Our view of the Galile

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Second Coming of Schwartz- Nitzavim- Vayelech/ Rosh Hashana 2017/ 5777-5778

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

September 15h 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 45 24th of Elul 5777
Parshat Nitzavim/Vayelech/ Rosh Hashana
The Second Coming of Schwartz

It was déjà vu. I was standing in the airport once again. But unlike the other two times this past year when it was just me alone or with one of my children, and it was simple. Two suitcases per person on Aeroflot, you the Schwartzes only fly the airlines that still lets us take two suitcases, despite the fact that we may have to layover in Mosco, Ukraine or some other Eastern Bloc country that killed my ancestors. This time it was different it was all of us. All except Yonah, my yeshiva bachur who won’t leave Israel in middle of Elul, despite the fact that it was his aunts wedding. As well the army probably wouldn’t have been too happy with him leaving again and might reconsider his yeshiva deferment if he had left after just coming back from the States from Summer Camp. But this is not my family update that’s the next E-Mail you are eagerly awaiting, I know. Don’t worry its coming….
Anyways we were all there. Us and 12 pieces of large luggage. Duffle bags of course each packed to between 52.4- 53.7 pounds. We figure that’s the limit that they won’t make us too crazy to repack if we are over, and of course we have to be over. That of course was in addition to the 15 carry-ons that we had. Well of course not 15, because you see a purse isn’t really a carry on, even though it’s the size of a small suitcase, either is a talis bag even though every pocket is full of purchases and stuff that didn’t fit into our suitcases. Then of course there was the four cooler bags of food that Tanta Ricky packed that could feed a small army, just in case we got stuck in some country where there was an army that was in desperate need of some bagels, lox spread, danishes, lots and lots of nachos, chips, cookies and that was just the milchigs cooler. Forget about the pastrami, corn beef, chicken nuggets, salami, turkey, club sandwiches with American Sour pickles in the flayshigs bag. That’s also not carry on of course, as we kept that hidden under my children’s clothing and coats. In short it was crazy. And it was right then that I had my déjà vu moment. I had done this before. I was standing right here in JFK over packed with luggage trying to shlep it all through the airport with four bags slung around my neck wheeling another two and watching my 7 year old and 10 year old do the same. I was even wearing the same baseball hat. It was the first time I actually wore this baseball hat. It was my famous and always present on my tours Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliya hat. Yes it was just over 7 years ago. It was the last time we were all together here in “Amereeka”. The last time we were so overloaded with luggage. I was now experiencing the Second Coming of the Schwartz Family. Coming home once again.
It was different this time. There was this exuberance the first time around, this elation. I had to pinch myself to believe it was true. Were we really making Aliya? Were we really going to move and be able to live in the country that my ancestors dreamed of? There was also these twinges of nervousness. Would it work? Would my kids survive it? Adapt? Integrate? Would I find parnassa? Would I be worthy of living in this land that the Torah tells us Hashem watches all the time and that has a tendency to spit out whoever isn’t living the way we’re supposed to? The one thing I wasn’t really scared about, and I think most Olim will tell you the same is about our security and safety. We knew Hashem watches over this country. It was our home. And home always feels safe and right.
This time though, it was a different experience. I was anxious to return already. I wasn’t elated, I wasn’t nervous. Ok maybe a bit nervous that customs would stop us and find all of the clothing and purchases that my wife had made for her store. But I relied on the fact that it was for a good cause. There was lots of people around Israel who were looking forward to these American clothes for the holidays. I kind of looked at myself as one of these great Rabbis about whose stories I grew up with that would smuggle in Tefilin. Mezuzos, Matzas, Shofars and Lulavs and Etrog into the former Soviet Union under the Iron Curtain. OK maybe it’s not exactly the same thing… And maybe this is not the season to perpetuate our own false justifications. But it worked for me at the time. So leave me alone guilty conscience I have another few days before I have to deal with you.
Yes this time it was certainly different. Whereas the first time it was the magical dream come true. Now it was really our home. My house was waiting. My congregation had lots of work I needed to get back to before the High Holidays. My kids schools were waiting and my tours were going to start up again. In short. We were coming back to a life, not an imagined and longed for dream anymore. I had 10 hours to Moscow and a 4 hour layover and then another 4 hours to Israel to ponder this change in feeling and experience. In between Kosher airline food that I ate, despite the fact that we had four cooler bags and that they tasted horrible, and that came out odd hours in middle of dozing off with no appetite whatsoever. Because I had paid for these tickets and they came with flight. And if you paid for something you eat it. There are starving people in Ethiopia. I think. I even made my kids eat it. Or tried to at least. They tasted it a bit and twirled it around. And I just finished it for them. Why? See above. It’s also chinuch, I guess. {By the way if this E-Mail sounds like I have ADD, I don’t I’m just still very jet-lagged. And did I mention I lost my wisdom tooth last week… There I go again….} Soooo I pondered. What am I to make of this second coming? Is it a good thing? Is it sad that I had lost that excited feeling?
Well, as usual the Torah portion is there for me to find the meaning and message for my daily life ponderings. There’s a reason why we call it toras chayim- the instructions for life. In this week’s double portion of Netzavim and Vayelech, the last day of the life of Moshe Rabbeinu, we are given the last two mitzvos in the Torah. These are the last commands of Hashem that we receive from our shepherd, our teacher the man who has seen us through it all. And these are the last two things that Hashem feels we have to know before we- whadaya know? Get on the plane and start heading home into the Promised Land.
The two mitzvas that we are commanded is the mitzva of Hakhel- gathering together the entire nation, men women children and even infants coming to Jerusalem for a ceremony in which the King reads from the Torah for us. The final mitzva is the command for each of us to write a Torah. To have a personal copy of those instructions that we received on Sinai for ourselves. These last two mitzvos if you think about it share a common denominator. They are both there in order that we should never forget and always have with us that experience that we shared decades before at Har Sinai. It was there on that mountain in middle of the wilderness that we all stood. Shemot (19:17) vayityazvu b’tachtit hahar-we were nitzavim-standing at the foot of the mountain. There we heard the word of Hashem, the lightning the thunder, the elation. It was the moment the entire world had been waiting for since creation. We were all there together and we heard and felt the King. The Mitzva of Hakhel is the second coming. It’s trying to redo and live that again. But this time in the real world.
And finally we are commanded
Devarim (31:19) So now write this song, and teach the children of Israel; Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness for the children of Israel.
Throughout generations, we do not find that every Jew or even masses of Jews have undertaken this mitzva, to write a scroll. It’s an expensive mitzva that not everyone can fulfill. Yet according to some authorities when we receive an Aliya to the Torah, the congregation that owns the communal Torah grants it in entirely to the person who makes the blessing and reads from it and it is as if he owns this Torah that he is reading from and is an a way fulfilling his obligation. Interesting then that through aliya to the Torah, we fulfill this last mitzva. Emphasis as can be expected from me on the word aliya.
The Torah though interestingly describes this final mitzva as a song. Not as a book, not as a scroll, not as instructions or a handbook for life. It is a song that must be put in our mouth. Music changes over the years, throughout generations. Different countries have their own tunes and rhythms. There is Middle Eastern, African, Western, Russian, Polish. I’m not sure if there is Chinese but I imagine there is as well. There’s music from the fifties, the 60’s the 70’s. There’s rap, there’s reggae, there’s klezmer. It’s all different. Each one is a representation and an outpouring of the soul, the times and the eras. The beauty of viewing the Torah as a song is that Hashem is telling us that the words and teachings of the Torah are meant to be the eternal and relevant, new and fresh, emotional and uplifting vehicle for us to realize and express the yearnings and experiences of our soul. The words that we heard on Sinai- our first coming of age, are meant to be transformed on a personal level and individual level as we refresh it each year, each day, each lifecycle event and most significantly as we come into the Land of Israel to live in the world and life that everything that has come before this moment has been a preparation for.
The titles of the two parshiyot Nitzavim and Vayelech are in fact opposite terms. Nitzvaim means standing upright. Vayelech means walking or going forward. Perhaps those are the two last messages we are meant to have in these final mitzvos and commands from Moshe. On one hand we are upright. We are meant to look at where we came from. We stand together as a nation and remember that moment on Sinai. We relive it. We were born. We were commanded. We were on the top of the world. We were chosen and beloved. All of us, the wood choppers, the Kohanim, the Rabbis, the women, the children the water carriers and the tour guides. Yet that moment that standing that we recall is not end of the story. We are meant to walk forward, to sing, to build and transform those words and teachings into a symphony that testifies to Hashem’s presence on earth. There are planting songs, marching songs, prayerful devotional songs and festive celebratory songs. But they’re our songs. They are not new. They are not the songs of the first time, fresh, elation type. They’re different than the first time around. They’re more mature. They’re real. They are what it is really all about.
This week and these parshiyot are the last of the year; the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana. The word shana which in Hebrew means year also has the same root as the word shoneh- different. Even more interesting is that it also means to repeat something, like the word sheni, a second time. Each year has its Rosh. It’s head. It is a time when we start again differently. It is a second coming. It is a year that we may perhaps hope to repeat the same basic terms and structure that we have the year before. We will read the same entire Torah once again. We may have the same job, the same family, the same expectations and same basic life structure. But at the same time we need to find and sing the new song and tune that will define and give new music to our lives. The tune of the year. Perhaps hopefully even the tune of Mashiach our final redemption. May Hashem bless all of this coming year that we each find the melody that uplifts us. May it be one that is sweet, that sings of health, of joy, of love, of holiness and parnassa tova and may it be one that rings out to the rest of the world as we sing together in the glory of our King.

