Friday, January 30, 2009

Al ta’am v’al birthday cake, kanireh she’yeish lehitvakei’ach

A while ago, I referred to the Great Shiputzim Family Birthday Cake Debate.

Let me explain. No there is too much, let me sum up. (Yes, I know I’ve used this quote before. Twice to be exact. But as everyone knows, one can never have too many Princess Bride quotes…)

You see, to her father and brothers’ bemusement and chagrin, the Resident Ulpanistit doesn’t like chocolate cake.

/*braces for onslaught of protests over the fact that the family’s deepest, darkest secret has just been revealed*/

It’s not that the Resident Ulpanistit doesn’t like chocolate per se. After all, she enjoys chocolate bars, chocolate pudding, chocolate frosting, and even chocolate brownies.

But chocolate cake? Not so much.

Why do the male members of the Shiputzim family care, you wonder?

Ah, but you obviously aren’t aware that in their minds: BirthdayCake=ChocolateCake. This, they feel, is a universal and inviolable truth to be held very dear.

However, according to the Shiputzim family’s by-laws, the birthday girl/boy gets to pick the precise nature of the birthday cake. (This rule is strictly enforced – particularly when the birthday girl/boy is the one doing the baking!) And so naturally, when it’s her birthday, the Resident Ulpanistit opts for cakes other than the traditional chocolate variety.

Indeed, for her most recent birthday, she chose – to her brothers’ dismay – a blueberry cake. /*watches in amusement as the Resident Ulpanistit’s brothers shudder in horror at the memory*/

Blueberry [“Un-Birthday”] Cake

Like the cucumber salad recipe, I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, and then the Resident Ulpanistit and I modified it somewhat. Specifically, we replaced the margarine with oil.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.25 cups canola oil
  • 1 cup orange or mango juice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1 can blueberry or cherry pie filling


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • A few drops of canola oil (just enough to form fine crumbs)


Line 9x13” pan with baking paper. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil. Add juice, flour and baking powder. Mix. Pour 2/3 – 3/4 of batter into pan. Add filling. Pour rest of batter over filling. Prepare topping, and sprinkle over batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, and then at 350 degrees for an additional 30-40 minutes.

Chocolate chip variation

Omit both the filling and the topping. Add 1 package of chocolate chips to batter before placing in pan. (Optional: Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top.)

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guest post: It’s a goat’s life

As some of you know, Miriam has always been like a sister to me. As such, she graciously agreed to contribute to this blog.

To the surprise of their friends and relatives, Miriam and her family recently became the proud owners of a… goat. Yes, you read that correctly. But I’ll let her explain in her own words:

Living With a Goat

A Guest Post By Miriam

I was asked to write about "Living With a Goat". I don't know if this was meant seriously, but a subtle hint appeared on this blog.

I decided to write since I am frequently asked about how I manage to live with a goat. (I had a pet rock once - which died - so I do not know why people think I am not an animal-friendly person.) I reasoned that if I write this, I can also answer well-meant questions with, "Read the Blog!"

I here then present the answer to the unspoken but intended question: WHY?!?

We have a pet goat - her name is Hephzibah, and she is 11 months old. She is grey, soft and furry (by hearsay, I do not go near enough to find this out firsthand) and very beautiful (if you are into goats). She lives in a beautiful pink and purple plastic house in our yard.

Hephzibah eats stale bread - ends, crusts collected from nursery school, left over rolls from Bar Mitzvahs, etc. She also eats all the peelings and cores from vegetables. She particularly enjoys food from our neighbors who are organic vegetarians. (They call ground-up sprouted wheat, "bread," and ground avocado seeds, "cake".) Hephzibah also enjoys eating grass etc., when she is taken to graze.

There are lots of positive things about owning a goat:

  1. One does not throw out food.
  2. Sedentary children, who would prefer to read all day, are forced to go for walks.
  3. Emotional strength that comes from taking care of a pet that loves you back.
  4. Fresh goat milk.

Goats can be milked after they have a kid. A good reason not to do this is then she would have to be milked every day. This is a good thing; it helps teach human kids responsibility. However, the willing workforce come back late from school, and one is going away to a dorm. The real reason not to do it, though, is that regardless of the well-documented advantages of goat milk, I like cow milk that comes in plastic non-biodegradable containers.

