Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Way of the Israeli Warrior

When I moved to Israel I had several things in mind that I wanted to do with my life. That is to say there were several motivations I had for making such a move.

1) I wanted to be in my ancestral homeland.
2) I wanted to be in a place where kosher food was everywhere.
3) I wanted to be a part of the struggle to make Israel a better place.
4) I wanted to train in the ancient Israeli martial art called Abir.


English Video About Abir

Israeli Fighting Traditions

When one looks in ancient Biblical and Israeli texts one finds numerous accounts of Israelite warriors who often took on impossible odds and won due to their faith and their skill. The Western view of course focusing more on their their faith rather the truth being a combination of the two.

According to the Midrash Sefer Ha-Yashar [Chapter 56:9], it was the request of the Biblical patriarch Jacob on his deathbed to his son Judah that the Hebrew combat art be passed down to his progeny forever:

ויאמר יעקב אל יהודה: ידעתי בני כי גביר לאחיך אתה ומלך עליהם ובניך ימלכו על בניהם עד עולם. אך למד נא את בניך קשת וכל כלי מלחמה למען ילחמו את מלחמות אחיהם המלך בכל אויביו

And Jacob spoke to Judah: 'I know, my son, that you are a master to your brothers and king over them, and your sons will reign over their sons forever. However, please teach your sons Qashath [the Hebrew weaponless combat art] and every weapon of war, in order that they will fight the wars of their brother the king, against all his enemies.

This fighting tradition was the very distinguishing mark of a Hebrew from an Egyptian. The Sefer Ha-Yashar explains that when Yoseph, whose identity was unknown to his brothers, orders his Egyptian guards that Shim`on be incarcerated (Genesis 42:18-24) and his guards attempt to seize him, Shim`on lets out a roar that utterly confounds and frightens them. Finally, Yoseph orders his own son Manashe to arrest Shimon. It is mentioned that in the process Menashe and Shimon engage in boxing each other when Manashe delivers a him a blow that humbles Shimon instantly. As he is being taken away before his astonished brothers, Shim`on calls out to them (Sepher HaYashar, parasha Miqetz):

איש מכם אל יאמר כי מכת מצרי הוא, אין זאת כי אם מכת בית אבי

Let none on you say that was the strike of an Egyptian; this is none other but a strike from the house of my father.

Often the post Biblical stereotype of the religious Jew is one of weakness and the constant target of persecution. Very few people know of the religious warrior poet Rabbi Shmuel HaNagid, who was the leader of a Jewish army in Spain. Even fewer people know that there was a Jewish community in Mali (West Africa) who had an army of 1,500 fighting men in the early 16th century. Yet, even less people know that warrior Jews of Habban and Dagastan. In the past I have posted about the Jews of both Habban and Daghastan and I have written an article on Wikipedia about the Jews of West Africa (The Songhay Empire)

The Aluf Abir Preparing to give a lecture to the class on Torah

The Starting Point

About a month after I moved here I began to train in Abir in Jerusalem, until we moved to Tel Aviv. From the start I wanted to make sure my commitment to training was serious. You see I had trained in Karate as a kid and later I trained in Caperiera as an adult. Yet, in both situations I never was able to commit myself to them fully and thus I never went far in them. Looking back it was because on some level I never felt a connection to them. I wanted a system that I had a connection with, and that on some level was just as much me as my internal organs. So when I found out about Abir and its history, I knew that I had another reason I needed to be in Israel.

The Aluf (Grandmaster) Abir Yehoshua Sofer Training our class in Tel Aviv

I have only posted a few times about my training in Abir a few times, mainly because I hadn't taken any pictures during class until recently. At the time of this post I have been training in Abir for more than a year, and I enjoy every moment of it. I was told by the Aluf Abir Yehoshua Sofer (Aluf means Grandmaster in Hebrew) that he has seen good progress in me and that I pick up many of the movements really quickly. I still have a long way to go, and I am still working on building up my endurance level.

Me Training with Yitzhaq

Several months ago my cousin and I here in Maale Adummim started sparring with each other on Friday mornings in a local park. He was training in Akido, but I needed someone who had never seen any of the Abir techniques to spar with. Unfortunately, our training together didn't last long because I accidentally hurt him with a move he wasn't expecting. He also has a daughter now that needs more of his attention. Personally, I think he just wimped out. ha ha.

There are several important factors that I wanted to master within myself, that served as a side reason for taking Abir. One of the major reasons was because when I was a kid I was picked on a lot, and it gave me a complex about trusting people, and also it gave me fear of what people would do if they had the chance to stab me in the back. So I had been searching for something that could help me get past these two issues I have, but with a focus on doing it the way that applies itself to an Israeli/Jewish Torah based lifestyle.

Ehav and Yitzhaq Training

My focus has also been to build up my reaction time and skill. In any fight the first 1 to 2 seconds, and the first 1 to 2 moves are extremely critical. In martial arts it is important to be able to react in a number of different ways to a threat. The reason is because a person never knows in a real life or death struggle what the other person, or persons, will do.

