Friday, 7 October 2011

A last minute apology to Pat Condell before Yom Kippur

I have said some really nasty things about Pat Condell. You know, the British guy with the sometimes hilarious and always angry videos against just about anybody religious.

Years ago when I saw him ranting for the first time I thought, this guy dislikes just about everybody, some of whom are our enemies, I bet he doesn't like us much either. Well, I took a shufty at his website and even I was horrified at how right I was. And dangerously well informed about Israel too, given his way with words.

From that day on I resolved (bli neder I hope) to have nothing to do with the man, however much he said what I wanted to hear.

Today I thought that in the spirit of Yom Kippur I'd give him one last chance.


The man may just have done tshuva.

Seems he is admitting that he was wrong about us and he has come out with a most unfunny (if still angry) video. Watch it at

I am not apologising for what I said about the man who was Pat Condell. But to Jews, repentance wipes out the man you were and creates a new man. And if in ignorance I may have continued to malign the new Pat Condell when I thought I was talking about the old Pat Condell, I deeply apologise. And if you know him, forward this message.

And if I have upset you, I apologise for that too.

Gmar hatima tova, Happy New Year and well over the Fast.

In memoriam - Rabbi Hanan Porat (first published Aug 7 2005)

The following was written in a flood of emotions on our return from Netzer Hazani following Shabbat Mas'ei immediately prior to its pointless destruction.  I don't know if anybody reads this blog (if you do, write a talkback here or drop me a line to pithfrompinhas @ gmail) but I have brought it out of deep freeze in response to this week's sad news. 

Rabbi Porat zt"l, he of the flashing eyes, unique midot and glorious Hebrew, will always be bound up in my memories of that unforgettable Shabbat.  His eyes will flash no more.

Yesterday was the first time in 21 years (abroad) and in 10 years (here in Israel) that we read Mas'ei, the parasha of the 42 journeys of the Israelites in the wilderness, long enough in itself, without the addition of the similarly long parasha of Matot (tribes) which during most years makes it by far the longest Torah reading of any Shabbat in the year. Somehow my late father in law always seemed to be asked to read that week.

So we journeyed south, not quite to Sinai but to Gerar, the region where King Avimelech of the Philistines (not the nasty ones who fought the Israelites for generations but an earlier invader who for some reason had the same name – not unlike the spurious name chosen by the mixture of malcontents who arrived here during the 20th century and invented a peoplehood) put up our forefather Avraham for a time. Now they call it Gush Katif. Some say it was in the area of the Israelite tribe Shimon while others say Shimon didn't have an area of its own and was spread around the area of Judah. Others try to say it was neither, but they tend to be people who never read the Torah. Funny how they would never tell an astrophysicist he was wrong but everybody's an expert on Torah without reading it.

On the last leg of the 85 mile journey (there aren't too many trips that long you could make through populated parts of Israel without having to cross a more or less hostile Arab area, which in this case only occurs at Kefar Darom, a thousands of years old Jewish town destroyed most recently by the Egyptians in 1948 and due to suffer the same fate at the hands of brothers next week) we had to stop seven times to produce evidence that we had obtained electronic visas to visit somebody to whom we had a first-degree family relationship. Some of the youngsters in uniform seemed so nice and innocently interested in our plans that we half expected them to say "have a nice day, and thank you for choosing our junction". Others didn't seem to know what they were there for. All this added about an hour to the journey. Of course they all had their backs to their real enemies.

In Israel we have a game. We don't mention where a bomb falls in case the information may aid the enemy. So I won't tell you where we spent Shabbat even though I know full well that any spook reading this will have zero problem working it out.

So we arrived. We had quite a surprise in store for us. After reading of these sprawling mansions occupied by the parasitic "settlers" we were quite unprepared to discover the size of the house that a new family of three had opened for an unlimited time to five strangers since the house the newcomers had arranged to live in (with official permission) turned out to be only in the planning stage. Two modest bedrooms, one toilet, one bathroom and everything else in a room that could only be described as pleasantly petite. But all with exquisite, but thrifty, taste. Across the road lived a well known public figure who could surely have afforded so much more, but was living with his family in an identical place. And the public shelter was itself home to two very large haredi families. So how did the nine of us visitors squeeze in? Well, three were put up by neighbors, another three decided after all to visit friends in a different part of the Gush and the rest actually replaced the hosts, who conveniently decided to spend Shabbat with their folks in another town in the area. Because unlike the kibbutzim and 'most everywhere else where "Wandering Jews" live, here they put down roots. It seems that few young people have left the area where they grew up. And this despite the continuous uncertainty, government and press led propaganda, and 15,000 (FIFTEEN THOUSAND) attacks (including 6,000 rockets and mortar shells) in the last few years, that's nearly a pair for every man, woman and child… I am happy to report that we only heard one, distant, boom. Thank G-d most either miss their target or fail to explode, even though one "success" is too many.

