Our view of the Galile

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Dance of Life-Vayishlach 2015/5775

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

November 27th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 8 15th Kislev 5776
Parshat Vayishlach
The Dance of Life

His name was Nicky Imber. His great Uncle was none other than Naftali Herz Imber who composed Israel’s national anthem “Hatikva”. He was born in1920 in Vienna and as a young child he was already recognizable as a budding artist prodigy. He attended the Academy of Arts there and as the Nazi party began to take power he began to draw caricatures for the student newspaper there mocking the Nazis. When the War started he was taken to Dachau in the Anshluss, but it wasn’t long before he plotted his escape. Using his skills as a sculptor he carved himself a mask of the face of a Nazi guard using bread and sand and stole himself a uniform and miraculously walked out the front gate unnoticed. He tried to gain entrance to Palestine which was under the British, but they stopped his ship and he was put in a detention camp at Mauritius, an island off of France. 

For the next 40 years Nicky traveled the world and created famous sculptures, even making it to the Vatican where he restored 3000 Year old Greek Sculptures for them as well as fixing Michelangelo’s famous “David” sculpture. But perhaps his most lasting and significant legacy for him was the beautiful and meaningful sculptures he made in none other than the city of Karmiel, Israel, creating its Holocaust Memorial Park entitled “From Holocaust to Resurrection”. His larger than life depictions of people being led to the trains and exile, the survivors and camp prisoners in their uniforms with their yellow stars and the young mother holding high her child in the air as she celebrates coming to the Holy Land.

 In the city of Tzfat one can see many of Nicky’s sculptures. He donated them there the proceeds of their sales going to support young artists of the city. The sculptures that have always been the most meaningful to me are the ones that has of Jews from before the war. The images that were ingrained in his brain of the Europe that once was. Many of them of Rabbis, children, young couples walking, yeshivas students arguing over a page of Talmud are fascinatingly enough just sculptures of their heads without their bodies. When Nicky was asked why he made them that way he responded in words that have always sent chills down my back and tears to my eyes.

I wanted to sculpt them for their eternality. The Nazis, our enemies, have throughout the generations tried to destroy us. But the one thing I learned in the camp is that they can take everything from us, but they can never take what we have learned; what is on our minds. Our Torah, our knowledge, our faith in Hashem, that is the eternality of the Jewish people. That is what is forever.”

I have thought of those words the past few weeks as I am still basking in the afterglow of our Hachnasat Sefer Torah that we had in Karmiel in our shul. Is there another nation in the world that takes their book of history, their book of laws and commandments and dances with it in the streets? Young, old, men, women, religious, secular, Sephardic, and Ashkenazic it doesn’t make a difference. The Torah connects us all. The celebration of a new scroll is the celebration of all of us. One of my Rabbis once explained this way the Psalm of King David that we recite each morning Chukov UMishpatav LYisrael Lo Asah Ken LChol Goy UMishpatim Baal YiDaum Halleluya- His laws and decrees He gave to Israel, He did not do this to any other nation and His laws He did not make known to them Halleluya.” The Rabbi asked but isn’t it true that all nations do have laws. In fact perhaps even their laws are based on our laws, our Ten Commandments, our justice system and morality that we taught to the world? Why does it say that He did not make it known to them? He responded that the word YiDaum- He made known to them refers to the biblical knowledge as in Adam “knew” his wife. It refers to the Jewish peoples inherent connection on an emotional and spiritual sense to the Torah that is like a bride to a groom. We are betrothed to the Torah. When we danced in the streets with it, we danced under a chupah. We celebrated like it was our wedding day. Another bride had come into the world, and it is the simcha of the Jewish people.

This week we read the story of our forefather Yaakov who returns after 20 years in exile to the Holy Land. As he returns he finds out that his brother Esau, the reason why he fled in the first place so as to avoid being killed by him, is coming to “meet him”. Yaakov, who became fabulously wealthy by his uncle and four times over father-in-Laws house, decides to send Esau some presents to hopefully pacify him and he sends with him a message of peace.

“Im Lavan Garti Vaychar Ad Atah- I have sojourned with Lavan and have lingered until now”-Rashi explains the significance of this message as Yaakov telling him I didn’t become a dignitary I remained a immigrant, it doesn’t befit to you to hate me for those blessings that our father gave me that I will rule was not fulfilled in me. Rashi then shares another interpretation based on Gematria, noting that the word Garti-sojourn is the same numerical value as Taryag-613. Telling Esau I have lived with Lavan and yet I fulfilled the 613 commandments and I did not learn from his evil ways. The two interpretations of Rashi seem to go hand in hand. Yaakov assures Esau. Becoming rich, becoming a millionaire, the blessings of the fats of the earth were never part of my agenda. I remain a stranger, a Ger. I am consumed with one thing and one thing only obeying the commandments, studying the Torah, remaining the “man of the Tents” that I was before this whole cycle started.
Later on as well, when Yaakov gives his gifts to Esau, Esau declines stating he has no need from them because he has much. Yaakov counters however and states “Yeshi Li Kol”- I have everything. I don’t need anything else. All I have is with me. When he leaves Esau the verse tells us “Yaakov comes Shalem-complete to the city of Shechem in Canaan.” Rashi again notes he was complete in body as he was healed from his injury and limp, he was complete in his money that he did not lose anything of which he acquired, and finally and perhaps most significantly he was complete in his Torah, in his study. He never forgot anything that he had learned in the two decades that he had left his father’s house. For Yaakov the ultimate completion is only if he is able to maintain his connection with his Torah.

Each of forefathers we are told represent a different aspect of our connection with Hashem. Avraham, our first Patriarch represents Chesed-Kindness, charity, hospitality. The love and newness of each morning is connected with the morning prayer of Avraham that recognizes the kindness of Hashem each new day. Yitzchak, second father, initiated the prayer of Mincha each afternoon. He represents the power of service and prayer to God. It is not only about recognizing the the kindness of Hashem each day in the morning. It is about staying faithful and being loyal and committed to him as we go about our daily activities. It is finding Hashem in the fields. In the wells we dig and in the journeys we take as well.

