Our view of the Galile

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Treading Lightly- Eikev 2017 / 5777

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

August 11th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 40 19th Av 5777
Parshat Eikev

Treading Lightly

Coffee is an essential part of yeshiva boy’s existence. As a child I never drank coffee. It was a grown up drink. My mother told me that it would stunt my growth. Now that I am a towering 5”10.- stop smiling and winking Aliza and siblings of mine- 5’10 or almost 5”10 OK, I thank her for that. We did have coffee on Pesach with broken matzos for breakfast though. It seems that was alright. It was to get in the spirit of the Maxwell house Hagadda, I guess. But it really wasn’t until I went to High School in Long Beach that I really started drinking coffee. I was a grown-up. We needed it for the late hour learning sessions and early morning prayers. And even if we didn’t learn late or daven early, the coffee drinking ritual was still required. In fact I saw that the great Munkatcher Rebbe used to tell his chasidim that if they didn’t have a Mikva to go to before their early morning prayers than they should drink coffee with milk instead. Because milk or chalav as it is translated in Hebrew is the gematria/numerical value of 40, like the letter mem. And mem kaveh (coffee) spells mikva. And there you have it.
Now the coffee was always available in yeshiva. There was coffee, sugar, cups, spoons and hot water always available. Milk on the other hand, which needed to be refrigerated was only available when the kitchen was open. We had a separate fridge though by the coffee room, however that was for everyone’s private food. You know like the hot chopped peppers that we used to use a relish to drown out the flavor of most of the food, or people’s home-cooked food that their parents sent them. And of course people had their own special stash of milk for when there was no kitchen milk. Now generally one would hope or assume that in a yeshiva, where people studied Torah all day and were focused on becoming better Jews, that if someone left private food in the refrigerator it would be “safe”. Not so much. You see Yeshiva guys also assume that since their friends and the owner of aforementioned food was also studying Torah and trying to become a better Jew than he probably would be happy to share it with another. He also learned and studied Maimonides which suggests that the highest form of charity and kindness is when the benefactor does not know who the recipient is. So in order to further his friends spiritual growth many people would more often than not feel free to helping themselves to some of that fridge food in times of crisis- crises like I made a coffee already and I don’t have milk, and I would have to waste and pour this in the garbage which would of course be sinful unless I “borrowed” some of that milk sitting in the fridge. As well I’m sure my friend wants me to learn Torah and it is obvious that I couldn’t do that without a coffee- see above- so he probably won’t mind sharing some of that milk with me. See yeshiva guys are really clever about this kind of stuff. Our sages tell us that the greater a person is the greater his yetzer hara/ evil inclination is. And it seems that in yeshiva our yetzer hara was particularly skilled at justifying anything.

