Karmiel

Karmiel
Our view of the Galile

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Faithful Forces- Masei 2014/5774

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

July 24th  2014 -Volume 4, Issue 38 -26th  of Tamuz 5774
Parshat Masai
The Faithful Forces

He was a doctor. Not just any doctor but "The" doctor and Royal physician to the great world leader in the 12th century, Salaadin. But that was just one of the incredible milestones in the life of the Rambam. Although just the Jewish doctor thing I'm sure would’ve made any Jewish mother proud. The Rambam as he's called, which is an acronym of his name Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, was perhaps one of Judaism's greatest scholars and halachists. His works on the Talmud and Mishna and on Jewish thought and philosophy are the quintessential definition of the word "classic". His trailblazing codification of Jewish law set the path for centuries of Jewish law books that followed that were accessible to the layman. But unlike many academics or scientists that may be better in a lab, hospital or with a pen and paper in a closed room, Maimonides took a leadership role as the chief Rabbi of Egypt and with that responsibility he wrote letters, advised and counseled Jews from throughout the Diaspora in troubled times. It is no wonder that on his grave in Tiberias it states truthfully from Moshe (Moses) to Moshe there has not been any other Moshe {like this one}. We need leaders like that today.

As we enter week three of our battle for survival and peace here in Israel, I chose to study Maimonides perspective on war. In yeshiva the term is Inyana D'Yoma- the timely matters of the day. I found his description of the speech that would be given to soldiers when they would go out to battle to be inspiring. He describes any battle that is for the safety of the Jewish people to be one of an obligatory nature. A Milchemet Mitzvah, one in which we are obligated to reach out for peace but ultimately if our enemies make the foolish (or Divinely ordained) mistake of pursuing their attack on Hashem's chosen land and nation, than we are obligated to go to war. In the case of a battle for our defense there are none of the usual exemptions of newlyweds, a new house a new vineyard and certainly none of the unconscionable "conscientious objectors". It’s a fight for our lives and as the Talmud puts it even a groom from his chupah must go.

So there they are, gathered on the battlefield and the Kohein specially anointed for battle gets up in front of the army wearing his special garments. He reads from the Torah and declares

"Shema Yisrael- Listen, Israel, today you are about to wage war against your enemies. Do not be faint-hearted. Do not be afraid. Do not panic and do not break ranks before them. God, your Lord, is the One accompanying you to do battle for you against your enemies to deliver you"

The Rambam then continues with the obligatory laws an mindset that a Jewish soldier in the army of Hashem must have.

"Once a soldier enters the throes of battle, he should rely on the Hope of Israel and their Savior in times of need. He should realize that he is fighting for the sake of the oneness of God's Name. Therefore, he should place his soul in his hand and not show fright or fear.
He should not worry about his wife or children. On the contrary, he should wipe their memory from his heart, removing all thoughts from his mind except the war.

Anyone who begins to feel anxious and worry in the midst of battle to the point where he frightens himself violates a negative commandment, as it is written 'Do not be faint-hearted. Do not be afraid. Do not panic and do not break ranks before them.'

Furthermore, he is responsible for the blood of the entire Jewish nation. If he is not valiant, if he does not wage war with all his heart and soul, it is considered as if he shed the blood of the entire people, as ibid. 20:8 states: 'Let him go home, lest he demoralize the hearts of his brethren like his own.' Similarly, the prophetic tradition explicitly states: 'Cursed be he who does God's work deceitfully. Cursed be he who withholds his sword from blood.' 

 In contrast, anyone who fights with his entire heart, without fear, with the intention of sanctifying God's name alone, can be assured that he will find no harm, nor will bad overtake him. He will be granted a proper family in Israel and gather merit for himself and his children forever. He will also merit eternal life in the world to come as it states: 'God will certainly make my lord a faithful house, for my lord fights the wars of God and evil will not be found with you... and my lord's soul will be bound in a bond of life with God.".

