Karmiel

Karmiel
Our view of the Galile

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wholly Holy- Acharey Mos/ Kedoshim/ Yom Ha'atzmaut 2015/5775

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

April 23rd  2015 -Volume 5, Issue 24 -4th Iyar 5775
Parshas Acharei Mos/Kedoshim/Yom Ha'atzmaut
Wholly Holy
There's a lot of holy people in Israel. Approximately 6 million and 251 thousand give or take how many were born or died over the last few days in Israel alone, 162,000 more than last year. 32,000 are even holier as they moved to Israel in the past year. We're still waiting for the close to 7 million Jews not here yet to join the club. I've got a Falafel waiting for you and there's a Temple that we need your help to build. I was never really good at construction so I could use a hand.

 
Now, I know what you're thinking. The numbers I just gave you are of the total Jewish population. But not all of them are holy. I'm sure we can think of quite a few that don't necessarily earn that title. In fact come to think of it I don't know if we can count of more than handful that we would call holy people. How many do you know? I know Holy Bagels, my father used to always refer to "Holy Toledo" and I'm even familiar with holy guacamole and mackerel. But holy people? Jewish people? Yes. I mean all of us. Don't believe me? Check out this week's Torah portion it tells us again and again. Be Holy for Holy am I Hashem your God. We are holy because He is Holy. If you believe Hashem is holy than. And if he isn'tthan who is? Than know that we are holy as well. Not just "we", as in the Jews that are just like me. Rather the entire nation is holy because our holiness derives from Hashem's presence within us. In fact the Me'or VaShemesh, the great Chasidic Rebbe understands the above verse as explaining why this Mitzva and command was meant to be given to "all of the nation of Israel" together, as opposed to other commandments that were given and taught through the hierarchy of Moshe to Aharon to the elders and down. This Mitzva was meant to be given to everyone so that they would understand that each and every one of them are holy because it derives from Hashem.

 
I recall a lesson I once heard from one of my teachers. He told me that when he was a child he had a classmate that would always get on his nerves. And as is wont to happen in such cases, his Rebbe came over to him and suggested that he start take him as a study partner, a chavrusa in learning. When he told his Rebbe that he would agree to learn with anyone else, but this one guy...he just couldn't take him. His Rebbe asked him if he also has a problem with God. "What!" he answered aghast, "How can I have a problem with Hashem?"
"But doesn't Hashem get on your nerves some time?" The Rebbe persisted. "Doesn't he do things that upset you, things that just don't seem right, seem fair?" 
"Ummmmmm... but He's Hashem. I can't get mad at Him. It's for my own good, it's for me to grow."
 "Ah ha" said his Rebbe in words he will never forget "Than why would you feel differently about someone who is in the image of Hashem..."

 
What is holiness? The word in Hebrew translates as separate, different. We use it as a way to differentiate from the mundane, the profane. Hashem is holy because, He's not part of the physical world. He placed in each of us His spirit of life, our "holy" soul that allows us to transcend our mortal and physical existence and to connect to Him. The Jewish people as whole are holy because as Hashem says I have separated you from the nations to be holy to me. The word holy/ Kadosh is also used as a term to define the relationship between a husband and wife. We are wed to Hashem. All of us. As a betrothed bride is entirely committed to her groom and can't have part of her that is "still single"; still in  a relationship outside of her husbands. We are entirely as a nation Mikudeshet. Separate. Holy. My hand, my arm, my pot-belly, my great sense of humor and my not so great parenting skills are part of the package. And my neighbor, the liberal, the ultra hariedi bearded rabbi, my knitted Kipa flag waving storekeeper and the Ethiopian, Russian and even French immigrant who break their teeth trying to ask me for directions are all part of Hashems holy nation. Yes, thatShnorrer that keeps hitting you up for money while your trying to pray is holy, yes that guy or lady from the "evil" or corrupt political party that you campaigned vociferously against is holy. Yes, even even the slimiest dirt-bag of a self-hating Jew that is an abomination to everything that the Torah represents is holy. All of us have that spark of Hashem that is holy. "Gather them all together and tell them that" Hashem says. So they know that about themselves and they know that about each other. For I am holy and so are they. If you have a problem with them. You have a problem with Me.

 
I know it's hard to wrap you're (and my) brain around this concept. But I'll make it easier. I'll show you how even though we may not see it. There are others that see it. I'll name one. I'll tell you a story. It was July 1944. The end of the war. Things were going bad for Germany. They were losing thousands on all fronts. The US was in, The tide had turned. But they had an important job to do. The testimonies in Yad Vashem describe how on July 23rd the 1651 remaining Jews of the island of Rhodes were piled onto two coal barges to be sent to Athens and from there to the cattle cars that would take them to the death camps of Aushwitz/Birkenau. The war was being lost, the man power and boats were almost certainly needed but they were dedicated to this "higher purpose". Along the way the boat stopped of at the island of Kos where another 120 Jews were picked up. The trains were still waiting for them. Yet that was still not enough. Word came to the boat from the Nazi "High" Command. There was one more stop to be made. The coal boats made a detour. There was one Jew on the Island of Leros. One Jew. It was worth the stop. They understood he was holy. He must be eradicated. 