I remember once there was a yeshiva student who was getting annoyed that day after day his milk was being “borrowed”. It reached a point when he didn’t even have milk for himself and he was everyday having to buy a new carton. Finally he decided enough was enough and he wrote on the milk carton in large letters “PRIVATE MILK”, hoping that would dissuade anyone who assumed that they could just take it or that it belonged perhaps to the yeshiva. However sadly the next morning, the milk as gone. Oh well, he thought, maybe he wasn’t clear enough. Perhaps they assumed that I wanted them to know it was private and that they were free to take it. So the next day he wrote on the milk “PRIVATE MILK-BLI RESHUS (no one has permission to take this). Much to his disappointment though the milk was gone once again. So the next day he upped the ante a bit and wrote “THIS MILK IS PRIVATE, THE TORAH SAYS LO TIGZOL- (Thou shall not steal) HE WHO VIOLATES THIS WILL HAVE TO GIVE JUDGEMENT”. Certain that this would solve the problem, he was once again shocked to find that their must be some blatant thief in the yeshiva that didn’t care as the carton was empty once again. Still trying to find some excuse for this person, perhaps he thought that I was just writing this and would forgive him for it, the next day he put up a new sign. “THIS MILK IS PRIVATE IF SOMEONE STEALS IT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE HIM, EVEN ON YOM KIPPUR, EVEN IF HE DIES.” Yet sadly, lo and behold, he awoke the next morning looking forward to his cup of brew and whadaya know the jug was empty. Realizing there was no other solution he finally came up with the perfect plan. He had solved the problem. The next morning and from then after no one touched his milk. What did he do? He wrote two words on his carton- “CHALAV STAM” and no one had touched it.
{For those not familiar with the concept milk is kosher when the cow is observed to be milked by a Jew- that can insure that no other non-kosher milk was mixed in. Many people rely on a leniency that milk that has USDA supervision suffices. That milk is called chalav stam- or plain milk as opposed to the more stringent milk which many in yeshiva were strict to only drink called chalav yisrael-Jewish milk}
Yup, sadly one of the chronic maladies of the Jewish people is that we find ourselves being stricter and more diligent about keeping Jewish customs and stringencies than the actual law. The Kotzker Rebbe is said to have ruefully once remarked to one of his students that it’s a shame that Hashem wrote Thou shall not Steal in the Ten commandments if he would have just said it’s a minhag- a custom or a hanhaga tov- and extra-special act or even better yet a segula- a good omen than people might be stricter about it. One of the great signs and the best stories of some of our greatest leaders are when they ignore the less important custom or law in order to fulfill the more important and critical commandment.
I recently saw a story about one of the great Rabbis who would help and counsel a poor widow regularly. She was a holocaust survivor and he would always spend time comforting her and lifting her spirits. One year right before Yom Kippur she lost her son. She was grieving and she was mourning. Reb Zelig did his best to talk to her and console her as he wished her a good year before the holiday. Yet as he walked to shul and the services he led prayers for, he began to think that this woman would be all alone and it would be too much for her to be so. So after consulting with Rav Pam in middle of prayers he got onto a train and went uptown right over to her house to spend the rest of the day with her. Yom Kippur davening is at best a rabbinic commandment as is riding on a train. Taking care of widow, an orphan, making sure that they don’t god forbid feel dangerously forlorn is the greatest mitzva. That is sign of great Rabbi.
Another story is told about Reb Chaim Ozer Grodszenski who was once invited to a Shabbat meal by the Baron Rothchild. There was a tremendous feast with all of the fineries prepared. The meal was set up with elaborate candelabras. The Shabbat Tish was ready to go. Reb Chaim Ozer came in and set at the head and looked around for the seemingly missing Kiddush cup. All of a sudden with much fanfare the waiters came out and revealed on a golden tray a magnificent glistening Kiddush cup made out of…. challa. It was twisty windy, golden and in middle was a goblet filled with wine. Reb Chaim Ozer took the goblet and paused for a minute before making Kiddush as he had a troubled look on his face. He quickly wiped it off however and recited his Kiddush in his beautiful and melodious voice. He complimented the Baron on this beautiful and original goblet and proceeded to eat the meal.
It was only afterwards that he revealed to his students what his hesitation was. He explained that the law is that we always cover the challa when we make Kiddush in order not to “embarrass” the bread. The shame of the bread is that we are making a blessing on the wine, whose blessing generally is less important than the breads and follows it-except when we make Kiddush which pushes the wine to the front of the line. So, Reb Chaim continued, I wasn’t sure what to do here as the goblet was made out of bread and I couldn’t cover it up. But I quickly realized that the reason why I am meant to be “sensitive” to the bread is to ingrain in myself how much more so I should worry about the feelings of people. And the Baron would certainly be embarrassed if I didn’t make Kiddush, so obviously I then quickly preformed the greater mitzva of worrying about the sensitivities of others.
This week’s Torah portion, Eikev begins with the mitzvos Hashem commands us to fulfill and the great rewards that follow if we observe and guard them. The Torah utilizes this strange word Eikev- which means “because you will fulfill” to teach us this promise. Rashi notes that the mitzvos referred to in this mitzva are the “light mitzvos” that people tread on with their feet.  Rashi seemingly focuses on the double meaning of the word eikev which also means heel. Yet something doesn’t feel right, the Imrei Shefer asks. Aren’t we told that there is no real reward in this world for doing mitzvos and fulfilling the commandments of Hashem. “Schar mitzva b’hai alma leika- our reward is in the world to come.
He thus explains that the mitzvot the Torah is referring to are the ones that people tend to tread on.. It is so easy to fall into a system of “Jewish law” and “observance”. I’m shomer Shabbos. I keep kosher. I learn Torah. I’m a good person. I’m a kind person. You know the big picture stuff of Judaism. Sure nobody is perfect. Someone might get treaded upon here and there, some laws might be broken, and someone might miss a little milk. But in the big picture I can maintain my religious status.
There is something to be said for that. I’m not negating that tremendous work and dedication to live an observant lifestyle or the significance of the actions of these tremendous deeds. And there is reward in the world to come for all of that. But you know what, Hashem says in this Torah portion? If you will focus on the seemingly smaller sensitivities and mitzvos then you will be rewarded in this world as well. For it is these little acts that reveal how much we want to protect our mitzvos. We want to be doing them for the right reasons, not the social accepted norms that we were raised to just follow and to aspire to, but because we want to make sure our actions are truly divine and holy. If we pause in our regular mitzvos and watch for the moments within them that don’t just get treaded upon, that no one gets hurt because of my observances, then Hashem says He will as well make sure that anything that might prevent us from fulfilling His will, will also be removed from us. We won’t suffer poverty, sickness and tragedies. We will have blessing, prosperity and all we need as well in order fulfill our mitzvos in the ultimate fashion.  It is not a reward for the mitzva, it is quid pro quo for us showing and considering how important it is for our actions to be done at the upmost level.
Following this promise Moshe exhorts us to remember the sin of the golden calf. To never forget what led us to that fatal sin. It was the fact that we felt that we needed an intermediary to Hashem in order to fulfill our commandments and follow the Torah. We forgot about the Godliness of our actions and we just were occupied with doing the law, bringing a sacrifice and in the process we didn’t consider that perhaps we might be breaking the law and worshipping a false god; One that had lost connection with our Father in heaven. We drank coffee that wasn’t ours, we prayed fervently while widows and orphans needed us, we made blessings on bread perhaps in a halachically correct manner while someone was shamed. We tread on commandments because it was a false golden calf of “Torah observance” we thought we were fulfilling, when in fact it was just a god made in our own “cow”-ardly image.
It’s not easy to pay attention to these little nuances, but it is the little things that in fact reveal what the essence of our observance is truly about.  As we get close to the month when the King will soon enter the field and come greet us of Elul, let’s start to clean that field up a bit. Little weed by little weed that we have let grow over our observances, so that from now on we know it is His holy ground we are treading upon.

