Our view of the Galile

Friday, June 22, 2018

Daniel's Tefilin and Our Clouds of Glory-Chukat 2018 /5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
June 22nd 2018 -Volume 8 Issue 35 9th Tamuz 5778

Parshat Chukas

Daniel’s Teffilin and our Clouds

It was one of the most horrifying video clips I have ever seen. He was a young secular Israeli man. I couldn’t tell his age maybe 18 maybe 23. His hair was shaved on the sides and his big cool blond flip in front kept falling down in front of his eyes. But I saw those eyes and there was such pain, such hurt and such hate it was hard to look into them. He was sitting on his porch in Bnai Brak, the city that he was raised and he had a little fire burning. He announced to the world and the thousands of “followers” and viewers that it was the day that he had enough. As much as it pained him, he needed to break free. Judaism was evil, the Torah and the commandments were primitive and full of hate. He had enough. He pulled out his head and arm teffilin, that incredible pair of Jewish ritual items that we were daily, that he received by his bar mitzvah, that announced that he was Jewish man and he threw them into the fire. He was finally free.

But he wasn’t. He wasn’t going to be happy until he spread this message of hate and atheism right back at the people that had “rejected him” that had hurt him and that represented the hypocricy that was the religion he was brought up on. So he went to the middle of Bnai Brak by the famous “Itzkowitz shul” where there are people praying 24 hours a day in perhaps the world’s largest and oldest minyan factory (at least outside of Jerusalem) and he brought a table with bread, challa, pitas to disburse. Except this wasn’t a kind gesture. It was Pesach. This was to once again throw his rebellion in the face of the people who still held their religion precious. He mockingly held a big sign that printed that said HaMotzi lechem min Ha’aretz- the blessing on bread. The locals of course were furious and screamed and spit and cursed him, which is exactly what he was trying to achieve. To reinforce their intolerance, and their rabid hatred for those that didn’t want to follow their ancient hate-filled traditions.

He had more posts. Posts of him talking about he was forced to give up his dog. How his teachers told him that those who did not “keep” the commandments were doomed, were worthy of being killed. He mocked the Torah’s perspective and warnings about alternate lifestyles. And yet his eyes were filled with such pain, it hurt just to see him. His final act was taking a Chumash and ripping it out page by page, crumbling it up and throwing it on the ground. Yet although, my grandparents had seen Nazi’s do the same, and my ancestors had seen anti-semites throughout millennia do these same hate-filled acts, whether it was the various Arab pogroms in Israel in the 20’s and 30’s, the Crusades, the inquisition, or even Titus of Rome taking his sword and stabbing the Ark of the Covenant, this young Jewish man, Daniel, was different. It hurt more. But at the same time I knew it wasn’t as real.

See Daniel, is my brother. He’s your brother too, by the way. And when your brother does some like this, you know it’s not for real. He was raised just like you were. He had a rebbi that taught him love, he had Shabbat songs, he ate chulent. He danced on Simchat Torah and had fun on Purim and he read from the Torah on his Bar Mitzva while his closest relatives looked on in pride. While his mother and grandmother shed a tear of nachas and joy. But something went wrong along the way. Somehow that spark of joy that inner meaning and beauty was taken from him. But he wasn’t a Nazi. He wasn’t a hater. He wasn’t one of them. He was still my brother. He had just gotten lost…very lost perhaps, along the way. But he will make it back. I know he will. In fact he already…Oh we’ll get to that soon.

This week we read perhaps one of the saddest Torah portions. Just to be prepared for it, the Torah portion starts off with the laws and mitzvah of the Red heifer that is used to purify someone from the tumah of coming in contact with the dead. Get ready there is death in this parsha.

First Miriam the sister of Moshe, dies. She is the one that started it all way back in Exodus. If not for her Moshe would never have been born, as our sages tell us she got her parents who had separated back together in. She watched as Moshe was floating in the basket down the Nile and she was the one that brought his mother to the daughter of Pharaoh, thus not only saving him and but insuring that his holy mouth would remain pure to speak with Hashem and give us the Torah. She was the midwife of most of the children of Israel rescuing them from the hands of the Egyptians. She led the women’s choir after the splitting of the Sea in song.  And now she was dead, and with her the miraculous well and water source of the Jewish people.

If that wasn’t enough just four months later we lost Aharon. It was he who was the connection between Hashem and the nation for the past forty years in the role of the High Priest. He blessed them daily with love, and they felt the Divine love flowing from him. He was the marital counselor and family therapist of the Jewish people and trust me 40 years schlepping along in the wilderness as a family there are lots of issues that needed to be worked out. I’ve gone camping with my family for a few days and that was about all we could take… forget about 40 years. It was he as well who bravely stopped the plague of the fiery snakes that attacked our nation with the incense of Hashem. Now he was gone as well. When he died we lost the clouds of glory that protected us in the midbar; that cleared the roads, removed the obstacles and even served as a temperature controlled air conditioner and dry cleaner.