To answer the FAQ: Then why not a dog? Hephzibah is a kosher animal, and a dog is not. And the milk...

Thanks, Miriam. May you and your family continue to enjoy many more fruitful goat-filled years.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Politics in action

The CTO told me that a certain political party was paying 40 seniors from his yeshiva to attend some sort of rally and “clap” (in his words). The party paid for their bus and is also giving them a significant amount of money, which they’re using toward their upcoming hachtarah (literally, coronation – refers to the traditional and elaborate Purim schpiel staged by 12th graders around the country).

Something about this bothers me, and I’m not sure what it is.

These are boys who know what it means to be active for important causes. For instance, they went to rallies and protests before the Expulsion. (I think they’re slightly too young to have been in either Gush Katif itself or, subsequently, Amona, but I could be wrong.) More recently, some of them were in Chevron, and others continue to participate in assorted political events. In short, when it comes to something they believe in, they get involved.

But at the same time, a number of our illustrious politicians have conspired to teach these kids a horrible lesson – namely, that their efforts don’t necessarily count. After all, despite the unprecedented human chain, the massive prayer rally at the Kotel, and all the other grassroots initiatives (Panim El Panim, Kfar Maimon, Ofakim, Kikar Rabin, etc.), the Expulsion happened.

Paying these same boys to now attend a rally seems to me to be the height of cynicism.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

OLD, STALE NEWS: Our Shiputzim undergoes [extremely minor] shiputzim

Before I get to the title, here are two important blogging announcements:

  1. The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to SuperRaizy for including my Heblish IV post.
  2. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Ilana-Davita for including my cucumber salad post.

And in other news, the Our Shiputzim editorial department recently received the following letter:

Dear Our Shiputzim, How come you haven’t blogged about the changes you made to the blog last week? Also, why don’t you change the blog’s name to something more appropriate? Thanks, A Concerned Reader

They, in turn, asked that I post this response:

Dear Concerned,

Thanks for your letter.

Since all we did was make some minor changes to the text(e.g. the tag-line and the blurb on the top right) without touching the overall look and feel, we didn’t think there was anything to blog about.

Besides, it’s somewhat of a catch-22. You see, the reason we made those changes was to show that we’re no longer blogging about our shiputzim (renovations). But that means that we can’t blog about those changes either, since those changes are, in effect, shiputzim in and of themselves…

And to answer your second question: Back in the summer, when the blog moved away from our renovations, the original name was maintained, because we had an established and well-respected brand laziness ruled the day.

Of course, if I was the effusive and lyrical type, I could claim that the name is appropriate. I could wax poetic and explain that life is all about improving ourselves and the world around us.

Or something like that.

But that’s not exactly my style, and so this blog will just have to make do with its misrepresentative name.


The Our Shiputzim Editor-in-Chief


Accept no imitations

Shavua tov!

On Thursday, after four days of fever and coughing, I finally gave in and went to the doctor.

The diagnosis?

A case of the “real flu, not one of those imitations,” were the doctor’s exact words.

(Okay, maybe not his exact words. After all, his exact words were: “שפעת אמיתית, לא אחד מהזיופים האלו”, but I think you get the general idea.)

I must confess that I was actually quiet pleased with myself. In fact, since Thursday, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to have a conversation along the following lines:

Other person: So, what do you have?

Me: (oh-so-modestly) An authentic case of the flu.

OP: (impressed) Wow! I just have a generic virus.

Me: (with not more than a touch of condescension and superiority) Oh, really? Well, I guess you wanted to save a few agurot, but personally, I find that the quality just isn’t the same. Still, whatever works for you…


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pop goes the story

The CTO just finished telling me how his Ra”M wasn’t there today, and so instead, one of the other Rabbeim came and spoke to them about the Rachel Imeinu story that’s been making the rounds. (IIRC, I think I first saw it here.)

Basically, the Rav said that although there’s definitely a precedence for having someone come back to life – he cited some sources in the Gemara as well as a story involving R’ Chaim Volozhin – he doesn’t think that this story happened. (He admitted that he isn’t quite sure what to make of the Rav Mordechai Eliyahu incident.)

