Our view of the Galile

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of Mouth and Men-Acharey Mos/ Shabbat Hagadol, Pesach 2014/5774

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

April 10th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 26-10th of Nisan 5774
Parshat Acharei Mos/Shabbos Ha'Gadol/Pesach
Of Mouth and Men
It's all about the mouth. You may have heard people accuse us Jews of having a big mouth. It's true, but not in a negative way. Big as in great, big as in totally awesome, big as in it's like the essence of the entire universe, and I don't only mean New Yorkers. Although they perhaps contribute more to the mouth=universe equation. Maybe that’s why they feel sometimes that the entire world is really located between the George Washington Bridge and the Verrazano. But it truly is all about mouth. Let's take it from the beginning.
In the Beginning Hashem said- get that, He spoke- Let there be Light, Let there be trees, sun, moon, animals, a whole new world. And there was, and it was all good. Pretty awesome isn't it? But let's not miss the subtlety here. The world was created with the power of speech. Hashem didn't spit and there was water, or plant trees, or form animals. He said and they were. Except, of course for one creation; namely Man. Us. Man was formed from earth by Hashem and then the spirit of life was blown into him. The famous Targum defines that spirit, as the power of speech that differentiates man from all of creation. Holy speech. Speech that can create and sustain the universe. Or god forbid destroy it.
Adam's put in the garden. First job? Give names to all the animals. Use that Divine power of speech to give meaning and direction to all of creation. It is yours to uplift. Job number two? Eat from all the fruits of the garden, of course except for one. But the commandment was in fact to eat. Use that god given mouth of yours to raise up creation by ingesting it. Taste the sweetness of the universe. It was made for you. All for that holy mouth of ours.
But we failed. Eve tempts Adam. He eats, she eats…it's a bad start.  He blames her She blames snake. They both don't fess up to Hashem. The mouth has destroyed. Everybody out of the pool…
Fast forward about 2000 years. The world has another chance. Avraham and Sarah are teaching the world once again about our Creator. Hashem promises Avraham that his descendants will have the opportunity to once again restore light to the world. Yitzchak, Yaakov, 12 tribes, things are on the right track and then once again our mouths fail us. Yosef brings back evil words about the brothers to Yaakov (according to the Medrash, interestingly enough it is about them eating stuff he assumed they were not supposed to be eating). He tells them dreams that fail to inspire them. He's sold by them to Egypt. We leave Israel and our first exile begins. But there is hope. Moshe is born, fascinatingly enough our greatest leader to be suffers with a speech impediment. Yet ultimately he will be the only man in the history of the world, whose words and speech in the entire fifth book of the Torah are considered as if they are words of Hashem. He goes out to his brothers but sadly once again we become our own worst enemies as one Jew "snitches" on him. Our big mouths once again do us in. It is only years later when the men who spoke evil about him are through that Moshe can come back and the redemption can begin.
In that great first meeting with Hashem by the burning bush at age 80 Moshe is given his marching orders. It's time to engage in speech with Pharaoh, with the Jews, it's time to bring the people home. Of course the issue Moshe raises is his speaking disability. Hashem assures him though that his speech impediment will not be a problem. Aharon his brother will be with him and through the two of them the Peh/Mouth will be restored.
It is truly amazing when one looks at the text at how much of this conversation revolves around the power of that Peh.
Mi Sam peh L'Adam- who gave a mouth to man (or perhaps Adam?)
V'Samta Es HaDvarim B'piv And you shall place the words in his mouth
V'Anochi Eheyeh Im Picha V'Im Pihu-and I will be with your mouth and his mouth
Hu Yi'hiyeh Licha La'Peh V'Atah Tihiyeh Lo Lei'Lohim- he will as your mouth and you will as his master. (Exodus/Shmos 4:10-16)
Just in case you still had any doubts that it all comes down to the mouth. Our nemesis in the whole Egypt story is none other than an individual named Pharaoh, whose name in Hebrew is spelled with the letter Peh in the beginning and the letter Heh in the end which spell Peh or mouth. However those two letters are separated by the word Ra-evil. The power of the mouth is se"PEH"rated by evil. There is nothing more that Pharaoh fears during this entire saga than the Jewish people engaging their mouths and speaking/praying to Hashem. He raises the work load so that they shouldn't cry out. He refuses to even let them go for three days to pray even after the plagues begin to take their toll. Seemingly a minor request, unless you understand that when it comes to Israel any request is a big deal-some things never change.