 
I don't know who that one Jew was. Imaginably living alone on some foreign Greek island far away from any of his co-coreligionists, he wasn't what we might consider mainstream or maybe even religious. But he was certainly holy. They understood that if one Jew survives in this world so does God. So the trains could wait. They could do without the coal and the boats. Soldiers could die and the war might even be lost. But if they could just destroy one more piece of the Divine that resides in this world then they have one. They understood that the loss of any Jew is the death of an entire world of holiness. It's a lesson we need to learn as well.

 
Today is Yom Ha'Atzmaut. The State is 67 years old today. Someone told me that it is retirement age in Israel as well. There are many Jews that celebrate the birthday today. Some see in it the flourishing of the Redemption. Others who see the State as a sorry excuse for what the kingdom of Hashem on this planet that is meant to  serve as an inspiration to the rest of the world of how a world directed by Hashem that lives life and is run according to his commandments, don't celebrate it. There are others that are ambivalent. Personally I'm grateful to be living in a country that my ancestors always dreamed of and prayed for with more Jews than any other single place in the world. Where 75% of the people that live here 
are my brothers and sisters. Are holy.

 
 The Jewish people are coming home. The full holiness of Hashem's presence in this world will only shine out when we are all here. Our betrothed is waiting for His whole bride. His Holy Bride. We need to just realize how holy each and everyone are. How holy our home is. Then will we be able to celebrate not just the beginning of the sprouting of our redemption but the culmination of it.  
Have a holy Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
What Olim Like about Israel

Israeli Chutzpa Workshop

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!!

"Nein rabonim kenen kain minyen nit machen ober tsen shusten yoh..."
Nine rabbis cannot make a quorum but ten shoemakers can

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE QUOTES  OF THE WEEK
"The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them. ...Even if they worship idols, but there is bonding among them, and no separation of hearts, they have peace and quiet" -
Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein, Maor VaShemesh 
"
What is your question?Bury me next to any Jew, And I only hope that any Jew will not be embarrassed to be buried next to me as I will be proud to be buried next to him."
-Reb Menachem Mendel Vitebsk, great 18th century Chasidic Rebbe who made Aliya to the city of Tiverya upon being asked who he would like to be buried next to.
"
Eliminate the Diaspora, or the Diaspora will surely eliminate you."
- Ze'ev Jabotinsky
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
 Ben Gurion's Tomb overlooks:
  1. A.    Nahal Tsin
  2. B.     Nahal Avdat
  3. C.     Nahal Paran
  4. D.    Nahal Mamshit
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
At the end of Parshat Acharey Mos the Torah warns us not to sin with sins of immorality for the land of Israel will not tolerate it and will vomit us up as it did to the other nations that lived here prior to us. The Midrash gives a beautiful parable that reflects this idea. Captives were taken to a labor camp. The prisoners that were accustomed to poor and simple backgrounds were able to consume the unappetizing and less than sanitary prison food. Those had a more refined background and were raised in wealth and affluence couldn't digest the food and vomited it up. Similarly the Land of Israel is one whose essence is refined. It is the palace of the King. Immoral and dis"tasteful" behavior causes it to expel them. So how do you guys living in poor and simple countries feel about that?       

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Have Fun Climbing through Water Tunnels - I know this doesn't sound so exciting but its actually quite a bit of fun and historical. There are quite a few places in Israel where there are tunnels of historical significance. Like 3000 or so years old. The city of David has a great tunnel dug in the times of Chizkiya/ Hezekia during the first Temple period almost a half mile long that you go through with flashlights and almost waist high water. Theres Park Alona along the Coast line as well which is from the second Temple period and was part of the water aquaduct system to casarea. There's another Hasmonean period one by Armon Hanetziv in Jerusalem as well. In the Gush Etzion area there is the Biyar one as well. There's probably more that I'm not remembering please send em in to me if you think of anymore. Regardless I don't know of anywhere else in the world where one can have this type of experience water, history, underground ancient tunnel all only in my favorite country!

 
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S  TERIBBLE YOM HAATZMAUT JOKE OF THE WEEK

On an invitation to a Yom Ha"Atzmaut celebration at the Prime Minister's residence:
You are cordially invited to join us at our annual BiBi.Q...
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Q. What is the name of the dance we do on Yom Ha'Atzmaut?
A. The Indepen-dance
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As the siren sounds on Yom Hazikaron/ Israel's Memorial Day, the "Palestinian" asks the Israeli what the siren is for. He answers " It's our memorial day when we remember all of our fallen soldiers that have died in our wars." The then asks "well what about our fallen fighters" The Israeli answered "we commemorate them tomorrow!" (Israel's Yom Ha'atzamaut/independence day)
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Answer is A:  How appropriate the week of Yom Atzmaut the question is about Ben Gurion Israels first Prime minister and the declarer of our Statehood. Ben Gurion, BG or the Zaken/Old Man as he was fondly called was the longest serving PM of Israel although Bibi's getting close. He was our first and he kept coming back although his dream was always to live in Sdei Boker and work on a kibbutz (socialist that he was) and make the Negev flourish. In the end he is buried over there not overlooking Masmshit the nabatean city he wished to make the capital of Israel instead of Jerusalem. Not Paran or Avdat either but right over Nachal Tzin wher one can see the southern Biblical borders of Israel from the glorious outlook of his grave.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Last Siren- Shmini/Tazria/Metzora/Yom HaShoah 2015