Coincidentally, just last night, TSG was talking about this story as well. She said that each girl in her class had a slightly different version, but the teacher assured them that they were all referring to the same story.

My favorite part was listening to TSG recount how the woman warned the soldiers away from the building, “because it was going to pop.”

To pop: Hebrew source – להתפוצץ. English definition – To explode. Sample usage – See above.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heblish: Multi-dialectal edition

Back in my initial Heblish post, I stated that the beauty of Heblish is that there are so many different dialects. In fact, I noted, every Anglo-Israeli household has its own version.

Yet at YAT’s bar mitzvah, I made a surprising and fascinating observation: Speakers of different dialects have no problem conversing with each other! Since the Our Shiputzim blog doesn’t have a linguist on staff (due to budgetary constraints and all), I can’t explain this phenomenon. However, here’s an example, which was used by one of the Shiputzim family’s cousins:

Lefee the high: Hebrew source - לפי גובה. English definition - By height. Sample usage - “Let’s all line up lefee the high.”

The speaker was addressing a group of kids from different families, but they all understood exactly what she meant. Within a few seconds, they had arranged themselves in size order.

And now, we turn to some phrases which are popular here in TRLEOOB (i.e., the real life equivalent of our blog, for those of you who are just tuning in):

Mixing up: Hebrew source – מבלבל. English definition –Confusing. Sample usage - “I can’t figure out how to put this thing together. The instructions are very mixing up.”

To pick: Hebrew source - להצביע or לבחור. English definition - To vote for. Sample usage - “Who are you going to pick in the elections?”

Just stam saying: Hebrew source - סתם אומר\ת. English definition – Just making it up. Sample usage - “That’s not at all how it happened! He’s just stam saying!”

Learn for a test: Hebrew source - ללמוד למבחן. English definition - Study for a test. Sample usage - “I finished learning for my test. Now I can go out to play.”

Right it’s: Hebrew source – …נכון ש. English definition – Isn’t it true that. Sample usage - “Right it’s my turn now, because she went first last time?”


Previous editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, and Heblish III.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Turning back into a pumpkin

Unless you’ve been avoiding the J-Blogosphere over the past week and a half, you’re probably aware that I posted an incredible story about an IDF chaplain.

Why am I mentioning this now, you ask?

Good question.

You see, super-blogger Jameel generously placed a link to my post on his blog; a number of other bloggers soon picked up the story; and the rest, as they say, was history.

(Question – Who are “they”, and when have they ever said this? Inquiring minds want to know.)

But I digress.

My point is that my blog stats suddenly soared. Just to give you a basis for comparison, note that at the beginning of that week, I received a mere 28-37 hits a day. However, in the two hours following Jameel’s post, my SiteMeter recorded a total of 264 hits! The following day, I received 500 hits, and the momentum continued on into the next week.

Thus, for one brief shining moment - {cue: music from Camelot} - I could pretend that I was one of the big bloggers. Visions of ad revenue danced in my head.

But then came the blogging equivalent of the clock striking midnight: I went back to my standard blogging fare, and all those new readers started returning to wherever it was that they came from.

Commenter “Be All You Can Be” – who, in his capacity of official Our Shiputzim military advisor, knows a thing or two about strategy and tactics – told me that I should be working on retaining these readers. According to him, the idea is to stick with what works. In my case, he claims, that would of course be… roof views.

And so, new readers, before you move on to other venues, please take a moment to check out the “Roof” label on the right. You may find something there that interests you.

Or, maybe not…


Sunday, January 18, 2009

The joys of politics-free blogging

Fortunately, this is a politics-free blog.

Why is that fortunate?

Because otherwise, I’d have to rage against the ridiculous travesty known as the “cease fire”. (As many others have said, “we cease; they fire”…)

But, since I don’t do politics, I can keep my opinions to myself and avoid disagreeable and depressing topics.

Instead, I can talk about pleasant things, like:

YAT’s bar mitzvah – B”H we had a wonderful time. The kids enjoyed playing with their cousins; YAT did a great job; and YAT’s parents went out of their way to ensure their guests’ comfort. And the best part is that I not only came up with some more material for my next Heblish post, but I began negotiations for an upcoming guest post from a very unexpected source. (Watch this space for further details.)