Have a perfect last Shabbosof the year and a Shana Tova Umetuka,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Tsu itlechen neiem lid ken men tsupassen an alten nigen.”. To every new song one can find an old tune.


https://youtu.be/nJa2KAzTOhk - The story of PickAls by Arthur Cohen of blessed Memory

https://youtu.be/srbqz96Dzao  beautiful Avinu Malkeinu by Reb Pinchas Wolf OB”M of my hometown Detroit sung by Shlomo Simcha

https://youtu.be/yC_OlvUU7_A     – How To Make a Shofar

https://youtu.be/v6bhPzT4mjs Cool Technion Robot Rosh Hashana

https://mostlymusic.com/collections/featured-music/products/mona-7-uteshuva-utelfia-utzedaka-ft-yaakov-shwekey - Yackov Shwekey brand new single B’Rosh Hashana from Mona 7 disc at mostlymusic.com

https://youtu.be/LC-MEfJW1LU  - my favorite Rosh Hashana song Ochila LaKel…
answer below at end of Email

Q A site where a locomotive is stationed as an exhibit for visitors:
a. Oron
b. Nitsana
c. Dimona
d. Beersheba


Vayeilech- In all of my different congregations I have always been a big fan of kids in shul. Maybe it was to get back at all of those shuls that were not kid friendly and shushed me a lot. I don’t know I’ll let my therapist figure it out. So I always gave out candy, after all who doesn’t like the candy man? As well I encouraged families to bring their children, Yeah, I don’t like them running through shul and disturbing but at the same time, I was never a fan of decorum either. So what’s the right thing to do?  It’s the High Holiday season to bring the kids or not? That is the question.
Well good old Rashi is there to help us out. YHou just have to read him carefully, something I’m sure readers of this part of the E-mail are doing anyways. So the Parsha this week’s teaches us the mitza of Hakhel, gathering all of the Jewish people to hear the king read from the Torah on the Sukkot after the Sabbatical year. The commandment is
Devarim (31:12) Gather the nation; the men, the women and the infants.
Rashi explains what everyones there for
The men- to study. The women to listen. And the infants, for what purpose are they coming? In order to give reward to those that bring them.
This is a very nice oft-quoted Rashi. The importance of training children and infants is essential. Yet Rashi is clearly not coming to teach us mere lessons. Rav Dushinsky notes that the truth is that if the parents and all of the people were commanded to come then who was going to watch the children anyways? There were no Moabite baby sitters hanging around that you could just give a few shekel to watch the kids. So why is Rashi asking why are the children coming? He answers that is precisely what Rashi is coming to explain why did Hashem command the children to come, either way they had to come. His answer? In order to give reward to the ones that brought them. Meaning, yes the children had to come anwyays, but Hashem who loves to increase mitzvos made this into a mitzva in order to give the parents extra reward that they were not merely bringing them out of convenience but rather as a mitzva.
The Sefat Emet adds to this notion that we see from here that despite the fact that children may disturb their parents prayers and the decorum, it is still worthwhile and the will of Hashem that they be brought to Shul. It is important for parent to appreciate that they should give up a little of their own spirituality for their childrens benefit of hearing and learning and experiencing the word of Hashem. I think it is needless to say therefore that the shul-going should be a pleasant experience for these children as well. So maybe offer one a candy next time, rather than shushing him.

 Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky- the Dushinsky Rebbe (1867-1948) –  also known as the Maharitz, was the first Rebbe of Dushinsky and Chief Rabbi (Gavad) of the Edah HaChareidis of Jerusalem. Born in Paks, Hungary, he was a disciple of the author of Shevet Sofer, one of the grandchildren of the Chassam Sofer.
After his marriage to Sheindel the daughter of Rabbi Mordechai Winkler, author of Levushei Mordechai, Dushinsky became the Chief Rabbi in Galanta, Slovakia. In an epidemic during World War I, his wife died, leaving no children. He subsequently remarried Esther Neuhaus, daughter of Rabbi Yoel Tzvi Neuhaus. He relocated to the town of Chust to assume the position of Chief Rabbi. In 1921, his only child, Yisroel Moshe, was born.
In 1930, the Dushinsky family moved to the British Mandate of Palestine, settling in Jerusalem. Shortly after in 1932 came the death of the Chief Rabbi and founder of the Edah HaChareidis, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. The Maharitz was appointed as his successor. He founded a community of Hungarian Jews in Jerusalem, affiliated with the Perushim section of the Edah HaChareidis. This community gradually developed into a Hasidic dynasty, which is today headed by his grandson, who was named after him.
Rav Dushinsky was known for his strong opposition to Zionism, and spoke to the newly formed United Nations against the creation of the Zionist State.
In fall 1948 the Rav was hospitalized in the Shaarei Zedek Hospital on Jaffa Road under the care of Dr. Moshe Wallach, director-general of the hospital. He died on the eve of Sukkot1948 and was buried in the small cemetery adjacent to the hospital, which was used as a temporary burial ground during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War when the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was inaccessibleHe was succeeded by Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis as Chief Rabbi of the Edah HaChareidis, and by his son, Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Dushinsky, as leader of the Dushinsky Hasidim, which would under the latter's leadership turn into one of the newest Hasidic dynasties.
*Interesting factoid-The Jerusalem Municipality sought to honor Rav Dushinsky after his death with the naming of a street, but his son refused for fear that any Shabbat desecration that occurred on the street (e.g. the driving of cars on the Shabbat) would cause pain to his father's soul. After many requests, his son agreed to the naming of a passageway of stairs in the Pagi (Sanhedria) neighborhood after his father, since cars could not access this path
Breslavers – I’ve never heard the term before but according to Wikipedia there are some who refer to this chasidic group as the “toyteh Chasidim” – the dead chasidim as they follow a Rebbe who is no longer with the living; none other than of course Rabbi Nachman. Yet, I don’t think there are chasisdim that are more alive and more present than the Breslavers as they number 10’s of thousands worldwide and have certainly seen the greatest resurgence in the last two decades. Now like many chasidim there are breakoffs and different opinions on how it should be run, this is particularly true where there is no one accepted Rebbe. One of Reb Nachman’s last statements was that his fire will burn until Mashiach comes and therefore from his student Rebbe Nasan and on, no one has taken the mantle of being the Rebbe of the Chasidut. So there are different groups of Breslavers. There are the more mainstream ones based in Jerusalem “the shul” in Meah Shearim and in Tzfat. These are certainly the largest groups although not necessarily the most visible. They study in “regular” Yeshivos and uphold the customs of Breslav and as well also study the teachings of Rebbe Nachman.
The most visible though and perhaps the most fun and largest growing sect are the Na Nachs. They are the Breslavers that one can see dancing in the streets during traffic, standing on street corners handing out books and in generally just having fun, bringing ‘joy to the world’. The name Na Nach comes from a letter that they believe was sent from the other world to Reb Yisrael Oddesa their leader who passed away in 1994, reassuring him about t*he fast that be broke on the 17th of Tamuz because he was sick and it contains the words Na Nach Nachman Mei Uman. In Reb Nachman’s writing he mentions a sung that will be sung to herald in Mashiach with stanzas of 1,2,3, and 4 letter words and thus it became the song. These Na Nachs consist of many Israeli Baalei Teshuva who have returned to an observant lifestyle and were drawn to the hopeful statements of Reb Nachman, that there is no such thing as giving up hope, that each person should focus on their nekuda tova, that one point of spirituality and goodness that could never be tainted and that the primary mitzva is to be happy and to rejoice. The holiday for Breslavers is of course Rosh Hashana where tens of thousands of Chasidim descend upon the small Ukrainian town of Uman, where Rebbe Nachman is buried, for the holiday. Rebbe Nachman declared Rosh Hashana as his day and promised he will beseech on behalf of those that visit his grave. I love Breslavers. To a large degree they are the happy people of Klal Yisrael. So next time you are stuck in traffic look around for some dancing chasidim, get out and join them. Your day will be much better.


Had my luggage torn to pieces, so I asked my lawyer if I could sue the airline. He said, “you don’t have much of a case”.

A vulture turns up at the airport with two dead animals. The staff member at check in says, “Sorry, only one carrion per passenger”.

A photon turns up at check in for a flight with no baggage. The check in agent says “traveling light?” He says “Yes, I am”.

Someone told me they thought I was in denial about baggage, but that’s definitely not the case.

There was an incident at the airport when a large collection of suitcases fell over in the luggage area. Experts suspect it was pile it error.

At an airport, one of my friends suggested we disguise ourselves as luggage. I said, “let’s not get carried away”.

Took legal action once against someone who tried to copy my innovative self-packing luggage. It was an open and shut case.

Friend of mine works as a baggage handler at the airport, but used to be a lawyer. He kept losing his cases.

Unpacking my bag after a flight, and I have a suitcase full of gloves. Apparently I bought a hand luggage only fare.
I know an elephant who refused to travel by air because he didn’t want to leave his trunk in the hold.
Worried that the airline might lose my bag with all the sausages I’ve bought during my trip to Germany. That would be the wurst case scenario.
A friend was seeing someone who worked for a left luggage company but it didn’t work out. It seems he had too much baggage

Sal, a pilot for a major airline, carries his running clothes in a backpack, freeing his hands for his luggage. On one trip, he told me, he noticed passers-by grinning at him in the terminal. Sal smiled back. Maybe some of them were on my last flight, he thought.
His ego was brimming until he got to the cockpit and stowed his bags. That's when he saw the "Parachute" sign his co-workers had stuck to his backpack.

A passenger piled his luggage on the scale at an airline counter in New York and said to the ticket agent: I'm flying to Los Angeles.  I want the large bag sent to Denver and the two small ones to Cincinnati."  "I'm sorry sir, but we can't do that," said the ticket agent. "That's good to hear because that's where they ended up the last time I flew this route."
Answer is D– Although I have never visited the train station and museum in Beer Sheva of the last steam engine in Israel that was built by Turks during WWI in preparation for the war and attack by the British in order to move troops, I knew the answer. Who knows I may even visit it one day.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wisdumb Lessons- Ki Tavo 5777/ 2017

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

September 8th 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 44 17th of Elul 5777
Parshat Ki Tavo
Wisdumb Lessons

I don’t like dentists. I don’t like mechanics either. I have the same problem with both of them. See I know nothing about the inside of a car hood. I don’t know what makes it run. I can barely even figure out how the stereo works in most of these new cars today. But I know that every so often my car has to go to the mechanic for a “check-up” . They change the oil, the filters and fill up some fluids.They check out the brakes and change some pads. It should be simple. In the States they would do this for like 10-15 bucks if I remember correctly at Jiffy Lube or something. Yet inevitably what happens is that they come back to you with this “Aha we got one” kind of look and tell you “Oh you have to change your catylictic carbulator” or “your left axle wing nut seems to be dripping some fluids, when was the last time you had that checked or replaced?” Now of course I have no idea what these things or if there are even such parts in a car. That’s the way they test you to see how much they can take advantage of you. When you tell them that you don’t know, that is their cue to tell you that it’s supposed be changed every 100 thousand miles and whadaya know I’m at 101,000, so its time. They’re very patronizing of course, as they say listen you don’t have to do it here now, but they can’t guarantee that my car will live another day or two without it and they’ll give me a discount to do it now. So of course I have no choice and I get the work done on some mysterious part and just rack it up to my never having taken auto mechanics in school.
Same thing with the Dentist. See, I avoid them. I avoid all doctors. My feeling is if it ain’t broke why fix it? My wife on the other hand feels that it is very important for me to go for “checkups”. I don’t have a high enough life-insurance policy it seems and I guess she feels it might be worthwhile to keep me around for a bit until I pay off some of our debts and who know maybe even put away some savings. Checkups are essential in her mind to keeping me around. So I go in. They weigh me and nod tskk tskk tsskk… Israeli doctors are particularly good at doing that. They take my blood pressure and make some more funny noises and then they tell me that I really should lose weight, exercise more, have less shwarmas and in general to become a different person. They of course tell me, that I don’t have to do this if I don’t want to. But if I love my family he can’t guarantee I’ll be around if I don’t. Unfortunately I can’t just pay him some money to just fix the problem, So I leave with some guilt and thoughts of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular “teshuva” that lasts for about 5 minutes and just tell my wife that the doctor said everything will be fine.

