Karmiel

Karmiel
Our view of the Galile

Friday, March 20, 2015

Post-Bechirot/Elections Analysis- Vayikra 2015

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

March 20th 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 21 -29th Adar 5775
Parshas Va'Yikra/ HaChodesh
Post Bechirot/Elections Analysis

It’s over thank God. And not soon enough if you ask me. After two months of electioneering, endless phone calls, unsolicited text messages, and being accosted by signs, teen-agers and bumper stickers wherever I have gone, I pretty much have had enough of Israeli politics to last me for a long time. It’s a shame that they can’t seem to keep a government for more than two years here without it falling apart. At least my friend who works in the sign publishing company is happy. On the other hand, with a seemingly endless supply of corrupt and self-interested motivated politicians with none of them really with the power or guts to do what needs to be done here without selling out to either other local coalition parties or foreign influences and fear tactics. It seems that this process and vicious cycle will continue until Mashiach comes… or I run for office. At least it’s over for now I hope…pray… One good thing that has come out is that at least my prayers three times a day for Hashem to return us to the leaders and judges of old and to restore us to the Temple and Jerusalem have been stronger during these past weeks.

But of course even when it’s over its not really over. There are all the post-election analyses. If he wouldn’t of run, had we responded better, if only we would’ve promised this, lied more about that, paid off more thems and campaigned harder in the cemeteries (This year it seems that many of the dad were the largest voting bloc), or had more rabbis praying more days at more graves in Uman or offering more blessings and curses, than we would’ve done better. I have a bit of my own post-election analysis although that of course is not what this E-Mail is about, despite the title. We pretty much had a right-wing government before and will have one again after the only change perhaps is that the “religious” parties regardless if they will be a part of the Government or not lost about 4 or 5 seats because they could not all get along and all the infighting and the Arab parties gained about 4 or 5 seats because they all united. How pathetic is that... Not much need for anymore commentary, I say.

I always like to read the Parsha with current events in mind. Not always international or Global events but even my personal ones like in-grown toenails and bunny rabbits hopping around my house. Maybe that’s why you like reading them as well. It’s interesting people asked me who I would vote for and I answered tongue in cheek that Ani Bocher LMi Shebachar Bi- I voted, or chose, He who chose me. Asher Bachar Banu Mikol Ha’Amim- Hashem chose us from all other nations. He chose me, so I choose or vote for Him. (Although, I did vote for a party as well-parties unlike elections are a good thingJ). The word Bechirot which in Hebrew means elections also means choices. Perhaps one of the fundamental concepts of Judaism is the notion of Bechira Chofshi- Free will. What separates mankind from the all of the other Creations is idea that we are created in the image of Hashem. Not image in that we look like God. Hashem doesn't look like me or anyone else. Rather, our great Jewish philosophers explain, that just as Hashem has the ability to choose, and to create and to effect change in the world based on those choices, He has given us that power as well. We have total free-will to make choices and those decisions ultimately will determine what our fate will be. That’s a pretty powerful idea, and one that even today many may not agree with.

There are psychologists that debate whether all our decisions are based on either nature or nurture. Those two choices pretty much say we are either born or ingrained by our upbringing with a certain nature, predilection or tendency and therefore we are pre-programmed for the decisions we will make. That pretty much would wipe out the notion of free-will if it was true and certainly excuse a lot of terrorists, ghetto youth or spoiled rich kids for their behavior. Judaism does not deny that each of us are born and raised and possibly even programmed with a whole set of personality challenges and with inclinations that will confront us in our lives. Yet, it in no way ultimately excuses our behaviors for not overcoming those challenges. Perhaps even more than the fact that it doesn't excuse our “mistakes” and misdeeds, it challenges to utilize those failures to grow even more, even higher, from them. Nature or nurture is a question of why I am, Judaism is far more concerned with who will I be? The answer to that question for every single human being, in that you will be as great as the choices you make when you exert that spark of godliness, that image of God within you. You can be limitless, just as He is, or you can be as small and as finite as a pile of clay without any breath of life blown into it. The choice to choose or not is yours.

This week we begin the third book of the Torah. The Book of Vayikra is unique in that there is almost narratives in the book. It’s laws and descriptions of that relate to the Temple for the large part. Sacrifices, Purity, agricultural laws all the things that always excited you when you started learning Torah. Right? OK maybe not so much. Yet fascinating enough our sages tell us this book is the one that little children should first start learning when they start to study. Yup. Not the story of Creation, or the cool plagues in Egypt, or even the story of giving of the Torah in Sinai. Start with sacrifices. Kids love that kind of stuff. Slaughtered birds, and cows and sheeps and all types of leprosy and blemishes. This is where you should start learning with them from. Which begs the deep and penetrating question. Huhhh???
The answer our sages tell us is “Since the korbanot (sacrifices) are pure and the children are pure, let the pure come and deal with the pure." 
I think this might even be more troubling for people. I mean, they’re pure they’re innocent. You want to buy them a goldfish, puppy hamster or bunny rabbit (although I advise against the latter), not slaughter them a sheep or goat…and skin…and gut and roast and then even eat them. As my phone app say whatsapp? The answer I believe is that perhaps one of the most fundamental lessons we can teach children and that they still grasp in their purest of states, before they start seeing Disney films of talking animals or reading Grimms fairy tales, is that we are not animals. We are different we have souls. We can make decisions, develop meaningful relationships, show appreciation. We are meant not only to contemplate our existence, but to develop our futures and elevate the world to an existence that knows its Creator and the soul that lies in each of us. The pure get this. The pure can appreciate that. The pure should learn the Book of the pure.