If you think about the plagues as well many of them all come down to the mouth. Dam-Blood in their drinks, their water, the basic staple of life. But the Egyptian will not be able to use their mouths to even drink as long as they enslave us. (Aside this is an interesting thought to ponder as we read the Jewish prohibition to ingest blood in this week's Torah portion-I just had to write those words "this weeks Torah portion" and somehow connect this to our parsha…J) Frogs-noise loud croaking, truly a creature that utilizes its mouth in the service of Hashem. Lice as well for that matter are really about sucking and chewing whatever they leech on too, like little mouths hooked up all over your body. Animals similarly roars, screeches and ain't much scarier things than looking in the mouth of a lion or bear. The fifth plague though is perhaps the most interesting as it is the plague of pestilence, which is about dying animals, yet it is called Dever which also means speech. And so on and so on...you figure out the rest. What I find to be perhaps one of the best parts though is when Pharaoh starts to come around. He asks Moshe to pray for him (9:28) (10:17), and at the end he even asks for a blessing (12:32). The wicked mouth himself finally has recognized the incredible power that the Jewish Peh has.
And so we celebrate the holiday of Pessach. The holiday that is really all about the mouth. In fact our sages tell us that the word Pesach is a combination of two words Peh and Sach the mouth speaks. It is the only holiday where we actually have a biblical mitzvah to eat something specific. On this evening we will make the blessing Asher Kidishanu B'mitzvosuv V'Tzivanu Al Achilas-who has sanctified us with His Mitzvas and commanded us to eat. Eat Matzah. In the times of the temple we would make the blessing to eat the Pesach lamb and our rabbinic blessing is as well on the eating of Marror. We are returning to our status in the garden. Our eating is a mitzvah. It is also the only holiday where we are commanded to talk and tell stories. The story; to each child according to whom they are and the level at which they are at. Unlike all other mitzvos where we just merely have to do the mitzvah, tonight we have to explain, why we eat matzah, Pesach, Marror. What it's all about. He who increases speaking about our Exodus this evening is considered praiseworthy; as opposed to the general rule of which silence is golden and a sign of wisdom (my mother likes to remind me of that one quite often). We talk, we sing, we praise, our mouths reign supreme. We have removed the sin and curse of Adam of "by the sweat of your brow, you shall eat bread" by ridding ourselves of all bread and we have achieved the knowledge that "Man does not live by bread alone, rather by what comes out of the mouth of Hashem does man live.(Duet/Devarim 8:3)" He is our mouth. It is His kiss of life that we sing about in the Song of Songs on Pesach. We can return on our Seder night once again to that garden-like experience where our mouths sanctify Creation in our eating and our speaking.
This Shabbos is called Shabbos Ha'Gadol  the  "Big" Shabbos. Some explain the special name of this Shabbos is because it is customary that the Rabbi gives a long speech discussing the laws and insights of the holiday. Getting that mouth up and running-or at least get a feel like what your children will feel like if you talk too long J. Others describe the great miracle that took place on this Shabbos which was the 10th of Nissan as the Jews took the "deity" of the Egyptians the lamb and tied it to their bedposts in preparation of the Pesach sacrifice. Before Hashem redeemed us, we "redeemed" Him by destroying their idolatry and making our 1st Seder with unwavering faith in His redemption. But perhaps the most basic reason for calling it Shabbat Ha'gadol is because of the Haftorah we read this Shabbos, the last chapter and last prophecy in the books of Prophets that foretells of the great "Big" day.
"Then the ones who have feared Hashem spoke to one another and Hashem listened and heard… Behold I will send Eliayhu Ha'Navi before the "big" and awesome day and he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers…"
 May our mouths merit this year not only to tell the story of Pesach, drink the wine, eat the Matzah and Marror, but may we also eat that Pesach lamb and holiday sacrifice as we sing the praise of Hashem on that big and great day.
Have a big, great and awesome Shabbos and exhilarating Pesach
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

"Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."-Ronald Reagan

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" –Nelson Mandela

"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."- Jean-Paul Sartre

(answer below at end of Email)
The Roman city of Tiverya (Tiberias) was built by -
a) Herod
b)  Hadrian
c)  Cassius Gallus
d)  Herod Antipas

Dough in Hebrew is EESA-whose gematria is ayin=70 yud=10 samach=60 heh=5 total 145
Chametz/leaven in gematria is chet=8 mem=40 tzadik= 90 totalling= 138. The difference between the two is of course seven, which is not only the seven days of pesach, but in Hebrew actually zayin the 7th letter means weapon. The seven days of pesach when remove the Chametz from our dough is our weapon our sages tell us with which to battle the yetzer harah our evil inclination. .


Tiberias-Old City-One of the four "Holy Cities" of Israel (can you name the others?)that correspond to the four basic elements of the world, Tiverya which sits on the Kinneret corresponds to of course water. The lowest city on the planet (the Dead Sea is the lowest place but no cities there), Tiverya was one of the greatest cities of Torah in the history of Israel. It was here that the 1st Talmud was written (called the Jerusalem Talmud, in memory of the destroyed city), here was the last resting place of the Sanhedrin and here is as well was the finalization of the debates between the schools of Ben Asher and Ben Naftali regarding the cantilation and vowelization of the Torah. A stroll through the old city by the boardwalk of Tiverya today one can see the ancient Ottaman city with remains of its Christian, Muslim and Jewish quarters, the old synagogues of Reb Chaim Abulafia, Chabad, Karlin, the old shul of the Shela Ha'Kadosh (under the Greek orthodox church) as well as remains of the Shuls from the 4th -6th century the period of the mishna and Talmud. The boardwalk itself is fun to stroll down and see the large Kinneret shaped meter that measures the water level of the Kinneret as well as the shops, restaurants and Coney Island like attractions (much to my annoyance- haunted house and all). All in all a visit to Israel and certainly the North is incomplete without visiting this always fun and cool city.


My new favorite song of this holiday season..just beautiful "Chasal"

Funny stuff people say at the Pesach Seder (yeshivish people will certainly appreciate this)

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Adir
Adir who?
Adirhu, Adirhu, Bim-hay-ra, Bim-hay-ra….

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Noah.
Noah who?
Noah good reason why this night is different than all others?

Knock, knock Who's There? Anita
Anita who?
Anita eat much more matzah to be yotzei

Knock knock Who's there? Cash. 
Cash who? 
No thanks, Nuts are kitniyos of Passover 

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Leena!
Leena who?
Leena little closer to the left, we recline at the seder!  

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Sadie.
Sadie who?
Sadie Ma Nishtana already! We've been waiting all year!

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Phillip 
Phillip who?
Phillip your cup again, it’s time for the second cup of wine.   

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Venice.
Venice who?
Venice they going to serve dinner at this seder – I’m starving

Knock knock.Who's there? Honey bee. 
Honey bee who? 
Honey bee a dear and bring over the cup for washing our hands

Knock, Knock! Who’s There? Howie
 Howie who? 
Howie gonna finish this seder faster! 

Knock, Knock Who's there? Pudding! 
Pudding who? 
Pudding a little too much charoses on your marror are we?

Knock Knock Who's there? Orange 
Orange who?
Orange you going to answer the door? It’s me Elijah I’ve been sitting here for an hour

Answer is C:  Herod Antipas (or Antipater) was an interesting individual in the history of the Israel and possibly the world. The youngest son of Herod- the "King of the Jews" who built the temple and other monumental sites in Israel and who was not the greatest father figure, having killed most of his other sons as well as thousands of others, his son Herod Antipas took his place as ruler of the Galile. Trying to live up to his fathers reputation he built the city of Tiverya as the capital of the north and was actually pretty good to the Jews allowing them to build the Torah capital of the north there. He is perhaps most famous though for having John the Baptist killed (he got kind of insulted when john condemned his divorce from his marriage to marry his brothers wife). He is also the Herod in the new testament who handed over the founder of Christianity (JC) to Pontius Pilate refusing to judge him.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Never Lonely Man of Faith- Metzora 2014/5774

