Our view of the Galile

Friday, July 22, 2016

The "Noble" Peace Prize- Pinchas 2016/5776

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

July 22nd 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 42 16th Tamuz 5776
Parshat Pinchas
(For my Diaspora readers that are a week behind us in the Torah reading you can click on the following link for Parshat Balak
The "Noble" Peace Prize
Rav Moshe Feinstien was aghast. He couldn't believe how his students misunderstood him; how they had read him so wrong. Did they really say what he just thought he heard them say? They had come to him about his most recent controversial ruling in the early 1950's in America . It was after the war and too many of the recent refugees and immigrants to this "Goldeneh Medina" had thrown off the traditions of their ancestors. Whether it was out of fear of the anti-Semitism and persecution they had just suffered or whether it was because the challenges of keeping Kosher, refraining from work on Shabbos and providing Jewish education for their children was too great, the future of this Chosen Nation was certainly not something the new generation was willing to sacrifice anymore for. To make matters worse there were new leaders that were advocating for the renunciation of Halacha, which and spoke publicly from their pulpits about a new, more ‘Secular Judaism’; one that was bereft of the God of our forefathers and the commitment and dedication to the values that have kept us a nation for 3000 years. Perhaps most tragic of all, Reb Moshe felt, many simple Jews were being drawn into these movements under the enticing lure of being able to have your ‘tree’ and traditional bar mitzvah too.
So Rav Moshe issued his ruling. It was prohibited for any Rabbi, who held the values of tradition dear, to participate in any religious event or community panel that legitimizes any strain of Judaism that was not true to our Sinaitic tradition. Certainly he felt that to publicly acknowledge "alternative" definitions about what the Jewish faith had always been, as if anyone who chose to create a new stream of Judaism should be legitimately recognized, would be a very grave mistake and would dilute the message of a Torah True Judaism.  But his students living in communities where all religious institutions joined together and upholding camaraderie with varying Jewish representatives was essential to maintaining an image of a united Jewish front, felt differently. They approached their Rebbe and explained their position.
"Rebbe," they said "We don't like these people as much as you do. They are misguiding people and we despise who they are and what they are doing. But to the public we have to show that we are together and that we get along. Isn't that the way of peace?"
Rav Moshe looked at his students in shock, disgust and total confusion. "What are you talking about?" he said in a sad tearful voice "Despise them?!! Hate them?!!! They are your brothers and sisters. How can you even speak that way? First you must love them as much as I do. You must care for them as they are your flesh and blood. But then to the rest of the world you must show that they are incorrect. That their self-created ideologies don't represent the Torah Judaism that we have cherished for so long, and that their path is not one that will lead to Jewish continuity or re-birth rather it will bring apathy assimilation and the loss of millions of Jews from the faith of our forefathers."
Would Rav Moshe's ruling have won him an award for political corrected-ness Man of the Year? I don't think so. Were there many that saw this decisive position for Traditional Judaism as being divisive and non-pluralistic? Most certainly. Yet when the Torah and the Almighty gave out its award for the Peace Prize this weeks Torah portion shares with us an equally unlikely figure and position to be its recipient.
The portion begins with the Hashem granting the special covenant of Peace and eternal priesthood to none other then Pinchas the son of Elazar and grandson of the High Priest Aharon (the brother of Moshe). In Hashem's speech to why He felt Pinchas was deserving of this special award we are told;
 He turned back my wrath from upon the children of Israel when he zealously avenged my vengeance among them.
For those of you who missed the end of last week’s Torah portion this incredible act of zealousness occurred when an individual, the leader of the tribe of Shimon publicly consorted (to be polite in this G rated E-mail) with a Midianite woman in front of Moshe the elders and the Jewish people. Everyone was in shock. Perhaps after 40 years in the wilderness even apathetic. Who are we to judge? What a man does in his own private life shouldn't be a matter for the court. But not Pinchas- He loved Hashem and the Jewish people too much to allow this flagrant desecration and the nations silence and therefore acquiescence to take place. He picked up his spear and miraculously put the act to an end (see G-rating above which precludes mention of the shishka-bobbed sinner).
Would he be your first choice for the Man of Peace? He was God's. Why? The answer is that the Torah reveals to us what true peace is. It is not two people just "getting along", "ignoring our differences", or "putting aside our conflicts" in order to achieve a mutually desired goal of living in a non-combative way. That's not peace; its survival, it's comfortable. Peace is achieving a unity of individuals in its truest sense. It is a caring and love for one another, for the greater community and the world that seeks to bring each person to that place of total harmony with creation and its Creator. It is very easy to sit back and let everyone do what they want to do. To live in one’s own personal world and worry about yourself. But it's not the path of peace and love and not the path of responsibility for mankind that Torah has charged this nation with.
We are not Pinchases, nor are we even Rav Moshe's. I do not believe that there are many today that can act in a zealous fashion for the love of God and the Jewish people and know in their heart that their actions are motivated solely for that altruistic level of peace and love. But it’s sad, it’s something we should mourn. It’s a question we should challenge ourselves with each night before we go to sleep. What are we doing for the world, for the Jewish people for our family and our fellow neighbor? If we really care about them than what are we doing to make their lives better, more fulfilled. Are we too scared to invite someone for a Shabbat meal, too busy to call up someone and offer them encouragement or a kind word, too cut off to even shoot them an e-mail (or forward them a really great dvar torah that you know will inspire them ahem ahemJ).
This week begins the three week period of mourning for the Destruction of our two Temples that culminates on the ninth of Av. One of the primary reasons we are told the Temple was destroyed was because of sinat chinam- baseless hatred. Pinchas teaches us that apathy can be the worst form of hatred. It is in our hands to bring that era of the re-building of the Temples back again. We can do it by caring enough about heralding in that era of universal peace by actually doing something about it. By showing that we care about one another enough to try draw them closer to us. Only then will our Loving Father in Heaven reciprocate by spreading upon us that sukkat shalom- the Temple of Peace for all time. May it be soon in our day.
Have a harmonious Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://youtu.be/1YgRvJfQ2PY  - Jewish Pokemongo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5BnY5c1QvA American Ninja Orthodox Rabbi cool!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARikT-8lKos Im Eshkocheich from Lev Tahor- my favorite version that I suse for Kabalat Shabbos in preparation for the three weeks