Wow! Now that's a speech. Last week I wrote about the IDF, Israel's Divine Forces. This is what it is all about. Fighting a battle for Hashem, with the knowledge that only his help will save us. I have watched some incredible videos that I have included this week (Rabbi Schwartz's Youtube clips of the week below) of our soldiers before they went into Gaza. To hear them singing of their faith in Hashem, their lack of fear as a result of that faith and the mitzvah to rejoice in the fact that we are believers the sons of believers brought tears in my eyes. It is amazing to think that for over two thousand years from the times of Bar Kochva we have not had the ability to fulfill this mitzvah as delineated in the Rambam; to have an army that will stand up and defend our people, our land, our light and our Divine mandate. And now once again we have returned. And in ways that the world still can't appreciate we are shining our light in how we do battle, how we fight for not truth, justice and the American way but for Hashem, his people and the Torah way. It is truly awe inspiring.

In the North here where I live though it is quiet, although I have neighbors that are in Gaza, friends who have lost friends and relatives already. There is no one that is not living on a 24 hour news cycle. There is no one who is not thinking and praying for our soldiers that they come home soon…whole…There is no one who hasn't shed a tear at the tragic losses we have suffered at the hands of these murderers who want nothing more than to wipe us off the map as so many have wanted to before them. Yet we are not on the front lines. Many of you are not on the front lines as well. Yet the Torah tells us in this week's portion that one does not have to be in war to be a soldier. Our very lives are all charged with a mission and journey that is meant to be done with that same fortitude and determination as our boys in green.

"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel that left the land of Egypt according to their legions., under the hands of Moshe and Aharon. And Moshe wrote their going-forths according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashem and these are their travels according to their going-forths..."  
Thus begins the final parsha in the Book of Bamidbar, the book of our wandering in the wilderness until we came home. The Book concludes with the note that Moshe wrote all of their travels down and by Hashems word they were added to the Torah. The next 46 verses reads almost entirely like one of those direction lists on your GPS. They traveled from here and camped and traveled from there and camped. We are also introduced to many new places that we have never heard of before. The commentaries all try to understand what the significance of adding this travelogue to the Torah is. Rabbeinu Bachaya one of the great 13th century sages understands that each one of the places named really define the mood of what took place there. That attitude they had when they camped in the place became actualized in their experience there. There are places name called Mt. Shefer- the pleasant Mountain, Miska- sweet. On the other hand there are places called Charada- fear, Dafka- pushed down, Mara- bitterness. In the words of Rabbeinu Bachaya

"This is to teach us that everything is dependent on what our connection and attitude is towards Hashem. When we were pure and directed towards Hashem his mercy would protect us and when we went with thoughts of sin the attribute of justice came against us."  
It's all about how much we can make all of our journeys Hashem focused. Yet he concludes with an even more powerful message.

"The reason why the verse repeats the travels according to their going forths is because this is a reference to final redemption as well. We will be redeemed once again just as we were redeemed from Egypt and these travels and challenges will once again fall on many of the Jewish people until we are finally redeemed."

Our lives, our challenges, our journeys they are all part of Hashems plan for his people. Just as Moshe wrote the travelogue of the Jews and their fears, trials and successes that defined the places they were at, those same trials and challenges are before each of us in the battles we go through. Hashem incorporated that travelogue in the Torah, in the book that concludes our wandering before we come home to let us know that we are still traveling that same path. We are almost home. We can define the rest of that journey by our faith, by the sweetness we find in the celebration in life and by the pleasantness of Hashems ways, the Torah, the way we treat our friends, our neighbors, the world. We are all soldiers, we are all on that journey together. Some of us are in the front lines, but it is the merit of all of us that will turn this battle into the final war, the last leg before we come home.

It's hard to think about this as being the final battle and journey. It's just Gaza. We're shmoddering them, rightfully so, but the end? Mashiach? Hashem returning? Is it possible? Rav Avraham Kook the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine in the 20's said. That whenever there is war in the world and particularly in Israel the bells of Mashiach are ringing up in heaven. It is our faith and belief that will win this war and it is our faith and belief that turn those ringing bells into the final Shofar blasts that we await. May Hashem watch over our brave soldiers and give all of us the strength and faith to be the army Hashem is waiting to bring back once again to His land.

