Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guest Post - Technology in the Third Beis Hamikdash

I have had conversations with people of the years about how technology would be incorporated into the third Beis Hamikdash when it will be built. But my friend wrote up a "handbook" for those offering korbanos in the third Beis Hamikdash, imagining in detail what it would be like, and incorporating many halachos in the essay as well. So enjoy the below guest post and IY"H, may we be zoche to see how technology will be incorporated soon in our days!

Bais Hamikdash Tech Update

            Due to several documented mix ups with korbanos, the Mikdash Committee has instituted new technology and procedures.

            First, all animals to be sold for sacrifices on the Temple Mount area have already had magnetic bar codes firmly affixed to their hooves. Birds have a smaller tag attached to the right foot. Anyone bringing in their own animals for korbanos will have similar bar codes affixed in the examination area. There will be no additional charge for this service.

            All of the Klei Shares have embedded tags as well.

            Next, korbanos need to be registered on the system with full owner information and korban designation before offering. This can be done online, by cellphone app, or on one of the dedicated terminals installed on the base of the temple mount. Any changes in owner information (particularly for korban pesach group status) needs to be completed before shechita. No exceptions.

            Owner information will be checked with Department of Health records in real time. A chatas whose owner has died will not be offered.

            Temurah registrations, while discouraged, will still be accepted by the system.

            All Kohanim On Duty have been assigned small portable scanners. Before shechita, the KOD must scan the animal as well as the Kli Shares to be receiving the blood. If the animal is in the wrong location (i.e. slaughter in the north is required), the system is programmed to alert the KOD with both audio and visual alerts.

            Several help stations have been strategically placed throughout the Azarah. If the KOD has forgotten which avodah he needs to perform or where, he can just scan the kli and a full diagram will come up.

            For semicha, the owner(s) will receive a text message when their animal is ready to go. They will then enter the azarah and proceed directly to the automated hoist number of their korban, perform the semicha, and leave. More viewing of the avodas can be done by the AzarahCam at any time.

            Due to concerns about tahara and chometz, we will no longer allow people to bring flour, oil, wine, etc. from home to be offered (with the exception of the kohen gadol). Therefore, we have purchased all the supplies needed for menachos and sell them using our system.

            The system will go like this. The person purchasing a mincha will enter their information and the korban needed, whether it is challos or wafers, deep fried or shallow fried, kohen owned, etc. A ticket will be generated and sent to the bakery to fill the order. For a minchas nesachim, the ticket will not be generated until the blood of the associated korban is sprinkled. The bakery employee will place the finished mincha in the window facing the kodesh in an ordinary container.  The kohen will take the mincha, scan it for the owner info, and place it in a kli shares while verbally consecrating it for its owner. He will then proceed to perform the proper avodah of the mincha. The system will assist in reminding the kohen of the proper procedure, whether it needs waving, hagasha, kemitza, etc. with audible alerts. Any questions on identifying a particular mincha can be easily resolved with a quick scan of the kli.

            A korban Todah will be prevented from being slaughtered until all the loaves have been baked.

            Non Jews are not required to pay for minchas nesachim.

            Salt will be added to all offerings at no charge.

            The system will also arrange the proper order of offerings. This has previously been a very difficult principle to achieve by hand. For example, chatas blood comes before olah blood, but olah limbs are offered before chatas sacrificial parts. The queuing will be done automatically and signal the nearest KOD to perform the next avodah. Audio and visual alerts will warn any KOD about to perform an avodah out of order.

            Additional tags will be affixed to the cut up parts of the korban in the flaying area, near the sinks. Absolutely NO meat is to be placed in the Mikdash Refrigerators without proper tags.

            The Mikdash Refrigerator doors have sensors as well.  Notifications will be sent out for any meat that is nossar, which will now be easy to locate.

            Tracking the hides are important for determining ownership. Depending on circumstances, the hide may belong to the mikdash, the kohanim, or the donor. We will auction off each hide and track the sale price to the owners. At the end of each day, all of the kohanim that swiped in (even those with a mum that performed non-avodah labor, but not Mikdash employees) will be automatically credited their share by direct deposit.

            Cooking pots have been tagged as well. Pots have to be koshered after use with korbanos, within the time frame allowed for eating the korban, unless the pot is used for another korban, which resets the clock again. This system will track each pot and signal those needing koshering.