Dentists though have a special place in my heart and mouth though. See there my wife tells me I have to go for checkup and cleaning. Once again- my teeth are fine, they look clean to me and after all who’s really looking at them anyways. It’s what comes out of my mouth that people are paying attention to right? She however uses my weak point and tells me that it’s free. See we have the platinum Kupat Cholim-that’s our socialized medicine clinic- plan which offers a free annual checkup. And if it’s free then I have to do it. Now this platinum Kupat Cholim thing is also a scam. They tell you it’s free, but ultimately they find all the things that are not covered under the plan and whadaya know that’s what needs to be fixed, but don’t worry because we have platinum we will get a discount, which interestingly enough is still more expensive than if I just go to a private dentist to take care of it….See why I really hate dentists.
So anyways two weeks ago my wife convinces me to go for my cleaning and as could be predicted they told me that I needed a root canal on top of the one I have already. Which really was doing fine and not troubling me at all. They also said that one of my wisdom teeth needed to be extracted. Again I pride myself on my wisdom, and I wasn’t ready to give it up yet. We’ve been together for quite a few decades now. And almost like Samson, maybe the secret to my brilliance is in that tooth. So I came home told my wife that everything was fine and since it wasn’t bothering me at all anyways, I figured it was just another one of those dentist scam things. Dentists in Israel don’t make as much as they do in America and they gotta get it from where they can. But this American Oleh wasn’t going to fall for it.
The problem was I didn’t realize to what extent they would go to. See a few days later, Friday night I was sitting down at my Shabbos table. As I bit into the delicious healthy spelt challah my wife makes. Healthy of course to insure I will be around for a while. Sure enough I feel my filling come out. Just like that. Boom. Pop. I’m looking at my wisdom tooth filling that was perfectly fine before these dentists broke it to make sure I would come back. It’s the only explanation. It was fine until I went in for that cleaning. Yeah…they were determined to clean me out, that’s for sure. So with no choice I went back. I paid my dues. They yanked my wisdom tooth. Gleefully I might say. I’m in pain. If this E-mail is dumber than usual, now you know why. Did I mention I don’t like dentists...?
One of the interesting thing I noticed and was thinking about as they were pulling my tooth is that they kept referring to it as the shein bina. That’s the word in Hebrew for wisdom tooth. For some reason this bothered me. See, the word for wisdom in Hebrew is chochma. A scholar- something I was before they stole my tooth – is a talmid chacham. The word bina- though means understanding. A shein bina is an understanding tooth. Ani lo meivin- means I don’t understand. And a maven in Hebrew, Yiddish and even English is someone who understands things or is an expert on thing. There’s a difference between the two. In fact in Torah etymology each word has its own particular nuances and chochma and bina are two very different things.
There is another word as well for this intellectual information that word is da’as which can be translated as knowledge. These three terms can be found in the first of our personal prayers that we recite in our daily amida prayer.
“You grant man knowledge and teach mankind wisdom, Grace us from You wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Blessed are You Hashem the grantor of knowledge.”
Incidentally if you didn’t put it together these three things are in fact the acronym which Chabad stands for CH’ohchma, Bina Daas. So where better then to Chabad to understand what they are all about. Chochma in the great works of the Baal Hatanya, he explains is is a spark, it is the first flash of an idea. For example, sometimes one is struggling over a problem and they get a flash of inspiration, a "Eureka" if you will. The Gaon of Vilna explains it as the Divine wisdom that comes directly from Hashem. In fact the letters of chochma also spell when rearranged the words koach ma- the potentiality of what is. It is the building blocks of what comes only from above.
Bina on the other hand is the next step. It comes from the word boneh to build. It is taking that wisdom, that information that one has received and contemplating and understanding the way he personally relates to it. It is therefore constantly changing as generations come and go. The two chochma and bina are referred to in the Zohar as the two friends that never part from one another. The Talmud tells us that women were granted an extra sense of bina over men. chochma –wisdom that initial spark is the man’s part. It’s that momentary flash that he brings to the table. The woman takes that idea and develops it, nurtures it.  When it comes to creating life, she does so for 9 months. Men can’t be pregnant. Bina is not our thing. We’re programmed to bring the quick solution and to move on to the next project or idea. Maybe that’s why in Israel it’s called the Bina tooth. Here in Israel, where the Talmud tells us that the air one breathes is full of wisdom, as soon as it gets in our mouths we begin the process of bina understanding it and taking it apart and constructing it and making it better. In America they’re still a step behind and they are just plain old dumb American airspace and it only becomes wisdom once they start biting into it or sinking their teeth in it. I know your groaning now but I warned you this E-Mail was gonna be dumber than usual…L.
Finally knowledge is the incorporation or internalization of that wisdom and knowledge and truly becoming one with it. The biblical term as we all know for intimacy is man “knowing” his wife. That is the prayer we say each morning Hashem is the one that gives us the ability to achieve knowledge. We do this through chochma we receive and bina process of extrapolating and nurturing it and ultimately we transform it all and internalize into knowledge. This is truly the function of the entire world the prophet Isaiah describes the Messianic era as when the whole world will full of knowledge like a water covering the sea. That’s what we are here in this world to try to achieve.
This week’s Torah portion interestingly enough is really describes this process of chochma and bina and daas perfectly throughout the entire portion. The parsha begins with Hashem telling us that we will come to the land. The place where we are meant to shine out that light and knowledge from. We will harvest we will plant. Just like everyone else does wherever else they go. Our crops grow we have that wisdom. That inspiration. But then something changes. We take our first fruits and bring them to the temple. To the Kohen. Before Hashem. We make a public declaration. We preform Bina. We recount our history and announce that Hashem is the source of all of our blessing. Now and forever. We then internalize the Torah tells us by recognizing that this covenant that we share this bond this information places upon us the ultimate obligations to fulfill the commandments. He commands us- gives us the knowledge. We follow His ways. We become to him His treasured nation making us above all nations to be dedicated to Him with praise and splendor. Like a bride and a groom, a chasan and Kalla bound together with that loving intimate knowledge.
This idea continues in the next command as well where Moshe commands the Jewish people together with the elders and the Kohanim and Levis that when they come to Israel the first act they do is going to be to go to these two mountains and enter into the covenant, the marriage with all the blessings and responsibilities and the pitfall and curses if we do not fulfill our mandate. The Elders are there because they ae the source of the chochma, the Kohanim represent the Bina the development of that knowledge, the Levi’im are the ones that will sing and teach and facilitate the internalization of it all.  We are one. We answer Amen.  The world will come to its fulfillment.
The portion concludes with Moshe reassuring and asserting the essence of it all
Devarim ( 29:1) You have seen all that Hashem has done before your wise in the land of Egypt… the great signs and miracles which your eyes have seen..
And Hashem has not given you a heart to ‘know’ and eyes to see and ears to hear until this very day…
And you have come to this land and Sichon the king of Cheshbon and Og the King of Bashan came out to us and we smote them. And we have taken their land and it was given to us as an inheritance to Reuvein, Gad and half the tribe of Menashe.
And you shall guard this covenant and you shall preform it in order that you will taskilu- be successful in all that you do.
I translated the word taskilu above as succesful as Rashi and the Unkelus do. However the the word in fact comes from the same root as sechel- intelligence and in fact the Seforno concludes this portion explaining
“In order that you will achieve to direct all of your actions for the eternal life and for the present life”
Life, wisdom, understanding, meaning all of those things that we seek to achieve in holiness can only be acquired if we open our eyes, we focus our hearts and we internalize this most amazing of ideas. Now that’s something to sink your teeth into. Ouch!