What are Sacrifices? Sacrifices, make one basic statement. My choices and actions have meaning. Every choice I make is an eternal life decision. I see an animal be offered up and I’m impacted by watching its life go out of it and its being brought to Hashem, and think that it is in place of me. Its what happens to me if I do not change my ways. Poof…smoke. I’m just a dead animal. When one has something significant in one’s life recognize it comes from Hashem, who is watching over us bring a thanksgiving or a peace offering. The pure get this. As we age we think we accomplish everything on or own. The only thing we can accomplish though is our choices. Our Bechirot…

Vayikra is the all about post-bechirot analysis that all of us are meant to make in our lives. The important choices that we make are not in the ballot boxes, rather they are in our day to day lives; our hour to hour and minute to minutes. Did my thoughts and actions bring more Godliness into the world?  In to my life? Did the way I treat my community, my neighbors, my family elevate me and express a Godly soul. The Temple of Hashem, may it soon be rebuilt, is and will be the place for those analysis. Even more significant is that it will be the place where I can re-cast my vote and my choices and rectify perhaps the wasted votes I may have had. The pundits and the polls got it right. Every vote counts. Every vote for Hashem, every act that we do unlike the Knesset or US elections actually change the world. (Unless of course, you’re of the opinion that voting in elections is also a mitzvah than it would be as well-see quote of the week below). We celebrate the new month of Nissan this coming Shabbos. Our sages tell us that just as in Nissan we were once redeemed, the redemption will come once again in Nisan. That certainly is something our vote will definitely count for.
Have a peaceful and relaxing without a thought or worry about Pesach cleaning,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

Lego Pesach commercial funny

Here Comes Pesach Bluesc

New feature of the WEEK!!
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK

A shlekhter sholem iz beser vi a guter krig.
A bad peace is better than a good war.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE COW QUOTES  OF THE WEEK
"Last night Benjamin Netanyahu apparently defeated Barack Obama… and the Palestinians,”-John Stewart 
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
 Which of the following is an educational institution whose design was inspired by the Jerusalem Temple?
A.    The Hebrew University campus at Giv’at Ram
B.     The Haifa Technion
C.     The Mikve Yisrael Agricultural School
D.    The Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
The bird offering differed from the other animal sacrifices in that it was not slaughtered rather its neck was merely slit with the really long fingernail of the Kohen. The Chinuch explains this Mitzva as a lesson to teach you that the bird offering was brought in general by a poor person who could not afford a Cow, goat or sheep. One should act swiftly when taking care of the needs of a pauper and not delay him at all. Therefore the lengthier process of slaughtering is replaced with the quicker process of Melika. In addition the place on the neck did not need to be searched for. Think about that next time a poor person asks you for help. Hashem, overlooked details of slaughtering to hurry him back on the road to help him out. So should we…
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Participating in the Elections – Yeah, you can do this in whatever country you live in. But there’s nothing like Israeli elections. 74% voter turn-out means that 3 out of the 4 people on the bus have a strong enough opinion to actually get out and vote. (I think the US was 58% in the last elections). The other 24% probably also have strong opinions as to why they are not voting. In Israel, what makes it exciting is that there are so many different parties most of them probably not fully representing your opinion-after all you’re Jewish. Each party will pull out everything they can to get you to vote for them. Each one of them will spend time convincing you how your vote will make a difference and change the world. The truth is in Israel because of the system and the minimal thresholds and the per seat representation the votes actually do have more meaning and significance. The Elections here have the bad, the ugly and the really tragic, as it brings out all the divisiveness amongst our people. Yet as someone who tries to find the good in everything-and then tell his tourists and faithful readers about it. It is truly inspiring and moving how passionate Israelis are about trying to do their most to better the Jewish people and country-each in their own way. We are not apathetic. The Jewish people care and understand how much needs to be fixed and how important each of us are in being part of our future. Israel politics are like no other because it’s the future of the world. And that is cool…
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S ELECTION JOKE OF THE WEEK
The Israeli was sitting Shiva for his father and it was election day. He was torn on one hand he knew that while he was sitting Shiva he should not leave the house. On the other hand his Rabbis told him that it was mitzvah to vote. Not knowing what to do he went to take a nap and his father appeared to him in a dream and told him to vote. He objected telling his father that he was still sitting Shiva. His father responded “Listen a few hours ago, I voted-even check my ballot, If I could vote you can J.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FUNNY ANECDOTE OF THE WEEK
The Chazon Ish in the 1950’s gave a strong speech about how it was a mitzvah to vote in the upcoming elections. One of his students approached him after the speech and asked his Rebbe if the Rav felt that it was truly a mitzvah. When the Chazon Ish affirmed his decision, the student asked if this was a mitzvah just like eating Matza? The Chazon Ish responded “No, it is a mitzvah like eating Maror! JJ