 May we truly have a Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  IMPORTANT  QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."– Yoda

"The whole world is a very narrow bridge and the main thing is not to fear at all.” Rebbe Nachman of Breslav

"It is job of God to forgive terrorists. It is our job to arrange the meeting" An Israeli soldiers T-Shirt

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
 In which of the following streams was the Nile softshell turtle population rehabilitated?
  1. Alexander
  2. Ammud
  3. Shekhem (Nablus)
  4. Tirtsa

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
The Parsha this week tells us that upon coming to Israel we are meant to set up 6 cities of refuge and 42 cities for the Levi that would also serve as places of refuge. Everything in the Torah has its message for each jew and in each time. We are told that when one is in caught under the temptation of the Yetzer Hara/ the evil inclination one should recite the Shema. Interestingly enough Shema also has the power of that refuge. The six words of Shema and the 42 words of the first chapter of Shema have the power to protect us when we are faced with our own mistakes.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK

Tel Arad- Located on the border between the hills of Chevron and the Negev Tel Arad is a fantastic archeological site to really get a feel for what life was like when the jews entered the land. The Torah tells us of the Cananite king who came out to fight the Jews from here and when standing by ancient walls of the former cananite city one can imagine looking out and seeing our ancestors from a distance. Remains of the Cananite cit and even their temples are still there in the lower city to explore. But just as fascinating is the upper Israelite city from the period of the first temple with its elaborate water tunnels and lookout towers and most interesting is the mini temple that was there and the altar or Bamah that has been uncovered. It seems as our prophets tell us that the Jews who were to lazy to shlep up to Jerusalem built their own temple here that was seemingly dismantled. Truly a cool place to visit with your tanach in hand.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  COOL YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK
These videos are why we will win…why we have won.. I can't watch them without tears of pride just pouring down my face…





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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  HAMAS JOKES WORTH CIRCULATING OF THE WEEK






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Answer is A:  Turtles are cool. At Rosh Hanikra they have a cool film that shows them laying their eggs in the beach and then they hatch and hundreds of them run down to the water to avoid predators. Really cool. Nachal Alexander just north of netatanya flows down from the Shomron and was the largest home of them in the country. In the early 90's we had big rains and flooding and most died. Over the last few years we have repopulated it somewhat. A trip down there is great for the kids to see them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The IDF!- Matos 2014/5774

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

July 18th  2014 -Volume 4, Issue 37 -20th  of Tamuz 5774
Parshat Matos
The IDF!

It's a wimpy name for an army if you ask me; The Israel Defense Force. It kind of sets ourselves up for the notion that we are on the defense and that we will always need an army to defend ourselves. There were other options when we started. There were in fact three different forces in pre-state Israel. The Irgun or Etzel (Irgun Tzva Liumi) which was the Organized National Army and the LeCHi (Lochamei Herut Israel) The Israel Freedom Fighters. But Ben Gurion and the Hagana were the strongest of the three so we are left with an army that is named peacefully the Israel Defense Force. If only the world would see us that way as well…

But the truth is what we might lose in our pacifist sounding name we make up for, thank God , in our unbelievable determination, dedication and sense of self-sacrifice to go to the end of the world to do what we have to do to protect our country and our people. I don't necessarily speak about our various governments and politicians who have sometimes let us down in their decisions that sometimes are too often influenced by that seemingly endless Jewish desire and fruitless pursuit to be loved by the world or at least not to be so hated and condemned. I speak rather about our brave young men and women who are willing and even to a large degree feel honored to be able to run into the firing line in order to save and defend our people without any sense of self. The wars of Israel are filled with stories soldiers who have jumped out of one burning tank to only get into another and continue the fight, soldiers who have braved all odds and left their families to collect intelligence that will protect us by living as Arabs in their countries and gaining precious intel from those that seek to destroy us. Perhaps even most amazing to the world is how Israeli soldiers and our emergency services are the first responders in many other countries who need our help in times of crises and natural disasters.  So there we are the IDF-Israelis Don't Fear, Israel's Dedicated Friends, Israel Dislikes Fighting, Israel Defends Freedom, Israel Desires Friends, but perhaps most significantly and yet to be fully achieved The Israeli Divine Forces.