Oh, and the weather. Did I mention the weather? The sizzling humidity that makes the shower seem hardly worth using. And people manage without airconditioning. Nu, what's the beach for? Oh, the jellyfish. Well, at least they seemed to have departed when we took the grandkids for a dip before sundown. Living just far enough from the coast to make the trip without a car problematic (buses don't seem to be something they have provided), they had not seen the sea at close quarters since they arrived.

And so began the Sabbath. And these people are Jews? You must be mistaken. Where else would you find them all going to a single synagogue?? No Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Yemenites, Haredim, Zionists, Toraniim, Modernists, they all do their thing together! They never heard the one about the Jew shipwrecked on a desert island who built a schul for himself and another one he wouldn't be seen dead in. At first it was standing room only but gradually chairs appeared in the aisles, chairs on the patio, chairs in the study hall, more and more people. Probably two for every person the place was built for. And then the stirring lesson from a student leader of my generation whose name continues after so many years to draw rapt attention from those young today. Singing the music of the late Rabbi Carlebach, dancing oblivious of the late hour and the heat, and then the swell of people outside. So many, many people in such a small town. It looked like a demonstration without the buses and the TV cameras. Maybe a thousand or more men, women and children of all ages, all radiant with the Sabbath joy. All in this little place they have nicknamed "eternity". Where everybody surrendered their guns in case they should be called violent and all rely on the armor of prayer and psalm.

I could go on. But let’s fast forward to the time we had to say au revoir. We looked for reasons to stay on and found them with no trouble. But exams beckon, there is work to do, we have a wedding to make, we must content ourselves with the amazing strength we drew from these people and return to the metropolis. On the return journey, facing the enemy this time, they only stopped us once, where we had to surrender our "virtual" visas and confirm, yes, one-year old Reut has indeed returned with us, she is sleeping in the back, what, you think we left her there to fight against the riot police?

We reach "civilization" after midnight and the car, ominously, refuses to enter the city. Half an hour later a technician arrives and we continue home. The next day at work we discover that a gang of leftist thugs sporting teeshirts of "noar meretz" tried to attack youngsters working on Friday at the offices of the "Yesha Council", representatives of the heroes we left behind, based in our office block. Oh how they would love their force to be met with force, but instead it is with love, smiles, flowers and candy and it enrages them. It takes a solid phalanx of brawny no nonsense employees of the French call center to scatter them, yelling obscenities as they retreat. At least this time they didn't bring feces to dump at the doorway.

I have come to a decision. I am 56 years old and have always believed in democracy. Basta*. I place on record that I am no longer prepared to defend to the death anybody's right to destroy my country. I will no longer support my Government right or wrong.

*Enough (Spanish)

Monday, 14 September 2009


Dear all

The New Year is upon us, but you knew that

The old year has had perhaps more than its fair share of those “who will be brought down” and to them we extend our earnest wishes for their rapid transfer to the ranks of those “who will be raised up”.

On a personal level we have seen the joy of those “who will be created” and give our sympathy for those less fortunate. We have seen parents/grandparents integrating happily into the life of our Holy Land and spare a thought for those deprived of the beauty of togetherness. We bear grateful witness to every single person returning to our country and look forward to the removal of the brakes, whatever they may be, on those who have not yet done so.

Politically we have been witness to an upsurge of those at home and abroad who would divide and destroy and we wish for the coming, speedily, of those who would unite and build up. Not everybody will agree but we call the latter, Mashiach.

We have seen the fear spread by an unfamiliar disease specifically foretold in the Gemara (Talmud), and give thanks that at least at this point it has been relatively contained – but for those who succumbed there is no “relative” and a single soul is a whole world.

To you all, a year of fulfillment, a year of contentment, a year of wholesomeness, a year of growth.

I am attaching two very different links, one a very 21c clip and the other a beautiful translation of the prayer which for me is the very engine of the month of Tishri. If you are not familiar with its history please go to the third link.

If we have in any way fallen short of the standards you are entitled to expect of us, please forgive us. If you fear we have taken offence and anything you have said or done, we have already forgiven.