“Keyner veys nit vemen der shukh kvetsht, nor der vos geyt in im.”-. No one knows whose shoe pinches except the person who walks in it.


We cannot agree to the White Paper. Just as the prophets did before me, I hereby rip it in two”

“Throw our enemies out lock the place up and throw away the key,”-To David Shaltiel in 1948 on the military objective for the Temple mount

“Tell London my clear knowledge that there is no reason to fear, for a victory for the Nazis in the middle East would mean a third destruction of Jewish settlement in our holy land and our prophets only prophesized that there would be two destructions. The third return will be eternal”- Ti Lord Halifax urgin him to stay in the US rather than return to Palestine.

Rav Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog 19th Tamuz  this Monday (1888-1959)-
Rabbi Herzog was born in Łomża, Poland, the son of Liba Miriam (Cyrowicz) and Joel Leib Herzog. He moved to the United Kingdom with his family in 1898, where they settled in Leeds. His initial schooling was largely at the instruction of his father who was a rabbi in Leeds and then later in Paris.
After mastering Talmudic studies at a young age, Yitzhak went on to attend the Sorbonne and then later the University of London, where he received his doctorate. His thesis, which made him famous in the Jewish world, concerned his claim of re-discovering Tekhelet, the type of blue dye once used for the making of Tzitzit which was ultimately proven wrong.
Rabbi Herzog served as rabbi of Belfast from 1916 to 1919 and was appointed rabbi of Dublin in 1919. A fluent speaker of the Irish language, he supported the First Dáil and the Irish republican cause during the Irish War of Independence, and became known as “the Sinn Féin Rabbi”.
He went on to serve as Chief Rabbi of Ireland between 1922 and 1936, when he immigrated to Palestine to succeed Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook as Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi upon his death.
 He was unique, different, out-of-the-box, apolitical, fearless in his views and decisions while at the same time being humble, self-effacing and modest to the extreme in his personal and private life. 
Rabbi Herzog was a linguist, having a grasp of a dozen languages including many ancient ones such as Sumerian and Acadian as well as the classical Greek and Latin. He was a biblical scholar of note, a Hebrew grammarian and a scholar of Talmud, rabbinic writings and halachic decisions, of enormous proportions.  His memory and genius were of a prodigious nature.

He also explored the sciences such as zoology, botany, astronomy, physics and chemistry with diligence and perspective. But his main passion, intellectual, emotional and commitment wise, was Torah in all of its variety and ramifications. His many volumes of response as well as his opinions on halachic issues and cases brought before the High Court of the Chief Rabbinate here in Israel during his years as its head judge and Chief Rabbi are a treasure trove of Torah erudition, hard-headed logic and a practical and yet compassionate worldview of life, people and Jewish society.