This week's Torah portion tells us the story of one of the final battles of the Jewish people; the fight and the destruction of the nation of Midian, who at the scheming of the Bilaam and the Moabite king Balak who had been unsuccessful at cursing the Jewish people (remember the talking donkey trick) succeeded in their plan B against us. Bila'am realized that the way to get the Jewish people is not by trying to kill us or curse us, rather the greatest way to get to us  is by pretending to be our friends. They sent their daughters to seduce us and lo and behold it worked. Next thing we knew it as soon as we saw they didn’t want to kill us wadda boom wadda bing we were in their tents and worshipping their idols… Hashem of course did not like that plan. In general He has a problem with His children trying to disappear and shirk their special mandate to bring light to the world. 24,000 dead Jews in a plague later, which is only brought to an end by Pinchas and his heroic zealotry, Hashem commands Moshe to avenge those deaths by wiping out Midian. Jewish blood is not cheap.

I know this story seems so long ago. I don't just mean historically which actually and sadly does not feel so long ago, but rather I mean textually. It actually started over two parshiyot ago and the command to fight against Midian was the beginning of last week's Parsha almost 5 chapters before the actual battle. It seems that the Torah for some reason separated the command for the battle with a long seemingly misplaced cut and paste job of narratives, laws and sacrifices until we get back to this "jew"cy battle. We know by now that everything in the Torah including its placements and the form in which it tells us its narratives has a reason. Let's see what the significance of these pre-war instructions and stories as prerequisites to the actual battle are.

The lists of instructions from the command until the battle are actually quite fascinating. First we are told of the counting once again of the Jewish people post-plague according to the tribes. Now although one might assume this was just a head count to figure out who will go to battle or not and how many available troops we have, the Torah tells us something else. "And Hashem said to Moshe to these will the land be divided as an inheritance according to the counting of their names…each man according to their numbers  shall be given their portion". This wasn't an army count, it was a pre-inherit the land count. The narrative therefore continues with the story of the daughters of Tzlafachad and their desire and ultimately successful bid and plea to also inherit the land. This of course than leads to Hashem's denial of Moshe's bid to enter the land and the setting up of the leader that will bring them into the land, none other than Yehoshua.  Seemingly before we wage war against Midian it was critical to count, explain and clarify to them, that this is not just a battle against an enemy this is the beginning of a war in which they have a larger vested interest and goal; The acquisition of our divinely promised homeland in which every single surviving Jew would have a portion.
The truth is the Torah in fact tell us specifically that this group are really if one thinks about it survivors. Right after the count the Torah tells us

"And this counting of Moshe and Elazar   there were none who were in the previous count of moshe and Aharon at Mount Sinai for Hashem had said they would all die in the wilderness."
This was the generation that had been under twenty and that were born afterwards. The dramatic plague at the Midian debacle wiped out the remaining Jews left. This was the new generation. There are no more sins in the wilderness, no more deaths, no more plagues. The new world awaits them and they need to understand what they are fighting for. They need to know that they must succeed where there parents failed. The land will be theirs. Their leader will no longer be Moshe, once they get there, so don't get all hung up on the Moshe golden calf replacement thing again. You can do it. This land will be yours. Avenge their deaths by eradicating the evil and assimilationist temptations that will distract you from your mission. You have to build me a special different country.

And what type of country will that be? The Torah than tells us the next two narratives and laws. It will be a place where there will be sacrifices twice daily sacrifice being offered up in the Temple for him  Every Jew will have a part of that daily  sacrifice. There will be Kohens and shifts and his annual half shekel donation  makes sure he's a part of it. It will be a place where you will meet with me regularly. Where we will have holidays together.Where the mere words and vows that you make and take have the power to create sanctity and holiness and will transform the world. Don't make the mistake of your forefathers of Lashon Hara on the land and of despair and crying. Your words and your oaths will be fulfilled. You will bring their offerings to me in our Temple. You will have wives and husbands and fathers and daughters each one of them offering up gifts and promise to Hashem. We will be a family…a holy family. We will be one in our home.