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Answer is D:  The Alma Mata of none other than this past election loser Yair Lapid as well as former Prime Minister Moshe Sharret and Natan Alterman and many other famous early and modern Zionist leaders and politicians. It was built as the first “Hebrew” High School in Israel. Its prfessors included Ben Yehuda who established the modern Hebrew language. The design of the building was blasphemously meant to imitate the Beit Hamikdash of Shlomo in Jerusalem. This was a new temple for the new Jew “modern Jew”; one that would replace the Temple of old of Sacrifice with the vision of Theodore Herzl, a Temple of Knowledge, Science, Art and Culture. The design with the two pillars of Yachin UBoaz on the outside and the gateway like the Temple was meant to send that very message. The truth of the matter In the Technion in Haifa as well blueprints were submitted for that design and the Hebrew U in Jerusalem as well in its choice of location on Mt. Scopus overlooking the Temple Mount. On the dedication of the Hebrew U building Ushiskin was quoted as saying to Albert Einstien “Professor Einstein , Opposite this place you see Mount Moriah . Three thousand years ago one of the greatest leaders of our nation, King Solomon ,built a house of prayer to the God of the world , and when he inaugurated the house he prayed that this house will be a house of prayer for all nations. And we pray now, that this house, the Hebrew University, that we dedicate here on Mount Scopus, shall be a house of knowledge for all nations”
At least he prayed…


Friday, March 13, 2015

Israel Store-y Vayakhel /Pikudei / Parah 2015/5775

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

March 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 20 -22nd of Adar 5775
Parshas Va'Yakhel/Pikudei/Parah

Israel Store-y
 Being raised in America one gets used to a certain type of shopping experience Stores are there to serve you. Wal-Mart’s has its greeters with their little smiley stickers that cheerfully welcome you their store. The customer service desks are exactly that. There are refund policies. Social loyalty programs. It’s nice. We take it for granted. At least until you make Aliyah….

  Here in Israel the laws of the Shuk reign supreme. There are no prices on items. It’s not about how much it costs but how much you can pay. Convenience stores are generally inconvenient, opening and closing at their own whims and hours. Supermarkets expect you to bag your own items, pay for your shopping cart and buy what you need quick and get out of the way very fast, so that someone else can move along the line. Perhaps most frustrating to many is the tease you get when you call a company’s customer service line and are delighted to hear “Press 3 for English”, only to find out that it is really just a ploy to push you to the end of the line and delay your being answered another 10 minutes. Only then to be connected to an Israeli that doesn’t speak a word of English- although she could ask her friend who speaks Russian to help out.

 But on the other hand, and of course you knew I would ask you to look at the other hand there are many special things that you experience here in your shopping that you don’t get other places as well. Most stores will extend you credit if you are a little short. They’ll watch your kids while you run out for a second. Many times you can be lucky enough to catch a Minyan in your grocery store. It’s nice to see the man behind the counter learning a Jewish book, playing Jewish music or just even talking our ancient language.
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 Even more touching though, is that more often than not if they see you purchasing something they’ll recommend you buy a cheaper alternative or one on sale that may even be of a better quality. Many times I was even told don’t buy it today wait until tomorrow the prices are going down. It’s funny, how Israelis respond to you in this way. They aren’t –God forbid trying to offer you customer service- it’s just that their natural instinct of seeing you pay more than you should or being put in a bind for a silly reason overcomes their natural shuk instinct to take advantage of you. Whereas in America in general there is a concept of maintaining customer loyalty with good service excellent refund policies, and in general a helpful demeanor, here in Israel there is no long term vision or agenda about getting you to become a repeat customer; they feel that they’re doing you a favor selling to you in the first place. Rather the help and perks you get are more of a sincere family nature; they are more about one Jew helping another.

 I read a story this week that really encapsulates this attitude. There was an older Yerushalmi carpenter who struggled daily to build bookcases for a living in a neighborhood where people barely had money to put food on their tables. One day an older American retiree came into his shop and asked him if he would build him a living room shelving unit that was comparable to the nice ones that he used to have in America. After taking the elaborate order for this rather ostentatious unit the carpenter asked who he was purchasing it for. When the American informed him that he had recently moved to Israel and wanted to retire and live his last years here in Israel similarly to the way he did in the States. The carpenter refused to build it for him. Though he was desperate for the business, he couldn’t bring himself to complete the order.

 He explained to the would-be customer,
  “If a young couple comes to me and asks for a strong, sturdy, beautiful piece of furniture, I look at them and think that this young, happy couple is just starting out, with many years ahead of them. I am thus more than happy to build them the stuff of their dreams. But you are already older. You should know by now how temporary life is. How can you build yourself furniture like what you’re describing to me?”
  Customer service? Not so much. An incredible shopping and learning experience that you can’t get anywhere else? Definitely.

This story sheds light on perhaps the greatest lesson of this weeks Torah portion. We have spent so many weeks discussing the building of the Mishkan. Yet once again the Torah recounts for us in full detail the donations of all the particular materials that each Jew gave to the building campaign. What is perhaps most remarkable is that this building is only meant to be a temporary structure. It should have lasted for a mere few weeks until the Jews arrived in Israel and built their permanent Temple. Yet the outpouring of money and donations was unparalleled to any other campaign since then, The Torah tells us that there was enough money and even extra. Does it make sense that for such a temporary structure, there should be such a huge campaign? Even more perplexing is that this Mishkan was meant to be atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. Can it be that by merely donating money to the “synagogue coffers” the Jews can rectify perhaps the most grievous sin of all of Jewish history? How does one thing fix the sin of the other?