Yaakov, the last of the Patriarchs, is the man of the night; the Jew who lives in darkness and in exile. He represents, our sages tell us the pillar of Torah. The Jews eternal connection to Hashem which shines greatest even when there is no Temple for the service and sacrifices that bring us close to Hashem, even when we perhaps might not even be able to perceive the kindness of the morning of Abraham. The Torah is that light for us. Within each letter every Jew can find his place. Each person can reveal the essence of his soul and the light of his Creator as he studies its holy words. The scroll and its letters are the same that have been studied by our people from the time it was given thousands of years ago. Just as it is forever so too is our people.

I attended another Hachnasat Sefer Torah a few days before our own. It was in Har Nof, Jerusalem and it was dedicated in memory of my childhood friend Aryeh Kupinsky (HY”D- may Hashem avenge his blood), who was murdered while praying in his synagogue in the morning last year by animals who have no respect for life and thrive on their culture of blood and death. There were thousands of people that attended the streets of Jerusalem were full of our nation celebrating in the dance of the Torah, our dance of life. I went over to Aryeh’s parents and was at a loss for words. What do I say? Do I wish them Mazel Tov as is traditionally done upon the occasion of this dedication. But their son was killed. He’s gone. His wife and the orphans he left behind can’t possibly be celebrating. What could I say? But then I saw them. Aryeh’s children, his brother, his father all gathered in a circle together singing like there’s no tomorrow.

“Baruch Hu Elokeinu SheBaranu Lichvodo ViHivdilanu Min Hatoim VNoson Lanu Toras Emes VChayei Olam Nata BiSocheinu”- Blessed is our God who created us for His honor and differentiated us from those that stray and He gave us the Torah of truth and eternal life He implanted within us.
They were singing louder and louder. “Eternal life He has implanted within us”. Aryeh is not gone. His life and his teachings, his chesed and his dedication are all teachings in the Torah that formed him That made him who he was and that will continue to be a light and inspiration to all those that will read from that Torah and be inspired. The Jewish people will be forever. Am Yisrael Chai. They may be able to take our bodies, kill our young, massacre us in the streets and curse us in the media and condemn us in the halls of the United Nations. But they can never take our Torah. They can never take the eternal words and light that we will ultimately share with the world away from us. We were dancing the dance of the Torah and the dance of life. It is a dance that we hope very soon the whole world will dance soon with us.  
 Have a thankful Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbw9eHe9i-Q – ONCE AGAIN IN CASE YOU MISSED IT LAST WEEK-Our Hachnasat Sefer Torah Dedication in Young Israel of Karmiel produce by Yonah Schwartz!!!

https://youtu.be/fg51la8Yayc  – Maccabeats new Chanuka video and song cool! I like Latkas J

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrIjzUK0FKg  The incredible story behind the vote of UN November 29th 1947 that led to the State of Israel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVv7K-TqRcY    Original Bilvavi song of Rav Hutner


Besser ain freint mit gekechts aider hundert mit a krechts.”-  Better one friend with a dish of food than a hundred with a sigh.


. When it comes to community work, one must accept upon himself three resolutions: never lose one's temper; never get tired; and never want to win. I have seen you over the years and have noticed that in the face of adversity, you have not gotten angry. Over the forty years that you have been in communal service, you have never gotten tired either. Now you must pass the most difficult of tests in communal endeavors. You must learn that it is not crucial to win - it is only crucial to try  -Rav Hutner in a letter to Rabbi Moshe Sherrer after a resolution that would’ve helped Yeshivos failed to pass the US Supreme Court

The nurse asked me in the hospital if the pillow she arranged for me was “Noach Li (comfortable for me) I responded that I have almost reached Lech Lecha.”- Reb Hutner in his final days

The power of Teshuva is the greatest innovation since the Creation of the world
"Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh l'hadar k'vodo, uv'mishkan mizbeach asim l'karnei hodo, ulner tamid ekach li es esh ha'akeidah, ulkorban akriv lo es nafshi, es nafshi hayechida- I will build a tabernacle​​e in my heart to glorify God's honor. And I will place an altar in the tabernacle​​e dedicated​ to God's divine rays of splendor.​ And for the eternal flame I will take upon myself the fire that fueled the Binding of Isaac. And as a sacrifice​ I will offer Him my soul, my unique soul”.-Song and Poem composed by Rav Hutner (* Schwartz trivia-my wife walked down the chupah to this famous tune J).