It is then and only then that the Torah can tell us about the battle with Midian. For us to succeed at war we have to know what we are fighting for. We were not meant to have a nation and country like any other nation or country. We're not just another member of United Nations. We are a family that is meant to live in on its divinely granted and inherited homeland that is our family heritage. You fight differently when you're fighting outside of your own personal backyard. We are not merely just fighting for our backyard. We are fighting for the world. For the world will only fulfill its destiny when we can show them what it feels like to have Hashem's presence shine forth from our country. We're fighting for Him. I know that the monsters on the other side feel they are also fighting a Jihad and they are Allah's army. It's what makes them so dangerous. It's why they will stop at nothing. For us to succeed we need to know that they have it wrong. It is not them who are meant to fight the battle of Hashem. It is us. There is perhaps no greater evil than that false sense of Godliness that they cloak themselves in. It is interesting to note that the name Midian is the same letters as the word Dimyon-Imagination, illusory reality, make believe, falsehood. We need to know that our battle is for truth.

For us to win the war and give our family the home we have been promised to give Hashem the home he is so longing to return to. We need to remember the training narratives that were given to our first army before they began conquering the land. The land is ours- all of it, we can conquer it, and we have been granted it and we will one day soon once again see and bring the miraculous sacrifices in our service to our Father in heaven on behalf of all mankind. Watch out the Israel Divine Forces are on the way…
 Have a quiet restful and miraculous Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  IMPORTANT  QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"Before Israel dies it must be humiliated and degraded – Hamas Leader Khaled Mashal

"“We repeat today that we are with the establishment of a Palestinian state on any liberated part of Palestinian land that is agreed upon by the Palestinian people, without recognizing Israel or conceding any inch of historical Palestine.” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

“This is a generation which knows no fear. It is the generation of the missile, the tunnel and suicide operations.”- Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

“I am heartbroken by the violence, especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza – men,women, and children who were caught in the crossfire. We are going to continue to encourage diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire, and we support Egypt’s continued efforts to bring this about”-President Barak Obama

What would've been nice for him to say
“The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification. It is evident that Hamas is deliberately using human shields to further terror in the region.
“Failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensibleactions would encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions. Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that theseterrorist acts are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict.
“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.
“Canada reiterates its call for the Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”- Canadian PM Stephen Harper


RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
Which of the following was an ancient dryland farming (haklaut baal) crop?
  1. Eggplant
  2. Pomegranate
  3. Onion
  4. Garlic

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
Here are some cool "Protective edge" Gematriot- Tzuk Eitan the name of this battle which was given the name after the verse in parshat balak "Eitan moshaveicha vsim b'Sela Kinecha"- strong is your dwelling and set in rock is your nest.  Our sages tell us is also a reference to our strength being our forefathers Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov. Interestingly enough the gematria of Avraham Yitzchak V'Yaakov (with the Kollel meaning plus 3 for the three words) is the same as Tzuk Eitan protective edge. In who's merit we should win this war. In addition the iron dome called Kipat Barzel the word Barzel our sages tell us is also an acronym for the four wives of Yakov the mothers of the Jewish people Bilha Rachel Zilpa and Leah. Who are certainly protecting us as well.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK

Gush Katif- I know I know…but with Israeli troops on the ground who knows maybe once again it can be ours again. I visited this beautiful city back in 1990 for an Avraham Freed concert and it was truly magnificent; beautiful beaches, clean streets and shops and incredible fields and fields of orchards, flowers and vegetables that were bug free miraculously grown in the sand that seemed to produce only for the Jewish people. As once we left nothing the Arabs tried could get them to grow again. Just some small statistics to realize what we had there- The agricultural produce of Gush Katif represented some 10% of all agricultural produce raised in Israel; it accounted for 65% of Israel's organic export industry; 90% of Israel's bug-free leafy vegetables; 45% of tomato exports and 95% of Israel's cherry tomato exports; 60% of Israel's herb exports; 60% of Israel's geranium exports came solely from Ganei Tal in Gush Katif. WOW and we gave it all to Gaza and Hamas. I remember as well that sad 10th of Av day in 2006 when the "disengagement/or expulsion of Jewish families from the Gush took place. Perhaps the blackest and saddest day in our States history. A day that we are still paying for today as our boys head back there. Mey one day soon all of Israel be returned to our home.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  COOL YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK
Great song sung by Israeli soldiers getting ready for battle and the return to Gush Katif
(lyrics included if your don’t understand them throw em in to google translate)

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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  HAMAS JOKES WORTH CIRCULATING OF THE WEEK
  After the death of four Gaza children in today's attack Hamas has threatened to set up more of their children for death by shooting missiles from their schools if Israel does not admit defeat.