Leshana tova tikatevu vetehatemu, may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Chesed Truck in Danger

Who has not heard of the “Tzadik of Jerusalem”, Reb Aryeh Levin zt”l ( There is a foundation which was set up a few years ago in his memory by the name of Keren haTzadik. Among their many good deeds they collect unused food from wedding halls and deliver it to the needy, whose identities remain unknown to the donors and in many cases even to those who deliver the food. The need for this service became too great for the facilities at their disposal and a couple of years back they held a drive to purchase a full sized refrigerated truck. As you can imagine, this is one very expensive exercise. The lion’s share of the cost was footed anonymously by a righteous man who threw his entire being into the project. With the world economic downturn he got into difficulties. Now the bank is demanding foreclosure on the vehicle if $10000 is not repaid within the next two weeks. Meantime requests pour in for the chesed which can’t be done without it. Let’s see if we can’t help out here folks. If you can manage Hebrew it is possible to donate at The parts of the site translated into English could do with a lot of work but of course that would probably cost money which they don’t have. Cheques may be sent in favor of Tnuat Mahshevet Hador (the organization which operates the Foundation) to 8 Kanfei Nesharim Street, Jerusalem, Israel and contributions can be phoned in at 02-6513111 or 1800203320. The email address is Donations are valid for 35% tax credit in Israel.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


I started this blog two months ago. Google offered me their ads, so I applied. Took quite a while, but eventually I got a curt email saying I had been REJECTED but not giving any serious information about how to change that. Hmmph. Then yesterday I posted a piece called "Bibispeak". Within an hour or two, if you did a search for "Bibispeak" it came up as the top item. But today it no longer exists at all! And now I find that feedblitz has stopped sending my articles out to subscribers without telling me. Now I think I really will have to get hold of that spear (see introductory article on site). Am I really so dangerous? At least feedblitz has an email address one can write to in order to hopefully find out what is going on. As for Google, forget it. They are clearly so infallible that nobody can ever say anything they may wish to hear. If they are even human at all any more. See

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


I've been quiet for a bit. So we got "the speech". I think Mr Netanyahu did his best. For me his best isn't quite good enough, but I don't have a credible alternative available at the moment. But this speech did spur me to action. I have spent most of my adult life avoiding the messy business of joining political parties, although I have voted for many, many of them, pretty well never missing an election. I used to describe myself as an "extreme moderate" but what passes for moderation seems to have metamorphosed since those days. Consequently while Mr Feiglin has been calling on us for years to join the Likud and make a real difference, I baulked. Mr Netanyahu has now convinced me, and I joined up. Next time the alternative presents him or herself, I will be in position. Hey, why not join me?

Friday, 22 May 2009

CHELMsford 123 Dept. (2)

Nottingham, England:

"Mother banned from breastfeeding at poolside 'breached food and drink rules'"

Right on.

CHELMsford 123 Dept. (1)

"Council only fills in part of a pothole - because it doesn't own the rest."
I kid you not. Well, the place is called Bloxwich so what can we expect?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

To the director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.

Dear Rav Shafran I enjoy reading your articles but was very surprised to read that apparently no approach seems to have been made to your Rabbinical authorities regarding a resolute stand and public campaign against the “two states for two peoples” policy. Even if it were not for the fact that the intention of those among its proponents who actually understand this issue is in fact two states for one people (“Palestine” to be judenrein, “Israel” to be overrun by millions of “refugees”), this is a recipe for war and mass killings. No downside of maintenance of the status quo could possibly match the clear and present danger of this lunacy. And if standing strong brings on an international invasion, so be it - that is what the prophets foretold! Point is, at bottom, for those of us (including the undersigned) who in the past were concerned about pikuach nefesh to the extent of giving the “Palestinians” a chance to prove themselves, they have proven themselves over and over again. All the pikuach nefesh is on the side of shev ve’al ta’aseh and there must be no more uprooting of Jews from their homes in Eretz Yisroel for any reason. I beg you, go to the Rabbis with this and create a revolution. Maybe there is a Morgenthau out there who will then take it to fruition… Thank you for your attention

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Gilad update

So it turns out that the Gilad Schalit petition is yet another elaborate hoax. Even this old geezer was taken in this time. And as for the tax case, seems this is one case where our infallible High Court Shalita (pun intended) is indeed about to be by-passed by legislation cancelling their ruling or emptying it of relevance. So yesterday's post was a bit of a waste of cyber-breath I'm afraid. I'll try to do better next time, honest...


