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On a very serious note, Israel's Ministry of Religion has contracted the popular GPS application WAZE to create a special service for WAZE users in Israel -- the ability to find mikvaot in every Israeli city.

Ostensibly, this is a great idea - demonstrating how the religious establishment connects to the community by offering a well-intentioned  high-tech solution for discretely finding the closest mikva to your location.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of social media and the interconnectedness of Smartphone applications, the following disaster scenarios are a very likely possibility...

And of course, this would propagate via the web on twitter and all the standard social media applications.

Maybe the religious ministry didn't think this through...

by Lurker

Last year, Makor Rishon carried a very interesting, thought-provoking article about the origins of Purim and Megillat Esther. Among other things, the article addressed the following questions:

  • Why is Esther the only book of the Tanakh not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls? Is there, in spite of this, any trace or hint of it to be found among the scrolls from Qumran?

  • Was Megillat Esther canonized when it was first written, or was it incorporated into the Tanakh only during a later era?

  • How was the holiday of Purim celebrated (if it was indeed celebrated at all) in the land of Israel and in the Diaspora during the period of the Second Temple?

  • Why are the dramatic events described in the Megilla not mentioned in the book of Ezra, which covers the same time period?

  • Who is the central figure in the Megilla -- Mordekhai or Esther? If it is Mordekhai, then why is the book called "the Scroll of Esther"? And if it is Esther -- then why did the Jews originally call the holiday "the Day of Mordekhai"?

  • Why does the Megilla make a point of telling us that Mordekhai was from the tribe of Benjamin, and that he (or his ancestor) was exiled exiled together with King Yekhonia of Judah?

  • Why did Mordekhai order Esther not to tell anyone that she was Jewish?

  • How could Esther instruct the Jews of Shushan to fast during the holiday of Pesah?

  • What does the Megilla mean when it says at the end that when Mordekhai became a great figure among the Jews, he was "speaking peace for all his seed"? Who were "his seed"?

As a public service, the Muqata presents here (after the jump) a full English translation of the article. The text has been supplemented with several additional notes (which appear in brackets or as footnotes) and hyperlinks.

(The original Hebrew article from Makor Rishon can be read here.)

This is before the break.

Here is another test post.

Test 3

Day 18 of the Gaza War, Tuesday, January 13, 2009 -- Daily sticky post, constantly updated.

More liveblogging at IsraellyCool and on Twitter at Keyword #GazaWar

Note: Using the "Refresh" (F5 key) command in your Web Browser will show you the latest updates -- Refresh on an Apple/Mac is apple+R.

Please say a prayer for the safety of our soldiers.

Additional New posts from today can be found below this post.

As a general rule we will try and keep operational details to a minimum, that includes troop movements and the exact location of rocket hits. If items are reported in the Mainstream Israeli Media we will report them as well.

11:44 AM Hamas reps in Cairo announce they will only consider a cease fire with Israel, after Israel removes all IDF troops from Gaza Strip. (NRG)

11:36 AM
Air Raid Siren in Ashkelon (now) - apparently a false alarm.

11:14 AM
Personal Request from Jameel: Please add to your prayers, a full recovery for the IDF soldier, Aharon Yehoshua ben Chaya Shoshana, who was very seriously wounded last night in Gaza.

11:07 AM
Gaza source, 10 Hamas dead and wounded in Khan Younis. Hamas, cease fire will only be considered if Israel withdraws.

10:38 AM
IDF finds two booby-trapped tunnels in Gaza and kills 30 armed terrorists.

10:37 AM
Chief of Staff: We have accomplished great deal of our goals, but we haven't completed them all.

10:35 AM
Total of 8 soldiers wounded overnight in Gaza fighting.

Gunfire from Jordanian watchtower at IDF/Border police patrol at the Rabin Crossing in the Arava. IDF returns fire. No injuries reported. IDF investigating. (source)

8:37 AM
IDF censor removes blackout; IDF tanks on their way to Gaza city -- entering Gaza City suburbs.