Worldlier than his predecessor Rav Kook, Rav Herzog was the Chief Rabbi during one of the most turbulent and decisive times in Jewish history - from 1936 to 1959. He saw the Jewish world destroyed and rebuilt during his tenure in office. He never flinched or faltered in front of the pressures exerted upon him by the non-Jewish world generally, the Catholic Church particularly, the then avowedly and militantly secular Zionist leadership of the emerging state, the violent zealots of Jerusalem who opposed him without truly knowing him, the British rulers of the country and the complexities of being the Chief Rabbi for hundreds of rabbis of different personalities, ideologies and ambitions. His gentle personal nature belied his iron determination and stubborn love for Torah and the Jewish people.
 In May 1939, shortly before the Second World War, the British put out the White Paper of 1939 restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine. After leading a procession through the streets of Jerusalem, with an unusually united Jewish following from all sects, on the steps of the Hurva Synagogue and ripped it in two.
Some 40 years later, on 10 November 1975 Ambassador Herzog, his son, repeated his father’s gesture with the UN resolution that Zionism is equal to racism.
During the Second World War, Rabbi Herzog travelled with great risk to the US, and back, not before he was able to secure a meeting with Roosevelt. Roosevelt smiled and did not reply to the Rabbi’s pleadings for a promise to help the Jews of Europe. His biographer records that several people noticed that his hair turned white when he left the meeting, which he perceived as a failure.
Following this, he immediately returned home, missing the ride on a ship that was sunk by a U-boat, and taking what was said to be the last civilian ship to cross the Atlantic during the war.
After the war, Rabbi Herzog dedicated himself to saving Jewish children especially babies and bringing them back from their places of hiding throughout all of Europe, to their families or to Jewish orphanages. Many of these were hidden in Christian monasteries or by Christian families, and refused to return them.
In his biography, he tells of the difficulties he had of meeting the Pope who avoided him, but did receive in the end assistance from the Vatican. In later years it was found that Karol Wojtyła, future Pope John Paul II, was the contact who helped the rabbi out.

answer below at end of Email
 The aim of “Mivtza Yiftach” (Operation Yiftach) was to free the:
A. Gilad
B.  Eastern Upper Galilee
C.  Eastern shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
D.  Western Lower Galilee

Generally Rashi in his commentary quotes sources; Midrash, Talmud, his teachers. Not always does he say where he is quoting from because that is not his role. He is coming ot explain the simple pshat of the text. Yet occasionaly we get an insight into Rashi’s chiddush- his own thought. When that happens and he lets you know that it is his idea, then it is certainly worthwhile taking a second look.
In this week’s Torah portion we have such an example on a seemingly innocuous verse. It says in th list of the children and families of Israel. That the children of Gad were
Bamidbar (26:16) Azni to the family of Azni- Rashi there makes a fascinatingly humble comment.
“I say that this is the family of Etzbon and I don’t know why they are not called after their family name.”
How many people could write that? I don’t know. As simple as that. He could’ve avoided explaining this verse and the can of worms by just skipping the text. But he doesn’t he shares with you his interpretation and leaves the question hanging. Perhaps he learned from Moshe who in this weeks verse as well tells the daughters of Tzelafchad he doesn’t know the law and turns it to Hashem.
The Shela Hakadosh suggests that Rashi’s rationale perhaps between Etzbon and Azni. Is that Azni is from the word ozen- ear. Etzbon on the other hand is from the word etzba- finger. The Talmud tells us that the finger were created long and thin in order that if one hears lashon harah or inappropriate talk he can place his fingers in their ears.
Thus Rashi notes the similarities between the names and their Talmudic connection and suggests that they are one and the same.
Yet just the mere fact that we see the humility of this great man is in itself perhaps the greatest lesson that is worthwhile cleaning out our ears and hearing once again. I don’t know….