Have a simchadike Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



“Az es kumt tsonvaitik fargest men kopvaitik.”. When a toothache comes, you forget your headache.


https://youtu.be/w9FB8R1mdjw   Bill Cosby on Dentists… Classic and still funny after all these years..

https://youtu.be/ZJxFHSE1Rv4    – Life of meaning New song Naftali Bluimenthal pretty catchy

https://youtu.be/6-6UkU8nWZw  Aseh LMaan Shemecha Yitzchak Fuchs

https://youtu.be/CR-eLYCSw54  - Ich Kum Shonyn Aheim- Yiddish song Motty Illowitz

answer below at end of Email

Q.   A site where “Free Masons” have been known to convene (gather):
a. The Hulda stairs
b. The Nicanor cave
c. Zedekiah’s cave
d. The Tombs of the Kings


Ki Tavo- There are some verses and chapters in the Torah that are difficult to read. Not because the words are hard or the translation but rather because when the Torah talks tough it gets scary. Particularly this is true when it comes to the exhortations and “curses” that Moshe tells us if we do not follow the words of the Torah. After thousands of years in exile we have seen these prophecies fulfilled tragically enough to us from the destructions of the Temples to modern times. Yet the Rashis on these verses can be particularly upbeat. Even on the most frightening of predictions Rashi seems to find an upside to it. He sees in the gloom and doom the rays of light and hope.
One of those predictions that seems particularly harsh
Devarim (28:63) Vhaya Ka’asher Sas- And it will be as Hashem rejoiced-to do good to you and to multiply you, Kein Yasis- so too Hashem will rejoice- on you to make you perish and destroy you.
Wow! It’s one thing to say that Hashem must destroy us, but that he will be happy that we will be destroyed! As happy as when he does good for us? How can that be? The Shomer Emunim notes that Hashem is not even happy when His enemies- like the Egyptians were drowning in the Red Sea and he prohibited the angels from singing His praise. So Rashi kicks in by pointing out that the word that Hashem will rejoice- Yasis actually means He will make rejoice- this is different than Onkelos’s translation incidentally- And Rashi therefore understands the verse as saying
He will make your enemies rejoice over you to make you perish.
In fact in older prints of Rashi mentioned in the mikraot Gedolot addition it adds
That Hashem Himself does not rejoice. We learn from here that Hashem does not rejoice upon the downfall of the wicked, as it does not say yasus- He will rejoice, rather yasis that he will make others rejoice. However in the goodness to the righteous Hashem Himself rejoices as it says sas-   as Hashem rejoices.
The Shomer Emunim himself explains the verse according to Unkelos intepertation in that Hashem rejoices when He destroys us as much as when He does good for us because He understands that the pains and tribulations and suffering that we undergo are only there to remove any evil and to purify and allow us to rise to even greater heights thus insuring our eternality.
Perhaps that can help explain Rashi as well, as the suffering that we have that the nations of the world are rejoicing over our downfall is part of the process of us redeeming ourselves and atoning for our sins.
Regardless, once again Rashi takes a verse that is too troubling to read and turns into into a tool to appreciate how close Hashem is to us even in our most challenging times.

Rabbi Aharon Roth- the Shomer Eminim (1894-1947) – Amongst the Todos Aharon and Toldos Avrahm Yitzchak Yerushalmi Jews he is known as the “Alter Rebbe” as he was the founder of the current chasidut. He was born in Hungary and studied by the great Rebbes of Bluzhov, Vishnitz and ultimately Satmar. He was known for his devotion and dedication to living at the highest spiritual lifestyle. In 1925 he moved to Palestine to Jerusalem and founded in Meah Shearim his yeshiva. He wrote his seminal work called Shome Emunim on the importance of reciting Amen. He moved back to Europe in 1929 leaving his chasidim behind. In 1940 he returned to Israel and he died in 1947 while in middle of grinding his flour for Matzos for Pesach.
Yordim –I know this column is for Jews in Israel and by definition yordim- the term used for Jews that have emigrated from Israel to the diaspora aren’t in Israel, but lo and behold it seems that you can run but can’t get away as many of these Jews are here whether for visits or to get some good shwarma and chumus that of course you can’t get anywhere else. According to estimates there are close to a million Israelis and their families living outside of Israel, most in North America. There is a long history of Jews leaving Israel voluntarily. The first two Aliyot in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw from 50-80% return to their places of origin unable to make it here. After the establishment of the State it certainly dropped and the Aliya rate has always been significantly more than the yerida rate. The primary reasons why Jews leave the land their ancestors have dreamt of living in interestingly enough is not because of security or even political reasons. Rather the main reasons have been for the quality of life, employment opportunities or because of a spouse that they met from another question. Maimonides, who himself was not able to live in Israel as he was the doctor for Salaadin in Egypt and wasn’t allowed to leave, writes that the only time it is permitted to leave Israel is to find a wife, or make a living or to study Torah and even then he says one should return to Israel as soon as he accomplishes that goal. It is interesting, as an Oleh to Israel to talk to many of these yordim and they speak about Israel with a tremendous amount of fondness. Many of them long for Israel, perhaps even more so than their Diaspora counterparts. This is despite them finding much success and even developing mini- “Israeli communities” in the cities they live. The main cities where these Israeli can be found are in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Although there’s not too many shopping malls that yo can got to where you won’t find some Israelis selling Dead Sea products or some other chatchkes. Although those sales people Israelis certainly plan on returning and are usually just taking a hiatus after the army service and to make a few bucks.
 Whereas once in Israel yordim were looked upon with scorn today that sentiment has changed and many people appreciate that many of these yordim are our biggest advocates in the Diaspora. Even more interesting, I can share with you from personal experience, is that many of these yordim that are secular and while they were in Israel had no interest in anything Torah or Jewish oriented, yet when they find themselves in America, without the luxury of their Jewish Identity being defined by living in Israel, for the first time begin to incorporate more and more observance and tradition into their lives. As I said a Jew can run but never to far…

Q: What does the dentist of the year get? A: A little plaque
 Q: What did the dentist say to the computer? A: This won't hurt a byte
Q: What did the dentist see at the North Pole? A: A molar bear Q:
What did the dentist say to the golfer? A: "You have a hole in one. "
Q: Why did the king go to the dentist? A: To get a new crown!
Q: Why did the deer need braces? A: He had buck teeth
 Q: At what time do most people go to the dentist? A: At tooth-hurty (2:30).
 Q: Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused a Novocain injection during root canal treatment? A: He wanted to transcend dental medication!