A blogging honor – Thank you to my friend Leora premio-dardos-award1for giving me a very special award. It’s called the Prémio Dardos Award, and according to the description, “The Prémio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web”. I’m truly honored to have received this blogging nod from Leora, whose blog represents all the award’s underlying ideas.

Have a good week!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today you are a… YAT

As some of you are aware, YAT – known here on Our Shiputzim for his edifying and elucidating comments – is IY”H celebrating his bar mitzvah this weekend.

In honor of the occasion, I was asked by YAT’s mother – an occasional Our Shiputzim commenter herself – to prepare a cucumber salad for Shabbat.

Here’s YZG’s sister’s recipe - with a few slight modifications which reflect the Shiputzim family’s tastes:

Lemon-Cucumber Salad


  • 8-10 cucumbers, sliced thin in the food processor
  • 1 onion, sliced thin in the food processor
  • 2-3 scallions, very coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Place the vegetables in a bowl. Prepare the dressing, and pour over the vegetables. Mix, and chill for several hours before serving.

The entire Our Shiputzim staff wishes to extend a very warm mazal tov to YAT and his parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Shiputzim: YOUR source for OUR literary compositions

To help the girls deal with their fears and concerns about the war, TSG’s teacher had the class write stories.

When TSG showed me her story with its charming spelling mistakes she asked if I could please post it on the blog.

[Brief digression: As you may have noticed, all of our kids are intrigued by this blog – albeit in different ways. Some of them find it amusing; others wonder why I bother; and still others are always asking me to post things about them. TSG, clearly, falls into the latter category…]

Anyway, I told her that I would post the story, but it had to be translated into English. Here, then, is her translation, which she dictated to me:

The Kassams in Sderot: A Work of Fiction by TSG

One day, I went to visit my friend Temima. We went to the park. We went on the swings. We played, and we had fun.

All of the sudden, I heard “tzeva adom,” and I was very scared. Then I almost fell, and Temima told me, “Run to our miklat (bomb shelter)!”


“I will tell you on the way… There’s [sic] Kassams in Sderot, Ashdod, Nitzan, and a lot more places.”

When we got to the miklat, I looked out the window, and I saw a mouse. Temima said to me, “Close the window! The Kassam will come into our house!”

“Wait! First, I need to bring the mouse in.” So, I ran fast out of the house, and I brought him inside. Then we closed the window.

When they told them to go out of the miklat, we played next to the house, and I told Temima, “I hope there won’t be any more Kassams in Sderot and in all of Am Yisrael.”

And I went home.

The End


P.S. Exercise for the reader: See how many Heblish-isms you can spot in the above story.

P.S.S. In case you were wondering (and I can only assume that you were), TSG informs me that she got the name “Temima” from Shifra Glick’s Shikufitzky books.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

HH 200

The next edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Jack for including both my Ani Mavtiach Lach post as well as YAR’s incredible story.

Timeout for trivialities

Someone from our neighborhood launched a new project, pairing families from our community with families from Ashkelon. We’re waiting to receive the specifics of our “adopted family”. However, the organizers did tell us that the idea is to maintain daily contact – phone calls, emails, visits – and to let the Ashkelonites know that we care.

In the meantime, with your permission, I feel like I must take a break from serious war-related posts. But first, a pro forma warning:

WARNING: This is an inane post filled with trivial musings. Readers will walk away neither moved nor inspired. If this bothers you, feel free to click away.

Last week, YZG, MAG and I attended a bar mitzvah. Here are several related blogbits:

0 for 2 If you’re looking for someone who can foresee the future, don’t come to us. On the way to the bar mitzvah, YZG and I assumed that there wouldn’t be seating cards. But as it turned out, we were wrong. And then, YZG asked me if I thought there would be fireworks. (After all, in certain circles, having the bar mitzvah boy march out accompanied by fireworks is quite de rigueur.) I thought the room seemed relatively small, and so I told YZG that I believed that they would somehow make do without. But once again, I misjudged our hosts. You will no doubt be glad to learn that there were four large floor-to-ceiling sparklers…

No, pie are round; CORNBREAD are square As anyone who has been to an Israeli catered affair any time over the past five years knows, square plates are apparently all the rage. However, as everyone also knows, square plates* are quite annoying. They may be aesthetically pleasing – although that point is highly debatable – but they’re far from functional. And so, I beseech all the plate manufacturers who happen to be Our Shiputzim readers: Please go back to making round plates, as nature intended. Thank you.

