CATEGORY: Short Story

A poem for our times

On a table, together with all my options,
I sat under a nuclear umbrella and played with a mushroom cloud.
I was in a zone,
Of immunity.
I pitted a nuclear duck against a terrorist octopus.
They crossed each others’ red lines until both reached the point of no return
And spinning, they fell off the table.
I got up to close the window of opportunity,
as it was letting in a cold draft from the Islamic Winter outside.
Spring, all too short, was over.


The Five Levels of the Soul (and the explanation)

© Copyright 2012 Alisa Poplavskaya All Rights Reserved

According to Jewish mystical belief and transmitted by Kabbalistic sages is the notion of the existence of Five Levels of the Soul. These five souls are in between the poles of Yesh, which is the world that we know, in which we exist as individuals being separate from the whole, and on the other end the world of Ayn, which is the cosmic soul of everything, or more in more biblical words, it is what we mean when we say G-d is everywhere. The individual being is like a sunbeam. It is unique and it exist as a „self“, but it is much more itself when it is in its source, which is the common sun where the individuality of the sunbeam dissolves in a higher „self“. The five levels in between this „I am a sunbeam“-process are Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah, Chayyah and Yechidah. Nefesh can be seen as the life force, which keeps the heart beating and the lungs breathing. Ruach is the instinct that makes you for example look for shelter when caught by a rainstorm. Neshamah is the closest to our Ego. It is saying „I, me, mine“ and is a conscious and separate self. Chayyah is the beginning of cosmic consciousness. Chayyah understands that everything is connected, yet it also feels itself as a separate entity, but in unity with the whole. READ MORE


Tel Aviv market a bonanza from ordinary to exotic (Chicago Tribune)

TEL AVIV — Visiting a food market in a far-flung destination is a great way to get a sense of the people who live there. Israel is no exception. The market in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, showcases the small desert country’s agricultural innovations and the immigrant backgrounds of many Israeli residents.

Tel Aviv’s Carmel market, also known as Shuk Ha’Carmel, is close to the shore and a short walk down Allenby Street from the city’s hotel area. It’s part flea market, with vendors selling clothes, trinkets, cosmetics and cigarettes — there’s something quirky about seeing Camel cigarettes for sale in a place where you often see real camels — but mostly it’s a foodie haven of dried fruit, exotic spices, local olive oil, imported cheeses and fresh fish, meat and poultry. You also could spend your time dealing with the more immediate needs of an empty stomach by visiting stalls that sell persimmon smoothies, imported chocolates, mounds of colorful candies, fresh falafel, halva, lamb shawarma and borekas, the salty stuffed Turkish puff pastries that seem to be everywhere in Israel.

Tel Aviv chef Yair Feinberg, 35, gives market tours to travelers as part of his culinary business Fein Cook. He also offers cooking classes, specialty dinners and works on an Israeli television version of “Iron Chef.” Feinberg, the son of Argentine immigrants, grew up on a kibbutz in Israel’s Negev region and trained to be a chef at L’Institut Paul Bocuse in France. He later worked in several Michelin-star-receiving restaurants in Paris, Provence, France, and Tuscany, Italy, before returning to Israel in 2005.

It’s easy to wander the market alone and relish your solo discoveries. But a trip with someone like Feinberg can add insight and explanations about what you are seeing.

Take the giant lemons, for instance. After sampling some of the largest and juiciest clementines I’d ever tasted, I was convinced I was in the land of giant fruit when I came across what I was sure were the largest lemons I’d ever seen — about the size of a 16-inch softball.



The handshake that launched a thousand planes?

This is the picture released today by the Israeli Government Press Office after the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

From looking at the picture, and from reading the remarks, it seems to me that the two men have not come to an agreement that whittles down the grey area between the two countries’ red lines on Iran. Obama went through his main talking points clearly: there is still time for a diplomatic solution, and for sanctions. The military option remains firmly on the table; and that Israel should trust him that when it comes to Israel’s security, “America has Israel’s back,” he says.

