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Re: What are we going to do for Chol Hamoed?? Ticket to Ride, Catan, Risk, Pandemic. ;)
March 15, 2020, 02:17:57 PM
Re: Weddings in next few weeks
so many small weddings going on and i literally cry by each video.  its less than what they did in the old shtetl.  barely minyan for bentching. and there is nothing we can do about it.  many couples are taking it in stride. but some looked like they were on the verge of crying   :'( :'( :'(

Hopefully this can teach us that we dont need to spend tens of thousands of dollars for one nights party,

March 19, 2020, 07:08:04 AM
Re: Pesach Programs There is no way any rav, considered mainstream chariedi, will sign such a  hetter.
Have you heard of ANY of these "Rabbis" before????
None of Chacham Ovadia Yosef's children signed, no one from the Moetzes Chachmei Hatorah, not even from the Chavrei Moetzes Harabanut Harashit L'Yisrael!!!!!!!

You need "shoulders" to start with hetterim like this, its not for the Ram in some Yeshiva to sign on, or the Mara Dasra of some small Yishuv, or the Rav of a Beit Knessset.

March 25, 2020, 08:10:49 AM
Re: Areivim USA - Coronavirus I'm going to post something that was writen by an actuary about 10 years ago when Areivim was making a big startup splash. It was posted on a blog that seems not to exist any more, but I know who the author is. I vaugley recall that he met with the askanim behind it and was unimpressed with their responses.

AREIVIM and Why I Don’t Like It

This is just my opinion so you are more than free to disagree. Of course some numbers to back up any counter claims should be a requirement.

 Here is the Areivim plan:

A group of 14,286 (families) enroll by submitting an application and a credit card number. If someone in the group dies, the remaining members will be charged $7 per surviving unmarried child, for a total of $100,000 per child. No more than $28 will be collected per member per month.  For example, if someone dies and has 7 children, the first month’s collection will be $400,000 (14,286*$28) and the second month’s collection will be the remaining $300,000.  If there are no deaths, there are no charges.

 Now for the problems:

With 14,286 people and a maximum charge of $28 a month, the maximum amount that can be collected in one year is 14,286*$28*12 = $4.8 million. This means the maximum number of children that the group can pay for in any year is $4.8m/$100k = 48 per year. Since this arrangement is marketed to the Chasidic and RW communities, I am going to assume that the average family has 6 children. With an average of 6 kids per family, that means the fund can handle no more than no more than 8 deaths per year.

 How many deaths can we expect from a group of 14,286 people? The answer of course depends on the age of the cohort. But from the mortality tables I looked at, there is no way that this will work.  Remember, that there is no underwriting.  Furthermore, the latest mailing states that not only will they give $100,000 per child, they will also give money to a surviving female spouse with 3 or more children. Last, it also appears that they will pay money to the surviving children whether it is the father or mother who pass way. This means that in the cohort of 14,286, there are actually over 28,000 people at risk for dying.  Assuming 8 deaths or less from a group of 28,000 is well below any mortality table at any age.

 Another question I had was as follows:  As more people die the group gets smaller, so that later deaths do not have 14,286 people each chipping in $7 per child. So unless there is a constant flow of new people signing up and paying, by definition the plan fails. And any plan that requires constant new entrants to be able to pay the older ones is not an insurance plan but rather a Ponzi scheme.

 Furthermore, credit cards get cancelled or expire. Who is going to track down the large number of uncollectable funds after each death?  Isn’t there a cost for collecting money out of credit cards?  Who is paying for that?

 Yet another issue I have is regarding their rule on what happens to the $100k after collection. According to their brochure, ‘special accounts’ will be set up with the oversight of rabbonim, run by askonim who will distribute the money over time, to and through the wedding.  I am pretty sure that Bernie Madoff himself would have passed the “rabbonim oversight” test.  If there is any potential for fraud and abuse, this is it. Having a multi-million dollar fund in the hands of an ‘askan’ is a recipe for disaster. And cynics like me will be the first to point it out to anyone who asks.   