Why Train in an Israeli Martial Art?

That is the question I get often, or better yet why train in martial arts at all. In my daily walk here and there I get a lot questions about my I train in martial arts so much. I once dated a woman who just didn't get it, even with all of the things that happen here randomly. I even have a co-workers who make jokes about having to watch out for me or I may break them. There side of the question has come up in the few times I have been injured during training. I was once dropped on my neck, I have hurt my arm, and I recently pulled some muscles in my hand. Yet, I am the kind of guy who simply bounces back from things like, and I don't mind getting hurt while training. These thins happen when one trains, but with time you learn how to minimize injuries with proper preparation and exercise.

The Grandmaster of Abir training students

My personal perspective on why I train, and even better why I train in a Jewish/Israeli martial art, is that in these days and times we Israelis need to get back to the practice of being both religious and able to defend ourselves. We have a long history of our ancestors having both elements, and there is a need for Israelis who can combine both. The other issue is that Abir is not a "sport" martial art in the sense that it is strictly a self defense oriented fighting skill. The difference being that in a sport you compete for points, while in a self defense situation you are fighting for your life or the lives of others.

As we learn in Abir, no matter how good you are and no matter how much you train we know that if Hashem (G-d) is not with us our ability to win or lose is up in the air and subject to the whims of chance.

If your interested in reading more about Abir you can read the article by Rabbi Michael Shlomo Bar-Ron here or the web-site I am creating on Jewish combat skills here.

Ehav Eliyahu Ever an Abir Warrior

אהב אליהו עבר ספרא וסייפא של אביר
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Top 10 Fight Scenes

As some of you may know, I train in martial arts. I love to train, and right now I am concentrating on boxing, joint locks, and also sword techniques.

I also love to watch choreographed fight scenes in movies. Anyone who has ever trained in martial arts knows it takes a lot training and skill to do choreographed fighting, because of the fact that you have to perform moves without actually trying to injure the other person. This is especially true when it is done with weapons. So here are my top 10 choreographed fight scenes.


Number 10: Blade


Number 9: Way of the Dragon


Number 8: Hellboy II The Golden Army


Number 7: Iron Monkey


Number 6: Who Am I


Number 5: Return of Drunken Master


Number 4: Heroes of the East
3 section staff vs nunchucku


Number 3: Fearless


Number 2: Project A


Number 1: Five Element Ninjas / Chinese Super Ninjas Opening Fight
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

J-Blogging Conference Jerusalem


So this afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the first International Jewish Bloggers Conference here in Jerusalem, Israel sponsored by Nefesh B'Nefesh. This was my first bloggers conference and also since it was the first International Jewish Bloggers Conference, I really didn't know what to expect. Yet, I had been excited about attending it for the last two weeks. Anything that gives me a chance to go to Givat Shaul in Jerusalem makes me happy since I now know of a good falafal place near by.


It was an interesting event bringing together Jewish bloggers from all over the world. I would estimate that there were about 150 to 200 people in attendance, and they said that there were 1,000 or more people logged in live. The diversity in the type of people who attending was a good bonus to this, and to be honest I walked into this conference really not know anyone so I was bit reserved at first with the simple desire of learning what is out there in the Jewish blogsphere.


Before the conference began there was a visual blog roll of people who had registered for the conference. The screen at the front of the room showed various blogs, which made it easier to place a face with the blog of people whom I met.

I stayed for most of the event, and I met some really interesting people. It is funny how big the Jewish blogging world seemed today. Before tonight, I didn't really have a large list of Israeli blogs that I knew about. I know of Jewlicious, Rami G, Shiloh Musings, etc. to name a few, but my eyes were opened to even more interesting people with interesting stories. So in the future, after this event I have a lot of visiting to do, and my blog roll will be expanding in the next few weeks. It also interesting to note that there were several people with blogs right here in my neck of the woods in Maale Adummim.


Conference Introduction


There was also a panel discussion that included the following bloggers:
The panel discussion was moderated by Esther Kustanowitz of My Urban Kvetch and JDaters Anonymous.

Esther Kustanowitz of My Urban Kvetch

Much of the talk was about these panel's blogs began and the type of influence said blogs were having, as well as talk about the good and bad of virtual communities. Each panelist was entertaining in their very own way, and I just had no idea that blogging went back as far as it did. Some of these guys have been blogging, in one form or another, for years.

I am sorry that I don't have more pictures, but unfortunately I am working off of a broken camera. I dropped something on the screen, several months ago, so now I can't preview my pictures. I can't even see the camera adjustments or even the images I want to delete, so sorry. From the looks of it though the video that I filmed came out fine.

It was a surprise for me that former Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu was in attendance and is himself a blogger. Regardless of what opinions people may have about him or his politics, he gave an interesting speech, which I recorded sections of.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu

There was a lot of talk about how blogs could be tools of giving truthful information about Israel in order to combat incorrect portrayals of Israel. This was one of my goals when I first started blogging, with the first blog concept I created originally being for that purpose. After this conference I now see some of the areas I want to explore with my own blog. So keep your eyes peeled because now my blog is officially, Hochmah and Musar: The Chronicles of Ehav Ever. Yet, instead of me explaining the conference all the videos will speak for themselves.