From the “my husband is so cool” department On the way home, we gave rides (i.e. trempim, for the Hebraically-oriented among you) to two guys from our neighborhood. A few minutes into the ride, one of them noticed that YZG – who had not consulted a map – was leaving the city where the bar mitzvah was held via a back exit. “I was born here,” the man exclaimed, obviously very impressed by YZG’s navigational skills, “and it never would’ve occurred to me to use this route. I would’ve gone all the way around, but this way saved so much time!” (P.S. Special thanks to our so-called “anonymous” Swedish-speaking commenter for suggesting that specific route to YZG a few days earlier…)

We now return you back to your regularly scheduled serious wartime blog.


* Yes, I admit that the caterer used square plates on Motza”Sh of MAG’s bar mitzvah – as you can see here - but at least we had round plates over Shabbat, for the meals I did myself.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kiddush Hashem – English translation

Here is an English translation of YAR’s beautiful letter. As I noted previously, he and his brother are our relatives, and I thank him for allowing me to post his letter here on Our Shiputzim.

Kiddush Hashem

by YAR

(Sunday, January 4, 2009) This evening, my brother, who serves as a career military rabbi, told me the following story, which took place this past Shabbat, when the IDF entered Gaza.

He was one of three rabbis who spent Shabbat on a base not too far away from the border, together with a few hundred soldiers who were preparing for the ground incursion. After spending the day delivering shiurim and motivational speeches, the rabbis wondered if they should perhaps travel with the soldiers from the base to the staging location, in order to boost the soldiers’ morale.

They deliberated and finally decided – with some hesitation – to go along with the soldiers.

Hoping to arrange a minchah prayer service, the rabbis took a Sefer Torah with them. When it was time to get off the bus, my brother asked someone to pass the Torah to him (in order to mitigate the halachic issue of bringing something into a karmelit). However, when he got off the bus, the Torah stayed behind. He looked back into the bus and saw that the soldiers were passing the Torah from hand to hand. Each soldier took the opportunity to embrace it tightly.

Afterwards, a group of soldiers approached two of the rabbis. (The bearded rabbis stood out; one was holding the Sefer Torah, and the other was wearing his talit.) The soldiers asked the rabbis for a blessing. Since giving blessings isn’t included in a military rabbi’s standard job description, my brother told the soldiers that he would recite the blessing he uses for his sons on Leil Shabbat. To his amazement, more and more soldiers began approaching him. (According to him, most of them were traditional – i.e. not outwardly observant. The bnei yeshivot seemed less interested in receiving a blessing from the rabbis.) Soon, so many soldiers had amassed that the rabbis could no longer give personal blessings.

Instead, they spread out a talit over the crowd’s heads – as is customary on Simchat Torah – and blessed everyone in unison.

With great emotion, several soldiers exclaimed that the rabbis’ presence gave them strength and boosted their spirits. One soldier even added that the rabbis’ blessing was more significant and meaningful for him than all the training sessions he had heard in the period leading up to the operation.

As the sun began to set, the long infantry columns set out towards the Strip. Meanwhile, the rabbis stood near the crossing with the Sefer Torah in their hands and called out words of encouragement and blessing to the soldiers. (“May Hashem be with you,” “may Hashem bless you,” and other phrases inspired by the Rambam’s writings on fear during a battle.) The soldiers, in turn, kissed the Sefer Torah as they marched along.

Ashreichem Yisrael! (How fortunate are you, O Israel!)

My brother wanted to hear what I thought about the story, in terms of the Shabbat laws. He and his colleagues had been reprimanded by the brigade rabbi for permitting themselves to take the Sefer Torah with them. In fact, he claimed that the entire trip was problematic. (For instance, he rejected their argument that they were in a similar position to a husband who travels with his wife to the hospital on Shabbat when she is about to give birth, in order to give her emotional support.)