Received from a correspondent:

They once said that a black man would be president when pigs fly. His first 100 days and wham!! Pigs flu!

Comment: I am sure that while a few years ago the above description would have raised no issues, today perhaps my correspondent should have described him, not quite accurately, as an African American.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Gilad Schalit

I just received a forward of the following request (which I have translated) to add my name to a petition:

They have accustomed us to think that the number of terrorists released will determine Gilad Schalit's release. Turns out that it doesn't. Gilad can be set free for $300m. There has never been so high a ransom set for one captive. The US intends to provide this sum for the reconstruction of Gaza. There is a slight chance that $300m will convince somebody to release Gilad. Please sign this petition, which will be given to the President of the USA with the request that the money be made conditional on Gilad's release ...

This is the gist of my reply:

A... - I have every sympathy for the Schalit family, who have not once but twice gone through the scenario of every parent's nightmares.

However, I have no desire whatever to encourage the president to give those people this ransom(and 300m is but a small part of the sums pledged) and I also do not believe you can buy Arabs with a cause as you can buy Westerners; in fact this is the very error all Western Governments (and our own) have been unable to comprehend up to now. It is simply not about money but principles, something Moslems seem as a group to be able to be pretty single minded about. The principles may be wretched and inhuman, but they stick to them like glue and they won't give up until Doomsday. Seems to me that's something the rest of us could learn from.

Furthermore, the president is getting enough contradictory messages from Jews as it is without confusing him still more. I for one would be happier if he were more interested in the security of seven million Israelis than he has been up to now, not just one Israeli, and would prefer he cease surrounding himself with folks who are hell-bent on "saving us from ourselves" in the words of one George Ball when the world was young. And if we can't get Gilad out by force of arms as we should have done three years ago it seems to me that he just isn't coming home.

You know, it reminds me of the recent High Court case in which they found against the Income Tax Authority's refusal to grant the cost of care for pre-schoolers as a deductible expense. I would normally be the last to cheer the tax man in his quest to take more of our hard earned cash, but this time they just happen to be right! I looked around and couldn't find any young Mum capable of complying with the requirements to make this claim unless she was filthy rich to start with!!! Better to give the money to the women who didn't have enough money to pay tax. And I am no socialist.

People think that spreading money around without consideration whether it goes in the right direction will solve everything. It won't.

Kind regards P.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Thursday, 30 April 2009

The millionaire and the cabbie

I can’t think about anything pithy today, sorry. A few short weeks after Roy, now this. Roy Collins, nobody ever heard of him. Oh sure, you’ll find plenty on Google, but then it’s a common name. This Roy was one of the four of us mates back in the 60’s, Tony, Tony, Roy and me. He married Sharon, gave up his market job and took to the life of a cabbie (not necessarily in that order). Well, he always did love cars. Nahum Sharfman. Whenever you find that name on Google you know it’s the same one. Started up famous names like, and a slew of lesser known companies. A very different kind of guy. Roy was 62, Nahum 61. And they both wore jeans. With Roy I spent untold hours in my youth, Nahum I only met once, for a couple of hours, about six months ago. I worked for him for four years though, on the phone and email sometimes repeatedly throughout the day. They both had a natural easy going humility and you’d never guess the millions that separated them. One a nuclear physicist, the other a cabbie. They both had very different belief systems and lifestyles from mine but that didn’t get in the way either. Sharon wasn’t well. Roy, fresh from a complete medical with clean results, took her off to Spain for a break and one day he didn’t wake up. Best way to go you might say, although Sharon and Gemma may disagree. Nahum also took his wife for a break. For him this meant a private plane. They had some difficulties and landed but took off again shortly afterwards. Over Corfu they came down for their final descent. I miss you both.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Independence Day Ramblings On the way to the office today my mind wandered to a quote in the rear window of my aging jalopy from the Book of Peter, the Book of Paul and yeah, the Book of Mary. This Land is Our Land. Zo Artzenu. And it occurred to me that, indeed, they verily did Overcome, presumably becoming multo richo in the process. And so, undoubtedly, shall we (overcome, that is). But would they and their friends recognise our right to do so? Even though one of them is Jewish? It was no less than Martin Luther King who said, "Anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be. What is anti-Zionism? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the globe. It is discrimination against Jews... because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism." ( The late Mr King did not of course remain with us to see how Israel at 61 has become everybody’s excuse to hate the Jew (and by extension, the religious Christian too). From his speeches it seems clear that he knew his end was not far off. But I like to think that he at least would have remained true to his beliefs, although I fear he may well ultimately have been sidelined by history, which is of course whatever the media of the day wishes to make of it. I am reminded of that disastrous emperor whom we were taught, fiddled while Rome burned. Does anyone really know much about Nero? Well, he converted to Judaism when the media was pagan (that much hasn’t changed). And became persona non grata forever. Independence Day. Yom HaAtzma’ut (or, as the wife’s aunt used to say, Yom HaAtzbanut, which I shan’t translate). It hasn’t somehow been quite the same these past few years. Perhaps we’ll have to put a little more effort into it next time. Pinhas