Dave from Jewliscious.com


Benyamin Netanyahu speech (1/3)




Benyamin Netanyahu speech (2/3)



Benyamin Netanyahu speech (3/3)

To see more photos of the event go to - Photos of the J-Blogging Conference
Courtesy of the Good News from Israel blog. A fellow Maale Adummim blogger.

To see the blogs of the other bloggers who took part either in person or on line go here.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever: Linguistics

In the past, my family was multilingual. I was told that during my great-grandfather's time most of our family and people in their community spoke about 3 or more languages. When I was a child I learned English and French. When I was 6 I stopped using my French all together. When I was 10 my family went to visit Okinawa, Japan and I learned a bit of Japanese, that I still remember to this day. When I got older I started learning Hebrew, both ancient and modern. When I lived in California, I also made it a point to learn how to say hello, thank you, yes, no, and goodbye in about 4 different languages. Before I traveled to Ethiopia in 2001 I learned how to start and end a conversation. When I get a little older I want to learn Arabic and relearn French. These are the stories of what happens in life when you speak more than one language.........these are the Chronicles of Ehav Ever.



Language and Personality

So a few months ago I saw the following article on Yahoo and it had me thinking.

Switching languages can also switch personality: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - People who are bi-cultural and speak two languages may unconsciously change their personality when they switch languages, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers David Luna from Baruch College and Torsten Ringberg and Laura A. Peracchio from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studied groups of Hispanic women, all of whom were bilingual, but with varying degrees of cultural identification. They found significant changes in self perception or "frame-shifting" in bi-cultural participants -- women who participate in both Latino and Anglo culture.

"Language can be a cue that activates different culture-specific frames," the researchers said in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

While frame-shifting has been studied before, they said this research found that people who are bicultural switched frames more quickly and easily than people who are bilingual but living in one culture. The researchers said the women classified themselves as more assertive when they spoke Spanish than when they spoke English.

"In the Spanish-language sessions, informants perceived females as more self-sufficient and extroverted," they said.

In one of the studies, a group of bilingual U.S. Hispanic women viewed advertisements that featured women in different scenarios. The participants saw the ads in one language - English or Spanish - and then, six months later, they viewed the same ads in the other language. Their perceptions of themselves and of the women in the ads shifted depending on the language.

"One respondent, for example, saw an ad's main character as a risk-taking, independent woman in the Spanish version of the ad, but as a hopeless, lonely, confused woman in the English version," said the researchers.

My Thoughts

As someone who is bi-cultural and speaks two languages, I wonder if this is true for me also. I like to think that I am the same person when I speak in Hebrew as compared to English, but then again maybe I am not. I would like to think that my personality changes simply based on my location, the people I am around, and my mood but maybe I also change when I switch between Hebrew and English. I will admit that certain elements of my personality are amplified when I speak Hebrew because the conversations I normally have in Hebrew always seem more dramatic than the ones I have in English.


It has always been funny to me how animated we Israelis get when we speak in Hebrew. To me the jokes seem funnier, the arguments more passionate, and life just more interesting when I interact with people in Hebrew. That is why it is so funny that I meet so many Israelis who when they find out that I speak English they want to speak English with me so they can improve their English. Yet, I want to speak Hebrew with them so I can improve my Hebrew. Thus a tug of war takes place where we end up doing half and half.

There are also some people that I have not yet been able to understand completely when they speak Hebrew. Some of it could be that I am used to certain tones of voices in Hebrew, since when I lived in America I only spoke Hebrew at night and on the weekends. When I worked in the US there weren't that many Hebrew speakers at my job, so there was really no use for it at work. I tried to keep myself current by studying during my lunch break, but one hour is never enough.

So I just knew I had to move to Israel so I could spend most of my time speaking Hebrew. This is the only place where Hebrew could be my first language in about 90% of my encounters. So, as I have mentioned in other posts, I pretty much packed my bags and moved here to Israel. I will have to be honest, speaking Hebrew was a major reason I moved here. All that for a language you say? Hey, don't knock it until you have tried it. It is like a Rabbi I know once wrote, "There is nothing like the feeling of being in Israel, learning in Hebrew, speaking in Hebrew, and living in Hebrew." That Rabbi definitely gets a soul-clap for that because he was 100% right.


Hadag Nahash/Hene Ani Ba (here i come)
-הדג נחש/הנה אני בא


I guess I should also add the fact that I know Yemenite Hebrew. Not in terms of speaking, although I understand it when I hear it and when I read Biblical texts of ancient Hebrew I automatically pronounce everything in Yemenite Hebrew. I can also read Yemenite Judeo-Arabic, which we mainly use when singing the older songs. I am able to read the Torah in Yemenite Hebrew as well, and Yemenite Jews are always surprised at how well I do it. Many of them tell me I am Yemenite, or that someone down the line in my family tree must of been.