8:25 AM
"Rocket Launch" warnings to Sederot...

8:24 AM See this large collection of photos and videos from a bizarre Pro-Hamas rally in San Francisco. This protester (below) was led away from by Police as the crowd cheered his removal -- despite his obvious Pro-Palestinian sentiment. Just goes to show you what a bunch of pro-Terror wackos these San Francisco lunatics are, including the uber-liberal Jews of California.

It's always amazed me that bend-over-backwards liberalism eventually morphs into outright anti-Antisemitism and support for terror.

I would put more of the pictures up, but as BOTH said to me, this demonstration will just leave you scratching your head. See them all at the Zombie site.

(hat-tip: BOTH)

8:15 AM JNF / Rabbinic Solidarity Mission leaving to Israel (hat-tip, Steg)
New York) January 12, 2009 — As the world watches the People of Israel endure the hardships and anxiety of war, 19 Orthodox Rabbis from all over North America along with several lay leaders will lift off to study Torah with their brethren in the Yeshivah of Sderot adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Ten more American Rabbinic colleagues and 20 Israeli Tzohar Rabbis will join the group on the ground in Israel. Together, in addition to Sderot, they will be visiting Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva in Israel’s Negev region, and Jerusalem. They will visit wounded solders, bring clothing and supplies to school children, comfort grieving families and meet with Israeli political representatives. (more at Steg's)
8:10 AM Reuters: US Arms shipment to Israel cancelled due to Gaza war.

As I reported the other day, the US was planning sending 325 containers of ammunition to Israel. That shipment has now been "put on hold" or canceled. I don't know why they canceled it -- its not like this ammunition was headed to the Palestinians or Fatah (and then taken over by Hamas, as was the case last year)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. military plan to ship munitions from a Greek port to a U.S. stockpile in Israel has been canceled due to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command issued a tender on December 31 for a ship to deliver 325 standard 20-foot containers of ammunition on two separate journeys from the Greek port of Astakos to the Israeli port of Ashdod in mid-to-late January.

Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Greek port had been considered as a possible location from which to transfer ammunition from a larger ship coming from the United States.

But the request to shippers had now been canceled due to safety concerns at the final destination related to the conflict in Gaza, Ryder said. Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip seeks to halt rocket fire by Hamas militants aimed at southern Israel. (Reuters)

7:54 AM
Hamas has yet again abused the Humanitarian aid effort by trying to use trucks that Israel allows in with food and medicine for the Gazan residents, to smuggle in night vision and communications equipment. One entire truck of equipment was confiscated.

6:00 AM
5 Dead terrorists reported in heavy fighting in neighborhoods last night. 4 soldiers injured moderately to lightly.

(Map of fighting from Rotter)

2:57 AM
Heavy fighting is within a neighborhood. Possibly Zeitun.

2:52 AM
Heavy fighting continuing. No new details.

AM Breslevers sneak into Gaza earlier (or are they the special forces unit?) (Rotter)

2:45 AM
A lot of tanks reported on the move.

2:42 AM
Fighter jets overhead of the areas of fighting. Something serious going on.

2:37 AM
Loud explosions being heard throughout Gaza. Heavy fighting in Khan Younis, south of Jebaliyah and Beit Lehiye. Heavy artillery fire.

2:31 AM
Women in Green showed up in Nitzan earlier today to lighten up their sewer pipes bomb shelters. Pictures by Rivkah Riback (Omedia) (except for the first photo)

2:18 AM
Watch the war live! All the TV channels covering the war in one spot:

2:12 AM
A lot of shooting heard in North Gaza. No additional details yet.

2:02 AM 2 Israelis hurt in Kiryat Arba (Hebron) shooting attack earlier were soldiers in a lookout tower. They were lightly hurt by shrapnel from the bullets. Third soldier hurt when he fell from the tower and broke his shoulder.

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