Perhaps the biggest blow of the week is the news that Moshe would not be taken us into the land. The last time we thought we lost our holy shepherd that preformed the 10 plagues, that took us out of Egypt, split the sea, went up to Mount Sinai for forty days and brought us down the Torah and won our battles for us. The last time w though we lost him we made a golden calf. Now when we knew we were losing him and with him we would lose the Manna that sustaind us for the past 40 years as well we really started to freak out. We complained about the Manna we wanted to go back to Egypt. It was a nightmare. As I said this is a tragic parsha.

Yet at the same time there is something special our sages tells us about this Parsha. For this Parsha really is the beginning of us entering the land. We already start to conquer area that will ultimately be ours on the Eastern side of the Jordan. Miracles take place and we win without even raising a sword. Moshe leads us into battle and the Golan heights becomes ours as he slays Og the King of Bashan. The old generation is sadly dying but at the same time the new one, the nation that will merit to inherit the land is beginning the work of conquering and inheriting the land and I don’t believe this is a coincidence.

A parents job is to give a child all of the gifts and tools that he can so that the child ultimately make it on their own. They can’t hold their hands forever, they can’t change their diapers, and Mom, they one day have to stop reminding them to brush their teeth before they go to sleep. They do. The Jewish people are an eternal people. We are a movement that is charged to bring Hashem to the world and to shine his light out to it. Each generation keeps that torch burning and then gives the next generation the charge to hold that torch and shine it even brighter. But they have to hold it on their own.  Moshe, Aharon and Miriam all represent three gifts for us to make it through the wilderness of life that each one of us has to traverse. Moshe, our holy shepherd, represents the Manna, our sustenance. A shepherd’s job is to make sure that not only does every sheep have what to eat, but also that they eat the right thing for them. Little sheep the soft grass, the older ones that harder straw. The manna as well gave each Jew exactly what they wanted and needed spiritually and physically. As well Moshe is the one who gives us the Torah. The Torah which on one hand is the same document for everyone, just as the manna looked the same for everyone. Yet each Jew has his own special taste, his own special flavor, his own special sustenance. Forty years we had the food, that gift, now it was time to find it on our own.

Aharon gave us the clouds of glory. As opposed to the Manna which each Jew had their own special flavor the clouds of Aharon had no individuality. We were all part of the same cloud. The cloud that protected Moshe and Aharon and the righteous leaders and holy people also protected Korach, Datan, Aviram, and Zimri who committed abominations, rebellions and all types of unrest amongst the people. The clouds of glory and Aharon are able to do that because they see only one common denominator in each and every Jew. The holy spark of Hashem that is in each of us. You got a Jewish souls,-your in, regardless of your observance level. Aharon, the uniter of the people is able to give us that gift because it is he that is charged with bringing that Divine love to each of us every day. When he dies the King of Canaan attacks and takes only one captive. Our sages tell us that it was a maidservant, possibly even a non-jewish one that had undergone a conversion. He takes one because the cloud is down, Aharon is gone, maybe the weakest of us, the least observant are free game. Will we take responsibility? Will we go to war for every Jew no matter how far he or she may be, because we recognize they are our brother our sister, they have that spark of Hashem.

We do. Aharon taught us well. We are walking on our own.

Finally we have Miriam, she is the water. Water which doesn’t have any nutrients, but which we cannot live without. Water is the substance that carries it all. It takes the food and makes up the blood, and it is the life force that flows through us. She is the one behind the scenes making it all happen moving us to where we need to go, even if we can’t see it. It is transparent. It’s like it’s not there, but without it we are so soooo thirsty. It is our faith it is our eternality. And it is ultimately the song that will be sung at our redemption.

When I looked at Daniel, as I’m sure you will as well (I have included the clip below) you will see someone that has not yet found his flavor of sustenance of manna. Is there anything more maddening than that. He is starving and the food he was being given was not what he needed to sustain his soul. When I look into his eyes though I saw as well that spark that mirrored my own. Hashem’s light radiating from the darkest moments screaming to shine forth. When heard his hatred at the same time I saw how precious the Torah was to him. He ripped it, burned it, screamed at it only because it meant so much to him. It was the rock that was not giving him the water, the faith that his soul was thirsting for. But Hashem heard his prayer. His pain and his cry and perhaps even those that saw the first clips and cried and prayed for Daniel as well was answered. Rather than those that scorned him and wrote him off and threw him out of their sel-created “clouds of glory” that only seem to be deserving of protecting those that dress, talk and daven in the same shul or yeshiva that they do. Ouch! Three weeks ago Daniel made a new post. He is making a shehachiyanu on tzitzis he is wearing. He apologizes to those he hurt and offended. He found his water, he found his manna, he found the love from Rabbis and mentors that accepted him, comforted him and loved him.