Insights and Inspiration

from the

Holy Land

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz

"Your friend in Karmiel"

April 4th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 25-4th of Nisan 5774
Parshat Metzora
The Never Lonely Man of Faith

"And the waitress is practicing politics, as the business men slowly get stoned, Yes, they'e sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone…" I always loved that image of a bar or smoky nightclub a bunch of people sitting around, drinking, commiserating, soaking up their worries, their trivialities, kvetching about their families, their jobs, the government…whatever. I don't seem to be alone in appreciating that scene, in fact one of the longest running TV shows, "Cheers" was precisely just a show about that; a bunch of shleppers sitting around in a local tavern. But one needs not popular culture to recognize and appreciate the scene and the people at your local tavern. There are stories abound of great Chasidic Rebbes, perhaps most prominent among them Rebbe Nachman of Breslav, who would frequent these places in order to mingle with the "amcha", the plain old working man Joe or Yankel and to take great lessons and insights from the simple Shikkur/Drunk sitting behind the bar nursing his vodka. Today I don't that think society would accept that from any great Rebbes, but who knows maybe one day…

The truth is I've never really done that scene, personally. Yes, I know it's a glaring omission on my resume of accomplishments. But I'm just more of a happy-go-lucky people person that, thank god, has never really been in a lonely situation that required the therapy of a local watering hole. Between, Yeshiva, work, family life, Torah study, touring around and having fun as well as being a Rabbi that thank god has many people that I am fortunate to spend many quality hours with assisting, I really don't get that loneliness sense that Reb Billy Yoel described so poignantly above. But I have seen it among sadly too many people. It is perhaps one of the most tragic things that a Rabbi has to hear. "I don't feel I have anyone" "I feel so alone" "Nobody cares". Widows, divorcees, older singles, new immigrants, homeless people, there are so many out there in every community that wake up every morning and go to sleep each night after spending an entire day without any meaningful human connection, without a sense that there is no one out there on this planet to whom their existence has any meaning. It is heartbreaking and it is certainly not Jewish. Perhaps it is for that reason that our holy books repeatedly tell us that it is to these people that Hashem is most closest. He is their father, their love, their protector, their confidant. With Him they are never alone.

This week we read the Torah portion of a Jew that has been mandated to be isolated. The Metzora, the one who has been afflicted with the spiritual malady that is reflected most similarly to leprosy, is ordered to spend a week or two or three or until he is cured alone outside of all the camps of the Jewish people. Alone. By him or her self. No human contact. Not even sharing a drink called loneliness with other Metzora's. There wasn't even a bar called the White Lepers down at the corner where he could just go to bond with others, "where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came." 
He was in time-out. How sad…how tragic...

Our sages tell us that the reason for his Tzora'as is antisocial behavior that include primarily gossiping/Lashon Harah, stinginess and arrogance. "He has separated with his negativity speech between man and his friend so shall he be separated and isolated." How lonely it must be for him at his Shabbos table, at his home alone at night. Yet that recognition is meant to heal him. For all alone with no one else to turn to, one begins to contemplate Hashem, one begins to think about how important it is to have someone. How life without social contact, without a society within which I can make my spiritual impact is really not living. It is for that reason our sages tell us that a Metzora is like a dead person. As one comes to that recognition than one begins to appreciate that we all have a purpose. We all have a connection with Hashem. My friends, the Jews on my block, the people who I have mistreated or perhaps even worse ignored. Each one of them have a spiritual purpose in this world just as much as I do. In that light there's never any room or point for negative talk, to feel better than others or to hold back from giving and sharing. We're all in the same Divine boat of this world and we are all here to bring forth that glory that can only happen when we are all together.