Hamas's solution for solving the population explosion that they cant afford to support because of their corruption...shoot missiles at israel from their maternity wards.

Israel has iron dome to deflect missiles being shot at it...Hamas is not worried they have still have some six year olds that they can hide behind

Obama has offered to negotiate a peace agreement between israel and hamas. Bibi has agreed on condition that he can negotiate a peace agreement between al Quaida and the US

Israel has been devastating Hamas by destroying the empty houses of its military leaders. This hasn't worried them much because each one of them has another few wives and daughters whose houses they can still steal.

How many Hamas terrorists does it take to change a lightbulb? one to shoot a missile at the electric wires 3 to hold guns on the women and children to use as a shield as you shoot it and then wait for the Israelis to come in and change it for you...

Why did the Hamas terrorist cross the road? he saw an old woman that he could hide behind while he shot off a missile

What's the difference between a hamas terrorist and a weasel? the weasel hides its children in an underground tunnel while it protects it...

And last of all HAMAS  acronym: Hiding Among Mosques And Schools
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Answer is B:  Pomegranate. Fairly easy I guess because it is one of the 7 species of fruits of Israel all of which are irrigated by rain not man. In Hebrew the term is Sadeh Baal a field with a husband. The Talmud explains that just a woman with a husband is settled and has no need to worry for here needs also a field that is fully irrigated from rain and requires no human irrigation is settled. Now I'm not sure about the other things as well. But I did know that rule about the 7 species so it helped me out. See, it always helps to know a little Talmud.:)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Impossible Possibilities-Pinchas 2014/5774

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

July 7th  2014 -Volume 4, Issue 36-13th  of Tamuz 5774
Parshat Pinchas
Impossible Possibilities

It has been a surreal week… a surreal month…Missiles flying over my (our) country, terror unleashed on our children, an indifferent world that is once again silent, more concerned about the 5 or 6 silly or frustrated Israeli teenagers that write graffiti on a mosque or the mentally unstable ones that commit horrific acts than the barbaric acts of the thousands terrorists that are using their own children as shields and that use hospitals and schools as launching pads as they try to once again commit genocide against our nation. Peace seems impossible. Jewish casualties seem inevitable and god forbid worse. But yet I still believe it can happen. How? Why? When? With who? I have some of those answers, some ideas, some suggestions. I'm somewhat of an Israeli by know and having an opinion comes with your citizenship. But I do agree that it seems impossible. But this is a country of impossibilities and we are a nation that has always seem to beat all the odds.

Those were some of my thoughts as I started writing this E-Mail and I came across this E-Mail I wrote four years ago. It was my last West Seattle TLC E-Mail. The E-Mail when we were leaving our lives in the United States (although many in Seattle would prefer to live in Canada J- its in fact why they moved so far away (to the left) from everyone else in the country) and we were moving to Israel. Interestingly enough it started off the same way… as you can now read it. Perhaps the impossible can come true.

" It has been a week… a month… of the unreal coming true. Every box we pack, every piece of bureaucratic red tape that we cut through, every piece of our Aliyah puzzle that comes together, we get one step closer to seeing this un-real and truly remarkable dream come true.  We always had hoped and dreamed that we would make it to Israel . Would it be before Shani gets married (weddings are cheaper thereJ)? When I retired from the Rabbinate and my outreach work (I don’t really see that as something we can ever leave-watch out IsraelJJ). Who knew when that day would be? Just a “someday” that we hoped and longed for like all Jews…a someday soon that is now coming much sooner than we could have ever dreamed possible.

How does the impossible dream happen? The truth is most of the things that we write off as being impossible are really just at best improbable and beyond our imagination to achieve. As one great quote I read put it “ In truth everything is theoretically impossible until it is achieved”. As children, Hashem gifts us with tremendous imaginations. We believe in talking animals, dolls that speak, fairy tale lands and heroes tht swoop down from the sky and save the day. But as we get older we lose our imagination. We get stuck in the “real world”. We’re pragmatic, limited absorbed with the necessary here and now and we don’t have the energy or even the belief to pursue the elusive dreams that might have been the light and essence of our souls. We made them impossible and we gave up on ever seeing them fulfilled.