The commanding rabbi’s words caused my brother to second guess himself. Although he was confident that he had acted in accordance with the worldview of IDF Chief Rabbi Rav Ronsky, he wasn’t sure if he had acted properly.

I immediately assured him that in my opinion, his behavior constitutes an incredible Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of Hashem’s Name).

How could anyone disagree?

Kiddush Hashem

The following incredible letter has been making the rounds of the Internet. As it so happens, we are related to the author, who was kind enough to let me post it here on Our Shiputzim.

Here is the Hebrew original. I hope to have an English translation up shortly.

רב צבאי ככהן משוח מלחמה

מאת י.א.ר

הנה סיפור משבת האחרונה עם כניסת החיילים לעזה שסיפר לי הערב אחי שמשרת כרב צבאי בקבע:

לאחר שבמשך יום השבת שהו קבוצת רבנים (כשלושה במספר), בבסיס מרוחק מה מהגבול, יחד עם מספר מאות חיילים שעמדו לקראת הכניסה הקרקעית, והעבירו את היום בשיעורים ושיחות חיזוק ועידוד, התלבטו הרבנים עם עליהם להצטרף לנסיעת החיילים מהבסיס אל החניון בו עמדו הכלים בשביל לעודד את רוחם עם היציאה.

לאחר התדינות ביניהם הוחלט - בהססנות מה - להצטרף.

הרבנים הביאו עמם ספר תורה מתוך כוונה לארגן תפילת מנחה, וכאשר רצו לרדת מהאוטובוס, אחי ביקש ממאן דהו להעביר אליו את הספר (כדי להקליש את בעיית ההעברה לתוך כרמלית), ואולם לאחר שירד מהאוטובוס וחכה למטה זמן מה והספר בושש לבוא, הסתכל חזרה פנימה וראה כי החיילים מעבירים את הספר מיד ליד מתחבקים עמו ואינם מרפים.

לאחר מכן, עמדו יחד שניים מהרבנים, כאשר קבוצת חיילים ניגשת אליהם (הם בלטו בשטח כרבנים מזוקנים האחד אוחז ספר תורה בידו, והשני עטור בטלית) ובקשו לקבל מהם ברכה. היות וחלוקת ברכות אינה חלק רגיל משגרת יומו, סיפרו לחיילים כי יברך אותם בברכה אותה הוא מברך את בניו כל ליל שבת. לתדהמתו התחילו לגשת אליו כעוד ועוד חיילים, עד שהכמות היתה גדולה כל כך (לדבריו ברובם חבר'ה מסורתיים, הביינישים שבין החיילים פחות התענינו בברכתם), ולא יכלו יותר לתת ברכות אישיות. פרשו את הטלית, כבשמחת תורה, מעל ראש הנאספים ובירכו את הציבור בבת אחת.

כמה מהלוחמים נגשו אליהם ואמרו להם בהתרגשות כי נוכחותם הרבנית במקום מחזקת אותם ונותנת להם כוח, ואחד אף הוסיף כי ברכתם חשובה ומשמעותית עבורו יותר מכל השיחות המקצועיות ששמעו לקראת ההכנה למבצע.

עם השקיעה, כאשר התחילו טורי החיילים לצעוד בשיירה רגלית אל תוך הרצועה, נעמדו הרבנים ליד נקודת היציאה עם ספר התורה בידם, וזעקו לעבר החיילים העוברים לידם מילות עידוד וברכה (ה' עמכם, יברככם ה', ודברים נוספים בהשראת דברי הרמב"ם על הפחד במלחמה), החיילים מצדם חלפו על פניהם ונשקו לספר התורה שבידם.

אשריכם ישראל!

אחי בקש לשמוע את דעתי על הסיפור מבחינת הלכות שבת, שכן היום הם קיבלו נזיפה מהרב החטיבתי על כך שהורו לעצמם היתר להביא עמם ספר תורה לנסיעה שכל כולה בעייתית בעיניו מהחל ועד כלה (הוא לא קיבל, למשל, את טענתם כי יש להשוות את נסיעתם להצטרפותו של הבעל ליולדת הנוסעת בשבת לבית החולים).