  The answer is that it was precisely the process of donating as much as they could for a temporary dwelling, that they were able to begin the process of undoing the roots of the problem of the Golden Calf. The Calf was created because the Jewish people took a long look at their future. How will we make it in the Wilderness without Moshe our guide and our leader? Who will provide for us? What will become of us down the road? We need a long term plan and the Golden Calf was created to provide and fill that role. What Hashem was telling the Jewish people was, don’t worry about the big picture. Rather you put your all into doing the right thing for the here and now. Build me a home that is temporary, with all that you can and I will reside in it. You need not fear or worry about what will come tomorrow. Your job is to make sure that everything is being done right and to the utmost for today.

 Interestingly enough, that “temporary” Mishkan and its vessels lasted longer than each of the Batei Mikdash Temples. The Tabernacle was with them their entire sojourn in the Wilderness. It was in Gilo, Shiloh and rebuilt in Nov and Givon and lasted about 480 years. The temporary merited longevity. The building that was donated with a mindset of doing the right thing in the here and now ended up being the place that they called the home of Hashem for the longest period of time.
 The lessons of that campaign 3000 years ago still ring true for us today. Are we focused on long term projects at the expense of missing out on opportunities to do chesed and achieve spiritual goals today? Are we too focused on our “permanent” homes in our temporary existence and forgetting our eternal lives and our connection to the transcendent? Maybe we spend too much time checking out prices and finding the best deals and worrying about how we’re being treated. The Israeli shopper is certainly not looking for the “shopping experience”.  They are more focused on the living experience. Maybe it is because the people here feel life and time are more fragile and precious. Perhaps it is the lessons engrained so long ago in psyche of that temporary Mishkan. We all have our “Golden Calf” weaknesses fears and projects that hold us back. That may be preventing us from contributing, from growing or from becoming as great as we could be. May Hashem give us the wisdom and strength of faith to let us move beyond them and create an Eternal life.

Have a Divine Bovine Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FUNNY  COW VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

Check out that tongue!

Smart Cows!

Dancing Cows!

New feature of the WEEK!!
RABBI SCHWARTZ’S FAVORITE YIDDISH PROVERB OF THE WEEK
While in the states I picked up a great book with yiidsh quotes and wisdom and I have always wanted to teach my kids Yiddish so here we go each week another great proverb in yiddish maybe you guys will learn it too!!

A beheyme hot a lange tsung un ken keyn brokhe nit zogn
 Even though a cow has a long tongue, it can’t recite a blessing.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE COW QUOTES  OF THE WEEK
"When a cow laughs, does milk come out her nose?”  ~Author Unknown 
"Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter.”  ~Dave Barry
“Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.”  ~Mark Twain

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
  Which of the following was the earliest Jewish neighborhood?
A.    Neve Tsedek
B.     Neve Shalom
C.     Ahuzat Bayit
D.    Kerem HaTeimanim
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
The Mishkan was completed be being built on the 25th of Kislev , The Midrash tells us, however that Hashem wanted it to be erected on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. However to make it up to Kislev, Hashem gave it the holiday of Chanukah instead. For almost three months, the midrash says Moshe would put it up and take it down. All of the scoffers made fun and said that moshe would never be able to bring the Shechina down. When the first of Nissan came everyone else tried to put it together, but were unsuccessful. Moshe finally came and merely touched the beams and wadda boom wadda bing it came together. Pretty amazin!

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Kibbutz experience – This is the only where real socialist societies still take place. Sure the Kibbutz movement is pretty defunct and mostly privatized, yet there are still many young teen-agers and young adults that come here and join the kibbutz pick bananas, oranges or take care of cattle. Most get pretty burnt out after a while and get back to their nice comfortable capitalist lifestyles. But its definitely a cool thing to do and experience. Work without getting paid having to share responsibilities, watching how group decisions take place and to a large degree a loss of privacy and autonomy for the group. It’s not an easy life but to a large degree its an interesting one, your needs are taken care of and you are part of a community and society for better and for worse. One thing si certain there’s really not too many other places in the world where you can try out this lifestyle and certainly none where you can do this at a shomer Shabbat place. For a taste of the ideologues that started this country a Kibbutz is certainly a place to get that feel.
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COW JOKES OF THE WEEK
“Why was the calf afraid? He was a cow-herd
Why wouldn’t anyone play with the little longhorn? He was too much of a bully!
What sound do you hear when you drop a bomb on a cow? Cowboom!
What would you hear at a cow concert? Moo-sic!
What’s a cow’s least moosical note? Beef-flat!
What do cows do for entertainment? They go to the mooooovies.
What do cows like to do at amoosement parks? Ride on the roller cowster
What kind of cows do you find in Alaska? Eski-moos!
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There were these two cows, chatting over the fence between their fields. The first cow said, "I tell you, this mad-cow-disease is really pretty scary. They say it is spreading fast; I heard it hit some cows down on the Johnson Farm." The other cow replies, "Hell, I ain't worried, it don't affect us ducks."
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Who’s old enough to get this one J?
There was a herd of cattle all standing on a hill when an earthquake struck. All of the cows fell down, but the bull remained standing. The farmer noticing this went out and asked the bull, "Why didn't you fall down like the rest of the herd. The bull replied, "We bulls wobble, but we don't fall down."
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And finally…
 Knock knock.
Who's there?
Cows go.
Cows go who?
No, silly. Cows go MOOOOOO!