Crusader capture of Jerusalem- 17th- 22nd Tamuz July 15th 1099- 917 years ago,  one of the most heinous and barbarous war crimes in the long bloody history of the human race occurred on the soil of perhaps the most contested place on planet Earth: Jerusalem. After a siege of a little more than a month, European knights of the First Crusade forced the Muslim Fatimid governor of Jerusalem, Iftikhar al-Dawla, to yield the city. When the Crusaders entered their holy city on that blazing afternoon, the bloodbath that resulted still has the capacity to shock the world today, even against the backdrop of the horrific brutality of the Middle Ages that makes our own nuclear era look like a paragon of peace. The Christian crusaders proceeded to slaughter thousands of Jews and Muslims within the walls of Jerusalem in cold blood, possibly killing as many as 10,000 innocent people.
The story of the First Crusade is an extremely long and involved one, as you might expect from so complex a topic in medieval history. The idea of a coalition of Western European knights, with papal blessing, carrying out a military expedition against the Muslim world was originally hatched by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus, who appealed to Rome for European military help against the Seljuk Turks who had recently delivered a terrible blow against the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert. Pope Urban II, however, decided to think bigger, and suggested instead that Christian knights should set their sights on Jerusalem, the holy city that had been held by Muslims since 614 C.E. Essentially, it was a war of religious conquest by a coalition of French, German, English and Italian nobility, held together more by convenience and religious ideology than by nationalism, seeking to encompass a crucial part of the Middle East into the Christian, rather than Islamic, world.
Nearly four years after the Crusade was called in 1095 the armies of Raymond of Toulouse, Godfrey of Bouillon and several other knights drew up against the walls of Jerusalem, after a long series of battles and massacres across europes where they wiped out the Jewish communities with the promise of atonement when they would reach and liberate Jerusalem. The Crusaders believing this was divine mandate thought to conquer the city as Joshua had and circled it seven times and blew Shofars. Surprise! It didn’t work. Al-Dawla, anticipating the siege, had already expelled the 5,000 civilian Christians from the city before the siege began and poisoned wells in the area to deprive the Crusaders of water. Indeed, the siege was initially harder on the Europeans than it was on the Muslim and Jewish defenders of Jerusalem. In sweltering desert heat with limited food and dwindling water, it didn’t seem that the Crusaders could hold out for long. However, two Genoese ships arrived at Jaffa just in time, bringing fresh supplies. More important were the ships themselves. The Crusaders dismantled them and used the wood to build siege towers. On the evening of July 14, 1099, they sent them against the thick stone walls of Jerusalem.
When Flemish knights crossed over the walls into the city and Muslim and Jewish resistance began to flag, the end was in sight. Each group–Muslims and Jews–retreated to their holy shrines within Jerusalem to wait for expected death. They didn’t have long to wait. Rampaging Crusaders tore through the streets, slashing, spearing and bludgeoning warriors and civilians alike. A terrible slaughter of Muslims occurred inside the Dome of the Rock mosque, spilling blood across the floor and walls. Traditional histories of the siege speak of thousands of Jews being barricaded inside their synagogue, which Frankish knights then set on fire. This massacre was completely senseless. With the city in Crusader hands there was no military need to kill all the defenders who’d already surrendered, much less civilians. Religious fervor and the desire to loot, pillage and kill drove the Crusaders to commit this horrifying war crime.
When the dust settled and the bodies stopped moving, ironically the Crusaders had some trouble finding one of their commanders who wanted to be King of Jerusalem. Raymond refused the dubious honor. Godfrey of Bouillon agreed to become the secular political leader of Jerusalem, but refused the title “King,” claiming that only their “saviour’ could be a king in Jerusalem. He lived barely a year, dying in 1100 and was succeeded by his brother, Baldwin of Boulogne, who became King Baldwin I of Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself remained in Christian hands until surrendered in another siege in October 1187, where French knight Bailan of Ibelin yielded the city to the Sultan Saladin.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people died in the Jerusalem massacre of 1099. Casualty counts from medieval battles and massacres are almost always grossly inflated in surviving sources, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that 10,000 people died. As we begin to mourn the Roman capture of Jerusalem and massacre of Tish b’Av this week as we enter the three week period it behooves us to remember  as well the destruction of Jerusalem a little over a millennia later once again by the Christian descendants of that Roman empire. May all our enemies be wiped out and may hashem avenge the death of our people returning once again the city of Yerushalayim to the city of peace it was meant to be.

The man who made knock knock Jokes should get the no-bell prize

A man is driving down a country road, when he spots a farmer standing in the middle of a huge field of grass. He pulls the car over to the side of the road and notices that the farmer is just standing there, doing nothing, looking at nothing.

The man gets out of the car, walks all the way out to the farmer and asks him, "Ah excuse me mister, but what are you doing?"
The farmer replies, "I'm trying to win a Nobel Prize."
"How?" asks the man, puzzled.
"Well, I heard they give the Nobel Prize . . . to people who are out standing in their field."

An unidentified person nominated Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton- insert your candidate of choice. for the Nobel Peace Prize. I was not aware you could nominate yourself.


Answer is B – I got this wrong. I was never good at remembering the names of each and every battle. There were sadly too many of them. Now most of them you can figure out by their names. Kades, from last week was down south, Hiram near Lebanon where the biblical Hiram was king. Yiftach I assumed was near Gilad which is across from Beit Shean which is today in Jordan so knew it wasn’t that, so I thought it might be the lower Kineret not far from there. The truth is though the name Yiftach is really an acronym for the General who led the battle of cleaning out the upper Galile including Rosh Pina and Tzfat in 1948. His name was Yigal Allon or as he was born Yigal Feikiovitz thus the Yud Feh of Yiftach the ta”ch is Tel Chai. So there you go. Now remember it… or not.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Survivor! -Balak 2016/5776

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

July 15th 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 41 9th Tamuz 5776
Parshat Balak