לאור דברי הרב הפיקודי אחי הרגיש נקיפות מצפון, שכן על אף שידע בבירור כי נהג בהתאם להשקפתו של הרב הצבאי הראשי הרב רונצקי,לא היה בטוח שנהג כשורה.

חיזקתי את ידיו ואמרתי לו בלי לגמגם שלדעתי הסיפור כולו מרגש והינו בעיני
קידוש ה' גדול.

האם מישהו סבור אחרת?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

“Ani mavtiach lach, yaldah sheli ketanah…”

As some of you probably know, the title comes from Yehoram Gaon’s haunting Yom Kippur War song, “HaMilchamah HaAchronah.”

(An English translation of the lyrics is available at: "". )

This song came to mind this morning.

You see, late last night, yet another family friend was called up. This prompted a whole barrage (bad choice of words, I know) of questions from TSG: Why was he called up? Why now? Why does the army need more soldiers? Aren’t there enough soldiers already? How come some people don’t need to go to miluim? How come in America people don’t go to the army?

I tried to field her questions as best as I could.

But then came the clincher.

“But will [the CTO] need to go to the army?” she inquired.

“Yes,” I replied, without mentioning his tzav rishon.

She thought about this for a minute.

“Right it’s a little bit scary?” she asked, somewhat rhetorically.

I nodded.

“Three Jewish chayalim were in a house, and there were Arabs shooting rockets, and the Jewish chayalim died,” she reported.

“It’s very sad,” I told her.

I wondered how she knew this bit of information.

“[My teacher] tells us stories about the war every morning,” she explained. “Sometimes, we don’t start davening for a while, because she’s so busy telling us stories.”

TSG, may your teacher soon be able to go back to telling you happier stories, and may Hashem protect and watch over all our chayalim and over all of Am Yisrael.

ופרוש עלינו סכת שלומך ותקננו בעצה טובה מלפניך והושיענו למען שמך והגן בעדנו והסר מעלינו אויב דבר וחרב ורעב ויגון והסר שטן מלפנינו ומאחורינו ובצל כנפיך תסתירינו

(From the weekday maariv prayer)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guest blogger: MB

My RL friend MB graciously agreed to write about her recent experiences.

MB, you’re on. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame!smile_regular

A Guest Post

by MB

Unaccustomed as I am to guest blogging, I have no catchy titles to start my post. Anyway, I am too overwhelmed by the events of the last few days to be creative.

Wars in Israel were always something for the history book. The first one I ever really experienced here was the Second Lebanon War, and even that seemed far away. This time it feels that much closer.

The first reason is that my son, 18, started his first year of hesder this year. That means next year he will be in the army. Now I know this is hardly an earth-shattering occurrence in these parts, but for me it is. When we made aliya, he was 5 years old and the army was the furthest thing from my mind. Now I think about those soldiers going, and each one seems like my son. I know how those mothers are feeling in a way I didn’t before.

But just not to let things get too dull before the army, the yeshivat hesder he attends is in Sderot. That means he spends his time between the yeshiva, his dorm, and the bomb shelter. Unless you count the times he's up on the roof of his dorm watching Tzahal bomb Gaza. (Although, as my sister so wisely put it: I'm not sure that's the best place to be, in case Gaza decides to bomb back). My mother, of course, has called several times from the US to register her disapproval that we let him go back after Chanukah. But he feels that the best thing he could be doing now is to be learning Torah there, and we are really proud of him. We have also heard that the yeshiva's presence gives a lot of chizuk to the residents of Sderot.

Yesterday the "matzav" hit closest to home. (Mom-you don't read this blog, right?) There was yet another tzeva adom; the boys entered the shelter and came out after hearing the explosion. It seems, however, that the explosion was from our side, and the Kassam had not yet fallen-and it proceeded to do so 10 seconds later, about 20 meters from where they were standing.

And still, I'd rather be living here in Israel than anywhere else. ------ “MB”

Thanks, MB, and I hope you and all our readers have an easy and meaningful fast.