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

April 16th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 23 -28th Nisan 5775
Parshas Shmini/Tazria/Metzora/Yom Hashoah (whewww…rough job J this week)

The Last Siren
It wasn’t a shofar blast. There was no man with a white beard riding on a donkey. It was just the guy driving in front of me in some beaten up French make car with his T-Shirt with some English words scrawled on it stopping in middle of the road and getting out of his car as the siren sounded. I have heard sirens here before. They were going off regularly in the war this summer, as I toured around the South and in Jerusalem. They went off in the previous Gaza War as well that we were here for. Before we moved here I remember hearing and watching those blasts, as many of my family now does-my family being any Jew that cares about is brothers and sisters that reside here in the Holy Land- from the comfortable distance of the States. We heard and watched those blasts and saw the missiles fall with Tehillim, words of prayer, on our lips, that Hashem should protect His children, His land. His country. The sirens warned us of impending danger, and eventually they also became the sound of the subsequent miracles and salvation that followed, when the reports of no casualties soon came to follow. But this was a different siren. It is Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day. The bullets and missiles have fallen. The millions have been massacred…gassed…decimated. There were certainly miracles. The Jewish “People” survived, lived on, and rebuilt. But the siren blasts each year and we remember. We stop our cars and stand in silence and we reflect. My reflection is that it is still not a shofar blast. It’s not yet over.

We had a discussion in Shul this morning after the siren about the importance of “Holocaust Education”. Quite a few of my co-religionists suggested that every child learns and hears about it from home. The plethora of religious books, novels and stories that religious kids read are about stories of survival, heroism, and Jewish martyrdom in the sanctification of Hashem’s name during that period of time. They are not reading Harry Potter or watching pet tricks on YouTube or fantasy TV shows. They don’t need a “Holocaust curriculum”. It is already an essential part of their extra-curricular past time. For many it is the bread and butter that they are raised on. The truth is, one of colleagues said, every Jewish child that has had a religious Pesach Seder understands the notion of “B’Chol Dor VaDor Omdim Aleinu L’Chaloteinu”-That in every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. Every child in Israel, even non-religious understands that we live in a world where there are nations that seek to destroy us. There has not been a decade in this country that has not been threatened with annihilation. 1948, The Sinai Campaign, Six Day War, War of Attrition, Yom Kippur, 1st Lebanon War, First Intifada, Gulf War, 2nd Intifada, 2nd Lebanon War, and in  the past decade alone three wars in Gaza after we expelled our own brothers and sisters from our own land. There isn’t a 10 year old and perhaps even a seven year old that hasn’t sat in a bunker or ran from a siren. We cannot forget, because it hasn’t ended. We’re still fighting for our lives.

Yet, I don’t believe that Holocaust Remembrance Day is merely about not forgetting those that perished or that there are those that still will seek to destroy us. Nor do I feel that it is about strengthening our resolve of “Never Again” or patting ourselves on the shoulder that we have a State of Israel now to protect us and to remind that the world that we earned with the blood of our ancestors. Quite the contrary, actually. I believe that it is the second part of that phrase that we recite by our Pesach Seder, that we need to reflect upon. That we need to remind ourselves and then the world of. “V’HaKadosh Baruch Matzileinu MiYadam”- And the Holy One blessed be He-Hashem, saves us from their hands” Or as the song profoundly adds in “Rak Hakadosh Baruch Hu”-Only Hashem saves us. Not the United Nations, not the United States, Not the US Congress or our Christian friends-God Bless them. Not even the Israeli army, our drones, our brave young soliders and certainly not our politicians. Dare I even say, not even the Kollel Rabbis and the young children studying Torah. or even our holy women’s prayers all of which our sages tell us are our strength and power. At the end of the day it is only Hashem that saves us. His mercy and His love for His children, no matter how far they have fallen. And ultimately it is His desire for His revelation to the whole world that will only come through us that will ultimately come through in the end. It is our faith and acknowledgement of principle, that I think about when I close my eyes during the siren. That I will not forget.

This week we in Israel read a different Torah reading than that of those in the States. We are a step ahead of you here. While they are reading about the dedication of the original Tabernacle and the tragedy that occurred with the death of the children of Aharon upon its dedication in Parshat Shmini. We will be reading about the birth of children boys and girls and the preparation of the purification process to raise that new generation in the Temple to be rebuilt. As they will read about the laws of the Kosher animals and the impurity associated that comes with the internalizing of the animals that are impure. We in Israel will be reading about the external blemishes of Tzora’as that come as a result of the sins of Lashon Hara, fighting, stinginess and arrogance. External blemishes that our sages teach only come here in the land of Israel and only on a people whose internal is already pure. Hashem commands, explains the Rebbe of Lubavitch, that one who is afflicted with this malady to go off into isolation. This is to recognize that our camp is pure. Even more than that, that he himself is internally pure. The blemishes are merely external shackles that he still has to remove. He must remove his pride, his fighting his divisiveness from his fellow man and his separation from his Creator so he can rejoin his camp. Hashem’s camp. Where the external matches the purity of the internal. A world without blemish. A world where Hakadosh Baruch Hu and only Hakadosh Baruch Hu saves us from our enemy’s hands.