Psalm 29 - Yemenite/Adenite Synagogue

Wait, how I can forget to mention that I can read Samaritan Hebrew. The Samaritans are a sect of about 700 Israelis who descend from the ancient Samaritan peoples. Half of their community lives in Holon, Israel, not far from Tel Aviv and the other half live in Nablus/Shechem in the Arab controlled regions. They don't like being Jews, but prefer to be called Shamerim Yisraelim i.e. Samaritan Israelis. Their Hebrew has some similarities to Yemenite Hebrew, and can be considered a dialect of ancient Hebrew. I have both the Samaritan Torah and their prayer book the Daftir as a part of my library.


Samaritan Israeli Priests Singing in Samaritan Hebrew

The really cool thing here in Israel, is that there are a lot of Israelis who speak more than one language. There are a number of Jews who speak Yemenite Arabic, North African Arabic, Farsi, French, Yiddish, Spanish, Amharic/Ethiopian, Russian, etc. Throughout the centuries Jews have spoken the local vernaculars of the locals where their communities lived and mixed those languages with Hebrew and Aramaic. Such examples are Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, and Yiddish.

So back to the personality shifts when speaking different languages. I wish there was some way to gauge my own shifts to see who I become when I switch between the two languages. I do know that in technical conversations in Hebrew I am still lacking so I am a bit shy in that area, but I am beginning to change that. This article also has me thinking how it was for my father and great-grandparents. My father spoke both Spanish and English, and my grandparents spoke about 4 or 5 languages. What were those family dinners like, and how did their personality shifts affect their lives. It is all interesting stuff, seeing as I also want to learn Arabic and relearn French. It all makes me feel like the street signs here in Israel, most of them are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English; just in Hebrew and English, only in Hebrew; or only in Arabic.


The Final Analysis

I love language, and when I was kid I used to have so much fun reading dictionaries. I loved learning new words and expanding my vocabulary base. With two languages (scratch that two languages, several dialects, and cordial terms in 3 languages), the fun continues, and the joy increases. Yet, what will happen when I am able to master three languages. These are the stories of what happens in life when you speak more than one language.........

These are the Chronicles of Ehav Ever
אלה דיברי הימים של אהב עבר

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Friday, August 15, 2008

How I Would Make It Better: The Scorpian King

This will serve as a bit of an intermission to The Chronicles of Ehav Ever. If you have read this blog long enough you know I love movies. I also wish I had the ability to make my own because I have some really good ideas. So here is something I enjoy, and that is the idea of improving previously made movies. There are a number of movies that if done the right way could have been a lot better than they were. So this is the second installment of how I would improve it.

Synopsis

In an ancient time, predating the pyramids, the evil king Memnon (Steven Brand) is using the psychic powers of his sorceress Cassandra (Kelly Hu) to foretell his great victories. In a last ditch effort to stop Memnon from taking over the world, the leaders of the remaining free tribes hire the assassin Mathayus (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock) to kill the sorceress. But Mathayus ends up getting much more than he bargained for. Now with the help of the trickster Arpid (Grant Heslov), tribal leader Balthazar (Michael Clarke Duncan) and an unexpected ally, it's up to Mathayus to fulfill his destiny and become the great Scorpion King.

Another review states the following:
Capitalizing on his brief cameo in The Mummy Returns, Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. World Wrestling Federation star the Rock) stars as Mathayus, an Akkadian assassin in the age preceding Egyptian pharaohs, who vows to avenge his brother's murder by an undefeated warlord (Steven Brand) prophesied to become the desert-ruling Scorpion King. Their battle for supremacy comprises most of the film's brisk 95-minute running time, punctuated by comic relief from Mathayus's obligatory sidekick (Grant Heslov), romance with a beautiful sorceress (Kelly Hu), and alliance with a massive Nubian (Michael Clarke Duncan) on the eve of their climactic showdown. There's no rhyme or reason to the film's depiction of ancient civilization (the costuming is particularly ludicrous), but the Rock demonstrates adequate action-star potential, and director Chuck Russell (The Mask) wraps it all in a slick, professional package. --Jeff Shannon




The Scorpion King Trailer

How I Would Improve It


When I first heard about the making of this movie I was excited. When I saw the first trailer I couldn't wait to go and see it. I liked, what appeared to be, a diverse cast from different cultures which was one of the appealing aspects for me. I was also a fan of the up and coming star the rock as well as a fan of the Mummy.

When I first saw The Scorpion King I thought it was good. I rushed out to buy the DVD when it came out in order to support it, because I love ancient movies with a good mix of cultures in it. Yet, over time I began to feel like the movie wasn't that good after all. So now I begin to think of how I would have improved it.

The first thing I would have done is made the movie more edgier. I may have gotten rid of Michael Duncan Clarke, since I to me he doesn't add edginess to the movie, but then again I may have just simply rewritten many of the characters. The movie is about ancient times so it makes no sense that there was not some big battle scene between two standing armies. I loved the scene at the beginning of the Mummy II where the two armies charged each other. I would have had one of these in this movie. I am not sure if I would have kept the Rock as the main character. More than likely I would sense his presence, especially at that time, would be a part of the movie being a money-maker.