בתפילה לשלום חיילינו ואחינו בדרום

Monday, January 5, 2009

Blogging the home front

A number of readers have observed that posting has been a bit sparse lately.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to blog about. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For instance, I have several recipes to post. Also, our neighbors made an afternoon brit (i.e. a bris, for those of you in the Old Country), and I want to write an amusing comparison between the typical Israeli brit and the typical American bris. Finally, I’d like to introduce you to the Great Shiputzim Family Birthday Cake Debate (also known as “The Resident Ulpanistit v. Her Father and Brothers”).

In other words, standard Our Shiputzim blog fare: lighthearted, whimsical, and funny.

However, now really isn’t the time for these types of posts. After all, there’s nothing remotely lighthearted, whimsical, or funny about the fact that:

  • The IDF is fighting for its life against murderous terrorists.
  • A significant percentage of Israel’s population has to spend their days and nights cowering in bomb shelters and security rooms.
  • TSG and ENG now have a number of “new kids” in their class and gan (respectively). These kids come from families who chose to leave their homes and enjoy a brief respite from the rockets. Note that many of these same families stayed in our neighborhood once before – when they were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif.
  • A few days ago, TSG – whose teacher’s son was called back to his unit on the first Shabbat of the war – wondered, “Why do the Arabs keep shooting missiles?” An excellent question, but the answer - “because they hate us,” – is one that even the adults can’t understand. How is one supposed to explain this to a little girl?!
  • One of the Resident Ulpanistit’s friends sent an email to our local email list that she is available for babysitting, “even in the morning.” I was momentarily surprised that a high school girl would have time to babysit in the morning. But then I remembered that a number of rockets have fallen near this particular girl’s school and that her school is now closed for the duration.
  • We keep hearing about more sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers who have headed out to war.

In short, although life B”H goes on, the war is never far from our thoughts. We pray. We recite Tehillim. We discuss. We analyze. We wonder. We worry. We hope…

So, tell me please, dear readers, what would you like me to blog about?

יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלוקינו ואלוקי אבותינו שתהא השעה הזאת עת רצון לפניך ושתשמע את תפילתנו ובקשותינו

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Shavua tov.

B”H Shabbat was quiet here in TRLEOOB, but a number of our good friends and neighbors have sons who are now fighting in Gaza.

Our Rav noted that one should recite Tehillim and include the following in one’s prayers:

אחינו כל בית ישראל הנתונים בצרה ובשביה העומדים בין בים ובין ביבשה המקום ירחם עליהם ויצאם מצרה לרוחה ומאפלה לאורה ומשעבוד לגאולה השתא בעגלא ובזמן קריב ונאמר אמן

(Translation available upon request.)

Our prayers are for the safety and well being of all our brave soldiers as well as our beleaguered brothers and sisters in the South. May the coming week be one of besurot tovot, yeshu’ot, and nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2007

No, that isn’t a typo. I’m well aware that the calendar indicates that today is the first day of 2009.

It’s just that – as some of you know – YZG and I joined Facebook last night… only two years behind the rest of the world!

Anyway, since some of you were surprised that YZG and I took this rather uncharacteristic step, allow me to present:

The Official Our Shiputzim Facebook FAQ

Why did you join Facebook? Mainly, because both YCT (of the nameless and long-neglected blog) and RCT have been telling us that we really should. Also, like Mount Everest, Facebook was there…

But why now? I don’t know. Maybe we needed a frivolous escape from the war. Or maybe I needed some more blog fodder. (Speaking of which, in case you missed it, you might want to check out my Heblish III post from last week.)

Are you going to be spending your days on Facebook at the expense of this blog? I wouldn’t start worrying quite yet. I admit that I’m enjoying catching up with friends from way back and also getting to know some of my blogging friends a little bit better. But I’m not sure that I really understand the Facebook phenomenon.

Can I be your friend? Sure. If you don’t know my real name, please send me an email at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com.

Do your kids now think that you’re really cool? No, that would be too much to ask. But at least they don’t think that having parents on Facebook is a total fadichah either…

הקב”ה ישמור ויציל את חיילנו מכל צרה וצוקה ומכל נגע ומחלה וישלח ברכה והצלחה בכל מעשה ידיהם