Netanyahu’s main point is that Israel reserves the right to act as it sees fit to remove any existential threat. It is the master of its own fate, Bibi says.

Obama wants Netanyahu to wait, and Netanyahu wants Obama to act now, or at least not get in Israel’s way.

No common ground on this main issue.

The picture shows a strong handshake, with both men pursing their lips, both men coming from a strong position. They’re both completely convinced of their position. Both men look determined, and entrenched.

And so if that is the case, my assessment is that Netanyahu will not let Israel’s window of opportunity for an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities close. He will not take the leap of faith that Obama has asked him to take. The essence of Netanyahu’s message is that “you cannot ask us to put our fate into your hands. The whole point of the Jewish state is that we don’t ever have to do this.” READ MORE


Haschem, unser Schöpfer isst Rindfleisch in Sahnesoße?

Das glaubst du nicht? Dann lies bitte Genesis (Bereschit) 18. 1bis 8. Wajerah. Der Ewige erschien unserem Stammvater Abraham unter den Terebinthen zu Mamre – so ne Art Garten – zur Mittagszeit mit zwei Männern als Begleitung – vermutlich Engel-, egal, und Abraham hat den Herr´n bewirtet, mit Brotkuchen und Rindfleisch in Sahnesoße. Und es wurde gegessen und gut.

Na was soll denn das, bitte? MIlchig mit fleischig zusammen in einer Mahlzeit und dann auch noch G´tt selbst? Was ist da los in Genesis 18. 1-8 ? Und Abraham Awinu gibt so ein Essen aus?  Na ja, die Gesetze wurden ja erst später am Sinai verkündet. Abraham wusste gar nichts davon, dass man milchig mit fleischig nicht zusammen essen darf. Aber G´tt der Herr, was ist mit ihm? Heute so und morgen so? Gut, ein paar Jährchen vergingen schon zwischen dem Imbiss in Mamre und Sinai, aber G´tt, was hat ihn bewogen seine Meinung zu ändern? Hat er sie vielleicht gar nicht geändert? Darf man vielleicht auch nach Sinai, also auch heute noch, milchig und fleischig gemeinsam verzehren? Liegt da etwa ein Missverständnis vor? Hat da jemand etwas falsch verstanden oder genauer ausgedrückt und mit verlaub, hat da jemand gar nichts gecheckt, sozusagen alles vollständig verplant und das Thema verfehlt und sich etwas aus den Fingern gezutzelt und an den Haaren herbeigezogen?  Wie kommt so ein Exeget auf solche milchig-fleischig-, parvöse  Ideen?



Stories of post-Nazi era

I have just returned from a journey through several Extermination Camps in Poland. The stories that you’re about to read, simply popped up during this terrible but wonderful trip (which included a feature magnificent coincidence). Also, I sincerely think that every person deserves to visit Auschwitz at least once, the same way as everyone deserves to experience pure happiness, at least once. This good-evil-good axis is also commonly known as…life.


…the old man looked a bit odd. His hair untidy, his glasses out of fashion. He behaved very insecure. Nobody wears these pyjama-like brown shirts anymore. Especially not with a yellow Star of David on the chest. For 200 EUR you can get one of those, second hand though, but still yellow. “Our revenge is the fact that we both are still here”, I said to him. “We are still living in Naziland”, he answered.

All I could do was simply getting out of the very non-kosher McDonald’s…



Gibt es wirklich gesunde isr. Soldaten?

Bei der Musterung der männl. Rekruten für die isr. Armee kann kein beschnittener Mann für vollig gesund befunden werden. Das Fehlen der Vorhaut fällt mit 3% ins Gewicht und zwar negativ. 97% ist also die beste Bewertung die es gibt, für beschnittene Rekruten. Die Beschneidung ist also eine Maßnahme, die zu einer bleibenden Versehrtheit führt. So sieht es die Medizin.