Answer is C– Who would have thought that you could find Freemasons that ancient Masonic lodges had anything to do with Israel. But the truth is that this medieval workers fraternity has its bases in the building of Solomon’s Temple and his “Mason” Hiram and much of their secretive and mysterious rituals revolve around that.. It is there for most appropriate in fact that there should be an annual ceremony in the cave of Tzidkiya which was a quarry from the times of the kings of Israel although more likely than not it wasn’t used for Solomon’s Temple but rather from the 2nd Temple and Herod’s period. It got its name from the Midrash that described Zedekiya fleeing from the Babylonian assault during the destruction of the first Temple and the Midrash tells us that he had a cave that led to a tunnel that went all the way to Yericho and when he came out they found him and blinded him and took him back to Babylonian as a captive.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Lion, the Itch and the War Job- Ki Teitzei 2017 / 5777

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

September 1st 2017 -Volume 7 Issue 43 10th of Elul 5777
Parshat Ki Teitzei
The Lion, the Itch and the War Job

Mazel Tov! He was finally getting married. It was about time already. The jungle had been waiting a long time for this special moment. It was gonna be the wedding of the century. All the animals were invited. The elephants were all dieting to prepare for the great feast and to fit into their outfits, the monkeys had all their shtick planned, the beavers and foxes got their best shtreimels fixed up and those yeshivishe black and white zebras even decided to take a shower for the occasion. Even the little mice were invited. It was the King of the Jungle’s big day and no one wanted to miss the simcha of the year. Akuna MazalTov.
When the special day came everyone came over to Ahreleh the lion seated on his big throne and gave him their special blessings. As Mendele’h the little mouse walked over he gave the groom a big hug, well as big of a hug as mouse can give a lion that is and handed him an envelope with a nice check in it saying.
“Mazel Tov, my dear brother, here’s a small gift from your loving buddy, Mendy.”
The Lion’s face turned red or orange as lions do and he gave out a roar.
“Listen mouse” he said, “I don’t know who you think you are. I invited you to the wedding because I invited the entire jungle. But what makes you think that you are my brother, my buddy?!”
Mendeleh looked up at him with a knowing smile and sighed and said
“Ahhh… boychikl… Before I got married I was also a lion….”
Sigh….. It’s a joke that every married man laughs at wryfully…While most jewish women do gleefully. I always tell people if they ask me what my status in the house is that I am the Baal HaBoss- I’m the husband of the Boss. I just follow orders and find that I get into less trouble that way. It’s a good piece of advice and makes life so much smoother once we learn our roles properly. I don’t think this is true, by the way for only Jewish marriages. I think that in many cultures the women is really the one that is wearing the pants in the family. Except maybe Italians, they’re ‘Real Men”. Their wives know that the linguini better be on the table when Papa gets home or boom. As they say in a Italy
 “A prima donna matrimonio, la seconda compagnia, la terza un 'eresia.-  A first wife makes for a good marriage, a second wife is just a companion and the third is good for nothing.” 
Marriage is certainly one of the oldest institutions in the world. It goes back to the Beginning in Eden when Hashem took a look at Adam wandering around the garden trying to find where he left his car keys and He realized that he had no one to blame it on but himself. So Hashem made the declaration
“Lo tov l’adam lihiyot livad- it is not good for man to alone, I will make him a helper opposite him.”
And man went to sleep for the last time without someone poking him in middle of the night and Eve was born. He very quickly blamed her for feeding him the wrong dinner and he has been paying the price since.
Jokes aside though there certainly is a common denominator between all marriages in all cultures and religions around the world. People are programmed to seek out their “soul-mate” There is something inside of us that understands that we are incomplete without someone else to share our lives with in the most intimate and the most pragmatic of ways.
Not everyone is good at marriage though. The world it seems has certainly changed in the “till death do us part”- commitment aspect of marriage that was once the glue that held families together in good times, in bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more… Sorry just spacing out a bit here…J. In fact the divorce rate has risen all over the world in the past thirty years where in America the rate is terrifyingly close to 50%. Even in Israel it has risen from 2% in 1973 to 14% in 2014. Sure there are people that will argue that in the past there were just as many unhappy marriages that just stayed together because of the stigma of divorce and thank god we have ‘progressed” to the point where that is no longer the case and people can “move on” without any fear of social backlash. The Talmud though definitely has a definite other take on this though.
Tav l’meisav tan do, mlmeisav armalasa- it is better for two people to sit as a couple then as a widow.
The Talmud uses this logic to explain that it is better to stay in a marriage as a couple even with an undesirable person than to be alone. This of course does not include cases of abuse and other things of course. But in general marriage is always the preferred status. In fact we are told that when a couple gets divorced it is as if the altar itself sheds tears. Why particularly the Altar many of the commentaries ask?