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Answer is A:  First thing to do is figure out what these things have in common. Most of you if not all of you don’t know… That’s because you didn’t go to a tour guiding course like I did J or if you did you may have deleted that information. But anyways the above except for one are early neighborhoods outside of yaffo that led to and eventually became the development of Tel Aviv. Neve Tzedek was the first in 1887. It was established by religious Jews after the success of the neighborhoods that were built outside of Yerushalayim. Acutally called that after the verse in yirmiyahu (31:22) “ So Said Hashem god of Hosts, they will again say in the land of Yehuda and its cities, when I return their returnees. Hashem will bless his Neve Tzedek-His abode of Justice, the Holy mountain..”. The community was established to offer more affordable housing and fresh air for the returning immigrants as Yaffo was overstuffed within the walls. Rav Kook was first chief Rabbi there. The Teimanim came afterwards in early 1900’s from the Yemenite Aliya. And Ahuzat Bayit was the predecessor to Tel Aviv. Neve Shalom has nothing to do with the question, they’re just hoping you get confused between that neve tzedek but it also helped me figure out the right answer because I realized that they were trying to trick me although I wasn’t sure if tzedek or teimanim was first… cool!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Purim 2015- To Jew or not to Jew that is the..Top Ten List

Inslights and Perspiration
from the
 Holy Gland
from
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your tour-guide, Rabbi, mortgage broker, clothing sales shlepper and most importantly your friend in Karmiel"
March 4th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 18 -13th of Adar 5774
PURIM-OR THE DAY AFTER NETANYAHU’S ADRESS

To Jew or not to Jew that is the….Top Ten List

So I was in the States a few weeks ago, for those of you who have been bored enough to be following the life and times of Ephraim Schwartz which are covertly hidden in what a purports to be a weekly Torah E-Mail, in case your boss or wife-which in some cases is one and the same- is looking over your shoulder asking you why you’re not doing the jobs they asked you. “Oh I’m learning the Parsha” you say. Some of you even fool yourselves into thinking that the reading of my jokes and stories absolves you of your obligation to review the weekly portion. That only works if you read it twice with targum translation though. Anyways you faithful know that I was in the States, the rest of you shame on you!
While I was there it struck me how American everyone is there. Not the goyim, they were mostly Mexican and Russians, I mean the Jews. Everyone had their nice big comfortable American cars, or mini-vans and gas guzzling Suburbans with not a care that some of us here suffer with French made cars and American knockoffs that still have to pay 7 dollars a gallon for gas. There were like a million restaurants all American of course I mean Mexican, Italian, and Israeli American and of course your good old Kosher fast food BBQ joints all packed. Bagels, Bialys, Danishes and real doughnuts. Papers were all in English-although some of the chareidi ones could work on their English a bit (as if I’m one to talk...). There was American flags on people’s doors and bumper stickers, people were talking about American sports and politics shows and music. It was strange coming from our very Jewish country to see how acclimated and assimilated everyone seemed to be. It made me think about our history. The glatt kosher restaurants and newspapers our people had in Germany before the war, in Spain before the Inquisition in France before the Crusades. How French, Spanish and German our people must have felt. Like it was paradise to go on forever.

Truth is the same thing even happened before medieval times the times of the Temple, there were Jews felt more Greek than the Greeks and more Roman than the Romans. Till they started to burn our Temple and kill us that is. That always seems to put a damper on our attempts at assimilation. Each new society mind-bogglingly enough failed to learn from their predecessors and though that “this time it will be different”, “this place is better” and the always popular “Never Again!” 60-70 years of no one trying to kill us generally does that to us. Now Hashem knows that history was never our strong subject, he chose us for our good looks our chulent making skills and for some reason our chiropractically incurable stiff-necked-ness. He also knew about our proclivity for liking to eat big meals regularly. So instead of making us sit through history classes regularly he gave us holidays so that we would hopefully remember some of the fun events that happened over our 3000 year existence. Hey its spring time eat some cracker like substance over a big meal without bread and remember something about Egypt and slaves. Hey its winter let’s eat some oily pancakes and doughnuts and remember something about Greeks. It’s the heat of the summer let’s not eat and remember a Temple or two burnt by the Romans and Babylonians. This time of year we are told to eat a lot of candy and cake and drink ourselves into a stupor to remember the last established holiday while we were in exile in pre-nuclear Iran (thank you very much Mr. Netanyahu for reminding the US congress and boosting yourself in the polls too bad you’re not running in American elections. It sounds like you would be a shoo-in). We had a big party while we were assimilating there and then we were saved and most Jews decided that’s not too bad and decided to stay there for the entire second Temple period. Sadly they disappeared as most of our people have if the goyim don’t kill us and exile us fast enough. Sighhh…
I know, I know you’re sick of these anti-living-outside-of-Israel rants. As if Israel was like the only place Hashem promised the Jews should live or something. C’mon get a life. Where would Israel be without Jews in AIPAC paying off people in congress to clap when Netanyahu speaks? I know it’s getting old already. I mean I would probably hate reading me by now when I lived in America. Mashiach is not here yet. Israel is not perfect…not even close. So stay in America…enjoy the bagels. Just use me as tour guide when you come visit and bring some bags of clothing for my wife as well. But in order to help you exist in the United States of America and not assimilate I decided out of the goodness of my heart and burning in my chest (I just had meatballs for supper) to dedicate this year’s annual Top Ten List to give you a nice handy list to keep in your pocket at all times to remind you why it’s better to be a Jew than a Non-Jew. Now many of you, my precious readers, I know are very religious, despite the fact that many of you would find it easier to sacrifice your son on altar to Baal rather than move to Israel. Some of you go to the Mikva regularly and fool yourself that you’re now pure enough to last a lifetime albeit in what the Talmud calls the land of impurity. You’re not too worried about your children assimilating and leaving the path of Torah tradition because your Rabbi told you that that only happens to people who move to Israel when their kids are “the wrong ages” never in Lakewood, Boro Park or any other religious community in “God’s other promised land”. But who knows maybe they’re wrong. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have something worthwhile that you can hand to your children as you try to explain to them why it is worth giving up all the “wonderful things a true blue goyishe life can afford them, although it is not enough to that they should pick up their family ever and move to Israel for. So here it is my dear readers who have not yet unsubscribed…