Have a enjoyable Shabbos vacation,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Besser gut un a bissel aider shlechts un a fuleh shissel.” Better good and a little rather than bad and a lot of it.


https://youtu.be/H6OMnueH0QU     New Lev Tahor Halelu

https://youtu.be/ZaTlMPPWwdk    – Leiner Vachalta VSavata this weeks Torah portion

https://youtu.be/LxLbzolGxr4  Skinny Pinny

answer below at end of Email

Q. The Sakhnin Valley is located:
A Between the Nazareth and Tur’an ridges
B. Between the Tur’an and Yodefat ridges
C. Between the Shaghur ridge and the Tsurim escarpment (slopes)
D. Between the Yodefat and Shaghur ridges


Eikev- Rashi is not a translation of the Torah. Buy an Artscroll if you want that, or learn Aramaic and read the Unkelos-which isn’t a bad idea regardless. Rashi is a commentar. He’s explaining the simple pshat and pointing out things that you might miss if you just read the verses. So when you see him telling you something that seems like an obvious explanation, ponder it. There’s something he’s trying to tell you and it’s not necessarily the definition of a word.
In this week’s Toprah portion when Hashem promises us if we follow His commandments then we will be blessed and not cursed one of the things He tell us is
Devarim (7:14) And there shall not be amongst you an infertile man or an infertile woman.
Seems simple enough. We know what infertile man and woman means. Yet for some reason Rashi on this verse tells us
Infertile- she’eino molid -That cannot father children
As my kids might say Ummmmm Duhhhh?! I mean isn’t that obvious?
Reb Yonasan Eibishitz gives a beautiful interpretation He answers that we have a tradition that all of our Matriarchs were barren. The Talmud tells us this is because Hashem loves and desires the heartfelt prayers of the righteous. So the fact that someone is barren or infertile is itself not necessarily a bad thing. Those prayers, those heartfelt tears that the mother sheds can be the most powerful thing in the world. It is only if the barren or infertile person does not give birth in the hand, does not father children, than it is a tragedy and curse. Thus Rashi here is explaining that when it says akar-infertile it doesn’t mean someone who’s prayers Hashem’s desires and is in a temporary challenge of infertility. Rashi is saying it is referring to someone who ultimately does not give birth. The lesson, if you ponder what he is saying, is  that the challenges and difficulties are not a curse, it may even be a blessing. Rather the only curse is ultimately in the end if we are not able to produce and give birth to blessing. May we only see blessing in our lives.