Yartzeit-20th of Kislev this Wednesday
Rav Yitzchak Hutner (The Mittler Rebbe-Son of Baal HaTanya) (1906-1980)- The saying goes they just don’t make them like they used to. Rav Hutner certainly fits that category of Jewish leaders and scholars who’s weltanschauung and breadth of knowledge and spirit was something so unique that is so sorely missed today. Born n Warsaw, Poland, to a family with both Ger Hasidic and non-Hasidic Lithuanian Jewish roots. As a child he received private instruction in Torah and Talmud. As a teenager he was enrolled in the Slabodka yeshiva in Lithuania, headed by Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, where he was known as the "Warsaw Illui" ("prodigy").
Having obtained a solid grounding in Talmud, Young Yitzchak joined a group of the Slabodka yeshiva that established a new yeshiva in Hebron. In his personal diary he wrote of that period of time “Six months have passed since I came to Slabodka. I have changed much during this short period. Life is rich in problems. The multi-colored flow, the multiplicity of contradictions and conflicts allow for awesome questions which touch the soul and burn to the depths and all of life from the womb to the grave ...and when I came to Slabodka all the diverse questions and problems were upon me...and as long as I lack an all-encompassing worldview I cannot become a musari.”
He studied there until 1929, narrowly escaping the 1929 Hebron massacre because he was away for the weekend, on his way to see Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook who he felt drawn to and learned much from. He was taken by the multidimensionality of Rav Kook (his integration of different schools and approaches) by his total mastery of both the nigla (revealed) and the nistar (hidden) segments of Torah, by his sensitive, refined character, by his poetic nature, and by his fresh, dynamic spirituality. Rav Hutner has been quoted as declaring that “had I not met Rav Kook I would have lacked 50% of my being.” Perhaps the most important thing he learned from Rav Kook was the need to communicate the Nishmas HaTorah, the soul of the Torah, including the whole gamut of non-halachic Torah: Jewish thought, musar, kabbalah, and Chassidus.
After the pogrom in Hebron in 1929, Hutner spent some years as a wandering scholar. First, he returned to Warsaw, from there going to study philosophy at the University of Berlin, but not for degree purposes; he was not interested in degrees or the jobs they could offer, but rather in the actual material that the university taught him. He befriended two other future rabbinical leaders then studying in Berlin: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, later to become Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University in New York City, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson who would become rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch in Brooklyn. The three were to retain close and cordial personal relations throughout their lives, though each differed from the other radically in Torah weltanschauung (hashkafa). Nevertheless, each developed a unique bridge and synthesis between the Eastern European world-view connecting it with a Westernized way of thinking. This was a key factor enabling them to serve successfully as spiritual leaders in the United States of America.
By 1935 the couple had emigrated to Brooklyn, New York where r, he soon joined the faculty of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School (RJJ) and eventually he got a job teaching Mesivta Chaim Berlin High School until he became Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin's senior rosh yeshivah. Under Rav Hutner's charismatic leadership, Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin grew from relative obscurity to prominence, and with it grew his reputation in the world of Torah scholarship. Rav hunter felt very strongly that students should try to blend the worlds of Torah with a secular education that would help them support their families. At one point in time he worked to create a College associated with the Yeshiva, however when Rav Aharon Kotler objected he relented. In the late 60’s he began to fulfill his dream of returning to Israel by starting a yeshiva here. He began to take many trips here. Fascinatingly enough he describes a meeting he had back to back with Rav Amram Blau of the Netirei Karta whom he was close with and Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook of the Mizrachi religious Zionist movement. He took pride in being able to blend all the worlds.
In 1970 his flight to Israel was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. He was held hostage along with 40 other Jewish passengers as all of Israel prayed for their release. They were released 3 weeks later however he was very weakened having lost almost 40 pounds during that period. In 1979 he finally moved to Israel and he passed a little over a year later there. He is buried on Har Hazeitim Mt of Olives in Jerusalem. May his memory be blessed.

answer below at end of Email
Jericho is found in Area
A.    A
B.     B
C.     C
D.    E
In the Rashi mentioned in the Torah portion above Rashi makes an interesting statement “I lived with Lavan and observed the 612 commandments and di not learn from his evil ways. The commentaries note that every word that Rashi uses to explain the Pshat is significant. Seemingly all that Rashi had to say was that Yaakov was observant of all the commandments. If he observed all of the commandments wouldn’t that then preclude him from learning from the evil ways of Lavan? Isn’t it redundant to than have to add in that he didn’t learn from him? The answer our sages say in a very powerful message is that it really isn’t enough. We see from Rashi that one can be observant of all of the commandments but still be impacted and influenced by the evil ways of Lavan and the society in which they are enmeshed. Just because one is Shomer Shabbos doesn’t necessarily mean he appreciates the spirit and holiness of Shabbos. Just because one doesn’t rob or steal doesn’t mean that he treats his neighbor’s money with the same care and responsibility as his own. Just because one prays three times a day is no guarantee that he or she is or will be more connected to Hashem in the times that he is not in the synagogue. Yaakov tells Esau, and Rashi goes out of his way to point this out, that not only was I fully observant but I also did not learn or lower my standards in the way I lead my life because of the influence of living in Lavan’s society for 20 years. Halevai we should be able to say the same.

United Nations Vote of November 1947 that led to the State of Israel –In Israel the date is known as the Kaf Tet B’November- the 29th of  November. Intereting how it is a blend between the Hebrew and the English date. The Jewish date is the 16th of Kislev this Shabbos being 68 years since that historic vote. After WWI the British to a large degree but the French as well were in control of “Palestine” formerly part of the Turkish Empire in order to monitor it for its independence as the other countries all eventually declared after that war. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon. The British prior to WWI had already promised the Jews their own State although their population back then was less then 60,000. However by 1947 the Jewish population had increased almost tenfold to close to 600,000 (interestingly enough that was the number that the Torah tells us were the original Jews that came to Israel the first time around when we left Egypt 3000 years before). The Arabs though numbered more than twice that amount though. By that time the British has already realized that staying in Palestine was untenable and they turned the matter over to the UN that sent out commissions to decide what to do. The recommendation was to recognize a “Two State solution” with Jerusalem as an international city. The borders of said Jewish State was pretty much from Haifa down the coast till Ashdod the Jezreel Valley and the Eastern Galilee from like Tzfat and east and of course lots of desert in the Negev. The Arabs would have the entire center of the country and most of the Jordan valley. To give you a sense what this border means from the Arab border of the West Bank to Netanya-Israel’s thinnest part is 8 Miles or as an Israeli who used to be stationed on the border told me one cigarette to light up at border and put it out in Sea, In former President Bush’s words its smaller than the top of Dallas Fort Worth airport from top to bottom.