Is he a baal teshuva? Is he religious? Is he “one of us”. I don’t know about the second question. I know that he certainly expressed regret and asked forgiveness and those are parts of the teshuva process. I can certainly say that he has probably done more soul searching and more teshuva than I have ever done.  Yet, it really doesn’t make a difference. See he was always one of us. We are not “us” without him. He is our brother. He is walking on a path, in a midbar, when the older ways of forcing him, and holding his hand, and even his community are not there for him. He has stumbled and fallen, and he is starting to walk on his own. He is finding the water of the Torah, the spiritual food that is sustaining him and given him life. But we need to be his cloud of glory. Hashem promises that with the ultimate redemption lo yidach mimenu nidach- no one will be pushed away. We will all come home. We will all return. There are thousands of Daniels outside those clouds. It’s time to open up the window and let them in.

Have a spiritually uplifting  Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“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.

answer below at end of Email
Q. A period named after the use of metal:
a. Paleolithic
b. Neolithic
c. Chalcolithic
d. Holocene


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxo_gb3qjXI  - the incredible video of Daniel- UNLESS YOU WATCH UNTIL THE END- DON’T EVEN BOTHER… TRULY INCREDIBLE

https://youtu.be/DoN2MIF9b0g   - Adorable song with great words- Da lach Senei- don’t do what you hate to another

https://youtu.be/b4vbFcE1zWg - Yonatan Razel With African choir Lmaaan Achai My brothers. Cool!


Parshat Chukas There are some incredible stories and people in Tanach that we only know about if we pay attention to the haftorah, but hopefully if we do spend a little time reading the haftorah then it will inspire us to perhaps dust off our tanach and open it up and learn a bit of the great (and perhaps not-so-great) leaders that commanded and directed our nation in our early years in Eretz Yisrael. Perhaps through that we might even better appreciate or look at things a bit differently today.
Whereas last week the haftorah focused on Jewish leaders like Shmuel and Shaul, this haftorah chronologically precedes it with the leader Yiftach almost the contra figure to Shaul and Shmuel. Yiftach seemingly would be in modern times the underdog hero. Coming from questionable if not even downright bad roots. His mother a harlot, his brothers throw him out, he goes to a land mysteriously called Tov and hangs out with “empty people”. Yet in times of need and with the impending threat of Ammon he is called to come to the rescue. If this were a movie, if he were a real hero, a role model the story would end up with him overlooking the slight, returning to his roots, proclaiming Hashem and living happily ever after. But it’s not a movie.

Yiftach only agrees to go if they agree to make him their leader. Yiftach is not at all magnanimous. He throws back at them their rejection of him. He demands they make him their leader. As well he doesn’t fight and wipe out Ammon right away. He engages them in attempted peace negotiations. Back and forth and back and forth… with an extended history lesson of this story  of our battles in this weeks, Edom, Sichon and Ammon from our Torah portion and at first glance perhaps even the reason for the choice of haftorah. Even in this drasha he talks about how their god “kamosh” gave them their land and Hashem gave us ours.. Really very strange. The haftorah concludes without one of the strangest and maybe even most tragic of stories how Yiftach makes a vow that the next thing to walk out of his door he promises to Hashem as a sacrifice. The haftorah doesn’t tell us that the end of that story was that his daughter was who came out. As you can see this leader is different than the Shmuel and Shaul. What’s the story here?
Haftoras are connected not just to one story in the parsha but to the whole parsha. This parsha which is Chukat and begins with the mysterious and even unexplainable purification process for one who has come in contact with the dead through the ashes of the red heifer. The torah portion as well can be described as the transition of leadership and the nation-shattering consequences of that. Miriam dies, there is no water, Aharon dies and we are attacked by Canaan. Moshe loses his right to lead the nation the people complain about the manna and are beset by plague. I believe that is what the haftorah as well wants us to focus on.

Our sages tell us that Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation. Each generation will never have the leaders that are the same level as other generations. We get what we need. They may not be as learned, they may not be as holy, but they are what is right for us. They may even be as unlikely as Yiftach but they are our leaders as much as Shmuel was. But how can that be? Zot chukat hatorah- these are the inexplicable laws of the Torah. The pure becomes impure and the impure becomes pure. If we can’t get over that and we don’t’ establish the next leader and just obsess and bemoan what we lost then it can lead to even greater tragedy. As it does in our parsha.
What does that mean for us today? We have lost many great leaders, there are almost none that are like the previous generation. How do we move on? Shmuel b’doro kYiftach b’doro. Discuss…

Yiftach HaGiladi (982-976 BC)-  The meaning of Yiftach-iel is “Hashem opens”. He was born in the land of Gilead. Yiftach’s mother was referred to as a harlot. His father was called Gilead and his stepbrothers ostracized him, and did not provide him with any share any of the inheritance left from their father. He therefore moved away to the land of Tob. He was an Israelite military leader. He became known as a mighty warrior who was a skilled and daring fighter. His mobilized a resistance and led a counter offensive defeating the Ammonites of Trans-Jordan. He made a promise with Hashem that if he were to win the war he would sacrifice to Hashem the first living thing that came out from his gates when he came home. Unfortunately his only daughter, Seila came out dancing and singing with tambourines and ribbons to welcome home her victorious father and as a fulfillment of a vow he sacrificed her. Yiftach’s life ended tragically he wasn’t buried but his limbs would fall from his body and were scattered around the land of Israel.