There is an interesting relationship between the purification and re-entry into the camp and another in individual. Sacrifices are brought and blood is placed upon his ear, his thumb and his toe and then he returns to the camp. In a previous E-Mail we focused on the toe (which is thank god doing better-if you missed that one you can read it here­ http://holylandinsights.blogspot.co.il/2014/02/toe-tally-awesome-tetzaveh-57742014.html - why not make a donation once you're in the neighborhood J), yet here it is the ear that catches my interest, particularly as we approach the holiday of Pesach. The Torah tells us about a Jewish slave who wishes to remain in servitude longer than the six year term that the Torah mandates. We are told that he is brought to the doorpost V'Ratza Adonuv es Ozno Ba'Martzeah.- and the owner pierces his ear with the needle. Our sages connect that this refers to his right ear as we learn this from the Metzora (fascinatingly the words are very similar the Mar'tzeah/ Metzora), and the reason why the ear is pierced "for the ear that heard on Sinai that "the Jewish children are My slaves" that went and took another master for himself should be pierced. Why does one want to remain a slave? Why would someone refuse his opportunity for freedom? It is because he has forgotten that he has a Divine mandate and purpose to reveal that special Sinai knowledge and light to the world. He feels he is somewhat a second-class citizen. He erroneously believes that there is even such a thing as second-class citizen in Judasim. He forgot what he heard that we are all first class. We are all equally servants of the Almighty. The blood on his ear, just as the blood on the Metzora's ear is to remind him of that moment on Sinai. When we stood together and all equally heard and accepted our love, responsibility and commitment for one another as we join to serve Hashem. Perhaps the ear piercing as well is done by the doorpost, as well as the Metzorahs ear sprinkling by the door way to the Tabernacle to help them recall that first doorpost long ago in Egypt that we placed our Pesach sacrifice blood upon. When we left the slavery of Egypt behind, when we made our first Pesach Seder.

Pesach is around the corner. In another week and a half we will be sitting down to our Seder. Yet before we begin our main mitzvah of the evening of re-telling and reliving the story of our Exodus and of our leaving the servitude of Pharaoh for the Divine service of Hashem, our sages added in a little paragraph. We raise our matza and recite. "This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in Egypt. All who are hungry, come join us and eat, all who are needy come make Pesach with us, This year we are slaves, next year we shall be free, this year we are here, next year we shall be in Eretz Yisrael." How amazing is this short paragraph. How essential it is to all that will come this evening. Our sages understand that we cannot possibly convey to our children the essence of our freedom unless, if there is another Jew that still remains needy…that still feels alone. I am not really free of the Pharoah Egypt 2nd class slavery, if I have a brother or sister that has not been redeemed with me. I can't fully complete the purpose of my redemption, the revelation of the spark of Hashem in each and everyone of us, if there is somewhere a Jew that has yet to experience that freedom, that spark. Let's not wait until our Seder to make that statement. We all sadly, know someone that is alone, someone who has yet to feel appreciated for that special spark that they possess. To paraphrase my friend Gershon Veroba "Let's share in that spark we call holiness and with that we will see that new day."

Have a friendly Shabbos,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 


"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."  

 "If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, "Who could have done this? We have no enemies."

 " Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance? "- Phyllis Diller


 Here comes Pesach Blues…funny just to keep you smiling and something to hum to this week


(answer below at end of Email)

A "Minbar" is a Arabic term for -

a) A prayer niche facing east

b)  the eastern wall

c)  the lectern used by the Mukhtar

d)  The prayer steeple on top of a mosque


The gematria of the word Metzora is 400. Our sages tell us that one of the spiritual causes of this form of spiritual leperosy is one who is a Ra Ayin one who has a bad eye or stingy. Interestingly enough Efron the person in the Torah who sold Avraham the burial plot of Sara was referred to as well as a Ra Ayin asking the exorbitant price of you guessed it 400 shekel silver (thus setting the tone for overpriced real estate values in Israel eternally). His name Efron which is written without the Vav also equals 400. Interestingly enough as well Esav chases after Yaakov with 400 men again out of jealousy and dissatisfaction with Yackov's' fortune. 400 being that magic number.