Rabbi Yonasan Eibishutz – (1690-1764) – Rabbi Yehonosson was born in Cracow (Poland) in the year 1690. His father, Rabbi Nosson Nota, was Rabbi in Eibenschitz (Moravia), where he died, leaving Jonathan a young orphan. A wealthy Jew in Vienna took the young lad under his wing. However, the widow feared that the boy might be distracted from his Torah studies in his new surroundings. She took him back with her to Prossnitz, where she came to live. There, Yonasan studied Torah in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt, author of Panim Meiroth. Soon also his mother died, and Jonathan found a foster-home with Rabbi Yitzchak Schapiro, chief rabbi of Prague and Bohemia. When he became of marriageable age, Rabbi Yonasan married the chief rabbi's daughter.
For several years, Rabb Yonasan lived in his father-in-law's house and concentrated on his studies quietly and peacefully. He became known as a brilliant Talmudic scholar. He was only eighteen years old when he was invited to become rabbi of Jungbunzlau, Czechoslovakia. Three years later he returned to Prague to head the famous Yeshiva there. He also excelled as a very impressive and inspiring preacher. He established his own Yeshiva then in Prague and attracted many young scholars, for his reputation as a Talmudic authority and excellent teacher had spread far and wide.
Rabbi Yonasan 's keen intellect sought knowledge in other fields as well, particularly in the inner mystical wisdom of the Torah, the Kabbala.. In 1741, he was elected rabbi of Metz. That was the time when war broke out between Prussia and Austria, and the French army, in support of Prussia, invaded Bohemia. Rabbi Yonasan found favor with the French and he received safe conduct to Metz. Rabbi Jonathan Eybescbutz was greatly esteemed in Metz and he could have led a peaceful and productive life there. But the trouble that befell his brethren in Bohemia and Moravia made him very unhappy. In 1745 the war between Prussia and Austro-Hungary broke out again, and the Austro-Hungarian troops who had overrun these provinces considered the Jews fair game to rob and pillage. To add to the Jews' misery, the Austrian government ordered the expulsion of the Jews from the said provinces.
At this time Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschutz tried all he could to ease the plight of his brethren. He enlisted the aid of the Jewish leaders in Rome to plead with the Pope to use his power in behalf of the persecuted, defenseless Jews. He appealed to the Empress of Austria to rescind the expulsion order, and he turned to various Jewish communities in the south of France and elsewhere to raise funds for the hungry and needy.
In the very first year of Rabbi Jonathan's taking up his position, there was a sudden rise in the number of deaths in childbirth. Having the reputation of a saintly kabbalist and miracle worker, many Jews turned to their rabbi for help. One of the ways to counteract the danger, which had often been practiced among cabalists and miracle men, was to write special amulets (kameoth), and Rabbi Jonathan wrote a number of them to be worn by expectant mothers, as he used to do also in Metz. An amulet which was supposed to have been written by Rabbi Jonathan was brought to the attention of Rabbi Jacob Emden, an outstanding Talmudist and kabbalist in Altona. The latter deciphered the mystical writing and found in it a hidden invocation to Shabbatai Tzevi. Rabbi Emden accused Rabbi Eybeschutz of being a follower of Shabbatai Tzevi. The leaders of the community rushed to the defense of their rabbi. They proclaimed a boycott of Rabbi Emden's synagogue and ordered Rabbi Emden to leave town within six months. In the meantime the controversy spread to other cities in Germany and Poland, as some of the most celebrated rabbis took part in support of one or the other of the two sides in the controversy. Rabbi Emden saw himself compelled to leave Altona, and he secretly went to his brother-in-law Rabbi Arye-Leib, rabbi of the Ashkenazic community in Amsterdam. From there be continued his fight, writing to the Council of Rabbis of the Four Lands meeting in Constantine, and pressed his charges.
Finally Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschutz decided to bring his case before the Council of the Four Lands which convened in Jaroslav for this purpose in 1753. Rabbi Jonathan's innocence was then established, and the dispute which had caused much disunity and disrespect in many a Jewish community and which had involved also the king of Denmark came to an end. Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschutz was again confirmed in his office by the Hamburg Senate in the month of Kislev, 1757) and he was not troubled any more.
Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschutz spent the rest of his life peacefully, concentrating on his books, which represent an outstanding contribution to Rabbinic literature. His main works on Halacha are his Urim Vetumim, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, and Keretbi Ufelethi, on Yore De'ah. Other works such as Binah Ittim, dealt with other sections and subjects of Halacha. Very highly regarded and popular are his works in drush(homiletics), especially his Yaaroth Devash, in two volumes, and Tifereth Yehonathan. Most of his works were published and reprinted many times. He also wrote several works on Kabbala, of which one, Shem Olam, was published (Vienna, 1891). In connection with the dispute with Rabbi Emden, Rabbi Jonathan wrote a special volume of defense, Luchoth Habrith (Tablets of Testimony), in which he describes the whole dispute and refutes the charges against him. It includes also the letters of recommendation which he had received from leading rabbis who came to his defense. It is a masterpiece of restrained and wise writing, which proves that he had been a victim of an overzealous, though well-meaning, defender of Judaism.