There are no coincidences in the weekly Torah reading. We are meant to read each Torah portion as if it is our daily commentary of our lives to today. It’s like Hashem’s weekly Talk Radio Show about the daily and weekly news to us. We just have to scratch the surface a bit and find the meaning He is meaning to convey to us in His weekly show. It’s not just global issues either. It is the personal message to each and every Jew in their own personal lives; the challenges we face, the tragedies that beset us and the victories that we achieve. This week there are two different readings and thus two different messages for what is so sadly and tragically two separated parts of our nation. The message of Shmini is that of the remembering the joy and tragedy of the coronation Mishkan of old and the focus and emphasis upon the non-internalization of impurity, the breaking and koshering of vessels that have come in contact with the impure. In the words of the Torah “To separate between Holy and profane and between pure and impure”. Parshat Shmini is the midway point of the Torah both in letters and words. It concludes I am Hashem who raises you (present tense) up from the land of Egypt to be a God for you. And you shall be holy for I am Holy. It is the Parsha that is the turning point. When we have left the past.

Tazria and Metzora, though are about the future. The new generation. The ones not born in tragedy but in purity, in the land of our Fathers that we have waited so long to come home to. To this new generation Hashem directs us to focus on preserving that purity. In the land of Israel we will never be allowed to forget the consequences when we begin to contaminate our innate purity or the purity of the land with our seeds of dissent and with the afflictions of our lapses in faith that Hashem and only Hashem is running everything. Our fate is only in His hand. The redemption will come when we can finally remove those last external vestiges that 2000 years of Exile amongst the nations have left upon our souls.

As I close my eyes for the siren, I think about my ancestors as they marched to the gas chambers. I recall the stories and testimonies of survivors about how they sang Ani Maamin-I believe with total faith in the coming of Mashiach. How millions of them died with the words Shema Yisrael- Hashem is our God Hashem is One on their lips. They understood more clearly than any of us today that there is no one else that will bring that redemption. They understood we were put here on this earth for only one purpose to sanctify Hashem’s name and to bring His glory to this world. In their deaths they did so. It is now up to us to herald in the Final Days, Hashem’s “Final Solution” that we will soon here that Shofar sing its call.
Have a meaningful blessed Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
Rabbi Lau Holocaust Memorial day

Shlomo Carlebach Yom Hashoa holding on to shoes

 the six millions last will

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!!

Az men ken nit iberharn dos shlechteh, ken men dos guteh nit derleben..
If you can’t endure the bad, you’ll not live to witness the good.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S HOLOCAUST QUOTES  OF THE WEEK
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.",”- Martin Niemöller
“Many people abandoned Judaism because of the Holocaust. I did just the opposite,” he said. “We have no alternative but to attach ourselves to Torah and mitzvot. Why? Because we want to defeat the Nazis. The Nazis didn’t only attack the Jews physically, but also spiritually. What’s the proof? The very first thing they did before the war even started was Kristallnacht. They destroyed over 1000 shuls in a single night. Ten months before the war began, they were already fighting against synagogues and sifrei kodesh, our holy books. This shows what their real intention was. They attacked our soul before our body. If we abandon the Torah, we are helping them win the battle. We must be victorious by clinging to the Torah. Our eternity, our continuity depends on it.” –Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
 The Dead Sea Works were founded by:
A.    Pinhas Sapir
B.     Pinhas Rotenberg
C.     Simha Blass
D.    Moshe Novomeiski
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
Parshat Tazria begins with the mitzvah of a boy being born and circumcising him after 8 days. The Midrash explains why Hashem decreed that one must wait 8 days before circumcising the child with a parable. On the occasion of the visit of the kings friend to his palace the King arranged a big banquet in his honor. However on the way to the banquet the King asked his friend if he had yet the opportunity to see the queen. When the friend replied that he hadn’t the King exclaimed “How can you come to the Palace without having first met the King. For she is more beautiful than words and the entire palace is in her merit.”
Similarly Hashem rules that unless a child has first met the Shabbos Queen and absorbed its holiness and beauty than he cannot yet undergo his circumcision.
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Being moved by a siren – As a kid growing up in Detroit they would have sirens blare every month to prepare for tornados. They were fun. My father would open his mouth and pretend that the sound was coming from there. (remember that Dad?). In Israel though Sirens have more meaning. On Yom Hashoa and on Yom HaZikaron Israel’s memorial days for the holocaust and it’s fallen soldiers the siren is a call for a moment of silence and reflection. People stop their cars, their shopping, their activities and all schools pause in middle of their learning to reflect upon our past and our martyrs. In times of war as well when sirens go off even those that are not in the “war zone” pause and offer their prayers for one another. The siren is our modern day Shofar that unites our people. May we soon hear the real one of Mashiach
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S HITLER JOKES OF THE WEEK
Stalin dies and goes to hell. Satan meets him at the gate. "Welcome to hell!" he says, "let me show your punishment". He takes Stalin over to a pile of boulders at the bottom of a hill and says "your job is to push these up to the top of the hill for all eternity... now get started"
He pushes the first rock up to the top and spots Hitler sitting at a desk writing. A little while later Satan comes back. "How's it going?" he asks "Not too well actually" replies Stalin, "how come I have to push endless rocks up a hill and all Hitler has to do is write?" 
"Don't worry about that" laughs Satan. "He's translating The Communist Manifesto into Hebrew
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A man looks down the bar and sees a man that looks like Adolph Hitler he walks up to him and says are you Hitler? The man stands up and says real loud “Yes I am Adolph Hitler I killed 6 million Jews and 3 clowns. The man says why did you kill 3 clowns? Hitler says “See what I mean, no one cares about the Jews”.
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Aaron meets Moshe in Berlin and asks him what he has done the whole day long.
"I was at the funeral of Hitler!" he replies.
"And how was it, what happened there"
"Oh.it was surprising" says Moshe "First they let the coffin down in the hole, but then pulled it out, then let it down again, pulled it out again and so on. About ten or twelve times!"
"But why?" askes Aaron astonished.
"Oh, thats no wonder, with this enormous applause he had!!!"
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Answer is D:  All of the choices for this question have something in common. Can any of you guess what they are? Hey! How about that? You figured it out? Yes, all of them have to with Israel. Good. J. Now what about Israel? O.K. I’ll tell you. Water. Each of the above were all involved with something to do with water. Pinchas Sapir was in charge of the Movil Artzi Israel’s national water system. The Kinneret pumping station which pumps out water around the whole country is named after him. Ruttenberg developed Israel’s first Electric power plant in Gesher that utilized the Yarmouk and Jordan rivers to power it. Simcha Blass developed water systems in the Negev including drip irrigation. And the correct answer Novometzkey started the development of the Dead Sea works and extraction of minerals from it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