Eilat/Taba Crossing-We are told to remember leaving Egypt. Well in Eilat our border with Egypt every Pesach the chief Rabbi of the city goes down to the border and sings the song of the Sea. The only jewish community to be able to do that in the world. Our border with Egypt is actually an open border and Israelis can even enter without a visa. The reason is because in 1948 this was on egypts side of the border in 1956 we took it back until 1957 and in 1967 it was again in Egypt's hand after the Yom Kippur war Egypt maintained it as well but in our peace agreements with Menachem Begin and Sadat it was the last thing to be settled because Israel realized that it was on our side of the Ottaman border. And in 1988 it was finally ruled in Egyptian hands with the conditions that Israelis can enter with ease. Mnay due their duty free-shoppiing there and over a million cross each year. In the times of leaving Egypt before Mt. Sinai the 9th through 13th stop of the Jews were all around this area. Technically becoming the first part of modern day Israel we entered before we entered 40 years later by Yericho.


Yankel goes to see his supervisor in the front office. "Boss," he says, "we're doing some heavy Pesach-cleaning at home tomorrow, and my wife needs me to help with the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff."

"We're short-handed, Yankel" the boss replies. "I can't give you the day off."

"Thanks, boss," says Yankel "I knew I could count on you!"


 Shaina is a less than fastidious housekeeper. One evening her husband returned home from work, walked into the kitchen and teased her, "You know, dear, I can write my name in the dust on the mantel." Mom turned to him and sweetly replied, "Yes, darling, I know. That's why I married a college graduate.


An enthusiastic door-to-door vacuum salesman goes to the first house in his new territory.He knocks, a real mean and tough looking lady opens the door, and before she has a chance to say anything, he runs inside and dumps cow patties all over the carpet.He says, "Lady, if this vacuum cleaner don`t do wonders cleaning this up, I`ll eat every chunk of it."She turns to him with a smirk and says, "You want ketchup on that?"The salesman says, "Why do you ask?"She says, "We just moved in and we haven`t got the electricity turned on yet."



Answer is C:  Here's a brief lesson in Arabic terms for things in a mosque that you will never need- unless you become a tour guide and than you must know it until you pass the exam and can immediately afterwards delete them from your memory- the niche in the wall in which they pray is called a michrab (called that way because people would leave their swords cherev in Hebrew there as a mosque is of course a place of peace). The wall that faces towards mecca is called kibla which is the direction of prayer-interestingly enough originally mohammed had them praying to Jerusalem until he made Haj (the journey to Medina) and then he allowed them to pray in both directions until he switched it wanting to differentiate his new religion from the Jews. The minaret from where the Muezzins call out to prayer 5 times a day from is called a Mad'aana (wonder what she has to say about that) because that is where there Ad'ahan (which means listen like the word ozen in Hebrew ear or Chazan/cantor) it includes the phrase "prayer is better than sleep" which is kind of nice. The lectern or raised platform where the Imam speaks from is called the Minbar which is similar to the word L'avor to pass before similar again to Hebrew where the cantors job is to pass before the congregation La'avor Lifnei Ha'Teiva. Now that you know this you can delete it from your memory.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Primordial Mars and Venus- Tazria /Chodesh 2014/5774