Jewish birthrate- 1522-1312 BC-  Perhaps one of the greatest miracles of our history in the Jewish capacity to rebuild from the ashes, to bring life and light from the darkness and death of oppression. This power finds itself first in our exile in Egypt where the Torah tells us that as the Egyptians persecuted us so we grew and flourished. As they killed our babies we were fruitful, multiplied and our nation grew. If one calculates the math we came down with 70 people to Egypt and we left 210 years later with a few million (men alone between the ages 20-60 were 600,000). If one assumes that this was four of five generations that would only be possible if each family had 20 -30 kids a piece per generation. Our sages note this and suggest that each family gave birth to sextuplets each time they gave birth. Pretty wild. But this is the promise Hashem made and it is really the only way the math would work out. To translate that into modern times. The Jewish population before WWII was about 17 Million and 6 million were lost in the holocaust 70 years later we are about 14 million and about 17 million if you count those that identify as Jewish despite not being halachically Jewish. This means that we have over 70 years not even grown by 50 percent. This could be because of assimilation and low birthrates.
On the other hand the Orthodox Jewish world which was one about 7 to 8 percent of the Jewish population is close to 20% for the under 18 demographic. They are having lots and lots of kids.
Now in modern Israel we also see this blessing and miracle. 1850 there were 15,000 Jews in Israel by 1948 there were 600,000 . Remember that number? Yup the same amount that left Egypt 3000 years before. The 600k finally made it home. Today we are at 6. Million. Yup, the more they persecute us the more we grow!

Now where in Israel can one speak and learn about this great miracle? Well there is the promise of Avraham that we will be like the stars of heaven and there is no better place to see those stars then in Mitzpeh Ramon in the heart of the Negev. Without any electricity around the great sky open in front of you it is truly magnificent. As well, I always enjoy driving with my tourists through Meah Shearim and religious neighborhoods and see the multitudes of cute little yerushalmi children with their payot and the little girls with pigtails running around. This is the blessing of Hashem, this is the miracle of our country.

As well another form of tourism that I am not involved in is the fertility tourism. The State of Israel not only has child subsidies for each child born, as well as even savings plans for them, it is also the only country funds fertility treatments even for women 45 years of age that have children already but want more. Last year alone there 37,000 children born here from those treatments. So there many Jews that can’t afford these treatments in other countries and their insurance will deny them, as they are at risk. Not here, by the law you can’t be denied. So there are some that make Aliya just for that. As well there are many great infertility organizations that will happily give you a tour of their organizations (generally a donation is expected) and explain their holy work, like A Time, the Puah institute and Boney Olam that offer counseling, support and even funding when necessary. Yes Israel is a miraculous country and all you have to do is come here to see the miracles that once happened still happening as we have returned home.


Sam picked up his wife Becky and their new baby from the hospital and brought them home. It was not long before Becky suggested that Sam try his hand at changing a diaper.
"I'm busy," he said. "I promise I'll do the next one."
The next time soon came around, so Becky asked him again.
Sam looked at Becky and said innocently,
"I didn't mean the next diaper, I meant the next baby." 

Yitzhak and Melvyn live in a retirement home. One day, as they are sitting on a bench under a tree, Yitzhak turns to Melvyn and says, "Melvyn, I'm 85 years old and I'm full of aches and pains. You're about my age. How do you feel?"
Melvyn replies, "I feel just like a new-born baby."
"Really? Like a baby?"
"Yes," replies Melvyn, "no hair, no teeth and I can hardly walk."

Abe was in a bind he never missed his morning prayers and here he was delayed on a flight sitting on the tarmac. He had pushed off praying hoping that he would make it to his synagogue to pray in time and now when they finally opened up the gate it was too late to make it there. So he runs off the plane to the chapel, not realizing that it was in fact a church group there in session.  He makes his way to the corner takes out the tallis and teffil in and dresses himself, and proceeds to pray.
The Priest comes in and wants to start the Services. He stands up and says," Will all non-Catholics please leave." Little Abe goes right on davening."
Next request, again, "Will all non-Catholics please leave."
Finally, the Priest gets up and says, "Will ALL JEWS please leave."
At this Abe gets up folds his tallis and teffilin  and packs it away. Then Abe goes to the altar and picks up a statue of the baby icon there and says, "Come bubbela they don't want us here anymore." 

Sadie went to her doctor for a check up. Afterwards, the doctor said to her, "I must inform you that you have a fissure in your uterus, and if you ever have a baby it would be a miracle."
As soon as she got home, SAdie said to her husband, "You vouldn't belief it. I vent to the doctah and he told me - 'You haf a fish in your uterus and if you haf a baby it vill be a mackerel'"

She was a new nurse in the maternity ward in Israel, not aware of the miraculous births that take place here. As she entered the first room she saw a new mother with 4 newborn babies lying next to her in their hospital bassinets. “Wow” she said “are all of these yours?” “Yes” said the new mother. “I just had quadruplets last night, but actually…” she said “that’s quite common.  You see, I come from the city of Kiryat Arba (the Israeli community translated as “village of four) and a lot of my friends have four children.”