His-Story- Passover 2015/5775

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

April 2nd  2015 -Volume 5, Issue 22 -14th NissanAdar 5775
Pesach
His-Story Lesson
“Get off the computer now…it’s Erev Pesach, nobody should have time to read your weekly E-Mails any way, there’s too much to do.” I disagree with my family. I think many of you are just sitting at home this past week as you do most weeks and just stare at your computer screens and wait until “ding- you have mail” pops up and you can rest comfortably knowing that you have your weekly inspiration. But in order to show respect and solidarity with the traditional Egyptian style slave labor cleaning and preparing that goes on in the Schwartz home before Pesach I bring you the abridged version this week. Shalom Bayis, boys and girls Shalom Bayis…

OK two quick ideas in a nutshell. The first came to mind as my oldest daughter Shani experienced her first “March of the Living -style-(it was through her seminary)” journey to Europe this past week I had mixed feelings about it. I’m not a fan of Eastern Europe, not a fan of Concentrations camps or anti-semitism either and don’t necessarily appreciate the value of giving them one tourism dollar on the blood of my ancestors. I know that knowing our history is important and never again and having an appreciation of the gift of the State of Israel area all critical parts that become internalized on these trips but still I don’t know how sold I am on actually having to travel there and see it. On the other hand many of our Jewish holidays seem to be about remembering our past, our roots and our history. In fact on Pesach we are mandated to even act out the story of Egypt. We eat Matzos, bitter herbs, and throw frogs and lice on the table. Or at least some of us do. So maybe there is a point to re-experiencing the holocaust experience. In fact I read a few stories of quite a few survivors that would actually put on their black and white prison garb and would start their seder with the words “We were slaves to Hitler in Poland.” Talk about passing on the message to the next generation.

Yet I saw an idea from the Baal Shem Tov this past Purim that I think applies equally to Pesach. There is a law that says that if one is “Koreh Es HaMegilla LiMafraya LoYatza”-which literally means one who reads the Megilla retroactively he does not fulfill his obligation. The Halacha/law being that if one reads the megilla out of order of the chapters and verses one does not fulfill their obligation. The Be”sht though interprets the words homiletically though. He who reads the megilla and understands the story of the Purim as being one only retroactively, as a story that happened in the past or a Jewish history lesson, has missed the point of the reading and does not really fulfill their obligation. The miracle of Purim is an eternal miracle. It is how Hashem appears to each one of us in moments of darkness and manipulates the world for us to persevere to thrive to overcome and achieve our destinies. Purim isn’t a 2500 years ago story it’s a 2500 year continuing story of us.

If this is true for Purim, it is even truer for Pesach. There is a debate in the Gemara between Rav and Shmuel how does one fulfill the obligation to recite the Hagada and story we are Biblically obligated to recite this evening. Shmuel suggests that we must begin our story with Avadim Hayinu- We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Rav on the other hand suggests that we begin with story of our ancestors being idolators. We talk about our “father” Terach and mention Esau, we go back to Jacob and Lavan as well. For most kids (and not a few adults) it feels like we’re going over the entire Torah from the book of Bereishis. Even more interesting though is that the conclusion of of Rav’s recitation ends with us singin Dayeinu where we mention the post Egypt stories that continue with the manna, the giving of the Torah and ultimately the building of the Temple- “to atone for our sins”. C’mon it’s late. Why do we feel the need to pack the entire Jewish story into one seder. Leave the Torah giving stuff for Shavuot, the Temple stuff maybe for Sukkot, atoning for Yom Kippur. Why are we packing it all in?