Yet the Jews were still happy with opportunity of what they saw as the beginning of the right to have a country of our own. There was a lot of lobbying that went on in order to get the 2/3 majority that was needed in the UN to get that vote. (see the YouTube clip above for some of the interesting behind the scenes stories). But eventually it passed. The UN has voted to recognize two states in Palestine. The Jews declared Statehood and celebrated the Palestinians till today have not declared Statehood. Should they declare it would be recognized as per the resolution from 1947. They have not declared yet because as back then they are not ready to declare any borders that would recognize the State of Israel to exist. Although there are tragically some Israelis that would be happy with a little coffee shop in Tel Aviv that they could hang an Israeli flag from and sing Hatikva from and call their State and give the rest back. The Arabs won’t give up one inch and they still do not have a State. Maybe its worthwhile to learn from them. But I digress. This vote was a huge thing. Jews throughout the world celebrated and danced. Some even saw in it Messianic resonances. The vote and subsequently the British departure led to the War of Independence and to the declaration of our Jewish State on Heh Iyar 1948, a few months later.


Top 6 ways you know you’re at a Jewish thanksgiving dinner
6. Your grandmother asks for the gravy by requesting “the turkey schmaltz”
5. Leftover vegetable kugel is suddenly titled “stuffing”
4. Your neighbor comes over to borrow your hat and jacket for his Pilgrim outfit
3. Someone accidentally starts singing shalom aleichem
2. Someone shares a really bad gematria dvar torah connecting Pocahontas and Hashem
1. It’s Friday night.
Top six changes if the pilgrims were Jewish
6. Indians' “How” greeting would have been answered with “I've been on a vashtinkina boat for 2 months, How do you think?”
5. Holiday of Succot would be renamed Teepees
4. Thanksgiving dinner was supposed to be veal, but there were Turkey shabbos leftovers. 
3. Jewish geography would be used as the great ice-breaker, “Which Pocahantas? From Queens?”
2. Pilgrims become automatic Members of the Tribe
1. Plymouth Rock suddenly claimed as the Muslims third holiest site
Answer is A- The infamous handshake with former prime minister Yitzchak Rabin and terrorist Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton in Taba Egypt in 1995 known as Oslo II created the transfer of lands of the West Bank that were captured from Jordan in the six day war to the Palestinian authority. I emphasize captured from Jordan as there was no such thing as Palestinians back then. The Arabs then were Jordanians. The agreement divided up the West Bank into three areas Area A would be fully under Palestinian authority (who we armed) control.both civil and security, this is about 18% of the West Ban including the cities of Shechem, Yericho, Bethlehem, and Hebron. Entry into this area is forbidden to all Israeli citizens. And as the red signs say at the entrance way can be dangerous to your life. Nice… Area B is shared between the Palestinian authority and Israel in regards to security and is about 25% of the West Bank. It consists of about 450 Arab villages and no Israeli settlements. Area C is everything else and is the remaining 60% or so that is under Israeli control fully and includes Esat Jerusalem. Israel was meant, according to the accords to retreat from Area C and transfer it to Area B over time it did retreat from some but returned and retook it after Operation Defensive Shield when the Arabs had the second intifada in 2002. Because pretty much they really are not too good at keeping peace agreements that are based on us just giving them land for nothing. But I digress..