Monday, 27 April 2009

I was forwarded this link (edited) from "Voices" this morning: The story talks about the Vatican's plans to take over more of Har ZION, specifically the room they believe was the LAST SUPPER. The Church wants to reenact the MASS (wafer-matza and wine) from the original Pesach service of J__ and become one step closer to the resurrection. The Catholic Church is aiming its sites on Mt. Zion to become the VATICAN EAST. And with LITTLE to NO opposition. (So, we'd have the Church in control of Mt. Zion, chas v'shalom, the Wakf in control of Har HaBayit – not good). In fact, Israel is all for it, because they are desperate for Christian dollars! The reason for the Pope's visit (despite/in addition to what they tell you…peace, good will, etc.) is a CELEBRATION of the handover of land on Mt. Zion to the Catholic Church. I know it's so close. I know we're fighting against tremendous odds, but PLEASE….. Papers are to be signed THURSDAY MORNING, this Thursday morning, chas v'shalom. Your immediate action this moment is needed. If hundreds of faxes are sent immediately, then maybe the government will realize that THE JEWISH PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO GIVE MT. ZION PROPERTIES to the Catholic Church. A SIMPLE LETTER. Just write. Don't think of genius phrases, just write a few sentences AGAINST handing over land on Mt. Zion to the Vatican. Faxes are better than emails, because they are tangible, but if you can't fax, the email address is below. Email and fax Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon, who will represent Israel at the Thursday meeting. The Director-General of the Foreign Ministry can be emailed at, and the fax number is 02-5303704 (from abroad, replace leading 0 with 972). Please stand up for a Jewish Jerusalem right now. OK so Mr Ayalon seems a decent enough chap, I saw him at a JGS pre election meeting (although he must learn not to lose it when under fire). This is a translation of the fax I sent: Israel Beiteinu (our home)? Or Vatican their home? How come you are surrendering (mosrim) for lucre (betza kesef) the place which gave its name to the entire country? The people will not forgive you, not those alive today, not those of the past and for sure not those of the future. Mr Ayalon, I viewed you as a different sort of politician, a bit invigorating somehow - you still have time to justify that. What do you think?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Welcome to Pith from Pinhas.

The original Pinhas was a pithy character who didn’t much like what was going on around him, picked up a spear and dealt with it. That earned him a Covenant of Peace, which is a pretty pithy thing to do with a spear. He then went on to live pithily ever after, and there are those who say he’s still with us, some 3300-odd years later, which makes him even older than me. Oh, and he was the only person ever given the surname Cohen (priest in Hebrew) in recognition of services rendered to the Jewish People. In later life (according to some) he changed his name to Elijah, took to prophecy and started flying around in fiery chariots, many years before the Wright brothers. He is said to visit every Jewish family Seder meal at Pesach (Passover) and every Jewish child who can stay up late enough is convinced he slips past big sis when she opens the front door and drinks from the oversized wine cup put out for him.

He also finds time to drop in on every Brit Mila (circumcision) ceremony where boys, usually at eight days old, get their names. And this is where I come in. Screaming and kicking, this Brit got the name Pinhas. So I had to start growing old pithily.

And there is no shortage in this benighted century of the kind of stuff that raised old (well he was actually very young at the time) Pinhas’s hackles, but I don’t know where to get a licence to carry a spear. What I do know is how to operate a qwerty keyboard with two fingers.

So in order to get my own bit of immortality I thought, why not start a blog? Everything is of course relative, and the only data retrieval system yet invented with a shelf life of more than a few years seems to be the old-fashioned book, but who knows? Somebody may even read this stuff.

I don’t mean to keep this to myself, and my mates are welcome to submit brief and pithy articles for publication. I am welcome to accept or reject them. And if you like what you see, you can try your luck at joining my mates too.

See you in cyberspace