it, and then they have no place to hang out except behind a piling.

On a more positive nature note, I made a discovery (for me, not science) about hummingbirds. Since I always see them sticking their beaks into the honeysuckle flowers in the backyard, I thought they must only eat nectar. But no. It turns out they mostly eat bugs. How did I discover this? I was sitting under some trees near a small pond in Chaparral Park, and the hummingbirds come there and keep going near leaves. I am thinking, what are these hummingbirds dumb? There are no flowers here! But then watching carefully I see they are stirring up little insects, which they then catch. Then I checked online and saw that indeed it is a common misconception that they eat only nectar. They eat both insects and nectar. Now you know!

By the way, standing under that tree, one flew about a foot from my face! They are a lot of fun to watch, and don’t mind you hanging around.

Image result for hummingbirdsphoto: national zoo

Bald Eagle

May 14, 2017

15 Iyar 5777, Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Some nights ago, without me hearing it, it rained here. Let me tell you, there were a lot of happi cacti out there on the morrow. The Saguaros were simply swelling with joy. The air smelled beautiful too. Had to clean the dust marks of the car, but that was a small price to pay.

Two Shabboses before today, I took a walk down to Hayden Road in the late afternoon.

Image result for rain on cactus

Elizabeth Rose – photo

I walked along Hayden Road, with its heavy traffic, up to Jackrabbit Road, then turned back. As I get closer to Chaparral Road, I see, atop a tall wooden electric pole, a very large bird. “What might that be?”, I think, “a turkey vulture or a heron, looking for fish in Chaparral Pond which is just on the other side of the street?” Getting closer, slowly, I see it is a bald eagle! And I know what they look like, because I saw them and photographed them years ago on my Aunt’s property in Vermont.

Before long the eagle got uneasy and took off. It circled high over the lake a few passes, not diving for anything, and then kept flying off. It was about 24 inches from head to toe. He kept flying off, heading north, sort of veering back and forth. I could easily still see him over a mile away.

Rav Kook wrote in 5668 (1908) in Jaffa:

The longing for freedom will reach its peak, and Man will realize that he is entitled to live in his spirit (inside) as he actually is, according to the desire of the mighty nature of his living soul – and this soul lives only in G-d. Without deep, vibrant faith, this soul has no life or light. It is fleeting as a shadow, oppressed by a terrible suffering, and parched with cruel thirst. Who would prevent her? Who would not allow her to live in G-d? Who would drive this sky bird from her nest? Who would put her in prison? Who would stop her from cruising the full expanses of heaven, the place of splendor and fresh air, full of light and life?   (Orot, pg. 218)

Yes, we should be privileged to see the eagles soaring every shabbos, wherever we are!

something old, something new

April 26, 2017

rosh hodesh Iyar 5777 H. Ne’eman Scottsdale

I am enjoying reading my Mom’s collection of old scout books. It is interesting how a hundred years ago, the general society in America dressed modestly; women in skirts, men in shirts and pants. What made values change? It is also interesting how international dress standards are today. I see a lot of the same fashions among the immodest in Israel as in America. I must conclude that if you are not taught about modesty, you are unlikely to practice it. You will want to be like others, you will want to stand out, you will want to be most comfortable.

How can we influence people for better? One, by example. Two, by insisting on clean ads in public spaces. Three, by writing and speaking to groups, such as civic and religious groups; this is a topic where we can build bridges and create constructive dialogue.

Of course this is for those inspired to it. Many of us don’t have time to devote to such things. But examples we should always be.


Reach, throw…

April 25, 2017

14th of Omer, H. Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Tonight I was sitting by the pool reviewing a lot of my life mistakes, I guess you could say it was the reflecting pool, at least for that time. At some time in the middle I see a big moth splashing about in the water. He keeps getting swished around, can’t get out of the water, and does not come close enough to the side for me to reach him.

In the scouts, in our lifesaving classes, we learned the order of rescue: Reach, Throw, Row, Go. Finally I remembered that there were some Styrofoam swim tubes in one of the changing rooms. I procured one of those and made the moth reach-rescue.

May Hashem be so kind as to help us out of our fixes! Ana Hashem Hoshia Na!



citrus sunblock

April 24, 2017

13th day of Omer Hanoch N. Scottsdale

Arizona gets so hot that people put sun protection on their tree trunks. For example, if a grapefruit tree has spaces in its crown where sunlight can reach the trunk, people paint the trunk white so it does not get damaged. Some rock and sand surfaces in the summer sun can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius).

At least it is good for drying clothes. And inspires me to build home in desert in Israel.