Friday, November 20, 2015

Schwartz the Shepherd- Vayeitze 2015/5775

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

November 20th 2015 -Volume 6, Issue 7 8th Kislev 5776
Parshat Vayeitze

Schwartz, the Shepherd

"Your mission should you choose to accept it is…" and thus began my foray into my newest cool experience as a tour guide in Israel.  So there I was in the heart of the Shomron, with my newest dear friend David at his farm. We were discussing the possibilities of expanding the educational activities he does there from working with teens at risk, school programs and even some army groups who he has hosted, and opening it up the larger tourist market. As we walked around and he showed me his "pet" camel and donkey as well as his modern day columbarium (a place where he raises doves), I became more and more enthralled by the potential of  a great farming experience in the wonderful frontier in the heartland of our country. He showed me the flour mill around the corner, the modern oil press and the dairy farm up the hill. He explained to me how he generally will show people the process of making flour, olive-pressing fresh oil and then baking the pitas. To top it all off he has a chicken coop where he sends the kids in to get fresh eggs which he makes right there on the spot for them. And then came the mission.
We entered the barn and he stood poised in front of a herd of sheep corralled inside.
"Your job now is to take this herd of sheep right across the yard, 20 feet or so away, and let them graze for about 5 minutes or so, and then bring them back here into the corral".
Seems simple enough, right? I mean I see 6 year old Arab children all over the place doing this kind of stuff. And I'm a rabbi; after all, we're kind of like shepherds, right…? Wrong.
 He opened up the gate door and faster than you could say "little bo peep" they were off. No matter what I tried to do, I couldn't get them to go where the grass was. They were running all over the place except for  the one lawn I was supposed to get them to. I tried to perhaps find the leader and shlep him over there. But there was no leader. Each of them was just bolting away. I tried calling to them, singing to them. "Rabbi had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamd who's fleece was white as snow….". No go. I even started to threaten them with repeatedly using words like Shwarma, pita chumus. Which one of you wants to be supper? Nothing doing. I spoke to them about the significance of the Phascal lamb and sacrifices. Much like my congregants they weren't interested in sermons. It was party time on the farm. Finally after coaxing cajoling and schlepping I got most of them to the gate. But as soon as I opened the door to put them in… they bolted once again. Sigh… I gave up.  If they want to run around like cattle, who am I to stop their fun?
  Dovid'l my good friend, who I am sure will have a very successful career in this truly experience of a lifetime venture, picked up a pail and threw some rocks in it and started rattling it. And what do you know? All of a sudden like nuns to a church bell, like Arabs to the call of the muezzin and like Jews to a  hot chulent Kiddush, they all came swarming. One by one they pranced through the gate, many of them turning their heads and sneering and baaaing at me as they entered. I went home and had some lambchops..so there.
This all kind of ties in to this week's Torah portion, which also seems to spend an inordinate amount of time and ink discussing the various sheep adventures of our forefather Yaakov. Yaakov, after working for 15 years for his really wonderful crook of a father-in-law Lavan, to pay for that special marry a wife and get 1 free (that eventually turned into 4 wives) deal that he cut with him, now decides that it is time to earn a little for himself as well. Lavan, figuring that he has a good thing going, cuts a deal in which the sheep that will be born that are speckled…I mean spotted…I really meant striped…I'm pretty sure I said striped and spotted and speckled… and on and on… 100X he changes the deal with Yaakov for the sheep that will belong to him. Little did Lavan know that Gregor Mendel, the great geneticist, had nothing on our grand-daddy. As the Torah tells us that Yaakov, utilizing visual enhancing sticks during the sheep-mating season, was able to produce whatever the new deal of the day was.  It's a fun Parsha. Nice to know that we Jews could outsmart those that try to take advantage of us. But is it really necessary to have so much graphic detail (20 verses worth!) about sheep?
But the truth is sheep are actually quite important, it seems, to have on your Jewish resume for leadership. All of our forefathers raised sheep. Joseph and the twelve tribes, our greatest leader Moshe was a shepherd, King Saul and David as well. Even the women seemed to get into it as seen by our Matriarchs Rivkah and Rachel. This seems to not only have been a biblical requirement but in fact even a thousand years later the great Rabbi Akiva was shepherd. What's even more fascinating is that in most other cultures and societies around the world, the shepherds are generally on the lowest rung of society. Uncultured, illiterate, crass, pagans and perhaps even a little loony, yet for Jews this seems to be the "b-ewe-t camp" for leadership.
Rav Mordechai Kamenetsky tells the story about the great Tzadik of Jerusalem Rav Aryeh Levin who was standing outside his yeshiva in Jerusalem, with his son, who was a teacher there while the children were on a 15 minute recess break
"Tell me what you observe about the children playing?" said Reb Aryeh.
"Well," answered Reb Chaim, "Dovid is standing near the door of the school, with his hands in his pockets, he probably is no athlete. Moishie is playing wildly, he probably is undisciplined. Yankel is analyzing how the clouds are drifting. I guess he was not counted in the game. But all in all they are just a bunch of children playing."
Reb Aryeh turned to him and exclaimed, "No, my son. You don't know how to watch the children. Dovid is near the door with his hands in his pockets because he has no sweater. His parents can't afford winter clothes for him. Moishie is wild because his Rebbe scolded him and he is frustrated. And Yankel is moping because his mother is ill and he bears the responsibility to help with the entire household."
"In order to be a Rebbe you must know each boy's needs and make sure to give him the proper attention to fulfill those needs."
There is a beautiful Medrash about our great shepherd Moshe who chased after the sheep that ran away. When he finally caught the sheep that was drinking from a stream he exclaimed "I didn't know that you ran away because you were thirsty, you must be tired as well" and he carried the sheep back upon his shoulders. When Hashem saw this He said
"Moshe, because you are so compassionate to every animal in the flock. You shall also care for my flock, the children of Israel!"
The Jewish people are considered the sheep of Hashem. The Lubavitcher Rebbe notes that the root or base of the Hebrew word for sheep (tzon) is to go out (tzay as in this week's parsha Vayei-tzay). As the flock of Hashem it is our job to go out to wander, to spread the light of Torah unto the world. Yet we need a shepherd to help give us the direction, where to go, how to teach, when to come home, how we could truly succeed in our mission that we accepted. The shepherd we needed though had to recognize that each of is different, some are spotted, speckled, some are thirsty and some just want to run away. Yaakov our forefather who had to raise twelve tribes each on their own path each with their own role, first had to learn the ways of the sheep; the nuances and differences and how to create that one unified herd that would shine the way for the world. The tribes became experts in developing that sensitivity that being shepherds required and the tribes of Israel were born into a nation. But we wandered, we lost our leaders our shepherds. The corral is still waiting for us. We need that rattle perhaps to direct us all home. May we hear that call of the shepherd once again soon.
 Have a  spectatular Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbw9eHe9i-Q – Our Hachnasat Sefer Torah Dedication in Young Israel of Karmiel produce by Yonah Schwartz!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsQ0bikGkXg Anwar Sadat’s speech in the Israeli Knesset on this day in 1977

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z799ivwsMFw Song Hagomel Lchayavim Tovos in honor of Johnathan Pollards Release. The blessing is recited upon being released from prison.


Falen falt men alain, ober oiftsuhaiben zikh darf men a hant fun a freind.”-  To fall down you manage alone but it takes a friendly hand to get up.

. When two Jews get together and one tells the other what ails his heart, the result is two G‑dly souls taking on a single animal soul.  

When a chassid enters into yechidut, he reveals to me the inner maladies of his soul, each on his own level, and seeks my assistance to cure his spiritual ills. To help him, I must first find the same failing—be it in the most subtle of forms—within my own self, and strive to correct it. For it is not possible to direct someone else in cleansing and perfecting his character unless one has himself experienced the same problem and undergone the same process of self-refinement.”- Reb Dov Ber of Lubavitch