Some of the elements of the theatrical version didn't make sense, mainly because there were about 5 or 6 deleted scenes that actually helped the movie make more sense. One example, there is a deleted scene that explains why Mathayus (The Rock) did not kill the sorceress. In the deleted scenes the sorceress mentions that she knows that Mathayus has never killed a woman before. She asks will she be his first. He chooses not to kill her. In the theatrical release there is no explanation given as to why he didn't kill her. He is supposed to be a mercenary so you would figure filling women would be no problem. There is also no explanation why it was thought that he and his Akkadian brothers could kill a sorceress who could see the future.


So the major changes I would have made are the following.

Change #1: I would get rid of the captive sorceress who can see the future. That just made no sense to me. If she could see the future, how could she have been kept captive by Memnon? I also don't like the idea of seeing the future since there is no real way to fight that. I would have made the sorceress more of a semi-evil character. Should would not have been a damsel in distress. She may have been someone who felt she was a servant of destiny, and her interests changing based upon a misguided view of fate.

Change #2:
Instead of a PG-13 rating I would have gone for an R rating since it would have included ancient battles. I also would have maybe added a quest element to the film. Since it is based on the Mummy movies there was a mystical element between life and death. I also would have made a tie in with the introduction to the Mummy Returns.

Change #3: Instead of there being one main villain, Memnon, I would have made it a family of villains. Each one would have been the master of a different weapon technique. I would have used the age old, "Find him and kill him motif." This before the triumphant return of for an all out war between two giant armies. The following intro to the Mummy II The Mummy Returns is something of the scale of battle I was expecting from the Scorpion King.


Battle Scene – The Mummy II

Change #4:
The Soundtrack for the Scorpion King did not make sense at all. Instead of going for the type of music that matches the setting of the movie they chose rock songs. This made the music useless with setting up the scenes.

Change #5: I would have had the move show Mathayus traveling to the various locales in the Middle East and East Africa, maybe to raise up an army to fight Memnon. This would have been great for him to interact with these other cultures and kingdoms in an attempt to raise up an army for the final battle.

Change #6: The entire premise of the movie for me would have been about destiny. Every character would have been vying for their plan in this one prophetic destiny concerning the rise of a Scorpion King. Each person, for good or for bad, would have been doing the best they could to secure their place in the legend. Thus, this would lead to the downfall of some and the rise of others. I would have also added an element of hidden back stabbing right near the end as some people see their chances at destiny slipping away or coming to fruition. I would have also made the Mathayus (The Rock) be the one person who doesn't believe in destiny and prophecy, but both would still affect his life against his will. Essentially, his actions and circumstances would still cause his destiny to occur as a part of this larger prophecy. From there I would have tied into the first scene of the Mummy II, where Mathayus, against his own views of destiny, ends up trying to conquer various kingdoms thus locking himself into the destiny that is in the movie the Mummy II.

Conclusions

With a number of key changes the Scorpion King could have been an epic film like Sparticus and Ben Hur. I just found out that they did a part 2, but it was direct to DVD and it looks horrible.


Scorpion King 2 Trailer

Taking out the epic and prophet elements of an ancient movie makes it worthless. Much of the ancient world was based on the concept of epic battles for supremacy and the idea of prophet truth. The minute they took this out of the Scorpion King it was destined to be a worthless movie.

Yet, in the end this movie could have been a lot of better if they had Ehav Ever working on. The Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue next week.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever - Laugh Break

Since these are my Chronicles, I have a confession to make. I like stupid comedy. Yes, that is right I am one of those guys who finds laughs in all kinds of stuff that many people would say is stupid or childish. The following are some of the things that make me laugh.


The Critic - (Alien, Home Alone, Ahnud)


Airplane - Dealing with Missionaries

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue soon.
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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever - Tisha B'Av

Yesterday was Tisha B'Av and this was the scene last night at the Kotel i.e. the Western Wall in the Old City in Jerusalem.



That was the scene and I was right there in the middle of it. It was crowded, but in a very good way. There were thousands of Jews there from all over praying and hoping for the day that we can one day rebuild the Temple that once stood on the Temple Mount.


What Exactly is Tisha B'Av?

Tisha B'Av (Hebrew: תשעה באב or ט׳ באב, "the Ninth of Av,") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day (Tisha) of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, which occurred about 656 years apart, but on the same date.

Artist rendition of the Destruction of the Temple

According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), the Tisha B'Av commemorates five events: the destruction of the Temples, the return of the twelve scouts sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan, the razing of Jerusalem following the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the failure of Bar Kokhba's revolt against the Roman Empire.

The Tisha B'Av fast lasts about 25 hours, beginning at sunset on the eve of Tisha B'Av and ending at nightfall the next day. In addition to the prohibitions against eating or drinking, observant Jews also observe prohibitions against washing or bathing, applying creams or oils, wearing leather shoes, or having sexual relations (also displaying physical affection).