            The mizbeach has been outfitted with special metal-free sensors. As the kli filled with blood approaches for sprinkling, the KOD will be gently prompted as to which corners to approach and the proper order, and whether sprinkling needs to be done above or below the red line. Similarly, birds post melikah will be sensed if the sprinkling is about to be performed in the wrong place.

            After the afternoon Tamid has been offered, the system will go into lockdown mode, and no further sacrifices may be brought until the next morning. Any blood waiting to be sprinkled is to be placed in one of the oscillators until the morning. The next shift of kohanim will be able to identify the blood through the tag on the kli.

            The Ulam has sensors installed at the doorway to prevent any korbanei chutz from entering lifnim accidentally.

            Sensors and alarms have been set up around all the exits. If a korban that is not allowed to leave the area approaches the exit, an alarm will sound. Similarly, the system will guard against theft of Mikdash property.

            Outside in the Ezras Nashim, large screen displays have been installed with real time information on offering status. Text or email alerts to the owners are available at no extra charge. 

The Mikdash Bank

            Previously, there were 13 ‘horns’ that held coins used for purchasing sacrifices for when the altar was unoccupied. The Kohen entering the room where they were stored had to enter there barefoot in clothing without a hem or pockets etc. -a difficult procedure. We have eliminated this, and set up a Mikdash Bank, with multiple accounts. Balance and activity information is openly available online. All donors will receive a receipt number that can be tracked, with their name listed if they desire. Any withdrawals will list the kohen signing off on it, as well as the tag number of the animal purchased. The main branch of the bank is located near the base of the Temple Mount, eliminating the need for private money changers.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Chometz, Matza, and the Chareidi Draft

Although the notion that 100% of our children should learn only Torah full-time, indefinitely, into adulthood is outside of our mesorah, the current compromise in E"Y regarding the Chareidi Draft has been called a decree of "shmad," forced conversions. In such a situation, even actions which would be permitted according to halacha become forbidden if those requiring it are attempting to take us away from the Torah. Generally speaking, this compromise provides that approximately 75% of our sons should go on to army service/national service (which will enable them to work legally) after age 21.
Because this agreement comes shortly before Pesach, some have hyperbolically applied the line from the Hagada, "ולבן ביקש לעקור את הכל," "And Lavan tried to uproot everything" to the actions of Livni, Bennet, and Netanyahu. Indeed, the initial letters of the last names of these three individuals spell "Lavan." But is it true that our children will leave the path of Torah and yiras Shamayim if they do not stay forever in the four walls of the Beis Medrash? Is it the ratzon Hashem, the will of Hashem, that 100% of our children remain forever in yeshiva and never bring their Torah into the world?
I would like to quote a section from the Zohar (183b - Don't worry, it's not too kabbalistic) which also relates to Pesach and is very enlightening with regard to the current situation.

The Zohar asks a question. Chometz is so horrible that one must seek it out and destroy it, one may not own even a single crumb of chometz, and if chometz gets into a pot on Pesach, it is not nullified no matter how great the proportion of non-chomitzdik food is to the chometz. Why are we so strict? We know the seforim teach that chometz is a literal manifestation of the yetzer hara, the "other side," i.e., everything that we hold abhorrent and all aspects of this physical world which bring us away from Torah, emunah, and yiras Shamayim. So if chometz is so horrible, why is permitted the rest of the year?! The Zohar answers with an parable and then it spells out the lesson as follows: 
למלכא דהוה ליה בר יחידאי וחלש, יומא חד הוה תאיב למיכל, אמרו ייכול בריה דמלכא (ס"א מיכלא דאסוותא) אסוותא דא ועד דייכול ליה לא ישתכח מיכלא ומזונא אחרא בביתא, עבדו הכי, כיון דאכל ההוא אסוותא אמר מכאן ולהלאה ייכול כל מה דאיהו תאיב ולא יכיל לנזקא ליה, כך כד נפקו ישראל ממצרים לא הוי ידעי עקרא ורזא דמהימנותא אמר קודשא בריך הוא יטעמון ישראל אסוותא ועד דייכלון אסוותא דא לא אתחזי להון מיכלא אחרא, כיון דאכלו מצה דאיהי אסוותא למיעל ולמנדע ברזא דמהימנותא, אמר קודשא בריך הוא מכאן ולהלאה אתחזי לון חמץ וייכלון ליה דהא לא יכיל לנזקא לון