The answer is that Rav is coming to answer the question that is not being asked by the Seder. Maybe it’s the question of the son “who does not know how to ask”. Who perhaps feels too comfortable where he is to ask. Why were we sent down to Egypt in the first place for? Hashem took us out, Hooray! But he also sent us there. What is it all about. The answer is that we should not read the Hagadda as only a history story. You can let your kids watch the movie for that. Rav believes that story of Pesach is still an ongoing story. It started with us as idolaters and it is still going on until the Temple will be built. We went down to Egypt because we had a destiny to fulfill. We were meant to redeem Egypt from Egypt. To build a home for God starting from the lowest of the low, the 49th level of impurity and raise the world up to the Highest of the high. We were meant to learn that each of us have the power and the ability to slaughter the false gods that the world worships and bring the glory of the one God, who created and maintains the world and is awaiting for His glory to shine in the Temple we will build for him. He who reads the story of Pesach “retroactively” hasn’t fulfilled his obligation. We were brought down for a purpose and we are still rising up and in the process of redemption until we achieve the final promise of “Ve’Havaysi”  that he will bring us all to the land from where we will shine out His light to the world.

The Seder night is the night to pass that message on to our children. But even more so it is a message to pass on to ourselves. The Baal Shem Tov also taught that all four sons are not just our children but they are all us. We are the wise son, we are the wicked son, we are the simple son and perhaps most tragically we are the son who has even forgotten to how to ask. To ask for the final redemption. To ask that we may fulfill the purpose and mission of our Exile and Exodus from Egypt. To ask that we may very soon be the vessels that bring the Shechina once again back to its home. So this may Pesach let us all remember to ask. Don’t just tell stories. Tell His story.

Have a Chag Kasher V’Samayach- A Happy Kosher Pesach,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
  
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S CORNY PASSOVER  JOKE OF THE WEEK- WARNING NOT KOSHER FOR THOSE THAT DO NOT EAT KITNIYOT
What do you call someone who spent hours preparing the seder plat- egg-zosted
Why do we eat horseradish with the four cups of wine? When it chrains it pours
Why did the Egyptians have the Jews make all the pyramids and find their own straw? They were anit-cementic
How does NASA prepare its seder in space? They Plan—it
What did Moshe say to Pharoah when he refused to let the Jews out after the first plague? That was dumb
How do you drive your mother crazy Erev Pesach? It’s a piece of cake

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kid-ding Around- Tzav HaGadol 2015/5775

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

March 27th 13th 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 21 -29th Adar 5775
Parshas Tzav/ HaGadol
Kid-ding Around
"Will you just grow up already!"

 "Why don't you act your age?"
"You want to be treated like an adult? Start acting like one!"
There are perhaps no words more annoying or frustrating for a kid to hear. I should know. I'm still hearing it... and it still hasn't worked. I don't understand. I see all these advertisements about recapturing your youth, all types of anti-aging pills so one can feel like a kid once again, and therapists preaching about finding your "inner child". It seems that I was ahead of the game. Why act like an adult when you’re a kid, only to become an adult looking for his lost childhood? This is a troubling question and you know what we do with troubling questions at this time of year? We save them for the Pesach Seder; the night of questions. And do you know what they answer us inevitably by the Pesach Seder? The reason is…so the children will ask…sigh…they cycle goes on.

Now the reason behind this custom is NOT because the Pesach sacrifice-a goat- is also referred to as a kid. Even though this might be confusing particularly since the last song at the Seder is about this one little kid/goat that a father bought for 2 zuzim. My kids always thought I was the father that sold them for 2 zuzim. I reassured them that I wouldn't sell them for anything less than 20 zuzim and maybe even a Dinar (or a good dinner). They seemed relieved…or maybe not. Thank God for their mother. Back to our E-Mail. Although those are not references to Seder night being "kids night". The rest of the Seder is pretty much all about the kids. In fact the Torah itself seems to revolve the commandments of this very special and important night all about children.

The code of Jewish law discusses the preparations for the Seder as revolving around utilizing all types of tricks to keep the kids up. Hand out nuts and sweets (translate pump them up on sugar and lay off the melatonin), wear a kittel- so children will ask, wash without blessing- so children will ask. The seder pretty much begins all types of strange activities that would usually get us kicked out of the dinner table, leaning while drinking wine over a white tablecloth (not for long), dipping vegetables in salt water and making all types of whiny faces, and stealing the Afikoman and running an hiding it. It continues with each kid getting up and asking their hopefully well-rehearsed four Ma Nishtana questions, which of course then leads into the description of the 4 sons and from there it's the ten plagues with all their appropriate accoutrements. Singing Dayeinu and hallel, dipping marror, fressing matzah while leaning on pillows and then all types of fun songs at the end, it is a night that kids dream of. It's all about them. So to pre-empt the Seder this year I dare to ask the question. Why?

Why is this night different? Shouldn't the most important night of the year be one where we as adults focus on the deep questions and miracles that took place? I understand that kids should know the traditions but why is it so important that it comes in the form of such strange child-like behavior so that they ask questions just to ask them? Why must we do all these strange things-almost behaving like children ourselves- to get them to ask them? Why are we going down to their level shouldn't we bringing them up to ours.