Die Torah erzählt: Abraham, der von G´tt als Stammvater des jüdischen Volkes- damals der Hebräer – auserkoren wurde, musste im Alter von fast einhundert Jahren als erster Jude die Beschneidung erleiden, als Zeichen seines Bundes mit G`tt.


Es geht dabei ganz klar um eine Präventivmaßnahme gegen den Größenwahn.

Ein Mann, der an der Spitze einer Sippe oder einer noch größeren menschl. Gemeinschaft wie eines Stammes oder eines Volkes steht, könnte leicht einer dem Größenwahn ähnlichen Selbstüberschätzung anheim fallen, wie die Geschichte es an so vielen Beispielen gezeigt hat. Die Versehrtheit an seinem Gliede aber, welches er ja mehrmals täglich zu Gesicht bekommt, wird ihn vielleicht stets daran erinnern, dass er nur ein Mensch ist, mit begrenzter Macht und großer Verletzlichkeit, im Gegensatz zu dem allmächtigen Wesen an das er glaubt und das sein Leben bestimmt.


In vielen Kulturen und Religionen wird das männl. Glied als göttliches Symbol der Fruchtbarkeit und Stärke verehrt. Die Beschneidung soll jegliche Vergötterung der Manneskraft unterbinden. Männer neigen, bedingt durch ihren Geschlechtstrieb, zum spielerischen Kampfe bis hin zu kriegerischen Revierstreitigkeiten mit tödlichem Ausgang. Wenn sie dies in größeren Gemeinschaften unternehmen, nennt man das Krieg. Die Beschneidung stellt einen eher mehr wohlgemeinten als gelungenen Versuch dar, männliche Menschen zu einer realitätsnahen Selbsteinschätzung zu bringen. Bei den Damen der Schöpfung ist eine so grausame und leider doch eher wirkungsarme Maßnahme nicht von Nöten, denn diese sind, bedingt durch ihre Körperlichkeit und forpflanzungsbedingte Psychophysiologie, realitätsnahe, pragmatische und eher ernsthafte Lebewesen, deren Neigung zu Größenwahn und Gewalt vernachlässigbar gering erscheint, was aber hie und da den einen oder anderen Ausrutscher nicht ausschließt.

Ganz kurz angebunden und sozusagen beschnitten verabschiede ich mich mit leisem törröööhhhh, euer

Benjamin Perach Katan


Love in the time of Uranium

“America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable. It is unshakeable. I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours. None. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. It is a fact. We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table.” – US President Barack Obama, December 17, 2011


A war-weary gentleman holds his young, tempestuous, and fiery lover close, in a warm, yet slightly too strong embrace, not only out of mutual respect and love but, lately, mainly out of real concern that his young lover could break his grip and dash across the room to attack the ugly man standing in the corner; that smirking stranger playing with himself, growing larger and larger, panting, frothing, disgusting, taunting the young woman, threatening to explode all over her. That ugly man has been making lewd gestures at her, and she is frightened that he will come and take her when her lover is not looking, when he’s distracted or asleep. The beautiful young one tells her older lover that she will not leave him, will not just disappear into the night, that she won’t, out of fear and desperation, lash out at her tormentor alone, that she will always remain close, always in contact, that she will keep her cool, and that if she goes out for the night, she’ll tell him where she’s going and when she’ll be back. But she also says that she has to go out into the night; it’s coming, it’s calling her, that she’s been hurt before, deeply hurt, that she’s afraid of the ugly man in the corner; she can’t sleep because of the ugly man in the corner; she wants him gone, gone now… he’s coming to get me, he’s promised to do terrible, horrible things to me….I can’t live, I can’t breathe as long as he’s out there…playing with that thing…that disgusting thing…I can’t take my eyes off it, and he is not taking his eyes off me…I can’t stay with you if you don’t take care of him….I won’t….take him away from me forever…and if you can’t, or won’t, then let me go. Now. READ MORE