But we Jews are supposed to be different. Afterall we are the impossible Nation. There’s no logical reason or way we should still be around. After all we have never gone a century without someone trying to wipe us off the map someplace. We haven’t gone a century sadly enough where we ourselves haven’t tried to assimilate and disappear and leave the chosen-ness to someone else. It’s impossible to imagine that after 2000 years of Exile from Israel we now have returned again. It’s impossible to believe how 60 years after the Holocaust and the destruction of most of Torah Judaism and its scholarship. Thjat there is more Torah being studied and published then probably any other time in our history. We are the impossible dream come true. So if our existence is a dream anyways, doesn’t that make everything possible?

This week’s Torah portion has quite a few disparate portions to it yet after scratching the surface a bit, there seems to be this link that revolves around these impossible dreams. The Torah portion begins with the epilogue of last week's unforgettable story. Hashem rewards Pinchas, who against all odds and the mass revolution that was taking place as Israel engaged in immorality with the Midianite women, picked up a spear killed the leader of the revolt and halted the destruction of the Jewish people. Hashem rewards him with the impossible reward; he is made into a Kohen. Now although his father and grandfather were Kohanim (Aharon and Elazar) since he was born before their anointment and only those born after the anointment were to be Kohanim- his lot was to remain a simple Levi like the rest of his tribe. Yet, nothing is impossible. In reward for him standing up to an impossible situation and desecration of God (as his entire tribe did after the Golden Calf) he merited to achieve the impossible the only Kohen ever to earn the gift of Priesthood.

The Torah then continues and lists of the numbers of the tribes of Israel , a survivor in the aftermath of the Divine plague. Fascinatingly enough when you examine the numbers of the tribes of Israel, one notes that there is one tribe that stands out as having the largest amount of children, the unlikely tribe of Dan. Now what makes Dan so unlikely to have the largest tribe? Well if you go back to the original numbers of the tribes of Israel that and their children, you will note that many of the tribes had many children, Binyamin had 10. Yet, Dan of all the tribes had one lonely son; a son named Chushim whom the Medrash tells us was deaf. Imagine, what the neighbors would say? Poor Dan, will never amount anything. Who knows if this son will ever get married? What will become of their family? Yet here we are just two generations late and Dan is the largest of all tribes. Impossible. Not for Hashem who always looks after the impossible and least likely.

Next up we have the daughters of Tzelafchad who approach Moshe asking for a portion in the land. Their father was a sinner who was put to death in the wilderness. The Law is clear that only the male heirs get a portion. Israel is a small country and everything is already called for. But… what happens? The impossible. Hashem adds a law to the Torah in their honor. They may inherit. Their love of the land of Israel , and their dedication to pursuing that dream within the bounds of the system, as far as they could go and as impossible as it seemed, earned them it. Dreams come true.

We then are told about Moshe. The greatest leader of the Jewish people, who may not enter the land with us. Who will replace him? Is it possible to find someone. What will become of the people without their great shepherd who advocated and sacrificed and inspired them for so many years? Hashem said fear not there is a replacement. Yehoshuah, your servant, will lead. He will fill those big shoes. He will perform miracles and salvation as you did. The people will be alright. The impossible leader to find is already there. I am with him. He will succeed.

And then the Parsha concludes with perhaps the greatest impossibility of all and the secret to our capacity to supersede our limited expectations. We are told of the various daily, weekly, monthly and holiday sacrifices and services. What is so impossible about a sacrifice you ask? It is a mind boggling notion if you think seriously about it. Here we are mortal flesh and blood bringing a cow or a sheep to the Creator of the entire world as a gift. Huh?! Is there a shortage of hamburgers up in heaven? How can we even expect to approach the Almighty in any way? The answer is, it is impossible. But yet, Hashem has told us to do it. Why? Because he wants us to feel close to him in the only way we know how; through sharing our blessing with him, communing with gifts, and worshiping in His Temple…His home.

Not only does he want this once in a while. But Hashem wants this daily, twice daily. We are his children. He wants us close. He wants us to know that we can transcend this world. We can face everything and accomplish anything. Nothing is impossible, when we are with Him. The world is limitless and it is for us raise ourselves and it beyond.