The answer my friends, the Sefas Emes of Ger suggests, is that is precisely the point of Pesach; to see-rather- to experience the Exodus of Egypt on this night with the wonder, awe and amazement of the innocent eyes of children. Perhaps the most next most essential mitzvah of the night, after the telling/re-enacting of the story, is the eating of Matzah and the prohibition of chametz. The difference between Matzah and Chametz is essentially time; time to rise, time to get bloated, time to mature, time to achieve that perfect state of man-developed food chockfull of wholesome nutrients, preservatives and minerals and vitamins-like my cheerios box says. Matzah on the other hand is cut short in that process. It's stuck in that first state of development. Why is that the main staple? Because we are meant to get away for a few days from all our man-made world with all the answers and envelope ourselves in a world of Hashem. A world in which questions don't need answers, the wonder and amazement of those miracles and that redemption are awesome enough. We ask out of awe. We ask because we just want to be heard and we know that our Father is listening to our voice and basking in our awe. We are all His children and the Seder night is the night that we get back to that moment…through the eyes and questions of our children.

The Sefas Emes suggests that it is for this reason that this Shabbos before Pessach is referred to as Shabbas Ha'Gadol the great or big Shabbos. He suggests that until this Shabbos when we were in Egypt we observed Shabbos in some way but it was entrenched in slavery. It was a day-off from hard work. It was in an un-commanded state like the observances of a minor. This Shabbos when Hashem commanded us in Egypt to prepare for our Exodus and prepare our Pesach offering was the first time we observed Shabbos as a "Gadol" an adult. Our Bar Mitzvah Shabbos so to say. What changed on this Shabbos? We were still in Egypt. The redemption had not yet come? But we were able to see it. For the first time we moved beyond the 210 year realities of our day-to day life of slaves and experienced the Exodus and Shabbos before it had even arrived as a Bar Mitzvah boy on his first Shabbos. We became that youthful, starry eyed young man and we jumped into the commandment to forget about time and place and move above it with the faith and dedication to Hashem and our new exciting reality. It is no coincidence that our first mitzvah Ha'Chodesh Ha'Zeh Lachem- to count the Jewish months is the introduction to all of the mitzvahs of Pesach. Like a child we don't have to think or worry about time. Time revolves around us. Not us around it.

I think about the life through the eyes of a child. The incredible places their tour guide father takes them. There is nothing more precious than the wonder in their eyes as they look out at the world. Sure they ask questions, how did this form this way? Why is it that shaped like that? What type of tree, rock, castle is that?  What's the name of that mountain, that lake, that star? They really don't care about the answer. They just want me to know that they're here with me. That I'm sharing the experience with them. All the other nights of the year we are perhaps slaves to time. Slaves to our responsibilities, slaves to our questions. But on this night of Pesach we are free to return to ourselves and to that wonder. It's a hard thing to do in one night. But that's what kids are for. To help us and guide us into that world of what we once were. Into that beloved child we are to Hashem. It's not about the kids tonight. It's about us. The kids in us. The kids we may have forgotten about. As we say in the Haggada even if we are all wise, knowledgeable like the greatest sages that were sitting in Bnai Brak. Tonight we go back to that simple childlike wonder and simply re-live and tell that story again like the first time. If we could do that seder right and we make it until the end. Who knows maybe Eliyahu might be at the door to sing L'shana Ha'Baah Bi'Yerushalayim with us. Sounds crazy? Sounds like a child –like fantasy that he might be there? Then stop growing up. Don't act your age for a night and you might be surprised. Greater miracles have happened…and will once again.
Have a big Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
Really cool Pesach Seder from Technion

AKA Pella Pesach cleaning medley
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!!

Kleyn Shlufn Lozn Nit Shlofn, Groyse Kinder Lozn Nit Ru’in.
Small children don’t let you sleep, Big children don’t let you relax.