The Book of Lamentations is traditionally read, followed by a series of liturgical lamentations called Kinnot. In Sephardic communities, it is also customary to read the Book of Job.

The Difference

There is a big difference between observing Tisha B'Av here in Israel vs. Tisha B'Av when I was in America. I remember when I lived in America Tisha B'Av had some meaning for me, but for some reason it simply was another day we fasted. I remember being at the synagogue and hearing the older men cry during our prayers and when we read the books of Lamentations and Jeremiah, which describes the events that lead to the destruction of the 1st Temple as well as the emotions of the dispersed Israelites afterwards. I remember seeing my Mori (teacher) crying and sobbing in the synagogue, and not clearly understanding why. I remember wanting to feel something, and I remember feeling a little something. Yet, it was just another fast day, because some Jews observed it and some didn't. It was just a day where I was tired, and hungry.

Now that I am here in Israel the entire day is more real to me. I have felt down for the last few weeks leading up to Tisha B'Av because living here you really see how far off Israeli society is without a Temple. You know in your heart that we have so many possibilities, and you live through the questionable times, the hard times, the good times, and the times of blessings. You live through it knowing that if we return to Hashem (G-d), He in turn will meet us half way and return to us.

During the entire fast I was not tired nor was I hungry. In fact as the fast went on I felt stronger. This was especially true when I walked to the Old City of Jerusalem on my way to the Kotel. As we all began to pray in different groups, I felt even stronger than before, and even afterwards as I left to go back to my car and head home to Maale Adummim I felt even stronger. It wasn't until I ate and drank later in the night that I began to feel tired and exhausted.

Here, even if a Jew does not observe our religion, or our traditions it still affects him/her in some way. There is a certain respect that days like this have, even for those Jews who don't particularly do much else in Judaism. Here in Israel, it is hard to be Jewish and deny that on some level without our Temple something is missing.

I had a conversation with a guy at work yesterday, who didn't fast, but the day itself resonated with him. He mentioned that during the first Gulf War, when Iraq fired scud missiles into Israel for no reason what so ever, he was praying that one of the scuds would land on the Dome of the Rock and then we Jews could take over the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. He mentioned, that more than likely we won't get it back that easy.

For those who don't understand the situation, it is a bit of a long story. The best way to understand what the Temple has always meant to us Jews, as well as our need for the Temple to be rebuilt you visit The Temple Institute.

Back To Last Night

I haven't been to the Kotel in a number of months, just because of time. I have to admit that I have missed praying there. I miss the feeling of being at a place that is not 100% what it should be, but it has the potential to be something so much more. I missed being in a place where there is some level of joy and some level of sorrow over the hope that one day we will no longer simply pray at a wall, but will have The Temple, like in the days of old.

King Solomon praying that The Temple would he a House of Prayer for all nations

It is sometimes a hard pill to swallow that the Temple Mount, where the Temple of Solomon once stood is controlled by Arabs who are now constantly denying that an Israelite/Jewish Temple was ever there. This stance, only started within the last 20 or 30 years. It is a hard pill to swallow that particular Muslims who currently control the Temple Mount have made it illegal for non-Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount. A non-Muslim who attempts to pray on the Temple Mount can actually be arrested for the simple act of praying. Even moving your lips like you are praying is illegal on the Muslim controlled Temple Mount. While at the Kotel i.e. the Western Wall, anyone can come and pray. All of this when King Solomon's prayer to Hashem (G-d) was that the Israelite/Jewish Temple, on the Temple Mount, would be a house of prayer for all nations.

It is just as hard to swallow the idea that after Israel won the hard fought 6 Day War, we gained control of the Temple Mount, and Jews no matter what their beliefs felt something. Only to have those feelings cast to the rocks when Moshe Dayan gave up the Temple Mount to the Arabs.

The best way for a Muslim to understand this is if an army came into Mecca destroyed it, then control of Arabia went from kingdom to kingdom. Eventually a kingdom came into power and took over Mecca and then claimed there was never a Muslim presence in Mecca. It is like Muslims who fight to free Mecca win Mecca back and then a fellow Muslim gives it to a kingdom who had no connection to it. Most of my Muslims friends would agree that Muslims would never sit back and allow such a thing to happen, they would fight day and night to get Mecca back since it is their holiest site.

No one knows why Moshe Dayan did it, or why there simply wasn't a rebellion against him. The only conclusion we can come to is that it wasn't the time. When the day comes we Jews will know what to do, and we won't allow anything to stop us. Not the media, not western opinion, not the Arabs, and definitely not ourselves.

The Final Analysis

So here I sit at 2:21 a.m. inspired from yesterday, yet knowing we have a long hard road ahead of us. Here I sit, understanding why the older men in the synagogue used to cry because a part of myself is also now crying. Here I sit, like the Temple Mount, not 100% the Israeli or the Jew that I want to be. Yet, like the Temple Mount here I sit with so much potential and opportunity. Here I sit with the hopes of so many people resting on me, like the Temple Mount. Here I sit, praying for the day that we Jews will wake up and never fall asleep again. Here I sit.