Musicians –From the early roots of the Jewish people’s return to our country music has always been the expression that was utilized to marshal the 2000 years old longing into the realization of that dream. The early settlers and kibbutzim would sit around a fire each night and sing and dance the hora. As immigrants came from all over the world they brought with them their songs with of course their countries of origins musical influence and “hebrew-ized” it they made it Jewish and thus Israeli, meshing the tunes and words with some of the middle eastern flavor and words that would reflect uniquely Jewish and Israeli experiences. You have Yemenite, Greek, European, African, Russian, German, South and North American Israeli music. What I find special about Israeli songs are that lots of them are about longing and love for Eretz Yisrael, family, and even for Hashem- and that’s even by “secular” singers. You also have many songs-too many if you ask me- about war and loss and tragedy. We are a musical people. One of the nice things about Israel is that throughout the summer there are concerts in most cities that are paid for by the city in the parks for people to come listen to and enjoy. As well a walk through tourist streets and popular hangouts will reveal lots of street singers and musicians. Many of them unlikely and beautiful scenes. Some of them playing unique ancient instruments, Rabbis with beards that can be found strumming “Stairway to Heaven”- and really meaning it. Random harp players in the gates of the Jerusalem and in the shuk late at night. Israelis love to sing, they love our music and in fact we have won many international awards for some of our songs and performers. We’re back home again and if music is an expression of the soul, than there certainly is no better country to express that soul.

As a young child, Yankel told his mother "When I grow up I'm going to be a musician." His mother responded "Well honey, you know you can't do both."

What do you call a musician with problems? a trebled man.

Q: What do you call a singing vegetable? A: Elvis Parsley.

Q: What do you call a successful musician? A: A guy whose wife has 2 jobs. 
What did Beethoven do when he died? He decomposed!

A guy walks into the doctor's office and says, "Doc, I haven't had a bowel movement in a week!"
The doctor gives him a prescription for a mild laxative and tells him, "If it doesn't work, let me know."
A week later the guy is back: "Doc, still no movement!"
The doctor says, "Hmm, guess you need something stronger," and prescribes a powerful laxative.
Still another week later the poor guy is back: "Doc, STILL nothing!"
The doctor, worried, says, "We'd better get some more information about you to try to figure out what's going on. What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a musician." The doctor looks up and says, "Well, that's it! Here's $10.00. Go get something to eat!"

Answer is D– Come on, really?. I mean who needs to know the names of all these ridiculous hills and valleys. There’s just tons of them all over the country. So how am I supposed to remember them. Does anyone that I am taking on a tour really care? See Saknin I know. It’s an  arab village just south of Karmiel. My wife has to pick up our shower head over there one of these days. I probably could’ve figured it out because I live here. But I have a hard time believing someone from the Merkaz. Center would know the answer to this question. What we did to remember the names of these hills and valleys is create mnemonics. So Beit Kerem, Sajur, Saknin, Yodefat, Beit Netofa, Turan, Nazareth and Ksolot the hills of the lower valley stood for- Because Someone Said You Better Teach Nonsensical Knowledge. It’s an old high school trick, but you know what? It works.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Toilet Torah- Vaetchanan/ Nachamu 2017

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

August 4th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 39 12th Av 5777
Parshat Va’Etchanan/ Nachamu
Toilet Torah

They are probably the two most famous brothers in Chasidic lore; Rebbe Meilich of Lizensk and Reb Zusha of Anipol. Their stories fill the pages of all Chasidic tales. I thought I had heard all of hteir stories before but this past Tishah B’Av I heard a new one from Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstien on the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Videos. And like every good story it has to be shared. After-all what’s a good story worth if there’s no one to share it with. I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit it in, but it turns out that its message and theme fits perfectly with the parsha. I also couldn’t resist the catchy title I came up with. So although some of you may have seen the video and are tempted to skip down quickly to the jokes. Bear with me, it’s a good enough story to hear a second time. And Reb Meilich and Reb Zusha stories are meant to be retold again and again.
So the two of them were arrested once on some false charges that some of their antagonists had fabricated against them. All good Chasidic Rebbes of old had to go to jail. The tradition goes back to Yosef in Egypt. It wasn’t a reflection of their piety or an god forbid negative thing they had done. It was a way of earning your “Rebbe stripes”, lifting up the sparks of holiness in the lowest place, connecting to God from the bottom of the world and experiencing a closeness that can only be felt when you are at the low of the low. That no longer holds true today, in case there are any Chasidic Rebbes reading this and are getting bright ideas.
Well anyways there in this tiny little 7 foot by 7 foot cell that they were thrown in were all these ruffians, murderers, lowlifes, degenerates and basically bad people. The guard upon throwing them into the cell laughed and pointed them to a pail in the corner and told them it was the “bathroom” of the cell and if they needed to go than they should certainly feel free to use it.  It was too much for Reb Zusha to bear. He flung himself on the floor and began to cry and bawl. Reb Meilich, his brother was taken aback. This was not like Zusha who always accepted his fate with joy. Always had faith in their Creator that this was for their own good. He turned to his brother and rebuked him He told him that this was a chilul Hashem- a desecration of God’s name. Their cellmates would think that he had given up hope and had no faith. This was not appropriate behavior. Why was he crying like this?
Reb Zusha turned to his brother and told him tearfully