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

March 28th 2014 -Volume 4, Issue 24-26th of Adar II 5774
Parshat Tazriah- Chodesh
The Primordial Mars and Venus
One of the most challenging experiences of my rabbinic career was while I was still living in Brooklyn and my Rosh Yeshiva (dean of the yeshiva) prevailed upon me to begin offering personal one-on-one premarital counseling to fresh, young, newly engaged yeshiva students. The age old tradition in which a young man would be initiated into the “ways of marriage” encompassed more than just the Halachic (legal) aspects of Jewish family life. I was being charged with taking these young men, who for the majority of their lives had primarily interacted with members of the same gender, and introducing them to the delicate and intricate world of male-female relationships. Having been newly initiated myself (and actually still trying to figure it out) I generally tried to present sample challenges to the young men (of which I had learned firsthand), asking them how they would respond in each scenario and then I would promptly show them how wrong they were. They were inclined to approach their relationship with their brides- to- be as an extension of all that they had experienced thus far in their interactions amongst themselves.
So, whereas in the Study Hall if someone would present a critique of your analysis of a piece of Talmud (or actually about anything) it would be understood that this was an invitation to engage in a heated debate in pursuit of achieving the ultimate truth of the concept in question with no intention of slighting the other party personally, in marriage it’s a very different universe. Here, as much as an opinion may be well-conceived and accurate, that’s not the point. The focus is more on listening and empathizing than on launching a spellbinding display of logic that would all but flatten the other party.
In a similar vein the concept in the yeshiva world of respecting another’s feelings meant, paradoxically, that one wouldn’t become all mushy and expressive of the “inner self” when addressing an issue. That was a “no-go” area, unless you really wanted to humiliate the other guy! If one ever approached someone with something that was emotionally troubling them, the greatest relief would come from a one-liner of casual dismissal like “It’s alright” or “it’s no problem”, immediately diffusing the issue. The typical yeshiva male would thereby feel satisfied and reassured, and actually quite thankful that he did not have to be emotional for too long. The female world was obviously going to be very different for them. For, in my experience the two most dangerous phrases that one can say to a woman (and possibly to a man after being exposed to the beauties of this approach long enough) is “it’s not a big deal” or “there’s nothing wrong”. For in that simple statement of misguided innocent reassurance lays an incredible amount of insensitivity and invalidation. Although many of the young men were quite skeptical of my presentation and each one thought that their bride was different, that “she is really one of the boys”, the grateful thank you letters that arrived (usually at least 5 months later) bore testimony to a newfound appreciation of the fundamental concepts that I had imparted to them.
These significant differences between men and women are not newly discovered, even if they are freshly minted in the form of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus and other such reincarnations. Rather, that ancient work of Jewish wisdom, The Torah, in this week’s portion of Tazriah, describes from the earliest moments the diversion of paths and processes that the genders will have.
" When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male then she will be Tamei (unpure) for seven days …and on the eighth day he shall be circumcised
And if she gives birth to a Female she shall be Tamei for two weeks
And at the end of the days of her purity for a son or a daughter. sacrifices are brought and she becomes purified".
The great Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, the leader of German Jewry in the early 1800’s, noted the significance in the process of spiritual rejuvenation for a woman after undergoing one of the most incredibly grueling physical experiences, that of giving birth. The process, he suggests, is one of establishing her role of motherhood in spiritual terms by focusing on creating in her children the prerequisites for their own Jewish development. Incredibly the process is different for the little boys than the little girls. Whereas the male is mandated to be circumcised after one seven day period, in the case of the female, the mother is mandated to resolve the impurity by waiting through the extra seven days, bringing the process to its fulfillment. The path for the boys, (as is typical of all male energy) requires action in the most physical of ways (and I’m sure you agree that circumcision is the cutting edge of real action). In contrast, in keeping with the intrinsic feminine character, regaining equanimity for a girl requires patience and introspection.
To put this concept to practice in modern relevant terms, I will share an obviously imaginary example of the difference of approach to problem resolution: Pesach cleaning in the Schwartz house. If it were left to the good (very male-like) Rabbi, a blitz of energy akin to a bomb strike would descend on the Schwartz household just before Pesach when the realization would dawn that chametz must follow emergency evacuation procedures. My wife, on the other hand has had the tremendous wherewithal to recognize that lists should be made, jobs should be assigned, schedules should be set up (starting 3 weeks ago) and then the problem can be resolved in the least hectic of ways. Action vs. patience and thoughtfulness. We are different. Equal, sincere, devoted but very, very different
 We live in a world where unfortunately, the chances of finding a marriage partner with whom one can establish a stable happily married are very bleak. I was recently shown a frightening statistic that said that 20% of marriages will be happy ones. The estimate is based on a 55%- 60% divorce rate, with only half of all those that remain responding that they would consider their marriages happy and fulfilling. There are many books that have been written and solutions that have been offered and there is probably much wisdom in all of them. Yet the fundamental precept that the Torah makes us aware of is that for a man and woman to truly come together and create an environment that will be successful there has to be a basic appreciation of the differences that we have. When we are able to recognize the innate nature and strengths that God, the Divine Matchmaker, gave each of us and to utilize each others strengths to complement and complete our own, then we will be on the track to creating the home where the Divine presence and the aura of all that is pure will eternally reside.
Have a terrific Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz 

"Marriage is the bond between a person who never remembers anniversaries and another who never forgets them."- Ogden Nash.