Yartzeit-9th of Kislev this Shabbos (as well as his Birthday)
Rav Dov Ber of Lubavitch (The Mittler Rebbe-Son of Baal HaTanya) (1773-182)- Rabbi Dov Ber was the famous son of a very famous father-Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad. Rabbi Dov Ber was the oldest of three sons, and he succeeded his father as the head of the Chabad Chassidim. It was he who made Lubavitch-a small town in White Russia-his residence, and it continued to be the center of Chabad for over 100 years.
Rabbi Dov Ber was born on the 9th of Kislev, in the year 5534 (1773) , in Liozna, also in White Russia, where his father was the spiritual leader (Maggid) of the community, and of many Chas­sidim in White Russia and Lithuania, and other parts of Russia.His father named him after his own teacher, the famous Rabbi Dov Ber of Messeritch, the disciple and successor of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement.
As a boy, Dov Ber was a very eager student, with a brilliant mind and ex­ceptional memory. Soon after he started to attend "Cheder," his teacher com­plained that the little boy plied him with so many questions and demanded so much attention, that it was difficult for the teacher to conduct the classes. Little Dov Ber was far advanced for his age, and had to be put together with older boys. He started learning Mishnah and Gemara before he was seven years old. Rabbi Dov Ber continued to study with great devotion and diligence. In addition to is Talmud studies, his father taught him the holy Zohar, and trans­mitted to him the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. At the age of sixteen, Rabbi Dov Ber had attained such scholarship and maturity, that his father appointed him to instruct the young men who were students in his Yeshivah. These were no ordinary students, for they had all been selected for their .piety and scholarship, and had been receiving in­struction from Rabbi Schneur Zalman himself.
Those were critical times for the Chassidic movement, which was still fairly young. Although it was growing steadily under the leadership of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, and the number of fol­lowers increased rapidly, there were many Jews who opposed the new movement, and suspected, that it would lead Jews away from the Torah and tradition. Many prominent Rabbis opposed the movement. Twice, Rabbi Schneur Zal­man was arrested on false charges. After Rabbi Schneur Zalman's second release, in 5561 (18 00)  he moved to Liadi, which became the center of Chabad until the Napoleonic war twelve years later. It was a bitter Russian winter, and the weeks of wearisome journey in sleds, undermined the health of the aging Rabbi Schneur Zalman. and he passed away (on the 24th day of Teveth, S 573) . Rabbi Dov Ber, who was 39 years old, was now recognized as his successor.
The question arose as to where to make his residence. The war was over, with the defeat of Napo­leon by Tzar Alexander 1. (It was Alexander, who upon ascending the throne in 1800, gave Rabbi Schneur Zalman his freedom after his second arrest.) However, Liadi lay in ruins. Prince Lubomirsky, to whom Liadi be­longed, and who had been a great friend and admirer of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, offered to rebuild it for his successor. As a second choice, the prince offered the nearby town of Lubavitch, which belonged to his nephew. The prince was not unmindful of the great economic benefits for the town and its surround­ings, if it be the residence of so famous a Rabbi, with hundreds of followers coming periodically to spend Shabbosim and festivals in that town. He was therefore delighted when Rabbi Dov Ber agreed to settle in Lubavitch, and the prince lost no time in erecting the neces­sary buildings for the Chabad head­quarters, and other structures, such as a synagogue, classrooms, etc. Thus Lubavitch became the "capital" of the Chabad Chassidim, and remained so for 102 years, until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
Rabbi Dov Ber was a true and worthy successor to his great father. He con­tinued to teach the Chabad Chassidic way of life, and to enrich its literature by many volumes. He established a Yeshivah in Lubavitch, which attracted exceptionally gifted young scholars. His son-in-law, who later became also his successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the Tzemach Tzedek headed the Yeshivah. Like his father, Rabbi Dov Ber con­sidered it his sacred task to help the Jews of Russia, whether Chassidim or not, not only spiritually but also eco­nomically. The position of the Jews under the Tzars was never easy, but it became much worse when Tzar Alexander I was succeeded by Tzar Nicholas I in the year 1825. The restrictions against the Jews increased in number and severity. The Jews were confined to a small area, called the Pale of Settlement. ­They had no right to live, work or do business outside this crowded Pale, where conditions had become very difficult in the wake of the Franco-Russian war.
Rabbi Dov Ber began a campaign to urge Jews to learn trades and skilled factory work. He urged Jewish communities to organize trade schools where Jewish boys, espe­cially of the poorer classes, would be able to learn a trade. He also called on his fellow-Jews to learn agricultural work, dairy farming, and the like, re­minding them that once upon a time, when the Jewish people lived in their own land, they were a people of farmers, fruit growers and herdsmen. He urged that boys who did not show promise of becoming Torah scholars, should, after the age of thirteen, devote part of their time to the learning of a trade, or work in the fields, to help support the family.
Not content with words alone, Rabbi Dov Ber himself began to organize colo­nies of Jewish farmers. The first colony was organized in the district of Kherson, with some fifty Jewish families. Others followed. Rabbi Dov Ber took to the road to raise funds for this purpose, and he personally visited the Jewish farmers and encouraged them in their pioneer work, also seeing that their spiritual needs and the education of the farmers' children should not be neglected.
The reign of Nicholas I was one of continued harassment of the Jewish population of Russia, with a view to force them into assimilation and conver­sion. One of the worst and most cruel decrees of Nicholas was the enforcement of child conscription into the Russian army. This decree, issued in 1827, made it compulsory upon every Jewish com­munity to deliver a certain number of recruits, between the ages of twelve and twenty-five, for 25 year's service. Jew­ish children showed wonderful courage in resisting conversion, but the tragedy of their broken lives and the suffering of their families, broke Rabbi Dov Ber's heart and affected his health.
Like his father, he too was denounced by his enemies as a danger to the Russian government. He was arrested, but later released, and the day of his release, the 10th of Kislev, is remembered gratefully by Chabad Chassidim.
In addition to his many talents, Rabbi Dov Ber inherited from his father a great love for sacred music and Chassidic melody. His father had composed ten soul-stirring melodies (niggunim), and Rabbi Dov Ber knew their powerful effect to rouse the singers and listeners to great heights of ecstasy and attach­ment to G-d. He encouraged the sing­ing of these and other melodies of his own composition at certain occasions of solemn and joyous gatherings. He even had an organized choir from among his Chassidim who led in the singing. '`
Rabbi Dov Ber wrote many works on Chabad and Kabbalah, including a com­mentary on the Zohar. He was a bril­liant thinker and a fast writer. It was told that when he finished writing the bottom line on a sheet of paper, the ink of the top line has not yet dried. About twenty of his works have been published, a good many of them during his life­time.
Rabbi Dov Ber .passed away on the 9th of Kislev, on the very day he was born 54 years earlier. He became known as the "Mitteler Rebbe,"-the "Middle" Rebbe, being the second of the first three generations of Chabad leaders, who are regarded as the "fathers" and builders of Chabad-Lubavitch, which, for the last two hundred years, has been one of the strongest forces in Jewish life, whose influence has been felt in almost every Jewish community throughout the world
answer below at end of Email
A tourist can get bitten by a Efaah (Echis) viper snake in the
A.    Judean Desert
B.     Carmel
C.     Upper Galile
D.    Sharon
This week the Torah shares with us the birth of the tribes of Israel. The commentary of Rashi is fascinating as he explains the simple understanding, the Pshat, behind why each one is called what they are called. Certainly one of the most fascinating things to note is that almost of the children of Leah are named after her desire for a meaningful relationship with her husband Yaakov and as opposed to who she was meant to marry Esau. Starting with her first son who is named Reuven all the way to Zevulun who was named after the fact that now my husband’s permanent residence with me. Even when Yosef is born to Rachel Rashi explains that the simple Pshat is that she is named after Hashem taking away her shame, Rashi understands that as well to be a reference to even Rachel’s fear that she would have to marry Esau if she couldn’t produce children. Seemingly Rashi see Esau being the background of all that is going on.
Rashi that is most fascinating though is the one on Reuven where the text says “She called his name Reuven because she said Hashem has seen my affliction and now my husband will love me.” From the text it would seem that he was called Reuven because of this. Yet Rashi brings our Rabbi who explained that she said
“See the difference between my son and the son of my Father in Law (Yitzchak) whose son (Esau) sold his birthright to Yaakov. And my son did not sell it to Yosef ( who received the birthright and first born merits in his place) and he did not protest against him and not only didn’t he protest but he even pulled him out of the pit.”
Now don’t get me wrong. This is a very nice Midrash, but as we note each week Rashi explained his function is not to bring Midrash, rather it’s to explain simple Pshat and understanding of the verse. Why is this the simple understanding? Rashi doesn’t even quote this as Midrash as he usually does, rather he sees this as the “Rabbis explained”? The answer is that one has to look closely at the text. By all of the other tribes it says the reason first and then she called his name. “Hashem has heard that I am hated and he gave me this one and she called him Shimon. And she said this time my husband will accompany me because I birthed him three sons and she called is name Levi and so on by all the other tribes and births. Reuven is different first it says she called him Reuven and then it says the reason and she said because Hashem has seen my affliction. Seemingly Rashi is noting that the name calling which preceded the reason “she said” was for another reason and thus Rashi brings our sages explanation for the reason she called him that was to differentiate between him and Esau. Afterwards she gave the reason of Hashem seeing her affliction but Rashi understands that the simple Pshat in the Torah is that he was named first for another reason. As we not each week Each Rashi is amazing when you delve into it and how it explains the simple Pshat of the Torah.
Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader recognizes Israel and speaks in Knesset – Perhaps the worst enemy of Israel since the founding of the State had been Egypt. Our southern neighbor certainly had the most powerful army and had attacked Israel numerous times. After the miraculous and decisive victory of the 6 day war and the death of their Prime Minister Nasser, Anwar Sadat came to power. Many assumed and called him the “puppy” of Nasser. And when he came to power his major objective was to recapture the power and honor of Egypt. In 1973 He started the Yom Kippur War and much to Israel’s surprise very quickly captured the Sinai Desert and was in control of the Straits of Tiran by the Suez Canal. Israel was successful in pushing Egypt back eventually. But that was a significant enough military victory, for him to be able to build support. His next mission was to see the Sinai and the Canal returned to his power and he then decided to make the brave move of moving towards peace. On November 17th 1977 Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially come to Israel and to recognize the State of Israel. Menachem Begin the Prime Minister even made sure that the new-at that time- highway 1 to Jerusalem would be completed in his honor as he was one of the first to ride on it. On his two day trip here he spoke before the Knesset and spoke about his wish for peace. It is truly amazing to hear and read what he said. I have enclosed some excerpts (but the full is above in the Youtube clip above)
“Peace and the mercy of God Almighty be upon you and may peace be for us all, God willing. Peace for us all on the Arab land, and in Israel as well, as in every part of this big world,”