There is one topic unfortunately that unites as diversely opinionated nation as the Jewish people. It is our hope and determination to bring an end to anti-Semitism and persecution. Historically we have undoubtedly held the “most persecuted nation” status from time immemorial and it is therefore those experiences collectively held in our national consciousness that has always motivated us to combat the forces that threaten the peaceful existence of God’s creatures on this planet. However to a large degree many of our solutions have failed.
 There were many Jews that believed (and still believe-just ask Bernie :)) that socialism, a world governed by the people with no differences in classes was the answer. When that failed many saw the solution in assimilation and intermarriage. (Perhaps as well still today-Ask Chelsea’s husband, Hillary’s son-in-lawLL) The idea being if we mingled in their societies and became part of them we won’t be singled out anymore as Jews. “Berlin is our new Jerusalem” then became the calling cry for many in the early 1900’s as many Jews attempted through intermarriage and assimilation to become more German than the Germans. Even earlier than that, in the 1600’s many Jews referred to Poland in Yiddish as “Po-Lin” translated as “here we will be our resting place”. The Chemlinitzki revolutions, pogroms and Hitler’s selections quickly put an end to those dreams. 
The aftermath of the Holocaust led to the development of the belief in Zionism and the establishment of the modern State of Israel as the antidote for the nations looking at us negatively. In Herzl’s ideology, developed after the Dreyfuss trial (That tragic anti-semitically prosecuted and convicted officer Alfred Drefyfuss’s yartzeit is this week) was that the reason they hate us is because we don’t have our own country. Because we ae nomads in their countries. Once we we were a nation like any other then they would respect us. They would learn from us. They would love us. Yeah....can’t you just feel that love overflowing to God’s chosen nation from the UN, the college campuses, from Europe. Having our own State hasn’t bought us many more friends or even greater security from genocidal threats. These are just “solutions” from the past century, when one looks farther back in our history there are countless more.

 This week’s Torah portion suggests one of the most unique attempts at the destruction of our people. The portion begins with the Balak the king of Moav enlisting the support of the Midianite prophet Bilaam to curse the Jewish people. Bilaam having being blessed with prophesy ( a quid pro quo  grant from Hashem to the nations of the world for having given the Jewish people Moses, says the Medrash)  knew the moment of Divine wrath and by cursing the Jewish people the hope was that Balak would finally be successful in destroying the nation of God.
 Rav Moshe Feinstien one of the greatest Jewish Halachic decisors and leaders of the last generation notices a subtle yet very insightful incongruence in Balak’s request and Bilaam’s repetition of it in his unsuccessful attempt to ask God’s permission to go.
 And he (Balak) sent messengers to Bilaam...saying 
Bamidbar 22:5-6)“Behold a Nation has gone out from Egypt and it has covered the Face of the earth....please come and curse this people for me.”

 And Bilaam said to God Balak has sent to me ibid: (22:11)
Behold the Nation coming out of Egypt and will cover the face of the earth. Now come curse them for me.”
 Whereas Balak who hopes to destroy the Nations sees them merely in terms of their past, having left Egypt and their present danger of covering the land, Bilaam the prophet intuits something else. Bilaam recognizes that this nation is one that hasn’t merely left Egypt but is still existing and identifying as the Nation coming out of Egypt; the nation who carries with them and lives with the memory of  the dedication and sacrifices of the their forefathers in whose merit their salvation and survival ultimately came. It is about this people that Bilaam ultimately predicts will cover the face of the earth. For we are a nation that lives with the knowledge that the place from where it came and the experiences that it underwent are not merely the sad facts of history that are relegated to classes and legends of our past, rather, they are the pivotal focus of the way we approach our everyday lives and the challenges that face us. The secret to our survival has not been to remove or even combat those that threaten to destroy us. It has been our incredible tenacity in the face of persecution to remain faithful to the knowledge that we are dedicated to the ideals our forefathers learned upon leaving Egypt.
 We are a nation of survivors. Perhaps Cecil Roth in his decidedly secular work "History of the Jews" put it best
“Our survey of three and a half millennia of Jewish history is closed. But the story which we have set ourselves to tell is unending. Today the Jewish people has in it still those elements of strength and of endurance that enabled it to surmount all the crises of its past, surviving thus the most powerful empires of antiquity.

Throughout our history there have been weaker elements who have shirked the sacrifices which Judaism entailed. They have been swallowed up, long since, in the great majority; only the more stalwart have carried on the tradition of their ancestors, and can now look back with pride upon their superb heritage...