“How can you not cry? Don’t you understand? We are stuck here in the cell with this pail and we cannot study or think about Torah, it is forbidden to pray when in in an impure smelly place with exposed excrement. What will we do? How can we go on without any mitzvot, Torah or prayer”

Reb Meilich pondered his brothers response for a few minutes and then his face lit up. He told his brother an incredible epiphany he had. He explained that the fact that they are not learning, and that they are not praying is in itself because they are following a mitzva and law that prohibits them to do so. So in fact all of their non-learning and non-praying is listening to the will of God. It’s in fact incredible he pointed out. Every second that we are here we get a mitzva by not studying Torah. When else will we ever have such a holy opportunity to serve God by not serving Him?
Reb Zusha’s face lit up. He started to smile. He started to dance. He got so excited he picked up the smelly pail and waved it around as if it was a Torah or a Lulav and Etrog. How fortunate are we that we get a mitzva with this. How incredible is Hashem that he gave us such a commandment!
Now the cell mates who had first thought this Rabbi a little strange, now really got weirded out, as is quite imaginable when you see someone dancing and singing to God with a potty in their hand. One of them seemingly remembering some of his bible studies noted that there was an idolatry mentioned in the Torah where people would worship human waste. He told the others that this Rabbi was probably praying to that God and he was convincing him to perform a miracle to set them free from the prison. They quickly decided that they didn’t want to be left out of this deal and they got up behind the Rabbi and started dancing and chanting and imitating the holy Reb Zusha as well. It was certainly a sight to behold.

Now this sight was actually in fact beheld by the guard who heard this ruckus and came to the cell to check it out. His eyes probably popped out when he saw this strange dance going on in the cell. When one of the prisoners that he pulled told him what was going on, the guard got a grimace on his faith. No Jewish excrement God was gonna break these Rabbis out of this cell. He would put a stop to this plan right away. He quickly ordered the prisoner to bring him the pail. He then proceeded to wash the entire thing shiny clean. There was not a drop of anything left in it. He flung it back into the cell and told them that they could have the pail back. They were prohibited from using it. In fact the entire cell was prohibited from using it. If someone had to go to the bathroom they should knock on the door and they would be directed to the nearest facility. No more will there be anything here for the Jews to worship their God with. That is that!
As he slammed the door closed. Reb Zusha turned to his brother and they both hugged the empty clean pail. They were now for the first time permitted to recite the words that were in their heart, that was in their dance; that embodied all that they stood for.
“Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.”
God is one when we can fulfill his commandments. Hashem is one when we cannot fulfill His commandments. He is the same Hashem. There is never a moment when we cannot be connected to him. He is one and we are one with Him always.

This week’s Torah portion, the one that always follows the holiday of Tishah B’av, has these very words in it. Tisha B’Av in itself is also the one day of the year when it is prohibited to study to Torah. The words of Torah make a person heart happy our sages tell us. Tisha B’Av, the day that we recall the destruction of our Temples we are like mourners whose dead is lying before them. We are not allowed to study we are not allowed to gladden our heart in its study. We spend the whole day think about how empty life is without the house of God in our midst. We recall the 2500 years of horrors and tragedies that we endured as a nation in the wake of life without Hashem. Like Reb Zusha we feel empty, forlorn, we stare at that waste-bin with a golden dome on top of His mountain and cry over the loss of our connection to a real spiritual existence. And then comes noon and we get off the floor. We slowly arise from the ashes. We return back to this world because we recognize that our tears are in fact the building blocks of the Temple that is surely soon to come.
We come to shul this Shabbos and we open up our Torah portion and we hear Moshe’s pleas to come to the land that we have already merited to return to. We read the story once again of the Torah being given , the Ten commandments. Moshe tells us that we are in fact Dveikim Ba’Hashem Chayim Kulchem Hayom- We cleave to Hashem and we have life. And we read and learn the Shema. Yes, that prayer that our forefather-Yisrael- heard from his twelve tribes, as the Midrash tells us as they all gathered around his bed and he wanted to reveal to them the “end of days”. When Mashiach and the final redemption would come. They told him "Hear oh Israel, Hashem is our lord Hashem is one". We are all faithful. We are eternal. We will never lose that. 
In good times, in bad times we have recited and continue to recite those words. Little children’s parents whisper it in their ears as they go to sleep, even before they have learned how to speak yet. We say it in the morning when we arise, when we go to sleep at night. Our ancestors recite it when they went to their deaths as their dying words and we say it on Simchat Torah when we dance around the shul without Torahs. Hashem is one. His love for us and ours for Him is through everything. This is the consolation of Shabbos Nachamu, this week after Tisha B’Av. This is the message that we will ultimately scream out and teach the entire world. May Hashem very soon take out that pail of shmutz and clean His home once again, so it will once again be the place where the entire world will be able to see for once and forever Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.