[There is a parable of] a king who had an only son who became sick. One day, the son wanted to eat. [The doctors] said, let the king's son eat [a certain] healing food. Until he completes his regimen of eating this food, do not let any other kind of food even remain in the house. They did this. Once the son had eaten this healing food, [the doctor] said, "From now on, let him eat whatever he desires. Now, it cannot harm him." Similarly, when the Jewish people left Egypt, they did not yet know the foundation and the secret of emunah. The Holy One, Blessed be He, therefore said, "Let the Jewish people taste of [the bread of] healing, [Matza,] and while they are eating this medicine, let them not even see any other kind of food. But once they have eaten the Matza, which is the medicine which causes a person to ascend and to know the secret of emunah," Hashem says, "From now on, they may see chometz and eat it because it can no longer harm them."
Based on the Zohar, we are not forbidden to have anything to do with the physical world of eating, drinking, and working, just like we are not forbidden from eating kosher chometz during the year. When the Jewish people were young, their faith was weak so they would not have been able to maintain a connection with Hashem if they had contact with the physical world. That, however, was a state of sickness, when we had weak faith. Once we strengthened our emunah by eating Matza, the "bread of emunah" in the right way,  we could begin relating to the physical world and elevate it, rather than have it bring us down.

On an individual level, when our children are young, we have to have pure Torah with a clean environment with no contact with outside, worldly influences wherever possible. However, for reasons only He truly understands, Hashem's ratzon is not that we remain that way forever. For the majority of people, their tafkid is to eventually go out into the world and attempt to elevate the world (and not the other way around). We have to consume only the bread of faith for a while when we are young to build up our emunah. That is while we are weak and vulnerable. But once we have emunah, the outside world should not frighten us. It should be "frightened" of us because we will elevate it and we will not be brought down by it. In the words of the Zohar, when Jews have emunah, the chometz of the world "can no longer harm them." Hashem's plan is that the time of non-exposure to this world is temporary, while we are young and weak. But that non-exposure should not exist indefinitely.

May we be zoche to raise our children right for the first 21 years of their lives so that  when they go out into the world, as indeed it is the will of Hashem that the majority of them do at some point, we do not need to be afraid that they will all leave the path of Torah. We have surely failed in our role as parents and rebbeim if that is a realistic fear. Rather, they will go out filled with emunah so that they can fulfill Hashem's desire "להיות לו דירה בתחתונים," "to have a dwelling place in the lower world."
-Dixie Yid

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Article by R. Yitzchok Adlerstein on Chareidi Draft

I found this article on the topic very interesting by R. Yitzchok Adlerstein from Cross Currents. Here's the first couple of paragraphs of the article:

The coalition government government’s plan for drafting charedim should give rise to some sighs of relief, and some guarded optimism. That is not likely to happen, because it is just not the way charedim in Israel react (at least publicly), and because there are definite grounds for concern.

It could have been much worse. Hence, the sigh of relief. Non-charedi Israels were determined to address the financial burden they believe is placed upon them by a huge community that is underemployed and expanding. Something was going to happen. As one major Torah figure said (privately, of course), “After decades of treating them like garbage, we should be surprised when they want to treat us the same way?” Many feared that the plan would be draconian and counterproductive. If it went too far, it would undo all the quiet progress that has already been made providing alternatives for those who do not find it within them to spend their time in productive, full-time learning and want to enter the work-force, or serve in Tzahal. While the public rhetoric in the community strenuously opposes both, literally thousands are voting with their feet. Programs to provide academic and vocational skills to charedi men and women are booming. The charedi contingent in the army has established itself, although the government’s performance in supporting it has been lackluster. It looked like economics was already forcing change, at a rate that was likely to accelerate. If the government would go too far, it would be taken as a gezeras shmad (which is in fact what one major Israeli Rosh Yeshiva called any plan to draft any number of students) and force all charedim to resist.

This did not happen. Like the plan or not, it does show some serious thought and consideration.

Click here to read more.
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