From a reading of Jewish history, one factor emerges... the preservation of the Jew was certainly not casual. He has endured through the power of a certain ideal, based upon the recognition of the influence of a higher Power in human affairs. Time after time in his history, moreover, he has been saved from disaster in a manner which cannot be described as 'providential'.
The author has deliberately attempted to write this work in a secular spirit; he does not think that his readers can fail to see in it, on every page, a higher immanence."
Cecil Roth, "A History of the Jews" Shocken (1961) Pp. 423-424

We are living in a time when it is not only our nation that is struggling and finding its survival a struggle. It is the whole world that is getting swallowed up by the hatred that comes from and evil that has distorted and are hijacking the name of our God. The God of love and peace. The God who’s light is waiting for us to shine out and declare to the world. May our continued dedication to those ideals bring us to an era where the world will finally know peace and the unity of mankind under our Creator.
Have super-duper Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0PwSI4aJcI&spfreload=10 - The place where I belong- Torah scroll song beautiful and meaningful clip

https://youtu.be/rReuXhvP7qg -Sad video dedicated to families of terror victims filled with hope beautiful song AKA Pella

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rj-Lun1NEU- Classic Abie Rottenber Joe Dimaggio card clip/song


There is no action or movement that takes place in this world that does not have a foundation in spirituality”

Fortunate is the world that this nation (Israel) is within it.”

“One should not be happy unless he is settling the land as it says then will his mouth fill with joy”

Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar- the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh 15th Tamuz  this Thursday (1696-1743)-
Born into a well-respected family in Sali,Morocco, his father, Harav Moshe Ben Chaim, traced his lineage to the distinguished and well-known Ben-Attar family of Rabbanim and leaders of Klal Yisrael.
Rav Chaim spent his early years learning with his grandfather, whose name he shared. Very soon his grandfather realized that the child possessed rare talents and needed to be taught privately.
The young Chaim excelled immensely in Torah, and at a rather young age became well-known as an prodigy and diligent student. He also lived and taught in Algiers, Italy, Acco and Yerushalayim, where he settled a year before his passing.
He married his relative, the daughter of Harav Moshe ben Harav Shem Tov Ben-Attar, who was a pious and wealthy layman and a well-known baal chessed. His father-in-law supported them generously, and even founded a yeshivah in which the Ohr Hachaim quickly became a superior proliferator of Torah. His Rebbetzin took care of the physical needs of the talmidim,and was a great tzaddeket in her own right.
His father-in-law was niftar in  1725, and with that came a change in the Ohr Hachaim’s material situation. Envying the great fortune he had inherited, many people conspired against him; high government taxes were thrust upon him.
The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh earned his livelihood as a silversmith, yet he always made Torah study his primary occupation. He would sit engrossed in study, and only when his last coin was spent did he engage in worldly matters.
The Ohr HaChaim once mistakenly caused an affront to the King of Morocco, who had him thrown into a pit of lions. The Ohr HaChaim put on his tallit and tefillin, and when he was thrown into the pit, the lions gathered around him respectfully. Seeing this, the king proclaimed, "Now I know there is a God of Israel."
Finally, he was released from prison on the condition that he leave the city. After traveling to several cities he ended up in Livorno, Italy, where he published some of his great works: Ohr Hachaim and Chaifetz Hashem.
The Ohr Hachaim had always yearned and aspired to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and settle in Yerushalayim. With 30 followers he arrived in Eretz Yisrael, four days before Rosh HaShanahin 1742 and settled in Acco. HaRav Chaim and his students spent Yom Kippur in the cave of Eliyahu HaNavi / Elijah the Prophet, on Mount Carmel. Purim was spent in Tzefat and Miron, where a great deal of time was spent studying the holyZohar.
On the 15th of Elul of 1743, Rav Chaim finally arrived in Yerushalayim with his group. He immediately established a yeshiva called Knesset Yisrael where throngs of talmidim made their way to learn under his guidance. and a second secretive yeshiva for the study of Kabbalah. One of his new students was Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai, the Chida, who at that time was only 18 years old.
The Ohr Hachaim authored a number of sefarim, including Pri Toar, on Yoreh De’ah; Rishon L’Tziyon and Chaifetz Hashem on the talmud; and Ohr Hachaim on Chumash. The sefer Ohr Hachaim became a treasured and revered work. Gedolim and laymen alike throughout the generations treasured the fiery, priceless words of the Ohr Hachaim, which provide a guide to and assistance in the service of Hashem.
The Ohr HaChaim is credited with initiating the idea of placing a note in the Kotel HaMaaravi / Western Wall; he gave this advice to his student, the Chida, who was traveling from Morocco to Eretz Yisrael.
Legend says that he would study in Yerushalayim with Eliyahu HaNavi in the same building where the Arizal was born two centuries earlier. Many stories are told of his holiness and greatness, and of the repeated unsuccessful attempts by HaRav Yisrael Baal Shem Tov to reach the Holy Land and meet with him in the belief that together they could bring the Moshiach and the final redemption, as is evident from correspondence between him and his brother-in-law, Harav Gershon Kitover.
Unfortunately, the Baal Shem Tov’s ascent to Eretz Yisrael, partially for this purpose, was never completed. Many tzaddikim used to say their meeting would have hastened the coming of Moshiach.
The Ohr Hachaim was niftar on 15 Tammuz at the age of 47; he had no children. There is a story that at shalosh seudot that week the Baal Shem Tov declared, “The western light has been extinguished,” referring to the Ohr Hachaim.A problem arises in regard to this story since 15 Tammuz never falls on Shabbat; rather, it was 14 Tammuz that fell on Shabbat that year. According to some, the yahrtzeit is on 14 Tammuz, and he was buried on Sunday, 15 Tammuz
Today, the grave of the Ohr HaChaim, located on Har Hazeitim / the Mount of Olives inYerushalayim, is a popular place of pilgrimage and prayer.