RABBI SCHWARTZ'S FAVORITE BAR MITZVA QUOTES  OF THE WEEK
“But it’s your barmitzvah photo. Couldn’t you do something about your hair?”,”-Albert Einstein’s Mother on his Bar mitzvah day J
A bar mitzvah is defined as the day when a Jewish boy comes to realize that he is more likely to own a professional sports team than he is to play for one.” –Billy Crystal
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S TOUR GUIDE EXAM QUESTION OF THE WEEK
(answer below at end of Email)
 The first stop Wilhelm II made on his visit to the Land of Israel was at:
A.    Jaffa
B.     Haifa
C.     Akko
D.    The Nahal Taninim delta
.RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL MIDRASH OF THE WEEK
The Parsha begins with the mitzvah of the daily burnt offering in which the Kohanim do not get a portion and he urged them with the word Tzav/command them knowing that since there is financial loss for them they need extra encouragement, as people would be lax about it when it hits the pocket. The Midrash tells us the story of the righteous King Munbaz who when there was a drought in Jerusalem opened up his vaults to the people to distribute his treasures to assist them. When his family protested he responded.
“My forefathers gathered a treasure on this earth, I am storing a treasure in heaven. My fathers stored their treasure in an insecure place. I store it securely. My fathers stored it without profit and I am investing it beneficially. My fathers accumulated treasures of money and I am accumulating treasures of souls. My father’s put aside for others, I am putting aside for myself. My fathers stored for this world I am storing for the world to come.”
Did you donate money for Maot Chittim/ to help needy families for Pesach yet. If not you can contribute at the following link to Yad Eliezer.
 And once you wallet is out why not click on my link and sponsor a weekly E-Mail J
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S COOL THINGS TO DO IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK
Celebrating a Family Simcha – Whatever your Jewish occasion is Israel is the place where the celebration of the event will be most meaningful.  A Bar or Bat Mitzva in Jerusalem with prayers by the Kosel, or at Kever Rachel, or maybe even on top of Masada or in Tzfat. How meaningful is that? Getting your start as a young man or woman in Hashems country, fulfilling your first mitzvas as an adult in the country where they were meant to be kept the most ideally. Combine that with a tour of your homeland with the right guide (hint, hint) and you have a trip and an experience that will remain with our newest adult members off the tribe that will last them forever. Weddings are also an amazing place occasion to have here in the holy land. Starting your Jewish home in your Jewish home. Besides they are a lot cheaper here from what I understand. A Jewish joyous occasion is only one when you include the entire Jewish people in it. Here in Israel the whole country will celebrate your simcha with you. And that is cool!
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RABBI SCHWARTZ'S BAR MITZVA JOKE OF THE WEEK
Bob, not a real practicing Jew, is invited to his nephew's bar mitzvah. The invitation also says that they would like him to do an aliyah. Not being a regular shul goer, he learns how to do it. Every day he practices, "barachu et hashem hamevorach... baruch hashem hamevorach leolam vaed."
On the day before the bar mitzvah, he practices it one more time and when he went to sleep that night, he was confident that he knew it well.
The day of the bar mitzvah arrives and soon it was his turn in the shul. He goes up and says, "barachu et hashem hamevorach."
Everyone behind him then said, "barach hashem hamevorach leolam vaed."
"Be quiet” he shouts, "I can do it myself!"
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Rivkah wakes up one morning and utters a loud "Oy Vay" She has a nagging pain in her left shoulder. She immediately goes to see her doctor.
After examining her, her doctor says, "Do you own a full length mink coat?"
"Yes doctor, mine Hymie bought me one for our silver wedding."
"Good," he says, "you must wear it for 3 weeks, then book to see me again."
Rivkah returns after three weeks and says, "Well doctor, my shoulder has cleared, but I now have a pain in my left index finger."
After examining her, he says, "Do you own a 3 or 4 carat diamond ring?"
"Yes doctor, mine Hymie bought me a 4 carat ring to celebrate the barmitzvah of Moshe, our first grandson."
"Good," he says, "you must wear it for 3 weeks, then book to see me again."
Rivkah returns after three weeks and says, "Well doctor, my finger is OK but I'm now getting terrible headaches behind my eyes."
After examining her, he says, "Do you own a platinum and diamond tiara?"
"Yes doctor, mine Hymie bought me one to wear under the chuppah at our Sarah's wedding."
"Good," he says, "you must wear it for 3 weeks, then book to see me again"
Rivkah returns after three weeks and says, "Well doctor, it’s a miracle. My shoulder feels great, my finger feels great and I'm not getting any further headaches. Thank you very, very much. But I have one question to ask you."
"What is it Rivkah?" asks her doctor.
"Doctor, how do you treat your non Jewish patients?"
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Avrahom is a 12year old known for his total lack of religious study, so when his bar mitzvah day arrives, Rabbi Bloom is not about to let this go without comment. Avrahom performs his bar mitzvah as best he can with his minimal preparation and when it comes time to receive his presents, Avrahom gets what most bar mitzvah boys are given - a daily prayer book; a set of Jewish Festivals prayer books; a kiddush cup from the congregation’s ladies guild; an encyclopedia - “The History of the Jewish People from Bible Times to the Present”; a humor book called, “The Ultimate Book of Jewish jokes”; and a bible (old testament).
Rabbi Bloom then addresses the bar mitzvah boy, "My dear Avrahom. You have received today a number of treasures of Judaism in book form that will surely enrich your life and make it holy in the eyes of God. I also have a gift for you."
With that, Rabbi Bloom pulls out an umbrella from behind the lectern and says to Avrahom, "I present you with this umbrella because I want to give you something that at least I know for certain you will open."
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Answer is D:  1898 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visited Eretz Yisrael in what was one of the most heralded visits in Israel’s history. With over a year of preparation, new roads paved, garbage cleaned off the city streets that had all been going to pot under the Turks this trip to fortify Germany’s hold and relationship with the Turks in Palestine against the imperialistic Russians, and British. Israel ahd many German residents amongst them many patriotic Jews as well as the Chritisan Templers. The occasion was officially to dedicate the Lutheran church in the old city of Jerusalem. The first stop was in Haifa where he landed and a special port was built for him. As Haifa was German owned land and they didn’t want him to land in Yaffo the main port of Israel on Turkish land. Form there a special bridge was built for him by Nachal Taninim that he crossed over on his way to Jerusalem where they had broken down the gate of Yaffo which used to be sealed with a moat in his honor. And the legend goes so that he would not have to bend down with his tall pointy hat upon entering the gate. He did make a top at Mikve Yisrael where Theodore Herzl ran to meet with him while he was on his horse leaving and tried to take a picture with him, to bolster his own position for his Zionist dream. The picture didn’t come out, they only got Herzl’s feet so they doctored it up and cut and pasted it in. and there you have it.