Have a redemptive comforting Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Tsores mit yoykh iz gringer vi tsores on yoykh.” Troubles with soup is easier than troubles without soup.”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c56iA5YlTwQ    Classic MBD Shema Yisrael

https://youtu.be/S8D1DuVmtVQ   – Shwekey Incredible story Shema Yisrael

https://youtu.be/6J5OIdaEi1k Simpsons in Israel bad tour guides.

https://youtu.be/PELIqtrMAYc - And of course Shabbos Nachamu wouldn’t be complete without Reb Shlomo Carlebach!

answer below at end of Email

Q. Nebi Musa is located in:
a. The Golan Heights
b. The Judean Desert
c. Samaria
d. The Negev


Va’eschanan- Even if you don’t have the time, energy or patience to review Rashi with the Parsha each week, certainly the parts of the Torah that you recite daily and actually have a mitzva to recite you should definitely spend the time to review it. It may open your eyes to a new understanding in your prayers. And we are always looking to keep our prayers new and fresh.
In this week’s Torah portion we have the Shema. Yup, it’s the only portion in the Torah that you have a biblical obligation to recite-( well besides the other two portions of Shema that is found in other portions).The first sentence says
V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha BiChol Livavecha U’Bichol nafsheca, U’Bichol meodecha- You should love Hashem with all of your heart   and with all your soul, and with all your means.
Rashi on these three mitzvos of loving Hashem explains
Bichol Livaveicha- With your two inclinations- (your yetzer tov/good and yetzer hara/bad); Another interpretation is that your heart should not be divided with Hashem.
Seemingly Rashi is noting that the word for a singular heart is libcha.. Livavcha is hearts-plural.Kol Livavcha means the entirety of both hearts and thus his explanations.
Bichol Nafshica- even if He takes your life
Again Rashi is learning that the way that you serve with your entire soul, is if Hashem actually takes away your life.
Finally on the last verse Rashi explains
Bichol Meodecha- with all your money. There are people whose money is more important to them than their lives.
Here Rashi seems to be addressing why the money is after the life it seems like it should be going up in order of demand. Thus Rashi explains that it is referring to someone whose money is more important than their life. Know anyone like that? Seemingly the Torah does. Because that is the basic generic standard that it is using and that we all recite. The guy who loves his money more than his life- or to put it better- people who are willing to serve God with their lives, but when it comes to spending his money for mitzvos and his service of Hashem are not the exception to the rule but the average Yankel.
The Chidushei HaRim notes that since Rashi explains that Bichol Nafshicha means even if he takes your soul. Then the same is true for the first part of the verse Bichol Livavicha- even if He takes away your heart. What the Rebbe is saying is that even if you’re not in the mood. Even if you have no desire-Even if Hashem takes all of that away from you; you still must love Him.
Interestingly enough the Hafla’ah makes quite the opposite deduction in the next part of the verse. He writes that since Rashi doesn’t say when it comes to your means and money “even if He takes away all your money. He just translates that Meodecha means your money. Rashi’s understanding is that even if you have lots and lots of money, don’t become haughty and forget Hashem. Don’t attribute it to your own success. Rather use all the money and blessing that He has given you to love Hashem even more and even more.
See what I told you. Incredible insights that are sure to give you a pause the next time you recite these words. And all you had to do was read and think about a few Rashis.

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Rothenberg –Chidushei HaRim (1799-1866) – Rabbi Yitzchak Meir was the founder and first rebbe of the Ger dynasty, which at one time counted more than 100,000 Chasidim, and to this day remains one of the largest Chasidic groups. He was a child prodigy who was sought after by all the great Polish Hasidic leaders. The Rim’s mother Chaya Sara, was an orphan who was raised by the Koznitzer Maggid, and the Maggid played a great role in Yitzchak Meir’s early development. The Rim became a disciple of Rabbi Simcha Bunem of Pshischa and Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk. He once said that “according to Pshischa Chasidus a person does nothing with his external limbs, the main thing is the inner self, from which one is inspired to act.”
Ger emphasized the centrality of Torah and self-development, the externals of Chasidus were minimized or disdained. Though Pshischa and Kotzk were elitist, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir showed how their principles could be embraced by all Jews. From Pshischa and Kotzk Ger absorbed a healthy skepticism of human motivation and the demands of the ego.
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir was a true leader and was deeply involved in all political events affecting his flock. His halachic writings are characterized by scintillating brilliance and his non-halachic thought by great depth and warmth. The custom to make siyyumim during the nine days was seen by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir as motivated by a desire to bring Jews together in a harmonious spirit and thus rectify the sin of sinas chinam which had caused the destruction of the Temple.
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir’s personal life was filled with tragedy. Many of his thirteen children died in his lifetime. When he finally consented to assume leadership after the death of the Kotzker he remarked: “I am not a rebbe. I do not want money. I do not care for honor. All I want is to spend my years bringing the children of Israel nearer to their Father in Heaven”.