Yet, until that day comes, maybe I don't have to sit. Maybe I need to stand up and do something. I am not sure what, but maybe it is as simple as preparing myself. Maybe it is as simple as getting people to understand why. Maybe it is just that simple, and maybe it isn't. Maybe I need to stand up for something because as my co-worker said "We don't get it that easy." No matter how I, I am sorry, we proceed we will be hated. Yet, it comes with the territory. We Jews have been hated when we didn't have a land of Israel and when we didn't have control of our destinies. Now we have a land and the possibility of controlling our own destinies and we are still hated. The future will not be easy, but nothing in life ever is.

Maybe it all boils down to that scene from The Dark Knight:

Bruce Wayne: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do?
Alfred Pennyworth: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it. But that's the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.

When I think of a future where the Temple will be restored enduring to the end sounds like the best option that Israelis, we Jews, and the world has. Just like now I am stating my beliefs, and there are some who may not like it, but I have to endure. I live here in the Middle East, in one of the smallest countries in this region. In a country that is surrounded by nations that ae bigger than we are, have more population than we do and either want to destroy us or simply endure us for the moment. So I, I mean we, endure.......

The Israelite Temple on the Temple Mount

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue.
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Friday, August 8, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever - The Faces

This video pretty much speaks for itself. There is very little I need to add in the way of words. The quotes in the video come from various books the Dune series by Frank Herbert. The music is from the Vin Diesel move the Chronicles of Riddick, one of my favorites if you haven't figured it out by now.



The Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever - Video Break?

One more break and the the Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue. Yet, now that I think about it this is not exactly a break. These breaks reflect important elements of my Chronicles. They tell just as much of my story as the written words I put in my posts. So with that let me take you back, back to my elementary, jr. high, and high school days.

Ehav Ever version 2.0

When I was younger I was a big fan of conscious World Music, hip-hop, and R&B. I also a fan of rap songs that made no sense what so ever, or were just plain funny. I had a best friend named Jason, and we would sit around and analysis songs and their lyrics and makes jokes about them.

Below are a collections of songs that spoke to me then, and in some way still speak to me now.


Isis - Rebel Soul

Though Egyptology does not speak to me, since we Israelis are commanded by G-d to never return there or follow the ways of Egypt, I do have some respect for how some people seek to use Egypt as their way to build a society. These songs remind of the people I came into contact with in Kansas City, MO. During my high school years I met former black panthers, activists, and teachers from various spectrums. My mother made sure I know that there were positive people from all cultures, and that I should recognize that.

That being said, I was a big Lin Que fan. For those of you who don't know Lin Que was formally known as Isis a member of the rap group X-Clan. I was in love with Lin Que when I was younger, and I couldn't wait for her to come out with her new album.


Isis - Touch of Love

I am reminded of how the world to me seemed so perfect when I listened to these songs. They made me feel like I was in a different world, where there was either no wrong or there was hope.


Stetasonic - Talking All That Jazz


Joe Ski Love - Peewees Dance

I love the creativity that these artists had in their videos. Some of the videos I wished had been turned into movies. So this is the soundtrack that my high school years played to.


The Juice Crew - The Symphony

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue.

Ehav Ever version 2.5
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever - Football Break

It's time for another commercial break. This time it is a football break. I have to be honest, I am not much of a soccer/football fan, but this commercial makes me want to be. Enjoy.



The Chronicles of Ehav Ever will continue soon.
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Monday, August 4, 2008

The Chronicles of Ehav Ever - Names

I come from a culture where over a lifetime people acquire many names. Names are used to define people, keep track of events, give joy to new life, sum up feelings, and to serve of a remembrance that we were here and our lives have meaning beyond the grave. I have been called many things in my life. Some were in passing, and some have stuck. This is the story of what happens when a person is known by many names.......These are the Chronicles of Ehav Ever.



My Arabic Name - Rashad

When I was born my father gave me an Arabic name and that name was Rashad. Pronounced more like Roshath, but spelled Rashad and most often pronounced as Rashad. Yet, no matter where I went people would also mispronounce it incorrectly. Variations were Rasheed, Rashard, Rashaad, as well as well as those who would simply just ponder its pronunciation for a while until I would simply tell them.

My father's oldest brother, my uncle, told me that he and my father got into a big argument when my father gave me an Arabic name. He said the argument was so heated that they didn't talk to each other for about a month. My uncle's problem was that he felt that the time for us receiving Arabic names was over. Prior to the state of Israel, Jews from the Middle East and Africa often had Arabic names. The development of the Arabic language took place in both Jewish and Arab culture. We Jews though had our own special form of Arabic known today as Judeo-Arabic. There were several dialects of Judeo-Arabic, that varied, just as Arabic does from region to region. After the state of Israel was established, many Jews from Arabic speaking lands changed their names from Arabic names to more ancient or semi-modern Hebrew names. Some Jews though felt no need to throw off the language that they had helped develop.