 Last but not least, are the distortions and outright lies in their most recent mailing.  The brochure begins by stating that after two years the program is working, so all the naysayers were wrong. First, I am not sure two years would be enough time to prove any such thing. Second, according to my sources inside the organization, they still do not yet have a cohort of 14,286 people, so how can they say this?  Third, this statement is completely un-auditable. We have no idea how many people have signed up, how many deaths there were, and whether or not outside collections were used to pay for them.

 Later in the brochure they state that as of now 3 out of every 5 people have not yet signed up for Areivim.  Using my brilliant analytical skills I determined that they are therefore saying that 2 out of every 5 people have signed up.  Do you believe that 40% of Klal Yisroel has signed up for this plan? Let’s put it this way, do you know anyone who has?

 The brochure also says that ALL the Gedolim in EY and America have endorsed it. Well, my son’s Rosh Yeshiva put up a sign in his Yeshiva saying that he doesn’t; though perhaps all that proves is that my son’s RY is not a Godol.  J  My Rov was also asked to endorse and he too refused.

 The brochure makes mention that the number of deaths experienced so far is far lower than ‘Al Pi Derech Hatevah’ (expected).  This is in fact quite possible even if I can’t audit them. And perhaps that can be their selling point - join Areivim and Hashem will bless you with a lower-than-expected mortality.  But I think we are all better served by buying insurance from a reputable insurance company, with an annual financial statement and appropriate reserves, that pays the beneficiaries upon death

May 05, 2020, 12:00:56 PM
Re: Couples Stuck in USA - Rent on Israeli Apartments I dont understand the Ramat Eshkol psak at all.
I am an American Avrech currently living and renting in EY. After Purim when other Avreichim were leaving to the US and Europe, I wished them all "A Gmar Chasima Tova". Every single one of them understood what I was saying... i.e. that they probobly will not be able to get back in to the country after Pesach.
Everyone who didn't leave can continue using their appartment.
Why should the owners lose because their renter made a stupid/self-centered/whatever-you-want-to-call-it decision? The renter left knowing that he will not be able to get back in!!!
---edit: I understand why people left. Its just unreasonable to use their reasons to get out of fulfilling your contract---
There is no makas medina on the use of the appartment. there is no makas medina on the borders being closed because it was forseeable that they would be closed and you left anyway!!!
Maakos Medina is something that is unforseeable and there is nothing you can do to prevent the loss. Look the Gemaras up. Baba Metzia 103b - 106b.

Obviously people who left before Purim is a different shaila completely.

May 22, 2020, 07:40:39 AM
Re: Couples Stuck in USA - Rent on Israeli Apartments I am a renter, who enjoys practical halacha.
May 22, 2020, 07:44:16 AM
Re: Will there be Sleep Away Camp this summer?
Its called "Herd Immunity" when most of the herd had the disease the chances of others contracting it is very low. Look it up.

Exposure≠Had the Disease≠Herd Immunity

June 17, 2020, 11:50:38 AM
Re: Mezuzah Fraud As someone with some idea of the inside of the industry, I'm going to try and write a coherent overview.

I am not Chabad, and as such have no dog in this scandal/debate.

You can go into ANY Judaica store in the US and Canada, and ask for Mezuzos and their prices. Below a certain price point, the Mezuzos will probably have major issues. This is known to anyone who does a little research. The chiddush of the expose is that R' Wolf is picking on the retailers in a certain neighborhood.

What is the price of a Mezuza? After all, its just a piece of parchment and black ink. How much should it cost already, $20?
The Mezuzah Supply Chain
A sofer contracts with a wholesaler who guarantees to buy his mezuzos at a given price. They may contract for a specific number of mezuzos/tefilin each month or whatever the sofer manages to write.
The wholesaler (who has a number of sofrim writing for him) supplies stores that need mezuzos to sell.
There maybe additional middlemen involved, for example a wholesale buyer in Israel who sells it to a distributor in the US.
Some larger stores will have enough demand to do their own wholesale buying directly from sofrim.
At some point in the chain, the Mezuza is checked by a Magia to make sure its Kosher. The widespread custom today is to ALSO have it checked by a computer.