Pretty amazing” the nurse thought as she went to the next room. Much to her surprise the next patient was lying down with 7 little infants around her.“Are these all yours?” she again asked in shock. “Certainly” the proud mom exclaimed, “I’m from Be’er Sheva (the well of seven) and many of us have septuplets”. The next room had a mother from the city of Kiryat Shmona (the city of eight) and sure enough 8 adorable little babies were pleasantly cooing around the mother’s bed. When the nurse came to the next room though, she immediately turned around and started running out of the hospital. On her way out the doctors asked her where she was going. With a sign of total resignation the poor lady said “I quit! There’s no way I am going in the next room”. “Why? What’s the matter?” the doctor said. “Don’t you know,” the exasperated and clearly overwhelmed nurse responded. “The lady in the last room is from Meah Shearim (the city of 100 measures)!!!

Answer is C– I confess Geology was one of my weaker topic in the tour guiding program. Especially the different “prehistoric” periods certainly didn’t gather much of my interest. It wasn’t anything that I thought my tourists would care much about as well. That being said I still got this question right, because it was easy if you just know a bit of latin. Paleo means old, lithic means stone. Neo is new. Holo means the whole and of course calcolithic is the copper era which is a metal and the period according to scientific dating that would precede briyas ha’olam which is the bronze period. I kind of start my tours from bereishit not before so as I said didn’t interest me much.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

If I Were a Rich Man- Parshat Korach 2018 / 5778

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
July 16th 2018 -Volume 8 Issue 34 3rd Tamuz 5778

Parshat Korach

If I Were a Rich Man

My daughter is an “einekel”- a descendant of the Shlah Hakadosh, that great 17th century sage Rebbi Yeshaya HaLevi Horowitz. All my children are in fact, as my wife’s great-grandmother is a Porush and they trace their roots back to this great Rabbi originally of Prague who served there as a Rav and in Frankfort before moving to Israel He made Aliya when he was 64 years old. He didn’t get a free plane ticket, no sal klita- absorption package from the non-welcoming Turks that were ruling the land. He traveled by boat, camel, donkey and wagon and was almost attacked by pirates.  He was robbed and even kidnapped and ransomed after coming here. He left his children, his students and well–paying congregation behind. He wrote his monumental work along the way the Shney Luchot HaBrit –which became the acronym  of the name Shla that he was called. He wrote the book as a will for his children that ultimately became a seminal work of Jewish thought, law, ethics Torah commentary and even mysticism. He is one of only a handful of people that had the title “HaKadosh-the holy one” added on to their name. And yet with all that being said I never mentioned that little piece of illustrious lineage on my daughter’s “shidduch resume”  that essential life’s accomplishment CV that is sent to matchmakers when your daughter “becomes of age” in the 21st century Orthodox Jewish world.

Now back in the day when I was dating they didn’t have shidduch resumes. There wasn’t a shidduch crisis either… I had to work hard to get a date, not like these young shnooks getting off the plane from Israel that have lines of girls and lists waiting for them because they can learn really good. Maybe the two are connected. The shidduch resume thing and crisis, I mean. Not the learning and getting your name on a list and somehow that making you a desirable husband material thing. But what do I know?  Anyways, when it was my daughter’s turn I didn’t mention that she was descendant of the Shlah Truth is my wife never mentioned when I was dating her either. It wasn’t until afterwards that I understood why.

Now although I haven’t seen this written anywhere (and I have searched), one of the other “family” members one time mentioned to me that the Shlah stated in his will that he when he dies he will go up to heaven and pray that none of his descendants will ever suffer from that terrible challenge and test in life of…being wealthy. Now for some reason there are those that think that having a few extra bucks or more would be a good thing. Many of them might have wanted to date my daughter. So I left that little nugget out of her resume. But not the saintly Shlah, he saw it as the worst possible trial anyone could ever have. In fact in the famous prayer he composed for parents to recite for their children, that those who visit his grave in Tiverya, as well as thousands recite around the world on the day before the new month of Sivan,  he states that
“Hashem should grant each individual amongst my descendants enough for what they are lacking in an honorable fashion.”

Now I think that when most of pray we ask Hashem for a good livelihood, for money to “put away” to live “comfortably” if not even a bit better. That wasn’t his prayer. His prayer was his children should have enough to cover them for the things they are lacking. He didn’t pray that we shouldn’t be lacking. Lacking is good. Poverty is good as well. Just “making it’ is the best and most we should pray for our children. He must be praying pretty hard up there for his descendants because it’s working... I can tell you from experience. Check my bank account.