On the couch with Bibi Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his weekly therapy session.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Doc, you don’t know how much I needed this session today. I’m a wreck.
Psychologist: I’m sorry to hear that. What’s going on?
PM: It’s happening again. I feel like I’m fighting with everyone. I feel like I can’t trust anyone. I’m angry all the time. I’m scared.
Psychologist: We’ve spoken about your trust issue here before, several times.
PM: Yes. I know. It’s come up again, I’m left with nobody to trust, no one to confide in.
Psychologist: Tell me what happened.
PM: They took away Nathan. Can you believe it? Let me tell you, that was a total shock. I saw it on TV. On TV! My Nathan, on TV! I was in shock. It’s not good for a Prime Minister to be in shock. And Nathan! My right-hand man and my left-hand man. He’s the only one who knew what the right hand and left hand were doing. My main man. The only one I really could trust from that whole gang. Hendel! Couldn’t trust him. He was too good-looking. He was too serious looking. Too seriously good-looking. He stabbed me in the back. He had to go. I showed him the door the same way I heard about Nathan’s story: on TV. Ha! Showed him. Hendele comes to me, says he’s sorry about how it all came down. I says to the guy: ‘it’s all wrong what you did. I have absolutely no faith in you anymore. None.’ So he says: ‘Ok, well, in that case, I’ll resign immediately.’ And I says to the guy: ‘Ok, but let’s announce it in a day or two, once I find a replacement.’ And then you know what I did doc? I leaked it straight to the TV! Shame, poor Hendele, never knew what hit him. What goes around comes around, that’s what dad always says. And Zvika, I showed him the door too, on live TV. I let him have it. ‘Lock the door, just lock it, why can’t you just do what I tell you to do?’ Poor Zvika, he still hasn’t gotten the message. Wait until he tries to get a spot in the Likud, that will be something heheh.
Psychologist: You’re very angry. I heard they said that they had your best interests at heart. Are you maybe being too harsh?
PM: Rubbish. Of course I’m angry. I’m not being harsh enough. I could be much, much harsher, believe me. But we are in a vibrant democracy after all. The only one in the Middle East. These guys, these jokers, Hendel, Hauser and Locker betrayed my trust. They went behind my back doctor. They deserve to get booted out. I can’t work with people like that.
Psychologist: Let’s get back to Eshel. Why are you so upset about him? I mean, he did after all harass a member of your staff. He did take inappropriate photos of her. He hacked into her mail. This man was obviously creating an unhealthy atmosphere in your office, and, in a sense, now that he’s gone, the unhealthy atmosphere is also gone. You should be happy about that. Perhaps not at the way it was done, but the final result is the same. But you’re really upset about losing him, aren’t you. disproportionately upset, aren’t you? Let’s explore that.
PM: They took away my Eshel. My Eshel, he was mine. My loyal, loyal Eshel. Loyalty like that comes around once, maybe twice in a prime ministerial term. I trusted him like I trust you. I told him everything. He’s done so much for me, for my office, for this country, for the Likud. It’s a tragedy. I’m in grief. I’m grieving doctor. So is Sarale.



The truth about our next war

The truth about our next war is that it may not happen at all. It’s shaping up to be big enough and ugly enough to make all sides lose their appetite for it. It may not happen, even though it looks and feels like it is going to happen.

The truth about our next war is that if it does break out, there will be another war after it. Neither side is going to really win, win in the old-school sense of the word. And in the absence of closure, there will be another round, and another round.

The truth about our next war is that we won’t win. All the bad guys need to do is stay alive, survive, hold out – and they will claim victory. There will be many around the world who agree with them. That’s our enemies’ logic, and their plan. We will hurt them very, very badly, but we won’t “win” in the classic sense of the term. We won’t win because there is nothing to win: there is no High Command bunker to storm, no king to capture, no castle to plant our flag on. None of our enemies will admit defeat and sign a declaration of unconditional surrender. They would rather die. And we will oblige them. The best we can hope for is to kill very senior terror leaders. That will give us some good victory shots and make us feel like we’re winning. But there will be others that take their place, and they won’t stop attacking us.