"Love is blind and marriage is the Institution for the Blind"- James Graham

"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me"-Winston Churchill


John Stewart pesach yiddishisms pretty funny joke-will never look at seder plate the same way
I thought this was pretty funny and clever- the funniest Purim video for 2014 I've seen yet

Stuff people say at the Seder (you have to be frum and slightly yehshivish to appreciate this one

(answer below at end of Email)
 The "polish cave" is located in-
a) Maresha
b)  Midbar Yehudah
c)  Lower Galile
d)  Golan


In this weeks Torah portion in describing the spiritual phenomena of tzora'as the Torah prohibits shaving it off and and says one must shave around it. The word V'Hisgalach has a large GIMMMEL in it. (Leviticus, 13:33. Also see Rashi’s commentary). Many of the Chasidic masters connect this large Gimmel who's gematrai is 3, of course with the Jewish custom of Upsherin; waiting until the 3rd birthday for a Jewish boy to have his first haircut, which similar to the process of metzora is cutting the hair and in the process leaving over the payot/sidelocks and not cutting them thereby introducing the boy to the mitzvah of not shaving the corners of his head. Three is also the age of stability our sages tell us where a table with two legs is not balanced but a three legged one achieves that balance and can begin to have things placed upon it. The letter Gimmel also means to bequeath and the child can now start being bequeathed his beautiful heritage. Finally it is interesting that this is verse 33 and that the custom for the upsherin according to the Ari'zl (whose son was the first to have his haircut and from where the custom developed) took place on the 33rd day of Omer/Lag Ba'Omer, of course in Meron!


Maresha/ Beit Guvrin- a fantastic excavated city in the foothills of Judea Maresha/ Beit Guvrin is a city that was given to Caleb in biblical times this was his reward (like Joshua's last week cool place of the week) for not speaking evil by the sin of the spies. The city was eventually destroyed by the destruction of the first temple. Yet it was later relocated on a neighboring hill and built up as an Edomite city (Idumeans). They were eventually conquered by the Chashmonaim kings and forcibly converted to Judaism-(the only time in Jewish history this occurred which led to tragic results-which culminated in the descendants of one of these converts becoming the king of Israel-Herod- who was not such a nice guy…
Today Beit Guvrin is a fantastic site where one can explore ancient underground caves, quarries and columbariums-which are pigeon raising nesting areas underground where they were used to help fertilize the land for planting. There's also a great amphitheater where gladiators fought (and many people were killed) as well as oil and wine presses and the former great city ruins.

1.      The timer on the coffee pot isn't set right, and there is no coffee.
2.      You try to fix the clock on the microwave and set the timer instead – you wonder why a microwave needs a clock anyhow?
3.      You decide this is really all a secret plot by "morning people" to get "night people" out of bed earlier.
4.      The clock in your car has the right time for the first time since last October.
5.      You arrive for Shul an hour late - just as everyone else is leaving.
6.      Your computer clock sets itself ahead, but you forget and set it ahead again.
7.      Half the office arrives an hour late, saying they forgot to change the clock. You secretly wonder why they did not arrive an hour early in October.
8.      You take a two hour lunch break and say you forgot to change your wristwatch. ("getting even time.")
9.      You go to bed at your regular time, but you’re not sleepy yet, so you stay up an extra hour.
10.  You wonder where all the energy is that we are conserving because you sure could use some of it.

Answer is A:            Here's an interesting piece of history. After Stalin broke his deal with Hitler he freed the Polish prisoners and Ander's army was formed to fight against the Nazi's. As they trecked from the Southern Border of Russia through Iran, Iraq to Palestine and eventually fighting the Germans in Italy and North Africa they picked up Jewish orphans and refugees and brought them to Palestine where 4000 of them remained. One of those soldiers was none other than Menachem Begin, who founded the Irgun fighting forces against the British that led to the founding of the Jewish State and ultimately becoming the prime minister of Israel. The cave located in Maresha is an ancient water cistern that they camped at and carved a Polish eagle and the words Warsaw in that can still be seen today.