Tour Guides -You knew I would get around to these guys eventually right? My tour guide badge number from 5 years ago states that I am number 11,026. Yup over 11,000 tour guides were licensed before I was. Today there are probably a few thousand more. We are the guys you see all over Israel with our red badges on necklaces around our chest proudly testifying to the fact that we have completed a two year course of study in the land of Israel; it’s history, geography, archeology, botany, wildlife, geology, religions, art, architecture, wars, politics and more… As well we have had over 80 guided tours that we were guided through by top guides and which we had to submit 20-30 page reports on. We then had written exams and oral exams from the ministry of tourism that we had to pass. Oh and we have attended one annual continuing learning tour and paid our renewal fees. Yeah it ain’t easy becoming a tour guide, But we also wear those badges because it is technically illegal in Israel to guide without a license. See tourism is the the second ot third largest industry in Israel and its tour guides are to a large degree the ambassadors of the country to the rest of the world. As a result of that this is very regulated by the state to insure that the guides are qualified. There are of course drivers and other people that offer tours without licenses and if it’s a private family than the government really has no way of knowing if you’re their guide or their “cousin” showing them around. But tour companies Birthright and other organized group operators won’t use you unless you have a license. There are all types of tour guides there are the old Israelis that all seem to have great war stories, there are your religious ones, your very secular ones, old, young, men, women. It’s a great industry and most of us pride ourselves on our ability to share our love and passion of Hashem’s promised land with the rest of the world. Thank God tourism in this country has been booming and as it does so more you’ll be sure to see more and more of those guys with the red necklaces around the country,

A bus load of tourists arrives at Akko port. They gather around the guide who says, "This is the spot where the Maimonides landed in the land of Israel."
A fellow at the front of the crowd asks, "When did that happen?"
"1255," answers the guide.
The man looks at his watch and says, "OY! Just missed it by a half hour!"

In Alaska's National Forests, a tourists guide was giving a talk to a group of tourists about hiking in grizzly bear territory: "Most bear encounters occur when hikers, being extra quiet along the trails in hopes of viewing wildlife, accidentally stumble into bears. The resulting surprise can be catastrophic." To avoid this, he suggested that each hiker wear tiny bells on their clothing to warn the bears of their presence. "Also," he said further, "be especially cautious when you see signs of bears in the area, especially when you see bear droppings."
One tourist asked, "How do you identify bear droppings?"
"Oh that's easy," the guide explained, "its the ones with all the tiny bells in them!"
A tour guide was talking with a group of school kids at in the Golan Heights when one of the kids asked him if he had ever came face-to-face with a wolf.
"Yes, I came face to face with a wolf once. And as luck would have it, I was alone and without a weapon."
"What did you do?" the little girl asked.
"What could I do? First, I tried looking him straight in the eyes but he slowly came toward me. I moved back, but he kept coming nearer and nearer. I had to think fast."
"How did you get away?"
"As a last resort, I just turned around and walked quickly to the next cage."

A tourist is traveling with a guide through at one of the historical sites in Israel, when he comes across an ancient Jewish synagogue. The tourist is entranced by the synagogue, and asks the guide for details. To this, the guide states that archaeologists are carrying out excavations, and still finding great treasures. The tourist then queries how old the shul is.
"This shul is 2503 years old", replies the guide.
Impressed at this accurate dating, he inquires as to how he gave this precise figure.
"Easy", replies the guide, "the archaeologists said the temple was 2500 years old, and that was three years ago."

Answer is B– Whenever I pass this site on my way down to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem in the Judean desert, I ask my tourists how they know that Moshe is certainly not buried here, where the Muslims believe he is. Many people answer that the Torah tells us that the grave of Moshe will never be known. I point out to them that certainly does not prove that he is not buried here. Maybe he is maybe he isn’t, we just don’t know. I want to know how we know he is for sure not buried here. When they can’t answer I ask them what country we are in. Oh! Israel. Wellll… Did Moshe ecer make it in here? No! so for sure he is certainly not buried here. Now the Muslims as well believe in the Torah that Moshe did not cross the Jordan into Israel. Yet they believe that Muhammed schlepped here after he was dead. Yeah… another bubbe maaiseh.