The answer perhaps is that the function of the altar is to bring sacrifices. It is for a person to feel that there is something that has come between Hashem and himself that unless recognized, unless one takes account of that moment, that event than the gap will become even greater. I don’t only speak about sins and mistakes that we make in our lives for which a sacrifice is warranted, but for happy occasions as well, there are thanksgiving offerings, there are peace offerings, there are holiday, Shabbat, first borns, one’s entire years life cycles are made real when we come to the altar and bring the Kohen are offering and connect with the moment by giving something special of ourselves and including Hashem in that occasion. Without someone to share that with then really what is it all worth. That is the essence of marriage as well. One who tragically doesn’t have that special someone with which to grow in developing that trait of completing ones life’s growth, challenges and simchas is missing that special tool Hashem programmed us all with to be our “helper-opposite ‘Him- the partner to help us realize that we are always Shivisi Hashem Lnegdi Tamid- that we place Hashem opposite us always. It is for that reason that the altar is the vessel that sheds tears. For the mizabayach is the place where we become most connected with Hashem.
Why am I writing about this subject this week, you wish to know? Well first of all my wife is out of town and I can’t find my car keys…J. No but really, This week the Torah portion which is titled Ki Teitzei La’Milchama Al Oyvecha- which begins talking about the going out to battle and a man finding an inappropriate woman that he has an ‘itch’ for which he feels just must ‘scratch’.  Ultimately the Torah tells us this will lead to dire consequences bad children and other not fun stuff. But the entire portion in fact is chock full of mitzvos that relate to marriage. It talks about all types of violent and inappropriate physically driven seductions and worse, it talks about terrible husbands that spread bad rumors about their wives, cheating spouses, a man with two wives, women of ill repute, and even when it talks about the mitzva of marriage the source for the concept of betrothal before marriage
Devarim (22:13) Ki Yikach Ish Isha- When a man will take a woman
It is mentioned in the context of failed marriage and the mitzva to divorce. The one thing that is missing perhaps from this entire list of mitzvos, of which the Torah seems to pack into this week’s Torah portion is the mitzva to love one’s wife, to cherish, to hold dear. We are told to love the convert, our fellow neighbor, Hashem, what about our spouses?
Maimonides in the beginning of his laws of marriage does something unique. He describes the history of it all
Before the Torah was given a man would meet a woman in the market (see where the term comes fromJ) if he wanted and she wanted to get married he would bring into her home and she would be his wife.
Once the Torah was given Israel was commanded that if a man wanted to marry a woman he would bring her before witnesses and betroth her and then after he would marry her… And this betrothal is called Kiddushin and it is a positive commandment from the Torah”
This is a puzzling Rambam and very not like his style. The Rambam doesn’t start off other laws with a history lesson. He doesn’t’ say anywhere that ‘before the Torah people could eat un-slaughtered animal and now we have to pay double and get them shechted and this is a mitzva’, or ‘before the Torah we could wear four cornered garments without Tzitzit’. So why by marriage does he feel it is necessary to introduce these laws with a trip down memory lane to the ‘good ole’ days’? I believe that what Maimonides is doing is explaining the essence of what a Jewish marriage is about. The Torah does not tell us that one should love honor and respect one’s wife because that’s natural. Everyone knows that. Even gentiles, even before the Torah was given had a concept of marriage. Judaism is about something more. It’s about Kiddushin. It’s about not just jumping into the ‘house’ from the market place and spending the rest of your life with someone you care about. It’s about bringing her to witnesses appreciating the sanctity of the moment. Making a declaration before Hashem K’daas Moshe V’Yisrael- Like the laws of Moses and Israel. The process of betrothal does two things it prohibits and dedicates the two of you together and forbids any external relation. You are not yet one. That will happen with marriage, but you have made a commitment that this will be home that will include Hashem and lift up the world together.
It is for this reason as well when the laws of marriage are mentioned in this week’s Torah portion all of the pitfalls of marriage are delineated. It’s not just about love and romance. Those things everyone has. It’s about appreciating that the two of you are on the most important ‘battlefield’ of the world. It’s the two of you that will be fighting against all the distractions, temptations and challenges to build that most important Jewish home. To create a place of Kedusha.
There is another reason why this topic comes to mind this week. My sister-in-law Yehudis will IYH be marrying her bashert Yoily (I love that name-by the way). We have all waited, davened, and anticipated this great moment. It’s finally here. May Hashem bless the two of you that you merit to build an incredible home, one that is full of the love and joy that every other marriage in the world builds its foundation upon. But as well may it be a home of kedusha and tahara, one that sees you through all the challenges that both of you have surmounted until now and become stronger as a result of. A house that completes the two of you and that brings the shechina into it and is a light unto Klal Yisrael. And Yoily, my brother, if it ever gets too rough, remember… I was once a lion too…J Mazel Tov!

Have a lovingly amazing Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


“Der “harey-at” iz a kurtser prolog tsu a lange drame”. The wedding vow is a short prologue to a long drama

https://youtu.be/JB-RNaSz7KQ    Chasidish Despacito?

https://youtu.be/ZtQhJ_Ui5Kw   – Maccabeats Despacito?

https://youtu.be/5zO6M_g0Ddo   Israeli Violinist Despacito?

https://youtu.be/n6Y5zZlq1JQ - Breslav Despacito?

https://youtu.be/BabXYevQwmE - Laurel and Hardy Despacito? Had enough yet?

answer below at end of Email

Q.  A hanging (suspended) tree sculpture designed by the sculptor Ran Morin is located in:
a. Sejera
b. Haifa
c. Nazareth
d. Jaffa


Ki Teitzei- One of the enlightening things to me in this column is not only the original ways we learn and study Rashi, but the little bios that follow this column of the individual who gave this insight as well. Oh, that’s what it says in the italicized paragraphs that follow this column, you’re thinking…It’s alright if you don’t read it, there’s way too much information in this E-Mail anyways and you gotta skip something, right? And it’s definitely not going to be the jokes. But anyways I just find it amazing that the greatest minds and Jewish leaders for almost 1000 years since Rashi wrote his commentary, have been pondering, learning, innovating and finding meaning and insight into his concise and seemingly easy commentary. It is even more inspiring to me when one of the greatest leaders of today’s generation does so as well.
In this week’s portion of Ki Teitzei the parsha begins with the mitzva of yifat Toar a captured one who caught the eye of one of the soldiers and the process of converting her and marrying her. The Torah concludes this portion with the commandment that if he does not desire her than he should divorce her and she is sent home to her parents home.
Rashi on that mitzva notes
Devarim (21:14) And it shall be if he does not desire her and she shall send her to herself- The verse is foretelling you that he will ultimately hate her.
Reb Eliyahu Mizrachi asks where do our sages, whom Rashi is quoting, know and see from the verse that he will end up hating her and divorcing her. The Torah merely says that if he doesn’t desire her what the protocol is. Reb Chayim Kanievsky notes that the Torah uses the word v’haya- And it shall be. There are two words that mean and it shall be; vayehi and vihaya. Vahyehi is used when it is a bad thing that will happen and vhaya is when it is a good thing. Suggests Reb Chayim, that seemingly the usage of the word v’haya over here is telling me that there is something good about this failed marriage. It is that they will not bear children. For as Rashi tells us, the outcome of this marriage will ultimately be a Ben Sorer Umoreh a wayward child that will ultimately be sentenced to death in the following passage. Similarly we find this same terminology, he notes, in the next portion that talks about a man who takes two wives and he there is one he hates and one he lioves. v’haya ha’ben habechor lasenuah- And it shall be the first-born son is born to the hated wife- Again the Torah usuesd to teach us that the hated mother is happy because she has the first-born. It is ofr this reason Rashi points out that the verse is telling you- with the usage of the good-news term v’haya- that he will ultimately hate her and divorce her.
Isn’t it inspiring to know that Reb Chayim Kanievsky is learning the same Rashi we are?