RABBI SCHWARTZ’S TOP TEN REASONS WHY IT IS BETTER TO BE A JEW THAN NOT

10) Chulent. Yes, that wonderful food that no goy has ever been able to make and that most can’t even imagine eating. They can try making some type of bean stew, but they could never leave it cooking over night or over two nights as we in the Schwartz house like to put ours up on Thursday already so we can have chulent for breakfast Erev Shabbos. It is truly the gift that keeps giving and giving and giving until you have it again the next week. Yes chulent alone is a good enough reason to be Jewish

9) Jewish music- especially since I started composingJ. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy some goyishe music here and there. But there’s nothing like a good Jewish niggun to raise your soul. Or a kumzitz when twenty yeshiva guys who have had way too much chulent sit around in a small room with candle singing their hearts aflame like coyotes crooning to the moonlight. It’s really beautiful, goyim don’t do that. They just have the Karaoke thing and you have to be pretty drunk to do that.

8) Jewish dancing- kind of a continuation of the above. But goyim have all these complicated dances and moves and they’re pretty much trying to impress and feel up the opposing gender as much as possible in the process. It’s kind of like a mating call for them. Jewish dancing is all about the opposite of that, its about getting sweaty while shuffling around in a circle squished together next to someone who smells worse than you and then running around faster and faster until you have a cardiac arrest. Its really quite fun. The best is the guys that break loose from that tight death clamp of a circle to get to the middle and they flap and flail they’re hands and feet around as they look like they are having some type of horizontal epileptic attack. This is fun Jewish style. A non-Jew will never get too experience this.

7) Shnorrers/Jewish beggars- Non- Jews that can’t or won’t work go homeless. They sleep on street corners outside subway stations and heat themselves by the steam coming up from the manholes. Jews, even the ones that can work are never homeless, they just run around town in the morning from synagogue to synagogue harass people enough while they are praying until they pay them to go away and then they go back to their fancy homes and live another day. Along the way they enjoy some nice hot coffee and snacks that many synagogues provide. It’s a wonderful way of life for many. Gentiles don’t have that luxury. The nice part as well is that the Jews that give the charity feel good about it as well, because it’s a mitzvah in fact one that promises a return by Hashem Himself. So it’s a win-win all around.

6)  Jewish Geography-Two goyim meet in an airport one does not turn to the next one and say “Shalom Aleichem my name is Bob. What’s yours? Where are you from? Oh Atlanta, do you know Frank?” They each read their own newspapers and much on their trayf sandwiches. Not so our family. Every Jew knows someone, who knows someone that you must know. They want to tell you about that connection. And another one and another one. Jews never get stranded anywhere. Everyone knows someone somewhere that would have no problem putting him up for Shabbos. And worse comes to worst there’s always Chabad. Motel 6 is for gentiles. We always have the Shabbos lights on for you.

5) Israel- whether you live here or not, only Jews can experience the sense of coming home that occurs when one comes to the Holy Land surrounded by your people, your army, your holy and historic places. Greeks can go visit their “old country” Germans can enjoy a good knockwurst at their old German hangouts, but only Jews no matter where they’re from will feel their souls uplifted even as they are being ripped off at the shuk, or yelled at by a taxi driver. Just to have that sense even once in your life that your ancestors longed for for thousands of years is something that someone who is not a MOT will ever get.