I think about his legacy this week as we read Parshat Korach and I heard a great class from Rabbi Daniel Glatstien (Kudos to my brother Gedalia’s WhatsApp group with the weekly amazing shiurim he sends out) on this week’s Torah portion on the topic. See, this week we read the portion of Korach. Korach, the quintessential baal machlokes- rabble rouser, rebelled against Moshe and Aharon with the goal of receiving the right to the kehuna-the priesthood. What was it that drew him to this fight, the Shach al Hatorah asks? He explains that we are told that Korach failed perhaps what is the greatest test of all. The nisayon of osher- wealth. See the Talmud tells us that that Korach was one of the wealthiest people ever.

Pesachim (119.) Rabbi Chama says that there were three treasures that were hidden by Yosef (from the wealth that he gathered from Egypt) Korach revealed a third, Antoninus of Rome revealed a third and the last third is put away for the righteous.

Now Yosef seemingly got this money when all of the world came to buy food from Egypt. Although it says he collected “all of the money” of Egypt, the Shach notes that it only says he brought “the money” to the house of Pharaoh. He took a fair share for the Jewish people that he knew would ultimately be enslaved by Egypt and would be entitled to it. One could say it was the first “pyramid scheme”. Ouch! (His joke not mine). When we left Egypt Hashem told the Jews to take the money of Egypt, which they dutifully obliged. However the real cache was hidden. Korach uncovered it. He kept his fine share. How much did he keep? How rich was he…? If you are asking that question, then you can be assured of your Jewish heritage J. We like to count OPM (if you know that means other people’s money then you are really an MOT- member of the tribe). The Talmud continues and tells us

(ibid) Reb Levi says he had the load of 300 white donkeys that carried – are you ready for this…?- the keys to the storage houses- and if that wasn’t enough for you..- and the keys and locks were made out leather!

How’s that for rich? 300 donkeys just to carry the leather keys? Can you imagine how much money he had?  

Now the truth is that Korach was really not entitled to that money. See the tribe of Levi never slaved in Egypt. They got the yeshiva-guy exemption that even the Egyptians thought was a good thing. No contemporary political insinuations intended of course… So Korach got his money illicitly and there is really nothing worse than someone who not only has money but didn’t earn it the good old fashioned way. So the Shach tells us that when he saw that Aharon the brother of Moshe was being elevated by the people, as is the Jewish law that the Kohen Gadol is meant to be given gifts in order that he be prestigious in the eyes of the people as their representative to Hashem, he was jealous. He was already rich. Why give this job to the poor brother of Moshe and make him rich? He trusted his money and didn’t trust Hashem and Moshe.

The Midrash in Megilla tells us as well that there were two wealthy people and their wealth was their downfall. One Jewish one and one non-Jewish one. The yid was Korach the non- Jewish one was none other than Haman. He also had it all. Everything except of course one Jew named Mordechai that wasn’t too impressed or awed by the wealth and power of Haman. Haman ended up 50 Amos above ground hanging by a rope he made himself.  Korach went the other direction. Swallowed up by the earth that he thought he possessed all of. The common denominator between the two of them the Shach suggests is that their wealth deluded them.  They thought money buys everything. Money is power. Money is strength. Money is happiness. Money brings prestige and privilege when in fact all it brings is false pride. It is the rope that can hang you and it is the earth that can swallow you up.

The Sefat Emet notes that the reason why we were exiled from Israel the Torah warns us at the end of the tochacha- rebuke of Moshe is

Devarim (28:47) because you have not served Hashem with happiness and goodness of heart when you had an abundance of everything.

The exile comes he writes is because we failed the challenge of austerity. We were meant to be happy with the money. The money and wealth should have driven us to appreciate Hashem, to use it for good. That is the challenge of it.  It’s not easy though and we failed.  We forgot Hashem. We try to make more and more. We feel we need more and more. As our income grows so does our pursuit for even more. Our expenses grow. Our “quality of life” costs more. We can’t be happy because we can’t keep up. We can’t thank Hashem fully and appreciate His goodness because we are busy asking Him for more. We don’t have the happiness and goodness of heart that we are meant to and that is why we are exiled.

It is a much harder challenge then poverty. Look at our history. When Jews were down-trodden, when we didn’t have a dry potato peel to put on our table, when flayshigs for dinner was something that was special for Shabbos and even then it was chicken. Meat was a Yom Tov delicacy. In what the Sefat Emet would call the “good old days”. We followed the Torah. We prayed like we meant it. We used our extra time not making an extra buck, but studying the holy books. The eras of prosperity generally led to assimilation, an abandonment of the commandments and traditions of our ancestors. We exchanged the habits of highly spiritual people for the habits of the highly effective people. And at the end of the day we lost millions in the process. Millions of precious souls exchanged for the millions of dollars whose siren call we couldn’t ignore. And what did it get us?

My Rebbi once noted to me that the Mishna in Avot tells us
(2:7) Marbeh nechasim-marbeh daagah- he who increases his possessions increases worry.
It doesn’t say that one increases possessions and worry. Rather all one gets with more money, more possessions is da’aga. Worry, ulcers, frustrations, fears about keeping it all, anxiety about your status, how you’re viewed, your relationships, and responsibilities.