On every Mezuza, all of these people need to make money. 0)The Klaf maker 1) The Sofer 2)The Magia 3)The Computer Checker 4)The wholesaler 5)The final Retailer

The Klaf
Klaf is made either Avodas Yad (hand made) or Avodas Mechona (machine made). The lower level of mechanization, the higher the price of the Klaf. There are other chumros in the making of the klaf that can add to the price of the klaf, but this is irrelevant to the lower level commodity mezuzos we are dealing with.

The Sofer
Generally, sofrim who write for a living are located in Israel. There are sofrim in other countries but they are the exception. The Sofer has the expense of buying the klaf. He may also rent a work area (In EY this is very common).

It takes time to write a mezuza. The faster the sofer writes, the more mezuzos he can sell. The faster he writes the less time/care he takes on each letter in the mezuza. This can lead to issues in the proper forming of each letter, negios between letters, placing the letters below the sirtut (the embossed lines) which can all make the mezuza PASUL - with NO way to kosher it. he may also leave out Tagim (crowns), and look sloppy (a chisaron of Zeh Keli)
The more hours in a day that the sofer writes, the more mistakes he will have, and the sloppier he writing will appear.

The Magia and Computer Checker
Sometimes this is the one person, many people specialize in one or the other.
As with the sofer, the quicker he checks the less care he takes.
The computers also NEED attention. they DO NOT check automatically. They will bring up a list of possible issues in the mezuza. Depending on the neatness of the writing there can be many false positives, (and there can be false negatives, which is one of the reasons that it does not replace a Magia). The computer checker needs click a button two say that he looked them over and it's false positives, or click what the problem is. He the quicker he checks, the more mezuzas he checks, the less care he takes on each one.

The wholesaler
He may carefully select which sofrim he uses, or take anyone who gives him product. He may check that they have Smicha to write, that they have Yiras shomayim, that they know the halachos or he may not check at all.

The retailer
May be a certified Sofer or Magia who knows the halachos, or may just be a salesman.
Like the wholesaler he may or may not be selective in whose stuff he offers for sale.

To summarize The price of the Mezuza depends on:
1)How many Mezuzos the sofer writes a month i.e how quickly he writes. The more, the cheaper.
2)The speed of the magia. The quicker the cheaper.
3)The markup of the wholesaler and the retailer

Below a certain price point, , after the retailer and wholesaler's profit and the sofer's expenses, very little remains for the sofer to live on. He can only make up for this with volume. Volume = speed = lower quality.
It is more difficult to write tefilin than mezuzos, and both are more difficult than a Sefer Torah or Nach. The writing is smaller, and the din of Kesidran makes it impossible to fix many mistakes, if found after the sofer wrote more.
Considering that a sofer who can write a line in a safer torah in 5 minutes, writes REALLY fast, how fast can a sofer write a mezuza which is 21 lines?

June 17, 2020, 12:35:28 PM
Re: Will there be Sleep Away Camp this summer?
Exposure is meaningless.
The only thing that matters is exposure to someone contagious, and the vast majority of people with COVID-19 are not contagious.

I don't think that even that is enough. If the virus doesn't enter the persons body, they won't have antibodies/immunity. It doesn't matter how many people they were exposed to.

June 17, 2020, 12:41:10 PM
Re: Mezuzah Fraud
... putting up 10, 15 or more mezuzos on a house sometimes gives a person sticker shock, so they might opt for 1 or possibly 2 or 3 better mezuzos with the rest being kosher but basic.

If someone has that many doors it is very likely that some of of them are only chayav m'drabanan.
When counting the doors in the house for mezuzos, it's a good idea to count how many need Mezuzos Deoraysa, how many Drabanan, and how many are chumra. These are how many level one, two, and three mezuzos you need. Better ones for the deoraysa...
Many peoples front door may only be chayav Drabanan!!! (If it's to an entryway that is smaller than 4x4 amos)

The best english resource i know of, is "Inside Stam" by R Reuven Mendlowitz from ?Beit Shemesh. It can be found in most judaica stores.

I apologize for feeding the trolls, that was not my intention.
I don't know what the backstory is with R' Wolf; if he first tried to go to the stores directly or through rabbanim to get the stores to upgrade their standards or he hit them with his "Expose" out of left field.

June 18, 2020, 03:18:24 PM