4) Kosher- not that it tastes any better than non-kosher food. In fact many people that were not raised on kosher and then started a kosher lifestyle have told me that they still miss some of those creepy crawly bottom feeders or some good “other white meat”. I don’t mean kosher cuisine as well or Jewsuine I should say like Gefilte Fish, Kugel, Matzah Ball soup, lukshen, or schmaltz herring. Goyim can get that as well, although they probably won’t appreciate it much more than chulent. I mean the joy of knowing that everything you put in your mouth is GOD approved. It’s right for your soul. There is also nothing more exciting and exhilarating than being stuck out in some fardurbeneh place and as you look from aisle to aisle all of a sudden you come upon a jar of Manishevitz something or other or some Empire chicken or even a kosher restaurant. That is a pleasure that a non-Jew can never appreciate.
* true story- the Schwartz family was camping out in Zig Zag (that’s really its name) Oregon one summer and sure enough in the local grocery in this little hick town under the ethnic food section they had not only cans and jars of every imaginable kosher food from soup croutons to borsht but they even had boxes and boxes of hand made shmura matza, for a dollar a box! We’re probably the only family that came home with more food than we left with…J

3) Shabbos-Goyim have Sunday, they mow the lawn and fix their cars and go to the mall. Whoopee doo… We have Shabbos. We eat, pray, sleep eat some more, sleep some more and we sing with the family around the table a lot. We do this every single week. It’s heavenly. The truth is I really don’t do the sleep thing that much or very well anymore, certainly not during the week. I think I used up all my sleeping points in my high school and yeshiva years. But Shabbos comes around and I’m out like a light on the couch after our multi-course meal of a million salads, fish, soup, chicken, kugels leafy salads my wife always puts on my plate, for decoration I think, and of course sunflower seeds a bissele cake and tea for desert. Goyim only get to exercise their stomach muscles like that on thanksgiving. We do it every week. But it’s also so incredibly holy. No phones, no computers, no business or work except for Rabbis like me that have to prepare and give their sermons- but that’s a labor of love for me at least- although some of my congregants might feel otherwise. It’s a day of bliss. One that non-Jews are even prohibited by Jewish law from fully observing. If you could only be Jewish for one day a week. Pick Shabbos

2) Torah study- now until recently this had an added benefit of getting one out of Israeli military service. All you had to do was register in a yeshiva attend classes and live in poverty for the rest of your life. From what some of my parents friends told me it helped quite a few get out of active service in Vietnam as well in the US. Talk about shared traditions and values Mister Netanyahu. But the truth is for anyone that has ever engaged in serious Torah study it is perhaps one of the most fantastic experiences one can ever have. We’re not just reading some silly novels about changing thrones or witches that play some silly English ball games on brooms, nor are we studying laws, history or Bible. Jewish Torah study is literally like listening to a tape recording of works on thought, history, spirituality, ethics, and morality with all kinds of neat stories, parables and hidden messages from thousands of years of Jewish sages. All incidentally passing down traditions and ideas that we’re given to us by God Himself on Sinai. When we pray, a Rabbi once told me, we are talking to God, but when we study Hashem is talking to us. Now how awesome is that! Even more awesome though is that if you get really good at the Torah study thing, you can eventually become a teacher yourself. In fact you’re meant to become. All Jews were given the mandate to teach the world that wisdom. The really good ones even figure out a way to make a living out of it. Maybe become a rabbi that doesn’t have to be a tour guide as well to pay his bills or beg each week in his weekly E-Mails. Who knows? The sky is the limit. But once again this is an opportunity that is only open to the people of the Book. 
1)        And the number one reason why its better to be a Jew than not is... drumroll....
Miracles- yup. Miracles. Goyim have miracles too, don’t get me wrong. Not any of the baloney made-up yoshki or muchamed stuff, but Hashem breaking the laws of nature to take care of his children; and all mankind is His children. But the Jewish people are like the kings of miracles. Our entire existence after 3000 years of everyone and his horse trying to kill us is nothing short of pure unadulterated extraordinary Divine manipulation. It doesn’t make any sense otherwise. The fact that we haven’t assimilated and disappeared despite our various really try-hard-to-dump this chosen-people-thing time and time again and generation after generation, but have been unsuccessful is only because Hashem inevitably steps in and somehow finds a way to protect us from ourselves. Being Jewish means that one is connected to Hashem and to the Master Plan of Creation. We are the world’s miracles, because the world needs to see miracles to appreciate the Divine, to tap into the ultimate goodness of a God-filled life. So being Jewish means being part of a miraculous existence and that my friends truly rocks!

So there you have it our Top Ten list of the year. I know there were many things that I left out that were equally important. Jewish wives, Jewish Mothers, Jewish children and of course Rabbi’s sermons, kiddushes, Jewish politics, the joys of Yiddish, Teshuva/repentance. But hey God had a lot of commandments and yet only shared Ten as well to start off with as we stood on Mt. Sinai. The rest of course we are meant to study and find for ourselves. Much of the other reasons can actually be found in this E-Mail’s numerological Gematria values and its Midrashic accompaniment. Much more can be discovered if you read this by your Purim feast and finish off the bottle sitting in front of you. Regardless Perhaps the last and greatest reason to appreciate our yiddishkeit is because god-willing very soon Mashiach will be here. It will be quite embarrassing if you threw it away like the day before he comes. Almost as embarrassing as the fact that you chose bagels and customer service over living in God’s chosen land. Sorry I couldn’t resist one last line. But really drink a LChaim- Cheers to being Jewish and God willing very soon the whole world will be drinking together with us as we welcome Hashem and you back forever to Our Home.