answer below at end of Email
Q “Mivtza Kadesh” (Kadesh Operation) took place in:
A. 1948
B. 1956
C. 1967
D. 1970

Some Rashi’s become more famous then others. Usually it is the ones that add some midrash to explain the simple pshat. Sometimes it becomes so accepted and taught that people actually confuse the midrashic story with the actual text. However as we know Rashi only bring as midrash to explain the text not to add a colorful story.
One of those midrash’s that I always remembered this week’s Torah portion where the Torah describes the post Bila’am story of the Jews getting seduced by the daughters of Moav and worshiping the idolatry of Ba’al Pe’or. Rashi Bamidbar (24:3) notes that this idolatry which means exposed, was worshipped by ‘because they would expose their backsides before it and expel excrement upon it.’ I guess you figured out why I remember it…
Yet as we know Rashi is not coming to tell us stories he is explaining something in the text. The Divrei Hillel Kalemai explains that the verse tells us that the prelude to their worship was
‘They invited the nation to the feasts of their gods; the people ate and bowed to their gods and Israel became attached to the Baal Pe’or.’
It seems that there was a process to their sinning that began with them eating first. Rav Hillel notes that Rashi previously told us that the Jewish people who ate the Manna did not have any need to go to the bathroom, as the food was entirely spiritual and had no waste product. Thus the Midrash tells us that the daughters of Moav offered them their own cows and sheep to slaughter ‘kosherly’ thus seducing them as they knew that the Manna would not provide them with the necessary ahem…materials to worship with. Once they ate then they were fully primed to worship the idolatry. Thus Rashi explains what the worship was so that you would understand why it was necessary for them to eat first.
I guess you won’t forget this Rashi anytime soon either.
Bon apetit