“I come to you today on solid ground, to shape a new life, to establish peace. We all, on this land, the land of God; we all, Muslims, Christians and Jews, worship God and no one but God. God's teachings and commandments are love, sincerity, purity and peace.

“But, to be absolutely frank with you, I took this decision after long thinking, knowing that it constitutes a grave risk for, if God Almighty has made it my fate to assume the responsibility on behalf of the Egyptian People and to share in the fate-determining responsibility of the Arab Nation and the Palestinian People, the main duty dictated by this responsibility is to exhaust all and every means in a bid to save my Egyptian Arab People and the entire Arab Nation the horrors of new, shocking and destructive wars, the dimensions of which are foreseen by no other than God himself”.

“If I said that I wanted to save all the Arab People the horrors of shocking and destructive wars, I most sincerely declare before you that I have the same feelings and bear the same responsibility towards all and every man on earth, and certainly towards the Israeli People. Any life lost in war is a human life, irrespective of its being that of an Israeli or an Arab. A wife who becomes a widow is a human being entitled to a happy family life, whether she be an Arab or an Israeli. Innocent children who are deprived of the care and compassion of their parents are ours, be they living on Arab or Israeli land. They command our top responsibility to afford them a comfortable life today and tomorrow.”For the sake of them all, for the safeguard of the lives of all our sons and brothers, for affording our communities the opportunity to work for the progress and happiness of man and his right to a dignified life, for our responsibilities before the generations to come, for a smile on the face of every child born on our land - for all that, I have taken my decision to come to you, despite all hazards, to deliver my address.

“It is so fated that my trip to you, the trip of peace, should coincide with the Islamic feast, the holy Feast of Courban Bairam, the Feast of Sacrifice when Abraham - peace be upon him - great-grandfather of the Arabs and Jews, submitted to God; I say when God Almighty ordered him, and to Him Abraham went, with dedicated sentiments, not out of weakness, but through a giant spiritual force and by a free will, to sacrifice his very own son, prompted by a firm and unshakable belief in ideals that lend life a profound significance.