Have an exuberantly joyous Purim,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

(PS For previous years funny Purim Rabbi Schwartz's Top Ten List click on the link below
(Top ten reasons to use Rabbi Schwartz as a tour guide)
(Top ten symbols suggestions for israel's government ministries)

(Top Ten reasons to read Rabbi Schwartzes weekly E-Mail)
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S YIDDISH QUOTE OF THE WEEK-
"Odem yesodo meofer vesofo leofr,” beyno—lveyno iz gut a trink bronfn.."- A man comes from the dust and in the dust he will end”—and in the meantime it is good to drink whiskey
 And one more
“Az men krigt zikh miten rov, muz men sholem zein miten shainker”- If you’re in a fight with your rabbi, make peace with your bartender

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S MIDRASH OF THE WEEK-
The megilla tells us the story of Purim but the midrash Ephraim shares with us the reasons behind the story. Why were the Jews punished so our Parsley Sages (Rose married Time) explained it was because the Jews ate from the feast of Achashveirosh. Now the problem with eating at the feast and the diabolical plot all revolved around the fact that Haman knew the Jews could never turn down a free meal. Especially a kosher one. Some Jews actually came just for the photo-op on the Persian Rose Garden. They would actually sell their grandmothers down the tubes for that opportunity. Those Jews eventually ran for the Israeli Knesset. But anyways back to our story. The Jews ate for free. They got so accustomed to that when the vessels of the Temple were brought out they got used to attending Temple for free as well and not paying Synagogue dues. Even worse than that when Haman bribed the king with 10,000 shekels to kill the Jews. The Jews didn’t’ even try counter-bribing. I mean c’mon 10,000 sheks is only about $3000. My shul costs more to run than that. But the Jews sadly had become accustomed to a free ride. They couldn’t even save themselves. Maybe they figured if they had a Jew from the tribe of Binyamin (also known as Bibi) go speak in front of congress or the UN and a lot of gentiles clapped that would be enough and they wouldn’t have to pay anything. But it didn’t work. Finally Esther decrees a fast. Now when Jews don’t eat we realize it must be serious. When it’s for three days it’s really serious. So We did Teshuva. We contributed to needy families in Israel/particularly those in the North and Hashem saved us. The conclusion of the story is that Hashem put into place a new system in Persia and for all of Jewish life. He had the King declare taxes. Those taxes would of course have exemptions for charitable giving kind of like the 401c3 that we enjoy here for all checks made payable to American Friends of Young Israel and mailed to me. The Jews thus realized that they should always give tzedaka because if not the tax man will take it away. The End of the Megilla with its Midrashic interpertation

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL AND UNCOOL THINGS OF THE WEEK TO DO IN ISRAEL-
COOL-Get out of your car and pray on the side of the road
UNCOOL- doing it next to someone who also stopped to take a leak

COOL- burying your head into the Wailing Wall and praying to Hashem after putting in a letter
UNCOOL- sticking in a piece of gum your chewing into the crack so that the cool guy’s hair gets stuck

COOL- Stopping your car in the middle of the highway to get out and dance with some wacky breslaver chasidim
UNCOOL- letting the air out of their tires while they’re not looking

COOL- taking out an Uzi and blasting the heck out of some stupid terrorists that have just thrown rocks at your car that are trying to kill you and your family.
UNCOOL-driving off sighing and calling the police to help out the situation.

COOL-voting in Israeli elections and arguing with everyone you meet about why their particular party stinks.
UNCOOL-actually believing that anyone that is running for office in this country will not rob you blind and can be counted on to offer any type of protection or security from arabs or nations that will try to destroy us.

COOL- having a talented Rabbi, Author, composer, Kiruv professional, restaurant and wine connoisseur with the first name Ephraim and the last name Schwartz be your tour guide in Israel.
UNCOOL- having anyone else or at least the people that don’t give me a commission for recommending me J

RABBI SCHWARTZ PURIM YOUTUBE CLIPS OF THE WEEK
Vnahapoch Hu New tune

coolest IDF megilla reading!

cool Chabad Purim invitation

shlomo carlebach purim kumzitz
 

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTIONS I WASN'T BUT SHOULD'VE BEEN ASKED OF THE WEEK

1) How soon is it to the next bathroom stop? A: being as the last one was 10 minutes ago and I repeatedly asked if anyone needs to go then...soon J

2) When can we eat? A: Being that the last food break was 10 minutes ago and you are still chewing and haven't stopped noshing since we have gotten back in the car...soon J

3) What type of tree is that? A: an avocado tree (all trees I do not know are avocado trees) Follow up question- Why are there oranges growing from the avocado tree?

4) Is that really true? A: No, after years in the Rabbinate and being involved in Jewish outreach work as well as being a highly experienced tour guide I have become adept at making up stories and sources at random intervals in order to pique your interest and inspire you.

5) Are we supposed to tip? A: Of course, especially the tour guide J

6) Is this dangerous? A: No of course not, I wouldn't knowingly take you anywhere dangerous. (Now only if I knew where we are...where was that turn I was supposed to make again...)

RABBI SCHWARTZES TERRIBLE PUNS FOR PURIM
 So Yankel turns to his friend and tells him about his visit to the doctor this past week.
“The doctor said he has to limit my drinking. I can only drink one shot a day”
“So how are you doing with it”
“Not bad, I’m already about July 7th 2055!”

So the Israeli Knesset member turns to his fellow Knesset member and asked him if he fasted Yom Kippur this past year. The Jew answers no, why should he fast he hasn’t stolen all year around.
“What a freyer you are?” He tells him “In order not to fast one day, you don’t steal all year!”

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