Burning of the Talmud in Paris- 9th Tamuz June 9th 1244- We have always been known to be the pople of the Book. The Book of course being the Torah, yet the Talmud written from the 5th-6th century remains the key to understanding and extrapolating all of Jewish scholarship and our oral tradition that was meant to be extrapolated from the Torah. It is perhaps more than any other Jewish work the basic and most studied work that has served as the crux and foundation to any Jewish scholarship and perhaps most defines us that people of the Book.
The process that led to the setting of the bonfire, in which it is said that 24 wagons piled with copies of the multi-volume work of Toah law and tradition, took place over several years. It began with the accusations of an apostate Jew, Nicholas Donin, of La Rochelle, France. Donin was excommunicated by his Jewish community around the year 1229 for his heretical views. In 1236, he traveled to Rome and presented Pope Gregory IX with a list of complaints about the Talmud.
Among Jews, the Talmud - which is comprised of the Mishna, the 3rd-century C.E. compendium of law, as interpreted by the Rabbis; and the Gemara, the 6th-century work of commentary on the Mishna and other subjects – is also referred to as the Oral Law. And indeed, it is understood to be no less divinely inspired – or binding – than the Torah, the Five Books of Moses.
Nicholas Donin’s principal concern was that the Talmud had begun to supersede the Bible for the Jews, and that this constituted a theological problem for Christians. The Christian claim was that  the Jews had the responsibility of upholding the “Old Testament” so as to provide living proof of the New Testament. If the Jews now gave precedence to the Oral Law, and allowed themselves to reinterpret the Bible, they were no longer fulfilling their historic role, and were no longer candidates for conversion – and hence no longer justified the protection of the Church.
In 1239, Pope Gregory sent around to other church leaders, and to the kings of Spain, England and Portugal, a list of 35 arguments against the Talmud compiled by Donin. The missive concluded with an order to confiscate the book on the first Sabbath in Lent, in this case March 3, 1240, while the Jews were at prayer. The charges made against the Talmud included the claim that it blasphemed the founders of Christianity (or just told the truths that they couldn’t handle), and attacked non-Jews, among other things. Donin himself traveled back to Paris with the pope’s letter, which also ordered that “those books in which you find errors of this sort you shall cause to be burned at the stake."
The next stage in the process, at least in France, was a “trial” for the Talmud, ordered by King Louis IX, in what turned out to be the first so-called disputation between Jews and Christians, which was held in Vincennes in May and June of 1240. Again, it was Donin who argued the case against the holy book; speaking on its behalf were four distinguished rabbis, led by Rabbi Yechiel ben Joseph of Paris.
Not surprisingly, the Talmud was found to be blasphemous, and the consequence was its public burning two years later, on this date. One estimate is that the 24 wagonloads included up to 10,000 volumes of Hebrew manuscripts, a startling number when one considers that the printing press did not yet exist, so that all copies of a work had to be written out by hand.
Subsequently, Pope Innocent IV, who became pontiff in 1243, ruled that the Talmud should be corrected, rather than outright banned, making it possible to censor offensive passages while Jews were able to continue studying the work.
Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, the Maharam, is said to have witnessed the Paris burning, which took place at the Place de Greve compared it to the destruction of the Temple In a lamentation he wrote Sha'ali Serufah ("Ask is it well, O thou consumed in fire") included in the kinah of the Ninth of Av, he described how “My tears formed a river that reached to the Sinai desert and to the graves of Moshe and Aharon. Is there another Torah to replace the Torah which you have taken from us?” Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerondi , who had led the anti-Maimonists, is said to have connected the burning of the Talmud with the burning of the Guide  and to have bitterly repented his attacks on Maimonides.
Subsequently the burning of the Talmud was repeatedly urged by the popes. In France, Louis IX ordered further confiscations in 1247 and 1248 and upheld the principle in an ordinance of December 1254. It was confirmed by Philip III in 1284 and Philip IV in 1290 and 1299. A further burning was ordered in Toulouse in 1319 by the inquisitor Bernard Gui and in Perpignan. In his manual for inquisitors Gui also singled out the works of Rashi , David Kimḥi , and Maimonides for condemnation..
The Shibbolei Leket on Hilchot Taanit discusses the aftermath of the burning of the Talmud. "We heard that they asked a she'eilat chalom, whether it was a Heavenly decree or not, and they were answered, "Veda gezeirat Oraisa" [the Targum of the verse, Zot chukat HaTorah]. They understood that this hinted that the Friday of Parshat Chukat [the day the Talmud was burned] is a day of evil decrees. From that day on, individuals fasted every year on that day [of the week], the Friday of Parshat Chukat, but not on the day of the month." 
As I have always noted we are our worst enemies and cause the more damage to ourselves then anyone else.

The Italian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have wine.
The Scotsman says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have Scotch.
The Russian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have vodka.
The Jew says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.

An Orthodox man was traveling on El Al, when his seat mate asked what he did for a living.
"I'm a rabbi."
“Well,” said the man condescendingly, “I was born Jewish. I don't know much about it, but I presume you could sum it up in one sentence: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’"
The rabbi smiled, then said, "And what do you do for a living?"
"I’m an astrophysicist,” he replied smugly.
Well," said the rabbi, "I don't know much about it, but I presume I too, could sum it up in one sentence: ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star -- how I wonder what you are.’”
Rivka Baumgarten tottered into a lawyer's office.
“I vant a divorce.”
“A divorce?” asked the shocked lawyer.
“You hoid me, sonny! A divorce.”
“Mrs. Baumgarten ... how old are you?”
“And your husband?”
“Irving? Ninety-two – next month.”
“Well ... how long have you been married?” he asked in disbelief.
“Tomorrow, 70 years."
“Seventy years?! Why a divorce now?”
“Sonny,” said Rivka ... “enough is enough.”

A new flood was predicted and nothing could prevent it. In three days, the waters would wipe out the world.
The Dalai Lama appeared on worldwide media and pleads with humanity to follow Buddhist teachings to find nirvana in the wake of the disaster.
The pope issued a similar message, saying, “It is still not too late to accept Jesus.”
The chief rabbi of Jerusalem took a slightly different approach. “My people,” he said, we have three days to learn how to live under water.”

Answer is B – This should not be too hard, although you may not know the official.names for Israeli wars. How about if I told you that it was called the Sinai Campaign in English, does that help you? OK let’s take this slowly. You know that 1948 is the war of Independence. Now there were a lot of battles then or mivtzaim-operations as they call them in Hebrew, however Kadesh is not one of them. 1967 was the 6 day war and 70 was the war of attrition over the Suez canal and with Egypt, However the 1956 war over the Suez Canal is called Mivtza Kadesh- Kadesh being the biblical city in the South of Israel where Moshe sent the spies out of to check out the country from.