 I really don’t envy them. Kollel guys don’t have those ulcers. They’re generally happy. Tour Guides too, even the ones that are married to descendants of the Shla. So maybe it’s a good thing he’s praying up there. Maybe even we should start praying that as well. I don’t think we should pray for poverty but perhaps that Hashem should protect us from the challenge of wealth. That we have what we need. And for those of you readers that have that challenge, that don’t have the Shla plugging for them upstairs. May Hashem give you the strength to persevere. To keep doing the good that I’m sure you are doing. And the joy and fulfillment and closeness to Hashem that your particular test doesn’t engender naturally. I’m rooting for you. Klal Yisrael is rooting for you. And by the way did I mention I need a sponsor for my weekly E-mail next week J.

Have a rich Shabbos
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Faran dareh gvirim un fetteh oremeleit.” – There are often lean rich men and fat poor men

answer below at end of Email
Q. A river which was נוקה cleaned and became a tour site:
a. Nahal Alexander
b. Nahal Yagur
c. Nahal Kidron
d. Nahal David


https://youtu.be/wzjwTWxHE_o - Awesome! The Musical Ross family all welcome in Shabbos with a bunch of golden oldies

https://youtu.be/9TMD_DI0fPk  - Micha Gammerman a nice Boi Kallah arranged by Yitz Berry and Eli Klein!

https://youtu.be/4wU8pCAVFdw - The man behind Artscroll- Upon the first Yartzeit of Reb Meir Zlotowitz Z”L and release of book.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3zKyTgfG5wSammy Davis Jr. as Tevye?!


Parshat Korach Ok so this week it’s a bit scary the timeliness of the haftora reading to our daily events. See in Israel this week the big news, at least for tour guides is that it was raining. No rain in June is certainly bizzare. In May it’s out of place fuggedabout June. Our rainy season is November to March. Sukkos to Pesach. But this wasn’t just a rain, it was flooding in Ashkelon and Sderot. It broke records. Weird, right? Then I open the haftorah this week and guess what it talks about the prophet Shmuel and the unseasonal rain he brings upon the Jewish people to show Hashem’s disapproval with their request for a King.
Shmuel I (11:16) also now stand and see this great thing which Hashem will do before your eyes. Is it not the wheat cutting season today? I will call to Hashem and He will give loud noise and rain and you shall know that your wickedness is great in the eyes of Hashem in requesting a King. And Shmuel called out to Hashem and Hashem gave noise and rain on that day and the people were very fearful of Hashem and Shmuel.
Now tell me that’s not timely and scary. Now we are not having elections yet, as far as I know , although in this country ya’nevva know what tomorrow may bring. So I don’t think we’re looking to get a new king here. But the message of Shmuel is really echoing the message of the parsha, which as we know is always the point of the haftorah. Korach riled up the people because he wanted the Jewish people to be led more like a democracy. “We are all holy”. Why should Moshe and Aharon rule over the rest of us. They want to be like everyone else. As well the Jews in the times of Shaul and Shmuel wanted a King to be like every other nation. Enough with this theocracy. Let’s divide “church” and state. Sounds nice. But it isn’t. See their intent in both cases was to further their own personal good. To influence the susceptible elected officials. Pay to Play. Once Moshe or Shmuel are out of the picture, everything can go. We’ll have our guy in the Knesset. That was a problem So Moshe had the ground swallow them up. Shmuel scared them with some unseasonal rain. And all was good. We got the message. Follow the law, the rabbis, the spiritual leaders, don’t work the system. It’s raining in June in Israel, let’s hope the ground doesn’t open up and learn the lesson now!

Shaul (884 BC)-  The Talmud tells us that Shaul was perfect without any sin. Head and shoulders literally above all his peers. He was a fierce warrior and a true hero of the Jewish people. Perhaps even more significantly Shaul does not tell anyone that he is King. He is not looking for power or to rule. This humility is certainly noteworthy however at the same time it seems to be his flaw, as he does not ultimately fill his role. He is king for a mere two years. He leads battles and has a troubled Kingship. But he will always remain the first King of Israel.


Miriam and Tzippora- 1270 BC-  If I were to ask you where the Matriarchs are buried, so being avid readers of this column, or in general people who have read the Torah, or visited Israel I’m sure would all answer in Chevron. In a place called the Cave of our Patriarchs or Matriarchs or Mearat Hamachpela purchased by Avraham Avinu. Yet if one comes to the city of Tiverya and travels to the top of the city (about a few blocks above Rabbi Akiva) one would find another grave and memorial for the graves of the matriarchs as well. These are however other Matriarchs. These are Bilha and Zilpa who were incidentally the mothers of a 1/3 of the tribes of Israel. But the older tradition is that this is the grave site of Miriam, Moshe’s sister, Yocheved, his mother and Tzippora his wife. Along with them are also Elisheva the wife of Aharon and Avigayil the wife of King David. Now this tradition at least about the “women” of Moshe goes back to testimonies from students of the Ramban that describe being here and visiting them about 800 years or so ago. Far before the Ari”ZL who identified many of the graves in Israel.