“I have come to you so that together we might build a durable peace based on justice, to avoid the shedding of one single drop of blood from an Arab or an Israeli. It is for this reason that I have proclaimed my readiness to go to the farthest corner of the world.
“Yet, today I tell you, and declare it to the whole world, that we accept to live with you in permanent peace based on justice. We do not want to encircle you or be encircled ourselves by destructive missiles ready for launching, nor by the shells of grudges and hatred. I have announced on more than one occasion that Israel has become a fait accompli, recognized by the world, and that the two super powers have undertaken the responsibility of its security and the defense of its existence. As we really and truly seek peace, we really and truly welcome you to live among us in peace and security.

Yet, there remained another wall. This wall constitutes a psychological barrier between us. A barrier of suspicion. A barrier of rejection. A barrier of fear of deception. A barrier of hallucinations around any action, deed or decision. A barrier of cautious and erroneous interpretations of all and every event or statement. Today, through my visit to you, I ask you: why don't we stretch our hands with faith and sincerity so that, together, we might destroy this barrier? Why shouldn't ours and your will meet with faith and sincerity, so that together we might remove all suspicion of fear, betrayal and ill intentions? Why don't we stand together with the bravery of men and the boldness of heroes who dedicate themselves to a sublime objective? Why don't we stand together with the same courage and boldness to erect a huge edifice of peace that builds and does not destroy? An edifice that is a beacon for generations to come - the human message for construction, development and the dignity of man? Why should we bequeath to the coming generations the plight of bloodshed, death, orphans, widowhood, family disintegration, and the wailing of victims?

“Why don't we believe in the wisdom of God conveyed to us by the Proverbs of Solomon:"Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil; but to the counsellors of peace is joy. Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.

Why don't we repeat together from the Psalms of David:"Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward they holy oracle. Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours."

“When I put forward this initiative, many asked what is it that I conceived as possible to achieve during this visit, and what my expectations were. And, as I answered the questioners, I announce before you that I have not thought of carrying out this initiative from the concept of what could be achieved during this visit, but I have come here to deliver a message. I have delivered the message, and may God be my witness.
I repeat with Zechariah, "Love right and justice”
I quote the following verses from the holy Koran:
"We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes and in the books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their lord. We make no distinction between one and another among them and to God we submit."
I wasn’t planning on including that much from his speech but its really too amazing to leave out. Can you imagine any arab leader today making that type of speech?. Two years later Israel reached its famous Camp David Accords and peace with Egypt was achieved with the return of Sinai and the famous handshake on the White House lawn. Sadat was awarded the Time Man of the Year and the Nobel Peace Prize that year as well. The Arab League and nations threw Egypt out, but they gained tremendous US support in their place. 2 years later though on October 6 1981 he was assassinated by the more radical elements of his government ironically during the annual victory parade for their crossing of the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War.
It would be nice to say that the date that Sadat arrived here was the day that everything changed for Israel. But sadly the arab world has yet to find leaders that have the courage to do what it takes for the betterment of their people, and the Israeli government has yet to have a leader like Menachem Begin that would be willing to settle for nothing less than that, understanding that only through true gestures of peace will it ever occur, never from weakness.


From John Cleese of Monty Python fame…
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved."
Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.
The Scots have raised their threat level from "Ticked Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."
The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the Barbie (Australian for BBQ) this weekend”, and “The Barbie is cancelled. The Barbie is canceled” has never been reached
Canada has responded by raising their alert status from “I’m sorry you bumped into me” to “Take off, eh!” Canada has two higher levels of alert status: “CAR!” and “Hockey Fight!”
And the Democrats in the USA have raised the threat level from “Be careful you don’t offend any particular favored group” to “The Tea Party members are a bunch of violent racists”.
There is some talk of moving the threat level all the way up to “Shutdown of all right-wing talk radio and conservative internet sites”.

Answer is A- This does not sound like a very optimistic question for your average tourist. But yes we did have to learn about all types of animal life in Israel including snakes. Not that I paid much attention to the particular species or really cared much about it. The general rule with me was that information that I didn’t think most tourists would be interested and wasn’t really Jewish in orientation, I didn’t’ bother trying to retain. I couldn’t think that a tourist would be interested in where I can get bitten by this particular species of snake so therefore I never absorbed it. That being said I was able to get this question right by process of elimination. The Galil and Carmel are pretty much the same topography so therefore they both couldn’t be right so therefore they were wrong. The Sharon is a coastal area and didn’t really sound like a place for poisonous snakes whereas the desert is full of them so there you have it the Judean Desert is the correct answer. That being said this snake is mentioned in tanach in Iyov (20:16)  as the tongue of the Efaah shall kill you and Yeshaya as being a snake in the negev. The Talmud describes it as a snake that gives birth once every 70 years. If god forbid bitten by one, don’t suck out the venom, stabilize the hand and don’t move around and quickly get to a hospital.

Last week for some reason the Answer to the question of the week of which Operation was the turning point from defense to offense in the War of Independence was erased and the correct
Answer was B- Operation Nachshon. Another answer I get correct by a little knowledge and process of elimination. Hiram I knew because it was up here in the North and the end of the War of Independence not the turning point. It was named Hiram after the biblical king of Tyre Lebanon that donated wood to the Temple. Ovda also at the end of the war was easy to remember because it was a fun Operation as it was  a race to conquer Eilat between the Golani and Negev Brigades. Which left Nachshon which was the Operation to save Jerusalem from the siege by opening up the road. It was the first Operation of Plan Daled which was basically Ben Gurions plan to go on the offense and clear out any arabs and villages that would be in the area that would become part of the Jewish State. I never heard of Aminadav  and that;s because there wasn’t any it was just the name of the biblical figure Nachshon Ben Aminadav’ father who the Operation was named after. So there you go.