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (1928-till Mashiach comes J) – I believe it is non-debatable that Reb Chaim is the unchallenged Gadol HaDor- leader of the Jewish people today. This is certainly true of the Yeshiva world, but even in Chasidic and modern orthodox world the name Reb Chaim requires no last name to identify him. It is hard to argue about a man who is literally a walking Torah scroll, who completes the entire Torah (Mishna, Talmud, Midrash and all other accompanying early works of the Oral tradition). Yet at the same time sits hours each day and greets and blesses and guides those that seek his leadership and guidance from all over the world in his tiny little apartment in Bnai Brak.
Born of an illustrious Torah home Reb Chaim Kanievsky was born in Pinskto Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky as the Steipler Gaon and Rebbitzen Miriam Karelitz, sister of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz or the Chazon Ish. He married Batsheva Elyashiv, daughter of Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv (grandson of Rav Shlomo Elyashiv, also known as the Leshem) and granddaughter of Rav Aryeh Levin the "Tzaddik of Jerusalem. It doesn’t get more prestigious than that.
A fun fact that you may not have been aware of though was that during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, Rav Kanievsky, then a student at the Lomza Yeshiva, was conscripted for temporary army service in the general mobilization. He was assigned to stand guard on a large hill near Jaffa.So one could say he was a soldier as well.
Perhaps one of the most incredible things that Rav Chaim has been pushing over the last few years, interestingly enough, I have heard from many that have visited him, is that Jews should move to Eretz Yisrael. He feels strongly that Mashiach is literally around the corner and has said as much, and feels it would be good for all of us to be here already for the time is now. May his words be readily fulfilled.
Shofar Blowers –My kids tell me I’m getting desperate, It’s the end of the year and I’m scrambling for new types of Jews you meet in Israel. I don’t think so. Anyways this might be a stretch but you do see these guys all around. It seems to be a thing in this country, to randomly blow shofars at different places. Certainly in the old city of Jerusalem or Tzfat during  Bar Mitzva ceremonies or weddings.When walks around the Shuk in Jerusalem as well there inevitably might be someone blowing his shofar as well. But I’ve seen shofar blowers on Masada, in train stations, on the streets of Tel Aviv or other busy cities. Most Jewish rallies are also incomplete without your Shofar blower as well, be they political rallies and certainly by religious ones. Shofar blowers can be random guys with beards, Nachman’s and Chabad guys are certainly the most prevalent. Sfardim as well have a big thing for Shofar blowing by simchas. But then you have your random Chinese guys or Christian tourists that feel very biblical when they walk around with their big shofars and blow them as well. This month of Elul until Rosh Hashana when there is a Jewish custom to blow each morning to awaken everyone to repent. One certainly hears the Shofar blast more often than not. Each time I hear the Shofar, personally, my heart jumps. Is it Mashiach? Is he finally here? I’m still hoping. I imagine the Shofar blowers are as well.

A Jewish father was very troubled by the way his son turned out and went to see his rabbi about it.
“Rabbi, I brought him up in the faith, gave him a very expensive Bar Mitzvah and it cost me a fortune to educate him. Then he tells me last week, he’s decided to be a Christian. Rabbi, where did I go wrong?”
The rabbi strokes his beard and says, “Funny you should come to me. I too, brought up my son as a boy of faith, sent him to university and it cost me a fortune and then one day he comes to me and tells me he wants to be a Christian.”
“What did you do?” asked the man of the rabbi.
“I turned to God for the answer,” replied the rabbi.
“What did he say?” asked the man.
He said, “Funny you should come to me...”

A young Jewish guy develops a crush on a girl, but when he tells his Father about her, the old boy just wants to know her family name. When the young guy tells him that the girl's name is Ford, the old boy tells him that Ford is not a good Jewish name, and he must forget her, and go and find a nice Jewish girl. So time passes, and the young guy finds another girl, but her name is Austin, so his Father tells him the same thing, to find a nice Jewish girl with a nice Jewish name. So more time passes, and the young guy finds another girl, but this time he is sure that he has solved the problem because the girl's name is Goldberg. "Goldberg !" exclaims his Father, "This makes me very happy because it is a real good Jewish name, and from a good established family" Then he asks what her first name is. "Is it one of my favourite names, like Rachael, or Rebecca ?" "No Father" replied the young guy. "It's Whoopi"

Q - What do Jewish wives make for supper?
A - Reservations.

Lionel from London is taking his University gap year in America and he’s visiting as many places there as he can. But whilst spending some time in Oklahoma, he meets and falls deeply in love with a Cherokee girl. Not long after, they decide to get married and Lionel rings his mother to tell her the good news.
"Mum, I’ve found my future wife and we’re getting married over here. I’m going to send you the air tickets to join us."
"Mazeltov Lionel," his mother says. "I’m so pleased, but is she ……. Jewish?"
"No mum," Lionel replies, "she’s not. But she promises to act as a Jewish wife."
"Oy," his mother wails, "I’ve always wanted you to marry a lovely Jewish girl."
"You can’t have everything mum," Lionel says. "And another thing I must tell you. She lives on a reservation and that’s where we’ll be living after we marry."
"I can’t take any more of this," cries his mother, "I don’t want the tickets and I don’t want to speak to you again." And with that she slams down the phone.
Almost a year later, Lionel rings his mother and tells her that they are expecting a baby.  His mother doesn’t slam down the phone but says, very politely and unemotionally, "That’s nice, son, I’m happy for you both."
Eight months later, Lionel again rings his mother and says, "Mum, I just want to say that last night my wife gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. I also want you to know that we’ve agreed to give our son a Jewish name."
Upon hearing this unexpected news, his mother shouts out with happiness. "Oh Lionel, bubbeleh, this is wonderful news," she cries, "I've been waiting for this moment all my life. You’ve both made me more happy than you could ever know."
"That's fantastic, mum," replies Lionel. "I’m so glad that you and I are back together as mother and son."
"And what," asks his proud and happy mother, "is my lovely grandson’s name going to be?"
Lionel replies, proudly, "Smoked Whitefish."

Rabbi Levy, one of the wisest of rabbis, is dying. And because he is so loved by his colleagues, many rabbis have gathered around his hospital bedside trying to make his last moments as rewarding as possible.
Whilst the visiting rabbis are praying, one of the nurses comes into the room and offers rabbi Levy a glass of warm milk to drink. But with what little strength he has left, rabbi Levy refuses it.
Seeing this, rabbi Jacobs has an idea. He remembers that he has a bottle of whiskey in his car which he was planning to use for his next kiddush. So whilst his colleagues are watching rabbi Levy’s laboured breaths, he quickly picks up the glass of milk and creeps out to his car. Rabbi Jacobs then opens the bottle of whiskey and pours a generous portion of it into the warm milk. He then goes back to rabbi Levy’s bedside and holds the glass to rabbi Levy’s lips.
"Go on rabbi Levy," says rabbi Jacobs, "please drink some of this milk. It will make you feel a bit better. Really it will."
So rabbi Levy takes a small sip, stares at the glass, drinks a bit more, then smiles and finishes every drop of the milk-and-whiskey mixture.
The other rabbis are humbled when they see rabbi Levy apparently making some kind of recovery. "Rabbi Levy," they say, "please share some of your wisdom with us before you die!"
At this, rabbi Levy raises himself up in his bed and with a pious look on his face points out the window and says, "Don't sell that cow!"

Answer is D– I  have no clue about this one. Not really that interested in Israeli tree sculptures. Barely even interested in trees, fuggedabout sculptures of trees. But actually after googling this it kind of rang a bell, in the old city of Jaffa on our tour there in the tour guiding course I remember seeing this down one of the alleyways there. It’s a tree hanging in the air from a pot. Can’t imagine too many people knew this answer though. It is definitely one I would have skipped on the exam as we had to answer 45 out of 50.