The strange thing of course though is that the Torah tells us that Miriam at least was buried in the wilderness in Kadesh which would be in Midbar Tzin not far from Sdei Boker where from the grave of Ben Gurion you have a beautiful overlook. How she got here, or if they buried her temporarily and then brought her here, I can’t tell you. I can only remind you that we do not pray to dead people but we connect to the Tzadikim and their inspiration. It is certainly appropriate therefor that Tiverya which is the city of “water” for Israel should be connected with Miriam in whose merit the Jews drank water from the miracle rock/well that traveled with them through the Midbar and is believed to have sunk in the Kinneret. These two women, Yocheved and Miriam, as well rescued Jewish children from being drowned in the nile as they were the midwives Shifra and Puah. As far the connection with the other righteous women I can’t tell you. It’s tradition!


Just before the class took their final math exams, their teacher asked them the following problem to test how well they would do in the real exam: -
"A rich man dies and leaves $240,000,000 in his Will. One-third is to go to his wife; one-fifth is to go to his son; one-sixth to his chauffeur; one eighth to his secretary; and the rest to charity. Now, what does each get?"
After a long silence in the classroom, Saul raised his hand.
"Yes, Saul," said the teacher.
"A good lawyer!" he replied. 

A Catholic, a Protestant, a Muslim and a Jew were in a discussion during a dinner.
Catholic: "I have a large fortune....I am going to buy Citibank!"
Protestant: "I am very wealthy and will buy General Motors!"
Muslim: "I am a fabulously rich prince.... I intend to purchase Microsoft!" 
They then all wait for the Jew to speak....
The Jew stirs his coffee, places the spoon neatly on the table, takes a sip of his coffee, looks at them, and casually says, "I'm not selling”

Moishe started his very own business, which almost immediately began to prosper. He was soon a very rich man. One day, his bank manager called him and said, "Moishe, I have a query on one of your recent checks. Could you confirm it is one of yours? For years, you've been signing all checks with two X's but this one is signed with three X's. Is it yours?" 
Moishe replied, "Yes, it is. Since I've become so wealthy, my wife thought I ought to have a middle name."  

A poor Jew finds a wallet with $700 in it. At his shul, he reads a notice stating that a wealthy Jew has lost his wallet and is offering a $50 reward to anyone who returns it. Quickly he locates the owner and gives him the wallet.
The rich man counts the money and says, "I see you have already taken your reward."
The poor man responds, "What are you talking about?"
The wealthy Jew continues, "This wallet had $750 in it when I lost it."
The two men begin arguing, and eventually they come before the Rabbi.
Both men present their case. The poor man first, then the wealthy man who concludes by saying, "Rabbi, I trust you believe me."
The Rabbi says, "Of course." The rich man smiles, and the poor man is devastated. Then the Rabbi takes the wallet out of the wealthy man's hands and gives it to the poor man who found it.
"What are you doing?" the rich man yells angrily.
The Rabbi responds, "You are, of course, an honest man, and if you say that your missing wallet had $750 in it, I'm sure it did. But if the man who found this wallet is a liar and a thief, he wouldn't have returned it at all. Which means that this wallet must belong to somebody else. If that man steps forward, he'll get the money. Otherwise, it stays with the man who found it."
"What about my money?"
the rich man asks.
"Well, we'll just have to wait until somebody finds a wallet with $750 in it!"

Izzy and Howie were brothers who had lived and worked in the Bronx all their lives. Unfortunately, nothing good could be said about them - they ran a crooked business, they womanized, they lied and they cheated the poor. But they were also very, very wealthy.
When Izzy died, Howie went to Rabbi Bloom and said, "I will donate to the shul one hundred thousand dollars if you will say at the funeral that my brother Izzy was a mensch."
The Rabbi thought long and hard but eventually agreed.
At the funeral, the Rabbi told everyone present of Izzy’s wrong doings. He didn’t hold anything back. He let everyone know that this was not someone they should be emulating. He then closed his book and concluded with the sentence "But, compared to his brother Howie, Izzy was a mensch!"

Answer is A– I got this one right as well! Not that I have taken tourists to Nachal Alexander, this small stream on the coast line at the top of the West Bank and Northern coastline. As it gets its water from Nachal Shechem and much of the West Bank it became very polluted over time. In 1996 they began cleaning it up and in 2003 it won the Australian River Prize for the most cleaned up river. The one thing that is nice to bring people to see there are the soft shelled turtles which are an endangered species that are being preserved there as well. That is if you like turtles. By the way the other answers. Kidron is one of the most polluted nachals. David is probably one of the most hiked and we get lots of our water from there. Both of those are in the Dead Sea area. Yagur is near Har HaCarmel not too far from Alexander, but not polluted from what I know.