So this was the crux of the argument. My father felt he was preserving our ties to our semi-Arabic speaking past, even though we stopped speaking it and instead many in the family spoke Spanish. The thing I hated about this name was all the times people would make fun of me. The other issue was that I would run into Muslims who thought I was Muslim because of the name. A few of them became real argumentative when they found out I was in fact Jewish. I used to hate all the names that I got from people who didn't, because of their Western centered focus, know how to pronounce my Arabic name. They would make fun of me by calling me things like Mustafa, etc, etc.

Now a days I only allow CERTAIN family members to call me by my Arabic name. I don't answer to it from anyone else, since I legally changed my name to my Hebrew name.

Prior to about 20th century my father's side of our family had the last names Ever and Lyons. The Ever part of the family came from a family that was once called Awhalyahud or Al-yahud in Senegal and Mali. About 100 years ago some how the Ever part of the family became known as Harbert, although part of the family stilled pronounced it as Ever or Eber. So when I was a kid my part of the family was being called Har-bert. Several years ago I decided that I wanted to go back to what we used to be called. Ever or Eber is a Hebrew word derived from עבר. It means a crossing or the other side. It is also the name of one of Abraham's ancestors in the Bible.

My Hebrew Name - Ehav Eliyahu Ever

Many of who are Jewish and born outside of Israel often get two names. One name is often derived from the local language and the other is our Hebrew name. My Hebrew name is Ehav ben-Eliyahu Ever or in Hebrew (אהב בן אליהו עבר). The ben means, in Hebrew, son of. So I am Ehav son of Eliyahu Ever. Most people who knew me in my youth would have never heard my Hebrew name. I didn't start going by my Hebrew until college. In fact one of my cousins who grew up in Kansas City also, does not even remember his Hebrew name. Ehav is not an average Hebrew name, although there is a similar name to it in Arabic (Ehab). Ehav is properly pronounced Ey-hav with the stress on the first syllable. Ehav is derived from the Hebrew word for love (Ahav). My name shows up in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) once in the book of Hoshea.'

Other Names

Like most people I have other names that I have been called by throughout my lifetime. Most of them nicknames, others names given to me in particular situations. Here are a list of them and how I got them.

Pughtwaat -
My mother sometimes calls me this. I am not sure where it came from. I will have to ask her about that one.

Sharbee -
One of my mothers cousins has been me this since I was a child. She would babysit me when I was younger. Even to this day she randomly calls me this. She once started yelling this out when I was playing football and I made a good tackle. I was trying to convince a friend of mine to run towards the sidelines on the next play and tackle her. (Just kidding)

Puppet Master - I received this name when I was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. It was not the original pledge name I received when I pledged, but it was changed to this because I was really big into control and pulling strings to get things to work in my favor.

Rosh - A friend of mine in college, Trevi Wormley, used to call me this. He would only use it when he was being funny. He would walk into the room and yell out ROSH!

Yokazuna -
I got this title from one night when my friend, Sean Slade, and I were went around our dorm doing impersonations of WWF wrestlers. Sean would do Hulk Hogan and I would do both the Undertaker and Paul Bearer.

The Undertaker and Paul Bearer

The Undertaker vs Yokazuna

The first time we did it I was keeping up with the rivalry between the Undertaker and the sumo-like Yokazuna. During my impersonation there was a part where, while imitating Paul Bearer's high pitched voice, I said something like "Oooohhhhh Yokazunaaaaah, my Undertaker......" After that guys who had been there that night would see me on campus and yell out, "Oooohhh Yokazunaaaaaaaa!" Severals years after I graduated from college and I was living near Oakland, CA I was in a club in San Fransisco with a friend. There was this guy that passed by me, stopped, looked at my face and he yelled out "Oooohhh Yokazunaaaaaaaa!" It ends up that he was one of the guys in the room when we first started doing the wrestler impersonations.

Superman/Surgeman - At my job, I have two names; Superman and Surgeman. People at my job started calling me Superman because there are times when there is a lack of people who either have the time or know how to do specific jobs, and I have been able to do them. I have had a variety of work thrown at me and I end up getting it done. So I am being called Superman. Whenever one of these jobs come up, I take off my glasses and start humming the theme to the old Superman movies. The other title, Surgeman, I got from one of these such situations. There is a test we do at my job which is called a Lightning Surge test. It simulates lightning strikes on equipment. When a particular person at my job quit it ended up that I was the only one who knew how to use the surge equipment. So one of my co-workers started calling me Surgeman. He now says I am Ehav ben-Eliyahu Surgeman.

The Final Analysis

I come from a culture where over a lifetime people acquire many names. Names are used to define people, keep track of events, give joy to new life, sum up feelings, and to serve of a remembrance that we were here and our lives have meaning beyond the grave. I have been called many things in my life. Some were in passing, and some have stuck. This is the story of what happens when a person is known by many names.......These are the Chronicles of Ehav Ever, aka Pughtwaat, aka Sharbee, aka Puppet Master, aka Yokazuna. aka Superman, aka Surgeman.

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The Chronicles of Ehav Ever: Blast From The Past

No words are needed. This song speaks for itself.


Whodini - One Love
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