We have no Temple anymore. We have no sacrifices, and perhaps that’s why we have lost our dreams. But we still have one thing. We have our deep inner longing that won’t die to come Home. This week "might" begin the period of mourning for the destruction of our Temples, our Palace for God. I hope it doesn't...  The Talmud tells us that the fact that we mourn something that has been taken from us for 2000 years and still hope for its rebuilding and our redemption is the merit that we need to get it back and come home again. It is impossible to mourn something from so long ago. But we are the Nation of the impossible and we know that within that mourning all of our hopes and dreams lie. I know I am certainly dreaming of the Holyland and our Temple. I return to our country but it is still missing its heart. Perhaps if we all just dream and think, wish and hope, and even plan and long than Hashem will make that final impossible dream come true."

That was four years ago. I have returned. The impossible became a reality. May we also soon see the impossible reality of peace in our country. The impossible reality of the continued safety of our brave soldiers and citizens on the front lines (which seemingly have now come to include Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) despite the thousands of missiles raining down upon us and the malicious and barbaric hatred of our people by our enemies and may we soon…so very soon see all of you that have not yet made it here home again as we once again all celebrate in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and our Temple.
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May this Shabbos be one that brings peace quiet and tranquility to all of Israel
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Two Jews- three opinions…but one heart-Anonymous

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
What sort of a spring is En Mabu’a in Nahal Prat (Wadi Kelt)?
a) A gravity spring
b)  A fault spring
c)  A thermal spring
d)  A rhythmic (intermittent) spring

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL GEMATRIA OF THE WEEK
There is an interesting medrash that Pinchas upon seeing the plague that struck the Jewish people because of the immorality saw the letter "Mem" filled with blood hovering over the Jewish people. The Mem which in Gematria is 40 could refer to the 40 year sojourn in the desert that was going to be for naught if we would have been destroyed. But on a deeper lever The Megaleh Amukos explains that Pinchas in Gematria is 208 together with the 40 it equals 248 which correspond to the limbs of the body and also to the name Avraham who was the symbol of the covenant that we would inherit the land and the circumcision that was being desecrated by the immorality that was going on with the Midianite women. Pinchas grabbed a spear in Hebrew the word is Romach which is 248 and restored the peace by correcting the desecration of that Bris. It is therefore and cool as well that our sages tell us that Pinchas is connected to Eliyahu Hanavi who attends every Bris!

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK

Air Force museum- Be'er Sheva As our boys in the sky are kicking serious Hamas posterior. Its cool to present this awesome museum. A tour through the outdoor museum of airplanes from the establishment of the State in 48 until modern times is truly a walk through our history as a nation. There are great stories about each plane and their different achievements and how we acquired them and it fills you with pride and an appreciation of our ingenuity and how Hashem has helped us despite all odds. The conclusion of the tour is sitting in the 747 airplane that was the control center for the Entebbe raid and watching a great short film about all of the different milestones of our air force. Really really a great place to visit for the family.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  COOL YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

Red Heifer/ Parah Aduma born?

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  LATE NGHT ISRAEL JOKES OF THE WEEK
"An Israeli man's life was saved when he was given a Palestinian man's heart in a heart transplant operation. The guy is doing fine, but the bad news is, he can't stop throwing rocks at himself." —Jay Leno

"More rockets were fired into Israel today. Israel responded by bombing more targets inside Gaza. Now there's talk the U.S. might send some troops over there to help with border security. That's when you know the people over there are in trouble, when they start asking our advice on border security." --Jay Leno

"This morning the Vatican weighed in on the crisis. The Vatican came out and condemned Israel's attacks on Gaza ... which is great, because all day yesterday, the Jews and Muslims were asking, 'What do the Catholics think?'" --Conan O'Brien


Answer is D:  There are many springs in Israel. It is one of the most beautiful parts of our country as the Torah tells us it is a land of rivers and springs. Most are as a result of the underwater aquifers that are formed by the various rivers that pour underground and then come up. There lots of fun to swim in. The correct answer is that it is rhythmic spring which means that the water just comes out every so often in spurts as it fills up underground. There is another like that in Israel that I am aware of anyone else know where it is? Hint… in Jerusalem.. still guessing..in the city of David..correct it is the Gihon spring.